Sunday, December 27, 2009

De-inflated Christmas

There's nothing sadder to me than inflatable Santas that are un-inflated resting on the lawn mournfully. I don't like inflatables at all, actually, because they seem moody that way and, for me, Christmas should be staunchly upbeat. There is one visible from outside my picture window and I hope it takes to the skies like a wayward kite and finds its way to another neighborhood.

It's December 27th and the live Christmas tree in the living room is starting to droop. We're past the point where gifts are universally infatuating and now looking at gifts like TLC's Clean Sweep show where they put three king-sized sheets on the lawn labeled "Keep," "Toss," or "Donate."

The homemade Christmas cookies are starting to get stale, but we're eating them anyway.

Early thoughts for New Year's resolutions:

1. Eat less
2. Exercise more
3. Write regularly and attempt to market said writing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The 7:15 pm interval aerobics class I normally take has morphed into a Yogilates class. The alternative is sticking with my old class that moved to 6:15 pm, which is peak dinnertime in my house and damn near impossible.

Anyway, this was my second time at Yogilates - before Thanksgiving, classes were shifted around and I gave it a whirl. We did a lot of slow poses that I found mostly funny, since I can't envision myself as a tree without giggling. I think I'm missing a microchip for dignity somewhere in my head. I never feel dignified. In the back of my head there's always a little voice suggesting my pantyhose may be tucked into my underwear, my makeup may have shifted into a Kiss-like mask or I may have misjudged the mirror in the morning, approached the day with childlike innocence believing my outfit was flattering, while in reality I look lumpy, bumpy and frumpy. Sometimes I look at photos of myself and am literally horrified, in particular there was the turquoise maternity top I wore to my shower, which I thought was graceful and flowing, but made me look like the mothership. But, I digress.

Since Thanksgiving I've not actually gone to the aerobics classes, savoring the leftovers - turkey, trimmings and desserts. One aerobics class evening, instead of attending, I went with my husband and daughter to Home Depot and bought a Christmas tree. The other was sheer laziness on my part. I operate under the belief that during The Holiday Season, which, to me, extends from around 11/1 through 1/1 most people spend the time cooking, eating, watching holiday specials on television and drinking with their friends and families. Clearly, I've misjudged this.

These Yogilates women are in incredible shape. Even the big one. They quickly flapped their legs in the air, while deftly doing situps with their front end. There was a lot of flapping, plus holding excruciatingly uncomfortable positions. The coup de grĂ¢ce, however, was this: laying on the side resting on the hip, with legs elevated and frogging in and out, while crunching with the top half, resting precariously on seemingly one rib.

If I hadn't seen it done, I would have thought it was like airbrushing on magazines.

It saddens me to realize that we are not all in this together. Everyone says we gain weight during The Holidays and I was fine with that. But, clearly there are people out there who are using this time to get ahead of the rest of us, so that by the time New Years rolls around and we are deciding to lose weight, they are already svelte and are working smugly on "toning."

Image from The Onion

Saturday, December 5, 2009


My Thanksgiving was really good. The best ever food –wise, for sure, since it’s so much easier to cook for 10 than 20.

There was bit of apprehension, though. I had thought Great Aunt Gloria and Great Uncle Warren would not be coming, because he had just had a pacemaker installed the day before. And the week before that, they thought he had TB and we visited him and had to wear masks, but they then decided it was “just” pneumonia and a kidney problem. So, I was pretty sure, we were setting the table for 8. The night before I called my Great Aunt, just to be sure. She said Uncle Warren had just been moved to rehab that day, but that she was going to “break him out” out of rehab (her words), against all of his doctor’s strong recommendations and warnings, because she thought it would be better for his spirits to be with family for that day. She would then return him back to his recovery room afterwards.

I played it off like I wasn’t disturbed, although inwardly it seemed to me that the place for him is somewhere where someone else is responsible for his well-being. I told Rob that they would be attending in a very offhanded way, as if it was no big deal. Rob started over-analyzing, as Rob does and wondered if he died in our house, if we’d have to move and pondered about whether my mother (who has saved 2 people’s lives who stopped breathing using CPR) would be able to do it a third time.

They came – he shuffled around and I tried not to watch him eat, because he is diabetic and Thanksgiving is a carb-hardy dinner. Apparently after the cranberry sauce he tested himself and his sugar was so high, he was shooting himself up in the stomach at the table (Rob saw this, I didn’t – I have to tell you, I was trying not to look, in general). After dinner, he needed to lay down in the guestroom, which is when I started to get very nervous. My great aunt pulled the shades and he curled up in the fetal position, with her coat over him (I would have given him a blanket, but when I checked on him he was out cold). I head a whispery sound coming out of his mouth and ascertained that he was alive. I did not feel well myself until he re-emerged in time for dessert. I’m happy to report that eventually they departed to drop him back off at rehab.

I made sure everyone left with a little bit of a Thanksgiving in disposable Gladware. And, I remain grateful that the only mammal dead in my house that day was the turkey.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's the Great Potato, Charlie Brown!

The front of my office consists almost entirely of glass squares, so it is like working in a phone booth.

I'm sitting at my desk typing away on my laptop and I happen to glance up.

Typically the cubicle in front of me is unoccupied, since the tenant relocated to a southern state and works from home. She is required to make an appearance once a month, so sometimes she'll appear - tan and miserable to leave her home and nice weather and come to NJ where inhospitable weather always seems to suggest that she made the right choice.

I glanced up and there she was, leaning forward into her deep black handbag. I watched idly, as she rummaged through determinedly. With a sigh, she sunk back into her chair, withdrawing her hand and clutching what looked like a giant, lumpy, brown rock. I watched with interest as she brought the dome shaped tip to her mouth and bit it off without a wince. Bright orange flesh appeared and I realized she was chewing hurriedly on a large, whole yam.

I would expect this kind of treatment of a pear, a peach, an apple. A tomato would be a stretch, but I could handle it. This, though. This was something.

A coworker happened by and remarked that she might want to heat it up to which she replied that she had cooked it that morning in the microwave in her hotel room and she liked it room temperature and was finding it delicious.

She joined me at lunch although she'd long since finished the tuber. I asked her if she was dieting and she admitted that she was trying to lower her cholesterol. I didn't press the issue, because she seemed to be very nonchalant about eating a large, whole, unbuttered, unquartered, unbrown-sugared big, honking sweet potato.

She chased the potato with some Halloween candy later in the afternoon.

She's gone home, but I'm left wondering about what other vegetables she's mistreating back home where the weather is nicer and hopefully, the people more forgiving. Me, I'm still thinking, "It's freaking weird to take a whole, cooked sweet potato out of your purse and just start gnawing on it."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rockstar Politics

Tonight is Election night for the governor of NJ, as well as the mayor in my town. I can't help but think about the process. Everyone blames Corzine for the state's ills - the loss of business to the state, the loss of jobs for the people, the ever-rising exorbitant cost of living here. It sucks to be a governor during a recession. This is not to say that I agree or disagree with him, it just must be a lot easier to operate when budgets aren't in the red and people aren't wandering around angrily, out of work and disgruntled. It must be nice to have enough money to preserve some open space, while it must be terrible to have to send your Department of Public Works crew on furloughs.

That being said, I still don't get the Obama thing. I think he blindsided everyone - seemingly coming out of nowhere to become the President. Who was he before? He seems like the kind of guy who can tell a good joke. The kind of who can deliver a funny line with good comedic timing. He looks nice in a suit, married a woman who puts on a nice dress and whose defined arms and toned body make her look like she belongs on the red carpet. This seems in keeping with the voyeuristic nature of how everything is going these days. We're not content to hear words, we need to see pictures, too. It has to be the complete package - white teeth, clear skin, a nice figure, good clothes, well spoken and palatable. Someone who fits into any group. A chameleon. A tux in one room addressing "gentleman" and a pair of artfully distressed blue jeans in the next addressing the "folks."

The problem is that the most interesting thinkers, the deepest thinkers often have weird hair or bad clothes or worse yet, love-handles. They speak with emotion, they speak off the cuff, they speak with passion and conviction and sometimes say the things we don't want to hear. But, there's no place for them anymore.

Today, we want Tweets, we want clever soundbytes that are quickly and easily digested that require little processing, that fall easily on our ears and allow us to escape unscathed, unmoved, unharmed. We want to hear good things - more jobs, less taxes, bail us out, help us out. Give me more! Save me! Help me!

I guess this is another reason why I like talk radio and books.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


In the summer months, Rob rather frequently states, “Something’s burning. I smell something burning.”

As one might suspect, it’s usually someone barbecuing in their backyard. If he smells the faintest hint of smoke, it’s a blazing inferno in his mind, so he needs to be reassured.

Knowing this, I was not surprised when he made this pronouncement on Sunday. I patted him on the back and sent him on his way. Monday morning we were getting ready for work and he said it again. This time it was followed with, “ . . .and I know what it is.” This piqued my interest, since most people don’t go through the trouble of firing up their grill for breakfast, so I trooped into the kitchen in various states of undress. He was standing outside on the deck looking anxiously at my potted plant.

Here’s the odd thing – whisps of smoke were emerging from the plant that was half the size it once was. There was nothing glowing or red or hot looking. It was just a smoking plant. Immediately I started thinking of how such a thing could happen. I put eggshells in it – spontaneous combustion?

I had to take charge. I demanded he bring me a serving spoon and the camera. We needed photographic evidence of this anomaly. As he readied the camera, I took the spoon and dug through the cremated soil. It was all ash. I looked for obvious signs of arson – a cigarette butt, a match – I found nothing. He enthusiastically took pictures.

Later I emailed my mother who had been watching Carina the previous day. She sheepishly admitted that she had ashed into the plant, but had put her cigarette out under the sink, then put it in the garbage.

Since then she has been signing her emails to me “The Arsonist.”

Let me tell you – it is a very strange thing to see your plant smoking early on a Monday morning and an odd thing to contemplate in terms of whether such a thing could burn your second story wooden deck down.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What I wouldn't do for the money

I often think about what a writing teacher once said to me - you can define something by describing what it is, but you can also define it by what it isn't.

In that vain, here are some careers I cannot imagine myself ever doing:

Accounting - I am interested in learning the rules, but when it comes to steady application of them, I'd be bored and would eventually begin to ignore them entirely.

Assembly line work - in the same vain - incapable of managing order for an extended period of time.

Nursing - I have a high regard for vast amounts of personal space and if anyone steps into my hula hoop ring, I start feeling like a victim.