general complaints

fame and fortune

Alas, blogging has not brought me the fame I had hoped it would. I had high hopes of being discovered as an up-and-coming writer, and getting a book deal. Or, perhaps, a paying writing gig such as the folks at Television Without Pity get.

But, here it is, two months later and no one has discovered me. The only people that read my blog are people I harass into reading it. (That would be my family and my friends, I haven’t yet resorted to passing out the URL to people at the grocery store. Though, that *might* expand my reader-base…)

I had grand plans to quit my day job, publish new york times best sellers from time to time, and to travel the world. Then, I could write a new york times best seller about traveling the world! Who wouldn’t want to read that?

My husband tells me I need to have a large collection of articles for potential publishers to read, before I can get famous. So here’s one more article for the pile o’ discovery.

general complaints

high school reunions

Next year will be the 10-year mark for my husband’s high school graduation, and the year after will be mine. I really don’t have much interest in going to mine (I’d much rather spend the vacation time doing something … fun), but my husband wants to go to his. Mostly so he can show all the losers he graduated with that he makes twice as much money as they do. And that he married someone outside his gene pool.

He grew up in a small Texas town, of 2500 people. And, apparently, small towns have a tendency to inbreed. And, also, a tendency to make anyone not part of the ‘in’ group feel very much ‘out’ – which is the catalyst for my husband wanting to go to his reunion.

The problem with attending his reunion, however, is that no one may bother to plan it. I don’t know how many high school classes forego reunions, but it seems to me that entrusting 4 people to plan events 10, 20, 30, and 40 years in the future would mean that a lot of those events just don’t happen. Things that were important in high school, really hold no importance 10 years later. And sometimes, people die. You may not know this, but dead people really throw terrible parties.

Even if the blessed event does get planned, my husband fears that he may not be invited. For one, he doesn’t live even live in Texas anymore. Also, his family has relocated to Houston, and his mother has remarried and has a different last name. All of these things will make it difficult to track my husband down. For another thing, the senior class president hated my husband, and, in fact, had a small group of close associates. My husband thinks it highly likely that the event will be a small affair, comprised of people who still live nearby (many in their parent’s basements), with invitation passed by word of mouth.

Me, I’m hoping the thing doesn’t happen. My husband and I both have a limited number of vacation days, and I’d really like to see Scotland next summer. Or Disney World. Or maybe a cruise…


too many hobbies

The older I get, the more I realize that there is just not enough time in the day. After 9 or 10 hours of working (only 8 of working, I’m no workaholic, 1 or 2 is reserved for commuting and lunch), and then another 7 for sleeping, and that doesn’t leave much free time.

Free time for shopping! I love malls, outlet malls, Target, Best Buy, office supply stores, Costco, sporting good stores, furniture stores, home goods stores, craft stores, book stores, dollar stores – I’m not picky. I don’t even need to buy anything to have a good time shopping. It’s all about the pursuit of that perfect thing, of researching available options, of watching the sales, and of finally finding the ultimate whatever.

Free time for video games! Yup, I said it. I am a solitaire addict, and I spent months honing my mah jong game so I could beat my dad (1 minute, 47 seconds). My current passion, however is World of Warcraft. I love that game! For anyone who cares, I have a level 50 leather-making troll hunter and a level 40 potion-making tauren warrior. There are so many aspects to the game, it’s something almost anyone can get into. My husband likes the raiding, where you organize 40 people to play for 6 hours to accomplish a common goal. Me, I like my leather-making and potion-making professions. And the auction house, so I can sell my leather goods and magical potions! Shopping, now that’s something I can really get into.

Free time for knitting. I just took it up, but knitting is kinda fun. I’m halfway through one baby blanket that I’m going to give to my friend who’s having twins in october – as long I can finish a second blanket, that is… It’s going to be rough going, I think, to pull it off, but I’m up for the challenge.

Free time for my tv shows! Luckily, it’s the summer, so I’ll have a little break from ER, Lost, Gilmore Girls (I don’t even know why I watch anymore, that show has turned into such a disappointment, I guess I feel like I invested so much time in it, I have to stick it out), and then all my husband’s reality tv. We are currently watching all 7 seasons of Voyager, in preparation for the Star Trek Convention, so that will keep us busy till August. We’ve almost made it through 2 seasons. It’s gonna be a long summer…

Free time for road trips! I love road trips. To anywhere. Annapolis, Baltimore, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Norfolk (check out the naval museum, they let you pet sharks), New York City, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Hershey PA (chocolate and shopping = HEAVEN), Boston, it’s fun to just get in the car and go someplace. Except for Boston, the drive there was no fun – next time, I’m flying.

Free time for playing with my mac! I love my adorable little mac, and I feel bad for neglecting it. As we speak, I’m sitting in my husband’s recliner with my laptop. I really do like my mac, but there’s just something about a recliner… and there’s also something about the 62 degree basement… brrrr!

Free time for taking my turtle for walks. My poor tortellini, sits and mopes in her cage all day. It’s warm outside now, so I could take her out to the backyard where she can sit and mope in the not-simulated sunlight, but I seem to only think of it after the sun has gone down. Like right now, at 10:30 at night…

Free time for playing with my kitties! I love my havok and forge, and some days, they decide I might be ok. I used to have a laser pointer that they LOVED, but I put it in my pocket one day, and it went through the wash. Didn’t work so well after that. Actually, didn’t work at all, as I recall.

Free time for playing with my money. I love Quicken! More than any healthy person probably should. I love all the little graphs and charts it makes, I love the way it keeps track of all my bills, I love that it keeps up with all my loans. In short, I love that it keeps track of one of my obsessions, in one little tool.

Free time for blogging! Blogging is the best thing ever. Everyone should blog, it’s so much fun. Even without fans. Which, I would know, as I have no fans… I take that back – I do have fans – but they are either related to me, or they work with me, or they work with my husband. I have to admit, though, it makes it a little more fun, when people talk to me about things I said on my blog. It also reminds me not to be *too* truthful.

Free time for landscaping. I have grand plans to tear out all the plants in my front yard (exept for the 2 trees), install a raised flowerbed, and then fill that flowerbed with rocks. And sand. In true Japanese fashion. (I’m part Japanese. I promise. So I’m totally allowed to have a rock garden.)

Free time for reading! The only time I ever read anymore is when I fly somewhere. Especially when I fly to Washington to visit the folks. Washington to Washington is quite the day of flying…

Free time for planning my brothers’ lives! It’s a never-ending task, as they never seem to like the plans I make for them, so it requires constant revisions.

Free time for camping. I’m actually going this weekend- I’m really excited to sleep on the ground, not shower, and smell like a campfire. There’s just nothing else quite like it.

Free time for picking up NEW hobbies! In the last year, I’ve taken up blogging, knitting, mac mini-ing, and landscaping. The year before, I took up WOW. The year before that, I took up (and DROPPED, it’s really not all the fun it’s cracked up to be) wedding planning. There are just too many things out there to try, to only stick with one thing. Unfortunately, when you keep liking the things you try, it does get to be a challenge to keep up with everything. I think I’ve invented a new hobby: collecting hobbies.


don’t tell my mom . . .

But I’m making a comic book. Of my wedding. I found a real life comic book publisher that will make me 2 authentic comic books for $40, once I send him the files. That might sound a little steep, but it’s a for real publisher, with all the fancy paper and what not. He’s basically selling me two ‘proofs’, with the understanding that I don’t want to do a real run. Because, honestly, who besides my husband will enjoy a comic book of the most special day of my life?

So now I have two dilemmas: writing the story, and turning my wedding photos into cartoony pics.

The story, you may think, already exists. But who wants to read about bridesmaid blunders (groom’s ring in the trash) or DJ mishaps (I almost got to walk down the aisle to Turtle Power) in a comic book? Comic books are for mutant powers and saving the world from ultimate destruction. So now I just have to decide what super powers I want to have, and how I’m going to use them to save the world. I suppose my husband can have some powers, too…

So, the second dilemma: cartoony pics. I have gimp, which has a built-in cartoon filter. It works GREAT on some pics (me and husband in front of the Houston temple, the building behind us is amazing) but not so great on others. I need to play with it some more to make all my pics look equally cartoony.

I have a comic book maker, courtesy of apple, that came pre-installed on my mac mini. It even exports pages to pdf, which is perfect for sending to my newfound publisher.

Time to get cracking!

fashion general complaints

monkey arms

I suffer from the generally unrecognized malady of monkey arms. It is a condition that renders me unable to wear long-sleeved shirts that fit. One of two things generally happens: Either a long sleeved shirt will fit perfectly in the body, and the sleeves end 2 inches before my wrist – or else the sleeves are wonderfully long, and I end up swimming in the rest of the shirt, appearing to be horribly ashamed of my body and trying to hide it.

I have some oversized sweatshirts that I love, but I end up looking a little frumpy. Best case, I look like I’m wearing my husband’s clothes – worst case, I look like I’m wearing my husband’s clothes. There really is nothing flattering about wearing clothes that are too big, though with pigtails, it can, on occasion, be a cute look.

The savior to the monkey-armed is the 3/4 sleeve shirt. It ends up being a little closer to the elbow than the wrist (instead of right in the middle, as 3/4 suggests) but that’s perfectly acceptable. The misplacement of the end of a 3/4 sleeve does not offend the eye, as does a full sleeve that is one inch away from its intended target.

I found a suit jacket a year or so ago, made just for the monkey armed. It fits as if it was tailored just for me by the good folks at J. Crew. Luckily, I found it on the clearance rack at the outlet store, so it only set me back $75. (Because, well, I probably wouldn’t have forked over the dough for a $200 jacket. Yes, I really am that cheap.) One other benefit of J. Crew: they are under the impression that I’m a size 2. Guess if you spend the cash, you can be any size you want to be… Though, it does make one wonder what J. Crew expects people who really are a size 2 to wear.

I am on a quest to find reasonably priced clothing for the monkey-armed. In the meantime, though, I will just have to settle for 3/4 sleeves and the occasional trip to J. Crew to balk at the idea of a $68 shirt.

fashion general complaints

itsy bitsy teeny weeny …

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Bathing suit season. It’s so dreaded, in fact that I have entirely skipped it for the last 4 years, instead relying on the bathing suit from the season before. But, as all spandex things eventually do, my bathing suit has lost its elasticity. Which is a vital part of any good bathing suit. And so begins the search.

I actually have a rather unexpected problem when it comes to finding a bathing suit. My problem lies in the fact that I am small. And because I am small, that means one thing to the fashion industry: I MUST want a bikini. It’s the ONLY logical conclusion.

I can choose from string bikinis, halter-top bikinis, bust-boosting bikinis, boy-short bikinis and bandeau bikinis. I can even choose from tankinis that only show a little bit of tummy. The truth is, I would probably look good in a body-baring suit. But I don’t want to put my entire body on display. I don’t think badly of women who do choose to wear bikinis. On the contrary, I think they should feel free to flaunt it while they got it. I, on the other hand, am a relatively reserved person, and like to reflect that in my wardrobe. Plus, I totally hate it when men check me out. (Deep-rooted psychological issue. Still working on that one with my therapist.)

One piece bathing suits are styled for grandmas. Or they have 17 layers of spandex meant to slim and smooth the body. Or – they have cutouts, which places them squarely in that whole body-display category. And generally, one-piece bathing suits either start out one size higher than I am, or they are for a much shorter-torsoed person than myself. When in the market for a bathing suit, it is very important that it fits as close-to-perfectly as possible. Panels of fabric flapping in the breeze, or the constant tug of war between yanking up and down, really defeat the purpose of getting a one-piece in the first place.

My current suit is a two-piece: a boy-short tankini, where the top actually overlaps with the bottom. And I have loved it! It took me two years to find it, a tankini top that was small but LONG, with a bottom that didn’t bare my whole, well, bottom.

When I was in high school, I participated in a Japanese-exchange student program, opening my house to a girl from Japan. On one occasion, all the students went swimming – and the Japanese girls all had absolutely adorable one-piece bathing suits with skirts. Now, I know that sounds hideous, because the only things on the market in the US that approximate that are designed for 50-year-old women. But these were cute little sundress-styled bathing suits, designed with the teenage girl in mind. So – I KNOW it’s possible to design a flattering, one-piece, cute bathing suit with the teenage-to-thirties size-2-to-6 crowd in mind.

I am not ashamed of my body. As it stands, I rather like my body. It is something I am proud of, but it is also something that I don’t want to share with the world. Is it so much to ask that I can find a modest bathing suit that wasn’t designed for my grandma? I still have a few months before the summer hits, and I really can’t wear my old suit anymore. So here’s hoping that this won’t have to be a swim-less summer.


the domestic life

I took the opportunity this last week to be domestic. Really, mom, you’d be so proud of me!

First off, I took up knitting. I was in Target last Friday night (you know you’re married when you’re out shopping at 10 pm on a Friday night), and I saw one of those ‘Learn to Knit’ kits. I’ve seen them before, but the pictures on the packages were always of ugly pillows or scarves, and I’ve got all the ugly pillows (2) and scarves (0) that I really need. But they had one with cat toys – little knitted fish and mice – and so I had to get it. Because, well, my cats aren’t nearly spoiled enough. So after a couple of hours trying to decipher the cryptic directions, I found a website with pictures to show me what all this knitting, purling, and invisible increasing was about. So, yeah, I’m a knitter. I’m still working on my gauge (my cats are now the proud owners of one demented knitted fish that my husband keeps calling a mouse because it doesn’t really much look like a fish) but I plan to become an accomplished afghaner. Afghanist? Afghan maker. I plan to become an accomplished afghan maker.

My second domestic task involved cooking a real, live dinner – a main dish, vegetables, bread AND dessert. I had the opportunity because all my neighbors are having babies. So when new baby mama #1 stopped by to ask if I’d make dinner for new baby mama #2, I of course said yes. You can’t say no to an exhausted new baby mama. I think there’s a special level of purgatory for that. And I really have enough levels to visit already. So, anyway, I made lasagna Wednesday night, because my husband hates lasagna, and I never get to make it anymore. I had the foresight to make 2 pans of it (I threw one in the freezer) because I’m sure new baby mama #3 will soon be in need of dinner. And, if not, well then I’ll eat it myself. Because my lasagna is amazing. And I really hope baby mama #2’s family at least kinda liked it, or else I’ll likely get thrown out of the neighborhood ladies’ circle. Or maybe they’ll all get together because they feel so bad for the newlywed who makes such terrible dinners and teach me to cook things my husband will hate anyway…

So, after the lasagna and a quick dinner of nachos with my husband, I started on my third domestic task: I went to Costco with some ladies at church. Because I had been finagled into being on some committee for some church ladies’ social. Somewhere between the 48 croissants and 6 cantaloupe, we picked up 6 brownie mixes and I volunteered to make 2 pans of brownies for the following evening’s social, after mentally taking stock of my cookware and deciding with 80% confidence that I did, indeed, have two 9×13 pans. Then we saw the picture on the side of the giant brownie box: brownies topped with a cream cheese layer, drizzled with chocolate, and it was decided that we must have THOSE brownies. Regular ghirardelli triple chocolate brownies were somehow no longer enough. So then we needed 6 pounds of cream cheese, which was easily found in 3 pound blocks. Which then, after doing some quick math, prompted me to announce that I would do 3 pans of brownies, so as to avoid having to deal with the mess of cutting off 2 pounds from one of the blocks – which is what I would need to do 2 pans. I quickly recanted when I remembered the issue of my bakeware stock, but then vaguely remembered having some 8×8 square pans, and decided the third batch could just be split ino two smaller pans. So, I volunteered to make 3 pans of ghirardelli cream cheese delight. Even though it was 8:30 on Wednesday night, and these said brownies would need to be made by 5 pm the following day. And I have this thing called a job. But there’s something that happens when ladies get together and all start volunteering to do things, like making 20 chicken breasts worth of chicken salad, that makes all the other ladies start volunteering to do silly things.

So, at 9:30 Wednesday night, I made a pan of brownies. I figured that I could only fit two pans in the oven at a time, so I’d just knock one out before bed. I’m a pro at making brownies out of a box, I figured it would just take 30 or 40 minutes. I didn’t take into account that the cream cheese layer would involve some lengthy, low-powered microwave cheese softening, and then a tricky spreading of cream cheese batter ON TOP of brownie batter. The spreading of batter on top of batter is not a quick process. Especially when one layer is most decidedly brown and the other is white. After finally getting it to be ‘good enough’, I threw it in the oven. For 45 minutes. Because special cream cheese topped brownies take longer than regular brownies. And then I read on the box directions that the brownies needed to be refrigerated after baking. Some quick time calculations brought me to the realization that making the rest of the brownies after work the following day would not allow for the requisite cool down and refrigeration period.

5:15 Thursday morning, I got out of bed and made two more batches of brownies. As annoyed as I was with the cream cheese softening and batter-on-batter spreading the previous evening, everything is more annoying at before-the-sun-rises A.M. After finally getting them in the oven, I got ready for work, then waited around for the brownies to finish. (It is possible for me to get ready for work in 45 minutes because, even though I am a woman, I am also a software engineer, and there is no pressure for me to ‘get pretty’ for work. Quite a nice perk of the job.)

4 o’clock Thursday afternoon, I worked feverishly to cut 3 batches of brownies, and get them out of the pan without breaking them. Ha! As if. Something about the two layers made it nearly impossible to get them out of the pan without separating the layers, or else completely crumbling the brownie. So I did what any self respecting woman would do: I ate the crumbled brownies, and I just set the separated layers back down on top of each other, and figured that I didn’t mind if the ladies at the social thought they had been the one to ‘break’ the brownies. After getting through two pans, I realized I didn’t have any containers to carry any more cut brownies, so I gave up. I cut the last pan, but left the brownies in it. The ladies at the social could dig out their own brownies. Then, they would truly understand my pain.

5 o’clock, I headed to the church with all my brownies. The social started at 7, but there were cantaloupe to cut and croissants to stuff with chicken salad. Oh yeah, and centerpieces to arrange. Two hours of food prep, decorating, and you’ve-been-married-two-years-but-have-no-babies interrogations from well-meaning older ladies later, the social started. Everyone loved the food, the inspirational thoughts were surprisingly inspirational, and I have to admit, I rather enjoyed myself. Plus, there were totally too many brownies. I got to take a whole pan home. As much of a pain as they were, they were delicious. I will make them in the future. Maybe tomorrow, as my husband and I seem to have devoured them all.

The domestic life has been a nice change of pace from my every-day schedule, but I’ve decided that all this domesticity is exhausting! I don’t know how women do it. I guess maybe sleep is really an optional thing? I suppose I may get a chance to find out, in a few years (sorry, mom), when I have kids and suddenly have more need to make well-balanced meals (with vegetables and all), and make costumes for school plays, and all that. Till then, I think I’ll enjoy the domestic life in small doses.

general complaints

watch out for the quiet ones

I’m a quiet person. I mean, really quiet. Like, I’m sure there are people I went to high school with, who think I can’t talk.

It’s not that I don’t ever talk. I will most certainly respond to anyone who talks to me, and if I am in need of information, I will willingly seek out and talk to people who are more knowledgeable than myself.

One of the benefits of being quiet, is that people come up with the craziest ideas about you. Some people are under the impression that I’m smart. Not just smart, but crazy smart. They think that because I spend so little time talking, I must be spending an awful lot of time thinking. Which I do, but not about how to improve upon Einsteinian theories. (Wow! Now THAT sounded smart.) I spend most of my day, for example, thinking about how I can’t go to Target after work because I’m totally wearing a red polo and khakis. And that I should never have bought a red polo, because I really love Target. Probably more than any healthy person should. But – I really do look good in red. And, well, polos are sort of a staple of the engineer wardrobe. So, it really was inevitable that I would end up with a red polo.

One of the drawbacks of being quiet, is that people come up with the craziest ideas about you. I once had a guy tell me that he thought I seemed like a person who would like Alice in Wonderland. The Disney cartoon. Now, I’m a big Disney cartoon fan. But there are some of those older ones, that I just can’t make it through. Like Fantasia. Or Bambi. (Total snore-fest.) Or Alice in Wonderland – it’s just weird. And boring. I’ve probably seen most of it, but definitely not in one sitting.

At work, we’ve got a blog, where people can post about the projects they’re working, and I generally post a quick update a few times a week. Since I’ve started blogging, several of my coworkers have stopped by my office to express surprise at the fact that I am mildly humorous. I guess, for whatever reason, since all quiet people are smart and like boring ‘Classic’ Disney cartoons, that it means that we must all be horrifically dull. Which, I have to admit, some of us quiet ones are. But – for the rest of us – give us a chance. We may just surprise you. 🙂

general complaints money


I was recently reading an article about Americans readiness for retirement, and it greatly disturbed me. For the sake of most Americans, I hope the stats are skewed, or that there is something that I am missing.

The article states that:

“58 percent of workers between ages 45 and 54, and 56 percent of those age 55 and older had less than $50,000 in savings.”

Now, this is strictly talking about 401ks, IRAs, and other retirement accounts, so I suppose these baby boomers might have some really amazing pensions, or they may own a multi-million dollar home that they plan on trading in for something more modest, or perhaps they plan on retiring at the age of 75. I don’t know the ins and outs of the social security system, but it doesn’t seem to me that any government assistance would really be enough to live on. Well, not unless you’re Canadian.

My dad falls into this camp – or close to it – but he was Enronned. Literally. By Enron. (Thanks to a class-action lawsuit, he will soon be receiving a penny for every dollar that Mr. Lay borrowed. Such a nice man, that Mr. Lay. He surrounded himself with such upstanding people.) Luckily, my dad’s a union man, so he has pensions and whatnot, but even then, he’s had to seriously rethink his retirement. Like the early retirement he was going to take so he could run a b&b, or start a music career, or finally become a seasoned world traveler.

Retirement should be a fun time. After years of working for the man, retirement should be a time when you get to do whatever you want. Like buy a winnebago and visit all the national parks, with stops along the way to see your kids and embarrass them by parking the RV out front. Or open a roadside jewelry stand in New Mexico. Or run an animal rescue. Or start a full-time letter writing campaign to NASA, in support of a mission to mars. Or anything you’ve ever wanted to do, but didn’t have the time. Retirement accounts should be there to make sure you have the money.

I’m 26 years old, and I already have close to $50K in my 401k and IRAs. Admittedly, I am a bit of a planning freak, and I was lucky to be able to start my first 401k when I was 19. I suppose the article stats should make me feel good, to know that I am as prepared as over 50% of baby boomers, but it instead makes me worry for all the people who will reach retirement age in the next 20 years. I hope they all have amazing pensions will full health-coverage – or that they like Canada.

life shopping

rediscovering an old love

I recently rediscovered something I had once loved so much: the Tysons Corner mall.

I had forgotten about my favorite mall. It happened slowly, over a matter of years, as I moved from Fairfax, to Reston, to Herndon, to Ashburn. Each move took me further west, and further from the best mall ever.

I had to go to Tysons Corner on Monday this week because it’s the only place I know of in the area with an Apple Store. And, well, I needed to go to an Apple Store because my mac mini was going to be available for pick up at my local FedEx after 8 pm that evening, and it had dawned on me early that morning that I had neglected to buy speakers for my mac mini.

On Apple’s website, I found speakers that rivaled the mac mini in adorability. I checked Best Buy and Circuit City’s websites for the tiny Sony speakers, but to no avail. It seemed that if I wanted the speakers of my dreams, then I would need to go to an Apple Store.

Usually, my husband hates malls. Even more, he hates going to malls with me, because I am capable of spending hours and hours in a mall. And, well, that’s just torturous. But – the prospect of going to the Apple Store was enough to pique his interest, and so we headed to Tysons Corner after work.

The Apple Store was a bit of a disappointment, as they did not have my tiny Sony speakers. But – while looking at the Directory to figure out where, exactly, the Apple Store was, I happened to notice that there was also a Sony store. And so we went to the Sony store.

On the way to the Sony store, it dawned on me that they seem to have added new stores to the mall. I don’t know if they added a wing or a floor, or what, but there are definitely more stores there than I remember. And also a theater! And an upstairs food court. With a Five Guys. So after I found my tiny Sony speakers (yay!) we got dinner, and caught a movie.

Most people might say that a food court is not the ideal place for dinner, but I disagree. My husband eats cheeseburgers. And when he wants to mix things up, he eats a bacon cheeseburger. I happen to like mexican, italian, chinese or bbq every now and again – and so a food court allows us both to be happy. Especially a food court with a Five Guys. (Best burgers in the world. Just ask my husband. He knows burgers.)

As we walked through the mall, I remembered all the good times . . . my roommates who worked for the Victoria’s Secret . . . the dilly bars from the Dairy Queen . . . checking my email at the Apple Store when I didn’t have internet at home . . . the dinner party I arranged with a big group of acquaintances at the Rain Forest Cafe just to avoid a date, and the guy I wanted to not date didn’t even come (mission accomplished!) . . . the dress I bought that I wore the night my husband proposed . . . Christmas shopping . . . and, well, shopping.

The great thing about Tyson’s Corner is the atmosphere. Everything is fancy and expensive looking. But they’ve got all the normal mall stores. There’s GAP and Old Navy, Payless Shoes and Claire’s. And there are plenty of not-quite-Sak’s-expensive stores. You can pretend like you’re really a part of the whole “I’m so rich” fantasy that everyone in Northern Virginia is caught up in, without having to actually really buy anything from Nordstrom or Banana Republic. You can go to Sephora and sniff coffee beans between whiffs of every perfume known to man, browse the Bombay Company as if anything there actually matches the decor in your home (if, uh, you’re talented enough to have ‘decor’) and get a makeover at one of the Hecht’s makeup counters. AND you can play with Discovery Channel Store gadgets, buy $5 shirts from Old Navy’s clearance rack, check out the displays in the Lego Store (they have Batman legos now – I think my embarrassingly large lego collection may soon get even larger), and buy gum at the CVS. In short, it’s the best place in the world. There’s a reason I have so many fond memories of the Tysons Corner mall. I have a feeling I will soon be going back – sans husband – to make even more.