October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!!

We are home.

I'll be posting pictures slowly with little anecdotes from our trip.

Mayfair Hotel So. Let's get started.

We arrived in Kingston on October 18th during a torrential down pour. We were informed while on line for immigration that our Yoga retreat was inaccessible due to land slides but they had made alternate arrangements for us at the Mayfair Hotel. We got a cab and drove over the broken down and partially flooded road to get to downtown Kingston. When we got to the front desk, no one at the Mayfair knew anything about our arrangements but after about an hour or so, we worked everything out and we were shown to our room. This was probably the lowest point of our trip because when we walked into the dimly lit and dank little room my heart sank. The room was run down.

There were two beds that we eventually pushed together.

There were stains on the floor and the air conditioner looked to be about 30 years old.
Stained Floor MayfairAC Mayfair

There was an amazing view beyond the hotel pool which made the room seem a little bit nicer. We got our first real glimpse of the lush Jamaican vegetation from here.
Mayfair Pool

Jon's spirits were a little higher than mine so he went out for a walk, to check out the immediate area. He took this amazing shot of Devon House which was built by the first ever black tycoon in Jamaica. And according to people who live in the area has the best ice cream on the island. You can get an idea of just how bad the weather was from this shot.
Devon House

On his walk he photographed some GREAT signs and captured a glimpse of how truly bad the roads are in Jamaica.
Coconut Board
Coconut Ad
Kingston Road

That night, we didn't really have anything to do, so we went downstairs to the almost pitch black hotel bar and had a couple of drinks.

Valerie BlackwellJon Blackwell
You can see how utterly thrilled I am to be caught in the storm. Jon as usual fared better than me - he is generally a happy person. My husband changed our travel arrangements and we headed over to our first resort two days earlier than originally planned.

October 30, 2005

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The booze cruise was fun. We sat at the front of the catamaran and I laid on my back and watched the sky as the crew took our "vessel" out onto the open sea. We talked to an engaging couple. He was a marine biologist and she was a resident at a hospital in Kingston (and by resident I mean studying to be a doctor). While were talking to Dane and his wife Dr. Tandy, we saw a rainbow which seems to be an every day occurence down here. Toward the end of the trip, we dropped anchor in this little cove with warm, clear turquoise water where we were supposed to swim around a little bit.

I was hesitant at first because salt water aggravates heat rash. When I looked out into the water and saw the other guests swimming, it looked like the final scene from Titanic. But then I saw that Jon was having such a nice time and Dr. Tandy encouraged me to come in saying that it wouldn't bother my rash - much- so I joined the shipwreck survivors and floated around the cove with a yellow foamy thing around my waist.

It was a nice outing.

Today. Today. Today. We are coming home today. We will be travelling for a long time. We are leaving our hotel at 1:15 for a 6:15 flight. Originally we were going to leave at 2:15 but the taxi company moved it back to allow more time for bad weather and roads. If you look at the map below you can see that Jamaica is adrift in a soup of bad of weather. We are that little blip of an island under the eastern end of Cuba covered by the Weather Channel logo. Yes. We are going to be flying in and out of those gathering storms and into the beautiful weather expected today in NYC. Our flight comes in later tonight.


I figure it's only fair to give the mosquitoes here a rest. If I stayed any longer I would probably exhaust the entire mosquito population as every night they have feasted on me since we've been in Ocho Rios. I woke up with 3 new bites this morning - and yes. I was wearing bug repellent. I just couldn't reapply it while I was sleeping.

Once home, I'll be able to upload my pictures and show you some of the fun we've been having.

This is the Misanthrope, signing off for now.

October 29, 2005

Still Here

Yesterday Jon and I went on a shopping trip to the Taj Majal shopping center in Ocho Rios. The shopping center had about 6 jewelry stores and 8 shops that sold T-shirts, postcards, shot glasses and other knick knacks. We bought T-shirts, postcards, shot glasses and other knick knacks.

In the afternoon, we visited Noel Coward's Firefly - the former home of the bon vivant playwright, painter, lyricist, etcetera. You would not believe the view this guy had. When he passed away, he gave the property to his companion who then turned the property over to the government which then let it fall into a complete state of disrepair while simultaneously maintaining the beautiful gardens.

Last night we had dinner at the French restaurant in the resort.

Today, we walked up Dunn's River Falls. Our guide smelled like alcohol so I was a little nervous about making it up the 945 foot climb but somehow we survived it. I was focusing so hard on not slipping that some of the romance may have been lost on me. That is not an easy climb. You are climbing against rapids up slippery rocks. But from time to time you get to rest in a calm pool of cool water and you can take in the beautiful surroundings.

I was pretty wiped out when we were done.

Unfortunately, I had to back off of fun in the sun activities due to my rash but last this afternoon Jon and I are going on a - you may want to sit down for this - a booze cruise on the resort's catamaran with about 40 other people.

Of course, the ever present storm clouds are looming on the horizon so we'll see what happens in the hour or so before we're scheduled to leave.

October 28, 2005

Green Flag At Last

Today at Couples Ocho Rios they flew the green flag indicating that all water activities were a go.

After our great nature walk led by the head garderner of the resort, we received our fantastic couple's massage in a private little house they have set up on the property which you could probably rent for about $1000 a day and we signed up for snorkeling at 3pm. We basically spent the day putzing around the resort. We took out a kayak. We played in the ocean. We played in the pool. We played ping pong and then we went out for our snorkle.

The boat took us out in spite of the fact that an enormous storm was moving in. Jon and I both went into the water at the same time but I had to get out almost immediately. The water was rough, visibility limited and I kept looking at those huge storm clouds looming in the distance. After 10 minutes, I asked the boat operator to help me back in the boat and I sat there and watched the storm move in. Within half an hour it started to rain, Jon came back into the boat and then it started to pour. By the time we reached the dock it was raining really hard.

Soaking wet we returned to our rooms, washed up, dried off and played a game of Scrabble.

We had dinner, played some more ping pong and then turned to the piano bar for further entertainment where Jon is now, singing No Woman No Crime at the Kareoke sing along. He also performed a great rendition of Brandy. I was quite proud of him. I couldn't stay for No Woman because I just don't like that song. I know it's not very supportive of me but hey. I'm still me - right?

Did I mention I've had a delicious case of prickly heat across my chest since Sunday? I've been treating it wrong by putting Zinc Oxide on it. I also had this foolish belief that the salty ocean water would heal my skin. Turns out both of the above increase the itching and redness (at this moment it feels like my skin is ON FIRE). So tomorrow on our shopping trip to Ocho Rios proper, I'll be picking up some other remedies to see if I can get rid of this rash once and for all.

October 27, 2005

Another Go at Horseback Riding

I'm not going to complain about the weather in Jamaica because the weather in New York is cold and miserable and my friends wouldn't appreciate that. With that said, there has been a red flag waving everyday we've been here indicating that all FUN WATER activities that take place at Jamaican resorts are cancelled. The water is not and has not been safe.

Such was the case AGAIN yesterday. We went horseback riding again. This time as part of our all-inclusive deal with the resort. We went to Pineapple Stables in the White River Valley high up into the surrounding Jamaican mountains. TRIBUTARY TO A RIVER: This was yet ANOTHER challenging taxi ride as the mountain roads have been reduced to rocks and dirt due to the torrential rains that seem to plague this country. Our driver was making hairpin turns on a one-lane two-way road which had mountain on one side and 300 foot drops on the other. While it was beautiful, I don't think there was one person in our van that wasn't struck silent by the sight of an oncoming semi with full load attached. Somehow, the drivers made it work. We both fit. This didn't happen only once.

Anyway once we got to the stable all was good. This stable provided better instruction and I think I learned more on our one hour ride up to the top of a mountain. This time our horses had better names. Jon's horse was named BRAVE DANCER and mine was named ONE DROP. When my instructor/tour guide (Jeremy) told me my horse's name was ONE DROP I asked "Why? Because he's only dropped one person?" Jeremy laughed and pointed out that one of my horse's ears dropped lower than the other and sat a little crooked on his big head.

Starting out, One Drop gave me the same problem as "SCREWFACE" by stopping and eating and stopping and eating but I was really mean to the horse (as instructed by my instructor) not letting the horse's head drop (which was very difficult) and I could feel the horse's strong will slipping as he gave me the respect I was earning by being so mean. Of course, I wasn't really being mean. I was just disciplining the horse and letting the horse know that someone decisive was on his back.

I felt a little more successful as a horse back rider. Jeremy gave me good and consistent critiquing which helped improve my form and increase my confidence. Of course the views were spectacular and I actually learned the name of some really beautiful tropical plants I've never before seen. Like the FLAME OF THE FOREST. This a beautiful and incredibly tall tree with beautiful orange flowers on the top. I also learned about the Wild Pine which is a small plant that grows on the top branches of very, very large trees. Its purpose - catching and providing rain water for the birds and small creatures that live in the canopy.

Today Jon and I are getting massages in the morning, going shopping in town around 4:30 and in between who knows? Perhaps we'll get lucky and water activities will be offered and we'll finally be able to go on the ever elusive snorkeling outing.

October 26, 2005

Still Here

Rhodes Hall Plantation
Here is something I forgot to tell you about horseback riding at Rhodes Hall Plantation. We rode the van over there with another couple named Brenton and Elaine from Oregon. Both were lovely and had had previous experience riding horses. Their horses were named Splinter and Silver. Jon and I adversely have little to no experience riding horses and we had a pair named Fireboy and Screwface. Go figure.

Getting from Negril to Ocho Rios took some doing. Normally a driver will take people from Negril to the Montego Bay airport via the coastal road. This takes about an hour and a half. Because of rain, however, there was extensive flooding on the coastal road making parts impassable. So, our driver took Jon and I (plus a van full of incredibly happy, loud, and chatty vacationers) via the mountain route which took 2 and a half hours - 9:30 to 12. The mountain route was beautiful but we were sitting in the back of that van FOREVER. Parts of the road we travelled were incredibly flooded. Parts of the road we travelled were narrow hairpin turns that overlooked 50 foot drops. All of the road we travelled were incredibly wet. The road leading in and out of the airport - flooded.

Add to this equation my dislike for Reggae music because for the entire ride, the driver played Reggae-fied versions of American Top 40 hits. That was absolute torture.

Well...at Montego Bay we transferred to the van that was taking us to Couples. That was another very long ride with flooded roads and roads under construction. The difference was that Jon and I were the only two in the van, the driver was interesting and he LOVED Air Supply and other cheesy American music. He didn't play one second of Reggae.

Our Driver
He became most animated and passionate when we brought up the country's infrastructure (flooded roads) and Jamaica's leader P.J. Patterson who is nicknamed, as our driver informed us, CHI CHI MAN which is a derogatory term used here to describe gay men. He told us that PJ Patterson is completely corrupt and in spite of raising taxes to an incredible 65% has done little to nothing to improve the quality of life for his constituents.

We also learned about his VEHEMENT views on people addicted to drugs. A musical discussion led to Marvin Gaye's disgracing his family by using drugs - our driver sided with Marvin Gaye's father and said that he would kill his own child should she become addicted to drugs (I know that's harsh but keep reading). So Jon mentioned that he heard HANGING was coming back as a form of capital punishment and asked what he thought. I think Jon and I were both expecting him to say that hanging was too severe and that perhaps the Goverment should reconsider. Instead, he told us that drug addicts should be incinerated - ALIVE.

We were in the middle of an intense discussion on the vocal talents of AIR SUPPLY by the time (3:00) we pulled into our resort which of course is just fantastic. Having been here only half a day, we've already been to the beach, the Jacuzzi and an elegant restaurant offering continental cuisine. We're signed up for Horseback riding this morning - which I plan to do everyday if the resort allows it and who knows what else. This place has a bajillion activities avaible including our free couple's honeymoon massage.

October 23, 2005

Rhodes Hall Plantation

This morning we went horseback riding at Rhodes Hall Plantation. This was my first long ride on a horse - about 2 hours to be inexact. It was amazing. We rode up a hill and looked down on Negril. Just gorgeous. My horse kept stopping to eat grass on the side of the trail and no matter how hard I would try, I could not get that head up to get the horse to continue. At some point, as we made our way down from the highest peak, our tour guide had to grab the reins of my horse - affectionately named Screwface - to get me down. After that, I was able to regain control and Screwface and I got along a little better. My butt sure did hurt by the end of the ride.

Jon rode a horse named Fireboy with the skill of William Shatner in the Star Trek movie with the Next Generation crew. In other words, he was very good - a natural. He had no trouble controlling his horse but considering I'd never been riding before, I think I did okay.

Now, we're back at the resort and really warm so we're going to hit the pool for a little while. Still enjoying ourselves - still in that honeymoon frame of mind.

Nudge, nudge - wink, wink.

October 22, 2005

Saturday in Jamaica.

Well. We are having a wonderful time. Fun and sun and all that.

Yesterday morning, Jon and I went into downtown Negril to do a little shopping and get our laundry done. At the hotel it would have cost us upwards to $75.00. In town, it was about $10. While there we had some authentic Jamaican food in the form of Curried Goat. Jon drank a Red Stripe beer, while I had pineapple juice with ginger. The meal was delicious.

Yesterday afternoon, Jon participated in a water polo tournament - guests vs. staff. Guess who won. That's right - the staff let the guests win. I watched like the supportive wife than I am but only for the first 45 minutes.

This morning, Jon and I participated in a Bacci tournament on the beach. Jon's team won. Then we sat in the jacuzzi. We're about to play ping pong poolside. and tomorrow we'll probably go on a tour of the Jamaican rain forest canopy.

HONEYMOONS ROCK!!! I recommend them highly.

October 20, 2005

A Break From The Rain

Whatever i said about rain during our honeymoon - just forget about it.

This morning we woke up to sunny skies but a choppy ocean.

The resort isn't willing to risk people's lives in the angry brine but tomorrow we're taking a scuba lesson at 2:30 in the afternoon.

We laid poolside until 11:30 when I started to feel my freckles baking. We each got massages at 1 and I received a manicure after that. My deep tissue massage was the best yet. My wedding manicure just didn't last so I had my nails done too.

It's about 4pm on Thursday afternoon. I just ate the Jamaican breakfast of Acki and Saltfish (codfish) for lunch. The sun is just beaming. It's easily 85 degrees with about 79% humidity - way better than 100% humidity.

I am so happy the clouds cleared up. Sadly clear skies for us means that Wilma - which is so big it has two eyes - is moving up to the Gulf and then in and around the Redneck Riviera. I'm hoping that Cuba, Mexica and the southern states of the US don't experience too much damage.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I just got my own key to the room, enabling Jon and I to break our hiplock long enough to experience the resort in our own unique ways.

Hope your having a good day.

October 19, 2005

Category 5 - Wilma

After spending a hectic day, cleaning up, packing, reorganizing and saying goodbye to our house guest Mark, Jon and I left bright and early Tuesday morning for our final wedding destination, Jamaica. We flew into Kingston while the outer bands of Wilma continued its pummeling of the entire island. So bad is the storm that Kingston closed schools today.

We were scheduled to stay at the Starlight Chalet - a yoga retreat in the Blue Mountains but alas, landslides prevented any chance of that happening. Starlight was gracious enough to put us up at the Mayfair Hotel in Kingston. Let me put it this way. The quality of the hotel was nothing compared to the hospitality of the staff. What I'm saying is - this was not a great hotel but it kept us warm and safe for the night. But the woman at the front desk was so helpful, I wrote her a warm thank you note and gave her the bottle of wine given to us by the Starlight Chalet - which they gave to us with apologies. We spent the night warm and dry in our clean but sparse room listening to the worst rainstorm I've ever heard in my life.

One weird thing about yesterday and last night were the barking dogs. Apparently the dogs that live in houses near the Mayfair Hotel have a complicated system of communicating. One dog barking started several different and musically barked conversations throughout the wet night.

Jon spent the morning changing our arrangements. Instead of flying out on Friday to Montego Bay for our second destination Riu ClubHotel Negril, we flew out today. What a difference a couple of hundred dollars a night makes. This place is an unbelievable sprawling playground of indulgences. I'll try to get some pictures up in the next day or so - but computer time is precious at $18US/hr.

So - if you were concerned because of the news you've read or heard, know this. Jon and I are not only safe and sound but we are also in a luxurious resort with all-inclusive services.

We are spoiling ourselves rotten and don't we deserve it?

Yes. I think so too because from what we see - it's not going to stop raining the entire time we are in Jamaica.

October 17, 2005

The Misanthrope Got Married

We did it. We are now Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Blackwell.
Thank you to all our friends and family who joined in the celebration of our happy occassion.

For those of you who haven't had a wedding and are thinking about it, I would say that the size of the celebration should depend on your personality. We had a relatively small reception because we wanted to talk to our guests. So that worked out well.

A few married women advised me to not worry about talking to people and try to enjoy my wedding. I really tried to talk to as many people as I could because somehow that allowed me in a weird way to be out of the spotlight. Yet somehow I kept finding myself on the dance floor at the center of some sort of wedding activity. I enjoy talking to people, and how often is it that you get family and friends together in one place for the opportunity to celebrate and catch up with them? Not wanting to be the focus of attention helped me really listen to the people I was talking to because I didn't have to think about myself -- which I've been doing in spades lately.

I am not a TRUE misanthrope but I also don't like to be the recipient of a lot of attention.

This is a dilemma for a bride who is the main focus of most weddings. I didn't think this was a problem for a lot of brides. Turns out that once again, I am not unique. The bridal attendant at the temple (who was an absolute genius of accommodation, from massaging my shoulders to reapplying my lipstick to helping me use the toilet) assured me that a lot of brides feel that way.

It's overwhelming for a lot of people. It's less about being the center of attention and more about trying to cope with all the love and affection that bombards you because of the nature of the occasion. You just have to take it in small doses. I made several trips during the beginning of the reception to the bridal chamber just for that reason -- but as the afternoon wore on, I started to enjoy myself a little bit more.

There was also the realization that once yesterday was over, that was it -- so I readjusted my perspective and was somehow able to absorb the good feelings without becoming more overwhelmed.

For those of you who don't know, it's a Jewish tradition for the bride and groom to be left alone for 15 minutes after the ceremony. The tradition is old and allows time for the presumably virginal bride and groom to consummate their relations. During our 15 minutes alone, we CONSUMED the food the bridal attendant laid out for us. It was a good 15 minutes. We ate and took pictures of each other (or rather Jon took pictures of me) and took a little bit of a break from the intensity of the CEREMONY. Jewish wedding ceremonies are pretty moving -- even more so when you are the one getting married.

Here are some pictures.
The Reflection of NewlywedsA Silly Pose

The other mystery that needed solving for a few of our guests was what happened to my train. My wedding dress had a long and beautiful train. Part of what happens in the bridal chamber is that the bridal attendant and in some cases the maid of honor (and in my case both) arrange your train into a series of gathers that hang from your butt. They do this by folding the dress and then buttoning it. The people who tailor your wedding dress attach buttons and loops that make the bustling process possible. Here is a great picture taken by Jon that shows this process.


I held it together well enough, until I heard Jon saying his vows in Hebrew. When the cantor asked me to say my vows in Hebrew, I had to do it between sobs. I didn't realize that those words would be so meaningful because for a long time they were just words the cantor wrote in a note to us. But yesterday -- well, if I already told you I was sobbing then you must know how moving everything all was in the end.

The absolute highlight of yesterday was marching into the sanctuary, hanging onto the arms of my parents, seeing all of the faces (hokey moment coming up) of the people who know us and love us waiting for me, to look at me, to wish me well -- that is an overwhelming moment. So overwhelming, in fact, I had to look down at the floor. Any eye contact at all with any of the individuals looking at me with such love, adoration and intensity would have further reduced me to tears. I had to pace my crying; otherwise, I would not have made it through the day. As you know, crying takes a lot of energy.

There are so many nice things that happened it's impossible to relay them all.

Just know that Jon and I had a wonderful time. We are thankful to everyone for coming out on such a beautiful day for our beautiful occasion, particularly those who traveled over great stretches of land and sea to join us. We are especially thankful to the friends and family who stood up for us and participated in both the signing of our Katubah and the signing of our marriage license. Thank you to the Best Man and the Maid of Honor for their warm and moving toasts. Thank you to my Maid of Honor for being the absolute be-all and end-all of Maids of Honor (I'm going to hire her out). Thank you to our parents for supporting us both and being so accepting of your new son-in-law and daughter-in-law.

October 15, 2005


Last night, Mark, our house guest treated us to an evening at the opera. The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center to be exact. For Jon and I it was a novel experience as neither of us had ever attended an opera. We watched the premier of Aida - which is a very good opera to start with. Everything about the opera was fantastic. From the divas to the costumes to the sets to the orchestra to the five horses marched across the stage in the second act when Ramasades returns victorious from his Ethiopian Conquest. It was just beautiful. Last night's experience topped every other cultural experience I've ever had - with the exception of seeing the ballet Giselle performed at Lincoln Center.

You can read about AIDA here. It's a beautiful and tragic love story - classic really - including a love triangle and the tragic death of the lovers in the end.

Today is the day before my wedding. The weather has finally cleared up making this final day of preparations an absolute breeze. I'm at my cousin's house right now. She's my maid of honor. We just got our nails done. I went with the traditional French manicure with toes to match.

We're basically regrouping right now. We're gathering the things that my cousin needs for tonight before we go out to run our final errands.

Next stop is the hotel where we're having a rehearsal dinner and where Jon and I and several of our guests are staying tonight.

Don't worry. Jon and are sleeping in separate rooms tonight. So if you hold on to any old superstitions about such things you can rest easy.

After tonight, the next time Jon sees me, I'll be in my complete wedding attire.

Wish us luck.

October 14, 2005

Flying High Now

Jon and I sludged through the rain yesterday running our final wedding errands.

Fortunoff's is the greatest place in the world. Our sales guy was great. He pointed us exactly where we needed to go and actually offered us help, service and information.

All my bridesmaids have their dresses.

All the professionals we are using know their schedules and we are ready.

In the end we'll be 85 in toto.

Not bad, I'd say.

Today, I'm training out to Long Island to do some shopping with my mother. I still need an outfit for rehearsal dinner.

This morning, Jon and I are packing for our trip.

Tonight, we are going to the opera. We are having a good life.

As of tomorrow I will be incommunicado. You will not see me again until after my honey moon.

October 12, 2005

The Day Is Over

My work day ended at 6:10pm.

My co-workers gave me a beautiful card, picked out my boss who later surprised me with a nice gift.

Earlier in the day, another of my co-workers - who is fast becoming a good friend - surprised me not with a gift but a beautiful sentiment. She told me she considers me the kind of friend that feels like a sister. I was taken aback by that and really, really flattered.

I was lonely for a long time - a very long time in fact.

In the last few years, things have been going very well and now I'm not lonely anymore. And although I remember being lonely, I can no longer remember the feeling of being lonely.

Funny. Isn't it?

I am lucky.

Last Day of Work

Okay. So I don't know if you heard or not, but I'm getting married in four days.

Today is my last day of work until the beginning of November. As of this evening, I'm in full 100% wedding mode.

My distraction level is very high. I've got a good size pile of work to get through to tie up the loose ends of open projects.

Like right now, I should be at my other computer (the MAC) working on some copy but I'm way too excited.

Tell me. What would you do?

October 11, 2005

5 days and counting

It's hard to believe that we're so close to our wedding date. In five days Jon and I will be married. Everything is ready. All the preparations are made.

Yesterday, I took advantage of my day off from work to get a pedicure/manicure and one of the more painful waxings I've had in some time. It was so painful that my body started producing endorphins making me feel a little bit high. But I'm smooth from the tops of my hips to the tips of my toes. And that will be good for sun bathing. For the first time ever, I removed hair from my thighs. In all my life, I've never shaved them, used depilatory on them or had them waxed. Yesterday was an important day in the life of my thighs and I'm so happy to be able to share this experience with all of you.

My manicure and pedicure look great. I'm going to the salon again on Saturday for a French manicure/pedicure for the wedding. My cousin is taking me to a nice place on Long Island.

Tonight, I'm taking our guest to the Tuesday Night Trivia at the Baggott Inn.

Maybe we'll see you there.

October 09, 2005

Our Guest Arrived

Our friend is here at last. We are so happy to see him. This is the friend we stayed with in London. He arrived on time, in one piece and very cheerful for someone who just taken an early morning flight. It was a busy day. My brother and sister-in-law solved the problem of the sleeping arrangements for our friend by bringing over a nice queen-sized aerobed. They came over with my nephew who is at least one head taller than the last time I saw him and his personality is developing nicely. Today, my nephew introduced me to Laurie Berkner - a new sensation in the area of child music - and probably someone I'll never encounter again - by choice. I didn't enjoy her music although he thought it was wonderful. I found her perkiness and cheerfulness generally grating. But who know? Maybe one day, I'll know all the words to her song because our child thinks she's the cat's pajamas.

When Mark arrived we had a wonderful lunch of meatloaf and sauteed peas. Yes. I am boasting about my cooking but the meatloaf turned out very good and how do you mess up peas. They are always good.

For dinner, we went with a light meal of chicken soup which I prepared last evening just for the occassion of Mark's first night here.

Tomorrow, Jon and Mark are going on a nice long bike ride somewhere in Jersey. While they are gone, I'll be taking care of some girly things - like getting presents for the bridesmaids and the ushers, going to the nail salon for some non-specific grooming and preparing a stuffed basil chicken to die for.

I love entertaining.

On a more wedding note - I just spoke with the mother of the flower girl. They got her the cutest dress in a color that matches my gown and it's covered with rose petals that match the color of the bridesmaid dresses. How perfect is that? It's pretty perfect.

She's going to look really cute. I spoke with the six year old flower girl who was vey excited when she described her dress and she's so happy about being a flower girl.

October 08, 2005

Psychic Tarot Card

The Anonymous Blogger posted an angry letter today to a psychic that gave him bad information. This reminded me of a time in my life when I was lonely, sad and vulnerable to the charlatans that claim they can help you solve all of your problems with a simple cure.

There was one who really got to me when I was in my early 20's. I was so naive, I believed everything she told me.

It started with an initial reading. She was able to read my life in the cards. She figured out that I was unhappy, lonely and lacking direction. At the time, I had just graduated college and moved in with a girlfriend into a cheap apartment on the upper east side - a ridiculously cheap apartment. The job that had been promised to me by my friend's brother-in-law the summer previous to graduation was gone. I found out by going into work and seeing someone sitting at the front desk, my desk - no one had bothered to tell me that I had been replaced even though they knew I was moving into the city and coming in. So there I was - livinking a speech.... to show the teachers how much i have grown form that timid

October 06, 2005

10 Days Left

I will be Valerie Goodman for only 10 more days. After our marriage, I'm changing our name. Conveniently, the marriage license also serves as a name changing tool so beyond filling out my new surname on the application for our license, I don't have to do any additional work to assume Jon's name.

Sunday, one of our wedding guests is arriving from England. He'll be staying with us, on our couch so last night I started doing a ridiculously thorough cleaning of the living room - including washing the couch. I've had this couch for 4 years now and beyond a using little upholstery soap with a vacuum I haven't done much to clean it.

I want our guest to be comfortable as possible considering he'll be sleeping on our NON-FOLDOUT couch so I unzipped the upholstery from the bottom cushions and threw the back cushions into a cart - brought everything over to the laundromat. I chose the largest machine I could find. But it really didn't matter how large the machine because my cushions ended up lumpy in the end anyway. The cushions' foamy insides folded themselves up inside their covers. If I want to straigten them out, I have to open the covers manually pull out the foam and lay it back in neatly.

The only problem is that I don't have a sewing machine nor do I have that cool little sewing utensil that rips open seams. Then there's not having used a sewing machine in about 15 years to add to that.

October 05, 2005

Beyond the Blue Verizon

Verizon customer service SUCKS!!!!!

I just finished yelling at them for 45 minutes about the inconsistencies in my bill and how they are driving me insane.

Did you know that they no longer send representatives out to meet with customers because Verizon has deemed it unsafe for them to do so?

I wonder why.

October 04, 2005

Happy New Year.

Happy Jewish New Year and it is indeed.

Jon and I picked up our marriage license today. The nice couple behind us took our picture. They were registering their domestic partnerhsip with the state. The young woman explained that the domestic partnership agreement was just like a marriage except it had an expiration date. (We didn't find out pictures were forbidden here, until after we got off all these cool shots.)

We got there at a pretty good time. When we arrived there were four couples of ahead of us - and not too long a wait. But here is the line behind us. And look at all the people at the counters filling out paperwork. My goodness it was busy there - after we got there.

One of the cool things about going to City Hall's marriage bureau is that the wall is covered with romantic grafitti.

We even found these romantic scrawls on a piece of exposed wall.

Slow Quick Quick Slow

Thank you so much to our friend Barry for helping us learn to dance for our wedding. Barry taught us a basic fox trot. We still have a ways to go before we're ready for competition ballroom, but we're off to a good start.

I am having a difficult time with the turns. I always have a hard time with the turns.

But with practice and a good lead in Jon there should be no problem. I'm sure we'll look beautiful on the dance floor dancing our first dance as a married couple. I've got tears welling just thinking about it.

October 03, 2005

Monday Monday

Hi. How are you? I am fine. Thanks

Went to the gym this morning after a one week hiatus. One of the trainers I consulted with back when I first joined in back in January gave me a HUGE compliment. She said I looked GREAT and that she could really see a difference. I discussed with her that I really hadn't lost THAT much weight according to the scale. She assured me that my Body Mass Index is changing and that I'm building muscle - a concept that I can't quite wrap my mind around. The biggest difference she saw was in my waist and stomach.

Let me tell you something. This is no small compliment and this was no easy task. Losing weight in your middle is SO FREAKING HARD. And you don't necessarily have to do a billion situps. There are machines where you can do a combination of twisting and lifting weights that have the same effect and are a little bit easier. I had to find an alternative to situps because sometimes, my neck really hurts no matter how much I support my head and YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO STRAIN YOUR NECK EVER. Since all tension goes to my neck and shoulders, I have to compensate when I exercise so I'm not straining it.

I know this sounds self congratulatory and braggy. It's just that if you don't tell people that you accomplished something, sometimes they just don't notice and if you're not too braggy about it, it can be interesting for other people to listen to sometimes...not always.

I LOVE listening to other people talk about their lives - deflect the focus from thinking about myself and the wedding and I figure sometimes other people like to listen to me talk about myself too.

This has been a hard life lesson for me to learn. In order to be interesting to other people, you have to be interesting to yourself. If you're still reading this, I've proven my point.

You are reading this because I am writing about something that I accomplished that perhaps you want to accomplish or that you have accomplished yourself.

Do you know what I mean? When I hang out with friends now, I have something to offer to the conversation ante. I might have information that other people need that I can share. I have a point of view.

Some of us are just late bloomers. For some people, socializing skills come after all other stages of development. I'll stop now.

I'm doing a facial and I have a bath waiting and I'm running late.

October 02, 2005

Pig Personality Test - Part Deux

I made another pig. I love that site!


Retail is all wet

Today, today, today.

Today Jon picked up his new glasses. While he was doing that I went over to Sarah's and I visited with Zoey. I was so happy to see them both. Afterwards Jon and I headed up to 57th Street.

We bought water shoes at Niketown for our trip to Jamaica. This is a funny story actually, or maybe not. But I had to ask four different sales people for the water shoes because only the fourth one knew where they were. The other three sales reps I asked weren't even aware of the fact that Niketown carried them. But I knew. I remembered 8 years ago, the last time I was there, seeing water shoes. They only had men's which didn't bother me at all because I fit comfortably into a man's size 7.

Then we walked and we walked all the way over the H&M by Bloomingdales. H&M was an absolute zoo. Shopping there is worse than shopping at Century 21. The clothes are either stuffed so tightly that you can't thumb through the racks or they are strewn about sloppily making it impossible to find your size in something that you might actually like. And on top of that there was a line waiting to try on clothes. Then we went into Bloomingdale's and by the time we got to the part of the store that had clothes in my sizes (Women's 14 - 24 is carefully hidden downstairs by the exit to the subway) it was closing time. The sales people were applying pressure on our backs with their fierce eyes to get the heck out of there so they could wrap things up and call it quits so there was no satisfaction shopping there (as usual. I don't know why I keep going back to Bloomie's. I never have a good experience there).

It really is disgusting how department stores hide the section for larger-sized women. Honestly, size 14 is not so much bigger than size 10. But Bloomingdale's isn't the only offender. At Macy's on 34th Street, I think you have to go to the 9th floor for larger sizes and at Lord & Taylors at 5th and 38th, one has to ride the escalators all the way to the 8th floor which is one above lingerie. I mean, it's great that designers are finally embracing the fact that most women in this country are size 12 or larger, but still. How are we supposed to stop feeling the body shame that leads most of us to either depression, anorexia, bulemia or suicide if stores hide away our clothes in some hard-to-reach section of the store? Isn't there shame in having to ride that escalator so high up? At Macy's you have to actually ride the antiquated wooden escalator to get to their women's section. Why don't the stores just incorporate the larger sizes into the regular run of clothes in the regular clothing section? Then we could feel just like everyone else.

If retailers don't have room, they could just replace all the size 0's and 1's that don't sell and fill those spaces up with the larger-sized clothing. Honestly. How many women do the department stores think are a size 0? Raise your hand if you're less than a size 2/4. Yeah. That's what I thought. It looks like about 1 out of every 20 women or so. Pretty much the rest of us are size 10 or 12 and above.

Pig Personality Test

Draw a pig and find out who you really are. The test is cool.

Link by clicking on the title.

Here is my pig.

Details, Details

My wedding is dress is ready. I went for my final fitting yesterday and all is good, except the bustle which looked like it was coming out of my butt when arranged. So they're going to redo that for me. My mother is picking it up and all that remains is wearing it on the day of.

My mother's dress is NOT ready on the other hand. The seamstress at the store where we found her dress is some kind of compulsive liar. When my mother put on her "altered" dress, fabric bunched up in both the front and the back. In the picture (taken at her first fitting) you can see how nice the dress looks on her and that it just needed slight alterations to make sure it wasn't too loose in the torso. The seamstress was supposed to have taken an inch out of the torso for my mom by releasing the waist and cutting from there. But the section she showed us clearly came from the bottom of the dress. Additionally, the seamstress (seen sitting on the step looking bored out of her mind)was supposed to hike up the dress in the torso and tighten it up which SHE clearly DID NOT DO. This woman must think we are stupid or something. She blamed it on the dress claiming that she didn't make the dress. Sadly, though, she is making the dress worse. The dress looked better before the crappy alterations this woman is making. My mom does have another dress on reserve so that's good. But still, it's not like these dresses and alterations are cheap.

October 01, 2005

A Museum Find

Here is another great find from the Victoria and Albert museum. It's the marker for a young woman's grave. Her name was Anna Cecilia. I found it beautiful and compelling and dramatic and touching.

It reads:

Erected by a sister in memory of her beloved Anna Ceclia,
Daugther of Christopher Rhodes Esq. of Chatham in the County of Kent. She departed this Life, June 2, 1796, aged 32. Her Remains were deposited in the 42: Vault of this Chapel. Distinguished by a fine Understanding, and a most Amiable Disposition of the Heart, she was the Delight of her Parents, and the Admiration of all who knew her. At the age of 17, the Small-pox stripped off the Bloom of youthful Beauty. And being followed by a dreadful Nervous disrder withered those fair prospects of earthly Happiness. Which were expected from her uncommon Affection, Sensibility and Tenderness.

After enduring this afflictive dispensation for many years,
When it was difficult to say which exceeded her, her Suffering or her Submission;
Her Friends' Concern for her Sorrows, or their Admiration of her Patience;
She was released by Death, and received into that World where there shall be no more Pain,
But God Himself shall wipe away Tears from Every Eye