#1: Why I hate Halloween

holiday matrixIt’s not hard to figure out why this particular Sad and Desperate search term hit my site since I wrote a post titled Why I hate Halloween. That post, however, dealt with the specific and heinous practice of employees wearing costumes to work, a “tradition” I abhor. Dear reader, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike Halloween!

It destroys perfectly good linens. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to lay my head on a pillowcase that has been dragged through every lawn in our neighborhood.

It’s heck on those costly braces. Chewy candy is bad. Bad, bad, bad. But how can one resist a whole pillowcase full of it?

It kicks off the holiday eating season, that depressing time of year when you watch the numbers on the scale go up while your energy and enthusiasm go down. (Although in my family, the holiday eating season kicks off even earlier with the celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving, not because we are Canadian, but to accommodate other family commitments, iffy November weather, and one family’s annual November 1 departure to Florida.)

The acceptable age to “trick-or-treat” seems to be going up, and the older the trick-or-treater, the less effort goes into the costume. I expect any year now to be opening the door to a bunch of college students dressed as, well, college students.

Over the years, I have found only one thing to like about Halloween – the neighbor one block over who hands out beer to the adults in the party. Thank you, dear friend.

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate: Holiday edition

holiday matrixIt’s on its way, that moment you’ve all been waiting for – the continuation of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate, the series in which I offer advice to the searchers whose terms hit my blog.

The series has been on hiatus since Andre and his friends hijacked my traffic, but since they seem to have moved on to other b-grade content, I’m picking it up again with a holiday series. Sort of like the second half of the final season of Mad Men, and the Downton Abbey holiday episode all rolled into one!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks while I answer questions and respond to musings like:

Why I hate Halloween

Why do some people dislike dressing in costumes

How to use a lemon zester

Parent holiday task planning

Bad gifts

Company Christmas party on Christmas Eve, and a particularly sad entry:

Finally the day is over

Not a holiday post, you say? I beg to differ. Stay tuned…

Warning: Take the Month Off

IMG_0291Yesterday, the Daily Post writing prompt asked us to invent an astrological sign for ourselves. While I was too upside down and backwards to do that piece, I’m pulling myself out of the depths for today’s post: The actual horoscope for October, written in retrospect. Retrospect I can do.

October Horoscope

During this month, the pieces of your carefully constructed reality will fly up in the air and come down again in a different order. You’ll want to move forward, but you won’t know where anything is.

The people closest to you will suddenly seem to have lost their minds. They will make decisions you don’t understand and can’t prevent. People will exit and enter your life at a dizzying rate, leaving an impact far beyond what is reasonable or predictable. Things that felt solid will dissolve under your feet. Things that seemed moveable will remain so solid you cannot budge them.

And although you are entering a period of extreme unrest, all you will want to do is rest. You will find yourself resting as items on your to-do list pile up around you.

Make no mistake – this energy is taking you somewhere, you just don’t know where. Big change is coming. It has to. You’ve felt its approach for a long time now, but you haven’t been ready to face it. Well, get ready. You can’t stop change.

The temptation will be to close your eyes, open them up when it’s all over, and see where you’ve landed, like Dorothy in the tornado, headed off to Oz. If that’s the tack you take, just be ready, when you open your eyes, for your surroundings to look completely different. And to, somehow, find your way back home.

Hello, it’s the universe calling…

IMG_0191Sometimes when you send an S.O.S. out into the universe, the universe responds.

Yesterday I wrote a somewhat bitter post on self-reflection. Or maybe it was self-doubt. Either way, it left me feeling blue. When I finished it, I closed my computer and walked away from my desk to give myself a break.

As I reached for another cup of coffee, I heard my phone buzz. It was a text message from my teenage daughter:

Hey mama so we are in stress management class and we’re doing this happiness practice thing and we are supposed to thank somebody we are grateful for or who has had an impact on our life so mama thank you for always being there and keeping me from falling behind. I know that sometimes I seem ungrateful and tired and bratty but I really truly always appreciate everything you do. Thank you for being you.

I guess I’m getting it done after all. Although I might consider some discussion on the importance of punctuation.

My own worst enemy

IMG_0164Imaginary friend you say? Sure, I see her in the mirror every day. Had coffee with her just this morning. But I’m not sure I’d call her a friend. She’s a harsh critic.

“Looking a little gray,” she’ll say. “And worn out. You look like you could use a nap.”

“No time for a nap,” I snap back. “Too much to do.”

“You wouldn’t have so much to do if you were more organized. You were home half the day yesterday. What, exactly, did you accomplish?”

“Are you kidding? I did a ton. I raced off to an early morning meeting. Did the grocery shopping. Washed and folded three loads of laundry. I checked in on my pending projects. Spent two hours helping H. study for a test. Made dinner. Plus it was my day on the carpool. How is that nothing?”

“Well, it still looks like a cesspool around here. You didn’t get all that laundry put away, did you? And there’s more to do. It’s late October already. Have you thought about cleaning up the yard? Washing the windows? Having the furnace checked? The holidays will be here before you know it. Any plans there?”

I can feel my pulse quicken. My head start to pound. This chick is the worst.

“You said you’d get the house in order before this project kicks off. Clean off your desk. When are you going to do those things? You’re running out of time!”

“It’s not that bad,” I say, not really believing it.

“Well, I don’t see many items checked off that to-do list.”

Silence.

I wish I could see less of this friend. But if it weren’t for her, I’d be alone much of the time. What’s worse, isolation or constant reflection? Is there an in-between? A way to turn this nag into a motivating force? If there is, I can’t see it.

“Alright, I’m done here,” I say. “I’m headed to yoga class.”

“I’ll get my coat,” she says.

“Sorry, you can’t come,” I say, with, I admit, a great deal of satisfaction. “It’s the one place you aren’t welcome.”

I feel myself relax as I shut the door in her face, start the car, head down the driveway. But I know she’ll be there when I get back. Just hope she’s made some more coffee as she awaits my return.

This is a Daily Post #postaday piece. Read other posts here

 

Household Mysteries

IMG_0050Either one of my children has been channelling his inner Uri Geller using the power of the mind to transfigure spoons, or he is just bent on destruction. Sorry, bad pun.

And yes, I’m sure it’s a he. My daughter is devoted primarily to the destruction of electronic devices, also any overpriced clothing required for school activities.

I did not realize in my blissful, pre-child state how much damage children can cause. It’s a little like housing a troop of circus bears that have gotten into the fermented honey. They lurch around leaving debris and broken items in their wake. But they’re clever bears. They never admit to these petty crimes, nor will they turn on each other, a trait I’d admire if it weren’t counter to my best interest.

If I believed in such things as poltergeists and supernatural phenomena, I might be afraid. Very afraid. Much of this destruction could be interpreted as violent and threatening. Crushed iPhones. A rather large hole in my bedroom wall. Dirty footprints near the ceiling in the hallway. A hunting knife stuck in an oak tree in the yard. Were I a superstitious person, I’d be listening for the hushed, bodiless voice whispering, “GET OUT.”

But instead, I do what every parent does – persevere and repair the damage. Few of these crimes are heart-breaking, and little of the damage irreversible.

Although, come to think of it, when I glance at the pretty, little pine tree in our yard whose head was unceremoniously chopped off with a pruning shears I’m a little sad. That tree has decades of crooked, unsightly growth ahead of it and no foliage deserves that.

Feel free to vent – worst damage done to your home or property? And yes, damage to automobiles does count.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

ImageNo, we’re not Canadian. And it’s no longer Canadian Thanksgiving. But we’re celebrating anyway.

My family and childhood friends gather each October over a conveniently-timed school holiday to feast on turkey and all the trimmings. It’s a time-shift extraordinaire, designed to bring family together who would otherwise:

  • Be at home celebrating with the other side of the family.
  • Be stuck halfway to their destination in a freak, Thanksgiving week snow storm.
  • Spend 2-1/2 days traveling through a succession of airports for a 2-1/2 hour meal.
  • Head to Florida for the winter to escape all of the above.

It’s a great system, really. There is no pressure from the upcoming Holiday Shopping, er, Christmas season. No one is heading out, bellies bloated to get in their favorite 4 a.m. Black Friday line. And sometimes, the weather is so nice we’ve eaten outside. I can tell you, that does not happen around here in November.

If I could get others to cooperate, I would probably shift some other holidays around, too. Here’s what I’d do:

Celebrate the 4th of July in October. You can hold the fireworks at 8:00 p.m. and there are no mosquitoes to contend with.

Have Christmas coincide with Labor Day so I could do my Christmas shopping and my back-to-school shopping at the same time.

Always have obscure, national holidays fall on Mondays so we could have an embarrassment of three-day weekends. Oh, wait – we already do that.

That last one might seem obvious to some, but when you are a freelance writer, you are what’s called deadline-driven, that is to say, the weekdays and weekends often run into each other leading to the classic freelancer’s no-day weekend.

What about you? Have a holiday you’d like to shift? When would you hold it, and what is it called?

Time bank

0098OPThis morning’s Daily Post writing prompt asks what we would do if we had an extra hour. Well, I’ve got this one down. I’d do what I do every year when we “fall back” from Daylight Savings Time.

One October, we forgot to turn the clocks back. When I realized it, about halfway through the morning, I decided to wait. I figured I didn’t need the hour as I perused the Sunday paper and drank my coffee, but I was pretty sure I’d need it later in the day when the full impact of the week ahead, and my massive list of unfinished chores, started to hit me.

As is typical, I began to fall behind in the early afternoon. Laundry was piling up. There were dishes in the sink. None of the kids had their homework done. I hadn’t planned anything for dinner. I could feel my weekly Sunday panic starting to take hold.

So I set all the clocks back. Voilà! I was once again on schedule. Or at least closer to on schedule. And a new habit blossomed into being.

Even though I don’t accomplish a whole lot more in my extra hour, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I’m cheating, somehow, and that’s pretty thrilling for a “rules girl”. If I could, I’d do this about once a week. The bad news? I’d be years in the past by now. The good news? Some of those dated items in my wardrobe would look a whole lot less offensive.

We’re “falling back” in a few weeks. I’d strongly recommend you give it a try…

Pusillanimous

IMG_0054Today’s Daily Post writing prompt asks us to write about a time we used a word incorrectly. Well, I may not have done this much in real life, but I’ve done it in my dreams.

If you are a reader, you know I write a lot about dreams – anxiety dreams, dreams about my kids, dreams about a destination I never reach. I dream so much that sometimes I don’t even know whether I am awake or asleep.

And once, I dreamed all night long about the word pusillanimous, a word that does not sound at all like its meaning. Which I didn’t know until I looked it up in the morning.

In my dreams, I was using the word, others used the word – it had suddenly become the most common word on the face of the earth. And when I used it, I experienced the vaguely uncomfortable feeling one has when they use a word of whose meaning they are not quite certain.

By the way, it means, more or less, timid. I was really hoping for something more spectacular than that.

This episode is memorable for another reason. When I relayed it to a couple of close colleagues, I learned that pusillanimous fell into a category they called “Sarah Day words.” It seems said colleagues had coined this term to describe the not-so-widely known words I used in meetings that they had to look up afterwards in order to understand what I was trying to convey.

Huh. Well, I guess we all have to be known for something. Might as well be for others’ amusement around the water cooler.

Moon in the Morning

IMG_0597The day has launched itself in a typical fashion – a few schedule changes, an alarm clock not set. One child missed the bus, one didn’t have his homework done, the third misplaced something that doesn’t belong to him. It would be easy for me to fall into my typical everyone is out the door, what a relief, oh damn we’re out of coffee mood.

Missing the bus is a particularly painful circumstance. The drive to school requires more than the total time I usually have to shower, dress and get myself out the door.

For some reason, our high school was designed in a fashion that requires everyone to enter using a left turn. This is challenging by any account, but this is Minnesota so people wait patiently in the northbound lane until someone heading south stops all traffic in order to let them in. I kid you not. This waiting-and-pausing-traffic-unexpectedly is classic Minnesotan. Add to that the fact that a majority of the drivers entering the school are teenagers with varying degrees of driving skill and it makes for a traffic snarl worthy of a much larger city.

In addition, the drop-off area requires you to talk to a real person, a parking attendant, in order to pull in, drop your child and go. I wasn’t up for a chat with the nice young man since I was still in my pajamas. (Hey, I didn’t plan this errand, don’t judge.)

So I performed a parent cheat – dropped my daughter in an obscure area with the instruction, “Hike over to the front door. Have a nice day.”

As I maneuvered my way back out of this traffic jam, I could feel the day slipping away. It only takes one wrong move to start me down the slippery slope of slightly missed opportunities.

But as I headed west toward home, something caught my eye. The moon, round and full, features plainly visible, still hovering in the morning sky. Something about the way the daylight surrounded it seemed hopeful.

And then a bald eagle flew over my car. I’m sure it was a good sign.

Time to get my day on.

 

This is a Ready-Set-Done writing prompt from the Daily Post – ten minutes of free-writing. See other posts here.