Day 1,825

nodrinkingI have awakened every single day for the last 1,825 days with the same thought: I can’t drink today. Every. Single. Solitary. Day.

Today, however, in a curious twist of events, I awoke thinking about mopping my kitchen floor, doing a couple of loads of laundry, and, possibly, even giving the bathroom a good once over. I suppose that’s a good thing. It’s a weird thing, though, especially considering that today marks the day that five years ago I had what I like to believe was my last drink.

I have a vague recollection of hearing in some meeting or other about how important the five-year mark is for addicts — some scientific or spiritual mumbo-jumbo about how your brain (and, I suspect, your soul) needs that much time to recover from the damage inflicted upon it. I remember thinking, upon processing this, that it was horseshit.

Imagine then, if you will, my surprise when I awoke this morning thinking about housework rather than my usual alliterative companions — doubt, discomfort, and disease. It was mildly unnerving, but not altogether unpleasant.

Sometimes, as it turns out, it can feel good to be wrong.

I jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn, not because I had an overwhelming desire to get crack-a-lackin’ on the housework, but because I didn’t want to break the spell. I also felt an immediate need to write about it. Truthfully, before this morning, I had made the conscious decision NOT to write anything about hitting the five-year mark.

When I started writing again, I did so to fill my time with something more productive than drinking. Much of that stuff, mostly hand-written, has, hopefully, been turned into something more worthwhile — like an Ikea bookshelf or something equally useful. I came to blogging — virtual paper is much easier and far more environmentally-friendly — a few years into sobriety. I was determined that this would not be a recovery blog. And, if you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have told you that it hasn’t been.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Outside of the fact that I need to make the hovel a bit more presentable, that we are experiencing a clean towel shortage, and that I won’t be drinking anything stronger than a Diet Coke, nothing feels certain today. Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps that’s been the point all along.

I think that the very real possibility exists that this is, indeed, a recovery blog. It just so happens that it’s MY recovery blog. It’s been my way of sorting through the mental detritus so that, in the end, I could wind up here — thinking about cleaning and about writing, instead of about drinking or, more to the point, about not drinking.

Milestones exist in many ways to demonstrate how far we’ve come and how much farther we need to travel in order to reach our destinations. I don’t know how much farther I need to go or whether or not I’ll ever get there. That’s for the universe to decide. I do know how far I’ve come, though.

And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating. Maybe I’ll go nuts, throw caution to the wind, and put a shine on the faucets. They, too, deserve to smile today.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

photo credit: bing

My Evil Plan: Use “Minecraft” to Teach Compassion

 I need 100 of these puppies by Christmas! OMG!

I need 100 of these puppies by Christmas! OMG!

You may note my absence over the next few weeks or, you may not. Who can say? That really depends, I suppose, on two things.

One has more to do with you — whether or not you note my presence on a regular basis — for those of you that do, a hearty “Thank You!” is in order.

The other possible reason for my impending disappearance from the blogosphere has more to do with me — whether or not I can reach my goal of crocheting five granny squares a day and still carve out the time necessary for creating the mind-blowing blogs that I’m (semi-) famous for in certain circles (the basket-weaving one at the local funny farm, perhaps?).

I find myself in this predicament as a result of promising to make a “Creeper” blanket — that’s a character from a videogame that is, purportedly, wildly popular with the kids these days. I am “on the hook” (crocheters will get that reference AND they’ll think it’s funny) to not only make one-hundred of these foolish squares, but also to sew them together in such a way as they form a blanket. In other words, I have to come up with a finished — and lovingly crafted — handmade product prior to December 25th.

The finished product SHOULD look something like this!

The finished product SHOULD look something like this!

It all started innocently enough when I asked my friend what her son wanted for Christmas. She told me how much he loves this highly-rated AND educational video game. She told me that he had found, courtesy of the internet and those fine folks who spend their lives fashioning things out of buttons and clay — the ones with Etsy shops — several examples of “Creeper” blankets. The asking prices for these things (upwards of $100) was not in her budget. And, so, as roads to evil are paved — with good intentions — I said something along the lines of “Let me take a look. I’m sure I can make one! In fact, I’d love to make him a blanket. I made your girls theirs, I’ve never made him one!” Yup. I’m an idiot.

I don’t know anything about the game. I did, however, find it interesting that she went on and on about how it’s one of the few videogames that the elementary school educational community considers to be “not a complete waste of time”. (A resounding endorsement if I’ve ever heard one!)

In telling me this I got the sense that she was defending her parenting skills. I had to laugh. Let’s face it, I would have let my kid have a sleepover with Satan if it would have kept her quiet and out of my hair. Everyone knows that Satan LOVES to play Barbies! That he would have had a hard time dressing, undressing them, and getting those Go-Go boots on, you know, because of the cloven hooves and all — that he would have needed my “help” in this area — that’s probably the only reason I didn’t invite him over for a play date.

I also allowed my kid to do all sorts of things that many folks, and by “many folks” I really mean my mother, may not have considered to be at all “age-appropriate”. It’s possible that this list may also have included her teachers, her father, and child service workers, but, let’s be honest, I was really most concerned about incurring the wrath of Grandma! These things included, but were certainly not limited to, watching “Jackass” — in all its incarnations — the movie, the television program, the sequels, the Christmas special.

For whatever reason, “Jackass” tickled me. (Still does!) There’s almost nothing funnier to me than watching a bunch of (allegedly) grown men — in various states of drunkenness and undress — dare each other to do stupid and dangerous stunts for their own and my amusement. The episode where they strap skis to lifeguard chairs and race down a very steep, very icy mountain? Hysterical.

My kid thought so, too. You can’t rule out that her sparkling sense of humor and her fun-loving spirit is a direct result of her introduction to “Jackass” during what most experts would consider her “formative” years. You’re welcome, Fangette!

I can’t say that I didn’t grow somewhat nervous when I realized that she was attempting to reenact, with her Barbie dolls, some of the hijinks she had witnessed “the boys” participating in on the show. Although, I have to tell you that there is almost nothing funnier than hearing your kid ask for your help in making a straitjacket for Ken. You know, so that she could “play ‘Jackass'” in the bathtub later. Clearly, I had a comic genius on my hands.

Listening to my friend wax poetic about some video game, nodding my head in assent as she tried to convince me (and herself, I suspect) that the skills he was learning would serve him well down the line, didn’t seem all that unreasonable. (Not from a woman who chalked up drowning Ken in the bathtub to her child’s possible future as a comedienne!) My friend mentioned how “all the experts agreed” that the game was teaching her son invaluable lessons about time-space relationships and time-management. (I don’t even want to know what the “experts” would have agreed about what I was teaching my kid!)

During the course of our conversation I thought about how I could benefit from better time-management skills myself. It’s safe to say that if I had any time-management skills at all that I might not be in my current predicament, which includes being on a five granny-square-a-day regimen. Perhaps I would have known, as a result of having played “Minecraft”, that there was NO WAY I could complete this project in the allotted time. (Let’s put aside for a minute that I should have known this as a result of being a mature adult person who has crocheted more than one thing in her life!)

I’ve done some research on the game and I’ve learned that when this “Creeper” character pops up with the intention of destroying your stuff, he says, “Oh, you have a very nice EVERYTHING!” (Players then have ten moves to block him. After that, their stuff is history.) So, I was thinking — because I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve and because kids are gullible — if I don’t finish the blanket, I can just tell my little friend that “Creeper” showed up and that I made the wrong moves. As a result of failing to secure my granny squares, they were destroyed — by “Creeper”!

He’ll believe me, too — his opinion of my videogame-playing skills is that I’m “bad” at them! He’s only seven, but he’s been soundly beating the pants off me at video games for several years now.

As much as I’d like to say that I “let” him win, I’d be lying if I did. Of course, I have an excuse for this, as bad losers everywhere always do. He always suckers me into playing games that he’s played a thousand times, games that I’m unfamiliar with — games like “Sponge Bob” and “Scooby-Doo”. And, for the record, I hate that damn DS. The screen is too small and I’m not used to the controls. I’d like to see him try to best me at “Zelda” on the big screen using the Nintendo 64. I “rule” at that game! (If anyone has a Nintendo 64 laying around, send it on over, would ya? I really need to beat this kid at something, for crying out loud!)

Because he’s been faced with losing his own projects to that annoying “Creeper” character combined with his assessment of my game-playing prowess, I’m confident that he will completely understand why I couldn’t finish his blanket. I wonder if the makers of “Minecraft” (or his mother) foresaw that the game, in addition to possessing its much-touted educational benefits, might also teach a little thing called compassion.

photo credits:
Granny Squares (me!)
“Creeper” blanket

Just for fun and just because I love it — here’s a Christmas song for you! (Also, I need to “Believe” that I can complete this project!)

Christmas Songs — Twisted MixTape Tuesdays

mixtape christmas

ONCE upon a time there lived a girl who loved Christmas songs. She loved them so much that she even, privately — when no one was around to judge her — listened to them when it wasn’t even Christmas. That girl was (is) me!


I’ve written about these songs and my relationship with them at length in the past. Suffice it to say that BETTER THINGS is very much the anti-FATHER CHRISTMAS! Where FATHER CHRISTMAS is loud and snarky, BETTER THINGS is quiet and hopeful. It’s tone notwithstanding, FATHER CHRISTMAS has earned its place in the canon. As to BETTER THINGS? Well, it’s just downright beautiful.

For a treat, I’ve included a link to Pearl Jam’s BETTER THINGS cover — it’s live, it’s Eddie Vedder. What more do you want?

BETTER DAYS The Goo Goo Dolls

In this song, Johnny Rzeznik and the boys ask that we worry less about “boxes wrapped in string” and, instead, embrace the universal message of forgiveness and peace. It’s nice. It’s pretty. It’s musically interesting — Rzeznik’s voice lends itself well to the arrangement.


This is a song about a guy and a girl who spend all year missing their connections with each other. Finally, on Christmas Eve their story has a happy ending at, of all places, the A&P. It’s just a fun song from an equally fun 80’s New Wave band. (The other song you may know by them? I KNOW WHAT BOYS LIKE)


From the first lightly struck piano notes and the plaintive timbre of Fogelberg’s voice — this song grabs you. When he reaches the chorus, when the harmonies kick in, it’s just so, well, melodious. Lyrically, the song tells the story of running into an old lover in the grocery store on Christmas Eve, catching up, feeling “that old familiar pain” of the what might have been, knowing right along with the narrator that it’s too late for them. For my money, there’s nothing like the saxophone solo at the end to underscore the sadness of the piece.

NOTE: In the beginning of this video is a letter that Dan Fogelberg wrote about the origins of the song!

THIS IS A BLOG HOP >>>> Thanks, once again, to Jen over at My Skewed View for hosting!

Here’s how it works. Find your own fab five songs that fit the category, write a post, and link-up below where it tells you to! This is the perfect week to join in the fun. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know five Christmas songs? (I don’t care if you’re Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Whatever — I guarantee you that you know five Christmas songs, for crying out loud!)

Go ahead, HOP ON IN!

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*BETTER THINGS may not officially be a Christmas song, but I’ve always thought of it this way.

FATHER CHRISTMAS, The Kinks, 1977 (released as a single, but also appears on the the 1986 “greatest hits” compilation Come Dancing with The Kinks). Written by Ray Davies.

BETTER THINGS, The Kinks, 1981 (released as a single, but also appears on their 1981-2 album Give the People What They Want). Written by Ray Davies.

BETTER DAYS, The Goo Goo Dolls, 2005 (from the album Let Love In). Written by John Rzeznik.

CHRISTMAS WRAPPING, The Waitresses, 1981 (from the album A Christmas Record). Written by Chris Butler.

SAME OLD LANG SYNE, Dan Fogelberg, 1980 (released as a single, but also appears on the 1981 album The Innocent Age). Written by Dan Fogelberg.

Avoiding the “Vague Idea”

crucifixMen are not really equipped for the whole shopping gig. Yes, I know. This is both sexist and promotes a certain stereotype. Sometimes, though, stereotypes linger because they’re true. For example, I’m Irish. I used to drink a lot. Many Irish people drink to excess. Not all, but many. That’s how it became a stereotype. Because it’s true. Perhaps you know a man who is not challenged by a shopping trip. Good for you. He’s a keeper! If you are not, however, involved with the exception to the rule — a man who has the shopping gene — don’t despair. All is not lost. They can be trained. Ultimately, what must be avoided is anything resembling the “vague idea”.

In our early years together my husband was fond of purchasing me jewelry. The problem? I don’t really wear a whole lot of jewelry. Well, at least not the jewelry that he was choosing. In an effort to indulge the obvious pleasure he got from shopping for jewelry, I started to drop hints about jewelry that I might actually like to own. (Enter the “vague idea”.) They were, I thought, fairly straightforward things. I mentioned items such as, a cross pendant, “X” earrings, or a simple gold chain. How could someone screw that up? Fairly easily, as it turns out. The small, elegant, understated cross turned into an elaborate filigreed crucifix that might at one time have belonged to Madonna. For those of you who don’t know, there is a difference between a cross and a crucifix. A cross is a modified “T” shape; a crucifix has a sculpted and bloodied man wearing a crown of thorns affixed to the “T” shape. I like Jesus as much as the next gal, but I don’t want four gruesome inches of his death hanging from my neck. Too flashy and overtly religious. Definitely NOT me.

The “X” earrings? They were large enough to partially obscure my cheekbones and heavy enough to stretch my delicate earlobes. When I returned them I think they put them back on the branding iron from which they had been removed.

A simple gold chain? Try a quadruple herringbone. Cleopatra probably sported something smaller. It gave me a neck ache. I also imagined that it might catch the eye of some ne’er do well who would garrote me while attempting to tear it from my tender neck. Again. Not for me.

Those jewelry store clerks definitely saw my husband coming. He fell, hook, line, and sinker, for the old “bigger is better” adage. And he fell hard.

Obviously I returned all of this craziness. (And made a handsome profit, I might add.) Following the quadruple herringbone disaster (he really could not understand what could possibly be wrong with something so obviously expensive and well-made — and in Italy for crying out loud!), he vowed never to buy me jewelry again. Obviously his inability to select something appropriate was all my fault. He stayed true to his word, though, and steered clear of the jewelry stores when my birthday, Christmas, or Mother’s Day rolled around. I began to receive things like candle snuffers (designed for taper candles, which I do not own a one of), snow boots (bright pink and two sizes too small), scarves (mostly “medallion” prints, I’ll likely drag them out when I’m 80), pajamas (flannel and sized to hold at least one other person — and, no, not because he had any kinky ideas — because he operates under the assumption that my feet are petite, but my ass is at least two sizes larger than it really is), and, of course, the inevitable robot vacuum cleaner (he does the vacuuming, so I guess that one worked out for him).

More than twenty years of well-meaning, yet still not quite right, gifts forced me to adopt the bold strategy of asking for exactly what I want. No more hints. No more leaving dog-eared magazines or catalogs lying around (like the ones he used to look quizzically at finding atop his pillow). No more candle-snuffers, cleaning-related products, or stage-worthy jewelry for me! Last year he even relaxed his “No Jewelry” policy and agreed to buy me the small Tiffany “Love” ring that I’d had my eye on for ages. This year I asked for AND received a new pair of chocolate brown UGGS mini boots (in the proper size!). Let me not leave you with the impression that my husband is perfect, though. No. He’s still working out the kinks with the whole “Christmas pajama” tradition. This year they weren’t flannel nor were they completely ludicrous. They would have been great if it weren’t for the see-through white top that accompanied the XL bottoms. So, while there’s always room for improvement, there is no substitute for proper training.

photo credit: crucifix

On Swans and Shepherds: Christmas Pageant Memories

twelvedaysofchristmas“The Twelve Days of Christmas” has always had a special place in my heart. When I was in the first grade I got to be one of the “Twelve Drummers Drumming” in our Annual Christmas Pageant. Having always attended Catholic school I had heard stories from my public school friends about singing “Frosty the Snowman” or “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”, so a foray into the land of secular music was something like a Christmas miracle. (What I didn’t know then is that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” may be just as religious as, say, the “Ave Maria”, but in a different and clandestine kind of way.) My mother made my drum out of an empty Quaker Oats container, which we wrapped and decorated. It hung from my neck by gold ribbon. It was the bee’s knees, I’ll tell you that.

We spent weeks practicing. Being part of the last verse gave me plenty of opportunity to witness the visual spectacle that bringing the song to life created. It also afforded me a front row seat to all of the “days”. It didn’t take me long to figure out that some “days” were better than others. (Ain’t that the truth!)

Even to a six-year-old, as yet unwise to the ways of the world, it was clear that the coveted roles were the golden rings. That year the young Marcia Brady look-alikes who snagged these parts were actually wrapped, toga-style, in gold fabric. Oh! My! God!

This was slightly troubling. I already had a complex about Marcia Brady. My hair was neither blonde nor straight. And my mother insisted on a pixie cut, which was the only way to tame its natural unruliness. My eyes, too, presented a problem. They’re brown. I looked like the wrong Brady: Mike, not Carol.

I came up with a plan. I noticed that the “golden rings” were fifth-graders, so I would have some time to grow, dye, and iron my hair. I convinced myself that I would be old enough to do these things when I was ten and also that no one would notice the eye color if I could perfect the Marcia Brady hair flip.

In the meantime, I took note of the many poultry-related aspects of the song (and how their players were being directed to act them out). I quickly decided that none of these were for me. (The swans being the notable exception— I’ll get to that in a moment.) I immediately dismissed the partridge. In our version the partridge carried a branch and a pear. Nary a snazzy fabric or a shiny ribbon in sight. The partridge was ho-hum. The only allure of the partridge was in its single solo and significant stage time— still, not enough cachet.

At least the two turtle doves “cooed”. There may also been some linking of thumbs and flapping of hands, to indicate flying, but that was about it. To Sister Maria’s credit, she made what may have initially seemed a brilliant casting decision that year. The turtle doves would be played by the O’Neill twins. What Sister Maria was unaware of (until it was too late) was that the O’Neill twins suffered from a severe case of one-upmanship. The cooing quickly got out of hand. The hand motions almost caused them to come to blows. Poor Sister Maria had no idea what formidable opponents Mary Margaret and Margaret Mary O’Neill would turn out to be. The O’Neill’s performance gave credence to the old adage “there are no small roles, only small actors”, but I was still skeptical about the whole turtle dove thing.

Putting aside the turtle dove casting fiasco, Sister Maria did make some excellent choices in the areas of costuming and set direction. (You were paying attention when I mentioned that the “five golden rings” were virtually wrapped in gold, right?) In a stroke of genius, the three French hens were outfitted with berets AND given makeshift French flags to pin to their shirt fronts. In addition, the three French hens were instructed to keep their hands behind their backs and bobble their heads in a way that suggested pecking. The beret alone was almost enough to convince me that the French hens were cool. Almost.

Even Sister Maria’s genius couldn’t save the four calling birds, though. She tried, God bless her. Apart from directing two of them to encircle their lips with their index fingers and thumbs while fluttering the rest of their fingers while the other two each cupped an ear— to indicate calling and listening, I would imagine. There is little else associated with this part of the song that I remember. I suppose she could have incorporated a bit of cooing, but she already had her hands full with those crazy O’Neill’s. Being cast as a calling bird was, obviously, to be avoided.

Sister Maria was either incredibly naïve or dumb like a fox. If you’ve had little contact with nuns it’s probably difficult for you to imagine their naiveté. But what other reason could there have been for her to expect that seven prepubescent boys could pull off “geese-a-laying” with a straight face? It probably didn’t help that they were instructed to pretend that they were laying eggs. Maybe she knew that none of the girls would ever mimic egg-laying in front of their families and the entire school. The boys, as it turns out, were the comic relief of the evening. I’ve always enjoyed getting a laugh, but not at the expense of my dignity. I wouldn’t be caught dead pretending to lay eggs. No matter how big the laugh.

The Swans, however, were the exception to the “Don’t be a bird in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ rule” I was cunningly constructing. They had headdresses made of white feathers. Truthfully, they were just paper plates with cheap feathers glued to them, but to me they were straight out of a Busby Berkeley number! The swans’ only stage direction was “to float”. So, they did. They just kind of meandered around center stage, as Swans are wont to do. They were beautiful. If my inability to look like Marcia Brady kept me from my dream of being a golden ring, I would settle for being a Swan. I knew that my normally craft-challenged mother could pull off something as simple as attaching some feathers to a plate. She’d managed the drum, for God’s sake. I even dropped a few subtle hints to my unsuspecting mother when we were in the Five and Ten. I pointed out the feather boas, examined their shoddy construction, and indicated that the feathers could easily be removed and glued onto something else. As I recall, she muttered something along the lines of “Removed and glued on to what, exactly?” “I don’t know”, I shrugged innocently, “maybe a paper plate.” It’s never too early to start planning for being a Swan.

Following the Swans, of course, are the Maids-a-Milking. They, too, had hats. Normally I’d have been all about the hats, but a boring bonnet is just no substitute for a feathered headdress. They also wore aprons, carried buckets, and got to skip. You really have to hand it to the good Sister here. One doesn’t normally associate apron-wearing and bucket-carrying with skipping. She got a little careless with the Maids, though. After the skipping she had them stop downstage, plunk down their buckets, and pull milk from imaginary udders. It reminded you that the Maids were commoners; it was suggestive of servitude. I would have been down for the skipping and I might even have settled for the bonnet, but I had to draw the line at the milking.

The Ladies Dancing might have held some appeal if Sister Maria hadn’t plum run out of ideas. I think she just gave up after the Maids. Or maybe there wasn’t much room left on the stage. In any event, they didn’t so much dance as they curtsied. I’ve never been much for the curtsy. Outside of meeting a monarch or playing Anna in “The King and I” there’s really not much call for it.

The Lords-a-Leaping and the Pipers Piping were reserved for the boys. Sister Maria really went out on a limb back in 1971 casting ganders to play geese, but even she wouldn’t use girls as Lords or Pipers.

I took my role as a Drummer very seriously and acquitted myself as well as any six-year-old with a Quaker Oats box tied to her neck with a gold ribbon could have been expected to, but I have to admit that I may have lost my beat here and there while I watched the Golden Rings and the Swans. Sadly, Sister Maria was moved to another parish and our Annual Christmas Pageant reverted back to The Nativity. I was cast as a shepherd. (I can’t think why. Maybe we didn’t have enough boys?) I got to say, “Hark! Who goes there?”

Having a line as a second-grader was pretty impressive, but still, as I laid there in the field awaiting the Wise Men and my one line, I couldn’t help but curse the itchy beard while I daydreamed of gold fabric and white feathers.

photo credit: 12 Days of Christmas

Five Wishes

christmaslistRecently, my friend, Wedelmom, over at The View from a Slightly Twisted Angle, tagged me in her “Christmas Wishes” post.

I could, like a better, less self-absorbed person would, wish for things like world peace (better, less self-absorbed people are sooooo predictable and pedestrian, aren’t they?) or a final solution to global warning. (More well-educated seekers of national office who, incidentally, also “invented” the Internet have, I am certain, been making this wish for years— to no avail. If Santa hasn’t seen fit to grant this wish to Al Gore, what chance would I, a mere waitress, have? Who am I to waste a wish on something that is evidently beyond even Santa’s powers?)

Please let me prove to you, Santa, that winning the lottery will not ruin me. I know that in the past I have actually verbally AND in writing admitted that I would use a lottery windfall for evil. I promise you that I will do nothing of the sort.

To wit:

I will not hire the neighbor kids or round up any illegal immigrants to leave flaming dog poop on the doorsteps of my enemies while I remain at a safe distance in the Bentley. (I will do the deed myself!)

I will not purchase an untraceable cell phone, pretend to be a pharmacist, and “accidentally” leave a message on that bitch who talked smack about me all over town’s husband’s cell phone to remind her that the refill on her genital warts cream is ready for pick up. Because that would just be wrong. Surely the opportunity to use my spot-on Indian accent will present itself in another area.

Altruist that I am, I would like to use my second wish for the benefit of mankind. So, Santa, if you could please, pretty please with a candy cane on top (or, a starlight mint— your choice), leave some old-fashioned manners in stockings worldwide. Doing so should put an end to daily conversations that go something like this:

Me: Hi! How are you today?
Ill-mannered member of the populace: *unintelligible grunting noise*
Me (soldiering on in the face of adversity): May I get you a beverage? A soft drink or something from the bar?
Ill-mannered member of the populace: Yeah. Gimme a coke. And I’ll take a salad. Don’t put no cheese on it. I’m whatchacall intolerable to dairy and shit like that. Capice?
Me (perkily— yes, I said “perkily”— it’s my story, I can tell it any way I want to!): Sure. Let me just jot down here that you’re intolerable. I wouldn’t want to forget that!

Do you know what would be a nifty trick, Santa? Endowing the masses with math skills! That would sure be super! Service professionals the world over would be ever so grateful. I know they would! (To my comrades-in-arms, I say, “You’re Welcome!”) At the very least, might I suggest filling stockings with calculators and/or tip cards? That might be helpful. Focus on the cheapskates. You’ll know who they are. (Hint: they’re the folks that leave you celery sticks and left over eggnog in lieu of the fancy cookies and hot cocoa that you get here.) They need to understand that leaving $2 on an $18 check is barely 10%. It’s close to 15%, but it’s not actually 15%. Perhaps you are familiar with the expression “close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes”, Santa?

Once the math-challenged are gifted with the ability to multiply, we can only hope that they will be able to grasp the concept that leaving a measly 15% is basic and that 15% is what people should leave for ADEQUATE service. And if they aren’t a pain in the ass. 18-20% is really the percentage that any normal human being should leave for attentive, pleasant service. (You’re familiar with inflation, aren’t you, Santa?) The 18-20% rule is particularly true if they, or anyone in their party, made any of the following requests during their meal: extra lemons, hot tea, and/or anything or everything “on the side”. If they let their children use the sugar/sweetener caddy as a toy, if more food ended up on the floor than in their child’s mouth, and/or if anything was spilled whilst they enjoyed their meal— these things would also be grounds for a tip in the 18-20% range. Other annoying behaviors/requests that should automatically bump up the percentage would include forcing your server to listen to your stupid jokes, staying too long, and/or being an attention-seeker of any variety. Finally, for those of you who expect the service staff and the immigrant kitchen staff to be trained allergists, please a) let us know in advance of your severe allergy to pepper (which is, frankly, a lot of hooey) and b) tip accordingly.

I always like to ask for things that I need but that I feel guilty about spending money on— things like perfume and books. If I live long enough, I may actually get up the nerve to ask for Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy, all THREE glorious volumes— in HARDCOVER! Or a First Edition “A Prayer for Owen Meany” (signed, of course, by its author, John Irving). Either of these would be swell! But, they don’t really fall into the category of “things I need”. Not because I don’t consider books necessities (I definitely do!), but because I’ve already read them. More than once.

While a nice bottle of Chanel No. 19 wouldn’t go to waste, what would really be a luxury is an organizer. By this I mean an actual human being who comes to the hovel and ORGANIZES it (and, by extension, me). Hopefully he or she will bring along a cleaning crew and a carpenter. (No self-respecting organizer would walk out of here without suggesting some built-ins!) Also, just to give you a “heads up” here, Santa, you may want to throw in a dumpster if you see fit to grant this wish.

The lapsed Catholic in me knows that I should really be praying to St. Jude (The Patron Saint of Lost Things— there really is a patron saint for everything!) about this, instead of including it in my Christmas wishes, but part of the reason I am a lapsed Catholic is that none of my prayers were ever answered. Maybe because they were (mostly) vapid and silly. (Still, I would have given anything to have met Donny Osmond back in the late 70’s— Thanks for NOT listening, patron saint of adolescent crushes!). Whatever.

Misplaced knitwear may not be important to you, Santa (clearly, we’ve all seen your stunning choice of attire), but I have to tell you, I really miss my long black fine-gauge ruffled sweater. It was sold by Kohl’s a few years back and manufactured by Daisy Fuentes. (Well, probably not by HER personally— more than likely there were some Taiwanese children involved, but whoever it was, they turned out a damn fine garment!) It was my favorite sweater and somehow we became separated. I tried to replace it with a gray Ann Taylor number. I convinced myself that even though the gray one was only waist-length and had a larger ruffle, that I would like it just as much. I was wrong, Santa. I know that now. There really is no substitute for that black Daisy Fuentes sweater. None. If you happen to see one in a size large while you are out and about this Christmas season, do you think that you could pick it up for me? I understand that this may require some grand scale rifling on your part through the closets of similarly built (to me) middle-aged women, but I think that my happiness would be well worth the effort. Let’s just say that if that sweater were to turn up under the tree, there might be a little something to make you “Ho-Ho-Ho!” like you’ve never “Ho-Ho-Ho’d” before. (Mrs. Claus would never have to know!)

One more thing, Santa: These are a few of my blogging buddies. I’m hoping that they’ll all write five-wish lists and that you’ll take the time to read them. I’m sure they’ll be interesting! (And probably funny, too.)

The Fur Files
The Waiting
Fat Lies and Fairytales
Motherhood is an Art
rant and roll
nobody’s reading me
a spoonful of suga

photo credit: Christmas list

The Pub Crawl at the Mall

drinkingshoppingThere was a time when malls were for shopping. These days they are veritable entertainment complexes. Drinking establishments are around every corner. The mall is a great place to be an alcoholic. Those of you with a drinking problem can take full advantage of this by participating in a little activity I used to engage in, back in my drinking days— “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”

Here’s how to play:

Reward yourself with a drink, or several, following a successful purchase. Start small. Buy a box of cards that you have every intention of sending out (but that you never will). Earn a glass of buttery Chardonnay. Chilled.

Knocked the Christmas pajamas off the list? Time for a martini! If you’re feeling particularly festive, opt for the green apple martini. Request a cherry garnish. Red and green! Fa! La! La! La! La! La! La! La! La!

Two gifts and two drinks down— and it’s not even noon! Plenty of time to do more damage to the pocketbook and the liver!

Now that you have a slight buzz on, hit one of the finer department stores. Surely someone on your list (or everyone) can use some nice earmuffs. Buy a half-a-dozen. Throw in a couple of scarves for the ladies and several body wash sets for the guys. You’re on a roll now! Get yourself some lunch. A few chicken wings and a couple of beers should do the trick. Find the place with the Christmas Ale on tap.

Woozy, yet fortified, make your way to the big electronics store. It’s only a little walk through the parking lot. And it’s right next to the place that offers $1 margaritas and free chips and salsa after 3:00. Timing is everything! Kill some time browsing and asking questions of the staff about things you have no intention of buying. Take a crack at making the right decision regarding DVDs. (Remember, last year you bought two copies of “A Christmas Story”— don’t make that mistake again!) Listen intently as the clerk describes the slight, but critical differences, in the latest entries to the “point and shoot” digital camera marketplace. Let him sell you the most expensive one, because it’s 3:05 and, let’s face it, there are a few margaritas calling your name. Never mind that your husband has no interest in photography.

There’s nothing quite like the late afternoon tequila high. It is, however, short-lived. And the only way to recover is a nap. From experience I will caution you about having a brief lie-down near the fountain. There is a very real possibility that you will be pelted with coins and/or picked up for public drunkenness. To avoid the potential for embarrassment (not to mention the attendant legal fees), for the love of God, spend the $12 on a movie ticket and sleep in the darkened theater. Choose wisely, though, don’t go for the blockbuster or the cartoon, select the boring indie title (if there’s a foreign film playing— even better). There’s a good chance you’ll be the only one in that theater, making the cocktail-induced snoring and drooling a non-issue. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, you will need the $15 jumbo bucket of popcorn to soak up the $5 worth of crappy tequila. Don’t cheap out.

This combination of carbs and rest should give you a second wind. Don’t waste it on more shopping. Unless, of course, it’s a brief foray to one of the kiosks where “As Seen on TV” products or calendars are sold. That’s fine. Take ten minutes to grab a pasta pot that’s also a strainer (!) or “The Audobon Official Bird Watcher’s Calendar”. You’ll undoubtedly be able to unload these items on some unsuspecting loved one.

You could rest on your laurels and go home now, but if you want to finish the game (and what self-respecting alcoholic wouldn’t want to do that?), you must cap off your adventure with at least one coffee drink. For added points, ease into this portion of the evening. Nothing says the holidays like a smooth, smoky 12-year-old Scotch! Bartenders just love customers who order $30 drinks! (Remember to tip accordingly!)

Don’t worry about the killer hangover that will be incurred by your fun-filled day of drinking. Starting your day as you finished your night is always an option. Throw a little Bailey’s in your morning coffee. It’s a real eye-opener. Enjoy this tried and true hangover cure while you guiltily fish through your, mostly useless and ridiculous, drunk purchases. Oh, and have a second shot ready for when you tally up the receipts. You’ll really need the “hair of the dog” then. Because “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”? It never comes cheap.

photocredit: drinking and shopping