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Be A Netflix Sloth Today!

6 Jan
Give in to the lazy, my friend. Give in.

Give in to the lazy, my friend. Give in.

It’s freezing cold out. Well not in NYC, but anywhere in the Midwest is just a freakin’ icicle. So, if you are one of the lucky people out there who don’t have to venture out of the house in fear of hypothermia, what are you going to do? Laze around in your pajamas, maybe catch up on some housework, take a few naps, or Netflix your TV and/or laptop until it is too hot to touch. Some might say such activities would make them stir crazy. Ignore them. That is THE LIFE.

Last year when I was unemployed, I did that on the daily. And while my bank account did a plummet dive, I learned a few things. How much cookie dough a human body is able to consume in one day. No sunlight for a week makes my skin basically translucent. That there is true beauty in watching a television series in chronological order without stopping (except when refilling my plate of nachos). I also learned the art of making myself appear like I had been busy all day in a 15-20 minute time span. So when my significant other appeared at the door after being gone for 10 hours, I could boast that I actually emptied the dishwasher and attempted to take out the trash, but the sunlight hurt my eyes – I’m getting sidetracked here.

Oh the gods that made online television and movies available. Every season of Law and Order: SVU? Why yes – I love to imagine the worst in people! Orange Is The New Black? I’ll give women prison a try. I get to watch the love triangle that is Dawson/Joey/Pacey again? PLEASE, come back to me ’90s childhood. I wondered aloud many times what my life would had been like without this miracle service. I read books? I made real friends? I went outside and wasn’t allergic to vitamin D? Stop.

Are you a newbie to this world of hibernating laziness? Do you need help slouching onto the couch, pulling a blanket over, and putting a marshmallow or two in your Swiss Miss? Doubtful. But there are rules to starting a truly amazing marathon (very lax, BTW).

One, don’t listen to the recommendations of your friends or family. If they say you will LOVE House Of Cards or Downton Abbey over and over, that’s a bad sign. Don’t give in for at least a few months. Your expectations will be over the moon and if the first few episodes don’t appease, then you will just lose interest and move on to something else. That’s how I was with Breaking Bad. I really do think it’s one of the best executed television series out there, but I couldn’t handle everyone’s recommendations, so I waited.

Instead, start with a series you are familiar with, like Felicity or Friends. If you are being pure sloth, why bother with trying something new? That’s like learning and stuff, and this is not a day for that.

Are you worried that you will fall asleep from your food coma/lack of doing anything remotely physical? Have no fear, you will. And the beauty of an online television series – just restart your episode until you have actually watched the whole thing. (Sometimes I had to watch the same episode for an entire afternoon, but priorities.)

Wait, what? You don’t know the thrill yet of on demand TV systems? I am so sorry, are you in constant pain? Well, you can do somewhat the same inserting your Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings collection into your DVD player. Unfortunately, you will have to get up off the couch and insert each disc, so you will get some unneeded exercise out of the activity. So tomorrow’s first priority: Sign up for online TV. Not today though, just no.

Remember to get all the essentials to your bed/couch/the floor. Easily microwaved food, chunks of cheese, wine, coffee. If it gets cold, let it. I mean, you can reheat things, but that again involves physical activity. Avoid that at all cost. Make a cocoon of blankets. Your feet will get sweaty. Air out your socks, put them back on. Allow your face to get extra greasy. I tried to do the green face mask while watching, expecting to look like an angel afterwards, it just got all over everything and freaked out anyone who came into my apartment. You will just look a swamp thing sloth. Scratch that, do that, put the mask on.

And lastly, before getting too comfortable (this is important), make sure the batteries in your remotes are in working order. For the love of all things, this is essential.

Enjoy your laziness. My favorite days were the ones were I could barely make out words – oh, so jealous. Also, this is not a recommendation, but Freaks And Geeks is on Netflix. Just sayin’.

Elf On A What?

10 Dec

People may not have the same opinion as what I have stated below. That’s fine! After talking with others after posting this article on a different website, I’m not sure I completely agree with myself! So yes, I welcome criticism, I welcome agreement – but really, just realize that I’m not being completely serious. Sarcasm is my second language. THANX!

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I’m all for Christmas tradition. When I was little, we always had an Advent calendar. Each morning, one of us kids would takes turns opening each little slot that indicated the day of the month. Some years, there was chocolate inside for the taking. One year, there was mouse poop instead (oh, old Iowa houses).

We hung stockings from our wooden staircase. We baked an enormous amount of cookies and candy. We would pile into the car with our grandparents and go look at Christmas lights. We listened to holiday tunes every morning before school. We would make our way through an enormous amount of holiday classics – from Rudolph to Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Christmas Eve meant a huge vat of oyster stew and a gathering at my family’s home for games and conversation. And every year, we would leave out food for Santa and his reindeer.

But there is one “new” tradition that this girl can’t get behind – Elf On A Shelf. Call me a scrooge or whatever, but I just can’t. First off, they are just beyond ugly. I get nightmares pretty easily, and the best way to trigger them is by surrounding myself with little dolls. That is why I wasn’t into Precious Moments, trolls or china dolls dressed up in their finest when I was younger. The creep factor. Even as an adult, it would probably skeeve me out to see an elf staring straight at me while I was vacuuming, placing gifts under the tree – you name it. Gross.

But it has a book, you say, and a movie. Yes, but the interactive Polar Express has a train whistle, and those don’t freak me out in the least.

And there are five gazillion fun ways to place our little elf in the house. Hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some really smart cookies out there. My Facebook feed is inundated with the daily schedules of these elves. And man, the positions they put their creepy toys in are hilarious and brilliant. Those blogs telling you how to place your doll in the most inappropriate positions – I have read them all. The thing is, I don’t know about you, but I’m TIRED at the end of the day. I mean, Christmas is nuts. You have all the gifts to buy, cards to get out, traveling – besides all your normal work and everyday stuff. I don’t have kids yet and some days I am ready to crawl into bed as soon as I get home. So having to come up with another new, funny way to place that ugly thing in my home, cook dinner, and take the kids to all of their after-school practices? No thank you. I feel like it’s part of that whole parent mantra of “I have to do it all!!!” For me, as a kid, the whole month of December was exciting enough, I couldn’t imagine yet another activity to include in this jam-packed extravaganza.

The main reason I just am not all up on this new fad is the whole “big brother” aspect of it. Honestly, when I was a child, I was confused enough on whether Jesus or Santa was watching me. Did they tag team? Who reported to whom? Where was this ladder to heaven from the North Pole for their secret meetings? With our Catholic confessions, I knew Jesus was always out there and I had to be good on a DAILY basis, for I had to recite ten Hail Mary’s and ten Our Father’s if I wasn’t. And then when Santa came, woof dah, I tried not to put one toe out of line.

My parents made it pretty clear what the Christmas season was about, but I still had the Santa beliefs down ‘til fourth grade. And to add another little minion to the mix to do the fat man’s bidding? You are putting Catholic guilt times ten on a little kid. Besides that, my parents never empty threatened us with taking away our presents. “You better be good or you won’t get any presents from Santa for Christmas! He’s watching!” Yeah right, I doubt that really happens in most households. I can’t see my dad in the customer service line at Target during the holiday season returning all my Barbie toys. Not. Gonna. Happen. So instead of the “no presents” gag to get us to behave during the season, it was more of the usual, traditional time outs that were expected year round if we were not handling things right. I mean, why should good manners and well-behaved children be only expected at Christmas time? If that’s so, leave that stinkin’ elf out all year round.

And lastly, spending $30 on this thing? Dude … no. I can find ugly toys for as a little as $2. If I really need to EOAS it someday, I will grab my Ken doll in his mesh gold shirt and green board shorts and get crackin’! I love Christmas. I love tradition. I just don’t love the Elf. Sorry, little creepy, gross, ugly tchotchke. Sorry, since you you were introduced in 2005, I’m going to hope you leave in as big of a flurry as you came in.

A Sixth-Grader’s Nightmare: Christmas Edition

6 Dec

709fd2be62450971e334b29ee4c7f54aMortified. Horrified. Petrified.

I used to flip through teen magazines to the back section, a place where girls would write in to share their most distressing personal tales of embarrassing mishaps. “It was mortifying!!!” said every girl ever.

How awful! That would never happen to me, I thought. And as I chuckled over their misfortunes, in the back of my mind, I prayed that similar events would never happen to me.

Wrong.

It was my sixth-grade year. Instead of a traditional Christmas chorus concert, the entire grade put on the play The Runaway Snowman. Four kids would lead the production while the rest of the grade chimed in as the choir. I was one of those lucky few selected to fill one of the acting/singing parts.

This is it, I thought. People will recognize me, my talent, what I can bring to the table. As a sixth grader, I was consumed with the ideas of popularity, fitting in and standing out (go figure). And without athletic talent, this was an arena that I could perhaps shine in somehow.

So after many practices, our class was ready to present the show to our parents. It was a Friday afternoon and I spent the entire school day beaming. I was a star, I was brimming with absolute joy and excitement. My fellow cast mates and I were let out of class early to prepare for the production. A band director’s office was our costume slash prop room, and we had carefully laid out our clothes and makeup ahead of time.

After the lead character, the snowman, had put on his ensemble and headed out the door, I prepared to put on a dark blue jumper dress and a pair of my mother’s high heels. Not only was I playing the part of an adult woman, I would look the part. Absolutely stunning. There was a boy in the choir that I had been crushing on hard core. I kept thinking with the blush, lipstick and outfit (forget the thick glasses, buck teeth and braces), it would be hard to not take notice of me on stage.

And standing with just my Pocahontas underwear on (I was changing from my sports bra to a training bra), it happened. The door opened. And not one, or two, but four of my fellow male classmates happened to be standing right there. Wide mouthed.

I didn’t know what to do. How did they get in? Why were they here? What did they see?

I started to scream, “Get out! Get out!” I suddenly crossed my arms against my bare chest, realizing what they had just seen.

And the guys started screaming and running from the door, almost as horrified as I was.

I leaped under the teacher’s desk, crouched, breathing heavily. Was this a dream? It had to be. No way would something this horrible happen – it was too humiliating.

The frightened boys had come into the classroom to get the props for the stage, and I had forgotten to lock the door for privacy.

Something that people have nightmares about just happened to me. A 12-year-old girl just gave some of the cutest boys in school quite a show.

I couldn’t go back out there, even with just 15 minutes until the production would start. It took quite a bit of coaxing from the director to get me to show my face, and the confidence I had displayed earlier (after displaying my assets) was completely out the window.

For months, I couldn’t live it down with students teasing me about the incident. The boys were also unable to make eye contact with me or utter more than two words at a time in my presence.

Honestly, I hadn’t remembered the incident until a few days ago. Repression has most likely hidden many of my middle school slip-ups – especially terrible ones like this one.

After the event, it was difficult to visit that embarrassing moments page in the magazines. Part of the fun was knowing those events couldn’t happen to you. But I now knew for a fact that they could.

And although it was the worst thing that had happened to me at that time of my life, a few years later, I would understand that I could fill a couple pages with horrible moments similar to this one.

My Christmas Soundtrack

4 Dec

Red-Christmas-Decorations-ChristmasIt’s that time of year again where the only type of music that fills my ears is holiday-inspired. (Besides the ’80s tunes that I require during my shower time. Hello, Mr. Big.) I do not discriminate, well I do, but my playlists are filled with many artists I wouldn’t usually listen to on a daily basis, like Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant, and Harry Connick, Jr (but never Jessica Simpson or the like. Never.) I actually look forward to going to work, knowing I will be listening to my Christmas soundtrack on Spotify on the way – which is always uplifting, no matter the circumstances.

So here are my top six tunes this year, the ones that I gravitate toward walking to and fro. Some have been on my favorites list for years, while others have moved up the ladder in the last couple weeks.

1) Pennies From Heaven – Louis Prima

This is not a Christmas song. It has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams, but I think he has the perfect voice for this song. Louis’s gravely, gritty voice plus the fast-paced beat makes it the perfect listen to while walking down the crazed streets of NYC. It doesn’t hurt that it was featured on Elf and now I believe it is a holiday song. I feel like I’m in a soundtrack to my own holiday-themed movie when this pops on.This song isn’t really a Christmas anthem, but it sure has made the rounds on the radio stations like this number has:

I Believe – Frank Sinatra

But I would never consider Annie Lennox’s version of “My Favorite Things” a holiday tune. No, that’s just freakin’ creepy, like Elf On A Shelf. Save that shit for Halloween.

2) Same Old Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg

This song has been my go-to Christmas tune since high school. I love, love Dan Fogelberg’s work, and this song is just gorgeous. Like many of his songs, it is autobiographical, and the lyrics just paint such a sad, lovely picture that many people can relate to. The fact that it was written about a meeting between him and his high school sweetheart in their hometown of Peoria, IL and that they both kept it a secret from the public for such a long time, so damn beautiful.

3) The River – Rachael Yamagata

Yes, the Joni Mitchell original version ranks supreme. But I love, love, love Rachael Yamagata. I own all of her records and absolutely love her voice quality. And as much as I love Joni, I hate to admit that I like this version even more. It’s so sad, so relatable, and just so wonderful.

4) Wishlist – Pearl Jam

Yes. Just yes. Pearl Jam is probably one of the top bands that pop up regularly on my Spotify playlists. We actually made a wedding playlist CD as party favors (which I will post next week), and Pearl Jam made the list with love song “Just Breathe”. Vedder sings of all the things he wishes for, but ends it with the line “I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.” What we should be thinking about at this time of year.

5) Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

Damn beautiful. That’s all I can say about this song. “Is love alive?” and this stanza “This is my winter song/December never felt so wrong/Cause you’re not where you belong/Inside my arms”. I listen to this song in remembrance of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I think of the families, the community, and the extremely sad loss.

6) Still, Still, Still – Mannheim Steamroller

I remember singing this Austrian lullaby in middle school and loving the melody ever since. Whenever I hear it being played, I close my eyes and imagine it being dark at night, with the snow falling and twinkling lights nearby. I instantly get transported back to my childhood.

And while I’m not including all of my favorites, I cannot stop listening to Sting’s If On A Winter Night album and Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong. Both just delicious bites of the season.

Oh, Christmas.

Home For Christmas?

27 Nov
Q and I, Christmas 2012. If you notice, she's choking me by pulling my new necklace, but I'm pretending not to notice. I did, btw.

Q and I, Christmas 2012. If you notice, she’s choking me by pulling my new necklace, but I’m pretending not to notice. I did, btw.

I hate missing out. The last couple weeks have been kind of mopey for me, as I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back to Iowa for the traditional holiday celebrations. As much as I have been acclimating to the area, I haven’t missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas back home before. But flights at this time of year are crazy expensive. Of course, I don’t have much to complain about as I have racked up quite a few frequent flier miles this year with weddings, a bridal shower, and my own nuptials. But the family traditions, that is something I have a hard time with missing. Turkey Day isn’t as big of a deal for me, even though the Black Friday shopping with my mom and sister is something I always looked forward to. It’s Christmas, well Christmas Eve to be exact. We attend Mass, have a big oyster stew dinner, open a few gifts and play games. This has been our tradition since I was a small child, and it hasn’t changed. Sure I could Skype, but that would probably make me more homesick.

I spent days scouring sites for plane ticket costs. My favored non-stop route started at $900, which made me pretty sick to my stomach. It did not fit at all in with my short-term budgeting. But I had used up all my time off at work for the wedding, and I didn’t have many other options. Come another time, my mom said, we can make it Christmas any time of the year. And as much as I wanted to believe her, I grumbled and groaned about how it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t.

New York is amazing at this time of year – with the lights, the shopping, the excitement, it’s hard to find another place that feels as … magical. But it’s not home. All it takes is for me to hear “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” or one of those similar tunes, and I just crumble.

Finally, in all my complaining, my husband offered that I just go home for the holidays. To buy my expensive ticket and get back to Iowa. He wanted me to know that if it meant that much to me, he could stay and spend Christmas alone. It’s odd how a statement like that will change how you feel about the situation. I mean, I love my family and want to be with them, but this guy is my family and I couldn’t imagine spending the holiday without him. And the fact that he made such a generous offer at his expense, well, yeah he’s a pretty good guy. So we decided to stay put unless flights got a little cheaper. I wasn’t blissful, but I knew I could manage to have a really great Christmas with new traditions with him.

And then I found out I had miscalculated how much time off I still had left, which left me with a few days of wiggle room. And then all of a sudden, an airline had a crazy sale, and we realized that we could go back – with some strict budgeting and tighter gift spending. We will be flying back to NYC on Christmas morning, but that is okay with me.

I’m so happy that I will be able to go back to Iowa, but now, I’m more psyched about this whole marriage deal I have. I got lucky and snagged a really great person to be my partner. He’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for me, and I’m pretty grateful. So while everyone is having their turkey celebrations, we will be heading off on a tiny honeymoon celebration together, which I’m pretty stoked about. So, I must say, the holidays are turning out to be pretty great after all. :)

Gift Card Extravaganza

11 Nov

Gifts-Cards-Galore

For our wedding, we received a lot of gift cards. A LOT (which I am extremely grateful for). We did receive a few gifts (and all of them were wonderful, none that I wanted to exchange or take back), but we have a baseball card binder full of cards to use at our fancy. I love gift cards. So much. A card might only have $5 on it, but it feels like so much more. I can do anything with it, buy anything with it (well, within reason and at the store.) I like to flip through the pages and pretend that I’m really rich with loads of expendable cash. Ha!

Well, actually we plan on using them more for when we eventually move and have more room for things we might want and need. It’s tempting to get them out, but it’s kind of like when you have a bunch of cash in your wallet – I don’t want them to disappear. I made a promise not to buy groceries or everyday kinds of items – which I am planning to abide by. But we did spend a few of the gift cards this weekend, I was pretty giddy, and now I feel like more of a grown-up then ever. Here’s a few:

• Plastic under-the-bed and stacking organizational boxes. I absolutely hate spending money on these things. If I have an extra $5-20, the first thing that comes to my mind is not Rubbermaid. But I sure do appreciate them when I have received them as gifts. With a teeny apartment and very minimal storage, plastic boxes are kind of our thing right now. I spent a good majority of my weekend reorganizing my apartment and getting rid of cardboard boxes that I had been storing things in.

• Electric toothbrushes. Nothing makes me feel like an adult more than spending money on my oral hygiene. Seriously. If I had to pay cash for those things, wow, okay I probably never would unless they were seriously discounted. But man, after just a few brushings, I feel like I have had my teeth cleaned recently (and not six months ago, oops need to schedule that appointment!) Great, great purchase.

• Printer. We had a really cheap printer that was eh, okay, but pretty much only useful for the college student/instructor in the apartment. We bought one of those fancy ones that can be used to print photos, scans things, double-side prints things – basically a robot for the apartment.

• A TV tray. Yes, I used $8.88 of a card for a cheap tray, so that we no longer have to eat sitting on the floor at our coffee table each night for dinner (we already had one). Why don’t you have a kitchen table, you may ask? You see, friends, when you live in this area, you pay a lot for very little. Someday, maybe we will move to an area that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and we can purchase a fancy kitchen table. And have room for it. A girl can dream.

And I didn’t use my gift cards foolishly. Everything I bought was on sale or clearance.  Not only that, but I applied my 5 percent from my Target card plus some online coupons toward them. I also argued with salespeople over the toothbrushes, brandishing my ad in their face. $40 back to me. I even bought some Fiestaware that we didn’t receive from another gift registry for 75 percent off with a $10 coupon (but I can’t count it, because I actually spent cash on this purchase. Again, so afraid of my gift cards leaving my sight.)

Last night before we fell asleep, we talked excitedly about other purchases that might be in our near future – all the while worrying about diminishing our gift card stash. Our top two? A humidifier and a white noise fan. We think big, people. We think big.

The ‘M’ Word

8 Nov

tiredThis week has been … um, interesting. A mix of pure exhaustion, irritability, weird humor, and feeling eh.

I knew the five workdays after my wedding wouldn’t be easy, but man, it’s been tough. From making up hours toward my 40-hour schedule from my early flight on Monday to unpacking and trying to get back to a normal schedule – getting back into the swing of things, wow. Yes, I know, I know – parenthood will be a completely different level of crazy, but still.

There has been at least one night this week where my teeth didn’t get brushed and a few nights where my face didn’t get washed  – something that hasn’t happened since partying during college. After I get home from work and Nate gets home from class, we end up eating something easy to cook and curl up on the couch to watch a few of our favorite television shows that we have missed. Most of the time, we pay attention to just a few minutes, while catching up on grading midterms and writing grocery lists, or just completely zonk out. So those moments have been a wash.

A couple nights ago, we ended up lugging our canvas sacks to some grocery stores in the area to try and round up some things to stock up our empty shelves. We ended up at one of those really fancy stores, paying what we would normally pay for a cart full of groceries for just one sack. Seven bucks for string cheese? I’m not even joking. But we were so tired, we ended up paying the exorbitant amount.

Yesterday, I let a girl on the train really get to me when she basically sat on my lap trying to get my seat. Over something that is normally just  irritating, I was enraged over the ordeal. I kept shaking my head and ending up moving to a different train car.

And lunch. I usually pack one, rather than pay 10 bucks for a meal around Battery Park, but I guess the budget is out the window this week – I just can’t wake up early enough to pack one.

So what I am trying to say through this long diatribe is this: I wasn’t planning on using the “I just got married” sentence as an excuse, but I am. I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. I was so looking forward to the big day and spending time in Iowa, and now that has passed, I’m just trying to get in a routine. Yes, I’m super “in love” and am enjoying this “honeymoon phase,” but damn. I’m so glad we aren’t taking a trip until the end of the month. I’d probably just sleep through the time period rather than sitesee and do the things that we so enjoy on a vacation.

So this weekend, rather than cross off more of our NYC bucket list or watch a band play or go to a reading – I’m invoking my “I just got married” status. I’m going to gorge myself on undercooked pizza, nachos, and cookie dough and watch every single Harry Potter movie in my collection. I might not even change out of my pajamas. It’s going to be decadent and glorious, and then come Monday, I can go back to being a responsible adult with the whole bill paying and ya-di-ya-di-ya.

Jeez, I just got married, people.

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