Friday, January 29, 2010

25!

Yesterday was my birthday!

It was a pretty good day. I liked my outfit, I worked at my most difficult school (it was CRAZY there), I picked up a (not so) long-lost package at the post office, and I had a nice dinner at Richie's parents' house.

The best part? When my family called in at 7:15 to sing Happy Birthday before I blew out the candles on my brownie. I was so impressed with their punctuality!!!

pictured: me and Matthew (well, he was on the phone that's sitting on the table)

Also, I have to share something about my mysterious package. A couple weeks ago, I was looking for my Anthropologie card so that I could get a birthday discount. While I was looking, I found two really old Abercrombie & Fitch gift certificates (probably from 1999-2002ish). They still had quite a bit of money on them (god bless California's expiration date laws!), and I pondered what to do with them, because I really can't stand that store (and rarely can fit into their merchandise).

Then, I was reading What I Wore, and Jessica had sketched a motorcycle jacket, inspired by a cotton one from A&F. I thought, 'eh, why not?' and checked out the jacked on their website. It was:
1) On crazy sale.
2) My size.
3) Actually kind of cute!

So I pulled out the gift cards, paid just a tiny bit extra of my own money, and voila!

An adorable--surprisingly well-made-- jacket to toughen up my girlier looks! (please pardon the tag on my scarf.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quarter-Century

My birthday is a week from tomorrow, but it seems as though I'm getting all of my presents this week!

My birthday box from home is in town-- the first delivery attempt was yesterday evening, but I should get it for real tonight. Thanks, Mom!

And on Monday night, Richie took me to his favorite local music store and bought me a BEAUTIFUL guitar. It's gently (and I mean gently) used, and sounds just about as good as it looks.

That's my baby! Her name is Caroline.


More birthday plans:
Today, I'm returning a gift I bought for my mom for Christmas (then changed my mind and got her something else) to my favorite vintage jewelry place in the city. She only does exchanges, so I might have to pick out a nice little bauble for myself. Darn!

Next Wednesday, some friends are coming over to see my place, and then we're going to dinner in my 'hood. I can't decide if I want Mexican, gourmet pizza, or something else.

[On my actual birthday, I'll probably just go to Richie's and watch Project Runway-- in real time! All of my plans ended up being scheduled for every day but the 28th.]

Friday the 29th, Richie and I are going to see The Invention of Lying at the little theater across the street from my apartment. They play movies that have come and gone from regular theaters at a discount-- popcorn included!

Saturday the 30th, Richie's parents are taking us out to my favorite restaurant in Delaware County-- I haven't been there in over a year!

My birthday season will end with an evening at the Philadelphia Roller Derby! It's a double-header and man oh man, am I excited. I got VIP tickets...they include a goodie bag!

Happy Birthday to ME!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love, unexpected.

Inspired by this post from Kasmira of What I Wore Today, I thought I would also discuss tights. (For those of you uninterested in link-clicking, she posted a video review of We Love Colors tights.)

I don't own any We Love Colors tights, so I can't speak to whether I agree or disagree with Kasmira. What I want to discuss is a particular evil store with surprisingly heavenly tights: Walmart and their store-brand, George.

One of the few things I asked for for Christmas was tights. I rarely wear pants anymore, so an investment in good quality tights is absolutely necessary. Santa did well, and I received several pairs of Hue tights (which are great), and several pairs of George tights. My mom-- er, I mean, Santa-- admitted to buying the latter brand at Walmart.

I've worn each of the George tights by now, and I gotta say: I really like them!

Pros:
+ Easy to slip on.
+ Thick.
+ Don't snag easily.
+ Don't sag easily, either.
+ I don't know, but given the retailer, I imagine the price is quite attractive. (Unable to find them listed on Walmart.com, but recently came across another review that said they were $5. !!!)

Cons:
- The pattern stops at the upper-to-mid thigh, where it changes to just a solid color. I will not be wearing them with any miniskirts.
- They're from Walmart.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hellooo, 2010!

[As with years passed, I have written a reflective piece on 2009 (well, my 2009). Other years were broken-down by topic; this one will be chronological. Here it is.]

2009 started in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Partying with Steve's band and a couple friends from Boston was fun, but then again, New Year's Eve celebrations are never what I dream up in my head. The Eve was certainly better than New Year's Day-- I can tell you that much. After we sent Theresa and Darren on their way to Florida the afternoon of January 1st, Steve and I sat down on our couch. He told me that he'd been meaning to talk to me about something. I thought, "Oh my goodness! This is it! A New Year's proposal!" Instead, though, he told me that he wanted to see other people.

Although within hours he had changed his mind and we were determined to stay together and work things out, the relationship was damaged beyond repair. On Easter (April 12-- only days after returning from a lovely vacation in Savannah), Steve and I officially broke up.

I needed to get away. I took a 3-mile walk (almost) every day. I put in extra time at work. I went for hikes and to happy hours and dinners with friends. I made plans to move out of the house I shared with Steve and Rob, and in with my friend Sara on Philly's historic South Street. Before Moving Day 2009 (Memorial Day), I was fortunate enough to take a week-long vacation to Eze, France, where my uncle owns a house. It was me, Bobbie, Heather, Brother John (who spoiled us so much), Uncle Johnny, and his wife Lyn. The weather was perfect, the food was perfect, the excursions were perfect, the company was perfect (love you, Hobs!)...the trip was perfect. It was EXACTLY what I needed to feel comfortable with myself without Steve. And man, life was good.

One amazing thing that happened in France was meeting my uncle's former neighbor, Angelo. The poor man had been a wreck after his partner of 10 years left him (one year prior, even). The way he talked about her, the way he cared for her really opened my eyes to what kind of relationship I would like-- and what kind of relationship I didn't have with Steve. With Angelo in mind, I had somewhat of a mental checklist for a partner, and learned never to settle.

So on Memorial Day, I was off to a new life in Center City, Philadelphia. The weather was amazing, and the city had so much to offer. I wasn't teaching anymore, so I could walk to work, to friends' houses, ANYWHERE! It was exactly what I wanted.

...And then, however premature and impulsive, I got curious about the single men in the city. I quickly realized that I was not going to meet anyone through friends, and those sidewalk glances rarely get you anywhere, so (after doing an appropriate amount of research) I joined an internet dating website. When a creepy divorcee immediately IM'd me (even before I finished creating my profile!), I blocked instant messages and wondered if I had done the right thing. About a week later, I realized I had. Going out on dates was just another great way to meet people and enjoy everything Philadelphia had to offer!

I didn't want to get into another relationship...I just wanted to go fishing.

That's when things got tricky. One particular gentleman was in it to win it. Our first date was one for the books. The amount of topics we covered was astounding, and we really clicked. In late June, I got the flu and had to cancel all of my dates. Immediately after recovering, I was taking a Personal Leave of Absence from work and spending three weeks at home in California. While the other guys I was seeing sent me an email saying, "Have fun in Cali, call me when you get back," this guy asked if it was okay to call me, and did. I got sick again while I was home, and he sent me a card and a mix cd.

When I returned to Philly, it became clear that even though I wasn't looking for a relationship, I was about to be in one.

I talked to my mom about it. I talked to my friends. There was a mixed bag of opinions, ranging from, "Don't let this one go!" to "Are you crazy? You need to shop around more."

My good friend Jay used to scold me for trying to plan out my life. "Don't tempt fate," he would say, and I learned my lesson. When trying to decide whether to jump into another exclusive relationship, I realized that planning to stay single for at least a year after a 4-year relationship is the same thing as planning to get married in 2010.

So I stopped planning and fell in love. (Awwwwww!)

At the same time, cohabiting with Sara was not going well (from her slovenly tendencies to her need to be babysat). I desperately needed to live on my own, so within a week of telling her, I found a place. I signed a lease and gave my notice. What ensued was a stressful battle that pitted me against Sara and her father/my landlord. They made erroneous claims and didn't have a legal leg to stand on. Anyway, I moved out in October and never looked back. Probably needless to say: Sara and I are no longer friends and haven't spoken since. My new place is adorable, in a great neighborhood, and most importantly, ALL MINE.

Another newsworthy item for 2009's reflection is my job situation. I learned in the fall that
1. funding for my program was being terminated at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2010) and
2. the Special Events Coordinator position was opening up immediately.
After interviewing for the Events position, I agreed to an arrangement between my department and Development for me to continue teaching, but also train for the Events position, so that I may take over on July 1, 2010.

The mess that resulted is still being worked out, and I imagine that the solution will be to forget about the arrangement entirely. That would be ideal for me, as I'm just fed up with the agency and want to move on anyway-- as long as I get another job offer by July 1.

However, whatever I do will be temporary because (and here's the final news item of 2009): I have decided to go back to school to earn a Masters and a PhD in Communications!!! The end of 2009 was all about my searching for a new job as well as a graduate program that will suit me (both searches have continued into 2010). Because my revelation came late in the year, I will not be able to start until Fall 2011. But that's certainly something to look forward to.

So 2009 was turbulent, in good ways and bad, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I learned more about myself in 2009 than in 2008, and I'm pretty sure that's the whole point of growing up.

2 great ideas

#1: Send your used (yes, used) all-occasion cards to St. Jude's Ranch. They work some magic on them, and then sell them fresh at a buck a pop (in sets of 10, though). It's like extreme recycling, which everyone can get down with. Check out the details here.

#2: Jessica Schroeder of What I Wore fame has started an online directory of vintage stores across the nation. She just announced the endeavor yesterday (Jan. 7), so the site needs civilians to submit their favorite vintage stores to the site. It's called Vintage Where? and you can submit a store in your area here.

Definitely having a "Why Didn't I Think of That?" day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I could have danced all night

Okay, so since I was on such a gown-shopping kick, I ended up ordering one. It's:
1. Sassy
2. Saucy
3. Grecian-inspired
4. Knee-length
5. From ModCloth.com



The bust concerns me a little, but that's why I went ahead and ordered it this early in the game: if I need to return it and find something else, I have time (but obviously reeeeally hope it works out).

So it's not full-length. That's okay! I think with the right jewelry and shoes, this little number could be SERIOUS.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Have a Ball

Richie's place of employment is having its annual fundraiser, The Crystal Ball, in April. I'm on the auction committee and will obviously be his date to the event, so you know what that means: gown time!!! I thought that maybe I'd make do with whatever's in my closet, but all of my dresses are decidedly cocktaily, and, after looking at pictures from previous years' events (and looking at the price tag per plate), this thing absolutely calls for an actual gown.

When I was home in December, I tried on my high school prom dresses. Funny, they fit everywhere but the bust. Last week I tried on Richie's sister's high school prom dresses. While one of them was a great fit and very classy, it had a stain. So it's shopping time! At least it will be soon, when I have some dough (though I have put myself on a VERY strict budget for this badboy).

What I would love is a gorgeously-draped, red carpet-worthy Grecian number, a la:
(I especially love the bottom three.)

So here are a few potentials from Macy's, though all are knee-length:


(I would get this one in a fuchsia, not white.)



I had considered this emerald gem (get it?) from Modcloth.com, but dismissed it because it might be too casual. But given the shorter styles at Macy's (and assuming my styling will be off the chain), maybe I should reconsider?

The search continues!

CA recap

California was AMAZING. The details, in blurbs and pictures:

Thursday, Dec. 17th: Richie and I got in to SF at around 12:30pm and spent the afternoon and evening wandering around Chinatown and Union Square (where our swank-ass hotel room was, courtesy of Brother John). We even took pictures at the top of Coit Tower at sunset. That night, met up with dear old Anna for dinner and a walk. Perfect first day!

Friday, Dec. 18th: We walked from Union Square to Golden Gate park, had lunch in Haight-Ashbury, took a cab to Pier 39 (no sea lions in sight! sad face.), trekked up a hill to Ghiradelli Square, then cabbed it back to our hotel in time to grab our bags and hop on a train to Dublin, where Brother John, my mom, and cousin Heather were meeting us!


Saturday, Dec. 19th: Another lovely day in San Fran, with a matinee of Wicked and an amazing Italian dinner afterward.



Sunday, Dec. 20th: Drove from Dublin to Fresno with a stop at the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz and Casa de Fruta in Hollister.



Monday, Dec. 21st: Finished up my Christmas shopping/gave Richie a tour of the plastic part of Fresno before going to Christine and Ryan's for a delicious lasagna dinner!

Tuesday, Dec. 22nd: Went to the nursery with my mom and played on the tractors. Helped my dad finish up his Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, Dec. 23rd: Matthew and Melinda came into town the night before, but had to run errands during the day, so Richie and I went to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (GORGEOUS!). Then the four of us went to dinner with my dad and his ladyfriend.

Thursday, Dec. 24th: We treated Christmas Eve like Christmas morning because M&M had to head back to LA in the afternoon.


Friday, Dec. 25th: Took Richie on a tour of West Fresno, visited with Jenna, Steve, and Audrie, stopped by my aunt's house, and then had dinner (amazing chipotle mac and cheese) with my mom and Brother John.


Saturday, Dec. 26th: Back to Philly! We drove back up to SF and flew to Atlanta where we got delayed and our ride back in Philly bailed on us. We eventually made it home, though, completely exhausted from the trip!