Monthly Archives: December 2015

Top 9 Posts from 2015, Because Less Is More

Here we are at the end of the year when we run out of steam and cover it up with year-end top 10 lists. Because I want to leave you begging for more, there are only 9. If you want a 10th, send “10s and 20s” like Sally asked for in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. You think these posts grow on trees? Oh, wait some times they do. Sometimes they spring from the bushes of a Boston suburb, or an overheard conversation in a  coffee line, or from bras that look like snack bowls. Still, 10s and 20s couldn’t hurt.

Enjoy the 2015 top 9 posts, redux, and have a fantastic New Year’s! I will see you on the flip side of 2016, my friends, and thanks for reading this year!

9. Top Ways to Stay Warm Without Heat

The popularity of this one surprised me; I can only guess that people were looking for real tips, and I’m sure they were sorely disappointed, But they clicked on the link, so it’s all good from my end.

“You can’t prove that I tried to use the little flame from the candle lighter before realizing it would be spring before it worked or that I would set the hose on fire.”

8. A Girl, Her friend and Their Band U2

Best. Friend. Visit. And. Concert. Ever. EVAH!

“Seeing U2 with Sonia was like coming home. They are in a reflective mood with this new music and we are too. Yes, they forced it on everyone for free. Get over it.  I promise to hold my tongue when the new album from your favorite band I don’t give a hoot about shows up for free in my iTunes.”

7. The Girliness Adventures Go Underward

Victoria Secret never did retweet my post about this. I can’t imagine why.

“I was unprepared for the uniformity of what I can only describe as the matching snack bowl design of all the bras in the place. Seriously, rows and rows of hanging bowls.”

6. And the Repairman Sayeth, ‘Let There Be Heat.’

This was the third and final installment of my saga of being without heat for three weeks during THE snowiest month in Boston history. Makes me sound like a total badass, right? Well, it goes waaayyy deeper than that. There was some controversy about deflating and inflating certain things. You’ll have to read to find out more. I am grateful that folks hung in there to see how it ended.

“I would like to say, absolutely, I followed all the rules of blogging to the letter. I did not invent my lack of heat, nor did I inflate the length of time I went without heat merely for my own blogging use. Sometimes the environment can influence a topic, like lack of heat.”

5. Overheard, Secondhand

Why waste time thinking of topics yourself when perfect strangers will give you all the content you could ever want?

“She has chickens. Bubble hit: 3. Why are chickens a thing? Suburban chickens are the new black.”

4. Top 9 Reasons Why I Love the Gays

Clearly I like gays and the top 9 of various things. Deal with it.

“These reasons are particular to my friends; your results with your gay friends may vary.”

3. Birthdays: Top 5 Reasons 50 Is Better than 30

So sometimes I do 5 top reasons. It does confirm that people like lists of things, and who am I to deprive you?

“Reason 3: I finally can tell all the “experts” to go stick it in their pie hole.”

2. Jilted by My Hairdresser–Twice

True confessions. I wrote the original version of this piece of this many years ago and updated it for the blog. You’d never know. Oh, crap, except I just told you.

“It’s shameful I know, but I don’t remember her name.  I don’t remember any of their names, those who come after Eileen.  I made my way from Newbury Street to Supercuts and every place in between, shamelessly talking about her to them all.”

  1. And the number one spot? Of course goes to the ever fabulous, ever rockin’ Rick Springfield: Rockin’ in the ‘Burbs: Top 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rick Springfield

Yeah, so another top numbered list. I actually think it was the cool pic of him on my blog that got that post so many hits. I added it above, you know for comparison research purposes.

“Damn suburbanites. So I could have probably told you 10 things about Rick, but the crabby, unhip, “new money” people in Cohasset prevented me from learning any more.”


The Santa Liar

I posted this last year and am posting it again with an update. My now 16-year-old and I were about to get out of the car to go Christmas shopping, and he brought up a joke list of things he was holding against me. Well, at least I think it was a joke; I guess only time will tell. It included me telling him Santa wasn’t real, not taking him to a Toys R Us before the age of 10, and not letting him have Fruit Rollups as a kid. He’s clearly not old enough to know the much bigger things he should be holding against me, and I’m not telling him. My friends have all been bought off to stay silent, so I should be good until he goes to college.

I said I wasn’t sorry about the Fruit Rollups, but was definitely sorry for the Toys R Us and Santa. For the record we took him to small, independently owned toy stores, so it wasn’t like he never went into a toy store. I just had a thing against the very BLUE and very PINK isles at Toys R US, and its public-meltdown-inducing size: both his and mine. But that’s a other blog.

I told him the shortened version of this story below–that I hadn’t really understood how to pull it off since I don’t remember believing in Santa, and he answered that it was society’s re-enforcement of the whole Santa thing that was to blame, not me. I guess that educational toy thing actually worked. He also couldn’t really remember how old he was, so we both agreed there most likely hadn’t been any permanent damage. And there you are, years of massive mom guilt dismissed in a two-minute talk and a laugh. Thank god I wrote this before I knew he hadn’t been scarred for life. There’s no blog in that. Enjoy.

One Christmas morning, I woke to the sound of footsteps bounding down the stairs and an implosion of anxiety. I’d forgotten to fill my then-four-year-old’s stocking from Santa Claus. Heart pounding, I went into super mommy mode: grabbed the bag of stuffers (at least I remembered to buy them!), flew down the stairs with ninja stealth speed, motioned behind my son’s back to my mother to stall him with cute grandma chatter, thanked the universe he was not the kind of kid who raced right to the presents, dumped the goods in the stocking, and then wandered back into the kitchen with a guilt-induced nonchalance perfected during my teenage years.

“So, should we see what Santa brought?” I asked, only slightly out of breath.

“Yeah!” my son answered and off he went.

“I can’t wait until he stops believing,” I whispered to my mom. “I just can’t get the hang of this!”

My mother just shrugged, unsympathetic to the fact that it was her decision about Christmas when I was a kid that had led to this madness. At some point when I was very young, she got tired of missing the Christmas gift opening fun because she was in the kitchen cooking dinner. So one year she declared we’d open our gifts on Christmas Eve. My three older siblings were no doubt hip to the truth about Santa at that point, but I was young enough that to this day I don’t have memories of believing in Santa, although I surely must have. I mostly remember feeling lucky that we got to open our presents earlier than everyone else I knew. I could count on my grandparents to get me something good—traditionally Santa’s territory. Add to this the fact that we didn’t fill stockings—either from each other or Santa—and you can perhaps begin to see how recreating the whole Santa myth thing for my son was a DIY project, made all the more difficult because I’m a terrible liar. Big lies, little lies, doesn’t matter. I have no poker face, and when asked a direct question, like, say, “Is Santa Claus real?” I will crumble.

I averted the stocking crisis, but this was my next big dread. The Santa Claus question.  I marveled at all the other families I knew who celebrated Christmas. How they had no trouble at all telling their kids Santa is real—through all the stages, from the tentative, “I’ve heard rumors from the other kids but I don’t  believe them, so please confirm,” to the “I’m 13, so you can stop pretending now.”

I knew I had a few years before I really had to sweat it, but by the time Lucas was in fourth grade, the pressure mounted. My son is very logical and smart, and so he started wondering about the logistics earlier than other kids. He didn’t just ask straight out if Santa was real, which would be hard, but also easily deflected with a quick “Yes!” and redirect. Rather, he asked a ton of ancillary questions in trying to make the logistics match the seemingly impossible feat of going around the world in 24 hours. Of course there are a host of newer animated Christmas shows that try to answer that very question—and they invariably involve very high tech equipment with Mission Impossible movie style antics. The ancillary questions could be evaded, but I didn’t realize they were actually zeroing on the “big” question and softening me up like a criminal in a bad 70s good cop/bad cop show. The fact that I could evade them or turn the question back on him, “So how do you think the reindeer can fly?” only encouraged me to let my guard down, relax, think I had another year to quiz other parents, read up on the internet, figure out how the hell to do this…and then it happened.

The topic hadn’t been mentioned in weeks, and I was distracted with something else when he asked: “Mom, is Santo real?” Wide-eyed and paralyzed like a woodchuck just before it’s going to become road kill, I paused. Somehow I’d hoped when he finally asked, I’d be able to discern in his voice where along the continuum he was in the belief—the beginning of the end? Half and half? Not believing, but still wishing to? I strained in vain to hear the undertones, and my mind raced over the previous conversations we’d had. I came to this horrible, terribly flawed decision: He’s smart, he’s logical, he will be hurt in the future when he knows I lied to him right now, and he seems ready to know the truth. Otherwise why would he ask? I told you I was no good at this.

“He’s not real, sweetie,” I said. His crushed whisper “He’s not?” and his sudden fierce tears slammed into me like an 18-wheeler. Holy crap, what had I done? I backpeddled like a person holding her promised soul away from Satan. I have no idea what I really said, but in my mind it was a lame version of, I was just kidding, of course he’s real, mommy made a really, really, really bad joke. The tears stopped, but it was horrifying. That was the beginning of the end. I think his belief lasted one more year after that, and then it was done. He still likes Christmas, so there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage. At least for him. I still twitch a little when I fill his stocking, And I try not to think about the lies I may have to tell if there are any future grandkids. Better work on my poker face.

Go Flag Yourself Winter

As you may recall, Boston got a little bit of snow last year. I myself lost my heat in the middle of three ginormous snow storms that dumped a record snowfall on the area and the largest “snow farm” in South Boston didn’t melt until July.

But we’re hardy, if crabby folk here in the Northeast, so I was delighted to see these flags begin appearing on every fire hydrant in my town. Last year there was a real problem with fire crews finding and chopping out the hydrants. The solution? This bad boy flag that is easily 5 feet tall attached to every hydrant. And that little flag? It’s not white for surrender. It’s red and white, like a target. Oh, yeah, we’re throwing down the gauntlet, Winter. Bring it. We’re wicked ready.

Dirty Laundry

It’s been one of those weeks where work suddenly went from 100 to 1,000 and none of us could figure out if we were just recovering more slowly than usual from the post-Thanksgiving food coma or if work really had picked up exponentially. I found myself constantly chanting calming mantras more in the style of George’s “Serenity now!” in Seinfeld than like a person attempting to access her higher self. My Higher Self does seem to go off to a mountaintop and leave me when the going gets tough. Witch. And even though Higher Self had abandoned me, I was still trying to be good and not manage stress with cheese, chocolate, and wine, my weapons of choice. As an alternative, after work I was looking forward to seeing a friend who makes me laugh–the perfect antidote to work stress, right?

Then he had to cancel. Uh oh. My wafer thin determination to do the right thing melted faster than a communion host in a guilty Catholic’s mouth.

Right. On to the grocery and liquor stores.

I secured them without mishap and headed home not feeling nearly as guilty as I should have, but the universe wasn’t quite done with me yet. As I pulled into my driveway, my headlights illuminated a carpet runner hanging from my upstairs neighbor’s balcony, which, by the way, had been greeting me all week. This time there were also three additional piles of throw rugs clustered around my front door.

Serenity now!

You see, the laundry situation started this summer. Laundry was hung out on the balcony nearly every day, all summer long. Just on the railings, mind you, not on a clothes line or racks which would actually keep them, you know, near your house. So all summer long I pulled into my driveway to see various towels, socks, jeans, men’s underwear (yes, lucky me) on the ground huddled around my door as if they were trying to escape the neighbors. I can’t say I blame them. I came face-to-face with one of the glassy-eyed residents of Laundry Fetish Central and realized I wasn’t dealing with your garden variety annoying neighbor. She came out on the stoop, looked around blankly, and then stared at me as I retrieved my mail. She didn’t speak.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Oh. I thought you were the visiting nurse,” she answered slowly, even though there were no cars anywhere in sight on the street. No cars except for my car. In the driveway. Where I park it. Every day.

Then as I was walking to my door with mail in hand, she swiveled her head slowly to the mailboxes. “Oh, did the mail come?” So many ways to answer that, but I decided walking away was best. Not that she even noticed.

All summer I was tempted to leave the laundry where it fell, but they seemed to forget it was out there, and, anyway,was the one who would look like white trash with laundry peppering my walkway. So sometimes I threw it back up on their deck, and sometimes I hung it on the railing to their front door. Neither way stemmed the laundry tide.

I figured I just needed to hang on until the weather got cold, but they just seemed to shift from clothes to rugs. The long one in the picture above has been there all week and has been rained on twice. As much as I try to imagine it is a royal banner to welcome me home to my castle after a day out riding on a beautiful steed (serenity now!), I can’t quite get past the big stain and the 80s colors. My friends and I have been trying to figure out what’s really going on. Is this really a laundry fetish or something else? Do they “take in laundry” like a depression-era housewife trying to make ends meet? Is that even a thing anymore, “taking in laundry”? This summer I did see one guy in front of the house taking laundry from the house and then folding it in his car. Is it a drug-induced obsession or are drugs so cheap you can use them to pay for laundry? Is it a literal laundering scheme, like they distribute drugs in pockets of cleaned and folded pants and shirts? Dang, I should have checked those pockets this summer.

Because we watch too much TV, we were convinced we were on to some novel trend of people on drugs doing laundry for nefarious purposes, so I Googled “drugs and laundry.” But as you’d expect, the references were primarily more of the pedestrian metaphor variety. What a disappointment. Still we think there’s more to this than a laundry fetish. I mean, who does that much laundry without a dryer?

Or it could be just the universe messing with me and poking me like the Annoying Orange–Hey! How about some work stress? Hey! How about a friend canceling? Hey! How about some more freakish laundry? Higher Self finally showed up and joined me in the car, and as I stared at new piles around my door, I realized the only thing I could do was laugh–heartily at myself.

As stressful as my week at work was, it was because the actual work seemed to pile up. It was not like that job I had a number of years ago when I worked for a woman we referred to as the dementor. I will see my friend again at some point and laugh, and as weird as Laundry Fetish Central is, I’ve had worse neighbors.

Plus, it’s bound to snow soon, and then the rugs will get covered up like a real laundering scheme. Now that’s some serenity.