Birthday fever

One of my oldest and dearest friends gave me a pretty substantial gift card for my birthday in February and this past week….wait for it….I finally spent it! Well, most of it. It was a whack load of a gift card for World Market, yo! I bought myself stuff I never do; Caviar, sparkling white wine, pumpernickel bread (besides the Germans, who buys that stuff?).

The kids ran amuck and kept asking for things like the blow up shark or the metal kazoo but I was determined to just get stuff for me. Then I came home today to find my husband dipping into my stash and I had to pinch him by the ear.

But two nights ago, after taking home my booty from World Market,  Matt and I busted out the color-embellished caviar that was supposed to look like black fish eggs and we rocked the night away. Cheers to living the high life, on a sweet gift card. BAM!

Amish for a week or so?

Courtesy of flickr

Today Matt and I were listening to NPR while making breakfast. There is so much chatter devoted to the potential R. candidates that I’m on overload. I’ve found some great comic relief lately that keeps me up at night giggling as I think about the absurdity.

Apparently Mitt Romney made $42 million last year, or was it over two years? Either way that is a serious buttload of cash. I told Matt that we should just become Mormon because they pay their missionaries a helluvalot better. Also, in terms of community the Mormons have it down. They create great community ties and the stay at home moms do a lot of cool crafts! Then I decided that I was no more likely to become Mormon than I was to buy a dozen Persian kittens and live in a dark room with all of them. So I decided if it’s community we want in our religion we should just become Amish. Matt’s reply was, “Babe, you’re about five life choices away from becoming Amish as it is”.

Occasionally he drops a comedy bomb that makes me laugh, I’ll admit. And that one was sort of funny. So as Matt sees it I’m:

1. A technophobe- It’s true. I can email and write drafts but when it comes to applications and all of the ‘things’ this computer can do, I curl up into a ball and begin to rock back and forth while holding my knees to my chest. I’d be ok with paper and pencil for the rest of my life.

2. Committed to simple living- Now, I’m not out there washing clothes in the wash tub but I do enjoy a good line dry from time to time.

3. Committed to slow food-Down with animal hormones and what have you!

4. I like to wear hats- This needs no further defining

5. I enjoy a nice long skirt from time to time (I think he was fishing on this one)

I would say my number five would be more that I don’t really like to have my photo taken. I do think I could do the Amish gig for a while. And if the “fit hits the shan” they are likely going to be the most prepared of all of us.

A Pinata for Jesus (a non fiction story for John and Marie)

“Come on and just hit it once, babe”, he said trying to include her into the family tradition of LasPosadas (a re-enactment of, No room at the Inn) . This was their first Christmas together as a young couple yet the tradition of going room to room, knocking on the door and asking brother or sister if there is room in the Inn, ending the festivities by hitting a pinata and eating tootsie rolls and faux Starburst  while opening presents was enough to put the love and integrity of this young couple to the test.

It was disappointing to Marley (he had been named after Bob Marley during his parents hippy, foreign substance days- at one point his parents had moved the family into a tee pee)  Lucy was not more into this family tradition. These are those awkward and disappointing moments where young couples discover that they liked the other one better when they were playing along and acting like everything they did was cute and adventurous. It’s when couples start asking themselves, “What happened to this person that found my jokes humorous and my anecdotes intriguing?” Yet, every Hollywood illusion must come to an end. The reality and annoyances of couple-hood set in and  we eventually have to ‘deal’ with the task at hand. We have to face the fact that the sound of their jaw clicking while eating a ciabatta role is enough to make you want to hit them over the head with the Heinz 57 bottle, the glass ones. What happened to the love? The cuteness of stinky feet and bad breath? The gazing with a half smile while they tell a boring story? I’ll tell you what happened, the ego kicked in! But I digress….

As Lucy was ‘forced’ to go room to room, singing with the family on the ukulele and asking if there was room for this baby to be born, she became more and more annoyed by the minute. “What have I gotten myself into?” she thought. “I liked him so much better when we drank Earl Grey together and talked about old movies that we watched while separately growing up in the eighties. Who knew that someone else saw Blazing Saddles and laughed during ‘the sheriff is near’ bit? Now I am singing, We Three Kings to the sound of a Hawaiian guitar, feeling like a fool and wanting desperately to Yule someone’s log to the pavement.”

Lucy and Marley are like all of us who have experienced love. This is always how it begins. We feel nothing can go wrong now. Others may struggle in their ego but not us. Jeff and Jan may argue publically about the exact quote from Seinfield episode 177, but not us! We’re solid and what’s more we know how to give and take. Give, take, Give, take. That’s what it’s all about; give and take!

But we are who we are, human, that is. Our ego lives and it is dying to stand it’s ground. One moment we will give our beloved the moon and the next we are slapping their hand to take it off of our friggin’ star! We become toddlers who cry, MINE! This does not denote love, it just exemplifies the reality of our humanity. Our egos are not evil, they just need crucifixion in the face of selfishness. Our love for one another grows stronger in the midst of our battling egos, and I do believe Lucy and Marley are rejoicing that their egos live.

After Las Posadas with Marley’s family a decision was made in this fresh relationship; never again will we surprise one another. Never again will we argue over petty incidences. Always will we mature in our communication and always will we give to the other what the world does not have, peace with one another! Today is a new day and we shall be triumphant!

Marley and Lucy exemplify the norm for most of us; the reality of disappointment and unmet expectations with the ones we love the most. I have no patience for couples that seem to act as though “everything is peachy and we’re getting along as smooth as creme cheese”. The reality is that love, at it’s core, is a choice to endure even in the midst of extreme disappointment and disillusionment. We thought they would want to zig yet they preferred to zag. They did not appreciate our attempt at a romantic evening by offering a ‘separate date night- you do your thing and I’ll do mine’. You wish she sang yet she preferred to remain silent. Love is full of complexity only because humans are complex; gloriously complex in their dignity and design. They often zig when we wanted them to zag and they usually surprise us with change and movement when we really thought we had their sedentary self all figured out. Blast! Yet, I believe, despite the predictable difficulty that relationships possess,  we wouldn’t have it any other way. Tension is a gift so glory in it!

My anecdote reveals more than a simple story of the rawness of human relationships at their finest. I’m convinved that Lucy and Marley have made a memory that makes for good conversation around the table at the dinner party. When asked, “what is your most awkward moment together?” everyone has their story and even though we prefer the traditional stocking filled with special dark chocolates and dollar gifts from Target, secretly we long for the pinatas filled with sweets for the ninos and songs of Silent Night sung to the sound of the ukelele. It’s your story being written; not theirs, but YOURS!

* the names and characters have been changed to protect the innocent

Deck the Malls

It’s around this time of the year that I remember why I absolutely loathe the rush of Christmas. We had to go to the Mall with Matt’s family to pick him up for lunch. We were seven adults and four toddlers. Just looking for parking was enough to give me a panic attack. I felt angina setting into my chest when I considered the reality that we may not find anything close enough to walk outside in sub arctic temperatures with two little children. I finally found a spot and just as I was getting ready to turn off the key I realized the poor shlub in front of me had his Toyota Camry completely boxed in. I pulled out of the spot so as not to add more strain on his holiday fun but I was a bit appalled by how many folks just boxed a car in to create a parking space. This time of the year brings out the gangster in the most Caucasian individual of middle America. People will stop at nothing to shop for stupid hand stuffed teddy bears for Johnny and ugly slippers for mom.

After we were inside next was the child play area. This is where parents go to regain their composure after dragging a few unhappy and exhausted toddlers around the mall. But the parents are wrong, this is not the place to regain sanity; it’s the place where your heart is tested as you watch Bubba the chap lipped six year old push your kid around the plastic shoe shaped slide while Bubba’s raspy parents just smile at his ‘cute’ aggressiveness. So you stay and appease your children and endure the ‘fun zone’.

After you’ve had your fill of the friggin’ mall you make your way out to the car park again, praying that no one wearing a santa hat has boxed your car in, trapping you and your kids inside your Geo Prism in weather that has dipped into the negative digits with even more frigid wind chill. Now you have to wait and wait and wait for the cars to move, to turn into traffic and lollygag at 1.7 mph, looking for a place to park outside of Penny’s. !@#$

So now you’re out! You have survived the mall, again. Another year. It’s over after the 25th. No one will cut in line in front of you, race to take your parking spot or give you the stink eye if your kid screams as he sits on Santa’s lap. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The most agitated time where spirits come together to spend, buy and grab. God bless us, everyone!

A little bit softer now

Have you ever been out in public with a friend who speaks too loud? I was talking with our housemate and her fiance about the fact that there are people out there in the world who have these strange habits when they talk to you. Some of them can be cultural; for instance there are cultures that do not make a habit of looking people in the eyes when they speak to them because it’s considered arrogant. Then there are others who won’t do it because they are intimidated by the person they are speaking to. There seem to be so many unique variations of folks in the world who have different idiosyncrasies making it sometimes a bit awkward and humorous to carrying on a conversation. But the one that I just never understood is the individual that speaks at a decibel level high enough to make your ears bleed. Think Will Farrell playing the man with a condition known as “voice modulation”.

This attribute seems like it would make a great Seinfield episode; like the episode where Judge Reinhold is “kind of a close talker” who gets inches away from your face just to ask what type of cereal you like. They should have had the episode with the loud talker as well. The one that allows everyone in an 8 block radius to hear the personal conversation you two are having. Those type of people seem to cause me to speak very quietly, in hopes that I can somehow provoke them to do likewise. I guess my thinking is that they will eventually make a distinction between our differing volume levels and begin to connect with the idea that they should be speaking a bit softer about their painful upbringing or about their most recent, and highly invasive, doctor visit.

My husband is a bit of a high volume talker. There have been times where the house is totally quiet, kids are in bed, not a is creature stirring yet he’s explaining something to me as if I’m running the lawn mower and he is in a competition to be heard. Through all of my misunderstanding of loud talkers I must admit that I do find it rather fetching to be around them. They tend to be gloriously boisterous and highly enjoyable in the personality department. They are usually the type of folk that laugh at most things people say, making others feel like amateur comedians, one of which I consider myself. I don’t play for pay!

Once I figure out how to not let my face turn red whilst in public with a loud talker I’m sure I will have achieved a harmony with these gentle giants of phonation. Until then I will just have to find a nice corner to sit in a public place as they pour out their personal life to me at a level loud enough to make my head fall off. Ricola anyone?