WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline. Damn, that girl is witty!

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO: Maroon 5. They rock. Good workout music.

COOL WEBSITE: http://www.friendster.com At friendster, you create a profile and so do your friends, and you link to one another. Then you are able to view the profiles of your friends, your friends’ friends, your friends’ friends’ friends…and so on and so on and so on. Like that shampoo commercial from the seventies.

Look at the testimonial Evie left for me:

“Melanie is the one girl in the world who can put up with me 24/7, and therefore not only the best roommate I have ever had, but also one of the best friends I could have ever hoped to wish for. She is caring, sweet, and wise, but all of that in addition to a wicked sense of humor. Melanie also has the most amazing, sparkling blue eyes and most infectious smile to be found in the state of California, if not the entire planet. She is someone who will never stop astounding you with some incredible facet of her personality.”

aaaaaawwwww…….. 🙂

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: I just got back from my friend Heather’s Pampered Chef party. It was SSSOOO good to see her! She’s been out on maternity leave and I have not seen her since the end of August. She and I were notorious for misbehaving during the Houghton Mifflin training. We wouldn’t shut up! The trainer, Deirdre (DEAR-dray), was very irritated with us. She even used that old classroom management trick of using my name in a sentence to get my attention. Of course, it didn’t actually snap me into line like it would have an eight-year-old…because I’M AN ADULT!!! Just for the future, though, here’s a good idea to get me to pay attention: SAY SOMETHING USEFUL. What a novel concept. 🙂

Heather and I have a big common interest, though, and that is Homeless Education. One of the good things about the federal Leave No Child Behind legislation (On of the ONLY good things, IMO) is that it makes it illegal to discriminate against children on the basis of residence where enrollment is concerned. Which is all very nice…but in REALITY…try to register a child in a school with no utility bill or other proof of residence. You basically can’t. This system makes it damn near impossible to send a child to school who happens to live in their car. The result? They probably won’t learn to read. This is a very serious problem. Heather wrote to Oprah about it, but she never heard back. I think we should make a guerilla-style documentary. I think that would have punch.

STORY ABOUT MY HOMETOWN: So, I was emailing with my friend Ryan, and he asked me for a humorous anecdote about Tracy (my hometown). I wrote him back with one, and then realized that it was so perfectly descriptive of Tracy, that I had to post it here. Enjoy:

“This is a story that will tell you ALL you will ever need to know
about what Tracy is like.

Last summer was my ten year high school reunion. (I’m old. I know.
Shut up.) It was $185 for some dinner and dancing at a hotel near
here, which I think any reasonable person would agree is a little
steep. The only real reason to go to a reunion, anyway, I think, is
to catch up with people’s lives that you’ve lost track of. This
being Tracy, however, the only people who I would be curious about, I
already know about. Here goes:

1) Jeff Sparkman: Ex-boyfriend. He’s a humor columnist for my
hometown newspaper. Therefore I catch up with his life weekly, in
print.

2) Beth Wilson: Best friend from 8 years old to early twenties. Our
friendship kinda fell apart when Jeff and I started dating, because
the three of us had been friends before that and it made it weird.
Of course, two years after I broke up with Jeff, he and Beth started
dating. She dumped him, too. Poor guy. I catch up with her once
every couple months on email. She works at a museum in Sacramento
now.

3) Ken Colburn: My sixth-grade boyfriend. My first boyfriend,
actually…hand holding and the occasional hug. HOT stuff, lemme
tell ya. We were the envy of the other 11-year-olds. He could (and
probably still can) ride a unicycle. Our song was “Take My Breath
Away” by Berlin (we were big Top Gun fans, apparently). He was also,
incidentally, Jeff’s high school best friend. And since his parents
still live next door to my parents, his life is not exactly a mystery
to me, either.

So, even though I didn’t really care about the reunion, I was feeling
sort of nostalgic and halfway wishing that I hadn’t missed it when I
went into our local hip coffee house, Shots, a couple of weeks ago.
Shots is like Starbucks but much cooler. Think Central Perk from
Friends. I was talking with Justin Porter, the cool guy that owns
the place…and who also graduated in my year at high school.
(Also, incidentally, he’s friends with my sister’s boyfriend Tony.
And Tony’s aunt Joanne was my nephew’s kindergarten teacher, and his
other aunt Barbara was MY second grade teacher. Aaahhh…Tracy).
The subject of the reunion came up in my conversation with Justin. I
started getting sentimental about it, but he dismissed that with a
short laugh.

“Don’t even trip about missing it. You didn’t miss much. Only,
like, thirty people showed up, and they basically just went out back
all night and got baked. It was fun, but hell…they do that every
Saturday night anyway for free.”

And there you have it. From weekly Saturday night cowtipping to
weekly Saturday night ganja fests in only ten short years. That’s my
hometown, in a nutshell. I’m so proud!”