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, November 29, 2005

Give the Gift of Sarcasm

Oh the guys at Despair are so funny! This should take care of most of your holiday gift giving needs! Have fun!


Monday, November 28, 2005

Talking Turkey (or: Why I'm Glad Every Day is Thanksgiving)

In the words of one of my clients, “Thanksgiving is EVERY DAY.” When his wife told him that was corny, he simply told her that’s how he feels. I think he’s right – mostly because it makes this year's Thanksgiving celebration a little less noticeable.

In the grand scheme of things, I had an okay day – It was really important to me this year to spend the day with Dave. I didn’t have much of an agenda. (Yet.) To that end, I kind of forced him into making a decision, and it became a big deal. We actually had a slight series of arguments about it. They went something like this:

Kelly: Can you just tell me what you’re doing for Thanksgiving?
Dave: I have to wait and find out what my Dad’s doing.
Kelly: Can you call him? Would he like to have dinner with my family? Do you think he’d like my Dad? (Followed by a thousand other annoying questions)
Dave: Kelly*I’ll*let*you*know.

Two days later:

Kelly: Did you call your Dad?
Dave: No, but I’ll call him today.

Two days later:

Kelly: Did you call your Daaa…..
Dave: I’ll call him today.
Kelly: What’s the big deal about making plans for Thanksgiving?
Dave: I just have to wait and see what he’s doing.
Kelly: But will you call him?
Dave: I’ll call; I’ll call (mentally, I think Dave hit me on the head at this point)
Kelly (to herself): What are the odds?!

Two days later:

Dave: I called my Dad. He says he wants to go to the Old Country Buffet for Thanksgiving. Do you want to come with us?

Remembering that the primary goal was to have Thanksgiving dinner with Dave, I agreed to go. The little issue surrounding the chosen venue was quite another matter. For those of you who aren’t graced with an Old Country Buffet franchise in your area, allow me to fill you in. It’s a large room with a large buffet full of green jell-o, ham, fruit salad, fish, cole slaw... whatever. The customer base is typically old people and their grandchildren. Peppered among the crowd, you might find a few teenagers, who reportedly go there when they get the stoned munchies. You Pay One Price when you enter the room, then help yourself to the buffet items – whenever you want, as much as you want, for as long as you want.

It’s not great food – there’s just a lot of it, and seniors, either high school or elder statesmen, seem to gravitate there.

I have memories of several ideal Thanksgivings. When I was young, we’d pile into my family’s purple Scout Jeep and drive over the river (The Delaware) and through the woods (Delaware Water Gap) to Grandmother’s House in New Jersey. Something about a long table in the living room filled with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents was more fun than anything I could imagine. More recently, I loved the Turkey Days spent in New York City with friends, freezing at the Parade, and then eating at Fresco. The night before, we ordered drinks according to their color, and met several New York Bartenders - all of whom were from other countries. We had fun at the parade, where I photographed and met members of the NYPD (who were all from New York), and ate until our stomachs begged for mercy.

Another memorable Thanksgiving worth mentioning was the year following, when I stayed home and invited a few single friends over for dinner. It was providential because my landlord left a candle burning in his downstairs office the night before (he lived off-site, but his office was in the building). When the smoke detector went off, we were very grateful we were there to extinguish the fire and save an old building… We sacrificed an old chair, but we thought we were very fortunate.

What was interesting about that day was my call to 911. I figured it was an old house, so even though the fire was out, I asked if someone might come over and check for residual sparks (I don’t know… made sense at the time) – Over two dozen bored volunteer firemen from three counties showed up – just in time for turkey. It was a real crowd. Also interesting: My landlord was so embarrassed by the entire incident that it took him weeks to say thanks for putting the fire out.

Gracious eh?

Back to the Chain Gang at the Old Country Buffet. Remember, the goal was to spend time with Dave. However, the OCB was not my idea of a nice Thanksgiving. As long as turkey is turkey, I figured I could be a good sport.

The problem was – the turkey was not turkey. It was lunchmeat. It was processed turkey-paste molded into a turkey breast shape and sliced on a carving board by friendly Old Country Buffet servers channeling Oscar Mayer.

Do you pity me yet? Honestly, it wasn’t what I had hoped for, but it wasn’t all that bad (outside the turkey). I enjoyed the company, thought about how much fun it would be to cook Thanksgiving dinner next year, and settled down to the truly important Thanksgiving activities – namely, watching football.

My client was right – I have a lot to be thankful for… And wherever I end up, and whichever chain I end up eating at, I’m guess I'm grateful... (I'm grateful also, to Pam, who fed me leftover turkey on Friday... Thanks, baby!)


Monday, November 21, 2005

Harry, the Potty, and the Triwizard Tournament

On Sunday afternoon, I went to see the Harry Potter And the Goblet of Fire - It was very likely that no one would want to go with me, so I took myself. I went to my favorite old theater - where the popcorn is good, the sound isn't too loud, and to date, they don't run 45 minutes of commercials before the previews (I HATE chain theaters!)

Before I bought my ticket, I stopped in the little shop next to the theater. I found a beautiful silver bracelet for Dave's daughter. It was very pretty - a heart with a bunch of chains holding it together - with a Tiffany's style toggle closure - you know - the circle and toggle-bar thingie.

I didn't want the chains to get tangled up, so I toggled it onto my wrist as I left the store.

Before the movie, I stopped in the ladies' room. After doing the designated bathroom task, I flushed, and picked up my bags.

The toggle of the bracelet suddenly un-toggled and as if by magic, flew right into the toilet. Splash! I had no choice but to fish it out (thankfully - the bowl was flushed - but the idea of sticking my hand into a public toilet really grossed me out). I washed the bracelet and my hands thoroughly. In fact, I washed twice.

When sufficiently sanitized, I put the bracelet back on my wrist and sat down to watch the movie. Somewhere between the first and second tasks of the Triwizard Tournament, I heard a jingly sound. It took just a few moments to realize what had hit the ground.

The bracelet had fallen off again. I picked it up. As Harry outsmarted mermaids and rescued Ron from the depths of the Black Lake, I examined the toggle. Sure enough, the rod thingie wasn't long enough to really lock into the circle clasp. That's why the bracelet fell off in the toilet - and that's why I almost lost it in the movie theater.

While the on-screen Tournament continued, I pondered my own strategy. Do I keep a bracelet that had fallen into the toilet or return it? One, I couldn't give a gift that'd been in the toilet... If I didn't return it, I'd have to keep it. Two, I hated that I'd just spent money on jewelry that didn't work. Yes, I could probably fix it - but come on. It'd been in the toilet!

After the movie, I returned to the store. Skipping the part about the toilet, I said I'd owned their bracelet for two hours and it fell off twice. I asked for my money back. They said I could only have store credit.

"Wait - I can't get my money back after two hours?"

"It's store policy." They said.

Convinced that I deserved my money back because I dove into my own proverbial Black Lake to retrieve their crappy bracelet, I made my decision.

I took the store credit and left. Do you think that's horrible?


Friday, November 18, 2005

Like Water For Soda

I know this guy, who, whenever we go to a certain restaurant to eat, orders water. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with ordering water. In fact, I often order water in restaurants. Before I get too heavy into this story, I have to give you some background on the guy and the restaurant.

The Guy: Born and bred to be a Prep School Advocate. He’s proper. He opens car doors. He says things like “All rightie!” and “Dance with the Girl that Brung Ya….” He has old school charm. He gets his shirts professionally cleaned and pressed. He never wears jeans. He is on the board of at least three community organizations & civic groups. He is an active member of his church. He gets involved in local politics…He makes a very good living.

The Restaurant: It’s a chain. It’s one of those places where you order your food, they call your name when it’s ready, and give you an empty cup. You then, fill it yourself at the soda fountain at the end of the counter. If you order water, you get a clear plastic cup. If you order soft drinks, you get a thermal Styrofoam cup.

Every time I’ve been to this particular restaurant with Prep School, he orders water. He gets a little clear plastic courtesy cup. He then proceeds to fill it with Sprite. (AND lemon! Can you believe it?) I think he believes that clear Sprite looks like clear water… Think about THAT for a minute. It's so obvious. For comparison, I like to put my still/flat water RIGHT next to his bubbly Sprite...

I discussed this with Audrey last night. I am pondering mentioning that I think this is positively the cheapest feat of cheapness I’ve ever seen. It’s not as if a) the soft drink costs any more than it does anywhere else, and b) Prep School doesn’t make enough money to pay the $1.25 – or whatever it is.

She said something very interestingly wise: “Maybe you should ask him if all his integrity costs is $1.25.”

I haven’t asked because I’m afraid of the response… I’m not sure I want to embarrass him – because doing so seems even cheaper than the $1.25 of pilfered soda.

Like water for soda, I question the audacity it takes to be so openly cheap. I’m wondering if anyone else has seen any extremely cheap things happening by extremely unexpected people. If so, please dish. I need to feel better about this!


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cough Syrup and Bad Marketing

My office manager just purchased a Glade Plug In entitled “Hawaiian Breeze…” Unfortunately, now my entire office smells like Cherry Robitussin… Seriously, it’s nearly overwhelming.

What happened to Lotus blooms and Pineapples, Glade? Get it together!


Monday, November 14, 2005

The Sacred Girl Book

Audrey sent me an article from the October 30th NY Times. Columnist Maureen Dowd, getting in touch with her inner Bradshaw, wrote an article entitled What's a Modern Girl To Do? In it, she dishes on the truth about men and women. "Little did I realize that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century."

She goes on to explain what took Sex & The City six years to uncover: that even though women can have it all – there is a certain percentage of men out there who aren’t going to like it – and might pass over “the smart ones” – executives, lawyers, doctors, (gasp!) video producers – for the ‘more genteel’ and womanly careers of stewardess and secretary.

She outlines the schemes women must engage in on the hunt for the perfect man, all the while showing off our independence and our sexuality. Some of them include staying busy and important… landing the cover of Maxim… or pretending we can’t be bothered. One of Dowd’s revelations made me quite angry – not because it wasn’t true… I think she simply let the cat out of the bag:

She divulged one of the secrets of the sacred Girl Book. And I think she needs to know I find her guilty of high female treason.

She writes: "Throughout the long, dark ages of undisputed patriarchy, women connived to trade beauty and sex for affluence and status. In the first flush of feminism, women offered to pay half the check with “woman money” as a way to show these crass calculations – that a woman’s worth in society was determined by her looks, that she was an ornament up for sale to the highest bidder – no longer applied…

...After Googling and Bikramming to get ready for a first dinner date, a modern girl will end the evening with an Offering, an insincere bid to help pay the check. “They make like they are heading into their bag after a meal, but it is a dodge,” Marc Santora, a 30-year-old Metro reporter for the Times, says, 'They know you will stop them before a credit card can be drawn. If you don’t, they hold it against you.'"

First of all, shame on Ms. Dowd for quoting a male reporter in a lame effort to legitimize her treachery!

Secondly, how dare she rat me out! I’ve been using that particular trick for years. I always offer to help with the bill, but rarely have to - and should only have to if I did the asking. If you are a man, and you are reading this, then Yes! I’ve done this to you – but it’s a secret. It’s page two of the Girl Book, and it’s sacred.

Look. What she said is absolutely true. I’m not arguing. The times when I got stuck and the man across the table actually looked at the bill and said, “Oh, um… Your half is $47.65 plus tip…” I was pissed.

The only thing men need to know is this: If you (the guy) ask a woman out to dinner – even if you’re just friends, then you (the guy) pay. I repeat: if you ask, you pay. Simple. Don’t look for our tricks. Don’t think we’re cheap. We’ve learned certain reliable measures in our searches for the perfect man, and this is one of them.

That’s the hidden truth behind Ms. Dowd's traitorous revelation…

As a footnote, we ladies certainly have logical reasons for making The Offering - but telling you that information would break the Girl Book Vow of Mystery and Perogative. Don't even bother trying to worm this information out of me. My lips are sealed.

If you really wanna know, maybe a certain NY Times columnist will fill you in.

And Guys? If you ever meet Maureen Dowd, go ahead - Ask her out – but know that she’s the Desperate Housewife character we may love to watch, but shouldn’t trust. Let me put it to you this way: If she can divulge secrets from the sacred Girl Book – what won’t she mind divulging about YOU?


A Sockaholic's Minimalist Saturday

I only had one plan this weekend. I had to be in my office for just a few hours... After that, I was as free as a non-avian-flu-possessed bird.

Once in awhile – it’s good to have no plans (I haven't done this in ages)...

I worked on Saturday for a couple of hours – just to get something off my plate that had been on my plate for a long long time… So long, in fact, that I was beginning to feel like that little kid who’s mom wouldn’t give him anything else to eat until he finished what was on his plate… Months later, the when the mother was receiving impassioned cell phone messages from her child’s guidance counselor regarding the possible anorexia issue the school suspected, and the old food on the plate had transformed into the child’s winning science project, the mom wondered if the blue ribbon was worth it. However, getting MY project out the door was a victory even sweeter – because my client knew I was finishing on a Saturday and felt a little bad about it.

I am a hero!

Then I went sock shopping. Don’t laugh. I had – until Saturday – a drawer full of single unmatched trouser socks. That morning, upon digging for two unmatched black socks that I could wear with boots, I snapped. So I threw them all out, went to Kohls, and found a sock sale. (Can you hear the harps playing and the angels singing?) It's so nice to have matched socks on... Who’dve thought sock shopping could be so satisfying?

On Saturday night, I went to my sister’s house to paint little wooden ornaments with my nephews. I don’t get along particularly well with the 9-year old – but I’ve been making a concerted effort to find something we have in common and try to be together doing things we both like. He gets himself into so much trouble, we all feel like he needs some positive attention. I was excited to learn that Taylor liked to paint (hey! Me too!). My sister asked us to paint these three little wooden embellishments to hang in her bathroom – a lighthouse, an anchor and a sailboat. She said she didn’t care what color we made them – just as long as they had blue in them.

I painted the lighthouse. Jason, five, wanted the sailboat. Taylor simply HAD to paint the anchor. One thing about Taylor – he’s the most linear thinker I’ve ever known. The child has no abstract thought capabilities. For example, when he was learning to ride his bicycle, someone asked, “Wow! Are you going to ride with your brother now?” He answered, “No. There’s only one seat.” Duh! He spent a lot of time pondering how both the building and the actual room you sat in to watch a move could be called a theater…. I considered telling him to think of the building as the Cineplex and the room as the actual projection room, but I refrained.

Taylor picked up the anchor and said, “This needs to be painted rust. Anchors have rust. He then amazed me by mixing brown and red together to make rust. “This is a very rich color,” he commented. I asked how he knew that was a rich color. He told me it was just rich – because it was deep and brown. I must say I’m impressed. I told him it was a very mature thing for him to say... Then, remembering what my sister wanted, I asked him to use a little blue. He did – as little as he possibly could – in the middle of the anchor. I held it up for my sister to see. I just shrugged.

Jason, on the other hand, was getting bored. He dabbed green, blue and purple on the buttons of his snowman ornament… He then moved to the sailboat, where he painted a bit of the sail. He dipped his finger in red paint. He looked at me and slowly moved his hand towards his nose. He may have been silently asking permission to paint his nose because, minutes earlier, I had changed seats with Taylor. He was more interested in painting Jason than his rusty anchor… (My job as aunt is to prevent chaos.)

“Go ahead,” I told Jason. He proceeded to smear paint on his nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin. “You look like a warrior.” (a warrior who’d just been shot, I silently added) He just smiled (I’m waiting for my sister to e-mail the photo – stand by. It’s worth seeing.)

I hadn’t had an easy day like this in months. I didn’t butt heads with Taylor – and we had a pretty good time. I think I’ll plan on not making any plans more often.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Ms. Kell's Ticket to Ride (or "How Allentown Got a New Mayor")

I thought perhaps I should mention the results of election day. The candidate I’ve been photographing and singing for (and doing some campaign designs for as well) won – by an unbelievable margin. He pulled in nearly 60% of the vote, and won each and every neighborhood in Allentown.

Here’s one of the campaign signs I helped design. The opponent was once mayor of Allentown. I don’t think he had plans to ever run for mayor again, but the Republican party had a hard time finding qualified candidates (it’s a problem Allentown has… They’ve had a very interesting string of mayors who have ruined the city’s bond rating, mismanaged funds, and left a very destabilized police force…) – so they called the old mayor. He’s not a very friendly guy…. I don’t mean to malign – but he used to address memos to city council “Dear Boneheads…” (and that’s MISTER mayor to you!)

And, since Trixie wanted to know… my band DID sing God Bless America – and we sang it fast – and because so many people sang with us, we figured it’d be a good idea to sing it twice!

Enjoy the campaign mailer. It was fun to make.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Scott Likes It

When I talk about my band – I know I usually dish on Fran. This time, I’m telling you about Scott and Dave.

Scott is the band’s youngest member. He’s 26 or something. He and Dave have formed their own mutual admiration society. They get along very well – at times, too well…

Scott plays bass, for example. He owns a classic EBO – which a friend once destroyed by slamming the hood of his trunk right on the gig bag. Scott loved the bass enough, however, to hang on to for years and years. “I can fix it,” Dave offered. Scott had nothing to lose, so he handed the bass to Dave. As the weeks went by, the band would occasionally receive an update on the health of the EBO – until one day, it was returned to Scott.

Now, Scott plays his old bass all the time… He loves Dave for fixing it. Dave loves Scott because Scott likes everything Dave likes… and supports Dave in nearly every new bass Dave would like to purchase.

Last year, Dave bought the world’s ugliest 80’s metal-dork bass. (I wish I had a photo of it…) He showed it to me. “You’ve gotta be kidding, I said.”

“Well,” Dave replied, “Scott likes it.”

It began. Everything I hated was fine with Dave because Scott likes it… “You’re not wearing that shirt, are you?” “Well, Scott likes it…” I’d been telling Dave for awhile not to wear certain socks with certain shorts and certain shoes. It wasn’t until Scott laughed at him that he wore only sandals with shorts. I couldn’t figure out if Dave was doing this to anger me or – if he really valued Scott’s opinion over mine… but every time a band disagreement over a song, a bass, or something came up, if I was the dissenter, I’d lose, because…

Scott likes it…


The other night, after finishing a lot of freelance work and a huge project, I thought I deserved a present. I bought myself the Sex & The City box set. I love that show!

On the way out of Best Buy, I got a call from this man who's organizing the party my band is playing for tonight. It's a political rally. He asked if my roots band could play "God Bless America." I said I'd call the band and ask them if we could quickly work up a version of the song that wasn't too embarassing. I called Scott first.

After talking about the song, I mentioned the purchase. “You know,” Scott said, “My wife loves that show – and I might be the only man to admit it, but it’s really well written and I love it.” I understand this.

I’d only started watching S&TC when they aired it on TBS – I don’t subscribe to HBO… so I turned into an overnight fan. I would sometimes make Dave watch it. In the beginning, he hated it… But soon, I would hear comments like, “You know, the readhead’s the prettiest…” or “I like the brunette. She’s funny…”

I knew he was hooked. Yesterday, I played the Season Two DVD. Dave sat down and watched for a long time… I made a comment to him. “Shhh!” he said. “The show is on!”
I smiled and sang a little song, “You like it, you like it… Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

"Shut up." Dave said. "You like this show, you like this show!" I crooned. Dave blushed. “Don’t tell the guys, ok?”

And then, I got to say the phrase I’d been dying to say for a long time.

Scott likes it!


Thursday, November 03, 2005


When I moved to this area (my stars! It's been a long time!) over 11 years ago, I rented the basement of an older couple, Bryan and Ardella. They were nice people. Ardella used to listen to radio shows in Old Pennsylvania Dutch. Bryan was a WWII veteran-turned-draftsman.

Last weekend, I ran into them at a diner. We sat and chatted about their family, my family, news, and events... Then Ardella turned to me and said, "Did you hear? Bryan has Cancer." Without a proper segueway, I was stunned, so I said something completely ridiculous like "Bryan, I TOLD you to stop smoking!" (Bryan didn't drink, didn't smoke... ever, as far as I knew) He laughed. I told him to take care of himself.

I just got a call. Bryan died on Sunday. He and Ardella had been married for almost seventy years.

I'm telling you this - because I can't tell you how grateful I am that I got to see him - and we got to talk before he died. It's kind of odd, actually. The odds of us being at the same diner at the same time and all...

Life is short, mon amis. Laugh while you can.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Only Really Pertinent Reason I'd Like to Be Rich (Or: When I Can Afford A Domestic)

I'm sick today - just the garden variety cold... I knew it was coming. The worst thing about being sick, at least for me, is regardless of how I feel, life moves on. I had to go into my office today, for example... I'm working on some things that had to be done today. My boss says I'm so tough. Whatever. I'm just afraid of consequences of not getting things done.

Being ill, however, affords me a ruthless efficiency, which means that even though I'm not feeling good, I got a lot done.

Now. The other thing that always happens: I get sick because I do too many things. I can pack a day like nobody's business... So every few months, nature strikes me with a cold, or an earache, or a sinus infection, or tension headaches so I am forced to slow down. The trouble is, life doesn't.

I still have Mt. Kell's worth of laundry, for example. Dirty dishes are still in the sink - and the car payment still has to be made. I tried to give myself the only concession I could: I dropped off my laundry to be done by some laundry place in town. It's expensive, but the key is: I don't have to do it.

I'd like to be rich - not for the fame and glory of it, but for the sole reason I hate doing laundry. I need a laundry domestic. When I'm not in need of washing, I'd like my laundry domestic to be my cleaning domestic... And then when the house is clean and the laundry hung, I'd like that person to be my auto mechanic domestic, my makeup artist domestic, my chef domestic, and my personal shopper domestic.

Is that too much to ask?