Monday, October 30, 2006

Effing HomeValleys

I’m not sure what it is about my father’s side of the family, but with the exception of my grandparents, we’re all born with some bizarre uncommunicative gene. It afflicts each of us on different levels. I consider myself on the slightly less harmful side of the spectrum; sure, I am a notorious phone screener. And I am not the best at timely return calls. And, OK, I might not give you a much-deserved thank you card until years after my college graduation. But rest assured: that card is coming. And won’t it be a delightful surprise when you receive it? Won’t we all have a laugh?

I’m trying. I’m trying to be a better person, trying to be a better communicator. I am trying to say what I feel and mean what I say and just get my goddamn point across once in awhile, in a calm and collected manner. I’m trying to be an adult. I’m trying to lay down ground rules for navigating my life: what’s acceptable behavior (to me), and what’s not.

Other HomeValleys are far more nefarious offenders. Some will forget to call you on your birthday (even if someone had a hand in your creation). Some will decide that you probably wouldn’t be interested in attending a roller skating party, and will not invite you to that party, even when you want nothing more (and have uncharacteristically expressed this desire) than to play a hand in your little sisters’ upbringing. (And, WTF? Have you ever met me? I’d totally be down for some skating family fun.) Some will plan trips across country with you, and will then have to back out of the trip; unfortunately, you’ll be the last to know.

Some will have falling outs, and not speak to each other for years. Some still won’t speak much. Some will give up on their children when they’ve made grave mistakes. Or perhaps they had already given up years ago? How would any of us know?

We never speak to each other. We’ve got a bad gene.

Now, the best I can do is to express myself. Let them know where I stand; then let go of hurt feelings. Perhaps amend my expectations of them. What is the definition of insanity again?

My solace is to do better; to make sure I don’t pass on the mutation to the next generation of HomeValleys, damn ridiculously good-looking babies they’ll be.

I feel better already, Internet. Enjoy your Monday. Maybe call your parents.

Besides, there are more important topics at hand: Did you hear that I drank beers this weekend??

The sobriety, she is ended. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Hello, Internet!

I greet you from Syracuse, New York, city of perpetual night, rain, snow, sleet, and general misery; or, the city where everyone knows Donovan McNabb's name. Take your pick. Though I have been a super-busy kick-ass career woman this week, I thought I'd sneak a blog to inform you that I, Melissa P. HomeValley, remained bone dry this past weekend, and wow, I feel great.

Sober HomeValley orders Shirley Temples at restaurant bars. Sober HomeValley subsequently orders club sodas with a twist of lime. SHV pretends to clean the bar with napkins as friend Dee's two year-old son looks on, perpelexed. (SHV also sings the clean-up song.) SHV laughs unroariously. A lot. (Apparently, sobriety can sometimes cause extreme giddiness.) SHV sleeps like a log throughout the night, and wakes up refreshed, smiling benevolently like an angel in the mornings. (If an angel is characterized by minimal morning grunting and no F words.)

The bottom line: this sober chick is damn nice and pleasant. What can I say? Sobriety suits me.

P.S. I miss beer.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Everybody's Workin' For The Weekend

Still sober!

It’s been five days, and I haven’t had a sip of alcohol. Not even when old friend Nikki came for a sleepover on Wednesday night, fresh from an awful break-up. I offered the requisite glass of wine as soon as she walked through the door, but she declined, saying matter-of-factly that she didn’t want to self-medicate.

(And well, yeah. She’s awe-inspiring. She’s so damn strong and beautiful and hopeful through the hell she’s going through, and she has the presence of mind to turn down mugs full of sparkly weird pink cider. She’s going to be just fine, that one.)

Nor did I falter when I arrived at J’s parent’s house for dinner last night, after logging time in the dreaded Port Authority Bus Terminal. I’d made the two-hour trek from the city to Hellertown, PA, and reluctantly stopped J’s Dad mid-pour.

“Not tonight,” I say mildly.

Mr. J stares quizzically, clearly baffled at this strange turn of events (The man once commented, “Wow, you sure can drink for such a small girl!”)

J, in an astounding and loving declaration of solidarity, adds, “Yeah, we’re not drinking tonight.”

Mr. and Mrs. J look on, confused.

“Well, I had this bad experience last weekend, and I decided to see if I could stop drinking any alcohol for a month,” I explain. (That’s the ticket, HomeValley, tell your boyfriend’s parents about Vomit Fest ‘06. And also, can I call you Mom and Dad?)

“Well,” Mrs. J says, “How about you just don’t drink so much?”


But really, Internet, how long can my sobriety last, when J made next weekend plans with the Real JC? When the three of us get together in Manhattan, there is a certain formula by which we operate:

Funny-Smelling Dive + Juke Box + $7 Pitchers + No Toilet Paper in Bathroom for HomeValley + Late Night Snack Food in Close Vicinity = Blissfully Happy Drunken Trio

Who am I to disrupt an equation that has proved successful time and time again?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More Reasons Your Grandparents Will Love Me

Am actually a senior citizen, I'm discovering.

Last Friday night, you could catch J and me sound asleep at 11 PM. I was likely dreaming that Matthew Fox was my boyfriend, as that seems to be a recurring theme these days (probably because J is so reminiscent of Dr. Jack.) (Without all the crying.)

Anyway, when the Manayunk bars close at 2 AM, all hell breaks loose on J's street. Car alarms sound, wasted girls cackle, drunk dudes yell and toss each other into parked cars. Assholes rev engines and likely kill pedestrians. I don't know what the fuck goes on. It's loud. VERY LOUD.

And this makes me cranky.

"Damnit! What is their problem? Don't they know people are trying to sleep around here?"

J, amused: "Like you were never loud coming out of a bar, babe."

Me, indignant: "Not like this! Please!" Lie.

J, nearly asleep again: "Riiiigggghhhht..."

Me, upstanding citizen: "I just feel bad for your neighbors. They have a baby, for God's sake!"

J, snoring.

Me, wide awake, fumbling in darkness for laptop. Sweet, sweet Friends DVDs.

This morning, you could catch me doing 45 in the righthand lane of I-95S on the drive home from Boston. It was still very, very dark! And raining! And I am practically blind at night, what with the oncoming headlights and all.

Sigh. I got so tired of road ragers flashing their high beams at me that I had to pull over into a rest area. There, I scarfed down an Egg McMuffin from McDonald's. And do you know who is at McDonald's at 6 AM?

Senior citizens. And truckers. And HomeValley.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must prepare for a night with the girls, Blanche and Rose. Care to take the over/under on what time I indulge in a glass of vino?

Love Always,

Dorothy Zbornak

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

54 Truths (Disclaimer: This idea is not original.)

  1. HomeValley is my last name.
  2. In English.
  3. Translated from Swedish.
  4. Yes, I am part Viking.
  5. And half-Italian.
  6. My Swedish father moved to the States in 1964.
  7. He was ten.
  8. He learned to speak English by watching Saturday morning cartoons.
  9. Remember cartoons, before the Cartoon Network?
  10. Good times.
  11. Dad no longer speaks Swedish.
  12. That's a shame.
  13. Especially since, as a result, all I can say is "Wilkomen!"
  14. But I do call my grandparents "Far-Far" and "Far-Mor."
  15. But I started doing that last year.
  16. My first name is actually Melissa.
  17. I've always liked that name, despite its rampant popularity during the 1980s.
  18. I was born on February 1, 1980.
  19. I weighed nearly ten pounds.
  20. I barely fit in the incubator.
  21. People pointed at me and remarked"That little boy baby looks like a linebacker!"
  22. My late grandma Bea overheard and snapped, "That is my grand-daughter, thank you."
  23. She was hilarious and died when I was eight.
  24. She had an aneurysm in front of a slot machine.
  25. I like to think that's how she wanted to go.
  26. Soon after my birth, My uncle Rick coined the nickname "Melissa Monster."
  27. When you meet him, he'll tell you this.
  28. He'll also tell you that I was an incredible baby.
  29. This is because at nine months old, I sat in a playpen next to him and watched an entire World Series game without making a peep.
  30. I have one "full" brother, one half-brother, one step-brother, and two half-sisters.
  31. A lot of them call me "Sis."
  32. It's awesome.
  33. My "full" brother is just 14 months younger than me.
  34. Growing up, people thought we were twins.
  35. We started a band together in '88.
  36. We loved heavy metal.
  37. The only song we played was Joan Jett's "I love rock and roll."
  38. And by played I mean I sang, and he banged on the washer with chopsticks.
  39. Incredibly, we never had a paying gig.
  40. The band did launch my short-lived singing career.
  41. I sang at church, then in chorus, then in school musicals.
  42. I once sang with Kenny Rogers.
  43. The Gambler.
  44. Well, me and twenty other girls from our high school chorus.
  45. Still.
  46. I have one tattoo.
  47. I got it because Allie was getting one, and it seemed like a good idea.
  48. It's a butterfly.
  49. I have just learned, via an episode of Parental Control, that it's often called a "Tramp Stamp."
  50. Parental Control is a brilliant show.
  51. My high school yearbook quote was "Tis a far better thing doing stuff for other people."
  52. Someone saw Clueless one too many times.
  53. This is my brain off alcohol.
  54. Oh man.

Shameless Plug

My gorgeous, super-talented cousin Tina Marie Connell is blowing minds all over the Lehigh Valley, y'all. She's moments away from exploding onto the scene in a Kelly Clarkson blaze of glory.,0,7031104.story?coll=all-artsideas-hed

One day you will see HomeValley on VH1's Driven, talking all, "We knew Tina was going to be a star because she was totally harmonizing as a baby!" But really, she was.

We love her.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Alcohol, My Fair-Weather Friend

The alarm blared obnoxiously at approximately 4:54 AM this morning. An early train to Boston forced me from my warm bed, and I began fumbling around the dark apartment, willing myself to remember my phone charger and laptop cord. Groggy and still dead tired, I slowly and painstakingly prepared for my trip. I was out the door by 5:40. On the N train, I realized I WAS STILL HUNGOVER.

The hangover had certainly dissipated overnight, but I still felt a bit fuzzy and vaguely nauseated. My brain stubbornly refused to focus. I was rereading whole paragraphs of articles in my O magazine, when I came across a piece posing the question, “Are Girls the New Guys? The bars, the buddies, the all night partying…What’s going on out there?”

The hell?

Soon, sentences began to sound uncomfortably familiar; some twenty-something Carrie Bradshaw-wannabes prancing about the city in fancy shoes, sipping cosmopolitans with “the girls” on weeknights?

I was completely wary of the sensationalism of the piece; surely the author can’t speak to an “epidemic” by visiting three bars in Manhattan one weekend. (But oh shit, I was just throwing back dirty martinis at Joshua Tree on Friday night!)

Yet the article induced some of the patented HomeValley introspection. My head still dully aching, I thought about how often and how much I imbibed. Each time I consume more than three drinks per occasion, I am binge-drinking. Binge-drinking at least once per week. And I wonder why I can’t do simple math in my head anymore?

I concluded that I am murdering brain cells at an alarming rate, and that my current alcohol-hazy mind will not propel me into super-blogdom, or even a good MBA program for that matter. How can one aspire to world domination living in this perpetual fog?

Internet, behold my experiment and be incredulous. It went like this:

Composed email to J with fantastic brainstorm:

“For the next month, I am not drinking any more during the week, and on the weekends I’ll limit myself to a max of 3 drinks.” (You see what I did there? Look at me all not binging.)

Clicked send. What a monumental sacrifice! I mean, I intended to deny myself a few glasses of pinot noir after a long day of travels on weeknights, damnit!


Composed second email:

“Forget it. From this moment forward, I will not drink ANY alcohol. For one ENTIRE month, I will be clean and sober. I know you are thinking that I won’t be able to do it. So am I. And that is exactly why it needs to be done.”

Day One has nearly passed without incident, although when I told Koos the plan this afternoon, I remembered that I have a wedding to attend in two weeks. I nearly allowed myself a reprieve, then shook it off and felt pleased to be J’s designated driver.

So this is my challenge. I will remain steadfast and sober and hopefully even sharper and more quick-witted. (I know what you’re thinking, like I can get ANY cleverer.) (More clever?) (Cleverer?)

It is going to be a long 30 days.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Greetings, gentle readers, from hell.

It is inevitable; once a year, alcohol will suddenly become my nemesis. Last May, tequila turned it's back on me during Vanessa's birthday happy hour. This year, it was two glasses of wine, one green tea martini, one flute of champagne, and 8 Miller Lites. And they were certainly unkind.

My ability to write coherent sentences has evaporated (I'm willing to bet that is partly due to a Flavor of Love marathon that I am still inexplicably watching), so I'll spare you the details of the weekend until I've recovered. I never made it to the Guggenheim. But my GOD, the bar-hopping.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Defense Rests

Well, fuck.

Admittedly, yesterday's anonymous comment poster sent me into a brief frenzy of self-reflection. Could it be? Have I become a woman who has lost her independence; a woman who's world revolves solely around her man? As soon as I'd read the comment, my face flushed scarlet; I wondered who was this poster (who is obviously someone I know) and OH MY GOD, do they actually have a valid point?!?

And then I took a deep breath. And then I said to myself: hell fucking no.

I believe what I was trying to say was that I still do relish my independence, and my quality friend time away from the bf; nonetheless, I kinda wish that I could spend a night or two away from him, and then come home to him. For all intents and purposes, I live alone. It would be nice to have him around more, is all. And I don't (and won't) feel bad about feeling that way.

But still, the comment struck a nerve.

I have loved being on my own. I rock out on my own. I dance around the apartment. I eat junk food. I watch Sex and The City reruns. I sing in the shower for an hour. I read books and books and then Oprah magazine and then more books. I attend networking events that frighten me. I meet friends for drinks. I am addicted to A Baby Story on TLC. I travel. I stay alone in hotel rooms. I chat up strangers. I attend writing workshops. I combat my fear of flying, mostly alone. I work two days per week in a cubicle, alone.

I don't want to lose myself in a relationship, and I don't believe that is what I've done. I am learning how to compromise, which is difficult for me. It's also necessary. I want to be in this relationship, because it is really, really good. I am learning it is not always about me. I am learning how to be more selfless, because I am in this relationship with a man who personifies selflessness; who always puts my needs before his own.

It is really, really good. So good it needs to be italicized for the world to see.

It's a delicate balance, reconciling my independence with this partnership. Sometimes I do a fine job; other times I act like an asshole. Ask J.

I rest my case. Now, the HomeValley Uber-Weekend of Independence shall commence. On tonight's agenda, chick-flicks, diner food, and a few bottles of Pinot Noir with old college roommate, Nikki. Take that Internet naysayers!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

At least Lost is on tonight.

J and I spent a long, fabulous weekend together in Philadelphia. We did wondrous things we never do, like renting two movies on a Friday night and eating greasy Chinese food and eschewing alcohol for one blissfully sober evening. We also went out to dinner at a fancy steakhouse (something we've never done), and my God, the drywalling (and the sawing!). And I am so thankful for the fantastic fantasticness of it all, because we now must face the dreaded, the abhorred, the abysmal:

Nine-Day Separation.

Um, okay, so it is totally not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it's true what they say about absence and hearts and fondness and all that. It's just, well, sucky. It sucks. It's completely healthy and awesome to spend time with the boys and time with the gals, and to be apart and have separate interests; it becomes difficult when you spend zero time together between those nights and separate interests, y'know? When your contact consists of calling each other during the Lost commercial breaks, wondering when they will just kill Kate already and put us all out of our misery?

Alas, bachelor parties must be attended to. And fabulous girls' weekends in the most fabulous borough of all. And this is good. I've suddenly realized that this may be my last weekend alone in Astoria before the Great Relocation of 07. Now is the time to visit the Bohemian Beer Garden and pound Hoegaarden with gusto; to run around the Astoria Park track until my legs buckle. To visit the Guggenheim. To buy shoes. To feast on Tasti D-Lite.

Get ready, Allie. And Internet. I foresee a drunk posting in our future.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Yesterday a portion of my vast readership (read: The Real JC) threatened to begin reading other blogs if I didn't update soon. In truth, I've started many, many posts, only to become immediately and utterly bored with the topic at hand. Unfortunately, this does not make for good blog reading. Yet fear not, loyal readers, I'm back and prepared to bring you up to speed.

What HomeValley Has Been Up To Lately:

  • Witnessing the horrifying inner workings of the United States justice system. And no, I won't elaborate.
  • Attending a weekend wedding in Atlanta, in which J served as groomsman. I served as Atlanta neophyte, traveling with J's friends to aquariums, Olympic parks, and CNN Headquarters food courts. Oh, also: I drank. A lot.
  • Acquiring more reasons to hate flying. Sometimes, on your way home from Atlanta, people will start seizing on planes and flight attendants will run around like frightened children screaming, "Is there a doctor on board?!?!" HomeValley will sigh, look at her watch, and continue reading her Phillipa Gregory book. (Don't worry, Seizure Chick was fine in minutes.)
  • Crying during Monday Night Football, two consecutive weeks in a row. Incredulously, men mock us for our tendency to watch Steel Magnolias repeatedly; in reality, the NFL and ESPN are completely emotionally manipulative. The Saints game in the Katrina aftermath? The Eagles making young, sickly Charlie Pena "Coach for a Day," thereby realizing all of his dreams and allowing him to meet all of his idols? In one breath J was chastising me for buying into these emotionally-charged vignettes; in the next, he was shushing me until the end of the segment. "Okay," he conceded. "That one got to me a little."
  • Drywalling. J and I have been converting a bedroom in his house to an office, and I am, if I may be so bold, a bonafide Construction Diva, asking J to get me my own tool belt, as the tape measure looked a bit silly attached to the waistband of my sweats. And really, I measured things! And used a miter saw! And didn't cut off any appendages! It was all terribly exciting for us.
  • Watching Little People, Big World, and feeling my heart break each time young Zach - an "LP" with an average-sized twin brother - is onscreen. Why is the tinkly piano of sadness always playing anytime the kid is speaking?
  • Feeling sorry for Terrell Owens. I know this makes me a huge asshole. I also know T.O. is a huge asshole. I just don't think it was very nice to chant "O.D." during yesterday's game.
  • Meeting one of J's wonderful work colleagues, and finding I have everything in common with... her sixteen year old daughter. We are both obsessed with musical theater and Friends. And extremely cool and sophisticated.
  • Questioning Catholicism. Catalina called on Friday night to ask me to be her confirmation sponsor. In the Catholic faith, this is quote an honor. The problem is, I don't feel very Catholic anymore. I haven't been to church in years, though I contend that I am still an excellent spiritual sensei. I consulted my very wise 15 year old brother on this one. "Ry," I asked him yesterday, "you'd want me as your spiritual guide right?" (Bear in mind, this little angel once wrote an essay on why I was the person he admired most, because I was funny and we made jokes together and I went to all of his football and basketball games.)

"Nope." He replied dryly (and very quickly at that).

"Ry! Come on! Who better to have as your spiritual mentor?"

"Why do you think I didn't ask you? You don't go to church. You're not there with me in the trenches every week."


So thank you all for your patience as I ponder questions of faith and complete construction projects. More tomorrow from Providence, Rhode Island!