Sunday, December 27, 2009

19 Weeks - So That Was Christmas

A belated Merry Merry to you all!

J and I had a lovely holiday. I have pictures! Which of course I can't upload here, because they are not on this computer. Oh, and I am a lazy sonofabitch. But only for a few more days, y'all. What up 2010?!? It's almost resolution time, lovers. What will you be resolving to do in Ten?

I was very spoiled this year (so spoiled that I think J and I are done with gifts, at least for next year)... I mean, I got the Kindle! Naturally, I am deeply in love. And I got the iPod Touch (though previously owned, long story). And I got this book, which actually has made my love for Sara surpass my love for Oprah, which is quite serious, no? Now I begin sentences, "Well, Sara Snow says..." which doesn't annoy J at all.

Most notably, I received a family heirloom. Immediately before dinner on Christmas day, my uncle Frank presented me with a ring from my great-great Aunt Mary. The ring was fashioned from her mother's mother's mother's most treasured pair of gold and pearl earrings. It's gorgeous and unique. It was also accompanied by a letter written in 1959 (the earrings are now 150 years old) by my Aunt Mary, which Uncle Frankie handed me to read aloud. Good night! I couldn't get one word out without blubbering. Am pregnant puddle. And also: very blessed.

Antique heirlooms aside, perhaps the best present I received this year? J's mustache. It's... stunning. He's been cultivating it since last Saturday, and I know it will grow even more spectacular. I swear: photos to come.

How about y'all? Any great gifts this year?

Today I'm 19 weeks prego, and Ninja is doing some fast and furious pop-and-locks in the old uterus. It's wildly exciting to feel a little person in there. We have our 20-week ultrasound next Monday, and although we are determined NOT to find out the sex, I wouldn't be crushed if the N flashed us some bits. We shall see! Are we really halfway there?

Oh! And the GMATs went well. My overall score was top-notch, but I am concerned with my quantitative score. I toyed with the idea of retesting, but honestly, I have actively forgotten all of the geometry I just crammed into mah brain. Next stop: GREs.

More updates to come. Until then, as Sara Snow says: be well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

17 Weeks. Seriously, My Back Really Hurts You Guys.

Wait a minute; what happened to 16 weeks?

16th week recap: For two consecutive blissful nights, I didn't wake up at 2 AM to pee. The end.

17 weeks? Yes, still with the peeing. And my back is killing me. But I won't bore you with my grievances. Nay, I shall tell you that I had a doc's appointment this week, and Ninja is still glorious. Heart rate is about 155, though the N was very squirmy. The doctor found the heartbeat right away, but then she'd lose it. "The baby is really moving around in there," she said. "You hear that noise?" she asked, referring to a strange, muted, underwatery, sounding motion. (Amazing description! You should be a writer!) "That's a hand or foot moving through the amniotic fluid."

Well, go Ninja, with your stealth kung fu. Bad. Ass. (Or maybe he is a dancer, J!)

(Oh, I said he. I have to stop that, but honestly, I am convinced I am cooking a boy.)

OK, so the ten of you (and my new son or daughter) don't really want to hear about all of this, do you? I mean babies are adorable and chubby and snuggly, but still, I have something BETTER. Oh my. Something, insanely delicious. Are you ready?

You must know that J and I journeyed to my mother's for some eats on Sunday. My stepfather, Bucky (not a pseudonym) mentioned he was cleaning out the basement. "I have a bunch of your stuff down there," he added. "I'm going to throw it out if you don't go through it."

(As if! They have been threatening me like this for ten years.)

But later, Buck came upstairs carrying a ginormous box filled with mother-effing TREASURES.

Where to begin? There were sketches. Sketches of my EIGHT future kids. (Judd says: Oh HAHA! "Victoria Leslie" was born in 2002. Loser.) And there names were awesome and regal. And then I also maybe sketched their rooms. And then maybe some fabulous designer fashions. And maybe I wrote a song entitled "Nice and Naughty." Oh, oh yes I did.

Verse 1
Some say I 'm nice
Some say I'm naughty
Some say I'm perfect
Some say I oughta be PUT AWAY

Verse 2
Some say they like me!
Some say they don't
Some say they'll learn to
Some say they won't

OHH! Someday I'll just be me! But for now I'll settle for nice and naughty!
(nice-nice-nice-nice and naughty! HOO!)

(I was going to stop there, but the song actually has one more verse which is just too good not to share.)

Verse 3
Some say they love me
Some say they hate me!
Some say they'll be my boyfriend!
Some say they'll date me!


You guys? I was like 17 when I wrote this.

Okay, I kid. I was 11. Back in the days when I was just content to settle for nice and naughty, man.

(David Foster: Call me!)

Oh em gee - there were also all kinds of stories! "The Grandmother's Secret" and "Snow" and "A Mysterious Disappearance."

There was a newspaper, the cover of which bears the headline: "Michael Jackson's Split Personality!" That story?

Michael Jackson, a popular musical singer, and former member of the Jackson 5, was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Newberry Hospital today after it was found by millions of Japanese fans that he does, in fact, have a split personality - a sister, Janet.

It appears that after a long period of loneliness Michael created the woman we know as Janet Jackson. She was also made a star.

"He came out on stage and scared the fans by changing his voice back and forth," says fan Ching Heng.

"We were shocked at Michael's mental instability," says Janet.

"No we weren't, says Michael.

(The Onion: Call me!)

There was a stirring poem:

Stubborn and sweet,
Messy and neat.
Funny, crazy,
Sometimes lazy.
Addicted to junk food,
Usually in a good mood.

(Judd says: Oh HAHAHA! Nothing has changed at ALL! At least you were always self-aware.)

(Present-day HomeValley says: Wow. That description is on point. Shit.)

Oh hey, Cuzzy?? Did you think you escaped my biting commentary?

Here is your poem, my love:

Tough; boy-crazy,
sometimes lazy.
Messy, messy, messy!
Always beats up on Jessie.
Usually has a smile on,
Will always be in love with John.

(Who is John, 9 year-old cuzzy?)
(Wait, I just remembered. HA!)

Oh, and amongst various entrepreneurial start-ups (read: The Babysitter's Club), I also found the time to publish a magazine. I give you: Girls, Etc.

October 1992 Cover

Time to Grow Up: Should You Make Your Own Decisions?

Preteen Problems: Junior High Blues

Peer Pressure: How to Deal

Test: Boys Before Books (Are you boy-crazy?)

Joining the Bandwagon: What's In and Out for Fall

(For the love of GOD Oprah: CALL ME!)

I think one thing we've all re-learned today, is that I am awesome. Or, that at one time, I was incredibly creative. It is a damn good thing blogging came about, lest I still be sitting in my room, listening to my Electric Youth album, composing songs about how people say they either hate me, or might possibly LEARN to LIKE me.

I take the GMATs tomorrow, kids. After that, it's on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

If I woke up this morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.

My debit card. She is hacked.

Man! Screw you, online shopping. You really haven't made my life easier at all, now have you? Filing police reports is fun, and I can't wait to track down a copy of that report (for a fee), and head over to my local credit union branch, in the hopes that someday, Visa will deign to reimburse me. And canceling cards is super, right around the holidays. And also, Wal-Mart in Richmond, Texas? Maybe next time, you could strive to be less helpful. I doubt you could top yourselves, but at least try.

And you know what, you scum-sucking hacker? You go can straight to hell. Seriously, you robbed me. Shame on you. It's Christmas, you bitch.

So hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like this hacker, who ROBBED me, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there in Richmond, Texas with all the other hackers, and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit!

Where's the Tylenol?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Words That Actually Came Out Of My Mouth.

Last week J and I were in the car, listening to B101's Christmas jams, as you do.

"I don't understand why they always play the same songs, everyday," sayeth J, echoing my thoughts. "I mean, there are so many great Christmas songs - why only these?"

"I know! It's like, the NSync Christmas album was great. Why do they refuse to play it?"

Yes, words that actually came out of my mouth.

In other news, I dashed to CVS this morning to buy a few greeting cards, when it suddenly occurred to me that it is Christmas. And I haven't given one iota of thought to this year's holiday card.

But my God in HEAVEN, how do I top this gem?

Halp. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Norovirus? No Problem!

I had a lovely little Saturday planned to celebrate J's 33rd: New Hope, PA, for some Christmas shopping; then expensive beers, college football, and dinner at a nice sushi restaurant.
Only, the weather? She did not cooperate. And so we stayed home. I studied for those unholy GMATs, and laid around a bit. J cleaned the bathroom. By 4 PM, we were sorely in need of a new plan, and we opted to trek down to Main Street in the snow and have beers (Lord: I wish) and sushi (Man: this sucks) at the Manayunk Brew Pub.

We splurged on some greasy appetizers; then we toasted our good fortune, and J's rapidly advancing age. For our main course, I ordered some veggie rolls, and my husband had the Alaska and Boston rolls (shrimp and salmon, yummmm).

About 12 hour later, the norovirus just about killed him.

Okay, he didn't die. But it wasn't pretty. He was in pain. His stomach was wrecked. He couldn't make it downstairs, so he laid in bed all day (in between trips to the bathroom) and I attempted to keep him hydrated. His back was in spasms, and he had a low-grade fever.

"You'd tell me if you thought you needed to go to the hospital, right?" I asked.

Later, I fed him multigrain English muffins and rubbed his head. I performed a soothing verse of "Soft Kitty" until he croaked: "I love you; but please don't sing."

Later that night I diagnosed him with norovirus. I blame the shrimp. And to think, J offered me many bites of his maki, even coaxing me: "It's just shrimp; you can eat this." (Ninja says: Not on my watch.) Praise Jesus I did not indulge; I am sure norovirus has no business swimming around N's placenta.

Oh, but my man survived, thankfully. And it's a blessing, because yesterday was Nana's funeral.

It was a lovely service. J's mom spoke about Nana's quiet strength; and a recurring theme seemed to be the circle of life: as we grieve Joyce's passing, Ninja is growing stronger, and J's sister E has just gotten engaged! It's a baffling and beautiful juxtaposition of life and death. I am just glad that Joyce had 91 years to enjoy this life. I hope J and I get at least 100, though I tend to be a little greedy.

Finally, thigh highs on pregnant gams, in blustery Columbus, Ohio?

So effing sexy I can't stand it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Most EVIL Decade in American History = My Twenties.

Have y'all seen this Time article?

So Time magazine has called the 2000s out as a chump. "Decade from hell," they cry.

I was perusing the article the other day, and I wondered if history would judge these last ten years the same. Then I pictured myself as a refreshingly young-looking octogenerian, at which time my grown grandkids would inquire: "Mom-Mom: what was it like to come of age in that hellacious period in America? Lo, how did you ever survive the plummeting home values?!?"

And I will sign wearily, sit back in my rocker, and tell them a story.

*Cue sunny bustling city scene, upbeat chipper score*

The decade began with an air of impending doom. All of the computers were going to explode, kids, as the date was moving from 9s? To zeroes. We seriously thought the world would end.

But then? It didn't. And I rang in the new year with wonderful friends at a dilapidated West Philly university house that was infested with mice, yet still was one of my favorite places to be in those days. It was magical, kiddies, with Steel Reserve bottles adorning the walls and a pool table. Snoop Dogg was often playing in the background. Just glorious.

Of course, your grandmother was also living in the most fabulous city in the world in those days. Did you know that? Still, there is no place like New York City. I was doing well in college; had a great job, and also an upcoming internship at a news station. Yes, kids, things were looking up.

But then of course, there was that day in September. You've studied it in your history classes. It shocked America to its core. Your old grandmother also had a hard time coming to terms with what she witnessed that morning. But the attacks also united Americans in a way that I'd never known before. We learned many lessons, from that day. In some ways, I think we're still learning, and perhaps always will be. Such is life.

And then, after that? Well, the economy dipped, just a bit, just in time for me to find my first job out of college. I made very little, but I still managed to rent my own apartment, and buy a charming little Hyundai named Emma. Of course, by this time, I'd moved back to Pennsylvania. I wasn't completely happy there. I had some unfinished business in a town 90 miles north of Philadelphia.

So I moved to Queens. And I can tell you, loves, it was one of the happiest times of my life. It's where your grandma's blog was started! You know, the one I still maintain today? Sure, I've still got only eight Google followers, but writing gives me great pleasure. Well, you know. You were there when I accepted that fourth Pulitzer. You heard my speech.

Oops - I digress! Where was I? Ah, Queens. Kids, have I told you about the Bohemian Beer Hall? I don't know how any decade can be described as hell when you've got Czech beers and brats in a European-style garden. But why I am telling you? You were at Grandpa's and my 50th anniversary celebration. It is a magical place, no?

It was when I was living in Queens that I feel in love with your grandfather. We'd only been dating a few weeks when he jetted off to Spain and Portugal. He was away when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. It certainly was an awful natural disaster. Thankfully, we've not experienced anything like it since.

And what else happened that decade? Why, Grandpa and I saw the world. We visited places we'd only ever dreamed of: the Acropolis in Athens; the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We rode in tuk-tuks in Chiang Mai, and we explored ancient temples in Siem Reap. We beheld the pyramids at Giza, and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. We snorkled in the Red Sea, and paid homage at Eva Peron's tomb at the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. We tried never to lose sight of how lucky we were in those days. We loved traveling so much, we never stopped. Why, when your mom was still very young, we took her to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. And when your father was just a boy, we climbed Kilimanjaro. People thought we were mad, but we know these trips are what helped your parents become the people they are today: Supreme Court justice and world-renowned archaeologist, respectively.

Amidst all of the traveling, your grandfather and I wed on a gorgeous beach in Punta Cana. Sure, we didn't speak Spanish, or understand the translator very well, but we laughed through the whole endeavor. And we honestly believe our marriage was legal. We've got the Spanish docs to prove it.

We spent time with wonderful friends and family in the 2000s. We were truly blessed to have so many people around who loved us, and whom we loved. Many traveled all the way to the Dominican to attend our wedding! It really was a lovely time.

Unfortunately, by the end of the decade, the economy tanked again. Health care reform was badly needed, and your granddad and I decided there was only one man for the job. The night President Barack Obama was elected was one of the happiest of my life. I had never felt so proud to be an American. Oh, to be sure, there was much work to be done, but your grandma is nothing if not optimistic. That man gave us hope: hope that we didn't need to accept the status quo; hope that we could effect change. I am proud to say, I never lost that feeling. Even the littlest acts can make a huge difference in this world. Remember that.

Oh! And then, in the twilight of my twenties, I learned I was pregnant. And that was equal parts horrendous, humbling, and awe-inspiring. But, you know how that turned out...

To sum up: suck it, Time. It's all about perspective.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Things I Covet.

Okay, so I totally want this tee-shirt. Only because at a girls' dinner eons ago, our waiter told us he owned it. And I was drunk, and thought it was HI-larious.

I also love the way they are selling these bad boys. How about this guy? He's unkempt. His tee is wrinkled. The lesson? These babies sell themselves.

(This reminds me: I hate those new Windows 7 commercials. Have you seen them? They're fairly ubiquitous, and each one features an average-looking person having an epiphany about some feature of the new operating system. But each time they have this brainstorm, they envision themselves as much thinner and better-looking. And that makes me sad. What kind of commentary are you making here, Gates?)

(By the by, Windows 7 was my idea.)

P.S. Are you following me yet, chickens? I love you so much, and yet you do not follow. It's so easy! Try it! You'll see. Perhaps if I get 30 new followers by Christmas, I will auction this tee-shirt! Imagine how awesome you would look in that bad boy. Perhaps as awesome as the model?

I love you all, so very much.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ninja Will Destroy Us All!

OK, so things are getting serious.

I was a GIGANTIC baby.

Couldn't even fit in an incubator ginormous. Comparisons to linebacker large.

For reals? My nickname was Melissa Monster. (It's cute; let's bring it back!)

And last week? I was all, wah, not showing, where is my belly?

You guys?

Be afraid. The Ninja will not be ignored, y'all.

(Aside: I bought the dress. Did you know Banana made maternity clothes? Yeah, they don't. But I am going to work it!)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

33 Reasons to Love on J!

  1. Just the other day, I was sitting on the couch, starved, and I mumbled rhetorically, "And where are the candy bars, babe? People need the candy bars." And J quickly got up, went to the kitchen, and pulled a Watchamacallit out of the cupboard. It was a chocolate bar sent straight from the heavens (or one he picked up at the grocery store and hid in case of emergency).
  2. He is going to have an MBA in just 6 months. Respect.
  3. He often says, "Hey, you want a back massage?" And he's not even kidding.
  4. He gets all of his Christmas shopping done early, and really thinks about what to buy every person on his list.
  5. He cleans the bathroom.
  6. He does the laundry.
  7. He vacuums.
  8. And he even doesn't yell when he says: "Babe, vacuuming is not a once-a-month job." (He's right.)
  9. He cooks the salmon filets for dinner when I have my face stuck in a GMAT prep book.
  10. And he doesn't even get that upset when he realizes I paid 22 bucks for the filets at Whole Foods.
  11. Oh, and FYI: his salmon is delicious.
  12. He takes me to breakfast on Sunday mornings.
  13. He will make a late-night McDonald's run. For the baby.
  14. He humors me.
  15. He can fix things. He's very handy.
  16. He's decisive.
  17. He lets me make most of the decisions.
  18. He plans the vacations.
  19. This year alone, he took me to Egpyt, Jordan, Uruguay, and Argentina.
  20. He didn't even balk when I mentioned I probably should try to get to England too.
  21. He appeases me every time I cry desperately: "Having a baby doesn't mean the travel stops, right? I mean, we are going to travel with this baby. Right?"
  22. He tells me it's just my hormones, and yes, it's okay to cry if I need to.
  23. He loves his grandfather.
  24. He tells "dad" jokes. And then cracks up at himself.
  25. He is ambitious.
  26. He finishes what he starts.
  27. Last weekend, he grew a mustache, just because. It was great fun.
  28. He takes me on dates.
  29. He didn't divorce me when I (inadvertently) ordered a $19 martini at a bar this summer.
  30. He's a great dad, already.
  31. The other day, I was singing "Purple Rain" in the car (spontaneously, as you do), and he started singing it with me, and then did this really nerdy orchestra conducter thing with his hand.
  32. I am not describing it well, but it seriously made us laugh for 20 years. I kept saying, "Do it again! Do it again!" while trying to catch my breath.
  33. He's got excellent taste in women, if I do say so myself.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HIMS! I think you're the bee's knees.

And Now, A Very Special Episode of QITNM.

Gentlemen, I am going to ask you to leave the room. I need to speak to the ladies. In private. We'll wait.


Girls, I want to talk about bikini waxes.

Or, more specifically, French/Brazilian hybrid waxes. Like the one I had today.

I have little patience for many things lately. I long to simplify my life. So I make lists. And I cross of to-do items. And I take care of my business. I also firmly believe that anything I can do, I can hire someone to do better. Like just the other night, I was talking about hiring a doula, to help me with my drug-free, natural childbirth. And J rolled his eyes and said, "Sure. Sounds good. Maybe you can just hire someone to go through the labor for you."

Oh, J. If only that were a real possibility. I am sure there is someone out there in God's green goodness that could labor way better than moi.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided I was done with shaving my lady bits. That's it, I cried to my razor. This is over! Shaving sucks. It's overrated. It's tedious. And the hair? It grows right back. And honestly, if I can't be bothered to shower regularly, how can I be expected to maintain my nether regions?

Surely, I thought, surely someone out there can do this better than me.

And so I hung up the razor for more weeks than I care to admit a few days. And I called the local salon. And yesterday I scoured the Internet for info on waxing etiquette. (I have only ever had one bikini wax ever, right before my wedding.) And I decided on the French Wax, which really is the Brazilian Light. I shan't elaborate. I am a lady.

I was up in the middle of the night, dreading the ordeal.

Dreading a wax, when just a few days ago I decided I was going to have a natural delivery.

(Am. Crazy.)

In lieu of a glass of wine, I resolved to pop a few Tylenol before the appointment. Only, I got a business call just a few minutes before I needed to leave, and I rushed out the door without my pain meds.

And so it seemed, I would have to have this wax naturally. Without drugs.

So it was my fate.

You can do this, I assured myself. You are strong. Breathe. You have taken two prenatal yoga classes; you are a zen goddess. Visualize the end result.

It was: unpleasant. To put it mildly. I did okay at managing the pain at first, but towards the end I got a little squirmy. I might have exclaimed: "Kelly Clarkson!" I dont know. I think I blacked out.

But I survived it. I was exuberant. You see? If I can do natural waxing, I can absolutely handle natural childbirth.


Monday, November 30, 2009

15 Weeks and Mah Back is Achin'

Ah, fifteen weeks. At the beginning of my pregnancy, when Ninja was just a gleam in my freaked out, neurotic eye, I wasn't sure I'd get here.

At five weeks, at Yankee Stadium (oh, like I needed another reason to hate that stupid fake team), I started spotting. It was innocent at first, then gradually became more insidious. I blew up the nurse phone line, insisting that I needed some help. Like, oh, how about you test my hCG levels, dudes? How about you do something - anything - to alleviate my nerves, instead of telling me for the floppity-jillionith time that it's those damn pregnancy tests. In the olden days, women didn't know they were miscarrying. Ah, ignorant bliss.

I somehow managed to weasel my way into the office for a simple blood test. (Something my practice does not offer initially. Basically, when you learn you are prego, you call and schedule an appointment for 8 weeks, which is four week in the future, a one-month period I like to call "Developing Horrible Neuroses and Waiting to Miscarry." It is SUPER FUN.)

Where were we? The spotting. It didn't stop. It increased. And so I had a blood test, and the next day received a call from the nurse: "Your hCG levels are extremely high. Are you sure you are only 5 weeks?"

Ninj. You little overachiever! But yes, I informed the nurse, I am sure I am only five weeks. I have it all charted, like some sort of extremely rigid, uptight conception nazi.

Because my levels were so high, I was brought in for an ultrasound. I secretly hoped that we were having twins. (Because in case you are new here: I am crazy.)

Lo, only one baby. Well, one yolk sac, if you wanna get technical. But what an adorable little egg. Go, Ninja. Get on with your embryonic self.

I was told that the ultrasound was promising; but that I needed to come back in a week to ensure that all was still well. I was elated leaving the office; by the time I got to my car, the doubts returned.

I assure you, I was really easy to live with that week. You know, spotting? And mentally preparing for the worst? And sobbing a lot?

By the time J and I found ourselves in the doc's office late Friday afternoon, I was shaking. This was it. I was having a baby, or a miscarriage. Moment of truth.

(Have I mentioned how awesome transvaginal ultrasounds are? They're awesome.)

But there, on the screen, was our Ninja. OK, there actually was a "fetal pole" but man, what an adorable pole. And a heart! A tiny flicker of light that was our baby's beating heart.

We were having a baby. And I never doubted it for another second.

OK, that's a lie. I longed to be a zen-earth-mother-goddess, but I was crushed under the weight of my fears. I still didn't trust it. I was still spotting.

But in a week, the spotting stopped.

A week after that, we had our first official prenatal visit. We got another ultrasound.

And there again: a baby. Well, actually an embryo that resembled Tweety Bird, but still. A beautiful developing embryo with a strong heart.

And four weeks after that, Ninja's heart, the audio track.

And now? At 15 weeks? I have a belly. It is small, but it's real. And my back aches. All the time. And I can't sleep well, because I'm too hot, then too cold. I miss sleeping on my stomach. My nose is stuffed. My gums are bleeding. My skin is a mess.

But we never thought we'd get this far. So good on you, Ninj. Keep the symptoms coming, and I swear I will convince your pops that a brand new car at age 16 is a wise choice.


A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all. How was your holiday?

Ours was... a different sort. J's grandmother passed away on Thanksgiving night. Joyce had been struggling for the past seven months in a nursing and rehab facility. She was 91.

J's grandfather and mother spent most of the holiday shuffling back and forth to the home. We did manage to sit down for a delicious meal in the early evening (cooked mostly by J's multi-talented sister, although I did peel the most magnificent potatoes you have ever seen). J ate about a billion pounds of stuffing, and we headed out around 8:30, ready to retreat to our respective couches, bellies full and distended.

About five minutes into our drive, we got the call.

It wasn't a surprise; in some ways, the family has been preparing for Nana's passing for the better part of this year. But when death does come, no matter how prepared you are, it always hits like a hard wallop to the face.

Joyce lived a very long life, most of them with Dominick, her husband of 67 years. J and I stopped at the nursing home earlier in the day to say goodbye and comfort his bereaved grandfather.

When we were back in the car, J said, "He said something to me that was so great. I told myself I have to remember it, and of course now I can't."

"You'll think of it soon," I told him.

The next morning, J found me in the bathroom.

"I remembered what it was," he said. "He told me, 'You know, I think I loved her from the first moment I laid eyes on her.'"

Sixty-seven years, and two beautiful role models for love, loyalty, affection, and devotion. I think, even in sadness, we can all be grateful for that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fourteen weeks and slowly rejoining the human race.

I think it is high time for a pregnancy update, eh? Besides, I have just come from studying Sentence Corrections. I am shockingly abysmal at sentence correcting. I blame blogging entirely.

So what's up with Ninja? S/he is 14 weeks and 2 days presently. I am finally starting to feel a bit like myself again, and less like an alien with ridiculously sore boobs who can't tolerate basil or peanut butter. (Though my boobs are still sore, and I will cut you if you come near me with either basil or PB. Wait. What was I saying?)

Right, feeling better! I have been gradually easing back into exercise. I've even jogged a bit, but mostly I mom-walk around the track to the iPod on shuffle. Tonight I am trying prenatal yoga for the first time. If I enjoy it, I am going to attempt to go at least once per week. Fingers crossed.

I'm not really showing yet. At all. Of course, I notice the girth; my belly is less shapely than it was in my svelte, youthful days. And a lot of times, I have to unbutton my pants after a meal, or by the end of the evening. I also have this bizarre habit of announcing that I am going to unbutton my pants, or that soon, I might unbutton my pants. I am sure everyone around me is just to delighted to hear it.

J commented yesterday that everyday, he gets me back more and more. And then, when he arrived home from class, I promptly burst into tears. Why? Who knows? Maybe because I really wanted Sweettarts? These hormones are tricky bastards, but it's all for the good of the cause.

But oh, mah precious face. Pregnancy doesn't agree with my skin, and once again I find myself breaking out. It's at least somewhat manageable at this point, but I am mulling a trip to the dermatologist.

J and I went to visit my aunt and uncle last Saturday, and they sent us home with loads of baby gear. I walked in the house on Saturday night carrying a car seat. "Whoa," I said to J. "Does this just make this all feel real? What the hell is a car seat doing in our house?"

Yesterday J asked me something about something. "I didn't get that part of the email," he said. "Why would he say that is what we have to look forward to when we have kids?"

"I don't know," I replied wearily. "I don't know anything about children."

Or gerunds. Or present-perfect tense. But who's keeping score?

Monday, November 23, 2009

When I set the bar low, I actually accomplish things!

I may be my own worst enemy.

It pretty much follows that each time I make a bold proclamation, within 24 hours I am watching old Jon and Kate episodes on TLC.

I usually aim too high; my brain is always telling me it must be all or nothing, all or nothing. Don't take the GMATs, the brain commands, until you can make sure you score a 750.

You've already watched an hour and 2 minutes of television today, it says insidiously, so what's two more hours?

My book? The one about procrastination? Well, it actually confirms something I have long suspected: some procrastinators are actually perfectionists; we must wait until we can execute something properly, or else that something is not worth doing. Yet. We'll just curl up on the couch with a good book, thankyouverymuch, and wait until our brains are perfectly clear and focused and we feel physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared to accomplish that task. Good day.

Take this post, for instance. I almost waited until I could write something coherent, but then I forced myself to sit down and type. (You're welcome, Internet.)

And those mothereffing GMATs, always looming over me.

Then last week I realized: I am never going to wake up one day and understand geometry. That day is never coming.

The best I can do is study. Study like I have never studied before. And also? TAKE THE GODDAMN GMATS ALREADY, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE.

Finally - finally!- I have scheduled the test. I will be taking the GMATs on December 17th. I have a lot to cram into my brain before then; but then, after the 17th, I can finally relax. I can watch Oprah without feeling guilty. I can read books again without that nagging sensation that I should be studying. And that alone is worth turning off the television - and the Facebook - until then.

And of course, you know, I will have actually accomplished something. Not quite as monumental as showering daily, but it's a start.

Friday, November 20, 2009

You Know What I Just Realized?

So I finally went to the DMV and updated my license. Like, with my new last name. And even the DMV man was like, Wow! You sure did wait awhile on this one!

I also forgot my checkbook. And a money order. Because that is all they accept at the DMV. Like it is 1974 or something. So I had to drag my super-made-up ass out to find a money order. When I returned, DMV Man exclaimed, Hey! You know your license expires in 3 months right?

No, sir. I did not know that.

This is why you shouldn't procrastinate. And why you should know when your license expires. Lest you be like moi, who is going to be SIX MONTHS pregnant in my next driver's license photo. Which I will then be forced to keep for four years. For shame!

Am awesome. And also: slightly chubby. I am going to figure out Photoshop so I can share with you the latest pic. I believe I look quite round, but jaunty!

ALSO: FOLLOW ME, purty please? You see that little icon on the right sidebar? Something to do with Google? Please follow me. I am funny sometimes. And I shower more these days. And mah baby needs food. Thank you.

With a Heavy Heart...

...I must bring you this news, Internets.

Grace and I already have a plan to show proper reverence on that sad, sad day in September 2011. And as I helpfully pointed out, my baby will be walking by then.

Flash Mob Dance, anyone?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

For Shame, Roseanne Connor.

*Blogger whines to husband about GOALS! She is driven! She is coming out of the first trimester wretchedness! She will accomplish a floppity-jillion things before Ninja comes!*

"OK. So what did you do today?"

"Well, I got downstairs around 7:30. And then I poured myself a hearty bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios. And then I sat on the couch and flipped on the TV. Started watching Roseanne, but it was an episode from the final season... And so I turned it off and booted up the computer to find out what the fuck was going on with the final season? The Connors won the lottery? And then I learned that - wait, are you ready for this? This is fucking unbelievable, J. Here, the entire show was all Roseanne's 'writing.' Jackie was gay! Dan DIED of a HEART ATTACK. They never won the lottery! Becky was with David! DARLENE WAS WITH MARK! Is that the most fucked-up thing you have ever heard?!?"


"So, that was pretty productive."


*Husband's head explodes*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Blogging.

In hindsight, I made some terrible blogging decisions out of the gate.

When I started QITNM in 2006, I didn't understand the blog community. I had read a few blogs. I thought I had the chops. And so I started writing. And then I'd stop. And then I'd write some more. And so it went.

I rarely commented on other blogs, despite reading many religiously. I wasn't standoffish; I was an incredibly self-conscious commenter. Plus, I hated being redundant. So if 40 people had said it before me, I'd just as soon not be the 41st person to repeat it. And so it went.

More and more these days, I realize the error of my ways. How foolish, I was! I was timid - afraid of rejection - and so I existed in a blogging bubble. Who needs those guys? I thought. I can do this all on my own.

Yeah. Not so much.

This year, I've learned about the incredible camraderie that is the blogosphere. I've learned it from following Heather, Mike, and Maddie's story; I've learned it keeping up with Matt. And just today, I am humbled by the overwhelming support for Anissa Mayhew, who just yesterday suffered a second, massive stroke. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse to discover how special she is; and how amazing this community is that is rallying around her and her family amidst these devastating circumstances.

This blogging community? It's the real deal. I am proud to be a part of it; and I hope to really get to know some of these brilliant men and women in the months and years to come, and not just when tragedy strikes, and I'm reminded just why these connections are so damn important in the first place.

Get well soon, Anissa.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ninja and His Incredible Beating Heart!



Where were we?

The headaches have started, and they are inhibiting my ability to write coherently. I will soldier on for you, Internet, if you will please forgive me my poorly-worded phrases and grammatical errors.

Today I heard the mighty Ninja's heartbeat.

I even videotaped it, but I am talking pretty loudly throughout, so it's incredibly hard to make out with all of my shouting.

But it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.

You are a baby, Ninj! With a little heart and everything. I can't quite wrap my head around that.

And yes, you are making your mama queasy and lethargic and achy and weepy: but still? I think you're all right, kid.

(Last night I lay in bed crying as J rubbed my head, attempting to ease the pressure in my skull. "Maybe," I sighed, "the tougher the pregnancy, the easier the baby." "Yeah," he said softly. "Probably." He lies because he cares.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Shit Ton of Stuff Going On.

Oh man, I totally meant to write about my weekend. It was pretty awesome, except for one major tragedy that WE MUST NEVER SPEAK OF. Other than that tiny minor CATASTROPHE THAT YOU WILL NEVER MENTION TO ME, I did many blissful things:
  • I went out for a meal with some beloved ladies. An Italian meal. With portions large enough to feed whole family. Glorious.
  • I went to the mall, and finally threw caution to the wind and bought a damn bag already. It is Michael Kors. It is gunmetal. It is bad-ass. And then, having bought one bag, I wandered into the Kate Spade store and marveled that I really, really needed another bag. For work. I am a professional.
  • No, I didn't buy it. Yet.
  • I went to Neiman Marcus, for the first time in my life. Oh, and likely the last. I can afford Michael Kors; I can't afford you, Oscar de la Renta. But a gal can dream.
  • I wandered into the children's department, and picked up the most darling Christmas dress and thought, wow, wouldn't this be nice for a darling baby girl? And then I looked at the price tag and choked on my own saliva. $240? For a tiny baby gown? Ha. Don't babies puke all the time? Unless my future child gets invited to the Oscars, I shall never again venture into the children's department at Neiman Marcus.
  • I went to Sephora. Oh hell YES I did. I did it up right, and I felt like a trillion dollars walking out of there. I love you, Sephora! But only twice a year.
  • I went to the book store. And I sat in the coffee shop. Reading books. Honestly, does life get better than that?
  • I ordered a pizza.
  • I ate cold pizza for breakfast.
  • I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I LOVED it. I totally get why people hate it, by the way. But to me, the whole story was magical. And you know, I was in an emotional place. And plus, Brad Pitt is really hot. Even when he is like 60 or so. So there you go. (That was an amazing review, by the by. So incisive.)
  • J and I saw The Swell Season in concert on Sunday night. It was one of the most incredible live performances evah. Glan Hansard is a true gentleman; ebullient and so damn grateful to have people sitting in the audience listening to his band play. There were even many, many sing-alongs! If you ever get the chance to see SS, by all means, run.
  • I announced to the Internet that I was pregnant.
  • Wait, no, I meant to do that, but I was all weepy from Benjamin Button and the GREAT TRAGEDY that no one must ever ask me about.
  • But yeah, like Tiffani Thiessen, I've got a shit ton of stuff going on. And, er, most of that stuff has to do with gestating a human.
  • And trying to stay sane.
  • And not crying all the time at everything.
  • And not sleeping 12 hours a night.
  • And actually living life despite a grueling first trimester.

So that's it! Your blog-mistress is not just a lazy whore; nay, she is a pregnant person, though still vaguely lazy and whorish, I suppose.

Ninja - as s/he shall henceforth be known - is due in late May. I am 12 weeks and 5 days today, which either means I am done with my first trimester, or I have one more week of my first trimester, depending on which pregnancy book you are reading.

Also? S/he is a rock star. But more on that later.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Day 2 - Success!

Well, I didn't so much get to the hair-washing this morning, but that's because I know I'll have to shower again before dinner with the ladies tonight, and come on. Like any rational woman WANTS to blow-dry twice in one day. The mere thought exhausts me.

And J is home from work today, but I still dragged myself from bed at 7 to be prepared for an 8 AM conference call. Twas glorious. Though admittedly, I am not completely sold on all of this grooming. Sure, I can run errands without looking like a hideous beast, but am tired. So very, very tired. We still have three more days of proper grooming before I make a final judgment call. Can better habits be maintained? Stay tuned.

In other news, whilst J is living the crazy life in Manhattan this weekend, I am going to brave my least favorite place on earth: the King Of Prussia mall. Lo, this mall is massive and unyielding. It strikes fear in my very soul, but I know I've got to get some Christmas shopping done now. I want to enjoy the process this year, not merely scramble around at the last minute buying J all of the socks and underwear and humidifiers I can get my hands on. (Seriously? Last year? Banner year for J and Christmas gifts. This year has got to be GOOD.)

Also: Sephora!

I make a concerted effort to stay away from Sephora; given my aversion to malls this does not prove difficult. But oh, to shop at Sephora twice a year. That, my friends, is something real special. I'm talking lip glosses, Dior perfume, Fekkai hair products, and more. I will be excited until the moment I arrive at the store, and then all of the smells and teenage girls will make me want to die. But I shall persevere, for the product, y'all.

And once I'm done there, I plan on retreating to the book store for the better part of the afternoon. Just me, Edgar Sawtelle, and some sort of pumpkin-spice latte. Heaven.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More Showering!

9:05 AM, bitches.

That's the time I was sitting at this here desk, all fresh and clean and just waiting to bring the productivity.

Productivity in the sense of checking Facebook and emailing Koos, but still. Look how pretty I look! And I am wearing jeans again! (My scheduled appointment this morning was canceled late yesterday afternoon. Hello, Day 1!)

And you know what? It's 12 PM now, and I have been more productive today. I went to Wawa for a breakfast sandwich, and didn't look like something that got caught in a drain. I even - on a whim - stopped into the cobbler's, and picked up the hot black shoes I left there in JULY. (And are now, sadly, out of season. Procrastination hurts, guys.)

I made phone calls. And returned old emails. And cleaned out my inbox. From 195 to 55, in just an hour! These are achievements. Baby steps. One thing at a time.

Throughout all of this, the television has remained largely off. Last night, feeling empowered, I dashed to the grocery store, determined to make my husband a surprise dinner. And he came home with surprise flowers for moi, because he is lovely. Coincidence? We are obviously psychically connected. (Also? I think he felt sorry for me. Yesterday I blogged about showering. And the monumental task it was. And he was probably all: Aww. Let's get it together, shall we?)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

HomeValley Single-handedly Bringing Sexy Back

The scene: Home office. Noon time. Writer is clad in worn black velour sweatpants, gray tee-shirt, and blue Pace sweatshirt. Sans bra. Has not combed hair; has not brushed teeth. Single greatest accomplishment today, hygiene-wise? Swapping glasses for contacts. Even that took Herculean effort.

Writer ponders lack of motivation. Avoids mirrors and all human contact.

The moment: Epiphany, reading three-year old advice column.

Writer notes that she, in fact, has no children. Is just a lazy, stupid whore. With bad personal hygiene. If writer is to better her life, she need look no further than her wild, unruly blonde locks and unflossed gums. (For shame, it has been so long since her last floss!)

The challenge: Writer steps away from the computer, resolved. She will shower today. And it. Will. Be. Glorious.

Did you read the column? It spoke to me, as only the sage Amalah can:

I remember reading somewhere, a loooong time ago, that people who work from home should resist the "I'm working in my pyjamas!" temptation and continue to go through the complete motions of getting ready for work in the morning. Even if your commute is just down the hall, you should shower, get dressed, put on makeup, whatever -- and have it all done by the same time every morning. The theory being, of course, that if you look professional, you'll feel professional. And also: increased productivity, serious of purpose, self esteem and the ability to begin and end your workday instead of letting it morph into an "I'm at home, therefore I'm at work, so I guess I better check my email during dinner and before bed" kind of mentality, which naturally leads to a lot of stress and feeling like a slave to a day job that never ends.

Shit, you guys. Monumental fail.

See, work travel has slowed considerably, as budgets are shot (and I would like to state that room service at various Marriotts throughout the Northeast had little to do with that, k?). So I find myself, most days, working from home, battling a crippling lack of motivation. Perhaps I need look no further than the fact that, by the time J arrives home from work most days, I usually have not brushed my teeth. (Sexy little housewife, in your eight-year old velour pants!)


So I have extended another challenge to myself, something I am keen to do these days. I will groom myself. Each day. In the mornings. For five consecutive office days. And I will watch my productivity skyrocket and will thusly enjoy fame and money and book deals.

My mission began at 12:36 PM today, so we can't count this as Day 1. Nonetheless, here is what I pulled off today. (And no, you shouldn't be impressed. You should feel very, very sorry for me. And my long-suffering husband. And the velour pants.)
  1. I brushed my teeth. I totally would have flossed, too, had I not forgotten to pick up floss this week. But I used Listerine. Minty fresh!
  2. Showered. Way to go, champ! Turning on the hot water is half the battle, you know.
  3. But wait! In shower, I shaved. Mah legs.
  4. And exfoliated, with the greatest smelling body scrub you ever did smell.
  5. And I shampooed!
  6. And conditioned! (And bless you, Pureology. Though my hair is fine, it is surprisingly unmanageable. I can't go a day between washings, and I also can't use some less expensive, drugstore products. They leave my hair extremely soft and listless. ) (That explanation was for the fellas.)
  7. I also washed my face! First with my Aveeno Ultra-Calming Cleanser, then with my St. Ive's Apricot Scrub, a staple since puberty. Then! Then I topped off this banner shower with my new Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask. (I am trying a new cleansing system using benzoyl peroxide, as my fair, Scandinavian skin is acting up lately. So far, the BP has been very drying, with some visible results. Hoping for better days ahead.)
  8. Then, out of the shower. I moisturized. I slathered up my face with Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer with SPF, then regular old Lubriderm for my delicate bits. Yes, this is noteworthy. I skip the Lubriderm more days than I care to admit.
  9. Stay with me, we're still grooming. I blew-dry my hair, even used a little product.
  10. Next, I evened out my splotchy-ness with actual make-up. Which my face has not seen since Sunday, when I last truly ventured out of the house. (Oh, I went to the grocery store on Monday. I won't even describe the horror. Let's just say, it's like playing Russian Roulette. If I ever run into anyone I know looking like I did on Monday, I will melt into the floor and die.)
  11. I applied powder, and blush. And mascara! And some lip gloss, to soothe my poor, cracked lips.
  12. You know those celebs who say that the only make-up they use is just a bit of mascara and lip gloss, and they're out the door? I hate those rotten liars.
  13. I dressed, somewhere in the midst of all this. I threw on a gray tee-shirt and jeans, but hell, at least I'm wearing a bra. And pants!
  14. Oh, I even threw a load of laundry in for good measure. (The other night I asked J why our bedroom smelled funny. "Oh I don't know," he replied, "maybe it's that huge pile of dirty laundry in the corner." I know; I'm a domestic goddess.)
So, along with the limited television-watching, more reading challenge of 2009, we are now going to pay more attention to our personal hygiene over here at QITNM. Tomorrow I have to get up at 4:30 (kill me) to get out the door by 5:30 (ew), so we won't count tomorrow either. Five consecutive days of working-from-home grooming, y'all.

Challenge accepted.

Monday, November 02, 2009

No Use Crying...

Today, I spilled the milk.

Well, more like dropped the fat-free organic goodness (slippery little sucker) and then it was sort of busted open, just laying there on the floor, seeping out of its cardboard container. And then I just sighed, and picked it up quickly, and thought, very seriously: There's no use crying over spilt milk. And that little platitude made me chuckle and convinced me to go on living.

And then, in an attempt to salvage the remaining milk, I poured some into two to-go coffee cups. Then I used a chip clip to reattach the top of the container, and then I stuffed it in the fridge.

Oh also? This is my way of explaining all of this to J. Sorry, babe. Your milk is chip-clipped in the fridge. Tasty!

In other news, I finished this book early this morn, and LOVED it. Please do read.

Other exciting things? J is heading to NYC this weekend without his beloved, and that means some Netflix HomeValley-lovin' angsty film-viewing! The kind I am never allowed to do when J is in the vicinity! (To be fair, he allowed me to watch about half of Evita after we returned from Buenos Aires, before he ever so kindly stated we can turn this off now; for the love of GOD, shut up, Banderas.)

So what to watch? Leaning towards The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Last Chance Harvey, but I am not completely thrilled about either. Any suggestions?**

Finally, the TV-viewing moratorium is going better this week. I'm proud to report that the tube has not been on AT ALL today, which is quite a feat, considering I like to wake up and start my day with some Apple-Cinnamon Cheerios and some TLC. Then, I typically work until noon, then head back to the living room for some lunch and perhaps some What Not To Wear. Anyway, I am trying to see exactly how long I can make it without actually turning on the set. A whole day? A whole two days? We're hour-by-hour here now. It's getting close to the Oprah witching time, and we all know I am powerless against O and her damn feel good stories about Journey frontmen and warrior moms.

But lately? It's my books that are stressing me out... I've got a whole stack of books that need to be read (loans from others, loans from the library), and they're glaring at me, taunting me: You used to fancy yourself an intellectual, they brat. And now you have the attention span of a gnat.

I have to be strong, and keep from reaching for that remote. It's getting serious, y'all. If I can't reel it in... dial it down... quit the incessant Jon and Kate in happier days-viewing... Well, let's just say there's been talk of down-grading.* To basic cable. And getting rid of the DVR.

And I won't let that happen. I can be strong for you, DVR.

*By the way, all of this talk is by me, the big-mouthed blogger with the highly questionable self-control. I usually just run my scatter-brained schemes past J rapid-fire, and he just acquiesces to pretty much anything knowing I will forget about it within the hour. Because look, J! House Hunters is in Lisbon!


**Edited to add: The TV rule applies to actual TV. When J and I initially conceived this plan, we specifically stated that weekend movies and NFL football were free zones. Because, come on.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


"You never looked at my updated resume," sayeth J.

"I totally did. I printed it and made notes on it, the day you sent it to me. I told you that."*

"No, I put 'My wife is a hot babe.' into the text to see if you caught it, and you didn't."

"I have it right here; I''ll get it right now!"

*Pulls out resume, immediately locates "My wife is a hot babe."*


My H has resorted to trickery!

It was only a matter of time really; I'm kind of an a-hole.

*This is true; apparently I just wasn't as thorough as one would have hoped.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shut up, Facebook. Shut UP. Also, beware the email forward. And try not to cry at work.

To start with, Southwest must have canceled their direct flight to Columbus, OH, and it's like, seriously killing me. I hate US Air. But I just can't justify a connecting flight to Ohio. It don't make no kinda sense. So, in short, you have hurt me Southwest. Deeply.

But you know what I am not going to do with this information? I am not going to post it on Facebook and make you all read about it. Because it is fucking boring as hell, and the only place I am going to put you through such boredom is here, on my own blog.

But did any of us sign up for this with Facebook? Didn't we just want to reconnect with high school friends? Didn't we want to post pictures of ourselves looking hot, and then only tag those pictures, and untag all of the unflattering ones? Didn't we want to discuss our book club reads in peace? Maybe some of us wanted to create a list of all the plays we have ever seen in this life, but goddamnit, that was our prerogative.

To be sure, there are some FB status updates I love. There are those people that are hella funny, and then there are those that really have no sense of humor, but they are so lovable and positive and upbeat that they make me smile all the time.

To be further sure, one might argue that I could not spend glorious minutes of my life reading the status updates, but that's just not practical. I spend a lot of time waiting for planes to take off, and also sometimes watching live TV with commercials (I know: what is this, 1867?). What am I supposed to do during those times?


Yes, I need to back off the Facebook as well. It is sucking the life from me faster than my television. (Oh, which, by the by, the one-hour a day? Not going great. More later.) There was once a simpler time when we didn't have to know what 400 acquaintances were experiencing at any one time, and I want that time back.

This morning Grace forwarded me an email, and wrote: FML.

And I was all: I am so happy you wrote that, because - what the hell does it mean??

Fuck. My. Life.

Okay, I feel about 126 since I didn't know the acronym (I do know that WTF means "why the face?" though). But also - Facebook? For JC's sake: STOP SAYING IT. People use FML all the time in their status updates. Temper your MISERY, friends!

So what now? I can read less, butI can't quit cold turkey. Can I delete everyone and start over? I have to tell you, I know we're all excited about the World Series, but I think the status updates every inning may kill me. Not to mention the stupid Yankee jokes.

And now, out of the bitter barn, and time to play in the hay!

Oh shit, nope, one more thing: I made someone cry the other day. At work. Am a mean, cold Swede.

I can assure you I save my vitriol for the Internet only, so I didn't yell at this person. Something I did (ahem, email forward entitled "FYI") was forwarded on just as callously, and well, repercussions. And ripple effects. You guys get it.

In short: beware the forwarded FYI. I think I shall avoid it at all costs for the rest of my life.

Oh, and another life lesson: never put ANYTHING in writing that you don't want shared with the masses.

(HA! Sayeth the blogger. I am pretty sure I can never run for office now.)

But you guys know what I'm saying.

And on that note, in this entry of absolute nonsense, when I talked to my wise, sensible husband (who is like, my corporate shrink, as he is is pretty reasonable. Although I am sure he wishes my work stories of woe were a little less long-winded.), he was a little taken aback by the crying.

Ah, crying at work. I don't do it. Well, I did it once, and even then I did my best to hide it (to be fair, this was an extreme situation of harassment, but that's another story). I have never cried in front of a coworker or superior at work. I just don't do it. It doesn't mean sometimes I don't want to, I just try to avoid it at all costs.

I did explain to J, however, that women cry. And sometimes at work. It happens. And I don't find it particularly shameful, though I would gauge by J's reaction that men do. "You know how the dudes at your work just call each other and scream?" I asked him. "Well, same deal. But women cry."

What say you, ladies? Have you cried at work? In front of a man? Behind your office door? Menfolk: have you ever cried? Comforted a crying lady? Felt completely comfortable doing so?

And now, to update my Facebook status. FML. I bid you adieu.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And now, a milestone.

I’m 30,000 feet above earth right now heading to Columbia, SC, taking this time to clean out my inbox and of course update my 2009 Flights Word Doc (there isn’t much I don’t record, friends.).

People: I have taken 62 flights this year.

Each flight is a small victory to me; so 62 flights in a year? Makes me damn proud of myself.

I remember the abject horror – HORROR – I suffered on my first solo mission after September 11th. It was November 2003, and I was headed to San Francisco (by way of Phoenix) on my very first business trip. I felt very adult; I was a 23 year-old kid, sent to a pier in San Fran to oversee something or other, business-wise. I was excited to get to a city I had not yet visited, even if it was for three nights only.

And then I got on that plane, and I just fell apart.

I had my journal with me, and judging by my handwriting – oh, and the fact that whole pages just read OH MY GOD OH MY GOD LORD SAVE ME I DON’T WANNA DIE LORD I AM DYING – I’d say I was in the throes of a full-scale nervous breakdown. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was… was I afraid the plane would be hijacked? Of crashing? Of exploding mid-air?

My heart pounding, I didn’t know how I would survive.

And then, I did, of course. (Though I nearly missed my flight from Phoenix, as I was at the airport bar at 10 AM ordering a liter of beer and two shots of tequila)

My trip was nice, though marred by the fact that I HAD TO GET BACK ON THAT PLANE, that minion of death and destruction.

Yeah, I think I collected my bags at Philly International and went straight to a psychiatrist. Do not pass go. Get thee to a mental health professional.

I worked through it, as y’all know. And admittedly, if you should see me on an airplane just before take-off today, I am probably still faking it a little. I look like I am reading O Magazine, but inside I am likely praying.

But oh, so much less than I ever was. And without any meds!

You’ve come a long way, HomeValley.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life Insurance Testing with a Racist Nurse

So yesterday, I eeked out about 30 minutes of solid TV-watching. And then I whipped out my Eva Peron journal (I don't know why I always insist on "whipping" it out all the time, but let's go with it), and transcribed all of the things I accomplished yesterday.

I. Vacuumed.

I don't think anyone but J can truly appreciate this fact, but I don't really do much housekeeping. Don't get me wrong: I will do it. But usually J has to bring it to my attention. Like last Sunday, we arrived home from breakfast and my H said - not unkindly - "Hey, did you ever think about sweeping the porch?"

And I replied honestly, "Um, no. I have never, ever considered sweeping the porch."

Oh, but I swept it. I swept the hell out of it.

So yes, it is very fortuitous that my husband is very neat and clean. Or else we'd really be screwed.

Yesterday, though, high on the freedom from the shackles of TLC, I vacuumed, just because. Because I felt that the second floor needed to be vacuumed. And then I swiffered the first floor, bitches! It was an amazing moment in the life of HomeValley. Then I lit the cranberry candle and sat on the couch with Eva Peron. When J walked in shortly thereafter, he commented: "Wow, it sure feels festive in here."

"I vacuumed!"

And then Nurse Racist appeared at our door, knocked (and I swear just walked right in), kicked off her shoes and got ready to take a billion specimens. (We're applying for life insurance, like bonafide grown-ups, and this is apparently all part of the process. )

She threw all of her crap over our dining room table, then began filling out forms with lightning quickness. "Whoa, you're fast," J said. "Yeah, I wanna get outta here before 76 gets backed up." She replied, which is totally what you want in a nurse who's poking needles in your arm in the place you eat your dinner. Speed.

I did appreciate her measurements, however, which actually put me at 5'8" ("Yeah, I round up.") and my weight at a solid five pounds less than normal.

But whilst I was upstairs collecting my urine in a cup, she and J began discussing the Dominican. I am assuming that J mentioned we GOT MARRIED in that country (so may be a little partial to it), when she ranted for a few minutes about how much she HATED it there, and how awful everything was, and how disgusting the people were. And guards carried guns at the resort! And anyway, she was used to vacations where she could walk around outside. And those people were just after rich white Americans. She could feel them eyeing her up at every turn. Scumbags.

(Alright, thank you very much, get out of our house now.)

But she still had to put mah pee in her test tubes, so as she took care of that she began a second rant about a woman in her building who is dating a Turkish guy (I may have missed the part where J told her how much we adored our time in Istanbul), and that the Turk wants this woman to convert to Islam, and she emphatically told her NO! You cannot become a Muslim, this guy obviously just wants a green card. But her neighbor insists that her biological clock is ticking, though she's just 34, and HELLO! Women in their 40s have babies now! Isn't 40 the NEW 30?

(Alright, well, nice meeting you. Drive safe. Get the fuck out of our house.)

When she left, J stood in the kitchen, shell-shocked.

"Well, she was one of the weirdest people ever, huh?"


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Television is Making Me Depressed. No. Seriously.

When J and I were on our flight back from Buenos Aires in early August, we whipped out my brand new Eva Peron journal (I know, but it was necessary) and did some strategizing. We had enjoyed our time in Argentina so much. I had learned how to say "croissant" in Spanish (medialunas, y'all), and between bottles of malbec and The Most Delicious Sandwich on the Planet (true story), we were finally able to relax for once in our lives. (And dudes, don't get me wrong, I love me some Middle East, but driving through the desert after dark in Jordan does not exactly make one sigh with relief.) (Nor does political unrest in Istanbul, while we're at it.)

(Yay! Parentheses!)

Okay, so the moral here? In Argentina, we unclenched. We drank wine, we lounged around. We took meandering walks through Palermo and Recoleta. We saw the most gorgeous, haunting cemetary on earth, and we had the brilliant staff at BoBo to make our stay as comfortable as possible.

And so when we were on our flight home - disappointed to be leaving, but energized - we decided to jot down some goals for ourselves. I'll get into all of those later, but here was one of mine:

Melissa will limit television watching to NO MORE than one hour per day. TV inhibits all productivity.

Aaannnnddd... FAIL.

I started out doing well... But then the fall line-up was all Watch us! We are funny new shows! We are flashing forward into the future! I'm Courteney Cox, and I'm back in primetime! (Oh but FYI, giving up Cougartown will be no hardship. C'est terrible.)

So that happened. Then, lately, I have been ill. And with said illness comes a lack of energy. And with said lack of energy comes a barrage of A Baby Story, and Say Yes to the Dress, and King of The Crown, and old episodes of Jon and Kate Plus 8 (where did it all go wrong, guys?), and Oprah, and Accidentally on Purpose (I heart Jenna Elfman), and How I Met Your Mother (which I will never give up. Don't even think it.) and so many, many more.

Oh, The Biggest Loser.

And sometimes Moving Up on a Saturday.


Am sick. (I even hesitate to write these words, because I know my husband is reading them, and he is going to be all, I told you so, but yes, he told me so.)

So yesterday I was watching Oprah, and crying, because it was the show with the new lead singer of Journey, who grew up poor in the Phillipines, and was all, Good for you, man! You're awesome!

And then I thought about my own awesomeness factor, and how it has plummeted a bit of late. Because I am not out making life happen; I'm watching it happen. To other people. On the talking picture box. Last week, I was in Boston, and I spent ten minutes of my life - precious, precious life - watching Jon Gosselin on ET. The fuck? That motherfucker can't even spell his own name, and yet he is stealing minutes of MY LIFE!? I CAN NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK, JON GOSSELIN.

And I have no one to blame but myself.

I have been feeling down, and I swear to you all: my television is making me depressed.
Now I know some of you out there can likely just watch TV, and be done with it, but I think I am somehow incapable. I am someone who walks into a room and turns on the TV before I put my bag down, as I need the company; the idle chatter serves as reassurance. I can't fall asleep very well without TV, and when a television goes on, I generally stop what I am doing and stare at it. You know how you park your kids in front of the TV when you need a break, and they just sit and stare all open-mouthed and spacy?
I am that child.
And it's high time I really, really limited my telly intake.
So today I woke up resolute. I haven't turned on the tube at all today, and I am trying to get used to the silence. I don't know that it is reasonable to cut out all TV (is that what alcoholics say? I don't think it is reasonable to cut out wine, so I'll just stop with the beer and hard liquor?) But for now, we are going to ONE HOUR, PER DAY.
That means 7 hours per week.
I am going to need your support on this one, Internet. I already feel slightly less sick today, but I know the withdrawal is coming, and I'll try to put on Jeopardy tonight. I musn't!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Universe Mocks Me.

I forgot to set the alarm clock yesterday. So there's that. Of course, I am working from home this week, so this error in judgment only affected one person this morning.

And, I still don't think he likes me very much today. He just got home, and sort of grunted at me and then ran away to the gym.

Also, I was just updating my super-cool "Currently Reading" list (in which I record every book I have read since 2004. Jealous?) and SEVEN books I have read this year are in RED. And I have no idea why they are in RED. And it is killing me. Like, why, self, did you put these books in red? I can see no discernible pattern between Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. (Oh but what if Sookie helped build that cathedral? That would have been something.)

It is almost as bad as my password-protected Word doc, circa 2004, in which I know the remnants of a great novel are locked, but I CANNOT REMEMBER THE GODDAMN password. And every day I attempt to crack the case, and I fail, I die a little inside. Who was I in 2004? What did I think was an acceptable password?

PW: iheartzachbraff?
PW: gardenstaterules?
PW: hotsingleswede?

So there's that, too.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Regarding Douchebaggery.

Gah! So many thoughts on comments on the Douchebag post! Let's dig in:
  • I will never - ever - concede American Psycho. I actually saw the film in the theater with Vanessa when we were living in New York, and we both walked out incredibly shaken. Having sex with a woman, winking at yourself in the mirror as you do, then throwing a chainsaw on her? So. Not. Okay. I don't care what erudite social commentary we are making here. So, agree to disagree?
  • Fight Club is a great movie. I fear that you dudes merely skimmed the article (as J admitted to doing last night). Go back and read it. The author doesn't deny that Fight Club is a great film; it's just that douchebags love the film for all of the wrong reasons. As he so eloquently states: "One man’s allegory is another douchebag’s excuse to get into a barroom brawl." He actually goes as far as saying that the movie was quite prophetic. Let's all take a deep breath and go back and read the blurb. Then tell me if maybe he doesn't have a point.
  • I will concede Brokeback. I didn't love it; and I don't need to ever see it again. I stand firm that many a heterosexual male is put off by the subject matter, and thus avoids it completely, despite the heaps and heaps of critical acclaim. Was all of that acclaim deserved? Likely not. It was a provocative topic, and thus it gets an Oscar fast-track because the Academy likes edgy these days. I do think Heath was good: stilted, mumbling deliver and all.
  • Speaking of Heath, how awesome was The Dark Knight? That is one for you, Grace. That and the new Star Trek are among the movies Awesome People Love. And Clueless. And Fools Rush In starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek. Those two are goddamn charming together.
  • I think I am going to put myself on a strict two-viewing policy before I go ahead and say a movie is worth seeing. I absolutely thought Milk was one of the greatest films of the last several years, but perhaps I was in an odd emotional place when I saw it, and that is why I was so moved? I will report back when I make J sit through it. Yep, Sean Penn is a douche. No one is denying that. But if you saw Milk, you can't claim that he plays himself in every film. He was magnificent as Harvey Milk. He became the ill-fated politician. Also, Penn is responsible for directing one of my all-time favorite films based on one of my all-time favorite books: Into the Wild. I have seen this movie at least three times, and it's phenomenal. Life-changing. Read the book, rent the movie, and then download one of the all-time greatest movie soundtracks. (Which, Penn is also responsible for, by charging Eddie Vedder with the task. Brilliant.)
  • Koos, D, and I used to hold Godfather viewing parties at D's back in high school. We worship these films. It's thrilling to settle in to a day with the Corleones, any old time you catch it on AMC. Guys, it is not douchey to like the Godfather. It's not douchey to love the GF. It's just that douchey men tend to like the films (and mafia films in general), if for no other reason than it is cool to like these films. These are worlds where violence and bad-assery abound, and thus tools flock to these films. It is in the same vein that the author describes Fight Club: "Violence is really the key to understanding why this movie is so popular with douchebags." Ya dig?
  • Swingers. I do think this is a difference of perspective, fellas. But again, read the blurb: the author thinks Swingers is a great film. The issue is this: "But the point of the movie is that the non­-douchebag wins in the end. That being honest and forthcoming and refraining from describing things as "money" (or sick, ill, phat, etc.) counts more than having the right pick-up line. Douchebags see Trent as Confucious and apply his philosophy to their lives, and we continue to suffer from such idiocy to this day." Word, word, a thousand times word. Guys: when you describe anything as money - and you are not being ironic - well, I don't even have to say it, do I?

As some of the commenters of the original article have mentioned: it's not the films, per se, it's what the douchebags take away from them.

And let's not forget, I wrote a piece about how Garden State changed my life. Douche.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You Might Be a Douchebag...

OMG, I love this article. LOVE. Love! Bless you, Spike!

Friends: we have here a list of the Top 10 Movies Douchebags Love.

And it is as awesome as one would expect.

Please, please tell me, sisters? Have you dated these guys? Did you marry this guy? The dude that loves all of these movies? Squee! I am so excited about this!

J doesn't love all of these movies, and generally, I don't find him particularly douchey. Nay, friends, I am afraid I am the douche in question here. One of these movies - at one time - well, I wrote - oh fuck - that it - aw hell - changed my life.

Yes. As you might have already suspected: I am a douche.

Now, to be fair to me, I took Garden State with me on my recent flight to Denver. And I popped it in my laptop, thrilled to be reconnecting with it. The film is an old friend, one that got me through some very tough times as an impressionable, soul-searchy l'il 25 year-old thing.

I finished it later that night in the guest room at Far-Mor and Far-Far's, and I was spectacularly umimpressed.

(I even told Grace as much, so she can totally back me up on this.)

It was just so... so obvious. And self-indulgent. And lo, the indie-ness of it all. Medieval times? Really? It is a quirk-tastic masterpiece, and it doesn't really work for me anymore. (Because... God! Okay, fine: here is the link. It really did help me though! Don't judge.)

Old School? Fight Club? Swingers? I dare you - dare you - to check Facebook profiles immediately. Let's experiment, shall we? All those friends we suspect are secretly douchebags? Let's put them to the test.

(Oh, and I cringed when I read about the Napoleon Dynamite quoting. Because, come on. I definitely told J recently not to be jealous that I've been chatting with babes online all day. I didn't even get the quote correct. Douche!)

What are other films that should be considered here? I am going to going to have to go ahead and raise you:
  • The Godfather, Parts 1 and 2 - Look, obviously cinematic masterpieces. But. Sigh. Complete douchebag fodder.

  • AMERICAN PSYCHO. If you are male, you probably love this movie. You probably think the scene with the business cards is hilarious! You probably love that fucking Phil Collins soliloquiy. Personally? I am deeply, deeply suspect of you. This film is grotesque, misogynistic, and tremendously troubling. (Challenge given. OK, dudes. Bring it.)

  • Goodfellas - I don't think I hate this movie. I don't really like it though. Ray Liotta creeps me out, and I'll never forget an awful evening in which my ex came in drunk and put it on, despite my eleven year-old brother being present. No one says "fuck" in front on my little bro except me, alright? And also, it coincides with d-bags generally loving any film to do with the mafia. (I love my husband because he doesn't understand or appreciate mafia movies. The only one he likes is Analyze This. And seriously, that movie kills him. It's adorable. Also, babe? We really should Netflix The Godfather one of these days.)

Oh, I also find it troubling - and possibly a bit douchey - when men won't see certain films because they are uncomfortable with the content (and by content, I mean homosexuality). Brokeback Mountain anyone? Milk? I am curious to see which men among you have seen these films, and will admit to enjoying them (well, enjoy might be a stretch. These films are pretty intense. How about appreciate?)

What movies did I miss?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cougartown is the New Queens.

Greetings, Earthlings.

Still, nothing good going on over here. Did anyone watch The Biggest Loser last night, by chance? I forced J to sit down next to me on the couch and point out which one of those bitches had The Crazy Eyes. I am consistently amazed by The Crazy Eyes - like, they are an actual phenomenon, y'all! You can honestly look at someone and behold TCE. My husband sat down and pinpointed the Crazy instantaneously. (It was Tracy. Crazy, crazy Tracy.)

I wonder if TCE can be learned? One day, I shall be bat-shit crazy and you will look into my eyes and know. Such a shame, you'll say, as you shake your head solemnly. Such a nice blogger, too. Until she got completely boring and lame and went crazy. Just look at those eyes.

Lord, I have never wanted an anonymous blog so badly. There are things in mah brain, people. Things that need to be discussed but CANNOT. It's distressing.

Instead, let's talk about this past weekend, shall we? J and I headed to Penn State for the PSU v. Iowa game, and to spend some quality time with the baby bro. (Whom I hardly recognize anymore, he is such a man!) We had big plans to tailgate and drink lots of beers and toss the old pigskin around campus. Maybe play a little frisbee and walk around with our backpacks or something? What do college kids do these days anyway?

Alas, it rained - nay, poured - all day. And so mainly, we walked around in ponchos, in the rain, all day. And we hung out in Baby Bro's dorm room. And occasionally, one of his friends would drop by to hang out. Which, involves a lot of sitting. I remember this sitting. You go to others dorm rooms, and you just sit. And visit, you know? And watch TV. But mainly: the sitting. Oh, and the Skittle and cheeseball consumption. You can't get those slices of heaven at the HomeValley Ranch!

We made it through the first quarter of the game. Tired of being wet*, we headed back to the car, changed, and I settled in to keep J company for the 3.5 hour drive home. Unfortunately, I was asleep within seconds. I am an excellent navigator.

Now I am in Midtown for the afternoon, tucked into Starbucks on Park Avenue, waiting to head to a meeting. I am hopeful that the upcoming days and weeks and months will bring topics worth chatting about, but you never can tell. We may change the name of this blog to "Cougartown is the New Queens" and then we can devote every post to Courteney Cox and how we all hope that we can look like her at 45, minus the botched collagen lip injections. Who's with me?

*That's what she said.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Greetings, beautiful babies!

I have not posted in over a week, with good reason! My life has been extremely, extremely boring of late. For instance, last Friday night, I took a nap around 5:30. Then my amazing husband cooked spinach noodles (which are just sinfully good), and then we settled in on the couch for a highly anticipated viewing of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Which, apparently? You can skip. But how would I know? Blart barely made one lap around the mall on his segue before I was sound asleep.

I feel like our life has officially become a single dude who just graduated from college's worst nightmare. Like, sorry ladies, but I am the REASON he won't commit. And the saddest part? I am blissfully happy to do nothing these days. I want to be home and watch the Eagles game on my couch and take a nap, goddamnit!

Alas, even if I do nothing on weekends (beautiful, glorious nothing), this sister is still superfly during the work week. Last week was DC; this week I traveled to the Bronx, where I hosted an event at the new Yankees Stadium. Then I stood in the dugout like a nerd:

Then I went out for Mexican on the Upper East with Vaness. And then I had my requisite why don't I live in New York? Am fool for not living in NY! anxiety attack. Then I watched How I Met Your Mother and was passed out by 8:30. The end.

Oh, in other news? I attended the PA Governor's Conference for Women on Thursday, and Glenda Hatchett may be my new hero. You don't expect to be moved by a TV judge, but guys, she was on point. And also, Suze Orman is slightly more tolerable in person. A tad obnoxious and shrill? Sure, but the schtick works for her. And now I feel compelled to remind you that you need an 8-month emergency fund, and you should probably think about a will if you have not done so already. Thank you, Suz. That's good advice.

So you see, that's what's up in the mystical land of the HomeValleyians. I am sure more exciting topics will be discussed soon, as Cougartown premieres tonight on ABC. I adore Courteney Cox, and I don't care who knows it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Suit Yourself.

Swear to God: there are few pieces of clothing that make me feel LESS sexy than a business suit.

(Now go back and read this post's title. See what I did there? Clever.)

Ladies, I need guidance. I feel like I should be wearing business suits (after all, I am in business); but I also feel - as my H would say - like a giant pudwacker in just about every suit I own.

Today, I am in DC, and for this occasion, I packed a blue pin-striped suit. I paired it with a silk, lime-green sleeveless blouse and deep burgundy pumps. I styled it up with a few strands of pearls. I swept my hair back in an effortless knot.

And still: I felt like a grandmother. Nay, like a douchebag grandmother. Like your giant pudwacker douchebag grandmother.

(No offense, FarMor. You are totally more stylish than moi in my stupid shapeless suits.)


I have tried all kinds: Ann Taylor, Banana, Anne Klein, Jones New York, all to no avail. I have gone to my tailor and had pants taken in to fit my form. And still, I have no ass to speak of in any of these pants. They give me saggy ass! And why - why?!? - are suits still manufactured with shoulder pads? Now I look like a douchebag, a pudwacker, your grandma, and also: a linebacker?

I am willing to pay for a quality suit. But does such a suit exist? Do I have to go with Prada here, and chalk it up to an investment piece?

Kindly post your advice.



Friday, September 11, 2009


On this day, every year, my glorious best friends check in with me. They tell me they are thinking about me, and that they love me. And I love them, so so much. I am not sure I say it enough. Like I told Grace just this morning: I LOVE YOU. IN ALL CAPS. That much, y'all. That much.

And I love you, Internet, and I love you, life. I love my life. I love my husband, and my friends, and my family, and Oprah, and the Black-Eyed Peas, and Oprah's 24th season kick-off, because it made me cry this morning, guys, in that way I do during curtain calls on Broadway. My heart swells and my eyes fill and I am just so happy for us all.

And really, I can't ask for anything more than that.

I've written about it here and here and here and here and here.

But it's not about me today. (Really? the Internet asks, rolling its collective eyes at the drama queen.)

Not about me. It's about all of those who lost their lives; it's about what that day taught us collectively as a nation. It's about how we are still learning. (Because this morning someone posted on their Facebook status that they were so sad, and pissed! They want to kill all Arabs!)

Facebook friend? I think you totally missed the point.

Last night I told J that I'd like to stop in Shanksville on the way home from Penn State in a few weeks. He wasn't too receptive, but I think he'll come around. You go to honor. Those doomed passengers on Flight 93 - those heroes - deserve to be honored and commemorated. So we'll go, and I'll cry, and I'll thank them. We need to make that pilgrimage.

That day - and the post-traumatic stress aftermath - taught me so much. It taught me that despite all of the horror surrounding us, people are good. We're resilient. We're malleable.

I cherish every day, every moment. And when I don't? When I get all petulant and bratty and call J screaming that I am lost in Pittsburgh, holy shit you must help me this is the worst day of my life?

Then, eventually, I am brought back to reality. A reality in which I am lucky, and so so blessed.

I can't believe how far I've come in 8 years. I said as much to Grace this morning, adding "Though I'd like to get rid of my stupid fear of flying, I suppose that's just a scar I wear to keep me humble."

That's the first time I have ever thought of it that way. A scar. It is one that I am proud to bear.

So I hope everyone is great today. I hope we all take the time to remember, but also to be thankful. For whatever reason, we are all still here. And that's reason enough to celebrate.