Thursday, July 24, 2014

I just can't "deal"

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week Moma Rock chose the topic: What are some of your deal breakers when it comes to relationships/friendships/etc?

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

Moma Rock got her idea from an article I posted a few weeks ago about movies that are deal breakers in relationships, either because the offending party likes what the other thinks is a horrible movie or they don't like the other's favorite movie of all time. It reminded me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted's girlfriend at the time had never seen Star Wars. He made her watch episode IV and then she lied to him about liking it but told Marshall she really hated it, complete with a perfect Chewbacca impression. It also reminds me of how a friend of mine was after me for years to watch Somewhere in Time and then I finally watched it and didn't get why she thought it was so great. However, she doesn't get what's so wonderful about The Princess Bride, so we're on even footing now. The article actually starts off by talking about a couple who got divorced because the husband didn't like Frozen. It makes me glad that my husband and I both agree on not liking that movie. And I was validated this past week when another friend told me she didn't like it either and even laughed at my comparison of Olaf to Jar Jar Binks.

In general, one's taste in movies, TV shows, music, or books is not a deal breaker to me. I respect that we all have different tastes. My husband and I even went into our relationship knowing that I didn't find Blazing Saddles to be all that funny and he felt lukewarm toward Moving Violations. However, we both think UHF and Airplane! are hilarious! We also agree that The Future was probably the most ridiculous movie ever, we shut off Anchorman 2 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop early on, and we laughed until we were crying and still joke about Movie 43. And get this...he doesn't like Rent. That's okay though because I don't like playing strategy games. As far as TV goes, his love for Game of Thrones balances out my love for The Mindy Project. Yet, we also have a lot of shows we enjoy watching together, the most recent being Orphan Black.

In regards to dating deal breakers, prior to meeting my husband, I had a hang-up about voices. I love my husband's voice, but his friend who set us up had to embarrass me about this hang-up. He called him back after leaving the first message so I could hear his voice. Then he left a message saying I wanted to hear what his voice sounded like. I'm just glad that didn't faze him! This issue with voices had to do with my single days, when I'd sometimes talk on the phone to guys I met online. There were two guys that had weird voices. I'm talking extremely weird here. Like one guy sounded like a cross between Grover and Fozzie Bear. He'd also say "okay" weird. ("Oh-kah.")  Then this other guy was probably 30 and sounded like he was 10. It creeped me out. When I e-mailed him after the call to say I wasn't interested, he came back with "I couldn't understand you on the phone anyway." I probably was being extra soft-spoken to sabotage the call after hearing his voice. Prior to that call, he had contacted me on a match site a few months earlier and when I saw on his profile that he was homophobic, I said it was a no-go. Homophobia is also a HUGE turn-off for me. The second time he contacted me, prior to the call, he said he would try to be more open-minded and was practically begging me to go out with him. I'm guessing most girls don't go for the 10 year-old boy voice either.

I think I am pretty lenient when it comes to friendships though. There are certain hot-button topics I will not bring up if I know they're going to cause a fight. Politics is at the top of my list. Especially with living close to DC. I just can't go there if I know it's going to rip a giant hole in my friendship. I will hide people from my newsfeed when they get all political. I just don't want to hear it, deal with it, get involved in a discussion that I know nothing about, etc. (It also bugs me when kids try to talk about politics when they have even less of an idea of what is going on.) In regards to homophobia, I have come to expect that the further to the right one is with their religious beliefs, they stand in a similar place when it comes to their feelings on homosexuality. I am not going to share my political or religious stance on the topic, but I have a lot of close gay and lesbian friends. So if you don't have anything nice to say on the topic, I don't want to hear it. Similar to politics, the topic of homosexuality is off limits if it's only going to lead to a fight. I don't post political stuff on social media because the last time I did to even a minor extent, it caused some fights and unfriending. I will "like" stuff that other people post and I agree with, but that's about it. The biggest and most ultimate deal breaker for a friendship would be if someone is anti-semitic. I know most of my friends are Jewish, but another majority of my friends are not. If anyone says anything anti-semitic to me, they can consider themselves blocked and unfriended on social media. I will not stand for that at all!

There's only one other deal breaker these days when it comes to friendships and that is related to people's kids. I can be pretty tolerant of other people's kids as long as they don't cause any problems with me (and by extension, my husband), my kids, or my home. I won't stand for rudeness, making huge messes and not cleaning them up, breaking things on purpose, going in rooms of the house that they're not allowed in (unless I've given permission in advance), and especially--most importantly--hurting my kids either physically or emotionally. The last item is the biggest deal breaker and if someone's child does that, regardless of how their parents handle it, they will have to stay home with a sitter or go to another friend's house if their parents want to come to my house. There is no excuse for it whatsoever. I have taught my kids how to treat other kids and if they ever cause such problems, they learn quickly to never let that happen again. A few years ago, I made my older son write and deliver an apology letter to a child he hit on accident once when he threw a toy. Has he done that since? You can bet he hasn't. It's one thing if the child is a toddler, but another if they're old enough to understand from good and bad behavior. I am extremely intolerant of anyone hurting my kids. I know I sound like a tough and protective mama bear, but if someone deliberately hurts my kids, you will see me grow devil horns and breathe out fire.

What are YOUR deal breakers when it comes to relationships and friendships?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doing Good

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: Asking for help.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

I don't usually like asking for help. I'm one of those people who was up and about right after I had my babies because I didn't want to delegate household responsibilities. Even at work, I have a hard time delegating. I will only ask for help if I'm pressed for time and need to get something out the door. Normally, I'm the one who other people come to for help. I don't really have a lot to say on this topic, as a result. I guess I'm just a control freak by nature. In any case, I thought I'd turn this post into asking for help for causes and for people (and animals) who need help more than I do. However, I may be asking local friends to borrow their washing machines if we don't get our washing basin situation fixed soon (the washing machine empties into there, but it's clogged and our laundry room got flooded as a result).

Many people I know have been affected by cancer, either themselves or their loved ones. Most recently, one of my author friends lost a close friend and mentor this way. She's doing a walk to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. You can help sponsor her here. This past spring, I gave to St. Baldrick's in memory of a child I didn't even know, but had heard a lot about. There's still an opportunity to raise money in his memory. Every summer, the camps my kids attend do chai-a-thons to support Chai Lifeline and Camp Simcha. I can't seem to get my act together to involve my kids in these chai-a-thons (usually bowling or swimming), but I wanted to make everyone aware of this organization in case you're interested in donating. And if you like The Big Bang Theory and want to help a breast cancer charity, you can buy a Soft Kitty T-Shirt and support this cause at the same time.

Next is a situation I came across from a friend's Facebook posting and wanted to share it here in case you're able to help this woman and her kids. A single mother of two is currently jobless and living in a motel. She's been threatened with removal of her kids from her care if she can't provide adequate housing within the next week.

Even though I don't have any pets, I grew up with them and it sickens me to hear about animals being abused. If you are anything like me, here's an opportunity to donate to the ASPCA.

Finally, I want to share an opportunity to help protect citizens in Israel. I have friends who made Aliyah (and I can't wait to see some of them when they're back in town for a visit soon). I also know a lot of people from my community who have been living there for a while or who just moved back there recently after living for a while in the US. My husband has relatives there, as well. Also, I've been to Israel and would like to know that I can one day take my kids there without being scared for our lives. I am not going to get into anything political here as I have no intentions of starting a fight. It's all for personal reasons that I share this donation link. This evening, I read a Facebook post from a work colleague who said her pre-teen daughter was going to donate all of her birthday money to help Israel. I was so moved to see that!

For my 30th birthday, I asked people to donate to a cause in lieu of gifts. I'm always open to doing that for any birthday, since I don't really need anything. When my younger son turned two, I asked people to bring toys for a children's hospital instead of gifts, as we had more than enough toys already and I thought it would be a nice thing to do. I gave the toys to the Children's National Medical Center in DC. I hope my children will want to do stuff like this on their own someday, like how my colleague's daughter did. There have also been times when I heard about situations where I knew I could make a difference on a small scale, like donating clothes, books, food, etc. When I was in college, my friends and I pooled our money to buy holiday gifts for a family in the area. I also did this at other various times throughout the years. More recently, buying a gift card for a family so that they could purchase food and other necessities during the holidays.

Even if you're not able to help today, please keep these ideas in mind for when you are able to in the future. Or just donate to something that you personally care about. There are just so many ways to help others that I know you can find a meaningful way to do so. That's all I'm really asking in the long run. I'd love to hear about altruistic things you've done, if you feel like commenting below.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Get in (or out of) the zone

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week Froggie chose the topic: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

Last year, I found an article with ways to get out of one's comfort zone. I thought about using it as a blog project topic, but never got around to it, so I'm glad that Froggie did! In order to write this post, I've listed the 20 items from the post and will elaborate on each.

1. Put your personal work out in the world so that it’s potentially vulnerable for negative comments. A video on YouTube, a piece of writing online – anything that can be complimented or critiqued, which will either boost your confidence or thicken your skin.
I do this all the time with writing fiction on my blog. It's been going well so far, but still can be nerve-wracking to see how people will react to what I've written. I think I need to push my fiction comfort zone to the limit, but haven't figured out how yet. One of my friends suggested writing about a gay male lead character, but I don't know what angle I'd take with that story or if I'd even get into such a character's head correctly.

2. Do something over-the-top embarrassing to make a fool of yourself. Take part in a dance-off, test out cheesy pickup lines, make preposterous requests at restaurants.
This would definitely be a challenge for me. Aside from singing all the time around my house and in the car, I'm not sure how much more embarrassing I could get.

3. Set a colossal ambition that will require you to discipline yourself and accomplish smaller goals first. e.g. Running a marathon that will require weeks or months of training.
Does using to keep track of my calorie intake and output count? I'm still working on those post-pregnancy pounds from THREE years ago. In the past, I've done this in my efforts to become more observant with Judaism. I took everything from keeping Kosher to family purity to becoming Shomer Shabbos in baby steps.

4. Allow a friend to make plans for you, giving them creative control of a night filled with unknown festivities. Comfort is all about knowing what to expect and having limited surprises, this will be a unique change of scenery.
I let my husband plan a whole adventure for us in downtown Chicago for our 10 year anniversary. I didn't know what he had in store and just went with the flow. We first went to a place where you can paint ceramics. We made a plate together. Then we went to Dave and Buster's to kill time before dinner and played billiards for a while. Dinner was very romantic and at a restaurant I was always hoping to try. Afterward, we went to Second City for an improv show and then up to the top of the Hancock building to complete the evening. It was a fun and memorable day!

Tired after a long and fun day

5. Read a book from a section you’d normally never set foot in. If autobiographies are normally your thing, check out a Teen-Fiction novel or Humor piece. Whatever is outside of the norm.
I sometimes do this with my book club. I read books I might have never thought to pick up otherwise. The Night Circus is definitely an example, as I had no desire to read it until someone from the club suggested it. Then I couldn't put it down!

6. Perform some type of public speaking, such as a poetry or reading at an open mic night.
Every year, on my anniversary at work, I give a D'Var Torah. That is definitely a feat in itself. I did Forensics in high school, yet I get so nervous speaking in front of people now. And it's challenging to write a D'Var Torah! Luckily, my work-iversary falls around the time of the Joseph story!

7. Pick up a new hobby that you currently have very little ability to do. Musical instruments, cooking, painting, writing, dancing, etc.
A few years ago, I tried knitting. I gave it up after a while as I had just lost patience with it. I haven't thought to pick up a new hobby in the last few years, as blogging has become a huge part of my life. I normally write, so I don't think creative writing counts as a new hobby, per se.

8. Go on an adventure and explore a surrounding city or an area you’re unfamiliar with, using no GPS or assistance from your phone. Enjoy being lost and getting around only by investigating for yourself, and asking others for directions.
For some reason, this would terrify me! I get so freaked out when I feel lost and have no idea where I'm going! An adventure for me is driving into DC instead of taking the Metro. I'm not much of a city driver these days, so going by car to see Wally Lamb last year was huge for me.

9. It’s not always easy to express our feelings to the people we love the most. Make time for the people you consider yourself closest to, and vocalize your care for them, despite how much easier it can be to think “I love you” than to say it.
This is definitely something that is outside of my comfort zone and what instantly came to mind when Froggie suggested the topic. I am not as good with being verbally affectionate. I am natural at it with my husband, kids, sister and BFF. However, it still feels vulnerable for me to express it to anyone else, even if they express it first and are being genuine. I usually say "you too" or "right back at ya," even though I could be more verbally affectionate and it would be welcomed by the individuals who initiated it. One such person is the new friend I posted about a couple of weeks ago. I love that she isn't afraid to be verbally affectionate and I try to emulate that when I can, but I think it's just who we are in general. I think I can express in other ways when I like or care about someone and hope it will have the same effect!

10. Go to a restaurant you’ve never actually been to and order something unique off of the menu. No cheeseburgers or salads, nothing you’ve had several times – and preferably something you struggle to pronounce.
The writer of this post clearly has not met me! I am such a picky eater and yet I've managed to add a lot of foods into my diet, even while eliminating others (mostly for Kosher reasons). I'm not sure if and/or when I'll ever try this out. Given I've stepped out of my comfort zone in other ways already, please cut me some slack about this and #8.

11. If you’ve grown comfortable doing things solo, start doing those activities with a friend. If you only do things with friends, try going it alone. Trust me, seeing a movie by yourself is surprisingly pleasant.
I like going to movies alone. I did it a bunch of times in the past. The last movie I went to alone was in 2008 to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. I was so giddy about it! I've also gone to events by myself and been totally fine. I enjoy going to things with friends, but I also make new friends at events I go to by myself. So it's a win-win situation.

12. Make a new friend. No – that doesn’t mean add a random person on Facebook! At work, in class or when you’re out, start a conversation IN PERSON, and make friends with someone.
It's definitely easier for me to connect with people online, but I try to do it in person from time to time. I mostly get that opportunity at Shul, when I'll ask someone if they're new or visiting and try to get to know them better. Even when I was at Book Expo America, I'd try to strike up random conversations with people. Sometimes, I just click with people in person right away, and sometimes it's a "nice meeting you" thing, but that's it.

13. Take an improv class to get comfortable with unscripted interaction which, most of life consists of.
Been there. Done that. Wrote a blog post about it! Going to Second City made me miss how much fun it was, but now I'd worry that I'd have to start from scratch.

14. Switch up your daily routine drastically. If you’re a night owl, try hitting the hay early and waking up at sunrise. If you’re an early bird, explore the wee hours of the night for a change.
I do both already.

15. Limit your television watching. Replace that newfound time being active and living your life, as opposed to watching others.
I suppose not having cable helps. However, my TV time is replaced by Internet and reading time instead.

16. Take a financial risk that could result in a great reward.
Maybe I'll buy a few lottery tickets... I don't really gamble otherwise, whether it's at a casino or with something in life. It seems too scary to put a lot of money at risk like that.

17. Choose one of your fears and confront it head-on. Don’t like heights? Try skydiving, hiking a mountain or going on a rooftop – whatever you can do, as long as the idea of it makes you uneasy.
Does riding roller coasters in the past count? I really don't know that I can bring myself to confront any other such fears. Especially if I feel like my life would be at risk in some way.

18. If at all possible, spend time around people more successful than you. Being surrounded by individuals who’ve accomplished more than you can be beneficial if used as inspiration and motivation.
Does living in Englewood, New Jersey, for two years count? Seriously though, I feel like a lot of people I currently work with are immensely successful in what they do for the organization. So yes, they inspire me!

19. Enter a competition in which the odds are stacked against you. Failure isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s utilized properly. By losing and feeling a letdown, you should become thirsty to try again or at least feel the glory of winning and success.
Maybe I will audition for Jeopardy then? I've auditioned for plays in the past and never got cast. Does that say anything? Not sure what other competitions to enter at this stage of the game. I've entered two writing contests for Ladies' Home Journal and lost both. However, I loved the experience each time. Those were both personal essays, but I'm thinking of entering a fiction contest, if I can get something together in the next month or so.

20. Say “yes” to every single opportunity that presents itself, big or small. From an invite to an event you typically wouldn’t attend, to a job promotion in a different city. Some things are life changers, and they should be embraced with open arms instead of shot down without consideration. 
I think that's already been covered too. Then again, I don't see myself uprooting my life in such a way, especially considering that I've done it twice in the span of two-and-a-half years!

Another way I've broken out of my comfort zone is by making fundraising calls for work. I'm not a phone person and especially don't like to ask for money. However, I know it's for an important cause and I actually get excited when someone says right away that they'll make a contribution.

Finally, I don't like to have pictures or videos taken of me all that much. Especially the latter. I hate how I sound on video. However, I have let people take photos of me recently and I've even done some selfies. The last time I had pictures taken of me, I was not wearing any makeup either. Au naturale! I also took a selfie that day!

I enjoyed working with this list. I'd love to hear if it has inspired you in any way or if there are things that you have done outside of your comfort zone.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I can't get on board with that...

My blog project group is taking a break this week in lieu of the upcoming holiday weekend. However, Thursdays somehow feel empty to me if I don't post something. I've been meaning to post about stuff that a lot of people like but doesn't appeal to me at all. I was inspired after reading a post by Amber over at Airing My Dirty Laundry. Her blog is one of my favorites and I visit it all the time. This post is proof that we have a lot in common.

What I agree with from Amber's post:

Coffee: I've never liked the taste of it. My husband won me over when he suggested we meet for hot cocoa since neither of us drink coffee to begin with.

Seafood: "If it lived in the sea, it won't go in me" is my motto.

Mushrooms: Alright?

(See what other foods I won't eat.)

Running: My BFF is the runner in our relationship. I just can't bring myself to do it. I am a walker.

High heels: I don't like shoe shopping to begin with, but wearing comfortable shoes is a must! High heels don't even look comfortable! I am not good with even a slight heel that has support, given those were what I was wearing when I face planted back in February. So high heels are not an option for me.

Here are things that are all me (and maybe you will agree or disagree with them):

The biggest drama show crazes these days such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy (does anyone still watch it?), etc. I even gave up on Homeland halfway into the first season. I love Orange is the New Black though, but that has some comedy elements too.

Speaking of comedy...I don't like most of the latest comedy films and don't get what is so funny about the ones I've seen so far (Bridesmaids, for example). I fall asleep during them. There were only a few new movies that really made me laugh over the past few years (and one of them is too offensive for me to even recommend without feeling guilty somehow). I'm really hoping Bad Words doesn't disappoint because I have high hopes for it!

Dance competition shows. They just bore me, even if actors from my favorite 80s shows are on them. How many ways can people do the same moves and try to make them look different? I just don't get it!

Still loyal to the Cubs though...
I'm a Chicago gal at heart!
Sports. I don't follow baseball, football, March Madness, World Cup, Olympics, etc.

Anything about vampires, so Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc. I just can't bring myself to watch (or read).

And speaking of Twilight, I can't see the appeal of certain book series such as 50 Shades of Grey, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. I can also agree with Amber about Harry Potter, even though my older son is reading those books now. I tried the movies and even lost interest in those after a while.

Superhero stuff, such as Avengers and X-Men. I just don't get what's so great about all that.

Frozen. I think that's pretty obvious by now, but I still need to say it anyway. I don't get why this particular Disney movie that didn't even get nominated for Best Picture is doing better than Beauty and the Beast did. Is it all due to social media? As Jerry Seinfeld would say: "WHAT is the DEAL?"

Bacon in everything, and not just because I keep Kosher. Long before I started keeping Kosher, I tried bacon. I do not like the way it tastes. So I don't get why people want to put it in cookies, muffins, ice cream, etc.

Most of today's hit music. I can't tell the songs apart and don't know who sings what anymore. I usually listen to country or any of my CDs instead of the pop music stations.

What are the popular things that don't work for YOU?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Orange is the New Black, Season 2, episodes 10-13

In case you missed my thoughts on episodes 1-5, you can find them here. Thoughts on episodes 6-9 can be found here. A full episode list can be found here. And if you missed my thoughts on season one, they're right here.

Reminder that spoilers are included.

Episode 10, "Little Mustachioed Sh*t":
It was nice to see Mendez be taken down for something, even though it was also bittersweet on the heels of Daya's guilt over everything. I wish he had been caught for the drug smuggling and Miler's death instead of for being set up and a false fatherhood claim, but that's all they had to work with in order to get him out of the picture. I didn't like how Figueroa was spinning things to make herself look good. I was glad that Caputo got to fire him though. Piper and Alex's relationship history is interesting, but I would have preferred another inmate's back story instead. The flaming poop scene was funny and made me think of Billy Madison. The trick didn't work so well when Piper had her brother do it to Polly. Especially since Polly knew what it would be. I figured it was just a way to send a message, but still. It didn't seem to faze Polly too much. I don't get why Piper lied to Red about the store or what anyone would gain from that. I think I'd rather hear bad news from a friend than from someone I didn't like. Also, what is in the letter from Alex to Piper? I like the new group Pennsatucky and Healy are starting. I think it's a nice idea. I just wish more people were on board. Vee is still awful, and knowing what she did to Red last week makes things worse. I hate how she's using Crazy Eyes as her puppet and am actually disappointed that Crazy Eyes has become so mean as a result. I was appalled at her ruining Rosa's breakfast and horrified when she beat up Poussey. Vee also let Watson take the fall for the contraband. I'm glad that Nicky turned in the drugs [to Red] that Taystee gave her. Nicky also came through for Morello when Christopher confronted her. Even though we know what Morello did, it's still easy to feel mortified for her. I don't know why he couldn't just take out a stronger restraining order or get a better security system. Aside from all the drama, I love Sophia's new hairstyle. I felt bad for her that her son still won't talk to her. I also love that Yoga Jones suddenly supports Soso's hunger strike and her reasons for doing so.

Episode 11, "Take a Break from Your Values":
It was nice to finally learn Sister Ingalls' back story. I didn't see that coming because she always seems so reserved. The book was really funny though. I just thought she was getting too fanatical by the end about the hunger strike. While I can see where the prison doesn't want to bear responsibility if she gets sick from not eating, I also thought they violated her rights by force feeding her. It reminds me of how they made Soso shower against her will. Leanne and the other girl were being annoying with their food demands that had nothing to do with real issues at the prison. Maple syrup, really?!? The "Edward Pizzahands" was amusing though. I'm worried for Alex not being under witness protection. It's crazy that Kubra got off on a technicality after all the court craziness in episode one. It's interesting that Piper is getting transferred. Who is going with her and where will she go? Will we not see Litchfield next season?!? I'm glad Polly and Larry came clean to Polly's husband, even though Larry got punched as a result. I wonder what will come of this new relationship. I'm annoyed that Crazy Eyes showed up at Safe Place. I wonder if Poussey would have spoken up otherwise. I love how Poussey told off Vee and that led to Vee making her Taystee's "problem." I felt bad for Big Boo even though she was a rat. It was lame that Vee pushed her away like that, even though we should expect that from her by now. Who did the old woman kill at the end if it wasn't Vee? Did Vee know what was coming and set her up? I wonder what will happen between Daya and Bennett now. I'm so annoyed that the Pornstache situation made things ugly between them.

Episode 12, "It Was the Change":
Despite the fact that the living conditions due to the flood were completely inadequate, even for a prison, I thought the whole situation propelled the story along nicely. I liked the urgency and frequency of the calls from Caputo to Figueroa, while she's at her party. I'm glad that Piper found a way to get the papers that would get Figueroa in trouble once and for all. I'm surprised Caputo put her in the SHU if she was ultimately helping him. I also loved the twist with Figueroa catching her husband making out with another man. (His assistant, no less!) Having all the women in close quarters made new tensions rise and also made for interesting humor. The 90s music sing-along was funny. Leanne and her friend were annoying with getting high on nutmeg. The dialogue between Pennsatucky and Big Boo was hilarious, especially in light of Pennsatucky's conversation with Healy. I am still worried about Piper in regards to the transfer. It's also horrible that they are going to transfer Ruiz and that she won't get to see her baby. Speaking of babies, the conversation between Daya and Bennett was interesting. I hope he'll man up soon. I know whatever decision he makes will have its own set of consequences though. Such a predicament. (If I haven't mentioned this yet, Matt McGorry a.k.a. Bennett is now on my celebrity crush list.) I'm glad Vee excommunicated Taystee after Poussey ruined her stash. It shows Taystee Vee's true colors. I'm also glad she and Poussey made up. Vee's back story about getting RJ killed was so disturbing. It would be hard to watch episode two again and know that Vee was behind it all. There's no limit to her evil. I was hoping Red would just kill her and be done with it. I didn't trust Vee at all when she called a truce. I saw the greenhouse incident coming from a mile away. It was definitely a shocking end to the episode and made me want to watch the finale right away afterward.

Episode 13, "We Have Manners. We're Polite.":
First of all, I'm impressed that Red is still alive and kicking after what Vee did to her. She could have sustained a major brain injury. The most despicable thing of all is that Vee set up Crazy Eyes to take the blame. It broke my heart because Crazy Eyes was so devoted to her and didn't see this coming. And yet she somehow went along with it because she believed she was capable of such a thing. I'm so glad Healy finally listened to Red and found a way to cover for Crazy Eyes. Still, the moment where she's crying on the bed is just so sad. I'm glad Cindy and Watson came around to Taystee and Poussey's side. I love that Nicky is the one who stole the drugs. I didn't see that coming and was so pleased at what it brought about by Vee showing her remaining girls what she's really like.
I love how Red negotiated with Sister Ingalls to get her to eat. And then Caputo came in and made her eat again when he didn't realize that she already broke her "fast." It was funny how the one guard had to "babysit" the nuns and was singing these crazy songs he made up.
I loved everything about Caputo, especially how he got Figueroa to go down on him after he had already turned her in for embezzlement anyway. That was such a perfect moment when she was done and he told her it was out of his hands anyway. And it was so funny how he was only on the job for two days and everything was already going wrong, but he thought his biggest problem was Bennett finally confessing about Daya and the baby. I guess he has to lose his morals for the job after all! I love that he ended the transfer order so that Piper and Ruiz could stay at Litchfield.
Piper still makes things all about herself and I'm glad Nicky called her out on that. I'm still glad she's looking out for Alex's well-being, even if she has selfish motives. I'm glad Polly is at least helping her. Larry needs to get off his high horse. They're obviously even now so why is it his problem if Alex and Piper end up together now? I love that the probation officer is named Davy Crockett. It was scary when someone was trying to get into Alex's apartment, even if it was just the landlord. I guess this all means Alex will be back for season three? And here I thought she was going to be off the show altogether. I guess she loved it too much to leave!
Pennsatucky's short hair choice is interesting. It makes her look tougher. Leanne and the other girl were so mean about it though. Their little song was very immature. I'm glad Pennsatucky told Healy that the Safe Place was a good thing for her.
It sounds like Soso is more realistic about prison life now. I wonder what will come of her in season three. I want to hear her story, especially regarding the friend she always brings up.
I love how Morello was describing Toy Story. That was too funny. I'm glad she left the van keys for Rosa because they might as well have given her compassionate release anyway. It wasn't worth her staying in prison if she was just going to die soon anyway. I'm sad that she won't be back next season. All of this led up to the BEST ENDING EVER (aside from the season two season finale of The Mindy Project, of course). I love what Rosa said after she hit Vee and how she went riding off into the sunset feeling like her old self. And I love that they played "Don't Fear the Reaper" because all I could think was "more cowbell!"

All in all, season two was even better than season one! So many crazy twists and turns.

I just saw this article with some interesting background facts about the cast and characters. I am eagerly awaiting season three. It can't get here soon enough! Thankfully, I found a fun group on Facebook that likes to discuss OITNB all the time!

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Attempt at Fan Fiction

A while back, I read an awesome book called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (reviewed here). It's about a girl who writes fan fiction for a book series that is similar to "Harry Potter." It made me think about my favorite book series from when I was a kid and how it would be fun to write fan fiction for it. As you may remember, I was a huge fan of "The Babysitters Club" back in the day. I decided to write about the characters as adults in the 21st century. I just put a chapter up here and who knows where I'll go with it, but I had fun getting back into the heads of characters I felt so close with at one point.


I finally have a few minutes free from calls and meetings to take a lunch break. Business at Nanny Corp is still moving along at an amazing pace, which is nothing to complain about, but it means I rarely get more than a few minutes to myself. Of course, the moment I sit back waiting to devour my leftover chicken lo mein in peace, my cell phone starts buzzing. Stacey’s picture pops up on the screen.
“Yo, McGill, what’s up?”
“Kristy! You actually answered your phone. When was the last time we talked? Three months ago?”
“Ha ha ha. So FUNny!”
“Okay, so are you free at eight tonight? I’m trying to get the local girls together for dinner and drinks. I have something to celebrate!”
“What is it?”
“You’ll see. I want to share the news with everyone at once. Can you meet me at 21 West?”
“Let me check my calendar.” I quickly glance at my Outlook calendar, but of course I don’t have anything booked for the first time in weeks. “Yeah. I should be able to get there. Is Mary Anne coming?”
“I think she’s having Jodie babysit again. She’s almost 14, if you can believe that!”
“We’ve known her since I started a sub-agency of the club to find people to babysit for her after she was born.”
“Right. And get this. Dawn is in town for a photo shoot. It will be so great to have her there too!”
“So we’re only missing Claudia then, huh?” Claudia has been working in Paris as an artist and rarely ever gets back to the states these days. “I’m sure Mallory will be available if you can tear her away from Biggest Loser or whatever reality show she’s watching tonight.”
“I’ll give her a ring.” Stacey giggles nervously then. “Okay, I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing.”
“Sounds good. See ya later.”
After hanging up, I silence my phone and tell Amanda, my assistant, to take messages until I say otherwise. Yes, I have an assistant. I still have to pinch myself every day to believe this much about my career. Nanny Corp stemmed from the BSC after college and has taken off since then.  It’s going so well here that I could probably retire and it would run on its own without flaws. Then again, I thrive on being busy. It beats going home to an empty apartment and allows me to not focus on the fact that I haven’t dated since the worst breakup ever.

After lunch, the rest of the day moves at a quick pace again and before I know it, it’s a quarter after seven. I wrap things up and then walk 15 blocks to 21 West. The early October brisk air is invigorating after being stuck behind a desk all day. I also figure that if I get there early, I can catch up with Mary Anne before everyone else shows up. And as I see her getting out of the subway station, I thank myself for leaving the office when I did. She spots me and runs over, wrapping me in her embrace.
“So great to see you, Kristy! It’s been a horrible week. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house when it’s not for groceries or doctor appointments. Tanya is a spit-up machine. And Logan rarely ever gets home before ten, if he comes home at all.”
“We are definitely getting you a drink then. At least you have an instant babysitter these days. I don’t know how you’d manage five kids on your own otherwise.”
“Yeah. Jodie loves being the responsible big sister now. And now that she’ll get allowance for it, she is even more eager for me to leave the house. I’m hoping this will become a trend.”
“She could start her own BSC,” I say wistfully.  
As we approach the restaurant, Mary Anne blurts out “I think Logan’s cheating on me.”
“Mary Anne, sweetie. Logan would never cheat on you. He’s crazy about you.”
“When was the last time you saw us together? I mean, seriously? He is rarely home, and when he is, he doesn’t even look at me. I think he even screens my calls too.”
“Maybe it’s something else. Maybe something’s going on at work? Isn’t he an investment banker? I heard there have been a lot of layoffs in the field.”
“I wouldn’t know. He doesn’t tell me anything anymore.”
“Okay, we’re definitely getting you a drink and then we’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“Hey guys!” Mallory greets us at the door. Apparently, Stacey’s news trumped reality TV this time. “Stacey got us a table upstairs.  She sent me down here to look for you. Dawn is already here too.”
Mary Anne lets out a little squeal. “Dawn’s here?!? Awesome!” She races up the stairs.
Mallory and I walk up slowly so I can fill her in on what Mary Anne told me.  I’m not a gossip, but we all still look out for each other and I’m secretly hoping Mallory can do a little spy work. Maybe it will keep her from being glued to the TV all the time.
When we get to our table, Stacey and Dawn hug me before we all sit down.
“Dawn, when were you going to tell us you were in town? This is such a great surprise!”
“I only found out yesterday and was busy preparing for cross-country travel. I love living in L.A. again, but I miss it here sometimes. I’m back for a few days, but then have to head to Vermont after this for another shoot. Evan usually does the east coast, but he broke his leg last week.”
Dawn is a photographer for a travel magazine, but she normally focuses on the west coast. Even though I feel bad for Evan, I’m secretly glad she has an excuse to come out by us. I don’t know when I’m ever going to get to L.A.
“So, Kristy, how is the business going?” Dawn turns everyone’s attention to me.
“It’s going really well. I could probably hire someone else on now just so I could get a little break. Anyone interested?” I ask cheekily, winking at Mary Anne.
“Oh, I would if I could work from home,” Mary Anne chimes in.
“Can’t you get a daytime sitter, even to work part-time? You’d be so great at this and we could be partners again.”
“I wish it were that easy. If Logan’s job is in trouble, like you think, then it might not be a possibility.”
“Maybe he could be Mr. Mom for a while, like that Lonestar song?”
“He’s still a dad, even if he doesn’t work.”
“Sorry. Anyway, what’s up with you, McGill? What are we all celebrating? Did you finally get a starring role on Broadway?”
Stacey went to a fine arts school after graduating from Stoneybrook High and gets bit parts in off-Broadway shows, but nothing to make a living from. She’s a server at Hal’s Diner on West 84th when she’s not performing.
“Um, no. This is better. I met ‘The One.’ Mary Anne, do you remember Toby from when we went to that Sea City trip with the Pikes? Alex’s friend? Well, we never stayed in touch after that trip, like, 30 years ago. However, he came into Hal’s when I was working one of my shifts. It took a while for us to figure out how we knew each other, but when it clicked, it was just one of those perfect moments. We’ve been going out every spare moment I have available.”
“And you tease me for not being around?”
“Oh whatever. I would have told you about him weeks ago if you actually answered your cell. Anyway, we went to the Poconos this past weekend and he said he didn’t want to waste any more time not being together and got down on his knee right in front of everyone at dinner.” Stacey puts her left hand on the table, showing a huge, sparkling diamond.
“STACEY! That’s amazing! Congrats!” The girls got up and hugged Stacey while they all jumped around and screamed. It’s good there weren’t many other people dining up here. When they finally sat back down, I reached out for a fist bump.
“Great news, Stacey.”
“Is something wrong, Kristy?”
“No. How long have you been dating anyway?”
“A few weeks? I lost track of time. We practically live together now.”
“Why rush into a marriage then?”
“What is your problem, Kristy? Let’s get this out now, while we’re all here. Am I not allowed to be happy with someone?”
“Never said that.”
“Then what? Are you jealous because you haven’t been in a relationship in almost eight years?”
“Ha! Like I even have time for a relationship. If I wanted to be in one, I totally could.”
“Just because Patrick broke up with you by kissing another girl on the ‘Kiss Cam’ at the Yankees’ game while you were there with us, just a few rows in front of him….”
“They caught my mortification on the video too, you know.”
“Still, it was EIGHT YEARS AGO! You two only dated for half a year anyway.”
“Let’s forget it. I’m happy for you Stacey. Really, I am. I just don’t want you to rush into something and potentially get hurt.”
“I know what I’m doing. Thanks though. Chardonnay, anyone?”
“Does Claudia know?”
“I haven’t told her yet, but I’m going to call her tomorrow. At least she’ll be excited for me.”
“Whatever. I’m tired and need to get some more research done before tomorrow’s meeting.” I toss a few 50 dollar bills on the table. Dinner’s on me in honor of your special news.”
“Gee, thanks. Call me when you’re not too busy.”
“Will do.” I hug the other girls. “Mal, can you make sure Mary Anne gets to the subway safely?”
“Sure thing!”
“Dawn, let’s do lunch before you leave. We need to catch up more!”
“I have a really tight shooting schedule, but I’ll call if my schedule opens up.” Dawn doesn’t look too happy about the tension between Stacey and me.

I head out of the restaurant, and it feels like the temperature dropped 30 degrees. I wrap my jacket tighter across my chest and walk the five blocks to my apartment, wondering why I’m really so bothered by Stacey’s good news. 

Just for fun, I decided to cast everyone as adults:
Kristy: Rashida Jones
Stacey: Rachel McAdams
Mary Anne: Elizabeth Reaser
Dawn: Piper Perabo
Mallory: Natasha Lyonne

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Something old, something new....

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week I chose the topic: Make new friends, but keep the old....Tell us about your most recent friendship (online or in person) AND your longest friendship.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

I first need to point out that when I thought of this topic a few weeks ago, my newest friendship (online, of course) was with a girl with whom I connected on Twitter, shortly before attending Book Expo America. She was mentioning that she liked some of the same books as me, so I decided to connect with her via e-mail. We've been having fun chatting about books, children, and other things.

However, when it was time to share this topic with my group, another friend ended up in the "newest friend" spot. Her name is Jennifer and we connected because some other friends of mine were sharing her book giveaways on Facebook. I had to see who was behind such great chick lit giveaways and when I went to her page, I saw that she lives in the DC area. A woman after my own heart who doesn't live all that far from me. I sent her a message right away and got such a friendly response. I've been sharing her giveaways with people who visit my book blog page and she sent us so many fans that we finally reached 2000 "likes!" I also found out that we're pretty close in age (even though I thought she was in her late 20s when we first connected). And to top it off, she's also an Orange is the New Black fan! Her enthusiasm for chick lit matches and possibly surpasses mine. Also, within a week of connecting with her, she sent me a gift. It's a beautiful silver jewelry box with my first initial on it!

She's just really kind and generous and everyone who knows her personally seems to love her. I hope we can meet up in person soon, as I think we'll have more time to actually talk vs. shooting quick e-mails back and forth throughout the day (mostly consisting of smiley faces and thumbs up symbols). Her presence in my life has definitely had a positive impact though. I find myself in a better mood as a result of e-mailing with her. She even sent me the sweetest message right before I started my weekend, this past Friday. 

If you'd like to meet Jennifer, or even just participate in her cool book and swag giveaways, send her a friend request! You can also follow her on Twitter

Now onto my longest friendship. While I would love to say that it's with my BFF, we both know this is not the case. I met my first friend, Robin, shortly after I was born, as our parents met in Lamaze class. Since then, our families would get together all the time and go on vacations to Florida every winter. We even have sisters who are close in age. (Our maternal grandmothers were also friends.) We grew up liking all the same TV shows and books and finding all sorts of random things to be really humorous. When we were in college, our lives seemed to be going in different directions. However, we started to connect more before junior year. I'm thankful for that because she got into a terrible car accident right after school started back up. Someone rescued her, but she had a long road ahead. I think it affected what she wanted to do in the future. She studied and took classes online while she was recovering and still went on to graduate before me and get a job in the field in which she wanted to start her career. I know she still loves what she does. As adults, we got married about six months apart and then had both of our sons around the same time. While we didn't stand up in each other's weddings, it was still emotional to see her walk down the aisle. Our moms helped each other with our bridal showers too. And I still remember when we first were telling each other we were pregnant and said it at the same time! (Our parents were out together at a different place and were waiting for us to share the news with each other. They already knew that we'd both be finding out that day.)

Although I don't see her often, since we live so far apart, it's still a treat when we do get together. We saw each other the last time I was in town and had a nice time catching up. Our kids played so well together too! It was like no time had been lost. I'm also friends with her sister, and she's friends with my sister. I need to stay in touch with her better, but I know that even when I'm bad at doing so, our friendship is still intact. 

Sometime within our first year.

On one of our Florida trips

At Robin's Sweet 16

With our younger sons in 2008