Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Drunk Experience of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a review)

Preface: This post is extremely biased. And long. I have never read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" nor do I  desire to do so. Thus heading to a theater to watch the demon spawn offspring that is the "movie adaption" obviously makes this whole thing a little suspect. But, when you love your friends as much as I do; and if for their freaking birthday they want to take me to see what I consider a giant sin against literature for their own entertainment - I will not stop them. I will, however, find a means to endure it. And that is why I was intoxicated when I showed up to the 7:45pm showing of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It is also why I chose a theater that serves you alcohol at your seat during the film. Am I wrong to choose a form of self medication that would enable the enjoyment of all in my party to witness this experience? I don't think Jane Austen would condemn me. She'd probably tell me to pass the wine. So, without further ado, I give you my experience of Feb. 6th and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Note: You have been warned.
2nd Note - I swear. A lot...
Zombies Bite! Read Jane Austen...
Act 1 - The Birthday Party (present tense)
"I really love zombies", says Jessica, over a birthday feast of lasagna and garlic bread. We are on our 2nd bottle of champagne (which she has had only one glass of) and she says that while looking directly at me. My other two friends snicker.

I have had 3ish glasses myself (Chantra? Danielle? Is that 4 glasses?) so I snort. The reason this is funny is because I am a Jane Austen fan. In less than an hour, I am going to endure 98 minutes of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". Obviously, she has been poking me with this since the book came out a few years ago (Maybe "Jane Austen snob" defines my stance a little more honestly). I find this trend with adaptations abhorrent and this one in particular above and beyond the rest. Pride and Prejudice is awesome on its own - why are the undead needed?

She made that statement in honesty, but I'm buzzed and I can no longer take the situation seriously. "I can't believe you just said that," I laugh, "and now that is the first line in my blog post".

Act 2 - A Movie Theater with a Bar (past tense)
Chantra, Danielle, Kendal, and birthday girl Jessica
Since the first damn preview was seen by Jessica, there were two stipulations to this evening. 1. I could drink before the movie 2. I could drink during the movie. We succeeded in both. After running a little behind getting to the theater (we needed to finish another bottle of champagne) and dealing with an awful parking lot (seriously, you'd think it was black Friday) we made our way to the bar to get a drink and head into the movie...which was packed. I'm assuming it was karma to have us front and center in that theater. I've been condemning the book and movie without ever reading it and that is wrong and I know it.

But, who the hell am I kidding? In this case, screw karma! HELLO FRONT ROW! Bartender! Another round for me and my friends!!! Wooo stupid zombies!!!

...and then there was a shhhhh from a row behind us. They are going to LOVE my blog post.... 

Act 3 - The Movie Itself (past tense)
Pen and paper in hand

If I thought I could have gotten away with live tweeting this night, I would have. My friends thought I could... Fortunately, my fear of doing bad things/getting kicked out plus a dull voice of reason in the back of my head saying "you'll lose more followers with your insane rantings that no one will be able to decipher" led to my notebook.
These are the notes of an angry, drunk woman whose favorite novel has been defiled by popular culture. Not even the costumes were Regency accurate!!!
I know you can see a few legible bits and pieces (sort of). Chicken scratch is putting it nicely - but you get the idea. This is actually the 2nd and 3rd page of 4. My first thoughts on the movie include the following:

 "Are you f-ing kidding me??? (in response to the opening line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.")
"Ummm - brains? must eat brains?" (which was moaned after said opening line by zombies)
"Well that was interesting..." (in response to the first kill of the evening. Spoiler: Darcy did it.)
"Leave Austen out of this!" (in response to "An Illustrated History of England". A young Jane Austen actually wrote "A History of England" that was illustrated by her sister, Cassandra. I found using this as a device for the movie insulting. Of course, and I repeat, I'm a Jane Austen snob. Please find her original juvenilia for free here
"Snickering  at 'our warrior daughters'" (they don't need to get married Mrs. Bennet!!! Cool your jets!)
and lastly...
"There are no bloomers in Regency society!" (in response to the costumes - very inaccurate. My costuming friends would understand!)

The only comment I had on page four is a little obscure. I believe it's in response to Darcy's second proposal to Elizabeth. My note was "That's not it. He doesn't say that". I'm going to have to go with that.

As I sat there in my seat for that 98 minutes, my birthday friend, Jessica, thought it would be hilarious to document my reactions to various scenes. Being in the front row helped with the lighting and I think you get a good sense of what I was thinking. Though I can not promise these are in the right order...
"I am sitting in the front row - very up close - of Cinebarre. We were 10 mins late and this is what we get. Fun times."
Opening scene...WTF
Oh FFS...
The only scene I actually enjoyed was the Eliza/Darcy proposal scene (1).
And I'm drinking...
Annoyed...need another drink...
Are you fucking kidding me??? Even Chantra agrees!
Annoyed...need more alcohol
Happy Birthday, Jessica.
Act 4 - The End
Ok...obviously, I walked in to this movie predetermined to hate it. And for the most part, I did. Especially when (spoiler alert), they completely changed the ending of the hack of a novel anyway to potentially set up for a P+P+Z 2 (thus the annoyed/angry faces at the end). So I was happy that my predictions were on par for me. But, there were a few things I did enjoy and I am confident enough to admit it for those who are curious.
1. Sally Philips - the actress who plays Mrs. Bennet: I thought she did fabulous in sticking to the character. She appears a bit younger than some of the other actresses who have played that part and I actually enjoyed that.
2. The Elizabeth/Darcy proposal scene: In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy proposes to Eliza in a very rude manner and they have a verbal sparring match. Well, in this version, it is a physical sparring match - and I thought it was done extremely well. I was laughing - Jessica took a picture as proof.
3. Seeing this with my girlfriends: Jessica read P+P+Z and really enjoyed it. Both Chantra and Danielle were once part of the Jane Austen book club, so have a softer spot for the original work, but aren't as biased. And me - the true blue P+P fan in her homemade "Zombies bite, Read Jane Austen" tank top. If I was going to be "forced" to see this - it would only be for them. As much as I wasn't fond of the movie, I truly had a fun experience.
Last call - reviewing my notes

In conclusion, if you like zombies, aren't too attached to the original ending of P+P+Z, don't have strong ties to Jane Austen, The Regency period or historical accuracy, but enjoy British accents - this movie may be for you. However, if not and your friend(s) really want to go - be over 21, grab a bottle of champagne and make your way to a theater that serves.


One last note - obviously, I was drinking, but I was not driving. Please, please, please always have a DD or a way to get home. Ubers, Lyfts, taxis, your significant other or a friend (hell, your parents or relatives!) can be intoxicated and still be responsible.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Boot Camp Diaries - Week 1

This week, I started a boot camp to lose the weight I've gained and get back on track with eating right/eating smart. Where I didn't exactly master the eating right (ok, not even close), I still got back on track with my workouts. It was a more difficult start, though. For what most consider a rather dry winter, it rained every morning here in Seattle. And since boot camp starts at 6am, it was wet, cold and dark. Consistently. If it wasn't drizzling, it was raining. If it wasn't raining, it was pouring. And so on and so on. Even the instructors were saying how unusual it was that the rain was so bad this week.

Anyways, to continue on my wellness journey as a whole (write more, be a part of the wellness project, lose can check out my whining here), I am going to do a weekly play by play of boot camp. End of week picture included (no matter how awful I look. And if week 1 is any indication, it's going to be a rough couple of weeks). I've already signed up for March, as well - so you will see a total of 8 entries on this topic. Be warned - it's going to range from weather conditions to random thoughts I have during the class. This week is the trial week, though, with a more thorough and thought through posts in the coming weeks.

So let's begin, shall we?

Week 1 - Feb 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th

Day 1 - Cold, rainy...and I forgot my waiver. 6am has come way too quick. Why did I have to start the day after Superbowl? Ugh.
How old are these people? The 4 - 6 other newbies look early to mid-20's. That's not fair. This is boot camp and they're in shape. Damnit.
What time does it lighten up? Holy hell it's dark.
It wasn't pretty, but I survived. I can totally do this.

Day 2 - WTF? Dark, rainy and cold. Does this ever change? I'll just inform the new instructor about my toe (stupid, random injury) and be smart about the exercises. Squats, lunges, explosive jumps, weights, push-ups, sprints, planks, mountain much for my toe. Wow, I am sore.

Wednesday is a rest day. But I ran 3 miles anyway. My legs feel like lead. It hurts to move in general. But this run (which I thought would help loosen everything up), just made me feel slow. This is my normal 3 mile down and back (with an incline), and it's the slowest I've run in months. I stretched quite a bit after the run.

Day 3 - Does the rain stop? Feeling a little better today. I'm still hurting and we're still doing a lot of squats and lunges. But the stretching and running on Wednesday helped and I feel like I'm doing the exercises right. Now if only I could lay off the chips. And the sandwiches. But damn, I am so tired.

Day 4 - Rain rain go away, come again another day (Wednesday mornings are perfect for the next 2 months). I'm a soccer player. So why does it make me so tired to run on the soccer field? I do love breaking out in that first sprint, thoughAnother decent workout, though. I enjoy the cardio, but like the crazy 6 min, 5 min, 4 min consistent exercises. Definitely a tough day, but in the best way.
The rain picked up hard at the end when we were stretching. What the hell.

Bonus workout - 8pm indoor soccer match. I'm a glutton for punishment and definitely played slow. And we lost. BUT! I do love soccer.

Tomorrow morning brings another 3 mile run (Ragnar training), hopefully faster than Wednesday (it is flat, so that's good). Of course it's also the hubs' birthday celebration, so trying to eat and drink healthy is nearly a lost cause. Just nearly. I'm hoping that if I do another terrible day Saturday, Sunday is my restart day...and I do better all week. Pre-make all my foods for lunch (no excuses) the night before. I'm feeling confident, though, and happy I found this workout for the next few months. I think it's going to lead me back to the place I want to be.

Need cuter workout clothes! Week 1 down!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Wellness Project

In early January, I stumbled across a blog post on Mind Body Green about a 12 month challenge for 2015. Detoxing, more water, budget Farmer's market trips, etc. After the failure of 2014, I felt like this was a great list to go from, and shared said blog on my twitter. The author, Phoebe Lapine, DM'd me about an opportunity to join a guinea pig group for a project she's working on...and my dedication to self wellness and awareness kicked off.

It was January 2nd, and I already had plans for the entire weekend that mostly included drinking. So I decided to jump ahead to the next month and rework completely cutting out 3 amazing vices at a later date. That meant I got to start with #MakeupFreeMonday. 
January 5th
I have always been very self-conscience of my skin. Since the 4th-ish grade, I've had acne/zits, a form of rosacea, oily/dry skin, etc. Even now, still being fairly active, I deal with larger than normal pores and all the things I just listed. I wear a thicker foundation that evens me out just about 7 days a week. But if I want to really get to know myself, shouldn't I stop hiding behind my Clarins?

January 12th - giant zit in middle of forehead
In short, yes. To get some courage, I used the Clarins skin brightener (a very light moisturizer for added glow) and a light pink lip gloss. To add some more fun and due in major part to my eye issues, I wore my broken glasses. 
January 19th
What I learned: I need more sleep. And I need to get a better handle on my skin. I know there are days where I need to throw my mask on (meetings with clients and C-suite), and days where a little brightener and gloss, maybe a little mascara, are all I need. But I am pretty without the layers and I  feel more confident knowing I can still do the job without the cosmetics. 
January 26th
To continue growing, I decided on a slightly more drastic measure to end my month. I want 2015 to be a big year all around, and these are the first steps I'm taking. There's a lot more to be had (and blogging more regularly with a good computer is one of them!) and I look forward to sharing my trials and tribulations with the interweb universe. Feel free to comment and let me know if you've participated in make-up free Monday. Also, check out Phoebe on her website -

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To Starting Over in 2015

On roadtrip in OR, Aug 2014, photo taken by Terri Shadle
I let myself go. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. For various reasons with multiple explanations and excuses, I was unfair to myself and to people around me. Even now, 13 days in to the new year, I haven't done justice to all the resolutions I spouted off to the hubs and friends...but that's alright. And do you know why that's alright?

Tomorrow is always a new day to make a fresh start.

So here is what I'm going to do.

1. Physically. When I say I let myself go, I mean I've gained 15lbs I really don't want. I was doing a great boot camp for a few weeks right during the holidays. It sort of helped, but I let bad food and really enjoying alcoholic beverages derail me. So I plan to:
  • Go beyond running and soccer: get back into the gym (at work) for weights and add back my early morning video routines (Brazilian bum bum here I come!)
  • Get more sleep! The only way I'm waking up is if I can actually fall asleep
  • Cut the crap: eating out is a big deal for me. Less sugar, sodium and processed foods, and more getting creative with my lunches
2. Mentally.  I burned myself out with work. I am not finding joy like I used to and it's making me complacent and less creative. I don't want to be bored with what I'm doing. I want to be a productive member of the team...not dead weight. I will:
  • Re-evaluate what I do. I keep thinking I'd do better as a PM, but I don't know what that entails. Actually research it.
  • Take courses. When I get depressed, I read crappy romance novels. I should put time into something that will challenge me, not piss me off.
  • Write more. This blog is an outlet and I thoroughly enjoy writing. I should create more and get myself back on track
3. Emotionally. This is a bit more private, but the bottom line is I got depressed and made a lot of excuses.
  • Stop making excuses. For myself. For others. Take accountability for what I'm doing and don't let it rule my life.
  • Listen to my gut. Once I get all the smart foods in it, she should lead me back on track.
4. Financially. Student loans, credit card debt, living beyond my means. I never thought I would have to deal with all 3 at once because I was smug and thought I was smarter than that. Sadly, my emotional being and excuses took over my life last year, and now I need to regroup.
  • Get control of what I'm spending. Stop eating out. Stop buying things I don't need. Stop pretending I have the money to play when I don't. Sounds easy, but I can be weak. No excuses!
  • Get back on track with the hubs. We've both been bad and non-communicative here and we both need to set boundaries and regroup.
2015 is my year to refresh. To purge the toxins in my life and take control of things I've let get out of hand. I want to write and share more, clean up my act and celebrate the journey along the way. There are so many things in life I'm grateful for which is why I've come to the conclusion I need to to do better. And I plan to do that...first thing tomorrow.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Feet First - On Jumping Into Lake Washington

On Wednesday, my husband and I were invited by our good friends to join them on a sail boat ride. She had won an auction item the year before to have a 6 person dinner and wine event and was finally getting a chance to enjoy it. The day was amazing - sunny, warm, not a huge breeze (which wasn't great for sailing, but it would open up later in the night). A few hours into the wonderful trip, the opportunity to go swimming was brought up. Of course I hadn't been planning on swimming and did not bring any bathing suit. However, this did not stop me from jumping in. Below are the thoughts that were bouncing around my head as I enjoyed the lovely late night dip....

I screamed a bit as I crashed into the water. It wasn't out of fear though, as one may imagine occurs when jumping off a boat into the evening shadows. Oh no. This noise, screech really, erupted from my body out of exhilaration.Pure joy.

Maybe it was the 4ish glasses of wine (1 champagne, 1 white, 2.5 reds) that had me readily agreeing to jumping into the middle of Lake Washington at 9:30pm in my jeans and bra. Or maybe it was the acknowledgement that this type of event - sporadic - would most likely not occur anytime soon. And as I made my way to the front of the boat, my comrades cheering me on in varying degrees of support, I launched myself off the front of the beautiful sailboat and into the deep waters below.


After regaining my breath from the initial shock of wet and gradually getting used to my jeans sticking to me, I began to float and tread. The few conversations from my boat-mates - how cold is it? how do you feel? I can't believe you are wearing your jeans! - gradually fell away as they went back to the wine and I was left alone.  But I felt serene. I was letting the weeks of stress, uncertainty and anger extend out of me and float away as I listened to the hum of distant boats off the water.

I literally felt like it was melting - I carry so much weight from the world on my body that the weightless sensation, 172 feet from the bottom of the floor, took me to a place of serenity. Think Happy Gilmore's "happy place".

Of course the voices from the boat came back and my friend, a much better and fitter planner than I, joined me in her bathing suit to swim along.

She had a similar reaction. The sense of peace and quiet - even though technically we were surrounded by people and noise, it held this private sanctuary for the soul; albeit briefly. There have been few times in life I've ever felt that calm: The Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal, Canada; The Seven Sacred Pools of Hana in Maui, Hawaii; the top of the bell tower in Siena, Italy. And now, in the middle of Lake Washington, late at night, 172 feet from the bottom of the lake floor.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rome...and why you should go.

The Colosseum
My man and I went on a 10 day European vacation with 3 days in Rome and the rest on a Mediterranean cruise. I had been to Rome 10 years ago (and various other cities in Italy) and was very much looking forward to returning. If you are in need of a few reasons to convince yourself or others on why you should take time to go here...let me share with you my top 5. 

1. The history. My love told me he didn't want to do anything touristy in Rome. He wanted to drink with the locals and relax. It took less than 4 hours for him to completely change his tune. We found the Colosseum, paid the 20 euro, and had an amazing time. We walked along the cobblestone streets and ran into countless historical sites. Our package included a 3 hour walking tour with the Vatican, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain...and with the exception that the bus that took us there did not bring us back to the hotel, he had a great time. Soak up the BC and AD vibes that is intertwined in this huge city.

2. Architecture. Much like history is everywhere, so to is amazing architecture. Greeks, Romans, temples, name it, it's here. And it is awe inspiring.

3. Art. It is the epicenter of art. When you walk into a church in the US, you have some lovely pieces. When you walk into a church in Rome, prepare yourself for hundreds of paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and crosses. It's nearly overwhelming. Or you can just walk into one of the galleries. Just think of the ninja'll find it in Rome. 

4. The people. The hubs and I wandered in to Oratorio Bistrot and found some of the most welcoming group of people I've ever met. My broken Italian got a few smiles and a return with pretty good English. They suggested tourist spots and nightlife...and to come back to them when possible! So we did :-) Their new restaurant was lovely and the food and wine delicious! I have not had one rude experience in Rome and think their spirit is a great reason to visit!

5. The food. True, this image is of espresso, limoncello, and wine. It was the end of the meal :-) Realizing that they want you to order in courses (meat, pasta, vegetable) makes it easier to understand that the chicken you ordered is coming alone (I definitely did that and had to order asparagus to compensate). But the pasta...the sauce...I would gain pounds living off of it. I ate at 5 different restaurants (bars) and did not have a terrible experience. The hardest part was choosing one because there are so many...

Do not miss out on gelato either!!!

The history, architecture, art, people and food are my top 5 reasons to go to Rome. I'm sure there are others, maybe with more depth and detail. But honestly, I believe Rome is one of those places that can speak for itself.

So what are you waiting for... Rome + Florence

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On Living Life

On a beach in Hawaii, 2009

 My new husband is extremely work oriented. Forging a path in his career to put him on the right course to success is his number one priority. And where I support and respect his dedication to finding a job that is fulfilling and meets his ambitious needs, I sometimes have a hard time understanding it. Don't get me wrong, I want to live "The American Dream" (or what's left of it) as much as the next gal. But I have this desire to expand my horizons and inner happiness another living as much as possible.

With my aunt passing away suddenly, finishing my master's degree, and getting married all happening within 3 months of each other, I've had a hard time digesting what it is that makes me happy. What is it that makes life worth living each day? I'm sure there is a mathematical way to figure this out. But since I am pretty bad at math, I've deduced three possibilities simply based on what I've experienced and learned so far.

1. Do something you love full time. This is the "find a job you enjoy" philosophy. It's not easy, I can tell you. Finding a job you love that pays well isn't always a possibility. Finding a job that isn't shite usually gets a "whoo hoo" in our current economy. But if you can find this position. This magical occupation that actually makes it easy to wake up at 6am and head to work...hold on to it with 2 hands and don't let go!!!

If you can't, I give you:
2. Hobbies! Get some! Join a club. Join a gym. Knit. Play a sport. Go to quiz nights at local pubs. Start an evening out club with friends. Start a game night. Blog. Play music. Listen to music. Travel (which is also number 3). Check out classes at your community center. Zumba. Join a parenting group. Anything to get your mind off the daily grind and the job you may not love. I personally have a few I love doing and I've met amazing people from them. There is something to be said in enjoying the fact that you can do fun things - even little things...

And 3 to living a full life...
TRAVEL! It doesn't need to be far. It doesn't have to be expensive. But getting out of your town/city and checking out what other places have to offer is eye opening and refreshing. It can recharge you. We spend so much time attached to our computers, our jobs, this compact life we can't stuff anything else in...that we just don't. Make a deal with yourself to get the hell out of your cage! Take a mini-break to the ocean...or that cute little B&B 5 towns over. Travel abroad for a few days/weeks/months if you can do it, and immerse yourself in the culture.

Life is truly amazing. Ferris Bueller said it best: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."  A job is time consuming - so find something you enjoy (or can at least tolerate). Hobbies let us do and be who we are - it adds a little something to your week beyond "work, eat sleep". Find something you find fun and do it! And travel beyond your town - it lets you see things you don't normally see and meet people you normally wouldn't have met. Dream big here! You can learn a lot by hoping on a train/plane/or in a car...

Of course, these are just my opinions and I know there's a bigger, deeper philosophical conversation at work here, as well. But for me and my personal reflection to what makes my life fulfilling...these are the things I cherish most (with the exception of family...but that's another story). Please feel free to let me know what you would add to the list!

Monday, March 25, 2013

An Ode to My Aunt

On March 17th, 2013, my aunt, Marianne Riccitelli, passed away from complications due to cancer. I hadn't really spoken or seen her or my uncle in over a year. Living 3000 miles away, getting my master's degree, planning a wedding, dealing with life out forget mortality. Aunts should not pass away until they are 100+. But life doesn't always give us what we want (or need). We endure. But the pain of the loss, of not seeing or speaking to her about what's been going weighs on my soul. 

I went online to find her obituary. The disease that ate away at her body sadly ate away at her heart and this vibrant woman chose to spend her final days in solitude, asking to have no memorial or service. Greater heartache. I can not go home to pay my respects. Not yet, anyway. I go home for my wedding June 21st - there will definitely be a visit. We will definitely have a good conversation. But until then...

I searched the internet today. 

In grief we forget that the lives of our loved ones are bigger than we think they are. I have known Marianne for years and have thought of her as my aunt since I was 10. She's been living in my uncle's house since I was 8. I'm 30 now. That is why I will not be insulted that my family was left out of the obituary. It's not as if we saw her family more than a few times over the last 15 years. Instead, I will add to what I think is a good start for an amazing woman. (You can read the original here):

Marianne "Sis" Riccitelli passed away on Sunday, March 17th at Yale New Haven Hospital. She was born October 19, 1956 to her amazing parents John and Ann (Ruscyk) Riccitelli. She leaves behind her nieces Robyn Riccitelli (GA) and Kendal Sasso (WA), and nephews John Riccitelli (GA),  Ricky Riccitelli (NZ), Jason Sasso (CT) and David Sasso (CT). Her loving partner of 18+ years, Jay Sasso (CT), brother John "Ricky" Riccitelli (NZ), Rob and Deb Riccitelli (FL), in-laws Arthur and Jennifer Sasso (CT) and a multitude of dear friends and loved ones. 

Marianne loved life. She was passionate, caring, and would open her home and heart to those in need. If you had the pleasure to meet her, the impression she made was unforgettable. She enjoyed a good glass of wine, a walk on the beach, conversations with friends and proudly sharing stories of her family. She loved her dogs and cats, reading novels, listening to music, and working at Nicks Place. Her laughter was infectious and her spirit unwavering.To be loved by Marianne was to know true warmth as she would pull out all the stops to make you happy. To say she will be missed is an understatement for those lucky enough to have her as part of their lives. Marianne's passing is a loss not soon to be filled. Her thoughts, feelings, attitude...her life, will always be remembered by those touched by her. 

I definitely borrowed a few pieces of the original - though obviously there are some differences. I never knew Marianne to be religious. We never prayed before meals. We never went to church. I think she believed in God, but I like being "religion-neutral". She liked to drink. She liked to smoke. She loved to laugh. She wanted to boast about her nieces and nephews and show the latest pictures. She wanted to feed you things you liked to eat and hear all about what was going on in your world. She wanted to reinforce how much she loved you (I never doubted) verbally and physically. I loved her hugs. I miss my aunt.

Sometimes we don't realize just how truly amazing our family members are and the role they play in other people's lives. I needed this for everyone/anyone to know Marianne Riccitelli was our family - she was part Sasso. The drinking, smoking, swearing, loud parts :-)  Definitely and proudly, I called her my aunt. 

Until we meet again....


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Lesson From a Local Business

When I first met Steve, the owner of Harried and Hungry, he showed up with a huge tray of wraps and sandwiches to sample...but forgot the mayo. And mustard. And napkins. This was October of 2009. You would think this would detract from the food, but it did not. He drove to his shop and came back within 20 minutes with a sincere apology and a bunch of 10% off coupons. Even though his kitchen staff most likely forgot the condiments and he could have sent a driver, he took responsibility for his business. And I respected that.

I've had a great relationship with Harried and Hungry ever since. They are one of the few companies I recommend and talk about online. Their food is remarkably delicious (I start to salivate thinking about their house salad!) and the owners are wonderful. Sadly, Steve passed away at the young age of 40 last year, but his family continues on the tradition of amazing service and delicious food. This is what I've learned from them.

1. We're human, mistakes happen. Own it. Steve was trying to win my business that first day. Showing up with a tray of sandwiches without the condiments wasn't exactly planned. He apologized and corrected the situation as fast as possible. He also took responsibility. I could have dismissed them and found another company, but to be fair, the food was exceptional. That combined with his quick response and willingness to fix it kept me loyal to them.

2. Being flexible is a must. Since that fateful day, I have ordered many a breakfast and lunch from HH - and sometimes an issue arises. I thought I ordered 10 lunches and 8 show up. We're missing the mayo/mustard. I only ordered 8 lunches when I need 10! I don't know too many owners who will come to your aid as soon as you need it, but this company does. I assume Hazel is the owner. She and her husband will take detours (or simply leave the office) to drop off whatever is missing. And not in an hour or two after the call - but within 30 minutes. They deliver so punctually (if not earlier) that no one but Hazel and I know that the VP might not have received their Cobb salad. If they weren't flexible to situations, they would not be as amazing as they are.

3. Attitude is everything. Hazel has been taking my order since we started using Harried and Hungry in 2009. And she is utterly delightful. With her calm demeanor and easy to talk to personality, I honestly look forward to having to book lunches only because I get to call her. Why? Because she isn't fake. No, seriously, she is sincere. She cares about her customers. She will call once every few months if we haven't ordered just to check in. She calls after a big order to make sure everything arrived on time and was ok. When I got her lost trying to find the random boat house we had our sales meeting in, she still smiled at me when she got out of the car, gave me the 6 lunches I didn't order on time, and asked if everything was ok. She should teach a customer service class. Maybe it's because she enjoys what she does or maybe she has the patience of a saint. Either way, from her I've learned staying calm, listening to the situation and being prepared lead to a happy attitude - and a happy customer.

I'm an advocate for this company because they serve delicious food and have wonderful customer service. They constantly wow our in-coming clients and my team loves that the food they ordered is here on time and in earth friendly packaging. But I respect them for their continued pursuit of making people happy. The quality shows all around and has been consistent, if not progressively better, since I met them way back that first day. We need companies to embrace, even small ones, that remind us that their are amazing people out there doing a great job. Also realizing the lessons they teach us is just an added bonus.

If you live in/near Seattle and haven't tried them, I highly recommend stepping into their cafe' or ordering from their catering menu. And if you do, tell Hazel Kendal says hello! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Learning from the Past

In February of 2009, I was laid off from my first full time job after three years. The depression was taking its toll. My boyfriend and I had just broken up (and ultimately got back together) and my family was 3000 miles away. I accepted a position I didn't feel good about but assumed I needed to take because any job was better than living off of unemployment. But I was wrong. I was humbled and shaken to my core. But I moved on.

This month marks my three year anniversary at my current position. I hit a few hills and valleys, but for the most part am moving forward and learning to accept and embrace who I'm becoming. What that is, to be honest, I'm still not 100% sure of. But this is what I've accepted to help me get where I'm going:

1. Don't stop being amazed - our world, as crazy and as awful as it can get, is still utterly amazing. It's round and revolves so fast we don't even realize it. The sky turns all sorts of colors, there are millions of creatures on it and we're all unique. It can be so impressive if you let it.

2. Embrace your hobbies - work is great (especially if you enjoy what you do), but you shouldn't let your occupation define you. For example, when I'm not a marketing rep, I'm a soccer playing, guitar strumming, karaoke singing, race running, Jane Austen nut...and proud of it.

3. Don't settle - it's worse than failing. If your gut tells you it's time to move on, grab lunch, listen again, and evaluate where your next move should be.

4. Don't be afraid to fail - it shouldn't be taken lightly, mind you, but it's not the end of the world. Unless you're playing with something that could lead to the end of the world...and then maybe you should proceed with caution and get 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinions. If I find myself in that position, I promise to do the same.

5. Ask for help - parents, friends, mentors, bosses. For the most part, people have no problem lending a hand, offering advice, reviewing your thesis - but don't make them a crutch. And it is your job to follow through, not theirs.

I know there are others and maybe I'm missing a big one - but I'm not opposed to receiving advice. Learned something through your years of experience? Leave a note!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aggressive by Default? Questioning Violence in Recreational Sports

She held the clump of hair triumphantly above her head while coaches, team mates, and fans clapped and laughed in enjoyment. A trophy unlike any other wrapped around her fingers...

This was during the middle, and consequently end, of my women's open league soccer match on Sunday afternoon in West Seattle. A predominantly Mexican league, I've seen more fans and family come to these soccer games than I ever had at my division 3 college matches back in PA. The crowd plays a particular part in this event, which is why I bring them up. This was my third game on this team and the parents and friends here create a fun atmosphere. Our first two matches were blow outs...we won by a minimum of 4 goals each game. I was brought in by a friend to make the team more competitive and I agreed to join, even though I already play in an indoor league Sunday nights. I figured more exercise, practice...I don't really understand what the coach is saying because he coaches in Spanish, but the girls translate for me and the other one or two non-Spanish speaking players. It's been fun and I always enjoy playing more soccer.

Before I left last week, I was told that the team we would play this week would be a challenge. Definitely more skilled and more aggressive...I didn't think much of it. We had just picked up a new keeper, a sweeper, and a center who controls the ball with ease. Unfortunately for us, the center got the flu, the sweeper sprained her ankle, and the keeper would have to pass. The center happens to double for every position on the field, so she took her sick self and put on a goalkeeper's jersey. For this match, at her request, I would play sweeper (the sweeper is the last defensive player back).

And so the game started. These girls were definitely more aggressive than previous teams. Ranging from ages 18 - 35, most of the team was young with minimal skill, but with 2 or 3 decent players. I took a rather tough (and what I would call a foul but the referee chose otherwise) and angry push within the first few minutes of the game and decided it would be in my best interest to play a little smarter than I had. The BS's (the initials of their team name, of course) as well as our team (the TN's), appeared to be talkative at times. There were a few fouls and hard hits on both sides - but not to the point where I was worried. I've been playing 20+ years and I've seen quite a few disputes. But going into halftime with a 0-0 score, I wasn't feeling like something bad was going to happen.

On the contrary, I was too busy getting translated at half time to the team on what "goal side" meant to really take notice of any side conversations or trash talking. So we started the 2nd half - and we started really well. We were pushing up, having less attacks on the defense (i.e. me). A few more elbows or shoves didn't really matter if the ball didn't end up in our goal. I did have a minor altercation with my own team mate...we had a difference of opinion of what an outside midfielder was supposed to do. After some words between us, the coach made a quick decision and moved her up to forward. Believe it or not, this is where the issue started. Seems she wanted to score, badly, by going through the opposite team. Forcefully. This starts the first issue.

* Please note that as the sweeper, I'm standing at the center circle where the kick off occurs. This fight is going to take place around the corner of the 18 yd box closest to my bench. It's a good 30 yds away.*

I saw her ejection coming. Most people don't argue with the sweeper. If a sweeper says run - you run. If they say come back and cover - you do so. A sweeper has complete vision of the field, they usually know when she argued with me on coming back, I figured she may have a teensy attitude problem. And she did. After a foul was called against her for attempting to kick through the opposing team, words were spoken rather loudly and the next thing I know, she's throwing punches. The other girl threw a punch or two for good measure, but by now the referee had come and thrown 2 red cards at both of them.

This should have been the end of argument. There must have been something I missed during the game...something my team mate had said or done that made the next strike the breaking point. Or maybe not. Fresh from being carded and mad as hell, my team mate is being mostly pulled off by one of our girl's - A. As A is pulling mouthy girl off the field, the other team is still shouting at them and staying rather close. As the referee turns away to make sure the opposing team's red carded girl gets off the field, a slap or push of some sort happens behind his back towards my team mates. At 21, I probably/possibly would have done what A did, which was turn around and swing back. At 28, eh...I don't want to get in a cat fight. Unfortunately what was about to come was definitely not a cat fight. As soon as A turned and took a swing at the girl, the forward from the BS's (who was probably only 5-8 yds away from me and had been watching the whole time) made a B line for A and proceeded to whale on her.

At first, I found it surreal. My older brother once did that in a high school game. His friend was playing forward while he was playing sweeper. He saw his friend get slide tackled intentionally and the kid who did it got a yellow card. However, my brother felt that was not enough justice and proceeded to run 30 yds and punch the kid in the face...he was 18. It was stupid. I saw that girl sprint toward the fight and thought, "wow, she's stupid". The difference is my game is a recreational game with one referee. I don't remember the ref blowing his whistle uncontrollably when this fight occurred. I don't remember the referee at all, to be honest, and that's sad. Where the hell was the referee??? As I watched this unfold 20 yards in front of me, the other team's bench came on the field. I thought they were attempting to pull the girls off one another. I mentioned earlier, this league is a family affair. It would make sense. But no, what I saw next shocked me into disbelief. They weren't helping the situation, they were aiding in the assault.

I watched a good 20 seconds before it finally seeped in that these parents, coaches and friends, both male and female, were jumping and kicking my team mate on the ground. My team's parents and coaches were pulling smaller fights apart, trying desperately to get to the middle but consistently running into fists, kicks, and aggression. When I finally made my way around the outside, I saw a woman, probably in her 40's, kicking and stepping on the back of my team mate. I grabbed her from behind and pulled her off screaming, "What are you doing? What's wrong with you?" GET OFF THE FIELD! I forget how high my voice gets when I'm upset. I started yelling at the crowd in my own personal hysteria to get the f*kc off the field. I finally got to the middle and pulled off the sister of A who began screaming at me that that was her sister down there. I tried to explain while pulling her up that all I saw was her on the ground getting kicked, as well, and by the time we turned around, A had made it off the field and her attacker, the small forward who booked it across the field to start the fight, had her hand high above her head, waving around A's hair like a prize, to what seemed like entertainment to her fans.

I haven't slept well the past two nights. In my head, I replay the event with different scenarios. What if one of the times I knocked down (legally, mind you) that small forward and she retaliated against me? Her father was the coach, one of the men who made it a point to hit A - what if that mob came for me? Or what if once I saw that forward running to join the fight, I pulled her up short. It doesn't do well to dwell, I know. But there was something about this fight, the way it went down, and the outcome. Why would that girl be proud about ripping out someone's hair? She missed an open shot. Her team didn't win. They're more likely to be removed from the league due to the police report that was issued. I can't make sense of it and that's probably why it makes me so anxious.

Violence off and on the field has been reported for years now. Parents at pee wee football and hockey matches, fans getting in fights at professional sporting events. Hell, hooligans in soccer are well noted across the world...not so much in the USA, but most other countries. What drives us to the point of violence? What makes a game turn into a brawl? We're supposed to be civilized, right? There are rules to the game to keep everyone in line - so what is it that makes us so ugly? What draws the spectator so passionately into the sport?

If you google "violence in youth sports", hundreds of articles come up. It occurs - sometimes less than reported, sometimes more - in all types of events with all types of people. There are studies about youth sports making children poor sports, parents becoming too obsessive and fanatical, officials not doing enough to restrict the amount of fouls in the game. There are quite a lot of issues in something that was created for children to be fun. Wasn't it? Sport historically wasn't necessarily for fun, but for honor and sometimes survival. So does our aggression come from a primitive spot in our brains that holds on to the instinct to win at all cost?

Truthfully, I don't know. I'm sure there are psychological studies done that can be googled, as well. What I do know is what I witnessed on Sunday, February 20th, 2011, was an ugliness that people have to do harm onto others when retaliation isn't necessary. The team mate who threw the first punch was wrong. The girl who retaliated was wrong, as well. A, trying to walk the team mate off the field should have jogged away from the pushing, or yelled for the referee to turn. She should not have tried to punch or push the girl back. And the stupid girl - the one who ran 20 yards to brawl - was the worst of them all. All she did was advocate for violence on a pitch made for goals and passes and teamwork. She may feel victorious in her battle against an opponent. She may win the cheers of a psychologically unstable crowd. But she lost a piece of the game I'm sure she loved. She definitely lost a sense of self and the knowledge between right and wrong. Sadly, I doubt she'll realize it. I honestly think that because she won, because her hair wasn't ripped out and she wasn't beaten by a crowd that she'll be more likely to throw a punch faster the next time. She'll make excuses she was defending her friend. She'll find a reason for the violence and the use of it. She'll forget she was trying to score a goal, not defend someone's honor. And this cycle will continue. This insanity will proceed to move forward with very little checking.

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