Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price

Things you should say

So I'm back. After a 6-month hiatus, I'm typing again. I'm at the coffee shop waiting for poker night to end or for the coffee shop to close. I'm with a friend. He's a blogger and I thought well, it has been six months and he has been getting these really nice checks from Google ads...

So, I've decided to dedicate this post to cool sayings I've heard of late.

One recent expression hails from my friend (aka the blogger) who is sitting next to me.

1. Why are you knockin' my hustle?

This expression, as far as he knows, originated with the Yonkers girls who work in his office, which is just north of the Bronx. The aforementioned expression might be appropriate if someone's "downing what you do" blogger friend explains. Then he adds "in life, if something's going on and you're excited about it and someone else is raining on your parade, you could say...."Hey woman, why are you knockin' my hustle?"

2. Two other expressions come from Caroline, this woman who volunteers with me once a month at a church in Shadyside. One night a while back, Caroline walks over and tells me that recently she was in Hillman Library at Pitt and found a book on slang expressions. (I thought she was going to offer to dry dishes)

Caroline tells me that in this book, washing dishes, at one time, was referred to as bubble dancing.

"And if you want to dance with someone, Caroline tells me, you say "hey baby, do you want to trip the light fantastic?"

So there you go. Learn 'em. Use 'em.

Thanks for reading

So I'm done.

I'm moving on - not necessarily to better pastures but to different ones. And as I leave the newspaper, one of the hardest things will be to leave you, my dear four readers.

But here's the thing and one of the reasons I'm leaving the newspaper business. I'm starting to tell weird death stories. At every family function, nearly every time I sit down to the table, a friend or family member will ask me how I'm doing and I (assuming they are talking about the newspaper) will launch into a completely inappropriate story for a Thanksgiving dinner about some horrible camping death or grisly murder.

"Well, a few weeks back, there was this guy..."

My one sister sells real estate in Utah and she doesn't do that.

Still, I had some things I wanted to tell you so I'll try to sum up:

1. Volunteer. Only good things can happen when you volunteer. I met the most amazing person volunteering and my life has not been the same since. It was early July, felt like 90 degrees, and I was working in a church kitchen wearing a wool Gap sweater because it matched my skirt. About five minutes into my shift, sweat was pouring down my face when someone behind me said "Aren't you hot?"

2. Everytime you see my publisher, Tom Northrop, stop him on the street and ask him what he is reading. Few people talk about books anymore the way he does. A while back, I was in the book store and I bought a book on the history of the cod fish because I remembered him talking about it. Cod. I passed right over the Shop-A-Holic series to buy a book about cod. That's how good he is. The man should work in schools.

3. Bake. Better yet, bake birthday cakes. I've been working on this skill for about two years now. A cake I tried to bake last week rose no higher than my Amy Winehouse cd. Still, a couple have turned out and my rise/collapse ratio is getting better the more I practice. There is no feeling so good as presenting someone you love with a cake that you made completely lit up with candles. Even better is having someone bake a birthday cake for you.

4. Know when to stop talking and make your exit. I'm still working on this one.

Thanks for reading.



On Sunday afternoon, I met friends on the South Side where we enjoyed a really great meal at Gypsy Cafe and we saw a really bad play at the City Theater. (I don't like to be negative so I'm not going to tell you which play it was.)

After the play, I found myself with a few free hours to go to my second favorite place in the world. (I will write about my first favorite place at a later date.)

I went to the library in search of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. I wanted to read the sixth installment just one more time before the final and seventh book comes out on July 20.

Every other Harry Potter fan must have had the same idea. I couldn't find the Half-Blood Prince but I did find two books on cd in the non-fiction section. One, Night by Elie Wiesel, had been recommended to me by several friends. The second, Grayson, was a surprise. I flipped over the back and saw that it was a story about a girl swimming in the ocean, training for a swim, who encounters a baby gray whale.

I listened to the first cd on the way to work this morning. This is a magical, wonderful book that is written so beautifully. It is read by the author, Lynne Cox, and she is the only one who should read it. All doubts I may have harbored about the validity of her story vanished as I listened to Cox read about her encounter with a baby whale as she swam in the ocean off the California coast one early morning.

You toothbrush

I'm going to be on You Tube. I just know it.

Last night, while I was sitting for nearly an hour on Route 28 in gridlock, the remnants of flooded streets and a bomb threat on the tunnels three, I decided to brush my teeth.

I often brush my teeth in the car. I spend more time there than anyplace else. Work is a close second. My house comes in last. And traffic jams, especially traffic jams, present the ideal opportunity for hygiene upkeep. I mean where else can you study Spanish via a book on cd and brush your teeth at the same time. Open your door. Spit. Brush some more. Add more Crest. Repeat after me: Hay un Starbucks cerca?

"Is there a Starbucks nearby?"

As I am repeating my Spanish phrases and brushing my teeth with my Oral B Cross Action, I felt someone was watching me.

I turned, and in the car next to me, this young guy in the passenger seat was filming me with a little handheld. A big drool of white foamy toothpaste slid out of the side of my mouth. The driver of the car took a picture of this latest with his cell phone. All the occupants of the car laughed and drove off.

My only hope is that because my windows were so dirty, maybe they couldn't get a clear picture.



I've been trying to grow cilantro in my garden for years now.

I could never do it. In years past, I'd plant the starter in my garden and suddenly, it seemed like less than a day, it would become a cilantro tree with very thick stalks and few edible leaves. A year or two ago, I finally stopped.

This year, I got lucky. Along with all the unexpected little tomato shoots that popped up all over my garden a few weeks back I discovered two cilantro plants. I love that about gardens.

Because I made a vow two years ago to cook with my herbs and not let them go to waste, I snatched up the cilantro leaves and retrieved the Black Bean salsa recipe my sister Linda taught me to make.

I have four words four you - So easy. So good.

Black Bean Salsa

- 6 tomatoes or more chopped up (save juice and put in bowl)
- 1 can or two (your call) of black beans rinsed very well in a strainer.
- About a half-cup of lime juice
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- About a half-cup of cilantro leaves (rinsed and torn)
- Garlic salt to taste

Mix above ingredients in a bowl and let sit for at least an hour before serving. My sister recommends serving with Lime Flavored Chips. On Friday, I served it over grilled chicken.

My twin

Last night, I stopped off at the library to pick up a book and meditative cd on sound sleeping I had requested. I also needed to pay up.

"The Beatles Let It Be/Naked cd," I say to the librarian. "I think I sat on it and crushed it." They told me it would be $23 and change to replace it.

I don't mind writing checks to the library, not really. I don't support public radio and I don't buy Girl Scout cookies though I will steal Thin Mints from my coworkers when they leave boxes sitting on their desks. But I digress.

"Am I your worst patron?" I ask the librarian.

She hesitates then looks at a computers reserved for patrons near the checkout stand. There a woman sits with several children. The woman, who obviously overheard our conversation, looks up at me. She walks over and introduces herself as the worst patron of our particular branch.

"My fines get so high," she says.
"I sometimes have to write checks," I say.

"I once had 52 items checked out at once," I counter, adding that right now I'm back down in the 20s.

She gets me, the woman says. And she does. Just like me, this woman will see a book or other item that catches her eye and check it out, even if she's got a 40-book backlog. If she's not ready to read it, she'll keep renewing and renewing and renewing.

"I sense a support group coming on," the librarian says.

We continue out into the parking lot. She tells me that sometimes the librarians have to help her carry books out to her car.

"I was not aware they provided that service," I say.

She opens her minivan door and looks at me.

"Do you have library books on the floor of your car?" she asks.

"Mostly on my passenger side seat," I say. "Sometimes, if I turn too sharply, they spill over onto the floor of my driver's side and get caught under the brake pedal."

She raises her eyes impressively and gets in her car. I empty my arms into the passenger side seat and head home.


Teacher for a day

I've written before about Chantel Nicolella, an English teacher at McGuffey Middle School. This is the second time I have blogged about Nicolella who has invited me to speak to her classes on career day every day for the last four years.

First off, I hate public speaking. Every time I speak to public school students, I spend the entire period babbling incoherently and counting the number of sleepers and droolers.

I'm not interesting. I get desperate and then I always, always resort to my awful "tripping-over-the-sheet-covered-body-lying-on-the-Interstate-79-from-my-first-night-of-work-as-a-police-reporter-storythe first time I went to a fatal accident" story. If that doesn't work, I name drop. It is just so sad.

But self-mocking was not my intention in writing to you today dear bloggee. I am writing about Nicolella who is a teacher that every student should have, no matter where they go to school.

She doesn't start her class period yelling for students to be quiet. She starts by reading for a few minutes. That's it. She just opens a book and starts reading. Many of her students, the principal of the middle school once told me, will rush into class early and sit at their desks quietly just so they don't miss a part of the story.

Nicolella loves books. On career day, in between classes, she tells me that most nights, when all is done, she doesn't turn on the television. She reads, plowing through several books in a week. She regularly checks out new titles from the school library. I'll admit, this is one of the few bright spots of career day, and one of the reasons I come to career day, to hear her talk about books.

Last year, she recommended, The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

This year she recommended "Twilight" and "New Moon" by Stephanie Meyer and "Because of Anya" by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Ms. Nicolella told me that she chose "Because of Anya" this year, a story about a girl who has to wear a wig because of cancer, because one her students recently grew his hair out and donated it to Locks of Love.

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