Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Mummer Time.

Happy New Year's Eve! In Philadelphia, January 1 is more Mummers Day than New Year's Day.

What's a Mummer?

What type of Mummer is MFD? 
He's in The Joseph A. Ferko String Band. The String Bands are the last division to perform and Ferko goes up seventh out of 16 string bands. Their theme is We're Off to Neverland.

They are supposed to be on TV around 2 but the parade is typically running behind (live stream link below), so start checking in a little before 2 if you specifically want to see them or a little earlier if you want to catch all the string bands - it's quite a production with the music and the costumes and props; and a time honored tradition to put a good show out on the street on New Year's Day.

Today is MFD's 30th parade. Best of luck to him & Ferko and all of our framily in other bands.

For a guide of the 2018 parade, visit

Guide & street closures:

To stream live - you cannot use Internet Explorer as your browser:

Coverage begins at 9 am. Stringbands are on a lot later.

To catch some shots on Instagram:
Philly Mummers String Band Association (@phillymummerssba

I have a cold and am not braving the cold, but I will post a pic of MFD so you know what type of costume to look for if you watch the live stream (@lifeaccordingtosteph). These temps are nuts so you’re better off on the couch anyway.


Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: Still standing

2017 was a difficult year for writing my specialty - the mundane - when nothing going on in this country is normal and I feel quite strongly that it should not be normalized. Trust that I could have written 365 posts this year about exactly that. I chose not to for many reasons.

A very few examples of Not Normal that are not partisan - citizens from both sides of the aisle should be alarmed by these things:
  • A president who wages an unrelenting campaign against the free press (and consequently, the First Amendment) while he is in office
  • A president who praises and congratulates the world's dictators
  • A president who strikes equivalency between Neo-Nazis and people protesting Neo-Nazis. Sorry, no, there are no good people who are also Neo-Nazis.
  • A president who spends his time stirring up hatred against the press, immigrants, democrats, black athletes, and various other groups and people. The presidency is a big job and that is not a part of it. 
  • A president who brushes off Russian interference in American elections.
  • A president who is anti-science and advancement 
  • A Congress that ignores all of this and does nothing about it, leaving us with many Dem do nothings and a Republican party that is morally and ethically compromised. Republicans can not stand behind their Constitutional, personal, or ideological standards when they will not enforce the emoluments clause or force the promised disclosure of the president's taxes or deal with the blatant conflicts of interest that enrich the president and his family while he is in office 
  • Passage of a Tax Bill that enriches the very rich which 80% of Americans do not approve of
  • A president who tells really obvious lies that are very easy to disprove with photographic and video evidence, but insists they are the truth, over and over again...and his supporters parrot that
  • A Press Secretary that stands behind a podium every day and tells people what they are seeing and hearing is not what they are seeing and hearing. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

I have aged 10 years in this one. I've forced my introvert self who is more comfortable expressing myself in writing to show up in person, to stand among the people.

But oh, the people. I've met a lot of smart, passionate people and reconnected in a new way with many that I already knew. I've been buoyed by the actions of fellow resisters, women in particular. I have said this a million times and I will not stop: I believe women will pull us out of this mess.

Because it is a fucking mess.

I learned a lot about people this year. None of it is political, but an alarming worship-like love of a sham politician is what ended up highlighting what I have failed to see around me, good and bad.

I've seen supposed Christian people defend the indefensible and excuse the inexcusable and say God gave us a man to save us - this POTUS is who they're talking about, mind, not Jesus. It's fucking wild.

I've seen people give everything they can to people they don't know - money, material goods, time. I never feel so good about humans as I do when we show up for each other, be it after a natural disaster or to help a local family in need or at an airport on a Sunday afternoon to protest a xenophobic immigration ban.

I've seen republicans who have never supported this man, the one time trump supporters speak up against bad policy, and others wake up and jump off the trump train completely because at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and so much of this administration's work is focused on stripping us of our humanity. Hope, is that you?

I've seen that it is possible to co-exist with our close friends and family members who are conservatives. We keep a mutual peace by not poking each other. We disagree sometimes, but we co-exist.

Then I've seen other people...people I don't have any kindness or understanding for, people who have drank a fucking weird koolaid and spent the rest of the year spewing it in the face of everyone.

I've seen those people attack MFD for showing up as often as he can, insisting he's a jobless drain on society because he schedules - and uses - his time in a way that allows for activism.

I've seen people make inferences about our life, mental health, and his sobriety that are, to put it nicely, fucking outrageous. There have been threats and attempts at intimidation and no, I'm not exaggerating.

When you take a stand, you expect push back. I didn't expect it in a lot of the ways it came and that's on me for expecting better from people we know personally but apparently not well. I've stopped expecting better of people.

Regular old Joe Citizen people have worn me the fuck out more than politicians ever could.
Photo by Hanbit Kwon
I am a woman who yells living in a world that still wants me to whisper. I can't and won't act like things are normal so we can pretend to live in harmony because there is no peace or harmony in an upside down world. I'm angry about where we are and I don’t give a fuck if that is uncomfortable for anyone else.

The need to resist this insanity is a constant undercurrent in my life. I am still living and enjoying myself, but I'm different than I was before Election Day 2016. I am more conscious of what I say, of my level of engagement with my employees (the people we elect are our employees), of what's going on around me, of how I treat people, of how other people treat people, of what I do to amplify voices that are not given the space I have, of where I spend my money, of what I'm willing to put up with (not too fucking much anymore), of what I'm willing to sacrifice. All of those are good things coming out of bad.

How our society operates is largely dependent on us - it deserves constant attention, cultivation, and participation. We dropped the ball. It can't be all of us out here for ourselves - increasing the greater good benefits all of us. This political climate highlights the vast chasm between that notion and the good for me/doesn't effect me so who cares split we are experiencing as a country right now.

That split has been painful.

What is more important than the society we live in? Nothing. If it crumbles, our ability to enjoy all the big and small things, like our families, freedom, hotdogs, Dirty Dancing...that all crumbles too. This is important. Truth matters. Speaking truth to power matters. I won’t apologize for it or stop doing it to make other people more comfortable. It’s not who I am or who I want to be.

If you feel similar to me, I hope you won't apologize for it or stop either. We are the people we've been waiting for. No one else can fix this and so many things that have come out of this year are not government or political problems - they are people problems. I'm looking at you, systemic racism and misogyny - while they certainly manifest themselves in government and politics and greed and power, individual people breaking down walls is where the shift has to happen first. Keep your sledgehammers out. We have systems to smash. Other people getting rights another group has always had does not mean that group will have less rights. Equality on every level is the only way out, and we don’t get there unless we confront inequality everywhere. Having power over people does not make you powerful. It makes you the oppressor.

Anyway. Before I move on, let me just say this, and thanks to Stacey for this gem.

What a year for the world, as evidenced by Google's Year in Search:

And for me. This year I turned 40, slept out to raise money for homeless youth, spent two vacation days off with my niece, enjoyed Easter and Thanksgiving down the shore, read 158 books, fixed my busted ass old tattoo, instituted an annual OG girls weekend, was together with two of my college girls for the first time in nearly 20 years, and rambled around Grounds for Sculpture.

I went to the Women's March with my people in DC, we found ourselves at the airport to protest the Muslim ban late on a Sunday afternoonmarched for science because we have to do that now, and a lot of other small showing up shit that I have previously talked myself out of doing.

I rooted for you, talked about rape culture, got my ass to the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, showed you what living my best life looks likethrew up on the MFing train, became a godmother, dug Ocracoke, and spent just under a week in Emerald Isle. I celebrated six years of bloggingseven years of marriage, two years of shore house ownership, and three years of Show Us Your Books. My Geege died and that broke my heart completely. I will not ever be the same, and that's okay. Grief re-shapes us and we have to allow for that.

We got a new puppy and that's helped heal us. I've recapped TWTW 52 times, shared Thursday Thoughts every Thursday, watched as many sunrises as I could, and MFD is still saying shit. My nephew joined the world on 12/17/17, forever changing it for the better. No year is ever all good or all bad, and in that vein 2017 certainly had both, which I chronicle here and on Instagram - mine and the shore's.
As Zora Neale Hurston said, there are years that ask questions and years that answer. I always think of this quote at the end of every year and evaluate which type of year it was. This year answered, and for the first time in a while the answers were not things I liked hearing. Luckily you don't have to like things to learn from them.

Thanks for hanging in through this year - it's been a tough one for me to reconcile in my own head let alone in this space.

What's coming here in 2018? More life stuff. More me being imperfect and real because I simply don't know any other way to be. And certainly social issues and political stuff, because do you know me? but don't worry - it still won't be seven days a week of Gong Show posts so it's safe for you to return and carry on with me if you'd like to. Thank you for reading what I dump here.

Cheers to 2018. May the odds be ever in our favor. If we get off our asses and work to make sure society is reflective of the good I know is in the hearts of most people, they will be.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thursday Thoughts - should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind

1. Yesterday I started to feel weird right before 2 pm and I realized it was because I had not eaten any holiday treats. I cut myself off cold turkey from Christmas cookies and felt the pain. Yikes and a fucking half.
2. I have no idea which end is up this week. I can't get my schedule in order either. Just keep swimming just keep swimming. I do know my hair appointment is on tonight's schedule and thank God.

3. If anyone near Lower Bucks County is looking for volunteer opportunities in the new year, please consider the organization MFD volunteers with, Advocates for Homeless and Those in Need. They are in need of volunteers period, but definitely in need of anyone who can work an overnight shift on Code Blue nights - see MFD's Christmas video here. The next volunteer training is January 4 at 7 pm in Fallsington. Sign up here to volunteer.

4. I've been thinking about what I want out of 2018. I love the symbolic clean slate the new year represents, although we know logically that every morning is a clean slate. 

5. I will of course be attending the Women's March on Saturday, January 20, the anniversary weekend of last year's March, which I attended in D.C. I'm going in Philly this year. The official Women's March crew is gathering on January 21 in Las Vegas to launch the collective 2018 Women's March agenda: Power to the Polls (remaining info in this point is from the Women's March website). Why Nevada: Nevada has recent experience with some of the most pressing issues facing women in our nation today, from gun violence to politicians accused of sexual assault. As a swing-state that will shape the Senate in 2018 and as home to a strong activist network, Nevada is the perfect place to commemorate the Women’s March and continue building our electoral power. If you can't make it to Nevada: Women’s March Chapters are organizing exciting state-specific anniversary events, from marches to legislative actions to community events to voter registration drives. Check in with your local Women’s March Chapter to learn about their anniversary plans. What will come next: This anniversary event in Las Vegas will kick-off a national voter registration and mobilization tour targeting swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office. 

6. I'd always like my plans to be this though.

7. I was lacking a silver nail polish (Essie No Place Like Chrome) so I used an Ulta gift card to get one. Ho ho ho. In case you didn't know, I lay a large part of the success of my weekly self-manicures at the feet of Orly Bonder. I've been using it for many years. 

8. Should we talk about how brutally cold it is or nah? Too early in the winter for that? I actually like winter, I like all the seasons...but my like is temperature conditional. Temps in the teens? Go fuck yourself, winter. Me on the train platform every morning: 

9. Reminder:

10. Ecard of the week:

Last Thursday Thoughts of 2017. TTFN. Are you working this week? 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

TWTW - the long one with the Christmas

Only insane people go to grocery-like stores the Friday of Christmas weekend. Hello, I'm insane! Friday night we went to the Philly Young Dems Holiday Party with Johnny D and shocker, we were not the oldest people there. ShopRite and a drive around the neighborhood looking at lights after that.

Lots of dog time today. The chair photos are basically my life with dogs. They don't care about anyone's comfort. 
We also found Bruce's secret pee spot (basement loveseat) about 20 minutes before MFD's family came over for Christmas. ho ho no. Don't mind the pee, family! Freaking dogs. Bruce LOVED having the kids to play with. If you need a quick and easy dessert, I recommend this cookie pie
Other Saturday things: A Very Brady Christmas, Erin Brockovich, started a new book, painted my nails (Zoya Rikki), love love loving my new ornaments from my goddaughter Libby and one in memory of Geege from Melissa and Jim. I love my people. 

I didn't feel like doing a damn thing so I didn't until it was time to go to Sandy's. I missed my parents and Chris by a few minutes and caught Jenny & Evan on the way out. My brother and Aubrey weren't there since my nephew was just a week old and MFD's parents weren't there either. Light year but good to see our people as always. Please note the top middle photo, my favorite Christmas Eve sighting: Heather's necklace. 
Off to my aunt & uncle's after that which was fun as usual with my favorite appetizer foods. Back at home we watched A Christmas Story and unwrapped gifts. Nothing says Christmas like civil rights and serial killers, am I right?

MFD left at 2 am to do part of an overnight shift for the homeless volunteering like he does every Christmas Eve. He got home around 7 and went to sleep and took the puppy with him, so the morning was lazy and quiet and I loved it and made mac and cheese and bread for later. It's the first time I busted out the ol' bread maker in a while. We are usually off early on Christmas morning so it was a really nice way to start the day.

Christmas travels: stopped to see MFD's Dad, then Mom & Rich's. 
Then dinner with Dad & Carol at Stephen & Aubrey's. Lola Jean is hilarious and so smart, and my nephew looks like an angel. 
Home to hang with the dogs, read, and eat cookies like it's my job. MFD did a 10:30 - 2 shift for the homeless Code Blue - anyone local who is interested in training to volunteer with Advocates for Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) and able to do night shifts, let me know! I will hook you up with info. They are in need of volunteers. If they don't have volunteers, they cannot set up temporary shelters on Code Blue nights and these people have to sleep out in below freezing temps. 

A 9 am facial and trip to Target to score all the Christmas deals kicked off the day. I spent the rest of the day cleaning shit up and putting Christmas away because Bruce has destroyed too many things and I am petrified of him breaking something I can't replace. It's not even that he could get into stuff - he just jackasses around and bumps tables and the entertainment center and shit falls and breaks. Plus the window lights, they're toast. I also spent too much time looking through photos to order some new canvases. 
We had dinner at MFD’s Gram’s house since we hadn’t seen her yet for Christmas. She’ll be 89 in two days. I love the perspective of people who have lived through a lot. She is...not fond of the president, to put it nicely. Not even a little bit. 

More de-christmassing and staying up until 1 am to finish a book. Zzzzz

Weekly food prep
I'm sort of picking through shit from the holiday (read: eating cookies for most meals). Let me get back to you on this next week. 

How was your Christmas?

Back in the office today to do a big clean out. In case you missed it: my favorite reads of 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Show Us Your Books: Favorite Reads of 2017

These are my favorite reads of the year. I prefer favorite over best because best implies that they are of a level that some of them are not. I'm not a book critic and I don't want to be.

Favorite means for some reason that is personal to me they made the top 10 out of the 157 books I've read this year. Best book to me means what was contained in the book and nothing outside of it. Favorite read considers my experience and feelings as I read it in addition to the book.

Favorite read lists entice me more than best book lists. I will almost always like the book where I can objectively recognize its flaws but there's just something I can't quite put my finger on that makes it a total winner. The thing I can't put my finger on is often my experience and relationship to the book while I'm reading it.

Reading is personal. Don't ever let anyone make you feel like the books you love are not critically acclaimed enough to be spoken of in lists like these.

Let's do this. In no particular order.

Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. This is a special year end linkup. The next regular linkup is January 9, 2018.
1. Visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me
2. Display the button and/or link back to us on your blog post
2. Visit other blogs who've linked up and talk books as booknerds are wont to do

Duplicity by Ingrid Thoft (Fina Ludlow #4) - I pre-ordered this and devoured it right away. Fina is a phenomenal female character and I support the shit out of books with those, especially if the author develops it into a series. I cannot wait for the next one.

The Seven Husbands of Eveyln Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I loved this book from start to finish - complicated, interesting, and I loved the story within a story, which I typically don't like. I want to meet Evelyn Hugo and at times I wanted to be Evelyn Hugo because she just storms through her life and that is powerful, even when it leaves earthquakes around her.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley - I don't know if it was the timing or what, but I could feel this book in my bones. It felt like swimming in pool water that feels the same as your skin temperature, like you are a part of the water. I loved the writing, the cover, the story, and the characters. I recognize that I have read books that have done a much better job in every area, but there's just something about some books, you know? That something existed in this one for me. 

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart - I liked how this was written and it totally pulled me in for a less than 24 hour read on vacation. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Read it. As soon as you can. And make sure your mind is open to something that is likely not your reality. This is a YA book that people of all ages should be reading.

Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo - I read the entire series up to date this year and don't have a favorite even though some were better than others. I love Kate as a kickass female lead character who is more than capable of carrying a series. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - I loved this book and am so pleased that the reason I picked it - the title - was backed up by a good story. 

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell - This was sad and weird and lovely all at the same time. And since it's about stuff, it made me think about my stuff more than I usually do, and what I hold onto and why. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - Twisty and glorious...the twist that made me think I missed something because I was so utterly convinced it was going another way. I like being right, I mean don't we all? But when I'm reading I actually enjoy the reading experience more if I'm wrong. I do not read any book thinking I know more than the author or am better than the author. I read as if it's the author's job to tell me their story in whatever way they choose to. Because it is.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - Sometimes when I love a book so much I have a hard time talking about it intelligently. Anyone else? I'm all just read it for yourself. I feel like that here, but should comment that it took me longer than normal to read this. Part of that was Thanksgiving weekend and being on the go and part of it was really needing to sit with each chapter in the beginning and think about it - not because it's hard to follow, but just because I found myself needing to. I also referred back to the family tree a zillion times. White people are all tracing lineage back to the freaking dark ages and black people...we've cut them off from that in so many instances. I have feelings for this book. The story itself and the telling are absolutely masterful as well. I've never read anything like it. I will feel the impact of this one for years. 

What were your favorite reads of 2017? 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Merry, people.

That photo of the dogs is a perfect depiction of what life is like in our house. 

From us to you - Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanza, Happy December if you're celebrating nothing in particular this month. Peace and love to everyone out there missing someone extra hard during this time or feeling alone or lonely. 

I see you, Clarence. 

Remember, Show Us Your Books Favorite Reads of 2017 is Tuesday, December 26! See you back here for that. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thursday Thoughts - but all this year's been a busy blur don't think I have the energy

1. I just this week realized that one of the lyrics in Christmas Wrapping is most of '81 passed along those lines. I googled it and it was released in 1982. I wonder if The Waitresses knew people would still be be-bopping around to it 35 years later in 2017? I don't think I was thinking of this in 1981.

2. We could, of course, insert these lyrics now: Bah humbug to the FCC, they tried to kill net neutrality. It's not over yet buttercups. Call your Senators and ask them to use the Congressional Review Act to save net neutrality. Look for a march near you as well - there's one in Philly on January 13. This is important to all of us.

3. Once all of my official Christmas duties were finished in the office, there was much rejoicing in all the land and I spent a few lunches this week Christmassing in Philly at the Christmas Village.
4. And my beloved Wanamaker Christmas show (playing through 12/31, check this year's info here) - no pics this year, I did not have my phone with me. I just wanted to zone the fuck out and watch the show but I might pass through again this week or next. Still left: a trip to DiBruno because it's not the week before Christmas unless you are doing elaborate dances with strangers in tiny packed aisles while waiting in line to buy expensive cheeses you do not need. #hohohomofos

5. Who's spending her 41st birthday with Springsteen on Broadway? THIS LADY. I can now die happy. Well, after the show on March 15. 
6. One of the greatest surprises of this year is how accommodating Gus has been to this puppy.

7. Another week, another action at the Capitol against the tax scam that these greedy fuckers passed. Nothing to do about it now except vote anyone who voted for it out if their seat is up on November 6, 2018. If you are not registered to vote, hit me up! Thanks to MFD and others who are putting themselves on the line for the tax scam and healthcare. I hear he's been shown on Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe and other news stuff this week. For your perusal when you get a moment: 17 Women of Color Who Rocked the Resistance in 2017Cole Hamels and his wife donate their new, $9 million home to a non-profit that works with individuals with special needs and chronic illnesses, opEd piece the GOP despises the trump base and so does trump; and for those of you who think your vote does not matter/one vote won't change anything. Today I will be calling my democratic Senator along with Nancy Pelosi (202-225-4965) and Chuck Schumer (202-224-6542) and telling them no funding for CHIP & no Clean Dream Act = no budget vote. Do NOT vote for any budget that does not include a vote to fund CHIP and for a Clean Dream Act. Even if you have to shut the motherfucking government down. These are kids - their healthcare. Kids - who grew up here and have no other country to return to. This is a goddamn disgrace and un-American on both accounts. 

8. There's a special Show Us Your Books Favorite Reads of 2017 the day after Christmas! The link up will be open into the new year. p.s. I hope no one reading this is one of those people unironically saying "see you next year!" on December 31.  

9. Reminder:

10. Ecard of the week:

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. There's only more light from here. That's all my brain can put forth today. I'm crawling toward this holiday weekend. 

How about you? 

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