Archive for May, 2007

The Neighborhood

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Last week I had a dream and upon awakening, I realized it has to be one of my versions of utopia. In it, I was back in the neighborhood I grew up in, with all of the familiar faces that have since moved away or passed on. It was summertime and lots of people were outside on their front lawns just socializing with each other. I walked from house to house, lingering as I went, to converse with all of the people who shaped and colored my world in some way. I was sad when I woke up – already missing my old friends and their families.

I believe my dream stemmed from a real longing for a sense of community in my neighborhood today. Times are so different than they used to be, though. Both parents are working in most households, and everyone seems to do their own thing. I long for the bonds that were created with people in the neighborhood of my hometown. I grew up in Willingboro, NJ, formerly known as Levittown – a town designed to be idyllic and it most certainly was, even until the mid-to-late-80′s, in my opinion. I’ve got such fond memories: playing kickball in the middle of the road with all the neighborhood kids in the summer; going door-to-door every Halloween and knowing which house had the good candy and which house gave out the toothbrushes and fruit; walking to my friend Laurie’s and Cheryl’s houses as a young teenager, chatting with random people as I went; hopping the fence in my parents’ backyard to hang out at “the plaza“, spending hours in Riccardo’s buying cigarettes from the vending machine and eating greasy pepperoni pizza by the slice; learning how to drive in that same plaza parking lot; and in winter in the plaza parking lot, using the huge snow mountains that were created by the plows to have snow wars with all the other neighborhood kids; attending the annual Christmas party at Mrs. E’s house that we drove to even though it was just around the block; walking to the parades for Memorial Day and July 4th, hanging out with neighbors and shooting the breeze as the various acts came through; falling in love for the first time with a boy who lived around the corner.

Today, that neighborhood is a shadow of its formal self, with a lot of the long-timers and original owners long gone. I drive by the houses of my former neighbors, sadly acknowledging all those who used to live there and the inevitable change that comes with the passing of time. It’s bittersweet to go “home” today, but I cherish it nonetheless. I don’t know if my parents will always live there, and I could one day have to ride by the house of my childhood and yearn to be able to go inside. I shudder to even think about that possibility.

History of Branding

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

I’ve spent a good deal of time reading about the most popular brands on our planet at the History of Branding page. Very clever idea and lots of interesting tidbits to be found there. I’ll have to keep visiting to read all about all of them; there’s too much information to take it all in in one sitting.

Holiday Weekend

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Finally – a few days off in a row! Life has been so busy and hectic lately – it’s amazing how good it feels to not have much to do for a few hours. Today I met with a friend for coffee and took Grace on a short trip to PetSmart – that’s been the extent of my activity outside of the house. I’ve also taken a delicious nap and read some of the latest book I’m reading, The Namesake. All other time has been filled with just relaxation and hanging out with the fam. Delightful.

My parents are in Virginia, they left yesterday – and we were supposed to go with them on this trip. However, since it’s a 7-8 hour drive and the kids only have off Monday, we decided it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to go for just a few days. I’m bummed because I haven’t been down there in 11 years (where all our relatives live) and also because we won’t get to spend Memorial Day with my parents. It’s been a tradition to go to their house early, watch the local parade and then barbecue later in the day. Not this year. Tomorrow we’ll go to my sister’s and hopefully get some swimming in – she said the temperature is pretty high and we’ve had some hot days recently. Not sure what we’ll do on Monday, I wouldn’t mind finding a parade to go watch, although I know it won’t be the same as watching the one from my hometown. Half of the fun of going to the parade is seeing people you haven’t seen in a while – and we don’t really know a lot of people in the town we live in yet. That’s fodder for an entire new post, though.

Whatever you and your loved ones are doing, hope you enjoy the long weekend! And don’t forget to thank a vet and remember all of those who died for our beautiful country.

Salvaged the Vera Bradley

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

All is not lost, my friends. My purse, makeup bag and wallet don’t look too bad after all! I think using the Oxiclean and letting them dry in the sun did the trick. And now I know that you can, indeed, put the Vera Bradley zip-around wallet in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. I had nothing to lose when I tried it, and I’m glad I did. I’m so happy that I’m able to continue using my summer bag as planned! Although, I did have my eye on the Botanica pattern. ;-)

American Idol – The Final Two

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

It’s down to the final two – which also happens to be (not coincidentally, I’m sure) my favorite two.

First of all, let’s get the judges out of the way. Paula supposedly broke her nose, but I don’t see any signs of it. Randy has on the most bizarre jacket I’ve ever seen – what is with those gold chains hanging off the side? Also, I have to tell you that I’m watching this on my broken TV, so I’m seeing red and in double. Maybe Randy’s jacket isn’t that bad? I suspect it is, though.

Ryan is flipping a coin to see who sings first. Blake wins the toss and decides to go first. I’d go first, too, if I had the choice. They have to be so nervous!

Blake’s first song was his rendition of “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. He did it much like he did the first time he sang it, but with even more beat boxing. I thought the beat was a bit slow, but it was an excellent performance. I love watching him on that stage!

Jordin’s first song was “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera. She did a great job considering it’s a Christina song, but she is no Christina. I’m surprise Randy didn’t say something about her trying to tackle a song like this. If I had never heard the original, I probably would have thought Jordin did this beautifully, but I inevitably did the comparison.

I agree with Simon – first round goes to Blake.

Second round Blake sings “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5 again. This is one of my favorite songs to sing along to – it’s going to take some restraint to not do that so I can listen to Blake sing. I’m glad I didn’t sing – I would have missed something really great. He sang it so pretty. However, I have to admit his version didn’t give me chills the way the original does when I listen to it on the radio.

Jordin’s second song was “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride and while the beginning just about put me to sleep, it really picked up in the end and she gave me chills. She knocked Blake out of the park in this round.

The third round is a new song no one has heard before by people who win a song writing contest. The winning song is called “This Is My Now”, another slowish pop song.

Blake up first and I can see why he added the extra beat boxing to the first song now – he knew there was no place for it in the last two. I could totally see this song being a hit on the radio – it’s very catchy after only one listen. I wish Blake could have ended with something more dynamic and funky, though. And obviously Blake would have preferred to do something else, too! It doesn’t matter, he’ll have his own career once this is over and he knows it.

Jordin made this sound like a completely different song. Wow – was that really the same song? Incredible. This is obviously her genre and she once again out-performed Blake. If we’re judging the votes for who wins based solely on tonight – Jordin wins, hands down. She fits the stereotype more anyway.

I’ll be happy with whoever wins, but I think Jordin should win this thing. Looking forward to tomorrow night! I can’t believe the season is over already… but don’t you worry, these posts will soon be replaced by posts for So You Think You Can Dance! Woot!