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Do you believe in ghosts?

The Spalding Inn

This weekend I visited Northern New Hampshire to celebrate a bunch of 59 & 60 year olds' 40th high school reunion. My mom used it as a reason to get the family together, and I don't blame her. The White Mountain region up there is rich in vacation value. There's ample hiking, mini waterfalls, natural swimming pools, animals, warm sun, etc. I love it. My mom has constantly brought us there while weaving in folklore and family stories, so it's always had this warm family tie to the region and it always evokes nostalgia when I go.

Partnered with the stories, it's exhilarating to get riled up about New England's nature and history. You start to wonder about bears along the hiking trails and whether you're going to have to slam on the brakes at 11:00 at night to avoid getting killed by a moose through your windshield. You also strain to remember the semi eerie stories of avalanches, underground railroads, and the old days in general deep in the mountains. All the crazy things the White Mountain region experienced according to my mom.

We stayed at a nice resort plopped down in the middle of a luscious field of green grass surrounded by even more luscious green trees. When you show up to this type of place at midnight, however, it looks a little more like a snow covered, deserted, sprawling inn filled with ghosts, and you half expect Jack Nicholson to run screaming out of the front door. The next day, we headed off to the dinner down the street, at The Spalding Inn. This quaint, cottage type accommodation looked inviting, in it's old New England charm kind of way. We soon learned that the place was riddled with ghosts, to the point where the actual Ghost Hunters guys from the Syfy channel purchased the inn and proceeded to film one of the episodes there.

Apparently the carriage house in the back of the property has the most "activity," and I immediately looked out the back windows of the dining room as soon as I heard to see if anyone popped up in the windows. There's something about ghosts that I'm fascinated with and extremely frightened of at the same time. As long as I'm with a few other people, I could probably stick out a couple of hours in a decrepit sanatorium. The unknown aspects of hauntings and ghost stories make most people unsure about whether or not these things really exist, and you have to admit it's thrilling to discuss in various attempts to freak one another out. We didn't try to do much ghost hunting of our own, but it reignited my interest in exploring Salem and other places in Massachusetts this year. You should do the same.


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Beats Rhymes & Life -- A Tribe Called Quest Documentary

Wow. NPR usually depresses me (even though I love it) with their news briefings and saddened stories. Today they threw me a real zinger though--discussing the new documentary about the legendary hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest.

Hip Hop royalty

I was unaware of this development before now, so I commend you if you had picked that up earlier. What fantastic news. I wish I could fully articulate how elated I am just because of this movie's existence. Like Nas referred to them as "The Beatles of hip hop," they are the founding fathers. They solidified what real, true hip hop actually meant. Meant, in the past tense, because there's mainly garbage out there nowadays. At least in the mainstream. And yeah, maybe I'm a white girl from Maine, but I can recognize their passion, their wit, their poetics. Quest's music is timeless. It can compete with anyone who has ever surfaced and anyone that will. There simply is no competition. To know that starting tomorrow, I'll be able to watch an entire two hours or so unfold about their lives and why they disbanded, it brings hip hop tears to my eyes. Tears of lyrical joy.

The big question popped during the movie will mainly consist of whether or not they're going to make music history and start producing again. Honestly, I'm just happy to be able to watch Phife, Q-Tip, and Ali (occasionally Jarobi) in action. The money I would pay to see them in concert--and yet, you know they're not about the dough; they would never charge obscene amounts for tickets like the rest of the musical world.  I have goosebumps just thinking about it...check out the trailer for yourself, and visit the website to see when it will be available in your neck of the woods by clicking here.

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Taking it back to the old school


Raphael Saadiq knows what's up. I love when artists create music that sounds like the classics of the 60's but is released in the 2000's. Saadiq is a child of the 60's however (born in '66), which may have had some influence, but regardless, he has not fallen ill to the evils that is our current radio hit list, which is the most important aspect to underline here.

I have to admit, post college with no free time I have found little motivation to hunt down new music. I now understand when older people like parents or older siblings aren't even aware of a new trend or artist, because I find myself occasionally falling under the same category. Who's Nicki Minaj? Nonetheless, I will do my best to be a hip parent, but my point is that in discovering Raphael Saadiq for myself, I certainly understand that maybe you were there first. And I'm okay with that. I'll address bandwagoners in a separate post.

Saadiq's vintage music exudes a passion for life, something you don't get much with today's songs. They may be catchy, but I don't feel like shouting them from the sunroof of my car while I have goosebumps running up my arms. Ray Charles's "I Don't Need No Doctor" and Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" don't have shit for competition in today's music industry, but Saadiq's beats emulate them in his own contemporary way--and I am liking what I hear.

I cannot wait to show my dad, since he loves new music that is anything but your usual top 40's (Sorry Katy, Ke$ha, Lil Wayne, etc). Here's one of my faves, along with the classic oldie I mentioned above. I suggest listening to all of these at a high volume. And follow up with my earlier post on 60's music for some more grooves.

Raphael Saadiq - Heart Attack

Ray Charles -- I Don't Need No Doctor

Peace, love, 60's music.
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So she killed her kid, who cares?

I'm constantly surprised by the American (and global) media hype over the most random of stories (think back to the J. Crew executive's kid with painted nails). How much free time do people really have?

Most recently, as you may be able to deduce from the title of this post, I am amazed that people care this much about Casey Anthony. She's some white trash-ish woman from Florida who sliced and diced her kid according to the various strings of a story she pieced together. The American justice system blew it in gathering enough evidence to convict her, and now she's free to chop up other little kids. So there's a murderer on the loose.

Murrrderrrerrr!!!!

Do you ever think about how many other people out there have committed murder and you will never know? There's probably someone in your neighborhood. My point is moreso that we should just let this die (ouch, too early?). I don't understand why people waste hours and hours of their lives soaked up in this "drama" to the point where some poor innocent woman was almost killed in Oklahoma because she looked like Casey Anthony.

Twinsies!

know; the story is awful. I feel terrible that a little girl's life was taken, and it was most likely taken by her own mother's hand. However, there are a lot of bad people out there and Caylee Anthony is not the only victim in the past year...unfortunately there were quite a few. I just can't imagine following this case for the past several weeks and even years since it first surfaced, and then calculating how much time I wasted that I could have spent doing something else...like googling how to make chloroform. If she got away with it, then so be it. There's nothing we can do about it, and if someone feels like hunting her down to cut her up, I don't know why anyone would bother. An eye for an eye doesn't ever give you back the first eye, so what's the point? Hopefully she feels like a piece of shit, but if she doesn't, there's no way that Joanne from Kentucky is going to change her mind with her SUV and set of brass knuckles.  

I feel like there's an echo on this blog, but does anyone care about focusing on more important matters? Why don't you get your lazy ass up and study criminal investigation or hit up the law school nearby. That would actually be beneficial to yourself, your ig'nant family members, and the variety of future Caylee Anthony's that I'm sure (unfortunately) will be gracing our front pages in the following decades. Nahh mean?
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Consignment -- Look it up

One of the great things I've taken from Eliza besides learning how to buy designer jeans and where to find the most obscure and awesome indie music, is consigning one's clothes. I've told you all to look it up because I'm always surprised at how many people aren't really sure what it is. What it is...is GENIUS.



Instead of throwing away all of our fabulous garb to the po' folk of the community (charity >> boring) we can try to sell it first! And I don't mean we have to take individual pictures and upload it to eBay in hopes that someone will pay $10, including shipping, for some shredded up shirt. eBay is kind of...lame to me at least in terms of what I try to sell. I don't exactly have like thirteen authentication certificates and a set of Pokemon cards. Consignment shops are far easier and all you need to do is have some nice clothes. Hell, even Forever 21 passes some of their inspections.

Basically, you clean out your closet because there are sure to be 37 items in there that you haven't worn in the past year, or maybe even past four years. If the items are still in good condition and "seasonal" aka no jackets in the summer and bathing suits in the winter--you know, common sense--then you can arrange an appointment at a consignment store to have people actually sell it for you. You can watch your cash money pile up online over the course of 1-4 months, and every quarter you get a fat check. I usually make a solid 400-600 a year, just selling clothes that I wouldn't wear even if they were taking up spaced in my very cramped closet. Despite being bored of the characteristic frilly, fashion crazed girl, I seem to have shit that really does pile up. It doesn't stink though like a regular pile of shit. Just wanted to point that out.

My go to consignment liaison is Second Time Around. They began over 30 years ago outside of Boston, and now they are one of the most popular and successful consignment businesses. STA is all over the Northeast and even spreads into Chicago and DC. Most consignment stores are either cash up front, which means you get far less for your money, or you have to twiddle your thumbs while you poke around for six months waiting for your stuff to sell. STA, like I mentioned, can track all of your items online so you know when they're sold, what the tally is, etc. They are high end, but can take any sort of trendy pieces whether you paid $15 for it or $415. The place sucks you in, too, meaning you want to use all of your money towards all of the sweet threads they have in store.



Buffalo Exchange is also a good one, but again, you get your cash up front which usually means less dinero. Buffalo Exchange is typically for the hipster in you, so depending on what kind of clothes you're looking to sell (or buy) you can determine which store/system would work best. If you frequent Free People, Urban Outfitters, LF, then you should probably take your hobo bags of clothes to the Buffalo. Also, some of us need money to the point of selling crack for a quick dime, so clothes are always a good substitution especially with BuffEx in the 'hood. Cash up front is always a good quality. Although, they were rather picky the one time I tried to sell stuff there. Granted it was men's wear, it was a plethora of items straight out of a Ralph Lauren commercial. They only took one blazer, and threw me a measly $15 or something for it. Regardless, I would definitely give them a second chance if I needed some quick money. You can get more $$ back if you decide to take a store credit, too, instead of the bills. So, that's always neat.

So clean out your ug shit and make some pretty green. Your trash is someone else's treasure.
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My mother's generosity

Along with being batshit crazy and having the mouth of an 77 year old pervert, my mother is also incredibly generous. This characteristic of course benefits all of us needy children (perhaps too needy at times) but more importantly it reaches the outskirts of generosity where few are likely to go.


Her assistance has helped a variety of significant others that myself and my siblings have had over the years including free tickets on vacations as well as any other gifts and gadgets they may have needed if they were less fortunate. Not many families include significant others on every family trip with no questions asked and no checks demanded. We're not talking road trips to New York City. I mean full fledged, here's a ticket to the Caribbean, as well as free hotel and food/drink. Don't have a vital piece of apparel or equipment for the trip? If she's got the money, she'll buy you one. The woman may seem financially retarded because she couldn't save a dime if she tried, but as she always says, "You can't spend it when you're dead."

Other instances of random generosity include a stop at her favorite gas station along Route 1 North outside of Boston. She stops at the "Pump N Pantry" every time she heads back to Maine to grab her classic Diet Pepsi and to make one last bathroom break (that is, until the 40,000 Diet Pepsis she drinks force her to stop at the Maine/NH border). Last year, she was making the usual stop at this prized gas station when she started talking to the cashier about her evident pregnant belly. If you don't know my mother, please note that we are never allowed to diss our periods due to the sheer fact that the menstrual cycle allows you to give birth. Do you find that this statement was too much information? If so, are you surprised by finding it on this blog? Regardless, my mother would have 17 more children if she could. Childbirth is kind of her religion since she's pretty much atheist--she believes in what it represents, how amazing it is, etc. So when she started talking to this cashier, she realized that the woman was nearly 8 months pregnant, still working at a gas station, and clearly without significant income. So my mother handed her a $100 bill and told her how wonderful having a child truly is. The cashier nearly burst into tears. What the cashier didn't know is that my mother doesn't have like millions of dollars. This is truly giving when it isn't just excess wealth; it's a sacrifice or a compromise. The same rule applies with volunteering. It's not whether or not you have the free time, it's moreso about sacrificing or making time to dedicate yourself to someone else for free for a few hours.

A similar event happened at the same gas station (like I said, she literally stops here every trip back to Maine). Some young traveller was pressed for change and asked my mom for some spare quarters. He wasn't pregnant; at least she didn't think so, but he was polite, seemed responsible, and was clearly trying to get his act together. She handed him a $20. Another $20 she maybe could have used towards my school bill, or our mortgage, or one of the various things that needs financial tuning in our family life, but instead she figured he needed it more.



More recently, she called me upon her arrival at Boston's Logan Airport after flying in from Italy. She exclaimed, "I met these really interesting Ukrainian men on the plane! They're going to come to Portland with us and staying over, and I'll drive them to North Conway in the morning!" Of course, I was thinking of movies like Taken and other Eastern European creepster characters I've encountered on screen, and immediately thought that this was a strange and probably dangerous idea. I said, "Men?? Is that safe?" And she corrected me. She had said women and I must have misheard her. Anyways, it ends up that these Ukrainian girls who were around 20 years old were coming to the US for the first time to work at some summer program in Northern New Hampshire in order to learn English (as they well should; everyone knows American English is taking over the world....jokes). My mother is from the North Conway area and most likely got into a passionate conversation about life with them while they probs just nodded in agreement having no idea what she was saying with their broken English. While I was semi-surprised by her invitation to them to stay over and then drive to NH in the morning, I get it. As I've said repeatedly before in this blog, life is far too damn short to not take chances, help others, and in the end help yourself grow.