Happiness for Sale

With the New Year almost here, I’m working on my budget for the coming months and beyond. Puzzling out how to rob Peter to pay Paul is always an interesting exercise in financial gymnastics.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but trust me when I say that I have definite plans already in mind for when I win the lottery. Oh sure, I’ll pay off my debt and help my family blah blah blah. But I’d also be on the first plane to Ireland, England, or Italy (hey, I’m not picky) and everyone I know that isn’t a close friend or important blood relative would never see me again. More importantly, I’d set myself up in a quaint little cottage boasting a library with wall-to-ceiling bookshelves and one in particular that moved (à la Scooby Doo) to reveal a decked-out room where I could hide from the world in peace… and luxury.

I wonder why more rich people haven’t considered the old secret bookshelf hideaway. Well, I guess if their secret “hideaway” was done properly, we as the general population wouldn’t know anything about it. Perhaps I missed the MTV Cribs episode where George Clooney shows us what’s behind his secret bookshelf door.

Oh sure, “money can’t buy happiness.” I’m always amused when folks say this. I mean, yeah, perhaps that’s true, but to truly know, I’d first have to land on a ton of cash. Then I could give you a definitive answer. Personally, I think it’s just something rich people say to keep the lower classes from rioting. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy groceries and medical care and secret bookshelf rooms, and that’s pretty much the same thing.


The Art of Bad Spelling

Everyone has their own unique take on art. Author E.A. Bucchianeri wrote, “Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation.”  But where is graffiti’s place in the art world?  Graffiti has its origins in 1970s New York, when young people began to use spray paint and other materials to create images on buildings and on the sides of subway trains. Although, technically speaking, ancient cave art is also a form of graffiti.

Here’s a question for you: Is it art or is it vandalism? The public is pretty much split on the idea, which isn’t surprising. It’s strange how, as a society, we almost overwhelmingly value and appreciate cave art and yet generally vilify urban graffiti art when they’re really just two creative peas in a vibrant, colorful pod.

Personally, I think some graffiti art is nothing short of a visual masterpiece. I’ve seen so many beautiful works of art painted on the sides of buildings but at the same time, I’ve seen some pretty atrocious ones as well. Have you ever had to wait for a train and as you’re sitting there waiting for yours, you’re left sitting there watching all the other train cars go by? That’s when you really see some “winners” let me tell ya. Gang slang, random dicks, and a bunch of generally incoherent pieces is all it is. Occasionally something that took a little effort will sneak by, but not often.

There’s also been more than a few times where I’ve come across graffiti on the sides of buildings in urban landscapes that don’t particularly hold any artistic merit or, in some cases, even basic spelling. With that said, I’m well aware that some words are misspelled on purpose for whatever reason like perhaps it holds some sort of hidden message or something unique to the artist. At the end of the day, graffiti is art and art is always up for interpretation but there are only so many ways you can interpret a poorly rendered picture of the word “ketchup” on the side of a building.

I live in a suburb and recently I’ve noticed more and more graffiti popping up, but unfortunately, it’s not the pretty kind. If it were, I’d have no issue whatsoever as I’m sure it would brighten the place up and be something nice and unique to look at.

Generally speaking, I think that graffiti artists are extremely talented and the art they craft can extend far beyond spectacular. I know I’ve seen quite a few amazing murals in some places, hell, I’ve even seen businesses pay graffiti artists to come up with something unique and thought-invoking on their walls. Not only can a well-painted piece of graffiti be fresh and edgy, but it can also be a one-of-a-kind talking piece that customers are sure to remember. In a world that loves remaking classics and imitating the art that came before it, a uniquely crafted work of graffiti could do wonders for a small up-and-coming business, or even a well-established one for that matter. Unfortunately, those types of graffiti artists don’t live in my town. I’m not sure what one would call them, but artists they are not. Cause what passes for graffiti art around here is severely lacking in any artistic talent whatsoever. I know that might sound harsh, but come on. Those of us who have to look at the end product deserve better.

If you’re wondering what I came across to prompt this critique, it was nothing more than a simple statement written in plain black spray paint that said, “I like my bad habits best surved cold.”  Yep, you read that right, “surved” instead of “served.” There doesn’t seem to be any reason to spell served as surved, at least, not that I could find. And believe me, I spent entirely too long searching for a reason… any reason. Even if there was a hidden purpose behind the misspelling, the art itself was extra lackluster. Perhaps if it wasn’t, I could have overlooked the bad spelling but at the end of the day, it was just ugly and horribly executed. If you’re going to misspell something, whether on purpose or by accident, there should at least be some artistic merit behind the effort. Hell, I’d even take an emotionally or politically charged statement such as “eat the rich” or “make love, not war,” you know, something we can all get behind. It just seems like a waste of time to deface public property with something like the word “surved.”

I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this little rant, but I guess if I can discourage at least one bad graffiti artist from ruining a wall somewhere, then this post will have “surved” its purpose.

Speaking in Tongues

Every generation has its own slang terms that generally confuse the older generations that came before them. For instance, kids today are saying things like “bussin” when something is really good. Usually, it’s in reference to food, or so I’m told, but it could be anything. Or perhaps you’ve heard the word “bet” in response to someone asking if your plans are still on for later. This one wasn’t as confusing as a few I’ve heard. Some slang terms go full circle and come back around. Just like fashion. Young people think they’ve created something when really, it originated with their great-grandparents or even *gasp* their parents.

But what about words for things that aren’t necessarily considered slang… they’re more or less just outdated terms from the “old world?” I mean I’m sure pretty much everyone calls pants, pants now. My grandparents, however, generally referred to them as slacks. Do you ever remember your grandparents taking you to see the pictures? Of course, when I say pictures, I’m not referring to a photo album store but rather the movie theater or cinema. Speaking of which, it used to be just cinema. Now it’s the movie theater. As a kid, I remember wearing galoshes which are practically only referred to as rainboots today. At least to my knowledge. Do teens even go necking anymore? I doubt most of them even know what it means, but yeah, I’m sure they still probably do it.

While I’m on the topic of speaking the proverbial “old tongue,” I have a small story that highlights exactly what I’m talking about. Just the other day I was out shopping with my daughter, and I told a young cashier at the store that I loved her blouse. It was in fact quite lovely. Sheer black with a muted white design, buttoned collar.  As soon as the words left my mouth, I had that weird sensation that you get when you think someone is awkwardly staring at you for a reason you’re not completely aware of.  As I looked up from digging my wallet out of my needlessly cavernous purse, I found that I was right. This young woman had the most confused look on her face as she tried to make sense of what I had just said to her. After a few seconds she had given up and responded hesitantly with, “…my what?”

As I was trying to figure out what blouse might rhyme with that could cause offense if misheard (in an effort to know what type of apology needed to be offered), my daughter swooped in, and quickly explained to her that I was talking about her top. Apparently, my daughter explained later, no one says blouse anymore. The cashier’s face brightened and she cheerfully said, “thank you!” The crisis created by my attempt at a compliment was averted. In that moment, I felt old.  So old.

This whole situation reminded me of some previous writings where I discuss my ability to bewilder my kids with phrases that I’ve grown up with that they’ve never heard of. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Piss or get off the pot.
  • It’s like trying to herd cats.
  • I’ve got no dog in this fight.
  • That dog won’t hunt.

But blouse?? Come on, that’s a common term, right? When did we stop saying blouse? Who knows, I was probably absent that day.

I’m not going.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but, back in July, I had a health scare that put me in the hospital. The doctors assured me that the issue was resolved and life could continue with nary a worry on the horizon.  Well, as so often happens, they were wrong. My recent radio silence was brought on by another such incident occurring and yep, another hospital stay.  But, my family and you, dear readers, are not getting rid of me so easily. I’m here to stay.

Besides, from experience, it’s the really outrageous plotlines that come next… wouldn’t want to miss that.

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Only Pre-Approved Traditions Allowed

If you’re thinking this is some sort of DIY article on how to enjoy the holidays, you should read the title again. “Pre-Approved Traditions?” What does that even mean? Well, it’s my takeaway from reading this article from Martha Stewart’s magazine and frankly, it’s a little pathetic. To say that the contents of this article rubbed me the wrong way is an understatement.

Now, I don’t celebrate the holiday season the way my parents did when I was little, or even the way I did when my kids were little for that matter. In my older years, I really try to slow things down this time of year and just enjoy it the best I can instead of running myself ragged spending money I don’t have and decorating the entire house just for me to bitch and moan about how I’m too exhausted to put the place back to rights. The fact that the ne’er-do-well (aka Holly the Cat) keeps me from having a tree tends to also hamper the holiday vibe, but oh well. Such is life with a demon.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas… although, the word we throw around in my house is Yule. My favorite thing is the baking. No surprise there. The point is, I don’t decorate these days mainly because I’m lazy, but if I WERE going to decorate, my house would look like the holiday aisle at K-Mart threw up in my living room. And I’d be damned proud of it.

What sparked this rant, you might ask. Well, the article asserts that there are “8 Outdated Holiday Decorating Trends to Skip When You Deck Your Halls This Year,” which is also the name of the write-up, but whatever happened to just letting people celebrate the holidays however the hell they want to celebrate the holidays? Why do people have to suck the joy out of everything, including what is supposed to be the most “joyous time of the year.”

If you want to dress up in ugly sweaters, binge-watch Hallmark Christmas movies, and get smashed on store-bought eggnog, more power to you, just don’t drive. If you want to add a few hundred dollars to your power bill by lighting up the neighborhood with a Christmas lights display that would make Clark Griswold jealous, go for it… your carbon footprint be damned. But yeah, the point is if no one is robbing a bank or hurting anyone, then do whatever you want if it means having a good time and enjoying yourself during this festive season. And to be honest, if you want to rob a bank, just wear a good non-slipping mask and have fun.

Influencers in this article claim that instead of velvet, burlap, or satin tree skirts, we should instead consider a slimline tree collar in painted metal, shimmering metallics, or natural woven fibers. Like what in the actual hell?

It also prompts us to consider “unexpected” shades of holiday colors when decorating, though they mention blues and greens are a cool aesthetic, and I’m not sure how old they are, but blues and greens have been a staple in Christmas decorations ever since… I don’t know, forever. No bright colors, no glitter. No glitter. At Christmas.

No oversized ornaments, as less is more by their standards. I tend to agree that simple is best for me, but if you want a 12-foot inflatable snowman hypnotically dancing in the cool winter breeze as it tries in vain to seduce the giant inflatable Grinch balloon on your roof, then that’s your business. And I guess maybe all your neighbors within eyeshot.

Personally, I have a thing for neon pink metallic flamingos with glittery bright red Santa hats. So, I’m all for “you do you.”

So, instead of telling you the “proper” way to decorate your private space for this holiday season, I offer a little bit of warm friendly advice. At the risk of doing something outdated, cringe, or weird by today’s standard, especially if it’s a long-standing holiday tradition in your home, don’t worry about the judgmental eye of social influencers, and enjoy yourself however you want.

You Don’t Mess with Tradition

It’s that time of year again, folks!  Time for me to share my favorite movie scene, one that embodies the Thanksgiving Day spirit… or at least the spirit that dwells in my house.

So while I wish you all a truly blessed and happy Thanksgiving, without further adieu, may I introduce Ms. Wednesday Addams… at her best. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you — Addams Family style.