Chili Peppers Lacked Spice? Or Was It Just Me?

I took the weekend off from writing because, quite frankly, I wanted to.  I haven’t had a great following of late anyway so I don’t think it was missed.  So instead of sitting in front of the computer, I lived amongst the physical people; except when I read the posts that were emailed to me.Friday night was the much anticipated Red Hot Chili Pepper show in Philadelphia.  Since we got our tickets in January, it felt like it would never get here, but luckily time chugs along and we found ourselves with thousands of people who had made the trek to South Philly for the sold out show.

RHCP with Klinghoffer

It was a good show.  I’ve seen them over thirty times for sure, but I stopped counting then.  Not too sure why.  Counting would have been easier than explaining that at one time I knew there were thirty but now there are more.  Regardless, this was the first live show I’ve seen with newest guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.  He is a lot like John Frusciante, except he doesn’t seem to despise fame and fans.  Josh dresses the same, seems physically affected by the music and goes a little off the deep end with making noise with pedals like John.  It’s no wonder that they toured and recorded together prior to swapping the lead guitar job with the Chilis.

RHCP with Frusciante

I love John Frusciante because he is a guitar prodigy for one; he’s creative and innovative.  He’s been the backbone to music that has been the soundtrack to my life thus far.  I also feel offended that he threw that away; twice.  He did this to us before in 1992.  As a dedicated fan, I also find myself insulted that he didn’t bother to show at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony when the band was inducted last month.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Grandmom’s Spoons Are Better Than Yours

When you were little, did you ever stand by your Mom or your Grandmother at the kitchen counter, fascinated that they could effortlessly create something edible out of powders, liquids, chunks of produce or meat?  If you’re lucky, you did.  Even if they kept busy and didn’t explain what they were doing, it was fascinating to watch a grown-up with a flair for culinary creations.  I look back at these moments and find myself wishing I had asked more questions.  More importantly, I wish I had written down the answers I did get.  I will have to do that with my Mom next time I see her.

I am lucky that I come from a line of avid cooks and bakers, male and female on both sides of my family.  I will admit that the cooking bug may have skipped a couple people here or there, and the prominently Irish population opted for very plain dishes with minimal seasoning, but it was all good food.  I don’t remember a meal that I wouldn’t eat or that I disliked.  I trusted their ways, even when I was picky.  I remember wondering why hamburger meat was shoved into a green pepper or a plum into potato dough, but the final result was wonderful.  Now I can really go for some plum dumplings; those would be from the German/Hungarian side.

To coincide with my memories of the women in my life and my old soul, I wander through antique stores whenever I have any free time.  My favorite section is where you’ll find cooking tools because there are so many gadgets that don’t only look fascinating but are also so functional.  I try to decorate my kitchen with cooking tools, but only the ones that I can use and that do not appear to have lead paint chipping off the wooden handles.  True, they can’t be put in the dishwasher, but their style and efficiency are worth it.

The tools range from aluminum to copper, and the detail and quality can’t be matched by the goofy plastic options you’ll find at Target.  They were devised for a cook, for an avid homemaker who spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  The well used kind are just as promising as the mint looking ones, but they prove how well they can last.  The spoons have just the right shape for scooping, holes for slotting, edges for scraping and angles to maneuver into difficult corners to mix.  The mashers are sturdy, the grater’s lip lies across my bowl and my handled strainer lays on the edge of the pot so I don’t have to dirty a big awkward bowl style strainer.  My ball jars hold excess rice and beans and are gorgeous on a sunny day because they are an aqua blue.  And my favorite metal spatula is the only thing I can use to not break the yokes when I flip my eggs.

These may have been massed produced at one time, but clearly they’ve lasted for generations, at least a couple lifetimes anyway.  The worn handles make me daydream about how many cake batters were mixed and if the owner is gone or has just “upgraded” to new stuff.  I see “Made in the USA” stamped into the metal or funny patent names on my tools and more than in just the kitchen, I’m reminded of what the US used to be.  We used to make stuff.  These things are so simple, but make life so easy.  I like not using plastic or imported cheap materials, containing chemicals we will find are recalled in a couple years.

I wonder how many nifty things from my family had gone by the wayside and ended up in an antique store corner or in the trash.  (I also wonder why I just wrote nifty.)  I’m not a hoarder but I am sentimental.  I have such an appreciation for what used to be, but without letting that hinder my acceptance of what is current; well, maybe just spoons.  So what if I use a seventy year old spoon and listen to big band?  I did get this recipe off our iPad, so we’ll call the war of generations a tie…this time.

Living Through News

We wake up each morning to news stories that really make you think.  Today was a mix of banned bake sales, solar flares, thwarted bomb plots and cheating politicians.  Some of these are new and some are not, still they can capture our attention.

I often wonder if the world is safe or if freedom will ever truly be realized again.  I won’t go into politics because that spells disaster and I’m not necessarily looking for a debate, but I simply fear for the future at times.  But I think generations through time did this as well.  Haven’t you read classic literature that ponders and fears over changes in society?

I don’t want to live in fear.  I see bomb plots uncovered, only to recognize how advanced terrorism is, and how my family is very much their target, because we are all American.

I want to believe that if I have kids, that I can teach them healthy eating habits and still bake a pie to raise money for a carnival.

I know to never trust a politician.  If you think they are dishonest going in, there is less room for disappointment.  Hell, I think our mayor even looks slimey.

Solar flares that can knock out power grids.  Well, I don’t doubt that these sort of events have happened over time, but with our advancements, life is just more complicated as we try to make it easier.  I want to live knowing that I can survive without my computer or my cell phone if I had to.  If I had to live off my land or have a community of smart and innovative people, I’d like to think we could get by the way people did for thousands of years before us.  Still I know some people who would cry if they lost their phone charger.

I’m a news addict.  I read all I can and I listen to all I can, from all different sources and opinionated perspectives.  I like to form my own judgments and perspectives while I put faith where I know it counts; in myself and the people I can count on.  No, we aren’t perfect, but I know they have my back and I have theirs.  I can’t trust anyone else in the world to care for me.

I’m a Comic Dork: Proof We Can Change

I’m not sure if I should be happy or disappointed that the highlight of my weekend was the new Avengers movie.  The Marvel (now Disney owned) franchise has been leading us, their public, with stories of individual comic book heroes for a few years, to present this ultimate concoction of big muscles and infinite possibilities.  With all the lead-up publicity to this movie, I was leery of it reaching my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised.

But first, I must preface any further comic talk by saying…who am I?

I was not raised with comics, unless you count the random Archie ones that lined the bottom of my toy box.  The most I knew about superheroes was that Jerry Seinfeld had his Superman figurine on the shelf in his apartment and that he was a big fan.  Then I met my husband.  To this day, I think his favorite gifts that I’ve gotten him are his Marvel and later the DC encyclopedias.  To me, these were huge and expensive books that I really didn’t understand.  But you have to understand that my husband’s favorite way to relax is to watch cartoons.  You can find him there with a bowl of cereal or ice cream, eyes glued to poorly dialogued cartoons pretty much anytime I’m busy doing something else.

As I got to know him, I saw how excited he would get about each new comic, movie, show, character, etc.  I know the guy is smart, but his memory is incredible.  He’d tell me about the alien names, fictional cities, weapons, character traits and abilities, all will ease.  He’s like a human cheat sheet.  It impressed me because so much of the comic world includes words that are made up, and completely unfamiliar to the dictionary you or I would use.  He would go on about how a line of dialogue was important because it drew from a movie ten years ago, or why a character acted a certain way.  Similarly, he does the same with series like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.  With what feels like fifty or more characters, he can elaborate on all the details that would sound to anyone else like gibberish.

Needless to say, I love the guy and I’d buy him superhero shirts as I saw them or little things I thought he’d enjoy.  Then I even started watching the movies with him, and letting him explain backstories or trivial information that he found crucial to a plot.  When a new movie would come out, there would be a forced viewing of the prequels, Continue reading

Why Motorcyclists Are Awesome

Do you know anyone who rides a motorcycle?  I mean, a real motorcycle, not a crotch-rocket or moped, no offense.  I’m talking about an American, loud piped, chromed beauty on two wheels.  I grew up riding on the back of my Dad’s bike, starting a lot younger than I should have and I still get a smile when I hear the pipes roar down the road.

There was something calming about the vibration of the motor and the wind against my face.  I used to fall asleep as a child on the back of the bike, which looking back seems pretty dangerous.  On more than one occasion, Dad felt dead weight on the back and had to pull over to secure me to the seat.  Actually, that is really dangerous, isn’t it?  No wonder my Grandmoms hated seeing me pull up on the back of the bike with that big goofy helmet and my little jean Harley jacket.

Bikers are more than meets the eye.  The do more than rock a leather vest and chaps, which no one else can do.  Maybe a cowboy can do chaps, but I’m tempted to believe they come from the same breed of people; gruff and strong.  From my experience, they come from blue collar background and are down and dirty guys.  Whether the biker you know lives the biker lifestyle or a corporate CEO turned biker on the weekends, they all seem to get along in a roadside bar because they have the bond of the open road.  It’s evident in the way they wave to each other as they pass.  I know I don’t wave to other Ford drivers.

Some of the scariest looking guys I’ve ever met were bikers, and they were also the kindest.  We rode with firemen, military, police officers and men who worked with their hands.  They had long beards, beer bellies and were long overdue on their haircuts.  They remember your name and your story no matter how much time passed.  They’re the guys you meet up with on Sunday morning at a diner and ride through the afternoon with.  They are lifelong friends who will help stop your oil leak and tow you to get your tire fixed.  Some have tattoos, some don’t.  A real rider never wears sneakers and shorts, but long pants and boots, no matter what the weather.  They know how to pack light and be prepared for anything that lies ahead.

They maneuver around people who don’t know how to share the road and with people who don’t see them, while stabilizing hundreds of pounds of metal on two wheels.  They are the first to stop and help you.  They support their friends and all of their causes, and will remember fallen friends in the form of embroidered patches and charity rides or events to support your family.  They talk like sailors amongst friends, but treat a lady like a lady, with respect.  They are sons, brothers, fathers and husbands.  They relish old stories and they aren’t afraid to cry when it comes to reflecting on something important to them either.

I certainly don’t mean to leave the women who ride out.  I’m actually related to some fine female bikers and proud of the way they handle themselves and the road without intimidation, in a predominately male atmosphere.  At this point, I just don’t trust my balance to join them and I’ll stick to the back for now.  Maybe one day…

My opinions here are based on my twenty-plus years of experience with motorcyclists I’ve known amongst my Dad’s various groups, as well as my father-in-law’s. There are always exceptions to everything, in addition to a slutty half naked biker rally girl for each kind of rider I’ve described to you today.   Just never judge a book by its cover, like I almost did with the random Hells Angel who saved me from getting crushed at a concert.  The guy picked me up like I was a feather.  Never imagined a man that frightening looking could’ve been so graceful, and in a mosh pit.

Vroom vroom…the open road is calling.

Photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal.

“Oh, you have plenty of time” And Other Lies

I thought I’d be something more successful by now.  I’ve mentioned this before but bear with me, I’ve got a different point today.  I’m not unsuccessful; I’m just not what I want to be, professionally and maybe a little personally.  I’ll be twenty-nine soon, and not that it’s the end of the world and not that I’ll have a little “almost thirty” or “twenty-nine forever” crisis but damn it, I can if I want to.

When I was in high school all my teachers from math to gym said I would be the next Katie Couric.  That’s when Katie was unstoppable and on the Today Show.  That is also when I respected the Today Show and before Kathie Lee had anything to do with it, and before I started to see through major media outlets.  I never felt like my supporters were blowing smoke up my rear and I felt like I had such a bright future.  I had talent and I had zero fear to stop me from getting where I wanted to be.  I also had a psychic who told me I’d work for the BBC.  Well, reality took over and I was too levelheaded to take a career with so much risk.  Fine, I’m ok with that because it’s not like I tried and didn’t succeed.  I just didn’t try.  Eck, not much better.

I also thought I’d be a mom by now, and more than to just my pug.  It’s pretty common for my generation that I’m not one at this age, and most of my friends aren’t moms yet but by the end of the year I’ll have been married five years, so the clock seems a little different to me.  I’m not waiting to meet Mr. Right.  I already found him.  “Oh, you have plenty of time” they say.  “Why are you rushing things?  There’s so much life ahead of you.”  Really?  Do these particular people, who are almost everyone, by the way, really believe that there is always plenty of time?  Did they not just tell me how fast time goes and how they can’t believe this, that or the other never happened or happened too fast?  Don’t lie to me, Continue reading

Marriage: Better Than the Wedding

With the first anniversary of Will and Kate’s Royal wedding just behind us, I started thinking about our own wedding.

Ugh.

Here is the vital information to gather from this post:  I’m happier with my marriage than I am with our wedding.  I’m learning to be ok with this because ultimately, that is all that matters.  Yet there is evidence that remains, in the form of wedding pictures and they haunt me.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still have buried resentments and hostile feelings about the wedding and the time leading up to it as well.  There were lovely people who took part and wonderful moments that I’ll never forget, but there were also selfish people and such petty behavior that can really put a damper on what is supposed to be the happiest day in one’s life.

First of all, I’m glad to say that wasn’t the happiest day of my life and I’ve had many outstanding days since, but unfortunately this one costs a lot and creates a hassle for so many people.  If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t; not that way anyway.  The thought of having a wedding makes me squeamish.  If I could, I’d have eloped or I’d have paid for our parents to join us far away or even not far away.  I would have said “screw you” to every nitwit who made our lives difficult and would have taken more time to be grateful for the people who took their love for us and the joy of our wedding more seriously.

I would have taken more responsibility to recognize who matters and who doesn’t, and acted accordingly.  And I would’ve moved the wedding from the west coast to the east coast so my Grandmom could’ve been there.

If you’re reading this and you’ve yet to be married, I cannot stress enough; do what you both want.  We did but it wasn’t easy.  Do not try to people-please and do not let people spoil the moments that mean something to you.  Do not let them take anything precious from a moment that sincere people are happy to spend with you.

And do not let the Church cram your Dad’s girlfriend into the pew next to your Mom, where she can’t get pictures and enjoy a good view of her only daughter’s nuptials.

Though I’m sure it doesn’t sound like it, I have gotten over quite a bit of my aggression and I’ve learned to forgive but I just simply won’t forget.  I realize the “what ifs” and regrets are pointless.  I’ve even developed relationships with the people who hurt me and I’m able to look past what I consider to be their mistakes because in the end, regardless of what that one day meant, we are happy and no one can take that away from us.

Gee Shan, thanks for delving that all up.  Try to push out the memory of children throwing Bibles in the Church while their parents laughed because they are “cute”, as the Church planner and your family gaped in horror.  Forget the bullying when our decisions didn’t meet the expectations of others.

By the way, if you have a choice, and you should because you’re paying for it, for God’s sake, make a “do not play” list.  Unless you really enjoy the Chicken Dance or the Macarena, do yourself that favor.  That was one of the best moves we made; that and getting out of the country for a couple weeks after the wedding.  Those days…were some of the best days of my life.

Am I What My Parents Expected?

We spent the afternoon celebrating my Dad’s birthday yesterday and while my husband and I grilled dinner and we all enjoyed a few beers, I thought to myself; Is that what my Dad pictured when they brought their little girl home from the hospital?

The Philadelphia Flyers advanced to their second series in the playoffs and as we yelled and threw ourselves out of our chairs with rants aimed at the TV, I couldn’t help but think about his expectations. Did he intend to have a sports-loving daughter, who can yell passionately (and at times like a sailor) at hockey players that will never be listening? Did he think about having weekly hangouts with her at the local brewery, where they’d hang out like pals and try the new nitro on tap?

Probably not.

But I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and this was bound to happen. Having profound love and respect for my parents, as well as my heritage, I think I’ve adapted so many things from my Mom and my Dad. I just think no one expected the outcome to be such a 50/50 split. I go to tea rooms with my Mom and eat finger sandwiches but ended up marrying a man that I’ve taught the fundamentals of sports to. I know it’s trendy and annoying to hear a girl say they are a “guy’s girl” or “one of the boys”. I used to say that. I don’t know what I am now, except that I’m Shannon. I love sports, beer and rock as much as (some times more than) any guys I know. I also love cheesy romance books or movies.

Sometimes being a mix of what society considers being boyish and girlish can be frustrating though. I’ll never look like the girls who look like they stepped out of a salon or a Mac store because I’ll always be a little rough around the edges. 
Continue reading

What Did You Want to Be When You Were Five?

The beginning of my short ballet career.

Being five was great.  Everything in the world was possible and no one laughed at your dreams, well, maybe a little but hopefully more of a giggle than a snide snicker.  I wanted to be a hairdresser and also a ballerina.  I also wanted six kids, three boys and three girls and have a house like the Brady Bunch.  Oddly enough, we eventually moved into a neighborhood with Brady Bunch style ranch houses that I giggle at whenever I see them.

My poor Mom used to let me play with her hair relentlessly and I did so in a tutu.  My Gram got me a pink tutu for Christmas when I was three and I crammed my skinny but tall figure into that thing for years until the seams finally prevented me from donning the garb.  It might have been life’s way of saying, “give up kid, you’re clearly too clumsy to be a ballerina, time to pack this thing away”.  I was probably ten.  The netting was so incredibly scratchy and nothing about this outfit was soft or comfortable like the ones I see little girls wear today.  I’m not bitter, I’m just saying I might have succeeded in a more comfortable tutu.  No?  Did I stretch the excuse too far?

I did take ballet when I was about seven.  It lasted for a few months or however long a standard class session is.  It was really hard for me because I’m uncoordinated and I had my Dad’s rhythm.  I felt like it would be so easy, after all, I’d already mastered all the dance moves from Dirty Dancing in my living room.  How hard could a few little ballerina moves be?  Apparently hard; for me anyway.  The class was tied in with tap dancing and that seemed like a plausible career too because I’d seen Gregory Hines do it on Sesame Street and it looked easy.  The only place that wasn’t carpeted in our house was our tiny 10×10 kitchen and since you can’t wear your tap shoes on concrete (or so I was told) so I didn’t get much practice time outside either.

I’m not too sure why I never pursued hairstyling except that maybe doing my own hair didn’t turn out too well and that phase just died out.  I did dye my own hair and sometimes chop at it during my teenage years, but that was because I couldn’t afford to get it done anywhere but my bathroom.  My Mom never stopped me from playing with her hair though because she said it felt nice and I still dance in front of the TV to be goofy.  I do more of a high kick strut with a fake cane and top hat as I pass through the living room now.  My husband will usually give me a pity snicker and wait for me to move but my parents really get a kick out of it when I visit.  It seems the living room will always be my grand stage because I’m embarrassed to dance anywhere else; except at weddings after a few Jameson and cranberries.  And no, I don’t want to see the video of it afterwards, even if I look like I have full confidence; that is temporary.

What did you want to be?

I Thought I Had It All Figured Out

There I was, not so long ago; no, it was only last week.  It feels like forever only because I was so sure then. I had it all figured out; then, gut instincts kicked in.  The direction I was about to go, all of a sudden didn’t feel right.  Maybe it’s not the direction, as much as the way I intended to get to the destination.  If opportunities sound too good to be true, they probably are.  So now what?  How can I encapsulate all the directions I want to take my life?  Can we have it all?

Happiness comes down to knowing what is most important and being grateful for what you have, while not settling for what you don’t.  The important part is getting to the place where all these feelings collide and feel real.

There is so much more to offer than working 40+ hours per week and paying the bills for things that just keep us mundane.  We have covered that in the past, no need to rehash that. How we end up and what we give up in order to live life to the fullest is interesting.  What I’m willing to give up seems insane to some people. We are not all made to live the same life, though I want elements of normalcy in the mix.  I don’t feel troubled about life as much as hopeful and excited to see what we can make of it.  I say “we” because it’s not just about me, it’s about my best friend and husband too; the husband is also my best friend so that makes life a little less complicated.

“They” think I’m crazy to give up cable.  I say it’s crazy to spend hours in front of the TV watching other people live.  I’m willing to work hard for the type of life I want, I just don’t know what it should all consist of yet; writer, historian, mother, student, broadcaster, traveller?  It is very easy to say I can do it all, harder to do.

Time will either tell or speed by; in the meantime choices will need to be made and I hope a little divine intervention can help my mind along. I don’t doubt I will make something of myself, though I am anxious. I just need a little more direction than I ever expected or wanted to admit.