Solid Gold 90’s

I’ll paint a picture, it will remind me
Don’t call me daughter
I fade away
A picture
It will remiiiiiiind me

It was 4 in the afternoon; the only light was coming from the huge boxed TV set, super vintage, wood paneled. “Daughter” was on MTV, back when it meant music television because that’s what it played – music videos. I’d lip sync along with the lyrics and love how they packaged that CD, all the while really really really really REALLY wanting that one guy to call.

I just saw an article called “Tragic Kingdom Saved My Life” over on Jezebel, and it reminded me to write one of many posts that are building up in my head, reminding me of my true nature – early 90’s Pittsburgh.

Technically, Aliquippa, but nobody knows where that is, so I claim Pittsburgh. Spent enough time there. Didn’t go to Pitt or Penn State or Duquesne or CMU, but most of my friends either went there or PTI or CCBC or nowhere at all.

My ride was the family Buick LeSabre, until it was my own maroon-colored 1996 Grand Am. Its name was Riven, like the game. I wanted to get that in Olde English font across the top and am glad that never happened, but it would’ve been SO cool at the time. Window tint and fresh speakers. My music was standard alt-rock and grunge when it wasn’t Rap or R&B. WAMO is now apparently a Catholic church talk radio station but it was the station to listen to when you weren’t taping stuff off of B94 and hoping that the DJ wouldn’t talk over the beginning or end of songs.

I’d get out the Cassette Tape Singles – Shaggy, or Bone Thugs N Harmony, and I’d put it into my Walkman (!!) and go biking on trails we made nicknames for, or over to a friend’s house. They call him Mr. Boombastic, apparently, and his CD nearly got worn out from all my playing. Sometimes it would be Crystal Waters, sometimes it would be Skee-Lo or B.I.G. or Foxy or Diddy; sometimes it would be Spin Doctors. We’d go to the corner store for sunflower seeds and penny candy (Swedish fish or chocolate-peanut-butter Knuts, because things never change), and I remember saying “Someday this will play in my car as it’s drivin down wherever, bumpin bass with the windows down and the wind in my hair.” Eventually I got to drive my grandparents’ car, then my mom’s, and the music went into the tape deck, then the CD player. We’d just cruise around, and there was always bass, even when there shouldn’t have been.

I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff from that genre lately. Pearl Jam, Barenaked Ladies, 7th House, The Clarks, No Doubt, Live, The Clarks, Skee-Lo, Alanis, Snow, Everclear, Dirty Otto, all of it. Okay, maybe not Dirty Otto. You guys know about Dirty Otto? I went over to Humphrey’s one time – that’s right, they had awesome chicken salads – and they were playing live. Afterwards, the lead singer bought a round of drinks for everyone in the house. This place was a Bar And Grill (no ‘e’ at the end of that Grill) at its Beaver Valley Finest, and therefore the bar was right in the middle of the restaurant. When I say a round for everyone in the house, I mean everybody standing in the vicinity of the bar. That included me, at the age with no answer when the bartender asked, “Whaddya wanna drink”. He didn’t much care to answer my blank stare and comment of “Dunno, yinz got some ……strawberry dack-ree?” but served me up something that probably was made out of ice and food coloring. The lead singer was kind of cute, in that drunk-in-the-garage-rocker kind of way, and gave me a halfhearted grin when I told him the show was cool. Trying to play off my age, clearly under the legal limit to even be speaking let alone standing in the same area, so he said “Isn’t it about your bedtime?” in that holier-than-thou voice. Sorry I complimented you, buddy – I should’ve told you what I really thought, that your band sounded like a nondescript whatever that should’ve stayed home.

Oh music. I remember how you made me feel, music of the 90’s, each song’s different strains setting up different themes in my head, doing weird and good and bad and fun things to the various cells up there. College was walking down the street, playing Matchbox 20, wishing my boyfriend wasn’t 3000 miles away. Or it was driving to an earlier boyfriend’s house to hang out for the evening; we’d go to the movies and then Perkins every Friday, like clockwork. “It’s sittin by the overcoat, the second shelf the note she wrote…” Driving down route 60 in the dark for the first time, going to the mall, the ice rink. I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky, I believe I can hang out at that ice rink every weekend for two years. Fell in love about ten times a week with that guy who drove the Zamboni, but he was what we call An Asshole. I always had a thing for hockey players though. That explains the random driving trips, getting lost with a friend, just so we could hang out with a cute boy. I fell hard for quite a few of them though, some fell hard for me as well, but most just seemed to go away. There were a lot of nights spent in my room just feeling sorry for myself, as teen angst tends to make you do. You just make another knotted yarn thing for your hair and move on.

Train and standing in line hearing Drops of Jupiter yet again. Dave Matthews and The Freshman on a mixtape in my car. Blues Traveler. Counting Crows, Live. Blur. Tonic. Disturbed. Seal. Prodigy. Silverchair. Eve 6. Reel Big Fish. Nada Surf. Marvelous 3. Liz Phair. Dishwalla. Meredith Brooks. Joy Drop. Marilyn Manson. When Marilyn Manson first came out and everyone thought he was Satan Incarnate. When we found out his name was Brian. White Town. Green Day – and I had the Dookie t-shirt, but have no idea where it is. Presidents of the USA. Dead Milkmen. Savage Garden. Backstreet Boys. Hanson. Jars of Clay. GooGoo Dolls. 2Pac. Snoop Doggy Dogg. Tiffany. Paula Abdul. Ice Cube. Cranberries. Superdrag. REM. Nirvana. Foo Fighters. Oasis. Aerosmith. The City of Angels soundtrack. Mobb Deep. Dr. Dre. Eminem. When Eminem was a HUGE controversial deal. Korn. Prodigy. DMX. Limp Bizkit and their horrible, horrible music. SR-71. The Ataris. MXPX. Goldfinger. Punk rock and skateboarding and rollerblading. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Soul Asylum. Soundgarden and the melting Barbie in the video. Weezer. Radiohead and the really long video. The Smashing Pumpkins. Metallica. Slayer. Pantera. The t-shirts to go along with them. Alice In Chains. Rage Against The Machine. Tool. Garbage. My friend saying that the orange CD was only good for strippers. That friend dying. My OTHER friend dying. Trying to go to school full time and work full time and not go crazy and then leaving.

Pittsburgh living was Marlboros and heartbreak, guitars and drums, climbing trees and walking alone at the side of the river. Standing under bridges and wondering why the humidity was 500% and walking around inside the mall because there was just nothing else to do. Biking around, falling in and out of love, thinking that there was a world out there but not really knowing if that was true. I knew if you drove far enough, you’d get to Cedar Point. Los Angeles was just a song lyric and New Orleans was where the ChatHouse.com friend lived. Someone called me once from the UK and it was like something from a movie. We finally went to New Orleans, in 1997, my church’s youth group (fourteen people in a Pace Arrow), and it was the biggest adventure of my life at that time. A soda was three dollars and you couldn’t get an ice bucket at the hotel; I saw the Victorian houses on the water and romanticized everything. It changed my life. Anne Rice was right – there was life beyond the tri-state area.

The guy from ChatHouse.com is still a friend, by the way. After more than a decade I can say he’s a wonderful human being, despite never having met him in person. No idea where the pen pal from Germany is, but I hope she’s doing well. The days of X-fest and Starlight Amphitheater and listening to Art sing about those houses up on the hill… they blended and ran into something that made me lose track of time, I have been to the hills he sang at the foot of, and live on a hill a little south of the ones he sang about. The palm trees make me constantly nostalgic for a place that I live in.

Oh music, music from days gone by and loves lost, left unchanged. I could go on about you for hours. You make me want to share with my friends, want to go back in time and share my Now with them. We’d have a pretty good time, I think.

PS: He never called.

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What’s That You’re Doing There, Wendy’s?

How long do you have for lunch?

At my full-time office job, we have 30 minutes that we are responsible to punch out for. We don’t necessarily have to go anywhere or even eat anything (many are the times I’ve eaten at my desk between projects), we just have to make sure we swipe our timecard twice during our shift. Example: 830, clock in. 1230, clock out. 1, clock in. 5, clock out.

Skipping over various labor laws, corporate policies and internal drama, it’s a fairly simple procedure. It also doesn’t allow much time to actually go anywhere, but luckily for us there are a pretty large quantity of choices available within a couple miles. (Insert Perk #5738295372 of living in San Diego.)

Typically if I’m caught in LCP*, Wendy’s is a solid option for me. What’s up, Dollar Menu? Besides – Wendy’s is familiar. It’s consistent. You know what you’re going to get when you go there, how quickly you’re going to get it. They add in new menu items every so often, but the staples are there and they don’t mess around, for which I thank them. (By the way, has anyone tried their new Frosty selections?) If you’re in an airport in a strange place, and you see a Wendy’s, you know what’s going on. Wendy’s = Home.

It was also my first job ever, at the ripe ol’ age of 15-and-a-half, way-back-when. I stayed there for about eight months (a legacy, at that age), and actually REALLY enjoyed it up until the very end. Which is typically why you leave a job. It was steady, honest work, and the food wasn’t terrible. Even the customers were pretty cool.

So these days when I go to a Wendy’s, I reflect on how we had a 30 SECOND MANDATORY SERVICE TIME – from order to pickup – and how we were actually respectful of that while staying cheerful to the customers. I reflect on how things always had to be clean, organized, stocked up. For the most part things have not changed as far as the procedures go, but it’s just not the same anymore.

Today, however, was different.

Around noonish I got to thinking of my upcoming meeting this afternoon, how there will be food involved, but how that’s still a good three hours away. Why not head over to Wendy’s for a quick bite and some light reading, right?

The first thing I notice is the guy at the register. He’s actually kind of cheerful, but in a genuine way. Let me go ahead and say that I too work directly with the public (customer service), so that sort of thing is kind of embedded into my radar. The interesting things is that while he’s going through the standard procedure, he’s actually interacting on a real level with customers. He’s smiling, for chrissakes! He asked me how it was going, nice day huh, that sort of thing – but didn’t make it awkward or robotic. And you know that awkward pause that I mean, where somebody automatically asks the question but doesn’t expect an answer.

Then I notice the guy serving my food to me is doing the same thing, nice guy, good interaction, good service time. Well, that’s cool.

The dining room is packed, but there are some corner window seats (score!). I’m enjoying my food, when I notice that the counter guy is walking around, doing an Actual Restaurant procedure. He’s doing a brief stop at people’s tables to check on them, he’s not pressuring, he’s asking if we want refills. He’s asking how we are. He actually… cared about his job!

Wait a second. You… can get a refill at Wendy’s? Someone will get that for you? Okay, look. I don’t spend a lot of time these days inside a Wendy’s (despite the ideas this post might give), but of all the times I’ve been inside one, nobody has ever asked me how things are or if they can get me anything. That was AWESOME. You know why it’s awesome? Because it cuts out the awkwardness. Let’s say you get your order, you sit down, but oh crap you’ve forgotten to ask for your special item that makes things tastier. Sauce, whatever. You now have to cut the eight people in the lunch rush line to ask really nicely, blushing, if you can please have your whatever. It’s fine (because it’s a restaurant), but it’s awkward. You know what I mean! And refills? No. No, you just forget about that. You don’t really need a second 60 ounces of soda, honestly, but I know you’ve got a long drive ahead of you and maybe you just want some more soda, okay?

You have to go up there. You have to ask. It’s a little embarrassing; it always is. But this time… it wasn’t. I’m not saying that all policies should be to check on everyone and get them whatever they need,, because that would kill the service time, but it was a really nice touch. Maybe in between when they’ve got an extra minute or so, or when they’re out cleaning the dining room, say hi. See how it’s going. This guy went the extra step and did kind of what waiters did when you go to a nice restaurant but without making it seem like it was something he was forced to do. Kudos to whoever motivated him, that’s for sure.

So… in conclusion, thank you, Short Dark-Haired Front Counter Guy Whose Name I Didn’t Get, Working Around 12:30PM at the Midway Store (3760 Midway Drive, 92110). Thank you for reminding me that just because we’re used to fast food being a bad experience doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

I don’t know what you’re trying to do, Wendy’s, but I like it. I’ll be keeping my eye on you.

*Lunch Confusion Phase, in which you know you should probably eat something, but don’t know what, or aren’t even really that hungry. You mainly just want to get out of the office for a bit.

Revisiting joie de vivre

After the dust finally settled on our move, we started unpacking – both physically and mentally. One of the boxes in the back of my mind was on the Vintage shelf, where I store my love for many things vintage, retro, antique and timeless.

My love affair with all of that was rekindled when we ended up purchasing a Craftsman style 1940’s home. Spiders in the sink? Ants on the floor? Sticking windows? Creaky noises? It all bothers me much less than it would have two months ago, and I am smitten. The thought of having a cute little tiled kitchen to cook in… comfortable reading corners… tiny cups of tea… solid glass doorknobs… it’s just too much Wonderful for me, and has to have an outlet.

I’m lucky enough to have a large amount of creative freedom at work, and after redoing the general design on the brochures, my thoughts turned to revamping our website. My design preferences for flourishes, fine lines, parchment, typography – it all began to show through in my mock-ups.

There is quite an abundance of vintage stuff online, so I’d like to take a moment and share some of my inspiration, the most recent of which can be blamed on Anthony Bourdain. That’s right, Tony, I said it – this is your fault! His Disappearing Manhattan episode showcased “Marlow & Sons”, a classic French restaurant in Brooklyn, which spoke to me immediately. All his shows (and books, and general presence) inspire me, that one was just the most recent memory and appealed to my art side as well as my foodie side.

While the thought of chicken liver paté doesn’t currently spark my appetite – the ambiance definitely struck a chord. The decor! The menus! The flourishes!! It was just lovely. View their site here: Marlow And Sons

Other interesting sites of the moment are as follows:
Vintages
Tongue In Cheek
Vintage Indie Wedding Guide
Royal Steamline

Trial Run

So J came home with a blender last week, and just in time for me to start in on another OMG-Healthy-Eating-Kick(tm). I can’t say that’s a bad thing.

Anyway, I went and bought a metric ton of fruits & veggies, and am trying out my first homemade smoothie. It’s not bad at all for a trial, but not perfect. Then again if it was perfect I would have just come back from Jamba Juice, $4+ poorer, amped up on sugar.

So here’s the recap. Mostly it’s just for my own reference, but maybe it’ll inspire somebody else out there to do this. I’ve been reading up quite a bit on “green smoothies“, and though this one is decidedly some sort of berry color, I know exactly what’s in it and am pleased. Whatever helps with the health, right?

Ingredients:
~Organic* Frozen Berry Medley
~1 & 3/4 cup orange juice (pulp free minute maid)
~1/2 cup of 1% milk
~small handful of spinach leaves, torn up before blending

Time: Blended for about… 2 minutes, or until super-smooth (save for some little seeds from the berries).
Blender type: Personal twist, similar to this, with 2 sizes of cups. I’d say this is about a 10oz cup.
Consistency: A little too foamy for my liking, but very smooth. Not too watery.
Flavor: Good! Refreshing, not overly tangy, not too sweet, but definitely has a solid orange juice flavor.
Effects?: Well, I finished it about ten minutes ago, and halfway through noticed I no longer was dying for a nap. Not feeling jittery, though we’ll see if my tummy can handle the dairy/OJ combo.
Overall? I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5.

I have to wonder what it would taste like if I dropped in a banana or avocado, so that’s my goal for next time, with slightly less orange juice and slightly more spinach. Down the road I may also add a little bit of tofu for the energy boost, and will consider some cocoa powder with it as well. Other goals include using soy milk and frozen yogurt (when I want more of a dessert and less of a meal-replacement).

That’s all for the moment – wish me luck on converting to greener pastures!

*My goal wasn’t OMG ORGANIC, however that was the only selection of frozen berries I could find, and it was cheaper than buying individual frozen or non-frozen servings. Who am I to complain at $2.39 a bag, that will give me at least three servings?

Nadya Suleman Is A Fool (Apologies To Any Current Fools)

First off, the stimulus package will be voted on tomorrow:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/12/stimulus/index.html
Secondly, here’s what it would entail.
http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/11/news/economy/stimulus_individuals/index.htm?postversion=2009021122?cnn=yes

And thirdly, the link that almost made me put my fist through the monitor… remember that chick who decided that having EIGHT MORE KIDS was awesome? Apparently she can’t pay her bills with unconditional love AND IS ASKING FOR DONATIONS ONLINE
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/12/octuplets.mom/index.html

THAT’S FUCKING *IT*, KANYE-STYLE ALL CAPS, I’M STARTING A DONATION SITE FOR MYSELF RIGHT NOW WITH THAT PAYPAL BUTTON (more info to come but seriously it works though)
ANYBODY THAT DONATES TO HER, MATCH YOUR DONATION TO ME
Seriously, send any donations via PayPal to larissa.young@gmail.com.

Except I can provide you with things! A sob story, a website, a logo, transcription, a book, a blog, art, makeup, photos, cook your dinner ….hell, I’ll even mow your lawn!

I am so COMPLETELY FLABBERGASTED at this that I want to just go curl up in bed until the world wears off.

Pending, Indeed.

1. The American economy is indescribable.
2. I suppose Chris & Rihanna are relevant because if we take our minds of the insane economy, we need to look at someone else’s relationship instead of our own.
3. 1. Jessica Simpson isn’t fat, can everyone just shut up now?
4. Not just poor people should experience this.
5. Can I have a Kindle, but maybe not the super-expensive one that does the same thing but is a little less shiny? I’m okay with that.

In summation, the economy is insane (even though it really doesn’t feel like it to a lot of people), 15 minutes of fame is can sometimes be extended to 20, technology is advancing to a remarkable state, and the reason I haven’t blogged anything of worth in the past couple weeks is because searching for a house makes me CRAZY.

A New Day

Being three hours behind (and waking up at 1030AM PST), I had to watch the inauguration via clips on CNN.com, so the build-up of the entrance, oath, speech and eventual exit weren’t the same as if watching on TV. It DEFINITELY wasn’t the same as being there, but honestly my apartment is much warmer and I can watch in my house clothes, with a cup of tea. You give, you take.

For what is such an epic event, it doesn’t convey that way electronically. The speech was progressive and inspiring, and though I caught some people yawning you have to figure that they’d been standing or sitting in the freezing cold for hours, and then previously travel from wherever to arrive. Yawns happen, so there is no blame there.

I was pleased that everyone behaved themselves on camera, and pleased that we have someone in office with enough confidence and courage to take on what is probably the toughest job in the world right now. It doesn’t seem like today has a shiny new sheen on it, because that feeling was back in November. The day after the elections is when it felt like we had A New President, even though today is the official date. Also I’m off work today as a comp day for yesterday’s holiday, so I’m in that final ‘long weekend’ phase, where you try to get all the stuff done you didn’t do because everyone else was off.

The thing about this election, this inauguration, this moment, as blasé as I sound, is that it really is historical. It makes me sad to think that so many people are speaking petty thoughts against this man who has done nothing to them (just because of color or faith), but it gives me hope that we might become not the nation we once were, but a better, more solid and more majestic nation than ever before. I think it’s a sign of good things that this man, before he’d even taken office, made people not only care about politics, but about their nation, and about other people. They may not love everything about everything, but they’re finally paying attention.

Who knows, he might even make little kids once again start saying that they want to be President when they grow up.

In summation, this is from my first email of the morning, and it wins. 🙂