Thursday, December 29, 2011

It Goes Right to My Gut

Wednesday marked the real end to Christmas. After Christmas Eve and Christmas Day get-togethers with my family and John's, we did the extended Greco family Christmas dinner yesterday. As expected, a week of festivities included a lot of treats and though I tried to be pretty good, I did indulge in some delicious desserts.

Last night, after we got home from my parents' house I went to change into pajamas. I happened to look down and spot some sort of mark on my stomach. It was a brownish spot roughly the size and shape of a dried apricot right above my belly button. It looked some kind of bruise and really freaked me out. I had no idea what it could be or how it had gotten there; did I not remember walking into something, belly first? Was it a sign of a tape worm? A misplaced stigmata?

I went over to John in the other room and showed him. "What the hell is that?" he asked. He seemed disturbed by it too, which only fueled my fear. But I touched it and it didn't hurt. Then I touched it again and realized that it smeared.

"Wait a second," I said, and went into the bathroom. I dampened a paper towel and rubbed it across the mark. It came off. I smelled it.


Yup, a significant piece of chocolate fell down my shirt and melted against my belly and I had no idea.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You Better Watch Out

In a preview to becoming Mrs.Gogarty, I got to spend a couple days as Mrs. Claus to John's Santa this weekend.

John has dressed up as Santa for years to visit the kids of friends and family. We got down to the wire on getting my costume but Party City came through on Thursday night.

We suited up on Saturday morning, I tried to put eye make-up on John, but he wasn't having it, and we were on our way.

Driving around Morristown as Santa and Mrs. Claus in an Audi convertible with the top down might be one of the most fun experiences ever. We'd honk as we passed kids on the street and waved when we'd hear grown men yell "SANTA!!!" from across the street.

We wound our way around New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delighting and terrifying children of various ages and reveling in Christmas cheer. One of my favorite parts may have been the way parents could laugh at how completely horrified their children were of Santa, giggling and taking pictures while the kids screamed and reached for them- I can't wait for the kids to look back on those pictures one day and know the parents did the right thing.

Being Mrs. Claus was so much fun, I can't imagine how great being Mrs. Gogarty is going to be.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I don't even think I have to say anything about this one. This was spotted on the way into the Lincoln Tunnel heading home from NYC. I'm assuming this driver was also heading home to Jersey after a day of singing/dancing/elocution/acting/modeling lessons.

Friday, September 23, 2011

VNTYPLTS: A Photo Series, Part II Plate Bragging

We live in a time where "putting yourself out there" is the go-to advice for getting what you want, be it a job, relationship or recognition of any kind. There are plenty of ways to do this, many of them now involving technology of some kind. Blogging, tweeting, online dating, Facebook, etc. However, I would never have thought of a license plate as a method of attracting a new mate, a new boss or new friends. Some people, apparently, do.

Let's take a look at some plates that seem to have been designed with the intention of attracting a certain type of attention from a certain audience (an audience that is even more specific than people who are driving behind you). I'll do my best to posit guesses as to the scenario these drivers were hoping to experience through their vanity plates:

Pretty1 wants the world of single, male, Pennsylvania drivers to know that she's got the goods. When she ordered this plate, I think she had dreams of getting a flat tire, pulling over to the side of the road, hoping a chivalrous man would come to her rescue. She knows the deal though, people aren't going to stop for just anyone, lest it be an axe murderer waiting to strike. BUT, what if you advertised ON your car that you aren't threatening at all, in fact, you're pretty! Enter tall, dark and handsome guy to the rescue, complete with a tire jack and perfectly trimmed five o'clock shadow. He wasn't going to stop, but then he looked at the back of the car and saw that the driver is a pretty one, so he pulled his shiny new luxury SUV over and got out to save the day. The rest is history (that's how they'll end it when they tell the story at their engagement party).

HRD WRKR isn't messing around. HRD WRKR EARNED that car. The fact that she's actually a part time children's party planner doesn't mean she doesn't work just as hard as everyone else. She knows that one day she'll be walking through the Party City parking lot and someone will stop her and say, "Wait, is that your car? You know, I've been looking for a hrd wrkr. I'd like to pay you a lot of money to do whatever it is you love, at your own pace, on your own schedule. What do you say?"

Oh SNGL QT. How I envy your confidence. This is a girl who wears a seat belt mostly because she is so sure that she is going to get rear ended on purpose just so a guy can get her contact information. However, I'm willing to bet that plate was ordered fifteen pounds and a few crow's feet ago. That won't stop her, though. Get after it, girl.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

VNTYPLTS: A Photo Series, Part I

A few months ago, for reasons I don't quite understand, I started taking notice of vanity license plates. Once I started, I couldn't stop, like when you learn a new word and suddenly hear and read it everywhere. The clusters of letters that were meant to provide an outlet for personal expression, just above a dirty exhaust pipe, started jumping out at me. With total disregard for my safety and the safety of my fellow drivers, as well as disregard for the risk that someone might notice and punch me in the face, I started taking pictures of these license plates with my phone, usually when stopped at a red light behind one of them.

I would get so excited about finding a really juicy one (for me that usually means one you have to say out loud or have to think about a little to understand, like H2OSKII), that others started snapping pics of vanity plates they saw on the road.

I think what fascinates me most about them is wondering who the people are that go out of their way to get a license plate with a special message on it, and what their license plate says about them. With that in mind, I decided to do a photo blog post series with these license plates and my profile of the person driving the car based on their choice of vanity plate phrase.

To kick things off we have:

Photo courtesy of Jackie Greco

Who is Ruf-Ryda?

Caucasian male, early twenties, 5'11", approximately 135lbs, dirty blond hair, often covered with a doo rag, blasts gangsta rap with the windows down when driving with friends, plays Hootie and the Blowfish's Greatest Hits when riding solo.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'll Marry The Shit Out of You: An Engagement Story

Now that a date is set (May 12, yes, THIS COMING May) and it's really sunken in, I think it's time to tell the story of our engagement.

John and I both took an extra day off for a nice, long fourth of July weekend. He spent the first half with his family and then came down to Sea Isle for Sunday through Tuesday.

I called him on Saturday afternoon and he answered with "Hey there..." I was immediately suspicious of this atypical greeting and the conversation that followed a little strained. After hanging up, I told my dad, "Something's going on, something's up."

"Why?" my dad asked.

"John said 'hey there,' when he answered the phone," I told him.

"Oh, God, this is bad, what are you gonna do?" my dad replied before rolling his eyes and going back to his book.

I found out a few days later that in fact John had been in the middle of telling his family about his plan to propose when I called. I felt somewhat vindicated in my reaction to the "hey there" and will forevermore think something is cooking if I get that greeting.

The next day, John came down and we had a normal day at the beach and night hanging out at the house with my family. On Monday, John asked if we could go for a ride around the surrounding towns so he could see some of the places he visited as a kid. We drove around Avalon and Stone Harbour and I asked him what they'd looked like in the seventies. I believe his answer was "go scratch."

As we drove through Sea Isle, I pointed out the church I'd always wanted to get married in. He pulled over and we jaywalked over and went up the steps to try the doors. The church was locked, apparently praying on federal holidays is frowned upon. That didn't stop me from pretending to walk out of the doors holding a bouquet above my head. John grabbed my wrist like a referee proclaiming a boxer victorious after a knock-out. I imagined how great it would be to do that for real- walk out of the church with John I mean, not knock someone out, although that would be pretty cool too.

The rest of the day was normal, we had dinner with my family and then John suggested we go down to the beach early to claim a spot to watch the fireworks. I thought nothing of it, especially since one-on-one time can be tough to come by at the beach house. We went down and started smoothing out a blanket in the sand. As I learned later, John had planned to propose right then, but a family with a bunch of "rotten kids" set up next to us and ruined the moment. I, however, was completely unaware of any sort of moment, I was just trying to anchor the corners with flip flops.

Our spot established, John walked down to the water and I followed. I stopped short of where he was because if my feet got wet then the sand would stick to them, and I just wasn't in the mood for that. I told him so, not realizing his plans were once again being thwarted. He came up to where I was and, apparently was about to go down on one knee when I turned my head and saw my family and, in John's word, started waving my arms like a chimpanzee to direct them to our blanket. I started back up the beach, leaving him with his hand in his pocket, toying with a green velvet box wondering when he'd ever be able to get rid of it.

John joined us on the blanket and we settled in for the fireworks. The Sea Isle fireworks seemed to have been set off in reverse, kicking off with a fantastic, grand finale-like display and getting progressively less impressive. This made it hard to tell if and when they were ending. We lingered, watching the amateur fireworks being set off by individuals on the beach and looking to see if neighboring towns still had some firepower left. Eventually, my dad said he'd seen enough and was going back to the house. My sister and her boyfriend agreed and they all left. My mom, however, hates to miss any sort of pyrotechnic display. We once stood in a Target parking lot for a solid 20 minutes watching a smoking car. She finally realized it wasn't going to burst into flames and walked dejectedly back to our car.

She stood in the sand, turning back and forth to try to catch the best that both the north and south had to offer. Things were starting to slow down, but she just strained her eyes to try to see further. I, on the other hand, was ready to get going as I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I told John and he said he just wanted five more minutes of fireworks and then, I imagine, stared my mom down, hoping to telepathically tell her to give up and go home.

The message was not going through.

She was too busy searching out any remaining spark. "I think there are some more a few blocks down."

"No, Mom, I'm pretty sure that's someone trying to light a cigarette a few yards away."

"Oh, well, it's still pretty."

Finally, after I again complained of mosquito bites, my mom looked down at us said she figured she'd go back.

"Yeah, we'll meet you up there in a few minutes," John told her.

He looked over his shoulder a few moments later, as he planned to get to his knee and saw her there, lingering on the path over the dunes, gazing skyward, zippo flames reflecting in her eyes and he waited a few minutes longer.

"John I really have to go, I have bites all over my legs," I told him.

"Alright, I can take a hint, let's go."

I stood up and John turned onto his hands and knees to gather up the blanket, then just stayed there on his knees. I looked at him with a "let's go, guy!" look and started to walk past him to get my flip flops. He caught my hand and as I looked back, he said "well, since I'm already on one knee..."

I looked and he was, in fact, on one knee. However, sinc John has a long running and well-documented reputation for jokes, pranks and all around teasing, I replied with a very romantic "shut up." Then I saw that he was reaching into his pocket.

I had a basic idea of what the girl is supposed to do when the man she loves gets down on one knee and produces a ring, but when it actually happened to me, it didn't even cross my mind to give him my left hand, cover my mouth with my right and weep prettily; I'm not even sure weeping prettily is something I'm capable of.

Before he could even finish what he was saying, I leaned over, threw my arms around him and buried my face in his neck saying "Really?! For real? Seriously? Right now? This is really happening right now?!?!"

"You have to let me say it, give me your little hand," he told me.

"Oh right, ok, here, umm ok, ahhh."

"Will you marry me?"

"YES, Yes yes yes yes!!!!" I collapsed back into the face-in-neck position.

We both stood up and hugged for a long time.

"You mean it?" he asked. "You'll really marry me?"

"I'll marry the shit out of you," I answered.

And I will.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deep Thoughts

You know your life is great when the first words you hear when you wake up in the morning are "I love you."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's A Boy!

After what seemed like a flash to me but I'm sure a long road to my sister in law, I now have a nephew!

Little Samuel Thomas was born on June 14 at 6:06pm after 24 hours of labor. Though there was a long build up, I still managed to be late. I left work just as they were taking Christine in for a C-section, but between a stop at a florist, that was, of course, closed and traffic, the big announcement had already happened by the time I arrived.

I wanted to be surprised, though, and hear it from Matt whether the baby was a boy or a girl. Andrew met me in the lobby of the hospital and went into the little shop with me so I could get flowers. I picked out an arrangement and when I brought it to the counter, I asked if I could add a balloon. The lady asked if the baby was a boy or a girl. I told her I didn't know yet. The other employee started sifting through the balloon selection. "I don't know if we have any ambidextrous ones," she called over her shoulder. "They all either say boy or girl."

Andrew and I looked at each other and had to immediately look away to make sure we didn't burst into giggles. I said we could skip the balloons and paid for the flowers.

We went up and I heard from Matt that it was a boy and heard from my mom all the other details.

They had already taken Sam to the nursery so we went down to look at him while Christine finished in recovery. My first glimpses of my nephew were wonderful, but after the first few minutes, we started to hear a woman in labor down the hall. It was not like what you see portrayed in movies or on TV. It was much, much worse. A nurse actually walked by and said "I'm sorry if you guys haven't had kids yet, it's not always like this."

I tried to block it out and concentrate on Sam's little toes and the way he kept pushing his tongue against his bottom lip. It would work until I'd hear "GEEEETTTTT IIIITTTTTTT OOOOUUUUUTTTT UUGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!"

Shortly afterwards, they brought Sam and Christine to her room so she could nurse him and after a while, we got to go in and see Christine and hold the baby. Between having a perfect little baby in my arms and the door closed to outside noise, I was able to forget the horrific shrieks I'd heard and enjoy meeting my nephew...and relishing the knowledge that the most difficult thing I'd gone through to get to hold a baby in my arms was sit through Blue Route traffic.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Can I Have S'more When I Haven't Had Any Yet?

In the latest episode of "I'm how old?", I burnt my lip tonight. How? By trying to scrape (with my teeth) the leftover bit of melted marshmallow off of the metal fork that I'd just held over an open flame to make a s'more.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good Morning, Sunshine

This morning when I got up to go to the bathroom, I got really freaked out because I thought my pee smelled like skunk. Then I realized it was just my neighbors indulging in a wake'n'bake.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Life Stuff

Our landlord likes to eat on the run. He once showed up at our door balancing a full plate of food with one clean and one dirty air filter, announcing himself with a call of "Maintenance!"before going to change our air filter. That's why I'm not more suspicious about the quarter watermelon wrapped in aluminum foil and unopened can of cranberry sauce that are sitting on the sidewalk next to my front steps.

Within a three-day span I was mistaken for a married woman and a high school student. Someday I will figure out the right combination of hair, clothes and make-up that makes me look my actual age.

John and I were sitting at a bar in Toronto having a drink and a guy leaned between us to pay his tab. When the bartender told him the total, the guy shouted "EH?!" After trying to perfect the quintessential Canadian sound all weekend, this was like a golden goose being placed before us, on the bar. John and I immediately looked at each other and basically high fived with our eyes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Baby Face

A couple weeks ago, I met John in Clearwater, Florida for the weekend since he was already down there for work.

It was so nice to escape just for a brief time and feel some sunshine (through a shield of 70 SPF of course) and walk on the beach. Late Friday afternoon, after sitting on the beach for a while, we walked up to the pool bar to get a drink. We sat on stools among all the people in Phillies shirts and hats who had just returned from a spring training game.

Before the bartender even approached us, I heard people talking about Sea Isle City and my ears perked up. No one even knew what Sea Isle was when I mentioned it in North Jersey, so hearing it mentioned all the way in Florida was exciting. A girl was talking about a bar she liked and the guy she was chatting with was trying to remember the name of the place he would go for pizza late at night...

“It’s on a corner, it's brown, you have to walk up steps to get there...”

“ANGELO”S!” I screamed as I leaned across John toward them, almost falling off my stool in my attempt to be the first to buzz in with the correct answer.

They acknowledged my answer and we exchanged brief pleasantries but then it was time to order a drink.

The bartender came up and asked what we wanted. I asked for a strawberry daiquiri, since it seemed like the most appropriate thing to drink while sitting poolside.

“Coming right up,” the bartender replied, picking up a cup. “But could you just raise your sunglasses quick so I can see your face?”

“No problem,” I said, and lifted my large glasses.

She squinted in the sun, looked my face up and down, put the cup back on the bar.

“Uh, yeah, I’m going to need to see ID.”

I didn’t even pretend to look in my bag, I knew my ID was up in the hotel room.

“How about a virgin strawberry daiquiri?” I asked.

“Sure, sorry, you know, it’s just spring break and all,” she explained.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. With my sunglasses on I was getting served, with my sunglasses off I was a minor trying to pull a fast one. I guess my soul must be about nineteen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tik Tok in A Minor

I was scanning through radio stations in the car today, and as I passed by one station, I heard a snippet of a Ke$ha song. It was the "duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-dumb" portion of "We R Who We R," as in 'We're dancin like we're duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-dumb.'

Just hearing that one bar of robotic staccato sounded like the skipping that would occur when Vicki from Small Wonder would get splashed with water and malfunction. The thing it made me think about was- what if guys like Mozart, Bach, Chopin, somehow got transported through time to the America of 2011, listened to a Ke$ha song and were told, "yup, that's music."

Not that I'm a music critic or have anything to back up my two cents. And it's not like I haven't danced like I'm duh-duh-duh-dumb to a Ke$sha song or two, but just hearing that tiny flash of the song, out of context, put into stark contrast what music is today versus what music has been in the past.

It just makes me think about what I'm consuming as entertainment these days and if I'm really doing what's best for my brain...and the future of art. Does Jersey Shore have the staying power of Romeo and Juliet (no SamRon comparisons, please)? Will the Twilight series stand the test of time like Pride and Prejudice? Will music theory students of the future study the composition of Lil Wayne's early work while voice majors studiously listen to recordings of Auto Tuned Katy Perry songs?

I know there's still plenty of good stuff being produced, but there is also a huge glut of crap, and I think I'm hooked on more of it than I should be. Although, I have cut out some of my old reality guilty pleasures like Real Housewives and Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I've had the classic book "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad on my nightstand for two months, with page 35 still dog-eared, yet rom-com novel "Bet Me" about a frumpy, no-nonsense insurance agent who gets caught up in whirlwind romance with the strikingly handsome, achingly charming lawyer all based on a bet was devoured in two days. I guess what I'm trying to say is- actually, I'll wrap this up later, I'm missing The Bachelor.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's My Motivation?

After a bit of a dry spell (similar to the one I’ve been in blog-wise), I finally tried to go to the gym last night. Tried. Now I’m justified (slightly) in not having gone for a week since I have stitches in my leg and I’m not supposed to do strenuous activity. But I figured I could go walk on the treadmill and do some upper body weight training and crunches and stuff.

Then I got to the gym and drove into the parking lot. Between the influx of temporarily enthusiastic New Years Resolutioners and the mountains of snow, it made the parking lot a crazy place. Snow had eliminated some spots and created an obstacle course in others. That is no excuse, though, for creating spots wherever you decide to stop your car. People were parked diagonally, perpendicularly, and other directions that I don’t know the names for. They just dropped their cars with no regard for people driving through the parking lot, let alone trying to actually park. The way these meat heads parked made looking for parking spot like looking for a needle in an assholestack.

I did three laps around the main parking lot and two around the auxiliary lot with no luck. I told myself if I went around one more time with no luck I was going home- after all it was doctor’s orders. As I made my final lap, I saw a pair of reverse lights flash on, but I pretended (to myself?) that I didn’t and headed for the exit. After all, when else in my life am I ever going to have a doctor tell me NOT to exercise?

A couple hours later, when I was sitting on the couch watching Seinfeld and eating Girl Scout cookies, my skinny little sister walked in, flushed from a work out and told me she’d gotten a clear spot right in front of the gym door. I congratulated her and ate another cookie.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recent Tidbits That Have Tickled Me

- Jackie on her temperamental manager at Victoria's Secret:"I can't tell if I'm her sidekick or her bitch."

- A bumper sticker I saw on my ride home: "I piss excellence." I've decided to adopt this as my aspirational motto. From now on I will strive to feel that I too, piss excellence.

- I had a laughing fit when I saw one of these babies, can you guess which one?

- Kitty was visiting for Christmas and decided she had to go to the bathroom while I was in there putting on make-up. She did not feel it was necessary for me to leave. I did. I won, but with only seconds to spare.

- My dad being chastised by my sister for trying to eat candy off of a gingerbread house that had been sitting out for three weeks. He was caught double fisting stale gumdrops and then searching in his pockets for a scrap of paper to spit them out into after the first bite. He found a candy wrapper (shocking) that worked nicely and the gingerbread house was promptly thrown away.