This Girl Is On Fire

Ever been in a situation where you realize halfway through just how epic and life changing it really is, and you start to see yourself almost from a third party perspective?  Or start saying something, just to test it out, but realizing it become infinitely more real each time you say it?  Kinda like Beetlejuice!  You know – you say his name three times to get him to appear?   I always imagined that with each “Beetlejuice”, Michael Keaton came more and more into being until he was a fully formed and solid being.  I find the same holds true for desires or thoughts.  Before you realize it, an “I’m thinking of doing” or “Maybe I’ll” has turned into “I’m doing ___ and actively pursuing this!”.  Then, for the first time, you really hear what you just said and go, “Huh???  I am??”  Welcome to my last three weeks.

When I last left you, the countdown to TEDx Utica was on.  I was at Utica Coffee Roasters for a bit of downtime before the big show and needed to catch you guys up on what had happened the weeks before.  I couldn’t let the last thing y’all read before I embarked on this crazy journey to be my letter to my grandmother.  And later that night at 5pm, the starting gun went off, I took the stage, and I haven’t stopped since.

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First of all, thank you thank you thank you to everyone that took the time to watch the livestream from the evening, or have gone to YouTube to watch my talk, or have shared it with their friends, families, co-workers, or pets.

I know in today’s world, 12 minutes can seem like an eternity, but thanks for taking the time.  Much appreciated. And yeah, even for a performer such as myself, those 12 minutes simultaneously flew by and seemed to go on forever.  That was the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life and I actually thought I might throw up before hand.  Luckily, I didn’t, everything went smoothly, everyone got cookies and so on we go.  The rest of the speakers were quite good and all had very relevant and thought provoking things to say.  You can actually watch all of the speakers’ videos on the TEDx Utica site!

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Between TED and the Guideposts article that came out that same day, I’ve been led down an amazing path of new possibilities, both as Renee and as Single Girl.  I did an interview with my alma mater about service through music because someone saw the TED livestream.  I’m doing a radio interview tomorrow with Kelli Corasanti, another TED speaker, on her internet blog radio show, It Only Takes One.  I’m scheduled to do another interview with the radio show Cityscape, on 90.7, WFUV, New York City’s NPR affiliate.  I’ll be participating in the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown on Sunday, Dec 8.  I’ve met with the SBCD at LaGuardia CC, taken meetings with attorneys and others in a position to help the cause, and I’m still doing weekly drops (duh, like I could ever NOT do those).  Oh, and I’m planning a giant Single Girl Cookies Birthday Party/Astoria Love-Fest in January, having a gathering at my place this Sunday (email me for info – all ladies are invited!), and I am still working on a Single Girl Cookies book.  Yeah, and the rest of my regular singing life is still happening too.  Wait a second…..is this what being an adult is?

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Me pretending to be an adult

A lot of those things are things I can keep you updated on after they happen.  I’ll be posting at least one interview for your listening pleasure, and the legally/business stuff will take a while, but it means some VERY exciting news for Single Girl.  That is definitely one of those things I was mentioning earlier; I’m Beetjuice-ing something into existence, but didn’t realize what a big deal it was.  Kinda like when people bring back Beetlejuice and they don’t realize how bad that is!  Man, I’m rockin’ in the metaphor department today, except my things are good, not bad.

Something I’d like to talk to you all about now is my giant birthday party!!!  Woot!!  The one year anniversary of Single Girl Cookies is coming up on January 17th and what better way to celebrate a year of kindness than by throwing a party?  Also, who doesn’t love parties??  You, you over there that just said you don’t like parties? Get out.

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I’ve actually been thinking about this for a long time, long enough to know that I can’t do it alone.  My hope is to get as many people from the places I’ve been to over the last year in one big place, maybe have some vendors there, maybe a raffle (I’d like to get said people to donate gifts for said raffle) as a fund raiser, a giant board where people can stick note cards where they write their favorite thing about Astoria on there, cookies….just a huge Astoria Love-Fest!  In fact, because I’m not very creative in the Naming Things Department, that’s what I will probably call it. All of that sounds, in my opinion, like the greatest party that ever was or ever will be.  I’m sure that’s exactly how you view it too.  But, it’s also going to be a lot of work, and something I can’t do all myself.  I’m sure there are many other great ideas about what to add, or how to go about accomplishing everything, and I need your help!  This is my huge plea  – Please, oh please, don’t let me go crazy trying to make this amazing thing happen.  I’ll be at The Queens Kickshaw this Saturday, November 16th at 11am for a planning session.  It’s my first “community event” and I need the community to pull it off!  I’m really looking for a good group of people who wouldn’t mind making the occasional phone call, or stopping into a few places to diplomatically ask for a gift donation to raffle off, or posting signs, or coming early to the event to help with set up.  This entire year has been a community effort, don’t leave me hanging now 🙂

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The Utica Fire Department knows what’s up. They didn’t “leave me hanging” – get it??

Mark this on your calendars as well – December 8th, 2-4pm.  This is the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown!  I heard about this when a friend forwarded me the page, thinking it was up my alley.  Boy, is it ever!  I’m going as a cook on Sunday, but this happens both Saturday and Sunday, tickets can be purchased here.  For $15, you gain admission to Bell House in Brooklyn where you spend the next two hours drinking bourbon and eating cookies.  Tell me that isn’t the best news you’ve heard in the last ten minutes.

Another event event, smaller and more immediate, is the Stella & Dot Trunk Show gathering I’m having at my apartment on Sunday!  A good friend of mine is a Stella & Dot stylist and came up with the title Single Girl Soiree (cute, right?) with an evening that will be all about cookies, wine and of course, jewelry 🙂  Everyone is welcome, it is from 6-8 this Sunday the 17th, and you can come and go whenever.  If you’d like to come but can’t make it, you can still shop that party online (there are lots of cute things, and come on people, let’s start thinking holiday shopping).  In either case, I ask that you shoot me a message on Facebook, twitter, or email, and I’ll email or message you back the invitation link, because it does have my address on there and I’m not sure I could handle the flocks of adoring men that will swamp my building door, should that address get out.  Hehe, guess what I’m dreaming of for Christmas? 😉

And with a bit of normalcy, I’ll wrap up this post by finishing up the cookies I’ve been baking.  My drop today is at Samantha on Steinway, and I was sent there by Tina at Jasmine, two doors up the block.  Rob from Fantasy sent me to Jasmine, and Kian at Esquire sent me to Fantasy and the folks at Venzini sent me to Esquire.  There!  We’re all caught up 🙂    Catch you next week!

Summer’s End

I’m back, Astoria!  What a fantastic vacation I had, and thank you to all the wonderful people Upstate and beyond that were supportive of Single Girl Cookies as I made my rounds in OBX and Penn Yan.  And I’m continuing my kindness outreach beyond Astoria’s borders with my preparation for Tedx Utica, happening in October!  If this is news to you, I say, ” What?!?  You’d better check out the website, and fast!”  If this is NOT news to you, I say, “Sorry dude, get used to hearing about it a lot because it’s awesome and I’m pretty stoked.”  I guess my inner voice that lets people down gently is a surfer.

I know this may be hard for some of you, (those of you like me who can’t remember what I ate for breakfast today) but think back 10 or 12 days.  It was still summer, and the responsibility of being back to regular hours, or back to school, or back to reality was looming, but still not quite there.  It was in these final moments of freedom that I made my last drop in Penn Yan at Pinwheel Cafe of Milly’s Pantry on Main Street.

I had been at the Emergency Room at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hopsital the previous week dropping off cookies to reception.  How many times have you gone in, late at night (or early morning) with a terrible stomach flu,or a swollen, sprained foot from a stupid dance you move you earlier that day (me) or a pretty deep cut from a super sharp knife (my mom)?  And we thank the nurses and the doctors that bandage us up, and give us treatment, but how many times do we thank reception and say, “Hey, you’re doing a good job too.  You kept me calm when I was freaking out in your waiting room, and it’s 2 in the morning for you too.  Thanks.”  Think about that the next time you go in for a water skiing induced hip fracture (my brother).

As as I learned, many of the folks that works there are from out of town, and all wanted to recommend I go to their homes 🙂  Ha, nice try, this is not my first rodeo.  So you can understand my excitement when someone suggested Milly’s Pantry.  Or Pinwheel Cafe.  However they are called.  How I under stand is this:  Pinwheel Cafe is an offshoot, or under the umbrella of the larger not-for-profit Milly’s Pantry.  And I’d give you more background on them, and PY people, correct me if I’m wrong, but neither of them has a website.  So my information could be totally off!  But that’s how I understand it.

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When you walk in, you’re not quite sure if it’s a store, or a place to grab coffee, or lunch, or have a meeting.  Turns out, it’s all of those things!  I found this site that tells a bit more about some of the things offered there and how it helps the community.  They also sell local artisan wares, and by local, I believe it’s within 100 miles.  That’s pretty awesome.  Half of the proceeds go to the artist and half goes to Milly’s Pantry to feed their programs working with the low income population of Yates County.  When was the last time you purchased something and knew exactly where the money was going?  It certainly wasn’t that shirt you bought last week at Ann Taylor.  

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I was on my way to babysit my fantastical nephew and knew that I should grab something to eat while I was there, and y’all know that’s something I like to do.  I encountered a woman named Peggy, just inside the door and told her the deal.  In true volunteer mode, her response was, “Oh thank you, but we can’t sell these here.”  She thought I was dropping them off (I think) either as an artisan to be carried in the store, or as a “Here ya go, you can make 100% profit on these and that’s my contribution to Milly’s Pantry” kinda thing.  I explained further and said, no, no, no, these are for you, no strings attached, just to enjoy.  And like a light switch, the response was different.

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She ushered me to the back of the store where a woman I know, Kathy, was behind the counter acting as chef for the day.  Peggy told her about what SGC is and Kathy’s first question was about my lineage 🙂  The pinning down of who I am, and who I am connected to.  The next question was, “Are these your mom’s cookies?” Astorians, unless you have something similar in your backgrounds, I’m not sure how much I can convey how famous these cookies are in PY.  My mother was the original Single Girl of sorts, but just bringing cookies everywhere.  All the time.  And still does.

I explained that yes, they were, but rest assured I made them.  A fact that I was very proud of, because this batch turned out quite nicely, after attempting to learn and master my mother’s oven for four weeks.  I grabbed a quiche and soup to go and headed up to the counter to pay.  As I was (a very affordable $6/7 for my lunch, btw), I saw a sign that says:

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And I thought, really?  That’s it?  Imagine how many children could be fed if everyone that read this contributed even $5.  And the thing is, I know these kids.  These are the kids in my mom’s classroom, and the ones walking down the hallway that remember me from previous years when I would visit her room, and the ones down the hall in Miss Mulberger’s classroom.  I joke with my friends how poor I am (and there are weeks/months when I am) but I know how fortunate i am as well, and have such a huge network of supporters that I am never without.  A lot of families don’t have that, or are working their butts off at the local restaurant/bank/dollar store with minimum wage and that’s just not enough to support two kids.  So I took my last $10 and stuffed it into the container, knowing it would do more good there than in my wallet.

Because I was coming back to Astoria the next week, I didn’t get a recommendation when i went to pick up my plate.  But i did come back, and now that plate is in the hands of a contributor to Astoria Bookshop’s Kickstarter campaign; I was one of the perks they offered in conjunction with a cookbook.  Kinda neat how they get around, isn’t it?

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I did do a drop on Thursday of last week, picking up where I left off at Immaculate Conception on Ditmars and 29th.  That’s already turning out to be a fun story and I can’t wait to share it with you after I pick up my plate tomorrow.

Another thing I want to tall to you about today is the possibility of donating to Single Girl Cookies.  You know I’ve been invited to speak at Tedx Utica and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  This is probably the coolest thing to happen to me since, I don’t know, birth.  But we as speakers are not compensated in any way, including things like travel and lodging expenses, and certainly not for the 100+ cookies that I’ll be making for the event.  You didn’t think I’d talk for 12 minutes about cookies and cupcakes and then not reward you for listening, did you?  I’m appealing to you all to help me make this amazing opportunity the community effort that Single Girl Cookies has been thus far.  There is a “donate button” on the right side of the page, beneath the twitter feed, recent posts, contributors, and I encourage you to think about even $5.  It adds up.  Then you could donate $5 to Milly’s Pantry and feel like you’ve done your good deed for the week 🙂  It is through Paypal, so it’s super secure, but if you feel more comfortable with paper checks, I accept those too, made out to Single Girl Cookies.  Just email me and I’ll tell you where to send it.  Thanks!

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The space for Tedx Utica

And with that, I’m off to a friend’s house to watch some football and eat some pulled pork tacos. Can we say yum?  Friends and food, two things that help me ease into fall, my favorite time of year.  I get really excited about apple picking, pumpkin desserts, that beautiful smoky smell the air starts to get, snuggling in sweatshirts and blankets and the start of a new year.  What are some fun fall traditions you have?

 

Renee Heitmann Copyright 2013