Monday, December 30, 2013

Hey! Listen!

Over the weekend, Spousal Unit and I had Christmas with his family. Unfortunately, the gifts for his parents were on "backorder" (i.e., in the mail), so we improvised with a couple of CDs. The idea J went with for his dad was pretty cool: songs that refer to the Beatles. Surprisingly, some of the best ones he found are country-esque, such as I Saw It on TV by John Fogerty and She Likes the Beatles by William Clark Green.

This all meant that Jack was the only one who got a complete gift, though I have to say it was the coolest gift I gave this year.

Zelda 3-ring plaque and Triforce gauntlets!

We took a really good family picture, because we're dashing people.

Then we had an overpriced, comically awkward dinner sitting far too close to an incredibly quiet couple (which I don't fault them for) who made this Italian family feel like they had to be quiet in return - something that doesn't happen often. Luckily, Spousal Unit and I were able to laugh inwardly as everything went from strange to weird that night.

It's not family Christmas without something slightly weird poking its head in.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Letter to Target

Dear Target,

You suck at shipping. Other things too, but I'm sticking with shipping for now.

Every year for Christmas, my family does a Secret Santa thing, because we are enormous and our wallets are tiny. This year, Spousal Unit drew the name of my sister Rachel, who wanted a popcorn popper.

I dutifully went to my local Target store in search of this delightful contraption, only to find it wasn't on the shelves; alas, I would have to order it online. (Target, you may be wondering why I was the one to do this, instead of Spousal Unit. The answer, Conglomerate Retailer of Doom, is that this is how things work in our household and you should mind your own business.)

When the package arrived - in a relatively short time, I might add - I only saw it from behind at first. But one thing was clear: it was shipped in its box with a thin piece of plastic around it. Nothing else adorned its cardboard sides.

Target, you sad, strange little chain. I'm a fan of saving the environment, just as you are pretending to be. If I could get away with it, I might also ship items in this manner. But you, my non-friend, are a retailer. Did it really not occur to you that at this time of spiked eggnog and splendor that some of the items ordered online might be gifts? Did it not occur to you that doing this to the box could possibly make someone's head implode hideously?

Count 'em: one, two, three stickers. And a giant dent in a pear tree.

Five of the box's six sides were draped in this thin plastic (is there a shortage or something?), but it was on the sixth side that you decided to affix all the massive, inhumanly sticky labels. One corner was massively dented, and there were small puncture marks across the box. I know they're fast, but did you really decide to start using a cheetah delivery service? I recommend against that - they apparently chew on everything.

This is the worst shape I've seen a box arrive in for a while (and keep in mind that I'm citing fairly recent bookstore experience too). I'd have exchanged this, but there was no time to go through the mail and back again before the holiday (thankfully, my sister has a sense of humor). Rest assured that if there is a single scratch on this item, you will have just submitted yourself to a dance-off.

I'm also not going to share any information with you about which poor soul was the one to slap on these labels and declare this defenseless box fit for air/truck travel. The reason? I blame you, Target. You and your terrible warehouse policies are most likely what caused this mess, not some poor soul under penalty of job loss to get the most orders out the door possible before the apocalypse (and/or Christmas).

The reason I write to you about a demented popcorn box is simple.

1. Stop being an ass to your employees.
2. Put at least one neuron of thought into your shipping policies. This is even possible of a cheetah; it should be the standard for you.

With an overabundance of freakin' holiday cheer,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


My sister Laura graduated over the weekend. I am super proud of her.

The family (plus support system) had dinner and drinks together the night before in celebration. I had the strongest hot toddy on the planet, modeled here by the lovely Spousal Unit.

I managed to get a picture that perfectly describes Laura's relationship with her daddy.

The next morning, we made the quick, joyous trip downtown for the ceremony. Except that the trip was neither quick nor joyous; we were in the middle of a delightful Wisconsin blizzard, and despite the plows having gone by shortly before we left, it was a slippery, treacherous trip, surrounded by idiots on four wheels and nary a patch of sand in sight.

After some delightful fishtailing, however, we made it to our destination and watched our gal Sunday be honored for four and a half years of hard work to receive two incredible degrees.

Check out the cool glasswork on the walls behind us, too!

She has her whole future ahead of her. (Where else would it be - behind her? Then it would be the past, silly.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The last couple of weeks have been rough.

I'm in the middle of a tough bout with depression; I'm sure it's mostly based on the lack of sunlight. I was so excited for last weekend's solstice - almost more excited than I am for Christmas, because now the days will start getting longer, and I need my sunlight. I'm whatever the opposite of a vampire is.

I've had issues with seasonal affective disorder in the past, but it seems especially bad this year (I'm a bad judge of this, though - I always forget how terrible it was to adjust to a move, or the last time I felt depressed).

I have not worked on the novel in more than a month.

I have not written at all since my last blog post, which was about how tired I've been feeling.

I have not been reading either.

All of you who know me know what a big deal all those things are to me. I've also been very tired, despite getting plenty of sleep, and highly irritable (poor Spousal Unit).

I'm sharing this with all of you by way of doing my part to make depression a visible thing. It's still hard to admit when I've been feeling like this - especially when the lows are so awful that you don't want to share them with anyone - but I want to  put it out there because there should be no shame in mental illness. There should be no shame in a chemical imbalance over which I have no control, or even in simply feeling sad.

I think the best way to contribute to an overall change in the way things like depression are viewed is to be bold enough to be part of the change.

I recently bought a light therapy box, in the hope that getting extra "sunlight" every day will help shake me out of the worst of this. It won't change things overnight, but maybe it will make the days more bearable and help me to enjoy winter again. I love snow; I feel like an absolute Scrooge for not enjoying it as much as I want to. (I even had trouble motivating myself to make a cup of tea last night.)

But don't worry. My shrink is a phone call away. I have Spousal Unit to help me through the worst of times. And I do still feel joy on a regular basis - I haven't shut down completely.

Things are just rough right now. And I'm working on it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Some days, I wake up tired.

Tired of the day-to-day. Tired of eight hours, commutes, tiny unsolvable word problems. Tired of not being able to do it all at home.

Some days, I'd rather stay in bed.

Tired of cats knocking over plants, clawing carpet, biting the beads off of my skirts, using my hands as a launch pad. Tired of cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Tired of The Voice in my Head that says it's not good enough, you have to keep going, you have to do more, or else.

Some days, I don't want to move for weeks.

Tired of depression. Tired of bad feelings ambushing me on a beautiful day. Tired of little things making me into a Midwestern Hulk. Tired of remembering my faults for years on end.

Some days, the sunrise takes that all away.

On days when it doesn't, there's always poetry.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cookie Party!

Sunday was cookie day. Sandy, Kaelin, and I baked all day and ended up with 12 batches of cookies for us to split and take home. It was delightful fun. We made:

Orange Cardamom Biscotti
Snickerdudes for the Masses
Jam Shortbreads
Chocolate Mint Surprises
Almond Crunch Sugar Cookies
Orange Snaps
M&M cookies
Cranberry Orange Pinwheels
Viennese Hazelnut Cookies
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Nutella cookies 

The gingersnaps had a kid in their class who wasn't very smart.

Action shot! Rescuing the bowl from Death by Floor.

We laid all the cookies out to count, and only now am I realizing that we were missing the Nutella and Chocolate Mint Surprise cookies. So the actual number of cookies per person was more like 225. Amazing. We rock.

Friday, December 6, 2013

...And a Kitty Cat in a Pear Tree

The cats haven't terrorized the tree too badly yet; it's been knocked over once, but it only fell halfway, thanks to a nearby chair, and nothing fell off of it. One ornament has been broken, but it wasn't sentimental, and it was a small enough break that it's not noticeable by anyone who isn't as freakishly detail-focused as me.

Mostly, they like to sit under the tree, peering out at us one-lifed creatures.

Somehow, I feel like we don't have as many surface-dwelling decorations as we did last year. No boxes are missing; I think we might just have more surfaces. So I'm making do by spreading them thinly between rooms until I can find a good Christmas sale.

I like my decorating style.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Impending Jolly Boots of Doom

Christmas is coming! Who's ready to go caroling?

Captain Picard sings "Let it Snow"

Christmas at Ground Zero by Weird Al Yankovic

Anyone need to decorate the tree yet?

To: Jabba, Love: Boba (more geek decor)

Um ... what?

Brought to you by The Morning: It's short, and I'm out of time!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Haz a Blerg


My apologies at this extended hiatus, and at the general lack of blogginess in the last few weeks. I've had some kind of awful bug that started with a hoarse voice, interimed with a cold, and seems to have settled on an unconsolable sore throat.

Today features yet another doctor's visit so that I can do little things like eat oatmeal without getting a lecture from my tonsils against ingesting things that feel like this.


See you soon, I hope.
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