I think one of the coolest things about being a 'city' girl now is having so many different opportunities that you don't find growing up in a rural area. Sure, being a country kid has its perks. I played for the high school basketball team, the softball team, I was on the Quiz Bowl, in every school club, the darkroom editor for the yearbook and on the dance team and flag corps for the marching band, while sitting first chair in the flute section my Senior year. I was those things because you had to be. If you didn't take part, there weren't enough people for our school to participate. But by doing all that, I was able to build confidence, personality and poise, which I'm not sure I would have developed if I was just another face in a huge student body crowd. Who knows though? I think I could talk to a fence post if I had to.
My favorite 'new opportunity' has been the chance to see advanced screenings of movies! Apparently, Albany is a market the film producers release movies in early to generate buzz and for critics to review. We first came across tickets on Craigslist and then realized you could sign up for your own by searching websites for advanced screenings in the Albany area. The tickets are free, the movies aren't even released yet and you're sitting front row! How cool is that?? With nine hours of film study in college, I fancy myself practically a legit critic. Who knew those easy A's in "Science Fiction & Horror Films" and "Alfred Hitchcock Films" would ever pay off?
When tickets to The Social Network came our way, we loaded up and headed down to the Regal Theatres at the Colonie Center. Screenings take piracy seriously, so if you ever find yourself at one, plan on brown bagging your cell phones and getting the security wand once over. Promoters at this advanced screening tossed out The Social Network t-shirts and mini movie posters but sadly, we weren't able to snag any flying prizes.
Lots of thumbs up "Like" buttons on this one!
The film follows the rise of the website Facebook and is the unauthorized biography of creator Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenber). Produced by Kevin Spacy, the script is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires. Portrayed as almost a Shakespearean protagonist character, Zuckerberg's mesmerizing story is blending into a mash-up of fact and fiction. The world's youngest self-made billionaire denies in a recent interview with Oprah that his life is as dramatic as portrayed in film.
Justin Timberlake shines as Napster creator Sean Parker while Andrew Garfield plays Zuckerberg's FB partner/CFO Eduardo Saverin. But the irony is that it was a female that sparked the catalyst that ultimately led to the creation of Facebook. With the stank of rejection still on his clothing, Zuckerberg begins a bender than ends with a crashed Harvard website. Trouble gives way to attention and soon Zuckerberg attracts the interest of BMOC, the Winklevoss Twins. (FYI: not played by related actors) The Twins want Zuckerberg to create Harvard Connection, but the idea stalls. The movie features sharp editing that flashes back and forward between the legal battles that ensued afterwards and the events that led up to Facebook's creation. The how, the who and the what at stake become the pressing matters.
Someone once said life imitates art and art imitates life. The Social Network may be a perfect example of that. As a sign the times, this movie is for our computer using generation. Only invented in February 2004, it's amazing that a single website has been able to do so much socially. From reconnecting with long lost friends, sorority sisters, classmates and family members...to even tracking down lost loves and adoptive parents, Facebook has changed lives. But it can be a double edge sword as well. Information found on Facebook has torn apart families, ruined relationships, destroyed reputations, prompted changes in legislation and even been responsible for heinous crimes. Was it Superman or Spiderman that said "with great power comes great responsibility"? Read on Facebook and you'll find that it was Spidy...turns out Andrew Garfield/Eduardo Saverin is going to play the title character in Spiderman 4. What a small world.
Two thumbs up!
All you super cool kids out there might be asking is The Social Network just going to be another movie for nerds? Well, I'm thinking if one out of 14 people have a Facebook account, then that must mean that those worried "cool" kids are probably still on MySpace.
Here's a peek at the trailer if you haven't made up your mind yet:
Ever stop and think about all that your parents have done for you? I mean really think about it. The sacrifices they make, the things they forgo for you and have you ever calculated just how expensive you are? I don't have any children, not even any pets, but after a trip to Ellis Island in New York City with my mom, I can appreciate all that it took to get me here.
With my mother in town for a few days following a business conference in Portland, Maine, we wanted to show her all great things NY. Brett & I made sure she had some New York pizza, a cannoli (or two), and that she got a chance to see Cohoes Falls and try to win back her vacation expenses at the Saratoga Gaming & Raceway Casino. Down South we love to head over to Tunica, Mississippi and gorge on the Paula Deen buffet...y'all that lady knows how to cook! Of course, we had to haul Phyllis to the city to see the really cool stuff. We packed our new L.L. Bean backpack (just for this type of occasion) and drove to Tarrytown where we caught the train to Grand Central Station.
Our first stop was Chinatown. The sights, sounds and smells were almost overwhelming! A friend of ours from Missouri was actually at Kleinfeld's for the day shopping for wedding dresses with a friend and recommended Joe's Shanghai on Pell Street. It took some searching but once we found it, we were not disappointed. We had some amazing dumplings there! Strangely enough, there was a huge Italian festival going on just a few streets over from Chinatown...talk about sensory overload.
The adventure continued on to Battery Park where we boarded the Miss Liberty on our way to Ellis Island. Most folks are interested in touring the Statue of Liberty and while she's nice to look at an all, we passed her up on this trip. Our goal was to cross the threshold of Ellis Island...just like my grandfather had 86 years earlier.
On January 1, 1924, 23-year-old Matthew Schiefer arrived at Ellis Island on the packet ship ORCA from Austria. His ticket had been paid for by Dominkus Kocher, family friends who had already come from Austria to America. In exchange for his passage, Matthew agreed to work for the Kocher family for one year. After passing the requirements to enter the United States, Matthew boarded a train to Shirley, Arkansas and then caught a ride with the local mail carrier to the small community of Fox. He was met by Dominkus' nieces, 14-year-old Anna and 12-year-old Saly. He fulfilled his year-long obligation with the Kocher family and then spent the next three years working and traveling the United States. At the end of 1927, he decided to return to his homeland, but thought he would stop by the Kocher's home in Arkansas before he made his journey back to Europe.
Guess who was all grown up? Saly was now 16 and Matthew's travel plans changed when the couple married on March 2nd 1928. Turns out March 2nd is sort of a big date in our family. My great-grand parents and my father's parents were also all married on that date. Weird, isn't it? My brother and I were baptized on that date as well.
The couple would have five children, my mother being the baby. The only Schiefer child born in a hospital in 1951, Phyllis was born just four days after Saly's 40th birthday. Matthew was 51-years-old. Fast forward 27 years later and I came along in January 1978. Matthew passed away from a heart attack later that same year, at age 79, just months after he and Saly had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
My mother and her siblings had Matthew's name put on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor several years ago but had never seen it. Our mission in NYC was to find it. By the time we got to it, we felt like we had crossed an ocean to get there. Matthew Schiefer was proudly listed on panel #559 and it meant more to us to see that name than anything else.
It was so hard to believe walking through the Ellis Island great hall that my grandfather had been there before. After learning about what the immigrants had to go through to enter the U.S., we found it even more amazing considering he didn't speak a word of English when he came from Austria. Translators helped him make sure his papers were in order, pass multiple medical evaluations, mental tests and even determined if he was financially sound enough to not become public charge. Had he failed any of these tests, he would have been deported back to Austria and things would not have happened the way they did. Which means you totally would not be reading this right now...wow, feels like a moment in Back to the Future II for a second doesn't it?!?
We grow up thinking our parents are the biggest, baddest, bravest people we know. Sometimes that remains true and sometimes we outgrow those ideas. I didn't know my grandfather Matthew Schiefer but I would like to think his courage lives on. My mom sure has it because she never even flinched when we next hauled her across the city to the middle of a very crowded Times Square...and she swears she caught some kind of rash on her ankle from the subway. I just told her that everybody needs a souvenir to take home with them from NYC.
On the drive back to New York
from Maine my mom and I saw some of the most stunning foliage in New
England. Seriously, it was like the Crayola box in autumn colors! Fall
down south usually doesn't start until November and it never feels like it
lasts too long before cold grey winter sets in.The leaves certainly are not as beautiful there as they are up
Somewhere along our road trip we
stopped on the side of the road in Vermont and snapped a few pictures...but they don't
do it justice.I think everyone should
have the experience of a drive through this part of the country during this
time of the year!
You can grow up
studying maps and globes, but I don't think it's until you actually live in an
area that you understand the land. Southern states are big! Traveling
as a child meant being stuck in the backseat with a little brother who was
destined to end up on "my side" and make my life miserable, plus being in a car
for 5 hours and still being in the same area code you started
in. Those maps in school always showed most of the Northern states
so small, you figured you could probably make it across them in just a
day...well, turns out you can!
The Southern mindset
that it takes forever to get somewhere (try driving in Texas y'all) is
completely blown if you ever road trip it up here. I got the chance
to mark visiting New Hampshire and Maine off my bucket list when my mother had
a business conference in Portland. While I'm still not convinced my
Garmin wasn't trying to kill me on the two-lane winding roads out in the middle
of nowhere, I crossed some of the most scenic and beautiful roadways I've ever
traveled on my way to Portland. And the whole trip only took just a
little over 4 hours!
That was even with a
stop in New Hampshire at a state liquor store, where apparently they don't
charge tax. The place was overflowing was shoppers pushing carts
filled like it was New Year's Eve!
NH State Motto: Live Free or Die! Um, ok.
Some places in the
South are funny about alcohol. Nope, it's not all mint juleps and
hurricanes from Pat O'Brien's. When my husband and I met, we
lived in a dry county in Arkansas. Meaning, no alcohol was sold
there at all. Seriously, I'm not making that up! You had
to drive over to the next county to pick up a case of beer or a bottle of wine
and our news director would generally frown if we took the news car through the
drive though at those places when we were out on a story!
After all those distractions, I finally made it to Portland, and was reunited with my momma! It
had been 2.5 months since I had seen her last...I'm pretty sure I heard the
soundtrack to An American Tail playing in the background when I finally
hugged her! It didn't take long for the Flanigan women to regroup and we
were off with some of the other Missouri delegates from the National Extension
Association of Family & Consumer Sciences Conference to see the
Show-Me Maine Please!
We hit the beach at
Kennebunkport and stuck our toes in the freezing cold ocean. I can
imagine how packed that place had to be in warmer weather! We got a big
kick out of searching for sea shells, you just don't have things like that
where we're from. It was like hitting the jackpot when my mom came across
an unbroken sand dollar!
The Flanigan Gals: Heather & Phyllis
We even checked out
where President G. W. Bush vacations in the summer. We were
total paparazzi stalkers photographing his house (there were dozens of
other tourists doing it too!) on Walkers Point. I'm petty sure there was
probably a Secret Service agent hiding in the grass taking our pictures
too. In my news reporting experiences working with the Secret
Service, I can assure you they have no sense of humor and are arguably some of
the most terrifying government officials I've ever met. There were
tons of beautiful homes in the area, but could you imagine being neighbors with
the President? Talk about walking in tall cotton!
G.W.'s Summer Crib
You know I couldn't go
to Maine without bibbing up and taking a crack at some lobsta'! Growing
up land locked, you had to be pretty leery of seafood because sometimes it was
just a nasty case of food poisoning waiting to happen. Fortunately,
Portland is New England's second largest fishing port so we were in luck. Those
lobsters were bigger than some cats I've seen in the South! And
finger lickin' good too!
Portland is such a beautiful city! My mom's hotel room looked right over the harbor and it was pretty cool to just stare out the window at the sailboats and cruise ships. I was surprised to learn that Portland was the second largest port of call for cruise ships in Maine. From her window, you could see from Fort Gorges to Spring Point. The view was spectacular! She says that's just the way Extension Agents roll...
View from the Top!
Now thinking I may
have to add a couple of other states to the I Heart NY Y'all name...
Once a sorority girl,
always a sorority girl! It was the good ol' college days at Southwest
Missouri State University and the memorable years of cramped living in the Alpha
Delta Pi house on Elm Street where I learned the valuable 'glue gun skills' I
have forever appreciated.My days as
Spirit Chair for ADPi developed my organizational, creative and artistic skills
as I presented sisters with "Shinin' Diamonds" for their outstanding
achievements during our weekly meetings.Always creative, my college sorority was a great place to channel that
energy into craft time at the looney bin!I remember once going to Mardi Gras and coming back with bags of cheap
beads and glue gunning them to everything in sight...I made bead covered picture
frames, mirrors and even a trash can!Fast
forward today to post graduate life and I've gone through phases of cross-stitch,
painted stained glass, dress making (I could only do just one pattern though)
Most recently, this
super ambitious sorority girl is channeling her 'glue gun skills' and is
learning how to quilt.In 2008, my
interest was first peeked in quilting after I did a news story that took me to
the Eddie Mae Herron Center in Pocahontas, Arkansas.There, my photographer and I shot video of a 'Freedom
Quilt' that was used by slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad to the
North.Every block on the quilt served
as part of a map that led the slaves to freedom.House slaves would clean the quilts and hang
them on the front porches to dry and as the escaped slaves traveled through,
they would know where to go.The quilt
was beautiful and the concept was amazing to me!
It wasn't until we
were in Tupelo before I finally took a quilting class.Just by chance I found a "Beginner's Quilting
Class" at Hobby Lobby and spent every Monday night the youngest of about 10
women.(Where are the Hobby Lobby's up
here?) Our move to New York left me a few classes short of finishing my
project, so I'm not real versed on much past doing the topper.Fortunately, my mom found a woman in Mt.
View, Arkansas that machine stitched the top for only $20!Imagine my surprise when my mom entered it for
me in the Butler County Fair in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and it won third place
overall in the miniature quilt division!
Third place overall?!?
If I had to say I had
one regret in life, it would be not taking Home Economics when I was in high
school.I could just kick myself for
passing on that class.To this day, it still
takes me forever to remember which is bigger, the tablespoon or the teaspoon
and I usually call my mom for the majority of my cooking and sewing questions (fortunately
she has a Masters in Home Economics, University of Arkansas '74).One of the hardest parts about moving to New
York is being so far from my family in Southeast Missouri.
So when my mom was
scheduled for a business meeting in Portland, Maine, she arranged to stop by
and see us before heading back home to the Heartland.That meant getting the guest room ready would
be a challenge!The sorority girl in me
decided rather than buy new bedding, I'd just make it!(That white ribbon was going straight to my
head when I cooked up this idea!)My
apologies to any other quilters in the Clifton Park area, I was the person with
all the books on quilting checked out from the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library
for the last two months.Even with yards
and yards and yards of fabric, I still had to go back for more after I totally
jacked up half of the quilt...apparently being off a quarter of an inchis a big deal.Thank goodness for those coupons at Jo-Anns!
I ended up making a
duvet cover for the guest bedroom.One
(very complicated) side was the pattern 'Blue Lagoon' taken from the book Jelly Roll Quilts and the other side was
an easy 9.5" x 9.5" block
My version of "Blue Lagoon" in Black
The easy side!
My little stint as Betsy Ross
also produced a throw pillow, which turned way cuter than I would have ever
No throwing of this pillow please!
I couldn't get the matching
shams done before my mom got here, but there are tentative plans for those in
the future and maybe some curtains
too, but we'll see what happens.I
figure we'll probably be snowed in all winter and have plenty of time to get to
all of that!Of course, this sorority
girl might be using her 'glue gun skills' for a new project by then...who knows?
t's September and have you thought about your New Year's resolutions?
No, not the 2011 ones, the ones you promised yourself you'd keep for 2010.Whatever happened to those?Well, believe it or not y'all, we still have
a grasp on ours!
The Mississippi Garretts pledged the same old routine
"let's get into
better shape" in 2010.But with a twist:
we decided to hold ourselves to participating in a 5K every month in
order to keep with the resolution.We
rang in the New Year running huffing and puffing through a course that took us around
a Piggly Wiggly in Killen, Alabama.In
arguably the most ironic thing that has ever happened to me, I actually won
third place in my age division!With a turtle
pace finish time of 41:52, turns out there were only three women in our group...whatever,
it sure looks nice on the shelf next to the Emmy.
Sometimes we train for our runs, sometimes we just fall out of bed and
show up.We're not really that hardcore,
but we like having a goal.Honestly, my favorite
part of the 5K is collecting the t-shirt!A side resolution developed out of this: I took a beginners quilting
class while in Tupelo and am now inspired to make a t-shirt quilt from our
running shirts.The cool thing about our
move is now we have a collection of shirts from states all over the
country.I am going to enjoy wrapping
myself up in accomplishments when winter comes up here!
We've noticed that races are really different up here in the North than
they are in the South.
For starters, we've
actually done a race on a Sunday morning since moving to NY.Back home, no event organizer in their right
mind would ever ask a God fearing Southerner to miss morning church service to
run in a 5K! And you couldn't hold the race
in the afternoon because everyone would drop dead of heat stroke before they
got off the start line, and if it was in the evening, them 'skeeters would
carry right you off.So Sundays are pretty much off
the board.They may happen, but I have yet
to come across a race set for a Sunday in the South.
Second:everything starts a little later up here.When you don't have to deal with soaring triple
digits and humidity, I guess the start gun doesn't have to fire at 7:00 a.m. It's
nice to sleep in just a little.
third biggest difference for us has been the altitude!Not something that we really put a lot of
thought into until I just knew my lungs were going to explode while I was
standing in the pitch black holding a glow stick on the side of a mountain in
Vermont (another night race).Do you
guys know you don't have any air up here?
We've had a great time keeping our resolution and
found some fun runs to participate in.Y'all have some cool
themes up here!This past weekend we did
the wildest one yet: the Warrior Dash at Windham Mountain in Windham, NY.It was about an hour drive and is touted by
organizers as an "ultimate thrill seeking
event for athletes."This 5K was not
only a run, but had 13 obstacles on the course too!We found ourselves running up a 1,600 foot ski
mountain, running through tires, crawl through 50 feet of black metal tunnels, climbing
cargo nets, scaling walls, swimming a freezing pond, and walking a wooden plank
over a gorge.But that wasn't even the
fun part...the race ended with a bang!
a huge redneck style slip'n slide...complete with black plastic, water hose and
hay bales with plenty of mud.That's where
I broke a nail and banged up my knee and arm pretty good.Brett managed to take out a lady who didn't
get out of the way fast enough.The
Southern gentleman that he is, he did offer to help her up before she got
plowed down again. The next challenge
was jumping over fire!It was a leap of
faith, literally over fire.Talk about
intimidating to be running along and see two rows of fire in your path!Luckily, no one went up in flames!
The Warrior Dash could have been a Tide commercial waiting to happen....the
final obstacle was the muddiest, messiest and ickiest.You had to crawl, under barbwire, through a mud
pit.It just wasn't pretty, folks.We both came out looking something the cat
threw up.As you can guess, I'm a Southern
girly girl.It was the dirtiest I have
ever been in my life.That mud was like
a bad spray on tan, it took forever to get it off in the shower.
Our clothes went into the trash (not even Tide could save that) and our shoes went to an organization called Green Sneakers.The group collects and cleans the shoes and then places them with relief agencies worldwide.I'm sure they'll
change their mind about ours once they smell them!
I read a report that said only 12% of people who set New Year's
resolutions actually achieve their goals.We still have three more races to do before we accomplish ours, but I
think the light is at the end of the tunnel.Of course, at one point I saw a light at the end of the tunnel during
the Warrior Dash, and I just ended up with bruised knee caps. And a broken
Here's how to dash like a Warrior when you're more of a girly-girl Princess:
If you've ever been a
fish out of water, you'll totally relate to this blog! Howdy y'all! Let me introduce myself, I'm
Heather Flanigan and no, I don't sound like you. My husband Brett Garrett and I just moved nearly
1500 miles cross country to the Albany area from Tupelo, Mississippi!
Why in the world would
we pack up and become Yankees you ask?
Well, we're just crazy like that!
Brett and I met in a television news room in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 2006. He came from North Carolina to be a reporter
and I from Missouri to report and anchor for the ABC affiliate.Fate put our desks side by side in that
newsroom and the rest is history!His
dreams of becoming a sports anchor took him to Tupelo, Mississippi where he was
smack dab in the heart of the SEC and in the middle of the war between Ole Miss
and Mississippi State fans.
I joined him down there soon after we married in Poplar Bluff, Missouri in August of 2008. Believe it or not, our wedding was planned around football season!
Small town television certainly
has its perks. Everyone knows you when
you've got to run to Wal-Mart in your glasses and sweatpants to pick up the necessities. Or if you make a quick stop at a gas station
because you just 'gotta go!' And don't
even think of trying to get a bikini wax in town...that gossip will spread
quicker than wildfire. But most folks
might be surprised to know that all that fame comes with little fortune. In fact, usually small market television is about
one step above the poverty level. When I
signed my first contract to be an on-air reporter, I seriously qualified for
HUD housing. But at the time, you're
young, gung-ho and don't really know any better, you just want to change the
world with all that hard hitting news you're doing on cat fashion shows and
Other reporters in the newsroom
taught us how to survive and dress on a dime.
A fabulous junk jewelry store in the hood of Memphis is where we would
find truly amazing knockoff trendy jewelry.
Of course, you'd run the risk that your necklace might break on air or
you'd lose an earring mid interview, which did happen a few times. Fine dining was eating the samples at Sam's
Club for lunch (or spring for the hotdog combo at the cafeteria for only $1.50)
and groups of photographers/anchors/reporters would get together for home cooked
potluck dinners once a week....and we made sure we had leftovers for at least
When the opportunity
for Brett to work for Snap-On Industrial fell into our laps, we realized we
might be able to actually buy something at Sam's! But the job was in upstate
New York and isn't
that like the tundra or something?With
great reservations, we hopped on a plane to Albany, had 1.5 days to look around
and had thankfully missed a huge snowstorm that had just passed through the
area.Exactly two months later, we were
loading up an ABF trailer with all of our worldly possessions and embarking on
a cross country trip that would change our lives forever.
So, now we're pseudo-Yankees
(but not Yankee fans-our alliances stay with the St. Louis Cardinals & Mr.
Albert Pujols) and are trying to not only adapt, but fit in with our new
environment. Things may be different,
but I don't think we'll ever stop trying those samples at Sams's!
When Heather Flanigan and her husband Brett Garrett packed
their bags and moved 1500 miles from Tupelo, Mississippi to upstate New York, they really had no idea what they
were in for! The newlyweds met in an Arkansas television newsroom before deciding to check out
things on this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Since then, they've cashed in their Southern
hoe cakes for some Yankee cannoli. Now in a land far, far away from their friends and family, these two are navigating
the waters of new opportunities, bracing for winter and still trying to figure
out the Yankee version of BBQ.
Albany.com's I Heart NY Y'all is written by Emmy winning former news reporter
Heather Flanigan and is based off of her personal blog. If you've got any
survival tips for these Southerners, pass 'em on to