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Day 60

I normally don't post about the same thing twice in a row, but... these are crazy times we're living in.

Soooo... quarantine, huh?

I always thought it would be awesome to spend MORE time in my apt -- I have a great view of the city, every TV channel and streaming service you can imagine, comfy pillows and good snacks.

Um, I was wrong.

Turns out, MORE time in my apt during a pandemic means more time to wait. And worry. And work. All. The. Time.

You too?

Oh, and all this time inside has given me a solid phobia of leaving my apt for any reason at all. That includes getting groceries (so I ate all the expired soup in my pantry) and throwing away the garbage (so my apt resembled a classic episode of Hoarders).

After 30 days in my Fortress of Solitude in Hoboken, I hit the road.

Now, let me preface this by saying, I realize I am lucky that I could do this.  For starters, I still have a job, and it is flexible so that I can do it from anywhere.  And I have a car, so by driving, I could avoid contact with basically everyone and make my own personal Cannonball Run down 95 to my parents' house in Florida.

In total, I spent about 30 days there too, and it was such a welcome change of scenery.  I felt better, mostly because I worried less.  Plus, no more expired groceries for me! My mom's a great cook and she made more meals than I've had in a year.

Fast forward to today, I'm 60 days into quarantine, and I just got back to Hoboken. In total, I logged:
  • 4 travel days (2 days each way)
  • 32 total hours of driving
  • 2,140 miles round-trip
  • 455 songs
  • 4 stops for gas
  • 4 times I cursed every self-serve state (reason 534 why NJ is the best)
  • 0 bathroom breaks (I have a bladder of steel)
  • 0 snack breaks (I brought all my own food & drinks)
  • 15 Cracker Barrels passed
  • 2 nights in hotel rooms that I scoured like a forensic detective
  • 3 states requiring people from NJ to quarantine for 14-days (thanks, DE, MD & FL)
  • 1 close call with a Georgia State Trooper (he got the guy behind me)
  • 1 billion dead lovebugs on my windshield

The whole drive was pretty surreal.  I left on Easter weekend and came back on Mother's Day weekend -- both holidays -- and nobody was on the road.  Just me and the truckers.

I know that's good, because it means people are staying home, but it still freaked me out.

Anyway, I couldn't help but take some pics along the way -- so come on a virtual road trip with me...

I travel light, right?

Drink? Check. Snacks? Check. Tunes? Check. Gas? Check.
Gloves & mask? Check...

This is the New Jersey Turnpike at 11AM on a Saturday.

And this is the toll plaza -- not a single car.
This was Delaware's welcome sign.
Nobody's on the road, so nobody's at the gas station either.
It's barbaric to pump your own gas, but here I am. At least the gas was cheap...
This is 95 in North Carolina -- about 6PM on a Saturday.
After 8 hours of not peeing, I made a beeline for my bathroom. 
The swans were a nice touch.

Not sure if you can read this, but it basically says that they were
only offering DoubleTree's famous cookie on request. A sad but necessary step.
A good place to rest your head, and the mid-point in my trip.

You know you're in South Carolina when you see this.

Georgia, on 95 at 4PM on Easter Sunday.

When I got to FL, there was a mandatory checkpoint at the first rest stop on 95.
Anyone from NY/NJ/CT was asked to fill out paperwork and
quarantine for 14 days.  And they weren't fooling around.
Failure to fill out the paperwork was a 2nd degree misdemeanor,
and failure to quarantine could be punished by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine!
I have no idea how they'd know, but I wasn't taking any chances. 

Home sweet home.

This became my new office.
And this little guy became my co-worker.

This was our sassy office manager who tweeted whenever I was on a call.

Eventually, I headed home.
Again, this is Saturday at about noon on 95 in Florida.

And here was my souvenir, a billion dead love bugs smashed on my car.
In other news, they don't come off, no matter how fast your wipers go. 

So, that's the trip. Amidst all the scary stuff going on right now, this was a bright spot for me.  And it was nice to spend some bonus time with my fam, which we'd never be able to do for a month under normal circumstances. Since we're not going back to the office until July, I'll probably do it again.

I hope you all are able to get a change of scenery too to clear your mind.

Be well and keep washing those hands!


My Corona

Sooooo, this is fun, huh?

As the news gets more horrible by the millisecond, we all learn new phrases like "social distancing" and "shelter in place" and we hear how every company we've ever given our email address to is handling COVID-19...

I thought it was a good time to blow the dust off this blog and share a few thoughts.

By now, most of us who are fortunate enough to work from home are doing so. Indefinitely. And we know anyone who still has to work outside the home and put themselves in harm's way are the real heroes of this story.

But while we're all trying to avoid getting the Coronavirus, it's v easy to catch Cabin Fever.

Here are 8 things we can do to stay sane in these uncertain times:

For me, I tried washing my hands for 20 seconds.  It's waaaay longer than you think.  Suffice it to say, I've been doing it wrong for 46 years and it's a wonder I don't have trenchmouth and pink eye.  You might set your bar a little higher and learn a language.

Use all this time at home to surround yourself with things that spark joy and keep the Boogieman at bay.  It's a great time to get organized!  The inventory will be especially helpful if we all have to start selling our handbags and shoes in order to afford the roof over our heads.

Gather all the random crap you have in the back of your pantry (hello, cream of mushroom soup!) and in the depths of your freezer (when did I buy chicken patties?).  Suddenly, it's Casserole O'Clock.

I don't have an old lady beard (yet) but for all you dudes out there, now's the time to experiment with the facial hair.  Grow a full beard, then trim it like a bonsai.  Leave the goatee, then decide it's creepy.  Shave it off AND your eyebrows too. Who cares? It will grow back by the time we emerge from this crazy nightmare.

No bra? No problem! PJs all day? Yes, please! Even with video calls, you only need to look presentable from the shoulders up. It's the Golden Age of Athleisure -- make the most of it.

STOP watching the news -- it's all awwwful.  Our brains need cotton candy -- like Love Is Blind.  Rather watch a comedy? Binge Schitt's Creek or Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Prefer documentaries? Check out McMillions or Cheer.  Watch anything, really.  Just don't watch Contagion.  And don't be surprised in 9 months when a TON of babies are born.

Many big companies -- chain restaurants, retail stores, etc -- can afford to shut down and pay employees (for now), but most of the mom and pops out there are struggggling.  So, order delivery, buy something from their website, give them a 5-star review, or get a gift card, and help them stay afloat if you can. Good karma will come back to you.

Let's not travel when we're sick, like this jerk. Let's stay home when we're asked to, unlike this jerk. Let's not hoard 17,000 hand sanitizers, like this jerk. Basically, let's be decent humans. It's really the best thing any of us can do.

If I know one thing about people, it's that we're resilient. And this too shall pass.  So, hang in there everybody.

As Coach Taylor says.. clean hands, full hearts, can't lose!


Two Taters & New Fall TV

Fall TV is back, which means MORE new shows to love!

Since my parents moved to FL eleven years ago, my mom and I have TV dates a few nights a week. We watch shows together on the phone, have a snack and catch up on the day during commercials. I know she watches a lot of stuff she doesn't really like (hello, Housewives!), just to spend time together, which is one of the many reasons she's awesome.

So, when you see a show with an asterisk below, it means we both watched it. The Loveseat Potato AND Mama Potato! Or... is it Mrs. Potato?

That name might be taken.

Anyway, I started these reviews in 2009 and followed up in 2010 with a fascinating (ahem) account of my DVR schedule juggling act. Mrs. Potato Head made a guest appearance in 2011.  The Loveseat Potato was born (picked? harvested?) in 2012.  In 2013, she found a spuddy buddy to watch alongside and in 2014 she was surrounded by a scary herd of cats. 2015 brought the fry guys in a hot tub (my homage to the Bachelorette), 2016 was the year of chips and dips, 2017 was totally refried to reflect all the recycled shows that returned to the airwaves. And in 2018 our favorite potato spent the weekend in bed catching up on all the new shows (which were mostly a snooze).

You know the drill, the Loveseat Potato (and her mom) binged on 29 new shows.  For you!  Watching a minimum of 2 episodes per.

Here's how they all stacked up...

SPUD: The Politician (Netflix)

WHY IT'S A SMASH: This show is like Election meets The Royal Tenenbaums -- it even has Gwyneth! It centers around Petyon Hobart (played by Dear Evan Hansen's Ben Platt), who plans to become President of the United States one day. His first step is to become President of his high school class. By any means necessary. It's quirky and campy and dark and witty. And man, can Ben sing!

Honorable mention goes to: Sunnyside (NBC), Mixed-Ish* (ABC), The Unicorn (CBS)

DUDS: Perfect Harmony (NBC), Carol's Second Act (CBS), Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)

SPUD: Stumptown* (ABC)

WHY IT'S A SMASH: They had me at Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) and Jake Johnson (New Girl). She is ex-military turned private investigator, he is an ex-felon, turned bar owner. Not sure how he got a liquor license, but he also has a gun, soooo... whatevs. It's a fast-paced car chase set to a mixtape soundtrack. Count. Me. In.

Honorable mention goes to: Leavenworth* (STARZ), Modern Love (Amazon), All Rise* (CBS), Mrs Fletcher (HBO)

DUDS: On Becoming a God in Central Florida* (Showtime), Almost Family (FOX), Bluff City Law (NBC), Living With Yourself (Netflix)

SPUD: American Horror Story, 1984 (FX)

WHY IT'S A SMASH: Well, it started with the underrated Frank Stallone classic, Far From Over, and it's about a summer camp serial killer in the 1980s. Obviously, it's #1. With a bullet. Or a knife.

Honorable mention goes to: Nancy Drew (CW), What/If (Netflix)

DUDS: Prodigal Son* (FOX), Evil* (CBS)

SPUD: A Very Brady Renovation* (HGTV)

WHY IT'S A SMASH: I have loved every second of this show! I literally sit there for an hour with a goofy smile on my face. HGTV bought the Brady house (which hadn't been on the market in 50 years), then the Property Brothers and other HGTV hosts worked with all SIX Brady kids to turn the house the used for the Brady exterior shots into an exact replica of how it looked on the inside, which was all filmed on a soundstage. It's trippy and nostalgic and so much fun!

Honorable mention goes to: What You Get For Your Money* (HGTV), Cash Cab* (Bravo), The Misery Index (TBS), The Kelly Clarkson Show - only because she sings in each episode and that part's pretty great (NBC)

DUDS: In a Man's World* (Bravo), Kids Say the Darndest Things* (ABC)

SPUD: The Morning Show (Apple TV)

WHY IT WILL BE A SMASH: Jennifer Aniston. Reese Witherspoon. Steve Carell. Mark Duplass. And Apple.  How can it go wrong? I got a free year's subscription to Apple TV with my new phone, and you can bet this will be the first thing I stream.

Disagree? See anything I missed?  Put the DVR on pause and comment below...


Endless Summer

Work's been busy lately. But what else is new?

We've planned more events this year than ever before.  So, our big summer shin-dig actually happened in September.

No matter when or where it takes place, it's always a massive undertaking to host thousands of social media influencers for 2 days. And it's a pretty small group of us who work on it.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of this conference. We chose a venue in Brooklyn, far from its roots in the Bay Area, but the spirit remains the same -- to help inspire women from all walks of life to elevate their voices and turn their side hustles into their day jobs.

I'm still amazed by how forward-thinking the #BlogHer co-founders were. Back in 2004, blogging had been around for maybe 5 years, and Facebook was literally just invented. They brought together 300 women to start a community, and the rest is history.

Anyway, this event started a week ago, as all good things do... with pizza.

Take a look...

The most noteworthy thing about our setup day was this pizza from Paulie Gee's
across the street. A Greenpoint institution. Yum.

Oh and the sunset was pretty cool too.
It almost made me forget how much more work there was to do.

Somehow, 1500 gift bags were assembled and transported here to the
Brooklyn Expo Center. My colleague and her husband, who lead the
bag-stuffers, are actual magicians.

After days of setup and months of planning, we were finally ready to roll.

I usually have a nightmare the right before an event that no one comes.
It's always a relief to see a line outside in the morning.

The past few events, I've been running the main stage, which means
I actually get to sit on a stool the whole time.
(Don't tell anyone I wrote my scripts about 2 mins before I said them.)

We kicked off Day One with Connie Britton,
who told us, in her best Tami Taylor accent, that there would
NOT be a Friday Night Lights revival. Poo.

Then, she took a selfie on stage with my friend, who is also her friend.
So like, we're basically best friends, too. Right? 
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

Next was Sarah Jessica Parker, and I couldn't help but wonder,
was she the sweetest celebrity I've ever met?
(The answer is yes.)

Hi SJP! Pretty sure she's waving at me. 

These students were adorable. I love helping to inspire the next generation.

This was such a cool booth, but nothing is as cute as this little nugget!

Our events aren't complete without a giant flower wall. 
This one was gorgeous -- created by FOX for their new show, Almost Family.

Keke Palmer was a total delight.  And so humble!
You'd never know she starred in the #1 movie last weekend.
(Hustlers - with my fave, JLo.)

We had a little garden party after Day One.

Cornhole, anyone?

We brought in Joe's Pizza for everyone to snack on.
$1300 was a bargain for all this cheesy Brooklyn goodness.

We also had a custom swing built. Awesome to see it come to life.
(The flowers aren't real, but they sure are pretty!)

Day Two started bright and early with the Dunkin' mobile.

They brought pumpkin munchkins as far as the eye could see (my dream),
and their new egg sandwich (my nightmare). But the people loved it!

The co-founders of The Skimm took the stage first to talk about
building a business. I adore their daily emails!

Later, Julianna Margulies presented an award to the author of The Farm.
That was cool and all, but really all I wanted to do was ask her
if Josh Charles is as adorable as he seems. I didn't. (But I bet he is.)

We closed the event with Diane Guerrero, from Orange Is the
New Black and Jane the Virgin. She looked ah-mazing in her
black lipstick and gold dress. She gave really great advice, too!

Our attendees are the coolest.

Our closing party was a BBQ,
and I now believe every event should end with a big, fat burger.

Apparently, there was a White Claw shortage, but we had tons of it.
I had a sip of the Black Cherry -- tasty and refreshing.
And loaded with alcohol.

Sunset selfie with part of the team that creates these events.

The last pic of the night -- and we're still smiling!
I'd call that a success.