Midsomer Revisited

Once again, I find myself binge-watching the last couple of seasons of Midsomer Murders. Ahhh, yes, Midsomer… where the most creative murders ever known to man take place.  Squashed by a wheel of cheese? Yep. Covered in truffle oil and eaten alive by wild boar? You’ve got it.  Boiled in a vat of brewing beer? Shaken by an apple harvester? Check and double check. This idyllic English county has a knack for homicide, that’s for sure… and Wi-Fi service worth killing for.

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Originally written May 23, 2017

Midsomer Lifestyle

Have any of you ever seen the show Midsomer Murders? It a great show from England about two detectives, The Barnabys (first there is Tom, played by the incomparable John Nettles, who protected and served Midsomer for 14 seasons and then Tom’s younger cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, who takes over when Tom retires) and their varying Sergeants who assist in their crime-solving routines. If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the basic premise: Set in the fictional county of Midsomer, the Barnabys take on and solve murder cases, which are never in short supply given the area’s shockingly high murder rate. I. Love. This. Show. I’ve been binge-watching (or rather, re-binge-watching) this week to my daughter’s dismay.  To say she isn’t into languid, picturesque British detective shows is an understatement.

the cousins Barnaby

The villages of Midsomer — many named Midsomer something, as in Midsomer Florey or Midsomer Worthy, or perhaps something as delightful as the jaunty Badger’s Drift — are so tranquil and charming that I don’t see how anyone would be angry enough to commit murder there. But murder they do, and the perpetrators never seem satisfied with just one, either; more often than not, there are multiple per show.  It’s like potato chips with these people. There was only one episode in the history of the series that had zero murders, and from what I understand, fans were outraged with that singular murder-free storyline…go figure. Who knew there were such rabid viewers addicted to rampant violence running amok amid an idyllic backdrop?  If you’re a fan of fun crime dramas this is for you. There’s no shortage of material. The show started in 1997 and as of right now, 21 seasons have already aired.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking English countryside, this is also the show for you. The locations in which they shoot are always beautiful, historical, and quaint little hamlets. They’re so quiet and comfortable-looking that I’ve daydreamed about buying a little cottage in one of these villages and living that Midsomer country life. You may be asking, “But what about, you know, all the murders that happen there?” I’ve thought about it and while it would be a disadvantage if my neighbors were getting iced all the time, it just might be worth the view. These towns are REALLY pretty. And you know, the violent crime rate does give everyone something to talk about down at the local pub. So there’s that.

Amazingly enough, while from the outside, these locations seem about as far away from modern technology as one could be, everyone (in the later episodes of course) have a laptop and a smart phone. Flip phones were all the rage in the earlier shows. It’s not just the “old-money” rich, either, in their truly opulent homes, and who seem to outnumber the middle-class residents of the area by a landslide. No, everyone from the farmer down the lane to the Lord who renovated that castle up the street have electronics that make me envious… and the data to back it up, despite nary a cell tower cluttering up the landscape. I mean, I can’t even get service in my local grocery store, let alone when travelling between towns on our rural backroads.

Outside of the steady flow of homicide, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live in Midsomer. If it existed, that is. With the lovely to-die-for (ha!) scenery AND the possibility of unlimited data, I think I could ignore the rampant carnage.

Seriously though, how is Wi-Fi not an issue in Midsomer? That’s the real mystery I think the Barnabys should spend some time investigating.

Petty is as Petty Does

If I’ve heard it from one teacher, I’ve heard it from 1,000 “Wendy, you’re an underachiever!”  Or “You have so much potential, what is wrong with you!?”  Well. Those teachers would be eating crow today. For today, I achieved a feat almost unheard of in modern times. Are you ready?

I got kicked out of a Murdoch Mysteries discussion group on Facebook this morning. I know, I know, don’t all of you applaud at once… my ears, they’re aching! I don’t blame you for being awe-inspired though, it’s an impressive achievement, if I do say so myself.

Murdoch Mysteries is a show set in late 1890s to early 1900s Toronto. It’s a terrific show, I highly recommend it. My erstwhile Facebook discussion group, not so much.

I’ve always thought that Facebook was full of cliques if not clichés and there is nowhere that this more evident than in Facebook groups, regardless of the topic.

While boasting a large-ish following – and despite a name that implies participation (Murdoch Mysteries Discussion Group), this particular group allows just a small band of people – admins and presumably the admin’s friends – to post or otherwise participate in the commentary. Others are routinely muted or the post deemed off-topic or conversations simply disappear. I get that some group admins can feel an overwhelming sense of power given their seemingly complete control over their realm and its citizens. They smite members and create arbitrary rules on a whim. And yes, I also understand that it’s “their group, their rules.” I suppose I just assumed that a discussion group would have some form of … discussion.

Today, someone who is tight with the admins was bashing the members, as a whole, for constantly asking “when will the show be available in my area!?” A question that they can “basically google themselves if they weren’t so freakin’ lazy.”  It’s an annoying question, I’ll give them that. But bashing members is “against the rules” and besides, it was a stupid, self-serving post. There. I said it.  Anyone else, and it would’ve been gone almost before it hit the interwebs.

My comment of “How does a post like this help to further the discussion of Murdoch Mysteries?” was deemed, you guessed it, bashing a member.  Hence my ouster. It was really kind of funny, actually. The OP (original poster) immediately – but immediately – tagged her friend, the admin, and well, there you go. Tattling, adult-style.

Now, my feelings aren’t particularly hurt due to my ejection from the group. It’s not the first door to hit me in my… well, you know what, and it won’t be the last. Although, I assumed it would be over something a bit more dramatic and worthwhile. I disappointed myself in that regard.

 But it does leave me with one burning question:  Does high school ever end?

Delusions of Grandeur

When I have what I think is an awesome idea or an incredibly hilarious story that I would like to share or a dream that could win me the next Pulitzer (or more likely, a horror fiction award), I’ll write myself a note or I’ll text myself a brief reminder of my brilliance. My memory being what it is and all.

Well, I found a text to myself today that said, simply, Delusions of Grandeur. Capitalized just like that. Now, there was a surprise. Because I didn’t remember texting myself. That in itself is not all that surprising – or uncommon. My ability to retain my own thoughts, as I may have already mentioned, is not all that and a bag of chips… hence the notes in the first place.

But – Delusions of Grandeur? Delusions of Grandeur?  Delusions. Of. Grandeur. What the hell did I mean by Delusions of Grandeur? What was I trying to tell myself? Did I witness it? Did I dream of a King in a far-off land with ostentatious taste? Do I suffer from it?  Was it the basis of the convoluted plot for a best seller?

Don’t ask me. I haven’t a clue.

Karen’s Trip to Target

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve seen yet another article that tugs at my last nerve. I know. Shocking.

In this blog article, the author, Jennifer, tells us about a trip to Target that she claims was ruined by a Karen. The article is riddled with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a generally unkind attitude towards a woman who suffered the loss of her child.

If you don’t want to read the article, the gist of it is that Jennifer goes to Target with her very young daughter, admittedly lets the child trail behind her and then turned a corner where the child is briefly out of sight, when a woman looks “at [her] as though [she] had done something wrong.” The woman says something along the lines of “your daughter is far away from you,” which (the author again points out) was said with “a tone that implied [she]’d done something wrong.”

Already, Jennifer is taking this woman’s actions as an extreme personal offense with an attitude that considers only one person (and spoiler, it’s not her daughter).

I will digress for a moment to say that Jennifer claims her daughter was only two feet away from her. I don’t believe that for a moment. Want to know why?  Jennifer explains: “I have the pitter-patter of her steps imprinted in my heart.”  So, she could hear her child, but not see her child.  Jennifer also states this about the woman: “…she could have simply watched her from afar to be sure she was OK and when seeing the child united with a parent, left it at that.” If the child was just two feet away, why would there need to be a reunion in the middle of Target?

To be clear, I’m not mom-shaming Jennifer (god forbid *insert eye-roll here*) but rather, just empathizing with the woman Jennifer encountered.  There was obviously reason for some concern. I also believe that’s why Jennifer was so offended at a stranger approaching her: she knew the concern had merit.

Once Jennifer hears the woman say, “I had a child who was taken,” her thoughts immediately bounce to, you guessed it, herself. She is overly concerned with her own emotions—not her daughter’s feelings, not her daughter’s safety, not this woman’s profound grief, but her own feelings of discomfort in the situation.

Then, she has the audacity to write that “if what she is sharing is true; silence is the kindest thing I can do in this moment.” Wow. Her invalidation of another human’s experience is automatic. And she truly believes that putting a hand in this woman’s face and saying nothing is the kindest thing she can do.

The blog ends on a note urging readers to “always be kind and sensitive” because her day was absolutely ruined by a stranger who she refers to as a “Karen.” The whole piece is meant to vilify a woman who lived through a parent’s worst fears—losing a child to abduction. If you ask me, there is a Karen in this situation, and her name is Jennifer.

As soon as she found out that the woman had her child taken and likely has PTSD from the horrific experience, the author could have shown compassion (as she urges her readers to do). Saying “thank you for your concern, I’ll keep her close” wouldn’t have been hard to do. In fact, it would have been ridiculously easy. Even taking one moment of consideration for this woman’s pain could have resulted in a very different experience for both parties. The concerned woman would have walked away feeling heard and Jennifer could have walked away feeling good about her day and how she helped a stranger to overcome an anxious moment in the middle of Target.

Instead, Jennifer felt violated that the woman “projected her PTSD” and “mom-shamed” her. She felt strongly enough that she needed to write this entire blog about it.

What is wrong with people these days?

It is so obvious that Jennifer is criticizing this woman for not showing compassion or empathy while at the same time failing to glance at her own reflection. If she were to see herself in the mirror for who she truly is, she would recognize her shortcomings in that department.

Instead of lighting a fire within herself full of distaste, shame, and anger, Jennifer could learn about practicing gratitude for her daughter, kindness towards others, and how to not take everything so personally. If she did that, there would be one less Karen in the world.

Repository of Useless Information

Do you ever think about all the useless trivia you’ve got floating around inside your head? I do. All. The. Time.

I could tell you every single lyric to Saginaw Michigan, a country song released in 1964 by a man known as Lefty Frizzell. I also know the words to All About That Bass, 9 to 5, and Amazing Grace. Go figure.

Anyway, do you know why flamingos are pink? Their bright colors come from their diet. They eat a lot of pink shrimps. How do I know that? I’m not entirely sure.

What else do I know?

Well, I know that the ZIP in zip code stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

I know that Frank Oz voiced the original Miss Piggy—and the original Yoda.

There’s a right way to pronounce Samhain, and it doesn’t sound like “sam-hane.” It’s “sah-win,” for your information. While we’re at it, forte is pronounced fort, not FOR-tay. No, really. Do I pronounce it fort? No. No, I do not.

Gruntled is a real world. No, not disgruntled—gruntled. It means pleased. I’m gruntled that you now know what gruntled means, but quite disgruntled that the word gruntled is rattling around in my brain.

Supposedly cats can’t taste sweetness. It has to do with their genetics, but I know from experience that my cat loves sweets, especially whipped cream. I’m not entirely sure where to stand on this one, but I want you to know that I think about it. A lot.

What’s your favorite movie? I’m bound to know the most trivial facts about the actors from the star right down to the eccentric character actor who had less screen time than it took me to type that out. For example, the main actor, he was in another movie with another actor who is actually the brother to the actor in that one movie, you know the one, and that actor was married to an actress who performed in a TV show with the main actor from the first movie. Crazy small world, huh?

The fact that you still have that cool tattoo is all thanks to your immune system trying to rid your body of, well, the tattoo. Because your immune system, and specifically your immune-response cells, is so good at its job, that black cat surrounded by barbed wire you got on your bicep 20 years ago should stay with you forever.

Do you know about the creation myth? Well, there’s more than one creation myth, and nearly every culture/religion around the world has a similar creation myth that they believe… one involves a turtle. Maybe there is just one original story, but people twisted it up a bit through the years like an old game of telephone. There’s a lot more that is similar in the various myths than there is that’s different. If you want to get into it, we can talk more about this one someday. Right now, though, that turtle is taking up space in my head.

Oh, and beer isn’t vegan. Well, not all of it, anyway. Most beers use an ingredient that comes from fish’s swim bladders. Yes. You read that right. Fish. Bladders. It’s not uncommon for beer brewers to add animal products like gelatin or isinglass (the fish bladder stuff)—and Guinness especially is known to use this technique. I know, right!?

The Catholic Church declared beavers and capybaras fish so that parishioners could eat them during Lent. No, seriously. Hippos went the same route. Since they spend most of their lives in the water, they’re fish. Who knew? I know this has more to do with the Church’s never-ending quest to convert all and sundry to Christianity than science, and that sometimes, it’s just easier to let the newly converted have their hippo meat. Nonetheless, it was apparently an easy decision. Since they all swim so well, it wasn’t a leap to declare these animals… um, I mean, fish… worthy of mealtime at Lent.

Who even thinks about this kind of stuff? I do. Quite often.

Do you need someone to help you win trivia night down at the pub while we throw back some Guinness?  I’m the queen of movie trivia—hit me up, and I’ll be there.

Were you wondering about that beyond obscure footnote that’s nearly been lost in the history of the world? I’ve got you.

Struggling with a crossword clue? Call me. I’m on it.

All of us stuff our minds with information of one sort or another, and most of the time, that’s seen as a good thing, right? Straight A students, engineers, mathematicians—there are plenty of people who need a brain full of facts. But what about when it’s stuffed with useless trivia?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am a whiz at trivia board games like Trivial Pursuit. Even the aforementioned pub trivia contests.  You’d definitely want me on your team. But I’m not good enough to win Jeopardy. If I was, I would have won by now, and I’d probably be sitting on a beach somewhere instead of going to work every day. I’m telling you, useless trivia. Keyword: useless.

As it is, I’m just the crazy kook you might meet at a party who rambles on about Alan Rickman, the origins of Christmas, interesting traits about dog breeds, and hippo meat.

Oh, well.

By the way, did you know that Johnny Depp is terrified of clowns? You do now.

A Treacherous Tale, or The Infamous Grocery Store Run

These days, a day in my life is pretty uneventful. With quarantine keeping most people, including me, at home as much as humanly possible, I only leave the house for the bare essentials. And even then, I try to get things delivered to my house when I can.

Over the past several months, I’ve become accustomed to doing my grocery shopping online and opting for curbside pickup. When I’m feeling extra lazy, I have them delivered. Whoever thought up free grocery store delivery is a freakin’ genius. At first, I was skeptical about having other people pick out my produce, but it is seriously the best idea. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.

I’m telling you, when I opt for curbside service I get my food with minimal or no human interaction. That’s great for me as someone with social anxiety. Being in crowds makes me excessively nervous, and my crowd anxiety has only worsened since COVID-19 started. Oh, and it’s super convenient. I love it. LOVE. IT.

Well, with the holiday season upon us, a lot of people must be treating themselves to the relaxation and relief that comes with not having to do the weekly shopping. I assume this is the case because no curbside appointments were available anywhere, and I was forced (forced, I tell you!) to go to the store and actually do my own shopping last week. Can you imagine!?

I hadn’t picked up an item off the shelf in who knows how long. Did I even remember how to shop? I wasn’t entirely sure.

Back in the day (aka before quarantine), I used to organize my list, create a plan of attack to be as quick as possible, and execute my shopping trip with stealth and speed. I would even draw out a rudimentary map of the specific store I was visiting to make my visit that much more efficient. My grocery shopping skills today are a bit rusty.

As I prepared to leave the house, I realized I might not be ready. When I arrived at the store, I realized that I may never be ready to shop in person again. As I searched for parking, my anxiety turned to irritation. There were no spots. When I found one, guess what was there? A collection of rogue carts.

Finally, I found a place to park my car. As I headed into the store, I saw that my list was a mess. I hadn’t organized it because I never have to when I picked up my groceries. Frozen foods, produce, snacks, and canned goods all fell on the list willy-nilly wherever they felt like it. It would have to do — it was too late.

The store was packed with people, which is the worst possible scenario if you ask me. I can spend an hour max in the store (or in any crowd for that matter) before my patience runs out. Forty-five minutes if I’m being honest. Okay, fine, thirty minutes tops and then what I euphemistically call “my window” has slammed shut.

This trip was also the worst. It seems that I hadn’t been to the store in so long that they changed all the aisles around. I mean, why? Just why? I had no clue where anything was. On top of that, it seemed like the ‘COVID-19 panic’ of 2020 hadn’t subsided because basic items were out of stock.

Settling for the worst choice dish soap is one thing, but not having any toilet paper is another. As an aside, what the hell is up with hoarding toilet paper during any and every crisis from snowstorm to pandemic? I mean, come on, people!

Halfway through my trip, one of the wheels on my cart started to stick. Pushing the cart became such a pain that I abandoned a quarter of the items on my list. Although to be completely truthful — that wasn’t the only reason.  When I ended my trip in the dairy aisle, it seemed as though I had missed all those items along the way.

See, you laughed earlier, I know you did, but this is exactly why I always have a rudimentary map and plan of attack. Except this time. This time, admittedly, I was wholly unprepared for the grocery store chaos. My trip was now approaching that hour threshold, with not much to show for it, and I was not about to walk back and search for the errant foodstuffs on my list.  Any recipes with those ingredients would just have to adapt.

Luckily, I found a somewhat short line. But there must have been some trouble with the register or with the customers (spoiler alert, it was the customers) because it seemed to take an eternity. My anxiety became even worse as I stood in line listening to the monotonous beeps, chatter, and rustling of the grocery store.

Once I could finally escape, I pushed my wonky cart out into the open air — and rain. Great.

As the raindrops pelted my groceries, I hoped that the water wouldn’t ruin any of my paper-wrapped products and booked it across the parking lot as fast as I could with my wonky wheel.

After lugging all my groceries into my condo, we were all pretty wet. It seemed an appropriate ending to the day.

What was for dinner, you might be wondering. I’m glad you asked. Cereal.

Reel Life

If you’re anything like me, you love to watch movies. You might even shape your world view and expectations around them, knowing that the real world will fall short, leaving you disappointed and disillusioned again and again. And to cope, you’ll just watch more.

It’s a cycle I’m fully aware of and entirely content participating in.

Sometimes I even try to take advice from movies, but life always gets in the way. Take Under the Tuscan Sun for example. Since 2003, Diane Lane has been convincing women that the solution to their problems is to move to Tuscany. She’s not wrong.

Okay, Diane, I’m in. Yes, I would love to move to Italy and solve all my problems by running away from them. I’ve got half of that down already.

Except, how am I supposed to afford it? Is there some sort of waiting list I need to sign up for?

In the movie (which is based on a book but doesn’t really follow the book like so many other movies based on a book), Diane’s character takes a singles trip after her marriage fails. In Italy, she decides she’s not coming home — ever. The whole time it feels like she’s taking some massively brave leap into uncertainty. But she also seems to have an endless supply of cash. With a safety net made of money, her spontaneity feels a little less risky.

I would love to be casually wealthy — you know, to the point where no one talks about how unusual it is to have so much money in the bank for no apparent reason. And I would love to just up and move to Italy and never come back.

Oh, and if I could have Diane Lane’s looks while I’m at it, that would be great. I mean, come on… the woman is gorgeous and doesn’t appear to age at all.

Unfortunately, the only remote similarity between my life and hers in Under the Tuscan Sun is a cheating ex-husband.

If I did have enough money to visit a foreign country and never come back, I would go to Ireland. And if my life were written and produced in Hollywood, I would ask to have a fairy tale ending like Amy Adams’ character in Leap Year.

Do I want to meet my soulmate in Ireland? Yes, please. Am I going to? Probably not. I’ve never even been to Ireland, and I think getting to the country in question is probably a prerequisite to meeting your soulmate there.

Life just isn’t the same in the real world versus the reel world.  Go figure.

Look at Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. Her character goes through a divorce (do you sense a theme here?) and soul searches across the world — regardless of how much money it costs.

I’ve got the divorce and the soul-searching, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the cash to find myself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. I mean, who does? Well, besides Elizabeth Gilbert, the woman who inspired the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

In the film, our heroine is seen as a brave risk-taker, but the real risk would be to try that trip without a disposable income. I’m not crazy or desperate enough to try that. At least, not yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against our wealthy traveling heroines — hell, if I were in their place, I’d be on a plane tomorrow and never look back.

But it’s just all so unrealistic. I guess that’s the escapism we’re drawn to when we watch movies.

Some movies, like About Time, break the illusion with outrageous elements like time travel. On a basic level, I know we all understand we’ll never be able to travel back in time, but I think it still leaves some of us wishing we could control the event in our lives.

As for most of these other movies, they leave us wishing we had more dough in our pockets. And not the brioche variety. Although now that I think about it, one can never have too much brioche.

Maybe that’s why we watch these movies in the first place. So we can live vicariously through others in a way we never could in real life.

It seems quite depressing, doesn’t it? Acknowledging that life will never be like our favorite movies is no fun. Yet we continually and willingly subject ourselves to these escapist fantasies. What the hell is that all about? Speaking of which, I think it’s time for another good romantic comedy movie binge. I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment. It’s entertainment, after all.

Crazy Rich Asians seems like a good choice, although I’m certain I’m past the age of marrying into money. Oh, well. One can dream. And I do like to dream.

At least the characters always find their perfect happy ending, even if we don’t.

 

Too Many Miniskirts, Not Enough Serial Killers

My favorite time of year is when the cool crispness of fall settles around us. The leaves turn it up a notch with vibrant oranges and brownish reds, dancing towards the ground like feathers in the wind. Cozied up in sweaters and scarves, drinking spiked apple cider is a seasonal bliss we all should have the pleasure of experiencing.

Oh, and Halloween is where it’s at. I love it all, the decorations, the candy, the horror movie marathons, the candy, the cute kids’ costumes, the candy, the scary costumes, the candy.

But I have a major issue with Halloween that I don’t think I’ve discussed here.

Well, it’s not so much a Halloween problem as it is a social problem that utilizes Halloween for its outlet of all things misogynistic and objectifying. Yeah, I know. We’re going there again.

But, seriously… have you ever noticed the intense gender bias between men’s and women’s Halloween costumes? Even with an awareness of the world we live in, it’s surprising.

Women’s costumes are sooo different. Why?

You know what they say: sex sells. And body objectification has become a better selling point than accuracy, apparently. For instance, doctor costumes with the full doctor-y aesthetic are marketed to men and the sexy nurse with the padded bra, fishnet stockings and heels are marketed to young women.

Don’t even get me started on the whole school boy vs school girl theme.

Some of the worst offenders yet are classic horror movie characters: Chucky, Beetlejuice, Jason, Freddy, Pennywise. Nearly every adult women’s horror icon costume features a miniskirt or hotpants. They are distinctly more revealing than their male counterparts, and often barely resemble the character they’re supposed to be.

What do the decision-makers at these costume companies think? Are women too sensitive to wear monster costumes? Are we too weak to dress up as iconic serial killers? Are we simply too delicate to wear clothes? One thing is true, marketing gurus sure do have a knack for revealing ongoing social ideals; in this case, women are apparently only good for one thing.

Really? I mean, just, really? What the hell, people!? Freddy and Jason were never meant to embody sex appeal. No, just no.

I guess we should be glad that they at least put her in something that sort of resembles Chucky’s iconic overalls. I just don’t remember Chucky being this sexy. Oh, that’s right… because he wasn’t.

If you love Beetlejuice enough to dress up as the character for Halloween, wouldn’t you want to oh, I don’t know, look like Beetlejuice? I’m not sure what this is, but it’s not Beetlejuice.

Anyone who has seen and loved IT would be embarrassed by this travesty. Looks that kill? Not.

Now, I’m not saying this is the most tasteful costume for 2020, but still, if you like the whole plague doctor thing, what the hell is this!? She’s not even wearing a proper plague mask. How is she a plague doctor at all? Oh, it’s a cute costume, but there are no plague-y precautions going on and nothing to associate the wearer as a plague doctor.

In one ad for a costume based off of the 2007 horror film Trick ‘r Treat (excellent movie, by the way, I give it a thumbs up!), the men’s costume is, quite frankly, not good, but the women’s costume is a wildly inaccurate and sexualized interpretation of a horror character who in the film is a child. A demon child with a pumpkin head, yes, but a child, nonetheless.

the original Sam in all his glory

The movie is anthology-style, where this kid, Sam, shows up to enforce the rules or traditions of Halloween. Dressed in raggedy orange footy pajamas and a burlap sack over his head, Sam appears across all the stories where macabre chaos ensues. Did I mention that it’s an excellent movie?

This woman, wearing a bright orange dress that cuts just below her butt, actually pulls the skirt up and out for the publicity shot. She has brown burlap-looking accents on the dress and a hood that sort of resembles the villain in the movie but looks more like a sexy scarecrow in someone’s field of dreams.

No one would ever put two and two together for this one.  Again, if you love the movie so much that you want to dress as the character, why would you choose this monstrosity? (ha! see what I did there? it’s a monster movie and the costume is a monstrosity… get it?)

What would be so bad about an adult female wearing the raggedy footy pajamas with a sack mask over her head? Oh, that’s right. It wouldn’t show off her legs, lips, or breasts.

I’m tired of seeing costumes that feature characters like the female vampire slayer who looks more like a seductive vampire just itching to be slain than a fierce hunter herself.

Women who love horror movies want the full-on scary, gore-splattered costumes. Otherwise, what’s the point? I mean, yes, yes, I get the point, but come on!  Can we please just rid ourselves of the miniskirt where it doesn’t belong? Or is that just too much to ask?

 

Just Another Day

Don’t you just love those mornings where you wake up peacefully – and rested – before the alarm starts blaring in your face?

I do, too, except I don’t get them often.

My sleepy eyelids resist opening to the harsh sunlight, and I think “the world seems too bright.” Wait. It is brighter. What time is it!? Am I late?

Suddenly rushing from peace to panic, I check the time. I’m late. Again. I roll my eyes instinctively. What else is new? Now that I’m rushing to get ready for work, I’m sure that everything that can go south will go south. You know, Murphy’s Law and all that.

Even putting on pants feels like a nightmare, and yes, I am wearing pants. But hey, at least there’s coffee.

Apparently, the Keurig is in a mood today, because it seemed to say “yeah, you thought there was coffeeas it malfunctioned. Again. Instead of receiving the large cup I desperately needed, the machine offers me an uber small cup that tastes (and feels) like a gelatinous espresso.

The concentrated dose of caffeine in that elf-sized cup of Joe motivates me to get out the door, finally, where it’s raining? Seriously? After running back inside to fetch my umbrella, I rush to the car – that needs gas. I could’ve done it yesterday on my way home, but I naively thought Oh, I’ll get it in the morning. Procrastination always comes back to bite me, but somehow, I still haven’t learned. At this point, I probably never will. And I’m okay with that.

Except when I’m running late for work in the pouring rain, the car’s gas tank is nearly empty, and I’ve only just realized I left my lunch on the kitchen counter.

I let out my anger on the road… as usual.

The Keurig’s makeshift espresso from this morning gifts my coworkers with a second-hand buzz that may cause some serious suspicion over my substance intake. With a fast-talking attitude and fidgety movements, I barrel through my work with superhuman speed and a not-so-mild caffeine-induced anxiety.

It sure made the morning meeting pass quickly; I’ll say that much. Although that may be due in part to my lack of attention – which I only realized when I was unexpectedly called on. Instead of answering the question with any form of coherence whatsoever, I was instead dealing with a series of traumatic high school flashbacks. George Washington! No? Oh, wait, 42! Mesopotamia! The Battle of 1812! Wait, what were we talking about again?

Well, once that was over with, I remembered my lunch sack, sitting sad and alone on the kitchen counter. I guess I have another lunch date with the vending machine while Holly, the ne’er-do-well, is no doubt snacking on my tuna salad sandwich. The vending machine isn’t the best date, though – it ate my money, again. I think it was even hungrier than me this time.

As the crash from this morning’s coffee begins to seep its way into my psyche, I am less than elated to run into Karen coming out of the ladies’ room. I’ve done my best all morning to avoid the office gossip as best as I can, but when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

I just want to shout NO KAREN. I’m not interested in Kathy’s marital problems. And you shouldn’t be either.

Even though I did my work with the speed (and disregard) of a tornado, I managed to leave work late. As the last one out, I set the alarm behind me.

And as soon as I heard the click of the lock as I shut the door, I realized I left my umbrella on my desk. It is now pouring rain, and my car, having also been one of the last to arrive, is not nearby. Just go back in and grab the stupid umbrella, I hear you say. Ahhh… you see, while my employer trusts us enough to set the alarm, they do not trust us enough to have a key to get back in once we leave. But as someone who loves to see the positive for every negative, I think at least I won’t need a shower.

Once I got home, I was finally able to have a home-cooked meal… even if I did burn it. Last time I summoned a full-on demon, so this is still a step up from that one.

The rain must have been worse than I thought because the internet went down. It wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that I began a very serious Friday the 13th marathon yesterday. Without the tools to finish my binge, I suppose I’ll read instead. Not a bad alternative.

Or so I think until I realize halfway through chapter 5 that an entire section of the book is MIA. Don’t ask me why or how, there are no answers here. And no mid-book chapters either, apparently.

Well, I read on, hoping context clues and even some small leaps can help me navigate my way to the ending. After chapter 10, I realize that missing section must’ve been pretty important because I have no clue what’s going on anymore.

I sigh, putting the book down and feeling like that might just be the best metaphor possible for my life.

A Reflection on Mornings

My phone buzzed from across the room. And it buzzed, and buzzed, and BUZZED.

I cursed the alarm for waking me up, myself for putting it too far away to hit the snooze button from my bed, and the universe for creating a concept as off-putting as mornings.

After five minutes of mental grumbling, I began to fear the abrasiveness of the next alarm which would inevitably arrive in five more minutes. Then my eyes closed, again. Drifting back into sleep, I wondered about my hungry cats, the banality of my work week, and a strange desire for candy.

WONK-WONK-WONK. Shit. I fell asleep again.

With groggy eyes, a cloudy brain, and a stiffness in my body that takes too much time to shake off, I shuffled across the room turn off my alarm.

Without this system, I would never get to work. Without the need to get up out of bed to turn off my panic-inducing alarm, I simply wouldn’t.

I hate mornings. With a passion.

I have never been a morning person, and I never will be. And that’s okay. Unless you ask me right after I wake up. Then, nothing is okay.

After feeding my two cats and two dogs, I empty the cat litter, pick up after the dogs, and wonder why I have so many pets. Oh, that’s right, I love them, and they add meaning to my life. It’s a lot easier to remember that after I’m fully awake, which won’t happen for another hour at least. I don’t know why people say that having pets helps with stress. It doesn’t.

I’m late for work. Again. No matter how early I wake up, something always eats my time and gets me off schedule—a sick dog, an escaped cat, an imploding house.

I may have mentioned that I live in a condo, which means I have lots of neighbors. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I just personally can’t stand having nothing conversations. You know, small talk. You listen to someone talk about nothing, respond with a limited acknowledgement of the nothing, and then you might go back and forth about nothing for a while, before exiting the conversation and never thinking about it again, because there was nothing to think about in the first place.

Did you feel the pain of reading that sentence? That’s how I feel during nothing conversations.

Yet, somehow, I have them every day. And it’s always in the morning.

My elderly next-door neighbor loves nothing conversations. I still haven’t been able to find a way to politely exit the conversation early on (and trust me, I’ve tried), so I usually end up getting caught in a 20-minute long exchange that drains me emotionally and makes me (even more) late for work.

My most effective strategy so far has been to leave my condo like a teenager sneaking out to a late-night party. I used to be good at it, but apparently one grows rusty as one gets older. No matter how quiet and careful I am, I often meet a worse fate than nothing conversations — the creepy old guy down the way.

On some days, I’m unlucky enough to get zinged by both of them.

Once I finally get to the car, my morning still isn’t looking bright. I’m already tired physically and emotionally. From my frenetic morning chores, my neighbors, and my impending doom. It’s in this state that I take to the streets, which is where you can see my true morning colors.

I’m an introvert with road rage.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in kindness, consideration, patience, human decency. I consider myself to be a person with values that enact positive change in the world.  Just not on the road where the assholes apparently live. And what makes it worse is the fact that every time I drive to work, it’s the morning. I think I may have told you how I feel about mornings.

Once the morning passes, socialization is a hell of a lot easier. But I won’t lie to you and say everything is all wine and roses. Oh how I wish there was wine… wouldn’t that make the morning go by much more pleasantly! But, yeah, no. You see, my office consists of characters from The Office except way less funny and more exasperating.

It’s a miracle that I can get through one eight-hour day without needing bail money, let alone an entire week.

It’s not that I don’t like working with others. I do. Sort of. Okay, well, not at all, but, I can work with others just fine, thank you very much. It’s just that my office is filled to the brim with overconfident type-A personalities who are more than happy to tell you the right way to do things even when they have no idea how to do said things. Yeah, thanks for the advice Dwight, but no one asked.

So, after a jam-packed day of Zoom meetings that could very well have been emails requiring no human interaction whatsoever, I inch closer and closer to my sacred wind-down time.

I always notice that my evening drive has a lot less rage than my morning drive. Once I get home, I tend to the pets again; giving everyone dinner, taking out the dogs and the cat litter, emptying and refilling the water bowls, and then I can finally focus on myself (Masked Singer and Great British Bake Off here I come!). And look at that. No bail money needed!  For today at least.

But as Scarlett said, “after all, tomorrow is another day.” And with it comes, you guessed it, a morning. Ugh.