Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Basket Case

My name is Melissa Hetherington and I am currently a basket case.

When I was in fourth grade, my sister (who is 10 years older than me) started a gift basket company with her best friend called Basket Case. I remember the floor of her bedroom being covered with silk flowers and coffee mugs and chocolates and baby gifts and anything else you could put into a themed, woven receptacle, wrapped with cellophane. I think she was in the midst of basket-making when I read Are You There God It's Me Margaret and magically started my period for one day...not to have it again until age 15 3/4...

Anyway, over the last few weeks, I feel like I have been assembling my own little basket—but it's full of unruly emotions and baubles of stress. I'm not entirely sure why I'm such a wreck right now...it's likely related to the transition coming up next week. It's an exciting transition, but a scary one too. So much to think about before I go. A fear of feeling lost once I get there. Nagging thoughts about how it will be living together. And other stuff I can't put my finger on. It's been making me feel vulnerable to the point of tears. Mr. W tries to help, but I think he may be grappling with a few feelings of uncertainty too. It doesn't help that he's been on location, so our interaction has been limited for the past two weeks.

Today as I tried to explain some of this to him, tearing up in my cubicle, I realized that the best thing to do was to turn to youtube. So I clicked my way over and did a search for "kittens." Here's the video I found that immediately made me feel better.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We Are All Clueless

Last night I saw Away We Go—a sweet film about a 30-something couple trying to navigate their way through pregnancy and impending parenthood. As the pair visits friends and family in different cities, trying to decide where to raise their little one, they discover the realities of their loved ones' situations...exposing the humanity and faults of everyone they visit.

I don't know if this story struck me because of my own conflicting feelings about parenthood or because I'm strangely emotional knowing that I'm leaving the country in 12 days. Whatever it was, it reminded me of the undeniable fact that no one really knows what they're doing in this life.

No one knows if the choices they're making are best. No one knows what is really going on in other people's lives. What hidden pains lurk or what quiet joys burst forth when no one else is looking. No one knows "the right way" to do things. There is no right way. No one knows what fate they'll be dealt. Or where their path will wind. We hold ourselves and others to such high standards—expecting to know or be told the right answers. But none of us really know.

And maybe the more we accept and recognize that we don't know, the kinder and more tolerant we will be of our own foibles and those of our peers.

Maybe admitting our own ignorance is what leads us to bliss.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hair Surrogate

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here, but Mr. Wonderful has a pretty fantastic head of hair. It's thick and wavy and completely grabbable, with little curls that jut out in certain places. There it is below looking lovely in front of the Lourve.

Being away from this gorgeous mop for the last several months has been difficult. I've tapped my fingers against my computer screen, tracing them along his hairline as we chat on Skype. I've had dreams about touching it. And lately, I've been so desperate that I find myself cheating on it.

See, I've been watching Entourage on Netflix over the past few weeks, and in addition to being a hysterical show (probably particularly to me because I live near Hollywood) its main cast member has one of the best sets of locks I've ever laid eyes on. I have nearly had to sit on my hands during certain episodes because it is so tempting to claw at Adrian Grenier's hair on the TV screen.

My friend Brookem always features notable HOHs (Head of Hair) on her blog. I hope she has included Adrian because he deserves major hair props.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eau d'Soy Milk

Remember that time I tried to wear multiple necklaces to work and they put me in a choke-hold in my bathroom?

Well apparently the necklace gods are conspiring against me again today...

This morning, my purple puckered shirt looked a little sparse in the mirror, so I selected a long silver chain with smokey grey elliptical beads to dress it up a bit. I made the necklace myself a few years ago, and I think it's pretty cute. I believe it has even earned a few compliments in the past.

Anywhoo, I went down to our free coffee bar this morning and got myself a nice vanilla soy latte in my big company mug, and was all smiles and sunshine as I returned to my desk with it. But as I lowered myself into my chair, my necklace lowered itself into my mug, then jumped back out like a cat in a bathtub, flinging frothy milk all over the front of my shirt, pants and part of my desk.

I'm not sure if soy milk emanates the same lovely sour smell that cow milk does when it's been out in the warm air too long. I suppose I'll find out by the end of the day...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Digging in the Dad Archives

I spent Father’s Day with all the important men in my life (sans Mr. W of course), enjoying a lovely breakfast with my dad and brother-in-law, then having dinner with my brother.

During breakfast, the family broke into funny stories from the past, and when my mom pulled out this gem for my cousins, I knew I had to post it.

About ten or twelve years ago, my parents went to visit some friends in Arizona. The guest room they stayed in had no windows, which wasn’t a problem for my claustrophobic mother, but turned into an issue for my dad…

The two of them went to bed, I’m sure at an early hour, and were sleeping peacefully when suddenly my dad woke up. He blinked. Nothing. He held his hand out in front of him. Nothing. He became nervous and shot up in bed.

“Are you blind?!” he whisper-shrieked to my sleeping mom—apparently thinking maybe if he had gone blind in his sleep, she had too.


“Are you blind? I think I’ve gone blind! I'm BLIND!”

Rather than being concerned about my father’s sudden lack of eyesight, my mother immediately began worrying about how they would get home from Arizona—because she doesn’t drive on the freeway.

Thinking quick, likely due to the panic of potential freeway driving, she said, “Did you try turning on the light?”

My dad fumbled for the light switch.

And suddenly HE COULD SEE AGAIN.

My mom says he was all shaky and sweaty, sitting on the edge of the bed in his tightie whites. Apparently he forgot that if you sleep in a room with no windows, there is a high likelihood that it will get very, very dark in the room…

He spent the rest of the evening clicking on a flashlight next to his pillow. And we bought him Braille Christmas cards that year.

Just another Hetherington family favorite story…

Had my brother-in-law known what we were up to last night, he probably would have wished he were suffering from Arizona-onset blindness, too. After a few margaritas and way too much giggling with the cousins, my sister, nieces and I got our hands on a Depends undergarment and decided to do a sleeping photo shoot with my bro-in-law.

No, we didn’t strip him down and put in on him… Instead, I shimmied out of my True Religions and into the diaper and positioned my Pampery butt near his sleeping face while my sister snapped away with the digital camera. I’ve made my sister promise not to post the pictures on Facebook. We’ll see if she wants to ruin my life or not…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thinking Twice Before I Put It In My Mouth

For all you dirty pervs out there who thought this was going to be a naughty post, it’s not. It’s about food. More specifically, it’s about a documentary I saw last weekend called Food, Inc.

The movie addresses issues ranging from animal cloning to big business farming to the poor living conditions some livestock endures. All of those issues are rattling to the psyche, but the stuff I found most upsetting is how the food we eat is making America sick.

Because the government subsidizes corn, there are “corn-derived” products in almost every processed food we eat. And it’s fed to animals. Even the cows who are supposed to eat grass, and fish who are supposed to eat…I don’t know what…bugs? Well cows and chickens and pigs and fish are eating corn now. And you know what corn breaks down to in our bodies? Sugar.

A different film I watched recently, called King Corn, asserted that a serving of corn-fed beef has 9 grams of fat in it, whereas a serving of grass-fed beef has only 1.5. Hello growing obesity rate in this country!

With the ratio of people with Type II Diabetes now at 1 in 3 (one in two for certain minority groups) can we really afford to have government subsidizing and “efficient feed spending” contributing to our decline in overall health?

And if people are saving money by buying corn-fed burgers, (corn oil) fried potatoes, and (high fructose corn syrup) soda off the dollar menu at McDonald’s, aren’t they potentially paying that right back in medication costs when they fall victim to high cholesterol and heart disease?

The other wildly upsetting thing about this whole factory-tized farming issue is that cramped living conditions and mass "production” of meats contribute to the spread of bacteria like E.coli. If you have hundreds of cows standing in a small corral in their own poo, don’t you think some of that poo could make it’s way into the slaughterhouse? Uh yeah, check the papers every year for outbreak headlines.

My point in sharing all this is that if we know what’s going on and we don’t like it, we can change it. If all of us are grossed out and switch to organic meat and veggies, the market will follow. Look at the auto industry—everyone’s coming out with hybrids because people started demanding them.

I’m not going to stop eating salami and I’m not going to boycott salad dressing with corn syrup in it. But I can tell you I’m checking a heck of a lot more labels, eating a lot more organic products, and avoiding all the packaged crap that could make me the next person dependent on insulin.

If these issues interest you, give the Food, Inc. website a looksie. There’s all sorts of stuff there to whet your appetite for change.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Something We All Could Use

I haven't had a lot of time to post lately, but when a friend sent me this link today, I had to pass it on to all my Internet pals. Watch the video and listen to the testimonials to get the full list of benefits for the product. It's priceless. I think I know what I'm buying all my relatives for Christmas now...the Comfort Wipe.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Two-Dimensional Love

He looks at me from a picture tacked to my cubicle wall. There’s depth to the shot—a river reed in the foreground of the frame, obscuring part of his shirt. But he is still flat. Not real. Just an image.

His face animates in the Skype window, sharing tales of the movie set and his latest discoveries from Wine Spectator Magazine. He is breathing and alive, but I cannot feel him inside that plasma screen. And a blown kiss goodbye isn’t the same as the real thing.

I wear his t-shirt to bed. A white undershirt I stole in Tampa. It still smells of him faintly, but it’s not his shape that fills out the fabric. It’s just mine, wishing his was nearby.

I watch his favorite TV shows, Tivoing each week. Trying to recreate the feeling of Sunday mornings on his couch, a homemade vanilla latte in hand and his body perched next to my curled feet.

When I return from our visits, he is fresh in my memory. I can close my eyes and recreate him almost perfectly. I can feel his fingers on my face and see his mouth forming each word he says to me. And I try so hard to hang on to the vividness of it.

But the rise and set of the sun of each day makes the picture fade. Its colors grow dim and my mind grows fuzzy. I try to convince myself that he’s real and it’ll all come back, but that reality seems so far away.

So I lock myself in. And, perhaps, my heart’s own defenses prevent me from recalling the sharpest memories. Everything’s safer when it’s dull. I go through each day biding my time. Counting my days. Making my lists. Waiting to feel three-dimensional again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Patience is a Virtue…I’m Lacking

I remember watching my sister in action when my eldest niece, C, was first learning to read. She would let C struggle and sound-out until she got each word right, when all I wanted to do was yell, “Exasperated! It says exasperated!”

I’m one of those people who would rather just do things myself than watch someone fumble to get them right.

I also like instant gratification. Mr. Wonderful and I will occasionally have debates over various topics and thank God he has an iPhone so we can look up the answer online immediately rather than wait until we’re all the way back home.

Although I consider myself a lover of people, I often feel the hair on my neck stand on end when someone’s charming quirk makes itself known over and over again in my presence. I just have no patience for that stuff…

Awareness is the first step to recovery, right?

Over the years, I’ve tried to make strides with my unfortunate, intolerant attitude. I make it a point to let kids try to sound out a word a couple times or find the right puzzle piece before I blurt out, “That piece goes right here.” I’ve completely gotten over being impatient in line at the grocery store and Disneyland. (Traffic is about a 50/50 split). And I’ve suppressed panic attacks in my relationship over “what we are” and where this is going.” (Thank you, Therapy.)

However, my love of instant gratification lingers. And I feel that right now I’m receiving lessons left and right on how to sit tight and let things unfold in their own time.

Every morning, I wait for Mr. W to send me an IM. On the weekends, I wait for him to tell me when he’s available to Skype. And in between visits, I wait with antsy hands and lips for the next smother and smoochfest.

It’s been 4 weeks since I told my boss I was leaving for the UK and he has yet to inform me what his decision is on my job fate. So I wait.

Given Mr. W’s reaction to wedding and kids talk, I’m pretty certain I have a nice long wait in front of me for those things too.

Sometimes I’m able to remind myself to just stay in the moment and forget that I’m even waiting. I try to be patient. But other times, I want to run around my block 50 times screaming, “Hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up!”

It’s funny how the universe always gives you what you need to get where you want to be. I want to be patient…and so I wait.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Indulging the OCD

I’m sure it’s never apparent on here, but I can tend to over-think things sometimes. I get fixated on a particular topic and I have to flesh out every possible scenario in my head until I can make sense of each potential avenue. Control freak, much?
A little.

One of my most favoritest things to do is make lists. Pro and con lists. Shopping lists. To do lists. Wedding guest lists. Lists of every boy I’ve ever kissed in my life. Anytime I start to wonder about something, I want to organize all the thoughts and write them down in a neat little bulleted record for myself and all future generations to enjoy.

The last time I went to Europe, I made my packing list at least a month in advance. And preparing for my next departure in 4 ½ weeks has put me into full OCD mode. There are many lists circulating in my apartment right now and last night I began to consolidate them into the mutha of all written plans.

I made a clothing matrix.

Yes, I graphed out every top, bottom, dress, sweater and pair of shoes I was going to take to Europe and figured out how many outfits I could make with the pieces. It came to 58. But I bet there are more combos I didn’t think of. Then I started making another table of “at home in the UK” items vs. “traveling on the weekend” items. Because, you know, they don’t have stores over there so if I forget anything, I’m screwed.

The worst part is that I LOVE doing this stuff. Organizing and planning floats my little OCD boat like nothing else. Or maybe the worst part is that I was drinking wine and watching The Bachelorette with my 2 cats while I was doing it…that might be the worst part.

Do you guys find as much joy in indulging your OCD stuff as I do?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Making Peace Piece

I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but Mr. W isn’t sure whether he wants kids. I knew this early on, and like any red-blooded female, thought, “He didn’t say he doesn’t want them. Maybe we’ll end up on the same page eventually.”

Flash forward a year and a half, and this is our biggest sticking point. He has never given me a definitive “no,” but has said that if I didn’t want kids, we might be further along in our relationship.

I always pictured myself having kids. When I was in my early twenties, I had a deadline to have kids before I turned 30. That quickly passed, and the deadline morphed into a hope that I would have kids while I was still relatively young and capable of delivering healthy babies.

But the older I get, the more stressed I seem to feel when I picture kids in my life. I can’t imagine giving up quiet Friday nights with Oprah magazine. I can’t imagine devoting leisurely Saturdays to soccer games and play dates. I can’t imagine dealing with a child who’s been hurt or betrayed. It all feels very overwhelming. When I was younger, it didn’t feel that way.

This weekend, I spent about 30 hours with my nieces. 14, 10, 9 and 1 ½, each of them has something unique to offer. The little one cuddles and does all those cute, mesmerizing baby things. The 9 and 10-year-olds act silly and remind me how wonderful it is to have an imagination. The 14-year-old entertains me with teenage cynicism and intelligent conversation. I love them all to pieces.

And sometimes, I think they might be enough.

Being an aunt enables you to have children in your life without actually having the full responsibility. You get to enjoy them, then give them back to their parents. It's like all the good without the challenges. But then I wonder if this is like renting a convertible for the weekend. It’s a fun experience, but you don’t get to fully appreciate what it’s like to drive that sort of car every day. To feel the sun on your face after too many hours at the office, or smell the salt air as you’re cruising up the coast.

I feel so torn. So uncertain. Are nieces all I need? Or is a baby or two a necessity to round out my future?

I’ve been trying hard to reach a mental middle ground…and I think maybe I’ve found it.

It seems to me that the universe should decide what my path is. If I’m meant to have kids, I’ll have them. If I’m not, I won’t.

I used to think I would go through fertility treatments or adopt if I couldn’t get pregnant. But I think, now, I would just accept that as being my path. Accept that I’ve been given four beautiful nieces to guide and help raise.

I proposed this idea to Mr. W. He didn’t seem fully ready to let go and let the fates decide. But hopefully at some point, he will be. I’ve come this far with the good energy of the world looking out for me, I think I can lay my parental fate in those same hands. I think I can be at peace with whatever is meant to be.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Don’t Recall Snow White Talking Like That

Last night, my dear friends from Arizona came over with their two-month-old son, W, and three-year-old daughter, SJ. They were in California to take the kids to Disneyland for their first time, so SJ was all decked out in a Snow White dress when they arrived.

I forgot how funny three-year-olds can be, and found SJ’s random bursts into song and silly observations quite entertaining.

At one point, her daddy was telling us about a game they like to play where they try to come up with the grossest meal they can think of. We all decided to join in the fun, throwing out ideas like:

“How about green beans dipped in peanut butter?”
“How about a hot dog with honey and sauerkraut?”

“How about a brownie with sushi on top?”

Then, quite exasperated, SJ chimed in:

“How about a chocolate-covered fart?!”

Clearly, she was the winner.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Not sure if I ever mentioned it here, but I was an accident. My parents weren’t expecting to have another kid—10 years after the birth of their first one. Being the youngest by a long shot meant that all of our family friends thought of me as their surrogate daughter or little sister. I inherited all of my siblings’ friends, and was parented by dozens.

I may not have also mentioned that I live minutes from the town in which I grew up. Almost my entire family is in the immediate vicinity. A lot of old friends live in the area. It’s great most of the time, but when it comes to thinking about a wedding?

I’m screwed.

For about the last decade or so, I’ve been dealing with people asking me when I was going to get married, telling me they can’t wait to come to my wedding, and giving me advice on how I should handle the whole shebang. It stresses the sheet out of me.

I love the idea of having a small wedding—just family and close friends. But given my upbringing and “small town” environment, the lowest number I can get my count down to is 90. Yes, people, I made a list. Years ago. Without an engagement ring. Simply because the thought of making that list sent me into a panic. So I went ahead and did it just to see how bad the damage would be.

That number includes only 4 high school friends and their dates, 2 college friends and their husbands, and about 5 couples I’ve met in my working life. Everyone else is a family member or family friend. And it doesn’t include any kids outside of my nieces, which is a whole other issue. If I allow kids, I have to allow EVERYONE’S kids—and that would add between 14 and 22 more to my list.

Why don’t I just elope? I’ve thought about it. Mr. W and I have talked about it. But I honestly cannot imagine saying my vows without my family nearby. Why don’t I have family only? Because some of my friends feel like family. Why don’t I just put myself into major credit card debt and spring for a $50k wedding? Because I see absolutely NO sense in that whatsoever. It’s ONE day. An important one, yes. But not one worth $50k. I want to use that money for a house or travel or college educations for my imaginary children.

It’s so funny how little girls never think of the immense pressure and have-to-please-everyone nonsense that comes with a wedding when they’re dreaming about their day as a princess. How do people make it through this?

I guess I should stop worrying altogether…I’m not even engaged…just trying to think ahead…