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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No Theft on My Rap Sheet.

This morning, my car remote lock set off the alarm of the Volkswagen Jetta next to me. I ask you - Who installs a car alarm on a Volkswagen Jetta?!! (You need to know I'm not living in Washington, D.C. or LA - or even New York or Philadelphia...)

Overkill? Perhaps.

I felt badly... But I can attest that at least one Jetta did not get stolen today.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Love After Eighty

According to Dave’s father, just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. I’m actually quite impressed at how active this octogenarian is. His brain is sharp – he is constantly explaining the strategy behind baseball to me (he is tireless in his persuit of my baseball knowledge.... even though he knows I'm not a fan). Lately, however, we've been chatting about his love life. Right now, he's got a brand new girlfriend, whom he met at a senior citizen’s dance.

Yes, that’s right. Dave’s dad attends dances twice a week – on Tuesday afternoons and on one other evening. I asked him if there’s a band or a DJ – “Oh, we usually have live bands.” “What kind of dancing?” “Nothing too strenuous. They’d have to call in the paramedics if they had us jumping around too much… We Fox Trot a little. In fact,” he continued, “I’m very popular at the dances. Know why?” I shook my head. “Cause I’m alive!” When women tell Dave's father that her husband died and left her, Dave asked, "Would you rather be him?"

The dances reportedly are made up mostly of women – because women tend to live longer… Dave tells me his father is in great demand. At one gathering, the demand was so great, Dave was asked to fill in. Despite promising one woman he wasn’t much of a dancer, he soon found himself ushered onto the floor, spinning and twirling with the rest of the crowd. The woman asked, “Does your father ever talk about me?” I’m not sure what Dave said, but perhaps his response precipitated her next comment, “You’re right. You’re NOT much of a dancer.”

Senior citizen dances are reportedly just like high school dances. The chickiebooms gather in their little flocks. They avoid women they hate. They watch the men prowl around, group to group, and hope for an invitation to dance. Dave's father grants women dances. He couldn't wait to recover from knee surgery - just to get back out on the floor.

A few weeks ago, Dave’s dad told me about the new woman in his life. His ex-girlfriend recently left him for a man who lives in her building. I think the breakup was hard for Dave’s dad, but he seems to be managing the split. He’s currently seeing another woman, and it’s kind of cute when he talks about her. “I picked one that wasn’t so pretty this time,” he said. “I think she’ll stay with me.”

Today, Dave called to report that things aren’t progressing as quickly as his father would like. “Dave, I can’t get her to kiss me. I whisper sweet nothings in her ear, but she can’t hear that well, so it’s probably no good…”

I believe any octogenarian should know that love takes time. Dave’s dad will simply have to wait. I have no doubt he'll have to approach this with the same patience it takes to explain baseball to me. Besides - he’s still alive, right? And if his calculations are correct, a not-quite-so-pretty old woman isn’t going anywhere.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Relatively Speaking

I've been thinking a lot about human expectation lately. My friend, Alison, has a difficult time relating to her father. Her father was once a close friend of mine; we've since drifted - yet he remains a frequent subject of conversation between Alison and me.

Last week, after a particularly bizarre encounter (in short - the dad charged his daughter for making her dinner. We're flummoxed.) I asked Alison, "If your father's cards are on the table, face up - and we all know what to expect from him... If his behavior has been consistent to a fault - and even predictable - How is it that his behavior continues to shock and disappoint us?

She laughed, but I took action. I wrote a quick e-mail detailing the situation and sent it to another friend. Bill is a professional counselor. He wrote the following reply:

Hey Kelly,

We tend to have expectancies that over-ride or influence our experiences. Really, when we observe someone's behavior for a substantial length of time their will be little change.

Sometimes it good to let your understanding wander out side of the normative "Christian experience" and call a situation exactly as we experience. Remove the human hope. Remove any and all expectancies.

Then we are not really shocked. Nor are we likely to ever engage our hope, or have anything to do with situations that never are good for us.

It's a cognitive map pertaining to the psychology of stuff like this.

Hope that shows something beyond what you already know.

Off this subject... How's life?

God's Grace... Bill

It's just as I feared: Humans are too in love with life (or at least our own version of it - right or wrong) to abandon hope - even when it's for our own good.

In response to his question, "How's life?" I can only offer the following report about my very own sister-in-law, who this time, has gone too darn far.

I have to tell you that I liken my sister-in-law to Jerry Seinfeld - without the sense of humor. She's never really meshed into my family. We have very different approaches to life - and have never really been able to freely communicate with each other.

As it turns out, she's been angry at me for over a year... And it was because of something I hadn't even realized I'd done. To make a long story short, our family attended a reunion in 2004. Certain family members asked if my band could come and entertain. They agreed - so we set up on the deck and played. My nephew (sis-in-law's son) had won an award. He tried to tell me about it while I was playing music. He got discouraged and deflated.

Honestly - if I'd KNOWN I'd hurt him, I'd have rectified the situation immediately... but I hadn't realized it.

My sister-in-law, in an effort to confront the situation, told my sister what had happened. My sister, not wanting to be put in the middle of something that wasn't any of her business, didn't mention this to me....

Last week, in responding to an RSVP for the same nephew's birthday party, I got a rather nasty message from my sister-in-law that I didn't understand. "You can come to the party on one condition: You don't bring your band. (nephew) was upset to hear you were coming because he doesn't want a band at his party."


I firmly believe, that when flummoxed, one should call a neutral source and seek counsel. I called my sister. When I told her the story, she explained the rationale behind the comment. Where I understood, I was really angry that my sis-in-law felt fine telling my sister - but somehow couldn't confront the only person who could possibly make ammends. What's with that?

At this point, I pondered the utility of my communications degree. It seems I've spent tens of thousands of dollars learning how to talk to people. I've come to realize it's not worth a DIME unless other people know what I know.

I went to the party. Neither my sister-in-law nor my brother spoke a word to me (should I have been surprised? Not according to Bill... Yet I was...) I called her later that night. She admitted she was hoping my sister would have told me about the situation. Great, right? She put me on the phone with my nephew. I apologized. I asked to be put back on the phone with his mom, who was clearly trying to get off the phone as quickly as possible. I asked, "So you've been mad at me for two years and didn't tell me?" "No, it's only been one year." (Oh. That makes me feel better...) I told her it was unlikely in the future that I would fabricate apologies on the grounds that I may have offended... so it would be better if she came to me.
She accused me of ignoring her kids. I reminded her that I had no idea I'd done anything wrong. The conversation didn't go very well - but neither of us got into a shouting match about it. I guess that's promising.

A day later, my sister called to see if I was okay. I told her what happened. Again, my expectations exceeded what I know about my sis-in-law. I shouldn't be shocked - but I am... She asked if I was still angry. Yes, I guess so, but I think the better word is stupefied... that someone would bother to expend so much energy being angry and hoping someone else would confront me. I'm stupefied that an adult would allow a rift between family members (although she gladly accepted the gifts I've purchased for her children in the interim). I'm stupefied because Bill is right. I have higher hopes for my sister-in-law than she can possibly deliver.

Blessed are the flexible - for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Monday, August 15, 2005

On Vacation

Sorry for no new posts - spent last week in Virginia on Vacation. I'll tell you all about it soon.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Personality Quilt

On Saturday, I was so proud to deliver quilt fabric to my friend Judy. She’s making a labor-intensive, beautiful quilt. She takes fabric donations from friends, relatives, and quilt well-wishers. I don’t know what the pattern of the final piece is called, but it is mostly muslin with inset circles of material – in patterns from plaid to polka dots to cartoon cats.

It’s fun to donate to this quilt, because if you sit and speak with Judy about it, she can tell you who gave her which bit of fabric, where it came from, and Judy's relationship with the giver. In some cases, the fabric came from grandmother’s blankets, decorated jar lids, or a favorite skirt that never forgave the weight gain. Some bits were found in attics or along the road... Mine came from the retail world.

I purchased four fat quarters. I'd never heard this term before - and it's kind of funny. For those who don't know, a Fat Quarter is an 18” x 22” portion of fabric. When I asked Jude why it was called a fat quarter, she replied, “So they can give it a cool name…”

Incidentally - do four fat quarters makes up an Obese Yard?

Back to the fabric I purchased – As I found each one, I thought, “Oh, Judy will LOVE this!” They were bright, geometric, bold statements - cut in fat quarters. One yellow with orange spirals, one rusty orange with patterns, one green, and the other a bold, multi-colored checkerboard.

When I delivered them, Judy DID like them – so I chose well. She showed me how different variations of the fabric would make interesting additions to the quilt and which patterns would look good next to which bits of the quilt. She seemed excited that I gave her a lot of warm-tones and yellows. “When I look at this thing, I feel like it’s really lacking in yellows…” I was thrilled – I got into the quilt club. I am part of the story.

Then something interesting happened. She showed me the piles, scraps, and fat quarters that other people had donated. Our friend Anne gave her several Victorian-inspired florals, leftover from her Victorian-inspired home decor. Christine donated several in various shades of purple, all reminiscent of the purple she wears every day.

It got me thinking – did Anne and Christine look at their offerings and think, “I’ll bet Judy would LOVE this?” Did they think Judy would love their fabric as much as she loved mine?

That quilt got me thinking. When we give gifts – I think we give from the heart - to the part of the recipient that’s most like us. I gave bold patterns because I recognize the boldness in Judy - and understand it.

I don’t think I’d be caught dead giving fat quarters to Jude's "Victorian floral" part. I just relate to that at all. I can definitely see Christine wearing any of the purple she gave Judy... But would Christine have looked at my orange spiraled cloth and thought, "Judy would LOVE this?" I'm not so sure.

What it comes down to is this: Judy loves all of the fabric (not to mention the fact that people would think enough of her to give her such a personal gift...). She often said, upon receipt of a scrap, "I can use this!" She loves Anne’s floral, Christine’s purples, and my bright geometrics and spirals – because each one expresses a different aspect of Judy’s personality.

Later that afternoon, Judy and I got talking about an upcoming graduate class she’s taking called “The Human Personality.” She asked, “Kelly, what IS personality?” I thought a little before saying, "Personality is one person’s penchant for behaving in certain patterns. Happy people will behave in a happy way. Melancholy people will have a sad disposition..."

Now that I think about it, I could have said that Personality is what makes up our individual quilts - florals, spirals, purple and all.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Dirty Ooh-Foo

Names are everything, right? I’m in a band – I should know. When I joined my band, I became a “Son of the Perkiomen.” Which was fine with me. Being a Son of the Perkiomen was better than being a “son” of any number of things. However, whenever we played a gig, we were consistently hounded by our adoring – and gender specific – fans: “Shouldn’t you call yourselves the Sons-and-daughter Of the Perkiomen?” “Hey! It’s Kelly! The illegitimate Son of the Perkiomen!” “You guys ought to be the
S-U-N-S of the Perkiomen!”

Everyone thinks they’re so freakin’ clever.

We got tired of laughing politely at their fantastically helpful observations, so we changed the band name.

As a band, we're fine with our name. However, one of the things we talk about constantly – especially when someone utters a clever or amusing phrase – is changing to a new name - or taking on a new band identity.... because maybe there's a better, more appropriate name out there... Of course, we can’t do that – because now, people who are looking for KATP's arent' likely to come and see us if we're named the Sump Pumps, Back Woods, or Coin Operated... But it’s been an entertaining exercise. To date (at least until last night), our favorite band alter egos have been Blind Kelly and the Electric Shit Band, Green Sternum, and Uncle Burnout. We think each moniker has a nice ring – especially the Electric Shit Band. However, when we told the owner of one of our gig’s venues about it, he said “I’m not putting that on the sign!!!”

Last night at practice, we came up with another name – a testament to a singer we all admire named Aoife O’Donovan. She sings with a band called Crooked Still – whom we all love. The only problem is her name… Dave and Fran had no idea how to say it. It’s Gaelic, and pronounced EEEE-fah. They, however, prefer to call her Ooh-foo.

Because of her name – and her lovely voice- she’s kind of become a cult figure in our band. I also secretly suspected Frannie might have a little crush on her.

Aoife recently cut a new album (not with Crooked Still, but with two of her other friends). On it is a song that is fairly surprising for an alt-bluegrass musician. In fact, Fran reports that the song was so dirty, that upon first listen, he nearly drove off the road.

And it's now confirmed. Frannie is deeply, madly, and passionately in love with Ooh-foo.

Last night at practice, Fran told us allllll about it – sparing very little detail. “Ooh-Foo’s getting dirty!” Scott looked up – “Hey! That’s a great band name! Dirty Ooh-Foo!”

NOTE: I’m not sure if this is one of those stories I’m going to regret telling. It’s very possible that I’m just embarrassing myself – and this whole Ooh-foo matter isn’t at all funny – and has become a really stupid inside joke – that is only funny to the four of us in the band, who are former members of Blind Kelly and the Electric Shit Band….

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tell Me - Don't Sell Me!

This week I got into a conversation with a friend of mine. He is a professional voice, and does narration and voice-over work for commercials, television, radio, and industrial video…. He’s got golden vocal chords. Where he started the business as a radio disc jockey, he found he enjoys the voice work more…

Anyway, we got into a really funny conversation about how much we *HATE* the “radio voice,” meaning the DJ who could make even Valerie Solonas’ “Scum Manifesto” sound like a sports-commentary-dipped- infomercial:

LIFE! in this society being, at best, an UTTER booooooooore and no aspect of society being AT ALL! relevant to women, there reMAINS to civicmindedresponsiblethrillseekingfemales ONLY to overthrow the GOVERNMENT!, Ahhhhh-liminate the money system, institute COMPLETE AUTOMATION! and des-trrrrrrroy the male sex!!! (But wait! There’s MORE! If you act now, you’ll get your FREE video OR DVD – explaining the LATEST! In arti-FICIAL insemination – with NO obligation to INSEMINATE!)

I feel that most radio personalities are just a little on the egotistical/insecure side... Almost as if their wisdom and talent needs the big sales pitch to really drive their points home – and I beg to differ.

Kudos to Chef Jim Coleman – who uses his regular speaking voice to deliver his well-cooked tales for NPR’s A Chef’s Table, Click and Clack of Car Talk, and Whad’Ya Know’s Michael Feldman for speaking in their normal voices… And of course, to Terry Gross and Fresh Air.

If you still have no idea what I’m talking about – consider the difference between theater acting and film acting. One requires large gesticulations – the other requires subtle facial expression. The radio voices my friend and I despise are like bad “THEEEEATAH ACT-TING!”

As two NPR aficionados, my voice-over friend and I have several hosts to complain about. I’ll leave the websites so you can introduce yourself to the wonderful world of uber-inflection. NOTE: I am not slamming these people’s shows… Just the way they use their voices. Why can't they simply tell me something - and not sell me something?

1) Mike McGrath of You Bet Your Garden: Don’t get me wrong. I live in the same community that J.I. Rodale grew his first organic garden. And where I don’t personally garden per se, I like the IDEA of gardening… (I have a potted rosebush)... And I think Mike McGrath is an amazing gardening expert. In fact, when he’s taking his calls, he’s great – his speaking voice is normal – he’s funny and informative. When he’s doing his show intro, however, he somehow turns into a carnival barker. And Mike? If you read this, know that I am eternally grateful for your advice on getting rid of the ants in my kitchen. All I’m saying is this: Announce like you're talking to your guests! Please!

2) Tavis Smiley – The Tavis Smiley Show: Tavis’ show centers around the African American Community. I’ve learned a lot from him… yet can’t STAND his “radio voice…” What’s amusing is that when he’s interviewing a friend – he sounds just as natural, relaxed, and as Tavis-From-The-Block as can be… Please, Tavis… Use your regular voice and keep it real, my friend!

3) Frank DeFord – Senior Sports Writer for Sports Illustrated; he writes commentaries on Morning Edition: For the first several years of listening to Frank Deford, he sounded like the snotty uncle who bored the entire Thanksgiving table with how much he knows about EVERYTHING… I finally saw him on a documentary, where he was interviewed. He quietly told TV land what he knew - and it was great. His voice was calm, normal, and compelling. After that, I started listening to DeFord's commentaries more carefully. Now that he’s no longer my know-it-all uncle, I find him rather insightful. I’d still rather he tone it down – but I always listen attentively.

That’s enough slamming. Just know that I love these guys – BUT PLEASE, gentlemen! Take an acting class for film and video – take a voiceover class! Calm down-and use your real voice! Your radio personality would be so much greater.

Eddie Munster

A co-worker recently adopted a Boston Bull Terrier named Eddie Munster... She sent me this pic that I thought I'd share with you. How funny.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Alien Dreams

I had this dream last night that was of particular interest to me - because I was stumped... in my dream.

I was in a room with that hazy flourescent green haze - like an old school classroom. I was with a few of my friends (although I can't recall now who was in the room with me.)

Suddenly a good sized group of aliens materialized in the room. They were humanlike in appearance... which likely aleviated some fears we should have been having...

Their spokesperson approached me and asked for two things.... They wanted me to read something to them - they didn't specify - they said it was my choice... and they asked me to feed them.

They posed two interesting questions: What to read to someone with a completely foreign - er, alien - outlook... They had no common point of reference, so I was stumped as to what subject matter they would have a frame of reference to... I walked to a shelf in the room. I picked up a copy of a college-level literature anthology - and started to look for an excerpt from "Conversion of the Jews..." Then I stopped. They would have no concept of religion, Jews, Gentiles, or Hebrew School. I flipped through the rest of the book. The other stories were about war, culture, religion, and a host of other things that I couldn't imagine aliens would have any interest in. In my mind, I settled for the Declaration of Independence.

On to food. I remember panicking. What do aliens eat? I sent a friend out for something... We were suddenly in the hallway of a mall... We pondered cake... I was nervous though - wondering what kinds of tastebuds aliens have...

This sounds so silly - because at this point, I woke up. I think the Declaration of Independence was a good choice - but I'm still wondering if aliens would be interested in cake... Cheescake? Probably.

I have the craziest dreams.