Lollipops To Help Prevent Gun Violence.

I’m heartbroken and outraged. I have a great deal more to say about this senseless act of violence in Connecticut. But right now, I just want to help a little bit.

Every year I end up with a surplus of lollipops during the holiday season since it’s my busiest time of year. And usually I have a last minute sale of Sampler Packs to make a buck or two. This year, I’m nixing that. I’d rather donate my surplus. Somehow.

That said, I am running a lollipop special. I do not want to make a dime off this, so 100% of my profits will go to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. (Please note: This offer is only for the Sampler Packs.) You will receive 5 lollipops for 10.00 and I will give every last bit of my profit to The Brady Campaign. I have a limited supply, but will run this until I am out of lollipops. They make excellent stocking stuffers, office gifts, table centerpieces. And I will ship everything out by Tuesday, in time for Christmas.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

I plan on writing more about this when time allows, but for now I would like to share three pictures.

Before the race:

During the race (mile 10):

Right after the race:

I ran a personal best but did not get the time I was aiming for. I have A LOT of excuses for that, of course.

For starters, this was a late night run (It ended after midnight. The party went until 4AM) so I am blaming my inability to reach my goal on the fact that I am a morning person. (Ha ha! Yeah, right.) Also, the month leading up to this race was a rough one and therefore my training schedule was all mucked up. (COME ON! YOU GOTTA BELIEVE ME!) Lastly, I ran into Darth Vader and I had to stop and get a picture with him because, I mean, how many times do you run into Darth Vader while out running? Not that often.

Nutshell: I had a great race. I will do it again. Disney knows how to run an event.

I will write more about this soon because there’s a lot to tell!

Downtown Manhattan: Five Days Post Sandy

I ran over the bridge today and into downtown Manhattan. This is my usual running route, but my goodness are things ever different down there right now. I did a 10 mile run and stopped along the way to take some pictures. These aren’t the best pictures as I was using my phone, but they should get some info across. Anyway, I figured some people might be curious as to what things look like down there five days after Sandy. I know I was.

This is along the East River, right below the Brooklyn Bridge. Trees down, rocks moved, giant planters overturned. The boardwalk was uprooted in some spots.

Many of the buildings downtown were shut while generators worked to pump water from them. An area whose soundtrack is usually sirens and horns, adopted the hum of hundreds of generators.

One of the hardest hit areas was right around the Staten Island Ferry landing. They are still managing the flooding. Water was being pumped out into the street.

Below is a shot of the WTC construction site. Still a great deal of water being pumped out.

But if you look straight up, you’d have no idea. Look at the sky! The blue sky and clouds added to the surreal nature. On the street, there is water and trash and a lot of darkness as most are still without power. The whole experience was just crazy. I can’t even begin to explain.

Again along the East River, right below the Brooklyn Bridge. Trash and dirt line the streets and people are out trying to do whatever they can to clean it up.

Seaport is usually bustling with people. Not today. Most of the businesses were flooded. Much of it remains boarded up. Truly strange sight.

Verizon building appears to have taken a kick to the face as well.

Lastly, Chinatown. I can’t even begin to tell you how emotional and strange that was. Chinatown is usually a big ol’ MESS of people, annoyingly so. There are thousands upon thousands of people roaming the streets on any given day. Not now. And businesses are without power. Many shop owners sat outside with spoiled food, looking kind of just lost. It was heartbreaking. Seeing how badly businesses all over NYC were hit by this hurricane, well, it’s just devastating.

I didn’t get many shots of the emptiness, the surreal nature of Chinatown because I was too busy wrapping my head around it. This is the only shot I got.

CANCELED.

A few more things: The ING NYC Marathon will still be taking place and while I don’t agree with that decision, it is happening. So, if you plan on watching the race please, please don’t take it out on the runners. Please. I beg of you. I know many runners who are greatly conflicted by this, and most of them are lending every hand they can to help NYC recover. They are friends. And they know how emotional this is for people. It’s emotional for them too. A friend of mine, a mother of two from Queens, fears for her safety after reading the hatred being posted on NYRR’s Facebook page. It’s downright threatening.

If you’re opposed to the race, so much so you can’t see why someone might still run it, please stay home.

I think the race should have been postponed. But it’s happening and I can’t change that, neither can you. So be nice. That’s all I ask.

Lastly, volunteer. Support local NYC businesses. Donate whatever you can.

New Jersey: Morgan Marina, Lacey Township, and Barnegat Bay.

Hurricane Sandy blasted New Jersey. I feel terrible for the coast. My parents will be without power for a while, but that’s nothing compared to what many people along the coast are dealing with today. Anyway, here are a few pictures we took while down there.

This is Morgan Marina right off the Garden State Parkway. I can’t do this sight justice. The boats are usually on the marina. Now they are on top of one another. It looks like a boat junkyard. This is normally a serene marina filled with sailboats. It was crazy.

Check out the larger version. It was truly end-of-worldish. One almost made it onto the Garden State Parkway.

This was taken before the hurricane hit and before our noon curfew. My mom and I drove down to the bay to get some shots. It got much, much worse later.

This was taken the following day, several blocks from Barnegat Bay. We are looking down the street toward where the image above was taken. Obviously, we were unable to make to the bay again. Many, many houses were underwater or completely destroyed. This is where my grandmother’s house is, however she passed away in 2001. My father grew up here.

A picture of one of the houses nearby. The ones further down the road were almost completely underwater.

Residents heading home to see if there’s anything left.

We drove home yesterday and were able to make it back to Brooklyn. Our building had flooding in the basement, and there’s a sinkhole out back along the river, but otherwise, things look good here in Williamsburg. Thank goodness. It’s New Jersey and lower Manhattan I am worried about. There is no power below 34th street. It’s just so odd looking.

Hurricane Sandy. Pictures.

We had to evacuate our building in Williamsburg due to flooding. We live in Zone A. The irony here is that we’re now in South Jersey, right by the shore, which is supposed to get nailed in a few hours.

I love storms. My mom feels the same way. So at 11:15 AM, 45 minutes before a mandatory curfew, we got in the car and drove to the bay.

Our first attempt at getting to water was interrupted by flooding and the police. We were turned away.

With 25 minutes left before curfew, we drove to another spot and reached the bay.

The docks are usually 5 feet above the water. It was awesome. The wind and rain was so intense. And the waves were reminiscent of what I’ve seen only in dreams.

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There was another woman there as well. We both giggled like fools. We’re the people who get swept away by the sea and when it makes the news, you’re left asking, “What kind of idiot does that after being warned incessantly to stay away?”

Me. This idiot. I can’t help myself.

Of course I had to take a self portrait. I was totally into it. But I love water. I am haunted by water.

OK, so a tree just fell in the backyard and I got word that our building is flooding back home. My friend, Jon sent me this shot. This is our home in Brooklyn.

The hurricane hasn’t even hit us yet. Crazy.

(We took ALL of our pets with us. They are safe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

More pictures to come! A video too.

Mia

Mia has gone through some serious downfalls as of late. Things really, really aren’t going her way.

Her mother has breast cancer. That’s an ongoing, serious problem she’s coping with as best she can. Problem is, her mom can’t seem to beat it. It just keeps coming back. And that gets her down.

On September 1st, her apartment burned down and she lost everything including her two kitties (shown below) who she loved like children. She doesn’t care that she lost all her clothing, her baking supplies, her fire engine red KitchenAid (the irony is not lost on her), everything she’s ever owned. All those items she collected from boys over the years, all the postcards from friends, life’s mementos, they are all gone. She only cared about the cats. She made that very, very clear.

Then she went through a break up. That happened the day after the fire.

Yesterday her Saint Tropez road bike was stolen.

OK, so let me make this about me for a minute.

Em broke his arm on Friday afternoon. He was pushed from the monkey bars by another child, a child known for aggression. I don’t want to slam this child, however. He did NOT plan on causing this much damage. But it did suck. None of this would have happened had this kid not pushed him.

Anyway, it was a level 4 break. I didn’t know what that meant up until Saturday, but now I do. He had surgery. He has pins and wires holding his arm together. The whole ordeal was pretty rough. We were in the hospital from Friday afternoon all the way up until Sunday night. At times I became very angry toward the other child.

Then something happened on Sunday afternoon that stomped my anger out completely. I am not at liberty to write about it. I promised this person I wouldn’t as they didn’t want it to be about them. They didn’t want to turn it into a publicity stunt. You’ll just have to take my word on the fact that it’s a pretty remarkable story. What began as a terrible weekend, ended with one of the most cherished days of my life. And I genuinely mean that. It was a day that I will remember until the day I die. Think of the most selfless, awesome deed you can possibly think of, it was better than that. Really.

I am changed. This weekend changed my family and me forever. I think we came out the other side better than we were before. And we owe that to a community of people and this thing someone did for my son (and me) that I promised not to write about.

Em is on the mend. He has even forgiven the kid who pushed him as have I. He’s getting stronger by the day.

This weekend taught me that I need to tell the people in my life, as well as complete strangers, that I love them, that I need them around. I also need to reach out and do more for the people living around me. I have to pay it forward. Because we were given a most precious gift this weekend even though it was born out of tragedy.

So, anyway. Mia. I love Mia. I met her at culinary school. I immediately liked her. She is delicate, gracious, kind, funny and just beautiful. And I want to make this a little bit easier on her. She makes very little living here and is even considering moving away having lost it all. So I’d like to make this time a little easier. The best way I can think of to do that, besides offering her up my cats for snuggles, is to give her some money and hopefully make everyday life a little bit easier. And maybe, just maybe, she can buy a new bike.

So, I’m going to put it out there for you guys too. Do you have a few extra bucks for Mia? She doesn’t need much. And she will likely kick my ass for doing this. Even a hand-me-down bike might do the trick as it was her main means of transportation. If you feel like donating her some money, you can do so by PayPal. My account is: mihow @ mihow.com.

I promise EVERY last penny will go to Mia.

Also: please makes sure to make it a gift or donation so you can write it off or whatever.

Lastly: hug a stranger someday soon. It actually feels pretty good.

Pictures Of (A Few Members Of) My Family

TobyJoe. I adore this man. He’s pretty awesome. I am a lucky gal.

Emory with a case of S’more face. This kid gets more interesting by the day. The things he comes up with! The things he says! What a creative little person. Every day is more interesting than the next.

Sir Hammy Elliot! My goodness. With all the heartache 2009 brought my family, and now we have this little person living with us. I count my every blessing. He’s a goofy little angel.

And the newest member of our family: Bella! She’s no cat, but she’s damn awesome. This cat lady loves this dog.

Yes, We Have Some Bananas.

Last week I accidentally ordered at least 80 bananas. You see, we order our groceries from Fresh Direct and sometimes I screw up. There was the time I accidentally ordered 4 pounds of jalapeños.

This time, I meant to order 10 bananas. Instead, I got 10 bunches of bananas. Each bunch holds at least 8 bananas. Here is a picture of some of the bananas.

They are small bananas, but that’s still a lot of bananas. And if you don’t agree with me, you’re not human, you’re probably monkey, in which case would you like to smell my finger?

Anyway, I ate bunch. And Emory is a champ (that’s short for champion) and ate at least two bunches. He loves bananas. Elliot had a few. I tried to give some to the dog but she doesn’t like bananas. She’ll try and eat cat shit, but bananas are apparently below her.

I gave two bunches away. I froze two bunches. I am left with about three bunches. So, I’m baking. Today I am baking.

I made a gluten free custard because I also have a bunch of egg yolks leftover. (I made an angel food cake last weekend). I have a banana bread in the oven. Next up, we have chocolate chip banana muffins. After that, something healthy, spicy and whole wheat.

If anyone else has any other suggestions, I have more bananas that need homes.

Incidentally, Fresh Direct needs a “Is This A Mistake Or Are You Insane?” filter. Certainly I am not alone. Someone must have purchased 250 apples before, or 20 bags of onions.


Mamapundit, Mindy Bizzell and Practicing Grace.

I have been online for a long time. I am 38. I was a designer for over a decade. I spent years in front of a computer. I spent many late nights tooling around IRC, commenting on message boards. I had a blog in the mid-90s. I started this one in 2001. I have experienced my fair share of online relationships. (I met Toby because of a message board called Dreamless.)

This is not some type of BEEN THERE! DONE THAT! rant. Not at all. I am writing this brief history to explain why I currently avoid most Internet drama. I have learned that nothing really good comes from it. Really. Nothing. I would say 99% of the time, Internet discussions and faceless, online interactions leave a person feeling agitated, upset, misunderstood, and obsessive. Someone is always going to be wrong on the Internet.

But it took a lot of wasted, agitated minutes to learn that it’s best to avoid Internet drama altogether.

Today, I’m not going to do that. Because I just can’t let this one go for some reason. And just when I thought the Internet was no longer capable of surprising me, the Internet went ahead and did just that.

A little backstory…

A woman named Katie Granju runs a site called Mamapundit. Let me begin by saying that I do not read Katie Granju. I do not follow her blog. But I do know that she lost a teenage son named Henry a few years ago in a most devastating manner. I am not sure how I know this, but I remember reading about it at my mom’s house at some point. I remember where I read it because I remember crying on my mom’s couch while trying to hide as much because I didn’t want to explain why I was crying. I was also knocked up and emotional.

I will say this much: it’s a horribly sad story. NO PARENT should lose a child.

So, a few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a post on Ms. Granju’s Facebook page. Basically, someone sent in a postcard to Postsecret.

For those who don’t want to click the above link, the shot is of the name “Henry” written in the sand. Written on top of the image is the following:

“I took two Percaset today a gift to myself on my birthday. They do not make me miss you less, my sweet baby boy. Love Mama.”

Heartbreaking.

Anyway, Ms. Granju took to Facebook, twitter AND her personal Web site and began accusing the person of being “cruel and disturbed“.

Believing that this person was out to get her, she accused the person of being dumb for misspelling the word Percocet.

There were other hateful things as well. It got really ugly, really fast.

Some people suggested it was a coincidence, that another grieving mother lost a child named Henry. But Ms. Granju’s paranoia fueled her. She started to come up with conspiracies, suggesting that it had to be a hoax because her son is named Henry. She called him her “sweet baby boy” and it was her birthday as well. Henry also referred to her as “mama”.

Ok, so, let me interject. I’ve been there before. I mean, not right where she is; I have not lost a child. The mere thought makes me want to die. What I mean is, I’ve been to the point where I think EVERYONE is out to get me. We women have a knack for this. It’s usually in my real life, however. Not online. But I have been there. I used to not have any control over it. But now that I’m older, and I’ve experienced it enough (usually happens during certain hormonal times of the month, for what it’s worth) I can stop my brain from going to that dark, terribly selfish place. Not everything (in fact very little) is about me.

I do not fault her for feeling this way. But I do fault her for taking it to the Internet. I do fault her—a woman with many, many followers, some of whom are willing to attack ANYONE on her behalf—for taking her paranoia to Twitter, Facebook and her own site. This should have stayed with her, among her friends and family.

Well, as it turns out, the original sender of the postcard was indeed another grieving mother who lost a baby named Henry. And her name is Mindy Bizzell. She was forced to own up to her secret after so many of Ms. Granju’s followers questioned its originality. Everything Ms. Granju wrote about her, as well as all of the responses, got back to Mindy. She read that she was dumb and evil and cruel.

Can you imagine?

Even if the hateful comments didn’t have Mindy “the person” in mind, as the people leaving them felt they had a cruel liar in their midst, it still must hurt to read these things. It must hurt to know that people assumed you were making it all up, that your grief isn’t as genuine and real as you experience it. It must suck to see so many people assume the absolute worst instead of giving another individual the benefit of the doubt.

Grace.

I left a comment on Ms. Granju’s facebook page the day it all happened. I used my real name, of course. I wrote that I was surprised she thought it was about her in the first place. But I was more surprised at how hateful people became without knowing even a morsel of the truth. I wrote some other stuff, stuff I would write again. Many people suggested that we shouldn’t assume the absolute worst, that it’s not always about us, that sometimes it’s just what it is.

I felt, given how ugly things started out, that they were moving in the right direction. We had an example of something go from ugly to positive, especially given Mindy Bizzell chimed in about pain, loss and forgiving people. It was really remarkable. And it’s too bad you can’t read it now because Ms. Granju erased everything.

We all make mistakes, some worse than others. We can learn from them, however. Other people can learn from our own, if we allow them to. Sadly, there is no record of any of this anymore. Ms. Granju even rewrote her blog post, or so I am told.

I keep asking myself, Why can’t you let this go? I still don’t have an answer. Perhaps I’m entering one of those hormonally imbalanced phases, who knows. But this irrationally upset me. I hate that everything was erased, swiftly. I wrote as much on Ms. Granju’s page once more, (Update: Page has been deleted by Ms. Granju.) saying that I felt she was irresponsible for doing that, trying to erase history when so many people are involved. But I’m also upset that so many people blindly backed her up when she originally posted her feelings about the postcard. Are we THAT cynical? Are we that willing to throw away common decency to blindly follow another person? So much so, we write hateful things about another without having ANY of the facts?

I guess that we are.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I tend to have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to blogging popularity contests, cliques and the like. And what I watched unfold this week between Ms. Granju, her readers and Mindy Bizzell, well, it just added to my distaste. But I so want things to be better somehow. I want to be a better person as well, less cynical about it. I want people to step up and apologize for the RIGHT reasons. I want people to admit wrongness (which Katie finally did, a step in the right direction). I want readers to hold bloggers accountable for their actions.

I think it’s time to call others out when they abuse their popularity even if it makes you less popular, even if you lose followers. Because I bet you’ll gain a few as well.

But mainly I just want people to be nicer.

I am by no means better than the next guy. I have my FAIR share of issues and problems, insecurities and ugly traits. We all do. But please don’t let these issues cloud your judgement. Err on the side of grace. Give people around you the benefit of the doubt. The truth is always a lot simpler than what our brains lead us to believe.

I have had the pleasure of talking with Mindy since this all unfolded. She is a truly wonderful, strong, gracious woman. I wish her the very best. Mindy Bizzell suffered a tremendous loss and somehow, in spite of all that, has an insurmountable amount of grace.

Lastly (and unrelated simply because I watched this Mountain Goats video and I’m feeling a touch emotional): give someone a hug today, someone you haven’t hugged before. I bet they need it.