Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Um, Wow

I'm all for being green. Hey, I even use those meshy bags when I'm grocery shopping. I even return beer bottles. Woo hoo, Environment!

But I am having a hard time with this:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Soda-Bottle-Candy-Dish

Can you imagine coming over to my house, or sitting at my desk, and seeing that ugly-ass thing? I don't think you'd praise me for being environmentally conscious, I think you'd worry about my sanity.

OR, maybe you wouldn't even NOTICE that this was the bottom of a soda bottle disguised as a candy dish because of the pretty pink ribbon tied around it.

And hopefully wouldn't slice your wrist on the jagged plastic rim when reaching for a delicious candy (have you ever tried cutting a soda bottle? that plastic is sharp, man!).

Maybe I'm being too cynical. Maybe – just maybe – I've found the answer to my lack of Christmas gifts this year. Not only am I giving to family and friends, I'll be giving back to the environment, as well.

Let's see...what else can I make with a soda bottle?

A jewelry box?

A dog's water bowl?

A pot for a mini herb garden?

Someone bring me some scissors and a liter of Coke!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Least Favorite Pair Of Genes

Everyone thinks I look like my father (except my Grandmother, who tells everyone that I look exactly like her). And I definitely inherited my hips from his side of the family (thanks, Dad, for making it really, really hard to find pants that fit!).

But I have to thank my mom for giving me her Insomnia Genes.

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night, and NEVER FALLING BACK TO SLEEP.

Take the other night, for example. I woke up at 3:30am. For good. (seriously, that’s not even a time NEAR the morning).

So here’s what my day has been like so far:

It’s 3:30 in the morning. The entire neighborhood is asleep. It’s really, really dark out.

And it’s too quiet.

I peek at the clock.

3:37.

Boy, am I hungry. Of course I know there nothing in the house to eat. But chicken parm would be so good right now. Or meatloaf. Or macaroni and cheese.

3:42.

Will my mother like that quilted vest that I got her? Will she wear it? It would look good with jeans and a sweater. Should I not have gotten her the red? Should I have gone with the gray instead? What am I thinking, regardless of the color, she’s totally going to return it.

3:48.

Ugg. I don’t want to use the treadmill this morning. My body is just way too tired. But doesn’t it make sense to use it, since I’m up? Maybe I’ll fall back to sleep and miss out on my treadmill time.

3:55.

I see headlights in the street. Who is driving by at this hour? Only crazy people are up at this hour. Um, right.

4:15.

Well, it’s almost been an hour. I’m pretty convinced I’m not going to fall back to sleep. Vito, however, is able to sleep peacefully, completely unaware of my wide-awakedness, sharing my pillow and emitting deep, contented sighs.

4:38

Did I pay the cable bill?

4:49

If I wake up this early every day for the rest of my life, I’m going to be one tired woman.

5:01

NOW it’s almost an acceptable time of the morning. I COULD get up and use the treadmill.

5:23

Yep. I’m going to fall asleep any minute now. I can just feel it. Totally concentrating on sleep. Letting my whole body relax. Just letting the sleep come over me. Any minute now I’ll be asleep. Deep breaths. Oh yeah, I'm tired now. Can hardly stay awake. Just about drifting off...

5:48

Sleep is SO close! Maybe I AM sleeping, and I'm only dreaming about not being able to sleep.

Cue alarm clock and annoying radio morning show host.

I will not open my eyes. I. Will. Not. Open. My. Eyes.

I open one eye: 6:01.

Time to get up.


(Note: I did not use the treadmill on this particular day.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Haunted House Of Porn

I’m pretty sure our house is haunted. It’s an old colonial, with lots of drafts and creaky floorboards. And I don’t think we live there alone.

For instance, one night the CD player in the living room went on at 12:30 ALL BY ITSELF. I was letting Vito in the back door when I randomly heard Frank Sinatra crooning in the other room. FREAKY.

I also think our downstairs television is possessed. We’ll be watching a show and suddenly will hear these weird, eerie voices. The voices have nothing to do with the show, and they aren’t from some other show, either. It scares the crap out of me.

New development: these spooky voices are also pornographic.

Two quotes from the creepy TV voices last night:

“I’m looking for Dr. Sausage”

AND

“I’m wearing a strap-on dildo”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Nightmares Part III: Holiday Dinner With Clients

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

Monday, 1pm
Connecticut

Tonight we are taking one of our clients out for dinner for the holidays. Nice, right? Well, they are located in New Jersey, so that’s where we’re headed.

In an effort for everyone to travel together, and so that everyone can imbibe and enjoy themselves, my company has hired a van to drive us roundtrip. It has a wet bar, lights that change color and a bathroom – everything a party van needs besides a dancer's pole (which would have been put to use as the evening progressed – more on that later).

With the worry of driving in someone else's hands, I am ready to party.

I start the night off with a pomegranate cosmopolitan. It was pink and fruity and went down like water...the best combination for a drink if you ask me.

The clients are late. So I have another.

Really do these people have watches? I absolutely must have another until they get there.


Three cosmos in and the clients have arrived. Time for appetizers! And a glass of Pinot Noir!

I wash the first glass of Pinot down with another, and a small slice of bread.

We’re having fun, now!

I’m making small talk with the client and the conversations are flowing as smoothly as the vino.

Our dinners arrive and so does my third Pinot. MMMM.

The night wraps up around 10:30 or so and we all pile back onto the party van. I have a full belly and a good buzz as we make our way back to the highway.

When we pull into a gas station I don’t really think anything of it, until I see the hood of the van open.

Shit.

The President of the company is out there with the bus driver, taking a look at things. No offense, but I don’t think that a marketing agency President is going to be able to fix our van. Instead he comes back with this: “Turns out we have a broken fan belt and can’t drive the bus. A replacement bus will be here at 1am. Who’s going to go and get beer?”

Half an hour later, Jeff returns with two six packs and two bottles of corked wine. Let the party begin!

I spend the next two hours drinking, playing a very G-rated (thank God) version of “I Never”, attempting charades (seriously, who was going to correctly guess “Bridge To Terabithia”? I mean, have these people ever played charades before?), and painting the girls’ nails.

Surprisingly, time flies. (Guess I was having fun. Who knew?)


An identical twin to our broken bachelorette van arrives promptly at 1am. We gather up all of all belongings (leaving behind dirty napkins, empty beer and wine bottles and some people’s dignity) and hop on the new van. I assume the same seat on the bus; close to the front so I can see out the windshield and hopefully avoid motion sickness.

We are ready to go we see the drivers open up the hood of the new van. We MUST be on candid camera. Where's Allen Funt hiding, in the bathroom?

Then, to make things worse, the driver starts up and moves the first van. WTF? I thought that one was broken? If someone tells me we’ve been sitting in an On The Run gas station parking lot in the middle of New Jersey (aka, the Armpit Of America) for the last two hours I am seriously going to lose my f*ing mind.


Higher powers sense my stress and the drivers close the hood and join us on the van. We start her up and we’re off!

It is an hour and a half drive back to the office. I am ready for a nap. But I have no chance of falling asleep, because:

1. The bus driver has developed lead foot and we are traveling at lightning speed to get back to Connecticut (I attempt to avoid car sickness but every time I peek out the windshield I either see our van barely avoiding sideswiping another car or moving quite freely and accidentally veering over the white lines of our lane. Basically, I am more afraid of watching us die than vomiting, so I stop looking)

2. The radio is loud. Ear-piercing loud. Volume is on 10 out of 10. Oh, and for some reason NO radio stations want to come in, so we are listening to dance songs mixed with static. Did I mention it was loud?

3. Our van turned into a dance club. “Where was there room for dancing?” you might ask? Well, there’s PLENTY of room for dancing in the two-foot-wide aisle that runs between the seats. And there’s even MORE room for dancing when one of the girls is suspended in the air, holding the railings above her head with her legs wrapped around a dude’s waist. You can actually save lots of dance floor space this way.

4. People keep falling on me. Apparently, after a loooong night of drinking, it’s hard to keep your balance when you’re boogieing in a van that’s careening down the highway at 80mph. There is a possibility that you will lose your balance a little, and fall down like dominoes onto the laps of those not dancing (Hi! Ouch! That was my f*ing foot, asshole) and then onto the dirty van floor in a pile.

We make two quick pit stops before we’re back at the office. The first is to let the President out in Stamford at his car, and the second is two exits later to let off the driver of the rescue van (who, btw, rode the whole way back sitting on the steps of the van while our original driver took the reigns) at the end of the exit ramp in the middle of nowhere.

When we finally pull into the company parking lot at 2:30am, I am exhausted. The bus driver appears to be a combination of tired/incredulous/pissed off, so I try to cheer him up a bit.

Me: “Thanks for everything and getting us back here safely.”

Him: “You’re welcome. I’m really sorry for what happened.”

Me: “Why are you sorry? You didn’t break the belt. Did you break the belt, Felix?”

Him: “No! I didn’t break the belt!”

Me: “Then no worries. Stuff like this happens.”

What a relief to get into my (extremely cold) car. I feel the fatigue take over my body and I put the key in the ignition.

I don’t even want to think about the 45 minute drive that I still had to make home, on a very curvy highway with no lights that is littered with deer. Or my alarm going off in a few hours.

I. Must. Get. To. Bed.

((btw, so you know I'm not entirely crazy, there was NO treadmill for me the following morning))

Things You (Thankfully) Don't Hear Everyday

In an email from my friend Tracey who works in a hospital:

"There were a lot of animal sacrifices here yesterday and today and I’m exhausted."

(Even after the crazy week I've had at work, this sort of puts things in perspective and makes me appreciate my job.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Reunited, And It Feels So...Weird

I saw an old college roommate this weekend that I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

How is it that 10 years could feel both so short and so long ago at the same time?

Like, it seems like just yesterday that we were stumbling around the Caves – a wooded area filled next to campus – clutching our keg cups looking for a private place to pee.
(In retrospect, ridiculously drunk college kids + oversized, jagged rocks + a bonfire does NOT seem like the smartest combination)

And it seems like forever ago that I was 23, working for a puzzle publisher, making $22K and living with my parents.

So I wasn’t surprised to have mixed feelings when I ran into Kristen at a mini college reunion.

I mean, in the back of my mind, I KNEW she was going to be there. I knew her husband was invited, that they knew the owner of the bar, that they hung out there every once in a while.

And when she saw us, roommates she hasn’t spoken to in a decade, she felt the same way. I could see it on her face.

There’s nothing more awkward than making small talk with someone with whom you shared four very important years of your life. It’s sort of like running into an ex-boyfriend, except that you have every reason to hate the guy standing in front of you. I had no reason to hate Kristen. In fact, seeing her made me sad that we hadn’t kept in touch.

But here was a girl with whom we shared heartaches, deep secrets and way too many beers. We were there when she was homesick, when Kevin broke her heart, and when she got too drunk and sang “Short Dick Man” at the top of her lungs to an ex-hookup.

We stuck by her when seniors wanted to kick her ass, when her crazy mother called 11 times in a row, and when she needed to be carried home on her 21st birthday.

And here she was, our good old college friend, standing in front of us like a total stranger.

Our small talk went something like this:

Me: “Hi! How ARE you?”

Her: “I’m doing great! We have a 10 month old at home.”

Me: “Wow – congratulations!”

Her: “What are you up to?”

Me: “Oh, living in Connecticut and working, that’s about it.”

((horrendously awkward long moment of silence))

Her: “Life is good for me.”

Me: “That’s really great – awesome to hear.”

Her: “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.”

Me: “Yeah, wow, I know – me neither.”

I swear – I’m super articulate and really good at making small talk.

As the evening progressed (and we kept drinking) catching up became easier. Of course, I can only remember half of what we talked about.

And at the end of the night, when we were both liquored up, we swapped emails and promised to keep in touch.

In the cab on the way home, my friends and I recapped the evening, and how weird it was seeing our old roommate Kristen.

Me: “Think we’ll hear from her?”

Tracey: “Not a shot in hell.”

Why kid ourselves, right?

Question.

How is it possible, that after I’ve started using my treadmill (2 days in a row!), my clothes are TIGHTER than they were before?

Seems Auntie Fat Thighs is taking her time leaving town.



Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Nightmares Part II: New People I Can't Stand

Man Searching For Cell Phone Service In Macy’s

It’s obvious that this man does not want to be in a mall. He’d much rather be at home on the couch, watching football. He does not want to be standing in the ladies’ accessories department at Macy’s with his wife and two daughters.

So instead, he whips out his cell phone.

Here’s what I hear:

“Hello? Hey – it’s me…What? No, wait…Is that better? What’s goin’ on? How about now? Yeah, I can’t…What’s the spread?”

He’s oblivious to everyone around him – including Yours Truly.

I am trying to get around him by guessing in which direction he's going to move. I step left he moves left, I maneuver right, he sways right.

We appear to be doing a loose interpretation of the tango between the Michael Kors handbags and Clarins counter.

When it seems there will be no break in our endless dancing, I charge forward, triumphantly catching him in the groin with the corner of my shopping bag.

I turn and smile sweetly at him. "Oh, I'm SO VERY sorry."


Chatty Intimate Apparel Saleswomen

My mother wants a new bathrobe for Christmas. I make it my mission to pick out a robe that she won’t return (which is difficult because most of the time when you buy something for my mother you are just setting yourself up for failure) and try on every robe in the store.

When I finally pick out a robe I am suffering terribly from static cling, shocking myself with everything that I touch along the way.

I put my robe on the counter (zzzt! shock) and take out my wallet (zzzt! shock).

IA Lady 1: “What a nice robe.”

Me: “It’s for my mom, I hope she likes it.”

IA Lady 2: “Moms can be the hardest people to buy for.”

IA Lady 1: “Tell me about it. A few years ago my family all pitched in and bought my mother new appliances.”

Me: “What a great gift!”

I reach in my bag for my coupon (zzzt! shock) and hand it over.

IA Lady 1: “Yeah, the only thing we didn’t get her then was a dishwasher. Can you believe she had never had one?”

Me: “Does she have one now?”

IA Lady 1: “She’s dead.”

Um, wow. So THIS is what these sneakers taste like.


Clueless Salesguy In Men’s Designer Collections

I used to work in retail. I worked for a big department store called Filene’s, that was eventually bought out by a big company called Macy’s.

One of my responsibilities was writing the exclusions on the coupons, and ensuring that the right exclusions were on the right coupon, on the right day for the right percentage. Horrendously tedious work, but I loved it. **

I still take the role of coupon guru very seriously, and they are usually the first thing I read when I get any sort of coupon on the mail. I never want to be standing somewhere trying to use a coupon when right there in black and white it says I can’t use it on the grammy panties I'm planning to buy.

Men’s Collections are usually always excluded from the coupons. It has something to do with the vendor, and designer stuff being sold at certain prices, and having to stick to a rigid discount schedule, blah, blah, blah.

About 4 times a year, however, there are special coupons that are valid on Designer Collections. This was one of the times, so I marched up to the register with some Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein duds for my dad for Christmas.

It seemed my salesguy was less-than-thrilled to be working that night. Which is why I think he gave me attitude.

I put my stuff on the counter (sans warm, holiday greeting from him) and as I reach into my bag for my coupon he sighs. Loudly.

Salesguy: “Your coupon isn’t valid on this designer stuff.”

Oh, really?

That’s funny, I haven’t even taken my coupon out of my bag yet.

Me: “I think this one is.” Fake it’s-the-holidays-and-I-know-my-shit smile plastered to my face.

To his credit, there is more than one coupon valid this particular weekend. There’s the standard coupon (with Men’s Designer Collections excluded) and the super-special coupon (valid on all of the stuff I have on the counter!), which I have.

Salesguy: “I don’t think so. Not on this stuff.”

Okay. Here’s the thing: I understand how you could THINK that the coupon I have isn’t going to work, however, I have not even retrieved my coupon from my bag yet. You haven’t even read it. You haven’t even seen that it’s the super-special one that includes almost everything.

Me (forcing a losing-my-patience laugh): “Why don’t we just try it.”

Whammo! I place my coupon on the counter, in all its hardly-any-exclusions-at-all glory.

He ignores me and starts ringing in my stuff.

Okay. Deep breath. He can still scan the coupon afterwards and the register will work its magic.

I pick up my coupon and shove it at him, between his face and the register screen.

Me: “Don’t forget this!” I sing cheerily.

FINALLY he looks up. At my coupon. He raises his eyebrows. Yes, it’s THAT coupon, asshole.

Ring. It. In.

**Loser Alert: I used to find extreme satisfaction in proofing a direct mail catalogue and discovering that furniture should actually be excluded from the coupon (not merely called out at a 10% discount) because that particular coupon is valid during the Lowest Prices Of The Season Furniture event.**

**Just When You Thought I Couldn’t Be Any More Of A Loser Alert: Right before I left the company I was awarded the President’s Award For Outstanding Service. This was a big deal because very rarely did anyone in advertising get this award (usually only people in the buying offices received it). Not only that, but the fact that a creative got the award was unheard of. So when the President was talking a little bit about me and what I do, I think he said, “Her big job is making sure all of our coupons are correct and the exclusions are right.” (The fact that I ran the entire copy department, got 60 direct mail catalogs out every year and made sure our ads ran in 80 newspapers across eastern US was a close second, I’m sure)**

Friday, November 30, 2007

Twas Day 1 Of Christmas Nightmares

Every year my mother asks me for my Christmas List.

Like I’m five.

So I remind her that lists don’t really mean anything, since I put the Easy Bake Oven on my list every year as a child and never got it. Mom does not appreciate this comment. (to me, that joke never gets old)


So every year we have the SAME conversation about gifts.

Mom: “What do you want for Christmas?”

Me: “Well, there’s not really anything I want. Except money. And gift cards are nice. I like those.”

Mom: “I don’t want to give you money. What, I give you an envelope and you only have one present to open?”

Me: “You could wrap the bills separately.”

Mom: “Very funny. Seriously, help me out.”

Me: “But there’s nothing specific that I want.”

This isn’t entirely true. There are MANY specific things that I would like, I just want to be the one to pick them out. I’m very particular about my clothing.

But this year is different. The other day when I was at the register with my Dad at Macy’s, he offered to buy the coat for me.

Dad: “We’ll give it to you for Christmas, since your mother never knows what to buy you.”

Me: “Awesome idea. She’ll be so happy to have something to wrap up and stick under the tree.”

Later that night…

Mom: “Dad showed me your coat. It's really nice.”

Me: “Thanks. Hey – you finally have something to give me that you know I really want.”

Mom: “But you know what it is. I don’t like giving you gifts when you already know what they are.”

Whaaaaaat???????

What’s the difference from a coat that I picked out, or a coat that I put on a list? Either way, I ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THE COAT.

Me: “I thought you’d be excited that you had something big to give me this year.”

Mom: "I guess. But I want you to be surprised, otherwise Christmas isn't fun.”

Ma-humbug!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

True Or False: My Company Is Up To Something

Things We Run Out Of At Work That We Probably Shouldn't:

1. Parking Spaces

2. Water

3. Toilet Paper

(I'm slightly convinced that reasons #2 and #3 are related; that the company has stopped supplying water to deal with the ridiculous toilet paper shortage. If we don't drink water, we won't have to go to the bathroom, right? Makes total sense)

Move Over Speed Dating

Let me tell you about Speed Shopping.

My dad wants to get my mom a Coach bag this year for Christmas, and he wants me to help him pick it out (thank god).

So on Saturday morning we go to the mall together. Thanks to my crazy good parking karma we find an awesome spot, and enter Macy’s in the accessories department.

I stop to admire a super soft cashmere wrap. Dad beelines to Coach.

I half run/half walk (in heeled boots on an over-waxed tile floor) to catch up.

My Dad picks up the closest bag.

Dad: “How about this one?”

Me: “It’s too big.”

Dad: “You think?”

I give him my ‘didn’t-you-ask-me-to-come-along-for-my-opinion’ look.

Dad grabs another signature logo beige bag.

Dad: “What about this one?”

Me: “She won’t like that flappy thing. And I don’t like the signature collection. Did she say she wanted a pocketbook with a million little C’s all over it?”

Dad: “She didn’t say anything. She doesn’t even know I’m getting this.”

Me: “Ha! I’ll have a front row seat when she opens it and yells at you for spending too much money.”

Dad: “Can we get back to the pocketbooks?”

Me: “Are we on some sort of schedule that I’m not aware of?”

Dad: “Yeah – mine. Let’s get moving.”

O-kaaaaay.

I pick up a beautiful chocolate tote.

Me: “This one is SOOOO nice. But I think she'd prefer something she can put on her shoulder."

Dad: “How will we know if they’ll fit on her arm? They’re all locked up.”

Yours Truly proceeds to try and stick her arm in the handles of every bag while it’s still hanging on the rack and theft-locked with wires.

Dad: “Yeah, the straps are too small. And it’s leather.”

Me: “What’s wrong with leather?”

Dad: “Nothing. I just thought she’d like the other kind better.”

Translation: other kind = fabric.

Did I mention it’s a million degrees in Macy’s?

Me: “I think I like the leather. Any chance you want to get me a Coach bag for Christmas?”

((Overly-exaggerated sigh from my father))

I steer clear of the metallic gold hobos, hot pink wristlets and focus on chocolate fabric. I find a great little satchel with leather straps – the best of both worlds.

Me: “I like this one.”

Dad: “For you, or for your mother?”

Hey, Dad’s smiling again!

Me: “For her. It’s the right size and it has nice leather straps.”

Dad: “Works for me. Now where’s the lady who unlocks these things?”

Turns out the lady who unlocks these things is working at the customer service desk to help ring customers in the small leather goods section.

Dad: “You mean I gotta wait in that line for that lady to come over here and unlock that bag?”

I sense a window of opportunity.

Me: “Looks that way. Should I take this time to peruse for stuff for myself?”

I buzz through contemporary sportswear like I’m on a video on fast forward, grabbing random items off the racks. I keep an eye on my Dad, who hasn’t even moved in line.

When my arms are full I find my father. Dad has his shopping bag and his eyes bulge when he sees my arms.

Me: “I need to find something to wear to my work holiday party. I have to try this stuff on.”

I come out of the dressing room (success – found a top that fits perfectly!) and my dad is sitting on a sofa watching the Food Network.

His face lights up when he sees me.

Dad: “Ready?”

Me: “I could be. I wanted to look downstairs."

((another deep, long sigh from Dad))

Me: "Hey, if I knew I was only allowed 15 minutes in the mall I would’ve taken my own car.”


Dad rolls his eyes and follows me downstairs. I am immediately drawn to the coat that I had tried on a few weeks earlier. I am already in love with this coat. It’s dove gray with big buttons and a rolled collar. I shrug off my old coat and slide into the new one. It was like it was made for me. Unfortunately, I cannot get the coat because it’s too expensive. Plus I should be spending money on other people's gifts, blah blah blah.

Dad nods in approval: “Nice coat.”

I am admiring myself in the mirror, imagining myself walking down a city street looking fabulous in my new coat.

A woman walks by and sees me.

Woman: “That coat’s hot. You look sharp.”

I look over at my dad.

Me: “I’m getting the coat.”

Dad: “Good. Can we go now?”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good-Bye, Auntie Fat Thighs

I bought a treadmill!

It is due to arrive this weekend.

You will not even recognize me come Christmas.

(This will either be because I will be working out like crazy, or because I am forced to eat Ramen noodles three times a day in order to pay for aforementioned piece of exercise equipment)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tell Me How To Get To Sanity Street

I’m really bothered by something I read earlier in the week.

Apparently, Santa should no longer say his widely-known “Ho Ho Ho” anymore because it’s offensive. Instead, he’s supposed to put on his red suit and shout “Ha Ha Ha” at children. Basically laughing at them. Mocking them. (Highly doubtful that his belly will shake like a bowl full of jelly while uttering his new catch phrase, btw.)

Yep, after a million years, society has deemed Santa’s expression offensive.

So, where do we start making things right? I suppose we could start at the malls, where men sit all day long, with droopy white beards, making little kids scream and cry. I guess they could start integrating “Ha ha ha” into the world.

But what’s next?

Reprint the gazillion Christmas cards that are sold with “Ho Ho Ho” on them?

Digitally change the holiday cartoon specials that little kids live for every year?

Re-record the classic Christmas songs that make the holiday season what it is?

I tried incorporating the new lingo into songs yesterday when I was driving to mall:

Up on the housetop reindeer pause

Out jumps good old Santa Claus
Down through the chimney with lots of toys
All for the little ones, Christmas joys
Ha, ha ha! Who wouldn't go? Ha, ha ha! Who wouldn't go?

Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick

(Anyone who doesn't think the song sounds stupid like that raise your hand. Didn't think so.)

So there I am trying to digest this ridiculousness and I read this headline:

“Sesame Street DVD Deemed Adult-Only Entertainment.”

(Sounds like porn. Is this the never-before-seen-footage where Gordon and Maria get it on in the backroom of Mr. Hooper's store?)

Well, I grew up on Sesame Street (and Mister Rogers, and The Electric Company), and I seemed to turn out okay. What could be the problem? Why shouldn’t kids be watching the show on which I grew up? Because it – and I quote – “may not suit the needs of today's preschool child.”

W.T.F?

Their needs? Um, when you’re four your needs are food, water, sleep and parental figures who love and nurture you. I don’t think your needs depend on two puppets living together in a basement apartment, or an old man running the general store.

Seriously, what is the world coming to???

18 People. 1 Oven. WTF?

I LOVE to cook. And I have a really small kitchen. So when the opportunity came about again this year to host Thanksgiving, I gladly accepted the challenge.

The minute I said I would do Thanksgiving, the “what can I bring?” phone calls started. I didn’t even know what I was going to have for lunch that random day in October, let alone know what I wanted to serve to a crowd six weeks from now.

Finally, though, after many weekends of trial runs of dishes (is it acorn or butternut squash that I like?) I decided on a menu and handed out assignments. Because we had to have two tables (whose dining room table can seat 18? I mean, really?) I told everyone to make two casseroles of everything.

I gladly handed turkey duty over to my mother-in-law. I didn’t know the first thing about cooking a bird, and I didn’t want to learn with 17 hungry people at the table. My mother was on mashed potato duty, my cousin was bringing appetizers, and my aunt was bringing the broccoli casserole – a staple at our holiday gatherings. Dad gladly supplied a case of wine.

Leading up to the big day, everyone kept asking me what they could do to help. My answer became the running joke, “Just the mashed potatoes…oh, and another oven!” Ha ha ha.

THE MENU

Stuffed Mushrooms
Assorted Cheeses
Mini Tomato And Bococcini

Rigatoni With Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Turkey
Stuffed Pork Loin
Gram’s Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli Casserole
Roasted Butternut Squash
Cranberry Sauce
Corn Muffins

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Enough food to feed an army, right?

So how did I do it? What’s the secret to serving 9 casseroles of side dishes, two platters of turkey and a large plate of pork WARM to all those people?

Super hot gravy.

And lots of aluminum foil.

It was a loooooong day in the kitchen. And I had no trouble whatsoever staying warm all day long, since Thanksgiving day arrived at a balmy 60 degrees, and I was in front of an oven that had been on since 6:30 in the morning.

In the end, it all worked out. Everyone ate and drank too much, and thought the food was delicious.

My two favorite compliments of the day:

“My God, you are SO organized!”

And

“This pumpkin cheesecake tastes JUST like it’s from The Cheesecake Factory.”

Um, WOW.

I am thankful that everyone was able to be together for the holiday.
I am thankful for my family and friends that love me unconditionally.
And I am thankful that next Thanksgiving is still 362 days away.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Un-Neighborly Conduct

For the sixth day in a row, my neighbors have parked their ugly-ass white caravan in front of our house.

Hey, I’m no street-parking snob. I lived in Boston and parked my car on the street for years, moving it every second Tuesday, April through October, for street cleaning.

I am down with street parking.


But my neighbors have taken street-parking too far. Now, it's just not cool.

1. They park their crap-a-van in front of my house for a week at a time. Without moving it. (Doesn't anyone in that house go to work? Stop at the grocery store? Pick up dry cleaning?)

2. They completely ignore the fact that THEY HAVE THEIR OWN DRIVEWAY (that is long enough to accommodate AT LEAST 3 cars).

3. They don’t park that metal machine in front of THEIR OWN HOUSE.

And, to make matters worse, when they park in front of my house, they park like assholes – making it so that no other car can park there (seriously, you have to park right in the middle of that huge curb space? WTF?)


So why does this ridiculousness warrant enough importance for me to write about it? Because on Sunday my driveway was filled with leaf blowing equipment and I had to park my NEW CAR on the street (which I would normally be very cool about). BUT, since my neighbors’ two white caravans were taking up the five closest street spots, I had to park about 3 houses down. In front of a stranger’s house.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of my neighbors, let’s talk about how the wife (who’s pregnant with her fourth child – can’t wait for her to pop this one out, she can’t even handle the first three) ALWAYS feels the need to talk to me. And she starts every conversation the same way:

Her: “I don’t want you to think I’m spying on you or your yard, or that I just always look and see what’s going on over here and what you’re doing, but…”

But, obviously you are super nosy. And you stare at my house and yard out your windows. (I’m waiting for her to tell me I need a new bathrobe – which I do)

Oh, and they put their trash out a good 36-48 hours before trash day.

I do everything I can to avoid talking to them. I practically run from the car to the front door to escape any interaction.

When they do trap me, I mutter a quick hello and dive at my door, fumbling with the key in the lock.

I’m afraid that if I stop long enough to talk to them, I’ll take a look at their empty driveway, front lawn littered with toys, curb over-flowing with trash, oldest son peeing in the front bushes (I KID YOU NOT) and not be able to control myself:

"You Have A Driveway. Use It.”

(In the most neighborly way, of course)

My Mother, Traffic Reporter

Tuesday night, 6:15

I'm sitting at my desk at work. My phone rings. Caller ID warns me it's my mother.

Me: "Hi, Mom."

Mom: "Oh, hi. Do you have Caller ID? Is that how you knew it was me?"

My mother is fascinated by Caller ID.

Mom: "Well, anyway, I just wanted to call and tell you there's a really bad accident near your work on one of the side roads near the highway. Traffic is really backed up."

Me: "Oh, thanks. Which side road?"

Mom: "I can't remember."

Me: "Well, which highway is it near? I-95 or the Parkway?"

Mom: "Umm..."

Me: "Well, which exit number is closed?"

Mom: "I can't remember now."

Me: "Okay. Well, thanks for the update."

NOTE TO MOM: Please don't quit your day job. I do not see traffic reporting in your future.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MMMM...

You know what smell I love? NEW CAR smell!

That’s right – I am the proud new owner of a Volkswagen Jetta!

This is my first “brand new” car in almost 11 years. Like, I got to pick the color and everything (graphite blue metallic with charcoal interior – very cool, if I do say so).

And it’s MINE.

Not mine after someone else drove it for 18,000 miles.

Not mine after someone else had it parked in her driveway.

Not mine after someone else neglected to have it washed.

She's mine. FIRST.

As I waved good-bye to Neil The Sales Guy and drove her off the lot, I made the same promises (that I would break) to my Jetta that every new car owner makes:

1. I promise I will take you in for oil changes every 5,000 miles religiously. No matter what. (Neil actually tried to help me with this one, forcing me to make my first oil change appointment before he would give me the car. Like, how am I supposed to know what I’m doing Saturday, March 1, 2008???)

2. I promise I will NOT eat in you. Unless I’m driving to Boston, in which case I HAVE to get McDonald’s (one cheeseburger, a small fry and a medium Coke with lots of ice) because it’s tradition. Oh, and tea and iced coffee don’t count. Neither do water bottles.

3. I promise I will take you to the car wash the minute I see a speck of dirt of blob of bird poop on you. (Of course I didn’t promise to actually wash her myself – I KNOW that’s not going to happen)

4. I promise I will not allow sandy beach chairs, bags and coolers to touch your interior.

5. I promise that Vito can only ride in you in his new (soon-to-be-purchased-for-Christmas) carseat to avoid getting hair and scratch marks everywhere.

So it’s Day 3, and I haven’t broken any promises. Yet.

Our life together so far...

SATURDAY

So, her first trip was to the mall, where I think the entire state of Connecticut was shopping. The stores were packed (really? Twenty seven people in line and only two registers open?); I couldn’t find any pants that fit (still need that treadmill!); and they were playing Christmas music (seriously, I don’t even know what I’m cooking for Thanksgiving, let alone know what I’m getting everyone for Christmas).

I’m still in I-have-a-new-car-so-I’m-going-to-park-really-far-away-from-every-other-
car mode. This is especially hard for me to stick to because I pride myself on being an excellent parking spot finder. I partially attribute my talent to the many years I worked at the mall during the holidays and had to fight the anxious shoppers for a spot (there was no way in hell I was parking super far away to let the shoppers be close – will THEY have to walk to their car all alone in the dark when they get out of work at 2am? I don’t think so).


SUNDAY

I treated my new girl to a ride around town. We hit all of my hot spots – Target, the grocery store, CVS and TJ Maxx. Each time she was parked a little closer to the building – except at the grocery store…I don’t trust those runaway carts! (One time when I was little, my mother and I were sitting in the car at the grocery store hoping to wait out the rain and we watched the wind take a cart across the parking lot – at a decent speed – into a parked car. We laughed our asses off, too)

MONDAY

What I loved most about her on my cold ride to work this morning: heated seats! (Call me HM, but I would NOT give up heated seats! And I’m slowly getting over the fact that I no longer have steering wheel controls for the radio – something that probably makes the people who ride WITH me very happy)

Oh, and I have a trunk! I went from an SUV to a wagon, so I haven’t had the luxury of hiding valuable items out of sight for over 10 years. I would always have hide my laptop or leather jacket on the floor of the backseat covered up with Vito's hairy blanket (typical thief: "I wonder what that lump is on the floor behind the driver's seat. Oh wait, it's covered up by a blanket...must be nothing.").

BOTTOM LINE

I.Got.A.New.Car!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

From The Makes-You-Want-To-Vomit File

Britney Spears makes $737,868 a month.

That’s $24,595 a day.

That night she went commando to the club, she earned $25k. That day she shaved her head…it was worth tons of moolah. Even when she looked like an idiot at the VMA’s, she still earned some serious bank. Seriously, she could buy me a different new car every day.

So her loser soon-to-be-ex-husband now wants more money from her because he “has no net income”.

Here’s a brilliant idea, K-Fed, why don’t you GET A JOB???

I’m not sure what your skill set is (do partying and spending money count as skills? If so, I have to update my resume), but I’m sure you could find something.

Hey, we’ve all been there, working at a job you don’t necessarily love, but it pays the bills and allows you to still dine at nice restaurants. And we all have standards.

Take me, for example: I wasn’t always a high-profile copywriter. Before I hit the big time, I had one or two less-than-stellar gigs.

About six years ago, I had left my job in Boston because I had to complete a full-time internship for my graduate program. The only thing I wanted to do was to work in magazines, so I secured my UNPAID (read: zero money) internship at a magazine in NYC. To save money, I moved back home with my parents (SO cool when you’re in your late twenties), and took the train to the city almost two hours each way three days a week. Fun, fun, fun.

I had to make money somehow, so I started searching for a temporary part-time job. Of course, coming off the luxurious 9-5 world, I was picky – I didn’t want to work nights or weekends.

Yeah, right.

Finding a job was difficult, because most employers want you to be flexible. Oh, and most part-time jobs require you to deal with people, and I since I pretty much dislike most people, landing that dream job was nearly impossible.

After two weeks without a paycheck I bit the bullet and contacted a friend of a friend for a job at her family’s restaurant. (Hey, those BCBG heels don’t buy themselves)

Enter: Yours Truly, the new part-time hostess at a rib joint.

After three glorious months (and the hilarious title of “Head Hostess”) here’s what I learned:

1. How to fold napkins into those pretty little stand-up triangles.

2. How to use creative math to make a register balance.

3. How crazy people are. Everyone who came in to the restaurant wanted to sit in a booth (there were about 7 booths in the entire restaurant). These people would wait for an hour for a booth instead of sitting at one of the 20 empty tables in the dining room. WTF?

4. Shoes that are both trendy and comfortable don’t exist.

5. It takes two shampoos to get the smell of ribs out of my hair.

That job wasn’t the worst job in the world (the day I cleaned toilets at a water park in Walt Disney World was). But I did it. Because I had to. Because Britney wouldn't give me money, either.

So, Mr. K-Fed, until you bounce back from your failed rapping career and catch your big break (it's coming any day now, I can feel it!), there are plenty of acceptable jobs out there, just waiting for you!

(BTW – and this is just my opinion – I totally think you could pull off button-studded suspenders and red striped shirt at TGIFridays.)



Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fwd: All About Me

I very rarely read the forwards I get in my email, so the chances of me sending something on is pretty rare.

But I'm a sucker for the Q & A emails.

Here's mine:

1. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY?

Sunday (over my stupid car!)


2. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

Love my printing

3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SANDWICH?

Chicken cutlet with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a hard roll


4. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL?

You’re reading it

5. MOST ADVENTUROUS THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?

Canopy tour in Puerto Vallarta

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?

Cheerios with sugar (or as my mother calls them, Cheerioats)

7. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?

Emotionally, yes

8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

Vanilla. Then Cookies & Cream. Then Peanut Butter (but only from this awesome place on the Jersey Shore)

9. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOU?

How hard I am on myself

10. LAST THING YOU ATE?

English muffin with butter

11. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?

Pink

12. FAVORITE SMELLS

sautéing garlic and pipe smoke (not together)

13. FAVORITE DRINK?

With dinner: Nice glass of red wine.
As a cocktail: Grey Goose dirty martini up with extra olives.
When I want to treat myself: Coke with ice.

14. FAVORITE SPORT?

The Cheerleading competitions on ESPN

15. FAVORITE FOOD?

Pasta

16. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?

In the theater: Knocked Up

17. FAVORITE DESSERTS?

Molten lava chocolate cake and ice cream (see question #8)

18. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING?

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

19. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?

Flowers

20. FAVORITE TV SHOW?

All tied for first: How I Met Your Mother, The Office, 30 Rock

21. ODDEST THING IN YOUR HANDBAG:

Dental floss (mainly because I NEVER floss)

23. FAVORITE THING IN YOUR CLOSET:

my black heels that I’ve had forever, can wear all day and that go with anything

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mo Maintenance, Mo Problems

Car Update:

1. I still do not have my car.

2. I may never get my car back.

3. Jesse has stopped calling me.

On Wednesday, it was Stacy who called to tell me that my heater core needed to be replaced. Once again, I’m no car mechanic, but anything with the word “core” in it sounds pretty important (read: expensive).

Stacey: “You need a new heater core.”

Me: “Heater CORE? That sounds expensive.”

Stacey (the straight-shooter): “It is. It’ll cost ya $1200.”

Seems like $1200 is the magic number over there.

Me (kinda-maybe-sort of-semi-serious): “I don’t want to put more money into the car. I think it would be better to just trade it in for a new car.”

And thus began my new friendship with Neil The Sales Guy.

I typically dislike most salespeople – I don’t even like people approaching me in Banana Republic. I mean, I’m 33 years old and have a pretty good sense of style; I don’t need help picking out a shirt, thank you very much.

But over the last 5 days, Neil is sort of growing on me. We’ve driven all over town together in a plethora of vehicles. I know all about his girlfriend and his condo on the beach, and how hung over he was on Saturday morning after partying with his old college buddies the night before.

Bottomline: either I get a new car or fix the old one.

I don’t want to fix the old one because I’m afraid something else is going to go wrong. And I’m afraid to fix it to try and sell it on my own and then have nobody want it.


Oh, and if I fix it, I will still have to put new tires on it for the winter (cha-ching! Add another $800).

WTF??? Why can’t I catch a break?

So basically, they are (sort of) holding my car hostage while I make a decision. And I'm horrible at making decisions. You should see how long it takes me to decide on a pair of shoes!

All of this car business is totally stressing me out.

I can’t wait to relax tonight on my mat at Pilates…downwind from the geezer, natch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Car Is Preventing Me From Exercising

“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Well, Mr. Franklin, I would like to add something to your line of certainty.

I think it should read:

“In this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and the ridiculous coincidence of something going terribly wrong with your car the minute you potentially start to pay off your credit card debt and even begin to entertain the idea of buying yourself a treadmill.”

I was driving to work a few weeks ago on one of those chilly autumn mornings that I love so much when I realized that the heat in my car had turned to air conditioning. It was 43 degrees out and my car was blowing cold air.

The next day – a balmy 47 degrees – 27 minutes into my commute the same thing happened. I turned the heat off and cranked my heated seat up as high as possible (High maintenance? Who, me?).

After it happened for the third day in a row, I made a car appointment.

MONDAY, 7:45am

Standing at the Service Desk, I’m crossing my fingers, hoping I get the competent woman down the end with whom I always deal. But I don’t. I get Jesse.

Jesse: “What are we diagnosing today?”

Me: “My heat isn’t working. The air starts out warm, then after a little while the system decides it’s time for air-conditioning, so it blows freezing cold air on me, even when it’s set at like 85.”

Jesse jots down some notes.

Me: “Oh, and can you please replace the top brake light on the driver’s side? And can you replace my windshield wipers? I can’t see anything when it rains, especially at night. Oh, and I got a notice about a brake recall in the mail, can you check that out, too?”

Jesse scribbles furiously, asks me the milage, and sends me on my way.

MONDAY, 11:30am

Jesse calls.

Jesse: “I have some bad news.”

Awesome.

Jesse launches into a long story using big words describing what’s wrong with my car.

Just bottom-line it for me, Jesse.


Jesse: “We need to replace your water pump and timing belt. And also reconfigure the heating and cooling system.”

I don’t know much about cars (and by “much”, I mean “nothing”), but that sounds like a lot of work.

Jesse (punching buttons on a calculator): “Looks like it’s going to be 1100 if my math is right.”

Eleven hundred? Dollars? WTF?

Jesse (still crunching numbers): “Oh no wait (heh heh) my math was wrong.” I would certainly hope so. “All told it’s going to be $1230.”

Me: “Seriously?”

Jesse: “It’s a lot of work. It takes a long time. But there’s good news!”

Me: “You’re not going to charge me for my brake light?”

((awkward silence))

Jesse: “Um, no. The good news is, this could have been a lot worse. You brought it in at the right time.”

No, the right time would be when I had $1230. Now is definitely NOT the right time, Jesse.

MONDAY, 3:04pm

Jesse: “We’ve run into a problem with your car. The water pump we put in had a crack in it, so we have to get a new one. We won’t get it today. We have to keep your car overnight and work on it tomorrow. Oh, and we don’t have a loaner for you.”

Awesome.

MONDAY, 5:05pm

On the phone with Mom.

Me: “The heat wasn’t working in my car so I brought it in to be looked at. Turns out it’s going to be like $1200 to fix it.” (Insert compassion from Mom here.)

Mom: “That much? Where did you bring it? Too bad you didn’t know someone cheaper. Well listen to what happened to me. Last night I set the thermostat at 66 degrees, and in the middle of the night I woke up sweating to death. Turns out the thermostat jumped up to 70 degrees by itself. It’s like it has a mind of its own.”

Is she kidding me?

TUESDAY, 2:45pm

Jesse: “Turns out we ran into another problem with your car.”

Me: “Like, you found something else wrong with my car, or you put in another faulty part?”

Jesse: “We put in another faulty part. We’re having another one sent here, it should be here tomorrow. So we’re going to have to keep your car overnight again.”

Where are they getting these parts? The salvage yard?

I’ve wanted a treadmill for YEARS. And I haven’t worked out in, like, MONTHS. I finally get close enough to getting one (I was standing on it in the store! Albeit, I was wearing stiletto-heeled boots, but I WAS standing on it) and it's not going to happen.

So basically, it’s my car’s fault that I’m once again putting off exercising.


Oh well. Maybe next year.


PS:

Pilates Update For Week 3

Number of minutes I was late to class due to traffic: 15

Class attendance: 6

Number of farts emitted from the old geezer in the back during the single leg stretch: 1

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monday's Conversation With Mom

So Monday was class number two of pilates.

Class attendance: 6

We actually did pilates – lots of breathing and stretching and silly poses. When I left the class my muscles were a little sore, and I felt totally relaxed.

Then I called my mother.

As soon as she answered the phone, all of the tranquility drained from my body.

(To fully understand my anxiety, we have to jump in my time machine and travel back to Friday night.)

Friday night:

In an effort to spend some QT with my parents (read: score a free meal) I joined them for dinner.

On my way to their house I stopped at Homegoods. Upon telling my mother I was going, she asked me to look for something to hang in her newly painted bathroom.

Mom: “You remember the picture I had hanging in the bathroom?”

Me: “Not really.”

Mom: “Yes you do. The one with the little girl?”

Me: “No, Mom, I don’t remember it. I don’t even remember what’s hanging in my bathroom.”

Mom: “Ugh. Well, anyway, I’m not sure if it will go with my new paint. Can you look for something new for me to hang in there?”

Me: “What size? 16x20? 18x24?”

Mom: “Yes, that sounds about right.”

Now, I definitely don’t remember the old picture, and I can barely remember the new bathroom color (some sort of lightish greenish color) but I tell Mom that I’m on the case.

As luck would have it, I find a really nice black and white (with the slightest hint of a green tint) picture that would go perfectly (I think).

I’m so proud of myself that I don’t walk into my parents’ house, I strut in – carrying the bag like a captured prey.

Me: “I found you the perfect picture!” I hold up the bag. I can’t wait to unveil it and see the excitement and sheer gratitude in her eyes.

My mother stares at the bag.

Mom: “It’s too big.”

Excuse me?

Me (in a feeble attempt to hide my utter disappointment): “What do you mean it’s too big? You haven’t even seen it yet. And I asked you what size on the phone.”

Mom: “Oh, well I didn’t actually measure anything.”

I take the picture out of the bag and hold it up to the wall.

Me: “Well?”

Mom (sheer joy): “Oooh! I LOVE it! How much do I owe you?”

(I'm not even going to get into my mother trying to calculate how much the tax was so she could give it to me. I mean, seriously, Mother – the tax?)

This conversation was followed by a VERY rough dinner; my mother was in rare form. She didn’t stop talking for a second, jumping from topic to topic, driving me and my father crazy. I couldn’t get back in my car fast enough at the end of the night.

(Back in the time machine. Fast forward to present day.)

Monday night:

My mother always sounds slightly out of breath when she answers the phone, like she’s either just run a mile or is auditioning for a pornographic B movie.

Me: “Hi Mom.”

Mom: “Oh, hi. Are you in the car?”

Me: “I’m on my way home from pilates.”

Mom: “Oh. I would like to take a class like that. What do you do? Stretching? Is it very aerobic? What muscles do you work? Does it make you tired? Are there a lot of people in the class? I heard you dropped curtains off for your grandmother to shorten. I also heard their door wasn’t locked, and they weren’t even home.”

Yikes. I haven’t spoken to my mother since Friday night dinner because I needed a break. I think I came back too soon.

Mom: “Why don’t they lock their door? They have keys. Your grandmother has a key on this nice lanyard that I got her that she could wear around her neck. I mean, they could come back from Bingo one night to find out that they’ve been robbed. Or worse, someone can be waiting for them in the apartment to assault them.”

Assault them? Who? The guy down the hall in the wheelchair? That nice lady with the oxygen tank? The woman with the walker?

Mom (who hasn’t taken a breath, btw): “What do they think? That they still live in California?”

What???

Me: "What does that have to do with anything?”

Mom: “Well, that was California. It’s different here.”

Yes, here they live on the 4th floor of a secure apartment complex in a small town in which you need a key or to be buzzed in to enter. There, they lived in a condo in an open complex, facing a busy city street, across from a high school and college filled with hoodlums. Yes, MUCH safer on West Coast, Mother. Whatever.

Mom: “They’ll never learn their lesson. You know what needs to happen? They either need to be robbed or be assaulted in their own apartment. THEN maybe they’ll start locking their door.”

Is my mother really wishing larceny or a violent attack upon my grandparents? Really? I mean, really?

Mom: “So, did you call for a reason?”

Yes.
To be reminded that I take after my father.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hive Ya Been?

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp weather, breaking out my cashmere sweaters and how the pretty leaves make my traffic-filled commute a little easier on the eyes.

But most of all, I love apple picking. There's something about picking the apples right off the trees, shining them up on your shirt and taking a big, crunchy bite.


I think I started going apple picking after college (my apologies, Mom, if you took me as a young child and I don’t remember). My roommates and I would go every year and pick out our pumpkins, take hay rides and gorge ourselves on cider donuts (um, there is NOTHING more delicious that a warm cider donut at an apple orchard. You can’t get more New England than that).

We’d return with bags and bags of apples and I’d make pies and apple crisp, but mostly the bags would sit on the kitchen floor until we all went home for Thanksgiving, then we’d throw them out.


One Fall – about six or seven years ago – I broke out in crazy hives. They were on my face, my arms and my back. They soon developed into huge welts (maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was scratching them like crazy. Hey, they were itchy. Don’t judge me.).

My super-smart biology-major roommate said to me, “I think you’re having an allergic reaction to something." Gee, ya think? "You should see an allergist before it gets any worse.” (Who says twenty-somethings are completely clueless and can’t fend for themselves?)

So two days later I’m sitting in the doctor’s office explaining my symptoms. He’s on the younger side, and completely bored with me.

“Well, I have these hives,” and I show him my back. Of course the hives have settled down, probably due to the overdose of Benadryl. “And my throat and the insides of ears are itchy.”

The doctor stares at me. I stare back. Hey, I’m paying you, buddy. Fix me.

He clears his throat. “Have you eaten anything out of the ordinary in the last few days?”

“Well, there was that live bat's head, but that was Sunday, and it’s definitely out of my system,” I give him the ‘if you know what I mean’ look.

((Blank stare from the medical professional))

“Oh, and I went apple picking, so I guess I ate lots of apples.”

Dr. Boredom perks up. “Apples, you say? Itchy ears and throat? I’ll be right back.” He zooms out of the room. I hope he was this excited on his honeymoon.

He comes back with another doctor. He nods eagerly at me. “Tell him what you just told me. Go ahead!”

“Um, well...I ate lots of apples...and, uh...and my ears are, like, sort of itchy....” Yes, I DID go to college. And yes, I was a communications major, I swear.

Dr. Boredom raises his eyebrows at his colleague. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I’m thinking someone better tell me what the f is wrong with me.

“You have Oral Allergy Syndrome!” they exclaim in unison.

Great. Basically I have a weird allergy that sounds like an X-rated movie.

Oral Allergy Syndrome – or OAS, as the people with MD after their names call it – is a reaction between proteins in fresh fruits and pollens. Basically, I have an allergy to birch (like the tree) or ragweed, and it acts up when I eat certain things.

So, here’s what gives me hives and itchy inner ears: almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peach, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, walnuts.

The funny thing is, those foods only cause a reaction when eaten raw. I can eat them cooked (something happens with the heat that breaks down the enzymes or something), so I don’t have to give up pear tarts or French fries (diet staples, obviously).

I’m a bit of a risk-taker, so there are those times when I’ll throw hives and caution to the wind, and give in to my craving for a granny smith apple. Of course I only do this at home, because my lip hives make me look like a monster.

So, apple picking has fallen to the bottom of my list of all the things I love about Fall. And I miss biting into fresh summer peaches, and popping ripe bing cherries into my mouth. But is it really a bad thing to have to pass up a piece of fresh fruit for a slice of apple pie a la mode?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Respecting My Elders (not really)

The other day someone asked me my age and I had to stop and think. For a minute, I thought I was going to be 33 on my next birthday (which is on tax day, I am not above accepting gifts from strangers). After some quick math, I realized that I’m already 33. On the brink of 34. On the brink of 40. On the brink of…okay, I’ll stop.

I mean, I know that I’m going to GET older. But I don’t want to BE old.

When you’re old, you do strange things, develop weird habits, mutter odd phrases.

I am fortunate enough to have three of my four grandparents alive and living within five miles of me. Because of this, I have a first-hand look into the octogenarian lifestyle. And frankly, it scares the shit out of me.

Judging from the apartments and people I’ve seen in their “active adult community”, here are the things that seem to be elderly must-haves:

The Pill Organizer. I believe you get this in your AARP Welcome Basket. It’s the size of a TV remote control (huge old-lady handbag required for transporting it NOT INCLUDED). Don’t EVER mess with the P.O. Don’t question why Wednesday has three more pills than Thursday, or why there are no pills and just M&M’S on Sunday.

9 Boxes Of Lightbulbs. Or 15 boxes of aluminum foil, 3 containers of oregano or 11 umbrellas. Enough of each to get you through three more lifetimes.

1970’s Sofa That Looks Brand New. Bonus points if it has plastic on it. Extra credit if it’s gold or avocado green.

Housecoat. It’s sleeveless, snaps up the front, has a nice floral pattern. It’s worn to clean the house, get ready for bed or after a bath. Chances are, there are 17 more just like it in the closet.

Tissues. And you store them up your sleeve. Or in the pocket of your housecoat.

Father Time – if you're reading this – please stop the clock. I look awful in a housecoat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Exercise Matters

I’ve been lying to myself for weeks, even months.

Every day I wake up and tell myself that I’m going to start exercising again. And every day I ignore myself. If I were me, I’d be so mad at myself for being rude to me, that I’d just stop talking to myself.

So in a feeble attempt to do something, I signed up for a pilates class through the continuing education program at my old high school.

In case you’ve never taken a continuing education class at my old high school, here’s what it’s like: retirees and older housewives who are bored, with teachers who (sort of) wish they were somewhere else.

Expectations and my motivation were both very low.

I’ve never taken pilates, but have heard so much about it, I felt really behind the times for just now taking my first class. I was skeptical of the pilates phenomenon – laying (lying? I never can keep those straight) on a mat was going to help me get in shape and maybe lose some weight? Hey, it worked for Jennifer Aniston, right? And Madonna. And tons of other skinny celebrities.

So I leave early from work to make it to a 5:45 class. I give myself extra time because I’m really excited to see the inside of the new high school. It was just built a few years ago, and like a million times better than the one I went to. It is massive; the cafeteria has cool booths and funky tables, and the gymnasium is twice the size than the one in which I used to celebrate homecoming.

Now that I think about it, I could’ve just walked around the hallways for the duration of the class and probably would have gotten more exercise.

The teacher arrives and she looks very familiar. She thinks the same thing about me.

“Where do I know you from?” she asks.

“Hmm…let me think. A gym, maybe?” I know exactly where I know her from, but I play hard to get so I don’t seem like an eager student.

“I taught at a lot of gyms…how long ago?” She asks.

She’s better at the hard-to-get game than I am.

“Elite gym. About 10 years ago.” When I was working out like crazy, trying to get over my exboyfriend and get in shape for my high school reunion.

She smiles at me and introduces herself as Melissa (of course I totally remember her name).

I’m a big in-the-front-of-the-room type of girl, so I lay my mat close to hers and wait for the rest of the class to show up.

We start when there are 9 of us sitting cross-legged on our mats. Melissa launches into the history of pilates and how it changed her life while I size-up the room. I’m tied for first for the youngest person there (the girl in the back could be younger…hard to tell since she’s not wearing any makeup). The two women behind me are probably in their late 40s early 50s and have been friends for a while. There are two girls a little older than I am, talking about their young children (“Well, he still likes his binky, so how can I say no? I mean, he’s only five.”). There’s one random woman who – like myself – came solo to the class (mental note to watch out for her, she might try and latch onto me). And the ladies over by the windows who probably got a senior citizen discount.

After about 20 minutes of learning the story of Joseph Pilates, Melissa teaches us how to breathe. After our first exercise I hear one of the geezers moan.

“I can’t get up!” she whispers to her friend (btw, a senior citizen whisper is much like a drunk whisper – rather loud).

“Are you alright?” her friend asks. By now everyone is sitting up and staring at this poor woman. Melissa asks if she's okay.

“I don’t know if I can take this class,” the woman responds. “I have vertigo.” Who knew I was in class with Kim Novak?

And then there were 8.

After what seemed like three hours, we wrapped up class. I think we did about five and a half exercises. Not only did I not break a sweat, I almost fell asleep while we were in child’s position.

So much for a workout. But it did get me out of the house and into my yoga pants; and I think I pulled a muscle getting into the car on the way home, so I even have a sore hamstring to show for it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MISSING: My Metabolism

My “fat jeans” are now just “jeans”. They fit. Comfortably.

So, if you find my metabolism, can you please return it to me? I haven’t had it for a few years, and I’m really starting to miss it.

I’m not quite sure exactly what it looks like, but it’s VERY talented.

Here’s what it knows how to do:
  • Allows me to eat fast food for lunch and have a flat stomach by dinner
  • Keeps up its half of the bargain when I skip workouts
  • Laughs in the face of midnight Macaroni & Cheese
  • Concedes to pasta three times a week, extra mayo on sandwiches and nightly dessert
  • Ensures my “fat jeans” stay just that
If you happen to come across it, please let me know.

I mean, who wants a closet filled with just “jeans”?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Tribute To The King

No, not THE King.

The Falafel King. One of my favorite lunch places in Boston.

The owner was this crazy Middle Eastern Man who winked at the women and yelled at the men (think Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi). If you smiled at him he’d give you a falafel dipped in hummus to munch on while you waited in line. The place shared building space with a convenience store, so you could get a scratch tickets with your chicken shawarma.

I am forever trying to replace all of my beloved lunch places now that I’ve left the city for the boring burbs. So today I took a drive and found this little falafel place up the road. It was pretty good. The King would have been proud.

So now I’m on a mission to find delicious replacements for:

• Big Al’s Chicken Salad Sub – big chunks of chicken, tangy mayo and, OMG, that bread was amazing!

• Archie’s Lowfat Turkey Salad – this was only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and was in such high demand that people would place their lunch order for it when they got their morning coffee (because Archie’s more than likely would run out by noon).

• Wong’s Spicy String Beans – where DID they find those gorgeous green string beans in the middle of the winter?

But with today’s great find I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Or maybe that’s just indigestion.

It's Not You, It's Me

Celebrities are constantly breaking up. I don't know how these Hollywood-types do it; one minute they're in love, the next they're canoodling with someone new at a booth at the hottest club. Don't they feel any kind of remorse?

Me, I could never break up with people.

Seriously, I’m amazed that I’m not still dating my junior high boyfriend.

My first boyfriend was Rob and we were in the sixth grade. Our first “date” was with a group of people at the movie theater. We sat next to each other and held hands. The first time we kissed (with tongue!) I was so nervous we just stood forever under a pine tree in the snow just staring at each other. (I’m not quite sure why I was such a loser back then. What the hell was I afraid of?)

Two days after the pine trees, Rob told me it was over. Eight years after the pine trees, Rob told everyone he was gay. For me, it was a big relief. In the back of my head I always wondered if he dumped me because I sucked at French-kissing.

Next was Mike. He was younger and we dated for over a year. I actually tried to break up with him, but it didn’t stick. The next night we got back together at the school mixer. We avoided each other all night (I was very mature even back then, obviously) then ended up slow dancing 8th-Grade-style to “Crazy For You” by Madonna in the very dark cafeteria. Our conversation went something like this:

Mike: “I miss you.”
Me: “Um, yeah...”
Mike: “Let’s get back together.”
Me: “Um, well...”
Mike: “Great!”

We dated a few more months until I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke Mike’s heart one afternoon when he was walking me home from school. It was awful. I swore I’d never break up with anyone again.

Twelve years later I found myself in a different city (Boston) and in the same dreadful position with Brian (whose claim to fame was sharing a hometown with the New Kids On The Block).

I dated Brian for seven months or so – about five months longer than I had intended to.

Brian was very nice, which made it very difficult to break up with him. He hung out with a group of about 20 friends whom he’d known since he was in diapers. He drove a 10-year-old light blue rusted station wagon affectionately named (by him) “The Shaggin’ Wagon” – I kid you not. Even I couldn’t make that car look good.

My breaking point came the night before his nephew’s baptism. If I didn’t break up with Brian tonight, I would never do it; I might as well just have the priest marry us after the christening.

My roommate got me ready for Operation Break-Up: “Do you want to ride around in the Shaggin’ Wagon for the rest of your life?”

Easy one. “No.”

“You said he’s an awful kisser. Do you want those lips on you for the rest of your life?”

Yuck. “Nope.”

And then the clincher. “Do you want to move to crappy Dorchester and hang out every night at the local tavern with his townie friends?”

Absolutely not. “Negative.”

And thus, after guiltily paying for Bri-Bri’s Broken Heart Dinner, the Break-up Dance Of Joy was born.
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