Holiday Rationale

I got my annual, end-of-the-year fuck you “how ya’ doing” text from the ex today. He just wanted to let me know that everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of the entire world is still my fault. You know, in case you were wondering. Bless his heart. It’s just not the holiday season without this festive assault on my self-esteem.

I keep thinking to myself that one of these days I should write a cathartic, tell-all book, and then wouldn’t all hell break loose?  In the meantime, in a strange sort of way, I look forward to this unsolicited, if not predictable, bitchfest communiqué. It reminds me that all is right with the world.

Until recently, I had a personal trifecta, of sorts, in December … Christmas, my birthday, and my wedding anniversary, all three occurring within a week’s time.  I’m sure that the latter — or memory thereof — is in part responsible for my ex’s strict adherence to his twisted tradition.

I still have my trifecta … only it’s Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Eve. And I’m good with that. Great, in fact.

Only now, apparently, I’ve reached the age … or mentality … where going out to celebrate anything is overrated. It’s just not worth navigating the roads or the overcrowded parking lots of bars that are as equally overcrowded, not to mention loud.

I could claim that having attained a certain level of maturity (Remember?? I did mention my birthday right off the top… ) allows me to reflect on the fact that I don’t really need the hustle and bustle of the pub scene or a fancy dinner at a restaurant with cocktails after in order to enjoy this trifecta of holidays. I could say that the exorbitant amount of money I would no doubt throw away on libations and obligatory feast would be better spent elsewhere. I could even explain that drinking followed by the carnival ride that is the commute through my neighborhood is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

There are so many valid reasons for my lack of celebratory motivation.

The fact that there is a week-long Doctor Who marathon currently airing on BBC America is completely irrelevant. Irrelevant, I tell you! Now, where the hell’s my remote!?

the words every nerd girl wants to hear …

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Grumpy

I hate people. You guys know that. And as much as I hate people, one might also assume I am not a charitable person. I wouldn’t blame you for taking that leap. However, you would be wrong. Ha! Plot twist!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  You probably thought I was related to Scrooge or something. Nope, nope, and nope.

While I don’t have much, I give back whenever and however I can. I donate my time to animal advocacy and other humanitarian causes, and every year I donate to Toys for Tots and the children’s mitten/hat tree at my local social services.  I do what I can when I can.

But, admittedly, for the most part all I want is to go about my day and be left alone. Like today, for instance. I had to go to the store for some last-minute Christmas odds and ends, and while there, decided to get a coffee. The Salvation Army bell-ringer, who I liken to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in so many ways, was there, as they have been since Thanksgiving.

The most I get from the nice, older woman who rings her holiday bell is Good Evening, Merry Christmas. And me, I say Thank You and Happy Holidays to you as well. Pleasantries exchanged, we go back to our respective business. It’s all very amiable if not standoffish.  I’m fine with that. Happy with that, in fact.

Today, there was a gentleman ringing the bell, and he stood inside the little vestibule where the carts are instead of on the sidewalk outside the door. As I was leaving the grocery store with my bags and latte in hand, I guess he felt the need to share his um… ardent … opinion on my egregious financial – and charitable – decisions.

To make a long rant short, apparently if I have money to buy a latte, I have money to give to the Salvation Army, and by doing otherwise, I should be ashamed of myself. Now, this last bit, if I’m honest, made me smile a little. I mean, I’ve had much better people than him lay a guilt-trip on me, so his repartee fell somewhat flat.

I will interject here to say that if you donate to the Salvation Army, great, good for you — truly. Personally, their beliefs, as an organization, are contrary to mine and because of that, I specifically will not donate to them. Even if I had cash in my pocket (which I never do – I’m a card-carrying consumer) I would rather drop it into the “save the animals” jar at the vet or the “buy coats for kids” bucket at the hardware store than give it to the Salvation Army. But again, that’s just me. To each their own with regards to charity.

Like many things in life, charitable giving is a very personal choice.

However, to be perfectly frank, even if it were an organization I do support, I’d be hard put to dig into my pockets after being confronted in such a manner.

I know the bell ringers are paid, I’ve seen the want-ads. Whether or not they work partly on commission, I have no idea. Maybe that’s what prompted this gentleman to approach me the way he did. Maybe he needed a caffeine boost of his own. Maybe he was just feeling snarky. Who knows. I do wonder, though, if he approached any men in the same way he did me. Would he have had that same desire to belittle and shame a man?

I suppose I could have been a tad more altruistic in my response. Truth be told, I’m just a little tired of greeting rudeness with complacency and a smile. My kids weren’t with me (they never let me do anything), which left my tongue free to wag and wag it did.

Hopefully the conversation went the way of the one I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited my home way-too-early Christmas morning last year. If so, I’ll either be on their list to never approach again or I will be on their prayer cards until the end of time. I guess either one is fine with me. Though I do fervently hope it is the former.

Bah, humbug.

What’s in a Word?

Do you ever lay in bed at night, trying to sleep, and suddenly, your mind decides to reach into its dark, hidden stash of almost-forgotten memories to slap you in the face with the most random shit?  I have to believe this happens to other people (it’s what keeps me sane, so don’t pop that balloon, for all our sake).

And by the way, what the hell is up with these nighttime reveries anyway??  It’s your one time to relax and not think. You’re laying there, feeling the hardships of the day seeping out of your overburdened consciousness, and you’re grateful for the quiet … glad to be away from the noise of it all.  Suddenly, your brain is like, NO! You will NOT sleep … you will instead fixate on that irritating commercial jingle you heard in third grade as it plays over and over in your head. Or how about that stupid thing you did at work five years ago? You know what I’m talking about. In the conference room in front of everyone too. That was fun, huh? Or, why does a round pizza come in a square box? Answer that one, smart guy.  Why is it that if someone yells “duck” they are helping you, but if they yell “chicken” they are mocking you? Have they ever even MET a chicken? Those things will tear you up. Tear. You. Up.  Or the old tried and true, are there birds who are afraid of heights? Poor birds.

So. Yeah.

Anyway, I bring all of this up to let you in on the crap question-of-the-night my brain decided to throw at me last night. Perhaps you’ll relate. Perhaps you’ll have an answer. Perhaps you will be kind enough to soothingly touch my arm (figuratively speaking, of course, since we are on the internet and as far as I know, we can’t actually reach out and touch someone … yet) and say, encouragingly, why, no, Wendy, you are not crazy. Not crazy at all. It will all be all right.

Is the plural of a computer mouse, mouse(s) or mice?  The crux of the problem, the answer to which I unwillingly contemplated for hours, is this: grammatically, saying computer mouses just isn’t right and the grammar-fanatic in me fights back against such misuse. But … saying computer mice … well, in a word, drives me flipping insane. It sounds neither right nor logical … just stupid.

Me at Best Buy: “Excuse me clearly overworked sales clerk, but do you have any computer mice?”  I feel as though such a request would be met with disdain if not outright confusion. Oh, of course they would know what I meant, but wonder in awe at my attempt at being “hip.” (On a side note, do we still say hip?)

It took me longer than it should have (4 hours 32 minutes) to figure out an answer to this late-night grammar puzzle. But solve it, I did. Aren’t you proud?

Simply put, I will never ever be in a situation where I have to use the plural of computer mouses  mice  mouses  mice  mouses … aaarrrgghhh!

Who You Gonna Call?

So.  I saw a sign on a bus I was following on my way to work this morning. It took up the entire back of the bus. I wasn’t able to take a picture of it because … you know … driving. Aren’t you proud of me? (I’m looking at YOU Lee!).  “Big surprise” you mutter to yourself, mass transit vehicles often have signs on them – marketing gurus routinely avail themselves of the moving real estate for product placement and advertisements for businesses. Yes, you’re right, of course. But this sign got me thinking and as we know, my mind does tend to wander.

“Feel like you got hit by a bus?”

That was the headline on the advertisement that filled my windshield with its smoggy glow this morning. Luckily … despite the question in front of me … the advertisement, and the bus, stayed firmly on the outside of my windshield, thank you very much.

The ad was for a doctor’s office, one of those urgent care clinics where they’re open late and cater to families whose children get sick at odd hours (don’t they all?) and late-night revelers who wear their beer goggles with pride, even though they couldn’t juggle those chainsaws as well as they thought they could, and well, they end up at the urgent care clinic advertised in front of me.

Presumably, the ad was directed at sick people, as in “I have the mother of all stomach flu,” or, “I have a head cold to beat all head colds and since I have to work every waking hour of my day and can’t take off to see a regular doctor, can you help me breathe through my nose, please?”  But …

It got me thinking. It’s clever marketing, there’s no doubt about that – got hit by a bus … on a bus … now, that’s funny.

Or is there a more sinister motive? Is it subliminal messaging?  Are they planting the seed with their ostensibly innocent headline? I mean, that’s how subliminal messaging works, after all. Do they want you to get hit by a bus? And if their prognostication should come to fruition, you know who to call. Seems like a twisted bit of cross-promotion symbiosis if you ask me.

Planning Ahead

From job interviews to online dating questionnaires (which, when you think about it, also feels like a job interview) to drunken late-night conversations, the big question-of-the-day seems to involve the need for a crystal ball, tarot cards, in-depth astrological charts, and a solid, surefire personal plan.

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?

Sadly, when you’re concentrating on getting from payday to payday, you don’t often have time to consider the future other than to daydream.  One day, I’ll live in Paris … One day, I’ll have my own house … One day, I’ll go grocery shopping without penny-pinching … One day, I’ll have enough money in between paydays to get groceries AND a haircut … One day …

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I love Christmas. Ornaments for the tree? I have enough to fill my tree, my neighbor’s tree, your tree, and the National Tree in DC. Who cares if my tree is only 4 feet tall? Do I buy more every year? You bet. Christmas cards? Yup. I have enough to send out to people I don’t even know for the rest of my life. Do I buy more every year? You bet. Lights, snow globes, bells, wreaths, glitter … I’ve got it all. In spades. What’s even more fun is coming up with a gift list. Oh, not for myself, but everyone else. I truly enjoy gift-giving.

Well, ever since Halloween, I’ve been humming “The Little Drummer Boy” to myself and it made me wonder – is it ever too early to be thinking about Christmas? Some of you are rolling your eyes and harrumphing: “Of course, there is a too early for this crap Christmas time-frame!” I couldn’t agree with you more. We all know this. But humming to oneself like a nutcase and throwing up a tree and full-blown decorations are two entirely different things.

I’ve seen and heard so many people get straight up grumpy about Christmas making an early appearance – I’m one of those people, actually, as I gripe about Santa and decorations showing up in stores before Thanksgiving has even reared its fine-feathered head, and yet every year it keeps happening. Earlier and earlier we see the commercial side of this supposedly altruistic holiday.

Back in the day, it was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa who set the timing for the season. Then the stores got the idea to bolster their profits by having Black Friday which, in reality, starts way before Thanksgiving when you think about all of the advertising, early-bird deals, etc. Now, the stores are like: “Is it almost Halloween!? Dust off last year’s Christmas paraphernalia and throw that out there with the turkey napkin holders, pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons … let’s get this Hallowthanksmas conglomeration started!”

Consider all the money that goes into Christmas. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend roughly $929 on gifts this year. That doesn’t include holiday travel, decorations, or food, which I’m sure is some astronomical number of dollars. Given the huge investment that the Christmas season is for many people – not to mention, the profit margin for the businesses who have honed their capitalistic holiday campaign, it’s no surprise that they want to get their money’s worth. After all, if I was spending almost $1000, I’d want to have warm seasonal fuzzies for far longer than a month. “Hey, I bought that singing, blow-up snowman for my yard and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to annoy my neighbors with it for as long as possible!” Okay, fine, so annoying the neighbors is an “all year” treat that I do take advantage of, but that’s just me.

Decorating a house, depending on your commitment level, can take some serious time, with the tree alone taking a few hours. Lugging boxes from the garage and carefully putting hooks on every individual ornament isn’t something to take lightly. Getting that just-right Griswold effect on the house is also a feat that is nothing if not time-consuming. I mean, I can totally understand that if people go to all of that effort, they want it to start as early as possible and last until they’re good and ready to take it all down. Even if that means those decorations stay up until Spring.  A friend of mine used to leave her Christmas tree up long enough that it became a Mardi Gras tree around mid-March, just for the sheer fact that it was too pretty and too much work to take it down.

As much as I love Christmas, and I do love Christmas, my tree is up barely in time for the day itself and comes down the day after. Love the holiday, hate the clutter. I always dream of a decorated home worthy of a Home and Gardens cover, or at least, a photo spread on the inside pages … but alas, my anxiety won’t let me. Or rather, it does, but if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Now Christmas songs seem to be a different animal entirely. Songs don’t take much effort (for the listener, that is), but like any song, there can be too much of a good thing after a while. So, should we be listening to Christmas songs as early as we are decorating? Radio stations certainly think so. Literally the day after Halloween there are round the clock Christmas music broadcasts. Maybe that’s why I’ve had vintage pa rum pum pum pums rattling around in my head. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Bonus, my not quite under my breath singing annoys my coworkers, so there’s that. In all fairness though, by the time Christmas is over I’m so sick of hearing “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” that I want to die. I think the secret to success with Christmas music is creating your own playlists. And earplugs when traipsing through the department stores with piped-in music. No-one wants those songs in their head all day.

When it comes right down to it, the Christmas season is whatever you want it to be. Do I hate retailers who put out their inventory before that Thanksgiving turkey even hatches? You better believe it. Am I going to be rifling through that very same inventory as excitedly as a child at um… Christmas? You better believe it.

Poison Ivy

My childhood home was a modest affair … a 3 bedroom, 1 bath rancher, that housed two parents, two kids, and at least three dogs at any given time. What set the house apart was the yard. We had a great yard growing up, large enough for a couple of fruit trees (apple and peach), an above ground pool, and forts. It also housed my mother’s garden.

Although, garden is not really a very appropriate description for it. More like a vegetable and fruit farmette. A field of food, if you will. On roughly a quarter portion of our half-acre homestead, my mother set up shop, growing green beans, potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes galore, leaf lettuce, green onions, carrots, strawberries, and at one time, even corn. If it could be canned, this woman grew it.

My mother’s two green thumbs are the stuff of legend. She could probably plant a dish of eggplant parmesan and get a perfect crop. Have a sick plant? Take it to her… in no time it would be flourishing. Kids, pets, and plants. My mother spoiled them all. And, at least where the garden was concerned, the rest of us reaped the rewards. What didn’t end up immediately on our dinner plates was canned, turned into jam or sauce, and saved for later in the year.

Whether it’s the southern Appalachia in her or just pure genius, I truly think this woman could do it all. Gardening, DIY crafts (long before the era of YouTube tutorials), cooking, refinishing furniture, sewing a full wardrobe of clothes … you name it, she was amazing at it.  I guess I always assumed I would take after her in some ways. Cooking? Yeah, that I’ve got figured out. Crafts? Eh, not so much. Sewing clothes? Blech. Patterns confuse me more than Astrophysics. Pets? Now, that’s where I’m definitely following in her footsteps.

But plants? The jury is still out on that one. I’ve raised kids after all. Keeping a plant alive? You’d think I could do this one small thing. I mean, honestly, how hard can it be to take care of something that eats sunlight?

Outside plants – not counting vegetables and fruits (don’t ask!), I can grow those with ease. Columbines, Ditch Lilies (Day Lily to all you northerners), Coreopsis – all thrive under my watchful eye. The fact that these plants look to mother nature for sustenance and moral support is beside the point, I tell you.

It’s the indoor plants I have an issue with. Cacti collapse in on themselves at my loving hand. Apparently, I water them too much. I know they’re a desert plant, but I just can’t help myself!  Succulents soon lose their thick, glossy leaves under my ardent ministrations. Ferns dry up as if their leaves had caught fire … I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong there. African Violets are best left to others as none have survived a stint in my home.

I have one plant that has lived; if not thriving, it’s at least growing, and I’ve had it for quite some time. I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying that. If it’s doing well, it’s only because it is a hardy plant hellbent on survival. It’s surely nothing I’ve done. So, there is that.

Deciding to dip a toe once more into the realm of flora guardianship, I picked up a plant right before Halloween. She was an impulse buy at the local grocery store, to be honest. Her name is Penelope. Penelope Pumpkin. You see, she resides in a pumpkin, so the name is appropriate.  I’m sure you’ve seen a hundred Penelopes around and never gave them a second thought. But at the time, I said to myself: “now here, here is a plant I can handle!”

What is Penelope, you ask?  Well, you know those air plants? The ones that are supposedly impossible to kill? They don´t need dirt or sunlight or anything really. They don´t even have a root system. I’m actually not entirely sure they’re “alive” in the traditional sense because they are so incredibly low maintenance.  Just spritz them once every equinox with a bit of water and they will thrive. “Oh, my toddler kept one alive in her room” I once heard someone say. There. That’s level zero. Nobody can fail with an air plant. Right?

Spoiler alert: I can.

I – a capable, full-grown adult – killed an air plant. That’s right, person with the gardening toddler, I can do even less than your genius spawn can.

It started out great – the cute little thing just sat there, not bothering anyone, lighting up a tiny corner of my desk with its little life force. Over time, my quiet little Penelope began to shrivel. The ends of her frilly tendrils started to look like burnt cat whiskers. I tried to revive her, but no amount of CPR or motivational quotes could bring her back to vitality. My little immortal plant had met its mortality.

That’s me, folks. The plant murderer. My mother must be so proud.

Penelope in better days. May she rest in peace.