When Lean on Me (upbeat Club Nouveau cover) comes on the car radio, unconsciously dredge from the depths of your 80's mind vault a long-suppressed dance move (only rivaled in popularity and sheer idiocy by the Robot) and bust out ss-ss-ssnaking... snaking around.
And when I catch sight of you in my peripheral vision enthusiastically doing the Snake and turn to watch you for a moment in wide-eyed wonderment before finally blurting out, "Ohmygawsh! Are you... Snaking?!", just freeze for a moment (mid-Snake), then smile sheepishly at me and reply, "Well, yes. Yes, I guess I am."
Of course, it goes without saying that at this point all semblance of coolness will flee the car as momma, dad, and kiddos commence to bust the funky music and break it down Snake-style.
(Note to TGIM: Hey! I didn't forget, I just thought it was still WEDNESDAY, I swear!)
That after thirteen years and three children, you still gawk like a horny teenager and whistle appreciatively as I strut my stuff around the bedroom en deshabille.
That you have almost learned that I am SUCH a poor sport and absolutely cannot stand to be the butt of practical jokes: like the time soon after we were married when you thought it would be oh-so-hilarious to pour ice water on me while I was in the shower, then jump in with me pointing and jeering, "Woo-hoo-hoo! Ha, ha, HA!" (I still feel just awful about the handprint welt I made when I slapped you in the chest... no, really); or the time you played that dandelion trick on me and I yelled and punched you so hard in the chest your little sister thought we would be getting a divorce before the week was over (I still maintain shoving a dandelion in my mouth is not in any way amusing); or that New Year's Eve when we were playing Monopoly with your brothers and you freaking bankrupted me within the first ten minutes, causing me to burst into tears, throw my game piece at you, and stomp out of the room in a huff (okay, in my defense? I was EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT with our first child and WAAAY hormonal). Consequently you have been forced to direct all your prankish ways toward the children, who, incidentally, will totally be needing therapy when they grow up.
That you give me almost exclusive control of the remote control. Of course, this is mostly just to avoid hearing me whine and kvetch, but still! And you don't even complain TOO much about my compulsive need to adjust the volume, my incessant commentating, and a sad tendency to rewind. Um, a LOT.
That even though you claim never to meddle in anyone's bidness (because RUDE, right?), every time you get on the phone with one of your six brothers, the words, "What you oughta do..." pop out of your mouth, accompanied by a lengthy discourse on just what YOU would do if you were in his situation. Time and again, as you well know. Of course, this is pandemic in your family-- that's why your sister-in-law Amy calls all y'all The What You Oughta Tribe-- so it is more endearing than annoying, due to the whole genetic aspect. But still? Kind of annoying. But mostly endearing!
That you totally support my American Idol obsession, even going so far as to attend the American Idols LIVE concert at the MCI Center in DC on my birthday. Even though I was totally decked out in my Constantine t-shirt. Even though when Constantine burst onto the stage belting out Hard to Handle I was all, "Oh, yes you ARE hard to handle, you hawt little Secret Greek Idol Luvah, you! Rawr!" Even though I kept making a break for it down the aisle trying to capture on video his Bohemian Rhapsody. Even though the stupid, hatin' security guard repeatedly chased me back to my seat yelling, "Stop running in the aisles! It's against fire code! Hey! Get down off that chair! It's a safety hazard! Blah blah blah!" to which I cried out, "BUT I'M SHORT!" Even when Carrie came out singing Inside Your Heaven and all the Idols came back out and joined in at the second verse, and I teared up as I swayed and waved my glowstick. You just smiled understandingly at me and said evenly, "I will stand, but I am NOT waving the glowstick."
That you still willingly attend movies with me despite the sad fact that I am a unrepentant Movie Talker and there is just no reforming me.
That, although you are freakishly strong (right Kalki?), ruggedly sexy, and would rather drive a nail through your thumb with a nailgun (remember when you actually did that?! OUCH.) than have to hit the mall and shop the sale with me, you totally recognize there is no shame in getting in touch with your feminine side and will unabashedly enjoy watching arguably "girly" shows such as Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars with me, as well as old reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And although we used to squabble over the Oil of Olay face lotion (until I finally bought you your own bottle, you big baby) and you often sneak my "special" (read: "pricey") Aeto Bamboo & Wild Mango Fortifying Hair Mask, I can honestly say I would not want you any other way.
That even though we found ourselves engaged after knowing each other only six weeks, and we almost gave my mother a heart attack when we insisted on being married a mere six weeks after that, I could not have picked a more perfect husband. Luckily! Because good LORD, man! How crazy was THAT?!
That you are an extraordinarily loving and involved father to three of the most precious people in my life. They (and I) are lucky to have you.
I love you, TGIM.
Happy 13th anniversary.
I have recently decided that when people ask me "How are you?" the best reply would be "I'm doing swimmingly, thank you!" Because I really enjoy saying "swimmingly." Also, I think it sounds posh. Bonus.
Last night the kiddos discovered a recipe for Alphabet Pretzels in ZOOM! magazine, and in a burst of domesticity not to be rivaled by even Martha Stewart her very self, set to work intent on making the best damn "MOM" pretzel EVAH! Unfortunately they chose to disregard the very first-- and arguably most crucial-- instruction: "Check with a grown-up before you start this." You know, due to the yeast? And the 350 degree oven? And the questionably clean hands? Oh, and the 10 bazillion cups of flour I might have been saving for, I don't know, baking perhaps in the near future but now must settle for discovering in these nasty, unusable clumps in every nook and cranny of my kitchen? And the honey! Dear God, the HONEY! That being said, how could I refuse to eat the fruits of my children's labors, even if the first M looked more like a sort of squiggly mountain and the O was decidedly lacking in salt due to a production glitch? It can't be done. Shiz went down rough, I tell you what, but my kiddos smiles were worth it.
I am so in love with Patrick Park's song Something Pretty. It's pop-folksy and melodically poignant and utterly honest and excruciatingly sad, but even with lyrics such as "I'm the open sign that's always busted/I'm the friend you need, but can't be trusted," the song is not lost to defeatism. Dude draws you in and you feel that somehow he-- or we, or they-- will somehow rise above it all, overcome. It's beautiful... I don't know. Maybe it's just the freaking wicked, old-timey blues sound. Honestly. What's not to love about a musician with a bluegrass banjo picking it old school?
When one has spent the past four days roaming the house in slippers and pajama pants wondering if showering is truly necessary since no one is around anyway and even though the fridge is full of nothing but three-day-old pumpkin and apple pie, plus a bit of left-over roasted butternut squash and carrots, and even though the milk is almost gone there is really no need to hit the grocery stores just yet as there are still plenty of packets of instant oatmeal and they come in assorted flavors and everything and the juice boxes are still holding up pretty well and no one really needs whipped cream on the pie anyway, my question is this: is it time to stage an intervention? Um, just wondering.
Yo, yo, yo, dawgs! American Idol 5! It's coming! It's COMING! My wee Ryan! The Dawg Pound! Tantastic Paula! Simon the Man-Breasted! All I have to say is you better lose yourself in the music, the moment... this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo? Snap back to reality, ooh, there goes gravity... Woo!... Okay, fine, maybe Eminem said that, but still. You know? AI5! It's friggin' coming!
When your younger sister and I have to run to Target to find the perfect birthday present for her little friend's Almost Sleepover Birthday Party (a present which Birthday Girl's mother dictated MUST be a Bratz Doll but not any of the Bratz Rock Angelz series because Birthday Girl already has all of those, and probably not any of the Bratz Midnight Dance dolls, and no Mini Bratz--chintzy!-- oh, and definitely not any of those Bratz Babyz because they are creepy-- have you seen them?!-- and they give Birthday Girl nightmares. And absolutely NO boy Bratz. But any other Bratz doll should be fine.) and you are left to your own devices, and I begin to feel a bit guilty for leaving you behind, especially around lunchtime, and I call to ask if you want me to bring you something to eat, just go ahead and cheerfully inform me that I don't need to bring you a thing as you have already made yourself a super good lunch: Doritos, vanilla ice cream, and hot chocolate.
Further, as you have officially named December 27th "Marshmallow Day" and have licked and sticked to your face all the mini marshmallows left in the pantry before dancing wildly around the house to the music from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (which, incidentally, can still be heard blaring in the background), I may want to pick up another bag on the way home.
Merry Christmas, all! I mean, Season's Greetings! We hope you are all happy and well, and that you have been good little boys and girls so Santa Claus, er, I mean Saint-- no, that's not it... Wait, how can I even think of endorsing a man as Eurocentric, closed-minded, and disapproving as Santa Claus, a man completely obsessed with rigid value judgments like 'naughty' and 'nice'? I mean, who is he to say?! Huh?! JUST WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?! GOSH!
Sooooo, moving on... in honor of the season, how about a few Christmas Carols, oops, I mean Holiday Ballads of Strictly Secular Joy? Those are always fun this time of year! Oh! Here's one we all know and love! I'll start. Feel free to sing along if you know the words:
I'm dreaming of a multicultural non-denominational winter solstice,
Just like the ones I used to know...
Pardon? You don't know that one? Oh. Well, surely you know this one!:
Frosty the Snowperson! Despite the effects of global warming was a jolly, self-actualizing, soul...
What? Come on, you know, with the catchy "Thumpity thump, thump" chorus? No? Huh.
Um, Rudolph the Differently-abled Reindeer-American? No!... seriously?!
You know, all this politically-correct holiday hoopla has me a little stressed out, I don't mind admitting. Add that stress to the expense of family pictures, Christmas cards, postage for Christmas cards, shipping and handling charges, gratuitous lighting displays and assorted festive paraphernalia, Black Friday impulse buys, presents for kids, spouse, parents, grandparents, co-workers, bosses, teachers, and party hostesses, not to mention the last-minute gifts I had to buy-- full-price! In crowded malls!-- to reciprocate gifts from People With Whom I Did Not Until Recently Know I Was Exchanging Gifts, and boy howdy! I've got myself a panic attack waiting to happen, I tell you what.
Is it New Year's yet?
Aw, I kid. Kidding! I'm a kidder. That's what I do. My family and I are in fact quite full of the holiday spirit and are feeling extraordinarily thankful for the blessings we have received this year. If it takes dancing on the edge of financial ruin with the Spirit of Pagan Commercial Greed to have these warm, tender feelings in our hearts, well, then so be it!
* Six-year-old, Allison, waiting for Hannah to finish with soccer practice (therefore alone for once in the backseat of my car), belting out Emmy Rossum's Angel of Music from Phantom of the Opera over and over and over and OVER while thoroughly engrossed in perfecting her performance by singing into the silvery backside of my iPod (which makes a fab impromptu compact mirror, FYI). Almost in tune and utterly heartfelt, to boot.
* Allison, (while visiting AZ this summer) on a drive with Grandma Sue to the neighboring town of Show Low (which is a good 50 miles away from St. Johns), apparently contracting a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth: After a solid half-hour of talk, talk, talking her way through Barbies, outdoor swimming pools, the scenery, the shapes of clouds, Pioneer Day parades, Pokemon, and what she would be buying with her allowance at Walmart, she announced to everybody in the car (Grandma, Aunt Kim, and her Game-Boy engrossed bro and sis), "I'm tired. Everybody be quiet so I can sleep." She then proceeded to bitterly complain about the noise level in the car for the next ten minutes until they arrived at their destination. Yep. She's a keeper.
* Seven-year-old, Hannah, getting down with her mercenary capitalist self when-- after a season of timidly skirting around the soccer ball but never really coming into contact with it-- she took her Daddy up on his promise of a dollar if she made "just one goal" by immediately penetrating the fray, kicking the ball right out of the cluster of girls, and (with a pack of Blue Dolphins hot on her heels), taking that ball to the net and KICKING IT IN.
* Hannah, creating a dioramic world of red-scarfed, pipe-cleaner reindeer, free-standing pipe-cleaner heart trees, origami snowflakes, and bejeweled Polly Pockets, blending almost indistinguishably against a lovingly painted background in an old cardboard box.
* Nine-year-old, Tanner, wearing his (thankfully!) lightweight airplane pajamas under his clothes all day at school because changing was apparently not an option in his mad rush to beat his sisters to the last two packets of instant oatmeal. Maple-flavored.
* Tanner, that weekend his sisters took a much-needed break from their Phantom of the Opera Love Fest and indulged themselves in a little R & R with Barbie of Swan Lake. To demonstrate his displeasure, Tanner would periodically walk into the living room and make deprecating remarks regarding the movie. Now, the girls were so involved in the world of beautiful princesses and unicorns and enchanted forests that they were not a bit bothered by this. I, however, being less enraptured, grew more and more impressed with my son's dogged perseverance and critical ingenuity. He was brilliant! A veritable geyser of wit and sharp punditry! A genius of epic proportions! An illustrious career in political commentary or the entertainment industry surely awaited him! I was lost in dreams of his greatness!...
Until he walked in, took a quick look at Odette and Lila the Unicorn deep in conversation onscreen, then said in his very best disparaging nine-year-old voice, "Well, that's just stupid. I mean, REAL unicorns can't talk!"
We laughed him out of the room, poor boy. Ah well, a political career ain't all it's cracked up to be.
* Aaron coming home from a day of mountain biking with the guys from work, all covered in dirt, darkening bruises, a wicked looking gash on his shin, and a huge smile on his face. When I was more horrified by his injuries than duly impressed by his obvious prowess on the bike trails, and asked him what the other guys looked like, he informed me that he, unlike the wussies he biked with, didn't believe in mamby-pambying it down the hill. "I left 'em in my dust!" he bragged. "I only crashed twice, and the second time I hit a rock and-- woo!-- flew right over the handlebars! Oh, but don't worry, Cat! I was wearing my helmet and was only out for, like, a minute." Yep. He's so not biking with the boys anymore.
I totally wore my Constantine t-shirt.
Okay, Aaron says that is quite enough of my silliness, thank you very much. Whatever. Way to kill the glee, Aaron. Gosh.
With love and peace,
Cat, Aaron, and family
link | posted by Cat at 2:04 PM
In a startling, unlooked for break with tradition, this little Gift Card O' Happy Happy Joy Joy appeared in Di's annual Christmas card:
Man, oh MAN.
You know what? That? That right there? That's what friends are for.
With my penchant for musical theater (and a strong background in choral singing), is it any wonder that nothing says Christmas to me like flying along the Capital Beltway at five o'clock in the morning at breakneck velocity, joyfully belting out the stirring and majestic Hallelujah! chorus from one of the great musical wonders of the world, Handel's Messiah?
"And he shall reign for ever and eh-eh-VER,
For EVER! and EVER! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Chills. I swear. Handel was totally the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his day, y'all. His Messiah oratorio is, like, 18th-century Jesus Christ Superstar, I'm telling you what.
I must say, For Unto Us a Child is Born brings on the Christmas jollies, as well. It's joyful! And colorful! And SKIPPY. And that part after "And his name shall be call-ed..." when the violins come crashing in and the entire ensemble cries out "WONDERFUL! COUNSELOR! The mighty GOD!..."? Seriously, just... WOW. By merit of this piece's sheer musicality alone, even the most hardened Scroogemeister could begin to think that perhaps Jesus might have something going for him after all, you know? Well, at least while listening to this music, anyway. It's just THAT good.
Of course, when I exit the Beltway and hit the stoplights, I do get a few curious stares from other early-morning commuters. I'm just saying that perhaps my music may be cranked up rather loud. And I might-- just MAYBE, mind you-- on occasion bop my head up and down. And, um... conduct. Exuberantly. Hey! When conducting an ensemble of combined choirs, soloists and orchestra, while simultaneously attempting to nail the contralto and/or soprano part (and occasionally tenor, just for variety, you know?) AND keep one's car from swerving into oncoming traffic, there is no time for restraint! But whatever. Staring is RUDE, yo?
Gosh. I'm FINALLY feeling the season.
Wow! Have you ever had one of those Monday mornings when you are just ON FIRE, like, rushing around your cubicle in a virtual organizational frenzy, cleaning out drawers, filing away old dockets, setting tasks for the day and goals for the week? And when you check your email there are no frantic requests from your boss asking where in the hell that document you were supposed to have to her by Friday ended up, because it sure as shooting was NOT in her Inbox as requested? And you remembered to pack a lunch-- midday snack included!-- so there it sits on your desk all nice and tight, and you glance at it every so often with a relieved smile because you know you will not have to scrounge the snack machine in the lounge for something relatively nutritional to eat? And you remembered socks, a sports bra, and BOTH of your running shoes so you can go jogging during your lunch break with your running partner? And your hair is clean and healthy and totally NOT frizzy and looking stylishly cute, and you are quite frankly rocking a bit of the sexy with the volume and curl and whatnot, even if you do say so yourself? And your pants are clean and ironed and your boots match your watch and your socks match, er... each other? Have you?! Huh?! HAVE YOU?!
What's that like?
While riding the D.C. Metro subway system with one harried momma and one snoozing daddy, on your way to visit the National Christmas Tree in D.C., just go ahead and wreak havoc on the train by running wildly through the car, spinning on the poles, singing Christmas carols at the top of your six-year-old lungs, or by situating your seven- and nine-year-old selves right at the front of the subway car, pressing your faces to the window, and announcing in shrill gaiety to no one in particular, "Eight more stops!... Seven more stops!... Six more stops!... Oooooh! Tunnel! Tunnel! TUNNEL!"
And even though I MAY have loudly disclaimed any knowledge of who those "damned maniac children" belonged to, I was laughing on the inside.
This?! Totally happened again.
GOSH! Head above heart! HEAD ABOVE HEART! Just keep that head above the heart and all will be well! Right? RIGHT?! Seriously. How difficult could it be to remember to keep one's head out of the toilet bowl when vomiting?! Huh?! WAY difficult, apparently. Boo.
On the upside, I'm having a super good time concocting elaborate stories of fistfights at Target over the last sale-priced Bratz doll, a close encounter with a slippery wet floor and a doorknob, and even this doozy of a story about a freak falling Christmas tree accident at the mall (my fave!). Who knew bruised-up eyes could be so fun?
Because when life hands you lemons... well, you know the rest.
I'm not usually a Joiner, but for cookies? I'm totally willing to be flexible. Because it is cookies, you know what I'm saying? Oh, I think you do. COOKIES.
Anyhoos, in honor of Susie's Blog Cookie Exchange challenge, I am unveiling my mother's very own top-secret, scrumptiously-tasty, super-special Cuckoo Cookie recipe. (Shhh. Let's just keep this between you and me, shall we?)
Grandma Sue's Cuckoo Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 pkg marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar, then beat in egg. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl, then add to creamed mixture alternately with milk; beat well. Add vanilla and nuts. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Top each cookie with half a marshmallow, pressing gently. Bake 2 minutes more or until marshmallow melts. Cool. Spread with *Cocoa Glaze.
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp hot water
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix together and spread immediately.
Then totally hide those suckers because they move speedy quick if you don't, and it is entirely likely that you will come home from work jonesing for a Cuckoo Cookie, only to be met with a cookie jar full of crumbs. You know why? Because your family members are freaking greedy and inconsiderate Cuckoo Cookie snatchers, that's why!
One should never procrastinate cleaning the attic by sitting down and sorting through old photographs. It can be quite humbling, and frankly, who needs that?! Isn't the first time the cute checkout guy at the grocery store calls you "Ma'am" tragic enough?! Huh?! Well, isn't it?! GOSH!
So, I found some pictures. My 1987 Christmas Dance pictures, to be exact. And aaaw.... look! How ADORABLE. Oh! The matching head tilt! The happy, sincere smiles! Despite the teased, poofy bigness that is my Aqua Netted, Dippity Doo-ed bangs, we are just too cute, right?!
Whatever. My then-boyfriend was uber sarcastic with a dry, wicked sense of humor and I totally loved that about him, don't misunderstand. But the dude absolutely detested formal dances. Like, DESPISED. Hated them a whole lot, basically.
He was sooo not sincere in that picture. That was his "God! This is so totally LAME!" smile, with a dash of "I wonder if she noticed that my Swatch totally matches this sweater?" Because guys? His Swatch totally did match his sweater. I am so serious.
This candid shot is much more "him."
You see? That's his "Thank God the picture thing is over, I am WAY too cool for this" look. Or maybe that was right after he pinned on my corsage and "accidentally" rounded second base? I do look a little flushed... Ah well, who can say? It's all a blur, really.
Truthfully? I have no idea why he asked me to go. Maybe he thought I would put out? I WAS an older woman... No, that could not have been it, as-- if I remember correctly-- not only did he absolutely refuse to wear a suit (even when I asked NICELY), but he abandoned me the minute we arrived at the dance and sat in a corner with his buddies all night while I Rock Lobstered and Mony, Monied with my peeps. We did not even get official dance PICTURES, y'all. I know, right?! The bastard.
But the real tragedy here is not that my date did not spring for pictures at the dance. The real tragedy is not that my Christmas Dance dress was actually two separate pieces: a double-breasted top with ginormous black buttons, and a triple-crinolined poofy bubble skirt that was elasticized so that it bunched and billowed around my bum. Nor is it that the dress had long, puffed sleeves (sans shoulder pads, thankfully), or that the chilly winter air behooved me to employ-- in an ill-advised use of layers-- a black turtleneck for warmth.
It is not the fact that my dress was made of crisp, slick taffeta that rustled and swished with every move, or that I wore dark black tights with my best-friend's borrowed black heels which were a size-and-half too big and kept slipping off when I tried to bust the funky lyrics and Break It Down.
No, the real tragedy-- the honest-to-goodness TRAGEDY here-- is that, y'all? Y'ALL?! God help me, but when I walked out of my house that evening I walked proudly, with the calm self-assurance of a young woman who knew she looked GOOD. Like totally bitchin'. Like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink with a smidge of unfortunate Breakfast Club envy bitchin'. And no one bothered to tell me the hideous truth: I was wearing a dress that was covered in (wait for it...) polka dots.
Polka dots, people! POLKA freaking DOTS! Everywhere! On a semi-FORMAL dress! Dots that make you look FAT! (Not to be confused with PHAT!) Dots that by their very name call to mind old men and women enthusiastically oom-pahing their way across Lawrence Welk's dance floor! Honestly! And the accordions! Holy Mother of Heaven, the ACCORDIONS! What was Jessica McClintock thinking?! Why didn't anyone STOP me?! Because, ew.
If that isn't tragic, I don't know what is.
Yep, so I am a technologically inept idiot and somehow activated something called Comment Moderation, whatever the hell that means...
Wait. I know what it means. It means that I activated a Blogger feature that threw me into a frenzy of compulsive e-mail checking, effectively casting me into the depths of despair every single time I saw that empty inbox, causing me to wonder where the hell everyone was, damn it, and why weren't any of my blogging friends talking to me anymore, and why did everyone suddenly hate me, huh? Why? HUH?! For the LOVE of GOD, WHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYY?!
So, yeah. All is fixed now. Feel free to leave comments.
(ETA: I just found the comments all y'all left, most notably the comments left on the post about my reflections after seeing The Chronicles of Narnia movie, and I am SOOOO glad I am not alone in the LUUUUUV. I was wondering how that was possible... Thanks! Wait. Why are you still here? GO! Like, now! Check out the newly published comments! You guys = FUNNY. And sweet.)
Every year after Thanksgiving the women in my family engage in a cherished, sacred, time-honored tradition which I hope to one day pass down to my daughters: we brave the crowds and Shop the Sale on Black Friday. Oh, ho, ho... yes, we do. But... this year I was over 2000 miles away from my family and I actually worked on Black Friday. Worked! On the best shopping day of the year! Quelle horreur! And at five o'clock in the morning as I passed one of our fabulous malls on my way to work, and I saw the multitude of cars slowly making their way into the massive parking garages, and felt the excitement, and heard on the radio that several hundred diehard shoppers had been lined up in the 20 degree weather outside of Target since before four o'clock (and nearly broke down the door when the store opened at five), well, I missed my momma, and my aunts, and my sisters, and my cousins more than I ever thought possible. Because our family Shop the Sale Extravaganza? Is an art form.
Honestly, this is a serious endeavor and most definitely not for the faint-of-heart. I am so not kidding here. Conflict is a given. There will be grabbing and verbal confrontations and "inadvertent" pushing. And sometimes? Sometimes?! Actual shoving comes into play! Violent shoving! With name-calling and maternal expletives involved! It's not pretty, y'all.
Additionally, this outing can take literally hours, sometimes even days of planning to coordinate. But never let it be said that the women in my family cannot plan. Oh, we can plan with the best of them! We are plan-making fiends! We should get honorary degrees in planning, as a matter of fact, we plan so well! We = Master Planners! I'm just saying.
So, while our significant others lay sprawled out on the living room couches "watching" football games in L-tryptophan-induced turkey comas, we women gather around the dining room table and begin the rigorous process of strategizing our attack on the retail industry in the greater Phoenix area.
Phase 1: The most important task is of course the acquisition of several Thanksgiving Day newspapers which are a veritable gold mine of colorful ads and "One Day ONLY!" sale flyers. It is critical that we come to Thanksgiving dinner armed with a comprehensive list of gift ideas and giftees. If we are really on the ball, we have already itemized and estimated the total projected cost of our purchases which, it is to be hoped, fall well within our budgeted Christmas spending money.
This phase is always a good time to reflect over the material blessings we have enjoyed this year as we balance our checkbooks. Flinging the checkbook across the room? Sporadic crying? Stomping and raging against The Man and the Spirit of Pagan Commercial Greed ? Totally allowed.
Phase 2: We pore over the piles of store ads and sort them into categories: toys, electronics, home decor, jewelry, tools, and miscellaneous. This is where the multiple issues of the newspaper come into play. No more haggling with Mom over the last Kohl's coupon promising "25% OFF all merchandise!" (except on jewelry, appliances, scarves and earmuffs, children's games, clearance items, select clothing, and anything in the Home Center). Coupons for all!
Then we map out an itinerary of stores we want to hit, and in what order we shall proceed. A good Divide and Conquer strategy is key. Sticking together is many a Black Friday shopper's downfall. Hello?! This is not about togetherness! How can you snag four Barbies and a half-priced Magna Doodle in the toy aisle if you are stuck in the jewelry department scrounging for the last two silver lockets?! Huh?! Answer me that! I mean, honestly. These gifts aren't going to get themselves, you know what I'm saying?
I should note that, as this planning phase can last hours, a ready supply of desserts and beverages is a must.
Phase 3: We sit around eating, and drinking, and laughing, and talking about how we are TOTALLY going to hit the sack early because we don't want to be exhausted tomorrow as we have to get up before the crack of dawn, and then we eat more dessert and drink more soda and laugh even more loudly and talk a whole bunch more until we realize it is midnight, at which time we commence running around the house frantically setting three alarms and synchronizing our watches so we can be sure to wake up, stumble out of bed, and meet at Grandma's house at precisely four o'clock. In the a.m. When it is still dark and sometimes downright chilly outside and most people are still sleeping. Um, because we are insane, apparently? (Grandma, however, has outgrown the madness and simply sends a list with my mom. Then she goes back to bed. I know, right? GOSH! Deserter.)
Phase 4: Woo! Now here is where the real fun begins! Armed with coupons, lists, credit cards, and Dunkin' Donuts hot chocolate, we head over to the first store on our list. If the line is more than four blocks long, or winds tighter than the line at Disneyland's Space Mountain on New Year's Eve, we have the prerogative to scratch that store and sprint over to the next store on the list.
Please note: We usually place the stores with the best free door gifts at the top of the list, as we can walk in, grab our free gift, and rush off to the next store, grab THAT free gift, and so on and so forth until we have exhausted all the free-gift-giving stores on our list. Over the years, this strategy has garnered for me a Bobble-Head Frosty the Snowman, assorted stuffed animals, several MatchBox race cars, and one slightly cracked Mickey Mouse snowglobe ornament. All free. Given away right there at the door. Gifts for free. Which I could freely take and own for free. Gifts for which I paid no money. Free gifts. Say it with me now, people: SCORE! (Wait. Why did y'all yell "FREE!"? Weird.)
Then, after racing to the parking lot and dropping our free gifts at the car, we rush back to the stores and proceed with our shopping. Some stores have time limits on their sales, so we sally forth first to those whose sales end earliest. Over the years I have perfected my look of Oops, Did I Accidentally Push You Out Of The Way To Grab The Very Last Bratz Doll (or what have you) Because Some Idiot Totally Shoved Me From Behind?, which is-- if I do say so myself-- convincing and highly effective. Especially when my mom actually DOES give me a good hard shove from behind while hissing, "Get it! Get it! There's only one more DVD player left! GET! IT!" and I'm all, "Mom! Stop pushing me! GOSH!" Luckily my youthful demeanor and deceptively innocent babyface deter grown women from bitch-slapping me when I slip under their arms and loot the clearance bins. Who is going to risk punching a cute little teenager, right? Eh? Eh?! HA! Suckers!
And because I am small and scrappy, my mom and the aunts have perfected their trademark Shopping Lineman Blocking Stance, leaving me wide open to make the mad dash down the aisle to grab five of the $20 down throw comforters (marked down from $45!) and sprint away before anyone can tackle me. And let me just say, when my momma and her sisters are blocking your path, you better think twice before trying to Red Rover your way through, I tell you what.
I remember one year when we were after the popcorn tins (only $11.99!), things got a little tricky, but with a little ingenuity and loads of determination I was able to balance four of those suckers in two hands and stagger triumphantly to the checkout register. And I won't even tell you how I managed to make it out of the frenzied, cutthroat crowd with six $20 CD players on my person. Good times, those. Good times.
Phase 5: We are usually ready to call it a day at around six or seven o'clock in the evening, so we head home where we corner and subject our husbands to an exhaustive cataloging of the many bargains we purchased while they pretend to be interested. Then-- of course-- we eat, and we drink, and we laugh, and we talk about the scandalous amounts of money we saved and our near-brushes with assault and battery, as well as commend each other on our overall shopping savvy.
Thing is, since I missed the annual Shop the Sale Extravaganza, my holiday season feels empty now. The magic of the season? Totally eluding me. I just sit all alone at my computer buying presents online, all anonymous and impersonal-like. Where's the fun in that, huh?! Where's the excitement? The deals? The drama?! WHERE ARE THE FREAKING FREE GIFTS?!
You know what? Internet shopping has killed the glee, y'all. Killed it DEAD.
I even went to Target last Saturday at peak shopping hours and jostled a few people in the toy aisle, but it was just not the same. Not the same at ALL.
That being said, I am SO going home for Thanksgiving next year. I mean it. I have already saved a third of the money we need for plane tickets, and have almost completed a comprehensive cost analysis studying the pros and cons of checking extremely heavy present-laden suitcases for the flight home versus simply shipping presents back to my house via UPS. It's a toss up at this point.
Nevertheless, next year? I will be Shopping the Sale on Black Friday with my momma, et al. Oh, ho, ho... yes I will. And my Christmas spirit will be restored and we shall call our labors good and all will be right with the world.
Di! DI!! Where are you, woman?! WHEEEEEEEEEERRRRRE?! E-mail me ASAP, mm'kay?
And now, back to your regularly scheduled Blog O' Ramma Lamma Bing Bang...
Last night I introduced my children to an old, dear friend. A friend who was with me on so many cozy winter afternoons when I sat curled up in front of the old wood-burning stove at my parents' house; so many sleepless nights when I lay with covers pulled tightly around me worrying or fighting nightmares; so many early mornings as I sat in my dad's old truck outside of the YMCA, waiting for him to finish lifting weights so he would drive me to gymnastics. A friend who even stuck right beside me through the horror of the stomach flu and the ickiness that is strep throat. Yes, an old, but infinitely dear friend.
So we all sat together, stuffing our faces with popcorn and soda, laughing at the timeless jokes we shared and crying over long-forgotten heartaches. I sat back and watched in awe as my friend lit up the room around me, bringing joy and wonder not just to me, but my children as well. I had never seen my friend like this before-- so vivid, so colorful, so heartachingly real; truthfully, it was so much more fantastical than I had ever hoped or even expected that it was a bit overwhelming at first. I could see by their upturned faces, and their wide, shining eyes, and their unnatural stillness as they soaked in every last word that my children seemed to love my old, dear friend almost as much as I. They were riveted.
As the minutes crept into hours, the happiness in my heart grew to an intensity so great that it seemed as if a feather-soft blanket were wrapping itself tightly around me, lovely and warm, making it difficult for me to move or to breathe; but when Allison tugged on my arm, asking me to pass the lemonade and popcorn, the magical spell my friend had cast over me cracked a bit and I could breathe again. Just barely. My heart was full.
Okay, so maybe it is strange that I love a book so much that I am moved to tears when I see it so faithfully, lovingly, and powerfully translated to the big screen, but "The Chronicles of Narnia" are my oldest, dearest friends, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in particular has held a special, not-so-secret place in my heart for as long as I can remember. I have read my old set of correctly-ordered books (before publishers-- in a stroke of apparent madness-- decided to publish the books chronologically rather than sequentially) so often that they are literally falling apart, but I cannot bear to replace them because all the newer books are just wrong, numbered incorrectly, with no regard for the order of things-- all willy-nilly-like!-- and it bothers me so much that I just keep taping all my old, dear friends back together so my children can read them and love them and appreciate them as much as I do.
So later last night when Hannah made a beeline for the bookshelf, then took off to her room clutching the next book in the series, Prince Caspian, to her chest, and I watched her crawl into bed and eagerly open the book to read, I knew my old, dear friend's magical appeal had already begun to cast a spell over her, over them. I watched her for a moment as she began to read.
My heart was full again.
Oh. Em. GEE.
Okay, this here is why you should NEVER Google random people from your past just for kicks. I mean, the TRAUMA! You see, I used to date one of these guys! God help me, I did!
(DISCLAIMER: In case these guys are in the habit of Googling themselves-- I know, right? vain much?! gosh!-- and happen across this site, I must admit that I DID actually listen to their music samples and they are actually quite funny. Maybe even hilarious. With song titles such as The Wreck of the Bookmobile and It Ain't Home 'Til You Take the Wheels Off and I Wish I Had a Clapper to Your Heart, how could they help but be? They're like Jeff Foxworthy meets, uh, well... Jimmy Buffet or something! Yeah! Just thought I'd share.)
I mean, sure, my old "friend" had kissable lips and some mad crazy musical skillz (and you know girls only want boyfriends who have great skills...), and we did sing in a band together during my all-to-brief college musical career, but dude did have a hairy back. Not that there's anything wrong with that... But honestly? Once I discovered The Hair, it was- quite frankly- the beginning of the end of my infatuation, I tell you what. I can't abide them hairy backs, y'all. Brr... Hairy backs kill the love. Kill it dead. And I'm betting that back of his? Right now? Today? Still totally hairy.
Then there is the whole Um, Gee, He Sure "Filled Out" factor he has going on... Good LORD did he ever! Not that there's anything wrong with that... In fact, he's kinda got that Vince Vaughn thing going on there, you know, like, you can totally see that there could possibly have once been something cute, kinda hawt even, and most definitely charismatic under all that, uh, filled-outedness, but Jennifer Aniston sure ain't dating Vince for his current looks, you know what I'm saying?! Oh, ho, HO! No she's not. Hey, I'm just calling it like I see it. I totally loved Vince in Dodgeball , and he stole the show in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Woo! Fuh-NEE! But Vince? My bruthah? Why you gotta be like that, huh? All letting yourself go and boozing it up and shizz?... Why?!
Hmm... I wonder if Jen makes Vince shave his back? Because he totally strikes me as an incredibly hirsute fellow. Am I wrong? Oooh! Or maybe he's gone laser and does electrolysis?! I bet that is totally it! Not that there's anything... well, you know the rest.
But I digress.
Yep. Trailer Park Troubadours. Freak. TGIM will never let me hear the end of this. NEVAH! Whatev. I am SO not telling all y'all which one of these guys I used to lock lips with because, well, LOOK AT THEM! They are the freaking Trailer Park Troubadours! With pseudonyms like Antsy and Flem! FLEM?! What kind of name is THAT? Oh, wait. I get it. It's trailer park humor, right? Gotcha. I'm totally laughing on the inside. Cut it out! You're killing me! No, seriously. Cut it out.
Well, the good news is, you have a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly. How do ya like THEM odds, huh?!
Oh, well that's just GRRRREAT. Now I'm talking like a Trailer Park Troubadour! The horror!
Google is the devil.
Why one should never discuss shows about plastic surgery in front of young children:
Momma: (attempting to explain "boob job" to 6-year-old Alli) Well, the plastic surgeon slices right under a woman's boob...
Tanner: Oh! Eeeew! Mom!
Momma: (persevering) --and slips this balloon full of saline right in there--
Hannah: What's saline?
T.D.: I'm not listening... la, la, la... I'm not listening...
Momma: (raising voice to be heard over "La, la la!"-ing son) --um, right under her skin, and uh, it makes her, uh, well, heh-heh, you see... it--
TGIM: It makes her boobs look bigger!
Hannah: Well, that's stupid.
TGIM: (stifling a snort of laughter) Sorry... it's a tickle... in my throat...
Momma: (shooting Look of Death TGIM's way) Yes it is, sweetie! Absolutely!
Alli: (*ding!*) Hey! Wait!... Grandma Sue must have had one of those, right, Momma?! Her boobs are HUGE!
I have to give TGIM props for keeping a steady hand on the wheel as he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. As for me, it took nearly 5 minutes for my violent fit of hysterical laugher to abate. The hiccoughs lasted 10.
Um, yeah. No more Nip/Tuck chats while on family car rides, I tell you what!
Oh, and sorry, Mom.
Good GOLLY! How did I miss this movie the first time around? And who is this Cillian Murphy/Scarecrow fellow with the pretty, pretty eyes (RAWR!)? And when did Christian Bale get so BUFF?! Because, um, WOW?! And will Katie Holmes return as Rachel Dawes in the sequel that-- due to the whole Joker thing-- will OBVIOUSLY be coming soon now that she is great with Tom Cruise's progeny and has forsaken all movie roles in her quest for stay-at-home motherhood and Scientological enlightenment?! Huh?! And is "Scientological" even a real word? Is it?! Because if not, it totally should be, right?! And would Tom even let her out of the house ANYWAY?! Without her cellphone and new "best friend"-slash-spiritual guide?! Which would be sad because I totally liked her as Rachel, you know?! She had 'tude! She slapped Batman! TWICE! Okay, before he was Batman, but STILL! Bad-ass! Not Dawson's Creeky AT ALL, right?!
Man, oh man.... Run, Katie! RUN!
Wait. What was I talking about?
Oh, yes. Batman Begins was a freaking good flick, yo?
Yesterday as I was buzzing through the maze of cubicles at work during my morning busywalk, thoroughly engrossed in perfecting my one-handed pen twiddle (excellent conduit for escapism in staff meetings), I was literally stopped in my tracks by the largest, most colorful display of PEZ dispensers I had ever seen.
It was a vision to behold, I tell you what. There they were, looking like the cutest little army of PEZ soldiers, placed carefully into rows reminiscent of the open-field fighting formations of yore. As I stood gawking, awestruck, I had this sudden vision of them marching in time to candy-themed cadence-calls: Over lips, over tongue, watch out tummy here we come! And those cavities go rolling along... Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey! The PEZ's on its way! Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!) For where e'er we go, dentists always know that the cavities go rolling along!
Um, because I'm weird?
Anyhoos, just as Off we go... into the large in-tes-tine! Falling down... into the colon!... was starting up, the owner-- General?-- of the Army of PEZ noticed me standing there in dumbstruck amazement and invited me to come in and see his collection.
I was all, "OKAY!!" and rushed over to take a better look. Oh mah gawsh, y'all. He had everything!: assorted animals, a few dinosaurs, Santa Claus and Rudolph, a gaggle of Muppets, Princess Leah and Hans Solo (standing side by side! aaaaw!), a Storm Trooper, the Peanuts Gang, the Flintstone family, classic Looney Tunes and Hannah-Barbara cartoon characters (even Droopy!) I was admittedly a little bummed when I realized there was not a Johnny Quest dispenser (childhood cartoon crush), but you can't have everything, now can you? Oh! He even had Mr. SpongeBob SquarePants himself! Imagine! It was a FINE collection, indeed.
He proudly told me one of the PEZ dispensers was worth $100, but he refused to tell me which one, which I suppose was a good idea seeing as I may get hard up for Christmas cash and decide to pilfer from his PEZ Army. Heh. I just used "pilfer" in a sentence. Pilfer! (For alliterative purposes I suppose I could have also used either "purloin" or "pinch," but whatev. It's all good.) He did allow me to guess, but I was totally wrong. Hey! I personally would pay $100 for a Wonder Woman PEZ dispenser, that's all I'm saying!
Turns out is was a little carousel horse in the back row (I finally finessed it out of him, mwah ha ha... that $100 iPod Shuffle will be mine yet!). I admired his PEZ Army a bit longer, then turned to go. I wistfully told my new buddy, "I'm a little jealous. I don't collect anything, and I suddenly feel like I'm missing out." And I moped my way back to my sparsely decorated, collection-free little cubicle and felt gloomy. The Army of PEZ killed the glee, y'all. Killed it DEAD.
Then, at home last night, as I helped my daughters clean their room, I noticed a book of mine thrown right smack in the middle of the floor, half-covered by dress-up clothes and a tennis shoe. Not just any book, but a vintage Bobbsey Twins hardcover book, circa 1940. A book that my daughter had to swear on her life and the lives of her unborn future children that she would treat with the utmost care. A book that is part of a larger set of about 40 books, which were my mother's books from her childhood which she passed down to me, books ranging in publication dates from 1910 to the 1960's. Books with history.
"OH. MY. FREAKING. HELL. Who threw my book on the floor like that?! Huh?!" and my daughters were all, "It was Dad! It was Dad! Don't blame us! IT WAS DAAAAAAD!" because they KNOW how I am about my books. And because they are big-time turncoats when it comes to facing my Book Wrath. (Seriously. Don't tell those girls ANYTHING. They will turn on you at the drop of a hat.) "And OH MY LORD, there is The Middle Moffat on the floor, too! Just thrown all willy-nilly! That book was published in 1941 and LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO IT! Hello?! That book is older than Grandma SUE!" (Sorry, Mom.)
I scooped up my books and I hugged them to my chest and ran to the bookcase and gingerly set them in their places next to the other hundreds of books I have dragged with me and TGIM everywhere we have ever lived. Hundreds and hundreds of books that I have had since childhood and would not part with for anything! (Except maybe a million dollars. You know, because that is a hella lot o' money?) I may have lingered for a moment, sniffing the lovely, musty, booky smell, which sounds weird when I say it out loud, so maybe I didn't after all. Then I turned to the girls, furrows in my brow, and said sternly, "HANDS. OFF."
Of course I later relented and let my Mack finish the Bobbsey Twins book because she was concerned about whether or not Flossie and Nan were going to be able to find Snap the cat after he sailed away in that basket connected to a helium balloon, and really, who can blame her? I did hover a bit while she read, but she didn't seem to mind. Too much. When she was done she solemnly handed me the book and I realized I had been holding my breath because I suddenly felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my diaphragm and my lungs were refilling with blessed oxygen.
Huh. Looky there. Seems I collect something after all.
What a sweet way to introduce your sister to your (ex?) luvah, Logan. No, really. That's how to win friends and influence people! You get on with your bad self!
Seriously. Logan gets all the best lines on Veronica Mars.
Aaaaaand once again I was stymied by the following seemingly throwaway comment between Logan's sister Trina (Allyson Hannigan) and his (ex?) luvah Kendall (Charisma Carpenter) until just about two seconds ago:
Trina: Are you, like, sleeping with my little brother?! What is he, thirteen?!
Kendall: Thirteen? He wishes.
...Are you there yet?