The GGA Project -- Day #20 "To New Years"

(Timestamp is wrong...this was written a good deal after midnight)

I had all sorts of awesome plans (mostly in my own mind) to go out, go dancing last night.  I have been feeling the growing desire to revisit a feeling I only get when I just basically dance until I lose it.  You know, in a good way.  Unfortunately I made those plans with a friend who has been working 6 days a week for like a year and half now, and what she wanted to do most of all was to relax.  Understandable.

But what to do then?

I was invited to join in the festivities at the home of my friend Kenneth's girlfriend, Jessica (my friend also, now that I've finally had the chance to meet her a few times :)  What a beautiful home!  What a warm, open family!  It wasn't the kind of party I was expecting to attend tonight (it was actually at her parents' home, so the scene I first walked in on was a room bumping with about 35 parents (like parents *my* parents' age) and some young kids).  All the folks I knew were kicking it around an outdoor fireplace, but I didn't know that yet.

Today's New Activity: *New* New Years Venue

In 5 out of the past 6 years, I've celebrated the new year at the same bar/pub place, which was a place I wasn't even all that fond of...but it was comfortable and familiar.  I was excited to have the chance, this year (and having already secured babysitting with the folks--yay!), to make the decision of where new years would be spent all on my own.  But I have to admit I wasn't all that excited at first about the prospect of a house party.  Like I said, I wanted to be out dancing.

Buuuut, it ended up being a *better* party than I expected to be at tonight, partially on account of that grown-up/slightly less grown-up mix of people...of ill-advised things the younger folks might be known to do:

(Haha.  They FOUND it.  I don't know how, but they found it (Little "Back to the Future" reference there, for all you children of the 80's).  I did not participate in the four loko madness (and thankfully nobody got crazy on that), except to try a coduple of sips, and I have to say it is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted that was actually sold that way.  Ewww.  It should have been banned on those grounds alone, nevermind the danger it apparently posed to over-indulgent teens.)

And of the nice traditions of a family...we released together--about 100 people in attendance or so--what seemed like hundreds of balloons to commemorate the New Year.

Plus, I got to ring in the new year with some people I've considered myself very lucky to have become reacquainted with in recent months.

And hey, THIS was new to me:  I can't seem to get my video to load, but there was firedancing (not sure that's the right term) going on at one point (thanks for the show Brenna, Peter, and Jeanette!).

All the way around it was a very nice night.  And I'm not one for New Years resolutions, but this time around I really am looking forward to making this year better than the last was.  For certain, and as much as I have control over this, it will be less stressful, more adventurous and outgoing, and is sure to include more dancing than 2010.

New year. New outlook.  And, as ever, life is good.

Also, jeeze, I just love this song/scene:


The GGA Project -- Day #19 "Musical Journey"

Today I went to visit my best gal Kelsi and her boys.  The drive is normally an hour long, and somehow--when traffic everywhere is lighter this week--traffic on this particular trip was terrible.  It took a good hour twenty.  But anyway, it was all good because (having put a muzzle on the Chuck Palahniuk audio book, and lost the Christmas station to the non-Christmas cheeserock that normally occupies it) I took the advice of my other best gal Nicole's awesome stepma, Chris, and decided that, I would, for

Today's New Activity: Listening to Pandora's App for iPhone in the Car

If you are not already familiar with Pandora.com, lemme break it down briefly.  It sprung from the Music Genome Project, in which...oh nevermind, lemme let Wikipedia do it for me:

"Pandora Radio is an automated music recommendation service and custodian of the Music Genome Project. Users enter a song or artist that they enjoy, and the service responds by playing selections that are musically similar. Users provide feedback on approval or disapproval of individual songs, which Pandora takes into account for future selections.
While listening, users are offered the ability to buy the songs or albums at various online retailers. Over 400 different musical attributes are considered when selecting the next song. These 400 attributes are combined into larger groups called focus traits. There are 2,000 focus traits. Examples of these are rhythm syncopation, key tonality, vocal harmonies, and displayed instrumental proficiency."

So I've had the Pandora app for a while, but I never thought to use it because, I don't know.  I just never did.  But the drive was perfect for it today, so I plugged in my little transmitter and listened through the radio.

EDIT:  After a few comments, I realized I managed to make it seem like I was new to Pandora, which is not the case.  Using the (in my opinion, more user-friendly-than-the-website iPhone app and listening in the car as "radio" was what was new to me.  Just for clarification...)

The genius of Pandora is that it starts out with exactly what you tell it to (like, I make a station based on the artist U2, and the first song it plays is a U2 song), and then goes on playing songs in that same musical vein, saving you a whole lot of work trying to hunt down songs one-by-one on your MP3 player.  It doesn't always get it right, which is why you can thumbs up or down a song to tweak the station and get it closer to playing only stuff you like.

I had a number of stations saved already (the app pulled all my info from Pandora.com when I downloaded it), but today I added some new ones.  Namely:

Bon Iver Radio, example of his music here (thanks bro for the introduction to him):

Which ended up leading to this song, from The Frame, and from the movie "Once":

Cinematic Orchestra Radio, (thanks Jeff K. for leading me to this group):

And Florence + The Machine Radio, (thanks bartender at The Dirty Bird Lounge the other day for the intro to them):

Which led to songs by Sia and Feist.  Nice.

It ended up being a really nice ride down, even with the traffic and the post-rain mildewy FUNK in my car (why and how?!)  Music will pretty much make or break anything, no?

On the way home, Tinawiren Radio and Joni Mitchell Radio.  Man, I just LOVE all that music at my beck and call, without having to burn or download or PAY for it.  I like the surprise of it too.  You could say the radio is like that: you never know what's coming next.  But you have to listen to all those crap commercials, plus after a day or two with one station you pretty much know what all they may play.  This is a wonderful little gift every time!

And to my pleasant surprise, after all that constant streaming, my battery wasn't all that much drained.  I think this will be the way to go for a while.


The GGA Project -- Day #18 "Really? Your Lunch?"

Ohhhh Golly.  So today was one of those days when I thought fitting in a new activity would be tough.  But I was excited to realize there are scores of restaurants near my work that I've never eaten at.  I usually bring my lunch, but it's nice to get out every now and then.  I would just check out Dino's -- some kind of burger/pasta/Greek hybrid that looked greasy in the good way and which I've been wanting to try for a while.

I was feeling good about my new lunch spot.  I was, anyway, until I snapped a picture of my actual meal

and realized, holy sh!t, I'm about to become one of those people who blog about their mf'n LUNCH!  Oh no.  How did I let that happen?  I couldn't let that happen.  So maybe it's better to just say that I tried a new place for lunch and leave the details out (?)  I don't know.  That's the veggie patty version of their San Franciscan burger up there, since I know you were wondering.

Other minor lunchtime firsts:  I ate one of the pickles they included in the basket.  I really can't stand pickles, but I hadn't tested that opinion in a while.  I thought, 'hey, while I'm trying new things, why not revisit the whole pickle thing.  I might find I like them now.'

Yeah, no.  Still hate the pickles.

And yes...blogging about pickles now.  Whew!

So then, why not make *this* one the official Today's New Activity: Stealing the Wi-Fi Outside Starbucks

After eating I was too full to add even a coffee to the mix, but I did want to catch up on some e-mail.  Well, look at that!  A parking spot right outside Starbucks.  Don't mind if I do.  I'm pretty sure the couple sitting in the car next to mine was there to steal Wi-Fi too.

Hey, here's a potential first for you, too:  sit for a minute and try to imagine explaining what I'm talking about in that last paragraph to somebody who died in the 1970's or earlier.  Even the 1980's.  I've thought about that before...how I would try to explain the Internet and e-mail to, say, my great-grandmother.  It is so WEIRD when you think about it, and especially when you think of how much time we spend doing things online.  Even just the phrase: "doing things online..."  What does that mean, really?  What did we do before to pass our time?

Moving right along...another first for the day:  horrible stomachache for the duration of the afternoon, following my greasy quasi-burger from the greasy spoon.  Big surprise!  But that wasn't anything I did myself--it just kind of happened to me, so I can't really count that.  Not only that though...I was also so very, very sleepy I didn't think I was going to make it through my shift.  And that is why I usually bring some light-to moderate lunch of leftovers or rice and beans, rather than spring for some gut-buster that's gonna bring on the zzzzz's.

Oh my god, I'm going to put my own self to sleep just with the incredibly uninspired boredom of this post!  This is what working in a bank all day does for my creativity :P

Anyway, I also took a new route to pick up the baby after work (bad move...it was waaaayyyy the long way; I won't be repeating that move).

Update on an earlier GGA post:  I found I didn't care much for Chuck Palahniuk's Diary, and I went ahead and stopped listening.  Actually, "putting down" a book-on-CD was a first as well.  I long ago allowed myself to stop reading books I didn't like, but it seems like the ultimate in lazy to stop a CD, seeing as I wasn't doing anything in the first place.  But I just couldn't take it anymore.  Not only were the characters and events kind of (very much) far-fetched, in certain senses, but I was annoyed with the reader as well.  It's hard to listen to an audio tape when you don't like the reader.  I was fed up listening to Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food because the reader came off so snooty and sarcastic.  I loved the subject matter, but I barely made it through that one.  Anyway, the #1 thing that got on my nerves with Palahniuk's writing was this sentence structure, repeated over and over and over again, driving me crazy:

Modifier + subject + verb

As in,

"Looking over her reading glasses, Granmy says, "....""
"Staring at the painting on the wall, Misty Kleinman says, "...""

Ugh.  That was the other thing.  I think in the first 3 disks I heard, the phrase "Poor Misty Marie Kleinman" was used no less than 32 times.  And I'm not exaggerating.  Yeah. I have to add something to my little sidebar phrase.  Life is also too short for annoying audio books!


The GGA Project -- Day #17 "The Collaboration"

Talking to Sowmya, it is easy to just forget there is anywhere you would ever need to be, or anything going on at all in the world outside of what she is discussing.  At the risk of sounding new agey, I can honestly say she projects some of the best energy of anyone I've met, and it's no surprise to me that I met her through my friend Kelsi, who is another such soul.  I don't know how exactly to describe this, but it's like her skin is smiling.  How can this be?  I don't know, but when you're near her, you can just feel her complete peace, openness, sense of wonder, and willingness to help, radiating from every pore.

Pretty cool.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Sowmya that was sent to a number of people, and it described some work she was doing for her Master's thesis in Peace Studies.  First of all, what an amazing program:  Peace Studies.  (Incidentally, the program had her studying half the time in Austria, half the time in Costa Rica.  I need to find schooling that looks like this!).  Second of all, the work she was doing spoke to me in light of my own experience, so I put it out there just in passing mention to Kelsi that I would like to get together with Sowmya to talk.

I don't think a day passed before a plan was in place to meet and brainstorm (that's another thing about Sowmya (could not be more opposite of me in this regard): she is TOTALLY on top of stuff).  Anyway, that led to...

Today's New Activity: Coffee Shop Non-Profit Organization Brainstorm

First of all, any meeting that starts with the participants' places prepared like this, I think, is pretty promising:

A deck of "Love, Compassion, Forgiveness" cards and a freakin' Cutie!  I mean, I just walked in and saw that and felt like: yes, I need to know better and work with this person :)

Joining us was an intelligent and knowledgeable woman named Nivi, whom I met for the first time at this meeting but who immediately also struck me as an energetic and kind person, eager to turn her experience into positive support of others.

Today's meeting was all about sharing our personal experience and our ideas for what population to serve and how.  I am not an on-track discussion kind of person myself, so I was pleasantly surprised that we were actually able to accomplish a productive brainstorm (doesn't sound hard, but it can be, given the right (wrong) mix of chatty cats like myself) and lay out the next steps.

I have no idea how much it takes to get an NPO off the ground and running.  Thankfully, my Mom is nearby, who has a lot of great experience in this realm (she was invited to the White House to discuss one NPO she worked for with President Clinton himself!) and she has already expressed her desire to help.  Aside from that, it is clear that both Sowmya and Nivi are motivated and capable people.  I am excited to start down this road.

Part of what I like about today's new activity is that I am not, to be forthright, a person who does stuff.   Hahahaha.  I know how goofy that sounds, but I'm really not.  I mean to say that I'm not the kind of person who does this kind of stuff.  I do a whole lot of stuff, but this kind of thing is what I mean in my mind when I think 'Damn, that girl *does* stuff!'

Sowmya was kind of trying to express a similar sentiment yesterday (I cry foul because she is obviously someone who does stuff, but we know ourselves best I suppose), so she was very excited to meet up with some people who were interested in furthering the project.  It can be daunting, for sure, to think about giving birth to a program or organization all by oneself, and I completely identified with Sowmya's expressed gratitude and confidence in the strength in numbers.

I felt truly honored to be among these two women...what a wonderful way to start the day!


The GGA Project -- Day #16 "On Color"

Color is my friend.  Really and truly.  I fill my living space with bold colors, and I'm not one to shy away from wearing them either.  I have a pair of bright green shoes and for the longest time owned an orange suede jacket. (Can't remember what happened to that one, but I loved it while it was mine.)

So, given how much I love to look at bright colors, it's strange that when it comes to anything electronic, or any larger ticket items, my color of choice is always black.  Black car.  Black camera.  Black netbook.  Black iPhone.  Black iPod.  I have always been a little leery about taking a leap of color faith when it comes to something I'm going to spend substantial money on, or which I will be looking at on a more permanent basis (it's easy to change your *scarf* if the color isn't treating you right.)

I surprised myself tonight, however, when I was at Best Buy looking to spend a generous gift certificate from my parents (thanks, parents!) on a compact digital camera.

Today's New Activity: I Choose Red!

To some people, this may not be a groundbreaking new activity, but for me, it WAS taking a little step into unchartered territory.  And it felt good.  I mean, the saleswoman wouldn't even let me open the box to see what shade of red my new camera would be.  I had to take a chance on red!  There is red good and red evil, and I was relieved to get home and find this to be of the former variety.  I can definitely live with it and see myself coming to love it :)

Now, the only problem I see here is that this means I'll be taking even more hundreds of pictures of the monkey.  What to do with all these digital images??  I'm getting worse about going back and deleting the less-than-ideal shots.  So one simple activity he may engage in like sitting and eating blueberries can easily result in 14 pictures.  No good!  Oh well, at least I have more space to work with now, and it'll be very nice to have a more portable camera option that produces better images (and video!) than my phone.

Can't wait for the little guy to wake up and do something picture worthy, like pick his nose, drink water, or breathe :P

And just a note about him....today I had to deal with the unpleasant business I alluded to yesterday.  It was not as unpleasant as I'd anticipated.  In fact, with a shift in my thinking about it, it turned out instead to be a long-overdue opportunity to speak my mind in the interest of my family's future.  And I can honestly say that, in light of today's challenge, I am going to bed a better woman than I was when I awoke.

There's something to aim for: how to achieve that feeling on a daily basis? ...


The GGA Project -- Day #15 "Thank You, Officer"

I have virtually no experience with law enforcement.  This, I consider to be a good thing.  The two times I have been pulled over on the side of the road with a police car parked behind me, it was because I pulled *myself* over.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Not only have I pulled myself over, practically forcing the cop driving behind me to also pull over and find out what I'd done, I've done this twice.  (And no, for the record, I do NOT have a thing for cops and do whatever freaky thing I can think to do in order to meet them.  Firefighters, that's a different story.  But cops, no.)

The first time I pulled myself over I had just moved back to California from Ohio.  I was driving my aunt's car home from work, and I pulled into the middle of an intersection, yielding to the oncoming cars so I could make a left turn.  It wasn't until I'd entered the intersection that I realized there was a left-turn signal light that was out on the signal just ahead, but I could see a red left turn light on a signal off to the left, previously unnoticed.  So I went ahead and made the turn, but I pulled over to the side of the road because I figured the cop who was right behind me would be pulling me over anyway.

He did pull behind me and came asking for license and registration, and when he saw I had an Ohio license, he let me off with a "well in California we have these things called left turn arrows."  I went along feigning ignorance and fascination with this "left turn arrow" concept, relieved to be going home citation-free.

The second time I pulled myself over, I was driving along a poorly paved road in Colorado and a patrol car was driving behind me.  I don't know why I always get nervous when there are cop cars behind me, even though I'm not doing anything illegal.  It was driving behind me for the longest time, and I was becoming more and more unsettled by the mile.  Finally, I started imagining the car was flashing its highbeams at me.  I think it was actually just variations in my perception of the light as a result of all the bumps the car was driving over, but still I managed to convince myself that this cop must be trying to send me some kind of brand new, secret sign for "pull over."

I slowed and pulled off the road.  Most likely out of sheer curiosity, the cop pulled over behind me.  After a moment, I heard his voice on the car's loudspeaker.

"MMmionwen jgoijeoa gijt;ijathd," it said.

I rolled my window down to try and hear better.  "What?" I shouted backward.

"Ghowajenl l oij lj wetw; ija ;ijwh t;oi ajglijt?" said the muffled reply.

I leaned my head out the window and yelled as loudly as I could, "WHAT??!!"

The answer came back clear as a bell this time:  "WHY have you stopped here?!"


There was a short pause.  Was that laughter I heard?  (there were two cops in the car).

"Glkjafojupjf lkj eniae o j e;ojip." the voice said.

"What??!!" I yelled.


"OH!," I shouted.  "Sorry."

Now, if I were that cop I would have surely gotten out of my car at that point to find out what this girl was feeling so guilty about, but I guess that cop had more interesting things to do.  He instructed me to pull back into traffic and I went along on my way, the cop taking the very next right turn and disappearing out of my life forever.

Having had so little interaction with law enforcement, I consider myself heretofore incredibly fortunate.

Well, until Friday night, that is.

On Friday night, a cop came to my door asking for me by name.  Hey!  How's THAT for new activity?!

I won't get into the details right now (rest assured I am in no kind of legal trouble), but the cop was sent on a false pretense by somebody, having to do with the unpleasant business of this coming week, which caused the stress that gave me the desire to see the acupuncturist.  Whew.

This cop was soooo polite.  First, he asked to speak to me in private since his business was with me and not everyone else there.  I didn't mind that others were there; they were my family, but he didn't know that.  In the hallway, he stated the reason for which he was sent and, in the same sentence, indicated that he was well aware of the likely red herring/false accusation nature of the caller's so-called concern (the timing of it was particularly suspect).  Having come, he could see the purported concern was unfounded, and he let me know his report would say as much.

Having never been specifically sought out by the police, I was pretty unnerved to have an officer show up at my doorstep and ask for me.  However, I was incredibly reassured and put at ease by this officer's demeanor, his respectfulness, and his excellent bullshit detector.  He left apologizing for having disturbed me and wishing us all Merry Christmas.

I am well-aware of some of the very good reasons that law enforcement gets a bad rap.  There is no doubt in my mind that there are racist, otherwise prejudiced, power-tripping, Napoleon Complexed, sadistic, and dishonest policemen and women out there.  You could say this about every profession, but it is likely true that the nature of law enforcement tends to attract more of these types than is found in the average workforce population.  I know the reasons many people have for loathing and for fearing law enforcement officers are well-founded and incredibly upsetting.

However, being part of the workforce myself (profession unimportant), I also know how nice it can be to be recognized for good work (I work at a bank for goodness sake.  People LOVE to hate on the bank.  So any positive feedback I get from customers--or that my boss gets about me--feels very good).  All leading to

Today's New Activity: A Visit to the POPO Department

One of my reasons for heading to the police department was to get a copy of the police report the cop filed, as it may actually work in my favor during the unpleasant business.  However, the MAIN reason I went was so that I could tell whomever it was who should know how much I appreciated the conduct of the officer who visited my house.

While I didn't imagine I would be the first person to ever have the inclination to give some props to the cops, I was surprised to find in the lobby of the department (which was closed anyway but whose lobby was open and full of helpful info) a whole stack of brochures titled Commendation and Complain Procedures for Members of the Public.  Sadly, the complaint section takes up three folds of the brochure and the commendation portion only one; I suppose that's a sign of how things usually go.  But I figured that was all the more reason why the officer in question's supervisor should be aware of how he was appreciated.

I am not trying to say I am doing any kind of great deed by recognizing this officer to his superior, but I really really wish people would do this sort of thing more often.  In my experience, customers are often so eager and in fact excited to bitch someone out or talk about how poorly they were treated.  Why aren't they similarly fired up about their positive experiences?

I know that sharing how happy you are doesn't carry the same umph as a complaint about injustice (!).  I DO understand that.  But I also think that a simple shift in frame of mind can turn that around...that we can choose to get as much satisfaction, or more, from spreading positivity instead.

So with that...I'm just sayin'....Thank you, Officer.


The GGA Project -- Day #14 "Daydreamweaver"

There are many different ways to classify people.  Think of how many movies there are in which one character says, "Look, way I see it, there are two types of people in this world:  People who ___________ and people who ____________."  Some two-bit philosophy of life usually follows which manages to explain the bulk of what is happening/has happened/will happen in the movie.  That's kind of silly.

But here's my two-bit philosophy anyway.  The way I see it, there are two types of people in this world: people who daydream, and people who don't.  I was quite surprised to discover that there are people who don't.  They are totally able to live in the absolute present and do not spend time imagining anything other than what is, now.  I think that's a pretty cool way to be.  It is something to aim for: contentment with this very moment, every moment.

But I myself am a daydreamer.  Sometimes a pretty elaborate one.  I don't usually spend time thinking about things I wish would happen (winning the lottery, stuff like that).  I tend to think about things that could very easily happen, things that I could easily *do* without divine intervention or incredible strokes of luck.  Sometimes, the daydreaming is just a precursor to actually doing whatever it is I'm thinking about....a kind of practice round.

And yet, in all my years of semi-checked out visualization, I'd never thought to make an exercise of it in the way that was suggested to me by my dear friend Jesse (in response to my request for new activity participants/ideas).

Today's New Activity: 15 Minutes to Dream

Jesse said the idea was to daydream about whatever you like (but try to keep it positive) for at least 15 minutes.  I like this idea because it is so conscious.  For me, daydreaming typically takes place in stolen moments, or moments of boredom while I'm supposed to be focused on something else.  But I love the idea of GIVING oneself that space and time with which to fantasize.

It's harder than it sounds, though.  My first attempt earlier this afternoon was thwarted by the sounds of family in the kitchen and Christmas music on the radio.  The weird thing about that is that I can daydream all the time with noise around me.  Apparently it's different when *all* I'm supposed to be doing is that daydreaming.  Too much pressure or something.

So I made a second attempt just now, as the house has quieted down significantly.  I was able to stay in the same vein of thought for the most part, but it was not easy.  Also, I started falling asleep.

But I love this practice and am going to devote more time to it.  A lot of performers and athletes use visualization (which is really just a more sophisticated sounding word for daydreaming) as part of their preparation and study of their art/sport.  But I think it's a great idea for the everyman as well.

And it requires no special place or weather or tools.  And it's free!  Can't really beat that.  I think you should give it a try :)

Thanks for the cool idea, Jesse.

Other Notable First for Today:

Watching "Mamma Mia," a movie I'd avoided until now on account of its cheesiness, but which I enjoyed thoroughly on account of its cheesiness.


The GGA Project -- Day #13 "Dirty, Dirty Bird"

As with Ecothrift, there is a bar I've passed many dozens of times since moving to my new town, and I've wanted to stop in and check it out.

Today's New Activity:  Afternoon Drink at The Dirty Bird with The Bro

I can't believe this, but in thinking about it, I've never been out for a sit-down drink with my brother before.  We've had a drink in the same room at plenty a party, sporting event, or dinner, and I've been to one of his favorite watering holes in L.A., The Shortstop (just down the hill from Dodger Stadium) a few times.  But we've never just taken an afternoon and gone for a beer and a chat.

So today seemed the perfect day to both catch up with the bro over a beer and examine the digs at The Dirty Bird.

Now, part of why I wanted to go into this bar in the first place was that it had dive written all over it.  Not dive like scary, scary scary dive.  Like lounge dive.  And not lounge like Ultra Lounge.  Lounge like The Regal Beagle lounge (Three's Company) or The Dresden Room lounge (Swingers).  My kinda place.

The Dirty Bird didn't disappoint.  It was pretty empty on Christmas Eve.  Just us and a Harry and a Larry, both looking pretty tore up and on the road to nowhere.  But they had a good music playing (heard the White Stripes and Coldplay, among others, while there), plenty of seating, and interesting paintings on the walls by artist Carrie Rose

It's always good to sit down and get down to real talk with my brother.  We can really pass a whole lot of time telling stories and making jokes, and not really talking about things that affect us on a deeper level.  But when we do, as we had the chance to during our hour at The Dirty Bird, I always come away refreshed, and more enlightened about myself, my family, and my sibling relationship than before--so I treasure these stolen moments.

Back at home, my Mama was making Christmas amazing, as usual, and warming a boysenberry, brie and almond dip for our collective enjoyment.  It's looking to be a pretty good night...


The GGA Project -- Day #12 "Double Whammo"

Today has been a long and long, long day.

After last night's late Tron viewing, which went longer than I expected, an early morning wake up for work, and non-stop activity until this moment, I am exhausted...in the best possible way.  But I do worry I may not make much sense as I write this.  Here goes anyway...

One thing I love about my job is that is brings me into contact with all kinds of people who are into all kinds of business...excellent for referrals.  The next time I need a new dentist, garage door installer, glass blower, fine gem cutter, floorer, chiropractor, etc, etc, I'm all set.  But I didn't want a garage door installed this day.  No,

Today's New Activity: Acupuncture

So when I decided I finally wanted to try acupuncture treatment (after a few years of curiosity), I needed look no further than David Villanueva, a customer who makes deposits every day for his business, Oasis Community Acupuncture.

The reason I was interested in going to see an acupuncturist now is that I am less than a week away from an appointment in which I will be dealing with some unpleasant business.  The anticipation of this meeting has caused me not a little bit of stress and worry.  I know I'm being Little Miss Vague there, but the details really aren't important to the story; what matters is that I'd heard acupuncture can help alleviate stress, along with about 14,000 other afflictions, so I wanted to give that a try.

When I walked into David's practice, I was surprised to see there was just one large room--closed off to the entrance by a room screen--in which were placed 5 reclining chairs, a portable stereo playing Vivaldi, and little else.  David sat down with me for just a few minutes to talk about what brought me in, and then we were off to start the needling.

First, I filled out some paperwork and read an information sheet about the philosophy behind "community" acupuncture.  Among other things, it mentioned that in China, acupuncture is practiced very differently than it often is in the West, and that part of the difference lies in the collective experience of treatment.  Instead of each person being treated in a separate room, patients share a common space, the shared experience of healing thought to multiply its effects.  I absolutely believe in this concept, so I was hoping other clients would come in while I was there.

The placement of needles took just a few minutes and not only did it not hurt, I scarcely felt them going in.  Also, I don't know why but I was expecting these giant, scary things like a foot and a half long each, 20 of them sticking out of each appendage.

Yeah, it was nothing like that.  The needles were very short and thin, and in all I think he placed maybe twelve...in my feet, hands, ear lobes, and the top of my head.

Oh, but before that part happened, I was asked to recline to whatever position was comfortable, given a blanket, and a space heater was turned on near my feet.  So cozy!  David said once the needles were placed, I was free to stay as long as I felt inclined, sleeping allowed.

About 10 minutes into my relaxation, another client walked in.  I heard a few whispers (this person was clearly an established patient as little needed to be discussed) and the various sounds associated with the needle placement, but it was in no way distracting.  Soon, that man was snoozing away.

Under normal circumstances I would never have been comfortable with the thought of reclining with my eyes closed in a semi-public room where other people could come in at any time.  Ok, well I still wouldn't be comfortable with this idea under most circumstances.  But I mean that before I would have taken one look at those 5 chairs and walked right out of there.  This, however, is where the concept of newness and openness comes in.  And I'm so happy I decided to stick around.

I can't say any monumental change took place during my visit (not that I would have expected it to in one visit), but the experience was definitely worthwhile, even if the *only* benefit were to be the absolute gift of having a quiet, peaceful place in which to just sit and be quiet, free from distraction or obligation.  And with blankets.  Fleece blankets.

It was incredibly relaxing and refreshing.  I stayed there for about 40-50 minutes and just melted into that chair.  I truly think I could have stayed all day if not for the fact that the monkey was waiting at home along with his uncle Kris, who'd flown in this morning for Christmas.

Leading to...

Today's *other* New Activity:  The Niles Canyon Railway: Holiday Train of Lights

Wow!  What fun this was.  My Dad had heard about this holiday treat from coworkers and bought some tickets about a month ago (apparently this attraction is pretty popular and sells out).  It's just this 7-mile span of track from Niles Canyon to Sunol (we boarded in Fremont).  I'm not sure if it's part of a longer line carrying trains that actually have purpose other than to entertain, but it doesn't really matter.  I'm glad if there are still a few things out there that serve no other purpose than to entertain :)

The train had lights all over the inside and out, and there were few outdoor cars for those who like the fresh air.  There was a refreshment cart selling hot chocolate, brownies, and other goodies, and...drumroll please.....

Santa!  I was a little worried about this last part, just because of the monkey's not-so-stellar track record with old Saint Nick.  This Santa, however, did not evoke any looks of terror or even a whimper out of the little guy.

All the people aboard were cheerful and full of holiday spirit.  I loved walking from car to car just to experience the travel through time (some were very, very old and full of novel charm.  Some, like the above lounge car, were more modern (from the 70's maybe), but still full of novel charm).

I am too sleepy to function.  Just want to say it was a wonderfully satisfying day.

And good night.


The GGA Project -- Day #11 "3D"

Is it a crime that I'm 32 years old and have never seen a 3D movie in the theater until tonight?  Guilty!  And I'm ready to reform my crimin' ways.  My friend Kenneth was so impressed with this movie after seeing it Sunday that I thought he was going to call in sick to work on Monday just so he could see it again.  So when he said he was going back for more tonight, I jumped right on that nerd tram.  He's all nuts for the music, too (soundtrack by Daft Punk), so I'm excited to check that aspect out.

Today's New Activity: 3D Movie!

I hardly ever make it to the theater to see new movies.  And I definitely never go out of my way to see futuristic/sci-fi movies.  But this one actually has some semblance of connection and appeal for me because I remember watching the original in my 3rd grade reading class (why oh why I'll never know) and liking it in all its glowing tunnelness (I remember absolutely nothing about the characters or plot, so I'm grasping for straws here).

And heavens-to-Betsy, I have the chance to see my first ever 3D movie in the IMAX experience version, no less.  Double appeal.

I have to confess I'm doing something here I think I'll have to do with some frequency, which is cheating with a pre-activity post to ensure the timestamp registers my new fun thing before midnight.  I'll check back in with a bit about the movie and the 3D experience itself...

And having absolutely nothing to do with *any*thing (getting good at ending like that), my boss said something yesterday that reminded me of two blogs from my previous life that I thought I'd link to here for fun.  She was talking in the "morning huddle" (Our bank's little pre-opening sell, sell, sell pep talk).  I don't even remember what my boss was telling the PBs they should do, but she said that doing it would "kill a stone and two birds" (she is from out-of-town....like, halfway around the world out-of-town).  Which totally reminded me of my own issues with remembering adages, and then my difficulty in keeping from laughing after she said this reminded me of my own issues with, well, basic immaturity.  Funny how these themes circle back 'round.


The GGA Project -- Day #10 "The Box"

There are some things I do as a Mom that I just can't get past feeling guilty about, despite the fact that I know they

1) won't likely cause any trauma or serious damage and
2) are sometimes necessary

Timeout is not one of those things.  I am fine with giving the monkey his little 1 minute timeouts (per Super Nanny's example--1 minute per age of child) because I think discipline is important and can spare the world having to put up with yet another spoiled brat.

I do, however, feel guilty about "The Box."  That's what we call the baby's playpen, and he goes in there about 2-3 times a day from 10-30 minutes so that I or his Nana can take a shower or get some other kind of work or chore done.  I don't know why I feel so bad about this thing.  I know it would be impossible for me to have 100% of my attention focused on him every second of the day, but still I feel strange because it looks so much like a little prison.

But I've got a new take on it.

Today's New Activity:  Role Reversal/Change of Perspective/Reverse Psychology...Mama in a Box

At one point this evening, I was sitting in the living room and Kalil was playing with his plastic flip phone, standing next to me.  Then he tossed it into his playpen and almost immediately started crying and pointing toward it.  So I reached in a grabbed the phone and gave it to him.  He gave it back and started whimpering.  He grabbed my hand and moved it toward the playpen (a new thing he does--he grabs my hand and leads it toward whatever object he wants me to manipulate, turn on, or otherwise make entertain him in some form).  So I was taking one toy out at a time and handing them over, trying to figure out what he wanted.

Soon he was clearly frustrated.

Maybe he wanted IN the playpen.

I put him in.

Now REALLY crying!

What to do?

My Mom walked in on this scene.  "Maybe Mama should get in the box," she said.

I have no idea why she said this.  But did I care?  Not especially.  When you're a Mama and the kid is doing this kind of thing, all frustrated and helpless and desperate-like...well, you'll pretty much try anything once.

I started playing with all his little toys and in no time he was trying to climb in and join me.

The takeaway I got from this was that once I was in there, I realized it wasn't bad at all.  I mean, I was surrounded by all kinds of fun stuff and had a great view of the Christmas tree, living room, and kitchen--the heart of the house basically.  I could have hung out there a while for sure.

I picked up the monkey and brought him in there with me, and he was pretty happy with that arrangement for a little while.

Kalil is at the age where he wants to get into every thing, all the time.  He basically spends every moment at home wandering the house and looking to open, take down, or yank on something--anything that isn't a toy of his, that is.

But when he's in the box, he has no choice but to actually play with age-appropriate toys and find a way to make the best of it.  What I like about The Box is that, knowing he can spend time in there by himself and stay happy gives me hope that I am not raising a self-centered child who will expect everyone to cater to his wants and whims at every moment.  There are times when he's going to need to comfort and entertain himself, and he's getting good at it.

And this kid's got PLENTY of in-his-face lovin' and attention, so the balance--the time he spends to himself--is starting to feel like a pretty good thing.

And just a sidenote: today was one of those days when engaging in a new activity was looking like a pretty difficult thing to make happen.  I worked, then had an appointment, then had a visit with my friend Ramon at home, then playtime and dinner and bath and bed time for the baby, and still trying to make it to the gym!  Climbing into the playpen for a little new perspective was about as much as I could muster.

I've already said that I know I won't be able to get all crazy or even interesting every day.  There are days when my new activity may just involve taking a new street on the way to work.  Or, as my friend Kelsi mentioned, I could, "just try practicing full consciousness while brushing my teeth some day."  That will be cool, too.

This project is about experiencing joy, and I don't want it to ever feel like pressure...a little pressure--the pressure that is positively motivational--is good.  But I've had a few friends reply to my request to introduce me to something they're into with words like, "I don't do anything interesting," or "There's nothing I do that you haven't probably done," and I say no way!  First of all, I very seriously doubt that is true of anybody I know.  But more importantly, this is not about blowing anybody's mind or being all crazy out there.  And even if it's true that a friend out there has truly only overlapping interests or hobbies, then I say we head out together in search of a change of pace, even if it resides in the simplest and least-eyebrow-raising of activities imaginable...


The GGA Project -- Day #9 "La Bella Luna"

Well tonight's first will be a first for anybody participating, seeing as this particular event hasn't happened for 372 years.  But it would have been a first with me even without the special solstice event, as I've never seen *any* kind of eclipse before.

Today's New Activity:  Witnessing the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Wow.  As I write this, the moon is completely covered by the earth's shadow and it has taken on a gorgeous, reddish hue.  It is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and I feel lucky to have been witness to it.

I've been outside for about an hour and a half now, am nearly frozen and can hardly type, but sharing this experience with my parents has been singularly wonderful.  We have talked about wishes and gratitude, and have grasped sometimes with futility for the right words to describe this show nature has given us.

Also, watching as thousands of previously unseeable stars emerged from the darkness reminded me of the months I spent living in Flagstaff, AZ with my girlfriends Kelsi and Nicole, over 10 years ago now.  That was one of the happiest, most carefree and open-to-everything periods in my life, and it seems apropos to have it come to mind now.

What a magical night it has been...

And in totally unrelated news, except that it involves orbs that seem to be glowing but are really just reflecting light, I bought a lava lamp today.  It's not new to me, as I've had a few before, but it was new to the baby, who loved it and stared and pointed at it with enthusiasm.  Little hippie after my own heart! :)


The GGA Project -- Day #8 "84 Floors"

I try to get to the gym at least 3 days a week.  I am not, by even the loosest of interpretations, any kind of fitness buff.  I pretty much have to force myself to go most nights, and I am only able to do so by making myself vividly imagine the good, serotonin a-flowin' feeling I will experience when the ordeal is over with.  Mostly, that works.  (Though sometimes it's easier to get myself to go because it can be a treasured bit of time to myself, during which I listen to music, think through things, and just be alone.  We all need that!)

One of the things that can make the gym seem like a chore is getting in a rut.  In line with my not being a fitness buff, there are plenty of machines I don't know how to use, and I'm shy about looking dumb trying to figure it out; additionally, the last thing I want to do is attract the attention of a trainer by asking them and accidentally purchasing a personal trainer package I don't want.

So sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and figure out something new to do, just to break up the monotony.

Today's New Activity: Stairmaster, Ah Ah Ah

I was super intimidated by the Stairmaster.  I don't know why...it just seemed impossible to me to be walking up stairs for a half hour straight.  WHY would you want to walk up stairs for half an hour straight?  But then, why would you want to run, elliptic, or stationarily bicycle either?  The answer is always the same: it's just what you do if you wanna lose the post-baby blubber, keep your heart in shape, blah blah blah.

But the Stairmaster was actually a pleasant surprise, mostly because I realized that being so high up on a machine meant being super close to the air vent, and that made the whole work out much more bearable.  I was also going pretty slowly (level 4 of 20 for starters), so that made it easier too, while ensuring I could search for music to listen to on my iPhone with little to no danger of tripping to my death.  So it'll be nice to add that to the list of possible torture devices I can carry out my business on at the gym.

But speaking of music...  I discovered when I got to the gym that my iPod was out of juice, and since I can't bear to listen to the cheeseball music they pump in through the speakers, I resorted to my iPhone and figured I'd find some videos on YouTube to play.  But what to play?

For some reason, when I'm working out, my alter-ego of a music fan takes over and I end up listening to stuff I would never be interested in outside of the gym environment.  It's because what I'm most interested in during that time is a good beat.  So I listen to a lot of pop and top 40 kind of stuff.  Justin Timberlake?  Yes.  Akon?  Sure.  Shakira?  Why the hell not.

But today's video choices surprised even me in this way.  I walked up stairs for a half hour set to Lady Gaga. Weeks ago I never would have considered this.  As a vegetarian, I was pretty thoroughly disgusted by her little raw meat dress stunt at the VMAs.  I still am.  And yet, I can't deny a good beat and a catchy hook.

And also, her voice is great live, which I admire greatly.

So the gym pretty much felt like an all new experience today, which is great.  Knowing it's possible will keep me going there with not too much kicking and screaming.


The GGA Project -- Day #7 "Appetized/Sweet Validation"

So this is a quickie, since it was a full day starting at 5:30am and a full shift at work, then dinner at home with my parents and visiting-from-out-of-town Aunt, then some monkey time and now off to a holiday party.  Yay for that kind of day.

Today's New Activity:  Sampling My Mom's Crostini with Carmelized Onion Jam

Super, super duper yummy.  I had to hold back in order to avoid ruining dinner, but it was tough.  That's cream cheese on the top, and a sprinkle of thyme, and the melting-in-my-mouth flavor was just amazing.

Oh, and in follow up to yesterday's post...

At work today I mentioned to two--only two--customers my encounter with Santa Evil.  BOTH of them knew all about that Santa and had experienced his evil themselves.  One of them is an employee at See's Candies in the mall where Santa works.  She said he goes in to See's everyday demanding samples, never smiles and spreads general bad will all around.  She said they've been complaining about him for three years.  But the upside was that, after leaving the bank, she came back a few minutes later with a gift certificate for See's, which she handed me telling me to get my son something nice to make up for his Santa trauma :)

Oh, how sweet life is...


The GGA Project -- Day #6 "No Ho Ho"

So pretty much my whole week's plans were anchored with the intent to take my son to see Santa for the first time today.  Well, ok, it's my first time taking him to see Santa.  He went with his grandparents for the first time last year.  But anyway, the plan hit some snags this morning when for the first time I can remember (hey, another first!) he didn't go down for a nap at his usual 11am time, and ended up falling asleep at about 1:30pm.  By the time we left the house (after I fed the boy and dressed him all cute in a moose sweater) it was cold, stormy, and just 1 hour before dark.  That was all okay.  I didn't have any other plans for the day.

We went to a mall that is never really too crowded, even at this time of year.  Still, I was surprised to see that, on the 17th of December, there wasn't a single child in line to see the rather authentic-looking Santa they had working.  The little village was nicely done, and the photo prices reasonable.  I decided it was my lucky day and navigated the stroller through the winding line perimeter in no time.  I was smiling the whole way, just super excited to be sharing this moment with my son and eager to see how he would react to old Saint Nick.

But alas, the boneheads at so-called Santa's Village had other plans.

Today's New Activity: Evil Santa, Evil Elves

Awww, see even writing that makes me sad.  I was hoping to post about today's new activity being a fun visit with the baby to see Santa.  But the thing just wasn't meant to be today, it seems.  Ok so when we rolled up, nobody said anything.  Like, I wasn't sure if someone was going to talk to me about the photo packages, give me some kind of instruction or something.  But nobody did, so I just picked up a pricing brochure from a nearby pile of them and checked it out.  The photo-taking girl and some kind of technician elf next to her stared at me impatiently, and then she said, "Santa's ready.  Go ahead!" all mean like.

At that point, I thought Santa may try to soften the blow by saying something nice to the baby, smiling, opening up his arms, welcoming and jolly maybe.  But no, he just looked at me like, 'you wanna hurry this up, lady?'  I started unfastening the baby from the stroller, cooing things at him like, "you're gonna see Santa, and you can tell him what you want for Christmas, and he's really nice and he loves little monkeys like you."

Now, if I were a Santa, this is the point when I would smile, or just say ANYthing to the baby or the mom to avoid coming off like just another creep of a fat man in a red velour suit.  With some trepidation, I placed the Monkey on Santa's lap, who still said absolutely nothing to comfort the boy or even do his damned Santa job. I mean, isn't Santa supposed to ask the kid what he wants for Christmas at least?  I know I haven't seen a Santa in action up close in at least 25 years, so it's possible they've changed his job description, but still it seemed that a few words from the stranger whose lap a child has been placed in would be--at the very least--the polite thing to offer.

All of a sudden there was this loud, crashing bell sound coming from near the camera, and then flash!  I moved inward toward the camera to try and get the baby--who was starting to cry at that point (this itself was a sign as he is so friendly and comfortable with strangers it has been a concern of mine that he could one day just run off with anyolebody)--to smile, and then both Santa and photo girl barked at me to get away or I'd be in the picture.  The girl jingled the thing again and then flash.  Another!

Only then (because I'd scarcely let go of the child before the first picture was taken) did I notice that his hair was all goofy, so I stepped forward to straighten it.  And for that two seconds I could feel Santa's death stare boring into my neck.  What gives?

I stepped away and jingle jingle flash!  Then the photo girl proclaims, "That's three!  Three is all you get!"

I grabbed the baby and went to look at the computer screen and she says, "Which one do you want?"  The pictures were all terrible.  First of all, the lighting was awful and left the whole scene looking totally flat.  Also, one of the baby's pant legs was riding high and made him look kind hobo baby-like.  But beyond that, the baby was making a sad face in two of the shots, and a neutral in the third.  She pointed to this neutral shot and said, "This one's good.  He's smiling."

Smiling?  What joke of a Santa school did this motley crew graduate from?!  Even Santa wasn't smiling in the pictures.  I said, "Is there no way we can take another?  I mean I didn't know you were gonna take the pictures that fast.  Can I try and make him smile?"  (Because for some strange reason that jingle crash you're making over there just doesn't seem to be doing it (?))

She said, "Well I can take another but then these will be erased."

That would be a real shame.

I walked the baby over to Santa and moved to put him back in his lap.  "She said we can take another," I said, "Can I give him to you?"

The face he made in response to this question was exactly the one I picture a person making if asked: "Hey, would you mind hanging onto this hole-ridden sack of unmatched hippopotamus testicles and rapidly decomposing dingo carcasses for me?"

Even so, I was already setting the baby down in his lap; but in that moment--when I saw that facial response--the Mama in me said, 'oh No Ho Ho.  I don't think so.'  I scooped the boy back up and said, "You know, never mind.  It's okay."

I turned and caught photo girl looking at me as if to say, "So which of these lovely mugshots will you be taking home with you?"  At that point I couldn't stifle my laugh.  What a ridiculous scene.  It honestly felt as though I'd interrupted their plans to smoke a big fat joint or something.

And you know, I have a lot of patience for bad customer service.  I certainly understand bad days, being sick of people, sick of talking, sick of your crappy job.  But this Santa had to really go out of his way, grow a beard, grow a belly, in order to work with kids and be mf'n SANTA CLAUSE!  How can you apply for this job if you don't absolutely *love* the little fellas?  It was too much.

I didn't mind the whole thing terribly because we already had plans to visit a different Santa on Sunday with my parents.  Hopefully his nature will be a little more Santa-like.  And even if the baby cries during the photo, I will buy it, because I think those pictures are super funny.   But I'll only do so if I see that at least that Santa tried to do the right thing and make a child happy during this one very special moment in his brand new life.

It occurred to me afterward why there was absolutely nobody in line ahead of or behind me to visit this Grinch-in-Santa's-clothing.  Apparently word got around and I was just out of the loop.  No matter; the little monkey's oversized heart didn't miss a beat, and he was back to his smiling little self immediately following our parting ways with Santa Evil.

Still, I can't wait to give him the Saint Nick experience his sweetcheeks deserve :)


The GGA Project -- Day #5 "Scooby Do Wop"

When Chuck Palahniuk's Diary started spewing four-letter words out of the CD player this morning, I decided to switch to the radio because the baby was in the car.  I can hardly listen to the radio these days on account of so little good music to break up the long blocks of obnoxious commercials.  Usually, I listen to either KQED/NPR or KCSM, the Jazz station (though this time of year there's a wee bit of wiggle room in the form of the all-Christmas-all-the-time KOIT).  Wow, writing that just made me feel like a 60-something Volvo driver.

Anyway, I love listening to the jazz station with the monkey in the car because he totally digs it.  He always gets this big goofy smile on his face and starts grooving in his car seat, especially during horn solos.

So this morning we were listening and a great version of "Blue Skies" came on, sung by a woman named Jennifer Leigh.  I wasn't able to find any copy/version of it to share here, but it'd be worth hunting down if you're interested.  I was really feeling this song and this version and decided it was a perfect moment to take on  Today's New Activity:  Scatting.

Ok, I need to clarify here.  For many people my age, "scat" means something very different than what I'm talking about here, and it usually involves The Japanese.  But I don't mean *that* kind of scat.  I'm talking about "Doop doop, dowawa scooby dop da" kind of scat, the art of jazz vocal improvisation.  Ella Fitzgerald was a master:

That's like CRAZY scatting.  You can get a little more down-to earth version here, from Jill Scott and George Benson:

(incidentally, this is the best version of the song "Summertime" I've ever heard, and I think if you can keep your head and/or feet still all the way through it you are defunct in some way and I probably don't want to know you)  :)

Scatting--or any kind of musical improvisation, really--is not easy.  And it's definitely not easy to do and not sound kind of corny.  My dear friend Kelsi is always down for any kind of musical jam session, vocal or instrumental, or both.  And I think it is part of her life's mission to try and convince other people to join her.  But for me, the hardest part of joining in on that particular kind of fun (aside from the fact that I don't play an instrument and have a voice that is, at best, average) is the part that involves letting go.  I mean you just have to really get past the fear of looking or sounding stupid in order to let come what may.  Many people don't care much for that loss-of-control feeling, and I am definitely among them.

Maybe it was because the song was so great, or maybe it was because my incredibly forgiving-of-faults 14-month-old son was my only audience, or maybe it's because chief among things on my mind lately is the idea of letting go and letting life in -- whatever it was, that scat just flowed right on out of me and filled the air inside my Toyota Matrix with a sense of whimsy, of devil-may-care lightness, of FREEDOM.  It's that freedom and energy-filled, organized chaos that has always drawn me to jazz, and it was invigorating to make some amateur vocal music of my own, if only for 3 minutes and 30 seconds during my morning commute.


The GGA Project -- Day #4 "Recycled"

I love thrift stores.  Except the parts about them I can't stand.

What I love about thrift stores is the pure possibility.  The knowledge that at any given moment in a thrift store, I might happen upon a singular score, an amazing bargain hidden in a mountain of crap.  I think back with a twinge of pride to a little black dress from I.N.C. I found in what seemed to be new condition at a thrift store for $7.  I wore that thing with a special sense of accomplishment, and for years.

What I don't like about thrift stores is that there is no filter.  YOU are the filter, 100% responsible for making sense out of the madness and providing the hand sanitizer.

I had a select group of old faithful, go-to thrift stores I would visit when I lived in San Jose, but since moving to the East Bay I've been kind of at a loss, and not really in the mood, either.  You have to be in a hopeful and confident frame of mind to embark on a thrift store adventure, and until recently neither of those words seemed to apply much of the time.

So today, after a long session of Christmas shopping (a big feat for a short-haul shopper like me), I decided to reward myself with...more shopping.  But I was excited about it because I've passed this thrift store at least 100 times and have always been curious about it.

Today's New Activity: ecothrift!

I don't know what I thought I would find there.  Something about the prefix "eco" made me think this might be some kind of special, select thrift store, with extra earth friendly goods.  I don't know.  But really, all thrift stores are pretty earth friendly, given that their WHOLE purpose is to enable their shoppers to make new uses of old things.  That's why, no matter how much money I am able to amass in my life, I will never poo poo the occasional (or the frequent) thrift store treasure hunt.

Inside, I found what was a pretty typical second-hand germ parade.  The difference was that this place was unbelievably organized.  Nothing strew about on floors, flung over racks, or stuffed into other things.  And so much of it was color coordinated.

You had your
Bag O Stuffed Things

Lingerie for the Ladies

Fryin' Pans
And let's not neglect to mention (your favorite and mine)

Endless Black Work Shoes
All in all, ecothrift was not worthy of the anticipation I'd built up in my mind, but it was a solid thrift store, with a huge variety and actual thrift store prices, not the ridiculously inflated numbers they're asking at Goodwill and the Salvation Army these days.  I know, it seems *ridiculously* cheap to complain about the prices at not-for-profit thrift stores, but I am a big time pricer (I know in my mind the standard price of every single thing I typically purchase for groceries, toiletries, etc.), and I swear a lot of the asking prices and those two juggernauts are more than the stuff costs new.  Craziness.

The payoff at ecothrift?  I managed to make it out of there with a black pencil skirt (99 cents) and this funky belt

for 3 bucks and change.

Not a bad way to close out the evening.  :)