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.
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