Friday, October 7, 2011

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?

This has probably been one of the hardest weeks of my life. During a layover in Oakland on the way home from a short vacation with my dad, stepmom, and sister in Lake Tahoe last Sunday, I called my mom back home in Texas. She sounded distressed, which set off alarm bells in my head. As it turns out, she informed me that my grandmother -- my Nana -- had gone so far down hill over the weekend that she wasn't expected to even make it through the night.

One of the biggest regrets in my 32 years is that I don't recall ever saying the words "I love you" the last time I spoke to my Poppy before he passed away when I was 16. My mother insists that I did, but I don't remember doing so. Even though I know he knew I loved him, it's something that has haunted me since.

To make matters worse, I've been reflecting on a vow I made to myself when I was a senior in high school. Back then, I was working in a nursing home a couple of afternoons a week, sitting with many of the older patients. I'd watch many of them sitting in wheelchairs by themselves in the day room and think to myself, "I'm never going to do that to my grandparents." When Nana began spending so much time in the hospital this year, I started realizing that I was doing just that -- leaving my own grandmother alone.

That's how I found myself on a 6:30 a.m. flight to Texas Monday morning, bleary-eyed from not sleeping the night before and praying that my Nana could hold on for just a few more hours so that I could have the chance to say goodbye.

Nana and I have always had a special bond. I don't know for sure if it has to do with the fact that she saved my life as a baby, but general consensus is that that was when it started. When I was 18 months old, I choked on a chicken bone. Emergency personnel were called and, from what I've been told, I caused quite a bit of drama. As I was turning the shade of Violet Brown, however, my Nana got a hold of me, stuck her hand in my mouth and managed to pull the bone from my throat before rocking me in a chair until I calmed down.

When I was little, I would impatiently wait by the window for the sound of a diesel engine as Nana and Poppy's Cadillac pulled into the driveway when they'd visit from Abilene. There was nothing quite like a Nana hug when she got out of the car. Soft, warm, and just full of love. I can still smell her perfume in those hugs.

In fact, if I could think of a way to describe my Nana, it would be to say that she radiated love. She did. No one radiates love the way my Nana does. No one will ever radiate love the same way she did. My mama does a pretty darn good job and I try, but Nana is, as they say, the gold standard.

When I was sick or upset, she'd rock me or just rub my back and softly sing to me -- usually "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Whenever my family and I would visit her house, she always made sure to have some of our favorite things around. Jello Pudding Pops, Big Red, Eskimo Pies... When I was in college and made the drive from Lubbock to Abilene, she had a fresh pan of Special K Bars waiting for me. Even up through last Christmas, she made sure to have her Kermit-green Tupperware canister full of spritz cookies just for me.

Every year on my birthday, I'd get a phone call that would begin with her sweet voice singing "Happy Birthday" to me. When I was broke at Texas Tech, she sent an occasional card with some cash in it and a note saying "Use this for whatever you need" in her gorgeous script handwriting. (My Nana's penmanship is unrivaled, in my opinion.)

My Nana gave me so much. She gave me my eyes and my dimples, but more importantly, she gave me love. She taught my mother how to be my mama. She made me want to be a better person and she showed me that love -- truly showing love, kindness, and forgiveness -- is usually the best way to handle things. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing my Nana angry or hearing her raise her voice.

In the end, I made it back to San Angelo before God called her home. When I visited her in the nursing home after landing, I couldn't help but melt down. Here was my Nana, barely able to talk. Somehow, though, we made a connection. Our eyes met and it was one of the eeriest, most amazing experiences I've had. I laid my head on her shoulder in a hug and cried and, despite her ailments, she rubbed my back and comforted me just as she did when I was a little girl. I will treasure that moment for the rest of my life.

Since it turned out that God wasn't quite ready for her on Monday night, I've been to visit her a couple of times this week. One afternoon, I sat there in the room with her, holding her hand. I sang to her like she used to sing to me. I told her how much I loved her. And even though I wasn't able to get more than an occasional hand squeeze as a response, she chuckled when I reminisced about how I always had to gone on "one more car ride" with her and Poppy before they returned home from their visits with us.

Tonight, though, something changed. She was placed on hospice today, so we're actually pretty sure this is the end. I went to the nursing home after dinner and was able to spend a few minutes alone with her. My beautiful, lively grandmother was hunched in a chair, eyes closed as was the norm of late. I went to her and rubbed her shoulder, telling her I was there to say goodnight and that I loved her. She opened her eyes a few times, grunted at me, and squeezed my hand, as if to tell me she loved me, too.

I have never been so heartbroken in my life. This hurts even worse than I imagined it could. That said, I wouldn't trade a minute of the last week for anything. On Sunday night, I thought I'd lost the opportunity to tell her that I love her. Thanks to God -- and to Nana for holding on for me -- I've been able to hold her hand and tell her many, many times just how much she means to me. Maybe Nana knew that I needed "one last ride" once again.

I'm going to miss those hugs and that laughter. I'll miss that sweetness and her calm voice. I'll miss her love and her optimism and her assertions that the Lord does provide. Selfishly, I mourn the fact that she's never going to be there when I eventually get married. She won't be able to meet any of her great grandchildren. But I know she's hurting and, in her words, is ready for that new body the Bible promises her once she gets to Heaven.

Even though I've said my goodbyes, there is nothing I'd rather do at this moment than go to the nursing home and curl up in bed with her, my head on her shoulder. One last time. And it still won't be enough.

I love you, Nana. Thank you for blessing me for nearly 33 years.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tomorrow's another day and I am not afraid. So bring on the rain.

“Grown-ups like to tell you where they were when President Kennedy was shot, which they all know to the exact second, which makes me almost jealous, like I should have something important enough to know where I was when it happened, but I don’t yet.”

A couple of summers ago, in a bout of ‘90s nostalgia, I decided to devote a weekend to marathoning the entire first (and only) season of My So-Called Life. I was a huge fan of the show when it first aired in 1994-1995. Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and I were the same age -- 15 -- and it finally felt like someone was paying attention to 15-year-olds. I mean, there were “Sweet 16” parties and 17-year-olds had a magazine named after them, for goodness sakes! But, now I had Angela Chase and she was speaking my language. (A language that, in retrospect, featured the words “like” and “whatever,” as well as copious amounts of run-on sentences.)

At first, my little marathon was nothing more than a chance to lay on my bed all weekend and reminisce about my purple Jan-Sport backpack, my Dexter loafers, my hunter green Girbaud-for-the-sake-of-being-able-to-say-I-had-a-pair-of-Girbaud jeans, and the first time a boy told me that I looked nice. (For the record, thank you, Doug L. for that moment after sophomore year World History.) Then, I got to an episode called “Guns and Gossip” and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. As was customary with the show, Angela’s voiceover kicked in as the first scene faded in, giving us the quote that kicked off this blog entry. (Clip.) Little did Angela know -- little did writer Justin Tanner know -- that almost exactly seven years to the day after the episode originally aired (Sept. 8, 1994), Angela would get her moment. And I’d be willing to bet she knows where she was. Right down to the second.

I know where I was: inside 310 Gaston Hall, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, 79406. Asleep. But I will never ever forget the moments after I woke up. I can still feel the cold of the tile floor of my dorm room as I climbed out of bed and shuffled to my desk. I can still feel the just-woke-up-tightness in my lower back as I bent over to look at what e-mails might have come overnight. And I can feel the confusion when I saw the e-mail from my younger sister with the subject line “BOMBS.” The body of the e-mail is too profane to share, but to paraphrase, Katy expressed a very strong interest in joining the FBI or CIA in order to take the terrorists out.

Craving some sort of context, I flipped my TV on to find what I literally thought was the beginning of Armageddon. Smoke was billowing from a hole in the Pentagon, from both of twin World Trade Center towers, and from a smoldering hole in a rural Pennsylvania field. I saw people jumping out of the towers -- an image I will never, ever forget. I saw the towers fall. I’d like to say that the next thing I did was pray or, at the very least, brush my teeth, but I can not. Instead, I did the only thing I knew to do in that moment: I dialed my dad’s office. The first words out of my mouth were, “Daddy, what’s happening?”

The rest of the day was chaotic. Girls who should have been spreading gossip, walked up and down the halls of the third floor, spreading news of what they’d heard. Someone had heard there were planes heading to Dallas, Houston, and Austin, fears that were thankfully allayed with the reports that all planes had been grounded. I went to my Film Studies class, only to be sent home after roll was taken. I went to Wal-Mart and bought red, white, and blue streamers to decorate my door with. I watched more news coverage and saw a toothless old woman in Gaza celebrating in the streets. Up to this point, I had felt only a numb form of sorrow and confusion. Now I was angry. I went to my last class of the day which my instructor helpfully turned into a sort of an open forum to discuss the day’s events. I went with my friends Ugo and Olivia to church to pray. That night, the numbness finally gave way and, as I sat in my desk chair watching news coverage of the search for survivors, I began to sob.

Over the next couple of days, I had different urges. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to stuff clothes in a bag, pack some sandwiches in a cooler, and drive to New York to do what I could to help. At another, I wanted to walk into the Armed Services Recruitment Center on University Avenue. But for the most part, all I could do was lay on my bed with the television on, a cloud descending upon me as if I was Eeyore from the “Winnie the Pooh” stories.


Now, ten years later, I only remember a couple of things clearly from the following days and weeks. The first was a surge of national unity, the likes of which I’d never seen. Both Houses of Congress came together to sing “God Bless America” that Tuesday night. People made musical tributes (this was before video software came pre-loaded on every new computer). When I drove home to San Angelo the following weekend, farmers had painted “GOD BLESS AMERICA” on bales of cotton in fields. More American flags than I can ever remember seeing popped up on the landscape along U.S. Highway 84 and State Highway 208. My driving music of choice was the soundtrack for Pearl Harbor, which, I guess, was appropriate. (Say what you will about the quality of the movie, but the soundtrack is quite beautiful.) The music, combined with the images of my country, my state, my home, gave me goosebumps. To this day, when I listen to that soundtrack, I no longer think of Ben Affleck or Josh Hartnett -- I think of Post, Snyder, and Colorado City, Texas.

(Given all of the political animosity of late, I really miss that unity -- even if it did come at a price.)

Most of all, though, I think of the fear -- on a personal and a national level. I remember telling my mother through tears that I couldn’t imagine bringing a child into a world where this could happen. I worried that if we went to war, my brothers might be drafted and sent overseas. Earlier that spring, I had visited and fallen in love with Los Angeles, but all of a sudden, the perceived safety and security of a smaller, lower-profile town seemed the best option. As a nation, many of us -- I would say the majority -- began to cast a suspicious eye on anyone of Middle Eastern descent. Whether you feel that suspicion was warranted or not, looking back, I actually feel pretty guilty about it.

We may have lost the unity, but fear remains. We’ve got political candidates talking about banning mosques. I don’t even want to get into the ridiculous hullabaloo that arose when people alleged that President Obama was a Muslim. The word “socialism” is thrown around in a similar manner to the word “communism” during McCarthyism. People are afraid that their own marriages are going to somehow be devalued if same sex couples are allowed to marry. People are afraid of what happens if a subway runs through their neighborhood. In fact, I honestly feel that most of the hot button issues of the moment are rooted in some sort of fear.

Life is too short, people. Jesus and Hugh Grant said it best:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18

(Actually, that was John talking and not Jesus. But still.)

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion love actually is all around.”

(And okay, okay... That’s talking about hate and revenge, but as we all know, fear leads to anger and anger leads to hate. Thank you, Yoda.)

By the grace of God, the love of my family, and the friendship of some pretty amazing people, I moved to Los Angeles after all. I’m not saying I’m completely over some of my fears. My heart stops when I see a plane flying lower than what I am comfortable with and I sometimes have to take an anti-anxiety pill when I board a flight, but the other stuff? Gravy. Yes, the city I’ve chosen to make my home is a known terrorist target, but I’d have never met so many of the wonderful, wonderful people in my life if I’d opted to stay home. (The thought actually makes me emotional.) I love my life and my friends and the big smile on the face of Ramez when I stop for a (forbidden) Diet Coke on the weekends.

If God forbid something happens to me -- whether it’s from my city actually being attacked, or an earthquake, or something as mundane as a traffic accident -- I hope the way I live my life and the way I interact with people will lead me to be remembered with two short words: Amanda loved.

Because I do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Calls to me throughout the day, see the feathers fly.

It's never good when someone begins seriously comparing themselves to George Oscar Bluth. Never good, but alas, that's where I'm finding myself. Sitting and wondering and maybe stress-eating (maybe) about the fact that perhaps I've made a huge mistake.

Last month, after returning from a blissful trip to the south with my BFF, I decided that I was going to quit my job. At the time I made this decision, I had decided to move back to Texas to work for my stepdad, help take care of my Nana, help my mom start up her bakery and dog boutique, generally just spend more time with my family, and buy a house for a heckuva lot less money than I ever could here. (I've seriously given up on the idea of owning real estate in California.) I'd try my hand at developing projects on my own terms from my less-expensive home with my new doxle sitting on one side of me and Mr. Rubble on the other. It was going to be great.

I walked in the day I returned to the office and told my bosses that I would not be working there after September 23 of this year. It felt amazing. It felt better than amazing. I was ready to do the Dr. Benton victory air punch, followed by a rousing ten minutes of continuous Kermit arms. After that, I called my parents and asked if they could help me move back the last weekend of that month. I sent a Facebook message to siblings and extended family to let them know what was about to happen.

And then two days later, I had a near panic attack.

Had I really just committed to moving back home? Suddenly, I began having nightmares about pulling into my mom and stepdad's dirt driveway in the country, getting out of my car and stretching my legs beneath the wide, wide sky and...feeling suffocated. I currently live in an area in which I'm constantly surrounded by people, so it was ironic to think that I was going to feel deprived of oxygen with all of that open space.

(Also ironic? The song "Wide Open Spaces" has always seemed to evoke "moving to the west coast," but, um, there's not a lot of wide open space. At least around here.)

So I talked to the very same bestie and roommate I had just made accept that I was leaving and told her that I was having second thoughts. We decided to move to South Pasadena and have Weasley brought out here (it would be cruel to move Mr. Rubble from the only home he's known at such an advanced age). I'd get a job close to that area so as to eliminate my currently horrible east-west morning commute.

As luck would have it, I actually found a job at KPCC that I thought I was perfectly qualified for and that I'd be amazing at. Given that KPCC is an NPR station, it was kind of a dream job to me. I wrote what I considered to be an amazing, creative cover letter -- probably one of the best things I've ever written -- and I sent it off, convinced I was going to get a call, go in for an interview, and just nail it. Cocky? Maybe, but I had faith. And then the weeks went by and I heard nothing.

I've applied for some other positions -- mainly schools -- and have heard (you guessed it) nothing. And now, with two weeks of gainful employment left, I'm starting to worry. The spot in my left temple and behind my eye is starting to hurt during the day. I'm drinking a lot of Diet Coke again. My stomach is doing that anxious flippy thing. Here's the issue, though...

Actually, 20-second T.O.: Let me just preface what I'm about to talk about with the fact that I realize that I am so incredibly blessed and that there are people out there who would kill for a full-time job. I feel bad for complaining. Honestly. But I feel how I feel and, well, I want to talk about it.

I'm realizing now that I'm going to have to resort to applying for more assistant positions. This is soul-crushing to me. The thought of answering phones for someone again makes me want to cry. Heck, the thought actually made me cry a little while ago. I've been a secretary since I was 16 years old. My first job in high school was as a secretarial assistant at a construction and cabinetry company in my hometown. I earned cash in college by working at the hospital as a unit secretary. After college, I got a sales coordinator job that was actually an assistant to the General Manager and General Sales Manager of a television station, but with the occasional Power Point presentation thrown in. When I got to L.A., I worked at a physician's office and I temped at reception desks all across town. My current job is an assistant position and I've been in it for five years now. I want a "big girl job" making "big girl money." By "big girl money," I mean being able to pay my bills and not worry about how many weeks I'm going to have to save up before I can afford to pay for my plane ticket home for Christmas.

I know, I know. I sound heartless. I'm sorry. Perhaps I needed to see this written out to really see how stupid it sounds.

My point is, though, I have a college degree. I'm paying off the student loans for that college degree. I am 32 years old and I would like to feel like something other than a career assistant.

My ideal job is a 40-hour-a-week job making $50,000 a year. (For those of you playing back home, that's the equivalent of $27,000/year in San Angelo, so it's not exactly a mint I'm looking for.) I don't have to place peoples' phone calls for them. I answer my own phone line. I do work in which I feel like I'm using the afore-mentioned college degree that I'm paying off. Also, the word assistant is nowhere in the title. Coordinator? Fine. Manager? Even better. Associate? That's lovely, too.

I'd actually prefer for it to not be in the entertainment realm. Actually, I am pretty sure that job is nowhere to be found in the entertainment realm, so it's a moot point. No, there are so many weird agreements that many companies have you sign and some of them actually say that whatever you work on during the time of your employment belongs to them. Even if you worked on it when you were at home. I don't want to get in to some pee-ing match over a project I want to work on. So, from here on out, I'm my own entity in the world of entertainment.

In the meantime, though, I am two weeks away from being without a paycheck. I'm thankful to have my vacation time reimbursement coming, but I was hoping to build up a rainy day fund. I guess my rainy day just got here a little quicker than expected. And I can't help feeling that it's my own damn fault.

(Even if I don't regret quitting. Not one teensy weensy bit.)

Title brought to you by Cake. Because they know all. NO PHONE NO PHONE. kthxbye

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First World Problem

Is it really too much to ask for there to be a cute dog-t out there that says "Weasley is our king"?

That's not just a First World Problem. That's, like, a Half World Problem.

Here's the basic gist of it: I have a new dog. He doesn't live with me, but he is my boy and he is precious. He's a six month old half dachshund, half beagle, which means he's just the most delightful little ball of energy ever. I found him on PetFinder and my mom and stepdad, wonderful people that they are, couldn't resist his sad face and went to rescue him from the pound.

Anyway, I decided that his name would be Barnabas because I always wanted a beagle named Barnabas. I like alliteration. That said, I already technically have a pet named Barney. My cat, Mr. Rubble, is actually named Barney, so my stepdad was kind of mrah mrah about it and I had to come up with something else...

Given that I'm a big Harry Potter fan -- not reciting-The-Mysterious-Ticking-Noise-in-the-concessions-line big, but quite large -- and given that he's a ginger who likes to do the dog version of bickering with my mom's prissy and highly-intelligent (if not always logical) dog, I decided to name him after my favorite character. Meet Weasley, everyone...

"It's me. I'm extremely famous."

So, tonight I decided that he needed a "Weasley Is Our King" doggie t-shirt. I found one that I liked until I enlarged the picture. Um, it's "Weasley is OUR King," not "Weasley is MY King." It's LeviOsa, not LevioSAR. Sadly, that was the only doggie-t like that. And I can't bloody well have Weasley wearing a shirt that says he's his own king. That's a bit conceited, don't you think? I want something cute and stylish like this, only for dogs. Can someone hook a girl up?

Weasley is our king! Weasley is our king! He didn't let the quaffle in! Weasley is our king!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Please don't judge me...

So, I'm considering going home. Maybe not for good, but it certainly wouldn't be a simple vacation.
  • "Going home" has such a negative connotation out here. I feel like saying one is "going home" is akin to admitting defeat or giving up on the dream. It's awkward saying it out loud. Heck, it's awkward just typing the words. I've thought about it before and, in the past, have laughed it off. I'd be lying, though, if I wasn't seriously considering it this time, though.
  • This place is an expensive place to live. Other than my 401K, I've not been able to build up any real savings and, with the economy being like it is, that bothers me. Every instinct I have is to "hunker down" -- go back to Kansas West Texas, move back in with my parents for a few month (they've all offered), pay off some debt and build up some savings. I've already had two job offers -- can you believe it? Maybe someday I can buy a house, because barring some kind of financial windfall, I will never own property in Los Angeles. I've had to accept that.
  • I miss my family. Plain and simple. I love living in California and I love the freedom that comes from being on my own, but I miss my family. My youngest nephew doesn't even know me. He wouldn't let me hold him at Christmas. I'd be lying if I said that didn't sting a little. I miss being able to hug my dad whenever I want to. I miss long chats in the living room with Nancy. I miss cooking and cleaning with my mom. I miss goofing with Craig. I miss being able to go and sit in the recliner at my Nana's and listen to her delightful accent -- a blend of Minnesotan with years of Texan. I miss going to the truck stop to get a Coke with Grandma and Grandpa. I miss being a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, and an aunt. Not that I can't be those things out here, but it's easier to be there for birthday dinners, surgeries, and other events when you can hop in the car and just go. Yes, my career and my dreams are important to me -- but my family is most important.
  • Let's be honest. A writer writes. I haven't done a darn thing in forever. Not because I haven't wanted to -- I just can't. I am so writer's blocked it's not even funny. And the writer's block makes me not even want to try. I think I'm stressed about a lot of things and I think that's a big cause of it. I can't help but feel like getting out of a stressful environment will help in that respect. My career is going nowhere at this point. Yesterday, I celebrated my five year anniversary with this company. I'm still in the same position that I was when I first started. I get paid decently for an assistant and the benefits are great (save for not covering orthodontia -- yes, I'm bitter), but I honestly feel like I'm stuck in the mud at this point.
  • All the boys I've dated (or even nearly dated) here suck. Well, they don't suck, but it's a bit frustrating when you're stood up, canceled on, or not called after the first date. Makes me think there's something wrong with me. Not in the "I'm defective" way, but in the 2 + 2 = 4 way. (Yay, math!)
So, here's the plan. If I do go back to Texas, I do not plan on giving up my entertainment industry ties or dreams. I'd like to get hired on at some companies to do script coverage. (Yay, technology!) I'll keep looking for material to be produced. I'll come to L.A. to pitch (and eat In-n-Out and go to Disneyland...).

Look, this isn't a done deal. I don't know for sure if it's going to happen. Heck, someone from my dream job could call in the next day and change it all. It's what I'm thinking about, though. A lot. And it excites me, but it also makes me really sad. Why can't decisions be easy?

On a happier note, have you seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), yet? If not, GO. Lovely movie, but take your tissues. The cute wittle babies have all grown up.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

As (Previously Not) Seen On TV

For someone who works in television, I watch embarrassingly little of it. One would think that I would use this opportunity to become one with "the boob tube," all in the name of research. At the very least, I should be going nuts, gleefully thumbing my nose at all of the adults who told me I watched too much of it growing up and those who made fun of me for my carefully-organized and labeled VHS collections of Melrose Place, Lois & Clark, The X-Files and Alias episodes. (I may or may not have been a late adapter to the DVD craze.)

But I don't.

There's a great, very catchy song by The Limousines called "Internet Killed the Video Star." I can relate. I admit that I spend too much of my "research" (and, frankly, my writing) time checking Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook and the like. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

So this summer, one of my goals is to get caught up on television. Obviously, I can never fully catch up on every show, but I'd like to be able to watch a few new-to-me shows next season and know what's going on. I have a few plans in place for what I'm going to watch, but I'm open to suggestions from the peanut gallery.

Here are the things I absolutely plan to watch...

Bones - Many, many of my friends in real life and on Twitter are devoted to this show. (Some would say hopelessly so.) My mom and step-dad have recently joined the club and have been trying to get me to do the same. And now that that thing happened in the finale and Twitter is all a-twitter, I have to say that I'm intrigued.

Sportsnight - No, I know this one's no longer on the air, but if I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me whether I've watched this show, I could buy a pizza and a bottle of Two-Buck-Chuck. When I first started watching The Good Wife late last year, I posed the question, "Josh Charles, where have you been all my life?" Apparently, he's been here. So yeah. Watching this one.

Parks and Recreation - Maleficent and I often discuss how annoyed we are with this show. Not that there's anything in particular wrong with the show, but, as big fans of The Office, we were psyched about Parks and Rec. We watched the first few episodes of the first season and were disappointed that it felt like they'd taken Michael Scott, changed him into a woman, and plopped him into the Parks and Recreation Department of a fictional Indiana town. It wasn't long before Casa Descanso lost interest. Though we never quite got around to deleting the timer, we didn't shed a tear when the DVR made a late night snack out of the unwatched episodes. After hearing from my friends about how much better and how heartwarming the show became during seasons two and three, I'm excited to check it out. I do love me some heartwarming workplace comedy. "Office Olympics," anyone? My heart is very full right now...

The Wire - Yes, I know. I should watch The Wire. I'll get to it this summer.

(I do love that many of these shows are available on Netflix Instant, which, thanks to technology, I can watch on my iPhone at the gym. Hooray!)

I also need to get caught up on the last half of this most recent season for The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and Community. I may actually try to work Pretty Little Liars in here, since many of my friends seem to be fans -- and because Norman and Crystal (two people I very much like) are involved with it. Is there anything I'm missing? Any shows you think I should start watching?

If I could recommend anything for you to start watching over the summer, it would be The Good Wife, Chuck, and Friday Night Lights. Friday Night Lights is my The Wire in that you should fear my judgment of you if you've not watched it. (Hint: The first four seasons are on Netflix Instant!)