Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dog Blogging

Guarding the Presents!

Little Dog loves to burrow down in pillows.

The Funniest News Article of the Year

This is such a hoot, I can't stand it.

For one thing, I don't believe our (current) president is such a bookworm.

For another thing, you'd think the "Leader of the Free World" wouldn't have quite so much time on his hands! 

Here's a Tip for the Husbands

If you plan to toss your wife overboard from a cruise ship, don't walk around with a bag of quarters advertising you're going to the casino to change your luck.

People notice crap like that.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Up for Air

Sigh.  Christmas is over.  [NIW does a sprightly Happy Dance!!!] 

Daughter Dear is off on a fabulous vacation with Wonderful Boyfriend's family. This is a very good for her.  She will have fun and have lots of fabulous new experiences. On the other hand, it will give her a whole year's worth of ammunition regarding why our family is not as cool as WBF's.  What DD doesn't know is that I am totally okay with the fact that our family is, as a matter of fact,not as cool as WBF's.  I have no desire whatsoever to be as cool as his family. They are very nice people. I like them.  I love the fact that they are so wonderful to her.  They are cool and fun and social. I am none of those things and I aspire to none of those things. I have no desire to compete with them.  Someday I would like for DD to understand that.  Failing that, I would settle for her getting off my ass about it.   

Dear Husband is in the throes of Football Playoff frenzy, which means that (even more than usual) he is oblivious to everything but what is important to him, which, at this time of year, involves certain teams winning their "big games." I'm not sure which teams are important other than all teams from Florida. I really don't give a damn, but I don't dare say that out loud. (I am so unspeakably thrilled that I will be on a business trip the night of the BCS Championship game, I can't tell you. If I watch the game at all -- which I do not plan to do -- it will be with a group of people who don't care about the outcome.)  

I am presently on the brink of my annual post-Christmas, pre-New Year psycho-spiritual spasm, experiencing the pain of the disconnect between the life I actually live and the life I think I ought to be living.  On or about New Year's Day,  I conduct my annual general examination of conscience. 

I know. I know. Good Catholic girls make an examination of conscience more than once a year.  Well, this Good Little Catholic Girl discovered a while back that too much religion is TOXIC.  These days, if I can't avoid it altogether, I take my religion in very, very small doses.  I ditched most religious practice several years ago, but I decided to keep the Examination of Conscience. Instead of doing it daily, however, (which I think only causes wallowing in guilt and unhealthy self-criticism) I do it once a year, around the New Year.  

About a decade ago, I developed a reflection format for my annual psycho-spiritual self-exam which has been very helpful in many respects. Someday, I hope when I'm dead and gone, my daughter or somebody who gives a damn will read it and understand that I'm not quite as crazy as I may seem.  There is some internal consistency and logic in my behavior. It just isn't always apparent from the outside. Frequently, it isn't really apparent from my perspective until I ponder it contemplatively for a while.  This year has been such a hell of a year, I'm actually very nervous about the results of that little exercise! (Which makes it all the more important to actually DO the exercise!)

And so, the wheel of time turns again. I used to look forward to the New Year with either a sense of hope and excitement for what is to come next or, occasionally (after really bad years), a prayerful aspiration that the New Year will be at least better than the previous one.  This year, I'm thinking that about the best I can hope for is the will to keep on keepin' on.  

Then again.... who knows. Maybe I'll discover that pony in the pile of shit I've been digging in.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Feeling Much Better Now

I think I am about finished with my pre-Christmas melt-down. At least I hope so.

The Anniversary and DH's birthday are over, and Christmas is almost upon us.  My shopping is done, that is, unless I take a notion to stop and buy some more stuff tomorrow on my way home from work, which I typically do. Shopping on Christmas Ever is a tradition with me, since I was a kid and I used to go with my Dad to do his Christmas shopping for Mom on Christmas Eve.  

My biggest "issue" with Christmas is the disconnect between what I believe to be my blessed good fortune at having a roof over my head, food on my table and a job that pays a living wage -- as opposed to the millions of people who are out of work and wondering what they will do next. I would like to give all the money I would ordinarily spend on Christmas gifts to charity. 

Unfortunately, my family wants to give (and receive) gifts, which causes me to have to buy gifts. 


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two Celebrations Down ....

Our anniversary (which was a bust) and DH's birthday (which was also something of a bust) are (mercifully) over.  DH was sick. We skipped the anniversary party altogether on Wednesday.  He slept; I pouted. We had a combined anniversary and birthday party on Thursday, which neither of us really enjoyed, but I had purchased all the food and I had to cook it sometime.  

He couldn't help being sick.  I couldn't help being disappointed.  We didn't stick it out for 25 years by holding grudges when we get pissed off.  One of the things you learn in a long-term marriage is how to suck it up and move on.  Maybe the fact that I spent an hour on our anniversary, walking the beach in the rain, crying out of sheer frustration, and then turned around and made the party for him the next day says more about why we've been married so long than anything. I'm not sure if it says I'm a patsy who lets myself be taken advantage of (DD's opinion) or I'm a mature person who understands about owning one's own issues and not taking them out on others (what I hope is the case).  The truth is probably some combination of both.  

I'm still mad that he was such an ass about our anniversary party when he should have understood it was a big deal to me. I'm mad because: (a) women can be sick and still attend parties with good grace. (What the hell: women can be sick and PUT ON PARTIES with good grace. I've done it on more than one occasion.) and (b) he probably did not really comprehend that it was such a big deal to me, because I did not write it out in red crayon on a big piece of paper: THIS IS A BIG DEAL TO ME AND I WOULD REALLY, REALLY, REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD COOPERATE.  He might have understood that. Maybe. Possibly.  Probably not. Because I'm pretty low key most of the time and the fact that I've been talking about our anniversary for about two years would never have tipped him off to the fact that I thought it was important.

Oh, well.  I won't hold a grudge.  Really.  I made the party on Thursday, and then tonight I fed him the last of the leftovers he was too sick to eat on Thursday. I offered to roast a chicken and put the (spicy) ribs aside for another time. He chose the ribs. I'm guessing if he's up all night again tonight, it'll be my fault. Sigh.
I took advantage of my days off to just about finish my Christmas shopping. At least I got my Mom's gifts in the mail.  I know she wouldn't care if I didn't get them in the mail promptly, but that's another big deal to me.   This year I made her some picture collages I think she will enjoy, and I bought her a book I know she will love.  I love giving presents to my mother because she loves anything I give her, even the stuff she never uses.  Anyway, it's a pleasure getting and making gifts for her because she's so appreciative.  She's the only person in my world who seems to love my gifts, no matter what they are.

DH does not want anything or like anything.  This year, for the first time in living memory, he specifically asked for something: he said he wanted slippers .  I gave them to him for his birthday instead of waiting until Christmas because he was sick and I thought he would like to snuggle up in them.  He opened the box, put the shoes on for a few minutes and then left them in the middle of the floor.  I put them on the couch when I ran the vacuum.  Little Dog decided they were the coolest pillow ever. They are still on the couch, and Little Dog seems to think they belong to her. DH said he liked them; I see no evidence of that.  That was how he handled a present he actually asked for! I wonder what he'll do with the other odds and ends I picked up for him.

DD will love everything I got for her, but it won't be enough. An argument will ensue.  She will say I'm cheap. I will say she's ungrateful. We will both be 100% correct.

One of these years I'm going to implemente a new Christmas gift rule: if you are over 16 or under 80, you don't get a present from me.  I will make a donation to the Red Cross in your name.  I know. I know. I say that every year. One of these days I'm going to actually do it.

Actually, I did make a Christmas donation to the Red Cross this year.  It just wasn't as big as I would have preferred because I still had to buy presents for a few people who are over 16 and under 80 because I'm too big a wuss to put my foot down and risk hurting someone's feelings. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Quarter of a Century!

Twenty five years ago today, my (now) Dear Husband and I were married. It was a Saturday. He worked nights at the time, and Friday was a work night, so he slept most of the day. I putzed around the apartment trying to be quiet. Stupidly, I did my hair way too early, so I spent the rest of the day trying not to mess it up. I put on a robe over my slip and didn't put on my wedding dress until it was almost time to leave for the church.

It was cold: very, very cold. I don't think it got above zero all day. There was snow on the ground, but the roads were (mercifully) clear. I was bored, but too keyed up to read or watch TV or do anything but pace the floor and watch the clock.

I had decided not to let my the groom see my wedding dress until we were ready to walk down the aisle. That was a bit problematic since we lived together. Once I put my dress on, I put on my coat as well. How stupid!

DH's brother drove us to the church, with their mother. He had the radio on; the weather report said it was 13-degrees below zero. I was okay until a few minutes before we were scheduled to begin the ceremony. At that point, I started to freak out. I went outside and lit a cigarette. I couldn't taste the smoke for the cold. I contemplated for a moment whether I needed the cigarette badly enough to risk frost-bite, and decided that -- fiend though I was -- I didn't. I tossed the almost whole ciggie into the ash bucket and went back inside.

My soon-to-be-brother-in-law was fussing about having to roll out the aisle runner. The minister was very kindly trying to explain it to him. Everybody else had already taken their places in the chapel. My sister, who was the matron of honor, and DH's brother, who was the best man, walked down the aisle first. DH's son was the ring-bearer. He led us down the aisle. We walked in together. The minister followed us.

A guy I worked with and a woman he knew provided the music. I can't remember the other songs, but the song DH requested was Here, There, and Everywhere. I think they sang another Beatles' song as well, but I can't remember what it was. I requested some Christian folk song; I can't remember what it was. It seemed so important at the time; I remember agonizing for hours over the selection of music. Odd that I can't remember what I ended up with. That goes to show how important it really was.

Another person I worked with took the pictures. She took photos at the church and at the reception, and gave me the film to develop. I was cheap even then. I would not have considered paying for a professional photographer. The pictures turned out really nice, I think.

The church was a lovely little chapel. The carpet was red. The poinsettias were white and red. All we contributed toward the church decoration was one large red poinsettia for the top of their "poinsettia tree". [For several years we donated a poinsettia to the church every year for Christmas in celebration of our anniversary. Somewhere along the way, I quit doing that, largely because the church turned out to be so derned dysfunctional I couldn't bring myself to give them a dime.]

My soon-to-be-step-son, who was then four years old, behaved. My husband's nephew who was about the same age, and something of a monster at the time, behaved as well. That was a relief.

The ceremony went smoothly. It was the first Protestant wedding I had ever attended. The whole thing took less than ten minutes. It seemed hardly worth all the fuss and bother. I wasn't really clear as to what could be the point of a church service without Communion and lots and lots of music. [I still don't understand that, to be honest.]

We held the reception at our townhouse. There were thirteen members of our immediate families at the church. Another dozen or so friends and extended family joined us for the party. My mother and some other relatives served the food. DH and I cut the cake. We opened our presents.

DH had spent hours and hours making a tape of all of our favorite songs to play in the background during the party. It was the greatest "mix" tape of all time. [I bet we still have it somewhere among all our hundreds of cassette tapes.] Everybody danced. Our "first dance" was to John Lennon's Imagine. To this day, I think that's one of the greatest songs ever written, although it totally escapes me why I thought it might have been remotely appropriate for a wedding dance.

Just about the time I started relaxing and enjoying myself, everybody left. I was ready to party, but there was nobody there but the two of us. I think we watched TV for a while. We were such romantics even then. [NOT!]

The next day, we went out for brunch, which was nice. I remember that the center of my bouquet came out and made a corsage which I wore to brunch. I must have looked like a complete idiot. Who wears a corsage to anything but a prom?

The following Monday was DH's birthday. I went to work, but came home sick in the middle of the day. By then the reality of what I had done had begun to set in and I had my first panic attack. It was the first of many such attacks that would afflict me for several years. DH and I ended up spending most of the day sitting in the doctor's office waiting for me to be worked in. When I finally got in to see the doctor, he prescribed medicine and told me he wished brides would come to see him before the wedding instead of waiting until they melted down afterwards.

At one point DH commented, "When I promised to be there for you 'in sickness' I didn't really mean this soon." Such a wonderful way for him to celebrate his first birthday of wedded bliss with me!

In the intervening quarter of a century we've had very little of "sickness", a whole lot of "health"; we have had a lot of "better", a little of "worse", not too much "richer" but not too much "poorer" either. We're still alive and still together, albeit somewhat bruised and battered from occasional marital storms. We are certainly a lot older and, perhaps, marginally wiser.

Tonight we planned to sip cheap champagne and share a home cooked meal -- because we're too cheap to spring for going out to a nice place, but I am not willing to go to one of our usual joints for such a significant occasion.

DH got up this morning sick with the flu. He went to work anyway. I spent hours buying groceries and, even -- I don't know what got into me -- decorations for our celebration dinner. He called me mid-afternoon to tell me he was too sick to eat dinner and told me not to cook anything.

I put everything on hold and went to the beach, where it was foggy, misty and nasty,
for a walk. I got soaked but at least I calmed down before he got home. By the time I got home, DH was lying on the couch, moaning and bitching about how miserable he felt. All he wanted for dinner was canned soup. So much for the multi-course dinner I had planned.

We will have our anniversary celebration tomorrow night ... and he had better damned well feel better!

I Can't Resist Sharing This

The B&W photo is me when I was three years old; I was a flower girl in the wedding of some relative of my dad's. The color photo is my daughter when she was four. She wore the same dress for a Halloween costume; I think she was Cinderella, or maybe a fairy, what with the magic wand.

It rained and snowed that Halloween, and the dress was pretty much destroyed, but not before I got the photo. I wanted to combine these photos for years, but didn't have the appropriate scanning equipment or software. Now I do.

Monday, December 15, 2008

San Antonio, Texas

I recently visited San Antonio, Texas. I had been there once when I was a child, but that was -- um -- a while back. My memories of Texas were dim and generally unpleasant, primarily because, as I recalled, driving across Texas in a car with no A/C in August was kind of miserable.

In recent years people who have visited San Antonio have waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of the city. It has been on my list of places I wanted to visit for some time. I was definitely not disappointed. It helped that the day I was there, the weather was absolutely fabulous: clear and crisp, but not cold. There was not a cloud in the sky. I arrived around mid-day, and had the afternoon free before an evening business function.

I took advantage of the opportunity to go sight-seeing. I am an unrepentant tourist at heart, and I'm not even embarrassed to say that. A person can learn a lot about a place (and yourself) if you grab your camera, a map and put on some comfy shoes.

San Antonio is every bit as beautiful as it had been described to me. I only had a few hours, so I started at the Alamo, then I worked my way out from there, wandering around the downtown both at the street level and along the River Walk to the Market Square area.

I detoured off the main drag to make a pilgrimage to the house/office of the writer, O. Henry, who ran a newspaper in San Antonio for a couple of years. I even violated my "no shopping on pleasure trips" rule to do a little Christmas shopping at the River Center Mall. After dinner, our host invited us to walk along the River Walk to see it lit up for Christmas. While we were out and about, he asked if we wanted to see the Alamo at night. We said we did, and it was amazing.

San Antonio knows a thing or two about how to treat visitors. There are chamber of commerce folks standing around on the sidewalks in the heart of the tourist area, offering information or directions and, if you don't need either, they simply welcome you to their city and invite you to enjoy your stay.
Even most of the people in the shops were friendly. They actually made me think they were glad I was there. How cool is that? [Living in a tourist area, where our merchants specialize in being as rude as humanly possible to tourists and locals alike, it came as almost a shock to be treated so graciously.]

Perhaps I should rethink my generally negative attitude about the Lone Star state. ... or, then again, maybe, I'll just make an exception for San Antonio.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Dog Blogging

Our Little Dog loves Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Little Girl Soldier

I saw the soldier walking down the concourse in front of me, wearing the gray and white BDU's that appear to have replaced the old green on green. (I'm guessing green uniforms would stand out in the desert). There was a ratty old and obviously very "loved" stuffed animal of some sort strapped to the top of the soldier's pack. It was very obviously not a new gift for a child. It struck me as odd. The soldier was very small. The pack was so large I could only see the top of the soldier's head.

I saw the same soldier later in the gate area and understood the stuffed animal: the soldier was a freckle faced girl, who could not have been more than nineteen. She was returning on leave from a tour of duty in Iraq.

When our plane landed, the stewardess asked the passengers to welcome her home. As cranky and surly as we all were after our delayed flight, every person on the plane applauded.

The last time I saw her she was lifted off the ground in the arms of her boyfriend and surrounded by her joyfully tearful family.

I respect the kids who are willing to serve their country, and honor the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf. I sincerely hope there is a special place in hell for political leaders who send teenagers (female or male) to wars half way around the world for no good reason.

Random Thoughts Whilst Sitting in Airports

I spent more than nine hours in the last two days sitting in airports (in between six hours actually in the air). I guess it was still faster than driving..., but surely air travel should not have to be that unpleasant.

First of all, I am old enough to remember when people used to dress up to go to the airport. Whether they were flying or meeting someone, they dressed nicely because when someone flew it was usually due to some kind of special "occasion". I'm not suggesting we go all the way back to that, but I think people should at least dress with a minimum of decency when they travel.

Granted, you do see a lot of business travelers in suits, poor beleaguered folks schlepping laptops, briefcases, black roll-on luggage and looking like they don't have any clue what city they are in. (I'll rant about corporate business travel another time.) Most business travelers have adopted the "business casual" look, which is certainly more practical then having men sitting in airports for hours upon hours in suits and ties. Women business travelers have more options in suit material, but even they do okay with business casual.

Business travelers aside, the rest of the traveling public in America seems to have decided that there is no need to dress up, or even get dressed at all. It's appalling how many people I saw in various airports wearing pajamas! I understand bringing toddlers in pajamas so they will be comfortable, but anybody over the age of four should be wearing street clothes! Puleeeeze.

Common courtesy and civility are (with rare and notable exceptions) virtually absent in America today , and I think that Americans' sloppiness is an indication of our general disregard for others. I'm not asking for people to wear their Sunday-go-to- meetin' best (not that Americans dress up for church much anymore either)! If I could write a dress code for the American traveling public it would be simple: wear reasonably clean clothes that are not sleep wear (that prohibition on sleepwear extends to bedroom slippers); cover all private body parts; no obscene words on T-shirts. Personally, I think the bar should actually be higher than that, but I'd be happy if we could start there.

To avoid this turning into more of a tirade than a mere rant, I'll refrain from discussing: cell-phone etiquette; arguing with spouses in public; and, eating smelly sandwiches on planes. In short: Please stop and consider the impact your behavior may have on the people around you. I fully understand that is totally unreasonable, which is why I'm not going to waste my time spelling it out in any more detail.

I remember when Delta flight attendants (fka stewardesses) were young, big-haired GRITS (girls raised in the south) who smiled their big ol' Southern smiles and called everyone 'honey' and 'sugah'. It made me feel at home just walkin' on the plane! They acted as though they were glad you were there (Southern gals make good flight attendants because they learn early how to smile and make you believe they give a rat's ass whether or not they actually do). When they counted the passengers, they made eye contact and smiled. Honest! It used to be like that. Really!

In the past two days, on four flights, I saw two flight attendants actually smile at a passenger. One smiled at a really cute baby (well, I thought she was really cute until we took off and she started screaming). I'm not sure that smile really counts.

The other one deserves special recognition. She was the poor heroic gal who was the flight attendant on a plane full of irate passengers. We had been delayed for more than three hours at which point the airline switched us to a plane that held twenty fewer people than the originally scheduled airliner (which had been booked solid). We knew when we checked in that twenty people were gonna get screwed. (How's that for stellar customer service? Thank you, Delta Airlines, for a really creative solution to a problem.)

Anyway, by the time we got on the plane after having been jerked around by Delta for hours, we were tired, hungry, and plenty pissed off. Nevertheless, this little gal, who must have graduated from the Southwest Airlines flight attendant school, tried to cheer us up. She was funny, perky, quirky and seemed to like interacting with the passengers. I think her efforts at both humor and interaction were mostly lost on us cranky passengers, but I stopped on my way out the door and thanked her for trying anyway.

That one pleasant airline employee aside, it is no wonder the airlines have financial difficulties. They treat their customers with something like contempt. Once I enter the lines for security, I feel as though I have been transformed from a human being into a sheep in a pen, being controlled, manipulated and moved around by unseen "others". It is a totally unpleasant experience.

The airlines apparently don't treat their employees any better than they treat their customers, because from the the minute you enter the terminal most of the employees appear to miserable, unhappy and surly.

I found myself actually pitying the poor schmucks at the gate check in counters who have be the face of the airlines for the passengers. Their job involves dealing daily (and sometimes many times a day) with angry passengers who know the airline is jerking them around. I watched the gate attendants carefully
for hours yesterday, trying to get some signal from facial expressions or inflection of their voices that something might be happening to get us moving. I came to the conclusion that the airlines keep the gate attendants as much in the dark as possible. Perhaps they don't want them to know too much so they don't have to actually lie to the customers. In any case, there is no doubt those people have a miserable job. That does not keep me from feeling irritated when they are rude to me. I am a Customer not a Sheep!

It is no wonder the employees are unhappy. They come to work every day knowing they're going to get yelled at by dozens if not hundreds of customers every day because of the ineptitude of their employer. Now that'll get you up for work every morning!

There is NO reason for it. We have a lot of smart, creative people in this country. The airlines are serving more and more customers every year and, because we have no other alternative if we want to get around, that trend is likely to continue. They are still doing business the same way they did thirty years ago. They need to figure something out ... soon.

Our obsession with security (important as it is) has crippled our ability to move people quickly from one point to another, and I don't know what the hell it is that causes one flight delay due to a raindrop or two in Manchester, New Hampshire, to cause hundreds of people to be sent scurrying around from one gate to another while the airlines shuffle them from plane to plane I know people could figure out a better way.

Here's one example: Why can I print my boarding pass 24 hours in advance with a gate assignment on it? Gate assignments should not be made until the plane is on its final approach to land (after the airlines have dealt with other planes coming in late or early). I don't need a GATE assignment until it's time to board. I want a seat assignment as far in advance as I can get it, realizing that there may be reshuffling (and I may need to check in again) if they have to switch out planes to avoid delays. I'd be happy to wait in a common lounge until they call the flight and announce the gate assignment prior to boarding. The at-gate seating is too small for the size of most of the planes anyway, and when you get three and four planeloads of people waiting in one gate area because the planes are backed up, it's a recipe for disaster. It's also undignified for an entire planeload of people to be sent running down the concourse for a last-minute gate change. From a customer service standpoint, that is utter madness!

One more thing: baggage. The airlines have started charging for checked bags, which means that more people are carrying on more and more luggage. That slows down both boarding and exiting processes. It is also miserable to schlep stuff around airports all day long. Here's my suggestion: Raise ticket prices and go back to two free checked bags (maybe even three). At the same time limit carry on luggage to one carry on bag that would have to go under the seat, plus a personal item, that would also have to go under the seat. Overhead bins would be reserved for coats and other "soft" items. That would speed things up a lot, avoid injuries from passengers whacking each other in the head with suitcases, avoid hard feelings because some passengers obey the baggage size rules and others don't... etc. etc.

Transportation is a critical component of a healthy country. Our roads, bridges, rail transport and our air transport are all woefully in need of a major overhaul. Smart creative minds need to work on thinking big ideas for how we can do things better. Right now, it seems as though corporate America keeps trying to put old-worn out band aids on new problems. Then when the business borders on bankruptcy, they look to Uncle Sam for financial assistance.

Here's a novel idea: fix your own house, folks. And do it fast because it's having a bad effect on the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On The Road Again

I'm off for another short business trip for a couple of days. Hopefully I will come back with a better attitude.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dogs and Football

As I have mentioned before, we have two dogs. One of them was abused when she was a puppy, and she is terrified of everything. The other one has always had a good home, but he is very protective of the little dog, and since she's lived with us, he's turned into a Nervous Nellie. They are afraid of loud noises, storms, rain, and a lot of other things. They most especially hate it when people yell. After the Fourth of July (with all those fireworks), the dogs hate football season the most.

My Dear Husband has a lot of good qualities. I love him. He is, however, a football maniac. I fail to understand how something that makes you so mad could be enjoyable, but he says he loves football. He will watch almost any game, and he loves all Florida teams, but more than anything, he loves the Florida Gators. When the Gators are winning, all is wonderful in our house. When the Gators are not winning, things are not so good.

Earlier this year, the Gators lost unexpectedly to Old Miss. I cannot begin to describe the yelling, screaming and cursing that went on in our house that afternoon. The dogs were totally freaked out. I would have left, but I was afraid to leave them alone with a crazy person.

Ever since then, every time my husband turns on a football game, the dogs get nervous. They seem to understand the noises. When they hear the drums, music and unmistakable noises of a football game, they freak out. The little dog hides. The other one sits by me and shakes.

Right now we are watching the SEC championship game between Florida and Alabama. On Florida's first possession, the Gators moved all the way down the field in a long drive. At the end the announcer yelled, "TOUCHDOWN!" The dog sat up, reached out his paw to touch my leg, and stared intently at my husband, evidently waiting to see if he was going to throw a fit or not. I immediately understood that he knew the word "touchdown". What he didn't know was whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.

That was sort of the last good moment we've had this afternoon. I think DH thought 'Bama was going to lay down before the mighty Gators. It's not working out that way.

I gotta say that I'm almost as nervous as the dogs. If Bama scores again, I'm going to join the dogs on the couch, shaking and quaking and praying for it to be over.

PS: Florida won the game. The dogs are happy. Everything is peaceful and calm in our house, for now. Next stop BCS championship in January. Football season does go on and on and on. Does it not?

I guess I should add here: Go Gators!

Now That We Have THAT Out of the Way...

Well, our new credit cards came yesterday. I tried mine out by renewing the car registrations for DH's two vehicles. (One of the many bad things about having a birthday near Christmas is that, on top of the holidays, the person has to do things like renew auto tags, driver's licence and other similar things that are irritating expenses at best, but are particularly difficult to fit into the December budget.) It worked, so I guess I'm back in business now.

My next hurdle is to resign myself to the fact that I live in a family that really enjoys the Holidays, and it is unfair and mean of me to be such a party pooper. Therefore, I need to commit myself to ginning up a little enthusiasm of my own. I don't give a rat's ass for the Holidays, but I do like to see DH and DD happy. All this merriment makes them happy. The least I can do is to focus on how much I enjoy seeing them happy, and try to let that show.

That's the theory. The hard part is that DH is making himself crazy over the Christmas decorations. He's about to have a nervous breakdown over lights that don't work. I want to ask him how this can be fun and enjoyable.

[Aside: Early in our marriage -- back in the days when I was still trying to be the perfect wife-mother-hausfrau-etc. -- DH sat me down after Christmas one year and told me that I was ruining Christmas for him with my stressing out so over meals, parties, gifts, entertaining, etc., etc. He told me to lighten up. Christmas does not have to be an endless round of entertaining and cooking. He wanted it to be a simple family affair. That was a total revelation to me. I learned how to "do" Christmas from my mother, who started shopping for Christmas on January 1 and started cooking for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. December was a relentless round of cooking, entertaining, cleaning up and then more cooking for more parties. After I got married, that's what I did, because I didn't know any better. I hated it, but I thought everyone expected it. I spent every Christmas of my life cooking and entertaining. The cooking I didn't mind too much. The entertaining was always a strain on my Introvert. I was thrilled to know I didn't have to do all of that. .... BACK TO TODAY'S STORY]

I'm tempted to sit him down and give him a dose of his own medicine on the subject of stressing himself out over his decorations.

DD on the other hand is totally into the material aspects of the holiday. She's in it for the presents. To her credit, she's a generous and thoughtful gift-giver. She spends more than she should. What is more (here's the part where I get in trouble), she has expectations that others will spend lavishly on her as well. Unfortunately, her family (both her immediate family and our extended family) does not do that. Fortunately Wonderful Boyfriend's family makes up for our deficiences, which only underscores our deficiencies .... do you see where this is headed?

Anyway, DD and I end up clashing over gifts. I know that her expectations are way beyond what I could fulfill. I end up stressing over giving her gifts that I believe are appropriate and yet measure up to her standards. This year, I'm worried because in the past three years, I've already given her all of my most prized jewelry. I don't have any treasures left to give her. (Yikes!) I'll figure something out.... (I hope).

So, it's time for me to start getting in the mood.... er, I mean, the Holiday Spirit. (Ho. Ho. Ho. ???)

Step One: pretend. I learned a long time ago when I was dealing with panic disorder that acting as though I was okay often eventually resulted in feeling okay. That can sometimes work for enthusiasm too. Acting as though I'm happy sometimes results in my feeling happy. Then again, sometimes it results in feeling resentment for the people and circumstances that make me have to fake it, but -- hey -- it's usually worth a shot.

We'll see how this pans out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Weeks Before Christmas

Yesterday morning I walked out the front door and headed for work. Before I had driven two blocks, the gas light came on. Someone had used my car the night before and brought it back with an empty gas tank. I muttered and swore all the way to the gas station.

I pulled into the nearest gas station and put my credit card in the slot. The machine rejected my card, indicating I should present the card to the attendant. Ordinarily, I'd have left. I have had gas pumps refuse my card before; I usually just go to another station. I usually have enough gas to get to another gas station. I didn't have that luxury this time. I took my card inside. The attendant ran it through twice and said it was rejected. She looked at me like I was some kind of low-life. I mumbled something about how there must be some kind of mistake.

Of course, I had no cash on me. I only have one credit card. I didn't have enough gas to get to work. I tried (not entirely successfully) to hold my temper.

I was already irritated with my Dear Husband for bringing my car home with no gas. I knew he was still in bed, but I called him and asked him to come to the gas station right away with cash or a working credit card. He didn't even give me any lip. He was there in less than fifteen minutes. He put gas in my car and I headed for work.

A little while later, he called to let me know that the problem occurred because he had ordered a replacement for his worn credit card. The bank canceled the entire account. The bank indicated they are mailing us new cards, which should arrive within a week to ten days.

I have to go on a business trip next week. My boss has agreed to pay for my room if my card hasn't come yet.

I have not purchased one single Christmas present yet. I guess I will be reduced to using
-- GASP -- cash.

The holidays are off to a great start!