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.

Video from Non-Profit Summit 2008: Three co-workers and I presented at the Blog, Blog, Blog session

A few weeks ago, I spoke on a panel called Blog, Blog, Blog at the Nonprofit Summit 2008, sponsored in part by CDS Creative, the company ran by my new friend Catherine Shafer. The CEO of my company, Scott, an SEO expert from my company, Jeff (and fellow blogger), Catherine and I talked about all the advantages of blogging for nonprofits-- not to mention how easy it was. I had a great time! After the session, I was interviewed for the video presentation-- check it out. You must wait until the very end to see me, but there's a lot of good stuff there pertaining to managing nonprofits-- if you wish though, you can move the dial up to around 5:00 to see my interview and B-roll footage of Catherine and the Solid Cactus gang. Click on the video for the '08 summit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Round of Funny Keywords That Brought People to My Blog

A few months back, I posted some funny keywords that showed up in my Google Analytics account. To those unfamiliar with the e-commerce tool, Google Analytics pretty much tells you everything about your site- where people are coming from, etc. I have it on my site just for shits and giggles to see how much traffic I get and how far visitors are from- but what I find most entertaining is HOW people find the blog.

There are some expected keywords, like my name (people search for me for some reason)- various spellings of my name and blog name, too. I also must have blogged about a few well-searched topics like Office Space, Green M&Ms being an aphrodisiac (about 40 different versions of a search for that appeared), expired driver's license and bars (almost 100 searches for versions of that), fecal matter in ice (about 30 different keywords phrases on that), lots of Pocono and Wilkes-Barre businesses since I blog a lot about what I do and where I go... But here's some strange ones-- somehow my content must have looked good to the search engines when people searched for:

are you supposed to rotate in a tanning salon
beer internet publicity tattoo (My comment: WTF?)
cats for cakes
cool laundromat names
dive bar dancer blog
donna l. white naked (My comment: Thank goodness is wasn't my name with naked!!)
elmo drink trucks
hoochies guitar
health issue, i smell a mold smell everywhere, my house, my car, my office (My Comment- that's a long search term!)
how to use a pooper scooper (My comment- freaking hysterical)
my cat is eating too much
my boyfriend caught me smoking
nightmare cat eating body
screw the banks
status orgasmus
where did okie dokie come from

Maybe I'm a complete dork- but I love this stuff!

Children Do NOT Buy Cars, So What's the Beef?

I subscribe to a few e-mail newsletters from Advertising Age magazine for career reasons- lots of great info on trends in traditional and new media. I learn a lot.

Today's e-mail subject line was: Parents Television Council's Worst Advertisers; CW's New Sunday; Macy's Windows; It's Ad Age's MediaWorks.

The article I would like to focus on is Parents Television Council Pillories GM and Nissan. PTI isn't griping about the content of ads, but specifically where companies are advertising.

I don't have children, and as a child, I was exposed to R-Rated movies and adult content from the get-go so maybe I just don't get the whole censorship thing, but I really dislike organizations like these. As Ad Age puts it, PTI is shaming companies who advertise on risque shows. They discredit GM for advertising on the "most shocking episode" of Family Guy and also, Nissan for helping "fund the bloodiest episode of Dexter."

So the F what.

Children do not buy cars. Adults do. Adults like me, who watch Family Guy. And guess what? I am a GM fan. I like to buy American. I kinda like the Pontiac Vibe, in fact. So therefore, isn't it smart that GM and these other companies are advertising WHERE THE TARGET DEMO watches?

Ads on child-safe programming should be for things they will beg their parents for, like dolls, video games, toys and Disney vacations. Keep the car ads on the shows the adults watch.

So what are the Top Ten Worst Companies, according to the conservative PTI? Loreal, Pepsi-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline, Reckitt Benkisser (I have no idea what that is), Target, Kohl's, Verizon Communications and Toyota. This strikes me as interesting because I made the switch from Coke to Pepsi a few years ago, I shop only at Target when going to discounters, love Kohl's and have a Verizon Phone. So you see, these companies effectively advertised to me by choosing the right medium for the message.

Guess what? People who like sex, drugs, rock and roll, violence and other risque stuff really do buy stuff, too. And judging from the morals of America today, that's an incredible amount of people. I'd say these companies are just doing some smart business. = )

Back to Normal- Normal as I Can Be, Anyway


That's a sigh of relief that my memoir draft is complete for the purposes of submitting it to the MA in Creative Writing Office, to then be sent to an outside reader. Of course, I still have a long road ahead of me to polish and rewrite and edit until it's truly ready to be submitted for publication. The past two weeks, I kicked it into high gear and just cranked out work. My housework as fell to the wayside, and now that I am done, I have laundry, dishes, floors to clean.

At so many points the past few weeks I've been inspired to write a blog post, but then my mentor's words came into my head. I was a slacker. I lack self-discipline. I think a lot of writers do. But the thing is, with her pushing me and me ultimately finishing, I realize that I CAN write something that long. I CAN finish a book.

Now, I can get to work on all the other ideas I have now that I know I can do it. And since I have no looming deadline or due date, I can get back to my random blog posts and get back to doing some freelance writing.

I have to say, too, that I am so super proud of everyone in my program at Wilkes. On June 22, 2007 we met for the first time in Breiseth Hall at Wilkes- all eager writers with lots of ideas, but not all of sure where we wanted to focus our MA efforts, which genre we'd choose, which story idea we'd run with. Now, TODAY, we are all dropping off our final drafts. Wow. I cannot believe we've come this far. Many of us (hopefully I will be accepted) will be continuing on for one more year for the M.F.A in Creative Writing. I just want to be part of this community longer. I am not sure that I'd start a new project, as I may continue to polish my memoir... choices....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Reasons it Hasn't Been a "Daily" Dose

Last night, I received an e-mail notification that I had a new blog comment. It was from an anonymous reader who made the point that I now have an Internet connection at home, yet am blogging less. On the surface it doesn't make a hoot of sense. But, here's why.

I'm a slacker by nature, like a lot of creative people are. I realized that I was quite behind where I should be with my memoir draft- and with the help of my mentor I had to set a VERY aggressive deadline to get the draft done in time to graduate-- without having to take an extra semester. She made the comment that I blog a lot. If I had put this much effort each day onto my memoir, I would not be in this perilous situation. She's absolutely right. There are other, more personal reasons, I've been struggling with the memoir, but I wanted to check in and let the folks who read by blog regularly why I haven't had a new post in a while.

What's worse, is that as soon as I got my Internet connection- I was infected with something. I thought I fixed it- until today when the same thing happened. For that last hour and a half, I've rebooted six times. I think I am killing this computer in Office Space fax destruction styles. Or, if you watch family guy, the way Brian and Stewie destroyed the "Bird is the Word" record.

I keep the Internet closed, and Word up (haha, that sounded funny) to focus in my story. But the porn and loan and other advertisements still pop open. The only way to prevent this is to unplug my Internet. But in some cases, I needed research-- in going through the draft today, I wanted to add some stuff about George Carlin and "A Place for my Stuff" since that was a big part of my family's nomadic life. I wanted to get the wording just right, so I came to my blog where I had posted the video several months ago. That's when I realized that I no longer had flash. I tried to download it. Firefox wouldn't let me. Something must have happened when I wiped out all of my viruses and tried to increase my security settings. So, after spending an hour with help files, I got it to work. And that's how I came back to my blog- to see if the video was there. And then I decided, what the hell, let me take a break, vent and blog for a minute.

Please wish me well- I don't have much time to finish this. It won't by any means be publishable by next week, but it will have a beginning, middle and end and be able to get me to graduate. I have a lot of work to do to really finish this, but this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eating the Red Crayon

I just updated my Facebook status to let the Facebook Kingdom know how happy I am that the map is getting filled up with blue states. So, I wrote:

"Donna is liking what she sees so far on the map that's getting colored in on Now if a small child could just come and eat that red crayon, it'd be swell!"

Then, just out of curiosity, I did some quick but thorough research and I found a little baby named Maddie who has her own website who is qualified for the job. This litle tyke will surely eat the red crayon so no more states get colored in with red this evening.

She only likes red. She will safely protect the periwinkle, the Cerulean, the royal blue, the sky blue, and the standard blue.

And here's a little tidbit of Binney and Smith trivia that has nothing to do with the 2008 presidential election but really everything to do with the election: BLUE IS THE MOST POPULAR SHADE of Crayola crayons. = )

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't Pick Trash This Election Day

A portion of Kingston Township in Pennsylvania is a whole lot cleaner, while a few co-workers and I are a little dirtier. I don't want to re-write the whole post, but you can read about the my company's Adpot-a-Roadway program here, and how a half-dozen of us volunteered the Saturday after Halloween to clean up some very strange litter. (Normal litter, too.)

However, what I could not share on my company blog was this photo. In a sheer moment of genius, I said to a pair of co-workers, "Holy crap, look at that big piece of trash. I've got that one boys!" So, I ran over and tried to bag it up. You can see it here, in Exhibit A:

Okay, so I didn't really steal the sign. Why would I incriminate myself anyway? But really, it's garbage. It's not even Red, White and Blue!

Consider this blog post a PSA. A lesson that the McCain/Palin signs don't belong in yards-- they belong in dumpsters.

Go Obama. Don't pick trash on Election Day.

Dude- if you're in e-commerce, this is the place to be.

Since I did not have Internet at home the past month, I was not privy to this lovely YouTube video that my coworker created from a collage of pictures from Solid Cactus E-Commerce Boot Camp, October 2008. For more information on upcoming Boot Camps, click here.

In the meantime, enjoy this little montage. I had to spread the word. And yes, I had fun as you can tell. = )

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Relief!! I Feel Like Me Again! Finally! Internet at Home!

The lack of Internet saga got even better. I was notified Friday that my Internet was ready. I didn't have time to mess with it Friday since it was Halloween, so I got to it Saturday. I was so exctied! I thought all I had to do was plug in everything and install the software from Verizon. No signal. I went through all the trouble-shooting with no luck. I tried it on the three jacks in the house. No luck. So, I called tech support. I explained to her that I just moved and was patiently waiting for two weeks for this date, and told her that I was unable to connect, and that the DSL light was not staying static green, instead, just blinking.

After hearing that, her first question was, "When was the last time your Internet worked?"

Duh! No listening skills whatsover. Then, she tried to look up my account info. She kept saying she can't find me. I repeated to her how to spell my name:


"Okay. I-R-C-O she said back," to which I corrected her again twice.

"I still cannot find you. Are you sure you ordered service from Verizon?"

"Yes. The number on the screen says to call you."

"Okay, it's T-A-L-A-I-R-C-O, right?"

I wanted to kill myself. She FINALLY got it right.

Then, she proceed to ask all the dumb questions like if my power was on (yes) and if I plugged the filter between the wall jack and the modem.

"No. I am not an idiot. I can follow directions, and plus, there is a huge red sticker on the modem that says not to use a filter between the wall and the modem," I told her back. "The problem where is that the DSL is not present..."

Thank goodness the call with her didn't last terribly long, but I was on hold for quite a while to get over to their dispatch department. I got to another lady who was able to help me. Luckily, Verizon has technicians that come out on the weekends. So, she scheduled me for Sunday, which is today. Chuck from Verizon just left and I know have Internet at home! The problem was that the inside line was not connected to the outside or something like that. A big thank-you to him for taking care of things!

So, I can now do all the things I couldn't do for over a month. I am so overdue on all those Facebook requests, e-mails that I needed to reply to that I didn't want to from my phone (takes too long), playing online word games, getting reconnected to WebCT for my MA at Wilkes, doing work from home, blogging, and more. I've managed to do some blogging from wi-fi hotspots, but no much else.

And the funny thing is- I am so tired from last night that I really want to take a nap instead of play online....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 1988: The Year I Dressed Up as a Bar

I wrote about this as a chapter in my memoir, and I just had to dig through all my pics to find these. I am not supposed to have them. I took them from my mom years ago to show someone and never gave them back. Inadvertantly, I lost them in a sea of other pictures. A few weeks ago, I found them on a whim stuffed in a photo envelope of some concert photos from my radio days. Thank goodness I found them! Now I have electronic copies and maybe will give these back to my mom. Maybe.

I may post a portion of the chapter I wrote, but here's the nutshell version. When I was 10, my mom created this bar costume for me. I won "Most Creative" at the two fire hall Halloween parties I went to. The costume is made of cardboard, covered in contact paper that looks like wood and decorated with all the bar staples superglued to the bar- bottles, cans, shot glasses, napkins, cigarattees, etc. I was dresses as a bartender underneath with a white blouse, black slacks and suspenders with beer buttons up and down.

Now that I am 30, I can see that perhaps I was corrupted by the bar scene at a very young age and this explains a lot! haha. Seriously though- my mom was a creative and a whiz at Halloween costumes. I was very lucky. Maybe I'll go as a bar next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Post II of the Day: Internet Awaits Me at Home

Before I get too excited- I haven't tried the Internet at home, but today is the day the Internet is supposed to be on at home and today I even got the e-mail from Verizon, as show here in Exhibit A, saying its true. I already hooked up my modem and everything and keep turning it on everyday to see if it works incase they turned it on early. No luck. Can't wait to get home today to try it out.

I must send a big Thank You to the VP of Customer Service at the local office of Frontier Communications. Someone forwarded my blog post to them and he e-mailed me offering to help. I wrote back saying I appreciate his response and willingness to help, but I had already signed up for Verizon. It's a shame that things only get taken care of in some cases when a little noise is made. I do hope the company- not this local office- but the company as a whole makes some changes to make service a little easier. It is nice to know that this VP cared enough to contact me and offer help. It happend too late, but it was a very nice gesture and says a lot that there are some good people with customer's best interest at heart. I feel I need to post about it to even out my complaint post from a few weeks ago- nothing is more frustrating that not getting someone on the phone, having wrong hours posted, etc. But it's all over as of today. I think. I hope.

Centralia and Halloween Party I - A little late of a post

Last weekend was pretty awesome. I would have added a post sooner, but being without Internet at home and sheer laziness of going somewhere with wi-fi kind of got in the way.

Friday night, a few co-workers and I met up with my creative writing bud A. and headed to Gravestone Manor, a theatrical haunted house in Wilkes-Barre, where two of my other creative writing friends work. It was pretty cool. Then, we hit up Old Tyme Charley's in Plains for a little 40lb. Head and a lot of bomb shots- Jager bombs. Grape bombs. Raspberry bombs. I also ran into some old radio buds, so that's always fun!! With a case of heartburn, we then hit up Flaherty's in Edwardsville where we pretty much closed down the place. It was nice little tour of some of the finest bars in NEPA...

Saturday, I hibernated all day until it was time to get ready for A and C's annual Halloween bash. I'll post some pics later of that. Fun times ensued as usual. I reigned champion at Beer Pong, and then the Flip Cup team I was on also rocked. My friends may have had a pole, too. And you know what that means for a drunk Donna. There may or may not be videos.

Sunday, it was a hungover road trip to Centralia... you can read more about that on the post below. But I saw a part of Centralia I never saw before- the portion of Route 61 that is closed off. It goes on for a few miles- we walked a lot of it- really getting some exercise, too-- you just don't realized it's a big hill when you go down... haha. The big crack in the road was quite impressive- trees were growing out of it. But what was even more amusing was the graffiti painted on the road. Craziness.
So much changed in Centralia since I first started going- a lot more has been torn down, but there was still cool stuff to see. I just really enjoyed the weekend. I was completely exhausted by Monday! But what a great weekend- a haunted house, a few bars, a great party, a cool road trip and still some good sleep!
I still have yet to get my TV and washer and dryer, but I guess I'm not really home enough to watch TV. My two new neighbors commented on that fact last night, as I ran into the house to change and then leave again for dinner with co-workers at Rustic Kitchen at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino. They were outside smoking and said, "When are you ever home?!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spooky Hallo-Weekend Ahead! Costume Party and Centralia!

I love this time of year. In fact, I started off a post on my department blog with that same thought. I love sweaters. I love orange. I love pumpkins. I love being scared! By the way- if you are in any way interested in e-commerce (that's sellin' stuff online) or sales in general, you should give the Solid Cactus Sales Blog a read!

I am not sure, but I have to kick-off the weekend somewhere, somehow! Could it be Hops & Barleys??

But on to this weekend. I am looking forward to the annual costume party at my friend A&C's house-- this is their first Halloween in their new house, so it's going to be bigger and better-- and louder I am sure since they are nestled in the middle of nowhere in Hunlock Creek! I am stoked for the chicken wing dip, Jell-O shots, Flip Cup, Beer Pong and seeing lots of folks I haven't seen in a while. They have mad decorations, too.

Centralia!! I am so super stoked for this trip. Two girls from work were talking about it, and I told them that I went there so many times as a kid, and then took Dave there a few years ago. In 2003 I went with my dad and step-mom and took some great black and white pics-- I scanned them in here at work, but it didn't work too well because it was a copier and I think it thought the pics were paper. At any rate, I'll still post them here. The one up top is of me in the middle of the smoke, and the one right here is with the house that was going to be razed. Anway... we have plans to drive down there Sunday afternoon and I'll be the tour guide.

Oh wait?! What is Centralia you ask? It's an old mining town in Central PA that had an underground mine catch on fire back in the late 60s. The fire is still out of control. The town is now pretty much a ghost town, but some residents still live there- the diehards that refuse to leave. Most houses are torn down- it's eerie to drive around there- smoke still billows out of the ground. There are driveways that lead to nothing. I am pretty into this wierd stuff, so every time I go, I spend hours exploring. When I went back in 03 I had my picture taken in front of a house that was x'ed off to be torn down. My dad and I went inside the house and there was so much stuff still left there. Mail, even. So now we know who lived there incase we ever want to do an article or something. The story of this town is totally horror movie material. I have plenty of ideas for movies to be set here- I am surprised none haven't been yet. There was one a few years ago about a woman whose daughter is lost in an old mine town, but it wasn't exactly like Centralia.

Here are some Centralia links:

Before I made this post, I actually just read the Wikipedia entry, and another house I have a picture of was torn down in 2007. It was a house that had brick support on either side- so it looked like it had ten chimneys. I guess we won't be seeing that this weekend. But just to be in this ghost town around Halloween will be so cool!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Barely Connected at Wegman's, But It's Better Than No Connection At Home

October 30th. That's the soonest I can get hook-up at home from Verizon. Ugh. Who do I have to blow to get service quicker? Or how much extra do I have to pay? I'd do either at this point. Seriously! I can't stand this wait. I'll be living there about seven weeks without phone or Internet. My cell just doesn't cut it.

I came up to Wegman's today to TRY to do some work/play online. I was up unusually early today. Around 8:23 to be exact. I hit the sack last night right after work. I had kind of a late night Thursday and was just dragging all day. I knew if I took a nap I wouldn't wake up again to go out later, so I just caught up on sleep-- about 14 hours of it. So, I woke up and made scrambled eggs with cheese and whole wheat Eggo waffles and set off to run some errands during part of the week I always miss-- before noon on a Saturday.

I was amazed at how many people are awake before noon on a Saturday. I mean, really.... I just assumed everyone was lazy like me. I headed to the bank first, where I had to wait in line-- again, hard to think this many people want to wake up early on a weekend to run errands. I got my security deposit back from my old place and am stoked about that. Hello new washer and dryer!

Next, I went to Spirit Halloween store by the Wyoming Valley Mall and was helped by two friendly gals who helped me try on various costumes. I settled on Viking Girl but will absolutely need tights for underneath. Anyone behind me in the bobbing for apples line will thank me for those tights. It's amazing how small Halloween costumes are. I wanted to be Wednesday from the Addams Family because I really liked the wig, but they only had the outfit in a small and I am most definitely not a small.

Then, I needed a new lamp for my nightstand- I've been wanting something Eastern-themed with a red shade and I knew TJ Maxx would have one. So, I headed up to TJ Maxx and lo and behold, they had EXACTLY what I pictured in my head. I have to remember to get an extension cord, too. I can't wait to light it up and read by it. I can't wait to hang the rest of my Asian stuff up and have a really cool bedroom.

While in the aisle I saw these cool minisculptures that were inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's Virturvian Man. They are a combination of art and history and a tribute to the way the human body moves. I went to a great lecture a few years ago at Wilkes by Leonard Shlain (who I also got to interview!) and have been since marveld by the combo of art and science. At any rate, I got one of the human hand making the peace sign, very fitting for me. I got one of a human foot with a wing on it, no doubt referring to Icarus and finally one of a man huddled up in the fetal position with wings- I will have to look that one up. But I think they are really cool and different. I was trying to find a picture of them online, but I don't remember the name of the company, but I did Google "Virturvian Man Collection TJ Maxx" and a Washington Post shopping editorial came up, but the page will not load here at Wegman so I don't know if it is about these figurines, but I'll link to it anyway....

That brings me to here, Wegmans, where the Internet is unbelivably slow, just like when I was here last week. I am struggling to load pages in other windows right now. Last time I was here, I could not upload pics to my blog. So, for three weeks now people have not been able to share the rest of my San Fran pics or see my pics from Solid Cactus Boot Camp. This makes me sad. I may have to unplug and go to Panera Bread, but that place is way too small and always so loud and busy, and so is Dunkin Donuts. They just aren't the right atmospheres to be in to work. The cafe at Wegmans in Wilkes-Barre is huge and I have a private corner and access to a great coffee bar, sushi bar and more. And if you did not see the beer selection here- oh my goodness! I am happy they got the license to sell six packs. I am going to buy an assortment of beer when I leave - Harvest Moon by Blue Moon is out. Mmmm. So much good beer in the fall! And, I am surrounded by it all right now and I am getting thirsty!

Regarding the net, I asked for help, but the guy said there is nothing wrong. Wi-Fi works fast for me everywhere else so I don't really know what the problem is, but I am growing frustrated- for example, like last time I was here, it's going on 40-minutes for 20 pictures to be uploaded. It's insane. So, here I am. Still alive without the Internet at home, but it's like I am on life support. Barely breathing. Barely connected. I miss the Internet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bill Maher is Pretty Much God in My Eyes Now. Wait. The Defeats the Purpose of the Movie

I never saw a documentary in a movie theater, but I'll be darn, it was one of the best cinematic experiences I've ever had. I saw Bill Maher's Religuous with a friend last night and it was pretty much one of the best projects I've ever seen.

Basically, Bill Maher travels the Bible Belt in the US straight on to the "most sacred sites" in the world-- getting kicked out of many of them, might I add. The mission of Religulous? To create doubt. To make smart people reconsider their beliefs. To stump believers by asking logical, rational questions that they end up not having answers to and really look like complete asses because they can't even explain what they believe in. He interviews people from most all mainstream religions, as well as followers, including visitors to a Jesus theme park in Orlando.
I'm like Bill Maher. I am against organized religion and am a complete skeptic.- always have been. All that said, this movie was so enjoyable. I encourage everyone to check out Religious so they can be enlightened, or just learn a new way of looking at things. It doesn't matter what religion you are or aren't, this movie needs to be seen.

Of course in Bill Maher style, the movie is filled with comdey as well-- clips of various movies, old stand-up, clips of televangleists and all sorts of unbelievable stuff, all edited in such an enjoyable fashion. In post-editing, subtitles were thrown in to make fun of what interviewees were saying- showing facts to the mistakes they make. A complete riot!

I think I am going to go see this again this weeked.

To learn more about the movie:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Landmark Torn Down in Swoyersville

The title of this post is misleading, but that's really what headlines do. Not a real landmark, but the landmark I've been using for three weeks to find me new house. See, I live in the middle of a really long block. There's no real landmark to show you are getting close to my house. This will be difficult when I start inviting people over. So, I moved in the the middle unit of my buildling but one apartment in the house was still available. The "For Rent" sign was prominent in the year, easy to see from down the road.

Last night when I headed down my street, I totally passed out my own house because the "For Rent" sign was down. I had to turn around and go back. I guess I have a new neighbor.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not One, But Two Phone Company Fiascos. Argh! Verizon and Frontier Are on My S-List.

Not one, but two phone companies have pissed me off this week. I like to be shiny and happy in my blog- usually. Today, while I sit on hold, AGAIN, I will vent. Mind you, not from my home computer because I STILL have no Internet at home.

Verizon Wireless Sucks The Big One:
I Don't Care How Many People Are Outside my Door With Gadgets

We'll start with wireless. I recently had to change responsibility of my phone from the company into my name. Easy enough. Boom. Done. Okay, okay. I did have to wait for a while because the girl who serviced me at the counter at the Verizon Wireless location at the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre had not done this before. Two weeks later, I am smack-dab in the middle of a company event where I needed to reach people. One second the phone is fine. The next, I get a message, "The phone you are calling from cannot be authenticated." WHAT?

Since I do not have landline at home yet, I dialed 611, which is really a great service to have- that you can reach customer service right away. I give them credit for that. I found out that the person who switched my account over left an employer or employee ID on my account-- the company phones were to be deactiviated on the 10th. Since my accounted APPEARED to be a company phone- even after I got my welcome letter about MY new plan. So, just like that, with the flip of a switch, my phone was shut off. They apologized and immediately turned me back on. So it was really less than 12 hours without phone- but since I have no landline and no Internet it was an eternity.

So over a stupid field, I missed out on meeting up with some clients because I had no phone to call or be called on.

So I lost my charger. Left it somewhere and it was half-broken anyway. I went to the same Verizon store that messed up my account to purchase a home charger. I told the guy, "Home charger." He had to knock on the door to the office, swipe a card to gain access and go back to the stock room to get one. He peeked back out and said, "Home or car?" to which I replied, "Home." Speaking of home, I got home, opened my bag and saw that I got a CAR charger. Partially it's my fault- I didn't check the bag.

I went to the mall the next day with the intent to exchange the charger. The girl went in that same super-secure back room. She came back out and said, "Sorry. We don't have any of those." She told me to go to the Verizon store by Wal-Mart or wait until they were back in stock. I hate driving by Wal-Mart in Wilkes-Barre so I just walked away. I need to go somewhere soon though because I am borrowing a charger. Maybe I will just use the car one for now... but still... why can't they get ANYTHING right at this Verizon store in Wilkes-Barre.

Not the people. I talked to a really cool guy from Minnesota, a state where people think I am from for the way I pronounce certain words. But anyway, I called three weeks ago to transfer service. A year or so ago, Frontier Communications bought out our local phone company, Commonwealth (CTSI). After I explained my whole situation three weeks ago, the rep informed me that they do not handle service in 18074, which is less than five miles from 18708 where I was moving from. I was told to call a different office. But it gets better- I had to go through the whole queue again. I am busy and have limited time to do these menial tasks. I could not wait on hold any longer so I hung up. Since then, I was in San Fran, busy moving and busy with a work event.

Today was the day. I called again today, when I was connected with the nice Midwestern boy. I told him that I wanted to be transferred to the right person and told him what happened last time. He said, "Why would they send you to someone else. I can help with Frontier everywhere." I trusted the boy from the Viking state and carried on.

"Oh. I see what the other guy meant. I can't help you."
"See! I told you!" I couldn't get mad though. He was so nice. He explained the whole Frontier-buying-CTSI-but-TSI-gets-to-keep-some-local-jurisdiction. He put me on hold to come back with this, "Oh, Miss Donna. It gets better. The local Frontier you have to call closes at 6:00pm."

See- I knew that. But the main Frontier site says until 7:00 p.m. They really need to implement a map and you click on it to see which service center you need to call. I work in e-commerce- something like that can be done.

I hung up, but then I realized that I am still paying for service three weeks later at an abandoned apartment. I called back to cancel that service. Turns out, I still have the final bill. I have to pay that first before I cancel. So, I had to pay that via their phone service and then I have to call back to the OTHER number to get new service at the new place.

Mind you- when I signed up for service last time, I signed up online to avoid this PHONE CRAP. I was NEVER contacted even though I got an order confirmation e-mail. When I called, the lady laughed and said, "Oh yeah- you should never place an Internet order with us. That happens all the time with things getting lost."

I'm at a loss. I'm about to get two tin cans and a piece of string. Frontier needs 24/7 service to acommodate busy professionals who don't have 30-60 minutes in their day to deal with this.

So guess what. I am going for a beer. Thanks Verizon.. Thanks Frontier. Thanks for contributing to my drinking habit. Ugh!

--sorry for any typos- I am writing this irate and don't want to edit at the moment. (Again, the beer is calling!)

Not one, but two errors on Verizon's part.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Blog

I just created a new blog for "Kids, Have You Seen My Backpack." I know, like you need another blog from me to read! If you want to though, stop by for a visit.

I Really Like B. Moss & More

My cat was more active than I was yesterday. I had really good intentions. Really, I did. Wednesday through Friday was super busy at work with Boot Camp. And like usual, Friday night's finale dinner led to a great, fun night with school busses and all at the Woods on Friday. When I woke up Saturday and sensed the headache, it was an extra sign that it was a good night. To get rid of the headache, I went back to sleep. I slept on and off all day. I don't think I left my bed. When I woke up a little, I read a little until I fell back asleep. Every now and then I'd check my e-mail or Facebook from my phone, but for the most part, I hibernated. All day. Plans to go to a haunted hayride fell through. Plans to go to Target instead fell through. Plans to get up and make Ramen noodles downstairs fell through.

After all that sleep, you can bet I was wide awake and hungry this morning. I made myself four Eggo Whole Wheat waffles and had some coffee and OJ and took a shower- which felt amazing. I headed to the mall to pick up the coat I ordered at B. Moss about three weeks ago. I have this cycle with B. Moss.

1. Before I went to Oklahoma in August, I stepped into a really good sale at the B. Moss in the Wyoming Valley Mall. It was a Wednesday, but 50% off everything sale started Thursday, but you could pre-set aside the stuff the day before, get the same price-- you just had to pick it up the next day. I said I wouldn't be back for a week, but that was fine. As long as I left my card number, etc. they'd ring me up on the sale day and keep my stuff in the back. Super nice!

2. When I got back from Oklahoma to pick up my outfits, they were having another sale. This time, it was winter coats for 50% off. So, not only did I buy a bunch more regular clothes, I also ordered a lovely black, wool peacoat. They said it'd arrive at the store in 3-4 weeks.

3. Today- I was about two weeks late picking up my coat. It was still there. But like the last time I went to pick up an order, I bought even more. The sweaters at B. Moss were 50%. I grabbed a bunch of stuff to try on. The girl started a dressing room for me, while I continued to browse. When I tried on the clothes, she checked on me by name- they knew my name because they had already got out my coat. That was great service, I thought-- calling someone by name is Sales 101. I asked her to bring me a shirt in a medium instead of a large and she did, very quickly.

Once again, this store always had great sales, great service and they market the crap to me- I am on their phone list for their special "one-day sales" and also on their e-mail list. These guys market traditionally (they even do the signs on the road for their one-day sales) and via new media- they are on top of their game-- and once you get into the store, they continue to treat you well. So- if you can, shop at B. Moss in Wilkes-Barre!

Also- great service reported at the Shoe Dept. in the mall from a lovely young lady you looks like Taylor Swift-- she found me the right size boot, took all the crap out of it, unzipped it and gave it to me to try on. Reminded me of shoe-shopping when I was a kid where people really serviced you. You only really get that service at Department Stores where the men and woman have worked there for years, or local shops like our Gino's in Dallas.
After the mall, I hit up Target for random things like cat litter, velcro strips to hang pictures (no nail's allowed), letters for my mailbox (they didn't have the ones I was looking for, so I had to go to the scrapbooking aisle, haha), a card for someone and other random stuff I needed and random things I didn't need. Now I am at the office catching up on e-mails, etc. Then, it's off to Wegman's for their wi-fi.

Things Slip By When You're Busy

The past three weeks have been unbelievably busy. I've moved. I was super sick. I went to San Fran for four days. I had a busy work week with our semi-annual Boot Camp. So, it really was the worst time EVER to move. I have a to-do list, a very long to-do list.

1. I still do not have internet at my new place. I've become a frequenter of the areas in Northeast PA that have free wi-fi. Sure I have internet at work, but I really can't use it for the personal things I need to, like watch porn. Not, just kidding. I mean, my blog, my Facebook and work in stuff for school. And in general, e-mail. The only link to the outside world when I am at home is my Q. But the mobile apps for the things I use suck. I really should have listened to my friends and got the iPhone when I needed to get a new cell phone the other week.

2. I still do not have a television at my new place. I made the concession in May when Dave and I split up to leave him the TV and then to NOT get a new one until I am done my memoir draft for the M.A. Turns out, I am quite lonely without a TV. Not that I ever watch it, but it's so quiet. Just for background noise, or news in the morning. Or to lure someone over to watch a movie... I will probably not get cable, but I think I need a TV. The TV stand is lonely. The DVDs and VHS tapes (yes, I have those) are lonely. And the living room just looks funny without one. Everyone is telling me to wait until Black Friday and thereafter to get one so I probably will. I trust the people who have more electronics than I.

# 1 and #2 make me feel like I am in the Stone Age. (But when I think about the Flintstones, even that prehistoric family and their neighbors had some kind of TV thing.) I get bored when I am at home, which leads to a lot more productivity at work because I work late. But when I am at home, I have nothing to do. I love to read, but sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I actually will call someone, but it feels so awkward talking on the phone these days.

3. I still do not have a washer and dryer in the new place. This means I must go to the laundromat. Ugh. I have only had to go once so far because I was between both places until last week. The good thing is that the one I must go to is a block from Hops and Barley's in Luzerne. Rather than sit there and watch the timers go, I went and put a load in the washer, went to Hops for dinner with two friends from work, went back to put then in the dryer, went back to Hops to have a few beers and then went back to the laundromat to fold the clothes. It made the chore less like a chore. Because of #1, I was dying for a laundromat with wi-fi. I will try to find one, but I highly doubt the ass-old laundromats would think of that, nor would the majority of the population who would need to use a laundromat would actually bring a laptop with them.

I would have Internet at home if it wasn't for the stupid hours Frontier has. They are only open until 6pm. I tried several times to call them on lunch, but I was on hold for 15 minutes once in the queue-- so I hung up. I rarely take a full lunch at work and I really don't want what little break I have to mean sitting there with the cell to my ear listening to crappy music. So, I get irritated and hang up. I usually work until 6-7pm, so by the time I leave work and try to call, I get the message that they are only available until 6 p.m. I forgot. Then, I did get a guy one day and after telling him everything-- he said, "Since you are coming from rural to city, you actually need to talk to someone else." I asked if I could be directly transferred. No. I had to dial back into a new number. Then, I was going away for a week and then last week was tied up with work events-- they told me I had to be on site to get the new phone and Internet hooked up-- well that just sucks. So, I decided not to call since I couldn't be available for two weeks anyway.

I really take being connected for granted now that I've been disconnectd for a while.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wilkes Homecoming & Oktoberfest 2008

After sleeping off the trip to San Francisco, I woke up around 1 p.m. Saturday in time to hit up the 5th Quarter alumni tent, which my department (Communication Studies) co-sponsored. It was Wilkes' Homecoming, and a very special one at that-- the 75th anniversary! I didn't check out the game, just the party tent afterwards, which was held on the Fenner Quadrangle. I always love going back to Wilkes-- the profs in the communication department really are like my second family. It was wonderful to see Jane, Andrea, Dr. Kinney and Dr. Stine again-- and I was really surprised to see a few alums that I haven't seen in almost 10 years. I have a special situation- I started at Wilkes in 1996-1998 and then left and didn't come back until 2002. That being said, I knew a lot of people at homecoming as I was part of two classes. I enjoyed some beer and food and reminisced for a few hours about all things Wilkes. It was pretty awesome.

I already had plans to meet up with co-workers at Oktoberfest at the Lion Brewery. Since I had a "few" at the Wilkes tent, I opted to walk to Oktoberfest-- which seemed closer than it really was. On the way, me and my old friend M. stopped to visit a fellow alum who was at work. When we got to Oktoberfest, we met up with my work friends just in time to enjoy some really awesome fireworks set to the Star Wars theme. I enjoyed many Stegmeier Oktoberfest beers and listening to 40 lb. Head, by favorite local band. I ran into a slew of people there that I haven't seen in a while, too. Good times! NEPA sure is good for a good party, that's for sure!


I did not drive home last night, smartly. I was given a ride to my car, which was safely parked in a Wilkes University lot. When I arrived at my car, however, I noticed something dangling from the driver's side door. My freakin' mirror! Being homecoming weekend at Wilkes, I am sure it was an accident. Some drunk either hit it for shits and giggles, or someone drove into it. Either way, I didn't get mad. I walked to public safety and reported the incident and asked to borrow duct tape. It's an older car, so I wasn't too worried. I'll find another mirror at the junk yard and have Dave help me put it back on. But, such is my life. Always an unexpected adventure!!
(Pics- 1- Jane, Andrea and I. 2- A slew of Wilkes commuication alums from the past 10 years. 3- Me and pals at Oktoberfest. There's more on Facebook!)

Back from San Francisco

(editing on 10/12 to add pics and links- wrote this at Wegman's originally and their wi-fi gave me probs!)

I am in love with San Francisco. I returned to Northeast PA late Friday night from the three-day trip to the Bay City. The Online Market World expo was great- we met lots of great people! After the day's work at the expo, we were able to check out some of the city. My favorite neighborhood, as you could probably guess, was Haight-Ashbury. We checked that out on Tuesday, our first day in town.

I have a fascination with the 60s and in fact, sometimes feel I was born in the wrong decade. The area is still making money of the Summer of Love, for sure. (I know I spent quite a bit of dough in the various shops!) After Haight-Ashbury, we took a cab to North Beach, or the Little Italy area. A friend had told us that was a good place to find good eats. We asked our cabbie for a suggestion, and he dropped us off at a place called Rose Pistola. Mmmm. I had the sole and my co-worker had the lamb. We shared some awesome risotto balls for an appetizer. The kitchen was all open, and it included a big woodfire oven for their pizza. The chef came out to my table and fileted my sole for me right there. That was neat! Great service too from our waiter, Reuben. I loved their big, open kitchen!

After Rose Pistola, we walked around a bit. We stumbled upon the Beat Museum. We paid the $4 student rate and went through the exhibit. We met the owner, who was a really neat guy. He's been collecting beat stuff for years and four years ago opened the museum and gift shop. He had rare first editions of many books of the generation and lots of photos. It was a really neat place. After that, we were looking for a bar to have a few drinks at. We heard some blues music pouring into the street from this one bar (the name is escaping me), so we ventured in. We took a seat at the bar, which looked like it was converted from a greasy-spoon diner. As we waited for our Anchor Steam (me) and the red wine (co-worker), we gazed around and realized we were in a Steelers bar called Giordorna's. Top to bottom, left to right, it was all Steelers memoriabilia. We came all the way to California to visit a PA sports bar! I asked the bartender and he was from PA, as was the owner. This started a stream of PA people who were now living in Cali. Throughout the whole week, I'd say we met about 20 people who lived locally, but had roots in PA. After the first drink there, jet lag set in. We had plans to hang out all night, but the fluffy hotel bed won over.

Day 2 and 3 we worked at the convention all day. The second night, we hit up a really hip Sushi place called Blowfish: Sushi to Die For. The tagline comes from the blowfish legend-- anyone who eats one, dies. The place was super cool-- house music pumping through, anime playing on flat screen TVs everywhere and lots of cool Japanese action figures-- but most of the place was decorated in beautiful Japanese decor. The staff was awesome-- a really fun place to work it seems. The food was AMAZING- as were the drinks we had at the bar while we waited for our table. Blowfish Sushi was probably the best I've ever had. We had to wait a while for a cab- it was in the Mission District, but a little off the beaten path, so we had to have the matrie'd call for one. We went back to the hotel to get coats- it was pretty chilly- and then walked around downtown to find a bar. We realized that most of the cool stuff was in the neighborhoods, not downtown when we could not find a bar. We stumbled into a neat looking place called Farmer Brown. The place had a copper-top bar and lanterns made out of old burlap sacks. The bar menu had southern style stuff, and the house drink was Pabst Blue Ribbon with a shot of Jack (or something, I forget what the liquor was). Just as we sat down, the bartender said it was last call. At 11:00?? So we had one and then followed some guys from Switzerland to this club called Ruby Skye that that bartender recommended. That was pretty awesome- in this old theater which looked more like a gothic church. I was never in a club with velvet ropes before, so that was cool. Expensive, but cool.

Our last night in town, we attended a VIP Dinner Cruise around the bay with about 50 other attendees and exhibitors from the show. Our table was really great-- met some really great people. It was too foggy out to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, but we were able to see Alcatraz. That was really neat. When we got back to the hotel, I passed right out. We worked hard all week, were jet-lagged and I guess it caught up to me. The next morning, we had a great breakfast and my co-worker had an earlier flight than me, so she left. Then, me. Spent the day in the air. Overall, totally awesome trip! Hope I get to do it again soon!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm Going to Rice-a-Roni Land!

Now that I am moved in to the new place (thank goodness) and over my cold (thank goodness), I am headed off to San Francisco to represent my company at Online Market World. I'm pretty stoked because I've never been to California. Most everyone I know has though, and I've gotten tons of recommendations about where to eat and what to see. But by all means, comment away of you know of somewhere good to eat!! Something ethnic is preferred! Since I'll be working, I won't have much time for site-seeing but we are doing a dinner cruise which takes us by Alcatraz and some other sites. Looking forward to that. I am a little nervous about being in a plane for so long, but other than that, so excited to go somewhere new with an awesome co-worker and then get people excited about e-commerce! So, if I don't blog or update my Facebook or MySpace status, this is why! = ) I think what really excites me most is being in the city where the Tanners lived.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Boxes of Stuff, Boxes of Tissues: Words from an Empty Apartment

It feels weird writing this blog in this apartment. I feel like I am an undercover agent for some reason, stationed somewhere doing a survelliance. I am in a completey empty apartment with just a laptop and a phone. I have no internet or phone at the new place yet, so I left the laptop and my make-shift desk up here. Aside from a few odds and ends that I have to move, everything is in the new place. But, I was called out for no new blog post in a few days so I figured I should make an appearance. = )

I am exhausted! I didn't want to bother anyone to help with the move, so I've been moving myself little by little each day this week after work. Each day, I've made 2-3 trips to the new place. It helps that I already have stuff in storage so there wasn't much to move. I did realize how many books I actually had when I had to clear out my shelves and brings stacks to the car. I made about 9-10 trips in and out of the Shavertown apartment to my car, and then the same into the new Swoyersville apartment, which was worse because my office will be upstairs. That wore me out-- big time. As I handled all the books I realized that I have more of an obession with BUYING books than READING books. More than half were never read!

I did get some help last night. I rented a U-haul and Dave helped me move my furniture- it was great. One trip and we were done, although I am pretty weak so it could have gotten done faster if I had asked someone else with some muscles to help. We were done before 8:00 and started around 6ish. So, I am all settled in-- just need to make 1-2 more trips with some things that didn't make it yet. My current landlord has been awesome with me leaving. They are going to look into what is causing the musty smell, which will be great for the next tenant. She is wonderful and if she had another property, I would continue to rent from her. But, I am happy with my new place. Two bedrooms plus kind of a secret little room off the office. I will probably throw a futon in there. I am just a few blocks from my old place in Luzerne and less than a mile from my favorite watering hole. I could walk home from Hops andBarleys if I need to. I am no longer 1.5 miles from work, but I am still under four miles and with the lights it takes less than 10 minutes. My rather large sectional barely fit in the living room, so that's a downer, but otherwise, it's the perfect size for me.It's all carpeted, too whereas this place is tiled floor so my new place is a lot cozier. I have about a thousand birds that live in the trees outside my bedroom window, so I guess I have a fully-equipped alarm clock, too.

In other news, I have the early stages of bronchitis-- not sure if it is a direct result of the mold or if it just made me susceptible, but my doctor prescribed me the Z-pack to nip it in the butt before it really develops. I am on day three of the five day prescription and starting to feel better- but yesterday was by far the worst I was. I had a client tell me he felt sorry for me because I sounded horrible! Yeah- that bad. I was struggling to talk. You know it is bad when I broke my perfect attendance streak at work- over a year and four months without calling in. I guess the medicine was kicking in and working everything out, but it was a hell day in the office, worse than Tuesday when I stayed home. Today was better- still congested but I didn't go through a box of tissues like I did on Weds. Hopefully tomorrow it will be gone and I can go back to being my shiny, happy self. There is nothing I hate more than being congested and sounding funny when I talk. I'd honestly rather have a stomach flu and be barfing all day than sound this nasally.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jesus Stopped By While I Was Out

I don't have many pet peeves. I am totally open to all people and beliefs. Except cults. I'm not a fan of cults. I'm not a fan of cults who try to recruit me.

Today when I opened my flimsy screen door, a pamphlet fell out. Today is Monday. The Jehovah's Witnesses aren't supposed to be out today, but maybe it was stuck in my door from Saturday. Thank goodness I wasn't home.

The pamphlet asked if I wanted to learn more about the bible, if I wanted help in understanding the bible and if I was willing to spend time each week learning to understand the bible. They will even come to my home if that is more comfortable for me. Sorry folks. All the brainwashed Jehovah's Witnesses do is ruin lives. I've had personal experiences with someone close to me whose family was involved in the nonsense and I saw where it got them. That's a whole book right there!

All I want delivered to my house is my newspaper, my mail, my internet mail orders and surprise deliveries from Ed McMahon-- not religious propaganda from the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My First Sobriety Check Point

I was exhausted after the fair. Friday was a long night at the bar and even though I slept in on Saturday, I spent most of the day on Saturday outside in the sun watching my friend play rugby at Kirby Park (which by the way was awesome!). Long days outside can take their toll on you. After the rugby game, I headed to the Bloomsburg Fair, which entailed lots of walking. So needless to say, by around 10 p.m. I was ready to crash. So ready to crash that I opted to go home than go out again. Plus, I was in a hoodie and sneakers and not dressed to go anywhere, so when we made it back to my one friend's house for our cars, I just headed home, stretching a bit for some morsels of energy as I walked to my car.

I got onto the Cross Valley and as the highway ended and turned into 309 going into Shavertown, I saw the orange diamonds along the road indicating a sobriety check-point ahead. I freaked out. I was completely sober. However, by this point my hair was thrown up in a messy pony tail and my eyes were probably red from being tired (and not taking my contacts out for a few days, too). I never went through a sobriety check-point before, which made me even more nervous because I didn't know what to do. Do I show my license and registration and insurance? Do I just drive and only stop if they stop me? When I am nervous, I can have a tendency to mess things up so I was so nervous that my being nervous would make me look guilty that I go more nervous. Whew. That was a mouthful, but does that make sense?

As I turned the bend, I saw lots of bright lights. Firetrucks and cop cars from all the Back Mountain municipalities. I was directed to pull up to the first officer. Just like they do at the fair, he gave me those parking motions to "move up" and then "stop." My nerves were going insane because I didn't know if I pulled up far enough. Would that make him think I was drunk? The officer went over to a truck that was on the shoulder before coming over to my car. As I waited for him, I tried to be as alert as possible and not appear nervous. I knew that I looked like I could have spent a rough night out because of how exhausted I appeared. I hoped that he would notice my attire, and that he wouldn't think I'd wear an eight-year old Wilkes University hoodie to a bar. I also hoped that he wouldn't think a girl like me would already be going home at only 10 p.m. and that surely if I was drunk, I wouldn't have come home until much later.

I had my window rolled down and because I need to hold things when I am nervous because I don't know what to do with my hands, I cupped my coffee from the fair (which was still warm after an hour drive) and just waited. He finally came to my window and asked plainly, "Are you drunk?"

Like that, I froze. Of course I wasn't, but I was caught off guard with the question. I thought he'd ask how I was first, or something like that. Since I paused, I was sure he thought I was guilty. Crap, I thought to myself. This is going well.

I replied, "Oh no- I am coming back from the fair." I held up my coffee for whatever it was worth.

"They don't serve beer at the fair?" he asked.

"No- those are called fireman's bazaars," I replied- only someone from NEPA would understand the bazaars so if you are reading this and not from NEPA, sorry.

So, the cop chuckled and said,"Yeah, everyone is coming back from the fair. You have a good night."

Whew. I was thankful that I was way too tired to go out because the check-point surely would have still been going on later. As I drove, I saw several cars with people pulled over on the shoulder- I am guessing the people who did not pass.

I think that I'd have been less nervous going through the sobriety check-point a little buzzed to be honest.

The Psychic at the Fair

My favorite time of year, fall, is marked by the annual Bloomsburg Fair. I checked it out last night, opening night, with a few friends. I've gone with different people each year the past two-plus decades of my life, but each year the Bloomsburg Fair is familiar. I couldn't go a year without going at least once, usually two or three times. This year, however, I tried something new. I had my palm read.

Psychics would make excellent sales people. Take this. The sign said $3.00 Palm Reading. I grabbed a five out of my purse and entered the tent. A Zelda Rubenstienish lady held up a sign as I was sitting down. A real palm reading was $10, and she had three other readings listed for up to $20. She said, "The $3.00 is just a personality read." I thought, ya got me, so I pulled out another $5.00 and forked it over to the lady just for shits and giggles. When she was done with my reading, she squeezed my hands and pulled me in close to her and whispered that she wanted to do spiritual work on me, starting at $25. Yikes. I told her I only had a credit card and no more cash and left, but if she really was psychic she would have known I very well had the cash, which I intended on spending on more fried food and a purse.

Despite her conniving nature, the psychic said some things to me that were true. Sure, they are good people readers and generalize a lot. But it is a little uncanny some of the things she said to me:

1. You recently experienced some pain in your neck and your left leg. Hmm. I was in the ER for an unexplained left leg problem. See a past blog post about this. And since I have vacated my bedroom because of the mold, my neck has been killing me from the couch.

2. You've only loved two men. Now, if by that she means two relationships, then that was right on. Just two thus far. She also told me that I would be getting close with someone soon. Hmmm.

3. You don't have just one job, do you? You do something creative. That's true.

4. You like to have fun, but not alone. You like to be with friends and you like to organize things for friends. This is true.

5. You make money but you don't know how to save money. But that's okay because you just want happiness. This is also true.

6. You will live a long and healthy life. I hope this is true.

7. A lot of people admire you, but a lot of people talk behind your back too. I am sure this is true; it's just human nature.

8. You have two children. FALSE. She looked at me real funny, paused for a bit and said, well, you were meant to have two children. I thought about this later on the ride home from the fair- I had two miscarriages. Maybe she knew I was pregnant twice?

The psychic also told me I would be getting a letter in the mail with good news, and that I would soon be making a lot more money. We'll see about that one! I myself have always been intuitive and could read things about people and sometimes even scared people by the things I knew would happen, so I can understand having a psychic vibe. Do I buy everything she told me? No- she's doing it to make money not to really help people. Am I somewhat weirded out? A little bit. Do I want to believe there is a letter in the mail? You bet. Will I count on it? Nah. Haha.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mold should only grow on my leftovers, not try to kill me while I sleep

Hindsight is 20/20. And it's not just better vision-- it sure smells a lot better too.

I made a hasty decision. I do that from time to time. The apartment is big enough for me. Sure, I had to put some things in storage, but it's a one-bedroom, so it's expected. Sure, the paneling sucks, but I can deal because it is 1.5 miles from work and I can leave at 8:55 a.m. and still make it to work with two minutes to spare. However, the more I live here, the more I realize I should have looked around for a better place.

The main issue right now is the musty smell. I thought it was just because it was an old place and that the ventilation wasn't all too great. But this past week, it has become extremely unbearable. My bedroom is on the back of the building and along the far exterior wall of the building. The apartment is situated on a luscious hill, which means it's damp. Hence the water getting in the basement and walls. I've never been down there because there is no access from my place, however there is no sign of mold or dampness in my apartment- so it's just the aroma of mold that is taking over my bedroom.

I went out on Monday night and went to bed around midnight. I shot up out of bed coughing with a sore throat at 5 am and couldn't fall back asleep for a few hours. I moved my blankets and fan out into the living room, where I also cracked the windows. There are no screens so I couldn't open them all the way because Spectra may get out.

Last night, it was worse. It was so bad I moved my bed just to be certain there was not a big ring of mold or mildew under the bed- there wasn't. My temporary bed was still on the couch, so I laid down there instead. I tossed and turned until about 3am. Every time I tried to fall asleep I took this big gasp of air that woke me up- almost as if my brain didn't want me to slumber. To get more air, I opened my front door to let air in through the screen door. I locked the screen door, but mind you, anyone and there mother could have looked in and saw me asleep on the couch (I wasn't naked) but I could've cared less. I still tossed and turned, felt dizzy and was getting a sore throat. I was a clutz in the morning and spilled a whole Diet Pepsi on me as I got of the car at work. Once I was in work for a while, I felt better-- like my brain was adjusting to good air again.

I left a message for the landlord today about it and when I came home from work, around 8:30 p.m., I went to the neighbor, who is kind of the "super" and I told him I called the landlord but wanted to know if he knew if there was a mold problem. His answer? YES. Apparently there was a bunch of junk accumulated there and they recently moved it all out of the building and found a lot of mold. They are going to work on it I guess. But I don't know what to do in the meantime. I wanted to stay in a hotel tonight- but why pay for it? My landlord should pay if it gets to that point. I think they should test this to make sure it is not toxic- because mold can kill you as a few people at work today told me. Maybe I just have allergies to mold- I am not allergic to anything so I don't know what it feels like... maybe this is it. I just hope it is not toxic mold and that I do not die in my sleep. That would kind of suck.

At any rate, I do not have a lease, so I may just give notice and move. I have other reasons besides this potential toxic mold issue. I want a bigger place, I want more windows that have screens, I want white walls, I want a dryer that ventilates out a window (mine does not so I get lint everywhere) and a bathtub shower, not a stall. There are many things I thought I could live with that I really don't want to anymore. So, I am kind of glad this mold thing is happening. Gives me a health reason to move quickly on this instead of himhawing around about moving. So, I made an appointment today to see an apartment in Swoyersville, which is right by Hops and Barleys... = )

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Boyfriend Stopped Smoking and More About My 10 Year Love Affair

The headline caught ya didn't it? I am not talking about a flesh and blood boyfriend! I was at Hops & Barley's in Luzerne, PA for the first time since the Pennsylvania smoking ban on Saturday, and then again last night. I admit, I am not the biggest fan of smoking cigarettes and don't really like going home smelling like smoke. However, now that people who smoke have to go outside every time they want to light up, the conversation stops. I hang out with a lot of fun smokers. So if we are at place where smoking is banned, my smoking friends must up and leave every so often. It interupts the good times. Does that make sense?

So the headline comes from my Miller Lite induced realization last night that Hops and Barely's has been the constant in my life. Yes folks, my longest committment is with Hops and Barley's.

Think of the men I've had the past decade.
The jobs I've had the past decade.
The addresses I've had the past decade.
All have changed. Everything but my love for Hops and Barley's.

I've swayed from Hops and Barley's when I lived in the boonies-- meaning I didn't go as often. (We were taking the only break our relationship ever had.) It accepted me back as if I never left.

One of the owners of Hops came up to me one night a few years ago and said that when he Googled "Hops and Barley's" most of what came up was something I wrote! I thought about it. I've written little reviews of Hops on local bar sites. Some articles I've written for the Weekender were set at Hops and they are archived on line. I've blogged a lot about Hops. I thought that was pretty funny. I don't show up as early in the search engines now thanks to local directories exploding -- but back in the day if you were looking for info on Hops and Barley's in Luzerne, PA, you got stuff I wrote. Ha! On that list is an article I wrote for Associated Content on Best Corner Bars in NEPA, an interview with CCR's original drummer Doug 'Cosmo' Clifford where I told him I had the number to "Down on the Corner: memorized on my favorite bar's jukebox, a review I wrote of Jessica Andrew's Who I Am CD, my old Geocities page,

So, I was telling the peeps I with this realization of my relationship with Hops last night, including the bartender who's been there the whole time Hops has been open- 14 years. Today at work I was told what hotel I am staying at when I go to San Francisco for Online Market World 2008-- I immediately clicked on Restaurants and Bars on the hotel's menu and you're never gonna believe the name of the laid-back bar inside the hotel: Barley 'n Hops. Wicked coincidence.

Tonight I was going through a bunch of boxes of pictures that I never put in albums from over the past ten years or so.... soooo many of them were from Hops. It was weird to see the hair length and weight change and even the people I was in the photos with change- but the background is all the same- Hops! It's like it was one giant, decade long party. Maybe when I am feeling really motivated, I will sort through them and grab one or two per year and put them in order to see the progression!

So, this blog post is my ode to Hops & Barley's in Luzerne. Best food. Best Staff. Great beer selection. Best Crowd. Some of my best memories!