Archive | December 2014

Happy Birthday to Me (Or, Ode to a Favorite Daughter)

Yesterday (Tuesday) was my birthday, and I spent it in the very enjoyable company of my daughter, Sarah.

Sarah is 15 years old. Yep, she’s in those…gasp...teenage years where they are all supposed to be sullen, shutting out their parents or siblings and spending all their time texting on their smartphones, full of teenage angst.

Well, I’m here to tell you that not all teenagers are like that.

I’m quite proud to say that Sarah enjoys my company and likes spending time with me as much as I like spending time with her. We’re weird like that.  I guess it’s because we have so much in common – we always have had.

We share a love of…wait for it…Marvel Comics.  I know. Big shock to those of you who follow this blog.  In fact, I think Sarah loves them more than I do. She knows the backstories of the comics better than I do. She goes for the misunderstood anti-hero more than the hero, like Bucky Barnes (in The Winter Soldier) and Deadpool – I think because it’s the empathy and compassion in her coming out along with the badass side of her. A great combo if you ask me. Then again, Loki’s my favorite so I guess I’m somewhat of a bad influence.

We love going to the movies together and chowing down on popcorn and drinking pop – the whole movie experience. We go every chance we get. Big Hero Six, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, we love them all.

Sarah is smart (as a matter of fact she is extremely smart, she’s college material already — she’ll start dual enrollment next school year), but more than that, and much more importantly, she’s a good person.

Sarah is tolerant of all people. Well, she’s intolerant sometimes, a lot of times actually – she’s intolerant of those who would belittle someone for their looks, their race, their mental capacity, their gender orientation, or things of that nature. She has a very short temper in that regard. She despises stupidity and ignorance and human cruelty and conservative mindsets. Like me, she hates hunting and animal cruelty in all forms.

She hates the abuse of authority by our government and our police when it manifests itself, but having said that, she also respects the ideals behind our government and our police force – what these institutions are supposed to be.

On top of this, she has an amazing sarcastic and witty sense of humor. It usually comes out in her writing. Not sure where she gets that from.

I was thinking of all this today while I was spending time with my daughter.

I thought of all those parents out there – hopefully not as many as I think there are – that don’t want to spend any time with their kids, or worse, want to spend time with their kids but their kids don’t want to spend time with them. (Think Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” – what a sad song that is.)

Do the teenage years have to be so bad and stressful for teens and parents alike?

Can some of this stress be alleviated by finding things in common with your kids from a very young age and maintaining those traditions – playing chess or Scrabble after a sit-down dinner every night, sharing comic books, going to the movies every weekend… talking frankly about the world and its dangers…philosophy, books, and common interests?

Of course I know I’m lucky with Sarah… as a parent I certainly helped in her development but she also has evolved into a good kid on her own!

Have a talk with your kids today, why don’t you? Better yet…buy them a Deadpool or Captain America comic book!

 

The Christmas Spirit has Left the Building

I had to venture out into the world of retail on Friday.  The day after Christmas. It’s not something I wanted to do. But I had promised my daughter a long overdue movie:  Big Hero 6. We were lucky that it was still in the theater near us. Great movie by the way. If you haven’t seen it, you should. But I digress. Back for a moment to the aforementioned trip into the wasteland of overcrowded, relentless after-holiday “returners” and “deal shoppers.” We didn’t even have to go into the stores themselves to get to the movie…just the roundabout general area. But that was close enough to encounter all manner of rudeness and obnoxious behavior. I guess what with Christmas having ended at midnight (reminiscent of Cinderella at the Ball), being “Christ-like” has been thrown out the window like the proverbial glass slipper.

I won’t go into all of the different scenarios we were faced with, especially in the parking lot or on the walk through to the theater. Suffice it say that some days the supply of available curse words is simply insufficient to meet my demands.

My wish for you this Christmas

Many of us will return to our childhood homes to celebrate the holidays or at the very least will be surrounded by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and countless cousins — some of whom we haven’t seen since last Christmas.  I always envision these gatherings as being somewhat reminiscent of the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a disparate group of individuals thrown together through a random gene pool and forced to celebrate holidays for life.

Of course if you’re like many families, you always have to keep a sharp eye out for flare-ups throughout the evening due to in-fighting; made worse by close quarters, chit-chat with other family members, and the old reliable: alcohol. Cousin Elle isn’t speaking to Aunt Ida because of something that happened 20 years ago but no-one quite remembers what happened except it had something to do with a silver set or perhaps a dog or maybe it was a chicken. Uncle Bill, oh good grief, don’t even get him started on the JFK conspiracy because he’ll never shut up (and he gets quite irate at no one in particular so therefore everyone) and you’d think that something like that just wouldn’t come up in conversation but somehow it always does. It’s uncanny really.

Then of course you have Aunt Joan who lets her children do everything (the word no doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary) and her polar opposite Cousin Bette who doesn’t let her child do anything. Poor Cousin Bette ends up heavy sighing a lot (very melodramatically I might add) as Aunt Joan’s children run mad circles around the house in full-on manic mode. I have to give Bette credit though, the “Sweetie, you shouldn’t do that,” she uses to correct Joan’s children as they’re climbing the bookcase is a lot nicer than the admonishment that would be falling off the tip of my tongue.

Uncle Larry? Well, he knows everything, so if you want to know something just ask. Or don’t. He’ll probably tell you anyway. Really loudly. More than once. He likes to repeat things. In case you didn’t get it the first time.

Ahhh…family. Just because you’re family doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get along. I think in some respects family can drive us crazier than anyone else. They’re talented like that. Especially during the holidays.

So.  Here’s hoping we all survive our holiday get-togethers with our families….or at the very least let there be copious amounts of alcohol to help us through with a sense of humor.  Or bail money. That’ll work too.

The Holiday Party (or How NOT to get on the Naughty List)

There’s still plenty of time to be put on Santa’s Naughty list. So watch out! What’s the quickest way to do this? Oh sure, you could deface Nativity scenes in front of a church or slash inflatable snowmen in your neighbor’s yard, but I tend to think that most of the people reading this blog aren’t evil in that way (you’re not, right!?) so I’ll focus instead on a common slip up that even the best of us can fall victim to, thus ensuring a lump of coal in the stocking.

The holiday party. Two words of advice: be careful. If you haven’t had your work party yet, heed these words. You don’t want to be that person. There’s one at every holiday gathering. That person who drinks too much. That person who makes inappropriate comments to the senior partner. That person who for one night mistakes his work colleagues with his old college buddies. Be careful, everyone.

I don’t quite understand what happens at these parties, but it’s almost like there’s an aerosolized drug in the air that turns some of the people into Mr. Hyde versions of themselves. Maybe the pull of finally being able to cut loose is too great an urge and they have trouble reeling themselves back. Maybe the desire to get things off their chest is too strong to stop once the eggnog is flowing through their veins. Maybe the stress of the whole Secret Santa gift thing is too much to bear. Whatever it is, this transformation is mystifying to me mostly because it happens every year.

I’m not saying not to let your hair down some. Have fun. That’s the point of the party, after all. But also be mindful for goodness’ sake.  These are people you’re going to have to see again on Monday in the conference room. Do you want to be the reason people quickly shush whispered conversations when you walk into the room? Doubtful.  But alas, the holiday party brings out all kinds and those whispered conversations are going to take place about somebody.

The worst (in my opinion) is when the secret Casanovas start showing up. You have the IT guy who has a couple mugs of mulled wine and decides the party is the best time to bare his soul to the svelte account executive he’s been harboring a crush on for the past six months. It’s pretty simple: try not to ask anyone out on a date at your holiday party, especially if it’s your boss. Trust me, it’s been known to happen more than a few times. Another simple rule: if the object of your affection has on a wedding ring, abort abort abort! And ladies… please, please, please keep ALL of your clothes on. No matter how tempting it might be to do otherwise. Essentially, whenever you do something where HR might need to get involved, you know you’re going down the wrong path. Sadly, with a little too much mulled wine, you might not realize this until Monday morning…therein lies the paradox of holiday work parties.

On top of that you have the guy who decides to go all Chevy Chase on his boss and let him know how he really feels (oh come on, who hasn’t seen Christmas Vacation?). Not a wise move either. Hilarious to the rest of us… obviously. We’ll be sitting at our tables enjoying the hell out of it. But it’s definitely not a wise move for him.

And should you end up in a mutually amorous situation, do us all a huge favor and find someplace truly private to have your tryst. That sorta, kinda semi-dark corner just 6 feet away from the dance floor is NOT as hidden as you may think. People will see and then they will talk.  Oh, how we will talk!

I don’t know which alter egos you readers have, if any, all I’m doing is advising that you exercise some caution. That flare-up of your more hedonistic self isn’t going to be the one that has to look co-workers in the eyes on the next work day.  It’s worse than that walk of shame home after a one night stand (*ahem*…I only know this from what I’ve seen on T.V.).  Because the walk of shame to the conference room for that Monday morning meeting, past people you’re going to see every day for the rest of your work life with that company,  is going to be a killer.

Have some spirits and bond with your fellow cohorts, just try not to end up on that Naughty list. It’s a hell of a lot easier getting off Santa’s than your boss’. Or so I’m told.

XMAS naughty or nice