On the Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, I kind of thought a little bit about what I’d learned in 2011. In order to understand the significance of this quasi-navel-gazing, you have to understand that, while I freaking excel at navel-gazing, I really don’t ever use the end of a given year to look back on it and figure out where I am as compared to where I was when the year began. I find that process kind of depressing.

I suppose that means I’m doing it wrong.

Anyway, looking back has always seemed counter-productive to me. It’s why I don’t keep a journal or diary; every time I’ve written down a bunch of personal feelings and thoughts and re-read them months later, I’ve wanted to throw the stupid book across a room in disgust. Gah, me. You are so annoying sometimes. Plus, it’s just too much all at once. I prefer to do my soul-wrenching introspection in smaller, more random doses. My friend Joey does a lot of reflecting at the end of the year and also on his birthday, and sometimes those phone conversations are just agonizing. I wish he would just let himself off the hook and move forward.

So when I started suddenly wondering what I’d learned and putting some thoughts together, I felt rather surprised by the pull. Now, though, as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m feeling something more like dread. A roiling in my stomach. A definite threat that, at some point, I’m going to cry.

See why I don’t do this?

It’s not that I don’t think I’m in a good place as compared to where I was last year. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m in a different place at all, really, but that’s alright. Unlike Joey, I don’t feel the need to move mountains and leap tall buildings in the course of one year. What do you do the next year? You’re going to be miserably disappointed in yourself and calling me to whine about it. I know it. I’ve done some stuff. Moved past a couple things. Helped some people, I think. I’m good with that.

It doesn’t help that every website, aggregate, TV network and magazine is doing their year-ender pieces full of “looks back” at various categories of things deemed Best and Worst: political doings, celebrity habits, movies, news items, and, of course, the beloved Homage To Famous People Who Died This Year (my money’s on Etta James by the time the ball drops).

Yes, I’m twisted. You’re surprised by this? You must be new.

Anyway. Deep breath. Here goes.

******

Things I’ve Learned In 2011

Good fences make good neighbors. Ten miles’ distance make even better neighbors.

My taste has evolved quite a bit recently. I used to love candy. Now I find it too sweet. These days I far prefer for my sugar to be mixed with flour, butter and eggs.

It’s okay to just not care sometimes.

When feeling uninspired, it may be best to sit down and just make myself write something. And not infrequently, I will produce the worst crap I have ever written in my life.

Never buy a car with a cloth interior. It will pick up everything but men and money.

A clean home matters much less than a good friend. But a good friend is an excellent motivator to have a clean home. (So is a stupid faulty carbon monoxide detector.)

Do not get a smoke/carbon monoxide detector combo. It will tell you you’re about to die in the middle of the night when you’re totally not going to die. Or you might. Hard to say with those combos.

I will probably never separate reds from darks.

Sometimes it’s better just to not answer the phone when you know the conversation is going to go badly, be it because of your mood or theirs.

There is such a thing as a biceps femoralis. You don’t know about it, but it’s in your leg, and it will hurt you for days if you go roller skating past the age of 20. (I debated the age.)

Nothing beats the enthusiastic and happy-to-see-you hug of a child.

No matter how much I like to be a bum, I feel better if I’ve been productive. This will not, however, stop me from being a bum.

Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to. Do ask questions you should know the answers to… even if the answers hurt.

Sometimes my gut is an idiot.

The Learning Channel teaches me very little except that there are entire categories of people I did not know I can’t stand.

It is not hard to love someone. What is hard is to be secure in that love. What is harder still is to know whether it is foolish to love. And hardest of all is to know whether being foolish might be worth it.

I still hate English Baroque music. I will never grow to appreciate it. Not happening.

Trust what you know about yourself, but ask a question once in a while to be sure.

There is no longer nearly as much stigma to online dating as there used to be. I just watched an entire group of co-workers look over another co-worker’s shoulder at her eHarmony matches. The guys were so judgey!

Showing someone who seeks my counsel that I, too, am a complete neurotic mess is often more helpful to them than making them think I’m not.

It is bad to overdose on that over-the-counter stuff that makes UTIs stop hurting. Unless you want to see what day-glo vomit looks like.

Writing a blog has not exactly been what I hoped or expected. I have not done what I set out to do. But I have enjoyed what I have done, and I have found a wonderful bunch of writers and readers that I look forward to seeing every day on my screen.

Years of ordinary friendship add up to extraordinary support.

There is a difference between being loved and being liked. Sometimes it is hard to know which is best.

A compliment from a total stranger can make someone’s day. Be the stranger.

*****

I was right. On the sixth day of Christmas, I did a little reflecting… and it made me cry a little. But it made me smile, too.

What have you learned this year?

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, I thought I might die.

I had just gotten home from the grocery store when I was struck by an incredible pain in my abdomen. It felt like the worst heartburn I’d ever had… and I’ve had some brutal heartburn. I couldn’t figure out why it attacked me so suddenly. I had, I admit, opened a bag of cinnamon sugar pita chips in the car on the way home, but I didn’t eat that many. Still, maybe the cinnamon…

I didn’t have any antacid at home, so I debated a different antidote and settled on some milk. I settled on that because it was the only thing I had that might work. It had already been opened, about nine days before. The sell-by date was Dec. 25.

 Eh. Close enough.

But as I worked in the kitchen, putting groceries away, the heartburn didn’t subside. In fact, it got worse. I started cooking a pot of chili and kept drinking the milk. The spices were in a heap on top of the chopped onion and peppers and meat and tomatoes when the burning in my stomach suddenly ratcheted itself up by a factor of five and I nearly doubled over. Was the milk bad after all? I leaned on the counter to finish the stirring and left the pot to simmer while I headed to the bathroom to deal with still more developing symptoms.

I started to sweat and got a little shaky, so I peeled off my sweater. And then everything started graying at the edges.

Oh, no. Not this again.

Leaving out a bunch of details, suffice it to say that I once had to have emergency surgery because I was bleeding out into my abdominal cavity. The experience that led me to surgery felt a lot like this one was starting to feel. Including the passing out. What with having lost 40% of my blood supply to my belly.

The advantage of having gone through that fun little episode, however, is that I can now self-diagnose internal hemorrhaging. That’s a handy skill to have. But even though this was starting to feel like I might be slowly dying in a way akin to the effects of the Ebola virus (again), I knew it couldn’t have been from the same instigator. I put my head on my knees to avoid unconsciousness and ran through a very short known list of Reasons To Start Spontaneously Bleeding To Death Inside. I lit on the only explanation I could fathom.

Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Well. This is going to suck.

I checked my pulse. Kinda slowish. As with the last time (when I had no idea what was happening), I started debating what to do. Do I wait and see if I get better? It would be really embarrassing if I got to the ER, let out a massive fart, and then felt fine. Do I drive myself there? It’s only a mile and a half. Or do I call an ambulance? Ugh… that sounds awful. What about Jack? I knew he was meeting one of his friends for dinner but he hadn’t left yet. If I had at least 30 minutes left to live before absolutely requiring medical intervention, I could call him. I could recite a litany of information and explain the symptoms in detail to him on the way to the ER so that he’d be informed of all my needs and history before I slipped into the oblivion of cardiac arrest.

When the immediate threat of unconsciousness passed and the sweats subsided, I shuffled to the couch. Knowing that sitting up would be bad for a bleeder, but lying down would be the worst thing for some sort of demonic reflux, I settled for something halfway between. In that position, I felt better. But when I stood up to stir the chili, the fuzzy-headed threat of fainting came back. Every time that happened, I worried that I really was bleeding out again. The disadvantage to having gone through that fun little episode is that now I know what it’s like to have my gut cut open and lots of blood sucked out with a wet/dry ShopVac, and frankly, I’d love not to do that again. The doctor had told me post-op that I’d lost more than enough blood to warrant a transfusion, but that my hematocrit and hemoglobin levels were good and I was only 25 at the time, and the hospital was very low on blood, so they’d opted to make me do the replenishing work myself and save the blood for a severe trauma.  I don’t want to deny a couple pints to a guy who just got run over by a cement mixer, but you’d be surprised by the lingering effects of that kind of blood loss without the boost of a transfusion.

And then, two hours after the whole thing started, as suddenly as it had come upon me, the pain left. Just… stopped. I wondered if my aorta had miraculously healed itself. I had, after all, said a prayer for help. Maybe that was it. Whatever it was, I was grateful.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I thanked God I just had heartburn. Apparently.

The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, I woke up feeling like the holiday had never even happened, like I was still anticipating it. Except I did absolutely nothing productive for the first time in a month. And I liked it. The always-comical visit to Art the Indistinguishably Asian Massage Therapist (“What you been doeeeng? Yoah IT band tiiight.”) was the only thing that motivated me to even take a shower before 5pm. I ignored the nagging voice in my head that said, “Your home is still a God-forsaken mess. Do something about it” with a counter-argument that this was my do-nothing day, cleaning and laundry would ruin the physical therapy, and I would do it today instead. I won the argument.

In the evening, I headed out to meet up for dinner and drinks with my friend John. We had agreed on a funky little neighborhood in the city that we, I realized as I parked, tend to flock to pretty consistently this time of year. It’s full of a great combination of kitschy shops and antique stores, approachable restaurants with appealing menus and wacky decor, and houses with I mean ridiculous amounts of lights and decorations on their postage-stamp yards. In any other place, I find this amount of decoration tacky and trashy. Any other place but here.

I smiled as I walked the two blocks from my parking spot to the restaurant, passing toasty (from drink, not layers of clothing) people in Santa hats out for a holiday stroll. I love it when a community doesn’t end Christmas at midnight on the 25th. It gives us all a chance to enjoy the vibe when the craziness of the holiday is done. In my long red zip-up hooded fleece from my Crazy Aunt (the fourth zip-up fleece I’ve received in a row now), I looked like Little Red Riding Hood reflected in the storefront windows. The air was cold and clear. The people on the street were happy and pink-faced, walking in clouds of breath-fueled vapor. It felt like Christmas.

The restaurant was just the right kind of full, so John and I opted to sit at the bar rather than wait 15 minutes for a table (not that we thought 15 minutes was long). We met about eight years ago through Jack, but we hadn’t seen each other in months, so we toasted the season with our beverages and set about the catching up. John is one of the most naturally interesting people I know. It’s not that he’s got an amazing life or anything; it’s just that he’s so easy to talk to while being very, very smart. He’s 53, but the only giveaway is the ratio of salt to pepper in his hair. He’s handsome without being obvious, 6’3″ without being imposing. He’s got a great laugh. And he’s an idea guy. His brain works in really fun ways without being crazy. In a past life, he worked for an investment firm, but now he’s a renaissance man, and not the annoying kind who only says that’s what he is while wearing a pinky ring and a dickie. He’s developing several nonfiction TV series right now, two that are in some stage of greenlight or another. Which is sort of crazy considering he lives in our humble city in a tiny house (with a stupidly high property tax rate). He’s got brilliant, audience-ready concepts out the wazoo, but presently precious little income. “I’m thinking if my plans for prosperity in 2012 don’t work out, I might put myself up for adoption,” he deadpanned. Then he picked up my tab.

He’s the kind of friend that makes you feel cooler just by being your friend.

Alight on our stools, me with a quesadilla and he with a po’boy sandwich, we updated each other on our lives, our jobs (well, our work – he’s a renaissance man, he don’ work for nobody), our families and how we spent the holiday. He got the bartender to pour me another glass of wine when I felt certain I’d done something to make him hate and therefore ignore me. (I had turned down his suggestion of French dressing on my salad…might that have done it?) Other than the unaware bartender, the world faded away as two friends spent an evening in warm and comfortable conversation, and vowed (as we always do) to do it again soon.

On the fourth day of Christmas, I soaked up the joy of city living and easy friendship.

On the Second Day of Christmas

On the Second Day of Christmas, I wished I could wear pajamas to work. But since only one boss was around and she dresses very questionably on a good day, I settled on jeans, a comfy sweater, glorious cushiony flats and a pair of Christmas socks. They don’t light up or anything. They just have red and white polka dots on them. They’re festive. I also wore the Christmas watch that Santa gave me, which features a holiday-colored tartan wristband and snowflakes on the very large face. It will make my moth–uh, Santa– happy to know I wore it. Santa is always wasting her money on little “extra” gifts that my sisters and I will never, ever use or wear. It’s cute, in a useless way. She makes us all wait and open that particular gift at the same time so there’s no big reveal that ruins the tartan wristband snowflake watch surprise for anybody else, and then all four of us look at each other while trying to summon a face that doesn’t disappoint her. Poor Santa.

On the 26th, I had no food in the house other than superfluous cookies which I didn’t even want to look at. So at work, I ordered miso soup and lettuce wraps for dinner like a Jewish girl who’d misplaced her calendar. (What? Two of my [six] bosses are Jewish. They said it too.) I happily slurped and munched my Chinese food because it didn’t contain a single carb or fried thing or cream cheese-based substance, and therefore, like Christmas itself, it would lead to salvation. Though not so much from sin and damnation as from the stuff I had mindlessly nibbled the day before while pirouetting around my parents’ kitchen playing sous-chef and sommelier to a huge holiday meal. When my dad swore at the turkey and asked when my generation was going to take over, I told him the whole crew is welcome to schlep the road trip to my place and back for the sake of not having to prepare the meal… just as soon as I buy a house. Minutes later, he told the grown-up table that he and my mother would host Thanksgiving in 2012.

I think he’d been too much into the wine and cold medicine.

Speaking of being too much into the wine… Jack and I managed to do Christmas on the 26th since he begged off on the 25th, citing prohibitive discomfort from a meal much heavier than what his marathon-running system is used to. He came over when I got done with work Monday night, bearing a wrapped box of happiness: six bottles of yummy wine. “I had help,” he told me. Jack is not a wine drinker, and therefore has no earthly idea what’s good and what’s not other than by guessing from the price tags. So, God love him, he asked the guy at the liquor store for guidance and stocked me up with excellent choices.

I think he’s trying to take advantage of me.

Might work.

Jack is one of those guys who doesn’t want anything he doesn’t have, and if he does, he’ll buy it for himself, so finding a gift for him is a challenge every year. Fortunately, I’m learning to key in when he says he likes something. In this case, it was a photo I’d taken during a little autumn shoot on a nature trail. He runs on the trail, and when he saw the shot, he told me how much he loved it. As in, he had a litany of thoughtful reasons. Score. Blow it up, buy a pre-fab frame, wrap it, put a bow on it. You’re done. This resulted in what I find to be one of the best things about Christmas: watching a loved one adore a gift you’ve picked out especially for them. The dear man even graced me with the assumption that I’d had the frame and matte custom-made.

Oh, Target. You are my best friend.

I couldn’t let him think that, though. He’d feel bad about the expense. So I fumbled my way around the reality – that I bought the pre-made frame at Target – and came up with “I didn’t go that route.”

Sometimes the lesson of Christmas is how to be graceful about being a cheap-ass.

With the running and rush of the holiday over and the day at work behind me, the Second Night of Christmas glowed in the light of the tree and the candles, and the quiet joy of a gift well-received and a companion well-loved. After the chaos and commotion of the day before, we spent the evening in calm relaxation. In his Christmas sermon at my parents’ new church, the priest had told us that the night of Jesus’ birth was almost certainly not silent. For Jack and me, the night after it was blessedly close.

On the First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, I was at my parents’ new house. We had spent the two days before that doing little things to get ready, like still getting their stuff out of boxes and putting furniture where it was supposed to be, along with all the usual Christmas stuff people do, like decorating the tree and cleaning bathrooms and inspecting nooks and crannies for cobwebs. And then there was Actual Christmas.

8am: I’m up. Mom and Dad have been up probably for an hour. Low-energy why-do-you-people-drink-such-weak-ass-coffee gift exchange ensues between me, parents and Sister 3, who is 21 and has a nasty cold, and therefore is basically comatose and speaking in monosyllabic grunts.

9am: in the shower. Dad making scrapple and eggs. Yummy food smells. More coffee.

9:30am: breakfast. Mom’s head begins revolving on neck. Apparently no one else notices.

9:50am: must do something with hair. Not optional.

10:00am: Mom, Sister 3 and I get in car to head to 93-year-old grandfather’s house for 90-minute visit. 90 minutes! Not a minute longer! Dad is home cooking and needs help.

10:47am: At grandfather’s house visiting with him and Crazy Aunt. Vaguely racist references leak out in course of normal conversation between Crazy Aunt and Mom. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me blink and stiffen up but is perfectly normal in gatherings of a certain generation and a certain skin color, with just a slight twist because Crazy Aunt is crazy. Ah, family togetherness: a chance to realize you might be adopted, after all.

10:51am: Mom complains that the Midnight Mass from the Vatican featured too many closeups of the Pope’s gold rings. “That’s just the media’s way of slamming the Church.”  I try to be gentle as I explain that the people who do the broadcast are, in fact, the Vatican. She remains displeased. I suggest she write letter to Vatican.

12:00pm: back in the car people. Back in the car!

12:31pm: back at Mom & Dad’s house. Off with the heels, on with the sweater socks to last until real people show up around 4:30 and I have to look like a grownup.

(Yes, my parents moved into a new house from a different state and hosted Christmas dinner for 20 adults and five small children like three days later.)

(That is a slight exaggeration.)

(But only slight.)

1pm: Sister 2, BIL 2 and Youngest Neph arrive. Youngest Neph is still in footie pajamas, ready for nap to avoid mammoth meltdown in course of long day still ahead. I might have given anything for my own footie pajamas and nap. Denied, because I’m 34 and helping with dinner instead of lying in crib blissfully with new toy and no obligations whatsoever, including no obligation not to mess my own pants. (Or anyone else’s, for that matter.)

1:36pm: wasps enter family room inexplicably. Wasps on Christmas in Pennsylvania? Theory: fireplace brickface is separating from wall in new house. Might be nest between bricks and wall. Fire is smoking wasps out. Fantastic.

1:38pm: Dad learns theory. Swears for first time of day.

2pm: Sister 1, BIL 1 and Twin Nephs add selves to mix. Twin Nephs have brought remote-control cars to crash into new house’s walls. WTF, Sister 1?

2:07pm: Youngest Neph wakes up from nap. Calamity around tree begins in earnest with second shift of gift-opening featuring two four-year-olds and a 21-month old who got a super-cool retro red Radio Flyer tricycle with bell on handlebars. Mayhem? Um… yes.

2:18pm: I envy Youngest Neph’s tricycle. Would nix bell, ride off to someplace quieter. Like an active runway.

2:45 – 4:15pm: kitchen dance gets underway. Dad, Mom and I do-si-do. All bleeding avoided. Almost. Dad swears for second time. And third.

4:15pm: BIL 2’s parents arrive. I ruefully remove sweater socks and put on Big Girl shoes.

4:16 – 4:35pm: inhale appetizers. Warmly greet arrivals. With more appetizers. Bask in glow of family.

5:00pm: appointed wine czarina. Good job. Will work for booze.

5:06pm: resisted own glass of wine for six minutes. New record. I win. Merry Christmas,  cabernet.

5:13pm: Dad checks turkey. Swears fourth & fifth time.

5:30pm: appointed vegetable supervisor. Fill bowl with frozen broccoli to steam in microwave. Doesn’t all fit. Entirely unnecessary discussion with Mom over 1/5 bag of broccoli. “Is this still frozen?” “Yes.” “You can’t refreeze it.” “It’s good, Mom, I just got it out of the freezer.” “Just throw it out.” “Mom.”  “Throw it out!”

5:31pm: hide remaining still-frozen broccoli behind microwave. Will make when first bowl is done.

5:33pm: Dad asks how long corn will take, how long broccoli will take, how long peas will take.  Turkey is three minutes behind schedule.

5:35pm: Dad asks how long corn will take, how long peas will take. Swears sixth time. Wonders at cooking time of frozen peas.

5:41pm: whispered, intense talks between Mom and Dad re: readiness of turkey, fallibility of oven in new house.

5:42pm: Dad asks how long corn will take, how long peas will take. Turkey now 12 minutes behind schedule. Dad swears seventh time.

5:50pm: Dad orders Sister 2 to pour dinner beverages for everyone.

6:01pm: beverages warming in glasses. Dad asks how long corn will take, how long peas will take. Turkey 31 minutes behind schedule.

6:12pm: commence flurry of veggie plating. Broccoli for three tables: check. Corn for three tables: check. Green bean casserole for three tables: check. Peas for three tables: why do we have so many damned peas? Only three people in this family even eat peas. We needed four bags? Dad yells at 22 other people to sit down, lifts turkey out of oven. Swears eighth through eleventh times.

6:14pm: grace. Mom cries. Dad swears twelfth time. Unrelated to grace.

6:17pm: all veggies plated and on tables.

6:20pm: Dinner guests nibble on cold vegetables. Dad swears thirteenth time. Happy holidays, glass of chardonnay.

6:22pm: I sit down.

6:25pm: first plate of turkey finds first table.

— Meal break —

6:52pm: Dad sits down. Offers toast. Chokes up.

6:54pm: I remember stupid 1/5th bag of frozen broccoli hidden behind microwave. Swear for first time. Get up, throw bag out. Mom doesn’t notice. I win.

7:12 – 8:30pm: eat more, clear plates, eat dessert. General festiveness and conversation. Season’s greetings, fresh glass of chardonnay.

8:30p – 9:10pm: extended family gift exchange. Twin Nephs “help” selected relatives open gifts. Fun (read: potentially life-threatening) games and tomfoolery between little kids and Fun Uncle.

9:10pm: dishes.

9:17pm: fatigue sets in.

9:23pm: Sister 1 yells at me for telling Twin Nephs to stop running through kitchen while she is standing. Right. There. (Not telling them.)

9:24pm: limit reached. Time to go. Still doing dishes. Why is parents’ dishwasher so flipping small?

9:45pm: wonder whether Jack will be impatient for me to arrive at his house after road trip home.

9:55pm: exhaustion threatens; mood drops. All parts hurt. Feet vicious. Dishes not done.

10:00pm: throwing in towel. Literally. Slip away to gather belongings. Pack car. Re-enter for goodbyes.

10:10pm: pull away from house in blissful silence of car. Remove shoes. Wonder why people move in December. Contemplate interesting correlation between physical and mental exhaustion and mood swings. Feel guilty. Cry a little. Drive in complete wonderful silence for one hour. Listen to Christmas music for remaining trip.

10:47pm: Jack begs off via phone, citing stomach issue.

Sometime after midnight: arrive home. Silent night. Holy crap, are my feet swollen. Drop all belongings upon entry. Crawl into bed, grateful for a big family full of love and faith and good cooks and cute kids and sarcasm and humor and generosity and varying degrees of insanity… and a day off to enjoy with all of them, even when I feel guilty for leaving and for being glad I don’t live there.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

My best wishes to all of you for a beautiful season of peace, love, happiness, warmth and absolute mind-bending family time. Thank you for reading!

christmas stress

Christmas Crunch

Raise your hand if you’re exhausted five days before Christmas.

If you can, that is.

I love this time of year, and I’m fully aware that it’s my own fault I haven’t been able to sit down and just look at the freaking tree for a minute. But I’m telling you, I zonked out watching “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” last night. The folks at Disney managed to boil down the Dickens classic into a 26 minute cartoon and I was out before the ghost of Jacob Marley appeared.

"You missed my day-byoo!"

Here’s the problem: I always refuse to do anything for Christmas until at least the day after Thanksgiving. Even then, on principle, I wait until December before I even entertain notions of holiday cheer. But my righteous indignation has backfired on me this year because all but one of my days off work during this month have been occupied by other, out-of-town things (Jack’s marathon, a funeral, helping my parents move, etc.). The one day I was in town was the day I decked the halls and put up the tree, then immediately left instead of being able to enjoy it. It’s that occupation, really, that has scrooged me.

That was a play on words. I wanted to say “screwed,” but I changed it to something holiday-related. Aren’t I festive?

"Not particularly, no."

Don’t get me wrong: I was happy to do those things. I really was. It’s just that it’s killing me now. Who helps people move in the middle of December? Gah.

All this busyness is why it’s been so long since my last post, by the way. It’s not really that I haven’t had anything to write about. It’s more than I don’t have the energy to do it by the time I have an available hour, which is somewhere around 1am. And then I can’t remember what I was going to write about, anyway.

I can’t quite say I’m overcommitted. I mean, not compared to other people. I work nights and weekends, which makes me a solid No on all party invitations. I don’t have kids, so I’m not consumed by their needs. My only commitments really are to working, baking, shopping and traveling because I finally have Christmas off. (Sleeping is not a commitment at this stage.)

I give cookie platters to several people as gifts (this started when some work associates who made a lot more money than me gave me gifts, and I never knew what to do for them). It’s a tradition I’ve carried on for myself for several years now. I really do enjoy the baking, at least the first 3/4 of it, after which I may or may not beat someone to death with a rolling pin but it has to be done anyway because now I’m all-in and everybody knows you can’t make trays of cookies and only have like four kinds on them. Everybody knows it has to be at least eight kinds and besides if you only did four kinds there wouldn’t be enough for all the platters. Duh.

Sunday night, my grandmother’s infamously difficult butter cookies had me trying to remember whether it was Ozzy or AC/DC who did “Hell’s Bells” as I tried to scrape the bell-shaped cutouts off the counter while retaining some semblance of their original shape. I named them the “AC/DC Batch.” After a teeny, tiny fit, I told myself they’ll just play different notes. There. All better.

I’m not one of those people who complains and is made miserable by Christmas shopping. I buy gifts for 16 people, most of them children, and I’m happy to do it. I love to give gifts. All that shopping craziness gets me in the spirit, so I hated using the internets to handle a few people on my list this year. I like the mall at Christmas. I like to see so many people trying to so hard to make someone else’s day happy. But when it gets down to December 19th and I’m trying to cram a major shopping trip and a ship, stamp and fetch visit to the molasses-like post office into the two hours between clothing myself and leaving for work, well… I need a Xanax. It seriously wasn’t until 12:45pm yesterday, as I was leaving the store to go to work while obsessive-compulsively ticking through my to-do list and comparing it to my available time, that I started to think that maybe I’d be able to pull this holiday off. If I didn’t sit down to look at the freaking tree. And that was only because I had finally found the plain holiday M&Ms. Four stores, all I could find were the almond, the peanut butter, the pretzel, the dark chocolate… why the hell is there such a shortage of the freaking plain freaking holiday freaking M&Ms?!?!

I have a list of ten Christmas movies I want to watch every year so I can soak up the spirit of the season. Of the ten (three of which are less than 30 minutes long), I’ve seen three so far. And I can’t watch any tonight because I have to finish baking and there’s not enough time between trays to sit down and watch.

Irony alert: the whole baking thing is apparently making me bitter. It’s so intense at this point that I just threatened to stab a co-worker for making me watch a YouTube video of a senior citizen flash mob that uses Glee’s version of “Last Christmas.” Which is the holiday song I hate the most in the whole wide world. And now it’s stuck in my head.

Last Christmas, we gave you your parts, and the very next day, we wished we had picked a different song because this one is awful...

But everything will be better after work on Wednesday. Before then, it will be torturous. But after work on Wednesday, I will go home, and I will turn off all the lights except the ones on the tree and my Dickens Village houses and my mantle, and I will put on PJs, and I will light candles, and I will wrap myself in a comfy blanket, and I will watch a Christmas movie. Probably The Bishop’s Wife, the black and white original with Carey Grant and Loretta Young and David Niven that a college friend gave to me our sophomore year (it’s on VHS). And on Thursday, I will stay home, clean, do laundry, wrap gifts and watch more movies. And whatever I didn’t get to watch I will take with me to my parents’ new house on Friday, to see while curled up on the couch with my little sister, who’s 21 but still likes to snuggle with me sometimes. And we will warm my parents’ new home for the holiday.

And I will fall asleep almost immediately.

...and to all a good night. (image from 123rf.com. Why is she sitting in a beach chair? I don't know.)

Three Strapping Men at 3am. And Not For a Good Reason.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!   BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!

I’d gone to bed at 1:30am and was roused from my sleep at 2:58 to the sound of the modern death knoll. Throwing off my covers, I shuffled blindly into the hallway to confront the smoke/carbon monoxide detector for the second time in three months. There is no smoke, you stupid alarm. I pushed the Just Stop It, Stop It Right Now button, dampened a washcloth and hung it over the detector.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP! 

Wait. That’s not the smoke detector. That’s the carbon monoxide alarm.

Aw, hell.

Those of you who were with me in September know that I contended with the smoke alarm at 6am on 9/11. Fortunately, that was when I found the owner’s guide and learned that three beeps means smoke, and four beeps means noxious invisible death cloud you are powerless to detect or combat save for opening a window and praying to the good Lord.

I did remember that nail bed color can be a sign of medical emergencies. I checked mine. They were currently Revlon’s “Vixen.” I don’t know what that means.

I struggled a bit to understand the 911 dispatcher when she told me to go outside, but pooh-poohed my plan to wait for the fire department on the balcony. “Will you have to go back in?” she asked. I didn’t get it. “Will you have to go back through your home?”

“Oh! Yes, to let them in, I will.”

“Don’t go out on the balcony.”

Listen, lady. It’s 3:15 in the morning. I’m confused and there’s a really irritating beeping noise in my home and oh, I might be slowly dying. So could you be more clear?

“You can’t be going back and forth in and out. You have to get out and not open and close doors, turn on lights or anything like that.”

Ohhh. She doesn’t want sparks or static electricity. Wait, is CO explosive? Is she confused, too?

I waited outside the front door to the building, hoping the fire department wouldn’t come all blazing lights and sirens and humiliation while I stood in my too-big, blue striped flannel pajama pants, red sweater socks, long-sleeve pink and white Race For the Cure t-shirt and black leather coat. The truck arrived – lights, no sirens – and three men hopped out. They could hear the alarm going off (yet none of my neighbors had stirred to express concern – a fact I was grateful for, as I hated to wake anyone at this hour). I let them into the building and they went upstairs to my place. A couple of minutes later, one of them stepped into the hallway and flickered his flashlight at me through the glass door.

“We aren’t reading anything on our gauge,” they told me in my apartment as I crossed my arms over my unsupported chest. “It’s at zero.” They turned my thermostat up to 90 to really get my furnace going and still nothing. They puttered into my galley kitchen to check the gas stove (nothing) and the gas dryer (nothing).

Having three firefighters in your home at 3:30am makes you realize a few things. The sink is full of dirty dishes and a not-insignificant pile of empty cat food cans. The litter box definitely needs to be changed. Air-dried laundry items, including underthings, are cast about the spare bedroom. There’s an empty wine glass on the stereo from tonight and an empty martini glass on the coffee table from three nights ago. And my teddy bear is in plain sight on my rumpled bed.

Yes, this all looks fantastic.

One suddenly becomes aware that, in a potentially life-or-death situation, the fire department is more likely to rescue you and not talk bad about you in the rig if you don’t appear to be sad, sloppy and alone.

I’ve known firefighters. It’s true.

After 30 minutes of detecting, the apparent head firefighter in the group pulled the still-beeping alarm off the wall and disconnected it. Another guy took it out on the balcony to give it some fresh air. It continued beeping, like an animal who lived on despite its head being chopped off. That’s when we realized there was a battery in it. No, I did not have a spare 9-volt lying around. Who does? So the head firefighter ripped the battery out of the detector.

“Crack a window,” he said dismissively. “Set your alarm clock to go off every two hours. If you don’t wake up, call us.”

I’m not 100% sure he wasn’t serious, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Back in bed at 4:00, freezing thanks to the cracked window, I tried not to breathe too deeply and wondered if burrowing up to my eyebrows under the covers would protect me from carbon monoxide or increase my chances of death. It was 6am before I finally fell back to sleep. I kept resetting my alarm for two hours ahead of what it was each time I looked at the clock. Which is completely dumb. I tried not to picture the scene from one of the last episodes of “Rescue Me” on FX Network, when Denis Leary and crew find a father and his two little girls sitting upright on the couch, dead and purple in front of the still-cartooned television.

And I vowed never to go to bed in a messy home again.

Of Cramping, Coffee and Coal Miners

“Why do I do this?” Jack whined without energy. “Why do you support me doing crazy things like this?”

“I support you,” I explained, “not necessarily the crazy things you do.”

I’ve been to two of Jack’s 24 marathons, and we’ve had this conversation after both of them. We look at running very differently. He loves it and won’t stop if he doesn’t have to. I only run when someone is chasing me with a weapon. Still, it’s gratifying to know that an insane person who punishes his body for 26.2 miles in what I believe is an effort even God would react to with incredulity (“You did what?! Are you off your head?! I didn’t design you for that!”) is at least logical enough to admit he’s nuts when it’s over.

We road tripped to his latest endeavor on Friday. Runner’s anxiety gets the better of him the day before a marathon, so he gets quiet. Happily, our drive took us through some country scenes that lent themselves to easy wisecracks from city slickers. We mocked Christmas decorations and counted at least seven plastic light-up nativity scenes. I threatened to rain violence upon inflatable decor. He laughed at a Kiwanis club’s hand-painted claim that its bar-be-que was “really good.” When I saw the “car dealership” comprised of three new, identical vehicles distinguished only by color, sitting in someone’s front yard, I laughed so hard I choked. (“I need a car,” says the buyer. “Okay,” says the dealer. “What kind of deal can you give me on the red one?” says the buyer. “Same as the blue one,” says the dealer. “What about the white one?” says the buyer. “Same as the red one,” says the dealer. End of haggling.)

I did voices and accents. That made it funnier.

We accidentally spent dozens of miles in the Twilight Zone, where highways appearing on Mapquest don’t actually exist, east apparently doesn’t really mean east, and growing hunger contributes to the threat of all-out hostile grumpiness compounded by the fact that he was driving and therefore did not stop somewhere for directions. We made it to our hotel after an extra 90 minutes on the road. Relaxing in the suite, Jack searched for answers to Friday’s crossword in the New York Times. He finds them relaxing, while I find them maddening. So I read local magazines. It was very quiet and cozy until…

Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptap.

We looked up at each other.

“I’m thinking it’s the heat?” I suggested. Jack had cranked the thermostat up so his muscles would be relaxed, and I turned it down when the room hit 78. Maybe the cooling was causing the noise in the walls.

“Hey, these are weird,” Jack called in to me as he prepared for bed. He came back to the couch with a pillow in hand. “Feel this.” It didn’t have much give, and was neither square nor typically rectangular. Weird, indeed. But that was all the thought I gave it. It was a pillow. Until I went to bed about an hour after Jack, and realized there was no way in hell I could sleep on these things.

I have a bad disc in my neck that pinches nerves, so I’m fairly concerned with matters of bedtime head cushioning. Within 20 minutes of lying down, these pillows and I were at an impasse. Atop a single cushion, my head felt about a foot above the bed. I could already feel the pinching down my left arm. There was no beating the pillow filling into submission. To my left, Jack was tossing and turning, clearly struggling with them, too.

The frustration of knowing I would be exhausted and in pain all day because of these stupid pillows triggered a mild anxiety attack. Which, of course, kept me awake.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptap. The walls continued their percussion not only unabated, but seemingly louder and more frequently.

The room was stuffy. I threw off the blanket.

I moved between the two positions in which I can sleep: my right side and my back. Repeatedly.

Whoosh! The pillow sailed off the bed and I tried going without.

I dozed.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAP!

Sigh.

Creak rustle squeak rustle sigh. Jack flopped.

He’s not getting enough sleep, I worried.

A door down the hall opened and closed. Loudly.

I dozed.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAP!

Godd@#%it.

It’s too f&^#ing hot in here. I debated getting up and checking the thermostat, but I didn’t want to wake Jack or give him a muscle-clenching chill.

Laughing in the hallway, men at full voice.

Are you kidding me? It’s– what time is it? I feel like I’ve been lying here for days. Don’t you know people are running a marathon in a few hours?

Doors. Rattling. Opening. Closing.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAP!

Jack levitated, turned, and crashed back down onto the bed.

I tried a different pillow so I could move to my side.

Someone in the next room apparently did not understand the concept of door handles.

Tap tap tap taptaptaptaptaptapTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAPTAP!

That’s it. Get me a sledgehammer. I’m going in after the godd@#%ed Chilean miners.

You guys are a$$holes.

Jack picked up a pillow and covered his head with it.

I dozed. Jack got up and went into the other room to get ready for his race. After several minutes, he came back in and told me he was heading out. I woke up. It had been a dream. Jack was still in bed. My head ached. I sat up to look at the clock. 5:14am.

“S#!t,” Jack whispered. The alarm clock in the room didn’t work, so he’d set his phone alarm before he went to bed, and when he’d turned off the light it had cut the power to the phone’s charger. He was 30 minutes late getting up. He heaved his way into the other room to start his ritual while I lay fretting about whether he’d have enough time to digest his oatmeal, whether he’d be anxious that he woke up late, whether it would throw off his whole run. In the hall, some idiot was talking loudly on his cell phone. Doors were opening and closing regularly. The godd@#%ed Chilean miners had not given up their completely inconsiderate struggle to be freed from the wall. At 6:00, I gave up the ghost and got up, much to Jack’s chagrin. I told him I’d try to get more sleep when everyone had left for the run, but by that time, young children had awakened for the day and were roaming the hallways.

After a cup of hotel room coffee, a shower, a walk down to the finish line and a cup of Starbucks coffee, I wandered some shops while I waited for Jack to cross the tape. I hid my puffy, tired eyes behind sunglasses and picked up a Christmas gift or two. There is something patently ridiculous about sipping a Starbucks and munching a croissant while watching an endless stream of wild-eyed runners either stride or struggle their way toward a 26.2 mile goal while their friends and family cheer them on. I saw some of them hitting the ground hard with their feet, grunting and gasping to the end. I wondered whether Jack would finish ahead, or on time with his expectations. I wondered if he was lying somewhere at mile 17, defeated. I debated at what time I would start worrying.

I chewed.

And then suddenly there he was, having cast off various layers of the clothes he started in… Jack, coasting confidently toward the finish. I checked my watch. He was more than eleven minutes ahead of his 3:40:00 goal time and looked strong. I stood up and shouted to him as he passed me, “You’re about to beat it!” I followed him around the corner to the finish and saw the clock register his time. On maybe four hours of interrupted sleep, against two miles of strong headwind halfway through, he’d cruised to an extraordinarily successful race. As I approached the line, I saw him stretch, smile and exchange congratulations with other runners who gained silent respect and admiration for each other through the run, who had unspeakingly paced one another and pulled each other through tough miles. Jack and I grinned, high-fived and hugged with controlled excitement. He told me about the strong parts and the rough patches. We both knew this was a big run for him, after a difficult year fraught with injuries and minor but significant crises of confidence. He had done it, and done it well.

Not so well that he didn’t later, nauseous in the hotel suite, ask me why the hell he does this kind of stuff. But still, very well.

I bought a little extra time from the guy at the hotel desk so we didn’t have to rush out and Jack could let his body work through some of the least-pleasant bits of post-marathon recovery. The four guys in the room across from us complained about the jerks who had made so much noise overnight. Jack slept a little while I drove home to the sound of music on low volume rather than rattling doors and tapping in the walls. By evening, he’d recovered enough to eat without fear.

He wants to do another one next month.

Turns out, one of the Chilean miners ran the NY Marathon after he was freed. I bet he got more sleep than we did.

 

Aw, Shucks: the Debate In Corn Country

After all these debates, what’s the point of another one? One word: Iowa.

Last night’s ABC News debate didn’t yield anything new in terms of policy. Nobody said anything they haven’t said before (for a mostly policy-oriented review of each debate leading up to last night’s, please see my Political Snark category). What last’s night debate did was usher in the latest phase of the campaign – the sort of Third Week of Political Advent: the run-up to the Iowa caucus, closely followed by the New Hampshire primary.

Jon Huntsman wasn’t at the debate. He’d been invited, but turned it down because he’s spending all his time and money on New Hampshire. With Herman Cain now out of the race, the stage was set for six: Santorum, Perry, Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Bachmann. ABC’s production of the debate was surprisingly unpolished; there were audio issues throughout and hiccups with “Rewind” portions that played in commercial breaks to re-show moments we’d just seen. And if Diane Sawyer was concerned about running out of time as she repeatedly stated, she should have considered taking less time to ask a question.

The moments that may have mattered, that stood out from other debates, were the awkward ones. I’m going to run with two of them: the $10,000 bet, and the Cheater Question.

As has happened in at least three debates before last night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on whether he’s in favor of individual mandates for health insurance coverage. Once again, he attempted to quote Romney’s book. Once again, Romney laughed (he gets quite artificially, pompously amused when he finds someone’s statements about him to be particularly offensive) and then leveled a cold gaze while saying what Perry stated was simply wrong. And then… he held out a hand… and offered a $10,000 bet.

Huh. Interesting.

Perry, wisely, didn’t take it. After two beats during which everybody tried to figure out what the hell just happened, Gov. Perry simply said, “Well, I’m not in the betting business–” and Romney went on to make his own point, to Perry’s relief since he isn’t the quickest-witted and might have struggled to finish the moment.

What’s the big deal about the offered bet? It’s not such a shocking thing that someone says, “Wanna bet?” What’s a little shocking is when someone who’s known to be wealthy  offers to bet someone ten thousand smackers. Specifically.

“Wanna bet? What do you want to bet me?” Fine. “Ten thousand dollars?” What the hell, dude?

It’s not just that it’s tone-deaf to the fact that so many Americans are struggling to bet anybody ten bucks on anything, let alone ten thousand. It’s also that he left it dangling without ever explaining his reason.

The Romney campaign today says the bet was a rhetorical moment – a claim to which I call shenanigans, because Romney waited for Perry to accept or refuse the offer, and if it were rhetorical he would have just plowed on. Romney’s people also say that only Democrats are focusing on that moment of the event, and that proves that the Democrats are “obsessed” with Romney, and that proves he’s going to win the nomination.

Which doesn’t even really make sense.

If I’m Romney’s people, here’s what I say:

“The governor was prepared to seal the deal on his bet with Gov. Perry. What he unfortunately didn’t get a chance to say was that he would donate that money to a charity of the governor’s choice – though not the Perry campaign.”

– or –

“Ten thousand dollars is the maximum amount an individual is allowed to gift to someone without a tax imposed. In a time when so many people are hurting, wouldn’t it be better if the federal government didn’t try to take money away from those who need it most?”

I prefer the first one, frankly. Of course, they’re both complete bs and not at all what Romney intended, but nobody can prove it. Either way, they do something to backpedal a bit from making the guy look like a clueless rich man.

The other very uncomfortable moment in the debate was when ABC’s Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos – a former advisor to Pres. Bill Clinton – asked the candidates if marital fidelity should be considered in choosing a president.

Oh no they di-ihn!

Herman Cain’s campaign folded because of sexual harassment and marital infidelity allegations. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is an admitted philanderer. And he’s standing. Right. There.

Awkwaaaard.

I don’t remember who answered the question first. I think it was Rick Perry, who very firmly stated that if one cheats on one’s spouse, there’s no reason they wouldn’t cheat  their business partner or the American people. He bolstered his statement by saying that when he married his wife, he didn’t just promise her he’d be faithful; he promised God.

Then he said something dumb about how that’s stronger than a handshake in Texas and I yelled at him that he’s not Dan Rather.

Rick Santorum, perhaps the most religiously unflagging candidate and a very proud Catholic, was gentler. He said that a candidate’s personal and professional life are both fair game and up for consideration as matters of character in a political campaign. But he said he doesn’t think infidelity disqualifies someone. “I believe people  make mistakes,” he said.

Rep. Michele Bachmann said fidelity is unquestionably important but didn’t convict cheaters of being bad people. Ron Paul made a similar point.

Newt Gingrich was the last person to get the question.

I think ABC did this for two reasons: 1. to give him time to figure out how to respond; and 2. to build the anticipation since everybody knows he’s cheated on two wives.

But Gingrich handled it beautifully and humbly, without even a hint of indignation, saying he had admitted that he has cheated, that he’s gone to God for forgiveness, that he’s tried to make amends, and that people absolutely do have the right to judge an unfaithful person and make their decision about how important that is to them in choosing a president.

After the lead-up, after the candidates somewhat uncomfortably, but still, to their credit, with conviction, answered the question, the guy the question was aimed at hit a home run, placing a bet of his own: that an honest cheat is better than a lying cheat.

You know, I can’t really argue with that.

 

 

glasses of wine

Holiday Whine

There aren’t a ton of perks that come with what I do. I mean I have an interesting job, but it comes with precious few pluses beyond a paycheck. (Which I am grateful for. No instant complaint karma, please.) Yesterday, however, a glorious, wondrous, miraculous advantage landed in my office email inbox.

Available through a new subsidiary of the company: fifteen bottles of really good wine for $60. Shipped direct.

Haaaaallelujah! Haaaaallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halleeeelujah! (words by heavenly angels; music by George Frideric Handel.)

In the immortal words of Neil Diamond via UB40, "Red red wine, you make me feel so fine..."

 

Of course, you have to join a kind of wine-of-the-month club, except instead of like two wussy bottles a month, they send you a whole case every three months, but even then you get good stuff for like $10 a bottle. I’m so totally in.

Except I currently have $22 in my checking account, so maybe I’m in after payday on Friday, once I get done paying bills and doing Christmas shopping. But whatever. Same-same. And at first I thought, Wow, a case every three months… that’s a lot. And then I did the math and realized, Nnnnooo, that’s pretty much what I drink. Yep. Totally in.

Oh, relax. It works out to about one bottle a week.

This was the most beautiful moment of my week by far. I mean by far. This was a work perk that offered me exactly the amount of wine I’d like to have at hand, for a really good deal, and they’ll send it right to my house. The people at my liquor store will not have to give each other looks when I walk in.

A while back, I posted that my wine rack was full of empty bottles that made me look like I had a problem both drinking and taking out the trash. It’s really just the latter. And I cleaned all of those bottles out before summer and established a bit of a program for myself: in warmer months, when I tended to drink white wine, I bought a bottle of red whenever I could. The idea was to stock up for fall and winter.

It was very Billy Joel.

Aaaand I’m out.

So this wine club thing that we got in our email at work yesterday was serendipitous. Hooray! Good, varied wine in an endless supply! Cancel whenever I’d like! (Why the hell would I do that?) And cheap!

I investigated the situation as far as I could go on the website before they would make me actually pay. I didn’t get all that far. When I selected the red wine case as my choice for my first shipment, I was greeted by a red message.

The Holiday Red Wine case cannot be purchased. Please remove it to proceed.

Wha… wha… what?

My lip may or may not have trembled.

I unchecked that selection and tried for the mixed case of red and white. I really wanted reds because they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when it’s cold out, but… I could make do.

The Holiday Mixed Wine case cannot be purchased. Please remove it to proceed.

Bu… but… *sniff* … my Holiday Wine…!

They had an all-white case, but I didn’t want that. So I dialed the number provided on the website, grateful that there was one available. They were experiencing an unusually high volume of calls. Allegedly. But within five minutes I got a human, and explained to her my problem.

“Yeah, we might be out,” she said.

You might be what?!

I told her about how I’d tried two different selections and gotten the same message, hoping against all holiday hope that there was just some sort of computer programming problem, a glitch in the matrix.

“Yeah, I know we’re out of the red cases. We might be out of the mixed cases, too.”

And my poor little oenophile heart broke clear in two.

Dejected, I gathered myself. “Well… when do you think you’ll have a stock?” I asked.

“End of the month.”

End of the…? but… my Holiday Wine…!

“Oh.” I tried not to whimper audibly. “And will the deal still be the same then?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied confidently. “The deal is the same regardless of when you join.”

“Okay.” I took the phone from my ear. I had to sort of bend down to say “thank you” to her as I lowered it to its cradle.

And then I got kind of annoyed. A little bit. Because the parent company blasted out this email to all its gazillions of employees and within five minutes they sold out of the wine. Like they were Justin Bieber tickets or something. What kind of half-assed operation blasts a sale and doesn’t have supplies to last more than five minutes? This is bush league! Way to not deliver on a promise! I DEMAND THE WINE THAT IS RIGHTFULLY MINE AT A STEEP DISCOUNT THAT I DID NOT KNOW EXISTED UNTIL I GOT THIS EMAIL!

This is just like the company. Hold out a carrot and then take it away. Just snatch away my happiness for sport. And during the holidays. I could see the CEO (and yes, I know what he looks like), puffing away on a cigar, monocled eye squinted, sitting on vats and vats of precious wine, laaaaughing and laaaaughing and laaaughing like John Lithgow in “Santa Claus: The Movie” when he figures out how to sell massive amounts of a wayward elf’s concoction of reindeer flying powder in lollipop form.

I guess his monocle fell from laughing so hard.

Those bastards.

I appealed to one of my (six) bosses, who I knew for a fact had a case of wine in his office for weeks. He says he took it home last month. “I think you should give me some wine,” I said, “since the company can’t make good on its deal that it just told us about five minutes ago.”

He blinked.

“I know you have a case of wine. I don’t know where you got it and I know you said you took it home but I’m not convinced. Give me some wine. They’re out. There was the email and then they were out of wine and you have some. I think you should share. I am the 99%!” 

Yes, I really did say that.

He rolled his eyes.

“I’m going to occupy your apartment until you give me some of that wine.”

“Yeah, let me know how that works out,” he said, checking his phone.

He didn’t say no. So, you know. Fingers crossed.