Monday, December 26, 2016

Because I Don't Have Enough Stuff To Worry About Already

A thing I started noticing about myself (after the fact, so of course there is guilt):


When people say, "Have a good evening," as we're leaving work, or they give me some holiday greeting at the store, 8 times out of 10, I just say, "Thanks," go on with my day, and don't return the greeting.


Is this a thing I'll go to hell for? It better not be. After all the shit I've pulled in my years, to burn for all eternity over some bullshit instead of the *real* sins of my past would be incredibly disappointing.


My coworkers are not required to tell me to have a good night, they're just nice like that.


But let's face it: If "nice" becomes a requirement for getting paid, I am screwed.


I suppose I could make it a habit to always return the greeting, whatever-the-fuck it is, but damnit! WHY do I have to pretend to care if my co-worker has a good evening, just because they're pretending to care if I do?


Is "Have a nice day" an act of aggression? Sure feels like it sometimes.


The other day, I was at a dollar store and the clerk who was ringing us up was all in everyone's face with the "Merry Christmas" like she was trying to start a fight with a liberal.


As a "real" liberal, not the phony kind they describe on Fox News, I was too smart to take the bait. Also, I don't care if people say Merry Christmas. Because I'm a real liberal.


I may not be passionate about "the reason for the season," but I'm also so completely indifferent to it that I don't give a fuck if you say Merry Christmas instead of Happy...Generic Whatever.


You be you, and all that.


A lot of people just say a mindless, "You, too!" when someone insists that the rest of their day be wonderful and special.


I've done the, "You, too!" thing as a response, and more than a couple of times found myself looking like an ass saying, "You, too!" after the person *didn't* say "Have a nice day!"


"Hey lady, you forgot your card in the chip reader!"

"You, too!"

DOH!


Anyway...if you could all just tone down the aggressive pleasantries, that would be great. You've got shit to do. I've got shit to do. Nobody wants a war.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas: Fake It Til You Make It

How easy is it to get into a funk on Christmas Eve?


Very.


It doesn't matter if tomorrow I'll be sitting at dinner with my kids, and doing all the things we usually do on Christmas day. It doesn't matter if I'll be driving out to see my parents and siblings next week. Today, I was alone.


And I look around the house and think that this place looks like someone lives here who doesn't give a shit.


I didn't decorate for Christmas.


I had good reasons.


Several.


All of those reasons were perfectly valid 2 weeks ago, and, they are still valid now.


I didn't think it would weigh on me, but, weirdly, having not decorated might be the thing that pushed me into a funk.


I go for walks in the evening, in the neighborhood, or at the mall (because I'm old) and you know what? It's beautiful. All of the trees lit up, and the way everyone has suddenly decided to decorate so tastefully this year (for a change)...it looks lovely.


Even though I think it's mostly bullshit, it is beautiful.


I don't think giving gifts is bullshit--I like that part. I don't care about getting them, but I do love giving them. I like seeing everybody and spending time with the people I love. All of that stuff is nice--what I think is bull is probably the same stuff you think is bull: Frantic retailers in a panic, using a sales pitch that seems to imply that you HAVE TO buy the most ridiculous shit (all made in China) because your Christmas won't be happy without it, or, every single charity in your town reminding you that it is the season of giving, so give, already, or, the whiny people who think there is a "War on Christmas" even though we spend literally 2 months out of the year talking about almost nothing but Christmas.


You know...the usual.


Also? We've all been in a bit of a funk beyond the usual seasonal funk--that's a very real thing. It's been a tough year for many of us. Fucking David Bowie died, OK? That's how 2016 STARTED. And it did not get better.


I guess we need a little Lovely, to soften the crap of the season. We need to make it pretty and dress it up. We need lights that twinkle and a little tree to put gifts under, and we need Grandma Gertrude's antique red and green table runner on the table. (Side note: I never met Grandma Gertrude. She was my husband's mother, who died before he and I ever met. But I have her table runner, for some reason, and damnit, it's mine now.)


So guess what I'm doing? Alone in my house, on Christmas Eve? Even though it's ridiculous...?


I'm putting up my little Christmas tree.


I'm putting up my tree even though I'm alone and when people come over to open presents tomorrow, they'll be here for all of a couple hours and probably won't care one way or the other.


It's all of 4 feet tall (if even) and there honestly isn't any room for any presents under there unless it's just a bunch of little blue boxes from Tiffany, or something, so, I'm gonna stack them around the tree like I've been building that pile for months, even though I literally just wrapped all of them today.


Fake it til you make it...right?


But seriously, folks....


I'm OK.


Some people are not OK.


Some people don't have anyone coming over tomorrow.


Some people can't fake it til they make it. They've got mental health or addiction issues, or their families don't accept them, or they have no home, much less a fucking Christmas tree.


That's not me trying to shame you (or myself) into feeling bad about being in a funk at Christmas when you have a roof and food and your health. That's just me saying, be kind to yourself tonight. Be kind to others.


We live in a time where we all have our own little personal shows to produce on Facebook or Twitter and Instagram--the shows that have us looking pretty and holding it together all the time. Even people who take bad pictures of their food are happy with the food. Good for them. But it's all for show. That fabulous, badly photographed feast maybe blew their whole food budget for a week and they got into a fight with their spouse over it, but that stuff isn't online. Just the good stuff is showing.


So know that nobody is perfect, despite how well-produced their little online show is.


And understand that you're OK.


And if you need someone to talk to, let's talk.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Flake-y

I am a typical Minnesotan and so, I make jokes every winter about the misery of shoveling snow.
 
 
Poor me. Outside in the cold. Shoveling. Hard work. My arms are Jello. I can barely lift my beer.
 
 
Honestly?
 
 
I enjoy shoveling snow. I might even love it. It's my flaky little secret.
 
 
Don't tell Mother Nature. Too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a good thing.
 
 
There is something about a winter activity. Maybe I just like the high tech clothing...? I mean, somebody had to design the stuff that keeps me sweating when it's 5 degrees outside. My coat is a marvel of layers and linings and pockets and zippers and hooks. I have shirts and pants specifically designed to be an under layer (because wicking is a thing) and I have fully lined over-layers. I have three different hats for "not too bad" days and a one trusty hat for "better wear the good hat" days. Ditto for gloves. I own a thing called a Turtle Fur Gaiter. I own Smart Wool socks and three different kinds of footwear made not for fashion, but for being out in the snow. We can be ugly out there, because it's ugly out there.
 
 
I often joke that the state motto of Minnesota should be changed from "√Čtoile du Nord" to "It's not cold, you're underdressed."
 
 
Northern people also have the bragging/martyr thing we do where we talk about how much snow we moved all by our damn selves. We post pictures of snow banks where our driveways are supposed to be, and later, post pictures of the shoveled out driveway.
 
 
I have, on this very blog, posted a picture of me standing outside in my cold weather gear, with barely any skin showing, drinking a Schell's Chimneysweep. I had spent hours digging out from a major snow storm in Duluth and I earned that damn beer. In fact, a major part of our motivation that day was digging out the driveway enough to get a car out...to go to the liquor store. We achieved that, then came back and finished the rest, which took another 2-3 hours using both a snow blower and a shovel.
 
 
Mother Nature does not mess around.
 
 
There are people who live here who aren't into it as much as I am. I remember a few winters ago, there was a lady who lived across the street from us who had a job as a cheerleader for the Minnesota Vikings. We had a bad storm, lots of snow, and there was a guy with a truck outside, helping pull people out of their parking spots because the snow plows had basically buried their cars. That cheerleader was his girlfriend, and she was there with him, talking to people about the snow, as you do. He was wearing Carhartt from head to toe. She was wearing skinny jeans with stylish fuzzy boots and a white puffy vest over a long sleeve t-shirt. She had on these really great hand-knit white mittens that I remember well.
 
 
Guess which one of them had to spend most of their time inside the truck to keep warm?
 
 
Hey, if I could get away with it, I'd do that, too.
 
 
On second thought, nah...I don't think I would.
 
 
I am a big fan of the ta-dah. I like taking on a task that looks brutal, quietly doing all the work and then saying, "See what I did all by myself? Ta-Dah!" Fairly typical of a Look-At-Me personality like mine.
 
 
You get a particular kind of ache in your body when you do a strenuous outdoor activity in the winter--coming in from the cold, you feel wiped out but it feels good somehow. As your body warms up and you're easing yourself into a chair or a hot bath, the creaking and moaning noises you make are a sign of a job well done, or time well spent.
 
 
Beyond that, though...I like the fact that it's an activity I usually do by myself because I get a lot of thinking done. Owing to the short winter days, it's often nighttime when I'm outside and there is no other sound except the shovel finding the concrete, or my feet crunching the snow. The conversations I have in my head are enlightening, and the repetitive nature of the work is meditative.
 
 
Yes, I dare say I enjoy it.
 
 
Don't worry, though. I'll still make noises like I hate it, so they don't revoke my Minnesota residency--you have to pretend winter annoys you or they look at you funny around here.