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Tag Archives: little surprises

23 // Live Music

Concerts make me so incredibly happy. Tonight, my friend Morgan and I were planning on wandering about Sewickley to find some fun class to take during weeknights. Instead, we decided to go trek to Pittsburgh for a show. A girl from my high school, Brooke Annibale, was playing at the New Hazlett Theater tonight. I think it’s been so interesting watching her progress. I used to listen to her sing during Moon’s 4th of July celebration, back when she was just starting out.

Tonight, there were 4 performers at this Songwriter Spotlight event. Brooke, the lead singer from a band called Space Pimps (he was shockingly great, reminded me of Ryan Key from Yellowcard), the lead singer from Punchline (!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited !!!!!!!!) and Harrison (formerly of The Morning Light — yet another high school reference, Andy McDonald and Bobby Garver were in that band) all got to sing a few songs individually, and then sung together in the end.

The venue was pretty cool. We all got to sit, and everyone had a good view of the performers. Brooke sounded amazing, as I knew she would. I need to pick up her CD. I was also pleasantly blown away by the lead of Punchline. I’ve loved his band and his voice since high school, when my one friend Andrew would play Punchline’s debut album, “Action,” constantly in the car on the way to school. Harrison left me feeling lukewarm. Maybe it’s because I knew two of the guys in his old band, and have an inkling of how things unraveled for all of them. Guy from Space Pimps was hilarious, and his voice was so strong.

All in all, it was a great gig. I’d go see some people there again, and now I have new albums to research and new bands to look into. I like that the Punchline lead guy is going solo a bit (while also recording with his band still). My iPod could use updating.

21 // Driving with the Windows Down

There’s nothing like the beginning of spring to really uplift your mood and make you generally more positive than you otherwise would’ve been. My day has been uneventful for the most part, but I was so happy about the weather. I love when it gets nice out. It’s like the whole world is letting out this collective sigh of relief because finally, it can stop burying itself in heavy sweaters and snow boots. Now it gets to put on some cute swishy skirts because the sun is out, and it is (tentatively) here to stay.

My drive home from work was the usual suck-fest. Heavy traffic. Too bright sun causing me to be blinded for a few moments too long. General fear for my life when I’m merging, at the same time as fifteen other cars. But one magical little moment decided to happen when I was getting close to the Sewickley Bridge.

I rolled down my window, because you can’t help yourself from doing that when the weather is nice. The air came all rushing in and it made my skin feel the way it does when summer is hanging around. I turned on the radio and was extremely surprised to hear this song playing on 96.1 of all stations.

Then a train went by, nearly going the same exact speed as me. And all of this culminated into this great little moment. So I sang really loud. And danced in my seat. And it was lovely.

15 // Backyards

I went for a walk tonight with my dog, Bella. It was kind of refreshing being outside in the cold, walking briskly with my heavy jacket on. Five minutes in, I had to unzip my coat. But I continued on. I was determined to put in 30 solid minutes of exercise, and if you’ve ever seen my neighborhood, it’s not your typical walk in the park.

Most of the streets dip wildly up and down, so even after you’ve begun you already know you’re in for a decent workout. I usually hate walking in my neighborhood for that sheer reason alone. As me and Bella walked, we passed the usual giant dogs barking at us, cars getting a little too close to the curb and the myriad of other normal-neighborhood things you encounter at 7:25 at night.

I usually end up going all the way to end of my neighborhood (which, in my mind, ends near my old friend Melanie’s house) and then turn back, which is what I did tonight. The most interesting part of my walk didn’t happen until I was halfway back to home. I was passing houses of people I knew and when Bella stopped to pee for the hundredth time, I saw it. This one house of a family I don’t know terribly well. I remember their son vaguely from my days on the schoolbus. I always thought he was weird. I’m pretty sure he’s much older than me.

But the point isn’t their house. It’s their backyard. They have a pool, which, you know. Isn’t anything too exciting. A million people have pools. But their backyard is lit up entirely with Christmas lights. Bright, neon ones decked all over the trees and around their pool. I glimpsed it through the cracks in their huge fence. I just can’t believe I’ve never noticed it before. It was like magic and Christmas and wonderment all wrapped up into one neat package, displayed in their yard.

It made me really happy to see it, and after Bella was ready to go, we carried on as we always do. Maybe when I get my own house, I can convince my future husband to let us decorate our backyard in a ridiculous amount of lights. As long as the neighbors don’t care. But that’s what fences are for!

 

12 // Selling My Work

A while back, I was introduced to the concept of Red Bubble. If the name throws you, don’t worry. This is not a balloon-selling service. It’s a website that allows artists and designers to sell their work and turn a (small) profit off it. I realize I mention my former boyfriend often on here, so IĀ apologize, but he’s the one who turned me onto the idea.

I had watched him beginning to sell some of his work on the site for a while, and every so often he’d get a fun little email alerting him that he had made a sale. By my last calculations, I think he ended up making quite a lot of money off the iPhone cases he was making. His subject matter was more focused on Dr. Who and Nintendo. But regardless, his stuff sold. And he didn’t even have to do lots of promotion. It just kept happening.

A few months ago, I received a very unexpected email from a girl I had never met. She had managed to stumble across my design portfolio online and had seen one of my shirt designs. A design done for a screen-printing class, promoting the book (turned soon-to-be movie) “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” She asked me if my shirt was for sale. I remember laughing to myself, because that screen-printing class had turned out horrendously and I had lined the screen up wrong. The print was crooked and wrapped halfway around the shirt. I had chalked it up to a lost cause, but I’d decided to keep the shirt design up on my site because I liked it. Even if it wasn’t real.

So I started mulling over her question. What would be the harm in selling it? How hard could it be? I’d make one sale and be done with the whole thing. So I set up a Red Bubble account. Sent in my Illustrator file. Picked my shirt colors it would display on. Then I sent her an email response with a link to my site, and true to her word, she bought a shirt.

I decided to branch out the merchandise into iPhone cases on a whim. They were a little pricey in my opinion, but I wasn’t the one setting the prices. All I had control over was the percent of profits, to an extent. Which trust me, isn’t much. But anymore, there have been more people buying my things. All I have, literally right now, are the various “Perks” shirts (in black ink and white ink) and an iPhone case design. But people keep buying them. People I’ve never met ever. I’ve done a very TINY amount of promotion on Facebook and Twitter right when I put up my first design, but I honestly didn’t think it’d go anywhere. That was back in December or so.

I made another sale today, and I’m up to something like $30 that I didn’t have before I started this ‘selling’ process. I’m always so pleasantly surprised when it happens. I can’t imagine how people come across my work. But I think it’s kind of cool. And I really hope they’re happy with their shirts and cases. I’d like to do some more quotes. Work on my type skills. Could be a fun project!

8 // Being Waved at Randomly

On my way in to work this morning, I was feeling good. Despite my being a little sleepy, the second I walked outside to go to my car, I was instantly revived. Good weather will do that to you.

I had my banana. I had my juice in a Dunkin Donuts coffee-to-go cup. As far as I was concerned, the morning was not off to a dismal start.

I was running a little late, which really doesn’t surprise me, but I had a feeling I’d make it on time. News flash Mom! I did.

So on my way, I drove along at my leisure. I ate my banana. I drank my juice. Then I came to a stoplight. One of many along my route. I’m always stopping and starting for something. So there I sat, sipping juice. Waiting for that light to turn green.

A car next to me pulled up to the light too. There we sat. Other vehicles started filing in behind us. Then something odd happened. The car next to me honked twice. I looked over, purely because I was interested. There was no one else in front of him so I wasn’t entirely sure what he was honking about. So my eyes met the driver’s.

He looked young. There was someone with him in the passenger seat. He smiled at me slightly, and waved.

I wasn’t really sure why he was waving, but I waved back. The rest of my way to work, he and I drove in the same vicinity as each other. Sometimes I would pass him, sometimes he would pass me. After a while, I lost his car completely. But I hadn’t stopped thinking about his wave.

Why’d he do it? He didn’t seem to wave at strangers at any other stoplight. I checked. And I definitely didn’t know him. He wasn’t some guy I was familiar with.

So it was a strange occurrence. A little bit of stranger kindness in an otherwise perfectly fine morning.

And it made me happy. Just a little. It also made me slightly nervous, but that’s just the worrier in me. I think waving gets underrated sometimes. It’s the acknowledgement of another person. You don’t encounter much interaction or acknowledgement when you’re in a whirlwind of traffic.

Everyone’s so busy trying to get where they’re going. It was nice that he stopped for a moment. Just to pause and wave. Maybe his destination wasn’t nearly as important to him as everyone else on the road. I still wonder, though, where he was going.

4 // The World Needs More Love Letters

I’m starting to get involved in a project. More specifically, something like a movement. I stumbled upon this “The World Needs More Love Letters” campaign a few days ago, purely by accident. I was on a blog I regularly visit, and they had done an interview with the founder of this movement, Hannah Brencher. She’s taken it upon herself to spearhead a huge group of people (it has gone global) that send anonymous ‘love letters’ to people who need them. The letters typically center around encouraging words, positive thoughts and general good-vibe feelings. I was so impressed with her backstory and how she got it started (PS, she’s only 23! Like me!) and it made me want to start doing something to help.

Any kind of organization/non-profit/movement that inspires complete strangers to write to each other for a common good is something I can get behind. So I signed my email address up on her site and I’ve recently received my first instructions for letter writing. What’s cool is that there’s always a monthly “bundle” of letters that go to one specific person. People can request letters for friends, family or co-workers if they think that one person in their lives could use some cheering up or some positivity. I haven’t begun writing my big letter yet because I know it’s going to be a tall order to start out on. I’m writing to someone with cancer, and those words shouldn’t be taken lightly.

On a slightly less serious note, Hannah and her fabulous team encourage people to leave anonymous letters around their hometowns, or along their commutes, or anywhere that a little letter could be found. Last night, my friend and I were at Target and I was looking for some cute stationary to begin my foray into letter writing. I wanted something cute, but generic enough that it could appeal to any subject matter I’d be tackling. My friend was so inspired by my want to get involved, that she decided to jump in too. So last night, we bought a bunch of adorable cards and envelopes. I got mini ones for my ‘anonymous around town’ letters, and some larger ones for the big letters I’ll be sending.

We wrote out our words thoughtfully, and got very excited about the notion of leaving them for people. We took to the streets of our hometown around 10 p.m. last night and hid notes cleverly at local shops that were still open. I put one envelope in between two Hershey bars at one of our local gas stations, in hopes that some home-sick college freshman from the local university would happen upon it. Today, I wrote 3 more letters. I’m going to visit my grandma today, and I plan on leaving some along my way to her house.

This feels good to have something positive to focus on. Knowing I might make a difference, even a small one, in someone’s day. It’s possible that my letters won’t all be found. Some people might throw them away or think it’s weird. But I like the hope in it. And I would be thrilled if I found one. So I’m going to keep writing. Because everyone could use a love letter, every once in a while.

1 // Dark Chocolate

I’m a big fan of dark chocolate. My parents got me these for Valentine’s Day since they realized I would more than likely be painfully aware of my ‘single’ status. Nothing says ‘go find a new boyfriend’ like sitting on the couch, hoarding candy, right? I brought these to work today as a sweet snack to help me get through my morning. I think the world always feels a little better when chocolate is added to the mix.

Plus, dark chocolate is supposed to be better for you than milk. If I’m being honest though, I’ll always pick milk chocolate over dark. But Dove knows what they’re doing with this type of chocolate. It’s not too bitter, like other dark varieties I’ve had in the past. Also, fun fact. Dove puts little mini-fortunes on the inside of all their wrappers. When I was just starting college, my friends and I were obsessed with the Dove chocolate squares. I’d save every wrapper that seemed pertinent to my life. I have them packed away in some journal somewhere.

I think Dove fortunes are better, sometimes, than ones right out of a fortune cookie.