1

Stop. Shop?

There is something that is easily the most annoying thing about this time of year. It’s not the ever-present Christmas music despite the fact that it’s not even December, and it’s not everyone posting pictures of their nearly-identical dinners on Facebook. And it’s not even the terrible American consumer clusterfuck that is Black Friday.

It’s the BLACK FRIDAY EMAILS.

Out of the hundred emails I got this weekend, I think around 95 were coupons, offers, or deals, from basically every place that has my credit card information. Amazon, Hulu, World Market, Best Buy, Kohl’s…even sites I don’t think I’ve used in years, if ever, such as my alma mater’s school store and some cruise line. At the end of the day, what do all of these emails, these complete wastes of digital design and disk space, say about our culture? It only reinforces these thoughts that we need more, more, more.

In my last post, I wrote about having stuff, and not wanting people to touch said stuff, get rid of said stuff, or coerce me into getting rid of said stuff. This isn’t undercutting that argument, but expanding it. Stop asking me to get more stuff. 

I mean, sure, I don’t have every single thing that I could ever want in the world. Few do. But I have one mattress; I don’t need two. I have one toaster; I don’t need two. Maybe it’s just me, but if I really need/want something, I try to procure it as soon as I can, rather than waiting for a specific time of year when I might be able to save ten dollars on it. Who needs to raid Target and Best Buy and Kohl’s? Who needs carts full of big-screen TVs, video-game systems, Kitchen-Aid mixers? Why are you constantly harping on me to buy things that I don’t want or need? I have the things I need, and I feel like most others probably do as well. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.

Well, I guess since the Pilgrims massacred the Indians, it’s the 21st century Americans’ turn to massacre what little dignity we have left.

‘Tis the season.

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2

A Just Right Thanksgiving

After a crazy few days of travel and stress, enter Thanksgiving.

In our times, Thanksgiving is thought of as such a holiday of excess. Too many people, too much food, too much consumerism. But this year, it was just right.

I flew back to Baltimore two days ago via Detroit, spent the night at home, then yesterday we drove down to Ocean City, and then today, up to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for Thanksgiving. There were 25 of us, which is almost everyone on the planet with whom I’m related. My cousins have the most gorgeous beach house, and there was just enough food that I felt satisfied without overeating. Plus, it was nice enough outside afterwards to walk around in short sleeves, and I caught up on some sleep while we had our traditional post-dinner Sharknado marathon. One of my cousins said that it was nice that nobody was gluten-free, but there’s more than that. This year, there was no whining or crying, no cringeworthy or awkward conversations, it just kinda flowed, like the ocean right outside.

Right now, I’m listening to the waves of the Atlantic that I’ve missed so much crashing just outside the house here in Ocean City. I’m still overloaded with stress thinking about work and school and everything, but at least I’m not alone and I’m in on of my most favorite places on earth.

Yeah, kind of sappy, I know, but hey, it’s just been a long few weeks, in many ways. November’s taken a lot out of me, and hopefully December will put some of it back.

2

Well, That Was Fun

…And now I’m back in Madison.

After a few days of enjoying my family and being at home in Baltimore.

When did that happen?

So, yes, here I am, back on the couch and back on the grind. Chocolate milk and Milano cookies, most work still untouched.

To my credit, I did get some stuff done on my long (if you can call it that) weekend, mostly on planes. En route, I finished all the grading and comment writing. It helped that Southwest gives free drinks on Thanksgiving, and my flight had a stopover in Boston so I enjoyed that twice. I also finished a lab write-up and gave some serious thought to my production paper, my lesson plan, and final paper for British drama. I also actually finished a book, and started a second.

Being at home though…yeah. Lots of good, and some bad.

The good: my parents were surprisingly chill and laid back. Must be something in the water. I got to see a lot of family at Thanksgiving dinner in Chevy Chase, 19 of us in all, and managed to not over-eat all the delicious food. We went to the club and to Nautilus, always a good time. I had plenty of quality bonding time with my childhood bed. I also got a haircut which I like. The airports were both a breeze to get through, and I even had a travel companion coming back, a girl from Lutherville who is a junior and has 2 mutual Facebook friends with me.

The bad: well, for one thing, coming back. I think I spent the majority of the trip dreading returning, and the awful slog that will be December for me. How bad is it? I just put down a cookie, typed a few words, got another, took a bite, and put it down in the exact same spot. MENTAL STATE.

Probably the absolute worst thing though was being around my uncle. This is possibly one of the saddest cases of “why, God, why” I’ve ever encountered. He’s been traveling down the slippery slope of dementia, and it’s gotten really, really bad. My grandmother who had textbook Alzheimer’s was happy most of the time, unaware but adaptable, and always polite. She was also on anti-depressants, which definitely made a difference. My uncle, who was once full of life and energy and good humor, has pretty much devolved into an infant. Thanksgiving dinner was particularly difficult for us, with plenty of crying and whining and yelling to go around, but I can only imagine how hard it must be for him to control himself. At shul on Saturday, he threw a plate of food to the floor in despair. I know that he is most likely harmless, but it’s so upsetting and depressing to see just how unaware he has become, and how he no longer has control over his inner belligerence. It’s scary to think that you or I might be like that someday.

Also, I was sneezing, dripping, and tearing up all weekend, and miraculously, I’m better now. I think my parents’ house might have mold in it or something.

Anyway. There will be good quality content here soon, I promise.

6

Best Friends are Best Friends

A few days ago, my best (and oldest) friend celebrated her 27th birthday. Since I’m here in Baltimore and she lives in Baltimore, I decided to attempt to get in touch with her; our busy schedules have kept us from seeing each other for probably two years or so. I always wonder if I should call her my best friend, since she was for most of my childhood and is an all-around awesome person even though we do not get to communicate very much, or merely my oldest friend, since we met in kindergarten in 1990. It was hard to get ahold of her, but once I did, she took time out of her busy life as a librarian (at a public library, and on the day after Thanksgiving, no less), so I guess that still makes her best friend material. As usual, we go to Jasmine, in the Quarry, walking distance from my house and between her parents’ place and the library.

I like everything about her, but what I like the best is her consistency. Even after all these years, she has not changed. Her hairstyle, her clothing choices, her sense of fashion, and the fact that she’s always cold. She surprised me today, though, when she deviated from her normal Philly roll and tried the Alaska roll along with it. I hope that’s the most she changes, because she’s just awesome the way she is.

Here’s a very brief rundown of all the awesome moments of our friendship. It began at age 4 when we instantly bonded over being the only two in our kindergarten class who could read. We ended up outsmarting the teachers and cheating on our worksheets by reading the answers that were printed upside down on the bottom of the page; I guess we thought they put them there to help us out. Whoops. After kindergarten, we went our separate ways, as her parents sent her to a private girls’ school, but we still managed to get together periodically on weekends for play dates, and always went to each others’ birthday parties. I would use my dad’s office fax machine to fax her hand written notes, which we thought was SO AWESOME, which it was for kids of the 90s. As teenagers, we would send each other IMs periodically. For some reason, however, we did not attend each other’s bar/bat mitzvahs – I don’t remember it being so much of an animosity thing as it was a mutual agreement since we would not know anyone else at the other’s party (on her RSVP card, she wrote “Let’s celebrate together another time!” and we probably did).  High school was busier for us, but she managed to surprise me by showing up at my school to watch me in Hello, Dolly! in senior year. I  always sent her a postcard from my vacations, and I still have the ones she sent me from Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, and Israel. In college, we sent each other birthday cards, which was always easier for me than it was for her since my address changed every year and hers was always either at her school or her parents’ house. In my junior year, she accompanied me to the closing performance of my play that was produced in Baltimore, and to the cast party afterwards, where one of the other playwrights was her seventh-grade science teacher, which was kind of cool but a little awkward. And during my senior year, she flew up to Amherst for a weekend of fun where we road-tripped through Vermont and saw Mountpelier (“the city I want to retire in” she said), the Ben & Jerry’s factory, Vermont Teddy Bear, and a used bookstore safari tour of Brattleboro, which remains one of my favorite towns anywhere. We have so many private jokes; Aladdin colorforms, Weekly Readers, “do you need a razor?”, Grandma Lois, how she will one day become a coffee drinker but not today, that picture of us from kindergarten where I look terrified and she’s just blabbing away in her favorite blue sweater, two minutes at Goucher, the creepy photograph doll, watching my first episode of Friends with her, the garage door opener story (or how her parents tricked her a lot as a child),  and as of today, real life math and Timonium chopsticks.

Wow, those were a lot of highlights.

I don’t know if she’ll ever read this, but if she does, I salute you, Flamingo Kid. We’ve muddled through 23 years together, which is longer than I have known most people. Thanks for always being the wonderful you that you are, and I hope that you and me will always be best friends. I don’t really know why we’re still close to each other even after spending most of our lives on different wavelengths, but sometimes friendship doesn’t need an explanation. It just is, and best friend-ship is even better.

And that’s the story of me and my best friend.

 

3

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving has been the first in a very long time that I have been with family, and by family I mean extended family. Technically, I was there last year, but only for about 15 minutes between the airport and the beach, and there weren’t nearly as many people there. This time, however, there were a record-breaking 26 people, some of whom I hadn’t seen since they were born, and some of whom hadn’t even been born the last time I’d seen their parents. It’s always a fun family time when you have to ask what certain children’s names are, who are their parents, if they’re still married, and if they’re both here.

Probably the weirdest part of it was seeing the younger cousins that I do know, all grown up. I’ve seen them each in person probably more than a few times since I left home, but over a period of about ten years. I remember them all being born, and I can picture them as little people, and now they’re all real people, all but one with drivers’ licenses and Facebook accounts.

And on top of it all, I have no idea what anyone is talking about anymore. I’m familiar with the language being used around the table, but if I want to get into a conversation I have to ask for context and characters. This requires effort, and as we all know, Thanksgiving is the holiday where effort translates to getting the turkey into the face, repeat ad infinitum, and anything more than that is overdoing it. Wow, that sounded so lazy.

After the meal, though, we all settled into the living to bond over Sharknado 2.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a one-armed Tara Reid, I guess.

0

Thanksgivukkah

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah, and also the night before Thanksgiving. Something that hasn’t happened since 1918 and won’t again until 2070.

It’s two holidays merged into one giant superholiday.

I love holidays, so this is great for me, but also signifies that my past two weeks of chaos are not quite over yet.

Today was kind of nice, in a weird way. I slept way later than I wanted, but finally got out of bed in the…early afternoon…to finish my proposal and send it off, followed by a shopping event to the post office, Tires Plus, Marshalls, World Market, and CVS. I emerged with an oil change, a gift for my sister, a coffee cup, a pair of boots, a mini-panettone (because it’s NOT Hanukkah without Italian Christmas cake, good golly gosh), a bottle of moscato (which I saved $2 on), posterboard, a box of cookies, toothbrushes, and contact solution. Then I went home and Kat came over to light candles, which was really very nice. I’m glad she could come over and I hope she had a good time.

Tomorrow morning, I will fly from Madison to Baltimore via Chicago, from whence I will go to my cousins’ place in Chevy Chase for a Thanksgivukkah hi-and-bye and then off to Ocean City for a few days, then BACK to Baltimore so we can go see a play at CENTERSTAGE (and hopefully stop off at BookThing!) before I come back to Madison on my newly changed flight so I can make it to rehearsal on time. Then, two rehearsals, invited dress, and then we open. Oh, and through it all, Hanukkah is happening, so there’s that, and I have 2 papers to write and a poster to create. And I have friends I want/need to call/text for Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Shabbat/both/none of the above.

I would normally say “game on,” but this feels different. I feel like I should have some sort of break from everything. Yes, I’ll be home, but I’ll also be dealing with the parents, memorizing lines, researching, and hopefully writing at least 23 pages of stuff.

And I still have to pack, do prelim. research, sweep, mop, and fold laundry (yeah right).

Crap.

So I’ll substitute “here goes nothing.”