Monday, February 28, 2005

The Ultimate ClayMate

Apparently Annette Bening loves Clay Aiken so much that she dressed as him for last night's Academy Awards.

I'm baaaaaaaaack from tennis camp and the movie that is most on my mind is "Major Paine" because that's what I'm in today. I have a few funny tennis camp stories to tell, but first I need to catch up on my blog reading AND get some work done. Thankfully I'm working from home today as we await yet another freaking snowstorm. I'm so over it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Weekend Reruns

I'm off to tennis camp with my friend Joy this weekend. It's a yearly event for us, and kinda meaningful.

The first time I went was three years ago, alone. I was put into a group with 3 women from Northern Westchester. We got along famously, and at one point I mentioned that I was originally from Brooklyn. Joy said, "I'm from Brooklyn too, but NO ONE is from my neighborhood." I countered, "NO, no one is from MY neighborhood." Well, it turns out we grew up about 4 blocks from each other.

Based on that weekend, we remained friends and I wound up moving from Greenwich, CT and buying this condo right near them. Isn't it great when things like that happen? One small decision (to go to tennis camp that weekend) changed my whole life.

So, since I'm leaving and won't be back until Sunday, I'm going to leave a few links to older blog posts that some of you may not have read. You can choose from:

Pope Humor
Ode to Super Nanny
More Halloween Fun
The Ones That Got Away

I'll miss you all and it will take me a few days to catch up when I return! Please leave me some comment lurrrrrve.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

....and some 40 years later...

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...I wore one of my favorite Halloween costumes of all: During the Spice Girls era, I went to my office as "Old Spice".

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Monday, February 21, 2005

What Constitutes "Reading"?

For those of you who pay attention to such things, I haven't changed the image in my sidebar for "What I'm Chewing On" from the Steve Martin book since I originally posted it (about a month ago). This book is just over 100 pages. I'm still working on it, sort of. I also have a pile of "to read" books on my nighttable. By pile, I mean something resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Only bigger.

The reason? Because I spend all my free time reading blogs. That's right, it's ALL YOUR FAULT. But doesn't that count? If I printed the blogs out and read them on paper, would that be more "legitimate"? When I sit down in a comfy chair to read a book I feel kinda proud of myself for doing something intellectual. There are so many intelligent, interesting, well-written blogs out why do I feel like I'm goofing off when I spend hours on my laptop, reading them?

Fuck it. Back to goofing off.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Same Time Last Year

When I hear people making vacation plans months (or sometimes a year) in advance, I can't help but think, "But what if you don't feel like going to San Francisco (or Des Moines, or Sydney) on October 19th, 2006?" For better or worse, I'm more of a spur-of-the-moment kinda chick.

Last February, we were in the middle of a particularly miserable New York winter. I was sick of the snow and bitter cold and decided to board the dogs, pack up my son and drive to my mother's condo outside of Orlando. Now, spending a week with my mother isn't something I'd do without SOME careful consideration, but since she lives really close to The Worlds (Disney and Sea), it seemed likely we'd survive.

We left at 5 AM on Saturday morning, and the plan was to stop somewhere around Dillon, South Carolina to spend the night. But when we got to Washington DC Lucas said, "I want to get to Grandma's TODAY." Never one to turn down a challenge, I said "I'll see what I can do." We listened to the Lemony Snicket books on CD (read by Tim Curry or Lemony himself, they are absolutely hilarious), we sang, we played silly games (like yelling "Padiddle" when we saw a car with only one working headlight), and kept watching the outside thermometer, hoping to see it rise as we drove further and further south.

Lucas fell asleep around 9PM, but I was still alert and enjoying the drive. At midnight the tripometer hit exactly 1000 miles as we crossed the Florida border. By then, it was raining and I was beginning to fade. There were construction barrels on both sides of I-95, leaving only two narrow lanes. Tractor trailers were flying past me at what had to be 110mph. I white-knuckled it for the next two hours, struggling to keep my eyes open until we arrived at Chez Marge. ("Make the first left after Hooter's.")

It was 42 degrees. For the entire week. We froze our asses off at Universal Studios and Lucas was too afraid to go on most of the rides. But every time he excitedly tells someone that "my mom drove to Florida in ONE DAY", I know I created a memory that he'll carry forever. What could be better than that?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Good Night Nurse!

As with most events in my life, tragedy (or near tragedy) coexists fairly closely with hilarity. When I was 13 weeks pregnant with my son, on the very day of our move from Brooklyn to Greenwich CT, I came down with a wicked case of what turned out to be camphylobacter (a serious food poisoning...kind of like salmonella). I called my midwives in a panic and they said it was an emergency and that I could lose the baby from the intense cramping.

As soon as we arrived in Greenwich, Tony had to find a friend to take care of Emma (who was 9) and get me to the hospital ASAP. I was admitted right away, but the only available room was on the Geriatric floor. The doctors spent the first 3 days trying to figure out what was wrong with me and the nurses were just happy to have someone under 90 to talk to.

One night, at around 2 AM, one of them came in to hook up my IV and she was feeling really awful about having yelled at one of her patients. I'd constantly hear them screaming out for the nurses, or just plain wailing. On this particular night, one little old lady kept calling out ... "Nurse!! Nurse!! A naked lady stole my sweater!!" The nurse would go into the woman's room and reassure her that everything was fine, and try to get her back into bed. Again, "Nurse! Nurse! A naked lady stole my sweater!!" After about the fourth time, she stormed into the woman's room and snapped, "Get back to bed! Now!! And don't call me again!"

She went back to the nurse's station and began to do some paperwork. Hearing someone approach, she looked up and saw a smug-looking elderly woman shuffling past, buck naked except for a pink cardigan around her shoulders.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What is it About This Photograph...

...that I find so compelling? It was taken by my 10-year-old budding photographer son, and every time I see it I think it looks like a painting. There's just something surreal about it.

So, that's it for tonight kids. I'm too exhausted to write much, so I'm doing a lazy little "look at this" post.

That Screaming You Heard This Morning? It was me.

Just when I'm recovering from the deadbeat-dad rant, I'm faced with one of my biggest hot button issues this morning. I'm watching The Today Show, specifically a feature on a new study with "great news" that women can basically receive an epidural in the parking lot when they arrive at a hospital to give birth.

This is one of those times when I'm jumping up and down in front of the TV like a lunatic begging Katie to, mid-interview, say "Hey, but what about the segment we just did a few weeks ago about the unexplained jump in the c-section rate in the US? To over 25%?" And Katie might not even know about the percentage of admittedly unnecessary c-sections. That statistic is probably low, since few doctors will admit to the c-sections that were "oopsies".

Why does this make me so nuts? If you treated yourself to my 100 factoids, you'll know that I gave birth to both of my children without drugs of any kind. After my son was born I decided to teach childbirth classes and do labor support, primarily for women who wanted to give birth the way I did. Before you start rolling your eyes, I am not a "Birth Nazi". If a woman wants to have an epidural and drugs to deliver, that's her choice. What I DO object to, however, is choice-without-education and fear-induced decisions that couples often make in labor, generally with the woman laying flat on her back attached to a fetal monitor.

I'm not going to bore you with can do your own research if you are so inclined. But the lowest c-section rate worldwide is in countries where births are attended by midwives, not doctors. I used to lurk on an internet message board for OB/GYNs. That's fodder for another post, but let me tell was a real eye-opener. (It's where I read a post by a doctor that said "I don't allow videotaping during delivery. That tape could become "Exhibit A".)

But back to this epidural issue: I'm always amused that the same women who won't take an aspirin or drink coffee while pregnant are more than happy to get drug-loaded in labor. Um,'re STILL pregnant. Whatever you get does get to your baby. Let me tell you things I witnessed first hand: Labors slowed or stopped after epidurals, making it necessary to give pitocin drip to jumpstart labor. Pitocin creates extremely intense contractions which woman can't feel, but baby can. This can cause baby's heart rate to drop, which generally creates a panic which then leads to c-section.

The epidural itself is most often safe enough, but it can create a domino-effect of interventions that are not good for mother OR baby. What's so bad about an unnecessary c-section? Some good info here.

My question is more about this: Is it really a good thing to be "distanced" from your body this way? I've attended births where the mother gets an epidural and then she and hubby watch TV while waiting for the baby to come out. Call me crazy, but I find this really weird. "OK, time to push!" "Oh, but this is a good part! Moe is just about to poke Curly in the eye! Can we wait for the commercial?"

The real message that needs to be given to pregnant women is to make educated decisions. Know what the real risks are. There's no free lunch when it comes to childbirth. And is it really so bad to be fully present, physically and mentally, for what may be the most life-changing event you'll ever experience?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cheap Joke of the Day

What a waste. This perfectly good title could have been used for a book about the DEADBEAT DADS in yesterday's post!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Uncle Daddy

Does anyone else have a BIG problem with this?? Basically, Govenor Pataki (R-NY) is going to wipe out the debts of deadbeat dads who marry the mothers of their children. That leaves me with a few pointed questions: Is the state going to pay all of the mother's overdue bills? Is the state going to back-compensate her for expenses?

And now let's take this a step further. Deadbeat Dad now marries a woman SOLELY to lose his fugitive status. He didn't care enough about her or his children to pay child support, but now we want him living in the same house? Maybe they'll hand the mother a post-dated restraining order to save her the trouble 6 months down the line.

This all sounds very third-world to me. Does the woman have any say in this Pataki-matchmaking-exercise? I think we need a better poem for it than the one in the article:

Violets are blue, roses are red
You will be lucky
If you don't wind up dead.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy V-D

No....silly! It's Happy Valentine's Day!! Wanted to get this post up here earlier, but I actually had to work today. Anyway, hope all of you had or are still having a romantic day with your loved ones. As for me, I've got TWO guys who love son and my dog.

I usually buy myself a piece of jewelry for Valentine's Day (is that pathetic?) so I'm off to to see what catches my eye. ;)

Too Close to Home

I don't know how much national exposure this story got, but my daughter was working at the Waldenbooks at the time of this shooting. Her dad was shopping in the Best Buy, saw the guy with the rifle and had to exit through the service door in order to avoid being shot. Emma said that people were running and screaming past her's a miracle that no one was trampled.

And what was this lunatic carrying? That's right. An assault weapon.

Please go here if you feel the way I do about this issue.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bill[owing] Gates

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It was, in a word, amazing. Although there was a brisk wind, thousands of people spilled into every entrance of the park just to be a part of this event. It was so much more than an exhibit. To be there was to be inside of it. Suddenly, the usually invisible walkways of the park could be seen...weaving and converging as the brilliant saffron (not orange!) fabric brought them to life.

Check out my whole slide show here: The Gates

High Art NY

How exciting is it to be a New Yorker today? I think if I had moved away I'd be flying back just to see this. Lucas and I are going to Central Park to take our first stroll under The Gates. [In case you've been living in a cave in Tora-Bora and don't know what I'm talking about, The Gates is a massive sculpture project by Christo and his wife Jean-Claude, which stretches 23 miles through the walkways of Central Park.]

Hopefully I'll overhear some funny reactions from the masses to report back, ("Art schmart! My 2 year old coulda done this!")

Saturday, February 12, 2005

We Interrupt This Blog... plug my daughter's fanlistings site. She's 19, undecided about a direction in her life. She didn't want to go to college right out of HS so she's been working retail and, in her copious downtime, she designs fanlisting sites (mostly Buffy-related, since she IS the ultimate Buffy-fan, but not exclusively).

I think she's amazingly talented and that's not just 'cause I'm her MOMMY. She does really beautiful Photoshop work and I'm hope-hope-hoping that at some point she can get a job in a studio. I've suggested that she try and design blogs, but I don't think she's a CSS person.

Check it out. When you get to the main page, click "Current" and you'll get a list of all the sites within.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Another 'versary

If my father were still alive, he and my mother would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary today. He died a few months after their 50th. I don't know if I would describe their marriage as blissful, but it worked for them in some weird way. Low expectations may have had something to do with that. When I was splitting up with my first husband, my dad wanted to know what had happened...what he had done to me. "I'm just not happy," I tried to explain. He was confused. "Happy? Happy?? If you wanted to be happy, what the hell did you get married for?"

At some point I'll write more about my father because he was kind of a complex guy. But for now I'll just say that it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized who the boss REALLY was (my mother) and that she manipulated and controlled everything my father did. One of her main areas of control was the finances. She put the tight in tightwad. My father was a mailman. He wasn't exactly pulling down the big bucks, but with my mother working most of the time we seemed to be ok. We certainly weren't poor enough to warrant buying canned food from "Joe the Dented Can Man", but we did. The blackened grease produced by frying bacon was refrigerated and saved for future use. Brand loyalty extended to "Brand X" and not beyond.

Penny-pinching didn't take a holiday on on their wedding anniversary either. Every year they would go to the local card store, pick out their cards, exchange them, read them, and put them back.

The ultimate in recycling, I suppose!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

My Month-aversary AND 5000 Views!

Although I fired up the blog a few days before, I consider my erectile dysfunction post to be the real beginning. I think it's the first one that elicited comments.

And how cool that I hit 5000 visitors on my counter today too! Thanks to all of you, even the 4995 who only stay for 30 seconds. Oh wait...4500 of those are probably me.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I always post an answer to the comments, and definitely visit the blogs of everyone who takes the time to say something. I've met SO MANY cool people'll see every one of them listed on my Blogroll.

The best monthaversary present you could give me would be to visit one that you've never gone to before! You won't regret it. In the meantime, I'll try to keep things interesting here!

Imagine My Surprise!

You're Jessica Rabbit!
Jessica Rabbit

Who 's Your Inner Sexy Cartoon Chick ?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Another One of My "Kids"

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Meet Dylan, the Bearden Dragon. This story will give you a little insight into the way things work at Chez Panthergirl. Last September, I took my son on a routine visit to Petsmart to buy dog food for Kelso, and the following conversation ensued:

Lucas: Mom, can I buy an Anole??

Me: [buy an asshole? WTF?] What's an Anole, honey?

L: It's a lizard.

M: Let's see it. [ok, it's just a little thing. What the heck. Then again, don't want a pet that's going to croak in a week. We've had our share of untimely death in this family.]

M (to dorky salesguy): Is this thing going to croak in a week?

Dork: Yeah, probably. You'd be better off with a Bearded Dragon.

M: [Hm. Anole, $15. Bearded Dragon, $79. A lizard that doesn't croak in a week: Priceless.] Ok, he's pretty cute.

L: Yeah! Yeah! I'm going to name him Dylan after my cousin and a kid I knew at camp.

The bearded dragon was about 5" long and just a baby. They actually grow to 24" or so, which sounded pretty cool. You can walk them on a leash. Dorky Salesguy shows me the $200+ worth of stuff I need to get for said dragon, and off we go. Dragon takes enormous dump in the shoebox we're given to take him home. P.U.

After setting up his elaborate habitat, I proceed to join the Yahoo! Group for Beaded Dragon people (see, this is what I do. I jump into whatever it is with both feet and an arm or two. That's how I wind up married 3 times. Nothing is done halfway around here.) I learn from the "Pogona" (genus name?) group that almost everything I bought is totally and completely WRONG, and if I don't get the right lights and the right food and the right substrate, I'm going to wind up with a croaked-lizard afterall.

After about two weeks of buying and returning and buying and returning, Dylan was on the road to a happy and healthy lifestyle. (I, on the other hand, was broke and exhausted.) I became an expert in cricket-keeping as well. But it wasn't fun keeping a pet for your pet, especially a particularly gross one. I have since switched to silkworms and if you think that's gross, you never dealt with crickets. Besides, I can mail order them. You should see the faces of the mailroom guys when the box labeled LIVE WORMS arrives for me at work.

Dylan is now about 14" long and I have to admit that I really dig him. He's a lot of work at times (my mornings weren't crazy enough without having to make a freakin' SALAD for my lizard), but he's clean and quiet and actually likes us. And look how smart he is! He figured out how to tilt his dish in order to get to his food. Aw.


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Now admit it...have YOU ever seen them in the same room, at the same time?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Dog's Birthday

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Yeah, it's Super Bowl Sunday, but more importantly it's my greyhound Kelso's 7th birthday. You know what's weird about that? It makes us the same age. No wonder he doesn't want to listen to me! I'm simply a contemporary.

It's actually a gorgeous day today, FINALLY. I've renewed my membership to Sportbrain and took advantage of the 50+ temps to go out and walk my winter-butt off. I'm taking Lucas to the driving range, then heading up to the kennel where we have 6 new greyhounds fresh from the track. I'm the semi-official photographer for our adoption group so I'll take some pics of the pups for the website and hope they can find foster or "forever" homes.

At 4, I'm playing tennis. Whoo hoo! Then I'll come home and watch the game. Last year I watched it with my friend Rich (online...he was in Maine and we IM'd throughout the game). The big wardrobe malfunction played out like this:

Me: Was that her tit?

Him: Nah, I don't think so.

Me: Yeah I think it was.

Him: Hm. OK I'm going to grab a beer. brb

Earth shattering, no?

Since then, I've introduced Rich to a good friend of mine and now they are in love and living together. So, I've screwed myself out of my TV watching IM partner. But I'm glad they're happy. I'm expecting a fairly boring blowout game (Go Pats!) and ridiculously tame commercials. Zzzzzz.

On a lighter note:

I'm Ludvig II, the Swan King of Bavaria!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My random 10 iTunes songs for today:

1. Angeles - Elliott Smith
2. Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
3. Popular - Nada Surf
4. My Funny Valentine - Elvis Costello
5. Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
6. Days Go By - Dirty Vegas
7. Our House - Madness
8. Creep - Radiohead
9. Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai
10. She Hates Me - Puddle of Mudd

Because the Whole Blog Won't Fit...

...I've decided my epitaph should be:
"Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time"

What is the statement that would best sum up YOUR life?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Margie Dearest

She was probably a little nuts even here, circa 1942, but I think my mother really went off the deep end after she had babies. You'd think she would have stopped after the first one, when she realized how much she didn't like motherhood, but she proceeded to squirt out two more daughters. She pretty much hated all three of us to different degrees and for different reasons but primarily for being young women that my father might be inclined to love. In her mind, there was only room for ONE attractive woman in my dad's life. She never stopped to think about how ugly that made her.

Stories about my mother have the potential to be really sad and horrifying, but she is so warped that one can't help but find humor in them. Think of her as a cross between Edith Bunker and Joan Crawford. She sounds like Edith, but she'd strangle you with a wire hanger in a heartbeat.

She is allegedly not a stupid person. According to her, she was so brilliant as a kid that she skipped fifth grade and graduated from high school at 15. But throughout my life she has come up with the most ridiculous definitions, pronunciations and "facts" that I have to believe she graduated from 1929's version of the Sally Struthers Institute of Medical Transcription and Air Conditioner Repair.

From the time I was about 5, if I complained about anything she'd accuse me of being an "ingrate" because I had put her through fourteen hours of back labor before my breech arrival. Or, as she put it, "you were born rectum first". Apparently I was born inside out.

Dinner at our house was a real festival. The fun would begin with the array of slop my mother would try to pass off as food, brought to the table in scorched pots and pans. Meat of any kind was either overcooked beyond recognition or swimming in blood. Chicken was boiled. Steaks were fried and served with 2 inches of fat, meant to be ingested, because "it makes your hair shiny." Vegetables came in cans. When my middle sister moved out she called me one night just to say, "Asparagus is actually good."

I recently came up with a list of appropriately named dishes that were a regular part of my mother's culinary repertoire. I figure I'd better make fun of her now, while she's still alive. Here's what's on the menu:

Bazooka Beef - made with the cheapest cut of chuck steak, cooked to death in tomato sauce. I would literally cry eating this because my jaws would ache as if I had chewed 30 pieces of bubble gum.

Mushrooms a Morte - "sauteed" until they were floating in their own blackened juices

Flaccid Asparagus - the above-mentioned canned vegetable of choice

Chinese Toast - she'd serve frozen egg rolls for breakfast because, well, they have EGGS in them, right?

Decidedly Lacking-in-Cream Puffs (file under The Frugal Chef)

Triple-Bypass Spaghetti Sauce - served with an inch of floating grease on top

Triple-Bypass Chicken Soup -see above

The Peek-a-Boo ICU Sundae - vanilla ice cream, topped with sour cream

Yes, my father died of a heart attack. My mother, however, is still kicking at 83 and remarkably healthy. I suspect she was ordering takeout and eating it on the sly.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Adventures of Wendy Willcox and her Dog Willis

Someone recently forwarded me an email which was a variation on the Nigerian scam, but using the Tsunami in their pathetic attempt to bilk someone out of his or her life savings. This pissed me off so much that I had to dig up an old link to the FUNNIEST scam-the-scammer article I've ever read. Ever. And I've got high standards, kids.

Read the whole thing. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hey I Can Kinda Relate to This

Man finds human leg in bag thought to have father's belongings

Ok, so maybe it's not the EXACT same thing, but a few years ago I bought a chicken at the supermarket. Your basic oven-stuffer-roaster variety, nothing special. I brought it home and started to get it ready, but when I shoved my hand into the cavity to pull out the little bag of giblets I pulled out A THIRD LEG instead. I was pretty sure it didn't belong to *this* chicken, which kinda made me wonder who got stuck with the one-legged bird.

For some reason it really grossed me out. Still, it would have been worse if it had a toe-tag on it.

St. Jo of Frost

May I nominate for canonization:

Jo Frost, aka "Supernanny" (ABC, Mondays at 10PM). This woman is amazing. What is also amazing is that a complete moron like the mother in last night's show has not been reported to Child Welfare and carted off in an orange jumpsuit. This woman is more concerned about getting her tits on TV than noticing that her 3-year-old son is wandering the neighborhood unsupervised. And running with open garden shears. Mom is cool with it. Her reaction is something along the lines of "Oh you silly boy. Come here and make sure you don't block Mommy's tits in the shot, ok honey?" Dad's pretty much of a non-participant except for the occasional yelling episode. It's clear he's letting Mom do whatever she wants with the kids as long as she shows lots of cleavage.

My favorite part of the show is the beginning, where Jo is seen observing the family in all their dysfunctional glory and not saying anything (to them, anyway. To us, she shoots a horrified glance which should include the subtitle: "FAAAAARK".) She claims to be taking mental notes. I think *actual* notes, mailed in 20 years to the kids' psychotherapists, might be a good idea too. Thankfully that only goes on for a day before she swoops in and rips into both parents. Firmly, but pretty gently I think. A less restrained person would do a preemptive strike and put these kids' pictures on a milk carton NOW. The 3 and 6 year-old wander in and out of the house at will, sometimes for hours at a time. The fact that they (and their 8 year old brother) are the freckled monsters from hell means that Mom is happy to see them go.

Of course, should any of the 3 boys wind up in the hands of a kidnapper we'd have ourselves a real-life "Ransom of Red Chief". (If you're unfamiliar with the short-stories of O.Henry, he's the guy that M. Night Shamaylan wants desperately to be.). In the O. Henry story, the kidnapped child is so horrid that the abductors wind up paying the parents to take him back.

In another heartwarming moment, Mom is baking cookies (probably in a Fredrick's of Hollywood apron) when the 6-year-old calls her to come outside and catch bugs with him. Leaving the 3-year-old in the kitchen, she happily bounces (and I mean BOUNCES) outdoors to catch bugs. Mini-monster is scaling the cabinets and probably downing all the Drano he can get his grubby little hands on. Jo mutters to herself, "Fark."

Ultimately, Jo Jo works her magic and the boys and their mom are heavily medicated and Dad goes through anger management training. No, no...she somehow convinces Mom that her implants have to take a back seat to her kids, and that Dad has to repair the huge scar he inflicted upon his 8 year old ("You yelled at me in first grade!"), and that [horrors] they need to put a lock on the front door.

One question remains for me: Do these people live in the "Poltergeist" house? Or maybe the "ET" house? Where are these places that have absolutely no trees or bushes or any visible plant life?

How YOU Doin'?

...on your 43 Things list? I've actually made some headway on mine.

I took out a Home Equity loan to pay off my credit cards, I bought my son an electronic keyboard, I found a new shrink...and some other stuff. It's kinda fun to see what other people's goals are, and how many of them are similar.