Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And Now: A Holiday Guest Post

This one comes from my big sister...

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting the sequel to "The Toenail F." Boys and Girls, gather 'round for another chapter in Hetherington Holiday Mayhem. For those of you who are new to this exciting holiday tradition, my cousin, Big T, and I exchange just about the grossest handmade gifts that you could conjure up. He started it all with a toenail charm necklace, followed by a matching toenail ring. There has been a cat litter ornament with Tootsie Roll embellishments, and another ornament with various items composed of DNA such as newborn umbilical cords, boogers, teeth, etc... Last year he presented me with The Toenail F. He saved his toenail clippings for a full year, and then formed them into a beautiful letter F (for my last name) and framed it. This year it was my turn.

Just about the time I needed to start planning my attack, my daughter and about 6 other extended family members got the gift that keeps on giving - lice. At first I was horrified, as any mother is when presented with parasites on her child's head, but then it hit me. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you lice before the holiday season, make lice cufflinks for your cousin. Being the nurse in the family, I became the designated nit picker. I became quite skilled, I am proud to say, and collected each little critter in a ziploc baggie. My poor sister-in-law, who has long, beautiful, blonde hair was in tears when we found it in her hair. She was grabbing at those little guys and smashed a couple of them before I could get to them. I had to calmly beg her not to mangle them because I needed them for a craft. She cooperated after that little discussion.

Next, I needed to find just the right cufflinks with a nice white background for maximum contrast. Finally found the right pair on Ebay and had to have them shipped all the way from Hong Kong. Good thing the lice were free, because this was starting to get costly in shipping. I was so excited when I found the little manilla envelope in the mailbox with the Chinese stamps on them! It's craft time! Amazing what one can do with a bag of dead lice, some Modgepodge and toothpicks.

Big T was a little nervous to open his special gift at the family gift exchange the other night, but I think after the shock wore off, he kinda liked them. He even wore them in the buttonhole on his collar for all to see and enjoy. He has 367 days to start planning his retaliation....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hetherington Holiday Mayhem

Over the past several Christmases, my sister has been enjoying a holiday tradition that she likes to rub in my face all year long. She invites my dad over to her house and she and my nieces make Christmas cookies with him. Last year they called me at work, giggling and listening to carols, bragging on and on about how much fun they were having with Dad.

Well, this year she was nice enough to include me, and thus begun the holiday hilarity of my weekend.

Dad was feeling a little under the weather, so we weren’t sure what to expect from him in terms of creativity. As you can see from the picture above, he more than delivered. He turned a gingerbread man into an alien, a Santa Claus into a Krusty the Clown-esque snowman, and an ornament into a very lifelike clock.

Given Dad’s less than healthy state, it was no surprise that last night—at our extended family Christmas dinner—Mom asked, “Who knows how to carve a turkey?” There was no way we were letting Dad get germs on our birds. The only person to raise his hand in the room was, my hero, Mr. Wonderful. Of course he knew how to carve a turkey, he watches 5-27 hours of the Food network each week.

The turkeys were carved and all was well in the world. Until dessert.

As a side note, it should be known that my 8- and 10-year old nieces are deathly afraid of human vomit. Simply saying the word “throw up” is equivalent to describing the Charles Manson murders in detail.

The two of them were perched on the couch when my cousin’s 2-year old started to choke on his pumpkin pie. He was still talking—no airways were cut off—he just needed a little sip of water to wash it down. Unfortunately, his dad didn’t move fast enough, and as my nieces watched with mouths agape and eyes bulging, poor little Lucas tossed his cookies. My cousin, being an expert in the field of motherhood, simply reached out and caught it on her dessert plate.

The nieces screamed. The room erupted into moans. Mr. W murmured, “Ooooh no…” And my mother started laughing so hard at everyone else’s reactions, that she locked at the knees and began doing a bladder handicapped run down the hallway to the bathroom.

Given that she wet her pants a smidge on Thanksgiving when my brother flew Mr. W’s remote controlled helicopter into the china cabinet and broke an antique glass, I was fairly confident that she’d ruptured the seal this time as well.

Ten minutes later, she reappeared, wearing slightly different black pants. “Did you pee?” I asked as she wiped tears of laughter from the corners of her eyes. She tried to play coy at first. But after much harassing, she admitted that not only did she break the seal, she had a full flood on her hands…or rather, feet…by the time she reached the bathroom.

My family is all getting together again on Wednesday, so there may be more stories to come. And my sister will be writing a guest blog about this year’s disgusting gift exchange with our cousin’s husband.

Yes folks, it’s the most wonderful time of year in the Hetherington household… I hope we all survive it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fading to Black

Two weeks before I graduated from college, I received a phone call from the ad agency I interned at asking me to come in for an interview. They were creating a junior copywriter position and thought I might be interested. $30k to write every day?! Heck yes I was interested!

I got the job and spent almost 4 years learning the ropes of agency life. Around year 3, things started to change. Our biggest account was Microsoft and when they made the decision to consolidate their agencies, we were left in the dust…with about $6 million less coming into our office.

I watched coworkers get laid off. It started with higher-ups who were far enough removed from me that it didn’t really sting. But wave after wave, it crept closer. And it began to hurt. Then it hit one of my favorite people in the office.

I had bonded with this guy and several others—spending long lunches with them, hanging out on weekends, even traveling to Vegas to see U2. The thought of not seeing him every day broke my heart.

Slowly, the unraveling continued and eventually I was laid off. I felt somewhat relieved—I was ready to work for new clients. But I also found myself mourning my past life. Change didn’t agree with me.

On an almost visceral level, I missed the carefree days at the agency. When we could get ice cream after lunch and throw a super ball around my office. I missed the feeling that everything was right and okay. I missed being excited and having fun on a daily basis. The halcyon days had faded to black.

I’m the first to tell the people around me that change is a good thing.

“With it comes growth and opportunity.”

“When I was laid off, I wrote a manuscript for a novel.”

“It was the greatest four months of my life.”

The truth is, I also cried a lot.

I’m at a point again where change is crowding in around me. The stable life I knew last year is rocking back and forth, preparing to go topsy turvy like a pendulous theme park ride. And I don’t want it to. I don’t want to grieve for the good days gone by. I don’t want my heart to ache because I miss old coworkers. I don’t want to sense the prickles of fear that the fresh, limitless sense I had with Mr. Wonderful has given way to familiarity and a need to shelve the romance and focus on the logistics of our future.

The past few weeks of ups and downs have left me feeling like the dance floor I was waltzing across has fallen away, board by board. Change is after me. And I’m scared. I don’t want to get off my tiny square of hardwood because I know it so well. I know the dance I was doing made me happy. And the thought of learning new steps just makes me want to cry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Look into Our Eyes and We Will Kill You

In an attempt to get them out of my bed and prevent cat hair inhalation while I'm sleeping, I gave the children early Christmas presents. You would think they'd be really grateful for their new nests, but instead they've decided to try to vaporize me with their super laser cat vision.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yummy Yummy Yoga

Until yesterday, I hadn’t been to yoga class in about a year and a half. The last time I went was the first, and only, time I ever went to the studio solo. It was the day I had my incident with sweaty, naked guy.

Given that I still like Mr. Wonderful a lot when he is sweaty and naked (What? No, Mom I’ve never seen him naked. I’m talking hypothetically about after we get married.) I figured it would be safe to take a class with him. So we braved the chilly morning air and headed to Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood to get our chakrasses handed to us in the most difficult Basics class I’ve ever attended.

The moment we entered the studio, I was in love. It’s a huge building with exposed beam ceilings, brick walls and the smell of incense wafting everywhere. The front desk is connected to a store that has just about everything zen you can think of. Candles, yoga clothing, handmade jewelry, books on positive energy. I could’ve spent hours in there.

People were milling about everywhere and a lot of them were decked out in real deal yogi clothes—solid white pants and tunics, with head wraps and knit caps. I’d never seen anything like it. They assembled on the main floor like a devoted congregation preparing for Sunday mass. At the front of the room was an ornate stage with a gong and tapestries and pillows. This was the Guru’s teaching pulpit.

Mr. W and I made our way through them, upstairs to the Basics class, and were pleased to find only 3 other students in attendance. We spread our mats next to one another and very quickly lost ourselves in the beginning stretches. Eyes closed, listening to the chanting below me, focusing on my breath, I quickly remembered how replenishing yoga can be.

Being in class is different than doing yoga in my living room. The energy isn’t the same. Or rather, there’s more energy. On the wooden floor, with bells and gongs ringing in my ears, I could feel myself reconnecting to a forgotten peace. I stretched until my limbs shook, recalling my desire to be stronger in body and spirit. It was so nice to have that familiar feeling back.

Every muscle in my core and upper body is sore today. It’s fantastic. And I can’t wait to turn this practice into a habit again. Even if it means seeing the occasional sweaty, naked guy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Calling All Composters

If you read me regularly, you know that I drive a Prius. I recycle. I wash the plastic silverware I use at work so I can reuse it. There is a picture of me in a scrapbook somewhere and I’m hugging a Sequoia tree. Yes, I’m crunchy and green and I want to save our planet.

So when I found out about this electric, indoor composter, I was smitten! It’s mega expensive but I figured there are lots of girls out there who spend $400 on a purse, so why shouldn’t I spend it on something that will help reduce landfill waste and give my plants lovely nutrient-rich compost? I even told family members to give me money instead of gifts this Christmas so I could use it toward my coveted purchase.

Then Mr. W read an article in the L.A. Times about how noisy these indoor composters are. The story likened the sound to having a Lincoln driven into your living room. Sadly, I do not have a garage in which to place something like this, so the kitchen is my only option and well…I don’t want to be woken up all night by a loud-ass composter.

So now I’m exploring my other options.

There’s this one that comes with a whole kit, and this one that’s on wheels for easy transporting to the garden, and this one that’s enhanced with solar power. They all seem great and I have NO idea which one to choose.

Do any of you have any experience with this? Or know someone who does? I’d love some sage advice!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


It is very clear to me where I get my dorky gene after reading my mother's response to yesterday's post:

Dad was more disturbed about you spending the night at Mr. W's house than witnessing all that.

But I assured him "Twas the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house, there was Melissa asleep on the couch."

Clever and cheesy go hand-in-hand in the Hetherington family...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just Another Morning in Hollywood

Sitting just down the hill from the Hollywood sign, Mr. W’s house is often shaken by news helicopters; the tranquility is disrupted by crazy, singing neighbors; the cul de sac sometimes clogged with lost drivers, searching for a road that leads to the famous sign. It’s a great street, however it’s right in the middle of a city that’s far from quiet.

Even the wildlife is loud. On more than one occasion, we’ve been woken by deer in the front ivy, squirrels in the peach tree and the neighbor’s noisy dog. But what woke us at 4:30 this morning is something I would have never expected, and have never experienced.

We were sound asleep, probably still in somewhat in food comas from all the cheese we had before dinner, when suddenly a cacophony of chaos commenced outside the bedroom window. A car barreled up the street, followed by the chop of a helicopter and several sirens. Full blast. Mr. W jumped out of bed and ran to the window. My heart leapt into my throat and I choked, “What’s happening?!” I didn’t know whether we were having an earthquake or being attacked by the Taliban or what.

“It’s a car chase,” he said.

I peeked my head through the blinds and watched, astounded, as 4 police officers with guns drawn screamed at the driver, shielding themselves behind the flung open doors of a squad car. “Put your f*@%ing hands on your head!” they were all yelling. Right outside Mr. W's window.

“Oh my God,” I whispered to Mr. W, “If someone gets shot I’m going to freak out.” I had never been witness to anything like it before.

Three more police cars were scattered down the street with their lights flashing, and as the helicopter spotlight swiped the cul de sac again, I watched 4 more officers creep up the street to provide backup to the screamers.

A few minutes in, the instruction changed to “Get on the f%&#ing ground!” Then we heard strange moans and mumbling coming from the driver. He sounded like Frankenstein and I had to wonder if he was drunk.

We couldn’t see past the tree in Mr. W’s front yard, but somewhere just beyond it, the driver had laid himself out on the asphalt. Finally, the officers made their way around the car, never lowering their weapons. The moaning continued, and as the officers wrangled the driver to the backend of the squad, I could make out what he was saying. “I’m so scared! I’m so scared!” Duh, buddy. Maybe you shouldn’t have run from the cops then.

Though the noise of police radios and processes continued for quite some time, we were able to crawl back in bed and doze after we knew all was well back on the street.

“I hope the Prius is okay,” I whispered as I cuddled up against the safety of Mr. W. “Man, my dad would’ve loved this.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

Shock and Awe

I was amazed yesterday morning when I woke up and heard that AT&T was laying off 12,000 employees. 12,000. That is, by all rational accounts, a buttload.

When I got into work, Mr. Wonderful IMed me and said he had received an email from the president of his company alerting him to an 850-person layoff. Then moments later, he wrote back saying, “I know who they’re laying off now: Me.”

My heart stopped. He had been planning to go freelance in February, but still! What a shock!

He said he had to meet with HR and I waited anxiously, chatting over the cubicle walls with my coworkers, until he returned.

What he told me upon that return, changed my shock to awe.

Mr. W works for one of the big movie studios. And he was under contract for his position, which means they have to pay him through the duration of that contract. Which means he’s receiving benefits and salary through October 2009. Rat bastard.

He can go freelance now with a huge cushion under him. Why the studio would want to do that, I have no idea. Essentially they are paying him not to work. Makes no sense whatsoever. But he is psyched about it.

My company (one of the big guys on the Internet) is laying off about 23% of its workforce next Wednesday. I’m feeling pretty secure about my position, but I’m not at all looking forward to the aftermath. In addition to losing people I care for and enjoy working with, if I am one of the ones left standing, I will inherit the workload of others who were let go. Sorry, I know—stupid reason to complain. That’s a fortunate “problem” to have. Oy, I hope the economy turns around in the New Year…

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We Know Better

I saw a clip on the Today Show this morning that hit a very sensitive nerve with me. It was about the health of our nation. A recent study revealed that the health of Americans has not improved at all over the last 4 years. This makes no sense to me because we know better.

Back in the 1960's people were eating Crisco and chain-smoking while pregnant—but they were ignorant of the harm they were causing. Now, we know better.

We know that smoking is killing us. We know that it not only fills our bodies with carcinogens, but damages the bodies of people around us.

We know that eating fast food, processed food or too much food is not good for us. This way of living has not only caused 1 in 4 Americans to be obese or overweight, but impedes the health of people who are not yet overweight. Cheeseburgers and Big Gulps are not the kind of fuel we need in our bodies. And if we continue feeding ourselves like this and feeding our children like this, we are eventually going to be living in world of diabetic orphans.

We know that tanning causes skin cancer, yet we avoid using sunscreen and some of us still hit up tanning salons. I see no reason why tanning salons should keep their beds around. Switching everything to spray tan (which we could discover some day is also bad for you...) seems completely acceptable to me.

We know that we should jump on medical issues as soon as they arrive. Some of us may not have healthcare coverage at the moment...and that's a whole separate discussion. But for those of us who do have health insurance, we need to take the time to get checked out regularly. There are so many things our doctors can detect long before we're even aware of them. And if we've discovered a lump, a spot, a twitch that doesn't seem quite right, we need to trust our intuition and get it checked out.

We know better. And I wish we would start acting on that knowledge.

To see where your state ranks among the healthiest and unhealthiest in the U.S. check out this page.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Know You're a Crazy Cat Lady When...

Your dear friend sends you a hilarious gift a few weeks before Christmas because he sees it and you're the first person he thinks of...

Yes friends, that is the entire Nativity made of ceramic cats...including little baby Jesus Cat in the manger.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Being Thankful

I wanted to write a Thanksgiving post different from the one I wrote last year, and as I wracked my brain to think of what I am most appreciative of this season, it occurred to me that it’s my ability to appreciate that feels most valuable.

It is so incredibly easy to focus on the deficiencies in our lives. To zero in on what we don’t have yet or what is going wrong. We can take things for granted on a daily basis, lamenting the fact that we don’t have as much money as we’d like or we’re not driving the kind of car we want or we haven’t reached a certain life milestone—all the while, ignoring the fortune we enjoy with good health, good friends, roofs over our heads, clothing on our bodies.

It is so easy to always be thinking about that next thing instead of savoring the moment and being thankful for what we have right now. It takes work to be grateful. Or maybe it just takes time and reconditioning.

At the end of 2004, I was miserable in my job, hopelessly single and feeling like I’d lost my direction in life. I started keeping a gratitude journal and it was amazing how much it helped me to force myself to stop and think about all the positives.

Four years later, I’ve honed the skill. I no longer keep a journal, but I do remind myself often just how good I have it. When I start feeling the darkness creep into my mind, I try to switch on the light. When one door closes I remind myself that another door will surely open—and what's behind it could be better than what I had before. When my thoughts wander to an area of lack, I make an effort to seek out other areas of abundance.

And so this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for this ability. The ability to see the good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Curious Highlights

Good morning, readers. How pretty is that picture above? I took it yesterday afternoon in Marina del Rey during the 2-hour bike ride Mr. Wonderful and I went on. Needless to say, my butt is a little seat-sore today. But the sunset made it worthwhile.

Another highlight of the day—coming home and eating Mr. W’s delicious pork tenderloin, grilled artichokes and pumpkin orzo which, as you can see below, he served in a baked pumpkin. As I was running down to the car to get my camera so I could snap a picture of said cute pumpkin, I was surprised by a visitor in his front yard. Sadly I couldn’t get a picture of the visitor, but it was a beautiful doe who was dining on some ivy. She wasn’t afraid of me at all…until I tried to capture her with the digital camera. Then, of course, she bounded into the street and darted up a neighbor’s walkway. Still amazing to me that you can find wildlife right in Hollywood.

For those of you who don’t want to barf from schmoopiness overload, skip this paragraph. But if you want a dose of über cuteness, you’ll enjoy the fact that on Saturday night when we were shopping for dinner at Whole Foods, Mr. W sneaked a chocolate advent calendar into our groceries for me. The bag boy picked it up and said, “Is this one giant piece of chocolate?” The check-out girl glanced over her shoulder, “No, it’s a calendar—you get a piece of chocolate every day.” “That’s not ours,” I said, thinking the customer before us had left it behind. “No I got that for you, pumpkin,” Mr. W said. Swoon.

Okay so now the bigger highlights that I would like some help decoding, Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been tossing these at you for awhile but I have to wonder if there is actually any substance or meaning behind them. And, it’s cathartic for me to write about them.

I’m a big believer in positive energy and manifestation. I never read The Secret, but I’ve read plenty of other books that advocate the same premises, and when one of my friends suggested I make a “boy collage” before my 30th birthday, I was totally on board. Who doesn’t want to manifest their dream man with a collage?

Anywhoo, I’ve been telling Mr. W that my collage is an awful lot like him. Then, Friday night I decided to let him see for himself. I pulled it out and he chuckled as I pointed out all the things that were clear representations of him. Then he pointed to the big fat diamond Tiffany engagement ring picture I have on there and said, “And what’s that?" Uhhhh… “Nothing,” I suddenly felt very shy.

Reference number two came when we were talking about New Year’s resolutions and I was telling him how every year I make a long list of lofty goals and somehow, the same ones keep ending up on my lists over and over. And he said, “Like Get Married?” Ummm… “No this year it was just to tell someone I love them and mean it.” Of course, he then teased me and asked if I only dropped the L-bomb on him to check it off my list.

So, brilliant readers, tell me: Do these mean something new? Are they tests? Insignificant jokes? It seems that the frequency has increased a smidge and I cannot help but wonder if maybe there’s some happily ever after juju coming my way in the next 6 – 24 months.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One-Two Punch

I am a fighter. It’s in my blood. My dad is a fighter, too. He once told his boss—to her face—that he didn’t like her. I think it made her respect him more.

Through all my years of fighting for what I believe in—whether it’s that my curfew should be extended to 1:00 or that global warming does exist or that George W. Bush should not be allowed within 100 yards of the White House—I’ve discovered that the people I put up my dukes most with are the people who listen.

I still have a lot of the same friends I grew up with, and I’ve learned over the years that there are a lot of fights just not worth having with them. We all have areas in which we refuse to budge. I know whose heels are dug in, and I just won’t fight as hard or as often with the people whose feet are buried.

But the ones who show flexibility…those are the ones I will battle with until the end. Because I’ve watched them see my side in the past. I’ve watched that light of understanding flicker in their eye. I know that if I explain and argue and point out facts or inconsistencies, these people will digest what I’ve presented and possibly change their minds.

So it is virtually impossible for me to quiet the fighter when it comes to this group. Many of them, I’m sure, wish they could be part of the other group. The folks I leave alone. To that, I say, it’s your own fault for being open-minded enough to listen to me in the past. I wish I could put down my sword and take off my armor, but I cannot do that when I know at some point, you may pick up your own sword and begin fighting by my side.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Guarantees?

Well, I made it through Blog Secret day! Now maybe I’ll finally stop singing “Secret Bloggers” to the tune of Atlantic Starr’s “Secret Lovers” in my head. I swear, it’s been in there for the last two weeks.

During the extensive reading I did on participating Blog Secret sites yesterday, I came across a quote that really resonated with me. It was written as a comment on a post about deciding between two lovers.

“People rarely change. Wait for the person you hope never changes.”

So simple and yet so profound.

I think it struck such a chord in me for a couple of reasons. One, being that I’m finally with someone who I don’t want to change. He is fantastic and amazing and treats me like no one has ever treated me before. If he stays the way he’s been for the last year indefinitely, I could be happy for eternity.

Well, maybe there is just one thing…and I don’t want a lecture about this—but it would be nice if he was 101% certain he wanted kids. I know, it’s big. But I feel confident that we’ll reach a resolution on it. And honestly, the thought of having children terrifies me right now anyway.

The second reason the quote had such an impact on me is that, in the last few years, I’ve watched a lot of people endure a lot of pain because they chose someone who they hoped would change. That, or the person they chose—or they themselves—changed.

So I guess that makes me wonder if the quote even has validity. Even if you wait for the person you hope never changes, do you run the risk of having the relationship fall apart because you evolve in some way and want to leave them behind? Or is it a matter of core values and priorities—which seem to be constants in all our lives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BlogSecret: Love Squared

You may have noticed the BlogSecret that's been resting over in my right rail for a couple of weeks. The lovely Nilsa has organized a secret swap among 80 bloggers, and I am participating. You'll probably never know where my secret post ended up. But while you're wondering, please enjoy and comment on the guest secret post below...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Is it possible to be in love with two people at once?

Yes. I speak from experience.

Being truly in love with two people at once is....

a grapefruit-sized pit in the stomach that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

endless nights spent shaking and sobbing over the thought of choosing the wrong one... or waiting too long to choose and ending up alone.

dreaming about "the other one" while laying in the arms of "the one."

breaking up with "the other one" who still holds a rather large place in your heart... and listening to this person cry and ask "why?"

feeling guilty for each kiss and embrace exchanged.

wondering why you were so blessed and yet cursed to find true love in two people simultaneously, while others may never find it once in an entire lifetime.

finding peace with your decision and building a life with "the one."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Big Fat Greek Weekend

Ah St. Louis in the fall. It's freaking freezing there. Mr. Wonderful warned me that this was why he moved to warmer climate. But I thought with my big coat and my cute new Calvin Klein boots, I'd be fine. Nope. Southern Californian blood is thin and I froze my butt off. But we had a great time. As you can see, we made it over to the arch. And all the leaves were finishing up their autumn color change, so all the driving was quite picturesque.

I ended up meeting the entire family and Mr. W's childhood best friend all on the first night, and they were wonderful. His nieces were precious; his sister and brother-in-law couldn't have been nicer; and his dad, aunt and uncle, and yaya made me feel like I was already part of the family. When we walked into the house, Yaya—who doesn't speak a whole lot of English—immediately started telling me how happy she was to meet me and kissing me on the cheek. I wanted to cry. She was absolutely adorable. It took everything in me not to fall into a hysterical mess today when we had to leave her. She made me miss my own Grandmas, and she was such a big part of Mr. W's life that I feel eternally grateful for her. I wanted to bring her home with us. Instead, I brought home a checkered apron and a crocheted shawl that she made and insisted I take with me.

In addition to experiencing the culture and cold weather along the Old Miss, I got to see firsthand how the Greek community lives. It was fascinating and extremely entertaining. We went to a special dinner party at the church Mr. W attended as a kid, and everyone seemed to know everyone. There was Greek food, lots of talking in half English/half Greek, and quite a bit of Greek dancing—which looks a lot like people marching arm-in-arm in a spiraling circle.

I didn't talk about politics or anything else on the taboo list, and I even did a shot of ouzo with Mr. W's uncle and brother-in-law. I may have an esophageal ulcer now, but it was all worth it.

I think it's safe to say I passed the test. And I hope I can go back to visit his sweet family and charming city (although I think I might need to try some different restaurants... ) The next stop may be Tampa to visit Mr. W's mom and stepdad. I'll be looking for advice. Perhaps some new pastel attire will be in order...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starting Off Year Two

For those of you wondering, Mr. W and I had a really nice anniversary night. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of Shiraz, and dined on prosciutto-wrapped dates, caprese salad, more prosciutto with some cheese and bread, and yet another plate of 3 different cheese varieties with bread. It was so delicious I went into goldfish mode and ate until my stomach almost exploded and I died. Mr. W and cheese are my two favorite things in life.

Afterwards, we went back to his place, changed into our footie pajamas, climbed into our separate bunkbeds, read books to each other and fell asleep with chocolate chip cookies in our mouths. That’s exactly the way it happened, Mom.

Tomorrow we leave for St. Louis.

Yep, it’s the big meeting-of-the-family weekend. I’m taking gifts for all the female relatives and have been trying my best to muster up some adorable pheromones to emit in their presence so they all love me. Keep your fingers crossed.

Mr. W has given me a long list of things I can’t talk about to the fam, including politics, online dating, farts, religion, sex, global warming, mammogram helmets, blogging and poop. I’m also not supposed to call it “Missoura.”

Apparently his grandma, who is Greek, doesn’t speak English all that well, which leads me to think it could be a little bit funny to say things like, “Yaya, did you know that the first time Mr. W told me he loved me it was because I said I’d put his balls in my mouth?”

He didn’t find this as funny as I did.

Worst-case scenario, I’ll go there and accidentally start talking about hugging trees and raising taxes, and how I met Mr. W online and I don’t go to church. Then I’ll accidentally clog the toilet. Best-case, I’ll be able to uphold the façade of manners and charm and they’ll send us home with some sort of male dowry and a family-wide blessing.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

365 Days

About 13 months and 10 days ago, I met a boy online. He was cute and witty and smart. He lived in a part of town I love. He worked in a creative industry. He made me laugh. He enjoyed running. He liked U2.

But he was leaving town on vacation and didn’t want to meet me in person until he came back.

So I waited. For five and a half weeks.

We emailed each other daily, and the anticipation of seeing him face-to-face was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Those last several days were complete torture. But there was a part of me that was terrified of our first encounter—what if we didn’t get along? What if he had some big weird mole on his ear with hair growing out of it? What if he wore floodpants and t-shirts with tigers on them?

I had to work hard to keep myself in check as I got ready for the big night.

We agreed to meet for fondue at The Melting Pot. As usual, I was running a smidge late, so I called to tell him I was almost to the parking garage. As the phone rang on my end, I watched a guy on the sidewalk answer his.

“I think I can see you,” I said. “Turn around and look at the Prius behind you.”

Suddenly everything went into slow motion. He turned to look over his shoulder, his black coat framing his face, and all I could see was a dimple cupping the side of his smile. My stomach did a triple axle. He was hot.

I couldn’t park the car fast enough.

We got inside and when our waiter jokingly said, “First date?” Mr. Wonderful replied with, “No, we’ve been married five years.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if someday that would be true…

After dinner, we didn’t kiss goodnight. But he teased me the next day on IM, telling me he knew I wanted to. He could just tell.

Later that week, he came to my house to make dinner and dessert. Chicken Marsala and chocolate soufflé. If the incredible meal was a ploy to get that kiss, it worked. Halfway through showing me his vacation pictures, he pulled me into his tractor beam and convinced me to make out with him for the next several hours.

I knew after that, I was toast.

I worked hard over the next seven months, biting my tongue every time he did something cute. Every time he looked at me with those sleepy eyes. Or grabbed my hand and kissed it while he was driving. I bit my tongue, because all I wanted to do was yell, “I LOVE YOU!!”, and I knew that might frighten the pants off him. (Not that I mind him being sans pants…)

In May, I crumbled. And he followed.

Today marks our one-year anniversary. It’s not just a measure of the days we’ve spent together, but a benchmark for one of the happiest years of my life.

This wonderful guy has made me smile more; indulge in the pleasures of wine and food and adventure more; try things I might not have tried without him (like riding a motorcycle and eating inari). He has been a patient teacher and laid-back travel companion. An amazing boyfriend but also a true friend.

After 365 days of having him in my life, I cannot come to any conclusion other than this: I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Happy 1-year, sweetpea.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Beauty of Diversity

This morning, Mr. Wonderful and I went hiking in the Hollywood Hills. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I absolutely adore Hollywood. Its combination of grit and glamour. The duality of exclusiveness and total acceptance.

We passed all sorts of people as we made our way up to the Hollywood sign. Young folks, old folks, dog lovers, yuppies, hippies, photography students. It was a busy morning up the canyon. I had never seen the Hollywood sign so close before. I was extremely sad I didn’t have a camera on me to document what the giant letters looked like from the back.

After we made our way down the hill, I dropped off a clothing donation bag to the Gay and Lesbian Center where the faithful volunteers of the Food on Foot organization meet every Sunday. There again, I was greeted by a mixture of interesting characters.

At the Hollywood farmer’s market, we wove through crowds of people as colorful as the fruit and veggie stands flanking their path. Children danced to the street musicians. Young girls carried bouquets of wildflowers in their canvas bags and wheeled baskets. Smells of incense mingled with the perfume of organic oranges and freshly-baked bread.

So much to see. So much to sense.

It made me so appreciative that we’re not all the same.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now, Back to Our Regular Programming

I'm not sure if this actually happened or if maybe it was all a dream. But I think last night, I was listening to some U2 on the way to Mr. Wonderful's house and this conversation occurred when I arrived.

Me: "I think I want to walk down the aisle to the beginning of City of Blinding Lights when I get married." (Notice I did not say "we," as to assume or put pressure on him.)

Him: "I'll let you have the DJ play whatever you want."

Me: "What?"

Him: "I'll let you have the DJ play whatever you want."

Me: [Has mild heart attack and pinches his butt as he walks up the stairs.]

Say What? What? What? Seriously? Seriously...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maybe Just One More

"Sins of lust" are punished in this country.

Yet greed, pride and gluttony are encouraged.

Why are those sins not discriminated against or made illegal?

This is why I do not understand religion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My One and Only Political Post

How fortunate all of us are today that we have the right to get out and vote. We have the right to make a huge choice—when there are so many things in life we cannot choose.

We cannot choose our gender. We cannot choose the family into which we are born. We cannot choose our race. We cannot choose our body type.

And we cannot choose our sexual orientation.

I believe that each of us is born with our sexual preference already determined. It is biological. And just as we should not be discriminated against for our gender or race, we should not be discriminated against for being hetero or homosexual.

“Let them have civil unions,” some say. Even our Presidential candidates champion this. “Marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman.”

But that kind of thinking just reminds me of some past “meants.” Like “women were meant to stay home with their kids,” and “only white men were meant to vote.”

Taking away gay couples’ right to marriage and replacing it with the right to civil unions feels a lot like “separate but equal” to me. It is no better than telling African Americans that the drinking fountain next door to the one for the white folks is just as good. That the schools for the black kids are just as good. Separate but equal.

It breaks my heart that our generation has to wade through another civil rights movement. It breaks my heart that people are afraid.

But it will warm my heart today when I vote No on Prop 8.

(AND - I'm super pissed that Google AdSense is serving Yes on 8 ads to my blog. Bastards...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Four-Minute Halloween Costume

Without further ado, I present to you: The Boobie Helmet...

Mr. Wonderful wore it for approximately four minutes, six seconds at the party Friday night. He claimed it obscured his vision too much. I think he was just being shy...which was fine by me. He did get some big fake boobs in his face, though...

And of course, a little chestie love from his pumpkin... She's so classy like that... I love his one finger pointing up like, whoa slow down! gimme a minute here!

I'm sorry I could not show a head-on picture of him. I have been asked to protect his identity so that he is not mobbed for autographs when he's walking down the street. Let's just say he's so cute that three or four people came up to him throughout the night and said, "Dr. McDreamy?!" One girl even insisted on having her picture taken with him. I threw her into the neighbor's ivy.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my physical went great. He says I'm in perfect health. Just kidding, Mom...

Friday, October 31, 2008

When Halloween Calls for Ingenuity

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it on this blog before, but Mr. W's nickname for me is "Pumpkin." When we first started throwing pet names around, he often used "Sunshine" or "Sweet Potato," but the one that stuck was Pumpkin.

So as Halloween approached, I thought—what better character to be than an incarnate of my pet name?

I began the hunt for the perfect costume and was quite disappointed by the selection. I thought I was going to have to modify a baby outfit because they seemed to be the cutest options available.

Then I went shopping at Target. And spotted this beautiful lawn ornament. I was smitten. All it took was some handiwork with a utility knife, jigsaw and drill, and voila: I had a barrel-shaped pumpkin costume to slip into.

Mr. W has no idea what I'm dressing up as. Hopefully he won't randomly read this before the party tonight. I think he's going to crack up when he sees me.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Showing His True Colors

After much coercing and whining on my part, Mr. Wonderful and his roommate agreed to have a Halloween party on Friday. So, a few weekends ago, Mr. W and I went on a search for spooky decorations, a fog machine, and the perfect costume (for him, of course—mine’s been planned for months).

We started out at Cinema Secrets in Burbank, where I tried to coerce him into getting a Spartan outfit that would show off his shapely calves, but he poo-pooed that idea. His interest piqued at an Italian Carnival masquerade mask, but it was $175, so that was out.

At our second stop in Glendale, I immediately made him try on (and buy, for a later date) a Batman mask. He wasn’t down with wearing the whole batsuit (shucks), but he agreed to indulge my fantasy at some point with the spiky-eared headgear. We wandered through aisles and aisles of options, and he pondered each one very carefully. I thought he’d make a great 80’s rocker; he wasn’t feeling Bret Michaelish enough. I suggested being a deranged chef; he reminded me that cooking is a very serious matter. Most everything I offered, he shot down.

And then we saw what will be his costume on Friday night.

My sweet, soft-spoken, precious little Mr. W picked one of the most obnoxious get-ups in the entire Halloween superstore. He’s being Dr. Grabwell, the gynocologist. He will be wearing scrubs on his body, and on his head, a silver box with a sort of figure 8 cut out over his face that says “Free mammograms. Place breasts here.” I call it: The Boobie Helmet.

Would I have ever expected him to go from caped Carnival masquerade guy to boobs-in-the-face man? No. Did I immediately tell him that if any girls stick their boobs in his face, I’m punching them? Yes. Will I be getting a free mammogram from him at some point? Most likely.

Monday, October 27, 2008

There Was No Panty Throwing, After All

Last week, I attended the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach. Maria Shriver led it, but she wasn’t the reason I attended. Nope…I bought a ticket to the afternoon session—The Minerva Awards—because Bono was speaking.

To say I love Bono is an understatement. In 2002, I traveled to Ireland with the primary goal of seeing various U2 landmarks and trying to run into Bono at a pub in Temple Bar. I’ve seen U2 play 8 times in the last 10 years, 6 times of which I was on the floor for the show, watching beads of sweat drip down my gorgeous little Irishman’s face.

Listening to him call thousands of women to action Wednesday for the ONE and the RED campaign was like having honey drizzled in my ears. The man didn’t just talk about the epidemic—or emergency, rather—in Africa, he spewed poetry about it. He dusted the air around us with verbal confectioners’ sugar, and truly amazed me with his commitment to making a difference.

What was astounding, though, was that he was not my favorite part of the day.

The Minerva Awards are designed to acknowledge women who embody the Roman goddess Minerva (AKA Greek goddess Athena)—star of California’s state seal—in their commitment to using strength, creativity and passion to make a difference in the world.

Among this year’s honorees were self-help writer and publisher, Louise Hay (whom I love), everyone’s favorite feminist, Gloria Steinem, tennis star and misogynist defeater, Billie Jean King, and creator of the Penny Lane girls’ home Ivelise Markovits. Then there was Betty Chinn. The woman who moved me more than Bono did.

This sweet little citizen of Eureka, CA took it upon herself to start a program to feed the homeless. She began by baking donuts and brewing coffee in her kitchen then driving around town, handing it out to people who needed it. As people in a local church learned of Betty’s endeavors, they pitched in and now the project includes full meals and a delivery van. All because of one ordinary woman’s compassion and empathy for people around her.

Betty Chinn is no different from you or me, and that left me wondering: What more can I do? What more can we do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Aching knees? Yes. Sore hips? Yes. Awesome weekend? Yes.

After all my complaining, I can now say that the training and the 7+ hour car ride were worth it. The Nike Women’s Run was an incredible experience.

I believe my friend C put it best when she said, “If everyone could act like they do at marathons, the world would be a much better place.”

The amount of good tidings and support buzzing in the streets of San Francisco Sunday morning was truly astounding. I believe about 20,000 people participated in the race, and hundreds more lined the course—clapping, cheering, playing music and showering passers by with positive juju.

We could barely get to the starting line, it was so packed around Union Square.

When the race finally began at 7 a.m., we pounded along the pavement of Montgomery Street, across Washington to the Embarcadero. The weather was refreshing and cool, the streets dim in the morning fog, and along the water, the sounds of a Gospel choir and a group of bagpipers rose up, mingling with our panting and chatter and excitement.

At mile six, we hit a huge hill that seemed better to walk up than waste energy on. We could see the Golden Gate across the Bay, and found ourselves commenting again and again at how beautiful the path was.

On the way down the hill, we opted to whoop it up and run, which led to terribly sore knees later that day and during the drive home Monday. But as you can see, we had a good time, so it was worth it.

When we rounded the corner to the Upper Great Highway on the city’s west side, the sight of the beach—and the finish line—nearly took our breaths away. It was painful to have to jog past the music and the smell of food to continue our course into Golden Gate Park. I felt like my bones were clacking against each other at that point.

Thankfully, it was only another 2 miles until we were done.

As we crossed the finish line, we were handed Tiffany necklaces by San Francisco firefighters in tuxedos. No joke. It was kind of surreal. Immediately following that, someone handed us mylar space blankets, water, bananas, bagels and Jamba Juice. I felt a bit like a sweaty princess.

Despite my cranky attitude, my waffling commitment to training, and several big hills on the course, I beat my Palos Verdes time and finished the half marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes. Not too bad. Now excuse me while I finish eating my celebratory wheel of cheese.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gotta Run

That seems to be my motto of late... Can't blog now, gotta run to a meeting at work. Can't chat on the phone, gotta run out to buy stuff for the Halloween costume I'm making. Can't watch all of the debates, gotta run over to have dinner with Mr. Wonderful.

On top of all these scenarios, I actually have to run.

Sunday I'm doing the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco. It'll be my second half this year, which I'm just translating into "In 2008 I ran an entire marathon"...part of it just happened to be in May and the other part happened to be in October.

Truth be told, the main reason I'm looking forward to running it is that it'll mean I'm done with it. Amidst all the other running I'm doing in my life right now, training for a race has just about made me want to run screaming from the track and not look back until I hit Vegas. And maybe when I got there, I'd trade in my Asics for some go-go boots and take a job as a platform dancer at 54 in the MGM Grand. Or I could become a cockail-serving pirate's wench at Treasure Island.

This is what my fantasies have come to...

I'll be so relieved to be done. And I may just eat an entire wheel of cheese in celebration. Then sit in the same chair for four days straight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Puckering Up, Just Like Grandma Always Did

Every now and then, I catch myself thinking back to what I was doing a year ago. I do this a lot around my birthday, summer, and undoubtedly every New Year’s. But last week, I caught myself doing it when I saw his eyeball peek out at me from behind the elevator door.

As soon as it looked at me, I panicked and started speed-walking to the parking lot. It wasn’t like I hadn’t seen him since our dating debacle. I think he and I even had lunch together in the late winter or early spring. But something about seeing that eyeball now made me flushed and flustered. And I sprinted away.

He was the guy I thought I liked before I met Mr. Wonderful.

I work on the 5th floor, he works on the 4th. A coworker knew we were both single and asked me if I’d like to meet him. Still resting comfortably in rebound mode after The Cheater, I said yes. Work Guy was a computer nerd and owned a condo, a cat, and a synthesizer (actually a whole room’s worth of them). He sounded safe and appealed to my sweet spot for geeks, so the decision was a no-brainer.

Drawn to his adorable social awkwardness, I jumped at the chance when he asked me out. After several hours of sushi eating, Tetris playing and TV watching, I was smitten. It was the beginnings of nerd love. He didn’t kiss me that night, nor after the next date. I figured he was shy and would need a little friendly coercing.

So on date #3, as we cuddled on the couch, in the dim light of the television, I tried to make myself look as harmless and kissable as possible. He rubbed his hand along my leg. I smiled and yawned.

“It’s pretty late…you can just stay here if you want,” he said. Jackpot.

He loaned me some sweats and a toothbrush, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I climbed into bed next to him. It felt extremely odd to be hopping in the sack with someone whom I’d never even had any sort of mouthial contact. He turned off the light and snuggled up next to me. I rolled over and felt for his face. When my lips found his, I was met by a completely scrunched granny pucker.

I thought it was a joke, so I pulled away and giggled, then went back in for the real deal. It was slightly better, but he Would Not Open His Mouth At All. I didn’t notice any other symptoms of lockjaw, but apparently he’d come down with a case of it. I pressed myself against him and tried to break down the anti-tongue barrier, but no luck. Eventually, he tired of our fifth grade kissing antics and laid his head down to go to sleep.

It was mind-boggling. I was lying in bed with a 35-year old, straight man and he wanted nothing to do with me. I didn’t want the whole enchilada or anything, just a nice make-out session with some groping.

We had one more overnight date after that. This time with NO kissing at all. I couldn’t figure him out, so I gave up.

Weeks later, he IMed me at work, calling me “Fastlane Playa.” Uhh because I wanted to do More Than Peck On Our THIRD DATE?! He asked when we could go out again. I asked why he would want to go out with me when he didn’t even want physical contact. He said, “What do you mean? We kissed!” I’ve gotten more action from a wooden spoon I licked after making brownies.

I never went out with him again. He contacted me several more times to say hi and rehash why things hadn’t “gone anywhere” with us. I’m hoping by now, he has gotten over his TMJ or grown a tongue or solved whatever the problem was.

Funny how different things can seem when you look back a year...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love is a Battlefield

Mr. Wonderful and I don’t really fight. Sure, we’ve had some intense conversations that included some heavy emotions, but I wouldn’t call them fights. He’s done things that bugged me—like leaving his online dating profile up WAY too long and harassing me about wearing loud shoes in the morning. But we don’t ever really have “fights” about these things.

So last night when we got into a He Said/She Said squabble, I didn’t really know how to handle it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pro at fighting. I’ve had years of practice and am genetically predisposed for confrontation. Plus, with the whole writing thing under my belt, I’m pretty good with the word-slinging. If I didn’t turn red in the face and have hot flashes, I might’ve even considered a career as an attorney.

Anywhoo, I don’t know how to fight with Mr. W because I’ve had no practice at it. I think the last time I had a real rip-roaring riff with a significant other was last summer. Not that I want to have a full on war with Mr. W, I just want to be able to address our disagreements properly.

The context last night was that he said he told me about something we were planning to do this weekend and I had no recollection of this. Which means, of course, he never told me. He assured me he did. I insisted he did not.

We had a little back-and-forth over IM—good spirited, but definitely razzing one another. And then, as I continued to argue my point, he said, “I’m bored with this conversation, I’m going to bed.” Say What?!

Why this upset me so, I’m not really clear. He said goodnight in the same sweet way he always does, but I sulked around the house for another hour. I couldn’t figure out if I was just out of sorts because we’d had a bit of a fight or because he shut down the fight.

I don’t think he did anything wrong—he’s more than entitled to get tired of a conversation and cut it off. But I’m not sure whether I should’ve handled that differently.

So now I feel the need to assemble an arsenal of reader advice that I can hearken back to during future fights. What tactics do you all employ when arguing with your significant other?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It’s so incredibly easy to come up with excuses. I’m too tired. I’ll do it later. I have other things to take care of first. No matter what it is that we’re excusing, most of us are masters at rationalizing why we can’t do certain things.

For me, it’s usually writing. I’ll get to my book manuscript after I vacuum or reorganize those pesky scrapbooking supplies. Sometimes it’s exercise. Sometimes it’s big life changes like buying a condo.

But this post isn’t about me and my excuses. It’s about people around me who don’t buy into the flimsy justifications. These people forge ahead. And I am so impressed by all of them.

My friend, D, is a medical assistant, wife and mother. The girl works her butt off. And despite the fact she doesn't have much support around her, she decided to go to surgical tech school. Does she have the time for this? No way. She has a 20-month old baby running circles around her. Does she have cushy finances at the ready to pay for her schooling and support her when she has a full-time internship? Nope. But she’s still juggling everything. And she’s kicking ass. Not only does she manage to balance a career and a family, she has consistently scored 98-100% on the tests she’s taken. I think that’s pretty freaking amazing.

My other friend, J, is 7 months pregnant. Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that “bun-in-the-oven” and “I’m-too-tired” go hand-in-hand. Those two phrases were made for one another. I don’t think there is a better excuse for sleeping in, laying on the couch or going to bed at 8:00. But not for J. No, J is still running 30 miles a week. Granted, she has to keep her heart rate down while she’s doing it. But she’s doing it. When I had dinner with her tonight, she actually giggled about doing a 14-miler recently. I’ve NEVER done a 14-miler. And I sure ain’t doin’ one when I’m pregnant! She is a goddess.

Sunday, Mr. Wonderful and his roommate had me and a couple other people come over to help them paint their house. Not like one room. The outside. Of the entire house. I’ve never actually met anyone who painted their own house. I didn’t even know that regular people could paint their own houses. Well, perhaps regular people can’t. But ass-kicking people like Mr. W can. We masked the trim and windows in the morning, and by 7:30 in the evening, the boys had sprayed the entire exterior. And it looks great. They are awesome.

As much as I wish I was as impressive as the people around me, it’s kind of nice to tell their stories instead of my own. I feel so lucky to have them spreading inspiration throughout my life. And truthfully, it’s more fun…because they’re doing the hard work and I can use their much-deserved commendations as an excuse to not work on my book…

Monday, October 6, 2008

DNA All Over the Place

In case I haven’t made it clear, Mr. W and I eat a lot of cheese. A lot. Almost every time we’re together, some sort of cheese consumption takes place. What can I say, We Loves Us The Cheese.

Given my additional penchant for salami, I recently began worrying that I might have the cholesterol of a sumo wrestler.

So Mr. W got all industrious on me and ordered home cholesterol tests online for the two of us to take. They arrived last week, and Saturday night he looked at me mischievously and said, “Want to do our cholesterol test now?”

I hesitated. See, the test involves stabbing (fine, pricking) yourself. And in addition to not really enjoying having pain inflicted on me, I Hate the sight of my own blood. Actually, I’m not a fan of seeing other people’s blood either.

I made him promise to do all the hard work and let me avert my eyes.

He was extremely gentle and the lancer didn’t hurt all that bad. When my finger started to bleed, he wiped it with gauze—just as the directions instructed—and then began squeezing it into the little measurement receptacle. He squeezed and squeezed and the blood bead got bigger but it wouldn’t drop into the slot.

“Let’s do this on the floor,” he said relocating the measurement tray and pulling my arm so the force of gravity could drain (gallons) of blood out of my body. “Your blood is all over me,” he said, looking at his hands.

Finally, he got enough and moved on to prick his finger. Of course his spurted right out and landed in a perfect little heart-shaped shiny droplet in the tray. Show off.

As we wiped the remaining red streaks from our skin, a very startling thought occurred to me. “Did my blood get in your puncture hole?” I asked him. “ARE WE BROTHER AND SISTER NOW?”

Just in case you were wondering, both of us had very healthy cholesterol levels…and mine was lower than his. Winner!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wonderfully Terrifying

It's been almost a year and I haven't met Mr. Wonderful's family. They're spread out around the country, he doesn't see them all that often, and when he does, sometimes it's just for a quick dinner or whatnot when someone's in town.

This is totally counter to me and my family. We all live within about 45 minutes of one another and see each other once a month at the very, very least. I talk to them all the time, spend every holiday in their company, and have only a 7-minute drive to end up on my sister or parents' doorsteps.

Given my relationship (and proximity) with my family, I've been dying to meet his. It's like this missing piece in his puzzle. I feel like I'll learn something new about him when I finally see him with his people.

Last week, he told me his dad wanted us to come visit and I was ecstatic. Then yesterday, he changed that to "grandma wants us to come visit when dad is in town." Town is St. Louis and in addition to Grandma, Mr. W's sister, brother-in-law, nieces, cousins, and aunt and uncle all live there. Friends, I seem to have hit the family jackpot.

I know it will be a stressful trip—bringing the girl home to meet the family. I'll undoubtedly be craving wine throughout the weekend. But I finally get to put his childhood pieces together! I'll get to hug his yaya (that's grandma in Greek) and see his adorable nieces in person. And maybe we'll come home having reached an even higher level of comfort and closeness.

I've never been to the Midwest. Anything I should know about?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Exercises in Moronity

Any time Mr. W spends the night, I have to change the sheets. Sadly, he is allergic to cats…and being a crazy cat lady, I let Monty and Zoe sleep in my bed when no one else is around. Thus, there is usually a thin film of hair on the bed at all times.

Last week, when I went to do a sheet switcheroo before Mr. W and I climbed in bed, I couldn’t find the nice, soft off-white set I like to use. It wasn’t in the cupboard, so I figured it was in the hamper. Drat. I made a mental note to do laundry.

So this weekend, I flung open the hamper and began piling various whites on the floor, anxious to get my soft sheets cleaned. However…they weren’t in the dirty laundry. I went back to the cupboard, certain I was having a stroke or amnesia. They weren’t there either.

Where in the world could they be???

Then a hazy image began to form in the back of my mind. I was doing laundry when my neighbor (who I call Charlotte on this blog) invited me over for a glass of wine. Somehow that led to looking at pictures from high school and the next thing I knew, I’d been at her apartment for two hours. Exhausted, I hobbled home and went to sleep. AND LEFT MY LAUNDRY IN THE DRYER FOR A WEEK AND A HALF.

I ran to the laundry room and sure enough, there it was jumbled on top of the dryer. My off-white sheets, some t-shirts, and worst of all, a bunch of my underwear.

As you may remember, it’s only women in my complex. But they are the kind of women who might judge a person by her taste in undergarments. And given that they already have opinions about me, the last thing I want to do is fuel their fires.

So when I saw my hot pink thong with the pink bunny rabbit pattern sticking out from the laundry pile, I was mortified. Bad enough to leave one’s clothes in the dryer for A WEEK AND A HALF—but to have a pair of bunny panties in there…I don’t think I’ll ever recover…

Monday, September 29, 2008

All of It

When we got up this morning, it was sprinkling outside. It wasn’t like us to be out so early. 6:45 was usually when Mr. W was hitting the snooze button for the first time. But there we were, out in the street, taking a morning walk.

The sprinkles didn’t last. We only felt a half dozen each, but the sky had that streaky look off in the distance. Around the horizon, chalky orange and pink warned us that the sun would soon be up. We could see the downtown skyline bidding good morning in peaks and valleys of concrete and steel.

The air was slightly warm and I almost felt like we were somewhere else—on vacation in Hawaii on a spring day.

We wound our way up the hill, commenting on interesting architecture. A newly renovated home with a longhorn cattle skull hanging over the garage. A picturesque, ivy covered cottage. A miniature Taj Majal with meringue-like dollops punctuating its roof. As we continued in the direction of old Hollywoodland, we were met by 5 cop cars, yellow tape and a police officer. He told us we could go up the opposite side of the street—there had been an accident the night before that was being investigated.

I was a bit nervous about what we might see as we resumed our climb. We finally saw it across the street and I tried not to look too closely. A kid had smashed his sports car into the side of a U-Haul moving van. The sports car was demolished. The driver’s side was nearly flattened against the van’s front wheel well. Glass shimmered in the street. A tow truck pulled up and began to lift the mangled car onto its forks. I wondered how long it had been since the accident actually happened.

On my way home to my apartment, the rain picked up again. As I was coming through the freeway pass towards my exit, I noticed a rainbow creeping up in the valley to my left. I tried to take a picture with my camera phone, but couldn’t quite get the right angle.

I thought of the rainbows Mr. W and I had seen on our first trip away together last January. We drove to San Francisco for a long weekend, and were met with rainbows on the way there and back. I remember thinking it was a sign.

When I reached the off-ramp, I was surprised to see, yet again, evidence of a car accident. Orange cones circled part of the right lane where a traffic light had been knocked down and demolished.

I was struck by the dichotomy of images. An incredible sunrise contrasted with a terrible car wreck. A stunning rainbow juxtaposed with the debris of a fallen tower of metal. It made me pause for a minute and appreciate how varied life is. And how beautiful it is in its chaos.

It’s not just about the pleasant things. It’s about the range of the human experience; the depths of emotion we're capable of feeling. There is beauty in the pain, the heartache, the ills because it is LIFE. It’s all LIFE even when it’s tragic and horrible. It is the mix of all the good and bad and pleasurable and terrifying that make life what it is—and us who we are. And when I come to an end, I will be thankful for seeing, feeling, experiencing all of it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

On the Same Page

It's about quarter to nine and we're hustling to get ready so we can eat some free breakfast and make it Napa in time to catch our wine tour limo. I need to brush my teeth. I need to curl my hair. He needs to get the wrinkles out of his shirt.

I slip into my pink peep-toes and trot into the bathroom. They clack on the tile floor.

“Why are you wearing your shoes?” he sneers from the bedroom.

I kick them off. Extremely annoyed. “I don’t know.”

A few minutes later, I slip them back on as we walk out the door. Why was he so high maintenance? I like my pink shoes. So what if I wanted to walk around in them before it was actually time to leave.

* * *

The next night, we sit across from each other over a huge plate of sushi. His eyes seem sleepy and his hair's a little wild. My favorite look on him.

“We did it again. We made it through another trip without killing each other.”

“We did.”

“The only time you made me mad was when you asked me why I was wearing my shoes in the morning…in a snippy voice.”

“Well, they were loud!” he laughs.

“Did I do anything to make you mad on the trip?”

He looks up, chewing his salmon thoughtfully...

“Yeah, you put your shoes on and walked on the tile at 8:45 a.m.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Remember back in high school or junior high or kindergarten when that one girl you hung out with got a boyfriend? And you and all your other friends suddenly had to deal with her flaking on you and talking about him all the time and carrying a lock of his chest hair around in her pencil case. And then she’d finally stop hanging out with you altogether because she was too busy making out with him in front of her locker and going to his water polo games, and eventually you’d barely even say hi to each other in the halls.

Yeah. I think I might be turning into that girl.

I’m beginning to find myself wanting to choose Mr. Wonderful all the time over my friends. I know, right? PUNCH ME IN THE FACE PLEASE.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this. A long while, actually. Like not since my first serious boyfriend (which I had in my early twenties, thanks to a near fatal case of the late bloomies). I remember being so infatuated with him, that I’d just want to be with him every minute and stare at him in awe like he was a newborn baby sporting one of those astonishing gas-induced smiles.

It was so long ago, I can’t remember if I pissed off my girlfriends in the process. Probably did. And I know for sure that I made him feel suffocated.

But I don’t think Mr. W is struggling for air. I think he likes having me around just as much as I like being around. I think he’s pleased when I cut plans short with my girlfriends and come over to play Rock Band with him. I don’t think he minds taking me with him to Home Depot or to look at new mountain bikes.

It’s funny because I actually thought I minded being with him all the time and not having my old single-life free-time oozing out of every crevice of the calendar. But then this past weekend, when I had an entire day to myself—to get all my chores and errands done and just bask in the quiet of my alone time—I found myself missing him.

By 2:00, I was sitting on the couch wondering what he was doing. ON MY ALONE TIME DAY! I was amused and frustrated with myself all in the same.

Is this normal, people? Am I supposed to be wanting to spend all my weekends hiking and biking and kissing with him? Is it wrong that I’m not craving girlfriend time—or worse—that I’m feeling blue during my own alone time?

I need some perspective please. Love makes me a little crazy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've Lost that Lovin' Feeling...and Found it Again (Maybe)

I started running because I was trying to move through a terrible breakup and was so filled with angst and hurt and rage that I had to do something to detoxify my psyche. It was either running or throwing plates in the driveway. And throwing plates wasn't going to give me shapely calves, so I picked running.

The first time I did 6 miles, I was astonished. I never would have thought I was capable of making it around the Rose Bowl. Twice. I couldn't believe that I didn't drop dead that night.

Nine months later, I completed a half marathon. Also something I never thought I'd do. I walked at various points during that race. And when I finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes I thought, I can do way better than that. I can definitely improve my time.

When the opportunity to join some friends in the Nike Women's race came up, I agreed to participate...although I'd lost the fire in my belly. The thought of devoting my Saturdays to long runs and forcing myself to get in miles during the week just didn't sound so fun anymore. It sounded like a big fat burden.

I didn't have the adrenaline-laced anger pulsing inside me like I did when I started to run. I had a boyfriend who I liked to sleep in with and drink lattes with on weekend mornings. I had blogs to write and freelance work to complete. Shoes and groceries to buy. A toilet and a Prius to clean. Yes folks, I would rather clean the toilet Saturday morning than run.

That is, until yesterday. I was absolutely dreading the 9.5 mile run through Los Feliz that my race buddy and I had planned. As we completed it, I developed raw spots on my shoulderblades where my CamelBak bounced and rubbed against me; my running buddy and I got lost; we had to walk up most of the hills because they were so steep; I thought multiple times that I Just Wanted It To Be Over.

But somehow through the pain and suffering, I found a little spark of love again. And as much as I was wishing for a helicopter rescue or a torn hammie that would enable me to stop in my tracks, I was also enjoying knowing that I was doing 9.5 miles. So next weekend, I'm going to do it again. I might even be looking forward to it a smidge...

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a Peach

One of the coolest places Mr. W and I went in Napa was the Greystone restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. Former site of the Christian Brothers winery, the campus is perched above a beautiful vineyard in St. Helena.

We chose to sit outside, under the trees and heat lamps, looking out over Main Street. I was delighted when a French couple took the table next to us and began speaking in their native tongue—further amplifying the feeling that we were dining somewhere in Europe.

Mr. W and I both had delicious steaks that delighted the palate, however my first course of pimentos, almonds and manchego burned the crap out of my mouth. Not that there was crap in my mouth before I ate it... Anyway... We also discovered that the Greystone brand of wine is quite tasty—especially when paired with a slab of beef.

When it came time for dessert, I was giddy to see creme brulée on the menu. I love creme brulée. I love the sound it makes when you crack the sugary surface. I love the custardy taste and the smoothness of it as it slips down my throat. Mr. W ordered some sort of peach cobbler that was equally decadent, and as you can see from the picture, presented very nicely on the plate.

In fact, as soon as I saw his lovely cobbler presentation I said, "That dried peach looks like lips! Give it to me!" Thus solidifying my unwavering class and ability to fit in at any high brow establishment.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In the Land of the Nectar of the Gods

First off, thank you to everyone who weighed in on my deodorant dilemma. I so greatly appreciate your concern with my malodorous armpits. Thankfully, there were no stinky incidents on the trip.

Secondly, please bear with me through this post. My brain cells (I just typed sells instead of cells) are still a bit blotto from the weekend. Even with a daily nap, it seems I never quite got enough rest to rejuvenate my drunk little neural pathways. So I think many of them are shut down right now.

The weekend was fantastic. Mostly just because everything connected to wine is beautiful and decadent and timeless. Driving through rolling hills dotted with oak trees and flanked by striated vineyards is sort of like crawling across a big beautiful patchwork quilt. It’s comfortable and you appreciate the care and craftsmanship that went into creating it, and you really want to just stop and take a nap on it. Seriously, I think there’s a reason they named it Napa up there…

Then there’s the whole process of swirling the wine in your glass and watching it catch the light; holding it to your nose, trying to pick up fragrances of green apple or earth; swishing it around your mouth as its buttery flavor coats your tongue. It’s an indulgence for every sense.

We went to about a dozen wineries and tasting rooms. La Crema, Kendall Jackson, Seghesio, Simi, Lambert Ridge, Rosso & Bianco (Coppola’s), Cosentino, Miner Family, V. Sattui, Merryvale, Rubicon (also Coppola’s), Opus One, and Silver Oak. At a couple of them, we just wandered around a bit an enjoyed the scenery. At all the rest, we sipped and poured, trying to determine how badly we wanted to add a bottle to our purchase list.

We ended up shipping 12 bottles from about 5 different locations. And Mr. Wonderful joined the wine club at our favorite spot which I’ll write about in a separate post.

I’m wearing a grey shirt today, which pretty much sums up how I feel about being back in LA. I was so depressed last night I cried after I left Mr. W’s house. There’s something about getting so high on the taste of olives and cheese and Cabernet and kisses then having to come back to the daily grind. Quite a downer. At least I can smile every time I look down at the type across my new grey t-shirt…it reads “pinot envy.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

We’ll Have a Stinkin’ Good Time

Mr. Wonderful and I are headed up to Napa this weekend for four days of drunken, naked debauchery. Okay, we won’t be naked the whole time, but we will be all wined up and we’ll definitely be debauching. Maybe. Or maybe we’ll be really snooty and speak about “legs” and “bouquets” in British accents.

Anyway, I’m particularly excited about this trip because I’ve never actually been wine tasting in Napa. When I was a wee 23, my college boyfriend and I were all set to take a trip to Calistoga…and he decided to break up with me. Right before Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, we got back together about a month later…and then broke up again the following year. And then spent several years being each other’s bootie calls… But I digress…

So for weeks, Mr. W and I have been counting down the days until our trip. Just last Sunday after returning from a hike up Temescal Canyon (which I totally meant to blog about) we were sitting on his bed, discussing the details of the trip, joking that we wouldn’t ever want to come back again.

I laid down on the bed with my arms splayed overhead, dreaming of what it would feel like to become a professional grape stomper. Mr. W toppled down next to me and when he scooted closer, he scrunched up his nose and said, “Whew!”

Enter: mortification.

Apparently his olfactory receptors had come into range of my smelly armpit. Sure, we’d gone hiking—but I put on a bunch of freakin' deodorant. I should not have been a stinkfest.

“Why do I have to always be the smelly one?! Does the other pit stink?”

We both leaned in toward the other pit and decided it wasn’t as bad as the first one. “You probably just need to change the brand of deodorant you use,” he said. Or I'm a rancid freak who should run away and join P.U. Barnum's Circus.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I stunk up the bathroom on our last wine tasting trip and farted on him in my sleep (oh, you guys don’t know that story yet…) now I’m the girl with the putrid underarms. I’m seriously beginning to develop a complex. And it doesn’t help any that he always smells good and seems to crap peonies and spongecake.

So yesterday I went to Target and I bought new deodorant. It’s some coconut-scented Secret stuff. I held the clinical-strength Degree for about 5 minutes before deciding that I was not in fact a special stench-case who required near-prescription strength anti-venom. We’ll see how it goes. It’s supposed to be 90° up there during the day. Add in a lot of alcohol consumption and my propensity to get hot and bothered around Mr. W and it could just be a recipe for disaster. I’m going to hope for the best though—and maybe if Mr. W’s nose ends up in my pit somehow during the heat of passion, the new scent will make him smile instead of dry heaving.

What kind of deodorant/antiperspirant do you all recommend?