Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'll Be Lovin' You Forever

So I wasn't sure how I felt about going to see the New Kids on the Block. Dude, I'm 28. And I had already suffered a particularly potent type of heartbreak in 1993. The Kids had recently been generating a ton of bad press (had they changed their name to NKOTB yet?), when my brother Mike unceremoniously mocked my unabiding love of Jordan, Joey, and the gang: "Melis - they're OVER. They're so gay!"

And you guys? I cried. I was thirteen, and my eyes filled with tears, and I probably screamed that he was a butthead, and I ran to my room and slammed the door.

And then, weeks later, I conceded defeat. I had to let them go, you know? I threw my full support behind Jason Priestly and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and called it a day. NKOTB eventually broke up, and we all moved on.
Suddenly, it's 2008, and Grace is buying $91 tickets for a New Kids reunion show at the Wachovia Center. (Email to Grace: You know, that is a ridiculous amount to pay for those tickets. Email to HV: I know. But we will have fun!)

I didn't give the concert much thought until the date approached. I was looking forward to seeing Grace and the girls, and hopeful that the Kids would play "Funky, Funky Christmas", but that was about it. Before the show, we drank numerous beers and gorged on Chickie's and Pete's crab fries. Then we grabbed our seats, and the lights dimmed.

And... PANDEMONIUM ensued. I started screaming my face off with the rest of the sold-out crowd. My heart was pounding! My palms were sweating! And lo - the Kids appeared before our eyes, rising up from the center of the stage like angels, and looking damn fine approaching 40, thankyouverymuch.

My eyes filled! I bit my lip and wondered what in God's name had come over me?

And then I realized.

I owed this to her:

And her:

And her:

And - oh yeah - her:

That's right, folks: 1990 HomeValley. The little girl whose sole purpose in life was collecting New Kids paraphernalia, and loving on Jordan, Joe, and Donnie. The kid who attended her first NKOTB concert that year - her first concert ever - and probably felt just as teary and excited the first time those dudes appeared (ahem, 18 years younger) on the stage that night.

And believe you me, she and I had a blast together a few weeks ago at the Wachovia. Although, we never did hear "Funky, Funky Christmas".

I'll be lovin' you forever, indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

There but for the grace of God...

Sorry, but if you are looking for the funny, you won't find it here today. It's been a long week, y'all.

Each day, I remind myself that every moment is a gift. I am quelling my urge to procrastinate, and I am trying to celebrate life every second I am breathing. J and I had a wonderful date on Tuesday night, making homemade burritos, drinking wine, watching our shows, and laughing a lot. But when we crawled into bed that evening, I burst into tears. Grief washes over me like a wave some days, and I am prone to fits of crying.

Now, I am not grieving because I lost Donna, though I will miss her dearly. I am grieving for all that was lost to her friends and family. Everything they must continue without: a sister, a daughter, a friend. Her "life celebration" was heartbreaking and beautiful. The funeral home was filled with all things that were Donna: her Morrisey memorabilia; her pin collection; her stuffed animals; her roller skates; the books she loved. There were pictures and slide shows and, most poignantly, silent video of her living, moving, breathing, laughing. Her loved ones presented a gorgeous portrait of a life - of her life - that ended so abruptly. I was overwhelmed by the injustice of it all. As the minister eulogized: "I think we can all agree, folks, that 31 years? It's just not enough. Thirty-one years is NOT enough."

Amen to that, brother.

At the service, I spoke with another coworker.

"I was the last person to see her alive," he said, his eyes filling. "I drove her to get her car, which she was having cleaned. She was chatty on the ride there - same old Donna. I stayed to make sure everything was okay. When she got in the car, she rolled down her window and smiled at me. 'Smells much better in here!' she said. Then she drove off. You know, they found a Wawa receipt in the car. She must have stopped there, and then the accident happened. I dropped her off at 5:15, and they called the accident at 5:33."

I can't stop thinking about that fucking Wawa receipt, either. One minute you stop for a coffee, or a snack. The next - nothingness.

When I got home, I looked up her myspace page, presumably to further torture myself. Her last login was the day she died.

And these, Internet, are the thoughts that keep me awake at night now. The idea that you can be going along in your regular routine - checking myspace, picking up your car, stopping for a coffee... And then, that's it.

And I sit here, in the coffee house, staring at my monitor, and the post-it I've attached to it, per Allie's suggestion: Life. I think, this time, I will hold onto this resoluteness: to remember that each moment is a precious, precious gift. That no matter how bad it gets, we are all so lucky to be here still.

I hope you will too.

And tomorrow, by God, I will lighten this place up a bit. Talk about the New Kids concert, or something. That ought to get us smiling again, no?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A coworker was killed in a car accident last night.

She was young and vibrant, not unlike myself.

We were not particularly close, but we were very friendly. She worked in our local office, so I saw her more frequently than most. A few months ago, we had a long conversation. I was in the office, showing her my wedding photos. She was complimentary ("You are still glowing!"), as she always was, and inquired coyly if my brother was single. That day, she peppered me with questions about my relationship with J.

"I hope you don't mind me asking you so much," she said, smiling. "Someday, we'll have drinks and I will tell you my story."

She was ebullient outwardly, but I always sensed there were dark issues she dealt with privately. It always seemed as if it were a struggle to be happy, and she put on a brilliant show. I wish I had known her better. I wish we had gone out for those drinks.

In times like these, when someone so young dies so suddenly, I am haunted by thoughts of their last days, weeks, months. I wonder, what would she have done differently, knowing she had mere months, weeks, days to live? I shudder at the thought of my own life being snatched away in an instant. So I drive slowly and carefully. Recommit myself to a life with purpose. Reach out to friends. Vow to be a better wife and daughter and sister. Stop screening calls.

Like life, these resolutions are fleeting. Next week, I'll be late for an appointment, speeding again. I won't answer my grandmother's call because I will be too busy. I'll snap at my husband. I wonder why it seems impossible to hold on to this feeling, this combination of sorrow mixed with grief, and also pure joy, because we are alive and we can hug our loved ones, and have another girls' dinner, take another vacation, watch another Adam Sandler movie.

Rest in peace, Donna. I hope, wherever you are, you are happy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Melissa P. HomeValley, Reporter-At-Large

So, what exactly did my Facebook hiatus spawn?

Well, I did go to the gym on Friday. I did apply for several different jobs, now that my corporate fate is in peril. I did talk to my old colleague about that production job in New York, and you know what? She thinks I am actually qualified and says I will get an interview in the next two weeks. And, my friends, I did submit some writing samples to a local newspaper, and this week I have my very first assignment.

Apparently, life is what happens when you close your Internet browser and walk away from the Facebook.

Who knew?

I had the opportunity to travel to DC yesterday for a brief meeting, and afterwards, with an hour to kill, I meandered around the Northwest quadrant, marveling at the Capitol building. Staring at it, my heart swelled once again with hope for our country, for the world, and for myself.

It's been a very good week.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Life With Purpose

This morning, as is typical when I work from my home office, I stumbled down the stairs incoherently and immediately turned on the television. I scrolled the DVR menu until I found what I was looking for: yesterday's Oprah.

Ah, O. Just what I need to start my day, to live my best life.

Yesterday's guest was one Mr. Will Smith, who is so lovable I just want to squeeze him. He spoke about how he had just turned 40, and that now, he does not want to do anything in his life without purpose.

Right! I said aloud to my television screen. I want to live my life that way too, Mr. Smith! I thought. And then I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to accomplish today, including: mailing our marriage license to the translator (ah, destination weddings), going to the gym, eating perfectly healthy, applying for a new job, writing a blog post, sending my resume to an old colleague who has a TV producer position available for me in New York (it's such a stretch, I just can't not send my CV on a wing and a prayer), etc.

I came upstairs shortly thereafter for a conference call. I booted up my computer and clicked on Internet Explorer.

When suddenly, I realized it.


Facebook is the enemy of all productivity. It is the devil's minion. It must be stopped!

I had been fervently rooting through Facebook pages for 30 minutes, when I froze with this devastating realization.

Holy crap on a cracker - I am addicted to Facebook. I have a problem.

And now I need to make it right. But how? How does one restrict utilization? How do I go about my daily life not knowing what you all are doing at this precise moment? Without seeing your pictures from the weddings and Halloween parties you have recently attended? Without your clever wall posts? How?!?

*Deep breath*

So, I am officially exiting Facebook for the remainder of this Friday. Baby steps. I don't want to overwhelm myself, or my constant craving for information about all of my FB friends.

Melissa P. HomeValley... what are you doing right now?

Over and out.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Letter to My Future Babies

Dear Beautiful, Kind, Open-Minded Babies: C, V, and A,

I hope this is not premature, but: you're welcome.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Jerkstore Rang

Yesterday, I swore I wouldn't be dragged into it. But it happened. Again.

A business associate pulls out her cell phone at a luncheon in central Jersey, smirking. "Check this out," she says conspiratorially to me. She shows me her phone and I begin reading an email as she scrolls.

The email details a "plan" for Americans: from now on, all wages will be pooled together and split equally. This will allow for workers who are too lazy to work overtime to still be paid equally as well. The supervisor will give eloquent speeches in the breakroom, etc.

And suddenly my blood is boiling. I push the phone away, smile, and say merely: "Please."

She giggles. "[Our multi-millionaire business associate] sent that to me today. Hilarious, right?"

This woman sits next to me adorned in fur. She places her phone into a large leather Coach bag. She calls her assistant and asks, "Which car did my husband drive to work today? Was it the burgundy car?" When asked how many cars she actually has, she smugly replys, "Five." She's taking the family on a cruise to the Cayman Islands next month. I'd estimate her annual income is between 400,000 and 500,000. She must be worth millions.

"I already get taxed too much," she assures me.

Well fuck, for your sake, I hope that radical socialist doesn't get elected today. Spread the wealth? Is he insane?