Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

We are at the glorious age where Carla wakes up on weekend mornings and trots herself down to the living room and turns on the TV all by herself. My husband and I have been sleeping in until the grand old hour of EIGHT AM. It is lovely. (IT GETS BETTER!) But then she just wants to watch TV alllllll day long. Sometimes I want to give in to this, because TV is such a good babysitter. I can cook or clean or read books or look at my phone. It’s wonderful.

But. No amount of TV is ever enough. My child is addicted to TV. She looooooves it. I love it too, so I completely empathize. But I also want her to enjoy non-TV activities, like riding her bike and playing on our backyard playset and exploring nature and building LEGO creations etc. etc. etc. And… she gets a teeny bit mean after she’s been watching shows for a while. And… TV consumption makes her want to consume MORE TV.

Listen, I am no TV detractor! There is some great programming on TV, for kids and adults alike. You can learn things from TV, from concepts about friendship and self-control, to new vocabulary words, to famous operatic scores (I’m looking at you, Bugs Bunny).

But, because she truly seems addicted, and because she gets a little mean, and because she needs to occasionally do other things – like move her body and flex her brain – we limit her TV consumption. During the school year, there is no TV on school days. There are exceptions, of course. If we go out to dinner, we bring an ipad and she can watch TV after we order food. If we go on a car trip that’s longer than an hour, we bring the ipad. If it’s a vacation day or a weekend day, we limit TV to an hour or two, depending on various factors. This works for us. Other people have found other PERFECTLY REASONABLE media-consumption strategies. I do not care if your kids watch hours of TV a day if it works for your family.

Anyway, I have gotten off track from my original point. Which is that my kid and I both like TV. Yet I cannot stand most of the TV shows she likes. My Little Pony, yuck.Daniel Tiger, yawn. Puppy Dog Pals, eye glaze. Barbie, more like barf-y. And I am not going to settle in to watch Real Housewives of New York Cityor Stranger Things or even old episodes of Friends with Carla.

But I have found something that we can watch together! MasterChef Junior.

We picked a season at random on YouTube (season 6, I think), and watched the whole thing together, episode by episode, over a number of weeks. We had such a good time!

It’s about kids, so it’s geared toward kids. Which means there’s none of the yelling and cursing I associate with other Gordon Ramsey programs (he’s the host and one of the judges of MasterChef Junior). The premise, like all other competition reality shows on TV, is that you get a big group of contestants and then give them challenges, whittling the group down until you have one winner.

But all the contestants are age 8 to 13! Which makes them relatable to Carla. And they are all SO TALENTED. And, even better, they are all super articulate and kind and gracious. So even when they lose and get booted off the show, they have these really sweet, grateful things to say. Like, “I’m super sad to be going home, but I really learned so much while I was here! And I made so many friends! And I am just so lucky that I had this wonderful opportunity!” Seriously, they are more gracious losers than I’ve seen on ANY OTHER competition reality program.

The other thing I love about this show is that it has Life Lessons that Carla and I can talk about while and after watching. In one episode, a little girl gets overwhelmed and starts crying. The judges step in and help her recover her equilibrium, and she calms down and gets back to cooking. So Carla and I can discuss how awful it is to feel overwhelmed, and how it happens to everyone, and then we can talk through some strategies for recovering from that feeling and doing what you have to do.

And we can talk about losing, and how upsetting it is, but how there are really good things that come from trying your best at something, even if you don’t win. And how to behave in a gracious and sportspersonlike way, rather than allowing our hurt feelings to bubble over into anger and pouting and kicking things on the way out the door.

And we can talk about hard work, and putting in your very best effort. And how it takes really focused energy and a LOT of practice to become really good at something.

I like to think that these conversations have a decent chance of sticking, when she can apply them to what we’re watching.

Anyway, watching Season 6 together was a lot of fun. I think Carla got a little bit bored by the end (I think there were 14 episodes), so we haven’t started a new season. But maybe we’ll do so in the future. And I’m trying to think of other similar shows that we might try instead. I think she’d like So You Think You Can Dance or maybe evenProject Runway, but neither of those shows is geared toward kids, so I’d worry about adult topics or nasty language. (I loved the Christian Siriano season of Project Runway, but some of the very sassy trash talk that made him so charming is not really what I want to model for my five-year-old.) I’d also like a show where the contestants are as gracious about losing as the kids are on MasterChef Junior. But that may be a fool’s errand.

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I am dreading this recap this year, for some reason. Yet I am still doing it because TRADITION. I think I may start liberally tossing questions out the window. So BE PREPARED FOR THAT.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

Oh! And if YOU do this yearly recap, always or for the first time this year, send me a link in the comments won’t you? I love reading these.

  • What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I quit my job to write a novel. (Which I have not yet completed, BLARGH.) (Prediction: I sense that the topic of the previous parenthetical may reappear below.)

  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

I do think I have made solid steps on all fronts, and I attribute all progress to leaving my job at the end of March. I feel very fortunate that I have this little pocket of time during which I can be part-time novelist/part-time stay-at-home-mom. The reduction in stress has helped me be more present with my husband and daughter, and helped me really focus on contributing to my family in new ways. It has not been easy, for me, to give up on being a financial contributor. That has altered the identity I always felt I had, and it has been a challenge to adapt. But I do think I’m contributing in new and different ways, or at least contributing more in areas where I wasn’t before.

This year, I am going to finish the novel. That’s my primary goal. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated just to eke out a first draft. I need to find some way to speed up the process. Because the first draft is only the beginning.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Did anyone close to you die?
  • What countries did you visit?

Same as last year: Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon.

  • What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Better ability to prioritize my time. A fully drafted novel. Making my time with Carla richer, somehow, rather than making a bunch of slipshod and ultimately frustrating attempts at “activities.”

  • What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31, which was my last day of working in the office.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking a leap of faith and quitting my office job. (OMG, broken record much?)

  • What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough words on the page each day! I can trot out a 7,000-word blog post of a morning, but I seem to spend hours and hours coming up with a measly 200 for my manuscript! What gives? If I can do it elsewhere, why can’t I blather and drivel my way through a first draft?

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

I am currently enjoying a bout of asthmatic bronchitis, which is super fun. Other than that, nothing too crazy.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

Scrivener!!! It is a tool for writers and I loooooooove it.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. He is a rockstar. I can’t even express all the ways he’s shown up this year without drowning my keyboard in tears, so let’s move on.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I mean do you really have to ask, non-sentient Survey created years ago with no knowledge of our current times? I think I’m going to cross this one out because it makes me sad and bewildered and fearful and shaky.

  • Where did most of your money go?

This question sucks. I really want to say something fun like “a new ski lodge in Aspen!” or “a twelve-week trek around Europe!” I guess I could say my potential earnings went toward financing my lifelong dream but that makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach so MOVING ON.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

As with last year, I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been super over the moon about everything. And she gets stuff now. Like, she understood the little countdown-to-Christmas calendar I put in her room, and the last couple of days she switched the numbers all by herself before I even got to her room. She has been really gung-ho about Hanukkah, and has helped her dad light the menorah and say the prayers. She loved decorating the tree and every night for a week she would pick up a present that she knew was for her and squeeze it and hop up and down and say, “It’s so HARD to WAIT until Christmas to open my present!” I mean, a tree full of presents and she didn’t realize most of them were for her, and yet she got So Worked Up about this one tiny thing. She loved all the holiday books I pull out each year, and expressed interest in Santa and Baby Jesus and the Maccabees alike. She loved the stockings, and asked questions about how Santa could do such and such. She loved painting ornaments for her grandparents. She loved collecting the Amazon boxes from the front stoop and putting them in the guest room to await her grandmother’s arrival. She loved singing Christmas carols. Everything this year was just SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope we have at least a couple more years of this pure, unadulterated joy in the season. It’s a mood lifter for sure, and helps make all those I-want-them-to-be-fun-and-meaningful-but-are-really-kind-of-tedious projects seem worthwhile and enjoyable.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2016?

I have to say the Frozen soundtrack. Carla hadn’t seen a movie in her entire life until Christmas 2015, and once we started we couldn’t stop. As toddlers are wont to do, she fell in love with Frozen and we have watched it eleventy billion times. PLUS we bought the Frozen soundtrack (we call it “Carly Songs”) on CD (yes, I still use CDs in my car) and we have listened to THAT at least seventy gazillion times. Also: Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring The Beibs. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version). “One Dance” by Drake. Carla does a mean dance move to Drake, and sings along very sweetly to “Let Me Love You” and “Waves.” Also also, on the classical front, I have grown very attached to Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. I have some fantasy that I will learn to play it. (HA.)

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? Happier but more fearful about the future, I think?
  2. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Which kind of sucks because I lost 12 pounds after I left my job. I have since gained it back. But I kind of hate this question because I just do. I am scowling at it.
  3. c) richer or poorer? I am skipping this question because math.

This is a question I don’t care to answer anymore, I think. Are these really the benchmarks by which I want to measure the year? No, no I don’t think so. MORE SCOWLING.

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. (Always.) Submitting my work for publication. Figuring out a better time management system.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Yelling. Procrastinating. Writing poor-quality apocalyptic poetry. Wasting time on my phone. Feeling too hot or too cold; that’s really annoying when the house maintains a stable temperature.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my husband’s parents. It was lovely and fun. Also lovely and fun was adding my sister and niece the day after Christmas, but that amped up the freneticism by several degrees. How does adding ONE additional child to the mix make things exponentially more crazy?

  • Did you fall in love in 2016?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He has been supportive of me and my dreams in a way that shatters me. I hope I make him feel even half as loved and understood and… seen as he makes me feel.

And, as we allow the tears to dry a bit, I fall newly in love with Carla with each new stage in her life. Three has been challenging, but it has also been utterly delightful as she becomes more independent and imaginative and curious and affectionate and funny and fun and inquisitive. I just adore her.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

What a year for TV! Standouts from the year include the OJ Simpson mini-series, The Night Of, Westward, and the Gilmore Girls revival (even though I hated GG as much as I loved it – many flaws, no?). I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, The Great British Baking Competition, Shark Tank, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. What can I say? I like feel-good shows to balance out the gritty stuff slash real life. Oh! And two series my husband and I watched and loved that were new to us this year were Master of None and Catastrophe. God, I love TV.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t even. This question has got to go.

  • What was the best book you read?

I READ SO MANY BOOKS THIS YEAR! Contenders for best book include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. There have been others, but those are the standouts. For me, all had great stories with interesting, well-rounded characters, and truly beautiful language that enriched the story without getting in the way. Then sometime in November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and have been reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again) because it’s fun.

  • What did you want and get?

A chance to write a book. More time with my daughter. More time to exercise. More time in general, I guess. Less stress. And also this gorgeous green coat from Boden that unfortunately didn’t fit so BOO to that. My hips are not British enough, it seems. Oh! And I got the sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, and have been painstakingly picking out the right hand notes. That’s really all I’ve managed.

  • What did you want and not get?

A finished first draft of my manuscript because I am SLOW.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Let’s see. My husband and I took a break from watching TV to watch all of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. That was fun, but I wasn’t as… enamored of the most recent (last?) film as I was of the earlier ones. (To be fair, Daniel Craig seemed less enamored of it as well.) Did I watch anything else? Of the (many) kids’ movies I’ve seen this year, Brave is my favorite, followed by Wall-E and then probably a tie between Tangled and Frozen. I did not care for Zootopia, and Robin Hood – a childhood favorite – sadly did not live up to my memory version. (Robin Hood himself is still by far the foxiest cartoon I’ve ever encountered, though. No pun intended.)

EDITED TO ADD: My husband and I watched Sicario just last night, right under the 2016 wire, and it was really well done. Dark and disturbing but a heart-thumping, thought provoking film.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 this year, and I can’t really remember what I did. Which is a pattern at least a few years running, so I am getting rid of this question.

  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Same as last year: I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

Also, this year I started doing Fabletics (I joined Fabletics? I am not sure of the proper verbiage here. It’s just a subscription service in the vein of Stitch Fix. Sort of. Third cousins.), and so have added some very cute workout ensembles to my wardrobe, which means that sometimes I switch up my leggings with legging-like yoga pants. You can spot the difference because I wear tennis shoes with the yoga pants version.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Being able to write every day most days.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I adore Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe. The characters they play are adorable and funny and in-your-face in a way I find charming. Sterling K. Brown. Constance Wu (her and her character as Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat) because she seems fearless and take-no-prisoners and also is hilarious and beautiful and talented. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore. Okay, so maybe these are primarily TV CHARACTERS and not necessarily the actors themselves but whatever.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. NOPE. Not even going to. CUT.

  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year, although – shocker – blogging more frequently myself has helped a teeny bit: I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  • Who was the best new person you met?

As last year, I don’t know that I met many new people this year. AM A HERMIT. Oh wait, that’s not true. I have made a couple of (tentative strides toward making) mom friends through Carla’s new school.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Write it down, don’t write it right, for the love of all that is holey.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(I don’t know if the following makes sense as a lyric or as the answer to this question, but it’s in my head, so I’m going with it.)

Don’t you give up, nah nah nah / Never give up, nah nah nah / Let me love you.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2017 goes a hell of a lot better than we fear!

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  • Thank you SO MUCH for your responses to my Toddler Lunches perplexity. I truly NEVER thought about LESS variety. Which is odd, considering that I eat about three different things on a rotating basis, and my husband eats pretty much the same thing every day. On purpose! So I think I am going to Calm Down and maybe give her two PBJ sandwiches each week. MAYBE THREE! I have also fully embraced pre-packed things, especially fruit cups. The daycare has a requirement that we include at least one fruit or vegetable in each lunch, so having a selection of those little cut-up peaches/pears/oranges to drop into the lunchbox is very helpful.
  • Speaking of things that you have helped me with: we survived the new babysitter. I had my husband write out a list of emergency numbers, and asked her show up 15 minutes early so I could walk her through things. Then, per Swistle, I let her know a couple of times that she could text at any time with anything. (She only did so once, to let us know that Carla went to the bathroom before bed [she is not potty trained yet] and asserted that she gets a piece of candy for doing so [which is true].) She was very laid back and confident, and all went well. I like to think that this moderate amount of preparation indicates a calm and confident attitude on my part, but it does not.
  • Carla has mastered the concept of seeing one’s image reflected in a mirror, but she calls it her “collection” instead of “reflection.”
  • The laundry situation is once again out of control. We keep USING laundry and then WASHING it, but no one in my household seems inclined to FOLD or PUT AWAY the laundry.
  • Few things make me feel older than walking purposefully upstairs, saying over and over to myself, “why am I going upstairs? why am I going upstairs? why am I going upstairs?” until I remember why I started up the stairs in the first place.
  • Speaking of feeling old: I got a manicure the other day – which, incidentally, is one of Life’s Most Uncomfortable Experiences for me, seeing as you are sitting two feet from a stranger who is trimming your nails and cuticles while making small talk and you CANNOT LEAVE and then sometimes, despite all your careful planning, you have to ask said stranger to reach into your purse for something lest you smudge your nails – and I turned to TV, which is one of my Go To small talk topics, and asked her if she was watching the OJ Simpson mini series. “Of course, you must be too young to remember the actual trial,” I said. I mean, I was a high school freshman and she seemed a bit younger. Turns out that no, she does NOT recall the actual trial because she was a baby. A literal baby. Born in 1995, the actual year during which the criminal trial took place.
  • This winter, I’ve been All About Carbs – lots of noodley dishes on the menu. But this weekend I couldn’t bear the thought of LOOKING at a noodle, so I decided to do a big stir fry with lots of bell peppers. And as I was prepping the meal, I just sort of marveled at the perfect green pepper I was holding. It seems like such a LUXURY to have access to summer produce when there are eight inches of snow on the ground and the temperature hasn’t been above 20 degrees in several days. I remember my mother lamenting the lack of green peppers during winters when I was a kid. They were either shriveled and wrinkly or $4.99 apiece or BOTH. I don’t know if that’s a factor of the remote location in which I grew up, or that green pepper production and distribution is a booming-er business now than it was DECADES AGO when I was a child. But it seems miraculous, really.

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Hello there, Internet!

How I have missed you, these long weeks we’ve spent apart! Okay, so it was really more like two weeks, which isn’t super long. And I posted on Friday, even though it was about teeth goo, of all things. And I’m sure that you didn’t even NOTICE my lengthy absense, but I missed you, so let’s just pretend that the longing was mutual, okay?

Let’s get to the randomosity.

– So, my apartment has two tiny balconies – one off of the living room, the other off the master. My apartment is on the first floor, but it’s above the garage door, so there’s quite a distance between the balconies and the ground. No trees touch the balconies, and no branches overhang the balconies either. So I was surprised the other day to find a squirrel on the living room balcony.

I have no idea how he got there. But he seemed quite at home, climbing up the railing, sitting on the little glass table that’s between two deck chairs, and flattening himself on the concrete floor. (It must be nice and cool.)

I didn’t mind him. In fact, I (briefly) entertained the idea of setting out some water and food (what do squirrels eat? Probably not pre-sliced Hormel pepperoni) and trying to tame his wild little heart.

But then he started flinging himself at the door.

You see, two sliding glass doors open onto the balcony. The squirrel would climb up onto the back of the deck chair and leap at the door. Of course, he would then smash into the glass and fall, stunned, to the floor.

I was pretty shocked. I mean, what the eff, squirrel? But I figured that he’d learned his lesson and went back to my typing.

And then he did it again.

He did it four times before I stomped over to the door and opened it, and he disappeared over the edge of the balcony.

I have no idea what he was doing or why. Was he trying to get onto the roof? Was he suicidal? (It HAS been really hot around here.) Was he trying to fling himself into my living room?

– In other wildlife news, a pair of pigeons keep landing on my balcony railing to… get busy. Seriously. I am constantly banging on the door to get them off each other. Couple of horny teenagers. Get a room already. One that doesn’t obstruct my view.

– In other OTHER wildlife news, when I was visiting my parents a few weeks ago, I answered the phone when my mom was out walking the dog. It was the neighbor.

“Tell your mom to bring the dog inside,” she said cheerfully. “My grandson was in the outhouse and he spotted a grizzly. It’s headed your way.”

(Yes. He spotted a grizzly bear from the outhouse. This is the wild, y’all.)

Once my mom and her dog were safely inside, we spent the rest of the afternoon peering out the windows for the bear.  It was an odd feeling. I mean, do you hope that a grizzly walks across your lawn… or do you hope that he doesn’t? Is an unseen grizzly better than a visible one? Would a grizzly-sighting be exciting or terrifying?

Not questions I ever really thought I’d be asking.

– We’ve been looking at houses for about a month now. I’ve learned a lot even from such a short period of house hunting. Perhaps I will bore you with share the details in a future post.

I fell in love with the first house I looked at. My husband loved it, too. It’s very over-priced for the area, but we’re going to put in an offer anyway to see if they’ll come down on the price at all. Writing about it here pretty much guarantees that we won’t get it, so if you see me mooning about in the next few weeks, you’ll know why.

– Of course, in anticipation of this house (which we won’t get), I’ve gotten some wild idea that I’m an interior decorator. I joined Pinterest, which I don’t really understand. And I’ve spent way too much time flipping through screen after screen of “luxurious bedrooms” on Martha Stewart’s website. But just because I can pin 10 photos of rooms in varying shades of green and brown doesn’t mean I could arrange them in a room in any remote semblance of “style” or “intentional design.” Anyone want to decorate the house that we don’t and probably will never own for me? You can start in the office. It must incorporate a desk and this loveseat.

– I’ve secured a new eye doctor. I wasn’t a big fan of my last eye doctor, and I am not sure yet whether my new eye doctor is any better. BUT I will give him a chance.  (He appears to be obsessed with fish. Every room has big paintings of fish. He wears a fish pin. I guess that’s my only evidence of Fish Obsession, but it seemed like ample evidence when I was in the office.) (I mean, his Love Of Fish was so evident, I spent the whole time trying to think of ways to bring up fly fishing or trout or something. Fortunately, I had enough presence of mind to realize I know NOTHING about fish [other than it’s yummy] so I kept my trap shut.0

Anyway, I got my eyes examined a few weeks ago and ordered new contacts.  Then, a week or so ago (I can’t remember – I was on a plane, and I’ve been on too many planes lately, and all the stupid planes run together) I got a voicemail from the eye doctor’s receptionist. All she said in the message was, “This is Receptionist. Please call me back.”

That struck me as a little weird, right? Did I have some horrible eye disease that she couldn’t talk about over the phone? Was there some embarrassing problem with my insurance? Was my eye doctor firing me?

When I called her back, she wasn’t in the office. And she hadn’t left any notes for the other receptionist about what was up. So I had to call back. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a horrible eye disease, or even the eye equivalent of a cold. She just wanted me to come by and pick up some trial contacts. Why she couldn’t leave that in a message, I do not know. I suppose it could have been a HIPAA thing? Who knows.

– So the other thing about the eye doctor receptionist: She seemed to think that I could just pop over and pick up the contacts. And that I could just pop in next week to have the eye doctor check the fit.

Can you do this, Internet?

I just… I can’t. Despite the fact that I am an independent contractor and work from home… I just can’t slip out for an hour or two in the middle of the day. And I would imagine that it’s even more difficult to do when you’re in an office.

Am I terribly misguided on this point? Can you come and go as you please?

– I’m reading A Discovery of Witches now. I’ve been reading it for a month. My mom mailed it to me a while ago and I read the first page and put it down. But then a few bloggy friends gave it high marks, so I picked it back up and forced myself to keep reading. And I am now about halfway through.

It’s enjoyable. But I don’t know if I like it. And it’s taking me forever. And it’s heavy. And I just want some action already, stop describing Matthew’s house and his horses I DON’T CARE. But somehow I am still compelled to read it instead of the copy of Home Buying for Dummies my husband keeps placing meaningfully on my pillow.

– Do you watch murder mystery shows? You know, CSI, Bones, The Closer, etc? Have you ever noticed how, when the cop/FBI agent/crime scene investigator notifies The Bereaved that their friend/loved one/lawyer just turned up dead, The Bereaved almost immediately starts referring to The Dead in the past tense?

I just… find that unbelievable. More unbelievable, in fact, than a forensic anthropologist or crime scene investigator doing a death notification. Don’t you think it would take a while for the death to sink in? Wouldn’t you still refer to The Dead in the present tense until his/her death sinks in?

“Ma’am, your husband was murdered 10 minutes ago.”

“Oh god no!”

Five minutes pass.

“He was such a great husband, back when he was alive.”

Um. No. I don’t think so.

– And finally, because I have had this stuck in my head all weekend, I pass it on to you. Please take careful note of the slammin’ dance moves.

Happy Monday, Internet.

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Listen, you don’t want to hear me bitch and moan about how I am working 12-hour days most days and occasionally 16-hour days other days. And how the laundry that I did a week (two?) ago is STILL sitting on the couch, clean and unfolded. And how my husband is ALSO working all these hours and we never see each other. And how making dinner three times last week was my Big Non-Work Accomplishment. And how there’s no end in sight.

So let’s talk about the only thing that I do when I am not working, which is watch an occasional TV show during dinner with my husband or during lunch when I am forcing myself to take a break before my head explodes or during the far-too-infrequent occasions when I make it to the gym.

Well, I managed to do a whole lot of bitching and moaning right there, didn’t I?

But now I’m done. Let’s talk about TV.

– Is anyone watching Audrina? I have caught an occasional 10-minute block of it before I get bored and change the channel.  I always liked Audrina on The Hills. Firstly, she’s beautiful despite looking a bit vacant around the eyes and I am always curious about beautiful people. Secondly, she was always falling for and swearing off that Justin Bobby character, which is a very human thing to do. And I know she was on a “reality” show and should have therefore been ACTUALLY human… but there wasn’t much about that show that was real, including most of the characters’ (?) skin tones and/or hair. So I liked seeing her struggle in a very real way with trying to balance being in love with freeing herself from a guy who comes across as kind of a jerkface.

I didn’t actually like seeing her struggle, you understand. I’m not a sadist. What I liked was feeling that sort of camaraderie that comes with watching someone go through something you can understand because maybe you went through it yourself. (I never actually did the go out/break up/go out/break up dance with any guy, but I certainly fell for my share of jerkfaces.)

– On one of the times when I tuned into Audrina, she was working out with her mom. And the trainer was a dude wearing eye makeup and a sports bra. And I thought that was very… odd.

The sports bra part.

Listen, I don’t care what you wear. If you’re a dude and you want to wear a tutu and/or lacy underpants, more power to you. If you’re a chick and you want to sport a thick beard or a Fu Manchu mustache, go for it. And some judiciously applied makeup can make ANYONE look younger and more bright-eyed. I think you need to wear what makes you feel comfortable and beautiful, whatever that is.

But… A sports bra has a purpose. So… I can’t really understand why a dude would wear one. It’s not like sports bras are pretty. Or flattering. (Well, on people with actual chest action, they can be flattening, but that’s not the same thing.)

Anyway, I got really distracted by this Pilates trainer in an unnecessary sports bra… And then Audrina’s mom – who is 47 and has four children, just FYI – said “ValenTIMES” – as in, “Do you have anything planned for ValenTIMES day?” – and I had to turn off the TV.

– One reason I love to watch reality shows is because the people on them FASCINATE me. But, admittedly, I spend a lot of time judging them. And making snarky comments inside my brain. Or out loud to… the TV. And that’s not really the best use of my time, I don’t think.

I bring this up because I just said something snarky about Audrina’s mom. I don’t even KNOW the poor woman. I only know the few snippets of her I’ve seen on the teevee. So let’s see if I can at least balance out the snark with something positive…

Well, let’s see, she has a kick-ass body. Seriously. I am 17 years her junior and I could only DREAM of a body like that.

There. Does that balance out the fact that I judged her for saying “ValenTIMES”?

– You know a job I’d really like? Being the guy who picks shows for those marathons on TNT and USA and such. You know – the marathons of Law & Order of every type… Or House… Or Monk… Or Frasier. Whatever. I would love to be the person to pore over a dozen seasons of a show I love and find silly themes around which to base a marathon. Aha! Let’s do a Law & Order: SVU marathon where Eliot flies off the handle! We’ll call it the Pushed to the Brink Marathon! Or let’s do a marathon of Frasier episodes where a humorous misunderstanding occurs! Or let’s do a CSI marathon all about Grissom and Sidle’s evolving romance!  That would be super awesome.

– I wonder how rock stars and the like feel when their songs are used as the themes for TV shows. I suppose it’s a good way to get one’s song on the airwaves. Although I’ve never actually purchased a song – or really, even looked it up – after hearing it open a TV show. Even if I really LIKE that TV show. Singing along with the Who’s the Boss theme is one thing. Going out and buying the song to listen to while doing non-TV-watching activities is something totally different.

Plus, I think that the song gets all mixed up with the show and, instead of evoking the band or the singer, it evokes the show. Like when someone on American Idol recently sang the Carole King ditty “Where You Lead” and I immediately shrieked, “It’s the Gilmore Girls theme song!!” If I were Carole King, that would irritate me.

(Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with Gilmore Girls, by the way. Because MAN do I love that show.)

Plus, I’m not sure if I’d necessarily like my music being associated with whatever the show was about. The CSI shows all have theme songs by The Who, which I love. But I admit that when I hear them on the radio, I immediately think, “Oh! Someone’s going to get murdered!” and I’m not sure that’s really what Pete Townshend had in mind. (Also, that H in Pete’s name is making me cranky. It seems purely superfluous.)

– Speaking of CSI, I always wonder if it’s very hard to get a job as one of the dead bodies on those shows. Certainly, if the dead body is going to be laid out in her underwear, getting the job might be a SMIDGE more difficult. But I’m not sure if it requires major acting chops to lie there all motionless and blue. (I’m not saying it’s EASY to get that job. It just seems like it would be easiER than other acting roles.)

– I’ve always thought that I would make for a good victim on CSI or Law & Order or whatever. I have a scar that seems like it would lend itself well to Only Woman Who Lived After Encounter with Serial Killer or, if I had any acting talent, Murderer Who Has Gotten Revenge for That Time Someone Tried to Kill Her Years Ago.

– You will not be surprised, I don’t think, at least given the last few paragraphs, to learn that the most recent show my husband and I have added to our DVR is The Killing. I quite like it. For one thing, the acting is very good – there have been a few really raw scenes of the victim’s family that have made me all teary – and for another, I have no idea what’s going on.

Usually, I can predict what’s going to happen very early on. Directors or screenwriters or whoever are in charge leave clues along the way, so that the viewer can say “Aha! So that’s why there was that odd shot of the wife looking longingly at her husband’s secretary!” when it’s finally revealed that the wife and the secretary are having a steamy affair and conspired to kill the husband together. And over many, many (MANY) years of watching cop and detective and murder shows, I have finely-tuned Whodunit sensors.

But The Killing is pretty good at blocking my sensors, so far. I suspected that one guy was too good to be true, and it turns out he was. (Although I still think he may be a red herring.) And I knew that one of the victim’s relatives would go all vigilante at some point. But other than that, I can’t really guess what’s going on! Which is frustrating, because I like to know. But it’s also keeping me glued to the set.

– My husband, by the way, does not take as much delight as I do in predicting the endings. While I grew up in a family who ALL enjoyed predicting the endings – often out loud during the show – my husband doesn’t like to think about what’s going on and what that could mean for the outcome. He prefers to enjoy a show minute-to-minute. So much so that I was banned from talking at all during the whole series of 24 because I kept guessing things correctly and ruining the surprise. Well, my talking ban did not extend to making exploding noises at random or to mimicking Jack by growling, “Set up a perimeter. There’s no time – I need you to trust me. It’s our only hope.”

– We still make exploding noises at random. Even when we’re watching, like, Parenthood. Or The Office.

– If you are easily annoyed, you should probably not watch TV with us.

– The show my husband and I are most excited about these days is Friday Night Lights. This is the last season, and it’s being rebroadcast on NBC.

We LOVE that show. YOU will love that show, if you haven’t seen it. And if you haven’t seen it? WATCH IT NOW. You will not regret it.

How can I be so sure? Two words: Tim Riggins.

Okay, but there’s a LOT of other things to love about it. Like really great, real characters. (Except for Lila. I think she is so WOODEN. And I originally thought that was because she was a crappy actress, but I don’t mind her so much on Parenthood. As… whatever her character’s name is.) And engaging story lines. (Although one major plot point from Season Two – that would HAUNT me, if it happened in real life – gets totally dropped from subsequent seasons.) And some seriously great writing. The speeches Coach Taylor gives to his players? Inspirational and tear-jerking.

– Eric and Tami Taylor may be my all-time favorite TV parents. I love me some Lorelai Gilmore, and Clair and Cliff Huxtable are pretty amazing. But Eric and Tami just seem so… real. Real, likeable, genuinely good people you’d enjoy living next door to.

Okay, that’s all I have to say about TV at the moment. But I do enjoy discussing it. Especially if it involves Tim Riggins.

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Upon returning home from Asheville, I ran smack into the following:

– A refrigerator empty of everything but old, moldy lentil soup, delicious-but-bad-for-me Hormel pepperoni, and a half-eaten Dairy Queen ice cream cake…

– A DVR that was 93% full and had mysteriously decided NOT to record last night’s episode of Parenthood

– A head cold, complete with one ear that has apparently taken a sabbatical from hearing, a nostril that won’t stop running yet is simultaneously backed up like a freeway during rush-hour, and a giant balloon that’s slowly inflating behind my forehead…

– And a four-pound weight gain.


To sum up, I am leaving you with a picture of a cat in a stroller.


Your day MUST be going better… Right?

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Well, it’s Friday folks! And I just realized, like, yesterday that next week? Is OCTOBER. As in, where in the hell did September GO? Slow the eff down already.

* That said, I am ready for fall. The pumpkin spice lattes… Cute boots and sweaters… Butternut squash soup… The need for jackets… Trees so colorful they look like they’re about to burst into flame… There’s a lot to love about fall. And the weather was helping ease me into this season quite nicely, with 65-degree days and some intermittent rain.

And then… Suddenly, it was 80 degrees and sunny. And I was all, “Screw fall, summer is AWESOME!”

I feel like going to the pool… Sipping margaritas in an outdoor café… Wearing sandals and a sundress… Eating fresh strawberries…


* One thing about fall I’m not ready to ignore: pomegranates and pomegranate seeds. Both are readily available these days, and they are delicious!

* My husband’s birthday is coming up. He’s going to be the big 3-0. I want to make this birthday special for him… So my big present idea is to get him tickets to see a football match. (Between a team that rhymes with “Feelers” and a team that rhymes with “Frowns.”) My problem? I have no idea how to buy a ticket to such an event… Nor where to sit… Nor anything else related to the whole thing. Apparently, tickets sell out like in June? So. Yeah. I am guessing StubHub is the way to go? Have you ever used StubHub or any related type of ticket-procurement service?

* I know I’ve mentioned it before in this space… But it bugs me when people say “no problem” when you thank them for doing something. And I am a HUGE hypocrite here, because I used to say that ALL THE TIME. But then someone pointed out to me how annoying it is… And it was like that episode of How I Met Your Mother where as soon as you’re aware of something, you can’t NOT notice it.

I don’t think people mean to be annoying… I know I certainly didn’t. But it bugs me because it implies that I was imposing on you for something… and that you are reassuring me that the imposition wasn’t a problem. The only time it may be applicable is if you are my neighbor and I come knock on your door during the Grey’s Anatomy season premier and ask you to unclog my toilet. That’s a genuine imposition.

But if you are, say, a shoe salesperson and I ask you to get me a box of size eight boots from the back, and then say thank you when you hand the box to me… “No problem” is not a valid response. Because of course it wasn’t a problem. You are doing your job. I think maybe it bugs me so much because it’s just a small symptom of a larger epidemic: the death of good service. I think a lot of people who work in businesses actually DO feel like the customer is imposing on them, rather than helping pay for their dental work and steady supply of cheeseburgers. A simple “You’re welcome” or “It was my pleasure!” can go a long way toward making your customer feel like you care about her… and that you’re not just counting down the minutes until your shift ends.

* Have you discovered any exciting new shows this premier season? My husband and I watched The Event, which I found to be boring right up until the end. And I’m suspicious of a show that seems to so clearly be following in Lost’s footsteps. BUT. I will watch at least a couple more episodes before writing it off.

The other new show I tuned in for was The Whole Truth because I love Maura Tierney. But I’m not sure how I feel about this one, either… While I like its (I’m sure 100% accurate and not at all hyperbolic) focus on the legal aspect of crime, I’m not sure I can live with knowing so little about the actual crime. I much prefer the typical Law & Order format, where you know what happens. But again, I’ll keep watching for at least a couple of episodes.

* My weight loss efforts have stalled. I’m still seven pounds down from where I started… But I can’t seem to budge from that spot. (Except for an occasional pound or so in the wrong direction.) I have a strong suspicion that this has something to do with my refusal to exercise and my inability to completely ignore carbs. Also, the fact that – while I am still counting and recording my caloric intake – I am not doing a super job of sticking to the number of calories allotted.

However, the lovely bloggess at Fatty File has turned me onto an exercise challenge. Apparently there fewer than 100 days left in the year (!!!!), and the challenge is to exercise for at least 15 minutes every single one of those 100 days. I know I can do it. A challenge is just what I need to keep me in line. Anyone want to join in?

* Here’s a little Public Service Announcement: Just because you have access to a thesaurus doesn’t mean you should use it. Replacing every other word in a paper with a bigger, longer synonym will not make your paper better. In fact, it will likely make your paper much, much worse. Especially if you don’t fully understand the meaning of the synonym you choose. (“Help” and “enable” may technically be synonyms… But they have slightly different connotations that prevent them from being interchangeable. The same goes for LOTS OF WORDS.)

* Loneliness has been creeping back into my life lately. It’s a combination of things. First, three of the girls I became friendly with earlier this year are all pregnant. Like, really pregnant. And two of them are on bed rest. And since we have hung out together about, um, three times apiece? I don’t feel all that comfortable just showing up at their homes and chatting them up, you know?

Second, I’ve been getting a lot more freelance work lately. Which is great! Yay! Work! Yay! Money! Since I am a huge worrier, I am always afraid that tomorrow all the work will dry up. So I feel compelled to take on everything I can right now, while it’s being offered. This means that many days I spend working from 8:00 to 6:00… Taking a break until about 9:00… And then working until midnight or 2:00 or 3:00 or what have you. This kind of schedule is doable, especially when my husband is working long hours. But it doesn’t leave a lot of time for socializing or even, say, leaving my apartment.

Third, my husband has been working consistently longer hours. Second year of residency is nice because it doesn’t involve as much overnight call… But it’s not so nice because residents need to stick around until their interns are done working – sometimes longer.

So I’m just feeling really… blah lately. A little down, a little needy. Overly affected by the few minutes of sunshine we’re losing every day. Caught off guard by the overcast skies.

I’m not sure how to get out of the rut… but I know it will pass eventually.

* But I’m not going to whine too much about being lonely. Because my husband has two full weeks off coming up! By the way, we decided on Asheville for the upcoming vacation! We’re staying in a cute (and ridiculously expensive) bed and breakfast. We’ve lined up about 20 restaurants that sound appealing. And we plan on leisurely drives up the Blue Ridge Parkway. Any other Must Sees we, well, must see?

* I totally wasn’t going to have a tenth bullet… But my OCD won out in the form of this faux bullet. Have a great weekend Internet!

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Actual conversation held Sunday night whilst watching the MTV VMAs:

Husband: It looks like Lady Gaga is wearing cold cuts.

Me (to the TV): Oh, Goggs. Why does it not surprise me that you’re wearing a meat dress?

Husband: That can’t be real meat, though…

Me: Of course it is – look at how it moves when she walks. Fabric doesn’t move like that.

Husband: Who would wear a dress made of real meat?

Me: Who would wear a dress made of FAKE meat? I mean, what’s the point of wearing a meat dress if it’s not real?

Husband has no choice but to agree with my airtight logic.

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Time to Kill

Night float is boring, y’all.

I am stuck here at home without my husband to distract me. I mean, heaven forbid I should try to distract myself. And doing 200 stomach crunches does not take that long. (I kid you not – I have been doing some hard core weight type exercises. HARD. CORE.) (Well, as hard core as you can get with two eight-pound weights.)

When I’m working, it’s fine. Plenty to keep me busy. But the weekends, when my husband is home, sleeping, I can’t even watch TV. This is what happens when you have a small apartment. With large, open, inexplicable  ventilation grates between the bedrooms and the living room. Not that I’m missing much. I mean, TV sucks during the summer. Sure, I’ve been watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey. But – while they are quite weird – I don’t like them as much as the New York housewives. I’ve been dabbling in some other shows – Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D ListBethenny Getting MarriedLast Comic Standing… Reruns of The Good Wife on demand… Some other stuff.

And I’ve been reading a decent amount. I just began Tana French’s In the Woods, which I always mistakenly call Into the Woods because of the play (“Into the woods then out of the woods! And home before dark.”) although they have absolutely nothing in common. Well. So far. I am only on page sevenish.

But besides TV and books and writing, I need some distractions.

What do you read online when you have some time to kill?

In return for your suggestions, I will leave you with my favorite Internet diversions. (Besides YOUR blog, which I will read if you tell me about it! And comment on, if I have something worthwhile to say! Or possibly not worthwhile!)

Hyperbole and a Half – Every post makes me laugh. Every. Post.

Catalog Living – I don’t think I ever realized how hilarious a Pottery Barn catalog could be.

Maru – I love this cat.

Friends of Irony – Deliciously head-slap-worthy.

The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks – Grammar nerd heaven.

Go Fug Yourself – Fashion faux pas of the highest order.

MamaPop – Gossip, TV recaps, and lots of snark.

Don’t Even Reply – Hilarious, but mean spirited. (My husband doesn’t understand why I find this one so funny.)

Failbook – More hilarity from the Cheezburger empire

Regretsy – What is WRONG with people?

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No one reads blogs on Saturdays. Also, it’s a holiday weekend, so if you ARE reading blogs, WHY? Go outside. Find a patch of sun and lie in it, even it’s a two-feet-by-two-feet square of sunshine on the sidewalk in front of your local hardware store. You can wear cut-offs and a tank top or you can wear a bikini, your choice. Hell, you can wear a purple boa and some parachute pants – I won’t judge.

But if you managed to sneak your iPhone out onto your Scooby Doo beach towel with you, here are some bullets for your weekend reading pleasure:

* I am not a fan of the Swiffer for cleaning floors. It doesn’t seem to do much. We have one of the long sweepers, and it can take either a wet cloth or a dry cloth. The wet cloth is too wet at first and makes the floor all slimy, but then quickly dries out and all of a sudden you’re not sweeping anything up anymore. But the dry cloth just seems to push things around. If I’m just going to push debris into a little pile, why can’t I do it with a cheap broom… or a paper towel?

My husband claims you have to take a two-pronged approach to Swiffering which involves starting with the dry cloth and then following up with the wet cloth and there is some Very Detailed Scientific Reasoning behind it but then my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about how I haven’t watered my jade plant for two weeks and do I need to paint my toenails again and wow I am really craving a Dilly Bar. So I let him take over the Swiffering. It makes him feel helpful.

* But! The Swiffer does have one very useful application. It is particularly good at reaching spiders that are hanging out in the corners of your ceiling. Spiders that might otherwise jump on your face while you were sleeping.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t need to buy the wet OR the dry cloths to de-spider your ceiling. Just the plain old Swiffer apparatus will do.

I totally think Procter & Gamble could market the Swiffer as a spider slayer and make a bundle. Seriously – there has got to be a whole passel of people out there who have spiders lying in wait on their ceilings, just out of reach, who would totally shell out, say $4 for a special cloth-free Spider Slayer. It’s gonna be a big hit, P&G. You’re welcome.

* I just wrote “all of a sudden,” which I believe to be the CORRECT phrasing. But a lot of people say it as “all of the sudden” or even “all the sudden,” which I find quite baffling. Perhaps this is a regional difference, much like “flipping” someone off or “flicking” someone off. (I say “flipping.” But I tend not to do it unless I am really pissed at my husband and want to make a grand, angry gesture that ends up seeming totally melodramatic and ridiculous.)

* Speaking of wording that drives me bonkers… As an editor, I am particularly irritated by some common usage mistakes. (And I know no one is perfect, least of all me, and I would never think badly of YOU if you were to misuse something. Plus, I’m not talking about silly outdated rules like starting a sentence with a conjunction… or ending a sentence with a preposition… or writing fragments or run ons. I’m talking about honest to goodness WRONG.) Let’s be honest – I could come up with about 12,000 usage errors people make on a daily basis that make me crazy. But I would like to take this moment to point out that there is a difference between “loose” and “lose,” “led” and “lead,” and “lie” and “lay.” Learn the difference. (Wow – what a weird coincidence that all those examples begin with L!)

* Well, I did it! I bought two more pairs of the magic J. Crew shorts. However, I waited too long to buy them and they were once again full price. (I believe they were on sale for some ridiculously low price like $19.99 when I last mentioned them.) Let this be a lesson to you, Internet! Strike while the iron is on sale!

* I am having some Self-Esteem Issues that stem from my weight. I have a post written all about it, one that I am embarrassed terrified reluctant to post. But I think Putting It All Out There could be really good for me, and possibly really motivating. As in, if I tell you I am going to do something about losing weight, then maybe I will Get My Act in Gear. First, though, I have to get up the nerve to post about it.

* Obligatory Reality Show Bullet: I am looooving Bethenny Getting Married. Bethenny is a little strident, although I have always admired her no-holds-barred honesty and her quick wit. But on this show, we get to see this lovely vulnerable side of her. And her husband? Seems AWESOME. He is so kind and normal and so clearly loves her to bits. He reminds me of my husband in some ways. Not in the least because he puts up with Bethenny’s mini-rages the way my husband puts up with my occasional freak-outs.

While watching BGM, I saw an ad for the upcoming Rachel Zoe show, which I enjoy on occasion. It always amuses me to watch how frazzled and flappy Rachel and crew get. I mean, I know they have a job to do, and that celebrities are probably not very forgiving if you don’t have the exact pair of shoes they want to wear to the premiere of their new Nick Sparks vampire movie, but man. The frazzle! The flipping out! The over-sized clothing and 8,000 sparkly rings! The OMG-this-is-bananas-I-die DRAMA! Over… clothing. Like, this isn’t life or death, people. (Yes, yes, I know – their work still has VALUE.)

* We went to my husband’s parents’ house for a week and then we came back and apparently now we live in a trash heap. We brought about 25 paper bags full of Assorted Crap back with us… And they are now living in our entryway. About sixty days’ worth of mail is scattered on every available surface. Three or so loads of clean laundry are lying crumpled on the guest bed. Our suitcase is sitting, full, on our floor (and, in More Embarrasing Than What I Was Just Writing About News, is leaning against a suitcase that we took on a weekend trip about eight weeks ago and have yet to fully unpack). And there are dishes (rinsed) sitting on the counter, waiting for me to unload the dishwasher.

This is the point where I’d just as well move as clean up this horrific mess.

* The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. As with other big holidays, my parents always made a Big Deal out of the Fourth. My dad would get a big bag of fireworks and he’d set them off in our backyard. My brother and I would play with sparklers, writing our names in the air as the twilight settled over us. My dad would grill burgers or hot dogs and my mom would make a heap of potato salad, and she’d follow dinner up with a lovely cake decorated in red, white, and blue. When it grew dark enough, we’d watch the town fireworks display from our porch, so far away we couldn’t hear the explosions. We’d watch as the sky lit up with reds and blues and greens. We’d oooh and aaaah together, snuggled up in blankets, as the dark was punctured with glittering reminders that our country may be flawed, but it is great and worth fighting for.

* * * * *

If you have ignored my very helpful suggestion to go lie on your sidewalk, please say hello and let me know wassup with you this fine Saturday. And have yourself a wonderful Independence Day.

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