Saturday, December 20, 2008

I've always been a writer.

This following is a story I wrote when I was six, word for word. Note my insightful comment about "the Country."


one day there was a girl named Jessy.She was very lonley she had no freinds because she lived in the Country. Her birtday was in a few day and she would have no friends.On her b-day her parents got her a puppy. She named it Moonlight.She loved Moonlight a lot but she grew up. One day Jessy came down for breakfest and everyone loked sad. "Moonlight is very sick" they said. Whats wrong with her Jessy asked? She ate something she was not saposed to.What? we dont now.We took her to the vet at eight o-clock. Jessy got very sad.
The next day Moonlight came home and was all better! Jessy was very happy and so was everyone.
Moral: Surprised is the best.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Late night thoughts

A few things I would like to share:

1. Ladies,
Do NOT wear makeup to the gym. Not only will it clog your pores and make you breakout if you break a sweat (which you should hope to do...)but it makes you look- to say the least- non-legit. Any girl who is coming to the gym with the actual purpose of the place in mind (to get a workout) would not show up with makeup on. If you are coming with the hopes that your cute, hot pink Nike running shorts and your fully made-up face will score you a mate, well, think again. Really, the gym is probably the ONLY place where a guy will find you more attractive while looking "natural." It strikes the same primitive chord that rings within his breast and makes him add whey protein to his cereal and "pump iron."
Finally, if you MUST wear makeup to the gym, can you at least fore-go the bright red lipstick? It's just irritating.

2. There is something immensely satisfying about new toothpaste. Is it just me or do my teeth feel cleaner?!

3. So the way the SLU class schedule is set up, certain classes run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while others run just Tuesdays and Thursdays. In college, teachers don't assign seats, but students usually end up sitting in the same place every class. Such is the case in my "Age of Romanticism" class. The same guy sits behind me every Tues and Thurs. This last Tuesday, after class, he says to me "hey, just wanted to let you know you left the tag on you sweater." As I had never worn this particular sweater before, the price tag was still attached and I forgot to cut it out so it was sticking out near my neck. I said "oh thanks!" and made a mental note to cut it when I got home.
Today, Thursday, I got home from a full day of classes, one of which was the same Romanticism class and realized I had worn my sweater inside out ALL DAY. And this particular sweater had a big honkin label which must have been blatantly staring that same poor boy in the face since I wore my hair pulled back. That fact that he didn't say anything this time makes it worse...He must think I'm very, very odd.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How Sweet It Was

I hope all the hype about antioxidants is true, because my diet is chock full of em; My days begin with lots of coffee and end with lots of wine.

Much to my delight, the bulk of last night's vino came out of juice glasses served at La Dolce Via, my favorite restaurant in St. Louis. Usually, drinking wine out of anything other than a traditional wine glass would bother me to the point of not drinking at all. At La Dolce Via however, this little irregularity just added to the charm.
In celebration of a friend's birthday, there were several diners at our table. There were six, to be exact, which is two more than the number of entree options offered. The hand written menu changes daily, and usually is composed of just five or six small plates and four main courses. The chef goes to market on Friday mornings and the menu is built around whatever in-season, fresh ingredients strike his fancy.
We started by splitting two beet salads, one with and one without chicken confit. I was in the non-meat camp but I wished I wasn't as the chicken was cooked perfectly. The salad was simple and delicious; spring greens, red and golden beets, cherry tomatoes, black olives, Parmesan shavings and a touch of balsamic vinaigrette.
We also split the goat cheese plate. Beet and tomato goat cheese is something I've never tried before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple and delicate the flavor combination was. It was served with toasted bread, brushed with olive oil.

My party made sure to order at least one of each main course option, which included: Roasted Pork Loin with zucchini, mashed potatoes and green tomato preserves,
Roasted Amish chicken with spinach, mashed potatoes and a garlic cream sauce,
Seared Grouper with mashed potatoes and beets, and
Tortellini with prosciutto and pees in a cheesy cream sauce.

I had the pork loin, which was cooked perfectly. The green tomato preserves was another item which I had never tried before but one that I hope to come across again. The taste was refreshing, not too sweet, and paired wonderfully with the pork. I love roasted vegetables in any shape and form, so naturally I was delighted with the zucchini. Usually I am not a big fan of mashed potatoes. This may seem sinful to hoards of butter lovin Americans, but I'm just not. There are many great ways to prepare a potato, but mashing it is not one of them, in my opinion. Regardless, La Dolce Via has perfected this side dish. The potatoes were light and fluffy, white (I hate buttery yellow undertones), and spiced up with an herb sprinkling that made them taste, well, healthier.
My distaste for mashed potatoes goes hand in hand with a dislike of cream sauces, but again, I was in no way put off by LDV's tortellini. It had a bold, hearty taste when I first put it in my mouth but it finished light upon swallowing. The combo of cheese flavors and cream gave the sauce the impression of being a cream sauce without the heavy, thick, swallow that usually comes along with it.
The grouper was also delightful. I had only a bite of a friends, but it confirmed my opinion, established last year upon having trout at LDV (the best I've ever had, in fact), that this place knows how to cook a fish. Grouper especially is a toughie in the kitchen, but this was so tasty that I wondered why it's not offered more regularly in restaurants.
I did not taste the Amish Chicken but it's eater said, surprise, that it was delicious. In fact every one at the table was very impressed with their meals and basically licked their plates clean.
The only sore point of the experience was the bread. It was homemade, no doubt, but as La Dolce Via is a bakery by day, I expected it to be on par with the rest of the food served there, but the bread was just ok.

This wonderfully kept secret, nestled on the corner of Arco and Taylor, is decidedly my favorite restaurant in St. Louis. The atmosphere is terribly casual (the mismatched chairs and tables make it look more like somebody's apartment than a restaurant) but I feel a need to dress up when I go there, to honor the food you see. The prices are very reasonable for what you get, and the wine list is actually pretty extensive for such a little place. As my friend Gagan said last night, gesturing towards the kitchen, "I feel like someone's mom is back there, making my dinner." I agreed with the sentiment, but I've never met a mom who can cook like this.

La Dolce Via, "The Sweet Way," how sweet indeed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How I wish it would never end

A few hilarious things that I love about my friends:

The way Ellyse says "expresso," owns a flying squirrel, and is always "mouthy" to the bouncers at Mandarin.

The fact that Kristian no longer attends SLU because he drove his "victory red" Hummer around the clock tower and will arbitrarily plow into traffic cones. Also he owns a shirt that says "Maids Are For Everyone."

The way that Gagan says "Oooh," opens her eyes real wide, and looks down when she disapproves of something, and the particular way she articulates her disapproval. She also secretly loves her Shine (as do I) and is a bonafide crazy cat lady.

Marty honestly did not know that Sketchers are not cool, bought a pair, and introduced them as "adult shoes." Also when dining out he will, in a very high-brow type of voice, ask the waiter questions like "now, this cheese platter, what is that like?"

I still laugh every time John says "Hey Lil Momma! How you doin??" And also, on command, he will perform ebonic poetry.

Stephen, who is gay, openly refers to himself as "homo," "fag," and "queer," and says "hello daaaaahling" to me when we meet.

Last but not least, Nick Marco's existence itself is delightfully funny enough.

I also love the fact that we are all blossoming alcoholics and we support one another in this pursuit.

I am not looking forward to the impending disbandment of this wonderful group of people (sadly Nick has already left us). I do not think I will be able to find others who make me laugh as much or as hard as they do on a regular basis, or with whom I have as much fun. I can honestly say, without any cliche, that I do not know what I will do without them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I hate my apartment. Honestly and truthfully, my resentment flows beyond the realm of exaggeration; I cannot exaggerate enough, I simply HATE this place. I would like to challenge the person who designed the building and the individual apartments to spend just one week here and see if he doesn't lose his mind. This place is a testament to the fact that college kids are not sufficient enough to live on their own. I would say that it's an unfair accusation of the building designers who thought that, as the building would more than likely be inhabited entirely by college students, there would be no need for life-sized stoves or sinks. Who cooks in college? I imagine them saying "Why would they need a big sink? It's not like they wash any dishes, just give em a dishwasher!" As I said before, this may seem like an unfair assumption on their part, but the sad fact is, no one else in my building seems to care at all! They think this place is "cool." I'm sure they tell others "I live in 'The Lofts'" with pride, while I almost always add, "unfortunately" to my statement.
You see, I cook. Daily! And I use things like pots and pans which cannot be put in the dishwasher so I have to struggle to wash them in my mini sink, as, to my dismay, water flows over the sides and over the counters and then down into that impossible to reach crack between my refrigerator and stove, where I cringe to imagine it pools and festers.
I think of last year in my lovely White House apartment where I held many dinner parties and get togethers and had a bedroom. As I rented this place sight unseen, I guess I didn't understand that by "one-bedroom apartment," what the leasing agent really meant was two small rooms connected by a "kitchen." And as far as natural light goes, the front room is not so bad, but I have to keep a light on constantly in my "bedroom" in order to function in there.
The only redeeming quality of my little dungeon is the windows. In my "living room," I have two huge windows that open out onto Laclede. In keeping with the quality of the building, the panes of glass are so thin that I am plagued nightly by the sounds of sirens blaring by and any and all traffic on the street, but when I'm not sleeping I actually enjoy the sounds of the city.
I am a nature loving individual, but I actually prefer the sounds of the cars passing by to the sounds of the waves. There's something about the nitty gritty city life, in contrast with the quiet simplicity of a home in the country or on the beach, that to me is just so much more real. Maybe I've been reading too much Hawthorne lately, but when I think of places like Door County, and simple summer towns, I can't help but think "this is not real life." At least I think life shouldn't be so simple. You shouldn't be able to leave your keys in the car with the engine running as you run into the neighborhood store for a pop. You shouldn't know everybody you see walking down the street. These are all very nice and sweet for a while, but if you live like that forever you cannot develop an important part of your individuality. You won't have a thick skin. If, God forbid, your car does one day get stolen you won't know what to do.
What it comes down to, really, is ignorance. And thats what disturbs me most about this building- that the tenants down the hall are ignorant to the fact that this place sucks. They've never needed to learn how to cook so they don't know their stoves are just one step above an easy-bake oven. They think that since gas and electric are all included in the monthly rent they are getting a great deal! When really, the ridiculously inflated rental rates reflect that what we're actually getting is screwed over.
So until May I will grin and bear it, cursing all the mini-disasters that got me stuck here in the first place. I'll sit next to my wonderfully large windows and listen to the cars going by and dream of the day I'll live in a real apartment, on a real street, in a real city, with real things to complain about.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nostalgia Bites

On this very day last year I was running around, psychotically dazzled in Venice. Ironically, I made it to a bar called "Venice Cafe" Friday night, but unfortunately Venice the city trumps the gritty, St. Louisian cafe. I remember thinking that it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and it still is. I don't care that some might call it cliche to think Venice is beautiful; if they do then they've either never seen it for themselves or they've traveled too much in a desperate attempt to look 'worldly.'
One of the days I was there, I woke up early in the morning to the sound of a lone gondolier rowing down the little channel that was right below the window of my hostel room- disgustingly picturesque, I know. I was too excited to go back to sleep so I decided to go for a run. I had no destination in mind, just trotted blindly down the narrow, windy streets. I ran over the Rialto Bridge where some peddlers were setting up their carts but all the stores were still closed. I ran through the market to where the morning's catch was being hauled and cleaned. Shouts, in Italian of course, echoed through the air purposefully.
Seemingly by accident the narrow street I was on suddenly opened up to St. Mark's Square. I had been there the day before but it's hard to admire a sight when it's crawling with people and vendors. This early in the morning however, before the grey haze of night had even fully cleared, there were no tourists and there were no carts selling souvenirs. I honestly had to stop and catch my breath in order to take in the sight before me. The Doge's palace, St. Mark's Basilica, these buildings I had studied and stared at in travel books, were suddenly right before me and seemed to be waiting there for me.

When I think about times like this while I was living in Italy, it's hard not to wish to be back there. It also just makes me really sad because while I was there, even though I did thoroughly appreciated the moments, there was always a part of me that wanted to be home in America. I call it "long distance relationship syndrome," and I get so mad at myself that I let it affect my time there. Obviously part of my frustration comes from the fact that the "relationship" crumbled horribly after I actually did return, but also it's frustrating that I couldn't just rise above at the time. I look back on all that I did, and it was wonderful and invigorating and more fun that I can even comprehend, but still it could have been more.
I've always tried to live my life so that I never have to worry about actual outcomes- I try so hard so that I can honestly say, if it all falls to shit (and it frequently does) , "well at least I did the best I could." But I look back on my time abroad and I didn't do the best I could. I didn't fully give myself to my time there, I held back what is maybe the most sacred part of myself. Conveniently I can say I did this because I missed my boyfriend, but I don't think that's the real answer, or at least not all of it. So why then did I hold back, and am I still doing so? I fear that I am, and with no boyfriend to blame I hide behind the shadow of our demise.
I am fickled as shit.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some days...

Some days,
I really want to just crawl under a rock.

If and when I have a daughter I'm not going to fill her head with crap like "honey, you can't make everyone happy." Because if she's anything like me she'll see that as a challenge, try to appease everyone, end up appeasing no one in particular, unintentionally hurting others, and then drifting through time and space with an acute sense of loneliness and an existential outlook on life.
I will tell her to get a cat though, and a dog if she can, and then I'll have a son because brother's are pretty awesome too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Best food ever

Dark chocolate covered Pomegranate seeds may be the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The power of punctuation and caps lock

The building that my store is in is owned by the same family that owns Al Johnson's Swedish restaurant which is just across the street. Al's is known for the goats which graze on its roof and for the dirndls (traditional Swedish Dress/apron thing) which the waitresses must wear. The mastermind behind all this is Al's wife, Ingert, who was born in Sweden. And just to prove it, she wears a dirndl every second of every day. Though she stands at just 5 ft tall and weighs no more than 100 lbs, she is the most frightening woman I have ever met. Any time I cross her path (which happens many times a day because she is constantly running around their property watering plants and tidying up EVERY inch), her one good eye bores into my soul disapprovingly, and makes me feel utterly American and worthless. Thankfully, her other eye, lazily rolls into space.
The most charming aspect of her character is the fact that she cannot spell and she has a skewed understanding of English grammar and punctuation. I know this because she tapes signs all over the building full of misspellings and other hilarious errors.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some from the staff bathroom:

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Beautiful and The Damned

It’s mornings like today’s that make me feel I’d be better off dead, or at least anywhere but here. Suddenly my two days “off” each week are gone, and I’m back at Sovereign Collection, huddled behind the desk, on the world’s most uncomfortable chair, praying the sweet strains of Mazzy Star will help this hangover go away. I scared off two customers soon after I opened at 9 am, I think because I did not notice I was still wearing my oversized sunglasses while rocking back and forth behind the desk in partial darkness because I chose not to turn on half the store lights.
You might be thinking “her poor boss, what a bad employee!” but stop right there. My boss, Lori - 20 some years my senior but more fun than most people that I know who are my age- also owns the store, and she is the one who took me out last night and forced one or two bottles of wine down my throat. She’s probably fast asleep at home right now, and really doesn’t give a shit if I open late, and that’s why I love her. However, due to the strong sense of loyalty I feel to that fabulous woman, I was right on time, always am. Give me nothing and I’ll run a mile, but give me an inch and I’ll only take half.
Also part of my promptness was due to the fact that I was wide awake at 5:30 am (despite crawling into the sack, fully clothed, at about 1:30), feverishly and sloppily trying to finish two articles, due to my editor by 9am this morning. I had originally planned to finish them upon my return last night, that did not happen. They actually turned out ok though, I hope, I pray.
Despite my current misery, yesterday was a wonderful day, though, like every day of my life, full of quirks.
I spent the morning working at the newspaper office editing and uploading. One of the gifts I received for my birthday last week was a certificate for a massage at The Spa At Sacred Grounds- lame name, cool place. My masseuse’s name was Pat, and boy was she/he a Pat! After a blissful hour there I made my exit, stopping to take a photo of an interesting sculpture in the Spa lobby. Just as I snapped the shot, a hippy-dippy looking man- wearing linen everything, long hair, long beard- walked into the frame.
“I’m sorry did I get in your photo?” He asked.
“Yess.” I said with mock irritation.
Where any other might have just said “sorry,” and carried on, this dude goes “Oh. Let me see” and walks over to me, very close to me, uncomfortably so as my personal space shield is quite large, and stared eagerly at my phone screen.
I just got a new phone, and I really haven’t figured out many of its features, like the camera, so to get to the photo of him, I had to scroll through all the pictures saved on the phone. They started off with about 30 of my former dog, Barley. “You got a dog?” He chirped. Not wanting to venture down Julia’s Failures Lane with this stranger, telling him the sad truth, that I gave Barley back to the shelter, I just said “yes.” Then, in excruciation, we also had to get through about 50 photos of my new kitten. Finally, I found the photo of Mr. Hippy which made him chuckle. I mumbled some form on "Gladyoulikeitgottago" and ran away.
After the spa, I went home to get ready to go to an art showing at a local gallery of the artist Pamela Murphy (to see her stuff go here:, who is also a frequent patron of Sovereign Collection. Lori was coming with me, and I picked her up at the store around 7. Lori commissioned Pam to do a piece for her years ago in exchange for clothing from her store. This year they finally broke even,which was another reason to celebrate.
We got to Fine Line Gallery not too long before the show ended. Luckily we made it in time for wine and hors d’ oeuvres though. Mrs. Murphy looked stunning, dressed in an outfit I helped her pick out in the shop the week before, and Lori and I were, as usual, walking advertisements for the store as well.
In typical Lori fashion, she wasted no time getting to the bar and pouring herself and me a large glass of wine. We walked around chatting and looking at the paintings, enjoying the advancing liquid calm. Just as I was starting to feel really great, I saw him staring at me from across the room, the Hippy man from the spa. I tried to look away but I was spotted. Trapped, I smiled, and he came at me.
“Well fancy seeing you here!” He exclaimed, just three inches from my face. This guy obviously must have been raised by a pack of Europeans. His disregard for getting too close wasn’t really creepy, just unnerving.
“Oh hi, how are you?” I asked.
“Great, great,” he nodded, then “Gees you look great.”
I tried to smile, but cringed, hating compliments.
“Thanks,” I shrugged, “I showered.”
Instantly I wished to take back my words as I noticed (and how could I not? He was standing so frickin close to me) that he had not showered since I saw him last, nor anytime in the last few days it seemed.
He didn’t catch it though, or maybe he just didn’t care. Instead, Dan- we managed introductions - launched into one of those conversations that begins “Man, I’ve had such a crazy day,” then rambles back and forth, pausing only so I could nod. Before I knew it, I was up against the wall and he was bracing himself, one arm on the wall over my left shoulder, telling me about his band, “Toivo.”
The conversation was made even more uncomfortable as he stared intensely into my eyes while talking, and though I tried to respectfully maintain eye contact, I had a lot of trouble because he had the kind of eyes that were such a dark brown that I almost couldn’t see his pupils. They were little bead-eyed rag doll eyes.
Luckily, after not too long, Lori seemed to catch my rigid body language message of distress, and she came over and said “Julia I want to show you the painting I want.” I excused myself.
Several glasses of wine later, the gallery folks were putting away the appetizers, signaling the end of the show, so we said our congratulations to Pam, and I waved goodbye to Dan, running out before we could exchange any actual words. Lori was especially giggly as we headed to the car and proclaimed “I’m drunk!” so I drove to T. Ashwell’s, my favorite DC restaurant, for drinks and more appetizers.
The bartender at T. Ashwells, Zak, is a mastermind. He makes the best martini I’ve ever tasted, and he is a fantastic conversationalist. I was delighted to show up with company since the last time I went there I was alone, which caused Zak to ask one of the most depressing questions one can ask a young woman at a bar, “Flying solo, Kennelly?” Yeah, Zak, rub it in.
Lori and I sat at the bar and had appetizers- Ahi tuna spring rolls, coconut encrusted goat cheese crostinis, and beef carpaccio-, a martini each, and we went through two bottles of wine. Recounting our favorite stories of nightmare customers, and moving on to the inevitable “I just love you” s of drunk conversation between good friends, we passed hours and hours at the bar, making friends with everyone around us and having a grand ole time. Unfortunately, perhaps too grand as I have spent all of today holding in vomit and counting down the seconds until I can take more ibuprofen.

I am excited to get back to St. Louis in a week or so, but I’m gonna miss Lori to pieces when I go. I never really used the word fabulous before I met her, but there really is no other word that describes that woman. Life in general is just more fabulous when she’s involved.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wine is made from grapes. End of story.

Much to my delight, my assignment this week for the newspaper was to go on several winery tours & tastings, three of four or my choice, and to do a write-up about each one.
I slated in two for Tuesday and one for Wednesday, as trying to do three in one day might jeopardize the experience of number three due to my potential drunkenness.
I started out at Stone's Throw, located in Egg Harbor. I've had Stone's Throw wine, specifically their 85/15 and 50/50 at some local restaurants and I really enjoyed both. As far as labels and packaging, it seems to me that Stone's Throw, compared to other local wines, takes a more sophisticated approach.
The building was modern, classy, and the wine bar inside was right in line with that appeal. It was $5 for a six glass tasting, and I got to keep my glass at the end of it. The bar was packed but I shoved through and lamely explained to the bartender that "I'm doing a story on wineries for the Pulse, and I'd like to do a tasting of the wines you're known for."
The bartender didn't really seem to care that I was with the newspaper, and I didn't care that the bartender didn't care. Too often people that I interview or ask questions of get all nervous and jumpy when I tell them I'm with the newspaper. But let's face it, the Pulse is not exactly the Times.
The rugged, mahogany bar was very crowded. Some people looked like they knew what they were doing, some just had no clue. The couple to my left looked like maybe it was their first date and they were just not hitting it off. Obviously hoping alcohol would help them "loosen up," they each did two rounds of tasting.
So I stood alone, of course, sandwiched in between the bored couple and a family of five.
The bartender selected six of their most popular bottles for me to try, starting off white of course, and moving to reds. Their Riesling, one of their most popular, was actually very good and I usually do not like white wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma 2005, was excellent, as was the 85/15, a blend of 85% Zinfandel, 15% Tempranillo. My favorite was the Big Mouth Red, well balanced and peppery, and only $18 for a bottle. Friends expect presents!
After my six glasses, a little bit tipsy, I decided to walk to a nearby cafe for a cup of coffee before winery number 2. Awakening my senses was a dumb move as I should have been dulling them, preparing for an assault.
The Door Peninsula Winery, located in Sturgeon Bay, gives free tours all day, every half hour. Free is rarely a good thing.
The winery store was cute, kind of kitschy, but still somewhat tasteful. I waited by the front with other prospective tourists. Our tour guide greeted us begrudgingly and took us into a smaller room where he told us the history of the building...very slowly. He spoke as if reading, with the aptitude of a first grader, from a script.
Five minutes later we were ushered into the very cold basement/wine-cellar, though there was no wine in sight. Sitting in uncomfortable folding chairs we were forced to watch a DVD about the winery. The film was narrated by a talking cartoon cherry. The cherry told us all about the wonderful fruit wines made at the Door Peninsula Winery. Cherry wines, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and more. Shock and horror pervaded my body. I was coming off of my buzz from Stone's Throw, and the only relief in sight was via fruit wine (is there anything worse?)... oh the horror.
Our squat, unhappy tour man took us through the processing rooms (which were interesting) at lightening speed, and before I knew it we were at the bar for tasting. It was like a bad dream; all the people around me seemed to have no problem ordering "Sweet Plum," or "Chocolate Cherry," and what's worse, they seemed to be enjoying it!
I couldn't even bring myself to look at the list so I explained my plight once again to this bartender and asked her to bring me some of their most popular wines.
"Ok!" She chirped. "This is our number one; its a blend, called Sunset Splash." It tasted like super sugary white grape juice laced with Strawberries and not a hint of alcohol. As I choked it down I heard the woman next to me proclaim "Oh I just love the Sunset Splash!!!"
Next, I was brought "Razzle Dazzle Raspberry," followed by "Cranbernet."
How do they expect to be taken seriously with names like that?! Everywhere I looked I imagined the stupid cartoon cherry bouncing around asking patrons how they liked their juicy-juice.
The bartender offered me a glass of "Panacea Peach," but I had had enough. I left, terribly sober and slightly offended.

The moral of this story is that wine should be made from grapes and grapes only.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I hope the apple falls far from the tree.

An excerpt from a conversation (though I hesitate to use that word because it's more like her rambling off thoughts that are in her head which she just can't keep there so she lets em loose on the nearest possible person, and if there's no person around she simply talks to herself...) I had with my mother this morning:

(Note that the sound of the hairdryer obstructed this whole thing as she dried her hair much to my starved frustration as I waited for her to be ready to go to breakfast)
Susan: Oh! You know what I was going to tell you?
Me: hmm
Susan: You know Cindy that I work with?
Me: mm-hmm (I really don't).
Susan: Well she paints gourds too, and she has a cat named Bill.... Oh no wait, her husband is Bill. Her cat's name is Bob.

You can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The breaking point

Every day I work in this shop it becomes more and more likely that I am going to hurl a lamp at a potential customer. I am reaching my breaking point, and maybe I'm already there. All I know is I really can't take it anymore. Everything is starting to get to me. For example, idle wandering really irritates me. I cannot remember the last time I just slumped slowly through a store or anywhere without some kind of purpose. Old women, men, people who have absolutely NO business looking around a women's boutique still come in and wander around. Don't they have anything better to do? The worst is the people who are "just looking." That means they have no intention of buying anything, yet it still forces me to perk up, put a smile on and ask them to "let me know if you need help with anything."
Earlier in the summer I allowed shoppers, even if they did not buy anything, to use the staff bathroom in the back room. Now we no longer have a bathroom. There's one in the lobby of the restaurant across the street.
Also, if one more person holds up a garment from across the room and shouts "what size is this?" to me, when it is clearly marked on the tag of the item and the price tag, I'm just gonna have a nervous breakdown.
Retail is not for me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dylan lived a thousand lives

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

...I've got the Tombstone Blues.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's been a rough summer

What can we take on trust
in this uncertain life? Happiness, greatness,
pride - nothing is secure, nothing keeps.
~Euripides, Hecuba

The answer to this conundrum must unfortunately be ourselves and only ourselves.

There is nothing more frightening than looking into the eyes of someone whom you've trusted with your whole heart for many years and realizing that you do not know that person at all; the foundation upon which you've built your relationship and thus a large portion of your life crumbles and in one fragile moment your life is unalterably changed.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that life will go on- you will meet others who can fill the void- but you will never again meet that person or find that relationship and it's not that easy to say "good riddance," unless you are a sociopath. If you are not, it hurts like hell and life just sucks for a while.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Old people are fun too!

Last night I finally went to one of the most talked about restaurants in Door County- The Gordon Lodge's "Top Deck."

It was my uncle's 65th birthday, and thus the occasion for a night out. Jana Nyberg (a friend of the family) and her band (The Jana Nyberg Trio) were the musical entertainment at the Top Deck for the evening. I've known Jana for a while but I've never heard her sing; I was in for a treat. I often think I should have been born in the 20s because there is nothing that I love more than sitting in a dark, enchanting bar and listening to live jazz music, cocktail in hand. Top Deck overlooks the lake, and the bar is encased in glass windows which enhanced the fantastic quality of the scene. My company included my aunt and uncle and four of their friends, all of whom kept repeating "poor Julia, stuck with all these old people!"

The truth is, maybe I should have been born in the 50s, because I didn't mind at all. Once you get past the obnoxious "what do you study?" and "what are you plans for after college?" questions, "old people" are really quite a blast to hang out with. They don't give a damn about appearances of any sort; they simply want to have a good time and enjoy their lives, and at the end of the night the men fight over who gets to pay the bill.

The women I was with, my aunt and two friends were playing "scare the young waiter boy," who left us sitting for too long without taking drink orders. No one actually cared- the earlier cocktails took any sort of edge off of the company- but the women still pretended to be upset with the delay and played with poor Kyle, "a college student, just up here for the summer."

My aunt said to Kyle, after he forgot to bring her garnish- three cherries and an orange slice- for her whiskey sour, "You know, my niece writes for the Peninsula Pulse Newspaper. She's going to write a review about Top Deck for the next issue, right Julia?"
Swallowing a huge gulp of martini I said "Oh yes, definitely."
"Well," Judy interjected, "she was going to, but not anymore."
Kyle scampered away all red and befuddled.

Old people also drive drunk! My uncle, who's large, cherubic face was grinning ear to ear was obviously entertaining the notion of "its my party, I'll have the steak and an entire bottle of red wine...and three old fashioneds..." took the reigns upon our exit (after we were the only people left in the restaurant for at least an hour, chatting it up with the chef), and much to my aunt's dismay proclaimed "Honey, I'm a better drunk driver than you are sober!" My aunt was obviously way too drunk to drive herself because she just laughed at this comment, and said "It's true!!"

The whole ride home the car erupted with laughter every time Jim opened the birthday card he gave my uncle. It was one of those music playing cars, and it was very large, about 12 x 12 in, and on the cover it simply read "A long, long time ago..." When it opened, the star-wars theme song began to play and all it said inside was " were born." We listened to the song about eight times through on the ride home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All grown up now

When does one reach the age where the phrase "very mature for his/her age" no longer applies?

Also, it seems to me that "being an adult" usually goes hand in hand with drinking on a nightly- and sometimes daily- basis. Bring it on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the worst 10 miles of my life

Hell is "running" (doing?) ten miles on an elliptical machine because Dr. says "best not run."

Recent reads: The Runners Repair Manual and Runners World Guide to Cross Training

When O.C.D combines with an addictive personality and the two manifest themselves within a runner, the result is catastrophic, at least for my hips apparently (hence the aforementioned literature).

Friday, July 11, 2008

one more thing, on loneliness:

Loneliness is a tricky thing. It can send you barreling back into the arms of a former boyfriend or girlfriend, whom maybe you loved, or maybe you didn't. Maybe you don't even remember why you were attracted to them in the first place, but it doesn't really matter because sometimes any company is better than feeling alone.
Notice I did not say "being alone," because being alone and feeling alone are two very different things. Feeling so is much more dangerous. It's much more likely to cause you to wake up in the morning next to someone you'd rather not see, usually with a splitting headache, and however lonely you felt last night, you can multiply that by about a thousand, punch yourself in the stomach, and that's how you feel in the morning. So much more alone even though you are waking up with company.
It's hard not to envy the blissfully unaware at times. Those people who tell themselves "I love blank and he loves me too!" and they actually believe it. I guess its not always false, but can two people really feel exactly the same way at the same time? I just don't think so.

lemme tell you a little something about Door County, WI

1.) The mail comes (if it comes) anytime between 3 and 6 pm.
2.) Wanna take an enlightening class- any class- in the woods? You can!
A. Example: My Yoga class. Taught at a little cabin in the woods by a stoic,65 yr old woman named Marcia, who, as of yesterday, hugs me goodbye.
3.) A lot of people don't have a cell phone, and on more than one occasion, one of these people will refer to themselves as "the last of the Mohicans."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Let It Be

I sure hope The Beatles were right. About everything.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Why I dislike most members of my sex:

As my days begin to pile up working at the Sovereign Collection, my resentment for womankind continues to increase. Let me just throw this out there without sounding like a raging feminist: the fact that you married a rich man and have a gardener does not mean you “made it” in life. Before you talk down to me, please consider the fact that although I have not finished college yet, the fact that I started it and am almost finished makes me a lot more educated than you will ever be.

Today a lady entered my shop wearing giant sunglasses (which she left on the entire time) atop a nose that was too small to be her own, and sporting spikey black hair. Her huge, synthetically perky bosom threatened to pour out of the skimpy tank top she was wearing. As if her obvious cosmetic surgeries were not enough to let the whole world know she was wealthy, she felt the need to pull out several of our most expensive dresses and emphatically proclaim to other customers “this would make the most ado-orable nightgown!”
She walked all over the store, picking up folded shirts, only to crumple them up and leave them in a ball somewhere other then where she found them. Some she tried on over her tank top in the middle of the store and would leave them wherever she was standing, inside out. Thankfully, she went into the dressing room to try on a pair of shorts. Moments later, her hand emerged holding the shorts, which she shook in my direction and yelled out “get me these in a size bigger!”
I obliged, without a thanks. All too often there is no “thanks.” There’s no “please,” or “excuse me” either, just pointing and demanding.
I love the women who glance around and make snide comments to their friends like, “Oh God, who can wear this stuff? Not me!” or “I think we’re a little to old for this kind of shop,” said with more than a hint of disdain in my general direction. Most of the time I ignore women like this, but when I’m feeling especially perky I might chirp back “Actually this is a women’s shop. We have customers of all ages.” To this they usually respond with a condescending tone, something like “Well,” glaring me up and down, “I bet it’s real easy to think that way when you’re tall and skinny and young, but I have to think a little bit harder about what I can wear.”

You're right; It's my fault that you have become old and fat and miserable, and in fact, while my boss (who is 42, by the way) was picking out merchandise to sell in her store, I, somehow, secretly manipulated all of her purchase decisions in order to spite you and all women like you. Furthermore, it is actually the prime objective of this store to make women feel bad about themselves. And we ONLY target the young, tall and skinny female population. In fact we really don't intend to sell much clothing- thus the basis of our decision to only cater to such a demographic- we just want to exist here in this storefront, seething spite and pretension.

Apparently, I am a vessel through which women feel they can channel their disgruntled qualms about their lives. It’s days like these that make certain my evening descent into our wine cellar and, consequently, my impending alcoholism.

Friday, May 23, 2008

First of all;

Chalk one up there for the little guys! For a long time I was adamantly against blogging. However, it made more sense to have a blog while I was in Rome so I didn't have to send out dull emails ("I did ___",& "I saw ____") which, really, no one would read anyways except my parents, and I wouldn't really expect them to anyways because I find the whole concept of email updates to be egotistical. But now, I find the fact that my blog ended the day my travels ceased to be odd. My life did not stop... in fact the last few months have been very exciting. A lot has changed. So much so that it makes me feel like a lunatic when I try and deal with it (solution: run from problems!), so I'm just going to write it all out till there is nothing left in my brain to prevent me from sleeping at night.

I leave Chicago today, after being home for only 4 days, to head up north to Door County Wisconsin, my own Walden Pond of sorts. For the third summer in a row now I will be living on my own (except for the occasional visits from my parents and friends) in our cabin in the woods. I like the solitude, probably too much.
I will again be working for the fabulous Lori Johnson, who is 42 going on 24, in her boutique Sovereign Collection. The store is increasingly high-end every time I go back to it, but it fits with the Door County scene as the people there seem to get richer by the year. Every summer I go back there and 10 more pristine pieces of land have been bulldozed and cleared 10 new gigantic mansions with a 5 car garages have been erected, all of which completely obstruct a passer-by's view of the lake.

I also have an Editorial Internship with the Peninsula Pulse, the county's arts and literary journal. My pieces will focus primarily on the "new music scene" in Door County, and I will get to run around to concerts and interview band members and write reviews, bios, etc. I will also be doing some news writing, editing, and the like. I don't really know what to expect, but I am very excited.

Now, I won't actually be living alone; there is a new man in my life and we are absolutely inseparable. His name is Barley Corn but he responds to just Barley. He is a dog. I adopted him from P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Worth Saving)two days ago. He is a pointer/retriever/vizsla mix. Supposedly he is 9 years old but he looks about 4. He had more energy and spunk than any of the younger dogs that were at the shelter. My friend Leigh and I went to P.A.W.S. five days ago and spent at least 4 hours there meeting every dog. The volunteers must have thought we were crazed dog enthusiasts as we wandered up and down the hallways ogling each and every dog. In a perfect world, we both would have walked out of there with at least 5 of them. Shelters are so sad. All of the dogs are so sweet and beautiful, but unfortunately, for the most part, only the puppies get adopted. No one wants an older dog. But 9 year old Barley is just perfect for me. His last owner was a marathon runner in Louisiana who's house was destroyed by Katrina and as such he had to give the dog up. He's been in and out of this shelter for two years now. The last woman who adopted him for five months gave him back because he has so much energy and she really didn't have the time to walk him. I however was looking for a dog I could run with. Also, the energy level thing doesn't bother me at all considering the fact that he is already housebroken, he knows all the basic commands, and he is great on a leash. This morning I took him on a 6 mile run. He practically dragged me along the entire way. All of my miles were at least 30 seconds faster than my usual pace and the dog didn't even seem tired at the end (although he's been laying down ever since we got home). He will be my marathon training tool, although I don't think I will run him more than an hour a day; he is nine after all. So Barley is coming up north with me. I can't wait to run him in the woods.

At the moment I am killing time. I am waiting for my older brother to fly into Chicago so I can pick him up. He'll be in Door County with me this weekend. His flight was supposed to land at 1:30 but he missed his flight. Surprise. His cell phone died and his charger broke, simultaneously, so he called me from his laptop? I hate technology.