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I may be one of the most skeptical people you'll ever meet. For every extreme political meme you post on Facebook I immediately go to Snopes to fact check. I assume all news stories are grossly exaggerated. I assume all personal stories are grossly exaggerated. I read marketing text and say to myself, "50% fewer calories than what?" And, if you drag me to a motivational speaker, I will probably spend those three hours rolling my eyes and trying to hold back laughter. I just don't buy into a lot of crap. I'm jaded. I'm cynical. I'm skeptical as fuck. But psychics? Psychics....

It came to me while doing my yearly binge watch of My So-Called Life: I'm almost as old as Patty Chase. Let's let this sink in for a moment. I'm almost as old as Patty Chase. Have you never seen My So-Called Life? I don't know if we can be friends. Buy the box set from Amazon or stream it on Hulu. Go binge watch it now — I'll see you back here in 15 hours...

When I was young, maybe eleven or twelve years old, I got a cactus. I named my cactus Mr. Bean and put it near the window of my bedroom. And it sat there, for a while, until it eventually died because I never remembered to water it. Let's back up here: I killed a cactus because I didn't water it enough. I killed a cactus, the one plant in the world notorious for not needing all that much water to survive, because I didn't water it enough. That's about how green my thumb is. In the years since, I've killed many plants. All of...

It's back! It's been over a year since my last installment of Val Reads The Baby-Sitters Club. And I have one bad reason and two good as to why it's taken me so long to continue. 1. I've been lazy. (That's the bad reason.) 2. I left to travel shortly after finishing book 25 and my quest to pack light didn't include stuffing my backpack with a BSC library. (That's a good reason.) 3. I knew what was coming next...

I had written it there, I swore. "See Machu Picchu," was on my life list. I was sure I had added it at some point but, as I scrolled through the list on my phone, as I googled my web address and "Machu Picchu," it wasn't showing up. Had I imagined it? It took a few times skimming through the list to find it. Not, "See Machu Picchu," but, "Hike The Inca Trail." "Hike the Inka Trail," I read, sitting an a hostel in Aguas Calientes, otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo. I hadn't hiked the Inca Trail to get there. I hadn't hiked...

The one touristy thing I had on my New York to-do list was to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I was planning to go solo, but, when my friend Kristin told me that she'd never done it before either, we decided to meet up one afternoon for the trek across the East River. We met on the Brooklyn side of the bridge (you can start and end on either side) and made our way to Manhattan, stopping to take photos of the scenery, the skyline, the river, the other walkers, and, of course, the bridge itself along the way. It...

I was a celebrity. Being approached on the street for photos. Getting asked for an autograph at a bar. Receiving random high fives from the crowd. Being told by a mass of self-proclaimed groupies that they were rooting for me. For me. A self-proclaimed groupie myself. I told that group of guys that they picked the wrong girl to cheer for. I told them I came in dead last, far behind all the other totals. I told them I only had qualified by default. But no one cared. "But you did it," they'd say. They'd all say, when I'd sheepishly tell anyone who asked...

I'm still recovering from my totally awesome last place finish at the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest. So, check back later for a full contest recap. But I just wanted to check in and say a big gigantic THANK YOU to everyone for your support. Seriously. I know some of the most amazing people who are always encouraging me to follow my dreams, no matter how weird they are. Thank you. Thank you everyone! I HAVE THE MOST AMAZING FANS EVER!...

Mallory gets a steady job baby-sitting for a couple of twins. And boy are they cute: they dress alike and look alike. There is no way to tell them apart! But soon Mallory learns that just because they are cute on the outside, doesn't mean they're cute on the inside. They are terrors! They throw off their name bracelets so no one can tell them apart, they speak in their own special twin language, and they switch places. Mallory is ready to give up. They are too much trouble for her to handle. But then she discovers a secret: the twins aren't...