Thursday, November 29, 2012

Won't You Be My Neighbor

My neighbors have not been the same since I grew up.  When I was younger I remember our neighbors were an older couple on both sides of our house.  They dealt with the occasional ball being tossed over their fence and later find me in the backyard retrieving it.  I hardly saw the guy who lived behind us, and that itself provided some fear.

In my adult life, I had a neighbor who’s kids would leave their toys in my yard, let’s just say those toys (including a very nice football) made other people’s kids at work very happy.

In the apartment the obnoxious drunk neighbor would leave his drunk girlfriend asleep on the couch and show up at my door with two martini glasses and a bottle of vodka.  This is why old softball bats make great weapons at the front door.

Now that I bought a place, my neighbors are strange.  I get along with most of the neighbors around here, everyone except for those who are directly next to me.  The first couple was nice, I hardly saw them and when I did they were friendly.  They did have a dog with separation anxiety so during the day he got zapped when I was home (yes those things do work).  Since they moved out and didn’t leave a forwarding address the new lady is horrible.  At first I thought this older woman with a limp had bought the place, and I wondered how she would manage all those stairs.  Turns out it was her mother.  I have never been formally introduced to her, not even after the incident with her dog (giant fur ball) who decided to play chicken with my car.  The woman didn’t have the common sense to run after her dog who was inches from my back bumper (it would have made a great Youtube video) instead she chose to yell at it.  Finally, after about 10 minutes of yelling she decides to go after it to pick it up.  Yes, finally.  I never see her, I never know she’s there and when I do, she’s walking the fur ball and staring up in my kitchen window.  Anytime during the summer you want to see her in a tube top outside with her laundry hanging from the patio umbrella, feel free to stop by, I will provide refreshments to help you break the ice.  I did meet her man during the time Sandy rolled into town when I had ventured out to the mailbox, he was outside smoking a cigarette and lived down the shore.  I found out more about him in 5 minutes than the woman who has lived next to me in a year! 

Fourth of July rolls around and she decorates the bushes in the front of the house.  Not with anything representing normal patriotic decorations, she uses Christmas ornament sized red-white-blue light up balls, hence the butt of jokes for balls on bush.  This woman has a grown child in college who makes weekend stops to do her laundry and always blocks my mailbox.   I still don’t know why she decorates.  Halloween and Thanksgiving come and go and two 5’ light up trees appear flanking her front door.  Thanksgiving had sunflowers in the tree, prompting me to assume she bought these as a package deal.  You know the type of holiday decorations that you can swap out for the season? Something that you’d find on QVC.  I was right.  Black Friday weekend the sunflowers were swapped for Christmas Ornaments and the bushes no longer had any colored light up balls on them, but just plain white Christmas lights.  I’ll have to pay attention for Valentine’s day, the bushes could have light up candy hearts on them.

Overall, the rest of the people around here are nice, it’s a civil neighborhood, even the lady next to the ‘decorating lady’ who always sees me running or cycling and yells “You go girl!” when I pass her on the hiking path.  You can pick your friends, you can’t pick your neighbors and eventually you’ll get that one neighbor that makes you say to yourself “WTF?”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Relief in a Bottle

When my parents got divorced I had to choose my holidays, who gets Thanksgiving? How do I split Christmas?  That impending stressful anxiety flowed into my first marriage because now I had three families to deal with (yes ‘deal’ with and one was less understanding than the others).  We always had to make someone happy while one was unhappy.  Anyway, now that I do not have three families to choose from,  I no longer have that anxiety.  And yes, as many of you will admit, it is anxiety, and you will agree you’ve all said ‘I hate the holidays’.  What is it we all ‘hate’ about the holidays?

Coming from experience (and only those who have gone through this have a right to judge so save the psycho-babble) I traveled miles between Thanksgiving and Christmas up and down the GSP for most of my adult driving life and the day that I woke up and realized I could do what I wanted was the relief you feel after downing a whole bottle of Pepto Bismol.  Ahhh!  I went to happy hour the eve of, I slept in the day of, I didn’t have to be at someone else’s house on Christmas morning (every year) to watch their kids open gifts while mine waited till I got home (yes I still have a little baggage).   Now it’s life as a slice of my favorite chocolate cake.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the whole ‘spend time with family’ scenario because I do spend time with family, it’s just on my terms now.  So if I choose to ask the man in my life to Thanksgiving dinner, I do not want the unnecessary assumptions that I’m going to marry this one and please save the interrogations  “Is he coming for Christmas?”.  Again, stressful holiday – does not apply anymore.  As adults we should not feel pressured by our family because society makes it out to be such a life changing event if you bring someone home for a holiday dinner.  Again, there’s that unwanted stress, the whispers of rings and babies, and whispers when you’re at their house for a holiday about you, because you are not at your families’ dinner table. 

This is how I feel in a nutshell, I’m not going to schlep around the man in my life just to appease the family at the holidays.  In some ways some families forget that the other person in that relationship has a family too.  So next time you question why so and so is not at the dinner table, just remember he or she is spending precious time with their family, just like you are with yours.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving (the Adult Version)

Of course, what is Thanksgiving without turkey and an allergy test?  Well, many of you know I am allergic to certain foods, nuts and animals.  I was tested as a child and for most of my adult life dealt with being allergic to pineapple, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, I basically stayed away from all those nuts you find in the assorted nut bowl on the dinner table at the holidays.  So with a box of Benadryl and the phone handy to call 911 I started my own testing surrounded by family and friends.  First was pineapple, I had a piece and waited about 15 minutes for a reaction, then had another piece, an hour later, the usual symptoms of hives did not appear, hence I love pineapple now.  Throughout the last 5 years I’ve done this, this year its Pistachios and unfortunately as much as they were tasty I cannot have them.  They are in the same family as cashews and will definitely put me in the hospital (so unless you want to leave your turkey dinner early, I suggest not feeding them to me. :)

Most of you do not know that Thanksgiving is one of the most vulgar holidays of the year.  Take note to what is said at the dinner table, especially when the conversation strays off topic.  You may want to keep a small notepad handy to jot things down.  

Some key off topic comments: “Want to know what it tastes like?” Can’t get that smile off my face.” “There’s no a$$, or tits in here, but thanks anyway.”  “Now I gotta reach for it.”  “She can eat you under the table.”  “Was I supposed to tell you to stop?” “For the last 5 minutes you’ve been choking the neck, so what’s the difference?”  “Do you sing? – “Yes” – “Do you have a shower?” “It destroys the brass nuts.”

You can come up with your own story, for ours, it was another delicious meal followed by a 130 calorie homemade Pumpkin Spice cake by yours truly and ending with Black Friday shopping to burn off those unwanted extra calories. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm a Politicians Worst Nightmare

My voting strategy is a little odd, especially for selecting local candidates.  I do make sure to watch the debates, whether I watch them on the DVR or live is a different story.  I like to DVR them so I don’t miss anything or fall asleep during the live debates.  I also DVR any political ‘cliff notes’ on CNN, Fox News, etc. after the debates to get a birds eye view on what I may not have understood or missed during the debates.

Since I have been able to vote anyone that I vote for has not moved passed ‘ballot’ status. I do my best to research who is on the ballot for office and participate in taking an online quiz to see whose views are best closest to mine.  “2012 Presidential Candidates Quiz: Find Your Match” which is helpful if your candidate continues on to actually run in the election, but not always correct in my opinion.  That only applies to major elections, not the local polls, which I was sorely uninformed about if only for a few commercials on TV.  Had I known the hottie in the suit at my polling place was actually on the ballot, I would have stopped to listen to what he had to say to the group of seniors crowded around him.  Again, I was misinformed which sprouts an idea to have their pictures next to their names..hmm…maybe not.

I look at the ballot and then the strategy kicks in for those I do not know by the following criteria.  “Does the person’s last name end in a vowel?” If YES, then no need to proceed to “Does the person’s last name sound Italian?”  If I’ve answered “No” to those two then the tiebreaker is launched, which this year was the first year I’ve used this.  “Is the candidate a female?”  I can blame myself for not being informed on the local level, and also by not designating a party therefore I do not get political flyers in the mail, phone calls or emails from candidates.  I could have researched the ballot prior to leaving the house to vote, since none of those people had commercials on TV.  I will be writing to the County to ask if they do send out ballots prior to (Similar to how NJ does it) and note that they should have antibacterial wipes handy since the poll machines are ‘push’ button.  Two good things came out of this election, 3 out of the 7 people I voted for won by my ‘strategy’ and at least I can’t blame my township for how the rest of the state voted or the fact that we didn’t get “I Voted” stickers afterwards. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adventures in Baby Shower Planning

Many of you do not know but I moonlight as a Party Planner, probably way before I planned my own wedding.  My dad’s surprise 50th party was not the first successful party under my belt as I planned and executed many other surprise birthday’s prior to that in college.  And the list continues on with most recently two surprise 60th’s (my mom’s venue had to be changed the day of with that freak snowstorm October 2011 all within a matter of a few hours).   I even assisted with planning the ‘renewal of vows’ for my folks, trying to keep individual secrets from both parties was a chore, but it went off without a hitch including flowers and a real wedding cake. (I think I learned from my mistakes when I planned my wedding to make it easier and beautiful for them, get something simple and make it their day, not a day for everyone else.  Yes we do learn and yes I’d do it all differently, with a different groom of course if that day ever comes). 

Now I get to add “Baby Shower in another state” under my belt.  I had no idea how to start this one, but thankfully my sister provided a potential list of venues, along with her list of attendees and bakeries in the area making it a bit easier to just pick up a phone.  I like to call it ‘her requirements’, which everyone should take note. I am now a firm believer that surprises should be left to all events except a baby shower – the Mommy-to-be should not be surprised!  She even provided ideas for invitations, favors and dessert, my brother in law even said he’d help out if we had questions.  The only ‘surprise’ about this one will be the venue and I am taking every precaution to make sure what is on the menu is not part of the ‘pregnancy no-nos’ she’s experiencing.  I even asked her what kind of cake she wanted – had she asked for a PB one, I would have gotten her a small personal cake and a regular one for the rest of us.
I’m extremely grateful that her two SIL’s stepped in to help and also one of her good friends, without their help, assistance, suggestions and trust this would be very difficult from afar.  I even asked her husband for some thoughts, suggestions and a birds eye view on what she says and hints at.  I did want to be very detailed and personal for her shower, especially the cake.  Everyone does a twist on “We’re having a baby” cake and I wanted to personalize it with something she said or made reference to, not something the bakery has in their abundance of pictures of cakes they’ve done for others in the past.  I almost went with ‘Flutters of Hope” until she said ‘he’s kicking now and it hurts”, so I went with a twist on what she has been referring to her little boy as “little man”.  “Welcome to the World Little Man Messia” was written on the cake, thanks to Coccadotts in Albany for the fantastic cake (and the 12 crazy cupcakes we walked away with). 

She requested a ‘green’ shower, and by that meant do not wrap anything!  Not ‘does she like green?’, ‘does that mean the gifts have to be wrapped green?’ By doing this, all the gifts were on display on the gift table and she went through revealing the gifts and opening the cards (shaving off at least 1 hour and a half and saving the environment at the same time).  She then had time to spend with everyone who came to her shower instead of 3 hours opening gifts. 

The only thing we did not expect happening was people not showing up who RSVP’d and someone bringing a friend along.  My mom said, “that woman was not invited” as if she memorized the RSVP list (see all the more reason to take attendance at the door).  This woman did in fact bring a gift and with us having a few less people for the headcount she didn’t cost us any additional money.  Had she not brought a gift, I might have gone “Carmela Soprano” on her. 

At the end of the event, my sister had a smile on her face, everyone seemed to have a great time (even with a cash bar) and I not only held my first baby shower event, but was hinting at being hired for “Little Man’s” first birthday party (whichever one he’ll remember)!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Still Stitched Up

Removing my stitches could not have come at a better time.  I’ve had to deal with being more uncomfortable than when I had stitches in my hand.  This was pure bad luck.  I learned I was allergic to the glue used in the medical tape they used to put the gauze on to cover the 11 stitches.   I also learned that after 3-4 days of using the bacitracin I was starting to get an allergic reaction to that as well.  So now I had this box of a rash around the stitches from the tape and also had to figure out a way to air out the wound.  (Laying on my side with half my body covered in a blanket seemed to work).  Then in my quest for something other than Neosporin, since I’m highly allergic to it moreso the ingredient neomycin, which is also one of the top 10 topical ointment skin allergies, I hit a wall.  Apparently the same first aid cream found in a white tube, made by Johnson & Johnson that I had used when I had stitches in my hand has been discontinued.  (This worked like a charm on my hand, so thanks to Google I found a good substitute (First Aid Ointment contains same ingredients).  Thankfully I ended up at Walgreens and bought the “First Aid Ointment” only after asking the cashier to hold my stuff so I could go home and get my wallet (the excitement got to me or was it the Percoset?)

Week three I’m stuck wearing only khakis and sweats because they do not apply any pressure on my hip where all the rest of my pants seemed to fall, oh and don’t forget the underwear, anything low rise was used because the waistband fell way below the stitches line.    I have not worked out in now going on three weeks,  except for push ups, I have not worn jeans in the same amount of time.  I have had it and thanks to Sandy, I can’t reschedule my appointment yet because the office is closed.  Take these things out please.  I am fearing the worst, that this will go on another week.  I should have taken my SIL’s advice over the weekend when she offered to remove them herself.

This has not been fun, I thought having stitches in my hand was rough, this is now uncomfortable going into the 3rd week.  I guess it could be worse, but today, yes today, now that power is restored, I venture on the treadmill.