Monday, December 31, 2007

2008: The Year of HomeValley

  1. Become more clear-headed.
  2. Perhaps drink less alcohol.
  3. Also, consider a mantra.
  4. One Thing At A Time.
  5. Because honestly, we can't go on with our head so - cluttered.
  6. Meet Howie Mandel.
  7. Provide Internet photographic evidence of said meeting.
  8. Take the GMATs.
  9. Take them again and really rock them.
  10. Apply to graduate school.
  11. Actually go this time around. (Don't ask.)
  12. Be amazing future wife. Think special presents and thoughtful gestures, amongst, ahem, other things.
  13. Visit a California winery.
  14. Develop exquisite physique for July nuptials.
  15. Avoid burritos.
  16. Watch less television.
  17. Finish Anna Karenina.
  18. Even though Lisa Turtle gave away the ending trying to impress that snobbish intellectual she had a crush in that one episode.
  19. Reduce call-screening by 50%.
  20. Call Grandmom more.
  21. Give more compliments.
  22. But make sure they are sincere.
  23. Stop DVRing Sex and the City on TBS.
  24. Stop worrying so much.
  25. Consider another mantra for this.
  26. More. Yoga.
  27. Get published.
  28. To this end, definitely drink less and cut out bad TV.
  29. Post more.
  30. Become a friend of the blogosphere. Delurk.
  31. Floss.
  32. Organize office.
  33. Maintain organized workspace.
  34. Send "thank you" cards.
  35. Visit Africa.
  36. See the pyramids in Egypt.
  37. Go on a safari.
  38. Quell road rage.
  39. Get promoted.
  40. Become a better networker.
  41. Volunteer at least three days this year.
  42. Become a student of theology.
  43. Pick a religion that works.
  44. Stop offending Jesus.
  45. Become spiritual person.
  46. Quit complaining.
  47. Gossip less.
  48. Finally get belly-button ring removed, because honestly. You got that thing at 18 on South Street. Time to let go.
  49. Develop solid wedding song playlist.
  50. Avoid most wedding cliches.
  51. Share your success in these quests with the Internet.
  52. And also those damn Istanbul pictures already.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Tonight is our annual Girls' Christmas Dinner. I believe this is the 11th year and counting, because, fuck, we are old.

The players have been tweaked slightly over the years, as some of us drifted a bit through the college years. For the last half a decade or so, it's been Homevalley, Grace, Koos, Allie, D, and Ol.

So each holiday season, one of us dutifully offers to host the festivities (this year D is up). There is much food and wine and beer and hard alcohol and gifts, because we are spoiled. The gifts are typically not too pricey (two years ago I picked up "I Love New York" tees for everyone - which, dudes: why haven't you worn those???) but alas, I was horribly tee-shirt shamed when Koos doled out this jem:

Uncle Jesse does Thailand. (And subsequently our wedding invitation. What up!)

You can't see it, but that tee reads "Have Mercy!" Brilliant.

Last year we spent our evening at Allie's, where we ate and drank everything in sight, exchanged gifts, then wisely decided that we should most definitely go out to the local "dance" club, where we danced and danced and drank some more, until ever-rambunctious Grace began thrusting me about the floor and pushing me onto the stage with the band. Narrowly escaping injury, we headed back to Allie's where we ate whatever was left in the apartment, because Christmas comes but once a year.

The year prior, Ol hosted in my beloved Queens, where we both found ourselves living at the time. We followed pretty much the same regimen, only we visited a Bayside bar, where my patented Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club dance was born. Then Koos and I made a desperate attempt to thwart the rest of the girls by calling it an early night, as we secretly wanted to eat all of the chocolate cake and watch What About Bob, inexplicably. (Our mission failed, and we shared the damn dessert.)

Who knows what surprises this year will bring? D is making fondue, so we're all charged with bringing meats and appetizers and alcohol. I have spent a large portion of the day emailing with Grace about what the hell I should bring for an app, to which she insisted "Caprese Kebobs". When I suggested I just make regular old Caprese salad, she threatened:

so help me Jesus it better be on a stick!

Merry Christmas, Ladies.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I bought a dress.

(Or, more accurately: thank you, Mama!)

I had The Dress picked out after our New York shopping spree, but hemmed and hawed and stalled because I didn't actually want to make a decision. That would be so... final.

Last week I pushed my reservations aside and told my mom I wanted the damn dress already. She suggested we visit one more bridal shop.

And unbelievably, there was The Dress. Not perfect, as it is in desperate need of some sequin removal (Why? Every damn dress with the sparkles!) and some button changing, but so help me God, I could envision the final product. And it was good.

Of course I can't show it to you until after July, but let me give you some idea of what we're dealing with. Here is what I wanted:

I am slightly obsessed with late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's style, as my tastes lend more towards simple, elegant, and classic. (Also, my late grandma Mildred was similarly obsessed. She had ripped this photo from a magazine and hung it on her bedroom wall and frequently exclaimed, "Melissa! You look like just like the Kennedy wife!" Quite.)

Unfortunately, I am not as slender, nor as tall, as the statuesque Carolyn. So the dress I selected? Shares several elements with this stunning Narciso Rodriguez, but suits my feminine 40-inch hips. (I blame the booty, as my waist is small and my curves are kickin'. J is very much on board.)

It also has a decidedly old Hollywood feel, with rich, curve-hugging fabric. My mother remarked that it evoked Jean Harlow, which is fitting as I used to tell people she chose my middle name (Jean) based on the platinum haired "blonde bombshell"; until one day she overheard me recounting this story and interrupted with: "What the hell, Melissa? I named you after Jean Haggerty! She was a girl I really admired in high school."

Totally sticking with my version, by the way.

(Carolyn's middle name? Also Jeanne. Coincidence?)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Blah blah blah work is so hectic blah.

Jotting this down at 10:22 PM as J snores in bed... Almost finished with my responsible adult holiday duties, i.e. Christmas gifts, wrapping, and cards. Blah blah blah holiday chaos blah.

So many things to chat with you about, yet so little time. J and I have taken off all of Christmas week, so that should give me loads of time to tell you about:
  1. Istanbul. Seriously, I have amazing pictures. Why haven't I posted them? Oh, I'll post them. Next week. At the very least I will tell you The Tale of Turkish Scott Baio, and That Night at the Cozy Pub.
  2. Thailand and Cambodia for that matter. Because you deserve to know.
  3. The imminent return to Queens, tentatively titled Uncontrollable Sobbing in Our Favorite Borough, Part Deux.
  4. Wedding dress!
  5. I swore I had more topics.
  6. But I can't think of them now.
  7. Nonetheless, these blog posts on various topics are my holiday gift to you, Internet.

Whatchoo talkin' bout, Homer?

Whatchoo talkin' bout, everyone.

(Need sleep. Immediately.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


So last night I wrote and wrote and in the end, I appreciated what I had to say about God and my religious beliefs, but still felt a bit uneasy about the blog entry.

I attributed the nagging feeling to a bit of self-doubt, perhaps an "over-share", but I soldiered on and hit publish anyway. Then I watched The Office on TBS and finally fell asleep around 11:30 PM.

I was off and dreaming. I found myself in my childhood bedroom, sitting at my old wooden desk typing on my laptop, eagerly joining some sort of online writing program run by Oprah. (God, I am obsessed). Suddenly, a woman I didn't recognize entered my room and announced:

"Jesus is here to see you, Miss."

Shit, I think.

Enter Jesus, with shoulder-length blonde hair, clad in white and burgundy robes. He's looking well, strong and handsome. He hurries into my old bedroom and I can see he is not pleased with me. He's quite exasperated, in fact.

I don't hang around to find out what JC is about to tell me. I wake myself with a start, heart pounding. I turn on the light and expect to find him at the foot of the bed, though mercifully he has gone.

Frightened, I breathe deeply and realize: I just blew up Jesus's spot.

You see what you didn't read in yesterday's post about religion was a deeply personal story about my mother, who has always asserted that God, in his infinite wisdom, will do whatever He can to you until you get your ass back to The Church. It was a beautiful tale of how that worked out for my mom, one that as I typed I wasn't sure I should share with the Internet, at least not just yet.

After pissing off Jesus in my dream, I tossed and turned until 4 AM, when I decided to boot up my computer and delete my mother's story from the post. The entry still flowed and I felt calmer, and immediately drifted off to sleep.

JC or only my subconscious, I did the right thing. Blogging is a dangerous sport, y'all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This post is about God.

Watching Good Morning America this morning, I repeated a silent command to my brain: under no circumstances, I said sternly, are you to remember his name, this deranged motherfucker who shot up a missionary in Arvada, Colorado, then traveled to Colorado Springs to kill teenaged sisters at a church.

I also angrily demanded of said brain: Why? Why must they exploit him and award him with infamy? Please, please don't say his name. I won't listen.

Later, when my brain and I were introduced to Jeanne Assam, the security guard who shot and killed the deranged motherfucker (as he will henceforth be known), I willed myself to remember her name. (I wish I had succeeded. I just looked it up on MSNBC.) I watched her speak plainly about the events and claim, "God guided me and protected me."

And I thought, then why didn't God protect the murdered four? Why didn't He safeguard their families against that interminable pain? And why didn't He intervene in deranged motherfucker's case? Why didn't He guide and protect him?

We have a funny relationship, Yahweh and me. (As in, why did I edit that last paragraph to ensure I had capitalized all of the pronouns referring to Him?)

Do I still believe?

That is the crux of the matter, isn't it?

I attended Catholic school for thirteen years, though I haven't attended mass in ages. Catholicism and I don't mesh on many levels (abortion rights, homosexuality, birth control, attitudes towards spiritual leaders' pedophiliac tendencies, etc.). So I don't practice, and I study other, more liberal, inclusive religions, and I imagine that one day J and I might seriously become Buddhists. I live by the golden rule; I strive to be good and do good and I am eternally thankful for all that I have in this life.

Usually, I believe that is enough. I believe in Heaven and not hell. I am deeply skeptical of deeply religious people most of the time, though I attended an amazing benefit for poor Egyptian children given by close Christian friends in DC recently, and I cried most of the night during their earnest prayers. I was sublimely happy among them, sniffling and writing checks to help poor Christian babies living in garbage slums near Cairo.

My cynicism quickly resurfaced when I learned that Christians were in the minority in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country. The moment I sensed that these religious sects were enemies in Africa, I was reminded why I eschewed organized religion in the first place. That.

That posturing, that positioning. That self-righteous attitude that nearly boasts, we're better than you. We know we have it right. And if you ain't with us, well then honey, may God have mercy on your heathen soul.

Or, I don't know, calling a teddy bear Muhammed, and doing hard time?


There is a beautiful monologue in a terribly underrated film, Keeping the Faith. In it, Ed Norton plays a Catholic priest, whose best friend is a rabbi played by Ben Stiller. I've always adored the movie, as the main characters struggle to make religion mainstream in present-day Manhattan. Mostly I've always been captivated by the Ed Norton homily, in which he discusses faith:

And it's very important to understand the difference between religion and faith. Because faith is not about having the right answers. Faith is a feeling. Faith is a hunch, really. It's a hunch that there is something bigger connecting it all... connecting us all together. And that feeling, that hunch, is God.

(Also beautiful, and a bit embarrassing, as perhaps I have concocted my own belief system via a comedy that didn't even do very well at the box office. But I'll take divinity where I can get.)

I want to believe. I want to pray, and thank God, for it all. I don't want to be God's fair-weather friend. I don't want to only speak to Him when I desperately need Him, when I am drowning. I want a strong relationship with Him. I want community. Sometimes, I sing Christian hymns to myself while driving, and my eyes well and I think, I really will get to mass this week.

I want the answers. I don't want to judge others; I don't want to judge other religions, other gods. I want to know. I want to know what is right and be free from doubt. If in fact, Judgment Day comes, I really don't want to be standing there with egg on my face with the other Catholics, say, if Jesus only really digs Baptists or Methodists. I don't want to angrily question God's motives; I don't want to be pissed at Him each night as I watch the six o'clock news. I want to know the plan! I want to know if all of the pain and suffering and joy has a purpose; I don't just want to blindly believe that it does, because what do I base that on?

So that's faith, Edward Norton? It's not about religion, or answers; it's a feeling, it's a hunch.

That is the crux of the matter, isn't it?

Awesomeness in Our Favorite Zip

New feature!

I have been completely obsessed with Beverly Hills, 90210 as of late. Thanks to DVR, I can record all of the episodes that air on Soap Net, all 74849 a week. J is most certainly not pleased. He just doesn't get it. Because, man, at one point it was so, so good...

Take, for instance, 1992, the summer before senior year at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. The kids from West Beverly spend most of their days entering volleyball tournaments and tanning, except Andrea (who plays camp counselor and befriends an adorable deaf child), and Brenda and Donna (who are holy hell in a French "immersion" program in Paris which is AWESOME, though I can't tell if these scenes are actually filmed in France. But Donna almost becomes a world-renowned fashion model and Brenda starts smoking and affects an incredibly poor French accent to impress "Reek", a handsome Dean Cain!)

*Takes deep breath. All too glorious.*

So one day new gal Nikki hippies her way from San Fran to the Bev Beach Club, and spots shirtless Steve and his Curly Mullet (which really should have received its own billing, because WOW!) in the sand. She says hello, then becomes distracted and abruptly asks something like, "Where's that great sound coming from?"

She needn't look far. As behold! There is squeaky-voiced, bejeweled David Silver in Mel and Jackie's cabana, ernestly playing his keyboard and crooning:

You are so precious to me
Am I so precious to you?
You are so precious to me
Am I so precious to you?

Nikki starts grooving to Silver's beats, naturally, as the show's producers will spend a lot of years trying to convince us that David is a talented musician/dancer, before they finally pack it in and just give him the Peach Pit After Dark already, he's terrible. Nonetheless, he and Nikki make out (for shame! He is with Donna.) and Steve and the Curly Mullet decide to manage ole Squeaky-Voice, because the Curly Mullet has contacts in the biz, his mom is Samantha f-ing Sanders from The Hartley House, damnit!

And it was awesome.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Against All Odds

So my IT guy swears it is not possible; but lo! The disconcerting details of what just transpired:

I received a new Treo 700 in the mail today, which was subsequently "synced" with my Outlook: emails, contacts, calendar, and tasks, as you do.

I occasionally (read: always) use this mobile for personal calling. Very few of my personal contact numbers (if any) are stored in Outlook.

But they are all stored in my new Treo. And then some!

"Not possible," says IT Kyle. "The only contacts that would be in your phone are those from Outlook."

"But I swear to you; some of these people were never in my Outlook..."

I dated most of them before I had this job, I think.


Impossibly, not only have my business contacts been loaded into the new 700; most of my ex-boyfriends have been too.

Universe, what exactly are you trying to tell me?

It's beyond freaky. It's like that urban legend, the one that inevitably ends with: "You couldn't have met my daughter on the bus today... She's been dead for ten years..."


J offered only this: Don't call them.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is It My Turn?

My dear friends, you are in dire need of an update! I’m once again strapped for time (sipping decaf coffee at Max and Erma’s in the Columbus airport), but I’ve got a few moments to update you, list-style. Pumped?

1. First things first: here in Central Ohio, there is an FM radio station that plays only television theme songs. TV theme songs, y’all. It was quite possibly one of the strangest things ever; yet also: the most awesome. Notably, I am the sort of girl who turns up the volume and sings along to Laverne and Shirley. I am also the sort of devoted blogger (hee!) who jots down notes on some of the more interesting songs played, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

When the evil Shredder attacks!
These turtle dudes don’t cut’em no slack!

Hands down, the highlight of my day.

(Though I was temporarily crushed when I did not hear any Family Ties, a ditty I was at one time seriously campaigning to use for our first dance at the W.)

2. I recently forced J to sit through a DVRed “My Night at the Grammys”, a summation of the top twenty Grammy performances ever, as voted by ignorant viewers who obviously are insane as number one (or 2 – 20, for that matter) was not Michael Jackson performing “Billie Jean” and positively killing it with the moonwalk. Seriously?

Oh, but one performance that rightfully did make the countdown was Ricky Martin’s “La Copa de la Vida”, in which he single-handedly ushered in the Latin music revolution of the late 90s, before he fell off the scene once again in a barrage of “is he or isn’t he” gay rumors. (Oh, Ricky, I love you either way, honey.)

Watching Martin shake his bon-bon instantly transported me to second semester of freshman year, the coldest February in New York City history (at least that’s what it felt like to us). Vanessa and I remained holed up in our Brooklyn Heights dorm, likely scarfing down pasta or delicious ham and cheese sandwiches from the bodega across the street, watching Ricky explode onto the scene. And we instantaneously adored him and we totally watched TRL in search of him and the phrase “livin’ la vida loca” entered the lion’s share of our conversations. It was a magical time, nineteen and na├»ve in our glorious city. Back in the present day, a pang of heartsickness hit me suddenly, and I knew what I had to do.

I opened iTunes immediately and downloaded many, many Ricky Martin songs. I also discovered that iTunes shopping under duress (or nostalgia) is dangerous, because I also bought P.M. Dawn (what up?) and Boyz II Men’s greatest hits, because at that moment I could not go another second, dear God, without hearing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. (Because it is, y’all. It really is.)

3. Shit, I’ve got to catch a plane. To be continued.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Comedy Gold

Inspired by the Slapsgiving episode of How I Met Your Mother and the fact that I can't stop reading blogs right now even as J is having conversations with me in which I just nod politely even though Cops is on and mmm the wine; ladies and gents, an original song by J:

Who is this person?

You're talking to?

You might as well just sit here and sing songs

Because no one's listening to you!

Just sit here and drink your fucking wine!

Nobody's listening to you.

Who is this person?

You're singing songs to?

You might as well drink your fucking wine and shut up

No one's listening to you!

Who is this food?

I heard so much about?

It's obviously not here and even if it was

I couldn't eat it. (Shout out to the wedding diet. Woot!)

Happy Thanksgiving (complete with histrionics)!

On Thursday morning, J booted up his laptop and urged me to read a review of the Punta Cana resort we'll be visiting in July for the W. I acquiesced, so long as he brought me a cup of decaf hazelnut already (yes, I'm off the caffeine again. More on that later.)

It was an amazingly thorough review. The couple had just gotten married there in October, and the groom provided every detail of the entire affair, all rainbows and sunshine and la la la most perfect day ever!

Then I read this gem:

You will meet with the photographer approx. two hours before the ceremony.

And then I freaked out. Ever so slightly.

"Oh no!" I whined. "No, no, no! J! This is awful!"

The horror, the trauma: wedding photos taken two hours before the ceremony? With family? And friends? And J?!?

I know we are fairly unconventional, but Christ. This is my moment; this is J's moment. Our moment. It's supposed to be beautiful and romantic and memorable. It's that second when J sees me from afar looking stunning and angelic and virginal (shut up), walking down the aisle to meet him and pledge my undying devotion to him. His eyes are supposed to well up with tears, y'all. Tears!

And so with all of my melodramatic histrionics here, you can imagine that ole HV was not too keen about having The. Moment. in the hotel lobby, before the ceremony. It's so unnatural, and mechanical, for the sake of the photos.

J assured me that we would could do it differently, and then I sniffed and wiped at my eyes and sat in the kitchen and sighed wearily.

"Happy Thanksgiving, babe," J said.


"You know, I'm really glad you and me hooked up."

And then I laughed, hard, and agreed with him.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thrills of Life on the Open Road

I once again find myself on an Amtrak train bound for Philadelphia, eager to put the week behind me (Columbia, SC from Sunday to Monday; then Worcester, MA, Mystic, CT, to Westbrook, to New Haven). I am still smarting from my stay at the Mystic Marriott. You see, all I longed for yesterday was a simple pedicure, as the dogs are long overdue to be beautified. I meandered down to the Red Door Spa, and requested the "Express" pedicure, priced at $50.

"You know it's just a polish change. Is that okay?" Says the perfectly-coiffed receptionist.

"$50 for a polish change?" I ask.

She nods assent.

"No," I say softly, horrified. "NO! That is most certainly not okay!"

Exit HV, huffily.

So - Acela. In line for concessions (Because the hot dogs! They are still delicious!), when the man in front of me hands his money to the cashier and asks, "Did you recognize that famous actor you just waited on?"

Good night! My ears perk up.

"He seemed familiar," Oblivious Cashier admits.

I clear my throat. Friends, I can't not ask. The intrigue! Which actor - nay - famous actor has joined the commuter masses this afternoon? "Uh, who was this actor?" I inquire casually. I am nonchalant, of course.

"Mark Ruffalo."

If this were a sitcom, I would spit out a beverage theatrically at this moment. "Mark Ruffalo? Is on this train?"

"Yes," he says.

"Uh, which car?" I ask, only half kidding.

The man chuckles and tells me he does not know.

I return to my seat, carefully examining the faces of everyone I pass. I notice an attractive head of brown hair four rows back, but I shake it off and concentrate on my delicious hot dog.

Oh, but when we stop in New York and passengers begin shuffling, I turn back.

And I behold the glory that is Ruffalo (yes, that was his wavy brunette mop I spotted). He is clad in jeans and a black long sleeved tee-shirt; and ladies, he doesn't disappoint. He is fairly gorgeous, yet the fact that he is on this commuter train is perhaps most attractive. Ruffalo! A man for the people! He rose at Penn Station, retrieved one large travel back-pack from the overhead, and just like that, he walked out of my life. Fare thee well, Ruffalo. Fare thee well.

So that was my day, y'all. Tonight J and I will have drinks with friends; tomorrow I will rise at six AM to travel to Manhattan and search for a wedding dress. And possibly Mark.

(Oh, and um, this wedding dress shopping? I drew up an itinerary. Yes, yes, I did. And I called it "Wedding Gown Shopping with HV: Not For the Faint of Heart." Haha! Am crazy. Will let you know how I make out.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Part Deux: Thank God I have had a recent tetanus shot.

Seriously, seemingl- innocent can of creamed coconut?

Newly bandaged, was just seriously startled by beeping microwave that holds Lean Cuisine dinner. Did not expect beeping.


So... Miracle Whip?

Not mayo. As it turns out.

And I was so excited to cook a meal for Grace; one that I knew how to cook.

Why, Acme, would you place Miracle Whip right next to the mayo, so as to confuse me???

Drunk now, but so?

I know that mayo should have no vinegar; that Far-Mor Stina's Curry Chicken recipe calls for MAYO! NOT MiracleWhip! What are you, Miracle Whip? You have vinegar and smell so suspicious. You are not a friend. You FOE!!

Was on phone with Koos when I discovered my grave misstep. "J!" I called, as Koos burped her adorable new baby, Four (for blog purposes) on her lap (Child is adorable and amazing. Can't explain. He is just better than your average kid.)

(God. Pinot Grigio!)

"J - I messed up? Where is pizza menu? J? How do I call Santucci Brothers?"

J: Um, how do you call Santucci Brothers? (Shakes head slowly; wonders why he proposed exactly?)

HV: I mean, like, do we have a menu?


Seriously? Probably should have eaten dinner. Would not be so drunk if could bring self to eat vinegar chicken a la curry and cream of chicken soup.



Must wATCH Mionday night foooball....

Seriously? Miracle Whip??? Why?

Luckily, salvaged delicious Thai dessert of fried bananas, toasted coconut, and coconut cream sauce. Am glorious cook. Betches.


(Shall erase this in AM.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Power of Christ Compels the Wedding

You guys?

I love today.

It's Monday. It's Monday coming back from a magical European/Asian vacation. It's Monday coming back from said magical vacation in which I woke up at 4 AM to catch a flight to Boston and waited 18 years for my baggage and was late to my meeting.

But oh, how I do not care.

I am exuberant! I am giddy with joy!

You know what I think? I think I have just gone crazy, but like, in a totally awesome way.

Liken it to alcohol-tolerance. There is but so much alcohol you can consume and consume until inevitably your tolerance (and your liver) just crap out and leave you drunk from one tiny dirty martini these days. Am I right? Well, like alcohol-tolerance, wedding-related stress can only induce panic attacks during Knocked Up for so long. Soon, friends, the debilitating stress is too much for you to shoulder; and you must surrender to it, in all of it's unneccesary and ridiculous glory.

Wedding, I conceded long ago. Now, I will just sit back, prop up my feet, read this new O Magazine, and let you run wild. Go. Do what you must; I will just be over here, drinking pina coladas and ignoring you.

I was going to bare my soul to you, Internet. I was going to lament all of the dirty details of the last travel agent-related debacle that occurred while J and I were smoking hookahs in Turkey. I have been so vague in describing it; I thought you had a right to know. I was going to illustrate all the banal events in excruciating detail for you to peruse right here. But then, when you start blogging like that, the wedding has already won, right?

There is so much ridiculousness to this, y'all. It's, um, retarded. I vowed never to get sucked into it, but the Wedding, she is ferocious and she scoffs at the smug recently-engaged. You don't care about the flowers? Bitch, I will make you care about those fucking flowers! typically in the form of an obnoxious aunt or a boastful newlywed.

And so I have shed tears over package prices, and grossly ignorant travel agents; I have lain awake nights tossing and turning, willing my family and friends not to resent me for my wedding of choice, certain that they will, forever. I have agonized over invitations, and addressing envelopes; I have gotten so sick with frustration over fucking envelopes that my eyes have welled up and I have tossed pens aside, shouting, "I can't do it! It looks terrible! I hate these invitations!" I have poured over the wedding etiquette book, wondering what was alright to do and say and write, because I have never done this before. I have told people no, you cannot invite your first cousins because this is a small affair with conviction; then I have gone to J and agonized over that small decision: perhaps we should invite them? They are my third cousins, twice removed after all?

And for what?

For who? (For who? FOR WHAT? Thank you, Ricky Watters.)

Today I woke up, and I felt lighter. I think my glorious friends laid the foundation for this serenity on Saturday night by encouraging me not to feel guilty. You're not forcing anyone to come, said Di, matter-of-factly.

People have said it to me before; but this time it clicked.

It was in this spirit that I emailed Vanessa today:

And I talked to my aunt when I got home and she told me how mad my uncle was about [the prices going up] and how he went off on her and he wasn't going... And then I thought, then, dude - don't go. Be happy with your decision either way. I'll be fine. J will be fine. Van - how about my mom saying something about the PLANE crashing and killing us all in one fell swoop?!?! Like I don't have enough to worry about; now I lay awake wondering if I have just set into motion events that will kill ALL of my friends and family???

Honestly, is it any wonder I am crazy?

No more! I love my family; I love my friends. J too. We would love for you all to join us if you have the means. If you do not, we understand. That's that. No more guilt trips; no more people added to the guest list. No. More. Drama. (Thanks, Mary J.)

J and I fell in love; and then we got engaged. And then we had a destination wedding, where hopefully everyone remains alive.

No more drama. Only exuberance! This is a good thing; this is a wedding for me, a vacation for you. Christ, there is a swim-up bar! This is a no-brainer.

The end.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Merhaba (hello), mah people.

As I write, Istanbul muslims are being called to prayer on a loud speaker that echoes throughout the city. Is amazing place. I cannot wait to tell you all about it; sitting in Sultanahmet Park between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, arguably two of the most beautiful structures in the world; Efes beers with new friends at the Cozy Bar and Pub; smoking water pipes with Turkish Scott Baio; visiting the harem at Topkapi Palace... Istanbul is truly other-worldly! (Though the comforts of home exist on late-night NBC, where I totally caught How I Met Your Mother the other night in English!)

We leave tomorrow. Tragic. Until then: gule gule!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dunder Mifflinity

First things first: Andy Bernard is my new boyfriend.

Secondly, hello! Welcome back to Manayunk is the New Queens is the New Manhattan or whatever, where this charming little blogger has been in 7833890 cities in 3 days, or something. I can't keep track anymore. Last week I was in Charleston, South Carolina, but kept thinking I was in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Today, a homecoming: Back in 'Cuse. Where everybody knows McNabb's name. (Shout out, Real JC!)

Tomorrow Oswego, New York. Thursday, the WORLD. Or, more specifically, Istanbul.

You may have noticed Turkey in the news last week. Briefly, Congress is trying to pass a resolution to declare the Ottoman Turks' killing of the Armenians during World War I a genocide; in fact, they want to declare the killings the first official genocide of the twentieth century. The Turks, as you can imagine, are charmed; or rather, protesting. They have argued that the death toll is over-inflated, and they have warned the United States not to pass this resolution. J and I aren't sure what this means for us, or any American travelers in the country for that matter. We are monitoring the situation closely (along with the U.S. Government Travel Site); and plan on laying very low, and possibly playing Canadian, as you do. Ultimately, we still plan to have an amazing adventure! And I will totally blog from Turkey, my people. Recognize.

We're also hoping that our "W" invitations will go out this week. Pray God.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

DC: The Ultimate Photo Essay

* Please note: the following was started some time ago, and not finished properly, due to extreme time constraints by author. She is deeply sorry she keeps using her insane schedule as an excuse for not blogging. Unacceptable! Must change. Read on.

Oh, hello there. Welcome to DC, land of fucking quadrants. When you are intimately familiar with the New York City grid system, quadrants will blow your goddamn mind. But try to stay positive, like me. Here I am playing the role of happy-go-lucky woman whose head is not about to explode. Nope.

J, I told you, he said 7th and F! The Spy Museum is on 7th and F! I don't see any Spy Museum. God, I am hungry. And I have to pee. (Nefarious "SW" on sign overhears, and cackles. Another frustrated tourist! All in a day's work.)

Look, J! The Capitol Building. It's a magical place where bills become laws. Remember *sings* I'm just a bill, sitting up on Capitol Hill? Oh, right. *Rolls eyes* I can't believe you never saw School House Rock, J. Honestly.

Now take a picture of me, holding the Washington Monument like a sword, k? Oh man, J, this is clever. I bet no one has tried this before! Awesome.

Here we are trying to redeem ourselves, after the incredible photo a French man took of us once:

Wow, this is quite an abrupt ending to this less than stellar post! Rosie the Riveter, take us home:

Premature Ugg-Wearing, And Other Things

As luck would have it, my Providence meeting was canceled for today! So I flew in last night from TF Green, having traded my favorite Guess pumps (newly re-heeled and re-soled, thank you, as I destroy shoes) for my favorite sheepskin Uggs. You see, I erroneously assumed it would be cool in New England. It's fall, goddamnit! Not so. Also, it was 80 degrees in Philadelphia. Bastards. When will the air be crisp and cold, so that I can wear my glorious comfortable shoes every day? When?

Other things.

Last night I sat next to the chattiest man evah on my Southwest flight. By the time we landed (one-hour flight, y'all), I'd learned all about his boat in New England; his work at the Franklin Mint; his current job; his current girlfriend; that time his ex moved all of her things out of their Indiana home one day with her brother, and he took off to Club Med in Punta Cana the next day and played Caesar in an improv skit (and when they asked him what Caesar wanted, he proclaimed: "VIRGINS!"); and then some dude there told him that now he could have any woman he wanted; but then he didn't; he only had one. Then there was the time he saw his ex at a wedding a few years later, where she ignored him; then he convinced the best-looking woman in the room to dance with him, to make his ex jealous; then they spent one night together and he sent her flowers the next day, but they never spoke again.

"So how old are you?" He asked between these charming anecdotes.

"Twenty-seven," I replied, burying my nose in Vanity Fair, the universal travelers' sign for polite conversation over, man: I've got never-before-seen pics of the Kennedys by Richard Avedon to pour over.

"Man, I could use a 27 year-old."

I shift uncomfortably.

"But not you! Obviously, because you're engaged. I could have a daughter your age! I just turned 50."

I sensed a sadness in his voice when he said the words. For a moment, I felt pity.

"So," I began, "No children then?"

"Nah. Never been married. That's why I need a woman of child-bearing age."

(I really couldn't make this stuff up, these revelatory travel tales.)

"Then your girlfriend is older?" I ask.

"Yeah. Older than me, actually. 51. In L.A. right now. But she works a lot. Man, I told her: you keep working your ass off like that. I'm just gonna play."

I may be projecting, or reading too much Faludi these days, but his words are joyless. I imagine he is very lonely.

"But who's going to marry me?" He asks.

"Someone will marry you!" I assure him.

"Of child-bearing age?" He asks me. I say nothing for a moment. Then, "You could adopt."

He shakes his head dismissively, then picks his small blue tote off the floor. "Scallops," he smiles. "Caught'em myself. I can't wait to get home and eat these."

Then I pretend to be incredibly interested in his live scallops, as he pries open a shell to show off his treasure.

When we land, the conversation ends as it always ends on planes: the take care, good luck.

"Well, nice talking to you. Take care."

"You too. Good luck with everything."

I'm not sure it's relevant, but this is one of those enlightening experiences that wakes me up for a brief moment; that teaches me what it is to be human. We're all searching. The tide is always changing. We long to connect. And sometimes, the best thing we can do is put aside the Graydon Carter editorial for a second, and look at the scallops. Because it is kind.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Another Monday, Another Airport

Afternoon at the Philadelphia Airport. I have been so busy lately with travel, I haven't even had time to upload my super cool pictures from DC! Man, when it rains, it pours. Have been in Washington; Arlington, Virginia; Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Newton, Massachusetts; Randolph, New Jersey; Manhattan; and Hoboken in last eight days. Now heading to Providence, Rhode Island; New London, Connecticut; and Worcester, Mass.

God - I am bored reading that. My apologies for this lame post.

Upcoming post spoiler alert:

Which happy-go-lucky bride-to-be found out her Dominican resort was changing ownership, name, and going though multi-million dollar renovations in the next few months?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Claire, Elise, and Maggie Malone Seaver

So I am reading an absolutely fascinating book right now. J lovingly calls it a man-hating treatise and keeps urging me to put it down, but I can't. I am typically a poor nonfiction reader; I have tried to read Blink more times than I can count, but within a few chapters I lose interest and revert to a good old-fashioned fiction story.

This is not the case here, y'all. This piece is truly riveting.

Now, men, I know the title (Backlash: The Undeclared War on American Women) is a bit, er, inflammatory? As it should be. I assure you this book is a well-reasoned, well-researched account of a palpable backlash against women's progress throughout United States history. Faludi wrote it in 1991, so most of it details (incredible detail) the attacks (however seemingly benign) against women in the 1980s.

She begins by describing the backlash in the media. She recalls the alarming marriage "study" (beware, college-educated women: your chances of marriage after 30 are so very, very grim) and it's proliferation in popular news magazines (Newsweek seems to be one of the most ubiquitous offenders), newspapers, talk shows, and self-help books. The overwhelming message in the 1980s: marry, and marry quick, lest your eggs dry up and you be left with no mans. I am oversimplifying here, but that's the gist.

An entire chapter centers around the backlash on television, which is certainly one of the most intriguing sections for this pop culture junkie. But before I began reading, I thought about 80s TV; more specifically, 80s moms.

Now, I grew up watching Mary Tyler Moore on Nick at Nite with my own mother. Mary was a single career woman in the 70s, and seemed quite happy at that, thankyouverymuch. To that end, in my own home, I was always, always told that I, HomeValley P. Keaton, could be whatever I goddamn pleased. The world was full of endless possibilities; all I needed to do was choose my path. Success was mine for the taking (though my mother preferred I become a scientist and cure cancer, at least she encouraged me to think BIG).

Let's examine, then, the 80s television woman. In the shows I viewed, most of these women were working moms. There was Elise Keaton, whom Faludi admits has a career, but says you'd be hard-pressed to name it. To which I reply - not so! Elise was an architect, and a liberal, liberated woman at that. (The entire premise of the show was the philosophical difference between left-wing parents and an extremely conservative son, no?)

Then there is the lovely Clair Huxtable, an attorney. Faludi asserts that you never saw Clair at work (I concur, though I am sure I have not seen every episode); and that the only time her law degree was used was upon settling family disputes in the living room (to that I giggled, and then reluctantly agreed). At least Clair is gainfully employed, however, and is also an equal, a force, in the happy Huxtable home.

Then there's Growing Pains Maggie Malone Seaver, who's maiden name I know (Jesus Christ, I watched too much TV). Maggie was a television news reporter, another reputable career. From what I recall, she was a strong, successful woman who was balancing it all: work and family.

As Faludi illustrates, single women in the 1980s were repeatedly maligned on television: they were shown as unhappy, weak, neurotic, and often desperately seeking a husband and/or baby. Most of her examples stem from thirtysomething, a show that I never would have tuned into at eight years old, and thus know very little about. (My mind races at these depictions however, and I ask you: how many single women do you know who are unhappy about their plight? How many long for relationships to the point of extreme unhappiness, sometimes even depression, in spite of successful careers or otherwise fulfilling lives? Why is that?)

She also depicts the "dead mom" phenomenon on popular 80s sitcoms. Gah! Does she have a point? One need look no further than Full House, but note also The Hogan Family (Valerie's Family first, remember?) and Blossom, where Mayim's mom was not dead but may as well have been, because she was a selfish musician on tour or something, right? Whoa!

What is the crux here? Though I have not yet finished the book, and though my perspective is likely skewed at this point as I am no longer a single woman, the heart of the matter for me is the ubiquitous question: can women have it all?

My answer: still a resounding yes. But in speaking with the women I know, there is little agreement here.

This week, I emailed a dear friend/wife/mother of two/career woman/graduate student, and I marveled at her ability and shared my belief, that yes, you can do it all and that she is living proof. (This from a very optimistic blogger who has no children yet.)

"I agree," she responded. "We are having our evaluations here at work, seven being the highest. I overheard a woman say to her husband, 'Well, I'd rather be a seven at home and a four at work, right?' Wrong, I thought. What's the point of being here if I can't do it all?"

I have heard women say that they'd never quit work; I have heard women say of course they will quit work. I have heard women say that you need to stay home until your kids go to school. The implication always, if you can afford to stay home, then you should. (My inner voice always hears, you selfish whore. You do not love your babies!)

This is a sensitive topic, and I try to approach it delicately. But my heart starts hammering in my chest when I think about having kids (which I want with all of my being) and making an impact in this world through a successful career (which I want with all of my being). I know some of you will judge me when I tell you I am putting my child in daycare. I know I will feel guilty about putting my child in daycare. And through reading this book, I think I am starting to understand why.

And I'm not so sure I like what I see.

How about a related story, kids?

Yesterday I attended an industry conference, where the key note speaker was an ex Bill Clinton advisor turned political correspondent. I believe he has a column in the New York Post.

"Let me start off by saying," he smarmed, "that I believe Hillary Clinton will win the next presidential election."

Pause for emphasis.

"Let me also say, that I believe she will be a horrible, horrible president."


As his agenda-pushing diatribe continued, I began to see this not as an attack on Hillary politically, but an attack on her personally.

"Hilary's got a list of enemies 500 people long. They're not in alphabetical order: they start with 'M'."

He also asserted that because Hillary was a woman, all of the single women in all of America would vote for her. All of us. I couldn't tell if he really believed this, or if he was merely spewing some sort of reverse psychology: You're so simple, you'll vote for Hill. Show us you're smart, lady! Do not vote for Hillary in '08!

He did assure us that Bill Clinton had a an overwhelming need for affirmation; he just wants to be loved. Hillary, he said, does not need our affirmation; she thinks very highly of herself already. "In fact, Hilary thinks she is the last good person on earth." If you don't agree with Hillary, she thinks you are "evil". I had no idea this former first lady and New York senator was such a simpleton!

She also will NOT pull out of Iraq, so don't you vote for her thinking she will. "She won't want to appear weak."

He ended his self-important tirade with this anecdote: when gay protestors crashed a Bill birthday celebration at Rockefeller Center years ago, Hill smelled a conspiracy.

"It's the Republicans! They planted them there! Right up front! The press will pick up on it, and that's all anyone will hear about! I want background checks and social security numbers on everyone next time!"

Our presenter nodded soothingly to calm our hot-headed, emotional imminent commander-in-chief. Then he went to see Bill.

"Was Hillary talking all of that shit to you about background checks?" Bill asked. "Yeah, we're not going to do any of that." Then the boys had a good chuckle and patted themselves on the back. Crazy Hillary!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

God Hates Indonesia.

Just checking in to say a quick "hello" before leaving Cherry Hill to have dinner with the J Family. I have so much to say; but alas, so little time. Coming soon:
  • We had a "family" engagement party two weekends ago. You should hear about it.
  • My hair. Super blonde. Technically, I've gone back to my natural color. From when I was 4. You should see pictures of it.
  • Hmm... My fall reading? You should hear my thoughts on this book. Because it is my blog, and I reserve the right to go political on your asses.
  • Vera Wang for Kohl's. (Why thank you, Ms. Wang, for the overpriced, bedazzled potato sacks you have unleashed upon the po' masses.)

Until tomorrow, my friends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's HomeValley, Bitch

Officially joining Team Britney today, as last night I lay awake obsessing over the cruelty of people. It is unfathomable to me that Britney's been attacked for being fat. I am frequently appalled by the savagery our society has the propensity to exhibit; the delight we take in the mighty's fall.

Get well soon, Brit. *Hugs.*

In case you were wondering about me, Brit-Brit's VMA performance and its aftermath weren't the only things I was obsessing about late yesterday.

J wrote me a beautiful letter and taped it to the bathroom mirror today, on this sixth anniversary. The gist was about moving forward, living a good life, and giving back. Once again, I feel overwhelmed by all that I have. How lucky I am.

So thanks to you all. Thanks for calling or emailing me today. I am fine. I am better than fine. I am thriving. And I am so very grateful for you all, my friends and family and blog readers, for helping me get here.

I hope this post finds you happy and well, and living the good life.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Melodrama, Thy Name is HomeValley

So I suppose I am technically out of hiding (I am traveling tonight, in Columbia, MD); though I dare say I am sorely tempted to retreat back to a place where it's just me, J, and that gorgeous DVR (Bless you, America's Next Top Model).

"I read your blog today... Funny. Bit melodramatic," sayeth J.

"Well, yes, I am melodramatic in my writing, for effect," I respond.

"No, I was talking about in life."


So forgive me for this nugget: Am naive. Dreadfully naive. WEDDING! Please: you have won. I concede! Please. *Whimpers softly.* Just... just let us book the travel. At a decent price. I will give you whatever you want, you maniacal, overblown, social event overlord.


In other news, totally stressful eye exam yesterday. Uttered, "Are you SURE I am not going blind, for JC's sake??" numerous times. My prescription has doubled. DOUBLED! And it is all my fault, as in high school I used to wear "fake" glasses around for the look, like some sort of incredibly toolish tool. And lo! My actual glasses will now be as thick as a certain travel agent who shall remain nameless but whom is ruining. My. Life.

Wait - what?

It's all out of my system now. Ordered room service. Am calm. Serene. Have just gone to my happy place:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In Hiding

I am officially in hiding.

It started on Sunday, when a seemingly innocuous family picnic became too overwhelming for me. Sans J, I weathered some wedding-related dramatics alone. Once, I had to say firmly, "I am not getting involved." And then I commented to my mother that I was sorry that my wedding was causing so much strife, but she dismissed that and said, "Oh please! Don't be." And then I sighed tiredly and shrugged. And ate another hot dog, and some potato salad. And then I escaped to my wonderful, quiet home, where I drank wine and watched many episodes of How I Met Your Mother on DVD before falling asleep at ten o'clock.

I need time to think. Am diving into work. I've also got an eye exam today at 2:30 and Pilates at 5:45. I answer the phone for no one but J. And my mom. And that is all. Because, dudes: I can't deal right now. My senses were overloaded this weekend and Shut. Down. I spent last night making J hug me a lot during many episodes of Cops.

Cops is a great show. But still.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dead in the Water

Shortly after I posted this morning, I was informed that my 5:15 AM train to New Haven was, in fact, "dead in the water."

Was remarkably Zen-like about this development. I reasoned that a mechanical failure on land and track - even if it was the dreaded Trenton station - was far better than say, mechanical failure on air, in sky (and fuck you, US Air, again, irrationally).

So, I packed up my belongings and made travel magic, canceling my trains to Hartford and opting instead to rent a car in New Haven, which would get me to my meeting exactly on time, if the 7:20 AM from Trenton was exactly on time (yeah: it wasn't).

I maintained my sunny outlook through-out the morning; I was goddamn chipper. Positive energy obviously exuded from me, as strangers commenced chatting me up incessantly. First, the Indian man who works at the popcorn stand:

"Ooooooooooooh! You smell incredible! Give me your boyfriend number! I call him!"


Indian Popcorn Man spots ring on left finger. "Ah, he love you!"

Next, the tiny old woman knitting beside me on the platform bench.

"I was just looking at your shoes," she began cheerfully. "When I was much younger, I had an uncle who sent me those pointy shoes from Rome. No one had them here; but I couldn't wear them because all of my lady friends thought they were crazy!" Looks into distance, whimsically.

(This inspires me to tell the Tale of How HV and Fashion-Forward Friends Brought Capris to the States After Senior Trip to Rome. I tell that one a lot. But we totally rocked them first! Recognize.)

Where was I?

Ah, yes: Damien. I made a new friend today! He restructures companies for a living, and I deduced he was "The Bobs". (see: Office Space) He actually admitted he was Peter, and loathed his job but alas, had a young family to support and felt stuck.

I told him the secret (as am serene, Zen-Master) ; and assured him that as soon as he turned away from that negative self-talk, things would turn around for him. Hey - buck up, camper! (Who the hell do I think I am? But was in extraordinary, life-is-goddamn-beautiful mood.)

Damien very much appreciated my advice, and then told me he had a "prophecy" for me: I will marry J, move to the South, and have a brood of little boys with Southern drawls. (Me: Please - will they have blonde hair?!? Him: Yes. Yes they will.)

So, my day was weird and fruitful. On Acela bound for home. Must retire to the cafe bar now, where wine-drinking will commence.


The Irony

When I made plans to go to Hartford for an 11 AM meeting today, I opted to take the train. Less delays, I thought. Won't have to deal with nefarious US Air, I told myself. Will get loads of work done. Have not taken Amtrak since leaving New York, I reasoned.

Fuck. Me.

Is 5:58 AM. Have been up since 4:15 AM.

Am sitting in powerless Amtrak train in Trenton.

Need to connect in New Haven to get to Hartford.

Will miss connection.

Also: laptop battery? Dying.

Am tired. So, so tired.

I know it's illogical, but somehow, I blame US Air.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mother's Helper

I spent the better part of this afternoon helping my mother prepare her room for her newest second grade class, starting next week. And man, if you have ever wondered why so many kids today have acute ADD, look no further than their elementary school classrooms. There is shit everywhere. I had trouble focusing; I can't imagine how the eight year-old set processes all the colors! And themes! And decorations! And books! And projects!

Is wonderful though. My mama is in her glory in that room, running around searching frantically for those tee-shirts, Melissa, where are those tee-shirts I made last year? I was sure I put them in this closet! I guess I will just have to make them again. Here, use these scissors to remove these rulers from the packaging, then put them in this basket. Oh, here are the tee-shirts! Now, assemble this box, see, I will put all of my posters in it...

She is high energy, my mama.

I reveled putting labels in the books, and sorting them into easy reads (Dr. Suess) and more challenging (Ramona Quimby!!!) novels. I can't wait to escape to this place again sometime soon to read these kids a story. The last time I visited, the children were so damn adorable. My mom proudly introduced me to them as her eldest child, then asked, "What are some of the differences you see in us?"

"She is tall!" They shouted. "You are short!"

"She has straight hair!" One mentioned. "You have poofy hair!"

"Now," my mother began, "Melissa lives in New York. Do you have any questions for her?"

Little girl raises hand in back.

"You're pretty," she gushed.

Seriously, how can you not love these goddamn kids?

And I am sure all the faculty at the school loved my mother today as - while they dutifully worked to prepare their classrooms - she popped in and introduced me to each and every person she knew.

"Hi Mr. Jennings! This is my daughter!" And on, and on. And each person shook my hand warmly and said, "Nice to meet you; your mother brags about you all the time."

Mom. But what twenty-seven year old doesn't need to hear that once in awhile?

Did I tell you that my mother went to college at the same time I did, while working full time? Did I tell you she finished just a year and a half after I did? Did I tell you that the entire family went to her graduation and screamed and cheered for her? (Brother Mike also sporadically belted "SHE'S A LADY!" Which just killed us every time.) Did I tell you that she was offered the first coveted position she applied for at our local elementary school? Did I tell you she cried in the lobby of the bank when she got the call, because she had, at age 49, finally realized a lifelong dream?

Yes. Am very proud of her too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Mean Reds

Somebody's gotta case of the Mondays, and it's Tuesday evening.

I can't seem to shake the "mean reds" today, and thus I can't decide if my 5:45 Pilates class will elevate my mood, or further enrage me. That class is serious, y'all. It's all about working your "core" and that means abs, and then abs, and then sit down and lift your legs and hold them still in mid-air and squeeze those abs, and then mermaid pose! On most days I can smile as my abdominal muscles atrophy and I pant and grunt and groan during the most severe crunching. Today, I may kill the instructor (and I love her) when she inevitably shouts: "Come on! This is NOT yoga!"

Fuck, I am cranky.

And I shouldn't be, because lo! Finally, the wedding event gods have smiled upon us. We have an official date, all official-like: July 11, 2008.

'Tis awesome, as that will be the third (!) anniversary of the first time J and I just knew we were destined for coupledom (or, as J tells it, the day I "molested" him in his living room.). (So did not happen, for the record.) (But wouldn't that be a nice tidbit of information for the program?)

And the place? Is fabulous, in lovely Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I wonder how that works with the wedding being in Spanish?

Meh. At this point, does anything really matter past "swim-up bar?"

I thought not.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Overheard in Philadelphia, Part II

Late last week I was hurrying from the Starbucks on Main Street in Manayunk to the Christie's Nails, in pursuit of an eyebrow waxing. My tunnel vision is so severe that I rarely see what's going on around me (excellent trait for a writer, in case you were wondering), but suddenly a young man clad in large jean shorts and a baseball cap caught my eye. He smiled at me for a moment.

Then he beckoned across the street. "Now that's something you don't want to see here," he said, shaking his head.

On a bench on the opposite side of the road, an Indian man sat with a turban on his head; arms crossed. He was dark-skinned and could very well have been Arabic.

Oversized Jeans looked expectantly at me, waiting for my reply. Oh, the things I should have said, had my brain been functioning! Had I not been caught off guard, making a beeline for a waxing!

Instead, I just smiled wanly and shook my head disapprovingly.

"What?" He asked, a bit defensively. "I'm an American!"

He said it. I didn't.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HomeValley's Pop Culture Picks!

This past weekend was filled with much hosting, driving, movie-watching, cleaning, and reading. And also - much tambourine playing. Behold! HV's Pop Culture Picks of the Moment:

OK, I realize this movie is about three years old; I didn't realize I owned it (read: borrowed from someone years ago and never returned) until Ry, my sixteen year-old brother, came to stay with J and me for a few days. I rented 300 for the occasion, but no one was in a particularly Spartan-esque kind of mood on Friday after returning from the Brew Pub, where we feasted on cocktails, sushi, and chicken parm. (Why don't teens understand the joy of raw fish and avocado? Kids these days.)

We wanted funny, so I charged Ry with going through my DVD collection and choosing a film. And sadly, Harold and Kumar was the best he could do.

Admittedly, the dirty martini made me a bit sleepy, and I dozed off during some of the movie. I was awake for a hilarious dream sequence in which Kumar courts a gigantic bag of weed; and also, a scene in which a young woman shows her boobies, which is always v. comfortable when viewing with younger male siblings. *Shudders.*

The verdict: Meh. Definitely had its moments, and no doubt would have been fucking gut-busting when I was sixteen, a time when I most certainly did not engage in any illegal activity. No sir. Overall, a worthy film for having just arrived home from a night of drinking, though certainly not any other illegal activity. (P.S. Ry? Don't do drugs. Please? Thank you.)

(And also, I think Kumar is pretty hot. No?)

Continuing HomeValley Family Fun Weekend, I trekked to Jersey on Saturday to pick up l'il sisters Cat and Meg for a girls' lunch and an afternoon showing of Hairspray. My adorable sisters where characteristically underwhelmed, but I - having seen the musical twice now - found more reasons to adore it. It's delightful; complete with a deliciously evil Michelle Pfeiffer looking gorgeous as ever and a terrifying yet lovable John Travolta prancing about in drag. And, it's fucking funny. So funny that thirteen year-old Cat gaped incredulously at me several times during the film when I guffawed.

The verdict: Two words: Christopher. Walken. Go.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini

There are certain books that have left an indelible mark on my soul; books that have remained with me for years, that have quite possibly concocted the person I am today. Judy Blume's Just As Long As We're Together tops my list, as does Go Ask Alice. As a young girl, I read and re-read these books countless times. I sought solace in them; they brought comfort when my adolescent world seemed out of control.

But in all my years, of all the books I've read, I can't now recount having been so moved by any one work of fiction. A Thousand Splendid Suns is Housseini's follow-up to The Kite Runner, a similarly harrowing tale set in modern day Afghanistan. The novel follows the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila, through the Soviet invasion until the devastating rise of the Taliban.

I can't do the prose justice here, nor the story of these two women who endure the incomprehensible. What I know is this: in my own life, I hadn't heard the world "Taliban" until Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I knew nothing about Afghanistan, and I suppose after the devastating attacks here, I assumed that the Taliban were Afghanistan. I knew nothing. The depiction of modern Afghani history through the fictional lives of Mariam and Laila was startling; I was stunned and overwhelmed by our shared humanity. Reading in bed each night, I felt outrage for what was happening there; and incredibly thankful for the privileged lives we enjoy here, the basic freedoms we take for granted each and every day (like traveling alone outside of our homes, without a male escort, or our entitlement to education).

I wept when I finished the book this weekend, and then I wiped my tears and asked J if we could have twin girls and name them Mariam and Laila? ("That would be a little weird.") And also, could we join the Peace Corps? ("Sure.") Help UN Refugees? ("Of course.")

The verdict: Please. Read.

At our tenth? Eleventh? trip here, the Panang Curry only gets better. This BYO is quaint and lovely and makes the best Thai food this side of the Schuylkill.
The verdict: Try it; you'll see.

And, finally:

J and I hadn't been to Flat Rock in years, so it was nice choice after dinner with friends Lauren and Eric. One martini into the evening, I suggested Jaegar bombs, which, I confirmed, are nasty.

The verdict: But then, a little cover band called Love Junk happened, and they handed yours truly a tambourine:

Which I played.

And played.

And also sang a little, through my playing.
I don't want to boast, but J called me the "best tambourine player ever."
I concurred.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Babies, Babies Everywhere

Congratulations are in order to friend and blog-reader P, who just yesterday was blessed with a baby girl, albeit a few weeks early. Hooray, P! Wishing you and your baby girl all the best.

Did you know that everyone is pregnant? At least most of the people I know, anyway. Except myself, and Grace. This morning, we attempt to name our future offspring via email:

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

I will have Helen and Grace.

From: HomeValley

To: Grace

Did you know that my new favorite boy's name is Henry? How cute will our little regal children be running around?? Henry, Helen, and Grace! Now that is classy.

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

I like Henry. Can I call him Hank after a few glasses of wine?

From: HomeValley

To: Grace

NO WAY. Well, as long as no one else hears and picks up on it. It will be like my mother forever protecting me from "Missy". I owe her a lot for that.

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

well then you cant call my daughter Nan.

From: HomeValley

To: Grace

Yeah right! I am totally calling her that.

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

Hank and Nan. Sounds like the Boxcar Children...

From: HomeValley

To: Grace

Like the Little Rascals. All we need is for you to have a Spanky.

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

too many jokes in my head right now

From: HomeValley

To: Grace

Today's life lesson:

"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is Crying." And if he asks why God is crying, I think another cute thing to tell him is, "Probably because of something you did." - Jack Handey

From: Grace

To: HomeValley

as I was raised on the motto that "Children should be seen and not heard." -Diz (father of Grace)

From: Grace

To HomeValley

We are going to be great mothers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Popping In

The Internet has turned against me. I have been absent from this beloved forum for so long, it won't let me in anymore. I am writing this to myself via email. It has gotten that bad!

Am also trying to figure out why, since J and I cleaned out our closets on Sunday afternoon in The Great Bedroom Redecoration of '07, our second floor smells of dirty laundry, and our closet reeks of cat piss. Seriously: why?

And speaking of TGBRO07, yes, we did spruce up our sanctuary just a bit, thank you for asking. We've really taken it to the next level. I wanted serene, and oh, we went there. The room once had a dim orange glow to it; it's now been transformed into a blue and white halcyon oasis. And it is glorious, right down to the fake orchid that now adorns our night stand. And it only cost us considerably more than we planned on spending. Still. Glorious.

It was also the perfect time to survey everything in our drawers and closets, and determine which items were Salvation Army-bound. (Didn't I just do this?) Ladies: a moment of silence for the two errant canvas Coach totes that were chucked into the big black trash bag unceremoniously. Yes, they were both nearly 4 years old, and neither had aged well. If only I could have done something, anything, to save them from this fate! But alas, a spot treatment stain remover did not work; and of course there was no way to patch the leather that had been scraped away through years of abuse. Still. It hurt. Take care of your Coach, will you?

In travel news, I wrote a long, eloquent post on paper (!!) last week upon my arrival at the Columbia airport in South Carolina. It was quite clever actually; I discussed how trying it is to travel most of the time, until you realize how many wonderfully beautiful and quirky people you can meet in an airport bar, like a chemist who recently discovered the reason why there is so much nitrogen in the soil, y'all! A scientific breakthrough that warranted me giving him my last quesadilla, because hey! It may seem banal, but I have discovered nothing lately. (Well, unless you count unearthing this wretched cat piss odor out of our perfectly-arranged wardrobe?) So, I wrote until my hand cramped and then it was 197 degrees in Columbia; and I decided it was much easier to drink pinot noir to combat the heat, and not post; and then I was so busy the rest of the week that I had no time to write; am lazy, procrastinating simpleton, etc.

In Big Party news, there may be a destination for the Event J and I will be hosting next July. More to come on that when the details have been sorted.

In I Didn't Realize HomeValley Was That Nerdy news, not only do I have a "Currently Reading" document in my files here (which lists all the books that I have read since 2004), but I also just discovered a list entitled: "Books I Must Read". Heh. Am lovable, and also well-read.

Finally, please, see the film Once. For your own good.

More to come, friends.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I Still Miss Someone (or City)

Spent lovely day in Manhattan yesterday, mostly working from my hotel room on 92nd and 1st, instead of trekking to our Manhattan office, way downtown at Broadway and Wall. Had dinner plans with Vanessa, but asked her to kindly meet me at Coach in Rockefeller first, because I was a woman with a bonus who wasn't afraid to spend it!

Alas, I was afraid to spend it. Damn you, J! Now I am acting all kinds of sensible. Behold, the bag I did not purchase:


Over the most expensive glasses of Pinot Noir evah, Vanessa and I chatted the night away. In celebrity sighting news, V recently dined next to Tom Brady and Gisele at a quaint West Village Italian eatery. The word? They are the tallest people she has seen ("like giants!"); Tommy wore a leather jacket that he never removed, despite the oppressive heat; and Gisele is positively gorgeous sans make-up. Oh, and they made out the entire time. Fabulous.
I took the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan yesterday, something I haven't done in years; and impossibly, the views are even more stunning than I remember them. My alma mater, Pace U, lies at the base of the bridge downtown, and even that looked positively gorgeous yesterday in the bright sun. Immediately emailed J upon arriving at the Courtyard Marriott and told him that not only should we move back to New York, but we should probably just live underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
Of course, during my hellacious commute this morning (10 blocks in sweltering heat to 86th and Lex, approximately 1 billion people clamoring to get on the 6 train, transfering to the 4 train at Union Square, all while lugging a giant computer bag and sweating profusely), I marveled that there was nothing quite like having a home office.
Unless perhaps my office was on the Brooklyn Bridge?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Domain Name?

First, a heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of you who has either totally not mentioned the Thing That Shall Not Be Named to me, or who has contacted me with a recommendation to call this travel agent or that person who just had a destination wedding. Am grateful. Very, very grateful.

Maybe we don't call it a "wedding" anymore? Maybe we call it a super-fun party. Yes, Super-Fun Party. That takes a bit of the edge off.

Sunday night, I hugged J tightly and whispered in his ear, "Babe, do you think we could elope?"

"Sure," he replied.

"No, no. Really. Would you elope?" I pressed.

He thinks for a moment. "No. I couldn't do it. I'd want my parents and friends there."

Humph. I love you all, but, um, I probably could. No worries. Super-Fun Party is on.

Moving on...

Last week I asked J to print out a post I had written some time ago. I thought that I may have stumbled onto magazine feature gold with it. (I have since changed my mind. Writers.) Within the context of that same email, I mentioned that I'd like to start printing out this blog, so that we could save it. In my own mind, I reasoned that printing this text would allow me to remember my twenties vividly. HomeValley Jr. could then also experience my twenties vividly, and marvel at Mama's clever positioning of the "f" word in most entries.

J. I bounced out of my office to greet him when he came home from work on Friday, and plopped down on the couch.

And noticed a crisp new binder of prose on the coffee table, entitled, "Mullets, M. Gellman, and Mergatroid, Oh My!" Subtitled: "Queens is the New Manhattan: The Sophisticated Diary of a Young Woman in Her Twenties."

Wait! He included the "reviewers" quotes on the cover, like:

"Crude yet classy; raunchy yet adorable..." - J-Money, The Chronicle

"Definitely the next big thing with a clever writing style that challenges anyone not to laugh!" - J, Author of Pick the Next Big Thing

"It's impossible not to love this girl!" - Larry, Future Husband

It was fucking hilarious and beautiful and I laughed uproariously through my tears.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Greetings from the Windy City!

Except not.

Many thanks, US Airways. As always, you are as reliable as my ability to remember to water the damn plants in this house (i.e., not very).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Holy Shit! Heavens to Mergatroid!

Reason Number 734789 why weddings are evil: Both J and I completely forgot that this week marked our second anniversary. What. The. Fuck. Weddings! I will destroy you!

So because I am such an asshat and forgot all about our special day (and you will also hear from me when you get home today, J), I will have to post what I wrote for J on our last anniversary. Slightly edited (you don't get the really good stuff, Internet!)

My Dearest J, Larry, Orlandi, J-Mix Master Money:

One idle Friday morning, about a year ago, I was relaxing in my 3rd Avenue office, trying to invent ways to pass the time until happy hour. While browsing through my Hotmail contacts, I stumbled across your email address and was overpowered by an urge to say hello.

Now, an innocuous email has seemingly altered the course of my life; has changed it for the better in more ways than I can possibly count. Today, it is difficult to imagine my life before J-Money.

I am upping the ante on your 50 reasons, and I will now divulge 100 reasons why I think you are the greatest thing since Kelly Clarkson:

1. You are always patient with me, like when I accidentally break all the glasses in the apartment and you have to clean up the glass and then tend to my wounds with Band-aids and Neosporin.
3. You always keep your word. That’s amazingly rare.
4. You inspire me to keep my word.
5. You are cute when you “admire” your work.
6. You are unfailingly selfless.
8. You listen to me, even when I go on about books/roaches/mice/people/reality TV shows/Kelly Clarkson.
9. You have integrity.
10.You follow the rules on planes explicitly.
11.You always ask “How are you?” and I always believe you are actually interested to hear.
12.You work hard.
13.You are self-confident.
14.You buy me flowers for no reason.
15.You grin and bear when I order expensive martinis.
16.You want to see the world.
17.You will take me along with you.
18.You put up with my hypochondriac tendencies.
20.You love your family.
21.You always try to do the right thing.
22.You help your friends with their houses.
23.You help me with cleaning and organizing.
24.You encourage me.
25.You are responsible.
26.You want to have babies, and unfortunately our son will probably be named “Amani.”
27.I can rest assured that Violet and Amani are getting the best father on the planet.
28.You realize I am stubborn and independent, and you let me be that way often.
29.You tell me the truth.
30.I know you will always be faithful to me, even if you are an incessant dream-cheater.
31.You make time for all of the people in your life.
32.You always make sure we make plans together.
34.You know how to do everything.
35.I get to teach you the big words.
36.You are teaching me to be more sensitive, which can’t hurt.
37.You watch chick flicks with me.
38.You buy me ice cream.
39.You leave the Cheerios and bowl out for me.
40.You lock the door when you leave and I am sleeping.
41.You make my lunch.
42.You let me cry.
43.A hug from you can make it better.
44.You made Greece and Paris (edited in 2007 to say: and Thailand and Cambodia and Colorado and North Wildwood) the most amazing adventure.
45.You love me even when I am cranky.
47.You support me always.
48.You know that we need to discuss problems when they come up, even if I am reluctant. This means we have no lingering resentments. What is better than that?
49.We want the same kind of wedding. (Edited in 2007 to say: WEDDINGS! I WILL KILL YOU!)
50.It makes me incredibly happy to make you laugh.
51.You are absolutely gorgeous and perfect the way that you are.
52.We hold hands all the time.
55.You always assure me I am the most beautiful woman in the room.
56.I always feel like the most beautiful woman in the room when I am with you.
57.You are incredibly chivalrous.
58.You went and told my ex about us. It must have been terribly difficult and uncomfortable, yet you did it and you didn’t complain about it and you got through it. All to be with me.
59.You know what you like and what you don’t like immediately. You’ve got convictions.
60.You think many of my annoying habits are “cute.” (For now!) (Edited in 2007 to say: Yeah. Um, not so much. Anymore.)
61.We can act like kids together.
62.We can act like adults together.
63.Your family is wonderful and I feel completely at home with them.
64.You had Nana make me a blanket!
65.You always tell me you love me.
66.You respect me.
67.You respect my opinions.
68.We watch the Eagles together in our jerseys.
69.You are passionate.
70.Your heart has grown many sizes since we got together.
71.You are not afraid to have difficult conversations with people.
72.You are a true gentleman.
73.Even if you fart a lot on poor, unsuspecting bar patrons.
74.You love the beer garden! So do I.
75.You deal with me being a little jealous every now and then.
76.I can count on you. For anything.
77.We are buddies.
78.We are partners. You treat me as such.
79.Together, we form an unstoppable force of knowledge about all kinds of subjects.
80.We both kinda suck at math. And that’s okay.
81.You are good at your job.
82.You are good at everything.
83.People come to you for advice.
84.I never have to doubt how you feel about me. You are always reminding me in sweet ways.
85.Sinking into bed with you for a nap is the most beautiful feeling.
86.You rub my head sometimes when I have a bad dream.
87.You sing or whistle in the mornings.
88.You are not afraid to admit when you are wrong.
89.You apologize.
90.You tell me that I need to do both more often, and you are probably right.
91.You know how much my brother means to me, and you want to have him over for a weekend.
92.You think Bucky is humorous.
93.You understand why Churd is amazing.
94.You often ask “What can I do for you?” You always try to make me comfortable.
95.The massages. They are heavenly.
96.You really are a dreamboat. I did win the prize.
97.You have a picture of me on your desk. It makes me happy to know that.
98.You take the time to look me in the eyes and tell me you love me.
99.You will put up with my friends and even like some of them.
100. This list was unbelievably easy to write, and I am sure I could go on to 1000.

J, you really are a rock star.

Love Always,

Your HomeValley

Internet, you are free to go vomit now.

The Extent of the Crazy

Have just decided that I will no longer speak of this wedding to anyone, save J. So if you see me, and you dare inquire, "So, how are the wedding plans coming? Have you picked a place yet?"

I will grin maniacally and say only: "I'm right on top of that, Rose!"

Then I will back away from you slowly, still grinning.

Carry on.

So Tired

A long, long time ago, before I was betrothed, Grace and I met the creator of this website at the Beer Garden. He is/was a struggling stand-up comedian (though it looks like he is warming up audiences at The View now, so that's uh, really something).

He made an off-color Terry Schiavo quip early in our conversation, which was most decidedly not funny, but prompted Grace and I to refer to him only as "Schiavo" and shudder at the memory of his joke.

I digress. He was quite proud of his anti-wedding website creation, and he had many one-liners to assert his singular claim that nuptials, plainly, suck.

My point here? "Schiavo" got it right. I hate weddings. They are Giant Looming Purveyors Of Stress And Strife. And They Must Be Stopped.

*Shakes fist; looks up at sky*

That is all.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Official: I Am Not Pregnant.

I realize I have been a bit cryptic lately, but allow me to assure you: this new "project" I am working on? It's not HomeValley II. It was never even remotely HomeValley II. But I certainly appreciate the influx of emails and comments and inquiries I received about the picture of J and me* (read: 3).

(And when I am pregnant in two to three years, you guys will be the first to know. Maybe even before J. Seriously - wouldn't it be hilarious to snap a picture of myself in, I don't know, a tee-shirt that read "MILF" or something, and then post it here and send the link to J at work? I imagine the post would be entitled: "Get 'er Done!")


I know Grace's fears were assuaged last night at happy hour in Center City, when I slammed a dirty martini (although, that was mostly just olive juice, wasn't it? Conspiracy???)

But probably not, as I went sentimental like Koos last night when I announced to Grace and Marie** that the first day of high school, as we were introducing ourselves in class after class, I had decided that I would most definitely become friends with Grace and Marie**. And lo! Thirteen years later, we are sharing drinks at Oceannaire. Foresight is a beautiful thing.

* Actually, just a photo of J and me at Hotel Keti in Santorini, Greece. That will make sense soon. Mwah ha ha!
** Name has been changed to protect the innocent.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Working on a new project, which will be revealed in due time. Hey, did you want to hear what J and I did this weekend?
  • Acquired bikes, thanks to my most generous Uncle in rural Pennsylvania. They are only on loan, but since bikes are so G.D. expensive, it is a benevolent gift bestowed upon my ravaged, potentially-thousands-of-dollars-over-our-wedding-budget soul.
  • Packed a backpack with water and requisite granola bars (physical exercise makes me famished) and rode like the wind down Kelly Drive, around the Art Museum, and back on the Drive Formerly Known As West River. Did not hit one biker, but was passed. A lot. I tried not to take that too personally.
  • Watched The Bourne Identity (fabulous) and The Da Vinci Code (again). Each featured tension-laden car chases through the Parisian streets. Yearned for a stay at Hotel Regina and croissants. Someday...
  • Saw a children's swim meet. Thought possibly I should take up the sport. Ate hot dogs and fries as I mulled this over on a blanket in the grass.
  • Booked a last minute flight to Chicago for next Tuesday. Just because I had a free ticket that expires on July 24; and I have never been to Chicago. Imagined myself singing in a parade and taking in a game at Wrigley Field; perhaps traveling to the top of the Sears Tower and meeting the Sausage King of Chicago. Wait...
  • Finished watching the first season of House. My crush on Hugh Laurie continues to intensify. Also, medical school? A viable option for me?
  • Finished this book (alright, I finished it last weekend. But it was so brilliant, so heart-wrenching, I thought you should give it a try).
  • Started this book, just because I find the Fifties riveting. This makes me a huge geek. I am alright with that.
  • Cleaned. Really! J says we can get a cat as soon as I vacuum the house every day for a year. This will never, ever happen. But once-a-week is definitely a step in the right direction.