Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Songs That Changed My Life

I had to think really hard about this prompt, because music is such a huge part of my life!  It's hard to pick those benchmark songs that mean the most, so sticking to theme, I'm picking the songs that marked a change in course, or really made me someone new.  Literally, changed my life!  I was surprised at what I ended up picking, here we go!

1.  Samba Pa Ti, Carlos Santana  was scene-change music for a play I saw in college.  A play I saw, I wasn't even in it!  But as soon as I heard those vaguely familiar guitar strains, I was obsessed.  This song will play at my funeral.  Or my wedding.  Whichever comes first.

2.  Inna Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly  when I was a little girl, maybe 13, my dad dragged me down to the basement, sat me on the ping-pong table and for 17 and a half minutes, he forced me to listen to this song.  THIS SONG.  The next day I got in trouble for rifling through his record collection.  Dad, I owe you my sense of humour, and my taste in music.

3.  Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Meatloaf 
once upon a time I was shy.  I was painfully, introvertedly shy.  Yeah, me!  But I loved to dance.  Not well, mind.  Mostly around my bedroom to whatever music I happened to be into.  My inner dance demon came out at my cousin's wedding.  All of a sudden, surrounded by relatives, I felt free to cut loose and just jump, jive AND wail.  I danced to every song that DJ played - I don't think my butt touched the my seat after the beats started up!  I threw all my soul into dancing to this song at my cousin's wedding - of course, I was like eleven and didn't have clue what it was about, but I loved the driving rock melody and the fact that it went on and on.  Later on that night, I danced with one of my cousin's new in-laws to the old classic "Misty."  This older gent kept it clean, mind!  He said he'd seen me dancing and how much I enjoyed it.  I mentioned a school dance coming up that I'd debated going to, but for the ticket price of $2.  Inflation, I tells ya!  At the end of the dance, he gave me two rumpled dollars and told me to enjoy myself at that dance.  Anything you love is worth doing.  Even if you have no rhythm!

4.  Wig in a Box, Hedwig and the Angry Inch 
is actually tattoed on my arm.  When I saw this movie my freshman year of college, my brain exploded.  Coming as I did from a "Wicked Little Town," I was dazzled and upended by the glamour and colour.  This video doesn't do the vibrance of the picture justice.  But suffice it to say, it changed my life.  I got a small tattoo from the movie a year later.  Still wish I could pull off that hair.  I think I'm almost nailing this look, though: 

5.  Maria, West Side Story 
another story about Dad and me: one night when I was in seventh grade, my mom was working a closing shift at the library and shortly after eating dinner together, I fell ill.  I remember lying feverish on the couch in the den with my dad, watching West Side Story air on television - something he'd brought up at dinner and I was quite disinterested in.  Yeah, you read that right: had I but the strength, I would have pitched a fit about having to watch West Side Story on TV!  But for the illness, that is.  So there I was, helpless on the sofa, and five minutes in (after the opening balletic sequence) I was hooked.  So hooked.  The dance at the gym, the costumes, the setting.  West Side Story is probably the main reason I felt compelled to move to New York City! 

Even thinking about this song brings tears to my eyes.  I checked the libretto out of the local library and renewed it (thanks Mom!) for probably an entire year.  That means I carried it in my backpack for most of seventh grade. 

Years later, I happened to go to a library book sale in a totally different town when something beautifully familiar caught my eye:

It was "my" book!  More than ten years had passed, and my dream of moving to the city had been fulfilled!  Twenty-five cents made her mine forever and I brought her back to the city with me to enjoy living in my West Side apartment.

So there you have it.  These songs actually changed my life.  This was probably my favourite prompt of all - I can't wait to see what other songs people
come up with!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adjusting to the New Job

So you all know because I keep talking about it that I got a new job in a school back in December.  It's been more or less like a month of classes and what a ride it's been.  Seriously.  Not only do I have to learn 150 new names of faculty and students, but diving right in was (as promised) intimidating.  I'm still trying to figure out which cabinet has the spare rolls of tape! 

Unlike my old job, which was pretty much the same thing every day, this new job is always challenging, and I always have to be on my feet.  Especially when students catch me off guard by saying hilarious, unexpected things!  Most days I go home tired.  Some days, I go home feeling like a total failure.  I feel so defeated it's hard to breathe as I walk to the subway.  And some other days, things go so well that I feel like dancing all the way home.  But it's never the same.  And I like that.

A month later, I still don't think I have all the answers.  But now, instead of feeling hopeless when I fail to be perfect, I'm turning that experience into a learning opportunity for myself.  I'm seeing positive changes in my students already.  I got so excited in class when a student went from disruptive troublemaker to driven overachiever in two days, I busted right out singing!  This is what I want!  This is what I love!  This is why I'm so happy to be doing this with my life.

But remember, every day is different.  My star pupil one day can be a pain in the butt the next day.  A kid I'd written off as "unreachable" can be a sweetheart and my best friend five minutes later.  Nothing is for certain and everything can change.  And on those days where I can't breathe anymore, I can always drink the pain away:

Errr....yeah.  Water.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Tastes Like:  sweet and hearty, complex and SO SO moist muffins...maybe it's the maple here, but these are so sticky and soft and gushy (yes, I may have just made up a word) that even muffin haters (do they exist?  Shunnnn the muffin haterz) will shut up when they have a face full of these muffins.  Remember the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes?  Clearly, Trader Joe knows how to bake for Gluten-Freegans.  (I made up another word, call me Shakespeare!)

Great With:  I'm about to blow your mind:  Trader Joe's Whipped Cream Cheese.

Yeah, I know.  My boyfriend didn't believe me until he had one, either.  I sliced the muffin in half vertically (which was a little difficult, TBH, because of how lusciously soft and moist it was) and gave it a lengthy toast cut-side-down in the ol' toaster oven.  After cooling, I slathered a dab of Trader Joe's Whipped Cream Cheese and EXCEPTIONAL MOUTH FEEL.  The muffin that had toasted was rough and crumbly in just the right way, while the rest stayed moist and soft.  The cream cheese was like fact, if you're lazy, you could frost the muffins with the cream cheese like as though they was cupcakes or something.  Your prerogative.

Perfect For:  all-inclusive brunch, or let's be real: these are great for eating for dinner after a long-hard day.  Tastes like dessert.

Must Know:  They're Gluten-Free!  Go forth and spread the word!  But they aren't vegan, so you know, don't share.

Costs:  $3.99 for a box of muffins, which is a bit of an indulgence, but so very well worth it.  Gluten-free baked goods are rarely baked good, so take advantage of these!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wonder Woman: Rescue Angel

A friend recently tipped me off that issue #19 of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, "Rescue Angel part 1 of 1," was right up my alley and not to be missed.  Wonder Woman?  Really?  I was quite sceptical, but this comic completely won me over by the end.  And by that I mean I cried.


Meet Lt. Angel Santiago, on her first tour of Afganistan.  WHUT.  Okay, what does this have to do with Wonder Woman, again?

Oh.  Okay.  Her niece is a fan.  She goes into battle carrying a totem of Wonder Woman as good luck.  Okay.

So from there the comic annoyed me a little.  She's a chick who's been called in on a chick mission, basically.  They need her for some photo ops!  She flew in to the Middle East to shake hands and kiss babies in front of the camera?  Sure, sure, they sugarcoat it by telling her how important the job is, but she's basically the Token Female Soldier in the first act...

...until she actually goes out on her mission, to visit a school for young girls.  The idea of young ladies risking their lives for an education pulls this story of tokenism closer to feminism, although to be honest, it still feels a little hokey.  Oh, yeah, sure, girl power and all that and then -

- BAM!  Explosions!  Snipers!  Actual soldiering!  Now things get intense!  Lt. Santiago springs into action, but is it too late?

And that's about the point where this comic punched me in the emotion gut and I started to leak The Tears.  Got me at the end, too, so if you're a woman who loves comics - hell, if you're a person who loves comics - pick up this great single-issue storyline, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, issue #19 and give yourself some Major Feels.  You get the General Idea.  At ease!  Army puns.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sunday Stealing - Favourites Meme

Name Your Favourite…


  too easy - Broadway on the Upper West Side.  It's like my Disneyland.

I couldn't possibly pick among friends and family - but I have an admiration boner for John Lennon.  Always have.

purple - an answer which could not possibly be more obvious just by the font/colour scheme of my blog!

sooo hard to pick but it's like maybe a toss-up between brussels sprouts and Peanut M&Ms.

Nutz 4 Nutz carts.  That smell drives me nutz.

hard!  Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut.

probably The Trip.  I've seen it enough.

Music artist 
I do love me some Morrissey.

Thing to do when bored 
knit!  I love to knit!  And read!  If I had four arms, I would find a way to knit AND read AT THE SAME TIME!

Genre of literature 
cheesy pulp science fiction.

  don't judge me ugh okay MODERN BRIDE are you happy?  It's just - so happy in there all the time!  Dresses, flowers, jewelry, cakes!  Please.

"puppies".  I'm gonna go with "puppies," unless we're talking about food texture, in which case, room-temperature chocolate.

Time of day 
sunrise.  Hell yeah, I'm a morning person!  I love how gradually and subtly night turns into day.  The first few hours of morning are the best!

Day of the week 
Saturday.  Sunday is too much pressure, knowing the clock is ticking until I have to get ready for school again!

Thing to learn about 
I love history.  I give ghost tours for a living and find the stories fascinating.  I could go on and on about history - specifically, New York City's history.  I'm thinking history might be the area of education I most want to get into.

Thing about yourself 
I don't know if you know this, but... I'm hilarious.  I love making people laugh.  Even better if they laugh and THEN tell me how hilarious I am.

  I learned how to fold my t-shirts from Pinterest and it is the BEST!  Check out the post I wrote about it (with instructions!) HERE!

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Goin' to Con

Oh me oh my, in my little life I've only ever been to the last 3 NYCC's!  This prompt was hard to figure out because I'm not really sure what's out there as far as Cons even GO, so I included some other fandom-related places I'd like to go as well.

1.  NYCC '15  is a given, Hello, DUH!  Last year I really loved NYCC more than ever before - we really should keep this ball rolling, yeah?

2.  San Diego Comic Con  is everyone's dream, right?  I've never been but I hear tales told of how uplifting, warm, and welcoming the con is and oh hey not to mention a trip out Californy-way does sure sound appealing to a NYer in the middle of Januareyoukiddingme it's freakin' cold!  So yeah.


3.  The Doctor Who Experience
  is in Cardiff (ha! Cardiff) so it's not as easy to attend but is now on my bucket list after reading online reviews!  Bessie!  Daleks!  DAVROS?!  Makes me wanna cuddle up with some classic Who for the rest of the afternoon...

4.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  made it onto my list of must-sees after seeing someone's Instagrams of their visit over the holidays.  How sweet would it be to spend a day indulging my inner child on Butterbeer and roller coasters?

5.  Jack the Ripper Tour of London
  as a tour guide - a ghost tour guide, no less - I'm always getting asked if I've ever been on any other ghost tours and the sad fact is no.  Logistically, it's impossible: if I were to go on other tours, who would give my tours?  Right?  Logic, people.  But if possible, Jack the Ripper ranks high on the list of tours I'd like to take - a geographically more likely alternative would be a historical tour of Boston or the Amityville Horror house.

I'm curious to hear what conventions everyone else is dying to attend/planning to attend this year!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#YearOfHappy January


Dear Me:

You are SO TOUGH.  You are a TOUGH COOKIE.  I am so proud of your TOUGHNESS.  Like the mighty tardigrade, able to survive mass extinctions and conditions from freezing to boiling to outer space, you are a TOUGH LITTLE WATER BEAR.  And I'm so proud.

Resolutions, man.  Easy to make, hard to keep.  So brief they shall be:

1.  Be Kind
2.  Stay Classy
3.  Kick Ass

Let's make 2015 the most industrious, creative, and successful year yet!




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Cilantro & Jalapeno Hummus

Trader Joe's Smooth & Creamy Cilantro & Jalapeno Hummus

Tastes Like:  JALAPENO LIKE WOAH.  This is tangy and crisp at first (thanks to the cilantro - Trader Joe does cilantro like nobody's business) but leaves behind a message and that message is MOUTH BURN.  Which is awesome because YOU LOVE IT but be warned that it's not for the faint of heart...

Great With:  carrots are my favourite dippers here, but that's not to say it isn't also good with cauliflower, mushrooms, and plain ol' chips.  If you're a glutenivore, yeah, try some pita or something with it.

Perfect For:  Those Some Who Like It Hot.

Must Know:  marked gluten-free and kosher, and I've know vegans to enjoy this too HOWEVER, it is one of the spiciest hummuses (hummi?) I've ever had the pleasure of knowing so...exercise caution.

Costs:  $2.99 for what seems like more hummus than you get with Sabra or Tribe.  This is probably my biggest "repeat hummus" purchase.  As someone who can sit down with a container of salsa and a bag of carrots and eat all in one sitting, its spiciness gives me reason to pause and NOT eat the whole thing at once, making this a very cost-effective hummus as well!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness has been a sentimental favourite of mine since I was first forced to read it in college.  Here's a funny story for you:  when I decided in the 11th hour to change my major from Theatre to Comparative Literature, I had to take 3 lit classes in one semester.  One was required of all CompLit majors, another I was delighted to squeeze into (Women in American Literature, yes!) and one I took because it was the only one with any space left: Science Fiction.  Yes, I was forced to take a Science Fiction class and I was certain I would hate it.  But I didn't.  And I suppose the moral of the story is, be careful what you don't wish for, you just might get it.

And I guess the moral of THIS story is, be careful what you DO wish for.

Whatever your wishes, The Left Hand of Darkness is cold and aloof but still captivating and addictive.  Something about the cold and the journey.  There's a fierce imagination at play here, and the characters are just endearing enough to allow you to bond with them without becoming soft.  Like I said, a sentimental favourite.  It sits on my shelf, like a treasured snowglobe, beckoning every once in a while to be lifted and played with, as I keep returning to reread it over and over.  It's no small coincidence that the book is well-loved over the world, and perhaps, on others as well?  Be careful what you wish for - you just might fall in love with this book.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sunday Stealing: 2014/15 Meme part 2

What experience would you love to do all over again?  Going up to the cabin over the summer over my birthday weekend was unlike anything else I've ever done.  I faced so many fears, from inner-tubing to sharing a bathroom.  It was the best way to turn 30, I think!  I'd go back up there in a heartbeat (if invited)!

27.What was the best gift you received?  Without a doubt, free tickets to ComicCon.  That was an incredible weekend, and I'm so grateful I was able to go!

28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?  I think I was bored and frustrated with not being challenged enough at work.  Now I'm kind of crazed with my new job, but I prefer being busy to being idle!

29.What was the biggest problem you solved? Well, the above problem.  I got a new job.  Yeah.  Next question.

30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?  Pretty much anything that happened at camp.  The inner-tubing on the lake nearly made me pee from laughter.  The dance-offs.  The games.  Yeah.

31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?  My quarter-sleeve tattoo makes me happy every time I look at it.  And the year before that, my roses tattoo.  Sorry, parentals.  These guys are here to stay.

32.What one thing would you do differently and why?  I wouldn't have worked so much.  Some months I didn't have a single day where I didn't work one - or both! - of my jobs!  I was frazzled and spent most of the year running around from this to that, it was a blur.  I know I need the money, but I wish I had found a better balance.

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?  Changing career paths.  Pat, pat.

34.What activities made you lose track of time?  I think towards the end of the year I became frequently guilty of blogging/streaming television shows much later into the night than I should have.  "One more episode won't hurt," I'd reason to myself.  When I really ought to get to bed instead of watch "one more episode."

35.What did you think about more than anything else?  What I want to do with my life, probably?  Followed by crafts I should do, comic books, and outfits. 

36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?  This was the year I really got into reading and comics!  Both rewarding hobbies!

37.What new habits did you cultivate?  Errrrrr...I don't know if this counts, but I started bleaching my hair again?  It's a lifestyle, believe me.  The upkeep isn't fun (I'm starting to get good at it though!) but I love my hair this way.  The compliments, you wouldn't believe.  All positive.  Well, mostly positive.  And I really feel it suits me!

What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?  Yeah.  Stop being afraid!  I conquered a lot of fears last year and had an incident occur last weekend that probably would have sent last-year's self into hysterics but I was able to shrug it off and keep living.  I really think that shows how I've grown!

39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?  I'm not even going to talk about the career change, it's getting redundant. 

40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?  I'm going to be super cheesy and say that the books I read really gave me a lot of new perspectives.  Heinlein showed me how to enjoy life in all its phases.  Comic books showed me how to be strong, when I really needed to be strong.  Graphic novels showed me that everyone is messed up, but nobody's too far gone to be awesome at who they are.  The power of reading!

41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?  Boldly going where I've never gone before!  Keep it nice and nerdy!

42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?  I would love to travel this year.  It's been nearly five years since I went on a vacation that wasn't family-oriented (unless you count New Jersey?) and as much as I love my city (I LOVE NEW YORK) I'd kinda like to see another city a little bit, too.

43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?  My family.  Hi mom.  I feel like I never see them, and when I do, I miss them instantly after.  I always resolve to spend more time but...the money to travel, the time to do it, it's hard to make it all work out.  Even talking on the phone - when I'm not at work or doing something else, I'm tripping over phone cords.  I want to keep the relationships strong, but I can't spare large blocks of time.  I love texting for this!  Getting texts from my family make me feel closer to them and like we're still in touch, but I can still ride the train, carry groceries home, be in class, and sleep late.  Especially when those texts are pictures of my puppy.  Hint, hint.

44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?  I want to learn to be a better cook.  I hate cooking.  When I cook meals for the week, it takes me so long and I loathe every minute of it.  I want to try to make easier-to-assemble take-to-work don't-have-to-reheat meals that don't cost a million dollars to make and won't have me over an oily saucepan all night, wilting kale for hours on end.

45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?  I want to work on my patience.  I feel my patience being stretched and strengthened at work, little by little, the more I get used to (and get attached to!) the kids I'm working with.  Outside of school, however, my patience bank is usually used up by the end of the day and I am a Baron von Crankymeister.  I need to be as gracious outside of school as I am to "my" kids!

46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?  I want my life to run smoothly.  I love planning in advance, and I want to keep up my reputation of being the first to arrive, the last to leave, and totally in control.

47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?  I'd like to be more active on the weekends.  After my 60-hour work week (not counting commutes or work I have to do at home), I spend most of my weekend either sleeping, running errands, or watching TV.  I miss the old me, who would wake up at dawn and go exploring on weekends!  I know my life has changed, but I don't want to give up that old habit of getting the most out of my free time!

48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?  I want to take my current job and use it to figure out what I really want to do with my life - whether that's pursue education, find some other way of working with children (tutoring? guidance counseling?), or none of the above.  I want to learn from this experience and keep taking risks!

49.How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?  I want to remember this as the year my life truly began.  No pressure, or anything.

50.What is your number one goal for 2015?  Three things:  Be Kind, Stay Classy, Kick Ass.

Friday, January 9, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: I LOVE WINTER!

Okay so I can't say anything about the weather this winter so far in NYC because if I say something, I'll jinx it.  Suffice to say, it's been an pretty decent winter up in here and I ain't exactly complaining about it.  So I might as well throw NYC some props for being cool during the winter, yeah?

1.  Tourists go home  I have a lot to say on the subject of tourists.  But for a brief period, a sliver of awesomeness, the tourists stay home!  And there's no line at museums, no wait for tables, hell, if it weren't for this "dead period," I would never have tried Shake Shack!  (overrated).  This is the time to enjoy all the attractions the city has to offer without tourists...seeing you and thinking you're one of them, that is.


2.  Central Park in Winter  has some sort of magical feeling to it.  Last year, after the park had iced over, I accidentally got lost in The Ramble (HEY! It happens!).  It was like I was climbing an iceberg!  Completely deserted and covered in ice, I was half certain I was going to slip and die and be found later and become the subject of a "ripped from the headlines" episode of Law & Order: SVU.  But another part of me was soooo astonished by the beauty of "nature" around me and really enjoyed the peaceful ice hike.

3.  NYC steps it up  when there isn't nice weather to rely on, people focus their energy on making the indoors enticing.  New pop-up art shows and museum exhibits abound!  This is a great time to stalk TimeOutNY for movie screenings, dance classes, and art shows to fill your weekends with.

4.  Hot beverages  iced coffee can suck it, my friends.  Because there's nothing better than lifting a bowl YES a bowl of coffee to your face.  To say nothing of tea, hot toddies, mulled wine, and HOT CHOCOLATE!  If you haven't had the hot chocolate at Jaques Torres, you need to.  Better yet, start a hot chocolate turf war.  Defend the honour of your favourite local java place!

5.  Layers, Layers, Layers!  in the summertime, when the weather is hot, getting dressed is a game of "how little clothing can I wear in public and survive the heat?"  Winter is the time for creative dressers!  I have invested in an army of fleece-lined leggings for this year and have an enormous scarf that is the envy of all men.  When I leave the house, I look like a technicolour Grizzabella the Glamour Cat - as it should be.  Hats and scarves and muffs and mittens oh my!  Then it's a game - if your aim is to wander and, say, play in Central Park all day, dress in many warm layers.  If you're planning to go from inside a museum to a restaurant to a bar to a friend's house, you'll want to wear bulky outerwear over a light interior outfit for maximum comfort.  Once inside, shed the winter shell and emerge in a normal medium-weight outfit!  Ta-da!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Miss Turnstiles

There's a rule in New York City that when you look your worst, the coolest things will happen to you. 

Awww, yeah, like that.  That's super hot.  Not winning any beauty competitions like that, I'm surely not.

Anyway, on this, the morning after two great parties (clearly!), taking an F train uptown when this antique vintage NYC subway train pulled up across the platform.  I looked at the boyfriend, he looked at me, and with a silent exchange punctuated by a slide trombone, we dashed for it.

The "holiday train," as it is called, was HOT!  HOT HOT HOT like I was not.  Electric fans flapped overhead at the cars jerked and rumbled down the tracks.  Not a single wicker-woven seat available!  No choice but to straphang from the creaky, metal handles overhead and read the ads selling war bonds and Grape-Nuts!  OH it was glorious!  It was just like being in one of my favourite movies, On the Town!  All the fantasy of being on an old-fashioned subway ride, minus any threat of actually being chosen as Miss Turnstiles:

Awww, gee.

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