Monday, December 21, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Apparently Roo isn't real keen on mailing out Christmas cards to all our friends and family.

However, I felt like we should do something to pass along our well wishes and jolly good cheer to you all, so I bypassed his Scroogism by crafting my own, first-ever, virtual Christmas card. I think it turned out pretty classy. Roo would definitely approve.



From the PHILLIPS!

(Don't worry, Chase isn't dead. He's just sleeping...)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Attack of the "I Don't Care" Sweater

I've made a most egregious Monday error.

Today I made the mistake of wearing an "I Don't Care" sweater. We women all have at least one of these lugubrious getups, as "I Don't Care Sweaters" are the ideal trappings of the sleep-deprived, the heart broken, and the menstruating, to name a few. The problem is, I don't really have any outstanding reason to be wearing an "I Don't Care" sweater--I just kinda put it on by accident this morning since it lured me in with the promise of warmth and coziness, and now it is using me to spread its ambivalent laziness all throughout the workplace.

As the name suggests, an "I Don't Care" sweater is what you wear when you just don't care about the world. How can you tell if your sweater is an "I Don't Care" sweater? It is of necessity very baggy, at least big enough for your dad to wear. And while wearing the sweater you:

1. Are more likely to eat food off the floor.
2. Use the adjective "stupid" to describe most things.
3. Find that doing your hair in anything besides a lumpy, loose ponytail is not worth the effort...and stupid.
4. Feel like work has become a major inconvenience.
5. Feel like any incoming call is a major inconvenience.
6. Feel like the UPS guy making you sign for that package is a major inconvenience.
7. Punch the buttons of the telephone with belligerence then slouch while taking phone calls.
8. Unbutton the top button of your too-tight jeans after lunch. A) Because you can, and B) because you don't care.
In fact, this becomes the reasoning behind most of what you do today:

Why are you coloring rainbows on that customer's order form with your multitude of hi-lighter markers? Because I can and because I don't care.

Why are you spending significant blocks of time staring at nothing and thinking about LOST? Because I can and because I don't care.

Why are you eating another fruit roll-up? Because I can and becuase I don't care.

Why are you spelling "because" with a "ua" rather than an "au"? Becuase I can and becuase I don't care.

Let this be a warning to you: keep your "I Don't Care" sweater in the drawer with your tattered yoga pants where it belongs. Once in the workplace it will wreak havoc--and you won't even care.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adventures in the East Part 3

I have more pictures to post of our vacation. I know it's kind of old news by now, seeing as how it's been over a month since we were there, but you know what else is old news? The Civil War. The Constitutional Convention. Melting cheese on steak sandwiches--all old news. But that doesn't make them any less worthy of consideration and/or discussion. So just look at my old pictures and appreciate them, dang it!

We rented a car to drive to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Gettysburg. First, we had the most cliche lunch that South Philadelphia has to offer: a cheeseteak from Pat's. And it was good!
The thing about cheeseteaks in South Philadelphia is that they are best when served with a little bit of profanity. As Roo was at the window about to order his sandwich, he had to wait for the guy behind the counter to finish hollering, "shut the hell up and make the damn sandwich" at his female co-worker. And that was probably the best Philly Cheesesteak Roo ever ate.

J and Sam loved their cheesesteaks, too. And so did the pigeons--they flocked around and pecked at each other for the scraps from our sandwiches. I think if the guy behind the counter had seen this, he would've hollered, "hey pigeons, shut the hell up and eat the damn scraps." I think its just a South Philadelphia thing to yell at pigeons--pigeons and women. But those Phillies sure can cook a cheesesteak!

We took a nice tour of Independence Hall:

Here is the hall of the Constitutional Convention. It was really neat to imagine what it would have been like to be there with all our founding fathers. And then I wondered if maybe they had their own salty South Philadelphian there to holler, "Shut the hell up and write the damn Constitution." Probably, since their approach to constitutions is much like their approach to cheesesteaks, and we ended up with such a good Constitution, after all.

That's just how they do things in Philly.

The Liberty Bell

We spend that night with Jim and Kathie and their baby, Seth--I mean, Gavin--at their apartment in Baltimore. We had a wonderful dinner and played a killer game of Yahtzee where I rolled my first ever Yahtzee and Kathie made smoothies with their Magic Bullet. So it was like living in an infomercial for the evening. Thanks Jim and Kathie!

The next day was pouring rain and I was coming down with a bad cold, but we drove to Gettysburg anyway. I just loved it there! The colors were perfect. It wasn't too crowded. I had even read Killer Angels last summer to prepare myself. Roo's enthusiasm for the likes of Little Round Top and Devil's Den was dampened (pun intended) a bit by the rain, though...

Probably one of the best parts of Gettysburg was this amazing restaurant we found. We were cold and wet and we came upon this underground tavern in the basement of a historical home which was actually part of the Underground Railroad. The whole place was candle lit, the servers wore authentic clothing, and the menu had a lot of extra "e"s on the end of words like "corne". The dark, warm, rough timbered tavern was perfectly cozy with our hearty food and a warm mug of apple cider, complete with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.

Two things that matter to me in life are beauty and history (and profanity...just kidding), and we saw a lot of that in Pennsylvania and Maryland. I can't wait to go back and see more someday (when it is not as damp)!

Ode to Roo

Encouraged by the nice response to my poem, I've penned another. This poem is inspired by Roo's absence from my life lately. He spent last week in Tucson measuring rocks or something and will spend this week in Houston at some kind of info session with Exxon--he applied for a job with them. Anyway, the important point is that he is there and not here with me. I've tried to convey my sense of woe with the following ode:

Ode to Roo

Dear Roo, I love you,
When you're not here,
I feel like poo.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where I'm From

I used to hate poetry. I hated how ambiguous it could be--how there was no right answer as to what it was supposed to mean. After living some more, however, I've found that some my more complex life experiences are best expressed by the abstract, the ambiguous, not in plain prose.

Anyway, a long time ago I read an excellent poem written here by Tiffany, and, inspired by it, I decided to call a truce with poetry and write a poem of my own. I kept it sitting in my drafts for a few months, but the lull in my blogging of late has, out of necessity, forced me to pull it out.

So here it is--Annie's First Poem:

Where I'm From

I am from stories, from piles of words and pictures in my little girl hands,
that color the ceiling while I wait for sleep.

I am from calloused hands, rough and accustomed to tribulation.
Bent by work, stiff from toil,
Passed from father to son, who grew into father--
My father.

I am from long nights.
The resonant scream of saw blade against wood that cries through the family room floor,
and accompanies our sleep.

I am from homemade.
From home sewn,

home cooked,
home grown,
home bound.
The taste of chicken noodle borne up in steam
that curls in our tired eyes.

I am from bare feet and irreverent laughter in couch cushion forts.
From learning to keep up and watch out and be quiet.
From brothers.

I am from Windows of Heaven
and Father in Heaven
and Stairway to Heaven.
On the yellowing keys of an upright piano
I play--just yellowing keys and me.

I am from someday but not today. Where we are content to wait, to adapt, to settle.
To finish the work.
To do without.
Here the world is apart, so far from our small corner.
It is for someone else.

I am from falling in love with the boy downstairs
who exists in a world where impossible
In my big girl heart I hold his words and pictures
that color the ceiling while I wait no more.

(the end.)

I'm going to ask my mom to hang it on the fridge.

You should try writing your own.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Adventures in the East: Part 2

Getting into New York City was exhausting, but getting out of it was nigh unto impossible. The next leg of our trip was a flight to Washington D.C. The plane was going to leave around 2 pm. First they changed the departure gate four times. Then they cancelled the flight altogether. Meanwhile, Roo's boarding pass wouldn't print, the desk agent took his and accidentally gave him someone else's back. Then we had to catch a taxi with three strangers to get to La Guardia for a flight leaving in 30 minutes. Once we got there, our new boarding passes refused to print. Then we took a shuttle to the furthest nether-regions of the airport. The best part was when a backhoe pulled out in front of our shuttle and reduced our speed to 5 mph until we reached the terminal. Then Roo got held up in security. But we finally got on our plane right before takeoff!

We were really lucky to get to stay with JJ and Jen and their four cats. Here is me and Cuomo, the king of the cats. I loved him.

Roo and I both believe that it's who you're with on a vacation that really makes it great (or not so great.) Luckily, we got to spend the week playing cards, watching Harry Potter, and eating cupcakes with JJ (Roo's brother) and Jen. Plus, Spencer (Roo's other brother) and Kristen and their ultra intelligent children drove down from Rochester to sightsee with us--we had J, Sam, and Knox to explain to us what E Plurbis Unim meant, why the Classical architecture and symbolism of the city was so pertinent to our American ideals, and what they were going to be for Halloween--so we pretty much had a guaranteed awesome trip.

Here's what we saw:

Probably my favorite museum was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The subject is really important to me, and the museum was fantastically done! It was tragic and hopeful at the same time. The building itself was such an amazing, symbol-filled work of art. Below is what the architect had in mind when he designed it:

"Everywhere there are dualities and options. The west wall of the Hall of Witness is made of black granite, the east wall of white marble — the former ominous, the latter hopeful. The play of light and shadow, along with contrasting wide and narrow spaces, arouses contradictory notions of accessibility and confinement.

The entire Hall is defined by unpredictability and uncertainty. Altogether, the interior suggests a departure from the norm, informing visitors that they are in a profoundly different place. It is an environment that stimulates memory and sets an emotional stage for the Museum's exhibitions.
Exposed beams, arched brick entryways, boarded windows, metal railings, steel gates, fences, bridges, barriers, and screens — all "impound" the visitor, and are disturbing signals of separation.
The fissure underscores a sense of imbalance, distortion, and rupture — characteristics of the civilization in which the Holocaust took place."

This room was full of pictures of the faces and lives of a small but thriving Jewish community that was completely wiped out by the end of the war.This was a plain, reverent room with rows of lit candles and Old Testament scriptures on the walls. It was very lovely and peaceful.
I could not stop thinking about who had worn these shoes. When was the last time they had taken them off? I found this especially moving.
A perfect Isaiah quote.

Did I mention that a storm of permanent, non-stop, freezing rain decided to visit D.C. too? It was bitterly cold and wet, and I had gotten a nasty cold, so walking around all day outside was really a sort of crucible of wills for me. But I still loved the city!

We took a tour of the Capitol in the rain:

We took a tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate in the rain:

Saw the very impressive and beautiful Lincoln Memorial in the rain:
Walked the deceptively lengthy distance of the reflecting pool in the rain:
Went to the WWII Memorial in the rain:
Wore head scarves like Russian peasant women while posing with the Washington Monument in the rain:
The one day it didn't rain we got to spend with Spencer and Kristin sightseeing. This is the National Gallery of Art:

We were pretty tired most of the time. So when we weren't browsing artifacts or looking for good street vendor food, we took advantage of any comfortable chairs to sit down for a minute.

This is in the archives where we saw the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

We both decided we loved D.C. in spite of the rain. It was interesting, impressive, and we didn't see any racoon-sized rats in the Metro.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Adventures in the East - Part 1

A few months ago, we decided to plan a grand trip to visit New York and Washington, D.C. A few months later, when we realized we couldn't afford it, it was already too late--we'd booked the tickets. So we thus committed to have a stellar, albeit expensive, trip.

We left Friday night--or should I say Saturday morning--on the red-eye Delta flight to New York City. Though getting to tell people, "I'm on the red-eye to New York City" seems like it would make you feel especially cosmopolitan and adventurous, the act of actually being on the red-eye to New York City mostly makes you feel like a miserable wretch. After take off, you settle in, determined to get a good, solid night's rest--this is when you find that your seat reclines at an angle of exactly .03 degrees and that plastic-wrapped napkin they gave you is actually your complimentary blanket which you cleverly roll into a makeshift pillow, desperately hoping it can somehow make it possible to sleep while sitting Mary-Poppins-straight. 3.5 hours later, we disembarked in a coma-like stupor and made our way to the hotel --we were two sleep-deprived white people lugging suitcases through the New York subway at 5:30 am. It was awesome.

Our hotel was a couple blocks from Times Square--named for the good times you have when you're in it...

This was my second trip to New York and Roo's first. I love the city. This is beautiful to me:

We wandered around both days we were there, and we found ourselves at the New York Public Library. This place was like a temple to me. Old stone and elaborately carved wood and books.

This is the ceiling. Most libraries I've been to have gross flourescent lighting, like they're actually trying to make people feel bored in there--I feel like New York's library ceiling should be the standard for all libraries.
Of course we had to try some New York pizza. It was good and cheap. This is just after we went to The Strand--probably the most awesome bookstore I've ever been to--book browsing usually makes one hungry for pizza.

We rode the Staten Island Ferry to get a good view of the skyline..and New Jersey.

Roo seems unimpressed by Wall Street.

One of the main reasons for our trip was to see The Lord of the Rings Symphony. Once someone was like, 'what's the coolest thing that we could ever do in the world?' and then he was like, 'I know, lets show Lord of the Rings on a huge screen and have a symphony play the score and a choir sing along too. And Howard Shore should be there. And lets do it at Radio City Music Hall.' And that person was right, this is really the coolest thing to do in the whole world! It was fantastic! The part where Frodo pulls Sam out of the water and saves him from drowning makes you cry even more when the music is live...
This is the view from our back row seats.

Meals mainly consisted of pretzels and hot dogs.
This cool band made Central Park feel like New Orleans Square at Disneyland. We sat down and I watched the joggers pass by and smile, a young dad helped his baby daughter dance along to the music, a busy-looking businessman dropped a couple bucks into the guitar case and went on his busy way. I love Central Park.

Here is the view from our hotel room on the 24th floor. You just don't have that many floors where I come from, so this kind of elevation is a novelty worthy of a picture.
How perfect.