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.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Amateur Night

NOTE: Nothing too exciting has been happening lately, so I thought I'd tell you guys one of my favorite New Year's Stories. It's a classic - both sad, happy, and ironic -all at the same time.

For the entire year of 1999, a former co-worker of mine (we’ll call him “Thomas”) was worried that the world was going to end, due to The Y2K threat. For months leading up to the event, he envisioned, prophesied, and fell in line with all the entrepreneurial opportunists who predicted computers crashing in a conspiratorial display of fireworks previously unseen in today’s world. He was worried that cars wouldn’t run, banks would lose track of who owned what money, stocks would plummet, power grids would fail, and looters would ransack life as we know it.

Watching Tom was like having the golden ticket to the best show it town - and even though what happened through the final months of 1999 was painful to watch, I simply could not look away.

Tom spared no expense in his Y2K preparations. He filled his garage with so much dried camping food he had to keep his car outside. He buried coal in his back yard. He bought a generator, stockpiled water, fuel, and freon. He obtained a gun permit and brought his kids to the rifle range. He taught them to shoot. He scoured the internet for hours, looking for new proof of the world’s demise. He talked his father into buying supplies. If I’m not mistaken, he may have even closed his bank accounts… He preached the gospel of Y2K to anyone who happened to pass by his desk.

On the Eve of Reckoning, he sequestered his family at home. He secured the perimeter… And then, he waited.

Midnight steeped around the world without a blipped screen or an intergalactic wrinkle in the space/time continuum. In New York, Dick Clark harkened the New Year. The ball fell. The engineers of the Y2K Hoax counted their money and bought tech stocks. For the rest of us, it was business as usual.

The only real dim moment of the New Year came when my co-workers and I had to return to work. No one dared walk near Tom’s desk. We sat at our desks, read reports, checked our mail, and did whatever we could to look as busy as possible. Tom eventually approached my desk:

Tom: Happy New Year, Kelly!
Kelly: Happy New Year, Tom.

(outrageously long pause)

Tom: Well, I’m glad nothing happened, but if it did, I was ready!
Kelly: Yeah. If it did, I was going to come to your house.

That’s it. Tom’s entire nose-dive into the embarassing Y2K Conspiracy, the thousands of dollars embarassingly spent on unnecessary survival equipment, the uncomfortable afternoon we spent when Tom brought his embarassing firearm into the office and asked me to be a character reference – shrunk to a “Preparedness” scout badge. “I was ready,” he said.

We never spoke of the event again, although I noticed that Tom soon bought a camper and began taking his family on weekend campouts…

Lemon, thy name is lemonade!

This year, Dave and I are having a low-key night. We’re going to a restaurant to hear some musicians we like, and be with people we like. Like me, Dave is not a big fan of NYE. He calls it Amateur Night, so we don’t feel obligated to do much of anything…

On New Year’s Day, the band is playing a hangover party at some Elks Club. They liked us so much last year, they’re having us back. They feed us. We watch them slip out of their hangovers – and perhaps slip back into them… We tell them funny stories. They tell us what period in their life Neil Young’s Old Man brings to mind. They sing Rider Blues with us. It's a nice gig.

Maybe someday, another great New Year’s hoax will come our way – The “Pros,” (like Dave and me) can watch the action ringside. I’ll even buy a ticket for Tom… And the New Amateurs – whether they be marketing victims or simple drunks – can entertain us in whatever way they see fit.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Date Night

Last night, my friend Naomi and I held a "get to know you" dinner for our single friends Don and Anne. You may remember me discussing my reticence about this, but we did it anyway.

To report, the evening seemed to go fine - everyone got along, the food was excellent...

I was to bring dessert... Since Naomi and her husband like poker, I thought it would be funny to make cookie poker chips... I was kind of in a rush, so my poker chips weren't very uniform. I was trying hard not to have to roll out dough and do cut outs... I hate cutouts. I thought I'd be clever and make dough-logs and slice my way into cookie poker chip heaven... But the slices weren't even. The truth of the matter is - I'm pretty crappy with knives. I am fairly certain that I couldn't cut an attractive looking carrot stick with a table saw... So the poker chip cookies looked kind of... non circular... All because of my laziness and unwillingness to sit in my kitchen for an entire evening.

I went to my favorite bakery and got a pumpkin roll instead.

Anne, on the other hand, made appetizers that could have been featured in Martha Stewart Living. Anne rocks.

By the time Don arrived, we were all happy to sit down and eat. (We ordered Chinese. It's like an instant dinner party - I heartily recommend it) We discussed The Patriot Act - and how it's funny that after September 11th, the main thing the Federal Government did was to federalize the airport baggage handling - Na's husband noted that the problems we had with homeland security were largely the I.N.S. - and letting people into the country that shouldn't be here... about letting the wrong people remain in the country without proper Visa's (note: issuing a visa to a known dead terrorist) - and not the baggage handlers. Not to get off on a tangent.

When we were through discussing politics, we talked about our holiday plans - how Naomi and her husband bought gifts for orphaned kids at a local shelter... About celebrating with multiple friends - about Chaunukah and Christmas... Then, we were forced to play poker.

David hates cards. He was trying very hard to put a positive spin on poker, but deep down, he hates it - and as hard as I tried to get out of it, we were swept into the library to play poker with non-edible poker chips. Dave bet himself out of the game early.... And when I tried to do the same, I'd win the hand. I had an Ace and a Three. I watched the hand through the river and had nothing... Na's husband (BTW, his name is also David, so to avoid confusion, I'm not using his name... I'm not being secretive!) kept betting high. I knew he was bluffing. My pride would not let me out of this... Sure enough, he had a Queen and a three... So I took the pot, and the game was prolonged...

Dave persevered. Next time, though, he probably won't go over there, unless we're eating, playing music, and watching "So I Married An Ax Murderer," which is one of the funniest things on celluloid.

Anne invited Dave, Don and me to her house next Thursday. Will it be a budding romance - or a royal flush? Place your bets, and stay tuned.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Better than Netflix!

I was just complaining about my fabulous Tommy Hilfiger purse the other day. The top strap isn't long enough - I can never find anything in it... I hate it. I then found a new service called Bag, Borrow & Steal... I can now RENT handbags until I find the perfect bag... Then I can either purchase it, or head to TJ MaXX to find something like it. What won't people think of?!!!


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Moments

I said a quick prayer yesterday, "Lord, I need just a little good news... Just a little! Please?"

I'm sick with this sinus infection that I thought was a virus, so I didn't bother going to the doctor's till yesterday. (Ah, antibiotics!)That left me at home all day yesterday, sleeping and wrapping Christmas presents. Because I love giving gifts, I've been kind of excited about one present - My sisters and I all chipped in to get my father a dobro (If you don't know what it is, it's a steel lap guitar. You've heard them played in country music. in addition, it's that watery-guitar sounds you hear on SpongeBob Squarepants - whaa, whaa whaa wa-wa, Whaaa, Whaaaaaaaaaa) Dave and I have plans to sneak it into my parents' house in broad daylight - masked by our other instruments. Dad will never catch on. If he asks, I'll say, "It's the Gibson... or the Ovation... Or maybe I'll make up a name... "It's the Newberg." (as far as I know, there's no musical instrument manufacturer called Newberg...) We'll stash the instruments upstairs and put a bow on the case... Then surprise!

When I called my mom to make the plan, however, she was extremely down about the whole Christmas thing... (partially due to her fabulous boss knocking her hours down to something less than she wants to work). She also reported that her uncle is feeling badly.

Now, I'm feeling horrible too. Really horrible. "Your boss is a jerk, Mom, to do this to you before Christmas... I need some good news..."

I hung up the phone and whispered the aforementioned prayer.

At 9pm, the phone rang. It was one of Jason's summer Vent Camp counselors. She was very excited. "Kelly, can you meet me on Thursday?" What Carol had done melted all the nasty parallels I'd been drawing between my mother's boss and Ebenezer Scrooge. "I've arranged a fundraiser for your sister... I'm sure there are some things she needs..."

Without any of my family knowing, she'd organized a bake sale. She called all of Jason's Pediatric ICU nurses, respiratory therapists, and miscellaneous "fans," to bake and donate for a raffle. Today, she'll be selling cookies and raffle tickets at the hospital - all for my sister.

I couldn't thank her enough - but decided I could donate to the raffle (which means I'm photographing a family portrait). Merry Christmas to Carol!

I've just decided this year - to really pay attention to "Christmas Moments," because I think we need them. I have one more to report:

On Monday, my band was at my house practicing. I was surprised to hear someone at the door at 9:30 pm. It was the UPS Holiday Late Night Delivery Man. I immediately asked him if he needed coffee (poor guy). He declined, but asked to listen to us play a song. I invited him in, and we gave him our best bluegrassy "Love Please Come Home" (which the band affectionately refers to as "Love Disease") - and then he told us about all the Bob Dylan performances he'd atteneded, and the badly planned Rolling Stones concert he'd seen in Hershey, PA...

Then wished us a Merry Merry and went on his way. Dave looked at the door and said, "Now, there's a real Christmas Moment..."

Yeah. I needed that too.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Every Little Thing's Going to Be Just Fine

... As long as I get one of these for Christmas.


Friday, December 16, 2005

For Your Diversion

...May I suggest this fabulous waste of time?


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Reason 756

I should tell you this story. Usually, unless there's a reason, I don't really change people's names in my blog - but I will explain why - in the blog following, I call a friend of mine Reason 756.

A few years ago, R756, Pam and I were sitting in a restaurant together. R756, trying to be funny, picked up a coffee creamer, and pinky pointing out, drank it.

I looked at him and said something like, "Honey, That's Reason Number Seven Hundred Fifty Six that you can't get a date..."

Now, whenever he does something silly, or otherwise outrageous, Pam and I just hollar out a number. If it's a REALLY stupid thing, we cite a really LOW number.



This is a well-meant post about mourning, and what happened to me in the days surrounding Jay's funeral. It's been several years since my grandmother died, and I've since forgotten what to expect in the aftermath... In short, I've been a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. What follows is a detailed explanation of what happened and how I felt about it. It's not meant to offend, but it has severely changed my perspective on how to (and how maybe not to) offer condolences to the grieving.

When calling a few people to tell them the news, I got a lot of offers for help, a lot of advice I wasn't in the mood to hear, and a lot of well-wishing. I appreciated all of it because I knew the hearts of those I was speaking to. First, I'll tell you the craziest thing:

I don't know what came over me, but I went to work on Monday... I thought maybe keeping busy would be a good thing. I was wrong. I wasn't ready... Especially for this: my receptionist came into my office and asked if I'd report any possible communications from the grave: lights blinking at home, any power failures, or extra televsion static, whatever. "I have to know. Look for them!" she requested. (She follows the teachings of a popular psychic)

I just said "Ok."

One phone call caught me completely off guard (and forgive me, Reason 756 for telling this story - just know that I love you and will keep your identity a secret). We'd been discussing the details of Jason's death for quite a few minutes when he asked, "How's his kid doing?" Um What? Kids? What kids? Jason was 5. It turns out, my dear friend '756 thought someone else had died... It took me a minute to regroup and say, "No, Jason... my nephew..." I felt horrible to have unwittingly been a part of that misunderstanding...

Next came the question of "Is there anything I can do?" Honestly - there wasn't - and isn't much... but I felt bad that I couldn't give people anything helpful to do. After a bit, I finally thought of something. I asked them to pray that my ridiculous brother-in-law (who'd spent much of the last several years in a very demented drunken stupor) wouldn't create a scene at the services. Thankfully, my r-b-i-l had recently been in the hospital. He dried out, was sober (and on the right kinds of meds), and during the funeral, behaved with the most clarity I've seen from him in a long time. It is my personal belief that the doctors knocked some sense into him regarding his addictions - and the prayers kept him from relapsing. (Until you've watched this kind of thing take place, it's hard to understand the miracle we're talking about here...)

I also found myself in the odd position of comforting friends who called and sobbing, said, "I just heard! I'm so sorry...." I'm not sure what that's all about, but that's what happened.

Then the sympathy cards rolled in. Don't take this the wrong way. I really appreciate those who sent them, but I will admit, I barely glazed over what they wrote - and didn't bother reading the Hallmark sentiments... I promise, I will. I'm just not ready right now.

The thing I really appreciate about cards, however, is that they eliminate my need to accept condolences in person. This, in turn, eliminates the possibility that I will turn into a blithering mourner in public. It's just that I don't want to break down in front just anyone. I'm a private kind of break-down girl...

In fact, on Monday, when I should have been home... my boss came into my office with a rather intense "I'm so sorry" look on her face. In self-defense, I held up my hands and said, "Don't get nutty and don't touch me!" Of course, then I broke down and sobbed. I motioned for her to shut the door... When I got a hold of myself, I asked to be excused from the Monday staff meeting... I then quickly wrote an e-mail to my co-workers that I need a little space... Of course, one by one, they all came in to hug me... I hate telling people "Don't touch me," but it's by far better than letting them watch me break down. "It's not pretty," I explained over and over and over.

What followed was a long list of phone calls - letting me know either that they were coming to the funeral or not coming, where they could send donations (Incidentally, Vent Camp, Where Jason enjoyed two summer weeks of fun with other kids on ventilators), and again, if there is anything they can do.

I am frustrated to say there isn't anything that can be done. I don't need much (but I let Reason 756 bring me cake - because I like his company, and it was a really great cake...).

It's just an overwhelming, surreal series of events... I will leave you with a story that I haven't yet told my receptionist, and probably won't.

Recently, my sister, Jill, hung a birdfeeder outside Jason's bedroom window. Jason loved watching the birds - and was learning to identify the Chickadees, the Junkos, and the Jays. Sometime in the past couple of days, she mentioned that Jason, despite the cold weather, often made Jill open the window "because he wanted the birds to come into his room and see him."

In the hours following his funeral service, my other sister, Gwen, went home. Her heat was on the blink, and her place was as hot as blazes. She opened a window. A bird flew in the house. I couldn't tell you the last time I've seen a bird at night.

This morning, as I left my house, a chickadee sat on the fence just outside my front door.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

The Spirit Gets So Big - When the Body Gets So Small

My 5-year old nephew, Jason, died in his sleep on Friday night. He finished his battle with a rare disease called cytochrome c-oxidase deficiency disorder. I'll give you the definition:

Cytochrome C Oxidase Deficiency is a very rare inherited metabolic disorder characterized by deficiency of the enzyme cytochrome C oxidase (COX), or Complex IV, an essential enzyme that is active in the subcellular structures that help to regulate energy production (mitochondria). Deficiency of COX may be limited (localized) to the tissues of the skeletal muscles or may affect several tissues, such as the heart, kidney, liver, brain, and/or connective tissue (fibroblasts); in other cases, the COX deficiency may be generalized (systemic).

Jason's case was systemic... Which is too much for a little body to handle.
If you'll notice, I said Jason finished his battle. I don't think he lost it. His cardiologist has been telling us for the last two years that his heart was so bad, it was unusual that he was still alive. I think the last two years were grace, and if anything, Jason stayed with us as long as he could.

It's not that it's not hard - I just think Jay simply finished. Believe me, I've cried many times over this - and discussed things with friends covering everything from "Aren't you mad at God?" to "How long will he live?"

No. I'm not mad at God. First off, I know there are no guarantees in life, but there are a few guarantees in death... Jason, for the first time in his life, is whole - healed, and able to use his arms and legs as he sees fit... Second of all, Jason was such a joy to be around. He was funny, intuitive, and for all the ways his condition wracked his body, his brain was perfectly functional. I'm grateful for that.

I'm even grateful for his little
rebellions (which were pretty funny. Just a few weeks ago, Jason got in trouble at school once for driving his wheelchair too fast down the halls).

I hope you enjoy the photos - they're all of Jason and the things that happened to us on our adventures together. Of particular note is the day Cinderella kissed him. He was so thrilled, he wouldn't let me wash the lipstick print off his face. I asked, "Jason, how is it that you always wipe MY kisses off, but you want to keep Cinderella's?" He just giggled slyly and shyly and sped away.

One of my favorite singers, Jan Krist, wrote a song I think encapsulates how I feel about "Speedy" (what I called him after several wheel-chair drag race events). In it, she writes, "The spirit gets so big when the body gets so small..." Jason, though small in size, was such a giant. He taught us - specifically my sister - just how much we could handle. He taught us honesty - and how to ask for help. He was the reason my sister was able to leave an addicted husband, and I feel was responsible for bringing my family closer together. (Even though, at times, the things I taught him upset his mom - namely his repeated exclamations of "My Bones!" every time Jill hit a pothole while driving...)

I picture Jason in Heaven, healed, running around and discussing things with whomever might be interested in hearing about video games, Willie the Whale, and his endless list of female admirers.

But I am so sad - I'm horribly sad, and I'd give anything to spend another evening with him, but I guess I'm feeling that his spirit is so big that I couldn't possibly forget.

My other favorite singer, Bruce Cockburn wrote a song called Closer To The Light - It was his homage to a musician who died unexpectedly, and in it, he expresses a lot of what I'm feeling now:

Death's no stranger - no stranger than the life I lead
Still I cry, and I begged to get you back again.

Gone from mystery unto mystery - Gone from daylight into night
Another step deeper into darkness - Closer to the light.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

December Snow

It stopped snowing... After 8" in 5 hours, the skies can't possibly contain any more snow... or clouds for that matter. It's lovely, yet, I can't get my car out of my driveway yet... I suppose the plow'll be by any day now.


Monday, December 05, 2005

The Pitfalls of Singlehood and Dating

This weekend posed some interesting and familiar scenarios. I'll start with Saturday Night.

I had my band over for dinner (minus Scott, whose family showed up later than he expected). I also invited a few other friends, Karen (friend who went to the same college as I; we didn't know each other in school, but met at an alumni event in Philadelphia years later.), my friend Naomi, HER friend Anne (who was there to see if she liked Fran or not... She didn't), and our friend and fellow musician, Don (who may be "famous" soon).

We had a great time. I had nine different microbrews, two kinds of chili, and one fabulous cake, shaped like a snowman. When we cut into it, we discovered it was about 60% buttercream frosting and %40 cake... Now that's a party!

Through the course of the evening, it was fun to watch Don and Anne talk. It wasn't flirty, but familiar. They behaved as if they were old friends who'd known each other for years. Hmmmm.

I leaned over to Dave and whispered, 'What do you think about Anne and Don?' He looked at me as if I were nuts and said, "I*Don't*Know!" However, Naomi DID know. After the party, Naomi called and said, "What do you think about Anne and Don?" I answered, "I know! I know!" Nay and I immediately nailed up our "Matchmaker" shingle ("The Single Shingle?!") and plotted our next gathering. I figured I'd e-mail Don on Monday.

On Sunday, I went to church. After the service, I found my single (and absolutely beautiful) friend Becky in near tears. I asked what happened. She explained that once again, some old coot from the congregation, thinking it was a compliment, said the following to her: "If I were thirty years younger, I'd scoop you up and fly away..." or something to that effect. I immediately knew what was wrong.

My church is a great place. Honest. What I'm about to say will make it sound horrible - but keep in mind that it's just one aspect of a place I spend a lot of time in, have amazing friends in, etc... The downfall is, it's a real "family" church. Most of the congregation is either married, engaged, or the children of married (and engaged) people. It's no place for singles. Really. Here are a few comments I've received over the years. I call this list the "Just Cause You're Saved Doesn't Mean You're Not a Jerk" List (Part IV):

Married Man: Kelly, If I were only single, I'd marry you!
Married Man 2: Kelly, I'm sorry I blew you off the other day. My wife said I wasn't allowed to talk to you."
Old Married Man: (after telling him he had a lovely wife) Yeah, she was something else thirty pounds ago.
'Nother Married Man: Kelly, You're so smart and so talented... Why aren't you married?
Single Man: I'll let you go ahead of me, Kelly, since you're a member of the weaker sex. (I'm not kidding. someone actually said that to me)
Single Man Who Stood Me Up: I'm through apologizing, Kelly. I'm free in Christ. (He's now free from me, too!)
Single Woman (who confused me with another Kelly in the congregation. That one has four kids): Oh, Maybe God will bless you someday with kids...

Stuff like this makes my eyes roll so far, I have to retrieve them in Manhattan... So I understand what Becky was going through. She said she needed some people to pray for her - so she found a married couple who'd been married since they were maybe like eleven... "God Give Becky the desires of her heart..." To heck with the desires of her heart... I prayed that she wouldn't take it personally - that she wouldn't feel like half a person, and she'd remember that her value as a human being wasn't tied up in someone else's Fairytale ending... Then I reminded her that she was absolutely not too picky. Then, I looked at her and said very seriously, "You need cake!" She came to my house and had lunch, sufficiently cheering her up with the buttercream remains of Frosty the Frosting Cake.

On Monday, I e-mailed Don. I told him, "No pressure, but if you like Anne, chances are good she'd have dinner with you. At the end of the day, after several e-mails, Don called me. He seemed so flattered and so excited that Anne thought well of him. I thought it was really cute, and pondered a future career in matchmaking (with an extremely limited and high-end clientele)...

Before I get any further, let me tell you about Anne. She's single, has a great career, has a great sense of style, she's funny, she's gracious, she drives a drool-inducing car, and is Doris Day beautiful.

Ok. Don asked me how I knew Anne. I explained that Naomi is a Personal Trainer and Anne was a client. Then Don ceased being cute: "Well, do you know what kind of shape she was in before she had personal training?"

Now, if Don looked like Robert Redford, I may have felt an iota better about what he just said... But he doesn't. He's fine looking - but unlike my beautiful friend Becky, I honestly don't think he has that kind of time.

Dave says I should cancel any more matchmaking plans between Don and Anne. I definitely won't set him up with Becky... If he can be that picky, so can she.

For some, being single and over thirty can be devastating - and to others, a ridiculous excuse to be over-vain. The real pitfall of singlehood and dating is that until we know the real story, it's hard to tell the difference between those who are beautiful on the inside and out - and those who may simply be okay looking on the outside.


Friday, December 02, 2005


I'm determined this year, to do as little physical Christmas Shopping as possible. I prefer e-shopping... Which I've done quite a bit of. I purchased a smoke-ring shooting gun for my nephew, a cake server shaped like a high heel for my friend the caterer.... You name it, I've shopped for it online. (I can't tell you what I ordered Dave on line, because he reads my blog... For one of his gifts this year, however, I needed his license plate number... He asked, 'Why, baby?' - and I told him that he couldn't ask me such questions at this time of year, wink! wink!)

Anyway, for the band, I planned on making a sort of digital collage and framing one for each of them... But as I started, the ideas flowed. The single picture turned into a whole calendar - so I'm presenting four months of my very first Perks Calendar - Fun to make, and maybe just a little too time consuming...

This is my second calendar of the year - and after this, I'm either going to return to buying calendars or nail up a shingle and make them full time.... Hope you like the Perks images.... And let me be the first to wish y'all Merry Christmas, Happy Chaunukah, Blessed Kwanzaa... and Happy Birthday if that's what applies.


PS - Yesterday I got an e-mail forward from my normally ... um, normal friend, Eric. It was from the American Family Association or some such organization, who was asking me to boycott Target Stores because they refuse to use the word "Christmas" in their promotions... (sorry. Now I wish I'd saved the e-mail, but apparently, this is a huge issue. Here's an article that states what may be a Christmas anti-pandemic...)

If Target wants to be over-the-top Politically Correct, that's fine. It seems a little silly, but since I usually don't receive my spiritual inspiration from a retail department MEGAcenter, I am really okay with that.

I understand why Target doesn't mention Christmas - They wants to be "Holiday Season Inclusive/Sensitive..." I prefer to include everyone, myself. The difference is , I stick with the holiday at hand. For example, sometimes I wish my single female friends a Happy Father's Day.

So what if I say Merry Christmas to you, and you celebrate Chaunukah? I'm personally happy to have a Happy Chaunukah, even though I'm not Jewish. A good day is a good day, right? My holiday wish is for the world to relax a little. After all, everyday is Thanksgiving, right?

So Joy to the World - All the Boys and Girls - Joy to the Fishes and the Deep Blue Sea... Joy to You and Me.

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