Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NEW HOME FOR BLOG! (Please go there for new posts!)

Not only do I like to move a lot in real life, I like to move my blog, too.

I just moved from Blogger to Wordpress. The domain will now point there, however I'll leave this blogger blog ( up for a little while incase people have it bookmarked the blogspot address ... so, please rebookmark the URL to always get to the new, current blog.

Congrats to the Top 40 Under 40!

I saw a Times Leader insert at work on Monday about the Top 40 Under 40 in Northeast Pennsylvania. I flipped through the pages and with each turn of the page, I was like, "Wow...." Over the years I have worked, attended school, or was a part of some community project with many of these amazing folks. One is even my dentist. And one is the Co-Founder/CEO of my company, Solid Cactus-- who I am so proud of for earning this award because I see his efforts every day. One has my last name. One is even in a position I used to hold at a local radio station, even though I don't know him, I thought that was pretty cool. I am just so super proud of these folks, some I knew since they were college freshman! It's just awesome to see them have such success-- but even better yet- making such a positive impact on our community.

Then I remembered that three years ago, I pitched a story idea to the Weekender about profiling some local, civic-minded young professionals - downtown Wilkes-Barre was on the upswing finally, and many of these folks played a role. It was a cover story, which is shown above. (That was a fun photo shoot on the roof, too!) Today, three years later, three of the people were named Top 40 Under 40. You can click on the article below to see what they had to say three years ago! I just reread it and was inspired! So many of the things these "kids" were excited about working on are done-- downtown is happening, the river project is here-- things have changed and a lot has to do with what started three to four years ago with the new administration in the city!

Here is some more information about this cool Top 40 Under 40 program:
Scott's post on the Solid Cactus Blog
Official Times Leader Site
Link to the PDF of the Weekender story I did

Congrats ladies and gents!

One More Year of School- the MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes

Yay! I am stoked. I was accepted into the MFA in Creative Writing at Wilkes University- I'll be finished with the MA in Creative Writing in January, and with a dozen or so of my writing pals, we're continuing on to the terminal degree and I'll be done in January 2010. The MFA differs from the MA in that it's a terminal degree, like a PhD. I am excited about having the higher degree and would love to teach a class or two part-time once I am able, but I am most excited about more creative writing residencies and being a part of this creative community longer. Write on!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Packages in the Mail

Maybe it was my childhood obsession with pen pals, Ed McMahon and dreams of being an actress with thousands of fans, but I LOVE mail. Real, postal mail. To this day. I used to have pen pals that I found in my Teen Beat magazine. When I moved away to Oklahoma, I corresponded to friends with letters. I loved when we received Publisher's Clearinghouse packets because I loved scratching off the sweepstakes stuff and taking one sticker off one insert and sticking it on the proper place on another. I loved tearing out the stamps for the magazines I wanted and licking them, and placing them on the envelope. And finally, I always wanted to get fan mail. I dunno. I just did. I swore I'd write back to anyone who wrote me a letter because sending mail was fun, too.

Mail isn't as fun when you are an adult because it's mostly bills, or junk. But, I still get excited. I recently placed a few orders for myself and for Christmas gifts online, so today when I saw a white package in my mailbox, I got excited. I wondered which company it was from, and I secretly hoped it was the shirt I ordered for myself from Wet Seal. But it wasn't. I was a Christmas present for someone who shall remain nameless because he, she or it may read this. I am stoked about giving this present, too.

Which leads me to this being a very different Christmas. I am single. The longer you are with someone, the higher the budget is for exchanging gifts. And on year five, we were getting up there. This year, I have hardly anyone to buy for. I have a small family, I don't have a lot of close friends- more like a ton of acquaintances- so this year is very different. Cheaper, yes. As fun? I dunno. I don't remember what it's like to be single on Christmas actually, so we'll see. Maybe I will just buy myself an iPhone, finally!

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Plato Says..." Yeah- the Dude Rocks

I was looking for quotes about Nature vs. Nurture to include in my book because I thought it would make a nice touch between the dedication and acknowledgments, since that is really the underlying theme. In my web search, I was given a page full of Plato quotes-- none of which had to do with Nature vs. Nurture- but there were some that I never saw before, or at least forgot about. A lot of these hit home, or made me think of certain people in my life, or certain experiences I've been through. It's amazing to think how long ago these words were uttered, yet they still apply today. It shows that no matter what civilization or century- we're still human. Here are some of my favorite Plato quotes- some are witty, some are beautiful and most are just smart:

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. -Plato (I like this because I have been in heated moments where I immediately felt like writing poetry, and I am being serious, not sarcastic.)

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Plato (And I always am! My philosophy sometimes is I may be the first person that was nice to someone, or the first person to smile at someone that day!)

He was a wise man who invented beer. - Plato (He really said that? Wow! Love this guy!)

Human behavior stems from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge. - Plato

Necessity: the mother of invention. - Plato (So, so true!)

There are two things a man should never be angry at, what he cannot control and what he can. - Plato (Again, love this one. I try to be laid back at all times. Why waste energy getting mad?!)

Music is moral law: it gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato (Ah, so true. So many friends I have that are so into music that would love this one.)

And my favorite:

Life must be lived as play. -Plato

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Where's the Menu Board?

A few weeks ago, on Black Friday, I headed to work and en route, stopped to get a McDonald's breakfast at the Luzerne location. When I pulled up to the order speaker, something was very different. There was no menu. None. There was just an empty, metal, red circle thing which I am guessing held the menu. I felt at a loss intially, so I just ordered a coffee with three creams and a hashbrown. I mean, I know what McDonald's carries, but without the menu, I felt a tad lost.

I figured the Luzerne McDonald's just chose a holiday weekend when less people would be eating Big Macs to change/upgrade the order board. Then, fast forward today. I wanted a fountain soda. Bad. So, I pulled into the Luzerne McDonald's and again, NO menu. It's been a little while; you'd think they'd have it replaced by now.

I seriously thought of asking into the speaker box, "Hey-- what do you guys have here?" You know, throw them off a bit. Pretend I've never been to the Golden Arches before!

What is so funny about this situation is that most Americans would do just fine without even looking at the menu at the McDonald's drive-thru. Seriously! And that should scare us. We've been groomed to know what McDonald's serves, from the Big Mac to even lesser knowns, like the Asian Chicken Salad. We know about the fries. We know about the shakes. We know about the pies. We don't need the menu board. Yet, it's a source of comfort. It's pictures can perhaps change one's mind. It can help the indecisive, decide.

But really- I wonder how long it takes to replace a menu board. There may be someone in Luzerne county who never ate at McDonald's, and may very well need it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lucky's Sportshouse is a Nice Addition to NEPA

I meant to write this post a few weeks ago, and in fact, even took a picture of my dinner to use in the blog post. For months when folks drove on upper Coal Street past Wegman's, past the big superstore that is ruining America and toward the arena, they were greeted with the old Uno Pizza building be remodeled, with a sign that said, "new concept restaurant coming soon." The owners teased us-- no one knew what was being worked on inside the old pizza shop.

Then, it was announced that it was going to be Lucky's Sporthouse. The logo is pretty cool, so even though I do not care for sports, I was interested. Then, two of my friends were meeting there one Monday for a game (something with a ball or stick, I am not quite sure) and food and beer. When I walked into the place, I was pretty impressed. Huge, open, airy, lots of TVs.... a real, super nice place. The bar was HUGE. The bartenders certainly have a lot of room to move around, which I am sure makes their jobs a lot easier. Lucky's Sportshouse has tons of beers on tap, which is great. Not as many as Arena Bar & Grill, of course- but that's the Arena's speciality. Lucky's is all about providing sports fans a more upscale place to watch a game and get some good eats.

The menu is fantastic! There's the token bar food, of course. Everyone at the bar seemed to be ordering pizza- Lucky's Sportshouse had a good selection of speciality pizzas. I opted for a real dinner. Something really caught my eye- Grits and Shrimp. I know- grits. Reminds ya of My Cousin Vinny, right? This prompted me thinking- is this a chain? I was pretty sure Lucky's was a local place because in my travels around the US, I have never seen another Lucky's, but grits? In NEPA? So I asked our extremely nice bartender (his name is escaping me, dammit- I knew I should have posted this that night), the scoop. Turns out one of the owners worked in the South for a while and learned just what you could do with grits while there.

This grits and shrimp thing was one of the most unqiue things I've tasted. It was two grit and cheese cakes- I had only seen grits look like a lumpy side dish before- but here, they were formed into cakes, either deep friend or pan friend until they were golden and crispy. Then, between the two cakes was spinach. All around the tower were pieces of shrimp and cherry tomatoes in this amazing cream sauce. I could barely drink my beer because this was so filling- I couldn't finish all of it, but did my best. It was just incredible. I'd order it again, but definitely want to try the pizza.

So- to all in NEPA who are looking for somewhere new to try, check out Lucky's Sporthouse. I am not a sports fan but still had a blast. The place draws a good crowd, has a really, really nice staff and just an overall great atmosphere.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reflecting Back to the Inner Makeover

Did you ever re-read something you wrote a year or so ago? I used to post a lot of articles on Associated Content- an user-generated content site-- where I also earn recurring revenue each month. I was really, really active there for some time. Things got busy with work and school, so I haven't posted anything new in nearly a year. However, my stuff still gets read and commented on. Today, I received an e-mail notification that I had a new comment on my article, "How I Gave Myself an Inner-Makeover."

I had to go re-read it. In July 2007, right after I left one job for another, I really made some changes. And, I still feel great that these changes are still in my life. I still live by "It is What it is." I am no longer in that relationship, however (I guess I kept on with the negative energy removal...), and yes, I succumbed back into meat eating- but everything else is still the same. It's just neat to go back and read something that you pledged to yourself a long time ago, and it feels great to know that I kept up!

So that's my shiny, happy thought for the day. = ) What can you do to change YOUR life for the better? What can you get rid of that's bringing you down? Small changes can be HUGE!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

QWERTY Keyboards Great for Texting- Not So Great for Trying to Dial By Letter

I haven't worked in radio for some time- geez, about six or seven years. It feels like yesterday. But at any rate, I felt it was time that I could actually call a radio station to win something. A local station here is giving away a holiday party- you qualify a few times a day to win a prize and then get entered in a grand prize drawing, yada yada. So anyway, I heard the Santa sounder and wanted to dial the station to try to be the Nth caller. When I realized my Q has a QWERTY keypad, I was in trouble. There was no way I could figure out what numbers spelled out the radio station name in time to win. Haha!

The other day when my computer was going haywire at home, I went to campus. My password to get on Wilkes was reset and saved on my home computer. I never memorized it, so I had to call the HELP desk, which is 408-HELP. I couldn't dial by number, again. So I called the main Wilkes switchboard and asked to be transferred.

Just a silly observation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Forget the Sound, How About The Smell of Music

I had a nice little trip to the mall last night, ending with a massage from the new Massage Store, ran by authentic Eastern practitioners. (That's my PC way of describing the place.) I sooo needed a massage from my long work days and long work nights on the memoir draft the past few weeks- my neck and shoulder and arms were tight as hell from all the time typing and in the computer chair. It felt pretty amazing and I slept like a rock.

I stopped at Macy's to pick up another pair of Donna Karan New York -DNKY- jeans because they fit me better than any other denim product, ever! Love DKNY. I wish I had found them sooner. I also found a cute shirt to wear for the First Annual Turkey Day Pub Crawl, a term for tonight's festivities my co-worker coined. Then, I found this cute, gray Hilfiger sweater on sale 30% off!! Score.

On the way out of Macy's, something really cute caught my eye- adorable bottles of perfume with anime-looking character shaped bottles. The brand is Harajuku Lovers. I am a sucker for packaging so I perused over to the counter. I sniffed all the samples and found that I liked Music the best. Then I remembered that last week I spritzed on the last spray of Flirtasious, my previous perfume. I was in need of something new and I was in front of a very cute bottle that contained a very nice smelling perfume. So, I grabbed a tiny bottle of Harajuku Lovers Music for $25.

Today, I Googled the perfume to get a picture for the blog post and found that this is Gwen Stefani's perfume! This makes me extra excited because she's hot and talented and kind of a girl crush I have. The perfume was inspired by Gwen's first trip to Tokoyo in the Harajuku section, where people have their own style and attitude. The website for the perfume says Harajuku stands for "anything goes, outrageous, layered and eye-catching...." Apparently, there will be a float for Harajuku at the Macy's Day Parade... another Macy's connection there... The website is super cute and fun but has a lot going on and slowed down my PC.