Monthly Archives: December 2013

Unfinished Blogging Business of 2013

Welcome to the unfinished thoughts/would-be blogs/mad ramblings of 2013.
It wasn’t all sunny vacations and lovey-dovin’ times.
Some of went a little something like…
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On the affordability of organic food for the average American family:

(Working Title: Organically Rich)

I wish my Facebook news feed had less “Hurry! Buy all the ammo you can from WalMart before Obama takes your guns!” and more, “Holy fuck, are strawberries supposed to be the size of my fist? Because, I want to be worried about this….but they’re SO MODIFIANTLY (hello new word) DELICIOUS!”

Even the staunchest fuck-the-environment-global-warming-is-a-lie-eat-more-mad-cow citizen is having a hard time denying the chemical and genetic creepiness in our FDA approved num-nums. Yet I’ve seen a decade of organic food that is simply way too expensive for the average American family. Buying solely organic is a budgetary ball-buster for general, not-poor-by-national-standards families – like mine.

Do you have any idea how much fruit my kids eat? An entire apple tree a day, at least. And while it has kept the doctor away, it has also kept the college fund away. “Hey kids, sorry you have to work full time at McDonald’s in order to put yourself through the next ten years of community college, but at least you didn’t get cancer. And you’re welcome.”

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On the separation of Church and State….

School Friend: “Do you believe in the devil?”
My Daughter: “Uh, no. I don’t believe in scary things like Hell, either.”
School Friend: “Oh. Well you SHOULD! Do you listen to rap or Katy Pery? Because they sold their souls to the devil. You need to listen to gospel!”
My Daughter: “What business is it of yours what I believe in? We’re not even supposed to be talking about this. This isn’t a Christian school!”

I love my daughter.

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On Creepy old men…..

(Working Title: “Next Up on To Catch a Predator”

Older men of planet Earth, roughly 35+, please stop being gross. More specifically, stop openly lusting after girls significantly younger than yourself. Do whatever you want in private. Amass your collection of “barely legal” porn and have a big old freaky creepfest, all to hairy yourselves. But, for christsakes, what happens in your pervert den needs to stay in your pervert den!

When I was in my teens and twenties, and men my father’s age hit on me, it was gross. I smiled politely, because that’s what nice girls do, and because it’s a little sad, but ultimately…just gross. And all these years later, as I watch middle-aged men make the same millenia-old advances on very young girls…still gross.

Tonight I stood in a checkout line behind a dude between 35 and 40 years old, witnessing his miserable attempts at flirting with the teenage checker. After idle chit-chat, he angled his head to look at her name tag. “Carly. That’s a very pretty name. Just like you.” She thanked him, courteously, scanning his purchases as fast as she could, as he continued with, “I’m Dennis. It’s nice to meet you.” He inquired when she was getting off work. She wisely avoided answering.

When he left, and she was ringing me up, I said, “Hey. So, uh, my name’s Dennis. What time you gettin’ off?” She looked up at me, surprised, then busted up laughing. She said, “You caught that same vibe, huh?” I told her I couldn’t help mentioning the weirdness, and she said, “You see this blue dot on my name tag? It means I’m underage. I’m 17.” She smiled and rolled her eyes. This happens to her a lot. In my best redneck, I drawled, “Yeah, but Carly sho is a purdy name.” We both giggled, and I felt I’d helped scrub away a bit of the yuck that had been left by Stranger Danger Dennis.

Then I said: “But, in all seriousness, maybe have someone walk you to your car tonight.”

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On letters to my daughters…

Dear Bubby,

You recently helped an elderly woman carry her groceries into her condo, unprompted. Afterward, she called out to your dad and I, “You are doing a wonderful job with her! Children these days just don’t do things like that anymore!” What she didn’t know is, while your dad and I feel pretty solid in our parenting, and happily take credit where it’s due, the driving force behind your thoughtfulness is generated directly, and purely, from your own gigantic heart. It’s not a learned behavior. You are just wonderful.

And I hope the world doesn’t beat that out of you. Rather, I hope you don’t let it. Because it’s easy to let it. Trust me. Enough people will repay your kindness with a knife in your back, and you will begin to doubt the wisdom of remaining kind. Some say those that meet kindness with cruelty are the ones who need kindness most of all, and others (like me) say, f*ck those guys. You’ll learn how and where to draw the lines in your own compassionate sand. And if you listen to your instincts (and not the babble of your head), you’re gonna do just fine.

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On Pop Music…..

I just watched Nicki Minaj give Lil’ Wayne a lap dance on stage at the Billboard awards. I don’t generally watch these things, but icons from my youth were being honored: Madonna and Prince. And before I could weep for my daughters’ generation, I remembered the biggest song on the radio when I was 11 years old was “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael.

And I turned out just fine.

(Be afraid.)

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On New Year’s resolutions….

At the start of the year I wrote an email to myself: “I will learn to forgive in 2013. Not just accept, not just deal, not just “let go”, but forgive. I will do so with a clearer head and an expanding heart. I will face fears and summon courage.”

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So long, 2013. Onward and upwards.

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Moments and Mementos

Throwing the first of what will likely become an annual holiday party in our home, we invited our guests to bring wrapped, inexpensive mystery presents to be won in a dice game. A “Dirty Dice” holiday game (not that kind of dirty) that my family has played every Christmas for the last twenty years. We just call it “The Dice Game” but when I searched it for its official rules, “Dirty Dice” it was. So named for the last, frantic fifteen minutes of cut-throat present stealing. It really helps draw out the inner greedy, materialistic bastard in us all – otherwise known as “The Christmas Spirit.”

TreeThe game was a smash, hence plans for future events, but a couple of unexpectedly cool things happened besides good times, gift hoarding, and my husband dressing as Santa, passing out presents to the little ones. See, some of our friends identify themselves as introverts. And I can relate to the socially awkward. I grew up in a tree talking to a cat. I believe the movie “Nell” was loosely based on my childhood. But I watched the socially uncozy unite during our gathering. There was a fellow, a new friend’s husband, who was, to the watchful eye, clearly uncomfortable in the crowd of strangers. Another of our self-proclaimed wallflower friends took the goodwill initiative and led the newcomer on a tour of my husband’s action figure packed man cave; more commonly referred to as the “Joe Room”, but also known in some circles as “Geek Mecca.” When the newcomer and his wife bid us goodnight he said, “I just want to tell you, I normally hate parties. My wife had to drag me here. But I had such a good time! You guys are awesome!”

Best compliment of 2013. God it feels good making others feel good.

Highlight dos arrived when a few friends recognized some of my holiday décor for the vintage childhood memorabilia it really is. I had no idea the Christmas Countdown Mouse Calendar had once been so popular. And I don’t know how it went down in other 80s and 90s homes, but in mine, my mother told me the elves came each night to leave candy in the pocket of the newest December day. My most vivid memory of this calendar was the year she underwent back surgery. Being that I was 10 years old, and no longer bought the elf story…but still liked candy very much, my mom pre-packed all days she’d be away in the hospital – a little over a week. I remember looking at that calendar, and the numbered pockets full of chocolates, feeling sad that she would be gone so long, feeling worried and scared for her health, and feeling loved because she’d taken the time to fill my calendar. I felt a mixture of trepidation and reverence. And then I ate ALL the candy at once.

I may have left a few days worth, for sentimentality’s sake. I can’t recall. That was so last century.

IMG_0079But the conversation of youthful yuletide totems led to the pieces of personal history that hung from my tree. Moreover, the ingenious tradition my mother began in 1979, when she bought me my first ornament featuring Pooh Bear and Piglet. Every year afterward she took me to the Hallmark store and had me choose a keepsake. She told me they’d be the ornaments I moved away from home with, someday, and the very first tree of my own would sparkle with the memories my childhood. And that’s exactly what happened.

IMG_0089Every year, when I unbox the squirrels on the telephone, I’m reminded that when I was 13 years old I could not be pried from the phone. And when I hang the Heathcliff ornament on my tree, the one I picked out when I was 7 (my mom labeled all the boxes with the year I chose them, because she’s awesome like that), I wonder if anyone even remembers who Heathcliff was.IMG_0073 There are adorable years, like racoon-riding-a-skateboard year, because I was into raccoons and cute skateboarders. And there are solemn years, like the year my mentor lost her young life in a head-on collision with a semi-trailer, and I chose an angel to represent her.IMG_0075

IMG_0096As I pointed out these artifacts, sharing their stories, a few people said, “Wow. I’m stealing your mom’s idea.” And they should. And you should, too. It’s a beautiful thing to give your children; little memories of long ago Christmases to adorn their someday trees, all their later on lives.

IMG_0109Naturally, I carry on this tradition with my own daughters. Though we’re not bound to the sacredness of the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. In fact, this year’s additions were hand painted and shipped to us by my talented auntie Holly (I share the link to her Etsy shop and Facebook page every chance I get, she’s amazing). My eldest received a Hunger Games inspired ornament, a Sally one was made for my “Nightmare Before Christmas” obsessed youngest, and a surprise “Breaking Bad” piece came for me. Yay! Because what says “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” better than a little Heisenberg?IMG_0106

Now, I’m not sure my girls appreciate the ornament ritual just yet. I mean, they love choosing their annual baubles, but they’re already critical of choices they made just a year or two previous. My eldest rolls her eyes at her 4 year old “Barbie Princess” pick, while my youngest is so over her 2 year old “Go, Diego, Go!” selection. And that’s fine. It still goes up on our tree, just as I hope they will one day be displayed as lovingly upon the girls “someday” ones.

And we’ll wonder if anyone remembers who the hell Diego was.
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We Love Hard For This

The season is upon us! And whether you agree it’s the most wonderful time of year, or you declare it the most expensive, stressful, pointless, irritating and/or depressing, I have come bearing gifts of holiday cheer!

Well, this isn't the YouTube cheer, just regular old happy everything non-motion cheer.

Age old ‘happy everything’ cheer.

Now, after viewing our upcoming YouTube internet gifts to you (our gifts to the world, really…nay, the universe) you’ll likely ask if we are professional entertainers. Clearly we’ve studied dance and mastered choreography at some point in our collective family career. Surely we’ve performed as a professional troupe; a modern-day “Familie Von Trapp.” But no! Say WHAAAT? I know. It’s hard to believe but, no, we are not trained thespians. We were just bored after Thanksgiving dinner, and it was either bust out the Christmas C.D.s and make with the silly, or watch a movie.

Be glad, and rejoice, that we did not watcheth a movie. But instead…

Viewer Discretion Advised: We are not a perfect family.
Many believe us to be so awesome (and we are), so happy (we mostly are), and the snapshot of an ideal familial unit (which we absolutely are not). This impression is derived from the P.R. face we present to the world. And while the truth of us isn’t some dark, ugly, lie behind closed doors, we have our equitable share of dirty laundry; the sort we choose not to air.

When I hear, “Oh I wish my husband was romantic, like yours,” and, “Oh I wish my family had fun like yours does,” I feel compelled to make others feel better by assuring them that we are real, flawed human persons. That my husband is a thoughtless jerkface, just like theirs, and my children are fiercely engaged in the total annihilation of one another – or me, whichever comes first. And I also assure them how there isn’t enough wine in the breadth of existence to make any of it okay. But, one, no one believes me, and two, it just sells my family short. I shouldn’t have to convince people we’re REAL people.

Especially when I should know, by now, those people will project whatever they want onto the joy we attempt release into the world. They will be uplifted by it or they will be disgusted by it – or some intrinsically complicated lovey-hatey limbo therein.

But I’m not going to feel bad about being happy. Or having a happy family.
We work hard for this.
We LOVE hard for this.