Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things I accomplished this year

When you're a slacker like me, it's important to celebrate small accomplishments, even if they're not really accomplishments at all, but things that you managed not to screw up royally.

So, in honor of the last day of 2008, here's a list of things that I accomplished this year, in the loosest sense of the word:

1. Started this blog. (Which made me less productive in every other area of my life, but oh well.)
2. Celebrated my two year wedding anniversary. (Not that it's hard to be married to Mr. Darling, but you know what I mean.)
3. Turned 26. (This really just means that I managed not to die.)
4. Kept my job for a third year. (Yay for income!)
5. Earned $12.11 on Google AdSense. (Of course, they don't actually give you the money until you reach $100, but still...)
6. Kept my cats and various plants alive. (Hey, this is harder than it sounds! The cats like to eat the plants, so there's a good chance that the cats will kill the plants or that eating too many plants will kill the cats, and yet they're all still alive. Be proud of me!)
7. Didn't smoke a single cigarette... for the 26th year in a row. (A new personal record!)
8. Wrote a Christmas letter to send to friends and family. (Minor detail - we never actually mailed out any copies of the Christmas letter, because we couldn't decide on some changes that we wanted to make, and by the time we got a chance to sit down and look at the letter, Christmas was over. Next year's goal - write AND send a Christmas letter.)
9. Did not yell at or say a single mean thing to my mother-in-law. (Which brings me to number 10....)
10. Managed to go a whole year without ever having to speak to my mother-in-law.
11. Accessorized various outfits quite stylishly. (I consider looking nice an accomplishment.)
12. Got my hair trimmed more than twice. (I'm really lazy about getting haircuts. I have long hair, so it's easy to skip a trim here and there.)
13. Read a lot of books. (Some of which were actually good!)
14. Never ran out of gas while driving. (Unlike last year.)

See how easy it is to pretend you had a productive year when you count living and inhaling clean air as accomplishments? So what did you do this year that you're proud of?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

And now it's time for the second round of Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays!

Here's how it works - post a Totally Awkward story on your blog. Then, leave a comment telling me you've participated, and also link to my blog from yours, and I'll include a link to your blog in my post - that way, we can all cringe/laugh/die of shame together! Your awkward story can be anything - something awkward you saw, you did, or you were unwittingly a part of.

Here's mine:

My senior year of college, I lived in an apartment with three other girls (I'll call them Good Roommate 1, or GR1, Good Roommate 2, or GR2, and Randomly Awkward Roommate, or RAR). Three of us got along amazingly, but the fourth girl (Randomly Awkward Roommate) somehow didn't seem to fit in. (Which was odd, because we'd all been friends with her before we lived together.) Whenever the other three of us would go somewhere, RAR wouldn't want to come. If the three of us wanted to eat lunch together, RAR wasn't hungry. She and I especially seemed to bicker a lot, and there were a few uncomfortable moments in our apartment.

After graduation, the other two roommates and I remained really close friends, but RAR basically stopped talking to us. So we were surprised when she invited us all to a bonfire at her house. One of the roomies (GR2) had just had a baby, so she couldn't come, but the other roommate (GR1) and I decided we should go, as we'd always given RAR a hard time in college for not doing anything with us.

So GR1, her boyfriend and I show up to RAR's house, and we immediately realize that A- we don't know anyone there but each other and RAR, and B- we are a good five to six years older than all of the other guests, who were all still in high school. Also, nobody at the bonfire actually knew how to make a bonfire, so GR1's boyfriend somehow ended up having to spend all evening building, lighting, and tending to the fire.

The thing that made takes this story from vaguely uncomfortable to Totally Awkward is the fact that RAR had neglected to tell us that she wasn't just inviting us to a bonfire... she was inviting us to her birthday party. And every other guest in attendance knew it was a birthday party, except us. So, they all brought gifts, GR1 and her boyfriend brought nothing, and most awkwardly of all, I brought her an invitation to my own bridal shower. And not just any invitation, but an invitation that looked like a gift.

See, one of my bridesmaids had handmade all of my shower invitations, and I hadn't been able to get RAR's address in time to mail her an invitation, so I said I'd just hand deliver it. So, I'm at a birthday party that I don't yet know is a birthday party, and I hand this* to the birthday girl:
*Not my actual invitation, but pretty dang close.

And she says "Awww! Thanks, you shouldn't have!" And I say, "Huh? I didn't... Wait, um... no. It's... um..."

And that's how we found out that it was a birthday party. Awkward, yes? Later, everyone went inside for cake and presents, and we took that opportunity to leave very quickly. Two and a half years later, I've still never heard from her again.

Ok, now it's your turn! Share your Totally Awkward moment on your own blog, then link back here for Totally Awkward Tuesday.

Then, check out the other Totally Awkward bloggers...

Moi at Going Overboard
PJ at It is what it is...
Chloie at Orchestrated Destiny
Braja at Lost and Found in India
Angie at Psycho Hairapy
Julie at Weekly Jules
Morgan the (almost) Muse at Insert Clever Name Here
A. at Snarky Much?
Kelly at And that's how I choose to remember it
Cora at Love Letters by Cora
Legal Diva at The Reasonable Person

Monday, December 29, 2008

Why is Tova ticked off today?

That's a good question, thanks for asking. I'm ticked off because I just learned the following tidbit of information from one of my coworkers:

There's this company that every Christmas sends boxes of chocolates to our office. One or two for general consumption, and then some boxes specifically for individual members of the staff with whom they've dealt directly. At a conference this year, I met one of their senior staff members (let's be honest - he hit on me and bought me a drink), and since then I hear from him maybe once a month or so (don't worry, he knows I'm married and that I intend to stay that way.) So, apparently, when Christmas rolled around, the boxes of chocolate showed up... a few for the office to share, one each for some of our senior staff members, and one for little old me. But did I get that box of chocolates? No. No I did not. Why? Because the head honcho decided that it wasn't fair that I got one when most of the other "little people" did not. So he took my name off of it and left it in the break room for everyone. Um, hello??? Since when does "fairness" mean that you can steal somebody's Christmas gift?? I totally would've shared it anyway (Mr. Darling and I already have chocolate out the wazoo at home), but it's the principle of the thing. It had MY name on it! I got it because I engaged in interesting conversation with a company employee when I would've preferred to sleep because I'd only had 4 hours of sleep the night before! And it was stolen!!! Argh!! I get paid crap here anyway, at the very least, my employers could refrain from stealing my Christmas presents.

Thank you for tuning in for today's episode of "Why is Tova ticked off today?" Please be sure to join us again next time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Book of Tova

Mr. Darling and I recently had the following conversation (which is totally paraphrased, because I'm not some creeper who secretly records all of my conversations):

Mr. Darling: "So when are you going to write a book?"
Me: "Huh?"
Mr. Darling: "You're a really good writer, and you love to write, so you should write a book."
Me: "I dunno. I'd probably get bored halfway through and then stop."
Mr. Darling: "What are you talking about? You love to write!"
Me: "I know, but that's only because I don't have to write. If I felt like I had to, it would be too much pressure, and I'd stop."
Mr. Darling: "But you wouldn't have to. You could do it at your own pace. You could take years if you wanted to. There would be no pressure."
Me: "Well, I have nothing to write about."
Mr. Darling: "You write in your blog all the time."
Me: "Yeah, but that's different. My blog wouldn't make a good book. It would be like a book of short essays, and nobody wants to read a book of essays by a person they've never heard of."
Mr. Darling: "So, write a novel."
Me: "I'm not sure whether or not fiction's my thing. Really, I just want to be a famous blogger."

Is that too much to ask? That's not a rhetorical question. I want to know, honestly, how one goes about becoming famous at blogging. Because that's what I'd like to do. And since I'm still $89 away from getting a check from Google AdSense (why no one is clicking on the links for information on stripper poles is beyond me), that's obviously not the way to go.

Truthfully, I don't expect to make money from blogging. I just want people to read my blog. And thanks to all of you gorgeous and interesting people, I've reached over 100 subscribers! And that means that I'm kind of famous to about 100 people, right? RIGHT?? (Just say yes; it'll make me happy.) So thanks for fueling my fantasy of being a well-known blogger. When Regis & Kelly interview me someday and ask me what my secret is to being read by literally dozens of people and earning $11 on Google AdSense, I will publicly thank all 104 of you by name.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Making room in the inn

On Sunday, an adorable little girl in my Sunday School group approached me with the kind of excitement that can only be fully expressed by a four year old. Her eyes were bright and her smile was gigantic as she said to me, "Guess who's having a birthday!!" I leaned over, looked into her sparkling eyes, and asked, "Who?"

"Jesus!!" she replied enthusiastically. "It's almost Jesus' birthday!!"


At the end of Christmas day, when the floor is littered with wrapping paper, a few toys have inevitably already been broken, and everybody's so full of Christmas cookies that they can hardly move, it might occur to some people that somewhere along the way, we got off course when it comes to the meaning of Christmas. As Michael Scott said on The Office, "Happy birthday, Jesus - sorry your party's so lame."

Sometimes, it's easy to forget - with all of the tinsel, and lights, and bells, and Santa, and ornaments, and stockings, and gifts, and ridiculous songs - that Christmas started out with a tiny baby who was born in a barn, surrounded by hay and flies and cow manure because the local inn was full. Then, like now, there wasn't room for him in any of the places of honor. And now, like on the day he was born, we sometimes push him out of sight - his birthday having been overtaken by things that are a little more exciting, a bit flashier and more polished, and with a tad more pizazz than celebrating a Jewish baby being born in a feed trough.

Don't get me wrong - I decorate and exchange gifts with the best of them. But perhaps the lesson I need to remember is about making room.

The whole "making room" thing is a part of Christmas that my parents have always, always done right. Yes, they read the Christmas story, and pray, and talk about Jesus on Christmas, but they've also shown the spirit of "making room" on Christmas in a much more tangible way. For as long as I can remember, any time someone didn't have anywhere to go on Christmas, my parents would invite them to our house on Christmas day. An old grocery store coworker of mine with no family in the area, a foreign exchange student, a recently divorced uncle, a childless widow from our church. On Christmas, these people were brought into our home and treated like family. My parents would have gotten them a gift or two, and they'd be urged to take seconds and thirds at Christmas dinner. They'd join in on games with our family, and when they left, they'd be sent home with enough leftovers to last for a week.

I have to be honest when I say that I haven't always appreciated this about my parents. One particular guest - who came for five or six years in a row - didn't smell very good, and I sometimes resented sharing Christmas with people who weren't family. But it occurs to me that Mary and Joseph, a young man and his extremely pregnant wife who had been riding over long dusty roads on a donkey, probably didn't smell fantastic, either. And why should the innkeeper have made room for these two, when he could have an inn full of people he knew and liked? People who weren't going to give birth on one of his nice beds?

Commercials and Christmas cards and carols tell us that Christmas is a time for family and friends. For spending time with the people you love. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is to celebrate Christmas by doing for other "outcasts" what nobody did for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph all those years ago - make room for them and welcome them in; feed them and warm them and love them; treat the people with no one to love or care for them in the same way that we'd treat the people we love the most. Maybe Christmas is our opportunity to make up for the inn with no occupancy, for the stable, for the hay-filled trough. Maybe Christmas is our chance to give Jesus a soft bed, a warm house, and a room full of loving people to herald his arrival into the world. Maybe we do this for him when we do it for others.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40

Next week (or whenever I've recovered from eating too many cookies), I'll go back to my normal random posts. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tova's Totally Awkward Tuesdays

For a while now, I've been wanting to do a bloggy-theme-day type thing. You know what I'm talking about - Wordless Wednesdays, Thousand Word Thursdays - you get the idea.

So I've been racking my brain trying to think of a good daily theme, but nothing came to me. And then I thought "Tova, just go with what you know." And it occurred to me that I seem to find myself in a disproportionately high number of awkward situations. Remember when I somehow got tricked into Christmas Caroling at the surprise birthday party for a person I didn't know? And when my friend barfed on my leg? And the time when my coworker learned that I have a stripper pole in my living room? And when I spilled two different beverages on myself during one day of work? Yep, nobody does awkward quite like I do.

So, here's how it's going to work. Every Tuesday (or whenever you find yourself without anything else to post on a Tuesday), all of my readers (and even people who don't read my blog - I won't discriminate) can post a Totally Awkward story on their blogs. Then, leave a comment telling me you've participated, and also link to my blog from yours, and I'll include a link to your blog in my post - that way, we can all cringe/laugh /die of shame together!

Your awkward story can be anything - something awkward you saw, you did, or you were unwittingly a part of; the most awkward moment of your week or the most awkward moment of your life. If this doesn't work out, it's ok with me. I'll just change the name to Tova's Totally Nonexistent Tuesdays.

I'll start...

In college, I typically went to my morning classes wearing sweat pants and pajamas. But for my very first morning class of my very last semester, I decided that I should celebrate by dressing in a cute outfit. After all, I'd never again have a first day of the semester, and I wanted to do it right. I picked out a short denim skirt, a new sweater, and a fabulous new pair of boots, straightened my hair, and headed off to class.

So, here I am walking to my first class on my first day of my last semester of school ever. Followed by two of my male classmates, I confidently and quickly walk down the stairs to begin my final semester, and...

I fall down the stairs.

Really hard.

And slide, on my butt, down at least 8 stairs.

In a very short skirt.

Of course, one of the guys following me offered to "brush off" the back of my skirt for me. And then I learned that both of the guys who saw my graceful descent were in my class. Which was a senior seminar with only five people in the class.

For the rest of the semester, I wore sweatpants or jeans. They're much safer.

Ok, now that I've relived my humiliation, it's your turn! Share your Totally Awkward moment on your own blog, then link back here for the inaugural Totally Awkward Tuesday.

Then, check out the other Totally Awkward bloggers:
Adriana at From KS to PA
Legal Diva at The Reasonable Person
Moi at Going Overboard
Cora at Love Letters By Cora
Randy at PsychoHAIRapy

Monday, December 22, 2008

I wanna grow old with you

Blame it on the fact that I'm listening to love songs, blame it on the fact that I'm sitting at my desk where I have two framed pictures of Mr. Darling in all of his darling-ness, but I'm in the mood to compile a list of reasons that I love Mr. Darling. Here goes:
  1. He makes me laugh. Loudly. Uncontrollably. (And occasionally at inappropriate times.) He once made me laugh so hard that I fell off the couch. He's really good at doing impressions of various cartoon characters, and he will do them every time I ask, even if I ask 20 times in a row.
  2. When we buy Sourpatch Kids, Mr. Darling eats all of the orange ones. It sounds insignificant, but it's not. I hate anything that is orange flavored, so Mr. Darling picks them out, one by one, and then leaves all of the delicious flavors for me.
  3. He massages my feet. Even though I ask him to do it all the time. 95% of the times I ask, he massages them. (Once, when he said no, I managed to sneak my foot into his hand when he wasn't paying attention. He was so amazed by how slick I was that he massaged my foot after all.)
  4. He doesn't take me too seriously. Sometimes I can get a bit... moody. Not to blame it entirely on hormones, but... ok, it's always the fault of hormones. When I get moody and whiny, he makes me laugh, or he'll say "is my baby cranky today?" and then he'll give me a huge hug. That makes it hard to stay cranky.
  5. He's a freakin' genius. 'Nuff said.
  6. He's unbelievably motivated. I can't even begin to list all of the things Mr. Darling has done/is doing/plans to do, because if I did, if anyone who knows either of us read this, they would immediately know who we are. Seriously. Let me just say that being a med student is just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. D.
  7. He's easy to get along with and a genuinely good guy. Even if I wasn't madly in love with Mr. Darling (I am, obviously, but if I weren't...), I would still want to be his best friend. I love him a ton, but I also genuinely like and admire him.
  8. He has no idea how amazing he is. Nothing is worse than someone who is stuck on themselves (ok, some things are worse... leprosy, for example). Mr. Darling is attractive, he's intelligent, he's funny, he's accomplished, he's friendly, he's likable... and he can't quite understand why people are so impressed by him. One of my best friends has nicknamed Mr. Darling "Superman," and Mr. D really doesn't understand why. When I explained to him that he's spectacularly amazing, he said, "Oh. I guess I just don't really see myself that way." Of course you don't, Mr. D, and that just adds to your charm.

There are more reasons, of course, but I hear some of you gagging, so I'll wrap this up. I hope everyone's Christmas shopping is going well!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So natural

Mr. Darling and I have been married for two fantastic years. Those of you who are married / hope to get married / have ever known married people know what that means. It means that we've heard the question "when are you two going to have kids?" approximately 734 times. Truthfully, the question doesn't bother me. Mr. Darling and I would love to have kids someday, but we want to wait until the end of Mr. D's residency, because Mr. D working 80 hours a week doesn't mesh all that well with the idea of us having a baby. Plus, let's be honest, I want some more "us" time where I can be selfish with Mr. D before I have to share him. I'm totally comfortable telling people that we're waiting for a few more years.

The weird thing to me is that, since I got married, every time I hold someone else's baby, someone will say to me "You look so natural holding a baby!" That just seems like such a strange thing to say. So, my questions are:

1. Did I look unnatural every time I held a baby before I tied the knot? Were people thinking to themselves, "Gosh, Tova just looks so unnatural holding that baby. I hope she doesn't drop it."?

and 2. How exactly does one look unnatural while holding a baby?

Well, like that, obviously. But still, when most people hold a baby, they look pretty natural unless they're swinging the baby by its foot or something. Also, I think I look reasonably natural holding a number of things, including my cats, food, and the remote control, but I have no desire to ever give birth to any of those things. Maybe I'm just the kind of person who looks natural in any number of situations.

(If anyone out there is trying to guess my secret identity, this is your clue - if you see a 20-something woman with dark hair, ask her to hold a baby, or if you don't have a baby handy, a cat. If she looks really natural, it's probably me.)

However, unfortunately for my parents (who are jonesin' for another grandchild) and for the babies that I will someday hold quite naturally, the baby thing is going to have to wait. Because correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there might be a bit more to being a mom than looking natural while holding a tiny human.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our First Christmas

I thought that for today's Christmas in Bloggyland Tour, I would share pictures from mine and Mr. Darling's first Christmas as husband and wife! As I've mentioned before, we celebrated our first married Christmas on our honeymoon. As a surprise for Mr. Darling, I had packed a tiny Christmas tree, a little light-up star, and some of our brand new ornaments in my suitcase, so on Christmas Eve, I had Mr. D leave the room while I unpacked the tree and set it up. Then, he came back into the room, and we decorated our first Christmas tree. Here's the end result: On Christmas morning, we woke to the sound of the Caribbean resort's staff caroling to all of the rooms (this was actually slightly less cute than it sounds. For some reason, they decided to go caroling at 6:30am. I am not a morning person, so my first reaction was "What the heck is going on? Why won't those people stop singing?") When we woke up for real, we brought our Christmas tree and stockings out onto our patio:

Where we ate breakfast and exchanged gifts while enjoying this view: Without planning it, we had both gotten each other Christmas ornaments, which we added to the tree. I gave him a doctor ornament, and he gave me a little teddy bear ornament from Victoria's Secret that says "Sexy Little Bear" on its tummy. When we were done with our breakfast, Santa Claus arrived by motorboat. (No, seriously. He almost fell into the ocean when he was getting out of the dock. That would've made for some fantastic Christmas pictures!) After we got pictures with Santa, we bought souvenirs from a guy paddling around on a surf board, went water skiing, swam, took a nap, did various other honeymoon-appropriate things, and then had Christmas dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Overall, it was the most perfect Christmas I've ever had! Frankly, I think it might be impossible for us to top it, but that's ok. It makes for some fantastic honeymoon/Christmas memories.

So, I'd love to hear about your best Christmas ever. Either leave it as a comment here or post about it on your blog and then leave me a comment so I know to come read about it. I love Christmas stories!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pet peeves

Random Pet Peeves, for no particular reason:

1. Return Receipts on emails when used as a manipulation technique. Sure, they're great if you want to make sure that your professor received your final paper or your boss has read your status report, but they're incredibly annoying when people use them to harass you, as in "I see that you read my email 10 minutes ago. Why have you not responded to my long and detailed question, the answer to which I am too lazy to research for myself?"

2. When people can't quite grasp the concept of personal space.

3. Drivers who go five miles below the speed limit in the left lane. It's called the passing lane for a reason, buddy.

4. Bad grammar.

5. PeEpLez wHo tYPe lyKe dIs bEcUZ tHaY lYkE 2 buTcHeR DA eNGlIsh lAnGuAge.

6. People who interrupt a lot. Here's how polite conversation works: First, you say something. When you're finished, I say something back. After I've stopped talking, you respond. Serial interrupters are welcome to write that information on their hands for future reference.

7. When a book's back cover or book jacket gives away a part of the story. For example, on the back cover of the book I am currently reading, it says that the daughter of one of the main characters is "involved with a young priest." I am currently on page 250 of the book, and so far the daughter is kind of weirded out by the young priest and tries to avoid him. But thanks to the back of the book, I know that they're going to become "involved," and it annoys me that I already know that. Stupid spoiler book cover.

Add your own to the list - it's fun to complain about things that you cannot, realistically, do anything about!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Subway, eat fresh... and be mocked

Dear Subway Employee,

I realize that many people do not like tuna. I also realize that many people do not like mustard, and that some people are not fond of pickles. That does not mean that it is either polite or appropriate for you to express disgust over the sub I just ordered. Do I make fun of you because you are wearing a stupid hat? No. No I do not. So, shut up and give me my sub.

Thanks a bunch,
Tova


Ok, not that I've gotten my letter-writing out of the way...

I will be participating in the Christmas in Bloggyland Tour on December 15! Wanna participate? Sure you do! So go here, read all about it, and then sign up! Then, on Monday, share your fabulous Christmas stories/ recipes/ pictures/ nightmares/ whatever else you can think of. Then you can come back here and read about mine and Mr. Darling's first Christmas as husband and wife (Audience: "Awwww!"), or maybe I'll share pictures of some sort or another. Or perhaps I'll forget all about it until 11:59 PM and then in a moment of desperation, post a picture of my cat eating wrapping paper. Who knows?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here we come a wassailing

My time in and around the zombie hospital while visiting my possible future-home-for-at-least-three-years was really interesting. Now we just wait until March to find out where we'll be going. One of these days, I'll explain the whole match process to those of you lucky enough not to have to go through it. Also, I packed up the Christmas ornaments but didn't mail them because I couldn't find a post office. So, Mr. Darling will mail them for me.

Ok, so...

Saturday night, here's what happened: Mr. Darling (soon to be Dr. Darling) has a cousin who lives about an hour away from the city we're currently in. So, we decided to hang out with him. Here's how the conversation went -

Mr. Darling: "Do you want to get together tonight?"
Mr. Darling's cousin: "Yes! I'm going Christmas caroling tonight. Do you want to come?"
Mr. Darling: "Absolutely not. We can hang out after you're done, though."

The caroling was supposed to start at 5:00ish, so Mr. D and I decided to leave to visit his cousin at 6:30, thereby ensuring that we would miss the caroling. We were supposed to call his cousin when we were 15 minutes outside of the city to get an address for where we should meet him. So, Mr. D called, and when he got off the phone, he said, "We're meeting him at a nursing home. Some people he knows live there." We both laughed at how weird that was, when a realization suddenly hit me. "Mr. D!!" I exclaimed, "We're caroling!! He tricked us into caroling!" Sure enough, Mr. D called his cousin back and asked if we were caroling, and his cousin sheepishly replied that we might "sing a few songs." Then we discovered that Mr. D's cousin wouldn't even be AT the nursing home. We would hook up with some other people there (people we'd never met in our lives), and then they would take us to the next stop on the caroling extravaganza. Except that then, when we were almost at the nursing home, the people left. Without us. So then, we had to wait in a parking lot for Mr. D's cousin to show up.

From there, we went to a surprise birthday party for a man we did not know. (I guess that probably added to the surprise - "Surprise! Complete strangers are in your home, eating your cake and singing happy birthday to you awkwardly since they're not quite sure what name should come after the words 'Happy birthday, dear ___.'! ") Then, we sat in the living room with about 20 people, singing Christmas songs that were never, ever meant to be sung by a large, untrained group without a director ("Carol of the Bells," for example.) Many of the songs involved complicated melodies that no one really knows, which meant that I got the giggles and couldn't stop. And yes, I know that it's rude to laugh at a room full of strangers massacring Christmas songs. I couldn't help it. Adding to the fun was the fact that a woman kept showing Mr. Darling and me two photo albums full of pictures of statues. And trees.

Monday night was the pre-interview dinner, and frankly, it was fantastic. Per Adriana's advice, I made sure to talk: not so much that I was monopolizing the conversation, but enough to get to know everyone and, you know, slip in a few glowing recommendations of Mr. Darling. Actually, to tell you the truth, I didn't even have to try to slip them in - at one point, the resident I was sitting next to leaned over and said quietly to me "Mr. Darling is doing an excellent job during his rotation here. We're all really impressed by him. And he's such a nice guy. Everybody in the department likes him a lot." And I was like, "Yeah, I might be a little bit biased, but I like him a lot, too. He's the most motivated person I've ever met." And then I told him about the time that Mr. Darling saved a little girl's life by transplanting one of his own lungs into her right after scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. No, just kidding. He was never in the Super Bowl.

Tuesday was Mr. D's interview, and it went very, very well. Everybody likes him a lot (who wouldn't?), and his rotation is going extremely well, so the whole department has gotten to see Mr. D in action this month (he's flawlessly performed several procedures that some of the residents haven't even learned yet. That's because he's secretly Superman.) He has three or four more interviews this month and next (he did most of his interviews in November), but he's pretty much decided on the order in which he'll be ranking all of the programs, so now it's just time for us to sit and wait - Mr. D will be calm and collected while waiting because that's how he always is, and I'll be all nervous and excited. Wish us luck!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In the hospital

I'm typing this from the residents' computer lounge in a really gigantic hospital while Mr. Darling naps. (The poor man worked until about 2 am even though he was supposed to be done at 11 pm.) Last night we slept in the hospital room that has been Mr. D's bachelor pad for the past few weeks. The tiny room has bunk beds, but if you think we slept on separate beds, you're mistaken. We shared the bottom bunk (a twin bed), and although I woke up once with Mr. D's elbow on my head and he claims that I kept hogging the bed and almost forcing him onto the floor, we plan to share again tonight. Having space is overrated. I haven't gotten to share a bed with Mr. D for the past few weeks, so I am not passing this chance up.

It was interesting spending the night in a hospital. We're sleeping in an older section, and the entire floor we're on has been converted to dorm rooms for students and residents, but Mr. D and I are the only ones on the floor this weekend. The hall kind of looks like the setting for a hospital horror movie. It's long and dark with corners that could potentially hide zombies. Last night after Mr. D came back, I spent a good ten minutes sprinting down the tile hallway in my socks and then sliding as far as I could (kind of like Tom Cruise at the beginning of this clip from Risky Business - except that I'm a female... and I was wearing pants. Also, try to picture a more zombie-friendly hallway.) This morning I was awakened by a woman making an announcement over the hospital loudspeaker. All-in-all, it was a restful night.

This particular hospital is one of Mr D's top choices for residency programs, so we spent some time today exploring the area to see if it lives up to Tova's Very High Standards for Places She is Willing to Live* (see footnote). So far, so good. We also stopped by Sam's Club to eat some free samples and quietly make fun of a woman with a ridiculous mullet. Tomorrow, Mr. D works for eight hours, so my big plans include sleeping in, checking out a local church, and maybe some more zombie-hallway sliding. I'll keep you posted.

*Tova's Very High Standards for Places She is Willing to Live
1. Mr. Darling must be there.
2. No farm animals next door.
3. Must be a Starbucks within 5 miles.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I love, love, love Christmas. I mean, perhaps a little bit more than is healthy. I am incapable of going anywhere that sells Christmas ornaments without buying one or two... or fifteen. Really, all anyone would have to do in order to convince me to buy random overpriced knickknacks or gadgets is attach a hook to it and call it an ornament. Do I need another can opener? Nope. Would I buy a can-opener ornament to hang on my tree? Yes, please.

Mr. Darling and I got married during the Christmas season, so now I have this idea that I must own every ornament and every Christmas-related item ever made, because, "Awww! It's Christmasy like our wedding!!" Now, I not only associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus, family, and gifts, I also associate it with Mr. Darling, our wedding, love, weddings in general, and (let's be honest) myself in a long white dress being the center of attention. Also, for our first Christmas as husband and wife, we were on our honeymoon, so in my mind, Christmas is also associated with being pampered in the tropics while sipping exotic beverages.

Since we had a Christmas wedding, my genius bridesmaids came up with the brilliant idea of asking everyone to bring me a Christmas ornament for my wedding shower. So, not to brag or anything, I have the most amazing Christmas ornament collection known to man.

Here are some of my favorites:











A shrimp cocktail. Get it?













Dancing Santa & Mrs. Claus. Too cute!

















Not my actual engagement ring.









There's a story behind this one: When Mr. Darling and I first started dating, we lived 900 miles apart. (We met when I was visiting some friends, one of whom happened to be Mr. D's roommate.) We managed the whole long-distance relationship thing for about five months before we both decided we couldn't take it anymore, so after Mr. D graduated from college, he moved halfway across the country to be close to me. When he moved to my city, I had several housewarming gifts waiting for him in his new apartment, including a vase with a beta fish in it and a lily growing out of the top. On the side of the vase, I had painted the words "To the only fish in my sea." (Just for clarification, that's a play on the phrase "There are plenty of fish in the sea," and not something dirty.) So, my college roommate gave me this ornament for my shower and included a note that said "Tova & Mr. Darling - the only fish in each other's sea."









I made this for extra credit in geometry class in 8th grade. You know you're amazed.






It's a spoon! (This is proof that I will, in fact, hang kitchen utensils on my tree.)



I just bought this one last month at this amazing little shop that sells antiques and art. I LOVE it!

As you may have guessed, we set up and decorated our Christmas tree over the Thanksgiving weekend. (When I say "we," I mean "mostly me." Mr. D is required only to hang up five ornaments, at which point he gets bored and does something productive.) Our wedding favors were Christmas ornaments with our name and wedding date on them, so we also have quite a few of those on our tree.
And now for the big reveal. Here's one of ornaments I will be sending to my contest winners!
(Ok, not this exact one. This one's mine, because obviously I couldn't buy these ornaments for other people and not get one for me.)
I will be sending these this weekend to my fabulous winners when I go to visit Mr. Darling. He's out of town on a rotation, so I'm visiting him and going to a pre-residency interview dinner with him. (I bought a fantastic dress for the interview, obviously.)
I will be staying in a hospital with Mr. Darling (for real!), so I probably will have no internet, but I'll keep you posted and let you know whether or not I spilled soup on anyone at the dinner. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Money for blogging

So, some of you might have noticed that I added the "AdSense" feature to my blog, and you might be wondering why. If you are, in fact, wondering why, you're obviously under the impression that my actions are determined by a sophisticated thought process. That's simply not true. Here was how the thought process went: "Free money? Woo hoo!"

Now before you all get too excited and jump on the free money bandwagon, I should probably be upfront with you and tell you that in the week since I joined, I've earned a penny. And, nobody ever even clicked on any links, so I think the penny I earned is a computer error and they'll be revoking it soon. Also, they don't send you any actual money until your account reaches $100, so by my calculations, I should be receiving a check in just over 192 years. Hurrah! That doesn't mean that the rest of you shouldn't add this feature, but it probably works better for people with thousands of readers. Readers who actually click on ads on websites. And frankly, I don't know any people who actually do that. Of course, it might help if the ads that show up on my blog weren't completely ridiculous. For example, the one that keeps showing up says "I got scammed 27 times." Really? Well, if you're that stupid, I don't want to do business with you.

If you haven't already done so, you should probably check out the picture of broccoli casserole that Sassy Britches posted on her blog especially for me! Be prepared to drool.

This post is obviously pointless, but I've got a Christmassy one planned for tomorrow, and also, I will be mailing the ornaments out to my contest winners this weekend when I go out of state to visit Mr. Darling on a rotation. So, pretend I just said something exciting and profound, and comment accordingly.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving

Don't worry all, I've not forgotten about tracking down the people who stole my husband's identity, but since I'm still awaiting several return phone calls (nothing like trying to follow up on identity theft the day before Thanksgiving), I'll post something totally frivolous and random about my Thanksgiving. This should give you some insight into what it's like to be related or married to me.

A week before Thanksgiving, I asked my mom if she'd like for me to make the broccoli casserole for Thanksgiving dinner. She said that she'd already bought all of the ingredients, but that if I'd rather make it instead, that would be great, and she'd just save the ingredients for another time.

The night before Thanksgiving, I was at my mom's house spending time with family when I remembered that I didn't have any mayonnaise for the casserole. When my brother-in-law had to run to the store, I asked him to pick up some mayo for me. Then, when I left my mom's house that night, I forgot the mayo. I got halfway home, realized I forgot it, and had to turn around and go back. (Luckily, I live 15 minutes away from my mom.)

Thanksgiving morning, I realized that I had no eggs for the casserole, so I asked Mr. Darling to run to the only open store to get eggs while I took a shower. After I jumped in the shower, Mr. D and I had this conversation:

Me (yelling from the shower): "Mr. D!! Mr. D!!!!!"
Mr. Darling (coming into the bathroom so we can talk like civilized human beings instead of shouting): "Yes?"
Me: "Can you pick up some cream of mushroom soup for the casserole, too?"
Mr. Darling: "Sure. Anything else?"
Me: "Nope, that's it." (Mr. D leaves bathroom.)
Me: "Mr. D!!!!!"
Mr. Darling (coming back into the bathroom): "What?"
Me: "Can you get shredded cheese, too? I forgot that we're out."
Mr. Darling: "Ok." (Starts to leave bathroom)
Me: "Wait!"
Mr. Darling: "What?"
Me: "Umm... can you check the freezer to see if we have any broccoli?"

Of course, we did not have any broccoli. In other words, the only ingredients I actually had for broccoli casserole were crackers to crumble on top and the mayo that my brother-in-law got for me the night before.

So, since some of you like to share recipes on here, I'll share my Thanksgiving Day recipe for broccoli casserole:

Tova Darling's Mom's Broccoli Casserole
1. Go to Tova's mom's house; she has all of the ingredients already. (Added bonus - she has already cooked the broccoli because you're running late.)
2. Use her casserole dishes and her oven to assemble and cook her ingredients according to her recipe.
3. Make your sister clean out the mixing bowls.
4. Graciously accept tons of compliments on your delicious casserole.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So here's the scoop...

Warning: This is scary stuff!

Thanks for your support, suggestions and comments on my fraud post! As it turns out, Mr. Darling and I found out the answer to the fraud question at the same time - he did it by calling LifeLock, and I did it by finding this article online. So, I thought I'd share the answer with the rest of you, just as an FYI, and hopefully to also inspire you to send nasty letters to people.

Here's what happened: Apparently, lots of companies that get money from member subscriptions (including LifeLock, IdentitySweep, and Lingo Internet phone service, all of which are services to which Mr. Darling was fraudulently subscribed) use affiliate companies to do the actual dirty work of signing up new customers. These affiliates get incentives or bonuses to sign up lots of customers, or they're required to meet a certain quota of new customers every month. See where this is going yet?

In order to meet the quota or get bonuses without having to go through the hassle of actually finding willing customers, unscrupulous affiliates will use stolen credit or debit card information and stolen identities to sign people up for services that they don't actually want. They meet their quota, they look like stellar performers, they get a bonus, and then people like my husband get stuck with $600 in fees for services they never wanted in the first place.

Here's the part that makes me mad: the point of Life Lock and Identity Sweep is to keep people from stealing your identity. However, by using affiliate companies and assigning new customer quotas and then obviously not doing nearly enough to ensure that all of the new customers are people who really want to sign up for these services, LifeLock and IdentitySweep are indirectly providing affiliates with an incentive to steal your identity. I mean, hello, these companies are supposed to keep your identity safe, and yet they don't notice that it's slightly odd for a new customer to sign up for LifeLock and IdentitySweep (not to mention three other subscription services) in the same day???? Customers are supposed to trust these companies to keep their personal financial information safe, yet they can't even keep it safe from their own employees???? Way to go, LifeLock and IdentitySweep.

I will be raising a ruckus over this. I'm sending angry letters, making angry phone calls, and (obviously) posting angry blog entries. I encourage you to do the same! Don't feel like writing your own post about it? Feel free to link to my blog. Also, take a moment to email member.services@lifelock.com and express your concerns. The scariest thing is that as soon as my husband called LifeLock and told them that he'd been fraudulently signed up with them, they knew exactly what the problem was, because it had happened lots of times before. In other words, they know this is a problem, yet they haven't fixed it. When Mr. D spoke to a LifeLock representative, they had his name, his phone number, and his address. Translation? LifeLock's and IdentitySweep's affiliates are using my husband's stolen identity to pay for LifeLock's and IdentitySweep's identity theft protection!

If we can't trust identity protection companies to take precautions to avoid having their own affiliates steal our identities (and as a result, fraudulently taking our money themselves), then it seems to me they can't be trusted to protect us from anyone else, either.

Fraud

Ok, readers, I need your help. Mr. Darling and I are having a very strange problem, and I can't figure it out to save my life. I spent hours on the internet trying to find some mention of someone else having a similar problem or any explanation as to why and how this good be happening, but to no avail. Finally, I said to myself, "Self, the 40-something people who read your blog are clearly geniuses. (And some of them may be career criminals who have experience in this area, who knows?) I bet they can shed some light on the subject."

Are you intrigued yet? Good. Here's the scoop:

A week or two ago, Mr. Darling noticed that there were like $600 in strange charges on his bank account, even though he had never lost his debit card. (He has a separate bank account for when he travels on rotations. When we were using our joint account, we were getting stuck with overdraft fees when he traveled, because neither of us knew what the other was spending while he was in a different city. Not sure why I felt the need to explain that.) Anyway, he called the bank, they canceled his debit card, mailed him a new one, and refunded the charges. Problem solved, right? Wrong!

Yesterday, when Mr. D came home for Thanksgiving break, he was opening some mail, and he had a package from some company that does home phone service through your computer. They had sent him a computer part to use to hook up his computer and phone. Except, he hadn't ordered the part. And he'd never heard of the company. So after some investigating, we looked on his online bank statement, and saw a recent $75 charge (recent as in, after his old debit card should've been deactivated) to this company. Then, we realized that some of the previous fraudulant charges were to companies like LifeLock and IdentitySweep, which are identity theft protection companies. Companies with which Mr. D absolutely did NOT sign up. And... the confirmation letters for these services had been mailed to Mr. Darling. At our home address.

As Mr. D continued to open his mail, he kept finding more things related to the fraudulant charges. For example, one of the charges was to some weight-loss company, and Mr. D opened one envelope to find six "women's weight loss patches" from that company. (I weigh 125, so don't blame me for that one.)

So, basically, someone has been using Mr. D's card number to sign him up for services and to buy things and have them sent to our house. In other words, the criminal is apparently gaining nothing from this fraud (what could you possibly gain by signing someone else up for identity theft protection?) What the heck??

Now, keep in mind that Mr. D's debit card has never left his side. And, we've now connected most of the charges to things that have either been mailed to our house or services that Mr. D has been signed up for. All without his knowledge or consent. For some reason, I'm kind of freaked out by this. But also really, really confused.

Hours of internet searching has failed me, dear readers. Does anyone else have any idea what might be going on here? Seriously. This is absurd.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And the winners are...

So, I said that I was going to post pictures of the ornaments yesterday, but I forgot. Oh well.

The winners of the gift contest who I will receive the ornaments (that I swear exist, even though I haven't gotten around to photographing them) are...

Candy for suggesting matched luggage! My current luggage cost $30 at Kmart for five pieces, so, you know... it's not super durable. Plus, this is an awesome idea, because if I pick a really expensive set and only ask for a piece at a time, I'll have gift ideas for the next few Christmases! Score! Now I just have to find a set I love...

Kim for introducing me to the Kindle! I'm a fast reader, so when I go on vacation, I pack like... 10 books. That takes up a lot of room. Getting a Kindle would mean that I could carry smaller luggage! (Which would be good if I'm picking out really expensive luggage.)

Moi (no, not me, that's her blog name) for suggesting Burberry London perfume! I actually went to the mall and smelled it, and... yum!

And... Cora! Because I'm considering getting one of her gift ideas (a signed picture of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi) for Mr. Darling - he's a huge Seinfeld fan!

So, winners, drop me an email at tovadarling (at) gmail (dot) com, and let me know where you'd like for me to send your ornament!! I'll send it to your house, your mom's house, your gym, your local police precinct... whatever makes you feel most comfortable. I'll probably be sending them in two weeks, as Mr. D is out of town on a rotation, and I'll be going to visit him, so I can mail them from a different state and preserve my secret identity that no one is really trying to guess anyway. Yay, anonymity!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The best gift ever

There are just two days left in my gift idea contest, so get your gift ideas in quickly! Remember, the best gift ideas get a Christmas ornament! I bought the ornaments this weekend, and I'll post pictures tomorrow to provide you all with some extra motivation.

In honor of all of your amazing and creative suggestions that you've already submitted, I will now tell you about the best and most creative gift that I ever gave to Mr. Darling.

Everybody ready? For our first wedding aniversary, I gave Mr. Darling...

A book of boudoir photos! (Which is really just a ladylike way of saying that I gave him a book of softcore porn pictures of myself. Think Maxim with a touch of Playboy.)

That's right, while Mr. D was out of town for school, I had a (female) professional photographer (who was also our wedding photographer and who I've known for years) come to our house and take pictures of me in lingerie and less. My very favorite picture was of me on Mr. Darling's motorcycle (sport bike, not a Harley), wearing a black bra, a black thong and stiletto heels. It's a hot picture. :) Of course, that particular picture had to be taken outside, on my driveway (we hung up a sheet to block the view from the street), and I almost scarred some young children for life when they came around to sell cookies for a school fundraiser... Luckily, they came by just AFTER I had put some more clothes on, otherwise, the title of this post might've been "How I ended up in prison for corruption of minors."

The pictures turned out very hot, and Mr. D loves them. I had the best ones made into a book and also gave him a cd of the 300+ pictures the photographer took. As I told him, now he'll always be able to see me when I was young and sexy, even after I'm old and wrinkly. If any of you wives are looking for a good gift idea, let me just tell you... in my personal experience, that gift goes over really well.

So, what's the best gift you ever gave to someone?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Porn for the mind

I love romantic novels. Not Harlequin Romances or other formulaic romance novels that are basically about sex (not that I'm putting them down - they're just not my cup of tea), but reasonably well-written novels that include a romantic element. But yesterday, when I was discussing the Twilight series with two of my coworkers (I've only read the first two books, so don't give anything away!), it occurred to me that romantic novels (and Harlequin romances, too) are really quite unfair to men in the sense that they give women unrealistic expectations of how men should act.

Here's what I mean: as my coworkers and I were discussing the Twilight series and how romantic and thoughtful Edward is in the books, one of them said "I think all husbands should be required to read Twilight so that they can see what they're up against and what we're comparing them to." And I realized that as women, we do sometimes compare real-life men to fictional characters in books, and it's really unfair! Because of course, Edward Cullen is not a real person. He's unrealistic, not only because he's a vampire, but also because he is a fictional man that has been imagined, created, edited, and given dialogue written by a woman. So he's not even a fictional male acting like a real male, he's a fictional male acting in a way that a female writer thinks that men should act. And expecting real men to act the same way that a female-created fictional character does is doing men a huge disservice.

It's unfair in the same way that a man comparing his wife to a Playboy centerfold is unfair. Playboy centerfolds are chosen from among tens of thousands of women who have spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery in order to more closely fit society's ideal of what a woman should look like. Then, trained professionals spend hours doing the models' hair and makeup using abnormally expensive makeup and hair products, at which point, highly paid professional photographers take HUNDREDS of pictures of these women using expensive cameras, special lenses, and extremely flattering lighting. Of these hundreds of pictures, only the very best and most flattering are chosen, and then these pictures are airbrushed to remove any possible flaws that might still be showing despite plastic surgery, professional makeup, expensive lighting, and professional photography. So, if I were to roll out of bed after four hours of sleep, with no makeup on, while I had the flu, and my husband said to me "Why can't you look more like a Playboy centerfold? They look perfect!" no one could blame me for knocking him unconscious. Because by the time a photo makes it into Playboy, hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone into making sure that the woman in the picture looks better than any woman (including the model herself) could ever look in real life.

And while most intelligent people can understand this about Playboy, sometimes as women, we don't realize that we are holding our husbands (or boyfriends, or random men on the street) to similar ridiculous and impossibly high standards by expecting them to behave like fictional men in books. The kind of high standards that, if they were used on us, would infuriate us. Any guy could sound romantic if he had a professional female author writing his dialogue. Any guy could make a woman melt if the author of a New York Times best-seller was in charge of coming up with all of his romantic ideas, and then a team of editors, proofreaders, and publicists examined his life with a fine-toothed comb and suggested thousands of changes. Mr. Darling does not have those things. Neither, I expect, do any other husbands or boyfriends, and yet we expect them to act like they do. I've totally been guilty of this at times, but no more! Am I going to stop reading romantic novels? Heck no! But I am going to be perpetually thankful that I married a real, live, amazing-but-not-unrealistically-perfect man instead of a fictional character, and I'm no longer going to compare him to men in books. By doing so, I'll be giving him the same respect that he gives me by not expecting me to perpetually look like I've just stepped off of the pages of Playboy. I'm encouraging all of you other fabulous wives and girlfriends (both current and future) to join me on this. Who's with me?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My very first contest!

I need help. See, Mr. Darling asked me for a list of Christmas gift ideas. Our anniversary, my birthday, his birthday, and Christmas all fall within a six-week period, so we both tend to run out of gift ideas unless we give each other a gift list.

The problem is, I can't think of anything that I want!! But when I told him that, he said that unless I want 10 sweater jackets (which was one of the few things I could think of to put on my list, and which he already got me for my birthday), I'd better think of something.

So, help me! Please! I've been on findgift.com. I've been on etsy. I've been on ebay. And I can NOT find anything else to put on my list! Here's what I have so far:

Pajamas
Season 4 of The Office on dvd
Picture frames (How generic is that? I'm so out of ideas!)
A pearl necklace (get your minds out of the gutter) to match the bracelet he gave me as a wedding gift
That's it!

So, I'm officially starting a contest. Give me ideas! Great ideas! Unique ideas! What's an item that you can't live without? What was the best, most creative Christmas gift you ever got in your life? Do you know of something gorgeous and charming and totally Tova-esque that you think will suit me perfectly? If so, let me know! If you can provide links to websites where Mr. Darling can actually buy these gifts, that would be extra appreciated! (Remember, he's a full-time med student, so online shopping is way easier for him than going to the mall.)

You can enter as many gift ideas as you want (seriously, I need lots of ideas). I will pick the top two (or three, or five, if I'm feeling generous) gift ideas as winners. In the spirit of Christmas, each winner will get a Christmas ornament! (Unless of course, you don't celebrate Christmas, in which case, tell me what you do celebrate, and I'll find you a different gift.)

If Mr. Darling actually buys one of your suggestions for me for Christmas, I'll even post a picture on my blog and give you full credit for your creative gift-giving genius (I can't guarantee this part of the prize, obviously.)

Tell your friends, your favorite bloggers, your mom, your readers, and encourage them to participate! The contest will last for one week (because Mr. D is really getting after me to give him my gift list), so get your gift ideas in by Wednesday, November 19 at 9:30 pm.

Now get shopping, everyone! Mr. Darling is waiting!

A wonderful compliment

I'm a poet, and I didn't even know it!

(Get it?? It's funny, cause "poet" and "know it" rhyme! See? I'll take a moment to allow the delicious cleverness of that joke to sink in...)

Ok, moving on...

I got a really nice compliment yesterday from a complete stranger, and it made my day!

Now, as background information for this story, let me just say that between the ages of 6 and 16, I was one of those insufferable people who thought that they could write poetry and who wrote a ton of poems and then forced others to read them. I filled notebooks with bad poems. I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of my own poetic genius. I was made no less insufferable by the fact that in second or third grade, I won second place for my age group in a city-wide poetry contest and was invited to read my poem aloud to a large crowd which was composed entirely of parents of other children who were also reading their poems (and my parents, of course). My name and picture were in the local paper. It went straight to my head. What I obviously failed to realize was that writing better poems than other seven and eight year olds isn't exactly the same thing as, say, being Robert Frost. So, I thought I was a poet. A great poet. A fantastic poet. And then I turned 17 and took AP English in high school and read poetry by people who actually could write poetry, and I suddenly realized that my poetry was pathetic in comparison, and I burned it all. (No, just kidding, I save everything. It's probably in a box somewhere.) Anyway, after my sudden and painful realization that my poetry was mediocre, I stopped writing poetry completely, until I needed another creative writing class for my writing degree, so I signed up for a poetry class during my senior year of college.

I wrote all the poems that were assigned to me, and not a single one more. As my final project, I assembled the requisite chapbook of a dozen or so poems, and the first poem was about how I couldn't write poetry. I printed the required number of copies of the chapbook, got reasonably good reviews from my classmates and my professor, and then didn't write another poem again. In fact, the dedication page of my chapbook said "This book is dedicated to my boyfriend Mr. Darling, my poetry classmates, and Dr. (Name of Poetry Professor), who will be the only ones who will ever read it." (Quick side note - I dedicated a poetry book to Mr. Darling, and then he ended up marrying me! Coincidence? Yeah, probably. He's not really into poetry.)

This all took place four years ago, and I haven't thought about it since. Except for yesterday, when I got a Facebook message from someone I didn't know, and the subject line of the message was the title of my poetry chapbook from senior year. Apparently, this guy is now a senior at the same college I attended, and he was in my old professor's office discussing poetry, and my old professor was showing him various chapbooks from former students, and when he read mine, he liked it so much he asked if he could keep a copy of it. So he sent me a message to let me know that he loved my poetry, that contrary to what I'd assumed in my dedication, other people were actually reading and enjoying my chapbook, and he actually thanked me for writing my poems. (He also congratulated me on marrying the guy to whom I had dedicated my chapbook. Haha!)

So, in summation, I'm still no Robert Frost (and I promise that I will not convert this to a poetry blog and subject you all to mediocre poetry from now on), but I thought it was a really nice compliment, and it made me feel good about myself and about my writing, so I felt like sharing. Also, I think I'm going to start following this guy's example and go out of my way to compliment people on things I really like, even if I don't know them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Americans Against Gullibility

I am a skeptical person by nature. If someone tries to sell me on the healing properties of grapefruits or magnets or colonic irrigation, my first reaction generally runs along the lines of "that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." What really irritates me though, are "facts," stories or warnings that people forward to me by email. I know that this is surprising, but not everything found on the internet is true! *gasp* (Think about it - if I'm able to use the internet as a forum in which to spout off my opinions, so can anyone else with too much time on their hands!)

I would like to introduce you all to one of my very favorite websites. http://www.snopes.com/ It's an urban legends reference website that addresses all of these ridiculous email forwards that clog up our e-mailboxes. If you are reading this sentence, your homework is as follows: before forwarding any emails about a little boy with cancer who wants business cards, or greeting cards, or letters so that he can get into the Guiness Book of World Records; before warning all of your female friends about attackers in mall parking lots knocking them out with fake perfume samples and then stealing all their money; before giving your friends yet another copy of the Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe that supposedly cost $250; before refusing to buy Tampax Pearl tampons because you think they will cut your cervix; before passing along a stupid email where people are supposed to put a star next to their own name for a fictitious school project; before boycotting Exxon and Mobile gas stations because you think that will lower gas prices, go to this website! (For the record, all of the examples I listed in the previous sentence are indeed examples of urban legends that are completely false. If you want to know more, follow the links. I must confess that I actually believed the cookie recipe one until I checked it out on Snopes.)

Let me clarify that I am not picking on anyone here. This is simply a public service announcement. These emails are annoying, and since most of them don't have even a shred of validity, they're a complete waste of time. Frankly, I don't have the time to read or even delete these emails. (Oh, who am I kidding? If I have this much time to devote to a blog tirade, I have time to read these emails... I just don't want to.) These emails are often less than "harmless." Don't believe me? Click on the "Guiness Book of World Records" link above. A family and an organization have had to relocate because people just won't stop sending cards and letters for a "dying child" who is now a healthy 29 year old man who doesn't want any more greeting cards, business cards, letters or anything else.

Bottom line? The fact that you've heard a story a hundred times or that it was forwarded by a "very reliable source" doesn't make something true. I will leave you all with a fabulous quote from a girl I knew in high school (who shall be referred to simply as "Girl"):

Friend: "Hey, Girl, did you know that the word 'gullible' is not in the dictionary?"
Girl: "I know, ok?? Why does everyone keep telling me that?? I already know it's not in there!!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Unpopular opinion

Just this week, a friend of mine told me that she's leaving her husband because she's not happy being married to him. They got married a month after Mr. Darling and I did (two years ago), and they're already calling it quits. In the past two years alone, five couples I know have divorced after less than three years of marriage. In two cases, one person was unfaithful, so you certainly can't blame the injured party for wanting a divorce. But in the other three marriages, one (or both) spouse(s) just decided that they weren't particularly happy being married, and they decided to get a divorce.

Now, I realize that what I'm about to say is not a popular opinion to express in today's society, especially for someone of my generation. And I'm hoping that it doesn't offend any of you. If it does, I genuinely apologize for hurting anyone's feelings.

I can certainly sympathize with people who get divorced because of infidelity or abuse or because one spouse is secretly a serial killer. To me, those are all understandable reasons to divorce. But (here comes the unpopular part), I don't think that not being "happy" is a valid reason to divorce. In fact, I think it's a really, really crappy reason to divorce someone. I can't speak for anyone else, but my wedding vows did not end with the words "...as long as you make me happy," or "...until I no longer feel like being married to you." Mine ended with "...until death parts us." They also contained the words "...for better or for worse, in good times and in bad..." In other words, my (and most other people's) wedding vows made a point of saying that there are going to be bad times, there are definitely going to be times when one or both of us is unhappy, but I am promising, in front of God, and our families, and our friends, that I will still love, honor, and cherish you, even when I don't particularly feel like it, until I am dead. Those words are the most significant, meaningful, important promises that have ever left my mouth, and I don't think that fleeting feelings should have any bearing on them whatsoever.

I think Dr. Laura sums it up best in her blog when she says:

"That’s why we have such chaos in our whole society - because you think “happy” at any one moment is the highest value. I think honor, sacrifice, and commitment are a higher honor than taking your daily “happiness” temperature, because a man staying true to his wife, who has terminal colon cancer, instead of dating is not happy. Is he happy? Then that can’t be the highest quotient!

If you want the world to deal on “happiness,” then you have to understand that your man will leave you any day you don’t make him happy, and will not honor you or any vow, because he doesn’t have to! You’ve already taught him that if you’re “happy,” that’s the only thing that matters.

I don’t think firemen are happy to run into burning buildings. I don’t think they’re “happy” doing that. I don’t think police are “happy” to surround a building where somebody says he’s going to shoot everybody. I don’t think they lay awake in the morning and go “Gee, that makes me happy!” They have honor and sacrifice and duty and commitment to something higher than “feeling good” in and of themselves. Don’t have children if you’re going to teach them about “happiness.” We have enough chaos in our society because people are doing what they “feel” like when it has no meaning and no projection into the future." Amen, sister.

And I know that the inevitable question I'll get is: "So, do you think your friend should just stay in a miserable marriage for the next 50 years?" and the short answer to that question is: Yes. Yes, I think she should keep her promises. Yes, I think she should honor the most important vow that she ever made in her life. Yes, I think that respecting a lifetime commitment is more important than allowing temporary and fickle feelings to dictate your major life decisions. I think she should work on her marriage, I think she should seek counseling, I think she should aggressively and proactively try to make her marriage better, I don't think she should be resigned to being unhappy forever but rather take decisive steps to help herself have a great marriage, but yes - I think she should stick it out.

The funny thing about the fact that this particular opinion is so unpopular is that it's totally normal in every other aspect of society. If a mom stops feeding and caring for her infant child because doing so no longer makes her happy, we call it child abuse, and she'll end up in prison. If the police suddenly decide that they are no longer happy enforcing laws, society will succumb to utter chaos. If a member of our armed forces decides he's no longer happy being in the military so he just up and quits, he'll be court-marshaled and probably do jail time. If in the middle of performing open-heart surgery on you, your surgeon decides he's not happy with his profession and leaves to become an astronaut, you're dead, and he's going to be facing a major medical malpractice suit. If you decide that you're not happy paying taxes, or showing up to work, or paying your mortgage, or driving on the right side of the road, or doing any one of the other thousands of things that make society run smoothly, you can expect major consequences if you act according to that "unhappiness." Heck, you can't even cancel your cell phone contract if you're unhappy with it without paying hundreds of dollars to the cell phone company. In NO other area of society is being unhappy considered to be a good excuse to just up and abandon your responsibilities or renege on your promises. In every other societal arena, you are expected to fulfill your obligations regardless of whether or not you're happy about it. But for some strange reason, our society thinks that being unhappy is a totally acceptable reason to break the most important vow that most of us will ever make in our lives.

This is one of the reasons that I think people should be very, very sure about their choice of spouse before they get married. 99% sure is not good enough. It's important that you know your future spouse well enough that you have a very realistic idea of what the "for worse" is that you're agreeing to when you say "for better or for worse." Because those words aren't just something you say because they sound poetic. They mean something. And once you've said them, simply changing your mind isn't a good enough reason to break your promises.

Agree with me? Disagree? Think I'm a raving lunatic? Want to nominate me for sainthood? Bring on your opinions! Niceness preferred, but not mandatory.

Sorry this is so long. If you actually read all the way to the end, you deserve a cookie. Go buy yourself one!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who is Tova Darling?

I've had a few requests lately to see my old blog, requests to see pictures of me, and requests for my autograph (ok, I made that last one up.) As much as I'd love to show you all my old blog (no, seriously, I'm obsessed with people reading what I've written. It's a sickness), I can't on the off-chance that one of you is my mother-in-law in disguise. (She's crafty.) But to appease the masses, I'm going to give you all a bit more info about me.

As this blog is anonymous, you've probably guessed by now that my name is not actually Tova Darling. It's nothing like Tova Darling - not the same initials, not the same number of letters, and it doesn't rhyme. (Although Nova Farling would be an interesting name.) Also, Tova is a Jewish name (or possibly Swedish, according to one website), but I am neither Jewish nor Swedish.

A few years ago, I decided that if I ever needed a fake name for anything, my fake name would be Tova Darling. (Ok, so the chances of me ever needing a fake name are slim, but if you keep in mind that I'm the same girl who is constantly performing for the imaginary cameras on her own fake reality show, it really doesn't seem that odd.) Having never actually encountered a real life situation that required a fake name, I was feeling a little blue about having such a great pseudonym and never using it; then I needed to delete my public blog and create a secret one, and - hello, silver lining! - I already had a fake name for my blog!

Now, onto more pressing issues. What do I look like? When Mr. Darling and I first started dating, he told me repeatedly that I looked like Christina Aguilera (in one of her classy phases, not when she had dreadlocks and weird makeup), which is interesting, because I'm not blond, and also I look nothing like her.
Later, Mr. Darling found out that he needed glasses, so let's not put too much stock into that.

A few people have told me that in my wedding pictures, I look like Audrey Hepburn, but I have dark hair which I was wearing up, so it's possible that the resemblance ends there.

In order to give you a more accurate description of me, I obviously turned to the internet, which knows all and tells all. I ran several pictures of me through face recognition software on MyHeritage and the following matches came up consistently with all of my pictures:

Angelina Jolie


Ashley Judd

Katherine Heigl


and Katie Holmes


If you think that I actually look like any of these women, you'd be very disappointed if you saw me in real life. I mean, I'm not unattractive, and my husband, my family and my friends think I'm hot, but they're somewhat biased. The similarity between some of these women and me is that I have dark hair, full-ish lips, arched eyebrows, big-ish eyes, and a heart/ovaly shaped face, I suppose.

(Interesting side note: my mom always tells people that I looked like Shirley Temple when I was little, so out of curiosity, I ran a few pictures of myself as a toddler and young child through the match thing-y, and Shirley Temple came up as the first match every time. Looks like mom was right!)

Now, for comparison purposes, I entered this picture of Nana Zibbs into the website:


and one of the matches was Gillian Anderson (I'm not joking):


So, you all may decide for yourselves how accurate this website is. (In fairness to the matching software, Gillian Anderson was eighth on the list. First on the list was Norman Mailer.)



(Is it just me, or can you actually see the resemblence with that one?)

I suggest that you all go to http://www.myheritage.com/celebrity-face-recognition immediately and see who you look like. It's really fun. Then tell me who you look like! (It said that Mr. Darling looked like Brian from the Backstreet Boys, which he has been told repeatedly by countless people since like, the day the Backstreet Boys became popular. So, if you really look like a celebrity, it's fun to see how accurate it can be.)

And now for other exciting news... Look! The fabulous and amazing Piece o' Coconut Cake gave me these awards!

I love, love, love them! Thank you!

Now go find your celebrity twins!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Slacker

And now for a list of reasons that Tova Darling has not updated her blog or commented on anyone else's blog or really done anything at all blog-related since last week:
  1. Bronchitis
  2. Sinusitis (yeah, I had both. It was a blast.)
  3. An antibiotic that made me feel both dizzy and nauseous, despite the package's promise that "less than 3% of patients" experienced those particular side effects. (You know me, I've always gotta be different.)
  4. Mr. Darling's sister was in town. That was actually a whole lot of fun, but it would've been more fun if I'd been healthy. I took a few days off of work to hang out with her, go to the doctor and cough a lot.
  5. I have a new irrational fear of blogs. Clicking on a strange blog while at work was what caused my computer to nearly self-destruct. The virus that I got during the four seconds that I spent on that blog actually un-installed my anti-virus software and then uploaded all kinds of crap, which made everything stop working, and our IT guy had to re-install just about everything onto my computer. Good times.
  6. I'm basically a slacker.

Other than that, though, life is pretty great! Yes, I plan to vote after work today. (I went to the polling place before work only to find a really long line stretching out of the building, so I had to wait.) Yes, I know who I'm voting for, and no, I'm not telling. I have an apolitical reputation to maintain.

One of these days (maybe sometime this week, if you're lucky), I'll get back to posting about my thoughts and feelings about random, unimportant things instead of talking about how sick I've been. So, that's something to look forward to. Also, I will be commenting on all of your blogs. And responding to all of your awesome, supportive comments. (You guys are wonderful.) And maybe thinking up a good story. And sharing my unsolicited opinions. But probably not remarking on the presidential election (unless something interesting happens while I'm waiting in line to vote, which isn't unlikely, because random things seem to happen to me a lot. One time, for example, I was Christmas shopping, and I was hit on by a star from a popular 1970's television sitcom. No joke. So, if I run into any famous people in the voting line, I'll be sure to tell you all.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The world's best husband

Thanks to everyone for your get well wishes/advice/requests that I erase my last post! You're all right - I should've called off. But Mr. Darling's little sister is coming to visit us for a few days, and I'm taking two days off of work to hang out with her, so I didn't feel like it was a good idea to take another day off. Blah.

I'm feeling somewhat better today, which I think is at least partially due to the fact that I have the world's best husband. See, yesterday, after I wrote my "woe is me" post and then proceeded to mope around the house, Mr. Darling asked me if I had any plans for today after work. And I said no, and he said: "Good, because I booked you a massage."

Um, yeah. I'm officially the luckiest wife who ever lived. So today, after another crappy day at work, I spent an hour getting the best massage of my life, and then I came home to a house that was completely spotless. Mr. D even washed the bath mat! I seriously don't know how I ever lived without this man. No joke.

I'm still recovering from my cold (but I'm doing so while feeling very relaxed), so I'm going to head off to bed.

Love y'all!
Very relaxed Tova

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ugh.

A brief list of things I did today (not in order of importance):
  • Blew my nose approximately 473 times.
  • Wrote an angry letter to the makers of DayQuil (Seriously. This is not a joke. They incurred my wrath because they changed their formula a year or two ago, and the new formula does NOT work. I told them that their product is crap and that it's their fault I was miserable at work all day.)
  • Somehow managed to get spyware on my work computer, thereby leaving myself without a computer at work all day today and probably half of the day tomorrow.
  • Used my lunch hour to go to the pharmacy and get new cold medicine that isn't crap.
  • Whined to Mr. Darling about how I don't feel well, using the following methods of communication: 1. Phone 2. Text message 3. Face-to-face conversation. (But not email, because I had no computer at work.)
  • Ate nothing but a banana and half of a piece of pizza.
  • Went to the post office.
  • Got randomly and unjustifiably irritated with Mr. Darling for doing the following things: 1. Going to the doctor. 2. Going to the mall. 3. Saying that his laryngitis might be worse than mine. 4. Suggesting that he might have pneumonia.
  • Came home from work, laid on my bed for an hour, and watched Family Feud and Pyramid.
  • Wrote this post.

I know that you all wish that your lives were as glamorous as mine is, but sadly, there can only be one Tova Darling. I'd type more, but it's hard to type while holding a huge wad of tissues.

(PS - this is totally cosmic payback for me complaining about my coworker being sick last week.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

An award, things I value, things I don't, my feet, and another award.

First item of business - I just got my first ever blog award - from Tranquility & Turmoil! Hurrah! I'm new to this whole award thing, but I'm assuming that it comes with cash and some fabulous prizes. I'm in the process of writing my my acceptance speech for the televised awards ceremony.

Here is my award!


Note the creative spelling of the word creative - that's a sign that I am DOUBLY creative!

In order to receive the award, I need to list six things I value and six things I don't value. (When I first wrote out this post, I had really long explanations of all of the things I valued. The post was about 47 pages long. Because I don't want any of you to hate me and curse my [fake] name, I took out the explanations and just left the list of things I value and don't. You're welcome.)

First, the things I value: 1. God. 2. Language and words. 3. My marriage and my relationship with my husband. 4. Family. 5. Justice. 6. Books.

And now, the things I don't value: 1. Cars. 2. (My coworker won't stop coughing/blowing her nose/clearing her throat/making other really loud and unfortunate noises, and I cannot concentrate in order to think of more things that I don't value. If you're sick, please go home. Ok, that will be my second thing I don't value:) Coming to work while you're sick at the expense of your coworkers' health and sanity. 3. Sports. 4. Please get a cough drop, seriously. 5. Our society's obsession with celebrities. 6. Something else I can't think of at the moment.

Ta DA!!

And now, for my feet. (Ok, there's a reason for this, really. Dr. Zibbs over at That Blue Yak is making a calendar of female bloggers, but I'm anonymous, which means I don't post any pictures of myself, which means I can't apply to be in this prestigious calendar! Unfair! But then, I realized that a picture of my feet wouldn't reveal who I am, and since someone out there might have a foot fetish [and who am I to judge?], it might add a new and exciting dimension to this already spectacular calendar.) So, these are my feet:

That's at my friend's wedding this past weekend. The red and black thing is my bridesmaid dress. It was really pretty! For some reason, I feel like this picture makes me look wide, which I'm not in real life, but what can you do?

JUST as I was about to post this, I got ANOTHER award (crowd goes wild). Thanks to Tiffany over at Confessions of Shop Girl, I am the proud recipient of not one, but TWO awards! Holy cow, readers! This one is the bookworm award, which I'm uber proud of, even though it's an award that contains the word "worm."

In order to accept this award, I need to buy yet another red carpet gown, and also turn to page 56 of the nearest book to me and "Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences...The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!!" (No need to yell, award.) I'm in my cubicle, so the pickings are pretty slim, but apparently, I have the John Grisham book The Client in my cube. (When and how it got here, I've no idea. I blog at work, but I definitely don't read here. Hmm...) Anyway, here it goes: "In a flash, he knew it was over. He'd blown it. Said too much. Lied too much. He'd lasted less than an hour with his story."

Now there's no need for any of you to read the book! I'm supposed to tag people now, but it's almost 5:00, and I'm tired out from trying to hide a book under my desk so no one thinks I'm reading on the job. I'll tag some people later, maybe. (Please don't revoke my awards!) If anyone reading this wants some awards, do the challenges, and they're all yours!

Have a great weekend, all!

Love,

Tova's feet

In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes