Tag Archives: Opinion

Elf On A What?

10 Dec

People may not have the same opinion as what I have stated below. That’s fine! After talking with others after posting this article on a different website, I’m not sure I completely agree with myself! So yes, I welcome criticism, I welcome agreement – but really, just realize that I’m not being completely serious. Sarcasm is my second language. THANX!

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I’m all for Christmas tradition. When I was little, we always had an Advent calendar. Each morning, one of us kids would takes turns opening each little slot that indicated the day of the month. Some years, there was chocolate inside for the taking. One year, there was mouse poop instead (oh, old Iowa houses).

We hung stockings from our wooden staircase. We baked an enormous amount of cookies and candy. We would pile into the car with our grandparents and go look at Christmas lights. We listened to holiday tunes every morning before school. We would make our way through an enormous amount of holiday classics – from Rudolph to Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Christmas Eve meant a huge vat of oyster stew and a gathering at my family’s home for games and conversation. And every year, we would leave out food for Santa and his reindeer.

But there is one “new” tradition that this girl can’t get behind – Elf On A Shelf. Call me a scrooge or whatever, but I just can’t. First off, they are just beyond ugly. I get nightmares pretty easily, and the best way to trigger them is by surrounding myself with little dolls. That is why I wasn’t into Precious Moments, trolls or china dolls dressed up in their finest when I was younger. The creep factor. Even as an adult, it would probably skeeve me out to see an elf staring straight at me while I was vacuuming, placing gifts under the tree – you name it. Gross.

But it has a book, you say, and a movie. Yes, but the interactive Polar Express has a train whistle, and those don’t freak me out in the least.

And there are five gazillion fun ways to place our little elf in the house. Hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some really smart cookies out there. My Facebook feed is inundated with the daily schedules of these elves. And man, the positions they put their creepy toys in are hilarious and brilliant. Those blogs telling you how to place your doll in the most inappropriate positions – I have read them all. The thing is, I don’t know about you, but I’m TIRED at the end of the day. I mean, Christmas is nuts. You have all the gifts to buy, cards to get out, traveling – besides all your normal work and everyday stuff. I don’t have kids yet and some days I am ready to crawl into bed as soon as I get home. So having to come up with another new, funny way to place that ugly thing in my home, cook dinner, and take the kids to all of their after-school practices? No thank you. I feel like it’s part of that whole parent mantra of “I have to do it all!!!” For me, as a kid, the whole month of December was exciting enough, I couldn’t imagine yet another activity to include in this jam-packed extravaganza.

The main reason I just am not all up on this new fad is the whole “big brother” aspect of it. Honestly, when I was a child, I was confused enough on whether Jesus or Santa was watching me. Did they tag team? Who reported to whom? Where was this ladder to heaven from the North Pole for their secret meetings? With our Catholic confessions, I knew Jesus was always out there and I had to be good on a DAILY basis, for I had to recite ten Hail Mary’s and ten Our Father’s if I wasn’t. And then when Santa came, woof dah, I tried not to put one toe out of line.

My parents made it pretty clear what the Christmas season was about, but I still had the Santa beliefs down ‘til fourth grade. And to add another little minion to the mix to do the fat man’s bidding? You are putting Catholic guilt times ten on a little kid. Besides that, my parents never empty threatened us with taking away our presents. “You better be good or you won’t get any presents from Santa for Christmas! He’s watching!” Yeah right, I doubt that really happens in most households. I can’t see my dad in the customer service line at Target during the holiday season returning all my Barbie toys. Not. Gonna. Happen. So instead of the “no presents” gag to get us to behave during the season, it was more of the usual, traditional time outs that were expected year round if we were not handling things right. I mean, why should good manners and well-behaved children be only expected at Christmas time? If that’s so, leave that stinkin’ elf out all year round.

And lastly, spending $30 on this thing? Dude … no. I can find ugly toys for as a little as $2. If I really need to EOAS it someday, I will grab my Ken doll in his mesh gold shirt and green board shorts and get crackin’! I love Christmas. I love tradition. I just don’t love the Elf. Sorry, little creepy, gross, ugly tchotchke. Sorry, since you you were introduced in 2005, I’m going to hope you leave in as big of a flurry as you came in.

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Understanding 9/11

11 Sep
The Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City, N.J.

The Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City, N.J.

Each workday, I enter and leave through the Port Authority Trans-Hudson hub that sits right next to the World Trade Center. The six-minute train ride underneath the river lets me sort out my thoughts before my short jaunt to the building that houses Soap Opera Digest. At 6 p.m., I stroll back home past the New York Stock Exchange, gothic buildings and churches in the Financial District. As soon as I hit Fulton Street, I look straight ahead. There, the Freedom Tower stands prominently, and I have to tilt my head up to see the entire building with its newly placed spire.

As soon as I open the door to my brownstone apartment in Jersey City, I can see the tower standing alone in the distance. I am reminded day after day, time after time, of 9/11.

When it happened, I was a senior at Webster City High School. We had a two-hour in-service that morning and my mom was busy talking to my uncle Dave on the phone about some things that needed fixing in the house. He must have said, “Turn on the news!” because my mom hurriedly flipped on the small TV in my parent’s bedroom. She let out a small shriek and covered her mouth, as we both watched the second plane hit. I knew it was a big deal, I knew that this was horribly wrong but as a 17-year-old, I just felt numb. We went to school and many of our teachers nixed our studies and left the television on so we could continue to watch the coverage. During lunch and cafe, we went back to talking about cross country, boys, our usual conversations. Why? We were kids, that’s why. It’s not easily digestible information that planes were being flown into buildings. That thousands of people had just died a couple hours ago. That there was so much hate.

As my senior year rolled on, I thought more about myself, as teenagers do, and kept up on the news when it fit my schedule. In the years following, I let what happened sink in. Call it maturity or finally allowing myself to unshield my eyes to the atrocities – it happened.

Since moving here, I have talked with native New Yorkers and people who lived here during the attacks. Where they were, people they know that had died – each person had a different story, but talked about it like it happened yesterday. When I first started working in Battery Park, I was very aware of the WTC site. After awhile, I started to get lost in my own thoughts and wouldn’t look up, the sounds of construction turning into background noise.

A couple months ago, I decided to watch 9/11 documentaries, like the ones produced by National Geographic. I watched YouTube videos of the attacks happening during the Today Show, of people getting off the PATH train and finding out about the carnage as they were getting out of the hub. I saw all the surrounding buildings that I walk by every day. I saw people sprinting down the streets that I walk every day. I pictured myself on one of my normal workdays, getting out of the train at the same time it happened. It’s now more real than it has ever been.

I have read the names of people at the memorial aloud; to fully understand that some of these normal people lived in the same neighborhood I do, probably frequented some of the same pubs, and hung out in the parks where I like to read.

Now, I don’t walk back and forth caught up in the music I am listening to or thinking about what I’m about to cook for dinner. I always look up at the Freedom Tower and think about that day and all the people affected. I think about the people trapped in the higher floors and others falling to their death. I see fire trucks daily on their way to some emergency and think about all those firefighters who climbed the stairs with all that heavy gear.

If living here has done one thing, it’s that I realize that life is truly a gift. One not to be wasted or squandered. It could have been any one of these people that I walk to work with, the sea of people heading off to their full-time jobs. Sometimes when something so horrific happens in a far-off place, it’s hard to take a walk in their shoes and understand that those affected are just normal people. Listening to their headphones, planning their grocery list, thinking of the weekend ahead.

If I didn’t let it sink in then, 12 years ago, I have definitely let it sink in now.

I Want My Iowa State Fair

10 Sep

This year marked the second in a row that I missed the Iowa State Fair. A record for this gal. And while I have partaken in the fried butter, fried Twinkies, and well, basically most things fried, what I miss the most from this yearly extravaganza is the people watching. It’s a mecca of awesomeness. So while I mourn the fact that I missed Iowa’s largest pig and the llama limbo (llamas do limbo, I saw it with my own eyes), here is a column that I wrote a couple years back.

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This is the perfect time of year for certain items: 1) Buying mosquito spray in bulk just to keep your current blood supply at its necessary level; 2) Finding that certain Spider Man or Pokemon (or whatever cartoon creature is hot these days) backpack. And lunch box. And folders; and, 3) Meandering your way to the Iowa State Fair.

The third item is just necessary. There is no other event like it … anywhere. Where can you people-watch and see not one, not two, but four women in their muumuus and bedroom slippers outside in public? You can go from building to building – and each year there is something new. Either a new food, a new display or a new, albeit, weird experience.

A few summers ago, I worked as an intern in the Iowa State Fair marketing department. I worked on the daily schedule, press releases and various events at the fair.

For the 10 days of the fair, I worked a vigorous schedule from morning ’til night. Most of the time, I was stuck at a desk writing press releases about all of the contests and shows happening.

So that I would not go crazy – I decided to do something out of the ordinary to make my time there a more memorable experience. I was going to try it all – the food, that is.

The staff received a few food vouchers but not many, so it was also an experience on my wallet. It made me sad watching the debit machine pump out cash as my balance dwindled.

And I wasn’t going to just eat my favorite foods, I was going to eat everything (or try to). This will sound absurd to those who know me as I have a very particular appetite. With the way that I eat, I could almost be considered semi-vegetarian as I don’t prefer to eat a lot of meat.

I started off slow on my journey – going for the familiar. Every morning, I would try a new stand for coffee and something breakfast-oriented. That was easy – I’m not a huge breakfast fan but I’m okay with the bakery variety.

But when it came to lunch, that was where I got creative. Most of the items were portable – on a stick or easy to carry in one hand. From the average corn dog to the pork chop on a stick to fried pickles, anything was fair game.

Around the sixth day of my experiment, I decided to try the food I most dreaded: The grinder. The smell of the stand made me want to gag. But I went for it. And it wasn’t horrible. It didn’t make me throw up. But I probably won’t try it again.

For desserts, again it was the food on the stick variety: fried Twinkies, Snickers, monkey tail (chocolate-covered banana) and ice cream bars.

Weighing probably a good 10 pounds heavier after the fair, I judged what was good for me. It was surprising on what I found the best and the worst. For example, I thought I would enjoy a salad on a stick. Found out it wasn’t really worth the money. But here are a few of my favorite finds:

Coffee and pastries: From the Wooden Shoe food stand outside of the Varied Industries Building on the Grand Concourse. Amazing Dutch letters.

Best homemade lemonade: Surprisingly not at any of the stands. It’s in the indoor stand of Peterman in the Old Pioneer Building. (Try their cheeseburgers.)

Pork chop: The Iowa Pork Producers’ stand.

Fried anything: Anything from the Veggie-Table stand outside Varied Industries Building.

Root beer: Griffin stands.

Best dessert: Cookies in a cup out of the Barksdale stand outside Varied Industries Building.

Corn dog: Campbell’s Concession stands, located everywhere.

Best overall: Hot beef sundae located at the Beef Quarters’. Trust me, totally worth it.

One True Love?

5 Sep

rel-05-soul-mates-orFor years, I had “… And They Lived Happily Ever After” printed in lacy cursive on my childhood bedroom wall. The glittery words spoke to my teenage mantra of “Everything Is Meant To Be.” My career, my lifestyle, and most of all, my love life. My soul mate. I highly believed in the concept that there was this one person in the world out there for me. Fate would somehow miraculously intervene and throw me a bone. Wherever he was, I would fall into his arms like some klutzy heroine in a romantic comedy.

I never believed that dating was a way of sifting through partners who might have similar interests and values. No, it was a means to an end. A way to narrow down to that one special snowflake of a soul mate. After reading this column written by a girl in a long-term relationship with someone who isn’t “THE ONE,”  I thought long and hard about my original concept. It was absolutely flawed.

Many couples I know found love in their own hometown, they didn’t have to search high and low for that special someone. Most people I know that are in a LTR may have had luck on their side, but they also found someone that they just really enjoyed being around. Someone with a shared love of traveling or music, or a person that likes sitting around on a lazy Sunday in the other person’s presence. It doesn’t have to be … so hard.

I have been in quite a few relationships. A very long one and others with varying spurts of time. In a few, there were these tremendous sparks – initial points of attraction and chemistry. Those exciting rushes, fairy-tale spun feelings always brought on the thought “maybe he is my true love.”

Sure, the spark is usually necessary to start a good relationship, but it doesn’t provide the end all. It does not signal “SOUL MATE, SOUL MATE, SOUL MATE!”

One short-lived relationship relied only on “the spark.” It was thrilling, yet we had nothing (NOTHING) in common – politics, religion, humor – NOTHING. Opposites attract, right? Paula Abdul, you were correct on that front, but attraction just isn’t enough. If I wanted to be a stereotypical ’50s housewife that obeys her husband, it would have worked out fine. But yeah, that’s not in the cards for me.

I was also in a couple other relationships that could have easily progressed into something more. Why didn’t they? Oh, circumstances. Location, interest levels, being at different points in our lives. I have no ill regrets toward those people or those relationships – they just didn’t work out. It just makes me believe less in this whole “True Love” thing.

Perhaps my soul mate lived across the world … would I go find him, climb to the ends of the earth just to meet him? Maybe it was predestined at birth. What if my future husband died of an illness, a car accident – am I just destined to spend the rest of my life alone or somewhat unhappy in another relationship? That is why I call this notion utter nonsense.

I won’t deny that when I first started dating my future husband (at the tender age of 18), there was a spark. “True love?” I pondered. It could definitely be defined as “young love”, and I batted my lashes doe-eyed in his direction. And then later, after we started arguing constantly and throwing accusations around, it died. Sometimes that “spark” would come and go, electrifying anger and bitterness that didn’t come with the “soul mate” guidelines. And even when our relationship has been at its strongest (now), we can be too busy with our own lives and act like strangers passing through the night. Not often, but sometimes.

Things haven’t always been perfect. Yet, I can’t picture someone else to spend the rest of my life with. We HAVE a true love. He’s my partner and best friend. We both have quirky personalities and similar levels of humor. We have a hard time choosing between a Woody Allen movie and a horrible action adventure when looking at a theater’s marquee. Our travel list is long, and we respect each other’s individuality and opinions. Almost everything in our lives seems to intertwine pretty seamlessly.

However, I don’t believe he’s my “Soul Mate.” I don’t. It’s not that I don’t think I am with the right person for me, because I do. It’s just that I don’t believe in that idea anymore. Perhaps I die tomorrow. Do I think my fiance will never find someone else? No, that’s silly. And vice versa. That person may love the new partner equally, more, less – who knows? I believe that there is an amount of “right” people to be in a relationship with, and the rest are not. How big is that grouping of people? No clue.

I think the right circumstances thrown in with a good amount of chemistry, well-blending personalities, and shared intellect, values and interests makes for a very happy couple. That’s what I believe.

I still believe in the concept of “… And They Lived Happily Ever After.” Just because I’m not a Disney princess waiting for my “One True Love” to come rescue me from my tower, doesn’t mean that’s not possible. I believe in happy endings, and I definitely believe in fabulous, amazing journeys.

NYC Prejudices

12 Aug

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We’ve just hit the one-year mark of moving to the East Coast from our home state of Iowa. It’s pretty significant, since I honestly didn’t know if I would get to see this milestone. I had only been away from Iowa and family for a few months at a time, so I wasn’t sure if this whole moving thing would be all that I had hoped it would to be.

And it has been. Besides all the obvious, I live in a great city. Not NYC, but Jersey City. While we enjoy our jaunts through Central Park, walking around the Villages – we most enjoy our town. A tree-lined brownstone community with many, many restaurants and coffee shops. After walking in Lower Manhattan filled to the brim with too many people, getting off the train in Jersey City is a relief. We have options, not as many as NYC, but a lot.

It’s been a growing-up time period. I’ve had to learn to get a hold of my bill paying and spending habits. I’ve had to learn to deal with homesickness and feeling alone. And I’ve dumped some really bad habits.

And as much as I want to say that this journey has “changed me”, it really hasn’t. I’m a bit more mature, a little wiser, but the same me. While I enjoy walking down the street with Ella Fitzgerald crooning through my headphones, I truly miss the Midwest. I can see myself living here indefinitely, I could. But I also could see myself happily packing up the moving van after Nate graduates from school. In a couple weeks time, we will be flying back home for a family wedding. And just like the last time, I will press my face against the glass of the plane, grinning from ear to ear while seeing the green cornfields below. When we are driving back to Webster City, my dad will say to me, like before, “I bet this is going to be boring compared to New York.” No, Dad, no. Impossible.

People may think that I’ve got “stuck-up airs” about me since moving here. No, and I don’t really hang out in my free time with anyone who would emulate that kind of attitude. That “I’m better than others or have more knowledge than before” – yeah, no.

Being here has been amazing, enlightening, and a learning curve. I’m a bit colder and not as “Midwest nice”, but I can turn on the charm as soon as I enter my hometown farming community. I miss waving at strangers, saying hello to everyone you see while out on a run, and saying “excuse me”, “I’m sorry” and my “please” and “thank-yous” while out and about.

So, again, I do enjoy it here, but it’s no heaven on earth, that is for sure. I don’t enjoy the rudeness. I don’t enjoy the “one-upping” that is so prevalent here, and the need to be the best at anything and everything. The competition is fierce, and while I can hang out in it for awhile, I don’t have the endurance for the race. I just don’t. And the “me” culture. Wow. I’ve never met more self-centered people in my life than I have here. It’s great to have goals, it’s great to want to succeed, but man, there is more to life than this city and the people who live in it.

Now, one of my biggest gripes about this area is it’s prejudices toward Midwesterners. I’m told all the time about my accent, how it sounds funny – and that doesn’t bother me. It’s when people talk about that area of the country like it’s a giant wasteland of despair. Everyone there is a racist. Everyone there is a redneck hick. Everyone. Didn’t you know that? 🙂 The cultured people live on either coast, and the rest, the people with no teeth or grammar skills, sit making mud pies in that vast “fly over country”. (Oh yeah, I’ve heard that phrase enough times.)

“What do you guys do there?” People inquire. “Like for fun?” I’ve had incredulous conversations with those who think that we really cow tip on the regular and sit on porches in our wicker chairs piecing together four-word sentences about the weather.

I used to defend my area like a momma bear to it’s small cub, but why bother? It’s like trying to change a staunch Democrat or Republican, not going to happen. So I thin-lip it while listening to their garbage. Most of the time, I do have a “I’m better than you” attitude, because these people haven’t even set their toes on Midwestern soil before forming their ideas.

I have other gripes about NYC that will be saved for another time, but this one, I can’t agree with ever. Sure, there are certain people who fit the profiles that people want to stereotype all Midwesterners as. That’s why stereotypes exist. It’s just so … frustrating. It really is.

Before I get angrier about the subject, I need to take a breath and realize … only 14 more days until I’m home. Home Sweet Iowa.

Still Hurts

21 Jul

448It still hurts.

When a friendship ends, it sucks.

You can think about it over and over, yet nothing will change. It’s done, that’s it.

It especially hurts when you were the person who was dumped. Although I’ve tried to jump start this deadened heart, they’re done and that’s that.

I’ve been the one who has broken things off before. When someone close to me didn’t bring anything to the table but more pain, time after time, I realized that things needed to stop. So much negative energy was being tossed back and forth, and our meetings only deepened the black hole that I was currently living in. Of course, now, I would have handled it with a little more grace. Then, I just coldly ended the relationship by not returning phone calls or answering emails. The person obviously got the hint, but I still feel bad about how it happened. It was immature, inconsiderate, and just plain childish.

I’ve been that source of bitterness and pain, too. I’ve gone through more than a few bouts of depression where the conversations only languished on “me, me … ME!” I can’t imagine having to listen to the same problems on repeat, a broken record for months at a time. A few of those friends stuck by. One of them will be standing by me at my wedding this fall. She should be nominated for sainthood.

But unfortunately, I have had a couple friends just flit away and never come back. And of course, they ended the friendship as coldly as I once did. It still gets me down once and awhile. Especially when we had hit it off and clicked so well just a few years back. Sometimes circumstances, locations, jobs, well, they interfere with the friendship and cause things to get rocky. Maybe they didn’t agree with choices you made. There’s always a multitude of reasons. But sometimes, it just wasn’t worth it to the other person.

Of course, the hurt starts to fade year after year. But it burns. It truly does.

I can’t be bitter, can’t dwell on the what might have been’s, or even try to ignite what once worked. I’ve taken my hint, and am continuing to move down my own path. But I admit, it still hurts.

And so it goes.

Facebook Lawyers

18 Jul

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YOU’VE BEEN SERVED!

It happens whenever I log on to Facebook. There I am, minding my own business, when I scroll down to see this political rant, that polarizing viewpoint, here’s how this should be done -yadi yadi ya. LAWYERED. By civilians.

Sometimes I click on the news articles, questionable blog sites, Bible verses, or HILARIOUSLY snarky comic photos (not really) – but most of the time I move on. I’VE GOT BABY PICTURES TO LOOK AT, SON.

Am I clean of this uncouth behavior? Hells to the no on that one, my friend. It was only a year, perhaps two, that I stopped posting really anything politically sensitive. Why? Because, that’s why! Need no ‘splaining here! Okay, I was originally doing it for the shock value. The “Oh, I’m smarter than you and I’m going to write all about it’ reason. It wasn’t to share information that people might find value, and I will admit that. It wasn’t to appear concerned that other people might have interesting and valid opposing views. It was to start a war, and I was hella good at it.

If you don’t know me, I’m pretty socially liberal, fiscally moderate. Oh, while I’m writing this, I did post a few pictures in the past year supporting gay marriage, but yeah, not going to even defend that. Because that viewpoint is awesome. That’s all. (SORRY, OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS, BUT NOT SORRY ON THAT ONE!)

It’s just when a public court case comes up, everyone get’s all up in arms because the system “failed” them. Probably not. I mean, they might not agree with the outcome, I might not too, but usually it amounts to whether a jury find that there is enough evidence to convict or not. If there isn’t, well, there you go.

While I like to spout my own viewpoints, I realize that taking the LSAT and being pre-law in undergrad usually doesn’t mean shit. While a couple logic classes may show me that certain statements are hyperbolic, I don’t have the training to go lecturing people on why this is right or this is wrong. So I’ve stopped defending every stance I have under the sun.

With Facebook, a lot of peeps have pretty left- or right-swinging positions. The ones who post their stances, anyway. It’s highly unlikely that you are going to change someone’s staunch opinion with a witty remark on their posting or by shoving some more statistics out there in Zuckerberg Land. Just not going to happen. Instead, it’s going to inspire eye rolls, online and public gossiping, and more people to wonder, “Why am I still on Facebook?” Really.

So there you go. Here’s my rant and whining about Facebook for the day.

Also, here are a few other things that make me give the throw-up face:

• Posting vague song lyrics. WHY?
• Posting vague anything. WHY? Just don’t vaguebook, people. It’s so … sigh.
• Negative whining and bitching constantly. YUCK.
• Posting everything and anything that happens in your day. I don’t want to know what kind of salad you had for lunch, but I am so glad you enjoyed it. I had leftover Papa John’s Pizza. TASTY!

But please, please, whatever you do, keep posting animal and baby/child photos. For the love of God, I love me some cute pictures. (THIS IS NOT SARCASTIC. I REALLY LIKE THESE PHOTOS A LOT.)

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