Thanksgiving–The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Airports

Twelve hours. Eighty dollars. Four bowel movements. Three meals. Three Instagram photos. Two episodes of Boardwalk Empire. Two coffees. One novel. Too many adult beverages to count.

Thus was my lovely Thanksgiving eve spent in the Philadelphia airport.

I started my day at the ass crack of dawn being awoken to the Marimba iPhone alarm. Because I understand “wake up at 5:45 a.m.” as synonymous with “leave by 5:55 a.m.” and my ride did not, time spent getting ready was prolonged. As a first-time day-before-Thanksgiving traveler, which I’m sure most of you are aware is the busiest travel day of the year, I realized my folly in this assumption and panicked. I began relentlessly pestering my ride every 30 seconds with phrases like “hurry the hell up” and “we really have to go.” This did not end well.

In any case, I was forgiven (or at least made to think I was) and soon found myself traversing through the miraculously short security line by 6:30 a.m. for my 7:40 a.m. departure.

Here’s where I was for 12 hours the day before Thanksgiving.

It was smooth sailing. Until shit hit the fan.

Apparently the Windy City had decided to morph into this fog-covered, plane-eating hellhole. All hopes were erased of taking a sleeping pill to endure a 2-hour flight, arriving at 9 a.m., riding for an hour and a half to Michigan with my parents and taking a nap all before starting my day around noon.

So I, of course, hit Chickie’s and Pete’s for a bloody Mary and a bagel—after I’d already purchased and downed apple juice and a Danish from Au Bon Pain. I met a very nice Louisiana man who lives in New Jersey for a job two weeks a month and told me about how he had to evacuate from his beachside apartment and ended up bribing a hotel for a room. He didn’t jive well with the 15 to 20 children wreaking havoc inside the high school gymnasium shelter.

Eventually, it was back to my terminal and soon what was a 7:40 a.m. flight delayed to 8 a.m. flight delayed to a 9 a.m. flight became a canceled flight.

The airport announcers refused to call it what it was, proudly announcing “we’re not canceling it, we’re putting you on another plane!”

Thanks for clearing that up, guys.

By the time I had my laptop and charger shoved into my backpack there was a massive line full of angry Chicago-bound travelers.

While in line, I glanced to my left at a couple—a 20-something man and a woman, her back turned to me, wearing Converse shoes, jeans far too tight for her figure and a faded quasi-red dye job over blonde hair.

“Don’t cry, baby!” the man said, grabbing his girlfriend for a hug.

“I just want to be in Chicago now!” the teary eyed woman yelled, tantrum style, as she was pulled facing me by her boyfriend for comfort.

Wow, I thought, what an embarrassing way for a 20-something year old woman to be acting in public.

Meanwhile, after I phoned my dad, causing him to launch on a full-on investigation of all flight openings to Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis, a man behind me somehow got me into a conversation.

While standing in what may have been the world’s slowest line—mostly due to angry, crazy people cutting in line and bombarding the customer service representatives with questions and demands because they’re more important than the rest of us—this man and I talked about everything, from our jobs to our families to our love for Chicago.

Jose, a Latino Chicagoan, was trying to get home for the one week he spends a month with his wife and college-aged daughter. His married daughter also lives in his building.

Apparently Jose has a job doing something dental-related at Temple University three weeks a month. He is a family man who does everything he can to make his daughters happy. He reminded me of my own dad, in a way. Because of my old man, I have yet to learn how to do taxes, vacuum out the inside of my car, pay my car insurance and book my own flights.

This man was instantly my airport father.

Jose walked up to the front of the line, asked about flights, put his name on standby and demanded they put my name in then and there in addition to his.

The teamwork began. He saved my spot in line while I tried to find other customer service stations that would help us. Bingo. I called Jose over and we were instantly taken care of while those other chumps were left standing in the line that never ends.

Jose advised me to get a 6:35 p.m. flight ticket in addition to already being on standby for a 2:30 p.m. flight.

With that, we parted ways, promising to meet up while waiting for the 2:30 p.m. standby.

Back to the bar I went. And this time, I had my party hat on.

I think this was drink number two. It was a Cappuccino, yum!

However many drinks later, I was drunkenly having a conversation with a state trooper from Scranton, headed to his aunt’s house in Arizona and a 70-year-old Delaware man headed to see his son in Chicago.

The 70-year-old, we’ll just call him Bob because I don’t remember his name, was on the 2:30 p.m. flight I was on standby for. Bob let me know that the flight was delayed until 5 p.m.

Scranton state trooper eventually had to leave and I was left with Bob sharing some crab fries. Nothing bonds people like Old Bay seasoned French fries and cheese sauce.

Bob was also quite the family man. He showed me photos of his son, who is a bartender turned blogger for the Chicago Tribune (I wish I could link to the blog, but I don’t know for sure which is his). Bob told me about how he evacuated for the hurricane, has three children—50, 40-something and 25—and several grandchildren. He bought a beach house, he said, to ensure his family is always enthusiastic to visit. The smart bastard.

Anyway, Bob had me educated then and there on flood insurance, that he did expect issues with water after building that home and how he prepared to do this. So there, for all of you that I’ve heard say things like “well you have to know your home might be destroyed if you buy it there…” (and yes, I have heard this directly from people’s mouths).

Eventually though, Bob went to stretch his legs before his flight left. But not before telling me with a huge smile that I reminded him exactly of his 20-year-old granddaughter.

I decided to follow suit and left the bar. Because I intended on drinking later due to my desire to be drunk on the plane for eased nerves, I had taken a breather and was coming down off my booze high. I needed coffee, stat.

I fast walked to Peet’s Coffee and Tea and got a gingerbread latte, loaded with sugar, and messed around on the Internet. Then ended up in a bookstore where I bought “Outliers.”

I’ve heard this was a good one!

On the way back to the waiting area for my standby flight, I made a pit stop at the bathroom. Anyone who knows me knows I like to walk very briskly. So, naturally, I made my way to the bathroom quickly. Apparently, after I got in line, I ended up between a woman and her daughter. The teenage or young adult daughter, behind me, “accidentally” bumped into me. Guess she thought I was trying to compete for a line spot. I rolled my eyes and continued waiting. It’s not my fault she wasn’t an arm’s length away from her mom and I got in line before her.

Then back to the waiting area it was.

Jose came up to greet me. He shook my hand and said he was glad to see me. I asked him if he knew where our bags were and he shrugged. But he vowed to help me find mine.

“I stick with you once we get to the airport,” he said. “Go to baggage claim, then vamonos.”

My heart swelled with compassion for my airport father at this comment.

He sat down to talk with an older gentleman and I heard his name called. He didn’t hear it so I went over to let him know. After he got his ticket from customer service, he returned to me and said they had room for 9 more people on that flight and that he hoped I got one of them.

“See you in Chicago,” he said, as he readied himself to board the plane. “I’ll be waiting for you over there.”

I really wanted to get on this plane with Jose. But I wasn’t called.

After the plane left, I went to the terminal where my now 7:25 p.m. flight would be leaving. There was another plane currently boarding for Chicago. Suddenly, to my surprise, my name was called.

I got my standby ticket and got in line next to two young parents and their two toddler-aged kids. Confused by the line, I asked them what was going on and they told me they were doing standby flights before the plane boarded because apparently some people didn’t check in for the flight. They got in on standby too—and they were originally on my 7:40 a.m. flight.

“You’ve been here half a day with two small children!?” I looked at them flabbergasted. “They seem to be holding up well!”

“They have been!” the father said. “But we almost went back home at one point.”

The family was called to board early, due to the fact that they had small children, and wished me happy holiday.

I got on my 6:40 p.m. standby flight to Chicago Midway. I saw and greeted Bob and gave the family of four a warm smile.

My bag arrived on a separate plane and my parents picked me up and drove me to Michigan.

I never did see Jose again.

Though this whole experience may sound like a total pain in the ass, it showed me a lot of sides of the airport—the good, the bad and the ugly.

While I had to deal with horrible circumstances and pissy, entitled people butting in here and there, I’m thankful for some of the people I met those 12 hours in the airport and their tenderness to a complete stranger is truly touching.

Now if it could be like that in real life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

My mom’s decor is hilarious.

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Things people should learn about dog owners

Having a dog is a slightly easier version of having a child. Or at least I think so. I wouldn’t dare utter that sentence to someone with a child, but luckily when I was back home in Michigan last my neighbor with three kids and two dogs made that comparison for me.

Regardless, I feel like a belong to a community of generally pissy people whose worlds revolve around their little one, as I commonly call my dog Sedona.

If you’re confused by the word “pissy,” just think back to any time you ever heard your parents yell at other parents or babysitters for letting you drink pop, letting their kid throw rocks at you (this legit happened to me at the beach when I was really young) or letting you play with matches. Parents TOTALLY get into other people’s business and bitch up a storm.

Same with dog mommies and daddies.

Regardless, so you can perhaps make me or any other dog owner happy, here’s my don’ts when it come to the doggie clique.

1. If it’s not a dog park, your dog belongs on a leash.

This is directed at other dog owners. It gets on my nerves on a daily basis. I live right by a park between a very busy road called Kelly Drive and another not-so-busy road called Pennsylvania Avenue. In this little stretch of land is where I take Sedona to do her business.

Thus, so does every other household with a dog within a half mile radius.

Although the rules of Fairmount Park clearly state that dogs must not be off leash, several canine owners let their dogs wander at their leisure.

“Whatever! My dog isn’t going to run away! I have decent control over him/her! Oh, and he/she’s friendly!” is what I imagine they think.

“My dog hates other pooches. Lest your dog get too close, it might be missing a face,” is moreso what I think.

The rules of parks are not that way for just your dog. Take your damn dog to a dog park to let it roam.

Honestly. You don’t see me bringing my dog to a dog park and letting her go on a killing spree. So maybe you should stop bringing your dog sans leash to a non-dog park to run up to children, dog haters and dogs that hate dogs.

Before anyone goes on thinking my dog is mean, know that she’s a people dog, not a dog dog. She’ll approach any human with her tail a-swingin’. And yes, she does need training and has had it via two different trainers. Neither of them helped. Miss Sedona needs no amateur and it will no doubt cost too much money. Money — and time — that I don’t have at the moment. But I’ll agree. I do owe it to my dog to fix this.

2. I get that you don’t mind that my dog jumps on you, but I do. So don’t let her.

Every time someone walks in or walks up to us, I tell Sedona not to jump and sometimes hold her leash. And the one being jumped on will respond with an “oh, it’s OK!” because they love dogs.

Um, wrong. It’s not OK. Just think about the fact that you don’t have to deal with this dog every time this happens.

Problem: when I went home to Michigan, Sedona jumped on my 88-year-old grandfather who uses a walker to get around. How is she supposed to differentiate from a dog-loving, able-bodied person and a feeble, old man? Or a three-foot tall child?

Don’t tell me my business with my jumping pup. And don’t continue to disregard me and let her jump on you because you think it’s cute. Because to me, ya know her owner, it’s not.

3. Do not, not, not feed my dog!

I get that you really want my dog to like you. Because she’s so hard to win affection from and all, but my dog does not eat people food for a reason. Not only is it not good for her (I have her on a diet of grain-free, meat pellets because her breed is mostly wild. And she also eats locally, lol.), but I don’t want her thinking she can annoy the crap out of people when they’re eating.

In my opinion, dogs should be laying down under the table or in the livingroom when people are eating. Period.

4. Don’t feed my dog ice cubes or water, unless you want to clean up barf for me.

For some odd reason, Sedona has a sensitive stomach when it comes to cold liquids. Her stomach also doesn’t like liquids in large portions.

This is really a Sedona problem, not a dog problem.

5. Unless you like butthole and va-jay juices, you probably shouldn’t let her lick your face.

I’ve never understood why this appealed to some people to begin with. But Sedona’s breed (Canaan Dogs), like to self-groom…a lot. She spends a lot of time licking herself…all over. My dad used to shoo her away from licking her no-no zones. But I say, heck. She’s a dog. She’ll do it when I’m not around anyway. And it leaves less for me to do, I guess.

6. If I’m doing training, I obviously can’t talk to you right now.

I just love it when people are starting conversations with me while my dog is (or is about to start) barking and pulling me, meaning I need to correct her behavior.

7. When I ask you if you’re a “dog person,” that doesn’t mean “do you like dogs.”

That question really means “do you know how to handle dogs,” which, I’ve learned, most people do not. They only know how to handle something like a Golden Retriever, which won’t typically display naughty, wily dominant behavior.

My dog has a serious case of the smarts and will take advantage of you if she can. Hence, my list of people allowed to care for her when I’m out of town remains at two people.

Well, if I didn’t represent pissy dog people all over, I don’t know what I did! Please don’t take all this complaining to heart — it’s for all our own good that SOMEONE tells you non-dog as well as dog people what’s up!

Baby Sedonie should be a model, amIright?

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Surviving Sandy — my second Philadelphia hurricane

Oops. I hope I didn’t jinx the rest of us after I spoke too soon mid-September when I said I managed to get through my second hurricane season having only Irene under my belt.

I should have known better than to say this.

I honestly really, really thought there wouldn’t be a hurricane this year.

As an oddly superstitious individual, I apologize — though I don’t really believe I caused Frankenstorm to plow through and pulverize my neighbors to the East in Jersey.

There was great cause for alarm with this storm, for those of you who either haven’t been watching the news or live somewhere that didn’t have this streaming constantly on news channels. Meteorologists dubbed Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in the East Coast “Frankenstorm” not because they were trying to be festive and get in the Halloween spirit, but more so because a winter storm coming in from the West combined with Sandy to make for a rather unusual storm. Oh yeah, and it was a full moon — which tends to mess with tides.

These conditions are similar to that of a 1991 storm, which was the inspiration for the 1997 novel and 2000 movie The Perfect Storm. Except the difference here is that the Associated Press said in an article that this storm was supposed to be stronger, bigger and affect more people.

Frankenstorm was estimated to cause $1 billion in damage. I’m not sure when we’ll actually know the real numbers, but a good portion of the Shore — along with New York City subways — is under water. Images of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie glowed from my TV this morning saying there were houses lifted off their foundations and laying mid-state highways.

Here in Philadelphia, at least in the Art Museum/Fairmount neighborhood, things were relatively quiet this morning.

As I took my dog, Sedona, out, I noticed a couple problems with trees. There was one down near the train tracks in a fenced off trench-like area that would not affect people.

Here’s the tree down by the train tracks.

When we got to the park, which lies atop a giant hill with Kelly Drive at the bottom and usually has 10 or so dogs running amuck, I was almost heartbroken to see my favorite tree not doing so hot.

This tree at Fairmount Park in the Art Museum is leaning a bit.

Though its roots aren’t out of the ground, I think this is a cause for alarm. There’s a playground located to the right of the tree, opposite the lean, and there’s wide, open fields to the left where dogs and their owners usually gather.

Sedona is always on leash, given her finicky temperment with other dogs as well as the rules of Fairmount Park (don’t get me started on this one), but I was so pissed off at all the oblivious and terrible dog parents out there. They just let their dogs go nuts like usual with this leaning tree and seemingly ignored their surroundings and walked near this themselves.

There’s also a wooded area, next to the trench where the train tracks lie, where folks go on trails with their dogs. As usual, people are flooding out of there. Nevermind your safety or your dog’s safety.

Meanwhile, the populated areas of my neighborhood seem relatively untouched, with the exception of leaves scattered all over.

While the end result — at least in my neighborhood — wasn’t all that bad, let’s look into the experience as a whole.

First off, SEPTA — which is responsible for all buses, trolleys, our two subway lines and regional rail — closed off operations Monday and is slowly restoring service today. Needless to stay, mostly everyone I know stayed home from work.

But that didn’t stop me from working on a story Sunday night. I went from covering an outdoor food cooperative’s general membership meeting to covering their store’s closing for the hurricane.

The cooperative was battery-less, flashlight-less and bottled water-less. The rest of the grocery stores seemed to follow suit. This was similar to that of last year’s preparation. And if you’d like to see photos, you have to click on the link because I don’t currently own those photos and can’t publish them.

Sidenote: while on this story I also bought Sedona some dog food and an umbrella, since I’d lost mine.

Keep in mind, all of this was prior to the hurricane hitting, which actually happened here in Philadelphia Monday night around 9 p.m. It came ashore in New Jersey around 5 p.m. Monday evening.

But I’m going to stop here and give you some background on my personal experience with this storm.

For some reason in May 2011, I became totally obsessed with following the Joplin tornado tragedy. The May 22 tornado, which killed 142 people according to USA Today, scared the shit out of me. And that particular May was full of tornadoes. A tornado actually hit Northeast Philadelphia May 19 just before I visited the area — from Michigan and prior to my big move — to search for apartments.

And when I returned to Michigan, I took a trip with my dog, who was about three months old at the time, to visit my then-boyfriend in East Lansing, Mich., two hours from my hometown. I was determined to soak up as much time as I could with him before I moved to Philadelphia on June 1. Needless to say, I didn’t let storms discourage me from getting to him. But during my trip, there was a portion on the highway that was extremely bad. All of a sudden, the entire sky and everything around me turned this deep, dark, eerily foggy green. I couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me — and miraculously I didn’t get hit by another car, I didn’t hit another car and I stayed on the road even though I had no idea where it was. I was on the phone with my parents through my OnStar, which is handsfree, and I started freaking out and screaming bloody murder. There’d been Tornado Watch issued for the area earlier in the day, so I was convinced there was a tornado and I was going to die. My mom said she’d never heard any person make noises like that.

The reason this is important is because this is the point where I developed a fear of storms.

So the fact that I have an extremely apathetic dog who looks at me like a moody teenager embarrassed of her dopey mom doesn’t comfort me much.

Last year, during Irene, I went to my old roommate Emily’s parent’s house in North Wales to ride out the storm. We, along with Sedona and Emily’s younger brother, rode out the storm in the basement. I remember there being a ton of tornadoes during my first-ever hurricane — a shocker to me.

So there was no way in hell I would be hangin’ alone in my house during Sandy.

Sunday night, Sedona and I went to Fishtown for a sleepover/visit. Armed with my rain boots, full-length raincoat, umbrella, overnight bag and a dog bed, Sedona knew something was up and was not pleased. Nor was I, to be honest.

Sedona says “hell nah!” to hurricanes.

We had to go outside for Sedona to relieve herself in the rain a couple of times, but the rain wasn’t really pelting us, there wasn’t a whole lot of flooding and for the most part it wasn’t a big deal.

I even felt slightly embarrassed for insisting I needed a hurricane buddy because throughout the night there was just a bit sprinkling happening.

After spending the night in Fishtown, about two miles from my neighborhood, Sedona and I decided we’d overstayed our welcome and headed back around noon on Monday. We had another day of hurricane troubles, but at least I had my roommate to lean on, right?


She was spending the night at her sister’s house just outside the city in Conshohocken,PA.  And I don’t blame her.

But it’s all good, I thought. I’ve got batteries, water, canned food. I’ll be OK.

One Wawa hoagie run, a shower, moving outdoor furniture to the basement and a dog walk later, I decided to leave my easily-found parking spot in front of my house would be OK, regardless of the fact that it was below a tree which extended higher than the houses.

Here’s my car and the tree.

Once I decided to stay, I knew I was locked into this house.

Thus began my furious cleaning.

With the TV on, I went through just about everything you can do in this house. From the floors to the bathtub to the stove top to dusting — I literally did it all.

I also kept tabs on Facebook to see who of my friends were void of power. Only a few people updated that their power was out. One in Bensalem — which I thought was supposed to be evacuated — one in Chestnut Hill and another Fishtown.

I decided to light candles in case the power went out so I wouldn’t be disoriented.

After cleaning, I was filing my nails at around 9 p.m. and my somewhat flickering power cut out. My heart dropped. I got up. Went to my cell phone across the room. Just then, the power turned back on.

But I did not celebrate, given my experience with my Tweet about hurricanes.

Throughout the night, though from correspondence with friends I heard otherwise in their experience, I only heard a few gusts and all remained calm.

How calm?

This is how calm.

As Sedona and I laid in bed, prepared to sleep, I heard her fart.

She wasn’t in the least bit upset, though she never tends to be by storms.

This is how Sedona spent the night during Hurricane Sandy.

I attribute this calmness to the fact that I live in a large area with blocks and blocks of two-to-three story houses and buildings as well as a wooded area atop a hill. I think all this blocked the wind for me. My house is a row home with two exposed sides — both sandwiched between other houses and apartment buildings.

When I took Sedona out to an open area to pee at 9 p.m., a gust blew us about a bit. Winds were reported around 50 mph at that time.

And to answer this cliffhanger, my car was fine.

Overall, I think my obsessive cleaning, home’s good location and lack of rain, thunder and lightening attributed to me not having an anxiety attack.

We’ll see how this goes next year.

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Yes, apartment, I’ll miss you

Gather ’round the campfire boys and girls. Because I’m about to hold a flashlight under my chin, Goosebumps style, and tell you a ghost story.

Last night was the return of the alleged ghost that hangs out in my apartment. I say alleged because my journalism background tells me that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Or something like that. Anyhow, I’m not going to acknowledge or deny anything.

But back to my campfire tale.

It all started in October. My roommate had been gone visiting her family in upstate New York for nearly four days. She wasn’t to come home for another week or so. My 30-pound Canaan Dog, Sedona, was on a doggie vacation of sorts and was not in the apartment.

I woke up at around 7 a.m., got picked up by a friend and made my way to Manayunk for a Halloween 5k race.

After getting a good workout in, I returned home soaking wet from both sweat and rain at around 9:30 a.m.

The first thing I did was go to my kitchen and grab a glass of water.
I then went up the stairs onto the third floor of the apartment where my roommate and my bedrooms were — which are separated by a bathroom.

I immediately noticed something was off. I looked across the hall from my room to my roommate’s to see her door wide open. It had been closed the past few days while she was gone. It wasn’t just cracked, it was wide open.

Weird, I thought. The door was locked when I returned. There was no sign of forced entry. But who would break into an apartment in those early morning hours? Also, it’s Saturday. I don’t think maintenance would have been here. And we don’t have anything we need worked on anyway.

I made the decision to look through the apartment to see if anything looked out of place. My roommate’s room looked perfectly normal. My room was just as I left it. But then I went downstairs and a linen closet — which was always shut — was open.

What the hell is going on here, I thought.

I called my roommate.

Hey, I asked. Does Baby know how to open doors?

Baby is my roommate’s cat.

She replied that the cat hadn’t done anything like that before. And she wasn’t sure it was capable.

So I had no choice but to tell her about the odd occurrence. We were both sort of spooked, but we decided not to talk about it or think about it again. But, alas, she returned and all was quiet.

Until a few weeks later, when I awoke to repetitive bangs.

I sat in bed, eyes wide open. It was probably only 3 a.m. or so. After much deliberation, I decided since, ya know, I was a grown up and my dad wasn’t going to handle this one that I’d better get up and check it out.

I slowly walked, almost heel-to-toe like I was walking a plank, to my roommate’s door across the hall — which was where I could tell the noise was coming from. I took a deep breath and rapped on her door.

I called her name, as if it were a question.

She opened the door. Her lights were on.

What was that? I asked.

I woke up in the middle of the night and my door opened by itself, she said. So I went over to shut it and it kept reopening. I grabbed books and was shoving them against it. It finally closed.

My stomach flopped. I thought of the time her door was open when no one had been in the house a few weeks ago.

But I said nothing and went to bed, meaning I sat in bed and didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

The next day I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom between both of our rooms.

Hey, last night, did you think of the time when I came home to your door open?

She looked at me and said, yeah…and that time I woke up and thought I saw a person standing over me.

What. The. Fuck.

Why wouldn’t you tell me this?! I said.

She told me she didn’t know. She just didn’t want to think about it again. She’d blinked her eyes a few times to make it go away, and eventually it did. And she thought maybe it had been a dream.

I didn’t sleep well the next night either. But I sure was glad that my room seemed to be a safe haven. This is why I pretty much never got scared again.

But after that night, we to always leave lights on in the hallway while we slept.

Throughout the next couple of months, I would wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (this is a habit of mine because I have an extremely small bladder and can’t make it through the night) to see her door cracked open. She has never left it cracked like that. It’s always closed. Also, the door never cracked open before the initial incident.

But again, nothing was bothering me.

My roommate, however, experienced something different. She said she heard someone whisper what she thought was “miss me” in her ear. Also, she said she’d come home to this blanket that she always stashed in her closet neatly folded on her bed. I’ve seen this blanket on her bed before. And I know this because I thought it odd she’d fold a blanket but leave her comforter crumpled. However, I didn’t really think much of it — at the time.

There was even one time where I woke up to footsteps on the creaky wooden stairs leading up to our floor. But I wasn’t scared. And I shrugged it off and went to sleep. I asked my roommate about it the next day, and she said it wasn’t her.

But after these handfuls of incidents over only about three-to-four months, nothing happened again.

Until last night.

I was chatting with my roommate while standing in her doorway, when I noticed a light turn off on the second floor. I acknowledged it. And my roommate told me to ignore the fact that that had just happened.

I was on my way out for a 9 p.m. run, so I decided to see if the light had burnt out.

When I flipped the switch, the light turned on. It was not burnt out.

But I just continued on my way out and paid it no mind.

I’m not sure what this is all about. And to be honest, I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me, scare me or anything like that.

This is an absolutely lovely apartment where I’ve always felt welcome and at home the whole time I’ve lived here (almost a year).

If these shenanigans were caused by a ghost — which I’m not quite sure I believe in — I say it’s welcome.

Although it is nice that I’m moving to a house with a new roommate in a week.

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The other side of the pen — or camera, in this case

When I’m doing a news story, I’ll on occasion get an interviewee who stammers something like “oh, I’m not good at this kind of thing” or “I’m nervous, I’ve never done this before.”

I put on my kindest sweet girl voice and tell them, “don’t worry about it. I swear, it’s not that scary!”

But my thoughts match more of an eyes rolling gesture.

“Honestly,” I think to myself, “it’s not that scary to talk to a reporter.”

And the other thing that people don’t get is that it’s my job to make people talk. I ask the right questions, phrased in exactly the right way to get something along the lines of what I need for my story.

It’s not like I’m being manipulative and coaxing my interviewees to say a certain thing. Because when it comes down to it, I make them articulate the “why” of it. A little bit of a lead goes a long way.

So why on earth would you be nervous?

But it wasn’t until yesterday that I got a taste of my own medicine.

I met up with my fellow journalist friend and competitor Zach Subar to get some grub from local food trucks while trying to (unsuccessfully) cool off by the Delaware on the Race Street Pier to the tune of the West Philadelphia Orchestra.

While Zach accompanied me to purchase some water and an iced mocha something-or-another from Rival Bros. (um, delish might I add), we saw the ABC Channel 6 News truck roll up.

Journalists are always on the lookout for other journalists. We do, after all, have like the coolest job ever. So of course we were intrigued.

But we let the men do their jobs while we headed back to our seats.

After we took our seats, we commented on how the reporter looked like more of a print kind of guy — and trust me, if you’re a journalist there’s a difference between writers and TV people. The man was older, had several lines in his face, donned glasses and looked like the kind of dude you’d want to smoke a cigar and sip on a beer with.

It wasn’t until later that he and the camera man traversed our way and asked us for an interview.

Being fully aware of the annoyances of being turned down when it’s really not that big of a deal to share your opinion, we both accepted.

And I was also secretly excited beyond belief.

While Zach interviewed first, I felt quite impressed by his articulate answers and general comfort with a camera and mic in his face.

But I couldn’t help but giggle at the situation. It isn’t often that we’re on this end. It felt strange, actually. And I don’t think I’ve ever been interviewed before, besides by fellow classmates in college.

When my turn in the limelight came, the reporter commented on my uncontrollable laughter. Zach intervened, saying “well we’re both journalists, so this is ironic.”

The reporter gave a simple nod and convened with his questions about how I’m dealing with the heat.

I left my sunglasses on. And I nervously smiled and tossed out some bullshit about how I’ve been waiting for the sun to go down and for it to cool off. I also mentioned that I work from home and I’ll probably be camped inside coffee shops tomorrow.

I forgot the next day would be Saturday.

After the reporter and the camera man jaunted away, I rolled my eyes and commented on how stupid I sounded compared to Zach.

Although I looked like an idiot, Zach and I both were elated at the fact that we might be on TV and that we were interviewed by a real live reporter (forgetting that we, too, were just as impressive).

Then it hit us — the experience must be just as exciting for some people we’re talking to while working. And although Zach handled the interview gracefully, I finally understood nerves when it comes to something I think is so easy and simple.

My mind flashed back to a time when my dad and I were in New York City for the U.S. Open. My dad is an ungodly early riser, so he was walking the streets early one morning while wearing an Open hat. He was stopped and asked for an interview by a British TV crew. He recited his answer to the question “what do you think Murray will bring to the court today?” … which was “talent.”

“Are you serious dad?” I asked. “You’re actually a very knowledgeable person when it comes to tennis and you answered ‘talent?!’ Why didn’t you talk about the strengths of his game? You’ve been watching him on the courts for years.”

My dad got wide eyed, shrugged and answered “I don’t know” in a voice that made it seem like it was an opportunity missed.

And I suppose it was an opportunity missed for me too. Because I didn’t make it onto the news segment about dealing with hot weather today.

But Zach did.

Looks like I’ll stick with my day job.

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It is confirmed: I’m a Philadelphian

The song “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie strongly evokes feelings of elation, calmness and pure, unadulterated happiness. It’s close to what I’ve pegged as a feel-good song (that’s another explanation for another time).

The difference between feel good songs and this one is that “San Francisco” makes you feel — and I’m sure it was McKenzie’s intention — like San Francisco is somewhere in which you can easily feel at home.

In fact, the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros — which totally delivers feelings of its title — has always reminded me of “San Francisco.”

But upon visiting the City by the Bay, those weren’t so much my feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, San Fran was simply lovely, but it’s no home of mine.

Let me explain.

I spent a good chunk of my time wandering the streets by myself — which is something I actually really like to do — because the friend I was visiting had to go to work during the day.

So there I’d be, hopping off the CalTrain that I rode 20 minutes from San Mateo to 4th and King Streets, somewhat northeast in the city. If you look at a map, you’d think it’s no big deal to walk to other places.

Um, wrong.

To get to different portions of the city, you have to take some sort of transportation — be it cab, bus, subway or cable car. This isn’t quite what I’m used to in Philadelphia. You can traverse from Center City to South Philadelphia in a matter of 15 minutes or so. And the same goes for other neighborhoods that house all the cool attractions — Olde City, Rittenhouse Square, Northern Liberties and the Art Museum.

Not that there’s no reason one wouldn’t want to go to far away northwestern neighborhoods like Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and Roxborough (I still plan on visiting for certain things when I move), but getting in a car every other week go get there is no big deal.

If I had to get in a car every time I want to go out or get to something that isn’t available in my neighborhood, I’d go nuts. Hence, anywhere that makes driving required to get to the areas you’ll probably want to frequent would make my life a living hell.

That’s the first and foremost thing “home” has to have for me.

So here’s where I learned it was the final straw.

One day, I found myself downtown at a coffee shop called Sugar (coffee shop by day, martini bar by night…a pretty good spot). When it came time to jaunt to a different area and do some sight seeing, I chose Haight-Ashbury.

For those of you who don’t know, the intersection and its colorful Victorian houses in the surrounding areas were basically an epicenter of hippie culture in the 60s and the Summer of Love.

So, clearly, I was going to visit.

It is a good 3 miles. Otherwise known as an hour and 15 minute walk. No problem, I thought. I’ll just take a cab.

Easier said than done.

If I happened to cross paths with a cab (one that wasn’t occupied), and successfully hailed it, the driver would tell me no. Umm……what? Did you really just tell someone who is going to pay you for a ride ‘no!?’

I was furious. Not that I’m crying about walking. I like to walk. But have you seen how hilly San Francisco is? Furthermore, I had to deal with not knowing what kind of neighborhoods I was going to pass through. Luckily, nothing surprises me after living in Philadelphia.

All I had to deal with was getting holla’d at a few times by men who clearly didn’t have any employment. Whatever.

However, once Ididget to Haight-Ashbury, the promise of a cool stuff was delivered.

I don’t really know what’s wrong with me, but I didn’t take pictures. Besides this one nearing the area depicting colorfully painted Victorian homes.

I’m in love with Victorian houses…so I was pretty geeked about seeing these and fantasizing about living in them.

The area was cool because it had some street performers, fantastic murals and some…interesting…shops. From head shops to pin-up clothing shops to a really morbid death-themed store, I think it was the oddest assortment of businesses I’d ever seen. In a good way.

But reason number two as to why I’d never live there has to do with weather. Yes, I’m going there. I know you fellow Midwesterners and East Coasters act like you’d be happy never to see snow again — and I might feel that way too — but I actually like the hot weather.

I was told by anyone who crossed my path that San Francisco essentially had the same weather year round — meaning mid 60s and sunshine.

Although I’d be delighted by this in the winter, I like a good heat wave. (And good thing, since Phila has been and will continue to be experiencing temperatures in the 90s.)

Thank God I looked up the weather in San Francisco before I went. I was under the impression that California was hot. So I probably would have shown up wearing tiny sundresses and shorts like I have been here in Philadelphia. Instead I wore Keds or sandals, jeans and a leather Jacket or cardigan most of the trip.

I also got back to Philadelphia thinking it was hotter than hell. So I had to readjust to the temperature. Now I’m not feeling it’s all that bad.

Reason number three has to do with the gentle people McKenzie mentioned in his song.

The people of San Francisco were indeed gentle, kind and all-around pleasant.

How is this a problem, you may ask?

Well, this is going to make me sound like a dog that goes back to its owner after being kicked, but I have grown so accustomed to being the only nice person (or with a higher standard of politeness, as I commonly look at it), that I actually think the challenge of talking to East Coasters is fun.

However, I can’t lie. I was impressed by a particular exchange with a San Franciscan. While trying to catch a cab, I asked a passerby where the best spot to catch a cab was. He pointed me to a corner. Eventually, he caught up with me and saw me having trouble. He gave me the number to a cab service and chatted with me about the city. Umm, so nice! There’s no way in hell an East Coaster would do that. And, I confess, I Googled the number he gave me to ensure it was a cab service. This is the paranoid East Coast mentality that must’ve seeped into my head.

And the last reason I wouldn’t like to live in San Francisco is rent. Although things were very cheap — I got $10 bottomless mimosas at brunch and a $5 latte and croissant combo — everyone told me that rent is not cheaper, in the city or outside of it, than $1,000 a month. Um, no thank you. I’ll stick with my $550 rent — dog fees included.

I understand that this post probably makes me seem like a cynic and you might feel inclined to say, Lane. You were just visiting. It’s not like you had to move there or anything.

But because I’m such a youngin’ and have always dreamed of moving to California someday, I’m surveying situations. So far, Chicago, Phoenix and — of course — Philadelphia are the only cities I’d be inclined to live in.

And don’t get it twisted, San Francisco was baller. I loved Fisherman’s Wharf, shopping downtown and Alcatraz.

Here’s Alcatraz, from a distance.

This is my friend, Berta, and I being goons with a giant guitar in Fisherman’s Wharf.

The city as a whole, for lack of better expression, was clean and fucking gorgeous.

But nothing trumps Philly dinge and character. So it may be time for me to be dubbed an honorary Philadelphian.

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Celebrating one year of Philadelphia

I’m always the kind of person that needs to be reminded of birthdays with writing them on calendars, cell phone reminders and — of course — the all-knowing Facebook.

But a year anniversary? I can’t believe I would forget this one.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in an Afghan restaurant today eating food I can’t pronounce with a friend plus her friend that I remembered.

Wow. It’s June 2.

As of today, I’ve spent a whole year with what may be the love of my life — Philadelphia.

This wondrous year has been filled with laughs, wine-filled evenings, new adventures, bickering and those mornings where I didn’t want to wake up next to the bum. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

As a college student with a measly nine credits left on her plate, I refused to spend my last semester in Michigan. Therefore, I told my only national internship that I’d only work for them if they offered me an internship that was not in my home state. I filled in my top three places in order — D.C., Philadelphia and Michigan.

Guess which one I got.

A year ago, I drove 12 hours from my hometown with my then-boyfriend to Northeast Philadelphia — right by Franklin Mills, if you’re familiar.

About three months later, I made the decision — after my internship was completed — to stay in Philadelphia and become a freelance journalist.

I moved to Chestnut Hill, as I wasn’t a fan of the non-walkable, bland northeast, and from then on out it’s history.

So you may have figured that I am smitten with Philadelphia. Why would I be blogging about my experience with it if I wasn’t?

But you know what one of the best parts of Philadelphia is?

It’s flaws.

I love Philadelphia’s indescribable dinge. No matter where you are, save Chestnut Hill because it’s a National Historic District, there’s this dirtiness on the streets. And everything is condensed and small.

But at the same time, there’s not many tall buildings, even in Center City. This is due to the fact that it used to be illegal to build anything taller than City Hall.

Another one of my favorite negative positive things is the people.

East Coasters, as you may have guessed, are a little less caring and extroverted with strangers compared with Michiganders and Midwesterners.

But today, I truly observed all kinds of Philadelphia flair on my way back to my northeast corner from Center City for an indie film and dinner.

First off, I enjoyed some Wonderwomen, Batmen, and Captain Americas en route to the train station from Olde City. It was from Comic-con, but still.

Second, I enjoyed listening to a loud verbal fight in full-on Philadelphian accent (hey yous guys…).

And last, but certainly not least, I came to Market East Train Station and saw tons of teenagers dressed in country attire. When I went to the restroom before my train got there, there were two cops kindly speaking with some teenage girls about their friend who was, from what I heard them say, unable to walk and puking everywhere. They didn’t really give a fuck about the fact that there was a super drunk underage girl, they really were just trying to get them to take her home so they could go make better use of their time.

So here’s to you and me, Philadelphia. May we have one more year of bliss.

And by the way, this is a tired person’s attempt at noting this day. I’ll have more to come this week on my year anniversary with the wonderful City of Brotherly Love.

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A Philadelphia brawl

If you don’t like violence and vulgarity, this post is not for you.

But if you do, then keep reading my friend.

Last night around 8:30 p.m. I was sitting in bed minding my own business, pretending to work through some articles while watching True Blood.

But then a couple of angry-sounding exchanges broke my intense concentration.

I gazed through my open window and saw a 50-something man, with graying hair, a nice button up shirt and khaki pants. He was yelling back at another man who was fairly young, but I couldn’t tell exactly what he looked like because there were tree branches in my line of sight.

The young man called something like “your wife sucked my dick.”

The older man was saying he’d call the police.

The younger man replied with something like “oh yeah? You don’t even have your phone out.”

And then, somehow, it progressed to the point where the older man took off running the 10-to-15 feet down the street and threw punches at the younger man.

I ran to my door and yelled to my roommate, “Molly! Come quick! There’s a fight outside my window!”

She yelled back “I know, I’m watching it too” from the living room below my room.

Since those are bay windows, I joined her down there to widen my peripherals.

I must have missed something good because the older man was walking back to what I assume was his car.

He called out “hey asshole, you forgot your keys!” and dangled them in the air.

Then he spoke to two high school looking boys on the other side of the street and said, grinning “maybe I’ll make him fish these out of the drain.”

But don’t worry. He didn’t put them down the storm drain. He simply crossed the street, spoke with some baffled bystanders and took off.

Molly and I sat on the couch by the bay windows and looked at each other like…”what?”

“Did you hear him saying ‘your wife sucked my dick?'” she said.

I nodded.

“I don’t get why he said that. Obviously that never happened,” she said, as we both burst out laughing.

But seriously. Why do men always say things like that? If someone said something similar to me about someone I loved, I’d say um, no. No. This person did nothing of the kind. What’s worse is that other men get peeved by it, clearly, if this older gent was taunted into trying to beat on this stupid, mouthy kid.

But after probably three minutes of recounting the stupidity of the event, a police van came flying down the street.

I told Molly I was going to continue watching. She suggested that we go out on the porch.

As we got onto the porch, we saw that the van was going down the street to probably the trashiest bar in Chestnut Hill — Towey’s Tavern.

Oh, good.

But then the police exited the bar.

As Molly and I were walking back in the apartment, we chuckled at the fact that it probably took the police two minutes to arrive on scene. Whereas a few miles down the street in Germantown, they have a real crime problem.

“Oh well, just another body,” my roommate sarcastically said as if she were talking from the Philadelphia PD’s point of view.

Anyway, the mystery prevails. I’ll never know if anyone was arrested or what the hell they were fighting about in the first place. But Molly and decided that it sounded like the younger gent was looking for a fight. However, I’m surprised that a Chestnut Hill guy would throw a punch. Ya know, given that this area of Philadelphia is known for being rather rich and stuck up.

Anyway, that was my excitement for the night. I got to see a man defend his wife’s honor over some annoying kid. Hope it was worth it.

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My wet-nosed, hairy child — Happy Mothers Day!

I woke up to a slow, steady, low growl.

As my eyes came into focus, I could see my 33-pound white dingo-like Canaan Dog standing in the corner of my bed facing my bedroom door. Her body was in battle mode, with her tail down, her normally erect ears out to the side and her muscles tense.

I swiftly got out of bed, put sweatpants on, turned off the fan I use as ambient noise, slid a racket out of my tennis bag and tucked my cell phone into the waistband of my pants.

This could be as simple as my roommate coming home at 3 a.m., I thought, but it’s not nothing. Sedona never growls when something isn’t off.

My mind flashed back to the time my roommate’s boyfriend walked into the apartment late one night. As I was reading a book in bed, Sedona suddenly sat up very erect with her ears perked up and her head tilting from side-to-side. I let her our of my room and a few minutes later heard her jumping and Raul’s friendly voice. I didn’t even hear the door open. Not surprising, since it’s two levels down from my room.

I also think she reacted the way she did because she could smell Raul, who has a mutually adoring relationship with her.

But this time was different. It was more like another time where I believe she heard a noise on our front porch. Sedona shot out of my room, patrolled the house and returned back for bed. It could be small, but there was something Sedona didn’t like this time. And I didn’t intend to chance it being something small.

I placed my ear to the crack between the door and the frame. Dead silence.

Trying hard to not ignore my grown up responsibilities, I took a step back, twisted the knob and let Sedona fly out of my room.

Seconds after I let Sedona out, I could see my roommate’s cat camped out by my door. She was face-to-face with Sedona letting out a nasty meow.

I was relieved. I knew immediately that this was what Sedona didn’t like. The cat usually chases Sedona, because frankly she’s a big coward, but Sedona chases the cat out of my room. This is her territory. When the cat backed off, Sedona still did her routine when I let her out of my room late at night.

I looked down the stairs and could see her walk into the living room. I heard her jump on the couch, where she was no doubt looking out the bay windows. Soon, I saw her pass through the hallway by the stairs and cruise into the kitchen and dining room. Lastly, she came to the top of the stairs leading down to the landing and door on the first level of the apartment. She simply sniffed around and then went back up the stairs to the third level, where my bedroom is.

Immediately, she jumped into my bed and laid down, looking at me as if to ask me what I’m waiting for. When I did get in bed, she nuzzled me and licked my hands.

Some people may be annoyed at being awoken late at night because of your dog’s feud with a cat, but I’m thankful.

As stated before, Sedona is a huge coward. She barks like a maniac at other dogs and as soon as they lunge at her, she yelps out and falls on the ground, like he’s sure that it’s the end of her.

But when that dog barks, it’s deep, tough and vicious — it doesn’t sound like it’s coming out of a medium-sized dog.

Don’t get me wrong though. Sedona is probably one of the friendliest, clownish-like dogs out there. But she just isn’t going to let anyone, or any cat, mess with her home and her mommy.

Although I don’t have any children (thank God), Sedona might as well be my first-born child. And I’m thankful to have her.

When I recently spoke to my mom about her own first dog, she said “Mandy was like my first-born child.” I then asked her, “well what about your first-born child?” Something like “you know what I mean” was said.

Happy Mothers Day to me and all the other dog mommies out there.

My girl is such a goon. I love her.

But lastly, I wanted to say Happy Mothers Day to my mommy, who is a human. I wish I’d of posted something nice about her, but I was really inspired and thankful for the chain of events last night.

Anywho, I love you mommy!

I love you, mom!

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Five Facts about Philadelphia

‘Ello, loyal readers!

I’m lazy. And I am le tired. So here’s five facts about Philadelphia. This is what I do when I’m a lazy piece of shit. Weeee!

1. Our mayor is a Nutter

The first thing I ever saw when I arrived in Philadelphia was a poster in the airport that said “Mayor Nutter welcomes you.”

Yep. That’s his name.

I would upload a picture, but that’s probably not a good idea. So here‘s a picture of the dude.

2. Philadelphia accents are the most studied

Apparently Wikipedia says that this is because “the University of Pennsylvania is the home institution of William Labov, one of the most productive American sociolinguists.”

It’s definitely regional though. Here in Northwest Philadelphia, people do so “wudder” instead of “water,” but all those other things aren’t in there.

The Daily News did a great video on the topic.

This one guy also does several videos.

Kind of sounds like yoopers to me. (P.S. A yooper is someone from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.)

3. The abolition of slavery movement started here

Although it was largely ignored in its time, the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery is the earliest known document to speak out against the practice.

The petition stated the Golden Rule — or to treat others the way you’d like to be treated — as the basis as to why slavery should not be practiced.

4. Quakers still exist here

Maybe it’s just me, but I just picture the lady in a bonnet on the front of a Quaker oats box and just picture them to be Amish-type people.

I can’t say I’ve ever knowingly met a Quaker, but I’ve met many people involved in Friends organizations. But mainly, I feel like people join them because they want to be involved in their community. And the Quakers are pretty involved people.

Anywho, I love the Quakers. I’ve been dying to go to meetinghouse (Quaker church) for a while and share the experience with you people.

5. America’s first newspaper

The first daily newspaper was published here in 1782. I don’t know if this is true and am too tired to look it up. So you can take this with a grain of salt.

Goodnight. I am going to sleep now. This is probably the worst blog ever. Sorry. I’ve got some long-term projects underway.

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