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Archive for the ‘First Impressions’ Category

dierksIf you ever pull up next to me at a stoplight, try not to laugh when you glance over. Chances are, you’ll see me gripping the steering wheel deep in the throes of belting out whatever song my stereo is blasting. As Maya Angelou puts it, “Music [is] my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

People often ask me what’s my favorite song or band, and I’m never able to answer with just one. And whatever that answer may be changes depending on the time of day, where I am and what I’m doing. I use music. I use it to vent frustrations, to fall asleep, to find a rhythm, to understand why’s and how’s. While many listen to music for the sound, the quick rat-tat-tats that provide a beated soundtrack to life, I turn up my volume for the lyrics. I think it’s the words in a song that create the tone of music. And I’ve found that my favorite lyrics stem from country music (it was a shocker when I first realized this fact).

Country music always tells a story; that southern belle who when cheated on by a brute in too tight jeans extracts her revenge by digging a key into the side of his truck or a guy who makes up a persona online of being a 6’5” hot Hollywood stud who drives a Maserati. And it’s the stories I love. Yes, I laugh out loud by myself at some of these croonings. I identify with the tales of woe and memories of good times, kegs in closets, and pizzas on the floor. And I may or may not fist pump to give the horse a break and choose the cowboy instead…I can’t help myself; the fist has a will of its own and who wouldn’t want to save the horse?

So…it didn’t take much convincing when my two coworkers, Christine and Michele, busted into my office on Monday to see if I wanted to go and have lunch with Dierks Bentley. Now by lunch, they really meant sitting in on the live recording of Lunch Time Live Chat with Dierks Bentley at WMZQ studios. At that moment, I couldn’t think of any song I knew by Dierks, but I love live music so I jumped at the chance (it turns out, I knew more than I thought).

For those of you who don’t know Dierks (we’re now on a first name basis), he just released his 5th album, Feel that Fire on Feb. 3 and was doing the media rounds prior to boost the hype for it. One stop was the WMZQ radio station in Rockville, MD and I sat in the second row excited to see the preview. It’s so interesting to me to have that moment of realization when you figure out a celebrity is just a regular person who a lot of people happen to know about and talk about.

The stage was just two microphones and two stools. Dierks sat before his mic and leaned back on the stool as he played his old guitar (worn where his pinky rubbed at countless concerts and campfires and signed by his two favorite George’s…I’ll give you a hint, one is not George Bush). With him was another singer or partner-in-good-ole’-boy-crime, Rod Janzen. The two were in perfect sync as they played some old songs and ones off the newer record. Their harmony blended well with the sound of their guitars, and I couldn’t help but bob my heel (I was on my lunch break after all) to the beat. The audience stumped the two during a q&a on a few tried and true tunes, but Dierks and Rod handled it well, bantering back and forth, and making both mental and verbal notes to re-learn The Heaven I’m Headin’ To once they settled back on their tour bus.

Dierks talked a bit about the album, favorites on it and why some were written. Check out his website for the song’s full histories, www.dierks.com. While I may not have gotten a signed CD (I wasn’t a lucky call-in winners, just a tag-a-long moocher), I did spend a fantastic hour listening to true, thoughtful words put to great music (and I got a picture with him!) …(Dierks, if you read this, I’d love one and would be more than willing to buy it if you sign it (I was the girl in the red sweater?))…(woops sorry about the tangent).  And though I didn’t get to eat my sandwich on my 60 minute lunch, listening to Dierks sing for an hour was more than worth it.

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I figured in the days prior to the Inauguration, and now living in the DC area, I should probably contribute a comment of two about the upcoming exodus of one G.W. Bush from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As the UHAUL trucks veer Southwest toward Texas, President-Elect Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of Commander and Chief of the United States. I, for one, am excited to see this and the energy surrounding his swearing in is palpable around the mixing bowl.

While I recognize this as an important day in US history, recently I have found myself drawn to more amusing characteristics of the approaching time for change. January 20, 2009 seems to be a valuable deadline for not only Congress and the out-going Executive Branch, but also for retail vendors out to profit on the new face of our nation. As Seen On TV proclaims I can now own a piece of history…with “the Historic Victory Commemorative Plate,” priced at $26.98, made of “quality porcelain” with a “22 karat gold rim.” Change has indeed come to the retail industry because if ordered in the next 10 minutes, they will also include a bonus display stand and Certificate of Authenticity from the American Historic Society (just in case we ever forget or need proof that this day actually happened).

To further enhance the growing collection, As Seen On TV offers a limited quantity of the gold-plated Hawaiian quarter, “colorized” with the image of Barack Obama. If the state quarter is not “official” enough, the New England Mint has rolled out their Barack Obama Dollar to honor the 44th President. As limited edition, un-circulated coins, they truly guarantee a rare, authentic piece of memorabilia. And included in the introductory release is the President Barack Obama 2008 Kennedy Half Dollar layered in genuine 24 karat gold FREE…well with the additional $4.95 shipping and handling of course*.

There is also no shortage of treats should I choose to stray from the certified collectibles in favor of more mainstream gifts. My favorite is the G.O.P.-stomping, change-wielding, proletariat-defending Barack Obama Action Figure. He’s out to kick-some ass, Leader-of- the-Free-World style. Along this line, the Obama Bobble Head easily provides an additional high entertainment value. Republicans can ask any question (in a similar yes/no fashion one may use a magic eight ball). And 99% of the time they will receive an affirmative answer whether about their foreign policy or domestic agendas, various pork barrel initiatives, pay increases, etc. As the ad proclaims,”this Barack bobblehead is a very agreeable listener, no matter your party affiliation – give him a piece of your mind on taxes, health care, national security, anything, and he’ll nod right along.”

Below are a few other highlights of the Obama-craze:

President Obama Commemorative Sculpture with Stand Photo sculpture (in various sizes)

President Obama Commemorative Inauguration Keds shoe (again in various sizes)

President Obama Commemorative Beer Stein Mug (sorry- one size fits all)

Barack Obama Picture – Yes We Can – President Barack Obama Commemorative Wall Clock

President Barack Obama Throw

But the coup de grace, for me at least, has to be the Barack Obama Life Size Cutout. At 6’1,” He can stand in your office corner or in a place of prominence at the head of your dining room table. Wherever you choose to put him, you can have your own personal Barack sounding board (pardon the pun) for a steal or $33.45. You can argue policy or just ask for economic advice! Best part about this is…if you check out Amazon.com, you have the option of buying brand new…or used (only 2 left!). But America always offers many options. And while Amazon’s offer of a used Obama is tempting, I’d consider the Barack Obama Standee at CelebrityGift.com. This Obama is 6’2″ (so a whole inch taller), but the real sale is you can put your head on his body. For a more “personal” touch, this alternative allows any ordinary American to stand-in as the next President, thus proving this country IS the land of real opportunity.

*View the infomercial here: Obama Coins

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I’ve never been a big fan of the New Year’s resolution and as we kick 2008 out the back door in preparation for 2009, I find myself resolving to not resolve. The Holiday season typically lasts about 2 months beginning in November. We have Thanksgiving, a day we celebrate all things good in our lives and Christmas where we continue to add to what we’ve already given thanks for. But then there’s New Year’s…the Eve of which we dedicate to drinking (heavily in most cases) to forget that past year and blur into the new one, followed by the Day where we begin to try to forget the previous night.

For the most part, I enjoy the evening, which has to this date consisted of cheap champagne, sparkling top-hats, new friends, and midnight snogging. I like watching the ball-drop in Times Square (which, though an actual event, reminds me of the phrase whose meaning when someone “drops the ball”, they make a mistake, most often by doing something in a stupid or careless fashion) and counting down to midnight and toasting with friends to a new year.

With all that’s happened this past year, I hope next year lets me catch my breath. I guess I do have some resolutions, but it seems this year I have more for which I’m thankful…perhaps I should have written this post on Thanksgiving because here’s just a bit about 2008 and my role in it…what I did and what I’m grateful for:

* A year in Manhattan—from 2007-2008

* Quit my job

* Moved out of NYC—thanks to those who hired me in DC.

* New Job! (Jeans and jerseys days, happy hours, and potluck lunches)

*…and new friends.

* A 2009 Ford Focus with heated seats as my first car!

* Met Tom Jones at a reggae bar in AC—won $250 buck on penny slots

* Expensive champagne at the Ritz Carlton (classically attired in my Gburg College hoodie.)

* Soph’s bridesmaid and all the responsibilities that came with that…

* Tampa 3 times—participating in Ibor’s St. Patty’s Parade…

* Walked 5K for a Cure

* Friends I left and friends I found again.

* Zumba and the Latin mafia.

* Stayed healthy and happy

* Made a valiant effort to keep the economy afloat through copious investments in various retail establishments

* Made up for lost time with three little boys who always keep the force close-by

* My first NFL game—while it wasn’t the Redskins…the Ravens do have a pretty cool stadium, especially on Club Level

* Philly trips

* Expired licenses and the adventures that caused (Manyunk).

* Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea

* My Family

* Guitar Hero

* Dinners, drinks, and nights with friends.

So here on Day 2 of 2009, I hope you’ll take a second to also reflect and catch your breath. Go put up your 2009 Family Guy/Anne Geddes/Disgustingly Cuddly Creature calendars. Make an effort to harrumph off of your couch to purchase a gym membership. Throw out the bags of red and green candies, greasy chips, and anti-depressants. And prepare yourself to be miserable for at least the first 4 weeks of 2009 as you resolve to deny yourself all the basic/simple pleasures of life in a concentrated effort to better yourself for the coming year. Because that’s the true meaning of the New Year resolution…to make that “lifestyle change” through a masochistic self-denial of all things wonderful. I definitely like Thanksgiving better. But in any case…Happy New Year!

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So I am not really sure how to start this blog. I thought about an introduction, telling you (whoever you may be) about me, but then I figured that most of you know me and I have probably already told you I am starting a blog, so what’s the point in introductions.

Then I debated about just jumping in with some of the random posts that pop into my head throughout the day, when I turn to my friend Niamh (rhymes with Steve, not Ni-am-ha) and say “I want to blog that.”

Or maybe the best choice is a story since that seems to be what I do best; tell stories. But which one should I go with, which one should set the tone for this blog…keep you interested in reading again?

I think I’ll start with me.

Nine months ago I began my New York City experience, moving up from rural Pennsylvania with 3 suitcases, 2 parents, 1 job and no place to live. I transplanted from a town where the ratio of cows to people was 3:1 and the ratio of monuments to people, 2:1. I didn’t think I’d find many similarities to the Big Apple and my Apple Country, but surprisingly a few do exist. Bobble-neck pigeons seem to outnumber humans in the same way as the cows, a 3:1 clump I constantly dodge. Their impatient surges from the sidewalk have me batting my hands in a wild attempt to swat them away.

The monuments of Soldiers and cannons lining cornfields were replaced by obelisk skyscrapers shadowing suits and skirts, their height soaring in comparison to the transit masses.

I learned a great deal in those first few months. I learned never to order a cosmo because of SATC. I learned the 456 and NRW and everything in between. I knew where in my neighborhood had the best brunch and a great HousingWorks shop. I knew to ignore Times Square. I knew where to find a comfy bookstore and a good cup of coffee. I grew to love the noise and yet be able to find the quiet. I grew to recognize the man at the top of 33rd and Park’s subway stop who yelled, “Paper, Good Morning New York, Free Paper, Get Your Paper here…AM New York” then leaned over to nod, “nice skirt” at me as I tramped up the last few steps. That was probably the coolest part (not the man’s compliment), but when I learned my way around, I no longer felt like a tourist.

And that’s when I finally settled on what this entry should be about. My first New York Moment as a New Yorker (though I get that I am not technically allowed to call my self one for what…10 years of surviving here or something ridiculous like that?).

The worst month to move in this city is definitely August (I changed from sub-let to apartment August 1). The worst month to walk by mounds of garbage that sit out for most of the day is August. The worst month to do anything outside, including walking one block to work, is August. You can’t stand still without having rivers of sweat puddling in precarious places (gross I know, but you know too). In this weather my shirts…changed color, my make-up smeared to an abstract watercolor painting, and my hair frizzled to Don King heights.

But there were some great things about summer in the city. And my Moment that still can make me pause like a tourist was my first Happy Hour on a Rooftop Bar in Midtown. On one evening, my co-worker invited me for drinks after work at a bar close to our offices. A co-worker I’d never met was leaving and this was naturally a reason to grab drinks. The bar was around 35th and Third Avenue. When we got there, I order a vodkatonic (one word in my dictionary) and squeezed by people to the group we came with. As the new comer, people asked a lot of questions—where was I from originally, did I like the city, how was I adjusting?

They seemed to look at me as a new exhibit on display, “Small Town Artifacts” (not an interactive, hand-on display–more of a gawk and point showcase). And I made it worse by casually mentioning how I got on the subway to go up to my sublet on 96th and Second Avenue. I had stopped at a supermarket and picked up some ice cream for dinner after spending the afternoon with a friend in Times Square. I pulled out a book on the train (to fit in with the other natives) and waited to get to my stop. It was raining when I stepped off the train and looked around for which direction I was supposed to go….and I stood there…and a little longer still until I realized that I was not anywhere near my apartment. In fact, I was the Upper West Side, and yes I lived on the Upper East Side…you know, the other side of the island. I had to ask a cop how to get to Second Avenue, which clearly involved going all the way back down to Times Square across to Grand Central and up to 94th. As I told the story, I watched as these seasoned New Yorkers made pitying eye contact with one another and laughed at my rookie mistake. So I took advantage of my newness by saying that I actually love having these New York Moments.

Cassandra frowned at me and asked what I meant by a New York Moment. And I dramatically swept my arm around and said, “This.” Obviously.

There I was in my first few weeks in the city on the third floor of a roof bar. The sun was setting and I stood facing the Empire State Building, sipping a vodkatonic, watching as the sky kaleidoscoped from reds, pinks and oranges to blues, blacks and violets. They laughed as I shared my moment, shaking their heads I guess at the fact that I was still a wide-eyed lover of all things New York. But eventually they cracked their shells and shared a few they’d had when they first moved here.

Cassandra’s was a favorite: Every morning coming up the subway from Brooklyn, she stopped at the same metal box bagel and coffee stand on the curb for a small cup of coffee. Her first sip, the anticipation of it as she came up the subway steps, and the walk savoring it was her New York Moment.

So that’s my first post. I’m KT. It’s nice to meet you.

Tell me your New York Moment, good, bad, or made-up…

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