This is how I see it.

Call me a cynic, but I have got to comment on a couple of stories that popped up in my CNN Quick News this morning...

Disgraced pastor Haggard admits relationship with second man
: Bryan and I saw this guy on the news the other night. He makes me want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. He said, "Today, I'm 100 percent satisfied with my relationship with my wife, and I have no compelling things in my life toward others." Now, ladies, can I just give you a little piece of advice? If your husband has multiple relationships with people of his own gender, RUN! Far, far away! HE IS GAY! And his ass will go get it on with a man again! People who fight that hard against their natural urges worry me... you're bound to explode at some point. I don't think Ted Haggard is going to be an exception to this rule, no matter how strong his relationship with God might be. Although who am I to judge...

Mother of octuplets has six other children
: You've heard about these octuplets that were born in Los Angeles, right? My first reaction was "holy crap, talk about overwhelming!" And then my friend Traci told me yesterday that it had come out that the woman has SIX other children. At first I didn't believe her, thought perhaps it was a rumor, but then it was confirmed on CNN today. Um, what in the hell are you doing having fertility treatments if you already have SIX other children? I mean, you know, if you want to allow God to bless you with as many kids as he'll give you, that's fine with me. I know some people think that's crazy, but I say if you can afford them and you're a good parent, whatever. But if God has already given you 6 kids, why in the HELL do you need to have in vitro fertilization for more babies?! And then... and THEN!! The kids that she already has? The oldest is 7, the youngest is 2! Can you FREAKING IMAGINE?! FOURTEEN CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 7?! Oh holy hell! And THEN! The dad is a contract worker, and he is scheduled to GO BACK TO IRAQ SOON! OMG, people. I just do not get it. I mean, I guess once it was done it was done and there was no going back, but... wow. I am glad not to be in their shoes.

The world is a strange, strange place.


Oh, Happy Day!

After a lovely trip to the state surplus warehouse, my coworker Krystyna and I were driving back to work. As I slowed for the upcoming light, to my left I saw the happiness store, AKA Andy's Barbecue. I braked harder and turned into the parking lot. This was a moment I've been wishing for for YEARS, people.

You see, my first job was at County Seat, a clothing store, at Cloverleaf Mall (now defunct, formerly scary as hell, before that a fine establishment :) ). In the food court there was an Andy's Barbecue, and they sold something called hush piggies. Once I discovered these, I became an addict. To the point that the guys who worked there would see me walking up and say, "Hey, piggie girl! How many today?!" (Now that I think about it, I guess that's not the best nickname to have. But if you KNEW what these things tasted like, you would realize that it is the highest form of praise.) And then, a tragedy: Andy's went out of business. I mourned for weeks, and then luckily was rescued by going away to college and having other things on my mind.

Before I go on, let me tell you about these delicious delights. Hush piggies are hush puppies with barbecue inside, and they come with barbecue sauce for dipping. If you have any taste, you're probably thinking, "Mmm, that sounds pretty tasty." Yet, people, let me tell you something: THEY ARE TEN TIMES AS GOOD AS YOU THINK THEY MIGHT BE. Yes, seriously.

So while I was in college my mom lived in Sandston (near the airport) for a short while, and I discovered that this was the site of Andy's HOME STORE! Woohoo! I think I had them once during college, but since then, a complete dry spell. I have often wondered if Andy's was still in business (it's a small, family owned restaurant), and thought that I needed to go check to see if that place was still open, but in true Lydia fashion, I haven't gotten around to it.

And then TODAY! Oh heavenly Friday, with beautiful weather and time spent with my friend on the way to and from surplus shopping and ANDY'S BARBECUE and HUSH PIGGIES!

If I wasn't already happy enough just waiting for my piggies, it turned out that I got to witness a little demonstration of the goodness of humanity. A homeless Hispanic woman had been pushing her cart past as Krystyna and I went in, and she ended up coming inside and plopping herself down in the waiting area. She sat there conversing with herself for quite a while, and finally the guy who was working the cash register went over and asked if he could help her. It was quickly obvious that she didn't speak a word of English, but I could understand that she was asking him if she could have some food. About the time I was translating this for the guy, a woman came in from the tax prep place next door and whispered to him (within my earshot) that this homeless lady regularly came and parking herself in businesses, and people had to call the cops to come get her to leave. So the Andy's BBQ guy walked away, presumably to call the police. Except he didn't. He went to the back and came back out with a bag full of food, which he handed over to the woman with a smile. And then she collected her things and left. I was impressed. Sure, there's a chance that woman will now come back all the time looking for food, but maybe she won't. And what harm is done in actually helping someone out who obviously needs it instead of calling the cops on her? I just love it when people are kind to strangers. It's a renewal of my faith in my fellow man, and I think we all need that every once in a while.

So, if you are ever out by the airport in Richmond, you must go check out Andy's Barbecue, on Laburnum Ave just south of Williamsburg Road. Not only will you love the food, but they're good people, too.

And now I must go back to lovin' on my hush piggies. :)


Fierce Pride

Tuesday morning, I woke up to get ready for work after a nice long weekend thanks to good ol' Martin Luther King, Jr. I showered and turned the TV on to watch the news while I finished getting ready, like I always do. Except this time when Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer popped onto my screen, I found myself standing there entranced by the pre-inauguration coverage. After a text message from the person I had planned to watch the inauguration with at work and a few phone calls and emails to take care of some things, I decided to take the day off. I knew if I went to work I'd be transfixed on cnn.com and CNN radio on Sirius and abcnews.com and whatever streaming coverage of the inauguration I could get. Because I'm a news addict like that. So rather than trying to pretend I was concentrating on work, I just took the leave time. It was worth it.

I watched the inauguration festivities with intense pride for my country. The sight of all of those people gathered on the National Mall was awe-inspiring--the fact that there were no reports of mayhem or tragedy even moreso. I mean, seriously, when is the last time you heard of over one and a half million people coming together and LIKING EACH OTHER, in spite of the cold and discomfort of standing outside in a giant crowd for hours? I am impressed, America.

Watching the calm on our new President's face as he walked out for the ceremony to begin, I couldn't help but try to imagine what he was thinking... what must it feel like to have so many people looking up to you that way--both literally and figuratively? It is a huge weight, and yet he handles each appearance with grace and humility. His inaugural speech was moving. I am excited to see if people really listen, and really start caring about each other in a new way. I am hopeful it will happen, even if it happens a little more slowly than we'd like.

When the President and his wife got out of their limo to walk a few blocks during the parade, I was terrified. I worried that some rogue crazy person would come out of nowhere and try to assassinate him or his wife. With my heart beating a little faster than normal in my chest, I had a realization about this man. By stepping out of that car and into the open, he was demonstrating that he believes in our country, that he believes that we are good people, that he has faith that people will do the right thing. And I thought, "I should have as much faith in my fellow man as this guy does." And man, what an awesome lesson from our President just a few hours into his presidency. One must certainly act with caution, but ultimately we have to trust that those around us will do the right thing, and we can't let being afraid of what could happen prevent us from doing what we believe is right.

I love the fact that now there is another example that anyone can be anything in this country. I saw an interview with one African-American kid where they asked him what our new president means to him. His response was that all of his friends used to say "When I grow up, I want to be a rapper" or "When I grow up, I want to play sports," and now they say, "When I grow up, I want to be president." Yes, people. YES! You can be anything you want to be. Our new president has proven that any limitations that you thought were there can be overcome with hard work and determination. (And I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my mom and dad who ALWAYS told me I could be anything I wanted to be!)

The cap to the evening was seeing how in love the President and First Lady looked during their first dance, and then seeing them dancing with regular ol' peeps at the Neighborhood Ball! I am jealous of the girl that was doing the bump with the President! :) I just love that they are really good people, who have a good time and enjoy their lives, but also know when it's time to take care of business. They are exactly the type of role models we need.

Also, can I just tell you how much I *love* Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer? And all of the ABC News team for that matter? When Charlie delivers the news, you can tell he is moved or concerned or excited... that he really and truly loves people and cares about what happens in the world. Same goes for Diane and Robin Roberts. I just don't get the same emotional connection from any other news team, and if you know me, you know that I like a good emotional connection, even if it's with a stranger. :)

The atmosphere in the United States is electric, and I am fiercely proud to be an American. I can't wait to see how we stand up to the challenges facing our country right now. I think we just might surprise ourselves--in a good way!


Hooray for new seasons of television!

Have I mentioned before that I may have a slight television addiction? No? Well, I do. And thank god for DVR, because at least I am able to still have a life outside of television. I just record all the shows I want to watch and still go out and do things with my friends. As a matter of fact, I am going to the movies tonight in spite of the fact that they are rebroadcasting an enhanced version last season's Lost finale. No worries--I will watch it tomorrow or Friday!

The thing is, though, that at the beginning of each new season of TV I often find myself a bit overzealous with my list of shows I'll be watching. Here's what we've got so far, just a week in to this season:

-Desperate Housewives

-Samantha Who?
-How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory on occasion (although these don't get DVRd)

(Tuesday, I realized last night, is going to be a problem. Bryan wants to watch Homeland Security USA, but then there's also...)
-American Idol
-Fringe (unless this is moving to a different night now?)
-What Would You Do? (Primetime special series on ABC)
-The Biggest Loser (although since I can't DVR more than 2 things at once, this became the first casualty of the season... I watched the first episode, and I guess I'll be fine just to watch the finale now. Those are the most important ones anyway, right?)

-American Idol (for a while)
-Top Chef

-Grey's Anatomy
-Private Practice
-30 Rock

And then I don't have any shows I DVR on Friday or Saturday. Although Bryan and I do enjoy watching 20/20 or Primetime Live or something like that on Friday nights. Because we are total dorks.

Looking at that list, part of me says "That's not too bad." Another part of me says, "Uh, Lydia, get a life." Whatever. We'll see how it goes. :) The only problem I may encounter now on my path to utter couchpotatodom is that Bryan is still occupying about half the available DVR space with the World Series of Poker (which ended in NOVEMBER and he still hasn't watched!). He better start watching.

A few thoughts on some of my favorite shows:

24: Jack Bauer almost makes me think that torture IS a necessary evil. Which makes me feel all squirmy inside. Bryan has started watching this show with me this season, and it's made me realize how complicated these scenarios are. "Wait, who are they kidnapping again? Which one is the bad guy? So wait, is that guy REALLY a bad guy or is he just pretending to be a bad guy? And how does he know that guy again?"

American Idol: This season is off to a good start, I think, although I'm rather apathetic about it. I think the show has definitely lost some of its luster, but I'm still watching. Loved the first good singer last night, the rocker chick, but JESUS those ear plug things. I HATE that. So much. Also, Ryan Seacrest trying to high five the blind guy will go down as one of my favorite moments in American Idol history. Next to Kelly Clarkson singing her victory song and Fantasia Barrino singing "Summertime."

Scrubs, 30 Rock, Samantha Who?, Big Bang Theory: For years much of my tv watching has been either dramas or reality tv. I have really been missing out on the whole sitcom thing, or either they have finally started making some really funny shows. I laugh my ass off every time I watch each of these shows. Actually still laughing about that orderly on Scrubs who is too touchy feely and Tracy Jordan's gold shoes on 30 Rock. :)

Nip/Tuck, Damages: All I can say is, HOORAY FOR FX. Damn, these shows are good. Nip/Tuck is definitely not for the faint hearted, but I love it. And Damages: I love Glenn Close.

And last but not least:

LOST: I. Can. Not. Wait.


Holidays 2008: A Belated Review

This year, we were in Richmond for Christmas. With my parents being in two different towns, then Bryan's parents in a whole different state, we still end up spreading Christmas over a minimum of three days. Bryan and I were both very last minute on the Christmas shopping, so Christmas Eve we both spent out with the very sparse crowds (wow, definitely noticeable how bad the economy is this year!).

Christmas morning we got up and checked out what Santa brought (a Roomba for me and a fridge for Bryan's office, among many other things), then got our acts together to head down to Grandma's. My dad and Brenda were headed to see her family in Lynchburg in the afternoon, so we had an early Christmas with them. We had a little time after my dad left before we needed to be at my aunt's house, so we went by and visited my Papa and Sandra (my paternal grandfather and stepgrandmother). It was fun to see them--this was my Papa's first Christmas off after working shiftwork at Honeywell (formerly Allied Chemical) for 44 years! And what was he doing? He was about to take a nap! He said he figures after all those years he's earned the right to do whatever he wants on Christmas! Unfortunately my uncle Steve was sick, so we didn't get to see him, but we did leave a few treats and a gift on the porch for him. It wasn't until we drove off that I realized that since I had been planning to hand it to him, I hadn't put a gift tag on it! When I talked to him the next day, he said he hadn't eaten the cupcakes because he didn't know who they were from! Duh, Lydia! :)

Then it was on to Aunt Elaine's for Christmas dinner. This year, my cousin Shane's son got Rock Band for his Playstation (or whatever system plays that game), and we all played for a bit before dinner. I have to say, I think my 6th grade All-County Band percussionist skills are not totally lost--I did a pretty decent job on the drums for someone who had never played that game! (And since I know you read this, Nikole, every time I think of 6th grade band I think of All County Band and playing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" next to you! :))

The day after Christmas, after Bryan got off work, we headed up to Staunton to do Christmas with my mom and brother and sister. My mom had recently gone through a bunch of old boxes she had in storage, and so her Christmas tree was full of some of my Nana's ornaments. It was nice to have Nana there with us that way. My mom also found several of my old letters to Santa and put those in an album with some Christmas pictures from my early years, and that was truly a treasure. Apparently I was really into markers and coloring books as a child. :)

After a few hours with mom, it was on to Pennsylvania! We got to Bryan's parents' around 3am and hit the sack to get some rest before the Klinger Family Christmas on Saturday. Jan made a lovely dinner and we exchanged gifts. Bryan and I got our nephew Joey the game "Guess Who?" And I realized that when I bought that, perhaps I was kind of buying it for myself? I think Joey and I played that for a good three hours over the weekend. :)

We stayed until after the Eagles kicked the Cowboys' butts, and then came back home where my mom, brother and sister were just completing their Chester visits, and invited them to spend the night at our house rather than driving back to the mountains. We enjoyed just hanging out with them on Monday... we don't get to do that enough! It was Monday that we finally managed to get our annual Christmas picture together. :)

Finally, we spent New Year's Eve in Virginia Beach with my friend Frane (aka Jen). Frane was my college roommate, and NYE was her 30th birthday, so she figured what better time to have a party?! We had a good time, and after ringing in the New Year, someone decided to turn on the Wii and play bowling. I tried it the first time and came in last place out of four, and then the next two times I won!! Don't ask me how. I've never played before in my life. But somehow I was hitting strike after strike! I even got a Turkey! Which I think is 4 strikes in a row. Whatever it was, it was awesome! :)

It was fun to hang out with my dear Frane... I don't get to see enough of her!

And then, it was 2009. :)

So long 2008, welcome 2009?

I had great intentions of posting again before the end of my two weeks off, but I woke up New Year's Day with the beginnings of a cold, which turned into a full-blown snot fest by Saturday, which turned into a lovely abdominal swelling episode by Monday (my first BUSY day back at work), which turned into three days of misery, which turned into an arthritis flare. And while I am sure that sounds like a giant whinefest, what I mean to say with all of that is that 2009 did not get off to the best start. And on top of all that, work was insane. Only yesterday did I start feeling normal, and of course after a week of laying on the couch, that meant a day's worth of cleaning.

So I almost feel like I'm designating today as the start of my 2009. I didn't make any resolutions, really, besides my typical goal to get healthier. That means eating a little better (and a little less... I was a bit of a glutton over the holidays), and exercising at least SOME. This morning I even went on a 30 minute walk! I hope to keep that up... but I've always sucked at exercising regularly, so we'll see.

I'm looking forward to this year. I expect good things from it. It sort of owes me after that first week. :)