Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lives Matter *Updated*



This is a difficult post to write, not because of the content, as one would think, but it's hard to do without telling a story that isn't mine to tell. So I'm going to do my best without infringing on anyone's privacy. It's just something I think is really important to keep talking about. It's domestic violence.

We all saw the whole Ray Rice thing go down and it really jumpstarted a conversation that was a long time in coming. It spurred debate, action, reaction, and who knows what else. The problem is that it's never enough. Because it still happens. Right in our backyards. In our homes. People we know, strangers, famous people, coworkers, that mom from school.

Someone I knew, peripherally, was strangled by her husband. This is all I can say- that's what was in the news, so it's what I feel is okay to put out here. It's public knowledge. Beyond that- not my story. Unlike Marie (who passed away when a plane fell into her house), who I wrote about a few weeks ago, I did not know this woman well. We were not close friends. I knew her. Since about 2005. I remember her as warm, honest, funny, and a loving mom. I knew bits and pieces of her life. Bits and pieces of what she was going through. What I did not know was that she would be dead by the hands of her husband, the father of her children, at the age of thirty-seven.

In the daily grind we're all in, I think we just have a certain short tolerance for OPP (Other People's Problems). We listen, we take it in, we dispense advice, and wait. Wait to hear how our advice played out, the excuse for not taking our advice, or what they did in lieu of using our words of wisdom. When you hear the same problems over and over again, we have a threshold. We care but we just can't care...as much. Or we do. We care, and we worry, but we push it out of our minds because we have to do it that way. It's really the only way. Because if you're not willing to change your situation, then how much can anyone else invest in it? I know personally, I can have the same conversation with you time and time again with no limits, but eventually, I'm just not as invested in it. We've talked about what the right thing to do is but I can't make you do it. I'm the farthest thing from uncaring, it's just being practical. Maybe it's just human nature. I know I can't be more invested in your well-being than you are. Even if I want to, I know it's a fruitless endeavor. It's like trying to drag a drug-addict to rehab. It isn't going to work if you're not actually invested in your recovery.

Or we don't want or know how to get involved. I'll be honest- I'm forty now and I feel somewhat wiser than in my 20's and 30's. Back then I got involved in some domestic...interventions, not exactly involving abuse, but other kinds of highly sensitive situations that I won't go into. Let's just say, in my trying to help, at the very least I could've lost friends. I did lose friends. Things got awkward. I put myself in some precarious situations, butting in, and I'm lucky I didn't get killed myself. And the reality is, I didn't save anyone. No one died, but nothing much changed. I didn't really help and I just gave myself a lot of trouble.

That's where guilt comes in though. What could we have all done different? Could we have forced someone to leave? Could we have kidnapped her? Could we have called the police? There are statistics, and I'm not going to look them up. All I do know for sure is that there is no right answer. Because every person and every situation is different. Sometimes we feel like getting other people involved just makes the situation worse. No one knows what is said behind closed doors. Threats. Promises. You never know if or when someone is going to snap and actually take a life. It's incredibly naïve to assume as either the abused or friend of the abused that their abuser won't end up taking a life. But I just don't think the rational or "normal" person's mind goes to that. I don't think most people want to believe their spouse or their friend's spouse could actually kill them.

Well, I'm here to say- It happens. I now know someone who is dead from domestic violence. Around my age. A mom. A sister. A daughter. A friend. Someone young, who had a whole life ahead of her, who didn't have to die. Not like that. Think about just how much anger it takes to strangle someone. To watch as the life leaves their body.

Someone on one of my message boards who recently came back after an absence, "What happened with all the people who got divorced?!" Some people answered truthfully. Their answer was basically, "I didn't love him". The interesting thing about that answer was that some felt they had to qualify that answer with other excuses. Like not loving someone wouldn't be "enough" of a reason to leave a marriage. Yet, to me, that's a HUGE reason not to be married anymore. I definitely see it as "good enough". There was a common denominator of those who said that other people didn't understand why they had to get divorced. That the situations or reasons under which they made their decisions didn't "sound that bad". Like you should only consider divorce if you're being beaten. Anything less is just not trying. That mentality was even portrayed on the show, Girlfriends Guide to Divorce a few weeks ago. The main character's brother was giving her a hard time about leaving her husband. He basically said- "No one was getting beaten!" as if that was the only acceptable reason out there to want or need out of a marriage.

Except that even getting beaten is sometimes met with the idea that it might not really be "that bad".

Even if it remains unsaid, I think there are many people that don't understand "that bad". Like they have a scale where they are judge and jury to what someone should be able to take before calling it "that bad". And then, even in cases of physical abuse, some people outside the relationship just don't want to deal with it. They don't want scandal stemming from their family, they make excuses, they just turn a blind eye because they don't want to face what will happen when it all comes tumbling out.

I believe people in abusive situations don't always know what abuse means. There are definitely people I've come across, especially those of older generations, that don't know what it means. They think it has to be like Farah Fawcett in The Burning Bed. Or something from a Lifetime movie. Sleeping With The Enemy. Extremes. They think it's only when you see bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. In more recent years, it's been somewhat acceptable to use the terms verbal and emotional abuse. But often it's shrugged off. If you can't see the scars, it's easy to pretend they aren't there.

Because of this unspoken rules of acceptability as to what is "enough" of a reason to end a relationship, people in verbal or emotionally abusive relationships delude themselves into thinking, "It's not that bad- He didn't hit me". Or, "he only hit me once". He was sorry. It's also not like it generally starts with a random punch in the face. The build-up of the emotional and verbal abuse is where it begins. Then comes the physical stuff. After you're broken down inside. By then, the outside is just another part of the proverbial punching bag.  You get to the point of believing you don't deserve better. Or you won't get better. That it's "normal". Bargaining happens- "Well, it was only once. IF it happens again...." By then, it's too far into the cycle to break with any ease.

I'm lucky I was just born with a strong personality. I knew what I didn't want but I definitely did not know what was acceptable behavior in a relationship. There is a lot in life that I thought was normal that as time goes on and I get older, I know is decidedly not normal. Not acceptable. But I had to go through some situations that I can now classify as verbally and emotionally abusive. I'll never forget words spoken to me sometime after a very verbally abusive relationship ended. He said, "Well, you just knew how to push my buttons. It was you. I'm not like that with my new person". And maybe he hasn't done it to anyone since. But that's the mentality of someone abusive. Blame on the victim. While it was going on, I didn't like it, but I just figured everyone deals with this yelling and name-calling. I surely didn't have the best role models of appropriate, loving marital conversation and tools of arguing. Telling you that you're abused because you push their buttons is a cop-out and an excuse. You may very well be adept at pushing this particular person's buttons. However, it's on them to know how to deal with that without becoming in any way abusive.

What is scary to me is that I just lucked out when I met my husband. He's the opposite of abusive. But I was just lucky. I could've just kept going, meeting asshole after asshole. It was actually being with someone who didn't scream in my face, so close he was spitting, that opened my eyes to normal and not normal. He didn't call me a "Special Aunt" or "C-U-Next-Tuesday" (whichever way you understand it). He didn't throw and break things. I was able to learn that none of that is normal. NOT everyone acts like that. Had I not met him though, I could've just kept the pattern going and not learned anything. And that, is the problem. That is how you have people knowing things aren't "great" but that don't know it's actually abuse. That it IS enough to warrant leaving. Even with kids. Even with embarrassment. Or the perception that it will be embarrassing.

Plenty of people have been taught- You just stay together for the kids. Kids are better off in a two-parent home than with a single parent and of divorce. I will never forget an older woman on one of my message boards who used to say that all the time. That there are very few reasons that should be grounds for divorce. That in almost all cases, staying together was the best option- happy or not. That you decide to get married and have kids, then your happiness isn't a priority anymore. That just ISN'T true. Kids thrive in a healthy environment. Together, single, or some other configuration, all it needs to be is emotionally healthy. It isn't emotionally healthy when mom and dad are screaming all the time. When someone is constantly cursing at the other or all of you. When kids are seeing their parent be belittled, yelled at, or being hit, pushed, and/or knocked around.

I know it sounds like it should be common sense but it isn't. It isn't even about common sense. The psyche of abuse is so complicated. I can't even begin to delve into all the whys when someone seems to just "accept" abuse. When they stay. What I do wish is for all the lives lost to domestic violence MEAN something. They will mean something if even just one person gets the courage to leave a situation that is abusive in any way. I want to make sure it's said out and loud that you don't have to have visible bruises and broken bones to be abused. You don't have to suffer being unhappy, unloved, unappreciated. And you certainly don't have to live with verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

It's a helpless feeling when you're on the other end and you know someone is being abused in any way. Feeling like there is nothing you can do. The truth is, there really isn't much you can do. You can't force an adult to leave their marriage. You CAN talk, listen, and try to get them to go, but short of kidnapping, they have to come to it on their own. Just be there and try not to just write them off. Just let them know that there is no pressure and you're there whenever they need you. It's all you can do. Make sure they are aware of all the resources available.

Lastly, for those who are questioning or know they're being abused- There is help. THERE IS HELP. Even if you think it's hopeless, that he'll find you, that you won't be able to get away. It isn't true. I once knew someone who was told repeatedly over many years that she'd be left with no money, no home, he'd take her kids, he'd ruin her life. No one has that much power. She could've rolled the dice and taken her chances. She never did and never felt the freedom of happiness. She never got to live a life with the kind of love she deserved.

There. Is. Always. Help. Trust someone. Trust yourself. If you're not sure if you're being abused, call a hotline and talk about it. You're worth more.

Resources for Domestic Abuse:

http://www.thehotline.org/

http://www.njcbw.org/

http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/women/domestic/

http://www.joetorre.org/

Go Fund Me site for Christine: http://www.gofundme.com/forchristine

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Early Gift

 I've written about Melinmade sweater coats a few times already. But y'all know how I am when I love something. I loved all her coats but there wasn't one that really STRUCK me that I felt I HAD to have for me. I'd think, "I like it a lot, but what else does she have...". If I got one, I wanted to KNOW I got The ONE.

I'd corresponded with Melinda a few time and mentioned I'd like something with burgundy and blues. Just no tan, brown or beige of any kind.

She messaged me a week or so ago and said she made one, with me in mind, in my size, and if I could, to come take a look when she was showing in Wayne, this past Sunday. She wanted me to come see, try it on, and then if I wasn't going to take it, she wanted to be able to put it out for sale early in the show.

I went to Wayne. The coat is now MINE. I love it. It's perfect. I didn't know exactly what I was thinking when I was trying to dream up what would be the perfect one, but when I saw this one- I knew. It's ALL my colors. I can wear it with any of my casual or nicer boots and pretty much my whole closet would match.

It's super warm- wool and cashmere, it has two pockets and I love the button and tie closure. Though, I think my favorite part is the thumb holes like you'd find on running/active gear. Or the hood- WHO could forget the HOOD. The bottom is really swingy too. I feel like a medieval princess when I'm wearing it. Princess Buttercup, as you wish.

Thank you Melinmade! I love my new coat. It's keeping me warm at work too. It's so unique- who wants something everyone else has?  I love knowing I'll never see another person wearing the exact same one. I've gotten a ton of compliments on it already.

And hey- boutique owners- she needs to be in your stores. So get on that.

http://www.facebook.com/melinmade

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Melinmade

Monday, December 15, 2014

Creativity & Cocktails 2015

Who wouldn't want to drink and create something? If you haven't tried this out- you should. Girls night out, moms night out...or date night!




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Play Space

I have a few things brewing for blog entries, but I just can't write something more "serious" right now. It kind of seems weird to go from the last entry to...just regular stuff, but I am low on time these past few days so, "light fare" it is until I can get to anything else.

I just got this email today- I know with the holidays coming up and schools closing for break, a lot of you, especially with the two year old and under set, you're wondering what the heck you're going to do with all your down time. So here's what the Aardvarks have going on around here-

Happy Holidays!!

Most fall semester classes have finished by now, but we wanted to update you on holiday hours for the playspace over at the Superdome in Waldwick. We will be open during the entire holiday break! We'll be closed only on Christmas Eve & Day, 12/24 & 12/25, and New Years Eve & Day, 12/31 & 1/1.

Although we were initially open only to enrolled families, the playspace is now open to the public! Monthly unlimited memberships are available for $45 for all families! Membership must be completed through our registration system here: http://app.mainstreetsites.com/dmn2001/register.aspx?cls=309065 . Single visits are $12, and may be purchased at the play space.

We are also extending Monday evening hours to 6pm due to parent requests. We are considering extending Wednesday evening hours to 6pm as well, please let us know if that is something your family might be interested in!

We wish you and your families a beautiful holiday season! We'll see ya' soon!
 
Cindy & Sean
A Hum Music, LLC

 

A Hum Music PLAY!
 
HoursMonday 9:30am-6pm 
Tuesday 9:30am-5pm
Wednesday 9:30am-5pmThursday 9:30am-5pmFriday 9:30am-3pm Saturday 9:30am-3pm
Registration
Membership for all families is $45/month. Sibling memberships are $15/month.

Individual visits for current and former students/guests of members are $12, and may be purchased in person.

Registration is available through our registration system by clicking HERE.
So what is this playspace?

It's a creative play room for your child, where she or he can draw, pretend, play, tumble, and more; and where you can enjoy some time with your child and your friends. 

There are two chalk walls where kids can create... There are soft blocks, a train table, and a kitchen where kids can pretend... There are tumble mats and a soft slide where kids can explore and move...
 

Play before class, after class… on a cold day, or a rainy day. Use the space for playdates and playgroups, or for a place to play when your older child is at a sports clinic or dance class. It’s for you and your family to enjoy!
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Like Lightning Striking

Believe it or not, I have a lot of drafts of posts never made public. I actually have a hard time with certain topics, but ones that are different from other people's "difficult" topics. I do put out personal feelings but what I do put out there, other people would probably consider "private" and to me, it's just not. I've always been a kind of enigma in that way. Anyone that really knows me gets that. Like, being a talker, being very open, but in instances you'd think I'd want to talk ad nauseum, I become stoic almost.

I've typed and deleted more in the past twenty hours or so than I have, ever. I just don't even know what is appropriate to say. But I'm going to try. Because while money can't take away pain or loss, it is a reality that when tragedy happens, it's a lot easier to cope when you have the breathing room of not having to worry about finances. If everyone was allowed the time, space, whatever, to grieve because they didn't have to stress about bills, childcare, work, I think we'd be much more emotionally healthy as a society. Most people have no luxury to grieve whatsoever because the financials are always looming on the horizon.

Yesterday, Marie Gemmell was just home, on maternity leave, snuggling in bed with her two boys, ages one month and three years. Watching a movie like she'd promised Cole, the three year old. The unthinkable happened and piece of an AIRPLANE sliced through her home. All three of them passed away while her husband was at work and her daughter at elementary school. Just thinking of her husband and daughter and how her daughter had to even be told of this is vomit inducing.

When something this freakish happens, it seems somehow more surreal. Because she was home, where she was "supposed" to be. The odds of this type of accident happening from her perspective is slim to none. There is no rationale here. We all know on some level that any time we leave the house, it's possible for something bad to happen. We don't hole up in our homes though-- we go out and just do our thing. But if a drunk driver runs someone down, there's a concrete reason, and it happens so often, it's not as shocking. There's a clear culprit too. Someone to direct hate and anger. If someone gets shot, it's the shooter and the guns. At this point, that also happens so often, people know it happens. Even cancer, while horrific, is something that you're almost expected to know someone you know is going to end up with. But this? It just doesn't make any sense. People feel the need to make some sense out of tragedy, yet I can't imagine how anyone is going to make sense of this one. She. Was. Home. It wasn't a fire of faulty wiring or home invasion. It was purely logistical, extremely bad luck. How do you rationalize that? Everyone's life bubble just burst with this news. Because it could've been anyone. There was no preparation, no safeguarding, nothing to be done in prevention. Just a worst nightmare come true.

I "knew" Marie for around nine years. I put the word knew in quotes because we were internet friends. We were on a message board together. Most people don't understand message boards. All of us who pretty much live on message boards pretty much have the common denominator of "real life" friends and family not understanding message boards. That's kind of the beauty of it. We're the one person in our circles on them, even if we've tried to explain how awesome the community of these boards are. People not into them just don't get it. They goof, they think we're crazy to share personal information with strangers, they just aren't interested. Because of that, we have a safe space to just shoot the mundane all day and night.

We talk about what we're having for dinner, what toys to get our kids for the holidays, where to send them to camp, debating the merits & necessities of camp. Kids extracurricular activities, struggles with their friends, our friends, and co-irkers. Our crazy in-laws, our dysfunctional families. Dilemmas at work, problems with customer service, and pop culture. We've been together through planning weddings, getting married, having kids, getting cheated on, lied to, separated, divorced, dating again, remarriage, step-parenting, co-parenting, home renting, home buying, bankruptcy, loss of children, parents, siblings, and friends. Daily WWYD situations. Petty and serious vents. We debate, advise, argue, bitch & judge. There for hugs, hair-pets, and a dose of reality. Everything.

The people closest to me in real life don't know my daily customer stories, what I'm having for lunch, my beauty maintenance, something funny my kid said, or some embarrassing whatever that's happened. It's often minutiae that gets discussed in our group and then forgotten. But our group knows. Just because it's like an all day party-line. A virtual sorority. We don't have to meet in person or hang out all the time to be friends. Anyone that doesn't understand how we can all be friends without doing those things doesn't know what friendship actually means. By that rationale then, I'm not "really" friends with anyone I consider a friend, since I hardly have time to see anyone. I don't talk on the phone either, which means I "speak" to these internet friends more than I speak to anyone.

People come and go. Some are regulars, some are lurkers. Some are very open, some more private. Some won't even admit to people in their real life that they're part of a message board. Let alone for 10+ years. Sometimes we practically eat our own, so to speak. We're all of different backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, religions, and just different walks of life. But there are two things keep all of us connected, and what made old guard posters come back in droves yesterday, last night and today. One, NJ is somehow woven into the fabric of each of us. Started out here, stopped here along the way, or ended up here. The other thing is that when one of us gets knocked down or out, the rest of us come together like a small army. To raise money, make meals, gather supplies, give gifts- anything that can be done. That is what makes me proud to be a part of something like a "message board". Something that seems like a silly distraction to most.

Our whole board is in mourning, yet it's weird to accept personal condolences. Because it almost feels fraudulent. You don't want to be a tragedy whore in times like this. Everyone knows and/or has one or a few of those in their life. Those people who make every tragedy, every loss, about them somehow. To those close to Marie in real life, they may not have even known much or anything about her online life. They may be wondering who the hell all of us are that seem to know a lot about her and who are receiving words of condolence. I don't want to speak for anyone, but I feel comfortable saying that I hope they understand that she was one of our people and it's acceptance on behalf of our tight little long-time circle of quirky, unique, loving, internet family. Whether we just posted with her, commented on Facebook, saw her in person, or just knew her as a fellow poster but had little interaction, she was part of us. Part of us and a contributor for a LONG time.

So stop asking any and all of us, "Did you actually ever meet her in person?" as if our bond is somehow less if we didn't. It's insulting.

Marie was a funny, sweet woman. She was a loving mother, wife and friend. She had a smile like a light. If a non-regular on our board isn't sure if they remember her or doesn't remember her well, it's because she wasn't a pot stirrer, she wasn't catty, and she didn't insert herself into drama. She was just someone we knew as a devoted mom and wife who loved to talk about her kids. And that's how she will be remembered by our group, fondly and with love.

If anyone wants to donate money, there are two donations sites up that I know of set up for her husband and daughter. While their names are in the media, I'm not using them just because I don't want to add to any media scrutiny. There have been many mistakes in their "reporting", in quotes because apparently fact checking isn't a large portion of the job these days. So if false information is what keeps someone from asking intrusive questions, then so be it. False information it is.

RIP Marie and your two sweet little boys. You will be missed and never forgotten. Our crew will do our part to make sure your little girl knows how much you loved her.

http://www.gofundme.com/gemmellfamily

sestore.net/collections/frontpage/products/gemmell-fund




Monday, December 8, 2014

Art News

I saved up some art class posts for a few reasons. I didn't want to bore anyone with strictly art posts AND I was having trouble with my photos from my iPhone. I have the 5s and for whatever reason, it was not syncing my photos. I tried removing the Facebook app and re-downloading it and it worked once, then it didn't work, then it worked again but days later. It was a real pain. I'm on an upswing right now where they are all syncing, and in a timely fashion, but who knows how long that will last. I can write other blogs without photos but not the art ones! I could get them on here in other ways but it's ridiculously time consuming and annoying. But now I have them all. Lucky you!

This post is going to be pretty picture heavy. Just FYI.

I *think* these are weeks 11, 12 & 13.

Week 11: Cityscapes

The kids were doing "cityscapes". They were supposed to do their canvas in watercolors and then draw a city or elements of a city on top of the watercolors. The older kids had it down pat but the 5-7 year olds got a little overzealous with the water in watercolor. Their canvases were too wet to draw on in the time they had. So they left their canvases to dry while they drew their "city" on another paper. I actually took E's and made the watercolor page the "mat" at home. E chose the Eiffel Tower. I was super impressed with his drawing job of it. The girls in his room did a really great job too.





Finished products

********************************************************************

Week 12: Still Life

There was a spread of fruit out for the kids to look at and decide how they want to do their still life. They were going to draw and then use cray-pas and paint. I thought they did an amazing job. It's really cool to see the growth of all the kids from week to week.






**************************************************************************
 

Week 13: Peacock
 
The kids had to pick a peacock they liked from the photos of paintings hung on the wall. E picked a different one than I thought he would. They drew it, then used cray-pas, then watercolor paints over the cray-pas. It was really cool. I caught E in the middle so I got to see it in a few stages. We're framing the peacock.


 
 





***************************************************************************
 
There are always other things going on at The Drawing Room when I'm there for E's class. Sometimes there is a Mommy & Me class next door and there is usually high school students working on their portfolios. So these are some pics of both. In Mommy & Me, they were doing

Mommy & Me
clay pizza. 
Clay pizza
Christine & her student



Drawing Room


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Eight Crazy Nights

Last year was the first menorah lighting in Ridgewood. I wasn't sure it would actually happen. That night, last year, was raining and freezing, but it was awesome. My friend Cohen and crew worked tirelessly for what seemed like forever, to get this done and now it's an annual event. An event I wouldn't miss even if it was raining, sleeting, and freezing again. Although, I'm really hoping that isn't the case. But like I said- I'd still be there.

So mark your calendars and join in the fun!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hot Dish


I almost never take pictures of food. I'm not sure why people do. Unless they write a food blog, they're a food critic, or they're trying to cook and need it for some kind of reference. I felt compelled to take a photo of this seafood salad because it was so perfect. It looked like it was modeling for Bon Appetit. Or something else that would Italian. I would never eat seafood salad either, because I'm weird and picky. But I almost wanted to try that salad because it looked so fresh. It was my husband's food, by the way. I didn't just go up to a random table and ask for their dinner's autograph and a selfie. I was just looking at it and thinking how pretty it looked.

We had a gift certificate that was expiring the next day for RoCCa in Glen Rock. I was able to get a table on Thursday and a babysitter. I like to go there on Thursdays because they do the four course pasta tasting menu with dessert for $28.95. It's a really good deal. You think these small plates aren't going to be filling enough but they really are. We opted to get salads too, just because we had a gift certificate for $50 and I was starving. I got a house salad with the best balsamic I've ever had.

Every Thursday is a different set of pastas. As a picky eater, I advise people NOT to read the descriptions of the pasta plates. If I was to pick them apart, I could find something I think I don't like in pretty much everything. Yet, I've done this tasting almost every time I've been there and there has yet to be a course I really despised. Or even disliked. Of course, I like some more than others, but there hasn't been anything I couldn't eat. I read the descriptions AFTER I eat it. The tomatoes in one of the plates this time were just so amazing. I'm big on tomatoes but there are a lot of bad tomatoes out there.

The dessert this time was a mixed berry/ricotta thing in a champagne glass with a lady finger. The presentation was great. B LOVED it. He said- "This is awesome". For me, it wasn't really my thing, but I still can't say it was bad. I'm just more of a cake person. I should've take a picture of that though because it was really pretty. And the berry puree in there was good. I think I'm just not that into ricotta. I like it in a zeppole because the consistency isn't very ricotta-like in that but just there, not-so-much.

However, I do love the fact that they do add in a dessert. That's really reasonable price for what you're getting. The pasty plates are presented beautifully too. It definitely feels very high-end. We just don't get there enough. It's kid-friendly- they put paper on the table and don't mind if it's colored on. They do a Kids Eat Free Sunday dinner too. But if we're going to go there to enjoy a meal like that, we're not bringing our almost six year old. He's not going to eat and it's just going to be a waste. But it's one of those places that when someone asks for a really good meal, in a "nicer" restaurant, it's always my first recommendation. We've lived in Glen Rock since 2006 and have never had a bad meal there. I'm always impressed when the food tastes as good as it looks.

It's also BYOB and you can make reservations online, on their website via Open Table. And you want to make a reservation. People were turned away last night. The whole room was full.


 
 
 
Rocca
203 Rock Rd
Glen Rock, NJ 07452
(201) 670-4945
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Famous Neighbors

I came out of my house to go to work today and there was a copy of today's Bergen Record on my windshield. It had a note on it that said- "It's nice to have famous neighbors". I opened it and there was a big photo of B doing his thing on page three of their special Homescape section. Thank you neighbors (Steve & Nandy) for the heads-up!

It's a great article. Thanks Luiza Grunbaum! The only thing I would like to correct is that we DO actually tell people what kind of lighting fixture(s) and lamps to put in their home. We were on a "house call" last night actually, helping someone decide on a chandelier we're going to custom make for them. We have to take our five year old with us, but we surely come to people's homes to survey the space and come up with a great design for their room. Just wanted to throw that out there. And there is a big reason WHY we go and it isn't just because we want to sell a chandelier.

This woman's home was really cool. She has eclectic taste and she had a lot of really great, interesting pieces in her home. We instantly got a warm feeling upon entering her house. She even has nice lamps. Except the SHADES on those lamps were awful. They made the lamps not really fit with the rest of the décor. And make no mistake, these are expensive lamps. "Name" lamps. She had no idea how bad the shades are. Why did she have no idea? Because "those are expensive lamps by well-regarded designers". It was just assumed they "know what they're doing". She loves the lamps but was never sold on the shades. She just didn't trust her own instincts. I'd say that's most people. They just figure they must be wrong if this is what XYZ company decided what was best.

XYZ company doesn't really CARE what shade goes on the lamp. I guess they count on their name and the base being the main sellable features. What people need to understand is that just because it comes together doesn't mean it's the best or most attractive or well made option. It's what was cost effective to put on it. There are very FEW lamp companies that actually put a shade on of the same caliber as the lamp base. They just don't. We know this because we used to make the shades for many lamp companies, many years ago. Until they figured out they could send our stuff to China and knock it off. Cheaper and less well-made, but the bottom line always wins out in mass production. However, we all know the difference between a knock off and the real thing, don't we?

When we pointed out that you can see the bulb through the one shade, on the most expensive lamp, the second one's shade frame was crooked and too small overall, and the last was just too big, not even the right shape and made of plastic, she just handed us all the lamps and told us we can fix it all. When we're done, they're going to look spectacular AND fit much better into her décor.

So that's why I'm pointing out that we do "house calls". A designer might know best what to do with other parts of your home, but WE know what to do when it comes to lighting.

 
 
 
Shades of Soho
175 Rock Road (CVS Shopping Plaza)
Glen Rock, NJ 07452
201-857-2266
 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Science Tree

 I don't have a Christmas tree. That's a whole other long story but I don't and we're not going to have one. But I do like to look at them. I always marvel at how "organized" or themed some trees are and look as professional as in a display. I had a tree as a kid and we just sort of put up the same ornaments year after year in any haphazard way. Then we threw some tinsel on it and called it a day. I kind of wish I still had those 1970's ornaments. They were pretty ugly but just so kitchy 70's.

I realize that I like a tree theme and the more unique, the better. I'd never be able to execute it though. My attention deficit would be fighting with my OCD. I need balance but trying to eye up that tree and get the stuff all in the correct, balanced place would just take too much time, attention, and energy. None of which I am or have in a large supply.

I do have two small trees outside that B has relented on decorating so we have blue and silver balls on them. It took me quite awhile, in the cold, with E shadowing me, and some broken balls. And they aren't even fully even. In my defense, the trees are last year's trees and we're lucky they're still alive. They have some dead spots and overgrown spots so it would've been impossible to make them look more identical or balanced. I just try not to look at them that closely.

My friend's husband Seth sells these Glassic gifts. Normally, they're just to have- thermometers and such. But they also make Christmas ornaments of the larger items they sell. He asked me if I wanted to have a box of the five ornaments because I have the regular versions at home. I jumped at his offer, even sans tree. Why? Because they look cool. I don't need a tree for them. They already found a home in my store hanging from the metal shelving next to my desk. I have the bigger one of the thermometer with all the colors that I LOVE. I've wanted one since one of my sorority sisters had one in her room.

Imagine a whole "scientific" tree? I think that would make the most interesting tree, ever. Definitely not something you see everyday but if you have a budding or working scientist in your house, it would surely express their personality.

One of those balls is supposed to have colored liquid in it
 but I'm at work with these, writing this.
 
If you're looking for a fun, more interesting gift for someone into science or being the next Sam Champion, check these out. Or if you just want to change up the theme of your own tree, here's a fresh idea.

http://glassicgifts.com/scientific-christmas-ornaments/

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Talent On the Big Stage

Fall Showcase at Kraine Theater on the Lower East Side

It's about that time again. Winter semester is starting up again at the end of January for Actors Technique NYC. I know, I know- "the city?!" Yes. In NYC. On Saturdays or Sundays. I swear to you- I leave my house at 11:30a, I stop for bagels and I get there early for what was previously a 12:30p class. Now it's 12p-1p, which works much better for me, actually. It's pretty much right outside the Lincoln Tunnel (coming from NJ). There is an Alliance Parking Garage right down the street on 36th, which I pay ahead of time. Twenty-one dollars for ten hours of parking. Paying ahead I can decide to leave my car and do other fun things in the city to make a day of it. In the spring and fall, sometimes we would go to Central Park after class or get a bite to eat. It's not hard to get to and for whatever reason, it's an easy ride in on either Saturday or Sunday at that time.

E really enjoys his class and I feel he's gotten a lot out of it. He's five years old. He learned a monologue and he's found that he's really good at memorization, even just from being fed lines- versus actually reading, which he can't do. Yet. They put him on camera numerous times where he gets to watch himself back. From doing that, he is mindful of fidgeting or not making eye contact. If nothing else, these are great life skills to learn at his age. His confidence is also at an all time high from being able to get up in front of a room of teenagers, then a theater full of parents, industry, teens, tweens and peers and do an awesome job showcasing all he's learned.

I definitely feel that taking this class, having meeting with agents and managers, and from being on camera, he's gained a maturity he wouldn't have otherwise.

Sometimes it's been a three-kid class and sometimes there have been around eight. You can sign up for a few classes or a whole semester. You can pay ahead of time or on a payment plan. It's very flexible. If your kid wants to act or you want to see if it's something they'd like- this is the place to do it. They get access to agents and managers weekly. That's priceless in and of itself.

TOTS in TV & Film Improv. & On-Camera Act/Audition 4 - 6 Yrs

SATURDAYS OR SUNDAYS, ON-CAMERA & IMPROV! PARENT VIEWINGS.

image Jan 31, 12:00 PM
Watch them On-Stage in our final Showcase Day!


TV TOTS W/FINAL PERFORMANCE! AGES 4 - 6
IMPROVISATION & ON-CAMERA TECHNIQUE!
9-Week Showcase Options or 6-Week Tots Intensives

Saturdays, January 31st - March 28th, Noon - 1:00pm
Sundays, February 1st - March 29th, Noon - 1:00pm

AUDITS ARE FREE, BUT NON-PARTICIPATORY. They give the parent and child an idea of whether this class is for them. Should you want your child to participate in the hour, we respectfully request $60 in advance, as we need to be conscious of our youngest who have paid for the same class and are preparing to move up to the Kids Program and end of term showcases. Thank you in advance.

It's never too early to teach our youngest good habits and expression. In this fun class series, our youngest actors will explore the range of feelings and emotions we feel and how to use them in an honest and natural way in our acting. Top ATNY Coaches bring in the camera to teach them the art of proper sight lines, less fidgeting and stronger focus. We invite our parents into the class periodically to see the development of our young actors and how we teach.

For continuing Tots , our expectations are raised as we incorporate previous session understanding and use this class to reinforce good habits for the young actor. It's a process and it takes repetition and time.

NOTE: If your child has attention deficit issues or is hyper-active, we respectfully request you inform us so we can be aware in our attempt to work with your child.

Registration:
9-Week Registration: $495 ($55 per class)
6-Week Intensives: $345 (Please call ATNY or phone registration).
1-Class: $60

Friendly Payment Options upon request!
REMEMBER: POST TOTS ACTOR PROFILES ON OUR WEB PROFILE PAGE!

917.763.1777
Regrettably, No Refunds for Missed Classes. Future Class Make-Ups Only.

A GREAT HOUR for our Youngest Actors!

Friendly customized payment plans upon request, please call us!

Full Program
Cost: $495
Member Cost: $446
Single Class

Cost: $60
Member Cost: $54
 
 



This semester's small class at the Showcase

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where is the Love?

I started writing this entry awhile ago. I don't know when- I forgot to look at the date when I opened the draft. I didn't complete it because I didn't really know how. I'm not sure I know even today. I just know how I feel the next day after any racially and/or politically charged incident occurs that throws social media into an attack war. Where people I thought I knew, liked, cared about, are people I didn't really know at all....with such hate on their insides that seem to be proud to put it on their outside.

You are what you post. I've been saying that since I started hanging out on Internet message boards in 1995 when I found my first one. You. Are. What. You. Post. Whether you hold back or let it all hang out, it's your persona that you cultivate and the perception you give off about who you are. Doesn't matter if it's mostly schtick or if it's your real true self- it is what people see and believe. So you better make sure it's what you want it to be. To ANYONE who could possibly be reading. Your mom, your boss, your co-worker, your friends, your enemies. We shake our heads over what "kids today" are posting but what about the adults? Maybe we're not posting nudies on Snapchat, well, I'm not, but we're posting awful, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, hateful things. Ignorant things. Perpetuating lies without even fact-checking! When we're already ON the Internet! It's at our fingertips! Yet- we see something we think is true or has a grain of truth and just share it on like it's no big thing. Like smug douchebags. Hello, f'ing SNOPES! It's not hard to fact check. Yet, there's stupidity going around like wildfire, left and right.

I read some pretty vile stuff on FB the day I started this, other days, and of course, this morning. Hateful things. It wasn't even so much what was said- which was bad in and of itself, but it was the vitriol you felt coming from the words. Coming from people I actually like. In some cases, people I've know my whole life. People I wouldn't have guessed felt this way. It made me sad. In one case, the interesting thing of it is that they were all related to each other.

I've often wondered statistically speaking, of how this kind of thinking comes about. Not just thinking that's different than mine. Political views. Racist views. Religious views. There is a family where I peripherally know one of the siblings. I think there might be four kids in the family but I'm not sure. The one that I sort of know started putting out really racially & religiously charged political statements and memes on Facebook. I was shocked. I started investigating his profile and was bewildered at the hate, but then, worse yet- there were more of him! A whole family of him. It was like, "O'Doyle RULES!" in Billy Madison. I have to think their parents raised them that way. How else would they be SO steeped in hate like that? I barely know him but I didn't want to be associated with at this point. But he's friended to a lot of people I know also which scared me. I started wondering how many of them think like he and his family do. Thinking about it further, as I reread parts of this, especially about families of hate, I couldn't recall what family I was specifically referencing because I can think of three different ones off the top of my head that I've seen this kind of thing from.

I've also seen people I know "like" some of these ignorant comments. One time I questioned it. The answer I got was- "Well, I see both sides". I was baffled because the sides were pretty much- racist or non-racist. There was no way the one sides WASN'T racist.

I grew up in a town that was not racially or religiously diverse. I went through school with one black kid in my grade until high school, I think. Then by graduation, I think there were only three more and two of the were siblings. There were a handful of Latino/Hispanic, Asian, and Indian. Beyond that, pretty much everyone else was just white. White, Catholic, Irish and Italian. There were some us Jews, but trying to count them off the top of my head now, I'm coming up with around ten in my grade of approximately one hundred thirty six kids, at any given time. But race and politics was never really discussed. At least it wasn't something my friends were talking about. I had no idea what people I knew thought about those things. There were instances I did I feel "different" being Jewish. Someone I was dating told me that two of his siblings asked him if he told their mom that I'm Jewish. He was sort of surprised by their question and he was fine with it, so I just didn't pay it much thought. There were other, more subversive things that happened, but I think I was just too boy crazy to give it much merit. But now, looking back, I wonder if there were instances that happened that I was oblivious about. Maybe just because I was white & Jew-lite, I just didn't know any better.

College was pretty white too. White but racially charged. When I first started it was just known that there was a "black cafeteria" and a "white cafeteria". I thought it was weird but I was a freshman and it was my first time experiencing any real diversity. I didn't really have an opinion either way. Again, I was boy crazy and all I cared about was meeting new boys. Then we had the whole Phi Kappa Psi mess* and the shooting** on campus around the same time that was played out in the media for all to see. Racial tension was high but it still wasn't really discussed. Not in classes and not amongst peers. Maybe at the upper classes there were more discussions. But for us as freshman, all we really knew was the Naughty By Nature was supposed to play and then they were cancelled. The two incidents occurred during Rider's weird extra long winter break we had back then. Because of that, not many people were around and much of what happened was speculative and glossed over. There was no social media so anything people felt was kept pretty close to the vest I guess. I know there was anger on all sides of both incidents but unless you were directly impacted, it was easy to ignore. I had my own brushes with anti-Semitism in college there. I was sort of shocked at those brushes because I really hadn't encountered it up in Bergen County, but it still wasn't something I really dwelled on. It definitely was more of a bubble.

But now, it's ALL out there. Social media has pretty much made people into walking, talking advertisements for all their views. And that's fine. Many times disappointing, to me, but it's fine. However, what I don't understand, is how people don't realize that what they put out there on social media can affect their job and career. Nevermind just what people think of you. If you don't care what people think of you, that's fine too. I often don't care what people think. Although, I definitely would care if people thought I was racist. But if you need or want to keep your job, having the common sense not to put out racist sentiment would behoove you. I see in the news all the time that people have been fired for stupid stuff they put out on social media. Is the need for your controversial opinions to be heard trump common sense? I really have no idea. The motivation to have the world know you're racist or some other form of discriminating, escapes me. Even *I* know that not every single thought in my head needs to come out and do a tap dance for all. What exactly do you get out of giving your hate center stage? I assume to most of your friends and family, you're preaching to the choir and anyone else isn't going to magically decide your word is gospel.

I love social media and I've seen it do a ton of good. I love it for lively discussion, tv quoting, catching up, changing my mind for the positive about people, and for daily entertainment. But on days like this, I wish it didn't give a voice to the extremely ignorant and bubble-ized. The world is bigger than you and your narrow-minded views. You just have no right to be that dumb. We have too much education out there. You just have to be willing to seek it out.

I guess I'll stop here because I don't know what else to say. I just know I cringe before opening Facebook on any morning after any racially or politically charged incident occurs. I know I'm going to be saddened and disappointed by what I see and by whom. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. It's embarrassing. For all of us.

*Phi Kappa Psi scandal- http://articles.philly.com/1993-01-30/news/25958223_1_fraternity-white-students-frat-member

**Rider Shooting/Death- http://articles.philly.com/1993-03-23/news/25948741_1_racial-incident-white-students-black-students

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Out There


I'm dipping a toe into really being social. Now that's I've turned 40. I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone.What? Tara, whatever do you mean? You have tons of friends and always seem to be out and about! No, no. B calls me a "sociable loner". I know tons of people. However, I do not have a ton of friends. I know people. I flit in and out. But I don't have a crew or a clique and I don't really go out much, like for leisure, unless you count my weekly dinner out with B and E. I'm always on the go...just not socializing with others outside of the internet.

I think this would be surprising to people. It used to be surprising to me. I'm a Leo. It's supposed to be all one big friend party. But ever since Don (my friend and amazing hairdresser) told me about my Capricorn moon, I get me. I'm like one big oxymoron. Now I understand the why but I'd like to change it.

I have a friend who is just so, so good about nurturing her friendships. She has a group. A crew. It seems so fun and nice. I don't think I'll ever get to that point, but I would like to learn how to be more open in a different way than I am. I will talk about things other people would consider too personal with no problem, but when it comes to really getting close, I'm just not good at it. I always thought it was very cool of me that I don't hold grudges. That I'm fine with people coming in and out of my life whenever time manages to be on our side. While that's lovely, it doesn't really foster strong bonds. With old friends it's fine to have that thing where you can pick up the phone after six months and just pick up where you left off. I have a friend who shall not be named. She's so private that we like to joke she is part of a foreign spy network. She and I catch up when we can and whether it's six weeks or six months, the love is there. With her and other old friends like my city girl, we just have totally different lives going on. Kids vs no kids, single & dating vs married, etc. It makes sense that it's hard to find time to be social together. But if you try to have that drop in and out with newer friends, it ends up being way more out than in.

I moved to a town where the whole idea is to make connections. As I researched towns, I looked for ones that had some kind of newcomers or welcome club. I pretty much joined it before we even closed on our house. I think I really WANT to make stronger connections. B and I love this town. A big part of it is the close-knit feel. Yet, we've lived here for eight years and while I've made some friends, people I really like, I still feel like a peripheral player. I also realize this is mostly of my own doing. I don't always put myself out there. I'd say it's because I've gotten burned before, which I have. Hardcore. Though, I don't think that's it. It's part of it, of course. I just think I've just taken the path of least resistance. It's a lot of things. It's probably a combination of fear of rejection, disappointment, and my own laziness. Honestly, probably the biggest reason I end up keeping to myself is that I have a nervous talking problem. I often don't know what is going to come out of my own mouth. Sometimes, it's just better for me not to be around groups of people. Trust me, I've said some crazy shit that I couldn't even explain why if I tried.

I also don't like drama. There is a lot of drama that surrounds small town suburban mommyhood. It's just seems easier to be a loner. Show up when I want, leave when I want, not get bogged down in minutiae. But the downside of that is doing it all on my own. I think it would be nice to have more partners in crime. The internet- my message boards, Facebook groups, are easier. It's more of a come as you please. I can just shut down the computer if I need a break. But easy isn't always better. It's just different. And my internet friends are not in close proximity to me, so we can't just grab a drink or a cup of coffee.

So my new thing is to accept invitations. Without really thinking about it. To nail down plans. Cohen got me using a calendar on a regular basis, which I am super thankful for. I've been making a conscious effort to actually make plans, say yes to invitations, and to just put myself out there. I rejoined the newcomers & neighbors group just to go to the Progressive Dinner last week and I had fun. I'm talking to this one and that one and I'm thinking as I talk to people- "I really like her", "They seem like they're a really fun couple", "I would totally hang out with her/him/them". So that's my plan. To actually do it. Somehow I'm going to be a joiner. Although it may take baby steps. Starting tonight. As I go to a "Moms Night Out" with the moms from E's Kindergarten class instead of staying home and eating bell cakes from Zadies. Wish me luck.

Update: I jinxed myself by writing this in the morning. I think for the first time...ever...I'm bailing on my plans. See, once I make the plan, I HOLD the plan. I always tell people that I don't need to confirm because I'd have to be missing an appendage or something to cancel. Well, I'm not missing an appendage but as the day wore on, I got sicker and sicker. I'm now on my couch simultaneously freezing and hot with snot pouring out of my nose. No phlegm cups though, Tuck. I swear. (clearly an inside joke with one other person that really does know me). Even if I could get off my couch, I don't want to get any other mom sick. No one needs that. So, better luck next time. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shop Local for a Local Cause


Shop Local for a Local Cause!

Verdi Blu, Glen Rock’s wonderful boutique, & the Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation, a Glen Rock non-profit foundation serving the disabled in Northern NJ, team up for a special evening.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2014
6pm – 9pm
@ Verdi Blu 

227 Rock Road
Glen Rock, NJ
 

Make your holiday shopping fun and easy!
Stop by and say hello
Join them for wine and hors d’oeuvres
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Verdi Blu will donate 10% of all sales to the Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation


If you cannot join them from 6-9, you can still help by:

-shopping in the store from 9am to 9pm November 19. Please mention the
Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation when checking out

-shopping online @ verdiblu.com from November 18-20 and enter promo
code JAK14 at checkout.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation

The Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization,
is dedicated to improving the lives of those with significant disabilities
and their families.

The Foundation honors the memory of a very special girl, Julia Anne Kirsch,
who had multiple disabilities and faced many medical challenges. It was
through Julia that her parents, Teri and Cliff, became aware of the real challenges
and barriers that the disabled and their families face every day of their lives.
It was also through Julia that they learned of the special potential each individual
holds and that they and their families can lead a full and happy life.

Julia passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in November 2011. The Foundation
celebrates Julia’s brave and joyous spirit by helping disabled individuals and their
families meet the challenges they face.

http://juliakirschfoundation.org/
The Foundation seeks opportunities to provide grants and other assistance to families in need as well as support local programs and other community-based initiatives which serve the Foundation’s mission.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Neighbors

We've lived in our town for a little over eight years. Before I moved here, I was all over the internet checking it out. I wanted to know if there were town "groups". Stuff to do. Shared experiences to bring the town together. While I grew up in a small town, I didn't ever feel like it was very cohesive. It may have been and my family just wasn't part of it. I just knew that for where I was settling, in my forever town, I wanted to feel that close-knit thing other have. I felt like that would be possible in a place that had groups in place to give the chance of that bond. I know the town I grew up in didn't have a "Newcomers" kind of group, at least by the time we got there.

I found the Newcomers & Neighbors group on the town website. I immediately emailed and said we were moving to town and I wanted to get involved. Someone got back to me and told me they would be having a kick-off event in September. We were moving in late August and that was perfect.

We moved in and we joined. I heard about this thing called a Progressive Dinner. I was told it was the most popular event of the year and it was always sold out. I never heard of such an event. It's where you all start out at one house for appetizers for about an hour or a little more. Someone gives you a name tag with what house you & your spouse be going to for dinner, you separate, and then you meet up with everyone again for dessert and/or drinks. Over the years there have been sixty to one hundred people at this event.

That first year I thought we'd be hospitable and host the dessert portion. They couldn't find anyone to do it so I jumped at it. Of course I found out why no one wants to be the dessert house a bit too late. When I told B we were going to be the dessert house, let's just say he wasn't pleased. Clearly, that's where the night gets crazy. Everyone has been drinking since the appetizer house, through dinner, and you're the last stop. Sometimes an unfinished keg ends up in your yard. At least it did in mine! Honestly, it was fine. I don't even have the kind of house conducive to entertaining more than eight or ten people, let alone sixty, but it was still fine. Luckily that year it was in October and we had an unseasonably warm night. Most people hung out in the backyard. We had someone on the board of the Newcomers & Neighbors kick everyone out around 12:30am so it wasn't an all-nighter.

It was fun. It was just part of exactly what I was looking for in a town. They had other events we attended (or just me), like a wine & cheese night, Ladies Night Out, and a book club. We didn't have any kids for the first three years of our time in town. That's kind of odd here where many people have strollers with stadium seating for their brood. They did have a "D.I.N.K.S." division of the group which stood for Double Income No KidS. We went out a few times with that crew until one by one, those couples started procreating. But it was definitely a cool way to connect with people from town. Especially before you have kids, you tend to just live your normal routine, no matter where you live. You go to work, see your current friends, and nothing really changes. No school functions or obligations in which to meet people. Being part of the Newcomers forced us, in a good way, to socialize with people in town. That really helps you put down roots. To feel like you are really getting the most out of where you live.

Now it's been eight years and we're no longer "Newcomers". But we are still "Neighbors". That's the cool thing about the group- it ebbs & flows and you can always be a part of it. We stopped paying the yearly dues for around two years, just because we were busy after having a kid, with work and just life stuff. The board regimes have changed over a few times- some have been better at planning and organization than others. If you didn't have the best experience at some other time, a year could go by and it's all fresh. Old events have changed or been axed, new events have become tradition. But the core mission stays the same- to unite the townspeople. And it does.

We went to the Progressive Dinner this past weekend after not attending for a few. We had so much fun. We know the people running the show but we hardly knew any of the attendees. Most were more recently additions to town. The host for the appetizers has the perfect house for this kind of thing. Huge open floor plan and lots of room to mingle. The hour and a half went by in a flash and then it was on to dinner. We lucked out and got someone we knew for that portion. There was another couple we knew but hadn't seen in awhile and two couples where I had met the wives but hadn't spent any time with them. Finally, so coincidentally, I grew up with the wife of the last couple. I knew she moved to town and had run into her a few times but we are like ships passing in Kilroy's (little market in town). It was just a really great mix of people. Also why I drank a bottle of Moscato myself. You know, "when in Rome...". We were just having so much fun that I kept at that bottle and next thing I know, Sunday was really rough. But that's another story.

This year, they ended up doing dessert at the house you were assigned to for dinner. Like I said- it's not easy finding a dessert house. But they gave everyone a drink ticket for the Glen Rock Inn to meet up after dessert. We went over there from our dinner house but it was like being at Quincy's/The Junkyard on a night The Benjamins were playing or something. PACKED. We were out in like fifteen minutes. Besides- we'd been out since 7p, it was already after 11p and I'm now forty. I'd had enough. Yeah, yeah, ":::shakes cane:::"

Even if you're not typically a joiner, if you have a Newcomers kind of group in your town, you should check it out. It's definitely one of those things that you get out of it what you put in. If you make it to events, even just now and again, you meet cool people. Instead of having to travel far for fun, you can pretty much find fun right around the block.

Thanks to all the people who made Saturday night possible. Katie Manning (Ms Prez), her whole board, the host homes, RoCCa, etc.

Glen Rock Newcomers & Neighbors: http://glenrocknewcomers.com/

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beauty And The Beast


Beauty and "the Beast"
 
I get a call. I answer. A girl is on the other end. Sounds kind of unsure, a little frantic, and tells me she needs lampshades. A pair. Like yesterday. They "have" to be these certain dimensions and white. Immediately I know what is coming next. She's a "designer". They're for a "client". Of course.
 
Upon further discussion, I asked her why she needed those dimensions. She paused. Then she said, "Because that's the size of the ones that came on the lamps". She went on to say that she's never bought lampshades separate from a lamp. Head, meet desk. How does someone call themselves a designer and have no idea that the best lampshade for a lamp may look nothing like the one that came with it?? Where is the vision? The creativity? How has someone in that industry never bought a lampshade separate from a lamp before? Stymied, I am.

Because the scenario above is not new. Not new by any stretch of the imagination. This happens ALL THE TIME. They need it "like yesterday" and practically for free.

I would really love to know exactly what qualifies someone to call themselves a decorator or an interior designer. I am aware there is schooling to be a designer but having worked in retail, where we actually DO design and make products, I am at a loss in dealing with those who use those titles. If I've dealt with a hundred designers in the nine years I've been in this business, I'd say that I could count five who I would actually consider a designer, who designs something, and who I could recommend to someone. And that's being generous.

With as many people calling themselves designers as there are, there have to be then thousands of clients. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that of those thousands of clients, it would be impossible that they all have the same lamp. So why do 99% of decorators and designers ask us for the same thing? They all want a "white or egg, hardback drum in a linen or silk". This could be the most boring and least aesthetically pleasing of any of the choices in our store. We have it to sell just because that's what they ask for. But funny enough, the end users that come in without decorators and designers NEVER ask for that. Nevermind that the designers never bring in the lamp and are fine with just grabbing whatever is here, but I'm not sure what the endgame is with that shade. They'll take a hundred year old porcelain vase, which is nowhere close to being called "contemporary", stick that ugly white hardback on there, call it "transitional" and they're done.

I also don't understand how they have any business when they're filling everyone's house with the same thing. Or just taking, "whatever" in a pinch to fill a need. We had a "designer" call from a tv show. She needed to run over and grab "some black lampshades" for a well-known local celebrity who was having a room done over on a reality show. We asked if the celebrity then has to live with these lamps and shades from the makeover and the designer said that the lamps and shades picked were to keep. Baffled again. How do these people have jobs? I should have this job. If it's as easy as that! She didn't even care what they looked like. It's not even a design on a budget show! This celebrity is known to flaunt money on his own show. I don't know why HE and/or his wife would want to cheap out on their lighting and let someone like this pick décor out for them. How does a show have such little interest in showcasing something better? Do they just assume people will think it's attractive just because a designer on the show says it's so?
 
I'm scratching my head because I fight people on the daily to push the envelope to really do something special. I tell people that I don't let ugly things leave my store. I really CARE what people are buying from me. It hurts me when someone wants something plain and boring when I know I can do their lamps so much better. I could just sell white shallow hardback drums all day if I didn't care that my name was attached to it.
 
To me, this is being a glorified shopper. They aren't "designing" anything. I'd be hardpressed to say they're even decorating something. Doing the same thing in every house is like the real life version of Copy & Paste.They're taking a lamp made in China, stamped with an expensive name, that looks like it came from Target, and sticking a dime a dozen lampshade on it. While cooing the magic words, "clean lines". Or they're taking someone's family heirloom lamp and trying to make it contemporary by just sticking that white, plastic, shallow drum shade on it. Who couldn't do that? My five year old is more creative when he takes lamp parts off our showroom floor to "design" his own lamp. There is no way I would PAY someone to just take whatever a store had two of and be done with it.

I've been in what looks like it would be a gorgeous home- from the outside. Homes that are meant to have unique pieces. I go in and every lamp looks cheap. Meanwhile, I can see they put time and effort into other things like draperies and countertops. Yet the lighting is awful. It's a crime. Or really, sometimes, it's just sadly boring. It looks like it could be the demo house for one of those McMansion developments where people "build" from scratch but all similar from a basic design. But it's not. People live there. You just can't tell because it's a sea of beige with "contemporary" style and no personality whatsoever.
 
I also don't know where this push came from to make everything "contemporary". Maybe because now, most of what is considered contemporary is cheaper? Maybe it's cheap to the designer and they can mark it up more? It is just easier to find? Remember the 80's, when everything became "contemporary"? Lacquer, ginger jar lamps, glass, mirror, bright brass, shiny, plastic. It was bad. So why would anyone wanting a "high end" look want to bring back "contemporary". To me, even the expensive contemporary isn't that far off from the 80's. It all looks like it could've come from Ikea. Not a knock on Ikea, but if I'm paying a decorator, I don't want my house to look like everyone else's. I want statement pieces. I want unique. I don't want the same lamps and shades that look like they belong in any dorm across America. Of course there are lamps where this type of shade works or goes with it, but they are few and far between and what is cheap, usually looks cheap. And these ALL look cheap. I just don't get it.
 
The Beast
 
I rarely have someone who calls themselves a decorator or designer come in and really work up something cool with me. Luckily, *I* am the designer in my store and can work with the thousands of people who don't work with designers. I have photo upon photo of really awesome stuff I've done and making someone's lighting into functioning art.

If you have that shade in your house, you should come and see me.

www.shadesofsoho.com

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