Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Friends

2012.  Nice to almost meet you. 

I've been preparing for this for a while now; would you mind if we could just get down to business?

I don't make resolutions, because I don't follow directions well, even if they're from me to begin with.  Understand?  I will make changes, because that's me, but I will not label them as New Year's resolutions or anything.  Don't try to put me in a box; I will resist.  I will be making changes all year long.  Some will be Summer Resolutions, or even Back-To-School Resolutions.  I've even been thinking about Christmas Resolutions already.  Just hang back.  Changes will come.

Throw anything crazy at me, and I will fight back with anxiety, tears and complaining.  No one wants that, so could you please just let me slog through this life the best way I know how?  Throw me a bone here or there, and that'd be just fine.

About all the facial lines and gray hair that 2011 brought:  I realize that I am at an age where I can reaonably be considered "middle-aged," so the the daily affirmations of aging are overkill at best and cruel at worst.  Do you really want to be known as The Year I Started To Look Old?  You can come up with a better name for yourself than that.  How about The Year My Talents Were Recognized?  Or what about The First Year I Made A Million Dollars?  Those are just some general suggestions.

I don't really have a plan for you yet.  I guess I should admit that I don't often have a plan for much.   But if you stick with me, and be polite, and encourage me to spread my wings a little and try some different things, I'll keep the complaining and crying to a minimum.  Thanks, and I'll see you tomorrow, and every day for the next 365.

Just do what I say, and no one gets hurt.
Like me.
photo credit

Friday, December 30, 2011

There's No Place Like It

In the past 24 hours, I learned the following:

My grandfather can't eat Milky Way bars anymore.  The story of why this is involves a Marine and a storm at sea.

My grandmother's kitchen cabinets hold enough old liquor to fill a set on Mad Men.

One of my kids loves driving through muddy cornfields in an ATV.  The other is afraid she might die before she has a boyfriend.

Going home.  It is so sweet.

Who are these people, anyway?

photo credit

Thursday, December 29, 2011

True Love

Ah, Christmas break. A time where families all over the nation stay home and spend uninterrupted time really getting to know each other again.  The level of family bonding is unparalleled during this time of year, except perhaps during trips to Disney World.  It’s a wonderful time.

During the week between Christmas and the New Year, my family typically spends time together tucked away indoors, where we relearn each other's idiosyncracies and endearing habits. We might also find out one or two new things about each other, which is lovely and can only serve to bring us closer.

This week, I am getting a fresh new perspective on my son’s laser-sharp animosity towards every single thing I announce for dinner.

I also realized that my daughter has not only one hiding place which she uses to escape from us regularly for hours on end, but three.

My husband is in love with Bradley Cooper.  This truth was uncovered just today, when he was on his fourth hour of his own private Bradley Cooper movie marathon.

My family members are learning some things about me, too.  Red before white wine, and only white when desperate.

Cheers to you and your families.  May the New Year bring new and exciting treasures for you and yours to uncover.


Feel the love.
photo credit

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Battle of Wills

Maybe if I just sit here quietly, the urge to go to the gym will pass and I will miss my yoga class.

And maybe I won't feel guilty about it.

And maybe the eighteen pounds of candy in my pantry will magically turn into vegetables.

And maybe my body will tone itself.

And maybe all my clothes will fit correctly.

Or maybe not.

Namaste.


photo credit

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holy Crap

My family has gone nuts.  The kids are crying, the husband is hiding, and I'm guzzling wine like Santa's bringing me a truckload of it in two days.

Despite the wreckage, I have glittery fingernails, so there's that. 

I have two words for this picture:
 Hand Lotion.


Cheers to you all, and a very Merry Christmas ~!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goodbye, Old Friend

It's been nice.  But my kids got wise this year, and we're moving on.  Sorry, man.   


Maybe I'll miss you.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Chaos

Yep, that pretty much sums up what’s going on in my head these days.  All that’s rattling around in there is garbage like appointments, get-togethers, kids’ activities, shopping, and Christmas.  Each day and night this week is jam-packed with stuff to do before Christmas.  It all points to Christmas, and it’s making me nuts.

My husband told me a week ago that I needed to change my attitude about Christmas.  He’s right.  He knows it.  I don’t even care that he knows it.  I am too worn out and strung out on Christmas to care.

When will I learn that Christmas is a time for joy, love, peace, and goodwill?  But mostly peace?

I have been unable to truly enjoy this season for years.  My main complaint is that everything seems to intensify the week before the actual holiday.  Each day that goes by finds me a little more stressed, a little more frantic, a little more unable to function adequately.  Why does the calendar fill up the week before Christmas?  I want to enjoy these days.  I started Christmas shopping two weeks before Thanksgiving so I could enjoy these days.

Each year I try to change something about the way I approach Christmas so that it wouldn’t seem so stressful.  Last year I programmed my DVR to catch Christmas specials on TV so I wouldn’t have to remember to watch them with the kids, thereby making wonderful Christmas memories.  The result was that my constantly at-capacity DVR required me to filter through and delete watched and unwatched Christmas specials daily.  Maybe I watched one Christmas special with the kids last year, and I’m sure it was punctuated with me screaming at the kids to “come and watch this show with me, we have exactly one hour before we have your band concert/shopping for Daddy/Christmas baking to do!!”  This year I realized that I don’t have many memories of watching Christmas specials on TV as a kid, and my kids have watched them on DVD so many times at other times of the year that they don’t even care about them anymore.

A few years ago I gave up Christmas cards.  I weaned myself off of it, only sending to those people from whom I received one.  The problem is that there’s always a friend or twenty who wait until after the holidays to send their cards, and I ran out of cards and patience long before then.  The next year I quit cold turkey, and I don’t even give them a second thought until they start arriving in the mail each year.  The guilt of not sending Christmas cards looms larger each time I open a card from one of my caring friends and neighbors and family members who obviously were granted extra hours in the day to do Christmas cards.

The cleaning, the house guests.  The traveling and being a house guest.  Both my and my husband’s families are from out of town.  Which means that if we want to see family for Christmas, we either travel or they travel to see us the weeks leading up to Christmas.  We have awesome families and we have an awesome time with all the members of each of our families.  The people are not the problem.  It’s the time spent traveling, or preparing to travel, or preparing to have travelers.  This all needs to be done at the exact same time all the other end-of-year stuff is happening.  For instance, during a normal busy time of year, the housecleaning is the first thing to go.  However, when Christmas is coming, I like the house to be somewhat clean, because I know my relatives don’t want to use my bathrooms in the same state that my family and I use them.  Like, in that what’s-this-stuff-all-over-the-mirror, and are-you-planning-on-using-this-hair-on-the-floor-to-knit-a-sweater kind of state.

It just goes on and on.  I’ve already spent too much time writing about it, because I’ve got Christmas stuff to do.  Peace and goodwill, y’all.

Not me.  But close.

photo credit

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keeping My Ham Trap Shut

I am trying this new thing where when someone says something that I disagree with, or think is stupid, or am totally offended by, I shut my mouth and keep it tight until the urge to speak passes.  This has not always been something I’ve been good at, nor something I’ve particularly put into practice much.

Don't say it.

The good news is that I have less guilt over my thoughtless riffing.  It’s not nice to talk back to anyone, including family members, the elderly, other people’s children, the checkout guy at Walmart who visibly rolled his eyes and groaned when he saw me coming with my overflowing cart and a dozen reusable shopping bags.  In cases where children are involved, an urge to say what’s on my mind might actually do some psychological damage or have legal repercussions, and who needs that noise?

The bad news is that my head might explode.  This is hard, people.

The other bad news is while life might be nicer on the outside, I’m seeing what’s really going on inside.  It’s tough.  As the times a day that I am silent when my real instinct is to bite back add up, I realize that that I have a real problem with judging.  Thinking that I am above all the things other people do that irritate me is wrong.  Truth is, I’m just as capable of being irritating, and in so many different and creative ways.  Probably even in some ways no one else has ever been irritating.

And you know what?  People are nice to me.  Tolerant at worst.  Which makes me feel even more like the Capital B Judgment Police and firms my resolve to try even harder to change my mind and heart about being judgy.  It’s sobering that so many others are so much better than I am at keeping their judgments to themselves.  I must have the worst manners ever.

So try me.  Say something annoying, or stupid, or offensive.  I need the practice.  I can’t promise I won’t snap back, but I will do my very best to keep quiet.  In addition, I will try not to judge you for your ineptitude.

How am I doing so far?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sidetracked

What goes through the minds of those little winter birds that fly in close-knit flocks?  About thirty of them dip and glide in one motion; their wings start and stop together, swirling around and around with what I am assuming the changes in wind currents, landing on one of the trees in the line of trees in my neighbor’s backyard.  They roost for a moment, making a noise that causes me to stop what I am doing and look out the window at their racket.  They stop long enough only to take off again, circling; some break off in smaller groups and make their own formation that echoes the original, larger one.  They always land in that one tree, over and over.

Why that tree?  Is this activity for fun, for practice, for defense or community?  Is it a mating ritual, a clubbing scenario – a meet market?  Maybe some of them are making plans to hook up later.

They are mysterious, these little birds.  At once, I’m not interested in motives.  They’ve got my full attention.  They fascinate me as I sit at my desk and watch them swoop around outside my window.  They distracted me from my chores, and I am happy to be their audience, if only for a few minutes.  Their graceful freedom is desirable as I return to emails, the boxes on a calendar, newly dried clothes that should be folded.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Continuing Education

At one point today I had brown stuff all over my hands.  I hate that this wasn't the first time I've had brown stuff on my hands, but at least it was just chocolate this time.  And no, I didn't lick it to find out what it was.  That's one of those life lessons you only have to learn once. 

There are other lessons I’ve learned, some more useful than others.  Here are a few: 

  • When I was in college I worked at a shelter for abused women.  What surprised me most while working there is that you do not have to be friendly to work in social services.  What I also learned there is that you should not ask a woman when her due date is if you are not absolutely positive that she is pregnant. 
Wow, you look great! 
Oh, you're pregnant?
I wouldn't have guessed!

    • You cannot be friendly with a non-pregnant social worker after you asked her when her due date is. 

  • After I had my first child I looked back in awe at how much of the process of childbirth (and OMG AFTER childbirth) I was totally unprepared for.  I learned that you can tell some people the details about birthing a child, and they will become your best friends.  You can tell other people about these details, and they will never speak to you again.  You might get a Christmas card from them every year, but they will avoid all attempts to meet up again.   

    • You should not divulge the gory details of childbirth while slightly tipsy at a wedding reception among people whom you’ve just met. 

  • I learned to refrain from telling a person that they look like any well-known person that isn’t obviously handsome or universally beautiful.  Telling a man that he is a dead ringer for Steve Buscemi, although you have a mad crush on him, is not a good thing.  A woman won’t think it’s a compliment when you tell her she looks like Shelley Duvall in Popeye.  Gushing over a favorite celebrity won’t work if the person thinks that celebrity is a troll. 
I love him,
but maybe I'm the only one.
Some people should be grateful
for being this beautiful.

    • Don’t mix the sexes.  Don’t tell a man he looks like a famous woman, or vice versa.  And especially don’t tell someone they look like a transsexual person or a drag queen, no matter how attractive you think they are.  Trust me. 
You know,
you look just like...
oh, never mind.

  • Be smart about clothing.  Do a mirror-check before leaving the house.  Make sure the garment you have on is meant to be worn alone and is not a layering piece.  Rule of thumb: if a top has less than two buttons holding it together, it is probably a layering piece.  If it has only one button and you are wearing it alone, you are pretty much half-naked. 

    • If you misjudged a wardrobe piece, leave immediately to get something more appropriate to wear, especially if you’re at your boyfriend’s parent’s house for a family picnic. 
Please. 
You're going to give Grandpa 
a heart attack.

  • Don’t rush while in the kitchen.   I learned that if you are making lunch for 12 people and you feel crunched for time, you may hurt yourself, and you can end up in the ER.  Give yourself extra time if you will be wielding sharp objects, like an apple slicer. 

    • You will learn graciousness if the people you were preparing lunch for are your best friends, because they will tease you mercilessly about your kitchen prowess, or lack thereof.

  • When in doubt, shut your mouth.  Let someone else say something stupid for once.
photo credit KateGosselin, photo creidt SteveBuscemi, photo credit ShelleyDuvall, photo credit CocoPeru, photo credit Glee

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sick

This past week I haven't been feeling well.

I've had the Grinches,



a mild Scrooge,



the Bah Humbug,



and a pretty major case of the crabs.



photo credit Grinch
photo credit Scrooge
photo credit Bah Humbug

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Strange Days

My husband has crazy stories to tell about his real life away from this house.  You see, even though he comes home nearly every night to his family, the man has a job and friends and peers – a whole other life – away from this place.  It’s weird, right?  He works in another town and has all these other experiences that I may never know about.  He could be Don Draper, with a total double life, and no one knows he’s married or even has a family, I don’t know.  Whatever.

Because I am busy with all this Christmas nonsense that descended on me like a black cloud lately, and hating in general, we haven’t been able to catch up on things like normal.  For example, on a usual evening, he tells me about all the zillion-dollar decisions he makes during the day, and I tell him how many seconds I shaved off my personal record for toilet scrubbing.  It’s amazing.  This week, we haven’t done this because there’s other stuff going on.  Like my hating.

So tonight, I was quiet, and he was fairly busting with stories to tell.  He said they were Seinfeld-esque.  Well, maybe not quite that good, but I admit, some are horrifying.  The ones that are most horrifying involve the gym.  OF COURSE.  Here’s one.  Enjoy.
                   

So, after my workout, I was in the steam room.  You know how weird stuff always happens in the steam room?  It does.  A lot. 

I’m in there, minding my own business being quiet and sweating, and this big guy is in there.  Now, this room is not very big.  There’s only about enough room for maybe six people to sit comfortably.  So, this guy is standing in there, shirtless, making all kinds of noises, and like, doing sit-ups against the wall, and then stretching out his huge gut.  He’s grunting like “UNNNHHHHHH!” and moaning like “OOOOHHHHHHHHH!” like he’s giving birth or something.  He’s really making a scene, rubbing his head and moaning and stretching out his gut and pushing against the wall with his hands and grunting and thrusting his hips forward and I’m sitting like two feet away from him.  He’s standing and sitting and grunting and thrusting and rubbing and sweating.  I’m trying to ignore him this whole time.  I feel like I should say something, but what?  Is he okay?  Do I need to get a doctor?  I don’t want to talk to this guy. 

After a few minutes of this business, he decides it’s time to leave.  He looks at me, smiles and yells, “WELL, ENJOY.  I HEATED IT UP FOR YOU IN HERE!  HEH HEH HEH.”

What did he mean by that?  I felt like I was on an episode of Seinfeld.  Why do these things only seem to happen to me?


My husband has all the luck.  The weirdest thing that happens to me away from home is when an old lady asks me to reach stuff for her on the top shelf in the grocery store.  Then any grunting I experience is my own.  Bor-ing.

All the good stuff?
Happens to THIS guy.