Giveaway at My Tea Cups in Peony

The amazing, fabulous and fantastic Nicole from My Teacups in Peony is hosting a giveaway to celebrate reaching 200 followers. Be sure to stop by her blog to say hello and enter for a chance to win!


Reconnecting (Part 1)

Over the years, I have had friends come and go from my life. Sometimes these relationships have quietly fizzled out after running their course, and other times they have ended in explosions of intense emotions and hurt feelings.

Throughout high school, I had a different best friend pretty much every year. First there was Rikki, then Nikki, then Jessica. I shared many unforgettable experiences with each of these girls, but in the end we grew apart. It's only natural I suppose.

After high school, I moved to Philadelphia. I met my first real friend in the "City of Brotherly Love" when I started waitressing at the Irish Pub on 20th and Walnut Streets. I was the youngest waitress on staff and most of the girls were standoffish to me because of it, but not this girl. She was nice to me from day one. Our friendship started with taking cigarette breaks together at work and quickly turned into wild nights at bars we had snuck into with fake IDs, dancing until the wee hours of the night, and hanging out at my apartment, eating cheese, acting silly and generally having a good time.

When I was going through some rough times and needed a place to live, she was the one who took me in. We shared her big two-bedroom apartment in a crappy section of South Philly for a couple of years before I moved away. We were great roommates, at least at first.

This friend who had always liked to get fucked up, had taken fun and partying to a whole new level. She would bring strange men back to our home and not remember their names in the morning. She often left food cooking on the stove or in the oven all night after passing out drunk. We would wake up to an apartment full of smoke and a ruined pan. On more than one occasion, I had to bust down our bathroom door because she had passed out with her head over the toilet and the bathroom door locked. Finally it got to be too much, I started spending most of my time at the apartment on Mifflin Street that my bestfriend (at the time) was renting. Eventually, I left Philly and moved to Baltimore. The ex-roomie and I kept in touch.

One night when I was back in Philly visiting, another friend and I ended up having to take this girl to the hospital after she passed out on the dance floor at a bar. One minute she was dancing, the next she was unconscious. We didn't know what she had taken. We feared the worst and took her to the hospital. After that night, this friend held a grudge against me for years. She blamed me for her hospital debt. She felt betrayed. That was the end of our relationship. Or so it seemed.

Earlier this year, this friend got back in touch with me. She called me and told me that she had been to therapy and wasn't partying so much and was doing much better all around. She told me she missed me. I missed her too. We decided to give our friendship another shot.

If I told you it was the same as it was before, I would be lying. Our lives changed in the years we spent apart, and we are both apprehensive about baring our souls to one another to reveal the people we have become.

I'm hoping that are friendship will rebound, not to what it was but to something new and equally as wonderful. We seem to be getting there, one step at a time.

We started with a few long telephone conversations. Then, she came to visit me at my new(ish) house in Baltimore. And, now we have plans to spend Thanksgiving together IN PARIS!!!

I was pretty shocked when she called to ask if I wanted to take a trip together. In fact, I'm pretty sure she only asked me because I'm one of the few people she knows who would be able to afford a trip like this, but that's OK. The trip will give us a chance to reconnect and get to know one another all over again.


Making a difference

Frustrated and annoyed with the garbage and dog shit piling up in the alley behind my house, I decided to take action and host a community block clean-up this past Sunday. I was very pleased that two people actually came out to help Jack and I pick up garbage, sweep up broken glass, shovel animal waste and pull up weeds. I honestly didn't expect anyone to show up to help on a sweltering hot August morning.

Even though the army of concerned neighbors I assembled for the clean-up was relatively small, our work made a difference. Not only is our alley in much better shape than it was before, I got to meet a number of my neighbors who may not have helped with the work but did take the time to stop by and introduce themselves to me and thank me for what I was doing.

I started noticing other small changes as soon as one week after I passed out the first flier notifying my neighbors of the clean-up. That very next weekend, I witnessed one neighbor cleaning up her backyard, and the owners of the Highland Clipper Club on the corner of my block finally picked up all the cigarette butts that their patrons had tossed on the sidewalk. Then, last night when I went to bring our trashcan back into our yard, I noticed that three of my neighbors who had previously just tossed bags of garbage into the alley had actually purchased trashcans with lids and even neatly labeled them with their addresses.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember me first talking about hosting a community block clean-up back in May, and you may be thinking, "Gee Mara, I thought you were a go-getter. It took you how many months to pull this together?"

The reason for the delay is that I was trying to get a grant from the City, from a local nonprofit or from an environmental group, to pay for the supplies for the clean-up. No such luck. Most organizations I contacted had no money to give, and those who did have grant programs available said my neighborhood didn't fall into the City's "target areas" (aka my neighborhood isn't ghetto enough to receive assistance).

I was however able to borrow brooms and shovels from the Highlandtown Neighborhood Association. That groups leader, Kevin Berhnard, is awesome! He helped me through the planning process and was even one of the two guys who came out for the clean-up.

The funds for the weedkiller, contractor bags, gloves and drinking water came out of my own pocket. But, you know, it was totally worth it. I am going to do one of these clean-ups every month, with our without the City's help.



This past weekend, Jack and I escaped from the hustle and bustle of the city and spent a few days at his family's rustic cottage in Penn's Creek, PA.

Penn's Creek is a quiet place in Amish country that sits in the foothills below the Appalacian Mountains. Here's a few pictures...


Across the road

Penn's Creek

Bald Eagle State Forest

-- Post From My iPhone


The pro-lifers are at it again

Pro-life activists are demanding that "health care reform must be abortion free," and the most conservative among them are outraged that the proposal includes funding for preventative birth control and sex education.

Apparently, if we don't tell our children about sex, they will stay pure, untainted virgins forever. And, birth control…well that’s just wrong. I mean, who are we to “play God”?

Once a year, pro-lifers descend upon our nation’s capital to “make their voices heard.” They carry signs with pictures of dead babies, which if you know anything about human development, depict babies that are developed well beyond the point at which you can legally have an abortion. They cause delays on Metro, jamming their signs into closing train doors and screaming their viewpoints in commuters’ faces. They litter the ground and vandalize the buildings with “life” stickers. They are by far the most obnoxious and forceful group of protesters I have encountered in D.C.

I find it quite ironic that so many supposed pro-lifers are against abortion but for the death penalty. (70% of republicans consider themselves “pro-life,” and 80% of republicans are for the death penalty.)

Also ironic is the fact that republicans claim to be against “Big Government” yet they are more than happy to let the government all up in my uterus

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am pro-choice. This does not mean that I support abortion—I support a woman’s right to decide what she does with her own body.

That’s the beauty of pro-choice—there’s room for everyone. If you believe that abortion is murder, then you may chose not to have an abortion or to force your knocked-up teen to have her baby and give it up for adoption.

However, if you are a scared, pregnant woman who is not ready to care for a baby or a rape victim that was inseminated by your aggressor, well you can chose to terminate the pregnancy.
See that, pro-choice offers a win-win situation.


I get around

I'm over here today, guest posting for the lovely K13's blog while she is soaking up the rays down the shore. This is my first time guest posting, so please head over to "Someday I'll Get There" and show me some love and check out K13's blog!


My own skin

It seems that all women struggle with self-esteem issues, especially when it comes to their physical appearances. I am no different. I have spent pretty much my entire life feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.

When I was a pre-teen I read an article in some beauty/fashion magazine that listed the bodily dimensions of the top super-models at the time. To this day, I remember the inadequacy I felt comparing my own body to these women's impossible proportions.

I was the tallest girl in my class at the time and I wore a 32C bra. Developing at a young age is really tough on girls. I was treated differently, not only by my my peers but by adults too. I was actually sent home from school one day for dressing "too provocatively." I clearly remember the colorful, striped, wide-strapped Stussy tank-top that caused all the trouble. I can also recall defending myself in the principal's office, stating matter-of-factly that my shirt was no more revealing than the shirts that the other girls were wearing. And, I will never forget my disciplinarian's response: "You're different from the other girls. You are causing a distraction for the boys." According to him, it was my fault that the pubescent boys in my class were more interested in boobs than in mathematics.

Sometime around that same period in my life, I developed an eating disorder—the classic binge and purge technique. I also started taking diet pills, which I got from a friend who stole them from her older sister. I wound up getting suspended for 10 days and sentenced to drug treatment/therapy at the local family health clinic when I got caught with them in school.

It wasn't until my early 20s that I would even consider wearing a bathing suit without shorts in public. I was in a horrible car accident when I was nine years old that left me with a huge scar down my left thigh and what is now a barely discernable limp. I spent the next decade obsessed with and embarrassed of my "disfigurement."

By the time I entered high school, I was attracting a lot of attention from older men who would try to pressure me to do things with them that I wasn't ready to do. I remember when I was 14 years old being at a house party and this guy Mike had cornered me in a bedroom and was forcefully pushing me onto the bed. Luckily for me, someone heard me yelling and busted through the door to yank the scumbag off of me. On another occasion, I was left on the side of a road after refusing to give a guy a blow job in exchange for a ride home.

At 16 years old, I started dating men in their 20s. I saw nothing wrong with it then, but now it literally makes me feel sick to my stomach. If I had a 16-year-old daughter bringing 20-year-old men around, heads (or nuts) would roll. Being sexualized my men at such a young age wrecks a young girls self-esteem....

I moved out of the house immediately after graduating from high school and moved into an apartment in Philly with my boyfriend at the time. He was a 22-year-old bum with no job. My mother was completely opposed to the idea and cut me off financially. That's how I wound up working multiple waitressing and odd jobs to pay my way through college and to support myself—and my boyfriend who never seemed to keep a job.

When the bum boyfriend first started showing signs of aggression, verbally abusing me, punching holes in the apartment walls and busting up my things, I just ignored it. I guess years of being emotionally abused by my drug-addict father had led me to believe this sort of behavior was acceptable. It wasn't until he shoved me down the staircase in our apartment building that I finally left him.

I will never forget that night. We were in the apartment arguing. Fed-up, I went into the bedroom and called my friend Nadine to tell her I was coming to the little South-Philly bar she was working at. I needed to get away. The boyfriend heard me on the phone and stole my shoes to try to stop me from leaving. He started pushing me out the door, barefoot, screaming at me to "go ahead and leave then." He pushed me hard the last time, and I fell down the stairs in our apartment building hall. I jumped to my feet and ran out the door. Tears streaming, barefoot, I walked down Washington Ave. towards the bar. I called Nadine, and she informed me that she had called the police and they were on the way to my apartment, so I should go back and have them take me inside to get my car keys and some things to come stay with her.

When I got back to the apartment, there were two police cars. The boyfriend was screaming at the cops, and when he saw me, he threatened to kill himself if I left. I left anyway. I left him with the apartment and everything in it and moved into Nadine's place. He didn't kill himself.

For the next couple of years, I hated men. Really hated them. Maybe I had always hated them....I certainly didn't trust them.

Jack has helped me through a lot of my issues with men. We were friends for years before we started hooking up. It took months of dating exclusively before I would call him my boyfriend and even longer before I would stop flinching when we had even the slightest disagreement. He is so unbelievably patient with me...

Until now, Jack was the only person I had ever told about a lot of the things I have written about in this post. It feels really good to get these things out. I feel one step closer to becoming "comfortable in my own skin."