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

Jean.

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

Lament

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

WWJD?

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?


That.


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.

*Shivers*

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..."

*Shudders*

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.