Norris Square, Here I come

An oasis in Norris Square

An oasis in Norris Square

Hey, I’m leaving the suburbs and moving back to the city. I simply love Philadelphia too much to not live there.

And I have found a gigantic apartment that I love. It is the first floor of a building, which means I have plenty of space – my own basement, a large private backyard and a living room that is so huge, that I can divide it into two spaces.

And it’s more that twice the size and costs the same as my current apartment in Ardmore. (Completely off topic rant: Yes, people, I’m currently a Main Liner, but I am vehemently opposed to stereotyping people on the basis of geography. For example: If I hear one more person defame those “awful hipsters” in Fishtown, I will rip their hearts out.

My place is near 2nd and Berks and there was some debate among my friends about which neighborhood I will live in. My friend who did some googling discovered that I live in West Kensington. More specifically, I live in the heart of Norris Square.

Norris Square is bounded by Berks at the South, Allegheny on the North, 5th Street to the West and Front Street to the East. Norris Square Park is in the middle of the neighborhood.

The Berks el stop is right there and I’ve seen quite a few buses in the area so transit shouldn’t be a problem. I even timed the walk from work, if I’m ever so inclined to skip the el, and it took me a doable 65 minutes.

But I won’t lie to you. There is blight in the neighborhood, few services, and likely I’ll be grocery shopping at Reading Terminal Market near where I work rather in my community. And the abandoned factories and warehouses demonstrate that this once vibrant area has suffered many economic losses.

Graffiti art on my block

Graffiti art on my block

But I used to be a community organizer and I know that if I want to beautify and support my neighborhood, I have the power to do that if I work with people. I plan to join the neighborhood association, visit the many local improvement iniatives (such as the youth center & the housing program), and I hear there is a women’s organization dedicated to the neighborhood. Also, I will frequent the small businesses in my neighborhood – the pizza shop, the lounge, and the beauty shop across the street.

I appreciate my new neighborhood’s charms and pitfalls. I guess that means I already feel at home there.


UPDATE on Afterparties at Electric Zoo Festival, NYC

Zoo Construction Underway Now

Zoo Construction Underway Now

Electric Zoo electronic festival at Randall’s Island in NYC only days away. On September 5th and 6th from 12 noon to 11 pm each day. The biggest electronic party on the East Coast except for the Winter Music Conference. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about check out the Electric Zoo web site. Or you can see the post I made about it back in July.

This will be 40+ hours of festival and after party insanity.

I’ll be going up on Sunday and god knows when I’ll be home. My girl Sam aka @hellosam on Twitter is assembling a composite list of after parties.  There are so many threads about afterparties, she volunteered to compile a master list, which is she posted on Personally, I am following the chatter on the ironically titled Trance Addict (generally TA’s have vehement disdain for trance music), but to each their own.

Here is the link to the afterparties. Check back to that link and my blog for more updates.

Any of you reading this, give me a holler on my comments and let’s talk. Or find me on Twitter. I’m @caroline815.

My Life as a Loner


Being a Loner is Liberating

Being a Loner is Liberating

In 7th grade, Steve Anderson approached me in the school library and said, “You’re a loner.” I peeked over my shoulder at my classmates clustered at other tables and hoped they hadn’t heard the comment. Red bloomed in my cheeks and my ears burned. Then Steve tried to engage me in a conversation asking me why I was a loner. I wanted him to go away, but he persisted. He kept asking why. The answer should have been obvious to both of us, but we were young and inarticulate. I was a mega dork – socially awkward and painfully shy. I desperately wanted friends, but didn’t have a clue on how to make them. 

My shyness and the more obvious social defects vanished over the years. I became pretty, developed a wicked sense of humor, and learned to fit in better. And I’m now ridiculously outgoing – I chat up strangers wherever I go and accept social invitations from people I barely know. I love to introduce people to each other, which is a hangover from childhood. I hate to see anyone to forced to hide in corners and not be included in conversation.

I have a few close friends and many, many social friends (people who I meet up at places for meetups, parties, and dancing). But I admit it, deep down I’m a loner. I travel my life as my own complete entity, not needing people as much as others seem to. I prefer my own company to anyone else’s. And I love the freedom of being able to do whatever I want without negotiating with another person.

However, I’m a loner who loves meeting people more than anything else in the world. A strange paradox. But I’ve learned to navigate the contradiction in a simple way. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I go it alone. But I take myself to places where there are lots of people. I take personal invitations seriously. I like it when someone I don’t know that well invites me to hear them DJ, go to their apartment for a BBQ, or join their friends for brunch. I make the time to go. I get to know the host better, and I get to meet new, amazing people.

But I usually I come alone and leave alone. And then I go out and do something by myself. Like dancing. Dancing is my favorite thing to do in the world and, for many reasons, I prefer to do it alone. Dancing is a good loner activity – the music is too loud for talk and everybody is crushed together so it isn’t painfully obvious that I’m solo. I dance with people when I’m out, but I’m not attached to any particular dance partner. I’m not antisocial by any means. 

Lonerdom has a bad rap. I wish I had told Steve to fuck off back in 7th grade.

Doomsday Budget Speakout

Repost from Coaliton to Save the Libraries.
NOON, CITY HALL, 4th Floor
(Outside Council Chambers)
Speak out at the People’s Hearing on the city’s Doomsday Budget, organized by the Coalition to Save the Libraries. The Coalition is organizing the People’s Hearing because City Council canceled its public hearing on the Doomsday Budget and the people’s voice must be heard. Closing all libraries, all recreation centers, 2 health centers and laying off 3000 workers will plunge our vulnerable neighborhoods further into crisis and deepen the recession’s impact on all Philadelphians. Speakers from neighborhoods across Philadelphia and leaders of community organizations will indict City Hall and demand the transparency that Mayor Nutter promised when he ran for office. Let us know if you’d like to speak out at the People’s Hearing: contact Kristin Campbell at 215-880-9007.

Below is the list of some of the program cuts the Senate Republicans are fighting for:

Will YOUR community be affected by the state’s proposed cuts?

Drug Education & Law Enforcement 100%
Violence Prevention 100%
Police on Patrol 100%
Safe Neighborhoods 100%
Inmate Education 21%
CHIP Program 10,000Children Cut
Child Care 29%
Pre K Counts 50%
Head Start 50%
Cancer Programs 57%
HIV/AIDS Programs 25%
Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services 24%
Human Services Development Fund 10%
Regional Cancer Centers 100%
Tourette’s Syndrome 100%
Hemophilia 100%
Epilepsy 100%
Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia 100%
Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh 100%
Fox Chase Cancer Institute 100%
Burn Foundation 100%
Adult Literacy 27%
Charter Schools 12%
High School Reform 75%
University of PA 100%
Pa College of Optometry 100%
University of the Arts 100%
Science and Math Education 100%
Customized Job Training 54%
Business Retention and Expansion 100%
Small Business Development Centers 62%
Minority Business Devpt Agency 100%
Housing & Redevelopment Assistance 100%
Self-Employment Assistance, Family Savings Program, PA Community Devpt. Bank 100%
Arts & Culture 100%
Pennsylvania Public Libraries 50%
Autism Intervention & Services 24%

Acoustic Torture at Animal Welfare Event

Their Likenesses Played the Rotunda!

Their Likenesses Played the Rotunda!

For the first time this summer, I skipped dancing over the weekend. I stuck to mellow activities like brunch at Morning Glory, BBQ in Fishtown, and a craft fair in West Philly. I wanted conversation in a less volume saturated setting.

At the craft fair sponsored by Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia at the Rotunda on Saturday, I visited my friends behind catFlowers. They were limper than their usual upbeat selves. The fair’s attendance was sparser than expected and on top of that they had been spending hours listening to the corny banter of acoustic musicians onstage. Looking at the hang dog expressions of the craft vendors 5 feet from the stage, I could hear them pleading silently, “Die, now. Please.”

Handmade Pillow Designed by CatFlowers

Handmade Pillow Designed by CatFlowers

But people remained upbeat- after all, the craft fair was raising money for abused and neglected animals in Philly. I chatted up the vendors and heard their stories. There was a woman who designs headbands with intricate beaded insects and there were the bike obsessed people with silk screened tees. I reserved my love for catFlowers though because I had happy sticker shock when looking at their handmade earrings – $5 for a pair of bows in animal print. And their meticulously hand made cat-themed pillows are affordable art. See their etsy site for their latest designs.

I was happy to depart as the endless queue of troubadours continued their assault of overlong intros, describing the latest song they composed while humping a tree.

My Alter Ego is More Fun

funThe learning curve to vanity blogging is steep. For years, I was blogging anonymously on specialty topics (eg. panic disorder) that consumed me. And then one day, Pop Culture Casualty asked me to join one of her collaborative blog, One Fine Philly. Great. And I loved it. Since it was a bunch of us writing atop each other, I didn’t worry about saying something stupid. After all, readers can skip me and enjoy the other contributions.

I conceived of Planet Caroline as a forum where I can be more thoughtful about the topics that I am passionate about. I could gaze across the water, go hmmm, and share integrated wisdoms with you.

But frankly, my alter ego at One Fine Philly is much more fun and relevant.

And I discovered, I am not especially deep. Not for a 500 word essay.

So I have some rethinking to do.

In the meantime, I’d like you to check out my last three entries from One Fine Philly. They are still timely- that is, they talk about events still in the future- and they are short too. They are all loosely organized around the theme: the stuff we did during our gawky junior high years are more fun today.

Party Like It’s Junior High! – Geektastic event on Sunday, August 23rd in Fairmount Park. Thumbnail sketch: BBQ & DIY water rockets. Awesomeness.

Speed Dating is a Good Way to Waste an Evening – Shmitten Kitten is hosting a series of uncomfortable speed dating events in September and October. The upside: events set to 90’s music we used to (and secretly still) love.

Philly’s Secret Getaways – This half-assed post made a good point. Sometimes it’s more fun to hang out than go out to the latest “must go” event.

Random aside: Thank you for responding to my posts via Facebook and Twitter. I’ve noticed that fellow bloggers tend to be the ones comfortable with leaving comments on Planet Caroline itself.

Have a Complaint? Then Blame Drew’s Cancer


Drew Olanoff at Blame Drew's Cancer Fundraser at Lucky Strikes

Didn’t think it was possible, but this weekend I hit the wall. I actually became worn out from going out dancing every weekend this summer. And I will Blame Drew’s Cancer for that.

This past Saturday, I went out to bachelorette party heaven, Buckhead Saloon, for what promised to be a great night- cheezy music (seriously, they did back-to-back covers of Jay-Z & John Denver on amped acoustic guitars), dancing, and of course watching women in skimpy clothes ride a mechanical bull, and inevitably, fail. And all for a good cause. The night was a benefit for Blame Drew’s Cancer, which is a Philly-founded effort to raise money and awareness to fight cancer. Drew Olanoff, the founder, is surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been tirelessly leading the fight against cancer since his diagnosis in May.

Blame Drew’s Cancer became what it is when Drew started blaming his cancer on the little annoyances in life like losing his keys, traffic, the aroma of Philly in the summer, etc. Drew’s friends got in the act and Blame Drew’s Cancer became a Twitter phenomenon. Soon thousands of people were blaming Drew’s cancer for everything- from the trivial (the weather) to the serious (a loved one struck with cancer). Drew has had celebrity blamers like Jon Bon Jovi (see Bon Jovi’s video clip here) and Lance Armstrong blamed Drew’s cancer for a shoulder injury.

Between chemotherapy treatments, Drew is tirelessly working to make Blame Drew’s Cancer a powerful voice to fight cancer. Drew has become a Philly spokesperson for LIVESTRONG and will be master of ceremony for the LIVESTRONG Philly Challenge on August 29th.

Drew and the Blame Drew’s Cancer crew are inspiring- a cluster of best friends in their twenties- who are working to save lives. Their idealism is certainly energizing. For those of you who want to get involved, I say attend the Blame-a-thon occurring on 9/09/09 at Indy Hall and North Star Bar. The event is 24-hours long! From 12 am to 12 pm, the event kicks of at Indy Hall with music, food, and live internet streaming of the event. Then at 12 pm, the party moves to the North Star for music and lasts until 2 am. More details will be forthcoming. Facebook Drew Olanoff, follow @drew on Twitter or check the Blame-a-thon blog for breaking news.