Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It looked like Christmas was going to be a big downer for me this year. There was drama at my parents' house and Andrew woke up feeling very sick on Christmas Eve. Insisting it WAS NOT a hangover, he got my sympathy and I went to the store for supplies to nurse him back to health. I waited on him throughout the afternoon, as he
laid on the couch swaddled in blankets.

After he threw up "a little bit" it became obvious to me that he was too sick to leave the house, I called my parents to tell them Andrew wouldn't be joining us for Christmas Eve dinner.

When I told Andrew I thought it was best he stayed home so he didn't get my family sick, he gave me the puppy dog face.

"I want to be a Christmas person," Andrew pleaded.

"Well how do you feel?"

"I haven't thrown up in hours."

"That's not the same as feeling well. I'm not sure it's a good idea..."

While I still believed it was a hangover from staying out late with the boys the night before, he claimed it was food poisoning from eating ham and potato salad that was sitting out for six hours at his office Christmas party.

I thought that sounded pretty believable.

And so (after a few shots of Pepto-Bismol) we met my parents, sister, and her friend at my family's favorite Asian restaurant for our traditional Christmas Eve meal.

Afterwards, my mom talked the family into skipping church to go home and relax. (Bad Mommy.)

We exchanged gifts, watched a movie, and played a game--which Andrew, my mom, and I dominated, thank you very much.

The next morning, we were off to Andrew's parents' house for merriment and gifts with his sister and her boyfriend.

Andrew and I were both slackers this year and did not give his parents a list of things we wanted. It turned out to be one of the most magical Christmases ever. They really shot themselves in the foot, though, because we're sure to never give them another Christmas list again. (Sorry, Susan!)

The first gift I reached for had a pteradactyl ornament taped to the box. (How could I not go for the bait?) Well... does this look familiar?

I think I squealed upon seeing "Origami Ink" on the box. Oh, and then I made out with the bird. So what?

How unbelievably awesome does this thing look on our mantle? I have a problem with breaking fragile things, so Andrew made me promise him that I'd never touch it again. It's for the best. I love love love it! Thank you so much Jack and Susan! You are both very sneaky Santas.

Snuggling with our new handmade Steelers blanket.

Meet Smuckers. She's kind of a brat.

Andrew's sister and her boyfriend gave me a rockin' cupcake book, so be on the lookout for some photos of the craziest cupcakes you've ever seen in the near future. (They also gave me salad hands. If you don't know what those are, your life is incomplete.)

After we opened gifts, we ate a delicious french toast casserole. There was also LOTS of bacon. And I think we can all agree (except you veggies out there, of course) that bacon is the true meaning of Christmas.

Much more Christmas fun in the evening followed; we had dinner at Andrew's aunt's house. (That's right, I used a semi-colon. I haven't blogged in ages, so I feel compelled to bring out the big guns.) I met some of his relatives from Nashville for the first time, and they all lived up to their reputations as being "the cool cousins." Oh, and I'm not just saying that because they all admitted to reading my blog after getting e-mails about the proposal video on Glamour. Yes, Andrew's entire extended family has now viewed Andrew ripping a bandage from my arm on the Internet. And that's what I love about techonology, people. :)

There were three new babies at the dinner festivities, and I did manage to make one cry when I asked to hold her. In my defense, I think she was incredibly tired. I swear babies like me!

The highlight of the evening, for some, was cocktail hour--featuring pomegranate martinis. I stuck with wine, and I'm very thankful for my decision. It was later revealed that each martini contained a half a cup of vodka. Oh, yes. That's about four shots of liquor. I can see how that would have gone... me hugging the toilet for Christmas dinner. Not exactly the impression I'd like to make.

Not everyone was so lucky. Uncles slurred their speech. Aunts let curse words flow from their tongues. The term "tea bagging" was used--several times. Ben? I think that at least ties your Hummer experience.

Christmas continues Friday when we celebrate with the other side of Andrew's family. Bring. It. On.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm such a fool...

Chatting with Andrew online during my lunch break, he told me how angry people get at his job when people call. I (half-jokingly) replied oh, me too! I get so angry when people call me. I have to take a deep breath...

That's when my phone rang. Suspicious of the timing, I answered expecting to hear Andrew cackling on the line.

I said my first and last name, my standard phone greeting at work, and listened for a reply. Nothing.

More certain than ever that it was Andrew messing with me, I said "HELLO?" It was then that I heard a small strange voice say "Helllllloooooooo."

Immediately recognizing the weird voice as one Andrew's goofy voices, I yelled, "I KNEW IT WAS YOU!"

Um... yeah. That's when a very confused reporter asked if he had the right person, and proceeded to ask me a question about a story he was writing. Ooopsie...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meet the creature

Critter control set some traps yesterday. When Andrew came home from work, guess who was waiting for him in the trap? (P.S. They caught two others in traps in the attic!)

The landlord brought the trap outside for the critter control people to come and pick it up. They are supposed to release it to the wild (at least five miles from our house) tomorrow morning. My heart was breaking for the little guy, as it was freezing outside. I brought the cage inside and put some nuts and peanut butter filled pretzels through the bars. He's too scared to eat anything, but at least he's warm.

Want to see him for yourself?

It's not all flowers, squirrels, and gingerbread...

Dear Blog,

Despite the flurry of excitement surrounding my life lately (read: engagement, squirrel, etc.) I have been feeling rather down. It's not the holiday blues, or the bronchitis that refuses to leave my lungs in peace. Nope. It's something else. Something that I've dealt with my entire life--but only recently had a name for.

It's the narcolepsy.

I was so relieved after receiving my diagnosis--finally having an explanation for why I never had the energy that others around me seem to possess. Blog, you probably remember the hope that glimmered in my eyes as I recounted my conversation with my sleep disorder specialist. I had to restrain myself from giving him a big old bear hug, you know? I was going to be able to sleep. Really, honestly, sleep. All the appropriate sleep cycles, and not just all that dreaming crap I've put up with for 25 years. I couldn't believe it.

Well, blog... that hope isn't sparkling in my eyes anymore. After discussing the prescribed medication with my mom, a registered nurse, she raised some serious concerns. The medication, which I will not refer to by name, has some side effects that are potentially deadly. Among them: seizures, severe difficulty breathing, confusion, depression, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Side effects aside, the real reason I'm putting this drug on the back burner is that it alters brain chemistry, which I worry can potentially cause a trigger of mental illness. Because bipolar disorder runs in my family, brain chemistry is not something I want to fool around with. The consequences could turn my world upside down. And a good night's sleep? No matter how much I ache for that very thing... risking my mental health is just not worth it.

So I guess I'm holding out for plan B. My doctor tells me new drugs tailored for narcolepsy are coming down the pike in the next 2-3 years. These new drugs will target hypocretin, a hormone that is thought to be responsible for narcolepsy.

I've gone this long without real sleep. What's another 2 or 3 years? Well, I asked myself that very question last night, and the only response I could muster was twenty minutes of crying and feeling sorry for myself. I know there are people going through much worse right now in their lives, so I'm going to try to suck it up and wait patiently. In the meantime, I'll be napping and going to bed at obscenely early hours.


What are you waiting for?

You have until Saturday to enter Oh How Lovely Shops Holiday Giveaway! Visit Jamie Lovely's blog for a chance (or up to 18 chances to win) seriously adorable handmade goodies.

Enter the Oh How Lovely Shops Big Holiday Giveaway!

Monday, December 15, 2008

What I've Been Up To: A Photo Essay

Engagement flowers from my future sister-in-law

Engagement celebration dinner kiss

Engagement Squirrel Surprise

Not so engagement cozy handmade scarf from Sarah

Engagement gingerbread house, assembled with love by my future sister-in-law, Andrew, and me

Friday, December 12, 2008

Creature update

E-mail from landlord:

The guys from Critter Control will be there on Monday. That was the earliest they could come. In the meantime, we are going to buy and install a trap downstairs. Sorry for the inconvenience.


This could be a long weekend, you guys. ::scratch scratch::

Harboring a fugitive creature

About a month ago I was kept awake late at night by the scurrying and scratching of a creature in our attic. I contacted our landlord and told him something--something possibly quite large, from the sounds of it--had made a home above our bedroom.

Our landlord wasted no time, cautiously exploring the attic for the suspect. He found the place where he assumed the critter had made his entrance, and sealed it up. There was no trace of any animals, so he assumed it had exited the way it entered.

Fast forward to yesterday evening. I went to the bathroom to primp for our engagement celebration dinner with Andrew's family. Upon entering the bathroom, I noticed something peculiar. Our shower items (shaving cream, razors, face wash, etc.) had been knocked from the window sill and side of the tub. Everything was laying in a pile in the middle of the bathtub.

"What did you do in here?" I yelled to Andrew.

When he had no idea what I was talking about, I screamed, "We have poltergeists!"

Andrew came in to survey the scene.

That's when we noticed the paw prints. Black dirty prints, about the size of squirrel's paw, were on the sides of the tub. "Uh... oh.... We have a CREATURE!!!"

"I hope it didn't lick my soap!" I cried.

"I bet it did..." Andrew said certainly.

I called the landlord and told him the creature had returned, and this time, it means business. He said he'd come check things out the next day, and set some traps.

Well, people. Let me tell you about this morning. As I was collecting our recyclables to take to the curb, I heard violent clawing at the basement door. There was also some audible screeching. Of course, when I heard this, I did what any sane person would do. I screamed bloody murder and ran far away from the door to the basement.

I quickly dialed my landlord and told him of the creature's location.

"Well, at least we know where it is," he said. "I'll call a guy and get him to trap it today, and maybe set a few more traps, just in case."

"Okay," I said. "Be careful. It sounds really BIG."

"It's probably just a squirrel. They always sound big," he said.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

That explains everything.

Oh the anticipated sleep study blog! It's heeeeeere...

I went to my appointment at the sleep disorder center to review my results this morning. First, we reviewed the night sleep study results. For the night sleep study, I was at the lab at 9 p.m. and by 10 p.m. I had wires attached to multiple points on my face, head, chest, and legs. It was only mildly uncomfortable. But I did look like a strange creature in my flannel pajamas. The worst part of the night was the tube-like thing they insert into both of your nostrils. My nose was itchy and ticklish all night. Very unpleasant. Oh and the glue! The GLUED sensors to my scalp. The glue continued to flake off for several days afterward. Very sexy.

They gave me a snack (juice and graham crackers, if you are wondering) and sent me to bed at 11 p.m. It felt like I hadn't slept at all when I pressed the nurse button to help me use the restroom at 4 a.m. (There were no clocks in the room, but I peeked out into the hall and was put into a panic over the thought of having to come back and do this all over again.) After the technician plugged me back into the machines, I think I fell asleep pretty quickly. They woke me up a little past 6 a.m. and told me to change into my regular clothes and stay awake until my nap portion of the sleep study.

Results of the night portion:
The doctor told me I have no breathing issues while sleeping, though I do have mild snoring. The snoring was news to me. Anyhow, I don't have apnea which means I don't need to wear a CPAP when I sleep. Awesome.

The nap portion of the study tests for narcolepsy. I didn't understand why my doctor thought I had narcolepsy, as I always imagined narcoleptics as they appear in movies. Falling asleep mid sentence, or while eating their soup. Turns out those are extreme portrayals of narcolepsy, and only a very small percentage of people with narcolepsy have such drastic symptoms.

The doctor told me narcolepsy affects sleep cycles, and can cause you to feel unrested, as people with narcolepsy do not spend enough time in the restorative stage of sleep. Interesting...

The technician put me down for my first nap around 6:45 a.m., and four more naps followed--approximately every two hours. It was so hard to stay awake in between naps, as I felt like I didn't sleep at all during the night portion. I did manage to keep awake, and subsequently finished reading three plays between naps. (Still haven't reached 50 yet...)

The technician would wake me up (what felt like mere minutes) after I had fallen asleep and asked me if I thought I had slept, how long I thought I had slept for, and whether or not I had any dreams. She said my perceptions of the nap were very important for the diagnosis.

Results of the nap portion: On average, it took me five minutes to fall asleep for each of the five naps. This is " very abnormally" fast. A "normal" person will take more than ten minutes to fall asleep. So, it turns out my blog name is incorrect. On the scale of "very abnormal," to "abnormal," to "normal," I am officially "very abnormal" when it comes to sleeping. Cusp of Abnormal, anyone?

The doctor also told me I had dreams during the third nap, and "normal" people do not dream until much later into their sleep cycle. I think it took me less than ten minutes to have my first dream. "Normal" people take about 80-120 minutes to fall into the dream stage.

So what does this all mean? I've been diagnosed with narcolepsy. I always knew I did not sleep like a normal person--but this confirms what I've known all along. I can sleep for 12 hours straight and feel like I haven't slept a wink when I awake. It is so hard always feeling like I'm running on fumes, but I can see hope in my future.

My doctor prescribed medicine for me that will help me get to and remain in the restorative stage of sleep for longer periods of time during the night. There are some draw backs to the medicine though. First, I have to set an alarm for 3 hours after I go to bed to take the second dose of the medicine. With this dose and one right before bed, I should be able to get 6-8 hours of quality sleep. When the doctor told me it could help me feel "ready to go" in the morning, I wanted to cry. "I've NEVER felt that way in my entire life!" I exclaimed--wanting to give the doctor a giant hug.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I take it all back.

This is going to be a rough 9 months.

The date is changing. Should have consulted the Jewish calendar before I set a date--as half of my family is Jewish. Of course, the date I picked falls on the first day of one of the highest holidays.

I guess this is when you are supposed to say, "oy vey."

::deep breaths::

Thanks for bringing me back down to Earth, Dad....

I don't see what all the fuss is about... this is easy

So listen up, blog buds. I'm not turning this train into the chronicles of a crazy bride to be/wedding planning mania. I'll update you when big decisions are made, or ask you to weigh in when Andrew and I are on the fence about choices. So don't fret about me going on and on and on about the whole wedding business. Deal?

So... as for big decisions... WE'VE ALREADY MADE SOME! Quick, right? Hey, we are people who know what we want.

The date is set for September 19, 2009. The festivities will take place here:

Andrew and I visited the site yesterday and fell in love instantly. It is very close to where we live, and it has an incredibly whimsical feeling to it. I love the dark wooden beams and high ceiling. There is even outdoor space included in the rental, so we have many options when it comes to how we want to set up the venue.

The guy in charge of the special events at the venue is great. We clicked with him instantly, and he's going to be such a fabulous resource for us. He didn't want us to sign a contract with him until we looked at other sites, but Andrew and I know what else is out there. And this place is definitely for us. We're paying the deposit tonight. Love!

I know I promised a recap of the sleep study, and all this excitement has pushed that to the back of my mind. But I'm seeing the sleep doctor tomorrow to go over the results of the study, so expect a full report tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Glamour calls Andrew "Adorable" and I'm going to agree

See Andrew's proposal featured on the Glamour blog "Smitten," written by Joanna Goddard.

AHH! This is all so exciting! Going to call the venue of our dreams later today to schedule a showing.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The very first thing to be crossed off my list...

Is number 72!

Last night, Andrew proposed while we were decorating the Christmas tree! He was handing me the ornaments and I was strategically placing them on the boughs. After I had hung what I thought was the last ornament, I stepped back to admire my work. That's when he, on bended knee, held out one last ornament. A peacock with a diamond ring around its neck!

We even have the moment caught on tape. Andrew told me he wanted to make a video of us decorating the tree and then speed it up and put it to music. Always on the lookout for blogging material, I thought this was a fantastic idea. But who knew I'd get to later rewind the video to watch my jaw hit the floor as a diamond-studded peacock was presented to me!? I'll share the video once Andrew edits it for me.

Yay! We're engaged!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The girl who cried wolf

Ok. A month ago I was all like, "Halp! I have stupid hair!" But then, after making you guys tell me which haircut you liked best, I flaked out and canceled the hair appointment. I decided I wanted to let it grow a little more so I'd have more options when I did finally get it cut.

Well, now it's a half inch longer, and I cannot have this mullet around for Christmas. I'm going to be meeting some of Andrew's out of town relatives for the first time, and I can't have them thinking that I always look like this. Not happening. Also, I try to look good for the office Christmas party, and right now that is just not possible. I've tried.

So. Tomorrow I am going to the salon--and when I leave--I will look like this:

Details on the sleep study to come. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

May your days be merry and bright

Tonight is my sleep study. I am a little more nervous than I thought I would be about sleeping hooked up to a bunch of sensors. I have to be at the facility at 9 p.m. I wonder if they will send me straight to bed. I'm allowed to bring my laptop, so maybe I'll live blog my sleep study, if that's even possible.

What I'm most curious about is tomorrow's half of the study. I will be put in a sleep deprivation situation where they will see how long it takes me to fall asleep for three consecutive naps. I think the sleep deprivation part will be that as soon as I fall asleep, they'll be waking me up. Someone might get punched. They better be careful.

And now, a little dose of Andrew on the holidays:

Andrew: Someone set up a stupid fake plant covered with blinking colored lights right next to my desk. It's driving me crazy. There are also 3 six inch tall singing mice in hats. I hate working in the hallway :(

Me: Tell me about the singing.

Andrew: I haven't heard them sing yet--but I've been warned that they have the ability to sing.


So there you have it, folks. I hope your holidays are full of mice wearing lots of nice hats and absolutely no vocal chords.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Phlegm and Cider: My Long Weekend in Asheville

Well, I survived the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina... and I'm officially a quarter century old. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes while I was away. They certainly put a big dorky smile on my face last night as I attempted to catch up with Twitter, Facebook, 20SB, and my reader. You kids have been busy!

My viral cold lingered on throughout the entire vacation, and like my ever-enchanting mullet, is still with me today. Luckily (?) the virus is just in my lungs, so other than a sexy phlegmy cough and zero energy for anything other than sipping spiced hot apple cider and napping in front of the fireplace, I was/still am pretty much the picture of health.

Our cabin, Rhododendron Cabin, was seriously adorable. I took very few photos on the trip due to general laziness. These photos were borrowed from the rental company's Web site:

There was no hiking on my part--but Andrew, his parents, and their dog Smuckers, did take an excursion while I napped. Now, I don't want your sympathy. Don't misunderstand. I am very fond of napping. I don't mind being forced to nap in a cozy cabin in the mountains while everyone else is traipsing about in the 40-degree mucky muck.

I napped Friday away, and by Saturday I was ready to face the streets of Asheville. We visited a bunch of adorable shops and had lunch at Bistro 1896.

One shop in particular, Origami Ink, stole my heart. Packed with beautiful stationary and other treasures, I lusted for many items that my wallet couldn't afford. But none were as stunning as the artisan bird figures that were scattered around the store. Completely out of my souvenir price range, these birds will be something I will probably regret not splurging on for many years to come.

While exploring the town, I was constantly blown away by how friendly the locals were. I've heard of southern hospitality, and don't get me wrong, Pittsburghers are lovely people. But dang! I felt like hugging everyone I encountered. There was door holding, "excuse me's," "sorrys," "pardon me's," and genuinely warm conversation. Shopkeepers spoke to me like we were old friends, and guess what? They loved the Obama button. I felt truly at home.

Saturday evening, Andrew, his parents, and I went to the Biltmore for a candle light tour. If you're not familiar with the Biltmore, it is a mansion that boasts more than 250 rooms. Are you dying? Ready to die again? It was built by 25-year-old George Washington Vanderbilt--completed in 1895. Truly incredible. (Again, photos borrowed from the Biltmore's web site.)

The house was all done up for Christmas--complete with a choir of carolers. Roaring fireplaces in almost every room and countless Christmas trees gave the largest home in the United States a romantic glow.

The house never ceased to amaze me--it even has its own bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, and "state of the art" gymnasium. (Of course, "state of the art" fitness equipment in 1895 consisted of medicine balls, parallel bars, dumbbells, and very little else.)

We planned to go back the following day to tour the grounds and winery, but the weather and my lingering illness caused a change of plans. Instead, Andrew's parents explored neighboring communities while Andrew and I had brunch and hunted for antique treasures. In the end, my eggs were inedible and it turns out antiques bore me. Oh, well.

With many more hours of daylight to burn, Andrew and I set out for an adventure to Black Mountain--a town a few exits from Asheville. We arrived to find Black Mountain is pretty much closed for business on Sundays. We peeked in one more antique shop before deciding to return to the cabin to watch the Steelers game in front of the fire. With one speeding ticket under Andrew's belt, we made it to the cabin $150 poorer.

An afternoon of football watching, book reading, and fireplace napping, led to an evening of Yahtzee, chocolate eating, and more cider drinking.

All in all, I have to give my Thanksgiving/Birthday weekend getaway two thumbs up. A big thanks to Susan and Jack for inviting me to be part of their mountain escape.

I hope you all had a restful weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm heading to my parents' house for turkey tomorrow. After we are stuffed to the gills, Andrew and I are driving four hours towards Asheville, North Carolina. Friday, my 25th birthday, we will drive the remaining 3-4 hours to our destination and spend the weekend relaxing in a cabin with Andrew's parents.

I'm not really sure what our days will entail, but we are going to see some crafts, eat some local grub, and go on a hike--if my cold allows.

There's definitely going to be some serious gaming, lounging, and snacking too.

I haven't decided if I'm going to bring my laptop with us on the trip, so if you don't hear from me for a few days, don't fret. I'm in the safe hands of a merman and his family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I think Santa finally lost his marbles

You know how bloggers are taking their time to thoughtfully prepare gift guides for the holidays? Well, I'm not one of them. Instead, I want to show you some of the biggest wastes of money I have ever laid my eyes upon--all found in the newest Bed Bath and Beyond "1001 Best Gifts and Beyond" circular.

First, we have the Wallet Pix: Carry up to 58 of your favorite photos wherever you go with this mini-digital photo album, which features a 128 x 128 crystal clear color display and is small enough to fit in your wallet, pocket or purse. $14.99

I find this extremely unnecessary, especially in the age of high tech mobile phones. If you really want to bore That Guy Sitting Next To You On The Airplane with photos of your kids' kids... wait until you land and quickly bust out your phone. He'll never see it coming.

The next completely idiotic gift idea that I have for you, is the Krups Beertender.

The Krups BeerTender®, for the ultimate at-home draught beer experience, was designed for the beer connoisseur with an aversion to reading the instruction manual. The, BeerTender® is simple to use and was designed to work exclusively with the Heineken® and Heineken Premium Light® Draught Kegs®.

Okay, so this thing is advertised in the Bed Bath and Beyond circular for $279.99. That price tag is the first problem. The second problem is that it only works with shitty beer... er... I mean Heineken. The third problem? It doesn't even come with beer? So you shelled out almost $300 and what do you have to show for it? This ugly thing that is sure to take up lots of precious counter space and dispense--at best-- a mediocre brew. No thanks, Santa. How bout you get me a six pack of Allagash and we'll call it even?

Next: Waring Pro® Wine Chiller. Chill and serve wines at their proper temperature with this professional wine chiller. Its attractive classic design with streamlined body enhances table presentation beautifully. The LCD backlit screen displays preprogrammed temperatures for 33 varieties of red, white and Champagne wines from the MCU library database. $99.99

Seriously? For just twice the price of this completely idiotic gift, you could buy a really nice wine cellar, which stores and cools 25 bottles of wine. I mean, if you want that bottle of red to be perfectly chilled for dinner? Throw it in the fridge for five minutes. Seriously. And it won't even set you back an entire Benjamin. Again, Santa? If you want to get me something nice, a case of Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's will be graciously accepted in lieu of this glorified electronic ice bucket.

Next: simplehuman® 14-Ounce Sensor Soap Dispenser: This cutting-edge soap dispenser from simplehuman® brings sleek style and modern technology to your home's functional products. This sensor dispenser automatically releases hand soap, dish soap or lotion and even has an indicator light that activates when soap is released. When the timer is activated, light blinks for 20 seconds to indicate when hands are clean. $39.99

For $40 a robot better actually wash my hands for me. A blinking light to tell me when my hands are clean? Just... go to hell, Santa.

Okay, I could go on, as I'm only on page 8 of this 24 page ad, but I just don't have the energy to continue.

I'm signing off this blog post with some words to the manufacturers of these asinine products: If you are trying to come up with gifts for "the people who have everything"--just stop. People Who Have Everything do not have room for useless crap in their homes. (Their Cool Stuff is taking up all the room. Duh.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

I never was very fond of ham

I just wrote a blog about how I'm sick and blah blah blah WHO CARES? I'm not going to bore you with my aches and pains. Instead I will share with you a not so fond memory from my childhood.

In town to celebrate Thanksgiving and my birthday, my grandparents were staying with us for a few days. The family was seated at the table for dinner, a day or two before Turkey Day. I was probably about 7-years-old.

A tall glass of red Kool-Aid and a plate of ham sat before me. I took one bite of the ham and pushed it away.

"It's too salty!" I exclaimed in disgust.

"It is not. Now eat your dinner," either my mom or dad insisted.

"No... it's gross! I can't eat it."

"Just drink your Kool-Aid and take a few more bites."

Begrudgingly, I was obedient. I swallowed the Kool-Aid and ate a few small bites of the ham.

"I don't feel so good..."

Okay, the details get a little bit fuzzy here. But the image of Kool-Aid-colored vomit is still quite vivid in my memory.

It was probably just a coincidence, but I blame that flu--which knocked me out of commission for my birthday and Thanksgiving--on that damn ham, and indirectly on my parents for making me eat it, of course.

That flu was quite a doozy. I couldn't keep down anything. Any. Thing. In fact, it was during that very flu that I first experienced the joys that are suppositories. You want to hear a kid scream bloody murder? Suppositories are the way to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get your scarf on!

I'm getting my scarf on! Who is with me? Join Sarah Marie's scarf swap! You crafty kids can even swap a handmade scarf! (ahem, Kyla)

Check Sarah Marie's blog for more details! You have until Nov. 30 to sign up.

What do we want? EQUAL RIGHTS! When do we want them? NOW!

Last Saturday was my first protest. Andrew and I took to the streets of the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh to show our support for the overturning of proposition 8. I wasn't sure if there would be a large crowd, but I was pleased to hear a total of 450 people attended. Now 450 people might not sound like much compared to the crowds that flocked to protests in Chicago and cities around California, but remember Pittsburgh is a small town with a big city complex.

Because it was raining and I wanted to travel as lightly as possible, I didn't bring a camera to the protest. The photos below were borrowed from bombnomnom's Flickr. I didn't ask for permission to use these photos on my blog because I could not find a way to contact him and I am probably the only person left on the planet without a flickr account.

For more photos of the Pittsburgh protest, go here.

To my knowledge, only one mainstream Pittsburgh news outlet covered the event, but I guess one is better than none.

If you wanted to take part in the protest but couldn't for any reason, you have a second chance. The next national protest will take place January 10. Find out more on

Again, I want to thank Rachel for telling me about the protest. This is why I love our blogging community so much. We really can make a difference.

Speaking of making a difference, have you donated to Rachel's fundraiser for lupus yet? Anything you can afford to contribute brings her one step closer to her goal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh hell, why not

Lacey tagged me for a meme that I've done before, but it won't hurt to do it again.

P.S. A very short recap of the Prop 8 protest is on the way tomorrow. I just haven't had the time. Thanks for everyone's comments wondering how it turned out.

6 Random Things About Mermanda

1. I don't get as excited about the holidays as I used to as a child. I think this is true for a lot of adults, but I really miss the holiday rush. I like to think the spark of the holidays will return when I have children with whom I can share the traditions. I can't wait to start leaving cookies out for Santa again and carrots for the reindeer!

2. If you find a hair in your food while you are eating with me, try not to draw too much attention to this fact, or I will more than likely gag and/or throw up on the spot.

3. I have left a gigantic three-wicked candle burning overnight--not once--but TWICE. How I did not burn down the house either time is beyond me. Here's hoping there's not a third time.

4. I've been eating salads for lunch for about two months. I am officially SICK of salads. Someone please suggest a healthy lunch alternative that will not bore the crap out of my taste buds.

5. If I could live somewhere that has all of the seasons except winter, and convince my family to move with me, that, my friends, would be heaven.

6. I cringe when Andrew watches dumb TV like "The Pickup Artist" but I find it impossible to turn away from them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

20SB Blog Swap: Lifetime Original World

20SB Blog Swap 3

Todays guest post is brought to you by Holly
from "Holly Grande". This is all part of the 20 Something Bloggers "Blog Swap 3". Don't forget to go check out my post, "Quarter-Life Nose Piercing over on her site.

Hi folks! My name is Holly, from, and I have a confession: I love Lifetime Original Movies. I know, I know, they're Lifetime Original Movies, but there is something addictive about them. You turn on a Sunday afternoon teen pregnancy marathon, and you're hooked. Plain Truth, She's Too Young, and 15 and Pregnant: all timeless classics.

My favorite Lifetime Original of late, however, is Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal. This movie is made of pure win. In it, five delightfully nasty girls bully their peers, teachers and even parents. These girls take raunchy photos, spill dirty secrets and attempt to take down the only two teachers who are not afraid of the teenage terrors. But the absolute best part? Much like the 1992 classic Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, Fab Five, is based on a true story of scandalous Texas cheerleaders.

Yes. YES. This Lifetime Original deserves an all-caps affirmative.

In college, my roommates Cassy, Katy, Erin and I would sit down and watch Lifetime on the weekends. We'd bundle up on the couch under blankets and kick the boys out of the den so we could get our weekend Lifetime fix, because that's when the good ones play. In fact, if you're really lucky, you might even catch a Candace Cameron marathon.

Oh yes, D.J. Tanner is a Lifetime superstar. Her credentials include No One Would Tell, Freshman Fall and my personal favorite: Visitors of the Night, Lifetime's attempt at a sci-fi thriller. D.J. Tanner is haunted by strange dreams and missing time. Why you ask? Not due to dissociative disorder, alcohol or any other usual Lifetime Original trope, no: D.J. is visited in the night…by aliens. YES.

Lifetime Original Movies may not be very good, or even moderately good for that matter, but they are…like that grody sweatshirt you've had since college. It's dated and a little fuzzy, but comfortable and familiar. You know that someone's going to jail in a Lifetime Original, the lead character will get her kids back and the baby born to a 15-year-old will find a living home in an open adoption. Maybe, in that way, the Lifetime Original World is an ideal version of our own.

Thanks, Mermanda, for letting me borrow a bit of your blog, and here's to the next 20SB Blog swap!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BlogSecret: Work moron

The following is an anonymous post that I am hosting for BlogSecret. To view a list of all participating blogs, visit the blog of the BlogSecret organizer, Nilsa.

Yep. This is a post about work. Like many bloggers, I don't post about work on my blog, lest I get Dooced. Thanks to this ingenious idea by Nilsa, we can talk about secrets anonymously. I wonder how many participants of Blog Secret will post about work?

I landed a new job and have been there for a few months. Much better hours, much better pay, with even an opportunity to become a part-owner in a couple of short years. Sounds perfect right? It is, except for the office manager.

Who is the owners daughter. In just the short time that I've been there, I have learned an incredible amount about her. Namely, that she is in way over her head. She'll come to me and say something like, "This is the only way it can be, and you'll have to just accept it." Which will naturally prompt a question from me along the lines of "Why?" Her only answer is to say that she doesn't know and I'll have to talk to so-and-so. This little exchange happened about three times before I couldn't take it anymore and I asked her if it was because she didn't understand why it had to be a certain way. At least she admitted it.

Also, because she works in Daddy's office, she thinks that gives her the right to come and go as she pleases. Soon after I started working there, I learned that she was moving in a few weeks. Never before have I seen a move fraught with so much angst. She actually appeared in my office in tears at one point. I'm not above crying at work, but I do it in the bathroom. I don't spread it to someone else's office. So the move date came and she thought she needed a whole week's vacation to deal with it. That's fine; spend your vacation how you want. But when she was supposed to come back the next week? Oh, no. She needed another three days to deal with her period. Then this week, she left one day after lunch for the day. The following day she was gone all morning. The reason? For a massage, chiropractic adjustment, and a visit with her personal trainer. Gee, the rest of us have to do those things after work.

She is continually taking advantage of the other girls, which really pisses me off the most. As I just mentioned, she was able to take a whole week's vacation whenever she damn well pleased. One of the girls doesn't get *any* vacation until she's been there for a whole year. Another wants to take a week vacation just once. Last year, she was forced to take off five consecutive Fridays. This year, she can only take a Thurs/Fri, a weekend, and a Monday, surrounding when Daddy won't be there. I thought the term office manager meant that you knew how to do everything in the office. Especially an office as small as ours. She can barely handle her own job, let alone know how to do someone else's.

Before she got a job in daddy's office, she used to teach pre-school. At four pre-schools, to be exact. She got fired from all of them, as I was informed by one of the other girls in the office. Fired because she preached about God to the kids. Oh, yes. She's a Bible-thumpin, "God is good" spewin, Christian fundamentalist 40-year old virgin who has never dated.

When I take over the business, letting her go will be one of the first changes I make. I had to promise that to the other girls, or they promised to leave.

I owe many, many thanks to Nilsa for letting me get this off my chest. It felt great.

Monday, November 17, 2008

101 Things in 1001 Days

(Track my progress! Completed items are in bold.)

End Date: August 14, 2011

1. Give a gift through Heifer (three times)(1/3)
2. Buy a surgery with Operation Smile
3. Continue to support St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital monthly for 1001 days
4. Sponsor a child through Feed the Children
5. Donate blood
6. Race for the cure (or other worthy cause) March For Babies
7. Buy a homeless person a hot meal
8. Send an anonymous gift
9. Perform random act of kindness (3/10)
-Pamela's Diner
-Fifth Avenue parking meter

10. Tip 50 percent for exceptional service
11. Adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue (LUKE!)

12. Take a trip with my mom
13. Take my dad to “Bacon Night” (Harris Grill, Shadyside)
14. Take my sister on an outing (5 times)
15. Take my parents out to dinner (mom's 52nd birthday at Mad Mex)
16. Clear out junk from my parents’ basement

17. Do 100 push-ups
18. Complete couch to 5K
19. Run a 5K
20. Get buff (abs, tone arms)
21. Play tennis (ten times)

22. Make one of my grandma’s recipes
23. Bake a pumpkin pie
24. Be a vegetarian for one week (3 times)
25. Go to a wine tasting (New allergy to sulfites derailed this one...)
26. Drink Sake
27. Drink a fabulous Bloody Mary
28. Make fudge
29. Bake an apple pie
30. Drink an extra dirty martini It was a little TOO dirty for my taste. Shudder.
31. Make sushi
32. Make a pizza from scratch
33. Eat caviar
34. Learn to poach an egg
35. Bake bread
36. Eat a peanut butter bacon banana sandwich (Andrew's family's favorite treat)

37. Learn to ski
38. Learn to surf
39. Wear false eyelashes
40. Go snorkeling
41. Play in the rain
42. Jitterbug with Andrew
43. Go to a Steelers game (Thanks, Bruce!)
44. Go to a Penguins game
45. Be a groupie for Andrew’s band
46. Go to dance club with Andrew
47. Attend a blogger meetup
48. Go to bingo night
49. Have lunch with a friend (12/30 times)
50. Have “girls weekend” reunion with Jeffies (friends from college)

51. Take a pottery class
52. Decoupage something for myself
53. Make a wreath for each season (1/4)
54. Finish crocheting my afghan
55. Learn to crochet a hat
56. Develop system to remember important dates (bdays, anniversaries, etc.)
57. Have a poem published
58. Write at least two freelance articles

59. Get my passport
60. Travel abroad
61. Drive down the coast of California
62. Visit Philadelphia museum of art
63. Visit Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art
64. Give Andrew a tour of my college town, Athens, Ohio
65. Travel by train
66. See Sufjan Stevens perform live
67. See Josh Ritter perform with a full orchestra
68. See Rent
69. See Phantom of the Opera
70. Go to a musical production at my old high school
71. Actively plan a trip to Europe

72. Get engaged
73. Take engagement portraits
74. Plan a peacock-themed wedding
75. Make DIY wedding items Nope. But other people did! I know how to delegate. Thanks, Jack!
76. Get married
77. Honeymoon in Hawaii (subject to change) Riviera Maya, Mexico

78. Find a thrift shop treasure
79. Go antiquing (Does it count if I found it on Craigslist?)
80. Shop at farmer’s market (3 times)
81. Cancel all of my catalog subscriptions
82. Compost
83. Become a member of the local co-op

84. Get certified for CPR again
85. Read 50 books in one year
86. Watch a sunrise
87. Watch a sunset
88. Complete a New York Times crossword puzzle (1st of many?)
89. Go to church (3/30 times)
90. Identify 100 things that make me happy
91. SECRET (I might tell you if you ask me nicely. Privately.)
92. Write a living will and have notarized
93. Find out my blood type
94. Keep orchid alive for 1001 days FAIL!
95. Go one week with hitting snooze (3 times)
96. Make online portfolio
97. Get a second tattoo (perhaps a mermaid?)
98. Implement a savings plan to buy a house
(Closed on house May 29, 2009)
99. Have white teeth
100. Frame mermaid/fisherman paintings
101. Have giveaway on my blog with handmade prizes

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fishtaco needs more salsa stat, over

Have you heard the Obama family's secret service codenames yet?


The not-so-secret code names used by the US Secret Service for the president-elect and his family have been published.

Barack Obama is called Renegade, while his wife Michelle is Renaissance, and their daughters Rosebud and Radiance.

They will replace Trailblazer (President George W Bush) and his wife Tempo in the White House on 20 January.

The names are chosen to be easily pronounced and understood when agents use radio communications.

So what would your codename be?

Andrew says his would be Fishtaco.

My friend Greg would like to go by Ringworm.

Me? Princess Consuela Banana Hammock, of course!

Inauguration Day

I received some exciting news yesterday. Andrew's aunt and uncle are letting us crash in their Virginia home for a few days for the Inauguration festivities. I'm pretty sure Andrew and I will be spending Saturday-Tuesday in the D.C. area--being all cute and touristy and what not.

If any of you will be in the Capital too, let me know. I smell a bloggy happy hour.

P.S. My team captain gave me her pedometer. I am getting in the habit of taking it off before visiting the bathroom.

P.P.S. I'm just about done with the 101 things in 1001 days. I swear I didn't forget.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today is not a good day Or: "Eliminated" from the contest

Ladies and gentlemen, it is over. I think I just eliminated myself from the contest. Just had to fish my pedometer out of the toilet. At work.

My hand was in a public toilet.

And let me just add, this was after I did my business.

I washed my hands five times in boiling hot water, and used about an ounce of hand sanitizer. Someone please chop off my hand. I still feel extremely dirty.

I guess I won't be winning any Nike duffel bags or cliff bars. Sorry, team.

(And to anticipate your questions: I threw the pedometer away in one of those sanitary product receptacles in the stall.)

Feeling a bit like Eeyore today, you guys.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm going all Civil Rights on your ass

Rachel told me about the national day of protest for Prop. 8. Across the country, this Saturday, people are going to unite to speak out against California's ban on gay marriage and similar acts that were passed in several other states on election day.

Pittsburghers: Join me at Schenley Plaza, Oakland, at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Everyone else, check this web site for more information and to find your protest location:

Get fired up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

"This is not about yelling, and this is not about politics..."

Please watch.

What is with today and this pin?

Okay. I mentioned it before. My dentist is kind of an asshole. I don't know his politics but something in my gut told me to take off my pin before setting foot in his office today. I shrugged off my gut feeling and wore it proudly as I walked up to the sign-in window. My dentist was talking to the receptionist and quickly noticed the Obama button on my coat.

"Looks like we have ourselves a happy camper," the dentist said smugly.

(I am not making this up.)

"LET'S KILL HER!" exclaimed the receptionist. "I'm kidding... I'm kidding," she added sheephishly.

Wtf? Seriously. WTF?

So now I am thinking to myself, should I have taken the pin off? I mean, this man has the power to inflict a lot of pain on me. (I'm going back in a week to have a filling patched. I apparently grind my teeth at night. Who knew?)

Stay tuned for more Obama button stories. As I think this is just the beginning...

No I Won't!

This morning, I was waiting in line to order a cup of coffee when a grizzly looking man approached me. He was dressed as what appeared to be some sort of lumberjack (what? don't all lumberjacks wear red and black flannel?) and was staring at my Obama pin.

Lumberjack: That's a nice pin, but you know, you can take it off now.
Me: Oh, no. I think I'll keep it on.
Lumberjack: I mean, it makes me happy too... but you can still take it off.
Me: Nope. I'm leaving it on. Thanks.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Letters from Canada

EDIT: This post has been edited to show only Canadian views on Obama's election.

What does an Obama presidency mean to our neighbors up North? Below are the words of Kyla Bea, Ben, and Hillary. I hope you enjoy reading their words as much as I did. These words are directly from the hearts of people from the Canadian Prairies; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Kyla Bea says:

More than anything, for me Obama's presidency means a shift away from fear.

The feeling I've had as someone from the outside of the US is that over the past few years the US has been evolving into more and more of a closed state. Crossing the border in a car is more stressful than it has been before, I have friends who've had their cars stripped down to the point that border guards pull the interior panels off their doors and leave them to piece it together. Friends of my family have been separated from their 12 and 13 year old daughters for hours while they're all questioned separately for no apparent reason.

I'm aware that Canadian citizens have been detained indefinitely by US officials in Guantanamo Bay. That taking a laptop on a road trip to the US can mean that its entire contents can be copied and filed against me. That our government is too scared to say anything to the Bush administration that would offend them. I take my nose ring out
when we cross the border, I don't want to draw attention to myself.

To me, Obama means having a President who seems honestly interested in the plight of the people who make up the United States. He wants to listen. To respond. To be honest with his citizens and the world. He is empathetic, sophisticated, intelligent. He really believes in what America can be, and he wants to work on it. To me, Obama is someone who people want to work hard for, someone whose advice the public would willingly take. He's a modern man, and seems like an even more modern leader.

He's taking basic principles of living a good life—kindness, honestly, humility—and applying them to the highest office in the country. It's an approach that is compelling in its utter simplicity and poignancy.

I'm a political science major, and my husband is a dual citizen so much of my immediate family lives in Florida. I want to love you guys so much, you're such a part of everything the my country & my family does. I just think that this Obama gentleman is going to be much easier on my heart.

Ben says:

Over the summer, I had dinner with a couple visiting from the United States. Now, don't get me wrong, I have American relatives and no underlying bias against them - well, no more than the average Canadian - but I nearly offed myself with the salad fork about thirty-two times.

These were the ultimate, hyper-stereotype of Americans. They spent the entire dinner discussing how much bigger the portions would be in the States, asking the waitress why she wouldn't accept American money instead of our funny money, how silly it is that we have a French province - I mean why wouldn't we make them speak English? - and how awful and unpatriotic Obama supporters are.


Obama becoming president gives me hope that Americans are beginning to take pride in not only their country but also in how their country fits in with the rest of the world. That it's not only about staying true to their American roots but also being sensitive, encouraging and accepting of others. I just don't see Obama visiting France and saying - "This pastry ain't nowhere near what desserts taste like in the States!"

Canada spent the past eight years shuddering when someone mentioned the president. Canada spent the past three and a half years worrying about what was to come. Canada spent the past four months fearing another term featuring laughable politicians (more Palin than McCain). And it's not all over. Canada is still watching in awe as select states vote to take away civil rights - and don't even try to tell me that Proposition 8 is anything but that.

Nonetheless, Obama has inspired the United States to care, to talk, to debate, and to really look at where they fit in and where they are going. For that, he gains a lot of respect from his Northern neighbours.

Hillary says:

Even though Canada has its own identity, it's naive to think that we are not influenced by the States. This is why I am so excited that Obama has been elected President. As a woman, I'm happy that Obama supports women's rights under Roe vs Wade. Roe vs Wade inspired Dr. Henry Morgentaler to challenge Canada's abortion law, which resulted in the law being declared invalid. I am scared that if Roe vs Wade is reversed, it will provide ammunition for pro-life organisations to challenge Canada's stance on women's right to choose.

This is only one of the many reasons I am excited to see Obama elected.

PS to Mermanda: This cracks me up:

Educational Background:
Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden: University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain: United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin: Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism Matanusk

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disgusting, Sickening, Unbelievable

This makes me want to knock my computer off the desk. With a baseball bat.

And to all of you people telling us to "stop gloating," "stop celebrating," and whatever other nonsense you are spewing, let me just tell you one thing:

I will wake up each day for the next four years, perhaps eight if we are lucky, celebrating. You can see it in my face and I can feel it in my heart. THIS is what I've been waiting for. This is what so many of us have been waiting for. And I will celebrate! You will never stop me.

EDIT: "Obama is my homeboy." Just noticed that one. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My love letter to the USA

Dear America,

Thank you. You've blown me away. You've moved me to tears. I am head over heels for you.


P.S. Say it with me: "President Obama." Totally awesome, right?

Now THAT is a good looking first family!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes We Can!

I wanted to share this in case I am not the only one who is just watching this for the first time.


I Voted.

Did you?

P.S. Where is my sticker? Lame.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hair Tantrum Part II

Guys? Remember when my hair was at an all-time high of stupidness? Well, I've out-stupided myself this time. You may recall a certain Natalie Dee comic that "convinced" me to grow my hair long--even though I had already given up on such nonsense. Well, that was then and this is stupid. I can't walk around looking like this anymore. I have a mullet, and I'm not even wearing Andrew's Billy Ray Cyrus wig. Things are getting scary.

I caught my reflection in a window this afternoon on the way to a meeting. It wasn't pretty. I wanted to shave my head on the spot. Instead, I powered through the meeting, looking pretty dang weird, and called my stylist after the meeting to schedule an appointment for Friday.

The last time I complained about my dumb hair, Sarah suggested I go with this look:

Kirsten Storms

And someone else (sorry! forget who you were, you wonderful person!) suggested this:

Elisha Cuthbert

But then there was Allison, who thought I should just go back to my old lover:

Mandy Moore

So what do you all think? If you have other ideas, send them my way. Just know that there is quite a bit of mullet to work with. Quite. A. Bit.

Thanks! I trust and value your advice on this very important matter.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Very Hannah Montana Halloween

This is going to be a short and sweet Halloween review. Ready? Let's begin!

I dressed up as Hannah Montana on Halloween and the day after for our friends' first annual Halloween party. I wore the costume while giving out candy to the trick-or-treaters, and guess what, you guys? They loooooved me! When the first group of kids instantly recognized me, I knew immediately that my costume was going to be a smashing hit. One little girl was kind of convinced that I was actually Hannah. She ran up to me (like, was inches from my face) squealing, "HANNAH!!! I LOVE YOU!!! I WATCH YOUR SHOW EVERY DAY!!!!!" Totally precious.

I later calculated that this costume cost me about $45. Not cool.

Oh, look who I found! Another Hannah! And is that... my daddy?

Billy Ray Cyrus! Hannah Montana Sandwich!

Apple bobbing contest! Tip: Get in there quickly before other people have a chance to spit in the tub.

Post-bobbing victory shot. I got the winning apple!

After being accused of cheating (how the hell do you cheat at bobbing for apples?) I decided to be the bigger person and share my prize caramel turtle apples with the whiny Scarecrow.

Incest is no laughing matter, but come on! This is funny.

Now for some of my favorite costumes of the weekend:

Sexy Hamburglar and Gallagher

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

This is my friend Jess, dressed up as a generic 80's lady. I actually informed her that she was a dead-ringer for Claudia of Baby-Sitter's Club fame.

Uncanny, right?