Thursday, May 28, 2009

maid of honor.

in the next two weeks i will be maid of honor in two - count them - two weddings. not sure how i feel about this; one is pretty chill, and the other is not so chill. tomorrow i get to chill, and by chill i mean take a ferry to city hall and watch my bff get hitched to a pretty stellar guy. she's going all out full wedding dress and her two daughters as flower girls. i just hope the predicted thunderstorms hold off a bit.

i am having 5 girls in my wedding party -- is that too much? is it bad that i want them to wear black? what if i morph into a bridezilla and mandate pink taffeta -- what if? and what's up with having to 'pick my colors' now? why do people have to make this whole wedding planning thing a pain in the ass? i will remind you that i am getting married next april, not next week!

also, tonight my rents meet jared's rents. hopefully cathcart will behave herself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

louder than bombs.

jared and i attended church (this was the first time as a couple). i am conflicted on many levels about the whole world of church, but that's a subject for another blog entry. at the first reformed church of pompton plains, nj, the church of choice for my late grandmother, we joined my father and stepmother for the memorial day service. we were also there to meet with the pastor -- a woman, with hippie and Buddhist tendencies-- who we've asked to officiate our wedding. getting married brings up lots of life questions, and though jared and i are open, spiritual people the question of who could marry us was a bit of an enigma.

i met pastor kathleen the day of my grandmother's funeral; it was a sad day. i am inclined to be a crier, have been since i was a child, so this day was sure to be a doozey. here i sat with my father, my uncles and their wives. i felt like i got asked to the adult table for the first time and i wasn't going to screw it up. but then again we are talking about death and dealing with it, and let's face it all my fears and insecurities are rooted in the fact that one day all the people in the room, whom i love dearly, are going to pass on and usually just thinking of that mere possibility sends me into hyperventilation-mode. anyway, pastor kathleen was calm, cool and collected -- much unlike myself, but she definitely helped to calm me down.

she went through the motions of setting up and personalizing grandma's funeral service and then when we were all left with an unsettling silence/sobbing, she went on to explain death in the most simple and eloquent way ever. it was clearly (to me) a Buddhists perspective which explained a constant pulsation of painless perfection that is in all of us, that gets littered by the weight of the world to the point that we feel pain and suffering. and death, she explained was an ultimate letting go of that baggage, that pain and suffering.

i was impressed. my experiences of people who are christian are usually contained and textbook, that is, they would not be able to hold such a perspective and call themselves a christian let alone be a pastor. it was refreshing and encouraging to someone who never had any example of someone that could hold such beliefs at the same time. so it was a natural choice to ask her to perform our ceremony, and as an added bonus, it will honor my grandmother who would have been tickled pink that we are getting married there.

back to the service. it was full of olds. not even the type of olds i work with, but older olds. the ones who during the memorial day slide show practically stood up and saluted the flag. i have to say, it was moving -- but definitely not the type of folks i could see stepping outside of a sort of white evangelical christian perspective. there was a lot of talk of freedom coming at a price but overall i thought it was fairly restrained, suburban and conservative. i began to question if i totally misread the pastor. after the service we went up to talk to her, and then my mind was put to ease. she explained that though she was anti-war, the congregation was very old school.

upon leaving, she told us to check out her silent protest out in front on the church lawn. out in front there were about 50 flags stuck in the ground. they had signs on them with names of boys, their ages and hometowns. they represented all the boys (and i say boys bc the average age was 22) that lost their lives fighting for our country over the past few years in Afghanistan and Iraq. it was heartbreaking. we have to choose our battles, but we also have to remember the mistakes of our past. it brought a new meaning to memorial day for me.

every freaking day.

i get (verbally,mentally and actually one time physically) accosted by these street people under the guise of Children's International. they work the small block across the street from Bloomingdale's which happens to be the block i work on. admittedly, i have never actually given them my time so that they could goad me into giving some money to children in a third world country (think sally struthers but with a blue smock with CHILDREN'S INTERNATIONAL plastered across it).

they are there every freaking day. with their chipper smiles and sneaky ways. the thing is, that when i walk past them it is either to run and grab some lunch, which - mind you - i have to bring back to either eat at my desk or at a communal table with coworkers who eat and talk with their mouth full, or they catch my running on my way to catch the subway in hopes of escaping manhattan at the mercy of nj transit.

and they are out there in rain or snow, hot or cold; i just wish they could spread their love around to other blocks. there have been times that i had to forgo my chinese take-out of choice bc i just couldn't handle dealing with them. i have even resorted to pretending to talk on my cell when passing them. it's pathetic, i know. i guess that's what you get for working in the city.

Monday, May 11, 2009

grape escape.

along with all the craziness, there's always fun sprinkled in.

this weekend, with the help of family and friends, i wisked my bff jamie anderson out for a bachelorette party. we decided to forgo the usual debauchery and opted for a more adventure/learning party. the first stop was to a local wine making school which was way cooler than i could have imagined.

after a lot of surfing the net and conversing with jamie's sister and finacee, it was decided to go with the wine making project. the thing was, i had found this place on the web and really couldn't be sure if it was legit or lame. the first impression was a bit sketchy since it was located in an industrial park, behind a korean church. luckily we got legit and totally cool as opposed to lame. when we arrived at the grape escape (i can't decide if that name is hip or terribly unfortunate), in dayton, nj the owner greeted us and immediately handed us the scheduled printed up on a magnet. we were there for the first set in a four part process. today's mission = crushing. after about 2 minutes of introductions and overview, we were handing some of the homemade vino which was very good. nothing like a litte wine to start out your wine class!

the crushing process was very cool; we had 756 lbs of chilean malbec grapes to crush (see pic above). they were super-sweet and a dark inky color. unfortunately, we didn't get to stomp them with our feet - i love lucy style, but they said it can be done, if you do an entire barrel full -- oh and it takes about 3 hours. we moved the grapes into the crushing machine and watched them get pumped and tranformed into a big vat of pulpy grape juice. to the right is a pic of me dropping the grapes into the crusher.

after the juice (i believe in the wine-making world it's called concentrate) was made sure that the pH levels and sugar content were up to snuff. the sugar content converts about 2:1 to the amount of alcohol content in your finished product. there were some organic solvent sort of items added to assure the best color and flavor gets pulled from the juice. we mixed some more, sipped some wine and just enjoyed the whole experience. we got a tour and a taste for the other steps to come. the process goes: crushing, pressing, racking and finally bottling and labeling. you even get to design your own labels! they also offer wine tastings and bottle your own olive oil. some other people that were there making wine mentioned that the tastings are excellent and allow you to try the same wine from different barrels to actually taste the difference.

here's a pic of us all with the future hootch!
becky, kelli, pat, jamie and myself.

overall it was a great alternative to going out for a debaucherous night on the town! after the wine making we went back to my place, had some wine and cheese and then walked up to table 8 for an amazing dinner. the culminated with an adventure that involved a shopping cart, some bachelorette party decorations and a bunch of drunk girls. somehow you can take the girls out of 'the mountain' but you can't take 'the mountain' out of the girls!! best wishes jamie and steve!!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


the past six months or so have been a jumble of craziness. some good -- most bad. my uncle paulie was diagnosed with cancer, my grandmother took a turn for the worse as she passed away, a friend was killed in a motorcycle accident and just this week my father suffered a heart attack. there's always a silver lining, or so they say. he was lucky enough to survive. but it begs the question -- when will all of this crap stop piling up on us? i guess it never really does. the thing with life is that it's never really static, there's always something changing.

when writing to a friend this week, i wrote about how i felt like i was the sand at the beach and the ocean was lapping over me again and again. somehow i am resilient, crumbling slightly and yet maintaining some form from the other sand around me.

back to that silver lining... somehow jared and i decided that nj would be a better place for us to live and with all this drama, i got to remain surrounded by friends and family for all the crap. things like my father's heart attack are also a wake up call not only to live life fully but also to be aware. aware of how you take care of yourself and all the little things that come along with living. the fact that my uncle is now in remission reminds me that no matter how glum the outlook, things can always turn around.

i read a really great article on huffpo yesterday about just these sorts of situations. in a way, it's like the world is falling down around us all. but at that same time good, albeit beautiful things are happening. for instance my sister and i are getting married. but we all experience these rough times. these times allow us to turn within and what the article calls 'incubate'. i teach this stuff every week in my yoga classes and i hope to exercise it in my own life. it's funny how you can so easily offer something out to someone when you barely can fully experience it yourself -- but that happens.

there's darkness and there's light. we have our assumptions about which is good and which is bad. but from a tantric perspective good and bad aren't as important. the importance comes from gathering fullness in both. incubation occurs in darkness and it is in that darkness that development and transformation happens so the individual can emerge into the light stronger and fuller. a better version of they already are (possibly).

i've felt this sort of anxiety over the last few months, like when will the other shoe drop...what else can go wrong?? i try not to get caught up with it but when so many tough things keep coming your way you start to almost expect more. we all wait for things in the darkness: answers, signs, disasters and even miracles. allowing the darkness to be a comfort changes things. try it.

in the meantime, i wait not for just the bad, but also the good changes. and i think tomorrow will be a mental health day to just chill out and enjoy the light. maybe someone can pray for the rain to cease for just a little bit.

Friday, May 01, 2009

gluten free date(steak) night.

Outback - who knew? Well, actually I read somewhere that outbak had a
gf menu. Luckily meat and potatoes are naturally gluten free so there
were many choices -- including a flourless brownie. Overall pretty
tastey. The menu had one thing that was suspect, it said that rice is
not gf. I beg to differ but maybe they put something in it to make it

thanks to uncle kev and aunt carol for our gift card. we definitely enjoyed all of it!