Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meeting the Family

I love Antonio. I love my family. It was only a matter of time before they met. Last night was that night! For all intents and purposes, Michele and Kasey are my most immediate family. I see them the most of all my family. Michele suggested that Antonio and I join them and Ashley and Brian for dinner after Christmas. We met last night, our seven month anniversary, at Supper on 2nd and Avenue A.

I was so nervous! I thought we'd run out of things to talk about. I was worried they wouldn't click. I stressed about having enough cash for dinner (which I never do). But things went very well! We had a great time, the food was great and there wasn't a lull in the conversation.

Of course, I realize that we were in a trendy New York restaurant. Everyone was polished and proper. Let's see if he runs away when we're on the couch in Pennsylvania with two dogs, arguments at dinner, inappropriate jokes and everyone's in the pajamas. That'll be the real test :-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas '10

Every Christmas is different, but the last few years have been really transformative for my family. Over the past 10 years, Michele and I have both graduated from college and moved away, Michele and Kasey got married and Renee has grown from a baby into a young woman. All the changes are dizzying. Christmas 2010 was the first time in a long time that I felt like we are where we are going to be. Michele and I are no longer a part of the nuclear family and that's okay. I'll never go back to my room and chill the way I did when I was in high school. Michele will never be the babysitter for her younger brother, in the most literal sense. We've all grown up and grown into the family that we are today. I like it.

The Highlights

Michele and I visited Grandpop and then Aunt Honey. They both seemed alert, healthy and happy. I only get to see them around the holidays and I always think when I'm with this that it may be the last time. I'm always grateful when I get to see them. Aunt Honey is an absolute riot! You aren't going to hold anything back when you're 79. She just calls it like I see it. We didn't get to see Uncle Fred because he wasn't doing well either day we were around. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Aunt Kathy is such a huge part of our family and it breaks my heart to think that she knows this will be the last Christmas she will have with her husband. I wish there was more I could do.

Michele, Renee and I did our usually family crafts. Instead of a gingerbread house, this year we did a gingerbread train. It's always fun! It's the simple things that are really restful and relaxing. Michele also bought a kit to make ornaments using little beads of colored plastic and metal molds. It's funny to see how far we've come. Michele and I used to fight before she left college. Renee and I used to fight before I left for college. And Michele and I didn't have much in common while I was in college. It's only been in the last few years (since I've come out) that I've really noticed that the three of us are really close. It's probably that we're all maturing and realizing that family is really the most important thing.

We did our usual Christmas Eve tree decorating and gift opening. It was fun. I got a lot of great gifts - some practical and some unexpected. The best part was seeing Renee's face when she opened her Justin Bieber CD and book. You can tell if you got a 13-year-old girl a good gift by the screech. She had the CD on replay in her room until I left the next evening.

It's always great to see my parents! My mom always goes out of her way to make sure we're comfortable and taken of. You tell her you like something and then...BAM, you get a years' supply. She asked what kind of snacks we'd like to have. I told her that I like almonds. Next thing I know, I'm trying to fit a 3 pound bag of almonds in my suitcase. It's a great gift though! I'll be snacking away at work for the next 6 months.

The only downer this season was that I didn't get to see my dad. I left the day before I was supposed to see him because of the impending storm. We did get a lot of snow so it seems like I made the right decision. Still, I haven't seen him in over a year so it would have been nice. If only there was better public transportation to southern Delaware.

I am very thankful for my wonderful family, our good health and our safe travels this year. We've settled into the family that we're meant to be and I think it fits my fabulous fingerless gloves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Double Standards

I've been thinking about double standards lately. I had a great evening with Antonio downtown only to come home to Spencer and some girl relaxing on the couch. As Valerie on The Comeback would say, "I don't need to see that!” Now don't get me wrong. I totally respect that this is his apartment too and he can have people over, even if they are super spoiled, annoying bitches. But when I first started dating Antonio, Spencer said that I should hang out with him downtown. He made the argument that the apartment was too small. I agreed based on the fact that our apartment is small. But it seem like the rules don't apply equally. He can have a dumb trash box over, but I can't have my boyfriend over.

That's not the only recent example. Antonio and I went to a wedding on the 10th. I had to ask my boss if would be alright with him if I took the day off. I felt the need to be very cautious with my pronouns. I simply said that I had a wedding and needed to get ready. I didn't say that my boyfriend invited me and he didn't ask. If he did and I had said that the bridge and groom were friends of my girlfriend, no one would bat an eyelash. But, if I said they were friends of my boyfriend, I get the feeling people would think I was pushing my sexuality down their throat. I'd worry that he'd treat my differently. I shouldn't have to keep my relationship a secret. I don't want people to think that my personal life should be private, something only acceptable behind closed doors.

At this point, I don't really care! I'm proud of who I am and I'm proud to have Antonio as my boyfriend. Everyone else can like it or not. But it's still frustrating to live in a world where love is still subjected to such an archaic double standard.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Neuro Holiday Party 2010

This past Wednesday was our annual party. Somehow organizing it always falls on me, which I don't really mind. This year I started early and made sure that things (most things) didn't get done at the last minute. You know what that's called? Growth.

We bought blue and white centerpieces with blue, frosted snowflake tea lights, and white snowflake confetti on the tables. Aesthetically, it was much nicer than last year. Everything clicked in the beginning. Both the Kosher and non-Kosher food showed up on time. Katherine and I got everything set up before the party started (unlike last year). The band (ugh, that's a whole other story) showed up and were ready when the party began. For the most part, everything ran smoothly.

Now, everyone likes to complain, but no one wants to help. People didn't like that we had room temperature finger-food. Don't get it twisted! We spent about $3,000 on food and it was delicious. People were just used to a nice sit-down meal. They didn't like the music because it was acoustic and slow. They were used to a DJ and dance floor. Essentially, it all comes down to money. The previous administration spent money like it was no object (right or wrong, I can't make a judgment because I wasn't there for it). Now, we've scaled things down and people aren't happy about it. People didn't like that we were in the lobby, though I can't really blame them.
My boss was happy with it except for the fact that the food ran out early. The lab people, who I'm convinced are genetically predisposed to lack social etiquette, took huge plates of food. You'd think they were saving for the entire winter.
I think / hope that people realize that I did the best I could given the limitations. Hopefully, we'll have a good year and we'll be able to organize a party that's bigger and better next year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lonely / Legend

I'm dogsitting this weekend for my sister, while she and my brother-in-law go to Atlantic City. She left me her car, gave me more than enough money for food and said to just make myself at home. I took the opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done while belting out top 40 radio hits in the car. It's the little things in life. I ordered a feast from Dominos and enjoyed it while watching some tv.

After the sun went down, I realized how lonely being alone in a big house could be. I couldn't step out the front door and see people walking down the street. Even when I was at the mall, I felt this weird disconnect with the strangers around me. It was weird, but I felt so alone when I was in stores or strolling through the parking lot. Walking through Target was rough because I'd see all the holiday place settings and decorations and want them so badly. I'd think about what my life could (and might) be like in the future. I missed Antonio. I wanted nothing more than to have him there with me, holding my hand.

Ok. Enough of the sad stuff. So after a brief nap, I decide to watch I Am Legend. I'd seen it before and loved it. It was even more fun to watch now because it was filmed in NYC. I've actually been to most of the places in the movie. It's a great, but suspenseful (and scary at times) movie. I watched Will Smith run from mutant zombies for two hours. And about ten minutes after it ended, the power to my sister's house goes out. Omg! And of course in my mind, the zombies are quickly climbing down through the attic. I am literally paralyzed on the couch. I just keep playing the game on my iPhone quietly so the zombies won't hear me. I guess I'd have to save Bogie, though I'm sure Michele would forgive me if something ate him in the event of a mutant apocalypse. Oh well, the lights came back on and I watched some happy tv before heading to bed.

It's fitting that I spent the afternoon and early evening feeling so isolated and lonely and then I watch a movie about a man who's the only person left alive in Manhattan. I'll just be happy when I see the sun shining in the morning while I drink some hot tea.

Ps: please excuse any typos. I'm writing this from the guest bed on my iPhone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pink Friday

I like to think of myself as someone who was a fan of Nicki Minaj before the hype began for her debut, Pink Friday. I didn't pre-order the album, but expected to buy it when it came out. I heard the 30-second previews on iTunes and wasn't too impressed. I then heard some of the songs on YouTube, which were sped up, and didn't like them either. It wasn't until I finally heard some legitimate copies of the songs that I started to get on board again. I finally broke down on Friday and bought the deluxe edition of the album. I will say that I love it, but I will also say that I think some editing it down would have helped. I would say that there are only two or three songs that I don't like and would skip. For a debut "album" she should be very proud of what she accomplished.

The Good:
1) I'm The Best - Inspiration, cocky and fun to sing along with.
2) Roman's Revenge - This was the track that I hated when I first heard it. I couldn't believe that Nicki would let Eminem use derogatory gay slurs on one of her raps, especially because she knows she has a big gay following. But, the rest of the song is so HOT! I love her crazy voices and she really brings it hard. I've learned to look past
4) Right Thru Me - Love song, but not very romantic. Good, but ghetto.
5) Fly - Introspective and Rihanna does a great job on the chorus.
6) Save Me - So vulnerable and innocent. I can relate and it's really calming.
7) Moment 4 Life - I like the grateful message of the song.
8) Check It Out - Good sample and uber fast raps.
9) Blazin' - This is the kind of song that made me fall in love with her.
10) Here I Am - Very strong message, powerful.
11) Dear Old Nicki I like that she admits she's changed. I think it's brave.
14) Super Bass - This is the perfect mix of hip/hop and pop.
16) Muny - Who doesn't love songs about money?
17) Girls Fall Like Dominoes - I love songs that mention fashion designers and celebrities and this song has them galore.

The Bad:
3) Did It On 'Em - This song was just stupid. It has a great beat but the lyrics are disgusting and lame.
13) Last Chance - I actually like Nicki's verses but the chorus is way too poppy. It's like an outtake from a Hilary Duff album. I would have expected more from Natasha Bedingfield who is featured on the track
15) Blow Ya Mind - Another dumb track.

At 17 tracks, it's very long. I think cutting out the three bad tracks would have made this a perfect album. I noticed that she tends to have 4 lines that all end with the same word. Of course it's going to rhyme if you end each line that way. I'm not an expert on rap, but I think that's a little lazy. Overall, she has a lot of amazing songs on this album mixed in with a few songs that I could do without. I like that people are going to be exposed to her music. I like her craziness and drive to create an empire.

I'll admit it; I'm now a true Ken Barb.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Empire State Building

I moved to New York with little hesitation. I feel like I went from Radford on a Monday and then working in Manhattan by the following Monday. I'd never been to the city before and I didn't do the things that most tourists do. Antonio's cousins were visiting from Portugal so they've been seeing the city at rapid pace. We all went to the Empire State Building on Friday, which was a first for me. It was amazing! You can see the entire city from where we were standing on the 86th floor.

This is one tourist spot that I can check off my list.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food Punctuation

I don't get it. Usually, people try to lose weight and get discouraged when the scale tells another story. Most are even sad when the needle on the scale doesn't move at all. I have the exact opposite problem. I went to the MS Center on Tuesday, as I do every Tuesday, and weighed myself. I lost a pound from the previous week. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but it's really frustrating when I'm trying to pack on muscle. The worst part is that I eat all the time. I really don't think it'd be possible for me to eat more than I do.

But, obviously that what I need to do. I went grocery shopping today for the essentials. What I found was an early Christmas miracle! Lean Pockets were on sale for $2.00 a box. They pack a punch - just enough calories and not too many grams of fat. They are amazing and the fact that they are so cheap only sweetens the deal. Imagine my astonishment when I saw that Banquet, individual pot pies are $1.00. I think I literally said, "Shut up" to myself in the freezer section. They have a bit more saturated fat and that did make me pause, but I gave in. Eating healthy, adult meals isn't cutting it. This may just do the trick, though I know that I will need to step up abs so that I don't lose the cut.

These amazing deals won't become my new diet, but rather punctuate it. I'll still have pasta, pork, or chicken for dinner along with black beans, rice, or veggies. Now, I'm going to just add these tiny meals to it. Everyone's heard of after dinner mints. Well, this will be my after dinner dinner. Hopefully, punctuating my meals with another, frozen meal will add an exclamation mark to my next weekly weigh in.