Friday, December 30, 2005

eye twitches, smokin' booties, and a happy new year to you!

I've been feeling particularly unmotivated as of late, perhaps because I am stressed for some odd reason that I can't figure out. I have been having moments of anxiety when I try and fall asleep at night, and my eye has been twitching for a couple of days. I think I am just in dire need of this vacation next week. I haven't had more than a weekend off since July 1st, and I guess the long hours are catching up to me.

We have lots planned for this week, which is why I am trying to make our night or two away very low-key. We have friends over tomorrow night for New Year's Eve, a visit to the inlaws in the Berkshires for a couple of days, I need to get some interior house painting and other remodeling stuff done (that bright blue radiator in my bedroom has GOT TO GO), return items to the stores that I haven't had the time to get to, and of course, our little getaway. I'm worried my "vacation" won't be enough. And, of course, my parents are here for three weeks, and while I adore the visit and begged them to stay for this long, I do worry about whether they are having a good time while they are here.

Oh, and tonight we have a Hanukkah celebration with my inlaws for dinner and gifts. I am making Josh take the brunt of the cooking, because even I have my limits. I said I could do dinner if we purchased pre-made potato pancakes, and when that was unacceptable to him, I granted him the gift of partaking in the wonder himself. I wish to arrive home tonight to a completed dinner and a spotless house. I'll let you know how it goes.

I have received lovely and thoughtful gifts from the husband, however. Yesterday I received my long-desired first season of Lost. I have been imagining what happens past the two dvds I rented last month, and now I'll know. I also received Memoirs of a Geisha, because I refuse to see the movie until I have finished the book. That will be task #1 next week. Oh, and new jeans that make my booty look smokin'. Perhaps the best gift of the season, because everyone needs a smokin' booty.

What is everyone planning for New Year's? I find myself disappointed with the event every year. We feel pressure to do something special and end the year in style, but going out costs a fortune for not much fun, and the parties leave something to be desired. This year we are doing the same as last year and spending it with two of our best friends and perhaps a few others, playing board games, eating cupcakes, and watching movies. Cupcakes is another thing that everyone should have. Yum.

This past year I have been grateful for the gift of blogging friends. You are all so wonderful and supportive and kind, I feel so very fortunate to have met all of you.

I hope the coming year is filled with much good health, love and laughter for all of you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

merry chrismukkahkwanzaa

Or however you are supposed to say that.

I had great plans to post on Christmas Eve with a holiday picture of the dogs, and then the time got away from me, as is always the case. My parents were arriving on a flight from California at 5pm on Saturday afternoon, and Josh and I had ONE AFTERNOON to get the house in decent shape for their arrival. If you'd seen it before our whirlwind cleaning, you would have understood my desperation.

Of course, we slept in until 11am, and then discovered that unless we found a way to stop time, we'd never be able to do laundry, clean every room in the house, change all the sheets, give Murray a haircut, bathe both dogs, wrap our last couple of gifts, get ourselves cleansed, dressed and to the airport by 5pm. We did the best we could, though, and and got to the airport at 5:30pm, wondering why we hadn't gotten a call from them yet, but it turns out they were delayed! Hurray! So we timed it perfectly, and arrived at Gate C as they rolled their bags out from the carousel. I resisted the urge to make up a story and tell them we'd been waiting for half an hour, because I'm a nice daughter like that.

As we drove home, they broke the news to us that they'd been up since 1:30am California time to catch their flight, so we scrapped our plans to go to our dear friends' Christmas Eve party and instead decided to eat dinner at home. Poor Josh then set about at 6:45pm on Christmas Eve to run around our town and find a grocery store that was still open and had food. Thank goodness for Whole Foods. I prepared the sides and he settled on lobsters and crabs for their main dish because they are quick to cook. Nothing says Merry Christmas like crustaceans, no?

Then there was movie watching and opening of gifts at midnight, as we did when I was a child. Christmas day was fairly non-momentous, although we did see King Kong. Why didn't anyone tell me that he dies at the end? I was inconsolable.

Sunday was also the first night of Hanukkah and we had traditional potato pancakes (and tofu), candle lighting and gifts. I got a Seal cd, because I am quite obsessed with his song, Love's Divine. It is my new wake up song, replacing Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow. We are opting for low cost gifts this year, in deference to our new television, Wanda, and my new computer.

Yesterday was much of the same lounging around and I didn't even have to work all weekend! Although clients emailed me with requests anyway. Our one great foray out, was to the Crate and Barrel post-Christmas 50% off sale. Wooooooweeeeeee. I never knew that people could get so nasty over ornaments and snowmen dishtowels.

Today I'm back in the office sunny and chipper because hardly anyone is here, and I've actually slept many consecutive hours. My parents and Josh are meeting me for lunch, and I am planning Josh and my 2 day adventure away without the dogs. The folks are watching Tango and Murray for our escape. Any suggestions for locales not far from Boston that are relaxing? We considered skiing but decided that given our different skiing styles we'd spend more time together if we went to a regular hotel. My criteria: within 3 hours of Boston, something to do (i.e. a couple of shops), not too busy or hectic (so NYC is out) and Josh has to be there. That is it. Suggestions are welcome.

Hope all of your holidays were wonderful, peaceful and happy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

dehived and deswelled

Excellent news! I am back to my normal color, size and shape!!! Tonight we will hopefully be celebrating 72 hours hive-free, and I am feeling sooo. much. better.

Thank you so much for your well-wishes and advice. Maribeth asked if it helped, and your sympathy honestly did. I felt as if I wasn't totally crazy for being concerned, particularly since my primary care physician was acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Reading all your comments and knowing that you thought I was right to be alarmed made a difference.

I will tell you that Josh almost met with an untimely death when he told me on Friday night that he thought the source of all my hives, chest pressure, swelling and difficulty breathing were all due to stress. It took all my strength not to THROTTLE him. Thankfully, we are done with that theory and he has admitted that a drug allergy is more likely.

The doctor's second prescription made me feel remarkably better, and it wasn't until yesterday that I realized just how swollen I'd been from the hives. If I'd shown you my legs on Friday, you could scarcely distinguish my knees from the rest of my legs, the swelling was so extreme. I hadn't worn my wedding ring for several days because my fingers were so swollen it felt as if my circulation was being cut off. My face looked puffy and all my clothes fit tighter.

Today, I feel 100% better. So thank you thank you thank you! For all your kind comments and for all your emails checking to see how I was doing.

I spent the large part of the weekend parked on the couch watching movies and addressing holiday cards, per Josh's orders that I had to rest to get better. We ventured out only once on Saturday night for a brief visit to a holiday party, and to breakfast on Sunday morning. I had another 16 hour day at the office yesterday, and I feared that the hives would return, but I remain hive-free today. I'm hoping the rest of the week will allow for shorter hours and next week I may be taking some vacation time, pending a client's decision on when they'd like to close.

Thanks again for the messages! I'll keep you updated on what the allergy doctor says. I am apparently seeing an allergy and immunology specialist, rather than an actual allergist. I'm not sure why, but I guess I'll find out soon.

Friday, December 16, 2005

the comedy is lost

Thank you for your advice and good wishes on my last couple of posts. I was in better spirits yesterday, having won the "I Love to Kvetch" award over at Phantom Scribbler's for Whining Wednesday.

I hope this will be my one and only win for "Whine of Substance", at least for the foreseeable future.

Since I know not all of you partake in the wonder that is Whining Wednesdays, I shall share my tale of woe with you here.

After I woke up on Wednesday morning with more hives despite the wall to wall Benadryl I had been taking, I was given an emergency appointment that morning with my regular doctor. When I arrived at the doctor's office, I had hives on my arms and some around my calves, but nothing extreme. As the nurse called my name, I stood up to walk down the hall and felt something in my left shoe. I stopped walking, looked at the bottom of my sole, thinking I'd gotten something wedged in there... Nothing. I continued down the hall and the feeling remained of something stuck in there, so the moment we stopped in an exam room I pulled off my boot and found a golf ball sized lump on the side of my foot. I peeled my sock off to find welts appearing all over my foot, while the lump on the side and bottom of my foot grew. The nurse took one look at my foot and squeaked out "I'll, umm, go get the doctor." The doc rushed in and started examining the hives. She asked me to show her my other foot. I peeled off my sock and she compared the two, and before our very eyes, another lump began growing on the other foot. Additionally, smaller bumps were showing up all over the rest of my feet and calves. Within a few minutes, my forearms were covered in hives, as well.

I was freaked, to say the least. It was one thing to have innocuous looking bumps on my body, but these lumps were big and uncomfortable, and it felt as if I were walking with a golf ball tucked into my foot. Ick.

The doctor prescribed some Allegra, more Benadryl, and an emergency dose of steroid should I have any breathing complications, but surprisingly, no tests or additional ideas. At the time, I was pretty overwhelmed with the hives and the speed at which they were changing, so I didn't question her diagnosis. She suspects an allergy to Advil. Odd, because I take Advil as my basic pain reliever, for headaches and body aches and random ailments, but she thought that maybe the migraine had lowered my body's resistance, and the Advil allergy was able to take its full form.

Anyway, I started the treatment on Wednesday. At this point, I remained chipper and endured the hives with little complaint. Enough whining to win my award (YAY!) but I was going to work and being the good employee that I am.

Thursday morning, however, I woke up with lips swollen a la Angelina Jolie. And folks, it wasn't a good look for me. I will not be seeking collagen injections at any point in the future. I was mildly alarmed by the burning, stinging and swelling, but I did my regular morning routine and headed off to work. During the day, I started to feel significantly better. The lip swelling went down, the hives seemed to be decreasing, and even my cold seemed a little better.

Thursday night, at around 10:30pm, I packed up my stuff and drove my friend home from work to take a peek at her Christmas decorations. While in her apartment, I began to have this strange feeling. It was hard to describe, but it didn't feel right. I felt lots of pressure in my chest, some shortness of breath, and a strong need to throw up. Because I'm an idiot, I insisted on driving myself home, and then promptly freaked out while driving. The tightness was getting worse, and I wondered if I shouldn't head straight for the emergency room of the closest hospital. In the end, I got on the phone with Josh, and since I was only 10 minutes from home, I drove straight home and took a full dose of Benadryl and lay down on the couch to see if I improved.

I know, I know. You're wondering why I didn't go straight to the emergency room. And frankly, today I'm wondering that too. But at midnight, exhausted and frustrated and not really knowing what was happening, it didn't register with either one of us that I was having another manifestation of the extreme allergic reaction. At one point, Josh noted that I also had hives all over my face, where there'd been none just before. I started to cry, and told Josh that I wished someone would tell me what to do. I kept saying that I didn't "feel right" but I couldn't pinpoint what it was. We finally decided I'd lie down and try to sleep and see if I felt any better.

I slept late this morning, and woke up groggy and exhausted but better. My cheeks were a bit swollen, but no hives were visible at first glance. This was a brief respite, though, and by the time I arrived at the office I was in full-blown hive mode. This time they were all over my hands, arms, feet, and both legs. The ones on my legs were intensely itchy, very swollen and were driving me a bit nuts.

I spoke to my friend, Dr. B, who chastised me for not going to the emergency room the night before. He said that my doctor needed to hear what was happening, and that we had moved from the normal hives "nothing to do" mode, into a dangerous place where I needed some answers. A call into my doctor confirmed his advice, and she prescribed steroids and a referral to an allergy and immunology specialist.

My orders are clear, and if I experience any lip swelling, throat itching, chest pressure or shortness of breath, I am to go directly to the hospital. Do not pass Go. In the meantime, Josh and my plans to attend a cousin's bar mitzvah in Long Island with his family are out of the question, and Josh can't even go without me since my symptoms seem to get worse at night and I need someone around to drive me in case of an emergency.

All in all, these aren't serious problems, but this week has felt incredibly long. I am still working like a crazy person at the office while scratching my legs uncontrollable. I am less productive, which makes my hours even longer, and this weekend I'm going to have to work to make up for what I didn't get done during the week.

So if you have some happy anti-hivey messages you can send my way, I'd really appreciate it. While I'm typing, the hives are appearing on my fingers and arms. Sigh. Let's hope the steroids boot this allergy right out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

a moment of comedic relief

Yesterday afternoon, as I mentioned, my migraine started to dramatically improve. By 6pm or so, I felt like an actual person whose brain was not about to ooze out of her ears. I was also exhausted; as if I'd just been working out for hours. I finished up outstanding projects, packed up work for home and was out of the office by 9pm. I arrived home by 9:30, chipper to be able to work on my couch in front of the tv.

I went upstairs to throw on pajamas and glanced in the mirror on the way back down. Hmmm... What's that on my face? Hives. I'd broken out in hives all over my body. They seemed to be localized on my face and arms, but I had a few random hives on my torso and legs. Itchy, disfiguring, large hives. Okay, disfiguring is an exaggeration, but they were ugly.

Except for the itchiness, they weren't bothering me all that much, so I decided to take Benadryl and call the doctor in the morning. Unfortunately, Benadyl makes me wired, so I spent the next few hours lying awake in bed and wishing the itching to stop. It got to the point that Josh threatened to put mittens on me to stop the scratching.

I finally drifted off to sleep and was awoken by a loud screeching sound coming from the downstairs hallway. It took a few minutes for me to identify the noise- the fire alarm. A few minutes later, the loud screech sounded again. The fire alarm battery. A glance at the clock- 2:17am. I considered getting up and replacing the battery, but honestly, I've had a migraine for days, I'm itchy and disfigured, and I can't sleep because I'm hyper from Benadryl. So I shook Josh awake and begged him to fix it. I know it's mean, but have some sympathy people!!!

We don't have those rectangular batteries in the house, so he unplugged it for the night and came back to bed, where I finally got a few hours of sleep before I got up at 7:30am to get to work. I still have the hives, although they are lessened in intensity. I've logged a call in to the doctor, and the nurse expressed adequate concern over the strange symptoms. We'll see what happens.

By the way, the irony is not lost on me that last week I wrote an entry about being happy no matter what, and yesterday and today all I have to write is "WAAAAHHH, I have a migraine! WAAAAHHH, I have hives!" Isn't life a kick in the pants?

Monday, December 12, 2005

feeling a little better

Thanks for all the suggestions. Another friend nominated the low pressure in the air as the cause, but I guess I won't be able to figure that one out.

My magic improvements, thus far:

Excedrin for Migraines
Two coffees
Pops cereal
greasy Chinese food (tofu and vegetable fried rice)

I'm not feeling 100% better, but I am functioning, which is more than I could say for yesterday and Saturday.

I'm not ignoring the possibility that this could be a sinus infection, since I am suffering from my third cold/flu/vile illness since SEPTEMBER. THREE. One, two, three. I have been ranting and raving about my wimpy immune system for the last week.

I believe I just found the root of my illnesses in our office kitchen, however. I strolled into the pantry area to grab some water for my new friend, Excedrin, and witnessed, before my very eyes, the receptionist who is suffering from her own version of tuberculosis, take her water bottle, PRESS IT AGAINST THE WATER COOLER SPOUT, AND REFILL. The same bottle that she puts IN HER MOUTH. The same bottle that touches her infected lips. The infected lips that are attached to her body. The body that kept her out of the office for several days last week because she can't get over the flu.

Hmmph. Now I know. It looks like I'll be purchasing bottled water from now on.

Thanks for your suggestions. I believe I will also be looking into a chiropractor in the area, and maybe I'll ask for a massage for Hanukkah.


As I left work on Friday evening, I was struck with a rather vicious headache that persisted through dinner, post-dinner television shows, some relaxing time in front of the fireplace, and after I crawled into bed.

Saturday morning, I woke up with a headache so strong, I could barely lift my head off of the pillow. I had been looking forward to our busy Saturday for the whole week, though. I was hoping to meet Phantom for coffee at some point during the day, Josh and I were meeting our friends for brunch and to help them decorate their Christmas tree, attend an arts and crafts fair, and a holiday party at night. I made it out of bed and slowly got ready, but in the car on the way to our favorite restaurant, I realized I'd made a mistake. I tried to eat through the headache, hoping that eggs and coffee would take it away. Our friend is a pediatrician, and she peppered me with questions trying to determine the source of the pain. Eventually, we settled on a migraine given my nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

Nothing seemed to help. I tried Advil (3), Sudafed, coffee, and rest. I eventually gave up on all my plans and gave into laying on the couch and willing the migraine away. Saturday night wasted, I told myself that Sunday would bring relief. But Sunday morning, I woke up with a renewed migraine that persisted throughout the day. It isn't enough to make me vomit, or to make me completely immobile, just enough to make it difficult to do anything. On Sunday afternoon, I even tried a basic exercise video to see if moving around and getting my blood flowing would help. Umm, that would be NO.

Now it is Monday morning, and it seems impossible that my head still hurts. I tried to work on the subway during my morning commute, but all I could accomplish was laying my head against the glass and hope for the day to end quickly.

I have migraines once or twice a year, but never for such an extended period. I am halfway through my third day with this headache and in brief moments during the day it seems a little better, but then comes back with a vengeance.

I know that some of you also deal with migraines. My solution has always been to sleep through them, but has this ever happened to you? What do you do when the migraine won't go away?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

the time to be happy is now

In August, Josh and I joined two of our closest friends on a day trip to Ogunquit, Maine. We spent the morning and afternoon lounging on the beach and later wandered up the cliffside paths into the little town. We investigated most of the shops and settled into a leisurely lobster dinner at a restaurant overlooking the ocean. It was a perfect day, and as we drove home, Josh and I sat in the back seat while our friends drove, hips pressed against each other, fingers intertwined, and I wondered how I got so lucky to have this good life.

Lately I've been working very long hours (evidenced by the fact that I'm still at the office at 10:28pm on a Tuesday) to close a couple of deals that have been in the works for several months now. I'm sure you've noticed, but I rarely write about my job here, mainly because I feel incredibly grateful to have found such a great group of people with whom I work. Eventually, though, the long hours take their toll, and there have been moments in my life as a corporate lawyer that I wonder what I'm doing with my days.

I really like my job. I like interacting with my colleagues every day, I like most of my clients, I like working my brain on these agreements, I like cracking jokes in meetings. Of course, I'd like to be reading in front of the fire on a snowy night like tonight MORE than sitting in my office, but those are the tradeoffs, I guess.

On that day in Ogunquit, Maine, I stumbled across a weathered looking sign hanging in the corner of a little store. At first I barely glanced at it before turning to the next cluster of items, but then I stopped, read it again, and pulled it off of its spot on the wall.

Every night before I go to sleep and every morning as I grab my keys out of my basket, I glance at it and remind myself that this mantra is more important than the job or the stress or the deadlines. I won't get a second chance to live my life, and I have to learn to be happy no matter what is happening around me. Of course, my family's and my good health, the wonderful relationships I have in my life, my loving husband, my sweet dogs, my secure job; all of these blessings and more don't hurt the cause either.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I took it upon myself this weekend to make our little abode a bit more festive. Our decorating centers mainly around general winter and Hanukkah touches, which works for me because I love snowmen and they are fairly non-religious.

Winter Welcome!

Look at all our snow! I looked out the bathroom windows this morning into a winter wonderland.

I love seeing all the trees traced with snow. I believe that nothing could be more beautiful than a fresh snowfall on bare limbs.

Snowpeople in the windows!

Snowflakes! Those buggers dropped silver glitter all over my house as I went from room to room hanging them in the windows.

I found glitter on my forehead this morning, and some of it even ended up on my desk at work!

Okay, so the candy cane candle isn't really for Hanukkah, but I bought it as a Christmas gift for a friend, and then accidentally left it by the radiator. EEK! The side facing away from the camera is all melted and deformed, so we decided to use it anyway ; )

We even have white lights outside and silver ribbons with glittery snowflakes on each outside light. The white lights aren't really for Hanukkah either, but since my parents are spending Christmas at our house due to my work schedule, Josh decided he could live with the newly renamed Hanukkah lights.

And yes, those are pumpkins that are still outside from Halloween.

I initially went outside with my scissors and ribbons and no gloves to tie the ribbons into bows and attach them to the lamp post and railings. And when I'd lost the feeling in my fingers within 30 seconds, I realized that perhaps I should tie the bows inside and come outside to just attach them to the railings. It worked a little better. I'd advise you not to do the same thing if you decorate outside.

Anyone else decorating these days?

Friday, December 02, 2005

meet CuRVy

This is Curvy. She is our new, and much beloved, car.

Blackbird asked for us to show her our cars for show and tell, and I am happy to oblige.

Although I have been a fan of Curvy for quite some time, I cannot take credit for her purchase, since Josh did the bulk of the research on her excellent qualities. I did the negotiating, though, because I am a hard ass like that. Do NOT try to give me a bad price. GRRRR.

Curvy, as you can see, is a Honda CR-V (hence her name), and she joined our family in July.

Check out Curvy's booty, she is a hottie.

Woooo hooooo!

I won't bore you with the details of how fabulous Curvy is, because you can read about her many talents here and here. I will tell you that she is incredibly spacious, features front and side curtain air bags, a 6-disc cd changer, a moon roof (since when is it a moon roof anyway?), a front and center console that collapses down to allow room for a large purse, a purse hook in the front seat so that you purse doesn't fly around when you brake hard, and the cover for the trunk turns into a picnic table. Now, I've never used the picnic table, but I assure you that it gives me great security to know that I could whip out a picnic at the side of the road at any moment.

Curvy is the first car that Josh and I have purchased together, and we hope that she will share many a happy memory with us. Plus, she's red! Of course! Guess who chose the color.

a dog's interpretation of thanksgiving

Tango and Murray had much to be thankful for this year, as well.

Their morning started off with some sun worshipping in a patch of sunshine they found on the couch.

You gotta love that little bit of warmth, huh?

All this action in the kitchen must mean something good. There was lots of waiting for turkey leftovers.

Just let us know when the food is ready.

They were a little bummed to realize that there was something slightly off with this turkey. Hmmmm.

They were willing to overlook it, at least. Tango is clear about his demands.

Feed me!

Ahhh, finally, the true meaning of Thanksgiving.**

**Ok, so I didn't let them do this. Josh let them at the spoils of the turkey for about 3 seconds. Before any dog activists come after me, they basically had time to sniff and lick the turkey before he took it away.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

i endeavor to prevent you from making my mistakes

I am fairly low-maintenance in the hair care category. I wash it every other day, brush and go. Sometimes it doesn't even get brushed on the non-washing mornings, but it is so straight that as I've mentioned before, you can't really tell. I occasionally try to stretch the hair washing out to three days, but on those rare occasions when I wake up late or have an emergency, I tie it back and hope that folks confuse the greasy look for shine. Lots and lots of shine.

One morning in my third year of law school, I had one of those mornings when I somehow slept through the alarm and was caught with only 15 minutes until the start of class. I got dressed in record time, ran into the bathroom to pull my hair into the pony tail and upon looking in the mirror realized, nooooo, ohhh noooo, not even a pony tail will work today.

And then, I remember a trick I'd read about so many times in magazines. I'd just sprinkle some talcum powder into my hair, the powder would absorb the grease, thus leaving my hair looking clean although a bit dull, and I'd be on my merry way.

I sprang into action, pulled baby powder out of the linen closet, hung my head upside down over the tub, and began liberally shaking the powder over my scalp. Once I'd shaken enough out, I set down the bottle and ran my hands and a brush through the hair to shake out the excess. Surprisingly, though, not much excess seemed to be coming out.

I turned my hair right side up and looked in the mirror. White hair. I had a full head of white hair, with clumps of powder that had soaked up the natural oiliness and turned into crusted strands. I frantically shook it out again, running the brush through, rubbing it with a towel, and eyeing the clock nervously. This professor did not permit tardiness and would be more than happy to call me out if I snuck in past the start of class.

The crusted and clumpy white hairs remained. I had two choices, I could abandon my attempts to get to class and wash out the disaster on my head, or I could find a cover up. I pulled one of Josh's hats off from behind the door, tucked the mess under the hat and hoped that no one noticed that the pony tail poking out the back looked suspiciously gray in color. I also hoped that no professor demanded for me to take off the (not permitted) hat in class, or I would really look foolish.

Apparently when the magazines tell you to put talcum powder in your hair, they mean for you to rub a tiny amount between your fingers and run your fingers through your hair. Further explanation would have been nice, but at least now YOU know. I aim to please.

Monday, November 28, 2005

there was no work...

and it was sooooo good. These past four days of no work, no calls, no blackberry messages, no last minute assignments were exactly what I needed- a recharging of the spirit. I love my job, but lately I'd begun to feel that drain, that tiredness that doesn't let up even when you get out of work at a semi-reasonable time of night. Last weekend I realized that I needed more than one day off of work, I needed a good couple of days free of the computer and agreements and clients. Despite some false alarms on Wednesday night, I did get my few days away from work and I feel much better.

This year's Thanksgiving was a new experience for us. Josh's exam schedule and my crazy work schedule kept us from traveling to either Florida or California to visit family, so we decided to stick around the area and visit nearby friends. As Josh spoke to his classmates and found that many of them, particularly some of his foreign friends, had nowhere to go for the holiday, he began extending invitations for people to come to our house. We ended up hosting a whole contingent of students from all over the world- India, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina.

Frankly, last week I was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Not only did I have to prepare a whole Thanksgiving dinner, I had to prepare it without my mother-in-law hovering over me giving advice. Plus, as international students, they were wholly unfamiliar with the whole Thanksgiving thing. They had to pick their eyes up off of the floor when I told them we were eating at 4pm. "Four?" Asked one incredulously, "I take my afternoon tea at four!" So I told them not to eat for the whole day in preparation of their Thanksgiving feast.

My fears were for naught, because the dinner went off without a hitch and they were suitably impressed with Thanksgiving and all its spoils. We played Pictionary afterwards, followed by an unsatisfactory game of Scene It. Turns out that foreigners don't do well with games about U.S. movies- go figure.

Friday was spent shopping shopping shopping, Saturday was spent cleaning the house and saying goodbye to a friend moving abroad, and Sunday was spent vegetating around the house and admiring our new television. Her name is Wanda. And I organized my cds, because that could be done in front of Wanda.

Oh, and I put white lights around our railings on the front stoop. Given our half-Jewish family, we don't do much in the way of Christmas decorations, but the husband consented to some decorative white lights, and so I put them up, cursing all the time at the freezing weather and tangled bulbs. We're festive though!

Now I am back at work, ready to take on all client requests and deadlines. I probably have another 25 days in me, then I'll need another mini-vacation.

Hope your weekends were fabulous and restful as well!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

thanksgiving blessings

Frankie wrote the sweetest post about some of her Thanksgiving blessings, namely her two gorgeous kittens. They are DARLING and her pictures melt my heart, and I'm not even typically a cat person! These two are just too cute, though.

I'm sure you've realized, however, that I am a head over heels dog person. And I am particularly head over heels for my two munchkins. As I was reading Frankie's post, I realized that Murray was also a Thanksgiving blessing for our little family. He arrived with Josh after an 11 hour drive, each way, from New York City to Coolville, Ohio.

Murray also arrived after an unfortunate series of events that had left me soured on having a second dog. You see, on the recommendation of doggy friends of ours, we visited a breeder in New Jersey to purchase a puppy. Our initial plan was to visit her house, see the facilities, determine whether we liked her and her puppies and then possibly bring one home. Anyone that has ever attempted to look at puppies without buying one knows that it is fairly impossible to look at squirming balls of fur and not sneak one home with you. We were hooked, and that night we came home with Samba, our little black Brussels Griffon. Samba and Tango, don't you love it?

Something was just not quite right with Samba, though. We'd gone through puppy rearing with Tango, so I was prepared for sleepless nights and potty accidents, but Samba was strange, almost out of control. After a visit to the veterinarian, we discovered that she had worms, as well as a rash on her belly that the vet thought was ringworm. The vet also thought she just didn't look good on the whole for a 13 week old puppy. She advised me to call the breeder and ask some more questions about the other puppies.

In the meantime, Samba was a terror. She bit constantly, ignored my cries of no when she did something, attacked Tango nonstop, and Tango DETESTED her. Hate is a strong word, but he really seemed to hate her. 6 days after we'd brought her home, the breeder called us in tears. Samba's sister had dropped dead from a seizure just days after her new family had brought her home. She advised us to take her back to the vet for testing, and a call to the vet confirmed my worst suspicions... We needed to give her back to the breeder or risk her dying from some unknown problem.

I cried for two days at the idea of letting go of the sweet pup, and I cried at the thought that I'd somehow exposed Tango to some mysterious illness that could kill him. At the end of that weekend, Josh drove her back so that the breeder could do the necessary tests and decide whether she would ever go to live with a family again. And I swore off of getting a second pup. In the end, I'd wanted company for Tango, but not at the risk of ruining the wonderful situation we had then.

Josh encouraged me to call more breeders, particularly those I'd seen on the televised dog shows, and when I did, they told me of terrible stories related to Samba's breeder. She was known amongst more reputable breeders as careless and dangerous with her dogs. He encouraged me not to let this one bad instance keep me from getting another dog, and after a slight pause, told me that he might have the dog for me.

A couple of phone calls later, and I was speaking to a wonderfully sweet woman who had 3 puppies. 2 that were going to the breeder I'd called earlier, and one male puppy that she called Long-Tail. Long-Tail had been born tiny, and they'd hesitated to crop his tail because they didn't want to cause him trauma. She'd planned on keeping him because he was such a sweetheart, but after hearing my story, she offered him to us. She didn't have a digital camera, but she promised "I ain't lying, he's real cute."

That is how, sight unseen, Josh drove 11 hours, in each direction, to pick up little Murray from Coolville, Ohio. I refused to go, because I couldn't bear seeing another puppy and having to walk away. I made Josh swear that if there was ANYTHING wrong with Long-Tail, he'd turn around and come home. Murray was perfectly adorable, though, and when Josh made it home after the long drive, this is the little monster I met:

Could you die from the cuteness?

Murray and Tango loved each other, and Murray became Tango's little shadow.

If Tango played, Murray played the same way.

If Tango slept, Murray slept curled against him.

And we were in love. With Murray, and his long tail!

Murray may be one of the sweetest dogs that has ever lived. He is a ball of pure, unadulterated love. He follows us around the house and a simple look is enough to send his whole back end wagging around. If you get close enough, he will kiss you ecstatically. He waits patiently outside of our shower for the opportunity to lick our toes. If you hand him a treat, he won't pause to sniff it, but snorts enthusiastically as he gobbles it gently from your fingers. He is my little "pochito morfoni," a chubby little Argentine cartoon character that loves to eat.

And most importantly, Murray has taught us an important lesson in life. You should love your friends and family with all your heart. You should be happy in everything that you do. And never forget to stop and smell the flowers.

I hope all your Thanksgiving blessings bring you this much joy!

Monday, November 21, 2005

random observations

I've been having chills all day and just realized that maybe it is the flu shot I got this afternoon. Now I remember why I usually opt not to get it.

I think that everyone who rides the subway and walks along public streets should be required to attend a class on personal space. It is not okay for you to rub up against me as we are walking by each other.

Knowing that there is a package waiting for you at the post office that you are unable to pick up may be one of the worst forms of torture.

I forgot to send our families their Thanksgiving cards. Drat!!!

The husband's last final to his last class of his first semester of business school is tomorrow! That means 6 weeks of no classes! 6 weeks of him arriving home at a decent hour! 6 weeks of chores I can make him do!

I'm sleepy and I still have hours of work to do. Sigh.

Friday, November 18, 2005

flaming show and tell

Blackbird's request this week: show her the color red.

Finding something red was easy. Red is my favorite color. Red is my accent color for everything.

My first choice when picking a purse, an item of clothing, shoes!

The color I use to punch up an otherwise boring room!

Red makes you hungry, did you know that? Hence, my red dining room. I like to put cranberries into vases and then a candle in the middle. Fancy!

My new down throw that keeps me toasty warm in a chilly room? Red! The pups like it too.

I didn't use any red in my wedding, so I had to throw some red into a wedding frame. That's us!

And my favorite red item of all? My RED HOT husband (in a red shirt!).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

goodbye salad

When we lived in NYC, my coworkers often liked to pick up lunch from Cosi. I'd tag along, but unhappily. Nothing ever struck my fancy and I think the food was rather, ohhh, meh.

In the last couple of weeks, however, I have discovered the Signature Salad. Lordy, is that sucker good. I joked yesterday that it was almost like they threw some crack in the salad dressing because it was delectable.

Well, today my salad didn't taste right because they put in the wrong type of lettuce, so I popped over to the Cosi website to make sure I wasn't crazy. Much to my chagrin, I clicked on the nutritional information page, and thus ended my love affair with the Signature Salad.

SALAD NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION**Note: Salad nutritional info DOES NOT include dressing**

Serving Size(oz) = 1 portion 10
Calories 375
Fat Grams(g) 21
Carbs(g) 40
Protein(g) 15
Cholesterol(mg) 38
Sodium(mg) 629
Fiber(g) 7

Please note that as mentioned above, this infernal mess does NOT include the salad dressing. Let's take a gander over to the dressings, shall we?

Roasted Shallot Sherry Vinaigrette (aka Signature Salad dressing)

Serving Size(oz) = 1 portion 2oz
Calories 308
Fat Grams(g) 31
Carbs(g) 8
Protein(g) 0
Cholesterol(mg) 0
Sodium(mg) 120
Fiber(g) 0

The basic fact of the matter is that I expect that when I eat a @#&^%# SALAD, I will not be ingesting 683 calories, 52 grams of fat and 749 mg of Sodium. I'm sorry, but for that, I will just have a pumpkin pie for lunch and wash it down with some eggnog.

I'm so sad, though. 'Tis very disappointing, the crack in the dressing was really tasty.

Thanks for your kind comments to my post below, I actually have a reason for posting it which I will share in a bit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Growing up, I was a pretty good kid most of the time. Very mischievous and high energy, but not disobedient or unpleasant. Or so my parents tell me. My mom says that I was the best kid ever; my dad says "dear God, you NEVER STOPPED." So there you go, Halloweenlover as a child- sweet and hyper. Hmm, perhaps Halloweenlover as an adult too.

Anyway, my parents were also incredibly over-protective. INCREDIBLY over-protective. I wasn't allowed to walk downstairs in our apartment building by myself, I couldn't walk to the corner, my mom used to wait outside church dances to make sure I didn't leave the gym for one second. If I did, she'd later ask me why I'd gone outside when she'd forbidden me from doing so. For a long time, I was sure she had spies watching me at all times.

In high school, as one might imagine, I wasn't so keen on all of these restrictions. My friends went out with boys freely, went to parties without checking with their parents, but my restrictions were clear... No boys' houses, no going anywhere without my parents knowing where I was, no staying out too late and my parents insisted on speaking to the other parent if I was spending the night (the horror!!!). We struck a good balance when my parents gave me a cell phone for Christmas (the first of all my friends, which must have been a crazy luxury for them) and I told them where I was, with whom and for how long at all times. It worked.

I could attend parties as long as I said where they were, and sometimes I was permitted to go even if parents wouldn't be there. Given my new freedom, I rarely rebelled. I got home at the correct times, although I sometimes sped like a banshee to make it, and I never drank or smoked or experimented with drugs although they were in abundance at the parties we attended. Looking back, I wonder if private schools don't breed more drug and alcohol use, given the fact that those students often have greater access to the funds used to purchase such items.

There are only two times that stick out in my mind as my having clearly broken the rules put in place by my parents, and both times (lucky for all of us), I ended up regretting it despite never being caught.

My parents were certainly stricter than other parents, so I was often left out of late night shenanigans. Nothing too serious, just sitting by the pool into the wee hours of the morning, or staying at parties until the neighbors (or police) shut them down. Of course, I, like so many other teenage girls, had one unrequited love interest throughout high school. His name was Rob, he attended the all-boys school partnered with my all-girls school and he was oh-so-cute. During my junior year, following a particularly traumatic "breakup" with a boyfriend that had gone away to college, we became friends. Despite my best efforts to compete with girls around me, I wasn't really great high school girlfriend material. I wouldn't break the rules my parents put in place, I was really quite innocent on all matters, ahem, sexual, and I wouldn't drink or do drugs. I know that he liked me, but in comparison to far more available and willing girls, I must have been boring.

So the day that Rob asked me at the football game if I would go camping the next weekend with all of our friends, I couldn't bring myself to say no. "Camping," and you'll soon see why it is quote worthy, meant driving out to a public park in the city that was most certainly not intended for camping, sneaking in despite signs to the contrary, picking a deserted path, building a campfire, and "sleeping" in sleeping bags all piled around the campfire after drinking copious amounts. This Halloweenlover would NEVER go "camping" like that, but he asked, so I had to go.

I told my mom that I'd be sleeping at a friend's house, and to prevent the obvious questions about dirt on my sleeping bag or on my shoes, I told her we'd be camping in the backyard. She agreed, and off I was on my merry way.

It was exciting, don't get me wrong, and Rob did pay attention to me most of the night, but I was unbearably nervous of getting caught, getting mugged or attacked, or getting arrested. I couldn't relax all night, and I suspect he was rather disappointed at my unwillingness to "sleep" around the campfire. I eventually convinced a friend to leave with me when I finally decided my nerves couldn't take anymore. I told my mom about our little camping trip years later, and although she likely wanted to throttle me, she laughed instead.

In my second dalliance with rule-breaking, a friend of Rob's, let's call him Ethan, had begun actively seeking me out. He'd asked for my phone number and we'd gone out to the movies and met at parties and school functions. His interest in me seemed to annoy Rob, and so in my first move toward playing the Game, I feigned interest back. It wasn't all that difficult, to be honest. He was cute, funny, interesting and well-known as an accomplished soccer player at the all-boys school. Rob made his displeasure known to me, but I later realized that it had less to do with jealousy and more to do with real concern for me.

Ethan, I guess, was one of those supposed "bad boys" that manipulates girls with great pleasure. I didn't know it at the time, but he had a reputation for flirting endlessly only to drop a girl with great public fanfare.

Unluckily for me, Ethan behaved perfectly for the first couple of months that we dated. He called on schedule, he took me out, and he was sweet as pie. He finally convinced me to attend a party at his house while his parents were out of town. Ethan lived in a town far away from the city, in the mountains on the way to Lake Tahoe. I'd never have been allowed to drive that far, particularly to a parent-less party. My girlfriends and I loaded up a few cars, and traveled to Ethan's remote town. I was staying at a friend's house so we had no curfew and no one knew where we were.

As the hours of stupid teenage antics stretched by, Ethan asked me if I'd like a tour of the house, wink wink, and I stupidly agreed. When we got to his room, he implored me to come inside and see his bedroom. Then to sit on his bed. Then to lie down. And then he got pushy. And mean. God, my heart is pounding as I write this. Somehow, it was only then that I realized I might be in trouble. And I got scared. The music was blaring in the downstairs rooms, I hadn't told anyone where we were going. And he was being forceful despite my moves to leave the room. It felt like an eternity of him pushing me down and trying to grope me while I became increasingly upset. I still can't understand how a boy so young could have such malice in him. I began to cry and fight against his efforts and scream out when I could. And for some reason, he just stopped. He stopped while flinging insults and barbs and names, but he allowed me to flee the room, where I found an empty house and friends that had left without me. Luckily, I'd been one of the drivers and no one had taken my car so I grabbed my coat and keys and ran out of the house.

I cried during the long drive home for reasons that I couldn't yet quantify, but later I knew how close I'd come to having my life changed. And although certainly I suffered no great harm, per se. I left without anything truly awful happening; I think that night left me with serious distrust of men and a good deal of paranoia.

When I finally went away to college, I was never one of those girls who would comfortably go to boys' rooms or attend parties with abandon. I always worried for myself and for my girlfriends because I knew what could happen in a minute, even with someone you thought you knew.

And Rob? I did tell him what happened and he apologized for not warning me. We ended up being good friends that flirted quite a bit but nothing more. He went to my senior prom with me, we chatted on the phone quite often, we hung out regularly at his house and out at parties. But alas, never became love interests although I have no real reasons why.

I didn't tell anyone else what happened that night, not my parents and not my friends. I think I was ashamed of my stupidity, and of course, I worried that somehow it was my fault. I'd driven out to his house, I'd gone on the tour, I'd led him on. It wasn't until college that I put into words my fear and the lesson I'd learned. Now I'll tell anyone, and I'll certainly tell my future children and their friends. I was lucky, and I know how very many people aren't.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

more sanity savers (I hope)

Such excellent organizational solutions, my friends! Thank you!

Based on your suggestions, I have decided that several things are in order:

1. Some books about organization- here is what I've ordered.

Organizing Plain & Simple: A Ready Reference Guide with Hundreds of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges, by Donna Smallin

According to our reviewers, this book gives concrete solutions that are easy to implement. We like easy in the Halloweenlover household.

Next, we have The Home Organizing Workbook: Clearing Your Clutter, Step by Step, by Meryl Starr.

My favorite part of this book is that it is spiral bound, and has different sections for different rooms in the house. Need to tackle the bedroom? Turn straight to the chapter on bedrooms. I enjoy this kind of clarity and the ability for the book to stay open to my page when I set it down. We'll see whether this provides adequate motivation for my clutter issues.

Lastly, we have The Organizing Sourcebook: Nine Strategies for Simplifying Your life, by Kathy Waddill. This book simply proves what I have been trying to tell you all along, I overdo it with the reading and preparedness.

I originally hoped to evaluate why I have organizational problems in the first place by examining the ways I deal with stress and life changes. Instead, I suspect that by the time I finish the above two books, I'll be annoyed at all the book reading and be ready to get on to the organizing. But I'm crazy, so I had to get it.

More things I need...

2. Baskets because all of you keep speaking about junk mail here, shredding there, social invitations over there, and we have no baskets where we can place such items although we do indeed receive occasional social invitations, like the bar mitzvah I haven't responded to and is likely in a pile under the catalogs on the floor by the couch. Sigh.

3. Either 3 or 5 categories for the mail that we divide upon entry into the house (I like the idea of sorting the mail once and only once). Which is better though, the 3 categories or the 5 categories? If I do 5, does this mean I need 5 baskets? Because my house is quite small, where would my baskets go?

4. Plan of action with the husband. I suspect this part shall have to wait because he has final exams this week and next. Then he has a month off, and you bet your bottom dollar that I shall be instituting a list of chores for him to accomplish over that month. Stay tuned for whether he does any of them or am I reduced to a pile of blubbering mush.

Keep the suggestions coming if you have additional brilliant ideas! I love it! In the meantime, I shall be awaiting my delivery of my organizational books and trying to get a plan in place that will salvage my sanity. We'll see if it works.

Monday, November 14, 2005

back to the spilling

I have no advice yet about the Tide Pen, because as luck would have it, I haven't spilled anything yet since my previous post. Murphy's law, of course.

In related news, however, my parents read my post about constantly spilling stuff on myself and my mom called to let me know that she and my father had a good chuckle about it. She said that when I was little, they used to joke behind my back that I had "Season Tickets to the Spilling Party". In Spanish, of course.

Isn't that sweet? My issues are starting to make so much sense...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

organize away!

Ok, so when I said I had a problem with spilling, I failed to admit that I have more than just the one problem. I also have major organizational problems (among other things). Recently, the organizational situation has gotten worse.

For the past year, I've chosen to believe that my organizational dilemmas stem from major changes in my (and Josh's) lives, such as moving to Boston, living out of a suitcase for 4 months until we closed on our house, purchasing a new home, changing jobs, Josh quitting his job and starting school, increased workload, and a myriad of insignificant changes that add up over time.

I have hit a few low spots of feeling totally and utterly overwhelmed, particularly when Josh left for Costa Rica. It seems to be the little things that set me off, like a messy closet or a pile of bills. I used to be fine with massive amounts of disorganization, but that was when I was studying, and somehow, school seemed so much more manageable than work.

As I've realized what makes me feel better, I've tackled the little things before they upset me. For months the linen closet made me crazy. I was in it several times a day, pulling out towels or sheets or Advil or tampons. Each and every time, I'd cringe at the mess. Every time Josh needed something I'd have to come upstairs with him to hunt through the baskets because nothing was orderly or made sense. I finally took one evening and dumped everything out on our bed, catalogued it, and took a trip to the Container Store. Geez, I love that place. Walking in gets me excited these days. This is what resulted:

Oh, the pure unadulterated joy when I open the linen closet now... the satisfaction I feel when I can yell up to Josh precisely what (labeled) box he should look in to find his desired item. I'm telling you, I'm euphoric. My disorganized ways are over. I am a believer.

But, the problem is that the linen closet was an enclosed place. I had all the items right there in front of me. I knew I had hair products and over the counter medicines, and contact solution and deodorant- I just needed the boxes and the labels.

What about the rest of my house? I am at a loss! We have a few problems areas that need desperate attention, and I am in desperate need of suggestions.

1. Our entryway- we have a tiny entryway where we throw our shoes into a little ugly plastic tray and (hopefully) put our coat and gloves and scarves into the closet. Is there another solution? In a snowy climate, is there any way to not have to stick your wet shoes into your closet but not have them hanging out in the entryway? For a while, we put our wet shoes into the basement, but they ended up rotting and moldy. No more of that. Ick.

2. Our mail, especially the bills- our office is just across the living room, but somehow the mail ends up scattered on the floor, or on the dining room table, or in one basket that sits in the living room, and hence, bills are unpaid, rsvp cards are unanswered, junk mail piles up. Does anyone have a solution that works?

3. Food storage- does everyone have enough room for their food in their kitchen? We don't have a pantry so we end up with food overflowing onto the counters or I try to devise storage solutions where there are none. Right now we have food in the garage, but someday the spiders are going to notice it's there and then BLECH.

4. Random items- our bedrooms are upstairs but the living areas are downstairs, and inevitably we have books, clothing, etc. in the living room and dining room. How do you get everything upstairs?

5. And most importantly, what about the division of labor? I feel it is unfair for me to have to do all the grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking (although rare), organizing while I also work a full-time (and a half) job. What does everyone else do? Should I make lists for Josh? I've tried that, but I never know what to put on the list! I need some kind of system of weekly tasks. Do you have suggestions?

I'd even take suggestions for books or magazines or websites that are helpful to you. Anything would be welcome!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

now you can all come visit

Now that I've discovered your secret decorating talents, I refuse to let you get away.

I need more help, of course, and although I have MANY rooms to pester you about, I'll start with the guest room. Just think, the sooner my guest room is completed, the sooner you can all come visit. Winter is a lovely time in Boston, don't you think?

Here is the room we started with, in the previous homeowners' pictures:

First things first, we tore up all the carpet in the house. I wish I had more pictures to show you, but the carpet in this room was a sort of pukey greenish color.

Removing carpet isn't as difficult as one might think, we just pulled the carpet up and with this special staple removing tool called a wonderbar, Josh was able to crawl around the room pulling up the tacking strips. His hand was swollen and sore the next day, but I think that was because he did the WHOLE HOUSE in one day. One room would be fine.

This room had the most possibilities for colors and decoration, so I decided to go a little nutty. After exploring the spectrum of paint colors, I decided to paint the room in the green family. I brought home loads of paint samples because did you know that there are thousands of green possibilities? I ended up discovering that most of them were hideous, and on the advice of the paint guy at the store, I tried a green that I was convinced was far too light and far too tan. He was totally right, though- Benjamin Moore's Soft Fern is a terrific tannish pale green color that seems to change depending on the light.

After a lengthy search for fabric for curtains, a discovery by my MIL of a store in the Berkshires led me to Country Curtains where I finally found a match. Josh's parents bought us a fabulously beautiful bed frame, all our furniture is moved in and rearranged, and we are finally in business (just a year later).

Here is the current state of the room:

See how my curtains match my walls and match my bedspread with a matching bed skirt! I love it!

And if you come visit, we even have little bed lamps by which you can read a book. It's practically like a bed and breakfast!

There's even a guest book you can sign, see it on the right?

Isn't the bed frame pretty? There are glass knobs on every post! Our parents spoil us so...

Ignore the paint cans and drop cloth under the dresser, please, I was trying to hide them from the camera with little success.

But now I need your help, you see. Look at all the blank wall space! Except for our diplomas, there is no artwork! No style! I need assistance!

I bought a large canvas that I plan on covering with matching fabric and criss-crossing ribbons over it, to make one of those fancy shmancy picture boards, per Momtothelady's suggestion. But what else? Should I get a mirror? Pictures? Vases that hang from hooks on the wall?

HELP Internet Decorators!!!

Tomorrow: the Internet solves my organization dilemmas...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I never said I was perfect

I've spoken to you in the past about my problems with spilling items on myself...

It is a SERIOUS problem. I have to work, in a real office, with actual people around, and somehow I am incapable of getting food from a container to my mouth without spilling on myself. If I don't spend the latter half of the day with food splotches on my top and pants, then I spent the latter half of the day with discolored stains from Shout Wipes. Or discolored stains and a huge wet spot across my boobs because then I always try to rinse out part of the discolored stain in the hopes that you'll see it less. The Shout Wipes ALWAYS leave discolored stains, but yet I continue to use them.

This week I've updated my stain arsenal to see if this helps.

I'll give you a review as soon as I spill something on myself, probably in the next 10 minutes.

Honestly, though, I think I may be food and liquid cursed. For example, two days ago while walking with favorite Googly Eyes colleague, my Starbucks Maple Latte exploded out of the tiny hole in the top and all over my pale pink sweater set. Two items, off to the dry cleaner with big discolored stains from trying to remove coffee with the wipes.

Yesterday's lunch training? The piece of lettuce from my salad FLEW off my fork and landed in my lap.

Today? Walking to work, pulled my breakfast banana out of my purse, peeled just the top few inches, turned to see the new display in Boston's Downtown Crossing.

Hey! It's Christmas already!!!

Hey! Where'd the top of my banana go? Oh. Broke off and tumbled down the front of my pants.

Did you know that bananas leave an unsightly trail of spludge when they slide down your pants that is remarkably impervious to water, paper towels and Shout Wipes? Did you???

The one shining spot in my day? My Halloween flowers died a pitiful death over the weekend and the florist offered to replace them. Ta da!

They still aren't orange and black, but they'll do.

Friday, November 04, 2005

show and tell

Blackbird's show and tell this week is addiction.

I've discussed my addiction in the past, but here it is again in all its glory...

I LURVE Dunkin' Donuts iced coffees- extra extra milk and three splenda. Yummm. I have to control myself to not want to go down and get another later in the day. I often use them as a motivation to get up. The thought of drinking my iced coffee cheers me up every morning.

Now that I think about it, perhaps that really does count as an obsession.

Truthfully, though, my real Addiction (with a capital A) is this:

I love the little buggers, all three of them, and I can't live without 'em.

back to hilarity

I love that I will now be able to tune into to keep Tango and Murray company while they are home alone.

It is a message that many of her listeners need to hear. Ms. Harris is a D.J. on, a new Internet radio station for pets. Now dogs, cats, hamsters and parrots can keep the anxiety, the loneliness, the restlessness at bay while their owners are out. It is radio just for them, live 17 hours a day, 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time, and podcast for the rest of the 24 hours.

This is not at all crazy. Noooooo, not at all.

And in case you were concerned that since I work such long hours, perhaps Tango and Murray aren't keeping up their Spanish skills... fear not.

Since many pets are apparently bilingual, DogCatRadio also has a "Spanish Hour," 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time daily, with Hispanic commentary and music, like Luis Miguel's "No Se Tu": was started last June by Adrian Martinez, who is also president of Marusa records, an independent record label in Los Angeles. He runs the station out of a customized RV parked in his office lot in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles.

I know I will rest easier at night and be able to work more effectively for my employer knowing that the pups will be entertained.

Chew on.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

in which I risk you thinking I am a lunatic

One of the things I missed this Halloween was snuggling under a blanket with the scent and sounds of a crackling fire, watching old horror movie classics with the curtains drawn just in case someone might be outside watching me. I love the Shining and the Exorcist, or Friday the 13th and Halloween. Those movies don't scare me, because I find them fairly unbelievable. What does scare me, however, are movies or stories about ghosts or spirits. I used to have nightmares about Poltergeist and Pet Sematary (Cemetery). I've always maintained that I am UNINTERESTED in connecting with the "other side." I am fine in my little world of disbelief.

In my 101 things, though, I told you that I believe I once saw a ghost. And I do. I'll share my story with you, as long as we all agree that I am not crazy and didn't lose my mind for this one night.

As I've mentioned before, my little immediate family was the only family living in the United States, so we traveled pretty regularly to Argentina. My mother's mother, my Nonna, was the only person that came to visit us religiously. She lived with us from my birth until I was 9 months old, and then returned yearly, often staying for months at a time. In high school, as her health was deteriorating, she came to live with use in California. As you can imagine, she drove me nuts.

My Nonna loved me to death, but she was soooo nosy! She would ask where I was going, who I was seeing, what I was doing, and whatever my response, she had a story at the ready that didn't relate IN THE LEAST, but she'd find a connection somewhere.

Nonna was tough. She'd divorced my mother's father when my mother was 2, because she realized he was abusive. She raised my mother on her own, sewing clothing for a living and scraping together enough to give my mom anything she needed. When I met Josh, she told me that she was happy he was Jewish, because in the early years after her divorce, only the Jews would give her work because she'd violated her fellow Catholics' religious laws.

She was fabulous.

At the end of my first year of law school, Nonna decided she wanted to return to Argentina to visit friends and family, so my dad accompanied her for a short trip. He chastised her to never leave the house by herself and insisted he was happy to take her everywhere and anywhere, she just had to ask. But Nonna was stubborn. One day, when my dad went out, she decided to take a walk on her own. Although she had a friend with her, she fell in the hallway and shattered her leg. After being rushed to the hospital and undergoing surgery, the reality of the situation settled in. With a break like this one, she couldn't return easily to the United States and would have to be admitted to a nursing home, at least temporarily, until she had healed. In Nonna's mind, this was a death sentence.

She stopped eating and began saying that she was ready to die. At first, my mom and dad laughed it off and told her to stop being silly, it was just a broken leg. But within a few days, she stopped communicating and her health began to deteriorate. I booked a trip to Argentina for the next week, confident that seeing me would cheer her up. On the Sunday before my trip, my dad called my mom and told her that he thought my Nonna really was ready to die. That the doctors had told him that for no apparent or practical reason, her body was shutting down.

That evening, my dad put the phone to Nonna's ear and my mom told her that if she was ready to go, my mom would be okay. Nonna died that night, 4 days before I would have arrived in Buenos Aires.

I don't know the words to tell you how sad we were. My mom was distraught, I think I was in denial. Sometimes I would sit on the phone and my mom would cry and ask me over and over again how you die of a broken leg? It was terrible.

It wasn't until a few months later that I realized how far I was from believing she'd really passed away. I didn't see her every day since I was in Boston and she was at home in California, so it wasn't unusual to go long periods of time without seeing her. One night, though, I was sitting alone in Josh's apartment where I'd been staying while I summered at a Boston law firm. He was traveling to one of his exotic Midwest locations on a consulting project.

I'd been watching reruns of Sex and the City, and in one of these episodes, Miranda's mother dies. In one scene, Miranda cries in a dressing room as she realizes that she will never fight with her mother again. And then it hit me.

I'd never roll my eyes through another one of her stories, never hear her broken English ask me silly questions, never get to show her my new engagement ring. I'd never hug her, kiss her, fight with her again. So I cried. I cried more that night than I had when she'd first passed away and when I finally went to bed, my last thoughts before sleep were that I could not believe it possible for me to live another 70 years on this earth without seeing my Nonna again. It just didn't seem possible.

The next thing I remember is feeling a hand brushing against my cheek and sliding down my chin. I opened my eyes to a pitch black room, but above the bed in front of me was a shape. Not necessarily the shape of a person, but almost a cloud of shimmering sparkling light. The only way I can describe it is to say that it looked like oil and water when it separates, but the little particles of oil were lit up with this bright light. I gasped, and then it was gone. My heart was pounding as I fumbled for the lights and climbed out of bed. I dialed Josh's cell number with shaking hands and barely started to speak before the sobs began. I had only gotten a couple of sentences out when I remembered what my final thoughts of the night had been. I hung up quickly with Josh and called my mom. It took only a couple of words out of my mouth before we were both crying.

I slept with the lights on for the rest of that night, although given my tearful reaction I didn't think it would ever happen again.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I dreamed it, but I believe I was wide awake. I felt the weight of the hand against my face for hours after it happened- almost a tingling sensation. I don't know what it means, either, but I can tell you that it was beautiful and it made me believe that whatever comes after death, it cannot be bad because that shape and the lights were far from bad.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

happy day after halloween!

You all are the sweetest!

My dad is doing quite a bit better, and I thank you for your thoughts and prayers and good wishes. Lest I get sued for libel or slander, I will tell you that his employer is a car manufacturer who makes jeeps and whose name would fall into "get the hell out of _____." I'm not sure that our boycotting them would do much good, since they seem to be having financial troubles anyway. He is back in California, though, and happy to be with my mom again, who he hadn't seen in over a month and a half. He has been to speak with his former employer and we'll have to see what their response is. In the meantime, he'll be starting the job hunt elsewhere.

As for my favorite day of the year, I am sad to report that I didn't get out of work until 9pm, so I missed all the kiddies and costumes and scary movies. I generally don't mind working late, but last night I was bitter that I missed all the fun. I've decided that next year I am taking the day off or insisting on working from home. Halloween only comes around once a year, ya know?

It was SO sweet of all of you to think of me on Halloween! I loved all your comments!! I have to admit that it made me chuckle that you remembered me yesterday! Apparently the husband did also, because yesterday afternoon I received these at the office...

See? This is why I keep him around! Halloween flowers!

Thanks also for the compliments on the pumpkins! I've had lots of practice over the years, as you can imagine. I'll have to upload the picture from the year I carved a pumpkin to look like Tango. It was a hoot.

Tonight I'll need to start (sadly) taking down all of my spooky decorations, and then I'll start preparing for Halloween next year. Just kidding. I'll wait until January, at least, to do that ; )

Monday, October 31, 2005

happy halloween!

When I was a sophomore in college, I shared a suite in a dorm with 7 other girls. It was crazy, hectic, cramped and SO MUCH FUN. 4 bedrooms with 2 girls in each, 2 bathrooms with separate sinks, toilets and showers, a kitchen and a huge living room and dining room made for great living. We all got along except for one girl that happened to be my direct roommate, but that is a story for another time, I think.

We decorated for every season, and Halloween, of course, was the main attraction. I went nuts with the decorations and put all of my roommates to work hanging lights and ghosts and decorating the windows. That year we had a huge co-ed slumber party and dragged all our mattresses into the living room and camped out watching scary movies into the wee hours of the morning.

One afternoon that year, one of my roommates (the now Brilliant Pediatrician) and I arrived home from class to find that all of our decorations and signs bearing the words "Happy Halloween" had all been changed to "Happy Happoween!" We set out immediately to figure out what was going on. We walked around the house examining all of the signs to make sure they were all the same, all wishing us a Happy Happoween. Once that was set, we sat down to try to figure out who had done it, why they'd done it, and what it could possibly mean. Did it mean happiness on Halloween? Was it a cultural thing? Had our Indian roommate changed them? Was it a joke? Why didn't we get it? I kid you not, we fretted about it for HOURS trying to figure out what it meant and who'd done it. In the meantime, various roommates were arriving home and expressing surprise and insisting that they weren't the culprits of the redecorating.

We were stumped, and seriously disturbed over what we considered a vandalism of all our hard-work decorating the house. That night, while we were wandering down the hall, we heard muffled laughter coming from one of the bedrooms. We cracked open the door and found two of our roommates dissolved in tears from laughing so hard. It turns out they were the vandals and they'd done it for precisely the effect it had elicited, to DRIVE US CRAZY.

The idea had sprung into their minds that morning, and they knew that when we got home and discovered the signs changed, we'd wonder and worry about it all day, as we had. 7 years later, that story still makes me chuckle.

Last night the Brilliant Pediatrician came over for a pre-Halloween celebration. We made Scrivener's Frankenstein pie (minus the meat), she brought Halloween cupcakes, we watched scary movies in front of a crackling fire and carved pumpkins.

Here are our masterpieces...

My haunted castle is on the left, and Herman, the Brilliant Pediatrician's pumpkin, is on the right.

Here is a rat trying to sneak his way into the haunted castle...

I am hoping to get home in time to hand out a little bit of candy to trick-or-treaters, although Josh says that kids will come out before the sun goes down and the odds of my getting home by 4pm or so are pretty slim. I left out a big bowl of candy, though, let's hope the squirrels don't get to it!!

Tango and Murray, dressed as their favorite Red Sox players, and the rest of the Halloweenlover family wish you a very very Happy, Spooky, Creepy, Scary Happoween! Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 28, 2005

almost ironic

For the past month and a half, my dad has been in Florida tending to my great aunt who is ill. It arose out of a call from my great uncle in the wee hours of the morning asking him to come because my grandmother's sister was in the hospital in terrible shape. That afternoon, my father dropped everything to fly to Florida to be at my aunt's side.

Once he arrived, he discovered an ailing aunt, who barely recognized him, and an uncle suffering from dementia, prone to intense rages at the drop of a hat. Needless to say, it has been a difficult month for him. He would call me sometimes in need of an ear and a laugh, telling me about a rage that morning where my uncle forced him out of bed at 5am because he thought he was a terrorist. Or another afternoon where my uncle threw all the food in the house out, including groceries my father had just purchased that afternoon, because of all the bugs. Bugs that didn't exist, but my father didn't have the heart to argue. This also includes day after day in the hospital, dealing with my aunt's illness, her subsequent strokes, a viral infection she acquired that could have been life-threatening for any visitors including my father, and the ups and downs all elderly and intensely sick patients have.

My dad lost his job during this month and a half because he was unable to go to work and the Family and Medical Leave Act only covers immediate family: parents, siblings or children. Although my mom wrote his employer letters and made numerous calls, the dismissal letter arrived all the same.

Still, he stayed. And when I'd speak to him on an almost daily basis, he would tell me that he had stopped at the local church to light a candle for my aunt. Ever wishing that she would get better, when all I could wish was for her suffering to be over. But it isn't my father's personality to ever wish for the end of life. He wanted her well again, but it was not to be.

My aunt was moved into a nursing home earlier this week because she seemed to be in a vegetative state. My uncle's rages had been increasing in size and frequency, despite my dad's visits to his doctor and requests for help. Finally, on Wednesday, my dad decided that it was time to leave. He had promised to wait until my aunt finally passed away, but given the state she was in, there was no telling when that might be. And living with my uncle was getting to be impossible. He booked a flight to leave today to return to California, said goodbye, and boarded the plane at 6am.

On a layover in Denver, my dad received a call. My aunt passed away this morning.

My heart breaks for him. For the guilt he said he feels, for his fear that this is somehow God punishing him. For the terrible awful timing.

show and tell: ode to my bed

I think I've mentioned before that I love my bedroom and particularly my bed, and not for any lewd reasons that you might all be thinking (well maybe a couple). I just love everything about it, the antique white furniture that reminds me of New England, the tan (very calming) walls, the pillow top mattress that I never have to flip over, my fluffy comforter and the excess number of pillows on it.

Once Blackbird announced that this week's show and tell consisted of showing off your bed, I had to participate. So here I present to you my favorite spot in the house.

It may not look like much, but it took me quite some time to perfect my bedroom. Our bedroom furniture was easy to choose, because I'd been coveting the wide white slats and creamy color for months. Unfortunately, Josh and I weren't married and didn't live together, so I had to wait to order it until we'd finally moved into an apartment that could fit a queen sized bed and both nightstands and dresser. By the time I could finally order it, some of the pieces were discontinued and I was only able to buy the bed and nightstands. Still, I love them and we just used an antique dresser in oak that my mother-in-law refinished for us.

At that time, my sister-in-law offered to purchase our bedding as an engagement/wedding gift, so we chose the most decadent beautiful bedding we could imagine for our first years of married life together, a wine red duvet cover and pillows with chenille on one side and velvet on the other. Beautiful, but not durable, so when the button holes started to tear within 6 months, I ran to Ikea and picked up a plain tan cover until we found something that worked. Pale tan with white furniture results in a boring room, so when we traveled to Finland after the Bar Exam and my law school graduation, we picked up a Marimekko comforter with huge splashes of black and (what I thought was) tan flowers. Our room was painted a deep tan and all our sheets matched this tan, so I assured Josh that it would work. Ummm, it didn't. The poppy color was a greenish khaki, nothing like the tan of the bedroom or sheets or accessories.

At this point, however, I was afraid that any request for new bedding might result in marital problems, so I lived with the unmatching black and khaki green poppy bedding. I cringed every time I came into the bedroom, though, and my once happy place became less so.

I kept my dislike to myself, and months passed without my secret revealed until one day I confided in my mother how much I hated the bedspread. "Oh thank God," was her answer, "it's hideous." So a deal was struck, and we shopped together for new bedding that would conform with my perfectly good sheets, the furniture and the wall color that I preferred. Since it was a holiday gift from her, little protest came from Josh. That is how I came upon my current bedding that I LURVE.

I love the cheery colors, I love the alternative to have the tan quilt up in the summer with the duvet folded at the bottom, and vice versa in the winter, I love the ties on the sides of the tan pillows (hard to see in the picture), I love the quantity of pillows to nestle in after a long day. The rest of my house is brighter colors and more eclectic decorations, but my bedroom is streamlined and simple.

And I think that is the best way to start the day. Share your bedroom, anyone?