Monday, December 29, 2008

Auld Lang Syne (Whatever That Is)

Here we are, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. A week best known for drinking leftover eggnog and polishing off Mom’s rum cake because – let’s face it – another 1200 calories, at this point, isn’t going to matter much.

This is the week we spend un-decking the halls, shopping for half-price Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees with the same people we complained about the day after Thanksgiving, and debating whether we should put in some face time at work or simply find a new job with a more compassionate company that knows well enough to just shut down for the last 10 days of the year.

But this is also a week of introspection and personal review. Have we accomplished everything we set out to achieve for the year? Or at least all the things we bragged about in our Christmas letters? Did we convert all the old VHS tapes to Blue Ray or even begin that Toni Morrison novel? Of course not. But we don’t spent time fretting about that. Instead we pour the champagne and turn our attention to the changes sure to abound in the coming year.

There are plenty of us with plans to get fit, get organized, and get a life… and some who might even do it. There are some of us who will vow to spend more time reaching out to the needy and less time Facebooking… and others who know better that to set ourselves up for that kind of failure.

I, myself, don't attempt New Year’s Resolutions. Forty days of Lent is plenty for me. An entire year of bettering myself is impossible to ask. So since I technically still have some time to come up with my own self-improvement list, I am currently free to dream up resolutions for you, my fellow earthlings, to achieve. A “List of Resolutions I’d like to See the World Embrace,” as I call it.

My list is meager, an attainable set of goals for us to work on: an end to illness, corporate corruption, global warming, violence, and TMZ’s coverage of all Simpsons – Ashleigh, Jessica, OJ, Bart – and anyone else who shares the last name.

However, if by chance the New Year’s Baby pops out of Brangelina Thursday (she is pregnant with one, isn’t she?) and actually offers to grant me just one item as part of some World-Wide New Year’s Bailout Package, I am prepared to do a little down-sizing.

Obviously the first item off my list would be an end to illness, and I’m not just saying that because without strep throat or pink eye my family-practice-doctor-husband couldn’t pay the mortgage. I’m looking at the bigger picture here, and how it affects us all. You see, without illness in the world, we could never call in sick to work again:

“Hey, boss, (cough cough sniffle) I can’t make it to work today.”
“Why not?”
“Can’t you tell? I’m sick.”
“No, illness was wished away by Weekly Jules earlier this year. Now get your a$$ to work or you’re covering for the entire office this Christmas, you faker!”

Next to go would be corporate corruption, as it has its place in our lives as well. Yes, we cringe and judge away at the shamelessness of crooked and greedy CEO’s, but the truth is we count on them. After all, a-holes like Bernie Madoff make us feel, when we are at our most self-centered and lazy, as though we are not the biggest pricks on the planet.

Now, having seen “An Inconvenient Truth,” I’m just as concerned about the earth as the next gal, which is exactly why I never let my 98,000-mile (American-made) minivan idle, at least not while I’m at the McDonald’s drive-thru. But to see a complete end to global warming has its downside as well, so I’m not sure I could keep that one on the list either. I mean, I kind of like watching Zac Efron cool off at the beach with his shirt off and am not quite ready to see that one end.

And finding a way to rid the world of violence would certainly make a leisurely drive through East St. Louis more appealing, but without it, Jack Bauer and his quest to save the world from total destruction in 24 hours every year would lose all believability.

So this leaves me with TMZ’s coverage of all Simpsons. And that one is non-negotiable. I don’t care if one of them cures cancer or finds a way to resurrect Mother Teresa, I don’t want to hear about it. Although if one of them discovers a way to eliminate stretch marks without surgery, call me.

As for my own set of goals, I hope to be on Oprah, of course. But that’s been on the list every year since 1985. Most of all, I hope to keep dishing out stories with no purpose other than to give you something to laugh about. And for joy to pave your journey in 2009.

For my 10-year-old, Amelia, cursed with a birthday between Christmas and New Year's. What were her parents thinking??

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Carol

(I enjoy singing almost as much as I enjoy laughing. Usually my singing is cause for laughing, which is why I rarely sing in public. Outside of karaoke bars, that is. But in the spirit of the season of sharing, I am offering this little ditty I wrote to a familiar tune. Feel free to sing it for a private solo of your own or light a fire, gather 'round the piano and belt it out with friends. Whatever makes your Christmas just a little more merry. xo, Weekly Jules)

(P.S. My husband thinks I should tell you what the "familiar tune" is so you can sing this blog... "Jolly Old St. Nicholas") (as if you needed help with that...)

Jolly Old St. Nicholas, lean you ear this way...
I've been busting my tail to be ready Christmas Day.
Fighting crowds at Target, hanging lights upon the tree,
Even baking cookies (what has gotten into me?)

Narrowing the wish list of my diva, Caroline,
Down to just a few things from six-hundred-forty-nine,
Hunting down the presents that my son hopes to receive,
Praying that my daughter, nearly ten, will still believe.

Trying to decide just what to get for my pre-teen
Tweenagers are tough, dear Santa, you know what I mean.
Switching cash and credit to throw Husband off my trail,
Trying to get Christmas cards all stamped and in the mail.

Eating all the cookies and the candy neighbors make,
Knowing I'll regret each bite that I can't help but take,
Braving freezing wind chills to light up my new fake deer,
Hopefully the head will work this time (unlike last year!)

Decking all the halls with boughs of something red & green,
Finding Baby Jesus, kidnapped from the manger scene.
Muppets and John Denver fill the air the whole month long,
("Noel: Christmas Eve 1913"'s my favorite song)

Setting up the TiVo to record the season's shows
Watching Chevy Chase light up his house until it glows,
Rooting for the Grinch and hearing Polar bells' sweet rings,
Every time a leg lamp's lit an angel gets his wings.

Going in for flu shots that we haven't gotten yet
(Don't you worry, Santa, our deductible's been met.)
One last task to finish now, before it gets too late:
Find a New Year's sitter who won't charge a hooker's rate.

Just a few days left now before you come flying by
(Would you rather have leftover cookies or some pie?)
I'd just like to tell you, Santa, while I have your ear,
Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Season's Eatings

I rolled back in the door after our last Holiday Party (this one had me at “fondue”) and felt something jiggle on the back of my waist.

What could that be? I wondered while slowly twisting around to my right, looking for the culprit. It felt as though a piece of ham from the buffet line had jumped onto my hip, but I didn’t see anything there.

I started up the stairs when I felt it again, this time on both sides, as I turned the corner into my bedroom. Face-to-face with a full-length mirror, clingy velvet top slightly raised, I immediately regretted the blankets of cheese I’d covered countless bread cubes with just hours earlier.

That jiggle wasn’t a piece of renegade ham stuck to my side, that jiggle was my side. A side of me I had never seen before.

But I am not to blame here. Weight Watchers is.

I know what you’re thinking: Weight Watchers? Aren’t they supposed to make us thinner?

And the answer is yes. But they won’t have much luck getting you to sign up for the “New Year, New You” special if you kick off ’09 a size four, now, will they? That is why, this time of year, they form an alliance with Betty Crocker, Eagle Brand Condensed Milk, and Absolut Vodka.

Think about it for a minute.

When else do you EVER eat this kind of crap? St. Patrick’s Day? Fourth of July? No. Holiday time. And not just some three-day-weekend-bank-holiday. I’m talking THE major gift-buying, hall-decking, wassail-imbibing, season of Festivus and the rest of us.

This is the time of year we are told we absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, possibly host a party, regardless of how well we can warble “Five Gol-den Rrrriiiiiinnngggs,” unless there is a fudge ring present, preferably from the kitchen of Mamie Eisenhower. So we eat our way through December, still digesting the leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving pie(s), convinced we are free – no, obligated – to consume anything served on a toothpick or poured into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

Yep, Weight Watchers lures you into their calorie-counting lair with a co-dependent strategy. They make you think that anything rolled in bacon is sexy and a 600-calorie pomegranate-tini will make you popular.

And they wrap it up in Spanx and cover it with the little black dress.

But just when the last piece of confetti has fallen in the wee hours of the morning on January first, Weight Watchers will rip away that welcome mat from the buffet table and, suddenly and from out of nowhere, ambush us with new material.

“Look Fine in Oh-Nine!” they will suggest.

“Lose the Holiday Weight!” they will instruct.

“Come in Today!” they will demand.

But not me. Not this year. I’m not letting them have their way with my free will this time.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of bypassing my very titillating ritual of recklessly popping bacon-wrapped scallops into my mouth in rapid fire or making new friends one fancy party drink at a time, but I refuse to fall prey to their advertising once the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

How will I shed the extra layer(s) then, you ask? No clue. But I’m sure I’ll think of something next month, probably while sitting on the sofa in my sweats and polishing off the red and green M&M’s I plan to buy (for half price) the day after Christmas…

Eat, drink, be merry, and ENJOY the holiday season your heart holds dear. I’ll see you back here next week for a tribute to Jolly Old St. Nick!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's A Major Award

So I was all set to write about the Annual Christmas Letter this week, with lamentations about my friend Jennifer’s Aunt Debbie Downer and her yearly tales of existential woe, and our dear-but-puke-inducing friends, Luke and Laura, and their perfect life with Lucky and Lulu.

I had an entire paragraph dedicated to my #1 pet peeve (please, unless you’ve hired a biographer to detail your family’s year, the letter should be written in first person… Andy and Jason are exempt from this rule because their letters rock the free world).

And there was a shout-out to my Aunt Kathi who only sends cards to people who send them to her; she addresses the envelopes without the use of a Blackberry, she simply uses the return addresses on the cards she receives, as she receives them. Stress-free and brilliant, really.

But this morning I received some very exciting news, and, by law, I must share it with you:


Even better than a leg lamp, this is the “Proximidade Blog Love Award” from Adlibby. (thank you, Adlibby!!) Adlibby has provided me with many laughs as she chronicles adult life in my old childhood stomping grounds. She is a dynamite mom and hilarious writer with a crush on Johnny Depp. Who wouldn’t want to be her blog friend?

Never heard of the Proximidade Blog Love Award? Let me share with you, again I have to do this by law:

"This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming.  [Just like the winners!]  These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement.  [Whatever!]   Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!  [Because they thrive on it!]  Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.  [And some side comments too!]"

And so now, by law, I must bestow the award on eight worthy writers. Unfortunately I am still a bit new at the blog world and don’t quite have eight writers to share. So, at the risk of ending up in blogosphere prison (hey, “blogosphere” didn’t get flagged on my spellcheck… but “spellcheck” does. I suppose it’s actually “spell check”), I’m going to share with you some of my favorites (I’m sure some of these have received the award in the past, but they’ve never received it from ME!), and I encourage you to check these out in the oodles of spare time I’m sure you have this holiday season:

Things That Go Pop (My favorite source for important pop culture information. I LOVE Rox!)

Red Tent Girls (Who doesn’t love a site that hits you with Cyndi Lauper?)

Cake Wrecks (Um, because cake is love.)

Love Letters by Cora (Read them and weep. Or laugh until you weep.)

Secret Life of Tova Darling (Much like hearing from your BFF, only in writing.)

Insert Clever Name Here (A college student who takes lecture notes in Haiku. Seriously.)

So, yes, in addition to Facebook and online shopping, I also enjoy the blog world. But not nearly as much as I enjoy reading Christmas Letters. Speaking of which, I’ve got to start addressing mine. Have a fantastic week!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Comforts of Home Shopping

As I sat on the sofa in our basement listening to the Domino’s delivery guy ring the doorbell, exhausted from my Black Friday online shopping spree and ready for something --- anything --- to eat that didn’t come with gravy, I found myself wondering how on earth I got to this point. And why wasn’t anyone answering the door for Pete’s sake?

I quickly placed blame on a man named Aaron. Yep, Aaron Montgomery Ward, and his stroke of mail-order genius, has made me into the woman I am today.

It all began with the Montgomery Ward Catalog, which first brought the department store to the home over 130 years ago. How excited Ma must have been the day that first Shoppers' Bible arrived. Throwing the kids into the back of the wagon (horse-drawn, not station) and driving into town to check out the newest in fashion and home appliances (hand-cranked, not electric) was no longer necessary. Waiting 10 or 12 years for the hip east coast styles to hit the Midwest was a thing of the past, for with Ward’s giant leap in marketing, the only limiting factor in having the latest and greatest in all things retail was the Pony Express.

Sears and Spiegel soon followed, and before we knew it, we were inundated with pages upon slick pages of items we needed to make our home run efficiently and never look anything less than beach sexy.

By the early 1990’s, retailers had re-defined shopping to be a rainy day on the couch with a stack of catalogs, the telephone, and a major credit card. But for some, turning hundreds of pages from dozens of stores each day had grown tiring… and lonely. And that is when God invented QVC.

QVC gave women that one piece they were missing all those days alone in the living room with nothing but a leftover bottle of cabernet for company --- shopping buddies. With QVC we could still sit on the sofa, never fight the elements (save for a hot flash or two) or the crowds (unless we were put on hold for the next available customer service agent), and never be alone. Our new BFF’s were on TV, telling us why we should buy the appliqu├ęd tunic or massaging slippers, and how the way we prepared meals would be forever changed with three E-Z payments and one little product.

Obviously QVC and her little sister, the infomercial, had their flaws though. Namely, either you had to record an entire day’s worth of sales on your VCR (like my roommate’s mom) or stay within eyeshot of the TV the entire day (like mine).

Fortunately Al Gore and his Internet were not far behind. I suppose Al Gore is the reason I will never awake at 4:00 in the morning on Black Friday to hit the mall, still digesting my 600-calorie slice of pecan pie from the night before. Never again will I stand in a department store line, gagging on the stench of ashtray and B.O. that mysteriously wafts through the air on that day. Now I can roll out of bed anytime I choose, pour a cup of coffee and finish shopping well before I decide it’s time to brush my teeth and put on a bra.

Which brings me back to Black Friday 2008. Just when I thought Mr. Ward’s monster had reached its peak, shopping from the comfort of my home in the most high-tech way possible, I saw an ad on TV for Domino’s Pizza. Suddenly the little TiVo guy popped up in the corner telling me all I had to do was push the green button, and they would deliver to my door. No catalogs, no phone calls, not even a trip to the PC. Just a push of the button on the remote control already cradled in my hand.

Thirty minutes later the doorbell was ringing, and I was still in the basement on the sofa watching the very show that had summoned three medium pizzas and a side of Cinna Stix to our home. He rang the bell again, which gave me an idea.

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and called our home line. My second-grader answered and was more than willing to retrieve our dinner. I wish I could have seen the look on the guy’s face when a seven-year-old boy, apparently with TiVo and a major credit card, came to the door.

(sigh) But that would have required effort.

(dedicated to A.M. Ward and my mother, Queen of QVC)