29 June 2008

On and After Broadway

The brainfood I consumed before writing this post: a Wendy’s frosty with cookie dough, a gooey handful of “extreme cinnamon roll,” and 3 baby carrots. Just felt like something readers should know before scrolling onward.

Well, it’s been weeks. I’ve been busy with work, work, work, and a whirlwind trip to New York City. Out of the four times I’ve ventured there, it was my favorite trip to the big apple. I felt a lot more at ease with the bustling human flocks, underground transportation, and intimidating stores from which I would never actually buy anything.

When Megan was babysitting for a few hours on Saturday, I coolly strolled into Coach. One of the employees complimented my discounted $9.90 pair of earrings from Macy’s. I thanked her and walked over to a table with beautiful, under-the-sea-inspired necklaces that fell a few inches above the belly button. I told one of the ladies I was going to see the Little Mermaid on Broadway tonight, so this look would be so fitting. With confidence, I asked her the price and nodded casually when she told me $178. Inside though, I was laughing hysterically, tearing up over Coach’s crime, and making an array of bewildered facial expressions. Even though she may have caught on when I immediately put it back, I didn’t feel I had any less of a right asking about it, and that was nice.

Yet, probably the most refreshing thing about the whole Coach experience happened when I went back to work in Erie. I was describing my Coach escapade to the other baker when she stopped me mid-sentence with her confused, unmoved look. She shrugged her shoulders and asked me what Coach was. I said, “Oh, it’s…” I paused. I couldn’t define it. I had trouble pinning down its significance I was so easily and thoughtlessly assigning. “…just a popular brand name,” I finished.

That’s all it was, just a store under a name that people decided was/is trendy and more credible than others. She made me reconsider my attitude towards that whole experience. Why did I feel the need to feel accepted, confident, and cool in that particular store? Would I have felt as triumphant making my way into the Gap or Duane Reade drugstore across the street? It wasn’t a victory to feel entitled there; it was a loss to all the hype built around a 5-letter label.


I’ve been home now for about a week, getting back into my summer routine. After 4 weekends at the bakery, I’ve almost mastered my saran-wrapping technique. The machine is ornery at times, but we’re definitely learning how to work together better.

Also, my first published article Pretty Woman is up online at Christians for Biblical Equality. The organization’s free online journal accepted a piece I wrote for my pluralism class this spring. So feel free to take a gander!

I think tomorrow night is the second to last episode of The Bachelorette. Who will Deanna choose? Jesse, Jason, or Jeremy? I'm pulling for Jason, and so is mom (my mom, not Deanna's...she hasn't met any of them yet).

28 June 2008

One day...

...I will blog again.
Tomorrow?
Tomorrow.
There, it's in writing. (writing that I of course could always edit/erase tomorrow if need be..)

12 June 2008

Flower Power

Everyday, I assemble bouquets for someone's special someone, submit personalized delivery forms, and fill auto boxes with just-sold arrangements for a more manageable car ride home. At Kabloom, our motto is “The Power of Fresh Flowers.” But, where does the power come from? What is it? Why is it so powerful?

Today I delivered a freshcut birthday arrangement to a woman working at a small delicatessen downtown. When I walked in, a bit off-balance trying to manage the door and vase, a chorus of “aawwwwwws” hailed my entrance. Was it the arrangement itself that entranced them? Was it a secret, collective hope that the flowers would be going to them? Or was it simply the concept behind the flowers, the notions that associate themselves with the act of flower-giving?

When I start tubing customers’ flowers at the store, I usually ask “Any special occasion?” I hate and love that I ask that question. I hate it because in order to respond, people have to judge what they think I think is special. I hate it because I imply that I have an opinion on what’s "special" enough for flowers and they should too.

Today, one woman said, “No, they’re just for me. I felt like I needed ‘em.” She had picked out three gerbera daisies, one red, one orange, one yellow. I arranged them just as I would if she were giving them to someone else. Why can’t a self-bought bouquet be just as special? Why did she instinctively answer "No" to my question? Because "Just for me" isn't special enough reason to buy flowers? Maybe I should just stop asking the special occasion question.

More often than not though, I do get a positive response, even when the answer is “No, just for me.” They smile, knowing the flowers are theirs, even if they didn’t receive them from anyone but themselves. There’s something powerful about leaving a place, clutching an armful of fresh blooms. That becomes the special occasion.

And that’s why I love asking my question. I get to help people with their unique, special occasions. I get to wrap up flowers for graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, just becauses, and just for me's. I get to be that someone who assures people “Just for me” is special enough reason to purchase them.

Maybe then the power of fresh flowers is as simple as Kabloom states it. It’s not always the notions we ascribe to flower-giving, but rather the inherent powers of our natural world that can sweep us off our feet. Flowers don’t need the concepts or meanings or clich├ęs we associate with them. They don’t need superficial imagery of Valentine’s Days attached to their exquisite, natural chi. They don't always need reasons or defined occasions. They’re powerful enough to bring joy without them. And for me, that says something utterly invaluable about the created, natural world in which we live.

Then again, I am a floral clerk and as such, a bit biased regarding the whole matter. :)

06 June 2008

Poker n Pies

Mom has the girls over for their monthly poker night. I love to hear her laugh, eat their h'ordeurves, and track their conversations from already good-humored to entertainingly inarticulate. But, I have to wake up very early tomorrow morning, punch in at 6 am, and learn how to make peach, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and cherry tarts. Did I mention I’ve never baked? Other than Giant Eagle “Break and Bake” sugar block cookies, I’ve never baked. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve never baked. And tomorrow, hours before I would ever have the sun rise, I’m going to bake. In my neon-striped visor, red apple-tinged tshirt, with coffee mug on/in hand, I’m going to bake.

Tonight though, I feel like the mom, sitting in her room, needing to get to sleep, hearing her daughter and friends enjoy each other’s company, keeping the door cracked slightly incase things get too out of hand, going to the kitchen to rinse out my glass when I could easily do it in the morning, exiting gracelessly because I’m a bit uncomfortable, hoping they think I'm a "cool" daughter, hoping there’s not a big mess left in the morning, even though I know there will be.

I keep scooting to the fridge to nab the girls' Stefanelli's sponge candy from the second shelf. I've had multiple servings of Tostitos, hot cheese dip, Swiss cheese wedges, and noisy grown-ups. My eyelids are heavy now, my stomach, overstuffed, and my mom, still enjoying her favorite social event of the month.

Endnotes:
It’s a gift to reconnect with old friends. I should stop trying to understand why it happens, the motives or circumstances behind it—why at this point in my life, their lives, it’s time to reconnect. I should realize it’s a gift, nothing more, nothing less. I should accept and enjoy it.

Whoever said you can’t buy self-esteem was wrong. I bought a shirt today at TJmax. The brand’s name is “Self Esteem.”

In the summer, the weekend doesn’t mean as much as during the school year. I don’t look forward to Fridays. I clean out the dishwasher on Fridays, work two different places, and go to bed knowing I will trade sleeping in tomorrow morning for waking and baking.

The girls just yelled "Yaaaay!" in unison.

04 June 2008

Blue Raspberries and Endnotes

Blue raspberry is a legit flavor with a legit essence. Some people used to and still say to me that blue raspberry can’t be my favorite flavor because it’s just raspberry with blue food coloring. I just wanted to inform those people and bloggers everywhere that blue raspberry comes from the kingdom Plantae, division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceceae, genus Rubus, subgenus Idaeobatus, and species Rubus Leaucodermis. The fruit that grows on the Rubus shrub has a dark blue tinge, and the juice that surges forth? A tangy stream of blue-hued raspberry euphoria.

Endnotes for the day:
Mom purchased a B-12 supplement for me. One rose-colored pill provides 33,333% of my needed B-12 daily value. I have never seen a percentage that large on the back of any pill bottle, or in print anywhere really.

Blue raspberry is still my favorite flavor, even when it’s artificially produced for me.

My mother thinks the idea of “Spring Fever” or “Just Something in the Air” has something to do with the phases of the moon and people’s astrological signs. I don’t know what to think. When I came to her with the day’s bizarre boy barrage, she replied quickly “you know, it was a new moon yesterday.”

Airwick’s ‘hardworking octopus’ commercial annoys the heck out of me. I get it that Airwick is trying to show us it empathizes with our multitasking lifestyles, but the fact remains: humans don’t have eight arms to work with. I don’t identify with you, you suction-cup-covered, eight-armed fushia creature that can’t naturally speak English, live out of water, or enjoy Airwick’s plug-in Aroma Therapy Fragrances.

Summer is finally here. The weather is warming, my friends are incredible, and I’m going to participate in a fitness study. My first appointment is tomorrow at Curves for Women. Please wish me luck, motivation, and a circuit’s worth of endurance.

03 June 2008

e-bravery

At orientation tonight for my newest part-time job, the boss had us copy down her email address in case we needed to contact her. She said to give a max 3 day stretch before we should expect a reply. She then went on to caution us about the syntax of our pieces. I’ve had some pretty crude resignations, she said. “Email makes us brave.” So read over what you’re saying a couple times before you send it, she advised.

After replicating my address five times, wishing at least one form might have something like “Favorite Zoo Animal” or “Target Weight” slyly placed somewhere between “Street” and “Zip,” I thought about my own emails. Email does make me feel braver. I feel bolder, more out“spoken” when I have the computer to mediate my communication. When I can draft and edit my thoughts, I feel more confident expressing and transmitting them.

I don’t think emails necessarily make me brave, but they stand as this unguarded venue where I’m allowed to go wild on stage. I’m in control; no one else is helping guide the flow of conversation. I feel empowered, more courageous, because there isn’t a gigantic audience gawking at me. There aren’t concert goers, band members, stage crew I have to engage. I can craft who I am, how I sound, how I appear without any immediate reactions or contentions from others (even though they probably will come later, and I know that).

I went to see Sex and the City today at Tinseltown. I laughed, I cried, I admit I enjoyed most all of my 135 minutes in the theater, ok? At the end of the film, Carrie Bradshaw decides to peruse a file that saved all of Mr. Big’s emails she hadn’t opened (Mr. Big left her at the church on their wedding day, and they hadn’t spoken since). The file was jam-packed, each email titled “Love Letter,” the final tagged “from me.” He copied and sent several famous love letters and ended with a pretty simple but pretty brave testimony: I know I screwed up, but I will love you forever. Naturally, Bradshaw proceeds to whimper and acknowledge the mistake she’s making—this all because of a single-sentenced email Big composed.

Now, I’m hardly saying emails are the stuff love’s made of. But, they can be powerful channels when it comes to saying more than we could dream of face to face. Whether I’m angry, confused, upset, or head over Bradshaw’s Manolo Blahnik heels, writing itself serves a very curious, empowering purpose for us all. I can be more daring, or animated, or sappy, or callous, or deceitful, or straightforward in writing. I can feel brave because it’s my monologue I’m getting someone else to read. Even if I ask questions in my letter, it isn’t a discussion. My questions contribute to the overall flow of the piece, just like the rest of my sentences.

My grandma and mom have the most animated persona in cards and emails. They underline, insert countless exclamation points, and use vocabulary they rarely use in person. It’s like they have alter personalities. But I think it’s easier for them to express their excitement and love through writing. Yes, these things are part of their personality, it’s just they show themselves more frequently and vividly in my inbox than in person.

I think email makes us feel brave because the venue sanctions us to run wild, break out of our shells a bit, and push our own conventions. Sometimes my performance is received well; other times, it’s not. But because my audience doesn’t respond right away, I'm confident enough to continue my routine until I decide to end it. Because people aren’t watching, reading, simultaneously as I type, I am gutsier, more secure with how I want to (re)present myself.

Email makes us brave. Writing makes us brave. Whether this is a good thing or bad, it is no doubt something empowering, scary, insightful, something packed with intrigue. It’s something worth contemplating, experimenting with, and understanding. But first and more than anything I think, it’s something about us worth appreciating.