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Friday, April 29, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #16

Happy Friday afternoon to everyone!  As promised, my second post of the day reveals this week's hero and villain picks!

Want to learn more?  Check out www.thebloom.com!
Hero of the Week:  Apple Blossom Festival
This spring marks the 84th annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.  The Festival takes place over several days and consists of parades, fireworks, craft fairs, concerts, luncheons, and a carnival.  Local government and the majority of businesses shut down the Friday before the Grand Feature parade.  Practically the whole city dresses up in pink and green.  Although some Winchester residents are not too fond of the festivities (in fact, it's downright hated in some circles), it's an important part of local tradition.  It's refreshing to see a community honor its history and celebrate what makes it unique.  I, for one, will be celebrating in my pink and green this weekend!

Villain of the Week:  Tornadoes 
This has been a terrible week for weather!  Early Thursday morning, I woke up in a Nyquil haze thinking the roof was about to be torn off of the house.  Trying to get to work was terrifying as well.  I'm a lot more fortunate than many in the South, and the affected families are in my thoughts and prayers.  If you would like to help, check out http://www.disasterreliefeffort.org/.


That's all for this week.  Enjoy the weekend!

Common Snobbery


The day of the Royal Wedding has finally arrived!  I know it's actually been over for hours, but I'm just now watching it on TiVo.  It was, like, really early!  Kristen and I made plans to watch the recorded wedding over brunch before meeting Ashley and Jack at the carnival for some Apple Blossom festivities.  Sounds like a great day, right?

I was highly amused that my Facebook newsfeed was almost entirely about the wedding this morning.  I loved reading about how my friends were celebrating and the witty comments about all of the hats.  My amusement turned to irritation when I realized that half of the comments were from angry people condemning and mocking all wedding watchers.  I've read diatribes full of bitter judgment ranging from, "If you watch the Royal Wedding, you're a nihilist who doesn't care about the fate of the world, your country, or your family," to "women are cursed."  I must say, I'm not really sure how a televised wedding is proof of a sexist curse, but I'm offended!

From what I can tell, these complaints are based on one of two main arguments:

1.  It is silly and a bit pathetic to spend your time watching two people you don't know get married.  
2.  There are so many horrible things going on in the world--famine, war, impending economic collapse. You're obviously selfish and self-centered if you would rather spend your time on such frivolous things as weddings when there are so many causes that need your attention.

I would like to address these arguments now.  

1.  No, most people in the world do not personally know William and Catherine.  However, the wedding is a major fashion and pop culture event even if it doesn't hold any personal or historical significance.  Additionally, in a society that increasingly spurns actual interaction, it's nice that an event can bring people together.  Who knows?  Many a friendship could be formed after a Royal Wedding icebreaker conversation!

2.  For serious?  Since when is it a rule that you can only care about one thing?  If you spend two hours watching a movie, does that mean that you are suddenly unable to care about your CAUSES?  Believe it or not, most people are actually able to be socially conscious and have fun occasionally.  Besides, it's actually not healthy to constantly obsess about problems you cannot personally solve.  I think it's great to be informed and volunteer and try to make the world a better place, but taking full responsibility for the world's troubles will drive you crazy.  Oh, and btw, insulting people on Facebook also fails to cure world hunger.  I'm just saying.

In conclusion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being uninterested in the Royal Wedding.  If you're not interested, then do something else today.  What is really not cool is insulting people who are simply enjoying a few hours of entertainment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Woe Is Me


For the past several days I've had a severe cold/minor flu.  While I was lying in bed feeling sorry for myself I came to a painful realization:  I'm a terrible sick person.  I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person who can suffer in silence and nobly carry on with my daily duties, but I'm just not.  

On second thought, there may be a downside to this whole play-with-pain mentality.  No one would recognize how truly noble and long-suffering I am, which would be a great loss for the world at large.  To remedy the egregious wrong of being overlooked, I would eventually have to collapse in my weakened state.  My family and friends would then be deeply worried and rush me to the hospital.  Possible declaration of love from a handsome doctor aside, medical treatment is expensive and bankruptcy is not a good look for me.  Besides, if family dramas have taught me anything it's that a medical crisis will ease the tension of an unhappy family but will create it in a happy family.  Since my family is a pretty happy one, the stress of my illness would inevitably tear us apart.  My parents would blame themselves, and one of my sisters would blame me for not taking care of myself before my cold turned into pneumonia and/or scarlet fever.  Fights would erupt about childhood grudges and who ruined whose baby doll or "accidentally" killed the pet hamster, and before you know it I'm all alone with my debt and my handsome doctor.

I could never do that to my family.  It's better for everyone that I continue to whine and act like a spoiled baby.  Please forgive the shortness of this entry, but I have to go make myself some soup and take a nap.

How sick I actually am
How sick I'm acting

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #15

It's an incredibly dreary Friday afternoon, what with the rain, the unseasonably cold weather, and the flood watch and all.  It's the perfect day to curl up in your snuggie with a cup of hot tea or coffee and read about this week's hero and villain!

Hero of the Week:  Lifetime 
I adore making fun of Lifetime movies.  Since endlessly recycled stories revolving around abusive men, crazy stalkers, unplanned pregnancies, eating disorders and bad acting have been labeled "television for women," I, as a woman, feel the need to watch and mock.  You can imagine my joy when I read that Lifetime had developed a new movie, William & Kate, in a matter of days.  I set my TiVo immediately!  Shockingly, it wasn't that bad.  It wasn't great cinema, of course, but it was much better than I was expecting.  It had pretty people, pretty clothes, pretty scenery, surprisingly decent acting.  While the story wasn't original (I can't give creative props for a bio-pic), the lack of an outlandish murder plot made it a breath of fresh air on the network.  Perhaps the adorable Drop Dead Diva wasn't a fluke and Lifetime is actually trying to step up its game!  

Dear Weather, Quit it already!!!  Love, Jamie
Villain of the Week:  Easter Weather
Why does it always have to rain Easter weekend?  I want to be able to wear a pretty spring sundress for Easter, but more often than not it's cold and wet.  Jack was born on Easter weekend in 2007, and it actually snowed!  I was so excited to meet my new nephew that I didn't think to pack a jacket and ended up having to buy one at Goodwill.  Really Weather, don't you know that it's inappropriate to be gloomy on a day that symbolizes resurrection and new life and fresh starts and life?  I know thunderstorms are in the forecast for Sunday, but I'm just not okay with that.  Get with the program!  

That's all for this week!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!    

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When I Grow Up


I've been watching a cheesy teen show about elite gymnasts.  I love watching the Olympics and am absolutely amazed by the athletes who can do these amazing twists and flips and death-defying feats when I can barely do a push-up.  Watching this show makes part of me really wish that I had the ability to do gymnastics and part of me really glad I don't have to.  It got me thinking about all of the things that I thought I wanted to be when I grew up and where I would be if I had gotten my wish.

Archaeologist:  I'd probably be lying in the bottom of a hole somewhere because I got tangled in the stupid rope ladder while on a quest for Alexander the Great's tomb.

Koala Rescue Worker (it's a real thing, kinda!):  Obviously, I'd be Down Under rescuing baby koala's whose mothers were killed and teaching them wilderness survival techniques.  Unfortunately, koalas have crazy strong claws that can rip through skin and muscles like they're paper, so I'd probably end up bleeding out on the eucalyptus forest floor and being eaten by dingoes.  

Veterinarian:  I think I would be in an institution after my mental breakdown caused by the stress of telling small children that their puppies died.

Super Spy:  Oh dear, I'd be executed by some terrorist organization.  Either that or I would maim myself with my fancy weapons on my first mission and have to go into early retirement.

Teacher:  I might actually be doing okay as a teacher, but I probably would have gone loopy from exhaustion and started teaching the poor children "facts" that I hallucinated.  

Counselor:  It's probably best that someone in need of counseling receives help from someone a little less crazy than me.  Let's just leave it at that.

 Of course, now my dream is to design awesome greeting cards!  What do you all want to be when you grow up?

Monday, April 18, 2011

You Make the World a Different Place


Today I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Volunteer Appreciation luncheon at the school where my sister teaches a bunch of third-grade hooligans.  Having spent some time in her classroom, I know that teachers deserve a lot more appreciation than they typically receive.  So the fact that they took time out of their busy schedules to do something special for those of us who only work with the little terrors for an hour or two at a time was truly lovely.  In addition to a great lunch (which included the best orzo salad I've ever tasted), each volunteer received a card with a pen that stated, "I can make a difference!"

I'm a pretty big fan of affirmation.  While I know that I'm kind of awesome, it's nice to know that other people recognize that as well.  Unfortunately, "I can make a difference!" isn't so much an affirmation as it is a potentially troubling fact.  It is to encouragement what "my bad" is to apology--using a statement to cover up the fact that you don't have anything nicer to say.  Saying "my bad" only admits error, but does not convey any sort of remorse or effort to improve.  In the same way, telling someone that she can make a difference only acknowledges that her existence alters the world in a butterfly/tsunami kind of way.  You might as well say, "The world's food supply is marginally smaller because you eat," or "You contribute to the greenhouse effect." 

Here are some candidates I've come up with for next year's pens:
     I have five senses (and I know what they are!)
     I can read and write!
     I can stand children in small doses!
     
I'm going to be serious for a moment, so please skip this paragraph if you're in the mood to keep things light.  The ability to make a difference can be either a positive or a negative thing.  I may be naive, but I don't think that most people set out with the intention to make the world a terrible place.  What concerns me is those of us who throw ourselves into projects and situations without first examining our ability to do good and our motives for participating.  While writing this blog, I was reminded of the movie The Last King of Scotland.  In one of the early scenes of the movie, Nicholas Garrigan lays on his bed about to explode with the need to escape his life.  He then spins a globe, promising that he will go wherever his finger lands.  As a result, he travels to Uganda with the aim of working in a local hospital desperately in need of assistance.  It seems like such a noble work that it's hard to comprehend how this young volunteer could end up assisting a dictator in a brutal reign of terror before nearly being consumed by it.  It seems that his desire for self-fulfillment outweighed his desire to make a positive difference, and so he fell prey to the promises of power and privilege.  Now, I doubt many of us would ever be in the position to work for an evil dictator, but I do think that it is very important to take a good look at ourselves before setting out to "do good."  Are we getting involved because we want help others or because we want to feel better about ourselves/impress someone/relieve boredom?  Volunteering has so many benefits for the volunteer, but it's important that the needs of whomever we're helping come first.  If we're in it for self-fulfillment, what happens when it stops being fun or we're tired or busy?  Most likely we'll drop out.  While it may not kill anyone, our abandonment is sure to have a negative impact on those we set out to help. Thus ends my Serious Thought.

In conclusion, I'd like to restate that I really did appreciate the appreciation luncheon, and I love volunteering.  I'm even getting to the point where children don't scare me, although I'm still wouldn't call myself a kid person.  And to you, dear readers, I'd just like to say, "You can read my blog!"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week # 14

What an absolutely fantastic Friday it has been!  Here in Winchester, it's sunny and mild, and the Apple Blossom festivities have begun!  It's also time again to reveal the Hero and Villain of the Week.  Read on if you dare!

Terminator Roll and Sucilee's Special Roll
from Sucilee's House of Thai in Winchester, VA
Hero of the Week:  Sushi 
Until the last year and a half to two years, I refused to eat sushi.  Raw fish sounded ridiculously disgusting and downright dangerous to someone who wasn't allowed to eat cookie dough.  And sushi with cooked fish?  A lame attempt to make sushi, an utterly pretentious food, accessible to those who wanted to be cool enough to eat sushi.  And yet, now I really like it!  I love the mixture of textures and the combination of the salty, spicy and sweet flavors. The fact that I now get to be a regular at a local restaurant with an awesome staff is just a bonus.  

Villain of the Week:  Daniel M. Wegner
Daniel Wegner is the social psychologist known for his work relating to the ironic processing theory that I wrote about earlier this week.  While I realize that his observing and writing about the phenomenon of thought suppression increasing the frequency of said thoughts does not mean that he is the cause of the phenomenon, I still feel like blaming him for my little mishap with the knife.  Plus, according to his Wikipedia page, he argues that free will is an illusion.  Since I'm a big fan of free will, he definitely gets labeled as a villain this week!

That's all for this week!  Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Be Careful With That Knife

I've started working part-time at a local restaurant, and it's surprisingly fun.  Today, I was learning the salad line.  My coworker showed me the preferred way to chop a head of lettuce with a giant knife, then handed me said giant knife.  "Be careful with that knife," she said.  "It's really sharp."  I was about to make a crack about how I had actually learned that knives are sharp during my years of schooling, but I sliced my thumb before I could get the words out.   

My coworker looked at me in disbelief, unable to comprehend how I had managed to cut myself already.  I then had to spend the next five hours with rubber gloves on so I didn't bleed on the food.  I was truly impressive!  I had time to comprehend my awesomeness while I was working and to reflect on the reasons, aside from sheer klutziness, that led to my accident.  Being a psychology dork (who happens to be wearing a t-shirt which says "Pavlov, the name that rings a bell"), I attribute it to the ironic process theory.  For those of you less dorky than me, this theory says trying not to think about something makes you think about it more.  Don't believe me?  Just don't think about white bears for the rest of this blog!  Anyway, I think that thinking about not cutting myself actually caused me to cut myself more quickly than I otherwise would have done.  Or maybe I'm just extra klutzy today.  It's one of those two.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reserving Judgement

I try to be pretty open-minded when it comes to new things.  I live by a rule of three--I don't give up on anything without giving it at least three chances.  If a book starts off slowly, I keep reading through at least the first three chapters.  With new TV shows, I watch for at least three episodes.  (Of course, sometimes shows are cancelled before three episodes have aired and that really annoys me.)  New haircuts get three days, and new foods three bites.  Often I grow to really enjoy something I initially dislike.  New tastes and styles require a sort of acclamation, and storytelling requires exposition.  The more solid the foundation, the better the story.

I'm trying to adapt this rule to my interactions with others by taking three beats before saying something snarky that could be taken the wrong way.  While this is probably a positive for my relationships, it's not that much fun.  If my witty remarks never see the light of day, how will everyone know how awesome I am?  Thank goodness I have a snarky card company that lets me get some of this pent-up awesomeness out of my system!  I'd love to make cards like
    
        "I'm sorry you failed so miserably"
        "What where you thinking?" (perfect for an engagement shower!)
        "You're so cute when you're wrong"
        "At least you're pretty"

This way, other people can be more snarky and I can be less so.  Since I have enough to go around, it would be a pretty good arrangement.  I'd like to say you'll definitely be seeing these cards in our shop soon, but I'm not sure yet if they'll work.  I'll have to think about it for at least three hours.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #13

It may be a rainy dreary Friday, but it's still the perfect time for a new installment of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the week!  This week's edition features prehistoric monsters and a little something that's sickeningly sweet.  

Hero of the Week:  Dinosaur Land 
Dinosaur Land is a fantastically kitschy roadside tourist trap down the road from my house.  It is a "prehistoric forest" full of giant fiberglass dinosaurs.  And King Kong.  King Kong is also there for some reason.  Jack is at the age where he thinks dinosaurs are the greatest things ever, so he had to go for his birthday week.  He ran around hugging the dinosaurs' legs and giving the baby dinos high fives.  It was adorable!  Not to mention, I kinda love the cheesy roadside attractions that have absolutely nothing to do with anything around them.  

Villain of the Week:  Pollen
In case you missed the point of yesterday's fairy tale,  I have terrible allergies and have spent most of the week unable to breath.  Yes, pollen is a pretty yellow color.  Yes, bees use it to make delicious honey.  However, yellow washes me out and honey has a lot of calories.  So, all told, I'm not a fan of pollen; it's most defiantly a villain.  

That's all for this week.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Sort of Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there lived a girl who loved flowers.  In fact, her very best friends were flowers.  She lived in a small cottage on the edge of the forest with her doting father.  She awoke every morning to a colorful garden full of blossoms singing in perfect harmony.  She danced down the stairs and out the door into the lovely fresh air where she sat on a large smooth stone and talked to her beautiful flower friends.  She loved spending every day in the garden listening to the roses, daisies, and daffodils tell her stories of life in the forest.
    
    "The forest is full of magic!" exclaimed the roses.
    "Yes, magic and unicorns!" added the daisies.
    "Deep in the heart of the forest, there is a waterfall that shines like diamonds," the daffodils shared.
    "Oh!  How I wish we could all go into the forest together!" the girl cried.  
    "No, we can't go there.  When your father planted us in the garden, we agreed never to return to the forest," the flowers said.  "Although the forest is beautiful, it is dangerous.  You are a delicate girl; the garden is the perfect place for you."

And so the girl stayed in the garden, but she dreamed of the forest.  One day she heard a beautiful ethereal voice coming from beyond the walls of the garden.  Despite the warning from the flowers, the girl ventured beyond the garden walls in search of the voice.  The forest grew darker as she walked further and further away from the safety of the garden.  Suddenly, it was quite dark and she was quite alone.  However, before panic could set in, she stepped into a clearing flooded with sunshine.  A tall regal tree stood at the center of the clearing singing.  This tree, the source of the beautiful music, had long elegant branches covered in soft pink and purple blossoms.  The girl had never seen anything so beautiful!
    
   "Welcome," the tree called.  "Come closer.  Take a blossom from my branches.  It is filled with the most wonderful nectar!"

The girl approached with great enthusiasm.  With each step, though, she began to feel weaker.  Her eyes watered and her throat burned.  When she finally made it to the tree and smelled the sweet flower, she suddenly lost her sense of smell and burst into violent fits of sneezing.  

    "What have you done to me?" cried the girl.
    "You should never have trespassed here!" yelled the tree.  "You are far to delicate and should never have left your little garden!  Go back where you belong!"

The girl turned around and ran for safety, which was very difficult since she could neither see nor breath.  When, at long last, she hobbled back into the garden, she ran into cottage and slammed the door behind her.  She never ventured out of doors again.

The moral of the story:  Allergies are no fun.  All of these spring plants may be pretty, but they'll try to kill you.  For serious.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Freak out!

Today is Jack's 4th birthday!  My little gila has grown so much, and I'm crazy proud of him.  One of the things he's started doing recently is quoting songs from the radio in everyday conversation.  For example, the other day he dropped a teddy bear.  As he was reaching for it, he yelled, "I still miss you!"  When I started laughing, he looked at me very solemnly and said, "I still miss you, Aunt Jamie.  And I wonder if I ever cross your mind.  For me, it happens all the time." 

video
He was extra excited today, so he was running around in circles singing "Today is your birthday" and "Freak out!"  Between that and showing me Boingers, the rabbit he made at Build-a-Bear yesterday, he could barely catch his breath between sentences.  Please enjoy his lovely musical performance!

Also, check out our coordinating Mother's/Father's Day cards at www.jagreetings.ecrater.com!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week # 12

Another Friday, another edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  This week's picks feature sweet delight and vicious vicious lies.

Hero of the Week:  Peeps latte 
It may not feel like spring, but this week it tasted like it.  One local coffee shop (inside a grocery store, no less!) is serving a variety of lattes with a delightfully cheery Peeps chick on top.  The bright yellow color was the brightest part of a gray day.  Although Peeps don't actually taste good, it got all gooey and melty in the coffee and was surprisingly yummy.  I highly recommend this delightful caffeinated concoction!

Villain of the Week:  Punxsutawney Phil
So, lying is bad, right?  Then why does a lying little marmot get his own (lame) holiday?  People gather around in freezing weather in early February only to have "Phil" (if that is his real name) predict whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter.  This year, he proclaimed that spring would come early.  Yet, here it is April 1st and snow is still in the forecast!  What kind example is this despicable animal setting for our children?  For shame!

That's all for this week!  Enjoy the unseasonably cold weather, everyone!