That Time of Year Again

The holidays are fast approaching. Through the miracle of the internet I have finished my Christmas shopping already and am now in the blissful period of waiting for the packages to arrive and avoiding eye contact with my postal carrier )that probably has a hernia and rues the day I was born). Sorry, lady. Consider my online shopping habits your key to job security. You’re welcome.

The main problem I have with Christmas is the present wrapping. Why is this a thing? And why do people make it so complicated? We are taking thoughtful, expensive gifts and literally covering them in garbage. We go to the stores to find the prettiest trash they sell, give away our hard earned money for rolls of the stuff and then some people take it to the next level with ribbon and bows that will also be discarded in a heap. We purchase rolls of rubbish, spend time and energy coating our purchases in said detritus and then have the job of cleaning it all up after the frenzy of Christmas morning. We are literally buying garbage and chores — two things a sane person tries to eliminate, not accumulate.

I know what you are thinking — why not use gift bags and stop complaining? (OK, you may just be thinking about the complaining part, but you’ve made it this far, so you may as well keep reading). These are even more expensive and usually wind up in the same landfill or burn pile as the paper. Everyone has the intention of reusing gift bags but how many of us actually do? We save them until they are lost, or stumble across them in August while trying to find birthday appropriate trash paper in the closet and have a momentary fantasy of handing over the gift swathed in a bag emblazoned with a snowman on a 100 degree day.

I grumble about this every year, yet continue to follow the status quo and swaddle my gifts in soon-to-be-debris. This year won’t be any different. I will gather all my tools, listen to an audio book and wrap the crap so it can be pretty under the tree leading up to the glorious gluttony of the holiday. And so will you. But this year, after reading this, while you are sitting on the floor with scissors and trying to wrap a round object with flat square paper, you are going to get frustrated and this little written rant will worm into your brain and you will think of me for just a moment. And that will be my contribution to your festivities.

Merry Christmas and Happy Littering!

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Deep Vacation Thought

I took a long weekend to visit Baby Jesus and The Saint and on the plane had this thought:

A flight attendant’s job is to insure your safety in the event of a catastrophe. Oxygen masks, water landings, flotation devices, fire rescue, first aid, all things dramatic and scary. However, in the absence of a disaster, they have to peddle soft drinks and salty snacks. Do we make a paramedic become a waitress in their down time? And travel to different cities while doing so? No. We don’t. Just like we don’t ask surgeons to stock grocery shelves between appointments.

I am all about efficiency, so I understand that these employees need to earn their paychecks, but it is ridiculous to have them passing out credit card applications. And isn’t anyone worried that these mundane jobs will impact their judgment in an emergency? “That bitch kept hitting the call button, she will be the LAST one down the wing slide.” Or “Grab my ass again, sir, and I’ll make sure your oxygen mask doesn’t work.”

 

I Took a Bat to the Face

Yesterday, while helping the Handsome Hermit put away groceries, I opened the corner cabinet and a bat flew out, hitting me RIGHT IN THE FACE. I screamed, started to flail around to get the thing away from me and managed to hit it so it fell onto the floor, stunned. The Handsome Hermit didn’t realize what was going on at first, until he saw the beast laying there. He managed to kick it out the door where it landed on the deck, it laid there while the Hermit and Lou the Cat inspected it (I have absolutely no idea why). It twitched a few times before finally managing to get the motivation to fly away.

The Handsome Hermit spent the rest of the night trying to figure out how the bat got into the house and more specifically, how it got into that cabinet. I, however, spent the rest of the night trying to forget the feel of that furry body against my skin. Neither one of us was very successful. I am scarred for life.

Happy Birthday Eve to Me

Today is the last day of my 30s. Tomorrow I will be 40 and I guess I will need to finally admit to myself that I am middle-aged. Naturally, a major birthday like this has me looking back over my life and analyzing where I am versus where I thought I’d be — there is quite a lot of distance between those two points, I can tell you. I never thought I’d be divorced or working for less money than my first job out of college. I never thought I’d be living in a mobile home or in a small town in Pennsylvania, for that matter. But there is one thing that I’ve managed to accomplish: I don’t have children.

I will be 40 years old tomorrow and I don’t have kids. In fact, I have never even been pregnant. I knew at an early age that it just wasn’t something I wanted and I couldn’t see the point of creating a human being without having those inner stirrings that wanted one in my life. For years, I had this general conversation with people:

Them: “So, how many kids do you have?”

Me: “None.”

Them: “Don’t worry, you have time.”

Me: “I don’t plan on having any.”

Them: “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

These were perfect strangers! How do they know? What if I’m a serial killer? Or a cannibal? Or someone that likes to dress up as a robot and put on street performances all in the name of art? Why do people assume that everyone should have a drive to procreate? I do not need to replace myself on this planet, I do not need to fill a quota or check off a box of generic accomplishments. I have never, not once in my life, held a baby and thought “I wish I had one.” Hell, I’ve never held a baby and thought “I could take him/her home.” That utter lack of maternal desire tells me that I’ve made the right decision.

I had someone ask me “But how do you know unless you try?” My response was “I could say the same thing to you about face tattoos.” That shut them up pretty quickly. I’ve also used sky diving, Jell-O wrestling and golden showers as examples, because I like to cater to my audience.

That being said, just because I don’t want my own doesn’t mean that I don’t have the capacity to love someone else’s child. I recognize that those are two different things. My stepmother has made a world of difference in my life and I didn’t meet her until I was nearly 30. She didn’t raise me, but she has played a role in who I have become as an adult. While the roles may change throughout our lives, you’re never too old to parent or be parented. The Handsome Hermit does not have children either, I’m lucky in that respect. I was surprised to find someone else that agreed with my thoughts about parenthood, and my decision against it. It made me feel less crazy — until I got to know him better and realized that was the MOST normal thing about him!

Times have changed, though. Now that I am older I don’t have strangers tell me that I will change my mind or that I would feel differently about children once I had my own (which I am sure is true, but WHAT IF?). Instead, when people find out I don’t have kids, they give me this look that says “she must not be able to have any, poor thing.” I’ve actually had some little old ladies ask me if I was “barren”! How is that an appropriate question? And what if that was true? Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to have to discuss? And will I have to hear about their bowel movements in return? Quid pro quo can be a bitch.

Recently, I was at a cook out and met a lady holding her adorable 10 month old daughter. We introduced ourselves and explained how we each knew the host/hostess and then there was a little lull. She looked at me sweetly and said “Do you have kids?” and when I said no, her face fell. She just assumed we had nothing in common and would not be able to keep up any sort of polite banter. I wanted to point out that she is more than a parent, she is a woman and a teacher and a person all on her own but I didn’t know her well enough to start that particular lecture. Her children are the most important part of her life, as they should be, but they are not what makes HER. Eventually I discovered that she also had a dog, so we had a lovely chat about our pets for awhile, although I could tell she was struggling. I have one less label than she did, but that seemed to be the only that counted for her.

All of this used to bother me, and at times it can still get under my skin, but for the most part I’ve come to terms with it. I am made to feel like a second class citizen because I don’t have children, I can’t swap diaper stories or talk about day care drama. But when this happens, I’ve learned to politely smile and nod my head or to wander over to where the men are talking. I’d rather talk about horsepower than potty training any day!

July 2016

Obviously, I was all over the map in the month of July when it came to reading preferences:

The Murder House by James Patterson

Ripper by Isabel Allende

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

The 100 by Kass Morgan

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The 500 by Matthew Quirk

Revived by Cat Patrick

The Lake House by Kate Morton

 

June 2016

I listen to audio books while sitting at my desk at work or driving in my car. I recently discovered that I enjoy listening to books that I never would have liked to read. Mystery, present day crime drama, even some horror. This opens up a whole bunch of books that I heretofore had ignored!

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Timeless by Gail Carriger

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

Private by James Patterson

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

 

 

May 2016

Sometimes I feel bad for the amount of time an author has to spend laboring over their creation and then I plow through it in record time.

Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Blameless by Gail Carriger

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Heartless by Gail Carriger