Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Feel Free to Comment

Blogger has just changed their comment system - you no longer need to register - which is very cool... So if you want to, you can tell me what a jerk I am for hating home parties - or how much you liked my chicken with peanut sauce recipe - or whatever...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Welcome to my Home Party Pain Cave

This is a post about one of the banes of my existence – Home Parties. I hate them. What precipitated this outpouring of negative emotion was a postcard that came across my desk in today’s mail. My boss' wife just invited me to a home jewelry party. This is the third Silpada Designs party I’ve been invited to, but the first one I feel I have no other choice but to attend.

I don’t mind the jewelry thing. In fact, I like it very much. What I don’t like is the over-priced stuff that tends to be all over the Silpada catalogue. I’m not saying it’s not nice. I’m just saying that like other pyramid home party schemes, Silpada has to pay entirely too many people – and – as a forced partygoer (it IS my boss’ wife…) that fee will come out of my pocket.

I’m not picking on Silpada. I hate all home parties equally. Despite the fact that I own several Pampered Chef things, I’d just as soon skip the party, browse the catalog in the comfort of my own home, and order without feeling guilty one way or the other.

For me, home parties bring out the absolute WORST in people... No check that. Home parties bring out the worst in WOMEN. Men don't have to go to Tupperware parties, Princess House parties, Scrap booking parties, Facial/Skincare/Beauty product parties, Candle Parties, Lingerie parties, Gourmet Food Parties, Kitchenware Parties or Overpriced Jewelry parties. Conversely, when I couldn’t think of a good excuse, I've had to attend more than my share.

I hate Tupperware! I know this seems like a very “Un-American” thing to say, but it’s true. First of all, Tupperware parties make me feel unusually old. If you haven’t been to one, Tupperware parties consist of a bunch of women ooh-ing and aah-ing over stackable bowls and plastic tumblers. I’m sure they’re quality stackable bowls and plastic tumblers, but they cost an awful lot… In addition, Tupperware consultants make people play silly games. During the last party I attended, co-party-animals competed for little scraps of “Tuppercash.” I may have collected ten thousand Tupperbucks…. We then had an auction for exciting items like flour scoops, miniature Tupperware bowls, and some plastic box that holds coins. When the bidding for the flour scoop opened, I yelled, “Ten Thousand Tupperbucks!!” I got outbid, but somehow, I managed to come home with the thing anyway. (You know, I can picture older partygoers in the kitchen saying, “Ten thousand Tupperbucks? When I was a kid, I got TWO flour scoops for 300!”) To me, Tupperware is really only good if you have an infant who needs something to drum on with a wooden spoon (that you may purchase at next month’s Pampered Chef Extravaganza).

I’ll quickly run through the non-eventful parties I’ve attended: Princess House stuff is not my decorating taste. I live in an area of the world with at least ten candle shops within a two-hour radius, so I won’t even go to candle parties… Don't get me started on embarrassing lingerie parties. My sister used to sell this cheaply made lingerie called UnderCover Wear. She hosted a party at my house, where her training manager asked us embarassing things like “What animal would you compare your last lover to?” and “Have you ever used feathers?” Thankfully, my sister didn’t sell UnderCover Wear very long.

The last Gourmet Food party I went to was unusually rowdy. The poor Tastefully Simple consultant had made an appropriate amount of samples that she planned to pass around the room. What she didn’t expect were 20 ravenous women, who grabbed fists full of anything on the plates… Needless to say, samples never made it from one end of the room to the other. In addition, I brought a friend with me - who just started a career in personal training and life coaching... She read the ingredients of each and every product to see exactly how healthy it was. Meanwhile, women around the room, through their overstuffed chipmunk cheeks, said, “Whaddaya mean 20 grams of saturated fat in this?” Later, the woman who hosted the party said my trainer friend was no longer welcomed at her home parties.

Another friend started a Pampered Chef Business. I had broken a P.C. stoneware pan that I needed to replace, so I went. I sat next to a woman from my church. Throughout the demonstration, she kept looking over my shoulder and saying, "Man, you're spending a lotta money!" The Mary Kay rep in college told me I needed to throw away my old skincare line because my pores were too big.... um. yeah. Scrapbook party: I was the only one who showed up. I have no interest in scrap booking, but had to buy, for pity's sake, a $40 scrapbook that still remains empty to this day.

My sister, through with underwear, became a home-party consultant for Water Filtration Systems, Mary Kay, and Algae Pills. Regarding Mary Kay, I already had a pretty good consultant (who never makes me go to parties.) My sister got angry that I never supported her businesses…. I have felt guilty because I refuse to buy stuff from her because she never sticks to it. I have NOT told her that my mother once waited so long for a Mary Kay order that she asked me to order it for her from MY MK Consultant. “Don’t you DARE tell your sister.” I asked, “what if she finally gets around to ordering your stuff?” My mother, ever the diplomat answered, “I’ll just have two then. I’ll use it eventually.”

This is the best one: I ran into an old acquaintance that said, "Hey, Kelly. I just started my own business where I help others start their own home businesses with the potential to make thousands of dollars a month!" I looked at him and said, "Amway, huh?" He looked crestfallen. "Under no circumstances am I interested in selling Amway..." (note: I recommend this pre-emptive strike if you need to end a similar conversation quickly.)

Every time a friend starts a new business, I feel horrible explaining how "I have a strict policy not to host home parties..." I even have a secret policy not to GO to them if they can be avoided. But. My boss' wife is having a home party... I have to go, don't I? I have to buy an eighty-dollar necklace, don’t I?

Why don't men have to endure this stuff? Why aren't there Snap-on Home Parties, or Karate Home parties, or sports memorabilia home parties, or model train home parties, or industrial cleaner home parties... Or fart spray home parties... or recliner home parties... Or something? How is it my gender is the only one subjected to these? Where's the justice in this world?

DISCLAIMER: If you or a loved one is a home-party consultant, please do not be offended. I’m sure that, barring the UnderCover Wear, you all sell quality items. All I’m saying is that the home-party world isn’t for me. It's not personal.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Blog I Like

This was fun to read:

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I Apologize for Being Petty

Ok, kids! Here's the lesson of the week: I've come to realize that when I write or tell someone about something that is outrageously frustrating to me - nine times out of ten, it's going to sound petty and ridiculous. (Let this be a lesson to you!). Then I realized It's not just me. Other people's problems often seem petty too... (just hit the "next blog" button...).

Here's what I mean. This week was frustrating to me - I had some issues with a co-worker. I mean - it was a little issue that blew to astronomical proportions for no reason - and somehow I was firmly embedded in the middle. (I should be used to this by now!). I was embarassed for my co-worker - then I made the fatal error of mentioning it to someone else in my company. In the middle of my rant, I started to feel really sheepish... I got a blank stare. To make a long story short, at the end of the next business day, my co-worker came in, I explained. He explained what happened, we apologized - and it was over.

What an amazing thing an apology is!

A few years ago, I was at a writers' conference on Faith & Writing at my alma mater. I loved it. I was inspiried. I came home and re-read all my notebooks. I though carefully about what was said. I read a lot of Anne Lamott. I listened to so much Bruce Cockburn I could become his archivist.... I became very interested in a group of musicians who did a panel discussion about songwriting. I was elated. The subject matter covered there literally changed my life...

Last week I attended a Buddy Miller concert. (Buddy is Emmylou Harris' guitar player.) Honestly, I didn't know much about Miller's music - I was really there to see the opening band, Ollabelle (wow.). Anyway, Buddy's set blew me away - and I was shocked and pleased to see one of the musicians from the writers' conference on stage, playing the Hammond (And. For the record, there's nothing like a Hammond when it's played right!) I approached him after the concert. He was in a hurry, and brushed me off until I told him I'd heard him at that writers' conference. He stopped. Said he hated how he was treated at that conference, and he'd never go there again. He then thanked me for talking to him - and left.

The next day - I sent him an e-mail via his agent and said, "Hey, sorry the administration didn't treat you how you envisioned, but in an effort to redeem the event, I really learned a lot from you, blah-blah-blah..." He sent me a note back - which sort of surprised me. "Thanks for the note, and thanks for liking my music." I don't know if I was being brushed off or not - but I was so sad about meeting someone - and hearing a complaint I had nothing to do with. The nice thing is I could at least remind him that there's another perspective (I became the blank stare...)

Oh well. I guess he's a musician - and we feel things too deeply at times... Maybe we're all too petty.

So I thought I'd tell y'all how much I apologize about being petty - and I give you permission to ask me (in six months) if I'm still being petty. I hope I learned something.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Everyone Needs an Ode

It's the day after Valentine's - and mine was nice. Dave and I decided - oh, ok - I decided to make it a "card holiday" and forego gifts. Dave HATES cards - because they're someone else's words. I kind of coerced him into getting me one anyway. I argued that it was cheaper than buying me an amp (which, Dave, if you're reading this, I still don't want an amp, although I will accept a small pony!)

I loved my card - even though it was my idea!

So I've received another 'day after valentines' gift' from my friend Lou. He told Audrey and I we needed to send him "Post-Valentine's Day thoughts" so we wrote silly poems. Here's the one I got in return. (so you can catch the references, Lou is an artist) All I can say is, everyone needs an "Ode."

Cause Ms (kelly) is dear and sweet
And an acknowledged treat
Who came to me with revelry and
Caused fun and joy in the environrey
Helped to ease my furrowed brow
When Miss Audreys' flying South
Threatened to stop the flow of prints
So instead,... of one true friend
I now have two for which I send
Undying love and gratitude, a sense
Of what it is to show how fine a friend
One needs to be and write some lines
To Kelly Bee ever so quick and happily


Thursday, February 10, 2005

In Record(ed) Time

Last night, my band recorded our first demo... That is, we actually went to a studio, paid a good sum of gig money, and had a professional engineer record us pickin' and singing...

We did not simply edit a past radio show (although we squeezed a few decent demos out of that, thanks to Phil-the-nutty-guy-on-college-radio, who says, "If you want a local music scene, create one."). We also avoided the test of pure endurance that marked recording with our prior band member... He loved that 60's style echo-chamber singing that makes me ill... With Bob at the helm, we were *sure* to make loads of moolah with our reverb-laden hit album, "Live from the Holland Tunnel..." Yeah.

I'd like to say it was a breezy, care free experience, but I have to be honest. Emotions were running high. I'll just talk about MINE - and leave my bandmates out of it. I went in without thinking much of it. I'd had a marathon six-hour meeting with a client all day, so I was preoccupied. When I sat down, I realized how tight my throat felt. I had battled a cold all week, and was crossing my fingers. Water wasn't even helping. Each time I took a drink, my throat seemed drier.

Dave sang the first song "Sittin On Top of the World..." - so, naturally it was great. Nailed in two takes. The next song was ambitious on several counts (Cheer up, Sleepy Jean...). First, for a song written by a member of one of my LEAST favorite bands (John Stewart of the Kingston Trio), and made really famous by a band called the MONKEES, this is a song laden with pretty intricate chords that come along at times unnatural to my bluegrass experience. G-Am-Bm-C-G-Em-A-D... Think about it. In many of his songs, Even the great Bob Dylan used only three chords...

We blew through 4 takes, and I was choking. (Incidentally, when we convened in the control room, we listened to take 4 of this song first. I thought, "Man, what a creative way to waste a lot of money and embarrass myself in front of a sound designer...")

Ok. From there, we moved on to "Angel From Montgomery." Easy. I think we made it through three takes. It was okay.

What surprised me about the experience was how incredibly tense it made my band. We're the ones who jovially banter with drunks. We rib Fran incessantly about dating. Fran imitates Scott's voice to a "T." Dave quotes "Summer Vacation" so much that I want to surgically remove the words 'prairie doggin' from his vocal cords. I yell "Chick in the Room!" when the conversation is fueled with testosterone. Once, when a particularly drunk male barfly yelled "Hey, are you married?" across the room to me, Dave answered, "No, man. I'm not really into that kind of stuff, but what the hell." This is the kind of group we are.

Not so in the studio.

Dave was unusually quiet. Fran was kind of short (we didn't give him a microphone, like we normally do on local radio shows and at gigs) (Don't look at me that way! He himself said he can't control his vocals....). We were kind of serious. The only person seemingly un-stressed out by the whole experience was Scott. I attribute this to the fact he's works such long, crazy hours that anything not related to his job is a pleasure.

It's not that we didn't have a good time, or joke, or laugh... But we were clearly nervous. I'm just wondering if this experience somehow made us really commit to what we're doing -

Look, the demo isn't going to make us rich - but it should get us gigs.

I'm hoping to use the opportunity to meet and photograph "The Locals..." Like Esteban, One-Eyed Joe, Drunk Dave, Fat Drunk Chick, Riverdance, Chatty Pete, and the rest of the people that amuse us. I want a scrapbook of all of them - And heck, we'll even throw in the studio photos we took.

Looking ahead definitely puts my mind back where we as a band wanna be - back in front of people. We think music should be interactive... But if we have to go back in the studio, that's fine too. When it comes right down to it, who really gets to do this?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Mustang Sally at The Iron Horse

Let me tell you about last week’s gig at the Iron Horse… This bar will both fascinate and repel you at the same time… You’ll get to meet colorful characters like One-Eyed Jack, Esteban, and “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-at-least-if-you’re-Esteban. it’s a howling good time… And One-Eyed Jack is actually a pretty nice guy.

First off, if you’re dense – LIke I am – you'll notice that the place doesn’t have a horse in the signage. Instead, there’s a train.I’m not sure at what point it dawned on me that an Iron horse is a train – and not a metal sculpture of a Mustang… Maybe it was when the bar owner asked me to put a train on our band flyer. (Dave later explained to me that the Indians called trains iron horses) Anyway, the place dates back at least a hundred years. It’s dingy. The FBI could probably ID the “regulars” by the butt-imprints on each of their stools. I’m guessing this is the kind of place where you stake a claim to your barstool and that's that. The nutty thing is how good the food is. I swear - this could be the best burger I’ve had since leaving Grand Rapids (Remember the Cottage Bar? Mmmmmm)

Some friends of mine showed up to hear us. Nancy asked the bartender for a glass of Chardonnay. He merely laughed and poured her bourbon. It’d be like going to a diner and asking the server, “May I have my eggs over easy?” “Nope, but here's some oatmeal…”

The bar was divided into two sections, the bar, and the pool room. The band played in the pool room. Dave was setting up – and I was trying to stay out of his way. Scott and I parked in our places and tuned up. A gentleman I call Esteban came over, sat on the pool table, and began telling me (and Scott - but just because he was RIGHT THERE) about his life as a band roadie, how he wanted to play guitar, so he bought the Esteban Guitar on QVC for something like two-hundred bucks. Cool.

Here’s where the accounts of the story differ. What I thought I heard was “I live right across the street. You wanna see my guitar?” What Scott heard was “I live right across the street. You wanna come over to the house and see my guitar?” I guess it didn’t matter, because at that moment, his wife/chickieboom came over, pointed at the bar and said, “Get over there. Get back there!” He sheepishly followed. Scott looked at me: “That was scary.”

Ten minutes later, Esteban returned with a gig bag. He began to unpack the Esteban Guitar. Chickieboom was not pleased. She scolded, “PUT. IT. AWAY.” He asked if she was kidding. She stormed back into the bar. Esteban looked at me and asked who the main guitar player was. “Fran!” I exclaimed. “Hey Fran, play his guitar!” Fran played his guitar. Chickieboom was now livid, marched to the jukebox and chose a nice, loud number. Esteban took his guitar. “That’s my woman. She’s pissed."

Had I needed the ladies’ room that night, I’d have brought at least three people with me – I may have even taken the whole band. “You could get your ass kicked tonight, Kelly,” warned Scott. I don’t want to sound fatalistic or anything, but Chickieboom was REALLY angry.

The gig went okay – despite all – and our loving couple even danced when we sang “Mustang Sally…” And no one’s ass got kicked at all. In fact, the reg’lars liked us enough to have us back…. So come on and listen. Just wear flannel, don't order wine, enjoy the food, and, in the event I need you, accompany me to the ladies' room.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Twenty Feet of Freedom

Last week, my 4-year old, wheelchair-bound nephew (Jay) got some moves… or more succinctly, an electric wheelchair. This is the first time he’s been able to move on his own volition since he was two years old (before he ailments caught up to him). This was exciting. I’ve been getting reports from my parents and sister that Jay is smiling a lot more, loves to mosey into the kitchen, and run into my father… (he makes a big deal out of being hurt and offended by the whole thing)… It makes Jason laugh, so it’s all good.

Last week, my sister called me. She was distressed. It seems that Jason’s been a little under the weather. For you and I, a little cold isn’t a big deal. When you’re on a ventilator like Jason is, colds are kind of serious. Anyway, Jason asked if he could drive his wheelchair outside and wait for his brother. My sister said, “No, but you may park by the door and watch for him.” Since Jason has always been very easy to contain, I’m sure my sister didn’t think much of this – so she left the room.

Jason, given his first opportunity to disobey his momma, had a choice: freedom or obedience. He chose freedom. He bumped right through the front screen door, and down the ramp, heading to the great (and cold) unknown with determination and just a little bit of “whaddaya think of me now, Mom?!!”

Imagine my sister’s chagrin, when just a moment later, she re-enters the living room. No Jason. The door is wide open. He’s sick. There’s traffic out there – and weirdo’s…

Meanwhile, imagine my nephew’s chagrin, when moments after tasting his first draft of independent thought, finds himself securely lodged in a snowbank, where his wheelchair got stuck. (about 20 feet from the house).

My sister had to call the neighbor to dislodge the chair… and to Jay’s continued chagrin, kept him on the couch for the remainder of the day.

“Don’t worry,” I said to my sister, “One day this will be funny…”