White Friday (my un-black Friday)

It’s gotten a little ridiculous, folks.

black friday 1

I mean, don’t you think so?

All of this craziness for stuff?

We really don’t need more stuff.

hoarding

The truth is, we need more time with family, friends, and maybe reusing, re-purposing, and recycling the things we already have.

upcycle 2 upcycle 3 upcycle 4

Ok, so it’s not fair of me to tell you that you should be doing crafts, but I think you can agree that we really don’t need more stuff.

I went shopping on Black Friday about 4 years ago and it was awful.  Admittedly, I didn’t start out at 4 in the morning, but I did get out the door around 9.  I managed to shop at about 5 different stores and bought pretty much, well… nothing.  I think I may have bought a pair of cute fuzzy socks for myself, a shirt for Chris, and some log-cabin-y items for my kitchen.  I think I may have also scored a couple of good deals on wrapping paper and craft supplies.

But, here’s the thing:  I didn’t get home until 9 pm.

And I’m not sure I saved enough money to justify being out all day, eating practically nothing (an Auntie Anne pretzel is really nothing, when you think about it), and not spending some quality couch-time with my husband (something I would give a limb for nowadays).

AND… I still had to go out multiple times over the following weeks to complete my Christmas shopping anyway.

So, I stopped shopping on Black Friday.  And I did it just in time, too.

toysrusopenat5

This is what it’s come to?  People bolting up from their Thanksgiving dinner to rush out to buy more stuff?  Geez.

“Grandma, that was a great meal, but you know what’s greater?  Getting a bunch of new toys for my bratty kid who doesn’t even play with the toys he/she already has!  Thanksloveyoubye!”

And don’t tell me y’all weren’t drinking some wine with that turkey and then decided to DRIVE.

drunk turkey

Anyway, I now spend Black Friday at home.  I call it “White Friday,” because I spend the day cleaning my house.  It doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, but for me, it kind of is.  I’m in my pajamas, I’m eating turkey day leftovers, and my husband is around helping.  We put on Christmas music, get silly, and have a good time.

I think this is a far better choice.

Maybe you shop on Black Friday because perhaps you don’t have family around (or you can’t stand your family).  Or, maybe it has become a “tradition” to shop on Black Friday.  Well, that’s fine, but consider this:  what about the people who work at the stores?  Is it possible that they have families and they don’t want to be working?  Is it possible that they work anyway because we have a crappy economy, they don’t want to lose their job, and because of crazy-Black-Friday-shoppers, they MUST work?

Maybe it’s not about Black Friday, but maybe just how CRAZY things have become… like the stores opening right after Thanksgiving dinner?  And the fact that people are trampling each other, fighting, shooting, stabbing… all for… stuff?  What happened to “peace on earth and good will towards men” and women/children/retail workers?

Here’s the thing:  if no one showed up on Black Friday (or on Thanksgiving Thursday), the stores wouldn’t be open.  It’s consumer supply-and-demand, folks.

If you must shop this weekend, consider doing so on Small Business Saturday.  Go downtown, visit a local small business (no, this does NOT include your “local” Walmart) and support their business.

I’m not here to be the judge and jury of Black Friday shoppers.  Really, it’s none of my business how you spend your Thanksgiving or Black Friday.  But I do ask this:  if you are going to shop on Black Friday, at least be kind to others – especially those working this weekend.

black friday 3

Happy Holidays!

The 5 Emotional States of Pregnancy They Don’t Warn You About.

Pregnancy is roughly 40 weeks of hormonal cocktails that have a woman reeling faster than any alcohol-based cocktails she had prior to being “with child.”  Since I’m currently one of these lucky ladies, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing 5 very common emotional states thus far – emotions that I was never warned about.  Since I’m only in my second trimester, there may be more emotional states to come, but for now, and for your reading pleasure and information, I present to you: The 5 Emotional States of Pregnancy.

Number 1:  Joy-Induced Weepiness.  It strikes without warning:  there you are, minding your business just making a smoothie and “Isn’t She Lovely?” by Stevie Wonder comes on the radio and you burst into tears.  It is the Most. Beautiful. Song. Ever.  (psst… it’s not).  But today, right now, while you’re standing in the middle of your kitchen attempting to make something healthy to eat and you’re out of vegetables so you decide to mix frozen peaches with milk in a blender, Stevie has hit a nerve and by-golly, he’s hit it good.  You start to imagine your husband, teary-eyed and smiling, holding your new daughter* just after she’s born and you’re ready to melt into a lump of goo, right there on the linoleum.  It’s just so joyous!  You start to imagine your parents, first time grandparents, staring lovingly at your new bundle-of-joy, their first grandchild, while Stevie belts it out:  “I can’t believe what God has done; Through us he’s given life to one…” And you think you’d better hit the “frappe” button on the blender to drown out the music, because if not, you may need medical assistance.

Number 2:  Worry-Induced Weepiness.  This emotional state, very much like #1, also strikes without warning.  But, unlike #1, it is most likely to strike at the most convenient time of day:  late night.  Also, unlike #1 it is extraordinarily unpleasant and can usually only be resolved by falling asleep, eating ice cream, or eating ice cream and then falling asleep.  The slightest cramp, the smallest headache, the littlest lightheadedness and suddenly you think, there’s something wrong with me or the baby.  Dear Lord Almighty I need an ambulance!  Since it’s usually late at night when this strikes, the poking-husband-while-he-sleeps-routine ensues:

“Honey…. (poke, poke)… honey?” 

With muffled snorts, husband responds, “What?”

“Um.  There’s this tiny little twingie feeling just above my left hip and I’m a little concerned.” 

“Mmmphhpph….”

“Do you think I should call the doctor/midwife?” 

“Mmmphhpph…”

“Hmm… I don’t know.  I’ve never felt this twingie feeling before.”

“Mmmphhpph…”

“Ok, well, you’re probably right.  It’s probably nothing.” 

“Mmmphhpph…”

“I’ll just go get some ice cream.” 

“Mmmphhpph…”

So, you start to convince yourself that everything will be O.K. and just to make sure, you go get the ice cream.  You feel sad eating ice cream alone in the dark kitchen, so you go to the living room, turn on the TV, and there’s a commercial for Johnson & Johnson baby soap, or something akin to that, and you fall into the weepy world of pregnancy.  You feel helpless and worried and all alone… you sob and worry about the baby and whether or not you’ll be a good mother and what kind of baby soap is best and what is that twingie feeling anyway, dammit?!… and the next thing you know it’s 4 AM and you’re on the couch being awakened by two dachshunds that need to pee.  The twingie pain is gone and you’re too tired to care.  And you also need to pee.

Number 3:  Mama-Bear Obstinacy.  This emotional state hits when someone has dared question your choices or suggest something other than what you have set your mind to do.  If you want to give birth while riding a gazelle and strumming a ukulele – by GOD that’s what you’re going to do!  And, if you are riding that gazelle and strumming the uke through a meadow and you decide to name your child Meadow (whether it’s a girl or boy, by the way), God help the soul that merely hints at suggesting anything otherwise.  Afterall, you’ve done a lot of research and you’ve just about driven yourself to the edge of insanity with information about the best way to give birth, and you are at that point where you know your shit and you are Superwoman.  Roar.

 

Number 4:  Murderous Rage.  You get cut off in traffic, the credit card company is giving you a hard time, the cable guy didn’t show up during the 27-hour time slot, your dogs ate your favorite hand lotion, the semi-adult kid next door had yet another late night party (on a Tuesday!?!), and once again your husband has left dishes in the sink (when CLEARLY the dishwasher is empty) and finally, it is just too much – you are pushed too far and you lunge headfirst into the Murderous Rage state where you want to scream obscenities you haven’t used since college at everyone and flail a mace wildly in public.  Afterall, don’t they KNOW you’re pregnant?!!  There is really no way to cure or ease this emotional state, and it’s best that everyone simply stay out of your effing way until it passes, or until you hear another sappy song about babies and/or love and/or parenthood.

Number 5:  Rainbow-Unicorn-Fairy-Peacefulness.  The rarest and most fleeting of the emotions, this happy-go-lucky state is when you perceive all is right with the world.  There are no weird twingie pains, your husband is being goopy-sweet, a family member has called without pregnancy advice, you just ate a fluffernutter sandwich, the sun is shining just right, the dogs are happily prancing around the deck chasing bumblebees, and all is well with the universe.  You feel peaceful, almost zen, and suddenly want to do yoga.

“I will be a good, no, excellent mother…”

And then, after 5 minutes of bliss, something triggers emotion #1, 2, 3, or 4 and you’re feeling like your regular pregnant self again!

Good times.

 

*We do not yet know the gender of our child, in case you just got really excited for a minute there.  Sorry for inducing your excited state.
Also, thanks so much to Allie over at Hyperbole and a Half for the artwork that most accurately depicts my emotional states. 

The Inappropriateness of Christmas Song Lyrics: Part 1

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty festive when it comes to Christmas.  I start playing Christmas music at 12:01 AM the day after Thanksgiving.  So, naturally, there’s plenty of time to discover the messed up side of those jolly jingles. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am an “equal opportunity music listener,” so don’t go thinking that I don’t play these songs or listen to them.  It’s just that I’ve really been listening to the lyrics this year and I’ve found some interesting stuff out there.  So, I present to you, The Inappropriateness of Christmas Lyrics, Part 1 (because there will be more inappropriateness to come, I’m sure).

For this entry, I’m featuring songs about/inspired by that jolly fat guy in red suit.  No, I’m not talking about your uncle Kip, I’m talking about Santa Claus!

Song:     Here Comes Santa Claus

Artist:    Gene Autry

Lyrics:     He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, he loves you just the same.

Santa does love you either way, you just won’t get any gifts from him if you’re poor.

 

Song:     Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Artist:    Randy Brooks

Lyrics:     The whole song.

Look, Santa’s a busy guy, and he’s got no time to watch out for little old ladies walking home in the snow.  Plus, hadn’t grandma been drinking too much eggnog?  I think SHE’s the one at fault here!  Why isn’t anyone upset about grandma’s death?  Oh, because of all the GIFTS.  And why hasn’t anyone checked Santa for PTSD?  You know: Post Traumatic Sleighing Disaster. 

 

Song:     Santa Baby

Artist:    Joan Javits (a senator’s daughter, natch- most notably performed by Eartha Kitt)

Lyrics:     Think of all the fun I’ve missed, think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed.

Santa, it was really hard choosing between materialism and keeping my pants on, but in the end, sheer greed won!

 

Song:     I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Artist:    Tommie Connor (originally performed by Jimmy Boyd)

Lyrics:     Then I saw mommy tickle Santa Claus, underneath his beard so snowy white…

Kid, you’d better get your ass back upstairs before you see mommy and Santa doing anything else.  That’s either your dad in a Santa suit, or your mom’s getting a little on the side.

 

Song:     Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Artist:    JF Coots and Haven Gillespie (performed by many unfortunate musicians)

Lyrics:     You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why…

Santa’s gonna show up real soon, see, and he’s got this big, black belt, see…  and he’s been watching you, and he’s gonna mess you up real good, kid.  So don’t be a wiseguy…

 

Song:     Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Artist:    Under debate, but performed by many different musicians.

Lyrics:     As for me, my little brain isn’t very bright; Choose for me, old Santa Claus what you think is right.

Santa didn’t care if you’re rich or poor in his “comin’ to town” song, and in this song, he also doesn’t care if you’re a special needs child – you are also welcome to share in his spirit of giving.

 

Song:     Up on the Housetop

Artist:    B.R. Hanby (again, performed by many)

Lyrics:     Here is a hammer and lots of tacks, whistle and a ball and a whip that cracks.

On second thought, maybe it isn’t such a good idea to let Santa decide what to get you.  Clearly Santa has no children of his own – or he’s sadist.

 

Song:     Back Door Santa

Artist:    Clarence Carter

Lyrics:     The whole song.

There is no greater gift during the holidays than that of adulterous sex.  Am I right? 

I don’t know about you, but to me, Santa seems to be a pretty maladjusted dude – not only does he threaten the crap outta you if you’re naughty, he also won’t give you gifts if you’re poor (but he’ll give dangerous gifts to the good kids instead).  He doesn’t think that special ed kids can decide what they want, he inspires grown women to misbehave (or just barely behave for expensive things) and his reindeer killed your grandmom. 

I’m just thinking that Jesus didn’t do any of that stuff.

Drama Llama Friends: a tutorial.

Let’s begin with a few definitions:

drama (n): a situation or sequence of events that is highly emotional, tragic, or turbulent (World English Dictionary)

Shoe shopping with Heather always includes some drama.

llama (n): a domesticated South American cud-chewing mammal, that is used as a beast of burden (World English Dictionary)

Heather uses her llama to carry all of her shoes home.

friend (n): a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty (World English Dictionary)

Heather and I are friends because we both enjoy shopping for shoes.

I will say that there are some people in my life who I would define as a combination of the aforementioned words, as a “drama llama friend” if you will.  A photo example?  Why I don’t mind if I do:

drama llama friend:

 

You see, these friends are lovely people, really – we usually have a good time together and I enjoy spending time with them, but every once in awhile I wonder why.  This usually happens when they will make the claim, either verbally or through some form of media (i.e. texting, email, facebook, twitter) that they are not interested in the “drama” – but then feed right into it.  Nary a week will go by without encountering this type of situation.  Example?  Don’t mind if I do (a text exchange):

Me:  How R U?

Drama Llama Friend:  {sigh} ok.

Me:  What’s up?

Drama Llama Friend:  Did you see what Heather put on FB?

Me:  About the party? Yes.

DLF:  Yes, about the party!  She said it would be a PASTA party!  OMG!!

Me:  So?

DLF:  She KNOWS I am strictly carb-free these days!!!  I swear she only thinks of herself!!!

Me:  Umm… 

DLF:  Ok, well, I don’t want to start any drama – you know, I like to keep things drama free – but I just wish she would’ve thought this through.

Me:  Seriously?  It’s her party.  Not yours.  Bring a salad.

I am always surprised, and eventually fascinated, by the people in my life who claim to be “drama-free” and then behave in exactly the opposite manner.  I am even more surprised and fascinated by the fact that I remain friends with them.*  I suppose there’s no real harm in maintaining my relationship with these folks, except for the loss of time – sweet, irreplaceable, time that I will never have back because of these DLF exchanges.  I suppose the only thing I can do is ask:  if you think it might be you, maybe you oughtta check yourself.

*No actual friends or real events have been referred to in this post, but if you’re thinking I might be referring to you anyway, that’s the first sign that you might be one of my “drama llama friends.” 

 

Sicky-Poo

For me, the common cold is nowhere near “common.”  The moment I feel that slight tingle in the back of my throat, I know that I will be absent from the real world for a good 3 days – at least.  Colds do not come and go for me, or act as a slight annoyance – as they seem to do for other people.  No, when I get sick, it’s all-out-full-body-immune-system-warfare. 

As a kid, I remember seeing friends of mine have a “cold” and they’d be in school.  Sniffling away, lightly coughing or blowing their nose.  They seemed just slightly irritated by this “common” virus.  I’d marvel at their strength, their stamina – their deeply-rooted desire for education.  I was stunned and impressed – clearly they had a love of learning that I didn’t.  Or, they had really cruel parents who wouldn’t keep them home.  It wasn’t until high school that I realized it had nothing to do with their stamina, desire to learn, or dictatorial parents, no – it was me.  I was the weirdo.  Turns out, a “cold” for them was just a few days with a stuffy nose and for me, well – a “cold” bitch slapped my immune system into overdrive rendering me with little more functionality than a doorknob.

I do not know why this is.  I do know, however, that I am currently sick.  As I write this, I have just barely re-joined the living. 

When I feel that tingle in the back of my throat, I immediately stop everything and begin The Routine.  It basically consists of 12 hours of overdosing on echinacea, zinc, lysine, vitamin C and enough tea to drown a racehorse.  It helps.  A little.  Since I developed The Routine back in college, I’ve discovered that it cuts my misery short by a day.  I still have to go through the ringer for the first 24 hours, though.  By day two, I start pairing The Routine with a little alternating NyQuil and DayQuil and that just barely gets me functional enough to eat and shower.  Yesterday morning, in my sheer oblivion to reality, I accidentally mixed up the NyQuil and DayQuil.  So much for, well, Tuesday.    

What really bunches my panties, though, is that I manage to get through an entire school year surrounded by germ-laden children (and coworkers) and I end up getting sick… on July freaking 18th.  It’s hot – very hot – and I’ve got a long list of summer projects that really need my attention, and here I lay – sick.  It’s a punch in the gut. 

But thank God for air-conditioning and for blogs and facebook and so forth, otherwise I’d be completely out of the loop – because this time, this “common” cold has got me uncommonly mute.  I can’t talk!  My throat feels like chargrilled shredded wheat and talking just isn’t an option.  No wonder Chris has been in a good mood…

So, as I clamor my way through day 3 of this mess I wonder, am I alone?  Am I the only person who gets “uncommon” colds?

Realtors, mobsters… all the same, really.

The voicemail message went something like this:

Bitchy Female:  “Yeah, Hi Chris. This is Hannie Toons.*  If you wanna continue to be able to walk around, you’d better take my listing off your website.  I’m really pissed about this.”  Click. 

Chris and I wracked our brains for about fifteen minutes:  who the hell is this?  Is this an agent?  Is this a past client?  A current client?  WTF?   

We googled, we TreNded, we databased… couldn’t find her.  Weren’t actually sure how to spell her name.  And then we Facebooked her phone number.  

Bingo.

She’s an agent in a nearby town:  the old, bitchy, overly-jeweled, heavily-perfumed, loud-mouthed, self-entitled type.  Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  

You KNOW the type...

Tell me this ISN'T what you were just imagining...

So, Chris –in a very professional manner – returned her call and asked her where she saw this listing and what upset her about it.  She said that she saw one of her active listings posted on Chris’ website and she was ticked off because his name and website were coming up on the search engines for it, not hers.  

(We interrupt this blog rant for glorious, beautiful laughing – the kind of laughing that clearly indicates a long-awaited, time-trialed, heavily-invested internet victory – beautiful, lovely, victorious laughing). 

So, Chris tried to explain things to her, in a nutshell:   thanks to the brilliant IDX feed that our super-fantastic real estate brokerage provides us for free, we have a little something on our website called “broker reciprocity.”  This boils down to being able to list ALL the applicable properties from the MLS on ANY agent’s website for the mutual benefit of both agents.  It is perfectly legal, ethically acceptable, and generally favored among agents (who are actually paying attention to technology).  

After explaining this to the other agent, she still wasn’t “satisfied” and said she was going to “look into the issue further.”  Whatevs. 

The thing that gets me agitated though, above and beyond her ignorance and complete lack of professionalism and disconnection from basic real estate technology (and the fact that this shrew actually has clients), is the attitude that she somehow thought it was okay (perhaps even vaguely amusing) to physically threaten my husband on his voicemail. 

At what point in a person’s reasoning – a “professional” person’s reasoning – does this become a viable option?  

I am completely appalled at this woman’s behavior and I actually told Chris that he should be the one to report her to the Real Estate Commission, citing “threats of physical violence and mobster-like behavior.”  

He’s considering it. 

*Name ever-so-slightly-changed.