Life in a Bubble

The best thing about my local mall is the bubble tea kiosk. I like to go there just for that.  Well, that and the movies. I love tea and I love movies. The bubble tea place has all different kinds, something for everyone. Obviously, you can find the usual like green, black, and white, but there are also exotic mixtures to choose from, like pomegranate and lime or marshmallow root and licorice, you name it. My fave is Rose of San Francisco. No idea what’s in it and maybe that’s for the best. But I’ll tell you this much… it is yuuummmmyy.

The mall itself? Meh. It’s humongous. I’ll give it that. Now, it’s not “Mall of the Americas” humongous, but it’s up there… the largest in our state, for whatever that’s worth. It’s a trek just to get to an entrance, of which there are many, from one of the parking lots — a veritable exercise in stamina. St. Petersburg has its Hermitage, for Paris it’s the Louvre, my city has a massive mall, oh, with an adjacent casino. Just like those famous European art galleries, you can walk this sprawling mecca of capitalism in an afternoon, but not if you try to look at everything. That’s a rookie’s mistake. Another mistake would be thinking you could afford anything in this place.

See that pair of mustard-colored chinos in that H&M store over there in Neighborhood Q (oh, yeah, this mall has neighborhoods)? That’s the equivalent of a commissioned Rembrandt. That chemical cocktail of avocado and raspberry and something you can only describe as “mossy” coming from Lush in Neighborhood A? That’s an M.C. Escher right there. And that fancy store selling Prada and Gucci handbags… the one that never seems to have any customers, but all they need is one sale per month and they make their cut anyway? The Mona Lisa, of course.

I’ll admit it, I’m the worst kind of patron. Oh sure, I’ll go to the movies and I always get bubble tea, but as for shopping-shopping, uh, no. Sometimes, I go and just meander around and check out random things in shop windows, just to have something to do. I may have mentioned this before, but it’s a LLLLOT of walking, with an obstacle course through aggressive kiosk hawkers thrown in. I have found that it’s almost worthwhile to don your hiking books and backpack – complete with snacks, a high-beam flashlight to make S.O.S signals, and an emergency whistle just in case of shopping mall fatigue… that state of utter exhaustion where you find yourself lying helplessly on the shiny tiled floor, one hand outstretched, in vain, toward the nearest escalator only ten miles away. “Can’t … go on … no … more … shopping!” And yet, here you are, clear on the opposite side of the mall from where you parked.  As despair hits you full in the face, you resolutely straighten your shoulders, throw back your head, take a fortifying swig of your bubble tea, and stumble off on aching feet … back from whence you came.

So why do I do it, I ask myself?

It’s all about that Rose of San Francisco.

Winter is Coming

I don’t know what possessed me — possessed probably being the key word here — but, I ventured out into the world today. You know… among people. And not just regular people either. Mall shoppers. Oh yes. In a fit of misplaced optimism, I decided to try my hand at in-person Christmas shopping. I mean, really. What the hell was I thinking? You tell me, I sure don’t know. It did teach me one thing, however. My disdain for people is nothing if not valid.

Which brings me to this recycled blog post. Oh sure, it’s not Black Friday any longer, which is what prompted the original post. In fact, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the yearly free-for-all we euphemistically call holiday shopping. However, the moral of the story, if you can call it that, is just as relevant today as it was last year. BUT, beware, my friends. Winter is not just coming. It is here. It. Is. Here.

Musings from a Tangled Mind

Friends, danger is upon us. We are approaching that time of year when brother will turn against brother, sister will deceive sister, and strangers will come to fisticuffs over dwindling supplies of cherished treasure. There’s only one thing that can bring the madness in our society to such a fever pitch. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about holiday shopping.

Get those elbows ready for pushing people out of the way (I hear a sale on elbow pads starts today!) and start brushing up on your bob-and-weave coordination, it all kicks off today, Black Friday, and soon it will be followed by an all-out Christmas merchandise assault. I don’t know what it is about good deals, but it truly unleashes the beast in some people. Maybe it’s mob mentality that comes from being in large, billowing crowds of shoppers. It overtakes rational thought about how to treat your fellow Man and…

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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.

The Evolution of the Water Bottle

I may have mentioned a few days ago that my life was crazy right now. I’ll be sharing the gossip on that soon. I promise.  In the meantime, I thought you’d be interested in the latest derailment fiery crash of the mental machinery that is my train of useless thought.

So, I was browsing the shelves at my local Hallmark (they’re not just for movies!) when I ran in to this little gem:

 

red arrow emphasis is mine

Now I have nothing against the bottle, it is a very pretty bottle (with a strong, positive quote, might I add) designed to hold…well, hydrating items.  Call me old-fashioned or low-class, but to me, this is a simply a high-falutin’ Water Bottle.  Let’s take a look at the evolution from water bottle to hydration bottle, shall we?

First, other liquids realized they were getting the short end of the stick in the capitalism game that retailers everywhere know – and play – so well.  Gatorade led the battle for change, crying “Gatorade is liquid, too!”  Kool-Aid quickly joined in, followed by fruit juices.  There were protests in grocery stores across the nation and even a riot or two in Aisle 5 which leaked over into Aisle 4 and part of Aisle 6.  Sadly, these protests were ineffective because the liquids had no containers and the protesters were quickly mopped up.

Now, things got a little sticky, in every sense of the word.  Soup demanded to be included, which sparked even more debate and controversy.  But is soup truly a liquid?  Where does this leave chicken noodle soups, or stew?  Gatorade and Kool-Aid fought back viciously.  The gutters flowed with noodles during the Chicken Noodle War of 2018, now thought to be the worst soup war in history.  Many valiant chicken chunks were lost to the cause.

The bottle itself, striving for peace and equality, struggled to make its voice heard.  In many poignant interviews, the bottle pled to be called a liquid container.  This, in turn, caused the soups to become agitated yet again as they tried to find their place in the world.

Finally, Congress, in all of their infinite wisdom, passed a law to exclude soup from being contained in the bottle, stating that only hydrating products qualified.  The point was made that soup has its own exclusive container called a “thermos.”  Soup is taking this decision to the Supreme Court citing that coffee, while a liquid, also gets to be contained in thermoses. I must say, they do have a point.

While awaiting a Supreme Court decision, the bottle has been relabeled a Hydration Bottle.  The products allowed to be contained in this bottle are not clearly defined; therefore, it’s anyone’s game. Or container, if you will.

Gatorade is calling this a clear victory in liquid rights for juices, vitamin water, and electrolytes everywhere.  Soup cannot be reached for comment, although more protests are scheduled in the future. We’re not sure where alcohol stands, because well, alcohol isn’t usually standing for anything for any length of time.

When you are drinking your hydration product from your Hydration Bottle, let us never forget the electrolytes and fruit juices who spilled…well, themselves…to secure the right to be contained in them.

Character Realizations

You know, there is really nothing like a trip to the grocery store — with all that entails, including the ill-mannered, deliberately slow-moving people in the aisles and the rude people at the check-out and the downright annoying people in the parking lot hell-bent on their suicidal mission game of chicken — to make you truly understand that you still have a long way to go in realizing your goal of being a “good person.”

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Existential Moments in the Pasta Aisle

Going through the stores today on a much-hated “errands run,” I was finally forced to face my darker side. As it turns out, I hate people. Okay, well, yeah,  perhaps that was no big secret. Hey! Don’t roll your eyes at me!

However, at one point in my journey, one question loomed first and foremost in my mind…an existential moment if you will. Right in the middle of the pasta aisle of all places. I mean, if you’re going to have a moment, there could be worse places. As for the answers I was seeking, none were forthcoming. But apparently, now, don’t be shocked, but apparently…I failed this particular test. So I thought I would throw it out here, to all of you — perhaps you can help me out. You know, in case this same issue ever raises its ugly head in the future (cause, let’s face it, we all know it will).

Just how many times do I have to say excuse me to someone before get the fu…hell out of the way becomes acceptable?

 

 

The Day After

Well, the holidays are over and presumably we all survived the reunion with our extended — or not so extended, families without too much of a hangover.  I just wanted to remind everyone, keep an eye out…you’ll be seeing Valentine’s candy and Easter eggs in the shops any day now. If you’re really lucky, the stores in your neighborhood will squish St. Patrick’s Day in there somewhere.

If you’re still on holiday break, I hope you have a well-deserved, relaxing time — unless you’re shopping and/or otherwise participating in the Yearly After-Christmas Returns and Sales Craziness, in which case, good luck. May you remain unscathed and without need for bail money. And if you’re back to work today? Well, Godspeed, my friend. Godspeed.