Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wise Advice from a Wisenheimer

Without intention, I attempted to send the year out with a bang. I had an accident in my car today. Oh no, I didn’t mean I had a motor vehicle accident. I meant I had an unfortunate incident while driving in my car. I had a misunderstanding with my soft taco supreme that did not end well for my sweater. So my advice to all of you is to never, ever attempt to eat a soft taco supreme while driving. It is simply not a manageable situation and you will be quite embarrassed when you have to walk around the library and then the grocery store with sour cream, taco sauce and small bits of lettuce down the front of your shirt.

This taco altercation got me thinking about what other advice I might want to share with friends and family as we ease into the New Year. I always thought I should be an advice columnist. I am a wonderful listener, very empathetic, and usually able to offer sound, objective resolutions to people’s problems. Of course, when my own personal life unraveled like a cheap sweater this year, I realized I might not be as suited for this position as I thought, though I do still have the empathy thing going for me.
So here is Cindy’s advice for 2012. Like your Margaritas, take it with a grain of salt.

Take your keys out of your pocketbook and pay your bill BEFORE the manicure is done. If not, you are going to be cussing the whole way home about how you messed up your nails AGAIN before you even left the nail salon.
If you treat yourself to a Sonic Blast more than twice a week, you are going to gain weight. It doesn’t matter how many extra sit ups you do or walks you take, your jeans are going to get tighter.

Grandchildren are for spoiling.
When your kids get older and become financially independent and they want to spend money on you, let them.

Drinking Sleepytime tea does help you to fall asleep faster, but you are going to wake up an hour later to pee. It’s one of those Murphy’s Law kinda things.
Deciding to let the hair go gray is not a good idea. If you want to walk around with gray roots for two weeks to prove this theory, be my guest. But make it easy on yourself and just trust me on this one.

You can remain a Deadhead no matter how old you get.
The Bedhead look is never attractive and should be avoided, even if it is just to run to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee.

Once you reach our age, your butt is going to look fat in any pair of jeans you wear. Stop putting people on the spot by asking them about it.
Scanning the radio channels and finding a Beatles song will ALWAYS bring a smile to your face. There is a memory attached to every one of them. Savor the moment.

Men will always look at younger women and think it’s a good idea at the moment. Eventually they will come to their senses and give themselves a face palm. Allow them their moment.
Women will ALWAYS think a younger man will make them feel younger, will satisfy them sexually and will be great eye candy to show off to their friends. They are right.

True love never runs smooth.
True friends will always smooth out the rough spots in your life.

The truth will set you free.
Happy New year to all those near and dear to me.  I wish you love, health and happiness in 2012; and for me, I wish I win the lottery.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Too Old for Christmas?

It’s over and I’m glad. I am not typically a bah humbug kinda girl, but let’s face it, this year sucked and the holidays are simply a culmination of the crap. I now need to survive New Year’s Eve and then I can be done with it. Of course NYE is a bit easier to handle because overindulgence in alcohol is expected, not just tolerated. Out with the old and in with the new – yes, baby, I am ready for that.

I wonder if I am just getting too old for Christmas.  There were some definite signs that the holiday simply doesn’t pack the punch it used to for me. For example:
I didn’t get kissed underneath the mistletoe.

Jack Frost tried to nip at my nose so I tasered him.
Good golly Miss Molly, there wasn’t a damn thing that was holly or jolly.

There were no chestnuts – roasted or otherwise.
I never heard what she heard or saw what he saw. Who are those people anyway?

I didn’t rock around the Christmas tree, deck the halls or don any gay apparel.
I did, however, have a blue, blue Christmas…the result of a little too much ho, ho, ho.

But lest I sound too dramatic, the holiday wasn’t a total loss. In fact, when properly reprioritized the special moments rise to the top. My daughters, who have been my angels this past year, gave me the best presents ever. It was amazing how it all went down. They asked me what I wanted, I told them and that’s what they got me. What a great concept.
A week before Christmas, we did a mother/daughter/grandson day complete with lunch, shopping and sibling bickering. While strolling through the mall, the girls decided it made more sense for them to get me my iPhone that day since we were right in front of the Verizon store. I panicked! I am not good at making major changes and I wasn’t “prepared”. They dragged me inside and instructed the salesperson to “just do it.” It was like ripping off the Band-Aid. I left there shaking, holding a new phone I didn’t know how to work and lamenting the loss of my saved texts, voice mails, ringtones and ringbacks. I was in shock, but the girls insisted I would get through it. I did hang up on a few friends, had no way of knowing who was calling by the ring and I sent a few texts to the wrong people…oops, that could be trouble. I think I may need a 12-step program.

My other gifts included a gift certificate for a mani/pedi, a new wallet just like my daughter’s and a certificate to Chief’s Wings and Firewater that will be redeemed during Clemson’s 2012 football season.  
Of course all the bahs and blahs went by the wayside on Christmas morning.  At 8am, I started the coffee, set out the cranberry muffins and fried two pounds of bacon – one pork and one turkey for all the health-conscious relatives. Nobody ate the turkey bacon, exclaiming it was Christmas and they were treating themselves to the good stuff.

And then the true purpose of the holiday sprang to life as my little guy woke up, rubbed his sleepy eyes, walked into the living room and spied what was under the tree. I’m not sure how Santa got all those items down the chimney – a Sit ‘n Spin, books and puzzles galore, building blocks, stuffed animals, DVDs and a big, old fire truck. Then there were the gifts from grandma, nana and poppa, and mimi and grandpa. Wyatt oohed and ahhed as he pulled tissue paper out of bags and stuck his head in to see what he could find. He was like Little Jack Horner sticking in his thumb and pulling out a plum. His smiles made all the bad stuff disappear in an instant.
So now it is onward and upward to face the new year. Mark my words, there’s gonna be some changes in these here parts. By next Christmas I plan to rock, roast, nip, hear, see, deck and don. And I am definitely getting kissed under the mistletoe. Now who knows the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

I got to pee in a cup today. It is not typically how I enjoy starting my day, but my future employer wants to be sure they are not hiring a pill head or drunk. Those who know me also know that I am hard-pressed to even down an aspirin. It has to be a really bad headache, or those times when my sciatica acts up, before I dive into the Advil gels. Other than that, and my daily dose of Synthroid, there isn’t much going into this body.

But you do have to take pause about the state of our society. Drug testing is a fact of life. If you want a job, you pretty much have to be willing to submit. Though we should all enjoy basic human rights, if you refuse to submit it presents the appearance of guilt, and employers have every right to say “thanks but no thanks” to your job application. How did we get like this? And more importantly, who licked the freaking cherry off my lollipop?
The drinking age was 18 when I turned 18, how convenient. I still remember my first legal drink. Richie Appleyard, my friend Janet’s older brother, took me to the Bluebird Bar in West Islip. I don’t recall what it was I drank. I’m sure Richie, the older and wiser of the two of us, ordered appropriately for me. Richie died a few years later, apparently having dove into an empty swimming pool while under the influence of alcohol.

My only foray into alcoholic beverages prior to my 18th birthday was Boone’s Farm Apple Wine or Colt 45 drunk through a straw. I would take a few sips with friends, more succumbing to peer pressure than trying to get high. I was much too afraid of the wrath of mom to come home plastered. I did, however, make up for lost time after 18. My biggest accomplishment – downing 16 shots of tequila celebrating my college graduation. I was in bed for three days afterwards, eating toast and drinking chocolate milk.
My generation drank and smoked a little pot. We imbibed on the weekends after working hard all week. We kicked back at a local bar, sat around trading stories of our youth and our dreams for the future. The rowdiest we ever got was getting up to dance if the juke box played a particularly invigorating song. My personal favorite was Mack the Knife by Bobby Darrin. We were peace-loving hippies and we enjoyed the simple pleasures. And we didn’t hurt anybody. And more amazingly, if we got pulled over on the way home and the cop thought we shouldn’t be driving… he drove us home and told us not to do it again. And that’s the God’s honest truth.

So which of the generations that followed ruined it for the rest of us? Who decided they needed more, more, more of a kick? Who brought in the cocaine and, worse yet, the pharmaceuticals? Who decided Oxycotin and its derivatives were now the cool drug of choice?
Somebody is to blame for this more, more, more attitude. The technology has to be faster, the movies have to be more violent and the drugs need to produce a bigger and better high. Why? Was the beer and marijuana cocktail all that bad? Hell, I have friends old enough to collect social security who still find this combo more than enough.

Today I can’t go downtown and enjoy myself before assigning a designated driver. Even then, we have to be wary of public drunkeness citations.  Is my generation of senior citizens wearing tie-dyed clothing and carrying peace-symbol key chains really an issue? Do we really need to be subjected to three field sobriety tests by a Doogie Howser looking trooper looking to nail us? Do I really need to pee in a cup?
My parents raised me to work hard, never call in sick, give 100% to my job, respect my employer, follow the rules and participate in the retirement plan. Does an employer need to know more than that to size me up as a valued employee? Trust me, by Monday morning the hangover and the sweet scent of Mary Jane will be undetectable and I will be ready to report to work with a salute. So don’t ask me to pee in a cup. It insults my intelligence and my values.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What Came First - the Devil or the Egg?

This Thanksgiving, I didn’t cook a turkey. Well I did, but not until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  It was not a conscious choice; it was a matter of menu logistics.

I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with my daughters and grandson. Holidays should be spent with family, and I was appreciative of this opportunity. The feast was being hosted by my ex-husband’s wife’s sister and brother-in-law. Sound complicated?  Welcome to my life.
It’s been a rough year.  So when I received the email invitation that included a note specifically welcoming me, I did what any sad woman with a broken heart does – I burst into tears.  After cleaning off the running makeup and downing a glass of wine, I read the rest of the email. There was a menu attached, along with suggestions for items that were still needed.  Deviled eggs. They needed deviled eggs.  I like deviled eggs.  I like experimenting with recipes.  So I signed on for deviled egg duty and commenced to searching for recipes.  My recipe search included two objectives – one was to find an outstanding recipe for the egg filling, the other was to find a recipe for making the perfect hard-boiled egg.  It was pretty easy to find both quickly.

I was planning to make two dozen eggs, which meant 48 halves. I calculated this would be enough for the 30 people who were coming for dinner.  Not everyone likes deviled eggs, and there would be so much other food.  I almost felt guilty about choosing such an easy assignment. This wasn’t going to be deviled eggs, this was going to be a piece of cake.
Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house it smelled like methane gas. There were 24 perfectly cooked eggs sitting in the sink in a bucket of cold water. They needed two hours of refrigeration, so by 9PM I would be ready to start peeling. I set up shop in front of the TV thinking it would be almost meditative, though really it would be vegetative.  I carefully chose the first egg from the bowl, gently cracked it against the side of the bowl and started to peel.  Hmmm, the shell was not sliding off the egg as the recipe said it would.  I applied a bit more pressure and a few little chips of shell came off the egg, along with a big chuck of egg white.  OK, so I got one bad egg out of the bunch.  I spent a good five minutes, which in egg peeling time is a lifetime, to remove all the shell from just that first egg. The egg looked like it had fallen onto an IED in Iraq. It was pitted and uneven and little tiny slivers of shell were embedded in it. I remained optimistic about the other 23 eggs. I was so wrong. For two hours I fought with those eggs. Pieces of shell covered the chair and the floor around me. When all was said and done, I had a bowl of 24 of the ugliest eggs I had ever seen. It looked like a science experiment gone awry. Thank God for deviled egg trays – they would hide the damage – at least until an unsuspecting diner slid one out of its cozy nook. I know I overheard a few, “What the heck…..s” as everyone slammed through the buffet line. I simply didn’t take credit for making the deviled eggs. I told everyone the awesome Mac n cheese was my creation.

Joviality aside, the holidays are not about the food or the presents or the parties or the decorations. They are about family and friends and the home front. Late last night I was winding down, checking email and Facebook before heading off to bed. As I logged onto FB, I looked to see who was online. I clicked on a name and typed “Hello”, not sure if I would receive a reply. And just that quickly, I became engaged in a conversation that literally transported me round the world.
Michael Roberts is a US Army helicopter fighter pilot currently serving a tour of duty in Iraq. I came to know Mike through my daughter and her circle of friends. It was 11:30PM here on the east coast, but for Mike, it was 7:30am and he was just starting his day. It felt strange communicating with someone who was on the other side of the world on the other side of the day. It was just some small talk, catching up. But it ended with my usual plea – “Stay safe and come home soon.”  I realized that Mike, along with thousands of other servicemen and women, had spent Thanksgiving in the Middle East, far from friends and family. And most of them will also be spending Christmas away as well. So when you get frustrated because the malls are crowded, holiday traffic is a nightmare, your in-laws are overstaying their welcome or you screwed up the deviled eggs, take a minute to think about just how good you have it. I bet those soldiers would trade places with you in a minute – and they would have loved those eggs.