Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 2009 Year-End Meme

Found this over at The Daily Grind. Thanks Martha, for letting me steal this one--even though I didn't ask permission first. :P

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Let's see...I attended Trivia Night at a pub, went to the Strand Bookstore in NYC, and tended to a sick canine. Also got DVR and got emotionally involved in three TV shows. I didn't do nothing majorly new. I didn't take any really huge risks in 2009.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I stopped making resolutions years ago. There was no point in doing so if I was only going to break them later.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
At BFF's annual shindig.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sadly, I lost two dear mentors.

5. What countries did you visit?
The United States of Kitten.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
I really don't know. 2009 was an excellent year for me. I'm the happiest I've ever been.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 25th: the start of my last bout with depression.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I was on a committee at work where we applied for a statewide award--and we won!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting discouraged so easily and constantly battling self-pity--see #7 for details.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a rawther nasty sinus infection in June, which took me most of the month to get rid of. I haven't been sick since. Thank you, vaccination gods, for the H1N1 vaccine.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new Pantech cell phone. It has a qwerty keyboard. My old phone didn't have one, and I am rawther excited about it.

12. Where did most of your money go?
The mortgage and car repairs.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"The Story" by Brandi Carlile. Also anything from the Glee soundtrack. And "Chasing Pavements" by Adele.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Entertaining at my house. I can't remember the last time I did that.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Blowing things out of proportion.

16. What was your favourite TV program?
I have four: 30 Rock is one. I am in love with Alec Baldwin's character, Jack Donaghy. And Kenneth the Page NEVER fails to make me laugh. Then there's Glee. Not only is it hysterical, but I love the music. That, and I sang in a glee club, so I have a little more emotional investment in it than others may. Flight of the Conchords is so quirky and funny, and the music is great. And of course, there's The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Say what you will about Conan, but I absolutely love him and I think he's adorable.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Life's too short to hate.

18. What was the best book you read?
The Time Traveler's Wife. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. French Milk. The DaVinci Code.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Pull up a chair, kittens, here we go: Straight No Chaser. She and Him. Julian Casablancas. Diane Birch. Jack Johnson. Flight of the Conchords. Lady Antebellum. The Belle Stars. And of course, let's not forget the classics that keep me going: Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Billy Joel. Brad Paisley.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?
I only saw two movies in the theater, but I really loved Julie and Julia. As for cable, Grey Gardens with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange was excellent.

21. What did you do on your birthday?
I went to work. I really don't recall what exactly I did to celebrate my birthday this year, sadly.

22. What kept you sane?
My friends and family. Music. Reading. But music, for some reason, has kept me more grounded this year than any other.

23. Who did you miss?
BFF, during the time we weren't talking. Thankfully, gratefully, that's over.

24. Who was the best new person you met?
My friend L.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Here are some quotes for y'all:

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." (Henry Ford)

"If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice." (Conan O'Brien)

And one more thing, don't jump to conclusions so quickly.

Happy 2010 kittens!!

And now, the news you've all been waiting for...

First of all, thanks to everyone for their comments on my last post. If you're tuning in late, I wrote earlier in the week that I was considering discontinuing the blog. Real life, as opposed to cyber life, was taking up a lot of my time, and I needed to deal with that.

I appreciate all of the advice, all of the "I'll miss yous", all of the "do what's good for you" thoughts. They were very lovely. And now that I've babbled on long enough, here's my decision...

I'm going to stay.

My posts won't be as frequent as they have been. I'm just going to post whenever I feel like it, and whenever I have something to share with you. Sometimes that will be a lot, other times that won't be so much.

As for commenting, I think I'm only going to read X number of blogs per day; that way I won't feel so overwhelmed. And if I need to skip a post or two in my reader to take a day off, so be it. Just know that I won't forget about you.

This seems to be a theme resonating throughout a few blogs I read. Some have said that blogging has become like work; others have said that reading and catching up with challenges has become like work. I have yet to rediscover the joy of reading; I know I will, but I just need a little more time. You'll see my book reviews again soon.

I hope you all have a wonderful, blessed New Year's, and a terrific 2010. I'm headed down to BFF's for his annual shindig. Yes, if you've been following that storyline, BFF and I have patched things up and are back to our regular selves. We went to the city a couple of days ago and it was as if we had seen each other yesterday. We picked up right where we left off.

Oh, and one more SAFE tonight! I just looked out my window and it's already started snowing! WTF?!?!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A message to my readers...

Lately I've been thinking about discontinuing this blog. This is a difficult decision for me to make, since I have friended a few of you in real life, and I've grown attached to cyber friends whom I have not yet met. However, in the past few months I've simply had no time to post, and it isn't fair to those who follow this blog to look in their readers and wonder when I'm going to update again.

It's also a difficult decision because blogging and writing is a creative outlet for me, and I just haven't had the opportunity to put my thoughts down in any way, shape or form.

Things have been going wonderfully lately. The holiday season has kept me incredibly busy, and I really wonder what I'm going to do with myself when things finally slow down.

However, I being so busy has left me with very little time to read, and I know a lot of you come to visit to read my book review posts. Things have been so hectic, I've had to drop out of my book clubs.

I haven't been as active a commenter or poster on other blogs as I have been, either, and I feel badly about that, too.

It seems like this general sentiment has been permeating many of the blogs that I usually read. I know I'm not alone. A part of me feels that it would be best for me to stop posting, but another part of me doesn't want to leave anyone hanging.

On that note, I'll let you know my decision soon, kittens. Please note that it has absolutely nothing to do with anything negative happening in my personal life, it's just that I haven't had the opportunity to post. An announcement will be forthcoming later this week.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Muppets and Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon joins the Muppets for an old holiday favorite.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I don't like spam!

Sadly, I am not talking about the variety that Graham Chapman and company are speaking of. I'm talking about the crap that clutters up our inboxes.

Lately, my darling kittens, I have been getting anonymous comments promising me that I can earn $2,000 a day if I just invested in this online program. They have been so frequent that I have no choice but to establish the following policy:

Anonymous comments will NOT be published.

This is especially true if you promise me that my short dark brown hair will turn a lovely shade of blonde if I take 30 of your Insta-Blonde pills three times a day. It is also true if you say I can make $10,000 a day if I whore myself by using your website.

Have y'all been receiving such comments in higher frequency these days, kittens? Or is it just me? Fortunately I moderate my comments, so I can weed out the ones by this "anonymous" fellow. But if you are new to the blog, please make a note of this.

Merci beaucoup, mes amis.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Christmas meme

Special thanks to NurseExec for this one.

1. Does your family send Christmas cards?
Always. We even hang them up. I have kept my Christmas cards every single year since I've been on my own. Not just the photo ones, but the paper ones, too.

2. How soon do you start shopping?
I traditionally start the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year it was the Saturday after T-Day. A migraine prevented me from partaking in early festivities.

3. Who do you shop for?
Immediate family and my two best friends. I bake for co-workers.

4. Do you put up a Christmas tree?
It wouldn't be Christmas without one!

5. If so, is it fake or real?
It is fake. I live on my own, in a loft. It would be a doozy for me to drag a real tree up the stairs every year. Plus, I kill plants. I have a black thumb.

6. Do you like tinsel?
Ick, nooooooooo. Besides, it's too much temptation for the cats, and the last thing I need during the holidays is a ginormous vet bill.

7. Do you use homemade or store bought ornaments?
Both. In fact, this year, I'm taking pictures of my ornaments and writing posts about the stories behind them.

8. Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?
It's against condo association bylaws to do that.

9. Do you put lights on the tree?
It's a pre-lit tree that I bought from the Home Despot the day after Christmas one year. Best clearance deal EVER.

10. How about popcorn and cranberries?
Nope. Don't wanna attract vermin.

11. Is there a wreath hanging on your door?
Yes, it's a wreath handmade by Mama Cat herself.

12. Do you hang up your stocking?
At the Cat Family homestead, yes, because there is a fireplace. At my place, no; I don't have a fireplace.

13. Does your family read "Twas the night before Christmas?"
We used to, when Sister Kitten and I were little. We also read a book called Santa Mouse. We don't do this anymore, now that we're grown. :(

14. Christmas Movie?
A Christmas Story is the BEST Christmas movie EVER. No question. Sister Kitten and I watch the 24 hour marathon on TNT every year and we never get sick of it. We can quote the dialogue.

15. Character from any Christmas Movie
Randy, the little brother from A Christmas Story. My favorite scene is the one where he eats dinner as if he were a pig. Oh, and no mention of A Christmas Story would be complete without the leg lamp!

16. Christmas Song
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town", as performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

17. Christmas Memory
My sophomore year of college a bunch of us went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. We took the Metro North into the city, saw the show, then went to Jekyll and Hyde's afterward. We caught the last train back to school at 1:30 AM. We got back to campus at 3:30 AM. It was a great night...:)

18. Give or Receive?
Both are fun

19. Ham or Turkey?

20. White Lights or Colored Lights?
White; I'm not much of a fan of colored lights on small Christmas trees. On the bigger ones, such as the one in Rockefeller Center, it works.

21. Blinking Lights or Still Lights:
Still. I get motion sickness when I look at blinking lights.

22. Were you Naughty or Nice this year?
I'm a nice girl.

23. What do you want for Christmas this year?
A new washing machine would be nice, since mine no longer runs cold water.

24. When do you open your gifts?
Christmas morning

25. What's the best gift you've ever gotten?
I've received a lot of nice gifts.

26. What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?
Can't think of one.

27. Who gives you the most gifts?
I really don't keep a tally.

28. Have you ever had a secret Santa?
We do Secret Santa every year at work.

29. Do you like wrapping gifts?
Ugh, noooooooo. Read this.

30. Do you put change in those red buckets?
Yes. I feel that any contribution I make is worthwhile, even if it's just a few pennies.

31. Do you burn a yule log?
Only the one they broadcast on TV. Anyone out there in Bloggerland remember the Yule Log on WPIX every year?

32. Can you name all the reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph

33. Do you bake cookies?
It depends on how busy and healthy I am during the holiday season.

34. Have you ever seen your mommy kissing Santa Claus?

35. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?

36. Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?
No, but we used to have some neighbors who would deck the halls, so to speak.

37. Have you ever left Santa cookies?
We did growing up. We left the jelly thumbprint cookies for him...which, coincidentally, were Papa Cat's favorite cookies. Hmmm...

38. Have you ever sat on Santa's lap?
Mama Cat has some pictures, yes.

39. Who do you celebrate Christmas with?
The Cat Family--rawther, my immediate family.

40. Where do you celebrate Christmas?
At the Cat Family homestead.

41. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes, but not every year. In Connecticut it's a crapshoot.

42. What part of Christmas do you look most forward to?
The concerts, the carols, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Also spending lots of time with friends and family.

43. Have you ever had your picture taken with Santa?
When I was little.

44. Does your family always take pictures at Christmas?
Moreso when we were kids, not so much as adults.

45. Have you ever heard the song "Thank God For The Kids"?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A new Thanksgiving classic

I thought I had posted this clip last year, but I guess I didn't.

So in the tradition of me posting the wackiest clips on the Internets for your enjoyment (well, there are a few readers who post wackier clips), here is one from the good people at Blendtec, the folks behind the popular Will it Blend website.

Kittens, if you get the chance, I highly encourage you to visit the website. Seriously. It is one of the best time wasting websites EVER.

Happy Thanksgiving, my darling kittens.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An old Thanksgiving classic

I knew that I had to do a Thanksgiving salute here on the ol' blog, and what better way to do this than feature an old Adam Sandler classic?

Adam Sandler Thanksgiving Song from Jeff Mullooly on Vimeo.

On another note, I totally forgot Kevin Nealon ever did Weekend Update.

Happy Thanksgiving, my darling kittens!

Monday, November 23, 2009

If there is one thing worse than teenage acne...'s adult acne.

Aside from the occasional zit or two, I've never had severe acne in my adult life.

Until now.

And I don't know why.

I checked all of my cosmetics, and they're all supposedly non-comedogenic. My diet's been OK; not great, but OK. I'm not taking any meds that would supposedly lead to breakouts. I've been using Proactiv, but not as much as I should.

And then--and I know I shouldn't do this--I squeeze. Yes, I know it's a rawther nasty habit that can only make breakouts worse. It's also a rawther difficult habit to break.

So here I am, my 33-year-old face looking like a pizza pie, and my regular mineral foundation isn't doing the job of covering up my zits. So I've had to go to a liquid foundation--one with "skin-clearing properties."

I'd just like to go to the grocery store without having to put a full face on.

Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writers Workshop: Destructive kitties

Click here to play along with Mama Kat.

Here is the writing prompt I chose this week:

Describe the most destructive thing your pet has done.

I am fortunate that my kitties are not terribly destructive. They are very good cats overall. They have never scratched furniture or chewed anything of value up. I hate to brag, but they are naturally well-behaved.

However, there is one incident which made me so mad at Maggie.

It happened about three months after I moved into my condo. At the time, I just had Maggie. When I first moved in she used to love to climb on top of the cabinets. From the cabinets, she would climb to the top of the refrigerator, and would dangle her paws in such a way that they brushed against the door to the freezer...and then the freezer door would open.

Can you see where this is going, kittens?

So one morning--the morning of my first dinner party, as a matter of fact--Maggie woke me up, acting more anxious than usual. She was pacing the bed, pawing my face, doing everything within her power to get me out of bed. So finally, I got out of bed, walked to the kitchen to get breakfast...and saw my freezer door, wide open.

How long had it been open, you ask?

Long enough to defrost nearly $100 of frozen goods.

On the bright side, I had the menu for my dinner party ready to go.

And Maggie is a smart enough cat to know that what she did was a big mistake. She hasn't climbed to the top of the refrigerator since.

That, and the fact that I now store my toaster, coffee maker, and several other things up there has been a good deterrent, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayer request

Please send your prayers, good thoughts, and any other good karma over to my friend Yaya. Last week was a very trying week for her. At the beginning of the week she and her husband experienced a tragic loss in their family. At the end of the week, she received a call from their adoption agency, telling her that a birth mother had selected her and Josh as her adoptive parents. Yesterday, she got another call from the agency: The birth mother decided to keep the baby.

Yaya and Josh have been trying to have a baby for the past seven years. They have been through fertility treatments and have had several miscarriages. I, like many of her followers, felt tremendous joy when she first made the adoption announcement last week. Now my heart is heavy with grief.

Please go over, if you are so inclined, and leave a positive comment for her. This is a tremendous loss for her and she needs a lot of love and support right now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Maybe an angel IS watching over me

In one of my last posts I had mentioned that BFF and I were going on our fourth month of not speaking to each other.

Well, that all changed tonight.

It happened on my way home from dinner with a few girlfriends. I had pulled onto the highway, looked at my dashboard, and realized that all of the lights were out. I started panicking, thinking that if my dash lights were out, so were my headlights. I pulled over and put on the hazards. I adjusted the brightness dial on the dash, and things seemed fine. I went to pull back on the highway...

...and realized my hazards were stuck. I couldn't shut them off.

Now, yesterday, kittens, my car went in for service, and part of the service involved the replacement of one of the dashboard lights. (Insert gratuitous Meatloaf lyrics here). This made me wonder if some other things went wrong when the dash was put back together, causing the hazards to get stuck.

Well, long story short, I pull off the highway, into a gas station, and call AAA. If you have ever called AAA, you know that you can wait forever for help to come. It was 9:30 PM, and I was alone, at a gas station, and just a tad nervous.

I needed company...and I did have a friend who lived ten minutes away.

That friend happened to be BFF.

I put my pride--and whatever bitterness I felt--aside and called his cell. No answer.

I called his landline--no answer. He was out for the night.

I then took my owner's manual out and searched for an 800 number for Kia. I was on the automated line when BFF called back. When I realized I was getting nowhere with the robot voice, I hung up on Kia and called BFF.

I told him about my problem. He was indeed out of town, but stayed on the phone with me as I explained what had happened.

He offered some suggestions to help get my hazards unstuck, one of which was banging on the dashboard with my fist. It worked. I was stunned.

He then advised me to call AAA to cancel the service call, which I did. He then told me to call the dealer on Monday and explain what had happened, especially since the dash had come apart yesterday.

And finally, before I hung up, he asked me to call him when I got home. He added that if he were in town, he'd drive to the gas station to keep me company.

Half an hour later, I got home and called him. He was glad that I got home safely.

The timing of this incident couldn't be stranger--at least to me. Over the last couple of days, I had been really missing BFF. Today was particularly difficult, since I was spending the day with a mutual friend of ours who sees him on a regular basis. I started to feel really sad, wondering when, if, and how BFF and I would reconcile.

Well, tonight my prayer was answered--albeit in a strange way, but it was still an answer.

BFF came through for me. He was there when I needed him.

And that's when I realized what a totally selfish ass I had been. I had read too much into a situation that should not have been read too much into. Which was what led to our not speaking to each other. And I felt awful how much I had let it get to me. I'm sorry if I sound so vague about this, but I don't want to go into details about our fight right now.

Besides, I don't think those details matter anymore. He could have ignored my call. He could have chosen not to call me back.

Dear God, now that I am writing my expression of gratitude, I feel even more like a selfish bitch for letting myself be so upset at him.

The important thing is, he helped me out when I needed it. And even though he wasn't physically present, I felt safer and more secure just hearing him on the other end of the line.

I definitely think we're going to be okay.

Thank you God, and car, for helping me realize this.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Favorite commercials

Even though I have DVR, and am able to fast-forward through most of the ads, there are still some that I'm able to catch through random glimpses of live tv. Here are my two current faves.

First up is one of the latest Fiber One commercials. I don't know why people find it so funny when little kids use big words, but it's cute when they do.

Next up, an AT&T commercial featuring Bill Kurtis. I love how these serious, starched-shorts anchormen types don't always take themselves too seriously. (Note: Ignore the ads for the Brooklyn Fair and the Lake George tourism board).

Hope you've enjoyed this little bit of randomness!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Today was a day when I felt emotionally void--dull, empty, blah. That's what I said on my Facebook status.

I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel horrible, either. There are many reasons why I felt this way:
  • I've been to four wakes/funerals since the end of September, and I have another one to attend this coming Sunday. Two of those wakes have involved former colleagues and friends of mine.
  • One wake involved a colleague/friend who was also a member of my book club. I am hosting book club Wednesday night. It is our first meeting since our friend died. I'm not looking forward to the emotion that is going to come out of it, as necessary as it is. I hate crying in front of people.
  • I haven't had time/felt like reading or doing any of my hobbies lately. I just want a day to do nothing at all, and not feel guilty about it.
  • My car went in for emergency service this afternoon. The engine light came on, and they're doing a coolant flush and something with the temperature gauge. Nothing serious, thank goodness, but still, it's another car repair.
  • My coworkers are starting to drop like flies due to H1N1/norovirus/strep throat/whatever other bug is going around. I am grateful, however, to still be healthy.
  • My BFF and I are going on our fourth month without speaking to one another. I've been somewhat okay with our quasi-estrangement, but this morning, I woke up really missing him. As much as I want to reach out and pick up the phone, I really think he needs to contact me first--and not just via a forwarded E-mail.
  • I had to cancel dinner plans with Mama and Papa Cat Sunday night because of the aforementioned wake.
And just as I was moaning about my fate, this song popped into my head:

Thank you, Eric Idle, for helping me put things into perspective and making me laugh at the same time. For this is what I've realized:
  • Meeting with my book club will help me--and everyone else--grieve our loss, but remember our friend in a special way.
  • I have a job where I can afford to repair my vehicle. I am also lucky to have such a reliable form of transportation.
  • I have not succumbed to illness, and I was one of the lucky few at work to receive an H1N1 shot.
  • I am going to see the whole Cat Family in two weeks, on Thanksgiving day. My absolute favorite holiday.
  • And as for me and BFF...I think we'll eventually be OK. We have a lot of mutual friends, and we both don't want to put anyone in the middle of our squabble, which is ours and ours alone. It's just going to take some time to heal...but I'm not going to lie, kittens, it's been very painful for me. I don't know how he's felt about it, but it's hurt like mad on my end. I'll blog more about it at some point.
But right now, I need to listen to Eric Idle again...and find my copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Always, sometimes, never

Special thanks to my good pal Jenners for allowing me to steal this meme. Well, she didn't give me permission, but I'm going to do this anyway (and give credit where credit is due).

  • start my day with a large mug of coffee from the Keurig
  • wear a strand of pearls...they go with any outfit, even jeans
  • have my iPod and a book in my purse...portable entertainment wherever I go
  • wear my aquamarine birthstone ring on my right hand
  • listen to NPR on the way to work
  • visit the websites of the New York Times and CNN to get caught up on the news
  • have a square or two of dark chocolate every day
  • take my vitamins every morning
  • roll down the windows of my car and crank up the radio as loud as it will go whenever it's a nice day
  • am reluctant to get up in the morning--especially before sunrise
  • make an ass out of myself
  • look for the humor in everyday life
  • make the time to catch up on my DVR shows
  • let my nails grow past my fingertips
  • go to bed when I'm supposed to
  • eat my daily required fruit and vegetable servings
  • make exercise a part of my daily routine
  • prefer to stay home rather than go out with friends
  • feel that a totally lazy day (i.e., staying in my PJs and sitting on my ass) is totally necessary to my well-being
  • go a day without snuggling with my kitties
  • eat peas, Brussels sprouts, or beets
  • have consumed a Whopper or a Big Mac
  • met a potato product I didn't like
  • knew the way to San Jose
  • drink pulpy orange juice...OJ is not meant to be chewed
  • watch horror movies. Too scary.
  • have had such a difficult time thinking of things I never do!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The Strange Question Meme, Part Two

26. What color is your watch?
It's a fake brushed white gold color, with a pink face. Picked it up at Ocean State Job Lot for $5. Not the prettiest, most stylish watch in the world, but it works.

27. What do you think of when you hear “Australia”?
The Sydney Opera House, kangaroos, and Hugh Jackman. Especially Hugh Jackman. ;)

28. Would you strip for money? Next question, please.

29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
I go inside. I find it takes me longer at the drive thru than it does when I actually go in. Besides, I don't like the amount of fuel I waste waiting my turn in line at the drive thru.

30. What is your favorite number?
867-5309. Seriously, though, it's 3. I was born on the 3rd day of the 3rd month, and everything good or bad happens to me in threes.

31. Who’s the last person you talked to on the phone?
My friend Jenny.

32. Any plans today?
Church, cleaning, laundry, cooking, going to a concert with a friend.

33. In how many states have you lived?
Two: New York and Connecticut.

34. Biggest annoyance right now?
The realization that I don't have a totally free weekend from now till after the new year.

35. Last song listened to?
The Powdermilk Biscuit Break theme song on A Prairie Home Companion.

36. Can you say the alphabet backwards?

37. Do you have a maid service clean your house?

38. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
My Sketchers.

39. Are you jealous of anyone?
Yeah...I'm guilty of that.

40. Is anyone jealous of you?
I don't know.

41. Do you love anyone?

42. Do any of your friends have children?
A few of them do, yeah.

43. What do you usually do during the day?
Work, eat, sleep. Metro, boulot, dodo.

44. Do you hate anyone that you know right now?

45. Do you use the word hello daily?
Um, hel-LO! Yeah!

46. What color is your car?
Some people call it kelly green.

47. What size wedding ring do you wear?
Um, hel-LO! I'm not married!

48. Are you thinking about someone right now?

49. Have you ever been to Six Flags?
I've been to Riverside in Agawam, Mass and Storytown in Lake George, New York before they became parts of the Six Flags conglomerate. Does that count?

50. How did you get your worst scar?
Don't ask...

Friday, November 6, 2009


I got my first migraine two years ago--two days before Thanksgiving. Don't ask me how I remember that day; I have a freakish memory about these things.

I had never had a migraine before that. At the time I was going through the most incredibly stressful period of my life, and I'm amazed that my physical health didn't start falling apart before that. But it had come out of the blue, and quite frankly, it terrified me. I remember the front of my head being in pain, as if someone was squeezing my brain tightly, then releasing it slowly, only to quickly squeeze it again. And I remember the nausea. I kept leaning over the toilet, wanting to vomit, but it never came.

I was so scared by the intensity of the pain and nausea that I nearly drove myself to the hospital. Or rather, called 911. But I decided to lay on the couch and see how things were.

It was 6:30 PM. One minute, I was listening to Brian Williams deliver the news, the next moment it was 5:30 AM, and time for me to go to work. I had slept eleven hours straight.

I remember waking up, getting up off the couch, and feeling bewildered. My headache was gone, but I kept waiting for it to come back.

That morning, my car got a flat on the way to work. Later that day I took it to the dealer to have the tire patched (and ended up needing four new tires...but that's another story), and while I was waiting for my car to get fixed, I started chatting with another woman in the waiting room. It turns out that this woman was a medical assistant. I told her my story of what happened the night before, and her eyes widened. She knew exactly what I had--a frontal lobe migraine, and my symptoms were "classic."

Since then I've had several migraines, but not a lot--one or two a year, at most. Thank God! I have friends who have had to go on Imitrex and other migraine meds on a daily basis. I have been fortunate not to have had to walk that path.

I've found that my migraines are usually tension-related, sinus-related, or both. 98% of the time they're sinus related. 2% of the time it's stress. Today, it was both. I had a rough week at work, and even though I had to run some errands on the way home, I drove straight home today. No sooner did I walk in the door than I removed my coat, took the blanket off the couch, and laid down. It was 3:15 PM, and I slept till 5.

I woke up, and about a half hour later, started blowing my nose like mad.

I'm feeling better now. The pressure behind my eye sockets still remains, but will be gone by tomorrow morning. All I need is a good night's sleep. The only way I can personally get rid of a migraine is to sleep. Tylenol just doesn't do it for me.

And sleeping is not such a bad thing. At all.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Quote of the day

"World Series tonight--assuming the world only includes New York to Pennsylvania."

Stephen Colbert, opening segment, The Colbert Report, October 28, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The (not-so)-secret eating habits of the Bookkitten

Last Friday, I wrote about foods that I thought were rawther strange. I cannot tell you how many E-mails and comments I got that basically said, "How dare you mock our favorite foods!"

So, in fairness to you, my darling kittens, I am going to tell you about some eating habits of mine that others think are rawther strange:

1. I eat tuna straight from the can.
I don't bother with the sandwich, celery, or (ugh) mayonnaise any more. I get my can opener, break the seal, and drain the water. Then I get my fork and dig right in. I find plain tuna to be rawther tasty and flavorful. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

It is not easy, however, to eat tuna in the presence of kitties. I like to give them the empty can once I'm done, so they can lick whatever morsels are left in the crevices.

2. Raw tortellini is very tasty.
I am talking about the fresh tortellini here, the one that comes in the plastic packages, in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It's gotten to the point where I don't even boil the water for it any more; I just dump some into a bowl, eat it one piece at a time, and call it dinner. Sometimes I like to stretch out my snacking by biting the piece in half, chewing it slowly, and savoring each morsel. Then I finish the rest by popping it into my mouth.

3. I like to melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stir in a little natural peanut butter, and call it dessert.
I call it the "Poor Man's Peanut Butter Cup." It may not be good for you, but oh, does it taste good!

4. I like to drink plain hot water.
I don't even put a tea bag or hot cocoa in it; I just like it regular. I first started doing this in college on really cold days. One night there was no hot cocoa or tea in my dorm room, and I was desperate to warm up, so I dumped some water in the hot pot, heated it up, and voila!

5. I have been known to eat raw oatmeal.
Sometimes I'll pour it into the bowl, much like cereal, and sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon on top. I don't even pour milk into the bowl. It's really good crunchy! Try it!

And that's just for starters! I won't go further 'cause I don't wanna gross y'all out (that is, if I haven't done so already). Do you, kittens, have any food quirks that you'd like to share with me?

In praise of coffee

Let's talk about coffee and how I am in love with it.

I have not always been a java fan, though. I am, and always will be, a tea person first and foremost. I love tea. So much so that, one Christmas, between my family and friends, I received eleven boxes of tea as gifts. There is nothing more relaxing to me than heating up my kettle, listening for the whistle, and pouring myself a cup of bliss. I sit at my chair, hands curled around the mug of happiness, inhaling the vapor of my Celestial Seasonings and just feeling content--and that's all before the first sip.

I used to drink tea first thing in the morning before I went to work, and would have a mug full of it to drink during my commute. However, as the years have gone by, I have found that this just doesn't cut it for me any more. I needed something stronger. That's when I started buying coffee, and drinking it on a regular basis.

For many years I used Old Bessie, the coffee maker that I had since college. However, Old Bessie wore out, and I had to replace her. That's when Keurig entered my life. For those of you who are fans of the machine (I'm talking to you, Jodi and Missy!), Keurig = LOVE. Now that I've joined Green Mountain Coffee's Cafe Express Program, which automatically ships K-Cups to my door on a monthly basis, I've been able to sample many varieties of java. Here are my favorites:

(First, though, I must say that I'm not being paid to talk about these flavors or Green Mountain Coffee in general.)

Heifer Hope Blend: This is a medium roast coffee. It claims to have a bit of chocolate in it, but I have been unable to taste it. I find it somewhat mild, but it is rawther tasty. As you will soon learn, I really like STRONG coffee. The coffee I like is so strong, I think it's what keeps my hair dark brown.

PBS Blend: This is another good coffee. It's a little stronger than the Heifer Hope Blend. Proceeds from the sale of this coffee support PBS, which is one of the reasons why I purchase it. PBS is one of my favorite channels. Yes, I know by saying that I've aged myself about 20 years, but I don't care.

10% Kona Blend: Full-strength Kona coffee is rawther expensive, so I get this stuff. This is probably my favorite coffee ever. It is soooooo smoooooooth going down. And tasty. This is what I mean when I say that coffee helps maintain my hair color.

So right now I'm savoring my Kona coffee and contemplating my next move for the day. I've already used the hour I gained for sleeping purposes, so maybe I'll contemplate my dinner options.

Or maybe I'll make another cup of coffee.

PBS Blend, anyone?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The Strange Question Meme, Part One

Wanna play along? Click thine button:

1. What is the color of your toothbrush?
It's an electric toothbrush with bright, cornflower-blue sparkle paint on one side. The rest has a matte white finish. In case you have been wondering, yes, I have had paint colors on the brain lately.

2. Name one person who made you smile today.
I haven't been out of the house today. My cats made me smile today. Does that count?

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Sleeping blissfully. Sleeping late for the first time in weeks.

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Heating olive oil on the stove. I am giving my hair a hot olive oil treatment as we speak. My hair is encased in plastic wrap, and will be for the next hour as the oils penetrate the strands of my locks. I expect trick or treaters soon; this will be a good way to scare them.

5. What is your favorite candy bar?
Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger! I made the mistake of buying the mini ones for the trick or treaters...let's just say I'll be lucky to hand a few out by the end of the night.

6. Have you ever been to a strip club?

7. What is the last thing you said aloud?
I don't I said, I haven't left the house today, and have had no human contact. I don't even remember the last thing I said to las gatas.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? How to choose?
It's a toss-up among chocolate chip cookie dough, dulce de leche, peanut butter cup, and cookies and cream. How to choose? I go with whatever flavor's on sale. Which reminds me, Blue Bunny ice cream's on sale at the A and Piss Off; I may have to actually make a trip to that wretched establishment.

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
A cup of Kona coffee from the Keurig.

10. Do you like your wallet?
What kind of a question is this? I've had mine for several years now; I guess I like it!

11. What was the last thing you ate?
A cup of Fiber One vanilla yogurt.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Nope, not this week. A month ago I took advantage of the Old Navy sweater sale and bought a few new sweaters.

13. The last sporting event you watched?
Two minutes of a Boston Bruins game.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Smartfood. Best damn popcorn on earth.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to?
My friend Chantal, the one who staged a curly hair intervention not long ago.

16. Ever go camping?
Last time I went camping was back in the fifth grade. Our Girl Scout troop went on a Girl Scout camping jamboree weekend. We slept in cabins and washed up in privies--we didn't exactly rough it.

17. Do you take vitamins daily?
I have to. I have a vitamin D deficiency.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday?
Yep, but there are some Sundays where I feel it's good to sleep in and just take the day as it comes.

19. Do you have a tan?
I live in Connecticut. I have a New Englander's tan--nice and pasty white. During the winter it matches the snow.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
I like 'em both equally, but eat pizza more often.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw?
Only in restaurants.

22. What did your last text message say?
"Have you heard from so-and-so lately?" Last text from Chantal.

23. What are you doing tomorrow?
Going to church, correcting papers, and continuing to wash olive oil out of my hair.

24. Favorite color?
Purple. The deeper and plummier the shade, the better.

25. Look to your left; what do you see?
My filing cabinet and one of my bookshelves.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday Fragments: Bad Eats

This evening Papa Cat took me out to dinner. We went to the Ninety-Nine. As we perused the menu, trying to decide what to eat, I saw this:

Behold, kittens, the iceberg wedge. Tell me, is this dish a holdout from the 60s or 70s? Because I've never seen any of the hoity-toity chefs on America's Test Kitchen or Food Network try to recreate this. Not even Rachael Ray will touch this one! I never understood its appeal; iceberg, to me, is rawther tasteless, and the addition of tons of dressing and bacon bits cannot improve upon the nutritional value of the lettuce. Even though it's a vegetable, and a leafy green at that, iceberg has the fewest vitamins and minerals of all of the salads. Who even came up with the idea of serving this dish? No comprendo! De ninguna manera!

That got me thinking...what other weird foods are out there? There are tons! So many I can't limit myself to just one blog post! But I'll highlight some of my faves in this one.

We shall continue with this:

I never understood the appeal of marshmallow fluff. It has always looked like watered down Spackle to me. Then again, I've never liked marshmallows. I have a sweet tooth, but marshmallows have been way too sweet for me. As a kid, Sister Kitten used to eat marshmallows straight out of the bag while watching TV. That is not so bad when you consider that she used to eat marshmallow fluff right out of the tub.

And speaking of eating things straight from the container:

I have a few friends who used to squirt this stuff in their mouths and consider it a meal. Granted, this was during our college days. Even better, you'd get this stuff out at parties, and once people had a few drinks too many, they'd squirt this stuff in each other's mouths. Generally girls never participated in this ritual. The males often did, and would wash it down with whatever beer was on hand.

And finally, there's this:Maybe it's because Mama Cat never believed in feeding us processed foods as kids, but I just feel funny even looking at a box of Velveeta. Is this stuff really cheese? Is dairy even one of its ingredients? I've never picked up a box to examine its contents, and I'm not sure I want to Google an ingredient list, either.

As the holiday season fast approaches, I may have some more posts like this. I can think of a couple of side dishes at the Thanksgiving table that I could write about, but I'm saving those for another time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The fly

It happens every afternoon.

I'm sitting quietly at my desk at work, blissfully listening to NPR, being happily productive. I'm really, deeply involved in my tasks. So involved that the smallest interruption completely shatters my concentration.

It's moments like that when he arrives.

He comes like clockwork, every afternoon around 3:30, and starts swarming around my workspace with the loudest buzzing sound you've ever heard. And he doesn't stop for about twenty minutes. I shoo him away, again and again. And then he leaves--for five minutes. Then he returns.

I have attempted to kill this sucker many times, but he just won't die.

And this has been going on for about two years now.

Now kittens, I realize that flies have the life span of a gnat, but seriously, I think this has been the same fly. Either that or the original one passed on his DNA to his offspring. After all, how else would a family of flies behave the same way?

I have told this story to several people, who have all looked at me funny. They're amazed at how much a fly can bother me. But when I'm working, I'm working. I loathe any and all interruptions, including bathroom breaks. I'm pretty focused when I have a task that engulfs me.

And here's the worst part...I really think this fly lives to annoy me. Just me and me alone. How else would he only come to my room, at the same time every day, for two years?!?!

At least he hasn't followed me home.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clip of the Week, Part Two: Alton Brown Makes a Smoothie

Jimmy Fallon continues to question Alton Brown's sanity as the two of them make a fruit smoothie in a--to put it mildly--most unusual way.

Clip of the Week, Part One: Alton Brown Makes a Smoothie

If you are at all familiar with the Food Network show Good Eats, you know that Alton Brown's cooking methods are...well, unorthodox is putting it mildly. Witness this clip of him making a smoothie with Jimmy Fallon and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Why you haven't seen many book reviews lately

Or rawther, any book reviews lately.

The answer is quite simple.

I got burned out on reading.

Here's what happened: When I discovered all of these reading challenges I was so excited, I signed up for as many as I could. I realized not long ago that I bit off a lot more than I could chew. You see the lists of books in my sidebar, that I'm supposedly reading right now? I stopped reading them in mid-August. I simply got fried, and decided to take a break from books. It was becoming like a job for me.

When I was in the middle of the reading challenges, I really enjoyed them. However, as deadlines approached for the ends, I began to feel pressure to complete them. One day I just threw my hands up and said, "Forget it! I don't want to feel pressured to read!" I found myself turning into a reading machine, and I didn't like that.

The demands of my job recently have also made it difficult to find time to open the covers of a book. It's not uncommon for me to work 12-14 hour days. By the time all is said and done at the end of the day, I've been too tired to focus on the written page. Instead of falling asleep to a soothing literary lullaby, I've been falling asleep listening to the drone of the automated voice of the Weather Channel's local forecasts. Puts me to sleep every time. But I digress...

But now, I'm feeling the itch to get back into the bibliogroove. I will always love books, but after signing up for so many challenges, and feeling pressured to complete them, I had to take a break. However, there is some good to come out of this: Thanks to these challenges, I've read genres that I normally would never have read. I participated in posts that I never thought I'd write. It was an enriching experience for me.

Next year, however, I'm only signing up for one or two challenges. Three, at the most. And if I get overzealous again, kittens, please, hold me accountable. Let me know that I'm biting off more than I can chew. Help keep me in line!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear local politicians...

I know that you're nearing the end of your bids to get elected next month, but please, stop cluttering my mailbox with ads. If you can't go green, I will--by putting your ads in the recycle bin. Good luck in November.
Love, Kitten

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Last week, I wrote a post about the peculiar habits of our canine friends. Since we here at The Bookkitten are equal opportunity bloggers, it's only fair that I compose a little something about our feline companions.

When I returned home from housesitting last Saturday night, I was welcomed with open arms--er, paws. I unloaded the car, poured a glass of wine, and settled in to watch some DVR shows. No sooner did I sit on the couch than Maggie jumped into my lap and settled in. A minute later, Gabby settled right next to us. And so the three of us stayed, for a solid hour. I wanted to get up and move around occasionally, but I couldn't; I didn't want to disturb my babies, especially since I hadn't been home in so long.

Say what you will about cats and how they can be stuck-up and blow certain people off, but when they love their human friends, they adore them. My gals have been my little shadows ever since I returned home. Every night, when I go to bed, they plaster themselves against my body and won't leave. It makes it difficult to toss and turn at night, especially if you're a blanket hog, like me, who also likes the sheets so tightly tucked in the bed is practically short-sheeted.

Which leads to my next do cats instinctively know when you're making the bed? Mine don't even have to see me take the sheets out of the linen closet; they just show up whenever I make the bed. One gets on the mattress pad and refuses to leave. Rather than shoo her off, I just make the bed over her. I put the fitted sheet on, then the flat sheet. By the time I tuck the sheets in, the other cat decides to join the fun. When it gets to the point where I spread the blanket over the sheets, they engage in a turf war. By the time I put the duvet cover on, both cats have escaped from the sheets, and now I have to tuck everything back in.

And how do cats instinctively know when you're on vacation? Or when it's the weekend? Or when your alarm goes off? Mine seem to know whenever I set the clocks ahead for Daylight Savings or backwards when it's over. They always wake me up about fifteen minutes before my alarm goes off, just to make sure I don't sleep in. And when it's the weekend, they leave me alone and let me sleep in. Weird.

But when cats are Out.

Cats will let you know when they want food, and when they want food, they want it yesterday. Mine have chewed holes in the bags of dry food on quite a few occasions whenever I've come home from the grocery store. It's especially dangerous when I eat tuna or salmon; they are in my face, begging, begging, begging, for just a wee little taste of fishy goodness.

However, I have animals who will eat anything. And I do mean, everything.

I don't deliberately feed her this, but Gabs loves tortellini. She's taken a little nugget out of the bowl before and eats just a little bit of it at a time before deciding she doesn't want any more. She also loves pizza crust. Mags is partial to broccoli florets, and will jump on the counter and steal one whenever I cut up the crown. She also likes to drink the leftover sludge at the bottom of a coffee cup. I stop her immediately when I catch her doing this, since caffeine isn't good for cats.

Which reminds me...I have to make dinner. And ironically enough, tortellini was on sale at Stop and Shop this week.

Excuse me, I have to go feed myself...and the Gabster.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

There's no place like home!

Well, kittens, I have now been home for thirteen hours. I got home at 7 PM last night, and it took me fifteen minutes to unload my car. Keep in mind that I was away for two and a half weeks and I had two and a half weeks of clothes and such with me. Hell, I even brought my Keurig with me while I was gone. Mama needs her coffee!

Anyhoo, I'm adjusting to being home in the same way that someone who has been in a foreign country for a while adjusts to being back in their native land. It feels weird, yet pretty good. The cats slept with me last night, clinging to my body so tightly that they pretty much trapped me. I couldn't move, no matter how much I tried.

After I got all of the stuff unloaded, I sat down, poured myself a glass of wine, and caught up on three episodes of Conan on the DVR. I'm still behind on him and on Glee. Which reminds me, I have to write a post about my life after DVR...

Today, I further integrate myself in the readjustment process. I have to go grocery shopping. There is no food in the house, except for breadcrumbs, apples, pasta, and stale milk. Maybe I could make myself a breadcrumbed apple...mmm...or, dice an apple and toss it with the pasta...

And if you think I'm serious, then you need an extra shot of espresso.

Which reminds me, time to make some coffee of my own.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The ABCs of Meme

A- Advocate for: Lots of things: Asthma awareness, depression awareness, and public education, to name a few

B- Best Feature: Eyes

C- Could do without: "War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate."

D- Dreams and desires: To become a published author, or work in a bookstore, or become a librarian. I would love to be a writer most of all of these goals, though.

E- Essential items: iPod, Keurig, cell phone, computer (Same as wonder why we're such good friends.)

F- Favorite past time: reading, drinking tea, and hanging out with the cats as I do so

G- Good at: going with my intuition has never let me down

H- Have never tried: snowboarding, skiing, or speedskating

I- If I had a million dollars: I'd pay off my college loans and invest the rest.

J- Junkie for: Books, music, Carol Burnett, Anne of Green Gables, and Conan O'Brien (may as well put redheads here, too)

K- Kindred spirit: My BFF...and Anne of Green Gables, too (those of you who have read the series know what I'm referring to)

L- Little known fact: I used to take pictures of pigeons in every city I visited. I had a little album going for a while.

M- Memorable moment: There are lots of them, but I can't think of one specific one right now.

N- Never again will I: stay up till 5 AM because I have to study or work...I will only stay up that late because I want to

O- Occasional indulgence: Ice cream

P- Profession: Education

Q- Quote: "A lot of comedy is tragedy plus time." --Carol Burnett

R- Reason to smile: Friends and family

S- Sorry about: being so careless with money in the past

T- Things you are worrying about right now: Cleaning my house and catching up with chores after being away for 2.5 weeks

U- Uninterested in: The TV show Lost. I know many people who are obsessed with it, but I just don't get it.

V- Very scared of: snakes

W- Worst habits: Nail-biting, procrastination

X- X marks my ideal vacation spot: Saint Thomas, USVI

Y- Yummiest dessert: cheesecake!

Z- Zodiac sign: Pisces

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


As you all know, I am a housesitter. I stay overnight at my friends' houses whenever they go away. Usually I do this if they are dog owners. Now, as you also know, I am a cat person. I love dogs, but due to my lifestyle, I can't take care of one. I work about a half hour from home, and am often gone for twelve hours at a time. Most of the friends for whom I housesit are a five minute drive from work, or less, enabling me to let them out according to their needs.

Now, with the five minute commute, one might think, "Lovely! You can sleep in and hit the snooze button several times, right?" WRONG. Dogs operate on their own schedule. They don't care whether they wake you up at 6:30 am or 2:30 am. Most of the time the dogs I watch will let me sleep for fifteen extra minutes when I tell them to go away for a bit. But when dogs gotta go, they gotta go.

Tonight I let the dogs out after their supper, and I made some observations:

1. They insist on peeing in the exact same spot. Where one goes, the other must go as well.
2. Why is it that dogs insist on turning two or three times before laying down?
3. You know the movie 101 Dalmatians? That part about the "Twilight Bark"? So true. When one dog in the neighborhood barks, even if it's twenty houses down, all of the dogs in the neighborhood join in.

Now to complicate matters, there is a cat living in this house as well. He is clearly the alpha male, and is not afraid to swipe either pup if he gets pissed off. After all, this is his house. The dogs are so afraid of him, they will freeze in their tracks when they come in from the backyard and they see him in the kitchen. I never saw a dog fear a cat before. It's really remarkable how terrified these big dogs (they're Labs) are of this feline.

And what is it with dogs and shoes?!?!?! One of the dogs likes to hold shoes in its mouth. Fortunately, they don't get chewed up--well, actually, I lost a wee part of my heel the other day, to my good pair of brown shoes. Plus side? I took advantage of the BOGO sale at Payless and got some new ones. But I digress.

Oh, and the shoe-loving dog also loves to drag clothes around the house. The other day I stacked my laundry way up high, high enough that I felt that she couldn't get a hold of it. The next morning, when I woke up--clean laundry, all over the first floor of the house.

Now, I get annoyed when my kitties fall asleep on my laundry, but I'd take their fur all over my clean sweaters over seeing my laundry dragged across the living room any day.

I'm here till Saturday afternoon. It's going to feel really weird sleeping in my own house after being away for so long. But at the same time, it's gonna feel soooo good.

P.S. For those of you who have asked why I don't have my cats here, it's pretty simple. They don't get along with dogs. Plus, the alpha male cat is known as the neighborhood bully, even though he's pretty sweet with me. With the two dogs and the cat here, I'd have to keep my girls cooped up in one of the bedrooms all day long. It really wouldn't be fair for me to do that to them. Fortunately I get to go home and spend time with them each day for a couple of hours, so they don't feel neglected.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The joys of being a homeowner

Last night I went to sit shiva with the family of my friend who passed away last week. Not only did she work with me, she was my neighbor. So I took the opportunity to swing by the house for a couple of hours, before the services started. I fed the cats, gave them water, and then went on my way.

However, it's gotten tres cold here in the Nutmeg State, and I forgot to turn on the heat before I left. So I made another trip up today for the sole purpose of turning the heat on.

When I went to turn the heat on in the back of the house, where my office is, I was greeted by a not-so-nice surprise: my patio umbrella had blown over and shattered the glass top to my patio table, leaving it in hundreds upon hundreds of itty bitty shards, some scattered on the deck, others hanging by a thread off of the edge of the table.

For the next two and a half hours, I gingerly cleaned the whole mess up. I used my vacuum, a broom, some trash bags, and a couple of grocery bags. I took the table apart and disposed of it in the dumpster. I went downstairs to my neighbor's and cleaned off his patio. I live in a loft, so some of the shards fell in between the boards of my deck and down onto his space.

I still have some glass shards in the cracks that I have to clean up. That will have to wait until I return home Saturday--for good.

I can't wait to go home. I've forgotten what it's like to be there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday Fragments

Hey everyone--

Sorry I've been such the slacker here on the blog lately. Lots going on, as you know, especially if you follow me on Facebook. Let me give you some brief updates here.

Today I went to a funeral for a friend and former colleague of mine. I really don't want to go into too much detail about it, other than to say that I haven't really grieved yet. Usually when something like this happens I have a delayed reaction--a VERY delayed reaction--and I don't grieve until four or five days after the death's happened. So I'm just waiting for the moment when I can finally break down and feel some relief.

I am housesitting, and have been since October 1st. This is for the same friend who had the butter-eating dog a few months back. Not to worry, I don't plan on doing any baking right now. However, the other dog has been dragging my clean, folded laundry all over the house. I thought I had put it out of reach by stacking it high on the dining room table. Maybe the cat has been knocking the clothing off when I'm not there.

I will be here till the 17th. I've never been away from home for so long--in my adult life, that is. I get to visit my cats every other day, check on them, see if they're okay. And they are. But I miss them something awful--especially right now. I haven't had a lazy, do nothing day at home in a very long time. I just want a Saturday afternoon to chill on the couch, catch up with my DVR shows, and have the kitties in my lap. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly selfish--and it is. But it's what I'm craving right now.

The other day I told my BFF that I had never been happier, professionally or personally. I then added that I hope I didn't jinx myself by saying that. Now I wonder if I have...or maybe this is a temporary setback. I hope it is.

I have a long weekend. I was excited about it at first, but now, not so much. Saturday I'm getting my car serviced--AGAIN. Stupid belts have been giving me a lot of grief, but I'm going to the dealership, and they're good at what they do. Sunday I was supposed to go apple picking with BFF, but I found out that A) I have to sing at church, and B) I am going to sit shiva Sunday night with my friend's family. Normally I could balance all of these activities--if I were at my OWN home and if I didn't have dogs to let out. Now again, I like housesitting and I enjoy dogs, but with everything going on, and everything I want to do, it's been difficult scheduling my life around letting them out--and they have to be let out every four hours, given that one of them has urinary issues. I hope that I can get someone to let them out on Sunday while I'm gone.

So, anyhoo, I'm in a funk right now. I know that this will pass, but it's just a lot to deal with in a short time. Thanks, as always, for letting me vent.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where we live

I grew up in small-town America.

My town was very rural--well, rural and growing to the point where it was about to become a real suburb. My town had traffic lights, and two small, locally-owned grocery stores, a homegrown hardware store, a locally-owned video store, and lots and lots of family-owned pizza parlors.

We were the town where the marching band was the pride and joy of our high school. We didn't even have a football team. We were the town where everyone knew each other, where people would leave their doors unlocked at night and have no fear of their kids going to the library by themselves or walking to school on their own.

This is where I grew up.

And the older I got, the more I wanted out.

In fact, that became my main post-college goal: I didn't care where I landed a job, I just wanted out of my parents' house and be outta my small town.

It didn't help that my parents did not grow up in small-town America, and that, even after 29 years of living in the same town, they still have moments of culture shock. Both Mama and Papa Cat grew up in the greater New York metro area, and were used to city life--or living nearby a vibrant, active city. Hartford, sadly, is not exactly the most vibrant of metropolitan areas.

They complain, for instance, about the lack of good pizza and bagels in their neck of the woods. They were overjoyed when I decided to attend college in Fairfield County, and Sister Kitten in upstate New York, if only for the bread goods. (Well, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea of how much my rents love their bagels).

Getting the Sunday New York papers was a mini-dose of joy in our household growing up. After church, Papa Cat would stop by the local, mom-and-pop pharmacy, greet our pharmacist, who knew my family--and the other families in town--very well, and purchase the Daily News and the New York Post. Mama and Papa Cat would then sit in their respective Archie-and-Edith chairs and read their papers, sighing over the Mets' latest disaster and wishing that Steinbrenner would just sell the Yankees already.

We were also unusual because we were one of the few families in town that didn't have generations of members living in the same area for decades. We weren't related to anyone else in town. We were the only members of our extended family living in Connecticut.

So what did this mean for me growing up? I knew that there was a world beyond my small-town bubble, and I couldn't wait to pierce it and escape.

And, in July of 2001, I did.

I moved to a small city with a waterfront and a mall within a five-minute driving distance. I could purchase my groceries at Stop and Shop and grab a quick bite to eat at McDonald's. I had my prescriptions filled at Rite Aid, and bought my coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts every morning on my way to work. I banked at Bank of America, and got my car serviced at Jiffy Lube.

This, to me, was paradise. No longer did I have to drive half an hour to get to the mall. No longer did I have to go twenty miles out of town to shop at Target. No longer did I have to go out of my way to get to the nearest Borders.

And shortly after I moved, things started to change--both within my hometown, and myself.

Before I moved, the old Chevy dealership on the south end of town had been torn down and was being replaced by a Stop and Shop. Mama Cat would flip the bird in protest every time she drove by. I asked her why.

"It's putting the local businesses out of business!"

I didn't get it then.

A year later, a CVS opened in town. Once again, Mama Cat refused to go there, and chose to have her prescriptions filled at the same mom-and-pop establishment where she had been going for years. I asked her why she didn't make the switch, since CVS also had more inventory than her old place.

"It'll put Mike out of business!"

I still didn't get it.

But one day, I finally did.

Sadly, it took the current state of our economy to realize just how important mom-and-pop businesses are, not just to the welfare of our communities, but more importantly, to our psyche.

I can't tell you how many local businesses in my current city of residence have closed down because people are going to their larger, chain counterparts. And when you hear stories about how these local businesses have given so much to the community, it really makes you want to weep. I love to read about the local high school, community-sponsored graduation parties, and see which businesses have contributed. Nine times out of ten, the sponsors are the locally-owned, mom-and-pop businesses.

I now go back to my hometown and feel a sense of longing for what once was. The local pharmacy is still there, and is doing a decent business, but the CVS still looms large. We now have a Starbucks and an TJ Maxx, in addition to a Dunkin Donuts and a McDonald's.

My small town has now been commercialized.

Which leads me to wonder, does true small-town America still exist?

Yes...and no.

I'm currently housesitting for a friend of mine who lives in small-town America. The "center" of town is just a stone's throw away from her house. There aren't any chain stores, but two very nice, locally-owned gourmet food stores. There's a small, locally-owned used bookstore, as well as a bakery. The other day, I was in one of the food stores, and two little girls were in there with their mom, buying candy to eat later in the day. When they left, the mother went to run errands, and the little girls sat in front of the store, eating their gummy worms, watching the world go by.

This past weekend I went to a memorial service for the father of a friend of mine. There were people there who knew her father from when they were back in high school--fifty years ago. They still lived in the same small town where they grew up.

In spite of these little girls, and the men in mourning for their friend, there is an aspect of small-town America that will never come round again. We all lock our doors at night, have car alarms, and have ADT and Brinks Home Security on call in case anything should happen.

Lately I've found myself missing my small town--in more ways than one. I still like my mid-sized American city, though. You can't beat the convenience of having a movie theater, a hospital, and three major shopping centers all within a ten-minute radius.

And it's nice to know that there are two small towns bordering mine.

It's good to know that I can return to small-town America--if only for a couple of hours at a time.

Or even in my imagination.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bookin' Around meme

Borrowed from my pal NurseExec.
Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
I don't snack while I read. I find that I don't concentrate as much on the book if I do.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I only marked up books if I had to read them for college/grad school courses. I don't these days; even the thought of putting sticky notes in a book as I read horrifies me.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
It depends. If it's a paperback that I own, dog ears. If it's a library book, bookmark. If the bookmark has a dust jacket, I use the flaps to keep my place.

Laying the book flat open?
Never. I always hold the book in my hands.
Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Les deux.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Hard copy. I haven't tried audiobooks yet, and I'm kinda afraid to. I fear that the narrator's vocal tone and style may ruin the book for me.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I have to go all the way to the end of a chapter. I feel a better sense of closure that way; I don't like being in limbo.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
This isn't a problem for me. My vocabulary is pretty large. Plus, I'm pretty good at figuring out words from context.

What are you currently reading?
Sad to say, nothing! I've been so busy with work!

What is the last book you bought?
I bought the latest one from the author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Sadly, I can't think of her name right now.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Sometimes I read more than one at a time, others I can only concentrate on a single volume.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
At the end of the day, before bedtime, curled up in a ball on the left corner of my couch.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I love 'em all!

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
All summer long, I've been raving about The Time Traveler's Wife. And I can't recommend Lucy Maud Montgomery--any of her works--enough. And The Pillars of the Earth made a rather large impression on me, too.
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
By series and genre. All of my Twilight books are shelved together. All of my chick lit books are shelved together, my travel books together, etc.

Favorite genre?
Memoirs, and lately, a lot of chick lit. And I do mean, A LOT.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An afternoon rendez-vous chez la coiffeuse, Part Three: The one where the moon, the stars, and the planets align...

I'll update y'all with some links to my two previous posts about "ma coif" later in the week. I'm just composing this really quickly because I don't want to keep people in suspense for much longer.'s about a month after my curly hair intervention, and my do was looking fabulous. However, I was starting to run out of product, and while it was nice to travel to Stratford to visit Chantal, it just wasn't always convenient. So I went to the Deva Curl website, typed in my zip code, and prayed that there was a salon in the M-Town where I could buy some of the wonder material that was doing my do lots of kind favors.

Aaand...there WAS a salon in the M-Town!

I went there immediately after work. The minute I walked in I could tell it was a hip, happening place. Not only that, but I got quite the reception from the owner when I arrived:

"Oh look! Another curly girly!"

I couldn't help but smile.

She stopped what she was doing to another client's hair and walked over to me. "How can we help you?" she asked.

"Well, I'm here because you carry Deva Curl."

The owner's grin widened. "Aren't they fabulous? You know, we do haircuts especially for gals like you."

Did I just hear an angel sing?

She went back to her station and handed me a book called Curly Girl. "This is the Bible for curly girls. Go on, read it and one of us will be with you in a moment."

I started reading. I soooo wish that this book existed when I was a kid, because there was a special chapter written for moms on how to deal with curly haired kids. Oh, I could have prevented those years of wearing sponge rollers to bed...

Anyhoo, one of the hairdressers sat down with me and asked me what I wanted to do with my hair. I went, "Uhhh..." You see, kittens, it was a very long time since any hairdresser asked me what I wanted to do with my hair. I just put it in the hands of the stylist, and they did whatever they could, because they never explained to me what they did and why. More importantly, why. And I was honest with the hairdresser when I told her this. She told me she could help me figure out what I wanted to do with my hair.

I booked an appointment immediately.

The following night, I went out with the ladies. At the end of the night, as we left the coffee shop, I mentioned that I was getting my hair cut at this place that specialized in curly hair. At this point, another curly gal in the group embraced me. "Where is it?" she asked.

I told her about the salon.

That's when another woman mentioned that her husband had been getting his hair cut at the very same salon for seven years, and knew the owners very well. And mentioned that they were a blast to visit.

Do I now hear a choir of angels singing?

Well, several days later, I went to the salon for my appointment. Again, I was asked the question, "What do you want to do with your hair?" I said, "I don't know!" I was panicked; I was getting pictures done the following day and needed to look good.

The owner led me to her chair. "Come. Let's take a look."

The next thing I knew she took a few bobby pins and started pinning my hair up in random sections. Soon I had a rawther sexy, killer updo. It looked amazing. Then she took the pins out and let me play with my hair for a few minutes while she tended to another client. When she came back, she looked through the layers of my hair and said, "I don't think you really need a haircut."

I don't?!?!

"You probably think you needed a cut because you were overwhelmed and had trouble styling it, huh?"

I nodded.

"But you still want to be pampered, don't you?" She winked.

I nodded.

Next thing I knew she's trimming the dead ends off my hair--before she washed it. This made so much sense to me; curly hair shortens as it curls and dries, so why not cut it at its shortest?

So I got my shampoo done, and my style done--and the next thing I knew, I looked at my watch and realized I had been there for two hours. The gals were soooo much fun; they were easy to talk to, had killer senses of humor, didn't force me to buy products, and played groovy music.

Not to mention, I got a good cut.

Oh, one more thing--the salon also had a self-styling bar, where you could practice setting your hair yourself before you left. The hairdressers were there to guide you and help you out, but you do most of the work. This was so you wouldn't leave with the "oh, I can't duplicate this at home" feeling when you left.

So that's the story of my hair, and how I learned to love it. It took me a full 33 years to completely accept my spirals, but I must say, better late than never!