Memorial Day Weekend Re-imagined

Yesterday, dad and I went to his friend’s house to have our hair cut by his wife. I needed a trim, as it has been three months, and my undercut needed to be done, as it’s been two months. Andrea did a lovely job and it felt great spending an hour with her. Dad is quite pleased with his hair too.

For the past two years I’ve been going to Atlantic City on the Saturday before Memorial Day. In 2016, I went to Washington, D.C. and before that, I would just spend the weekend in Philadelphia, going to museums, then spend time at my uncle’s pool.

My aunt and uncle moved to Marco Island, so a swimming pool was out this year too. I remember in 2017, I didn’t do anything because Memorial Day weekend was the weekend that I submitted my residency application to Canada and I needed to make sure I had that $10,000, which I did. However, I had something to look forward to and I ended up going to the beach a few times that summer.

I thought about my sadness of not going swimming this weekend and the sadness of others on Instagram and I thought to myself, “why am I so sad?” While Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer, the true meaning of the holiday is to pay homage to our Service Members and their ultimate sacrifices. We’re still celebrating with bar-b-ques, and why not reach out to military members and thank them?

Here’s a piece I wrote in 2006 for a zine project I did for an English class. I was really into the American Civil War back then and my zine was all about the Civil War.ย The Real Origins of Memorial Day

We still have the rest of the summer to enjoy. Mom and dad are going to Cape May in June and as Andrea and I were chatting yesterday, staying at an Air bnb or hotel might be the best time this summer with everything sanitized. I thought about it and I was talking to mom earlier, if anything, I would go to Asbury Park towards the end of July and stay with Jim and John if they’re taking reservations. They were meticulous and clean, I could feel safe with them. If not, I would take a day trip to Brighton Beach or a long weekend and maybe stay in Manhattan. I would only be comfortable with 2 or 3 days at the most. The more I think about it, the more I would just take day trips to the beach instead of staying. It would be cheaper too. I’m still on my budget and I’m saving for a new tattoo (upper arm) in the fall or early next year… when it is safe to do so.

Memorial Day weekend and the summer has not been ruined. We can still have fun in the sun, at a distance, and smartly. We may have to change our plans a bit, but we can adjust. Remember that while Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, why not take a moment to thank our service people.


Friday’s Gotham Workshop 22 May 2020

Yesterday, my full-time job gave us half day for the upcoming holiday. I could participate in the earlier Gotham Workshop and I was looking forward to my third workshop.

Lara Ewan was my instructor again and for there were a few of the same people as last week. Some newbies joined us, like Beth from Philadelphia, another in the UK, and a few from India. I love how COVID-19 quarantine is bringing us all together, all over the world.

For the first prompt we had to write about a time machine. This was my story I created in the fifteen minutes I was given:

Prompt: Time Machine

“On the count of five, I will flip this switch and you’ll be transported back to 1861, just as the fort was being bombed. You remember the mission right?” Dr. Claw asked.

Penny and Jack shook their heads vehemently.

“Yes, we have to stop the beginning of the American Civil War,” Penny was excited. Jack on the other hand, was not. Jack loved history and while he knew that Penny loved history as well, he wasn’t quite sure if she knew how one change could effect history and life as they knew it. One ripple 159 years ago could change the motion of time.

“Correct! Are you two ready?” Both shook their heads. As Dr. Claw began to count, Jack had a plan. He wasn’t going to change a thing. There was rope next to him, he could tie up Penny. Penny loved making a name for herself, often ethics didn’t matter to her as long as she had her fifteen minutes of fame.

Yet, Jack didn’t feel right tying Penny up and he knew she would put up a fight. What could he do?

“One…” Dr. Claw began.

Knocking her out would be worse.


“Jack, aren’t you excited?” He gulped, he didn’t know what he was going to do.


Jack didn’t have to participate. He also knew they would be outnumbered and there’s not many ways you can stop an explosion in 1861.


The men would stop Penny and Jack, they were unfamiliar…


…unfamiliar and wearing strange clothes. Darkness and sparks of gray surrounded them,

Everyone loved the start of my story, especially how I brought the ethics of time travel into the equation. My workshop liked the descriptions and the character development; they hope I finish it.

For the second prompt, it was “don’t tempt me.” I fictionalized my Brighton Beach trip last year, but I want to rewrite it. Before Laura gave us the prompt, we had a 15 minute back and forth with everyone. She was telling us that since the quarantine, Laura is in Brooklyn, she hasn’t had a cigarette since she doesn’t want to take her mask off outside. She informed us one of her friends made a mask with plastic straws and she quipped, she should make a mask that could hold a cigarette. We all died with laughter, I want to write that story… complete with the smoke wand they used in the 1920s.


I’m growing with this workshop and I really look forward to next Friday’s class. COVID-19 has been wonderful to me and for that I am thankful. I’m going to sign up for a memoir writing class, but I’ll see how much it costs first. Maybe once we get back to “normal,” I’ll take a trip to NYC.

Thankful Thursday 21 May 2020

Well, this Thankful Thursday is much happier than last Thankful Thursday; the universe has a way of working itself out. It’s nice when the news is off and there’s not much kvetching. Honestly, I think we should all stop watching so much media. I don’t agree with my parents politically and I might not like how mom treats me, but I am here and I’ll be here for a while, so I am going to make the best of it and remember to feel gratitude, even in the not-so happy moments.

Today is Claire’s birthday and I sent her a birthday gift. She received the gift this morning and she was quite thankful for my kindness. I’m hoping we can get together for tea after this pandemic; I’m grateful for our friendship.


Earlier corporate had their daily zoom meeting and one of the women in Michigan sent me a really sweet comment, which made me verklempt. I’m thankful for these Zoom meetings, they make my morning each week day morning.


On Sunday I was going through a scrapbook/yearbook I made in 11th grade. Instead of buying a yearbook that year, I decided to make a scrapbook of the year, had friends fill out surveys, put in personal accomplishments and had friends sign it. A friend I met 20 years ago at summer camp signed the scrapbook and also filled out a survey. I had the hugestย  crush on him, but haven’t seen him in three years. I posted on City-Data’s People Finder, people responded and found his Facebook. I’m no longer on Facebook, so I resurrected my ace_of_hearts7489 account, and sent him a quick message: Hi! I have a new account: thehappinessboxproject and text me some time. Hopefully it wasn’t too quick that it will signal a problem. I hope I hear from Justin and I’m grateful for City-Data’s help.


Justin and I in physics, 2008, a few weeks before I graduated from high school. He graduated in 2009.

Also, I was going through my personal newsfeed to see how far back it went (it goes back 10 years – first post someone made on my newsfeed was 6 May 2010… my first newsfeed post was from 11 December 2011). I found this cute video from July 2014 and I wanted to share it:

What are you grateful for today?

Missed Opportunity – Can’t Do Them All!

Unfortunately, last night I missed the Zoom meeting with the Improv group. I explained to Rachel that we are a later dinner family and I will try my best to make it to the 6:30 Monday meetings, but sometimes I just can’t.

Yesterday we had our gardens mulched and the trees cut. Mom felt weird cooking in front of the workers, so we ate at 7. Delicious dinner, but didn’t make it to the Zoom chat. I’m not going to be hard on myself, can’t do it all!

Our gardens look gorgeous too!

Since this summer is going to be a bust, I received an e-mail from Tides in Asbury Park and they’re accepting reservations at quarter capacity. I’m sure Air BNB won’t be housing people and honestly, I don’t really feel comfortable travelling this summer. I want to wait until a vaccine. I’ll enjoy the gorgeous backyard this summer! ๐Ÿ˜€

Opportunities During COVID-19

Since COVID-19 struck, I’ve been able to participate in events (even if over Zoom) that I might not have been able to when things were “normal.” The philosophy group I used to attend and moved to Adams, PA, the leader has been having e-mail discussions and he’s been including me in them. It has been nice being able to connect with my old philosophy group. I’ve missed Chad, and Bob, who I met when I worked at the senior center and he told me about the group. As Chad reminded me, things aren’t always perfect now, but to count my blessings for all the things I can do now that I haven’t been able to do before. How right he is!

Gotham Writer’s Workshop is another thing I have been able to do. Since they are based in NYC, I can’t always make it up to NYC for their free write-ins. I’ve been able to do it twice on Zoom and I love the classes so far.

On Friday, I logged in and we had a twenty-minute prompt and I wrote the prompt for “Keeping Up Appearances”:

I’m not weak, I kept saying to myself, I can’t ask for help! I just can’t. As I sat in the waiting room, I saw many trans men and women, some cys-gendered folks and possibly other asexual people walk in and out of the Toronto Association for LGBT and their Allies.

I had turned to them that previous June for Pride – I felt ashamed when I was waiting in line to get tested. I didn’t know anyone in Toronto, but if I was at home in York, PA, I would never have lived this down. Everyone would have known me and would have pointed and laughed. “Such a stupid girl. I guess she’s not perfect after all.”

Before I moved to Toronto, I avoided getting tested. Living through assault was traumatic enough. Those I went to college with all blamed me for what another college student did to me, how stupid and weak I must have been to get so sloppily drunk, trust that person, even the detective blamed me. The young man was wealthy and the detective said I was trying to ruin his future, never mind that he almost ended mine.

Five years later, I’m in Toronto as a writer. I tested negative, and was handed a counseling card. I can’t let others in, I don’t want others to see how weak and ashamed I still feel. I make a lot of money and work a lot of hours, I look successful, but deep down I feel like a failure. If I portray that, I have a panic attack. I need help and therapy tonight will be a scary first step.

I moved for a fresh start, but it seems like that placed more pressure on me to keep up appearances.

I was fourth to share, but time ran out and the instructor said I would start the next session after our second twenty-minute writing prompt. However, before we began the writing prompt, she had us talk about what we were seeing outside. Everyone introduced themselves and where they were. One young woman was a recovering drug addict and she was grateful that she now had a place to live in “Da Bronx.” We all clapped for her.

After our second prompt, “hopelessly devoted,” I decided to read my keeping up appearances prompt. One gay gentleman was so happy that I brought light to the LGBT community and getting such a test with a negative result is a fresh start, a heavy burden being lifted off of the shoulders. He loved the characterization and hopes I finish. Others said I started out strong, they applaud my character and hope I finish. I will! It’s nice workshopping again and building new ideas.


Lastly, another chance I’ve been given due to COVID-19: usually, I’m working two jobs when the Jewish improv group meets up and even though I’ve been eating dinner later on Monday when they have their meetups, I can still attend. Tomorrow night I’m going to attend, and see the group, since it’s been six months since I last saw them in person.

I’m an introvert and when I was in high school, I mostly stayed inside. Of course I would walk and study, but I mostly focused on writing and scrapbooking. I enjoyed these activities and while I might go out from time to time (of course, since I scrapbooked), being a homebody was lovely.

In college that changed a bit and don’t get me wrong, I still love travelling, but returning to my introverted roots during this pandemic has been a God-send. I love all this writing and scrapbooking time. When we get back to “normal” I will be planning accordingly. Not only to save money, but to also respect my introverted nature. I’ll still travel from time to time, still go to museums and skate, but I will spend a lot of quiet time too.

Non-Musical Layouts

I want to thank everyone who left love on my post last night. You’re all right – I do have a gift of telling stories with my photos and I am an artist. Maybe I’ll make a career of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I want to share two layouts I worked on this past week. They’re non-musical and they received a lot of love on both and the scrapbooking subReddit. Everyone loved the colours and designing. Autumn is one of my favourite seasons to scrap.

It’s hard to believe I’m almost done with Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook. I think the next project will be an album for Happiness Jar 2016. Since the Jar didn’t hold the whole year, I’ll scrap what I kept until March 2016, then the odds and ends after, then order photos and look back on my Blogger blog for those moments.

As Christina said, “you always have a project going on, you’ll find something to fill the time!” How right she is. I’ve found scrapbooking and writing to be therapeutic during this quarantine.

Musical Happiness Box Scrapbook Pages (Part II)

I’ve added some lyrics to summer and autumn layouts, ending on Halloween. Last night I completed October 2019 of Happiness Box 2019’s scrapbook and either this weekend or Monday I’ll start November.

Let me share with you the layouts where I’ve used music. I hope you enjoy and can groove along with my scrapbook journey.





(This video plays both O Canada and Star Spangled Banner… see below)






(it’s not specified, but I thought of this song as I worked on this page:)
















(not pictured… forgot to take a photo of it… but it was after the guilt trip:)







(I have to find a small image or a larger sticker for the top corner)


(I also have to thank the Reddit Juggalo community for their help with this layout… I asked “why do you call yourself a Juggalo” and used it for this page)

I also sent Tyler this layout. Tyler became my date for this and while we don’t keep in touch every day, it’s nice when I do hear from him.





Yes, I think in music and adding lyrics to my Happiness Box journal layouts have been fun. When I’m finished with November and December, I’ll post those layouts too!

Scrapbooking has brought me joy over this quarantine. I’m an introvert at heart and creating is my favourite thing. I might start adding some music to Happiness Box 2020. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a musical Friday!