You were expecting champagne and hors d’oeuvres?

Well, shit. Here it is, the end of another year. If you came here looking to read delightful recaps of a life gone completely sideways, or me waxing poetic about making it through another year despite some pretty heavy blows and some awfully deep, dark holes I found myself in without a rope, well, I apologize: that’s not happening here. I’ll bet it is at other blogs, though, so if that’s the kind of schmaltz you’re craving, just do a quick Google search, putting in any combination of the words “2018 blog recap” or “I made it through 2018” or “2018 pity party” and it’ll take you right the fuck outta this space. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, but do me a favor and hit the Like button. It’s the least you can do for assuming that I’m like all the other blogs. I’m a loner, and a rebel.

If I seem a bit ambivalent, a tad, let’s say, combative, it’s probably because I am. I abhor playing by the rules set forth by whoever made the rules that we must feel nostalgic, and list all of the ways in which we were anally violated by 2018 without lube. After doing so, then of course we say, “Let’s drink to the end of 2018 and toast to 2019!” After all that reliving the shit sandwiches we ate throughout the year, the raw deals, the sad situations, and the tragic circumstances, who wouldn’t want to drink themselves unconscious? It never occurred to me, until now, that this is the real reason why people drink on New Year’s Eve. It’s not really to welcome the new year, but to help you forget the old one.

Of course, you’re reminded, every time you look at social media, that this a time for reflection, soul-searching, and to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Resolutions abound; New Year’s Day is the day to begin anew.

Except, it really is just another day in which the year has changed. The shitty things that happened to you in January, March, and June 2018 still happened. The bills you owed on December 31, 2018, were the same ones you owe on January 1, 2019. The weight you gained because you ate like shit over the holidays didn’t magically disappear. Your problems are still there, hanging on your back like whatever monkey is proportional to your problems; maybe you have a spider monkey, maybe you have a gorilla, and, most unfortunately, a few of you have one of those chimps that will eat a bitch’s face off.

And then, there’s this meme:

Thanks ever so much, Robert Downey Jr, for making this face so that people could make memes about being so over whatever it is that they’re over. Granted, it’s a very effective face, and it’s been used by just about everyone, for everything:

It is annoying, isn’t it? “Here’s Junior, in a cardboard box.” “Junior again, in a cardboard box with his teddy! Soooo adorable!”

Apparently, phlebotomists have their own brand of sarcasm.

Okay, so this is actually true.

Every year since this photo was discovered, my social media is flooded with this image by the same, jaded, glass-is-at-an-ambiguous-level people. The nihilists, the ones who’ve seen it all, the loners; the rebels, Dottie.

Then, there’s this slightly newer, snappier one:

Thanks for the warning.

I know, those who post this one are delighting in their level of blase, devil-may-care, flippant attitudes about the whole, messy New Year situation. It may actually be true! But unfortunately, it was only true the first few times I saw it; now, it is merely redundant.

Why can’t the New Year memes reflect the truth? You know, the things we think, but politely refrain from saying even though we pride ourselves in being the awkward, sarcastic, foul-mouth delights that everyone has come to know and love? I’ve come up with a few that I think have the potential to really catch on and blast me into the stratosphere of “Famous Meme Creators” because if this writing gig doesn’t ever take off, at least I’ll be posthumously known as “that crazy cat lady with the worst example of resting bitch face who made some pretty honest memes that said what we were thinking, but were too busy cultivating a reasonable degree of sarcastic wit to even dare to post because let’s face it, those memes were true AF but who is that savage?”

I think they’re brilliant and I encourage you to share. In fact, I dare you:

We all know at least one person like this. We refrain from wishing them “Happy New Year to you and Steve” because Steve might be Ron, or Bob, or Dan.

This person also posts multiple duckface (fuckface, if you’re MY autocorrect) selfies a week.

Okay, so I condensed this one from half a dozen, individual memes to one, because it’s possible that they all refer to one person.

My craptastic year is all reflected in this collection of writing. The craptastic year before that is, too. If you’re hankering for my musings about a life gone wrong, or upside down, or veered slightly off course, it’s all there. I don’t want or need to recall, with a rueful chuckle, the strange and unsettling things that happened in my life. I don’t need to reread the happy stuff, either. I lived it, and I wrote it down for you and for that guy in the back who’s been sitting there with popcorn, waiting for the movie to start while he picks the cat hair off his clothes. It’s all a part of what makes me who I am, that delightfully awkward, sarcastic foul-mouthed mess of a crazy cat lady who says what you’re thinking and who has a great future in writing memes.

Happy New Year, my friends, and please, be yourself in 2019. I happen to think you are pretty, fucking cool. (Except you, voyeur guy in the back. Go home and watch Netflix.)

Farschnistickelphyffer.

Last minute details fill my brain as I move about on this Friday before Christmas. It is also the Solstice, so I want to take the day to reflect and be grateful for the year and the blessings the universe has bestowed upon me. Quiet observation and reflection are needed, along with some finishing touches to some gifts I have been crafting. I also have the last wave of brown boxes scheduled to land on my doorstep, which is good timing, because most are for a certain 43-year-old who still believes in Santa.

 

Today, The Male Sibling Unit is off to his former place of employment to take part in their annual Christmas fete. Then, he will spend one last evening at his community center before the holiday. He was very concerned about the bus schedule because the party began at 11:30 am and he wouldn’t be actually getting on the bus until that time for his approximately ten-minute ride to the workshop.

“What will they do?” he asked me worriedly yesterday. We had been out, doing some shopping, and were lugging many heavy bags the short distance up the hill to the house. By short, I mean 2 small blocks, and I was slightly winded and overwhelmingly affected by the chaos in the stores and The Male Sibling Unit’s “butt talk”, as The Husband and I lovingly (exasperatedly) refer to anything that comes out of a person’s mouth that we deem a crock of shit. I stopped, set my bags on the ground, and eyed him.

“What will who do?” I asked, genuinely mystified.

“My friends!” he replied in an annoyed tone, as if I should have presumed this. “The workers! The bosses!” At this, I did “get it”, which both irritated and amused me, as most acts of narcissism on the part of The Male Sibling Unit do. Nevertheless, I persisted in acting clueless. It’s more fun.

“What do you mean, exactly?” I asked, waiting for it.

“The party starts at 11:30! I won’t be there yet. What will they do without me?”

Bingo!

“Do you think they should wait for you? It’s only ten minutes. What, are you the Grand Puba of Christmas?”

The Male Sibling Unit giggled and actually looked a bit sheepish. “No,” he answered, his voice rising as if it was actually a question. Satisfied that I had imparted a bit of selflessness into him and that this was a lesson that had penetrated his eternally me-centric psyche, I picked up my bags and we resumed the trek up the hill. I was just feeling the burn again, about three-quarters of the way up, when he shattered any self-satisfied assumptions I may have harbored.

In a quiet voice, more to himself than to anyone in general, he said, “I still don’t know what they’re gonna do ’til I get there.” I may have choke-exclaimed something unintelligible similar to one of The Old Man’s expletives in the classic The Christmas Story. Then, I huffed the rest of the way home, The Male Sibling Unit following me silently, until we were nearly home and he laughed at my death-rattle as we crossed the threshold of the porch. “Tired?” he asked mildly, a smile on his face.

I will say only this: The Old Man has nothing on my ability to craft new swear words.

Nadda fingah!

A sappy little entry because, well, it’s Christmas.

I felt the need to be close to my Mommy today. I don’t know why; it was just a thing I woke up wanting. It’s funny; when she is just “Mom”, it sounds more austere. When she is Mommy, I am a little girl, needing her presence to take away whatever hurt or uncertainties I am feeling. Even in my 50s, this never changes.

The holidays may have been stressful for her when we were children; there was so much she needed to do and so little money with which to do it. She always seemed happy, though. The lights, the decorations – they have that effect. She would let me help with the tree and give me strands of lights with which to festoon our tiny apartment with. The Family Christmas ornament would be unwrapped and hung in a doorway; it was my great-grandmother’s before we were given it, and her mother’s before her. It was 100 years old when I was a little child. Mirrored, blue glass, simple in its design, I was only permitted to touch it when I got older, and we treated it with such care. It is quite heavy, most likely a lead glass, but it is absolutely pristine. She would hang it with such ceremony and pride. Christmas could then begin.

I now have the Family Ornament, and I care for it as tenderly as she did. My pride, when gazing upon it, swells my heart to bursting. Five generations of women, going back to the 1800s, have had the honor and the responsibility of keeping the heirloom safe, and soon it will be time to pass it on.

There’s a huge lump in my throat and I know that I can’t have her back; my mother, when she was at her best, baking cookies, preparing jams and breads, and depositing gifts underneath the tree for me to discover when I came home from school, and wonder about until Christmas morning. She always made dreams come true, and I now understand how hard that is.

I recently found a bag of my mother’s yarn in a bin I had put away. Amongst the tangles were many balls of remnants from projects past; my mother was a gifted knitter and crocheter. I would call the pieces she crafted works of art. In her later years, when money was again tight at Christmas, she would set to crafting for everyone in the family. Mittens with “idiot strings” for the little ones, scarves, potholder sets, pillows, afghans, slippers, and even stuffed animals. They were made with love and care, and her taste in combining colors and creating patterns was impeccable.

I have been meaning to take all her remnants of yarn and crochet a blanket, and what better day to start than today, when the need to feel close to her is so prescient? As I gathered the balls into a bag, I found one last, beautiful gift from her, crafted by her beautiful hands. It is a small, crocheted flower, most likely meant to decorate a pot holder, or hat, or pillow. It is golden, like a star, and its meaning couldn’t be any clearer. It is a small, tight, furtive squeeze of love from that hand I held, in the quiet of sunset, as she passed from this world into the next. I didn’t get it back then, six years ago, but I felt it today.

I love you, Mommy. Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, and bake off.

I’ve been spending lots of time in dimly-lit rooms lately.

Some of it is by choice, but much of it is due to my eye condition and the bad flare-up I’ve been having. The weather has been a bit frightful, as it is apt to be in a Pennsylvania December, too. Going out to walk in it can be a challenge even under the most optimal health scenarios. Stark, white landscapes may be beautiful, but they cause glare, and glare is a four-letter word in and to my eyes (and yep, I can count). Wind is, also, and so I pick my battles carefully.

I knew that the holiday trip the husband and I made last week – our gift of a couple of nights away, culminating in a Ghost Ritual before heading back home – would mean days of recovery, but when Cardinal Copia and the Nameless Ghouls beckon, we assemble, together as one.

The frigid air outside, the incense pumped into the theater, and my careful-but-heavy application of eye makeup was sure to inflame my delicate eye tissue, and so rest before and after has been crucial. It sucks – what else can I say? But, as with any chronic illness or condition, you have to decide whether you or the disease wins. I am not a gambler, but I simply have to win this battle, because fuck getting old. Just fucking fuck it. I may have the trifecta of chronic ass aches in depression, arthritis, and these fucking eyes, as I am so fond of saying, but I choose when, how, and TO live.

So fuck you, trifecta.

Anyway, I have been watching tv at night, by the soft glow of the Christmas tree and some twinkle light-festooned archways. There aren’t any new episodes of the programs I watch, because television has come up with this whole “Winter finale” bullshit, no doubt to entice viewers into watching that last new episode that airs just before the deluge of holiday programming takes over. Thusly, we have to content ourselves with those “very special Christmas episodes” somewhere around Thanksgiving, which puts them somewhere behind the holiday game of retail and advertising (and some of my neighbors, who had their Christmas lights glowing right after Halloween).

I have purposely avoided the news, except for an occasional Anderson Cooper viewing, because he is handsome and still very polite even in his exasperated, “Trump Is A Moron” diatribe. I know, I should keep up with the freight trains that barrel through Washington DC every day, and I do skim the headlines, but I’m Trumped out, for lack of a better way to put it. I simply cannot stomach the daily deposits of feces that spew out of the wrong orifice on that man. I cannot watch the sadness going on at the border, or read about the anger and confusion going on in Europe and the UK. I know it exists; as an intelligent human being, I do stay informed. I just can’t seem to stomach the seepage into my daily life anymore, and especially at Christmas.

There are so many sad stories this time of year, and so many are geared toward pulling at our heartstrings. As an aside, why is that, exactly? Are poor kids, or sick kids, somehow legitimately less fortunate only at Christmas? Is it okay to ignore that they lack food, healthcare, warm clothes, or decent living conditions 364 days out of the year, but not okay that one day that an imaginary fat man in a red suit is supposed to deliver them a sackful of gifts? Because, you know, it’s all about those gifts. People would have you believe nothing else. And I know that I am guilty of perpetuating that belief, as I rush around before Christmas, trying to make wishes come true in the eyes of first, my kids, and now, my grandkids. I’ve tried to inject more love and more meaning, but in the end, my Christmas joy comes from a place of knowing that their eyes light up in delight because I got it right. Selfish? Maybe. But I own it.

So, I try to control the number of sad stories I actively engage in, even in this, the era of instant information inundating our senses. It’s not easy, unless I put the phone down, or leave it in another room. I don’t like to do that because I have family members in various stages of health issues and sometimes, they need me. Invariably, I miss a phone call or text when I do that, and so the phone stays nearby. And with that, the temptation. To combat it, I switch on the tv.

I watch cooking shows, or more accurately, baking shows. Not just any baking shows, either. I lose myself in hours of The Great British Baking Show, a series from the BBC. It’s viewable on PBS and also on Netflix, if you want to click on the highlighted link. I watch, then rewatch, my favorite bakes. I file away pointers and wonder at their confectionary and yeasty creations because it seems like the Brits just have got it going on. While I know bakers exist all over the world, and I know people who love to bake and who create beautiful delights, the Brits seem to take it to a totally different, elevated level.

It’s simply fascinating to watch them politely compete with each other over recipes of choux pastry, Genoese sponge, and sugar work. I admit, I had no idea that eclairs were made of choux pastry, and I would have called the cake in a decorated cake by the world cake because it is cake….not sponge. Sponge seems more appropriate, now that I know how important it is to get the right rise and the right formation of structure, the perfect golden color, and to time a chocolate sponge just right because the hue is deceptive. I never knew. I just never knew. I feel enlightened in the knowledge.

And then there are the hosts, Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood: knowledgeable, charismatic legends in the UK, renowned for their baking, their books, and their tv appearances. In newer shows, Mary has been replaced by Pru Leith, who is also a well-known “celebrity baker” in the UK. They are supported by hosts, UK comedic personalities Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and later seasons, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

Did I forget to mention that, in addition, to being a “cracking baker” and the authority on baking bread, Paul Hollywood is, himself, a visionary, delightful piece of eye candy?

Bake me some bread, you silver foxy fucker.

Those steely, blue eyes that cut a contestant like lasers when they fuck up a bake, and turn into warm pools of tropical ocean when complimenting them on a particularly great flavor – oh yeah, I’ll take that over the news any day of the year, not just at the holidays.

I was recently gifted a Kitchenaid mixer by a very dear friend after wishing, fervently, that I had one. My love of baking has waned over the last few years not because I don’t want to, but because my arthritis prohibits it. A hand mixer can be okay, but the vibration causes uncomfortable pain for hours after, plus there are days when I lack sufficient grip. I had been looking for a used one at a lower price because as much as I coveted them, I could not bring myself to pay $200+ for one. She could, and did, causing me to burst into tears and to wonder at the fact that there are still some truly wonderful people left in this world, despite the news trying to convince us otherwise.

Now, I can bake to my heart’s content, and try all those recipes Paul and Mary demonstrate in their Masterclass shows. Baking is kind and filled with love. Baking is not racist, or spiteful, or inciteful. How can you even think of the cruel things happening around the globe when you’re working a dough to get the gluten going, or shaping a braided loaf, or cutting cookies into precise shapes, or whipping a meringue into perfect peaks? Baking is love, and love is contagious and enticing. The only time the news has any business interfering with a bake is just before you’re getting ready to work a bread dough. You can punch and knead and slam that dough down to your heart’s content, feeling all the anger and tense emotions releasing through your hands into the activation of the ingredients.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some anise Christmas cookies to whip up. I’ve got love to release.

Tis the season to be jolly outraged

I’ve been on a little hiatus, regretfully brought on by some family medical issues. For those of you who reached out, thank you. A heartfelt shower of gratitude comes your way from me and my family. Continue with the juju, because we ain’t out of the woods yet. With time to breathe comes the desire to get back into my craft, and what better time to find juicy subjects to piss and moan about than Christmas?

Okay. Let’s tackle some controversy. Is it one radio station in the country – out of how many? – that isn’t playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside?”

One? Bueller?

And are they crowding the streets nationally, storming CBS or what-the-fuck-ever, demanding that Santa, the elves, and the other reindeer apologize to Rudolph for bullying? Are reparations being demanded?

Or is it just one angry, little gaggle of asshats making noise?

People. Calm your tits. Keep singing, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, and playing it, and enjoying the delightful version of it in the movie, ” Elf”. By the way, why has no one questioned the creep factor of a grown man in an elf suit, sitting in a bathroom with a woman he barely knows, singing along with her as she showers? What’s endearing about that? But…..there it is. The double standard. You think it’s cute. Hell, I think it’s cute. No one is judging you. And you shouldn’t be judging anyone.

While I always thought Rudolph was a bit of a drama queen – he could have just kicked the shit out of Fireball and made him his bitch – I don’t see any more “bullying” going on in that CARTOON MADE IN ANOTHER ERA that even comes CLOSE to what we actually condone today.

Why has nobody decried the beloved cartoon, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” for its communist, dictatorial undertones? Bergermeister?

Why does no one take up the crusade for Nestor, The Long-Eared Donkey?

And why doesn’t anyone call Santa out for all the damned, creepy-as-fuck stalking he does in every, single song about him? “He sees you when you’re sleeping?” Truth be told, any old, strange guy caught looking at my kid while they were sleeping would sleep with the fishes.

Where’s the fat shaming? Is it healthy for Santa to be so rotund? What’s his cholesterol? Does he take meds for that? Is he diabetic? Shit, he has to be diabetic with all the cookies and cocoa and sugar garbage he consumes on a daily basis. Maybe Santa needs a Fitbit and an elliptical.

The “little people have rights, too” movement for the elves, who toil away day after day, making ungrateful children their toys? What’s the #elvestoo movement saying about that?

Wait. There’s no #elvestoo movement? No #justicefornestor movement? No #pedophilesanta campaign?

Of course there isn’t, because it’s all so ridiculous!

I realize the irony of being outraged about outrage, but I just need to point out that the more attention you give to these silly, little butthurts, the less coverage the real news gets.

You know, the 14,700 jobs lost last week in the auto industry due to trade sanctions.

The fact that a country got away with murdering a reporter in a violent, horrific way and the rest of the world is just looking askance.

The fact that our President is, indeed, as embarrassing and corrupt as we have been sure of.

Oh, and let’s not forget the real-time nightmare going on at the Mexican border.

When we focus on the ridiculousness of a 74-year-old song being “offensive” and decry “reindeer bullying” as unacceptable in a cartoon that sought to show children that different doesn’t mean you don’t have value, we’ve truly lost the plot.

Again. Look at your tits. Tell them to settle down. Speak soothingly, and softly. Smooth them gently, if necessary. Sing them a Christmas carol; maybe “Silent Night”. It’s probably better not to sing ” Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

Because nipples.