Archive for November, 2008

Well, one can’t escape it.  Black Friday heralded the beginning of our being bombarded with Christmas music, Christmas decorations and messages to buy, buy, buy!  Usually on Thanksgiving day, I put up a four foot tree in the living room and a mini-tree up in my bedroom.  I decorate the house, and then, usually a few days later, put up some outside “signs of the season.”  But I haven’t this year.

Here’s my dilemma:  every year my “main Christmas” was spent with my last remaining family, my little sister, Randi.  She’d come over and we’d go out for a nice dinner.  Then we’d come back to my house and open presents and then laugh and talk and share memories for hours.  But, if you’ve read much of this blog, you know why that’s not going to happen this year.  If you haven’t, suffice it to say, she’s not in my life anymore and this will be a very different Christmas for me. Consequently, I just can’t get in the mood.  I have friends I buy presents for, but I can’t even get motivated to do that.

So, as I see it, I have two options.  I can put up my trees and hope that they bring “the spirit” with them.  After all, I do love twinkly lights!  But, in doing that, I run the risk of being reminded over and over that Randi won’t be coming over to share them with me.  And I wonder if, after awhile, it will feel like the festive decorations are somehow mocking me…you know, “everyone has someone to share Christmas with but you , Star!”  It could throw me into a pit of self-pity, and I don’t want that under any circumstances.

My other option is to simply take a “pass” this year.  Leave the house the way it is, and try to avoid getting overly sentimental, although I’m sure that will happen from time to time.  I could just plan to watch movies or do whatever it takes to distract me.  Then maybe next year, I’ll have enough distance from the hurt and pain that I can go back to enjoying the holidays.

And, I suppose there is a third option, where I could do a little, just not the whole shebang.  I’ve been going back and forth about this and I’m just kind of numb at this point.

So, Gentle Reader, what do you think?  I could use any and all advice.  Just hit “comment” and give me your view of things.  Have you ever had to deal with the holidays during a bad time in your life?  How did you cope?  Should I decorate or just give myself a break?  Anything you’re willing to share will be greatly appreciated, I assure you.


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BirdToday I stepped outside to mail a letter, only to be surprised by a tiny bird, high up in a mulberry tree, singing his little heart out.  Here I was, shivering in my “winter-is-just-around-the-corner” attitude, while this little feathered guy was belting out the most beautiful melody as if it were the first day of spring!  It gave me pause.  It was as if, sure, winter is around the corner, and when it comes, this small bird will have to fight for survival, but today, despite the cold, the sun was shining and he was alive with the joy of it.

Have you ever been in pain or had a health scare, and prayed for nothing more than just to be “normal” again?  Have you ever griped about a boring, unfulfilling job until the day you were fired or laid off, at which point, you’d give anything to have that job or any job?  Have you ever complained about how annoying your family is until you lose someone dear to you and would give anything to have them back?   We humans so often don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it.

My point is that we have this big federal holiday today – Thanksgiving.  For many, it means a day off work, eating to excess and an afternoon of watching football.  Oh, there may be a prayer thrown in at the dinner table, but that’s the extent of the “thanks” part of the day.  And a large majority of people feel like that particular duty is done for the year.

I feel differently.  Every morning I wake up in a cozy bed in a warm house and I’m not in pain, I feel thanks.  And, even though my family is gone, I know that my friends care about me and are the most generous, wonderful people I know. I love each and every one of them and am thankful to have them in my life.  And although that life hasn’t exactly followed the blueprint I had laid out for it, I have been blessed with many unexpected gifts and I’m exceedingly grateful. You see, life is such a fragile thing and it can turn on a dime.  What you take for granted today could be swept away tomorrow.  That’s why each day it’s important to look around and realize how very lucky you are.

So, you see, one designated federal holiday doesn’t mean all that much to me.  Because in my life I give thanks every single day… It’s the least I can do for God… after all He’s done for me.

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Today I remembered an incident from my “saucy vixen” days that, in hindsight, makes me shake my head and confirms for me the difference between men and women.  I think that what shook this memory loose was that I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine who is looking for love.  I’m really pulling for her, but feel that, for me, that ship has sailed.  And when I was thinking about the many people who had been on my particular voyage, this memory surfaced.

I was dating a man who worked at the same place I did.  I had been introduced by an older friend, Missy, whom I loved and respected, who had literally bumped into him and immediately felt that we would make a cute couple.  So, her matchmaking began and he and I started dating.

He wasn’t bad!  He was attractive in a kind of distinguished-looking way, had a good job (not in my department,) and seemed intelligent enough.  We had been going out for a couple of months when I got struck down by a particularly virulent flu.  It was the kind of flu that kicks your butt and while you’re down, presses its heel on your neck and while you’re gasping for breath, it grabs your head and bangs it against the wall for good measure…that kind of flu.  I had been home from work for two days, not sleeping, not able to read.  In fact, I spent most of the time coughing, blowing my nose and dumping the wastebasket full of all those used tissues.  So, when the doorbell rang on a Friday afternoon, the last thing I wanted was company!

It was Boyfriend.  I cracked the door and warned him that I looked awful (that was an understatement!) and didn’t want him to catch what I had.  But, no!  He wanted to “take care of me.”  He came in bearing a beautiful bouquet of flowers and something even better – a sack containing barbecue beef sandwiches and fries!  Now, I hadn’t eaten in like, forever, and hadn’t even realized I was hungry.  But, let me just say, if I were at the Pearly Gates and someone offered me a barbecue beef sandwich and fries, I’d most likely turn to Saint Peter and say, “I’ll be with you in just a minute!”  I mean, how sweet was this guy?

I jumped up and offered to go get plates, but he said something like “Blah, blah… didn’t think we’d eat now.”  I didn’t quite get it because another coughing fit hit me and I coughed for about ten minutes, hacking up what had to have been minor internal organs.  My face turned beet red and my eyes were blurred with tears.  Then my nose started running non-stop and my whole body was in spasms.  When I could finally catch my breath, I felt like I had run several marathons while being simultaneously beaten by two gigantic men with baseball bats.

I apologized and asked ,” What was it you said about not eating now?”  And then the cough started again and I replayed the whole scene. When my heart resumed beating, I asked again, and he looked into my puffy, bloodshot eyes and said…“Oh, I just thought we could make love first.”

Yes. He. Did.

Now, this was a long time ago and I wasn’t the sarcastic bitch smart cookie I am today, so I’ll end the story there.  But, just thinking back… wow!  Here he had built up all this good “boyfriend capital” by wanting to take care of me, bringing the flowers and offering food.  And with one sentence, he flushed it all, along with my heart, down the toilet!  There’s a book entitled Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus. I believe women are from Venus, but men, okay some men, are from beyond Mars…way, way beyond!

Is it any wonder I don’t date?

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First of all, to help you understand my frame of mind  – my paper man missed my house today…again!  I know I’ve griped about this before, but, really!  When you sign up to be a newspaper carrier, wouldn’t you think the first thing you’d do would be to memorize your route?  I mean, how do you forget it between yesterday and today?  I don’t get it.  And here’s the ironic thing.  Yesterday I paid their new increased rate and then this!  It means I’m paying more and getting less!   So what else is new?

Okay, second grip – I’m one of those odd people who just don’t understand Face Book and My Space.  I know they’re the “big thing” and almost everyone in the world, but me, has signed up.  I’ve looked at them and all I’ve seen are pages with people looking drunk or smooching on their significant other or posing half-naked, who have a lot of strangers signed up as “friends.”  I understand that these are called social networks.  So, are they dating sites?  Or what?  But hey, my motto is “live and let live.”

Having said this, I read somewhere where it was a good idea to list your blog with various blog directories.  So I did.  Unbeknownst to me, one of the directories turned out to also be a “social network.”  How did I find out?  An hour after listing my blog, I got two emails from guys telling me they had added me as their friend, and asked me to add them as my friend.  Huh?  I looked at their blogs, and they have exactly nothing in common with me.  I don’t know them.  They don’t know me.  What’s with that?  All I can say, guys, is that my definition of “friend” is a whole lot different than yours!

Third gripe – I love to read blogs, but I hate, hate, hate blogs that come with their own music playing! I can’t tell you the times I’ve been scared out of my chair by horrible music that comes blasting out of the computer unexpectedly. Some of these blogs have players you can turn off, but some of them don’t.  I can understand if you want to tell someone about music you like, but please don’t assume everyone shares your passion.  I’ve actually had to unbookmark a couple of blogs because their music is so annoying.

And here’s another – In the past week I’ve been on blogs where I’ve noticed that on the sidebar there’s a list that says “Star from (hometown) is reading this blog right now.”  Wow!  That creeped me out.  I know the internet is tracking you all the time, but to have it right there on someone else’s blog for the world to see is really unsettling.  Needless to say, I won’t be returning.

Hang in, this is my last gripe.  In the past couple of days, the media has gone crazy playing the video of Sarah Palin pardoning a turkey, while in the background a worker is slaughtering one.  So?  What do you think they do at turkey farms?  Today, my newspaper (when I finally received one, two hours late,) showed a political cartoon mocking her borrowed wardrobe, yet again.  What I want to know is, can’t those guys find any real news to report?  Are they so devoid of investigative talent that they don’t realize that the campaign is over?  Leave Sarah alone!  Get a life!

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I feel ever so much better now.

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On days like this, when the economy continues to tank, the market is sinking fast and prices continue to creep upward, I find no alternative other than to turn my thoughts outward – to nature.  And one of my most favorite things in nature is… the sky.

Nowhere else will you find something this beautifully breathtaking that doesn’t cost you a cent.  And it’s never boring. The sky has so many moods – cheerful and fluffy, moody and brooding, and sometimes just plain elegant, and I love them all!  I took this shot one freezing evening, just as sunset began.  The leafless tree branches look like filigree set against the beautiful watercolor mix of blues, lavenders, pinks and white.  pretty-sky1For me, it’s magical.

What initially caught my attention was the jet leaving a trail behind, which, in my ignorance, I’ve always thought was skywriting.  It wasn’t until I listened to our local weatherman that I learned that such lines in the sky are called “contrails.”  They’re made by the condensation left behind jet aircraft.  They form when hot humid air from jet exhaust mixes with environmental air of low vapor pressure and low temperature.  And here I thought someone was trying to leave me a message in the sky!  pretty-sky-2

Here’s another shot as the colors shifted.

When the news seems to be all bad, I find it so therapeutic to just step outside for a moment or two and look around.  There are so many gifts we’re given every day that we take for granted. We’re too busy.  We’re too distracted.

For me, the sky is a precious blessing from God that is ours for the savoring – absolutely free!  And the beauty of this gift is that tomorrow we won’t be receiving a notice saying, “Due to increasing costs, the price of each sunset will now be $19.95 a day.  Visa and debit card accepted.”

All I can say is, “Bravo, God!  Bravo!” and “Thank you.”

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6a00d83451c83e69e200e553eed1d58834-800wiI will admit to a sinful pleasure.  I love “judge shows.”  Now I’m not talking about those judges who allow screaming and arguing and constant interruptions.  No, I like judges who demand order in their courtrooms, specifically Judge Judy and Judge Marilyn Milian on the People’s Court.  These ladies are intelligent, witty, and believe in personal responsibility, which aligns with my values exactly.  But, after having watched these two Judge’s shows on a regular basis, I’m dismayed by the pattern that has emerged.  It appears to me that most of the litigants fall into one of two categories:  incredibly stupid or incredibly arrogant.  225px-marilynmilian

The incredibly stupid (or, to be kind, sometimes naive,) are almost always the plaintiffs.  Their stories sound like this:

“Well, my boyfriend had terrible credit and asked me to put him on my cell phone calling plan.  He promised to pay his bill every month, and now he has run up his bill to $700 calling sex lines and he hasn’t paid anything!”

OR “I met him on the Internet, and after we’d been together two weeks, he asked if I could get a cash advance on my credit card and loan him the money because he needed new rims for his car.  Then he broke up with me and hasn’t paid a thing!”

OR “He knew I was getting student loan money and asked for a loan to pay his back child support.  He said he’d pay me back when he got his income tax money.  But when he got his money, he bought a new car instead and hasn’t paid me a dime!”

No matter how many variations of these cases I see, I’m always appalled at the utter stupidity of these women!  Don’t any of them ever wonder how someone got bad credit?  Don’t any of them ever consider the ramifications of these loans in respect to their credit ratings?  Don’t any of them consider their savings a little more important than a guy getting rims for his car?  Duh!  It makes me want to scream!  And yet it happens over and over again.  If you watch one of those shows today, chances are, there will one case exactly like these.

As for the incredibly arrogant category, well, most of the time those are the defendants.  In the above three examples, the guy’s defense would probably be, “It was a gift.” Do these losers really think that they are so great to be around, so handsome to look at, such a “catch” that women actually want to pay for their rims, past child support, new cars, bail, you name it?  And what’s worse, they show no shame or remorse.

So, I’m just wondering…are these people the norm?  Or do judge shows deliberately choose the worst of the worst?  You know, if aliens from outer space ever come to earth to observe humanity, let’s pray they don’t get hooked on Judge Judy or People’s Court, because the plaintiffs and defendants that appear in those courts every day will convince them that, truly, there’s no intelligent life on this planet!

Just sayin’…

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Miss Brooks

I thought she was a funny little woman.
She was thin as a beanpole
and had excruciatingly tightly-curled hair.
And she always stood stiffly at attention
with her arms crossed tightly,
as if to protect her nonexistent chest.
Miss Brooks was my eighth grade
home room teacher,
and I thought she was hilarious –
not that she ever tried to be funny.
Humor wasn’t in her job description.
She had a million platitudes
and always started the class by quoting one.
Her favorite, by far, was:
“Don’t make excuses!  Just make good!”
This was her answer to everything,
and, I’m ashamed to say,
I paid no attention.
Didn’t even think about it.
But, oddly enough,
now, so many years later,
I think of her often.
In this age of professional victims,
whiners and complainers,
I can still hear her voice once more
echoing over the years –
“Don’t make excuses!  Just make good!”
and funny old Miss Brooks
suddenly doesn’t seem so funny anymore.
In fact, I’m surprised I never realized
how incredibly wise she really was.
I do now.

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