Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Is (Chris misses)

I enjoyed Christmas so much more when I was young. I've held on to many memories of great gifts I've received - almost all of them from Mom - and recounted as many as I could last weekend when I visited her, to let her know how much I appreciated everything.. the giant inflatable Stegosaurus that blocked out the bottom half of the the tree, the Super Mario Bros desktop pinball game, all of the video games and consoles, and the countless baseball cards, jerseys, and other sports-related items I asked for over the years, including Starting Lineup talking baseball which I really want to buy second-hand someday. (note the first comment:  How come I didn't want this anymore when I hit my teens. Now I want it again at 34)

When my aunt moved in next door to us around 1990, Christmas was even more enjoyable. Mom would make coffee and knock on Aunt C's door, and she'd come over - usually by 10am. As a kid, getting that extra present while still in my pajamas was everything. As I got older, I enjoyed having more company on Christmas morning, regardless of gifts. 

The last great gift I remember receiving from her was SimCity 3000. I had it installed on my PC and was building like crazy before she finished her coffee. Always loved those SimCity games... and even though I found a free app that gives me my city building fix, I still wish I had a computer old enough to play the SimCity my aunt bought me. I miss the jazzy city music and the excitement of having a new game to play. I also miss playing it while she was there.. to show her how much it meant to me.

Every Christmas, when I was finished opening gifts from Mom but before my aunt would come over, I watched my favorite Christmas special:

Thought I still had my copy but it's gone. I may have actually played it to death #80stech

This was a gift from my sister, either for Christmas or my 12th birthday. I can remember where she gave it to me (in her old basement-level apt.) but not when she gave it to me. All I know is, I watched this video every Christmas until I knew all the dialogue. And it was always on when my aunt came over. (Sorry, Aunt C)

But you know what they say...'tis better to give than receive. And I truly enjoyed shopping for gifts for my family and friends. I used to love going to the mall with my list and picking out something for everyone. Online shopping will never replace the experience of weaving your way through thousands of other shoppers, while the same ten Christmas songs play over and over and over. It's annoying now, but it was enjoyable then. Something about seeing all the Christmas trees and wreaths and lights makes you forget that many of the other shoppers will run you over and stomp on your face to save 10% off a Snuggie. 

I was so eager to buy gifts for a girl that I didn't even wait until I had a girlfriend. When I was in junior high I was madly in love with a girl named Annie, and one year I decided to add her name to my Christmas shopping list. Can't remember anything specific that I bought her, but I'm sure I picked out the finest jewelry available Claire's.

I probably bought her something from Bath and Body Works and maybe a sweater or something, I dunno. All I know is that when I was done, I left the bags on her front porch because I didn't dare hand them to her in person. Apparently I wasn't the only one who bought gifts for Annie; someone told me that a kid named Paul bought her lingerie. 

First of all.. he wasn't her boyfriend, either. And second.. she was 13 years old. That's just skeevy. I know I'm weird, but at least I wasn't that weird.

Anyway, I do recall that Annie thanked me but that's pretty much all I got. No date, no hug, not even her number. At least Kristen (my high school crush) gave me a kiss on the cheek when I bought her a Grateful Dead tie-dyed t-shirt for her birthday.

I don't think this is the one I bought her..but you get the idea

And yet, I actually remember that kind of fondly. It was fun shopping for someone I "love". I don't get to do that anymore. My wife does all the shopping, I have very little control over the allocation of funds, and even less control over the purchasing of gifts. D needs a hundred things but she doesn't want anything. I've had to beg and plead with her to let me buy a birthday or anniversary gift for her - and she still doesn't let me. She says we don't have the money (and she should know because she's the one that pays the bills.) 

So I gave up. I bought nothing for Christmas this year, not even for my daughters. There was talk that we might go to the mall this week... but I don't see how we're going to find the time. Without the music or the shopping, or the decorations.. Christmas is just another day I'm forced to spend with the in-laws.  

Not to mention the fact that my girls don't play with the toys they have already... and they're going to get more than we can fit in our house. So that's going to take up what little room I have to myself. 

I really don't want to be all 'bah humbug' about Christmas. I want to enjoy it, but it's hard not to be melancholy these days.

It was ten years ago this winter that I met Angela. The last 'real-life' crush I've ever had. At the time it felt like the awkward longing of my teen years had come back to strangle my newlywed adult self... but now I kind of miss it. I miss seeing her gorgeous self in class and getting to know her just a tiny bit. But what I really miss is the feeling I had, before and after seeing her. Trudging home through the snow and slush, listening to Keane or Mew, or Snow Patrol on my iPod and imagining what it would be like to be with her...


I can't even do that now. I've got no one to crush on, or dream one to remind me of the Joy of the holiday season...

 Meh...i Guess that will do. ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Party Fun Times

My oldest daughter turned seven on Sunday. She had two parties on the weekend - one with her family and one with her friends. The family party was Saturday, and it was fairly painless for once. My wife's sister (and her husband) weren't there, and her older brother's kids weren't there. One of her aunts wasn't there, either - apparently her dog got sick or something. Since only half the fam was there (and the ones in attendance weren't being overly annoying) I actually spend a decent amount of time with them. I also called my mom and got my nap in because they are still the in-laws after all.

My in-laws had apparently ordered a pizza, but it was gone before we got there. There were tuna subs and cold cut trio subs waiting for us though. And bottles of Coke that expired in July 2015. (D's parents always have expired food lying around.) 

When we first arrived, my mother-in-law handed out small gifts from her trip to Chicago.  D got a pin from the Hard Rock Cafe, which was obviously different from the one I got her when I went to Chicago 12 years ago. She forgot to buy her other daughter a shot glass. She didn't get anything for me - and I wasn't expecting anything, but I immediately kicked myself for not requesting Cubs World Series swag.

Daughter got way too many birthday gifts, and the girls ate way too much dessert. Sunday was the party at The Little Gym, where my girls have been going since my oldest was two. She stopped going over a year ago, and the gym we took them to moved from the next town over to the town where I work, about 20 minutes away. She had never been to this one; it just opened about a month ago.

My wife had accumulated years worth of rewards points - a program the gym stopped some time ago. One of the girls that runs the place has known us forever, and she made sure the staff honored our points. That pretty much paid for the party, except pizza and tips.

Sixteen of her closest friends showed up. One of them - a rambunctious little thing (and the star of our arch-rival red team) burst through the gym doors at 3:58pm even though she had been asked to wait until 4. All the other girls followed closely, and the instructors had to scramble to catch up. 

My four year old never gets invited to the big girl parties. Now that she was finally able to join in the fun, she was too scared. She only went inside the gym if mommy or daddy went with her. She didn't participate in the group activities and spent most of the 'play hour' in the lobby with her grandpa, occasionally stealing mouthfuls of popcorn from the party room.

After the party was well underway, my wife began to suss out who hadn't showed. Her two best friends didn't show, and neither did the girl who lives on our street. She did show up, a half hour late, with her father. The girl's parents are divorced and my wife gets a bad vibe from him. He didn't really saying except hello (to me). His daughter ran right in the gym, almost collided with my daughter, and didn't even say hello (to her). Not really sure what's going on with them. 

When play time ended it was time for pizza and cake. All of the moms gossiped in the lobby, away from the food. The three or four dads (not including Pop and I) ate pizza in the party room. One guy saw my Red Sox hat and introduced himself - with the same story he told me a month ago at another girl's birthday party. I was too polite to tell him we had met at the movie theater. 

We're everywhere. Even in Jersey.

I looked out into the hall and saw one mom eating pizza. I was about to tell wifey that the one mom who isn't 'watching her figure' is my new best friend. But apparently there were three moms who were eating. Out of about a dozen.

There were plenty of leftovers and bags of presents to take home. My seven year old had a blast opening all of the very generous gifts. We got a text message from one of the moms who didn't bring their daughter to our party. She was very sick, but had bought a gift and will bring it to school. The other girl had made last-minute plans for The Polar Express. No biggie, there were plenty of girls and plenty of gifts, and my daughter didn't seem to mind. 

Last night my wife gave her another present bag, but she did not seem grateful. An arts-and-crafts set and some clothes just aren't as much fun as Shopkins or Happy Places or whatever other toys she had opened the day before. I actually think she got gift fatigue - which she had better snap out of before we visit my family this coming weekend.

My mom has already planned to bake and decorate Christmas cookies with the girls. And my nephew will be so proud to know that my seven year old is now collecting Garbage Pail Kids - something we both did at that age. I bought her a box at Target and we opened it before her party. I even let her pick out a few originals from the 1980's which will arrive soon (you can read all about our GPK purchases on my collecting blog.) 

While I was looking up some of the sticker cards we got in her box, I learned that there was a special Oscars edition set released online - which included these Jennifer Lawrence stickers:

I'm not sure if I really, really want these or I don't want them at all - but the first one is sold out on the site I buy from (which is shown in the watermark.)

It's actually been quite a while since I've seen any J-Law flicks. I still haven't seen Joy (too busy obsessing over the other Joy, perhaps?) but I will try to watch it sometime soon - before all of my TV shows come back from winter break.

I definitely want to see Passengers

Was I interested in the space-travel movie with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock? No.

Was I interested in the space-travel movie with Matt Damon? Nope.

Am I going to see the space-travel movie with Jennifer Lawrence? 

First chance I get. I'd pay $10 to watch that woman paint a house. 




Thursday, December 1, 2016

60! Let's see some son of a bitch try to top that one.

It's been raining buckets here all week. And of course I have to wait for the bus (which is always a half hour late) and then walk home in the rain for another half-hour after the bus ride. I was working on a star-themed playlist, but I think I might scrap it and go with songs about rain.

My soon-to-be seven year old is obsessed with a YouTuber named DanTDM. Y'all know about this guy? He's English (my wife swears he's Aussie) and he plays video games for a living. We started watching his videos when I got the girls into Minecraft (TDM stands for The Diamond Minecart) and now that my daughter can navigate YouTube on her own she's been watching his videos non-stop (until we stop her, of course.) This is how obsessed she is: yesterday I was with my four year old in the upstairs room when I saw that Dan did a video for the brand new NES Classic.


I told my wife this is the only thing I want for Christmas. A day later she looked into it and said "Yeah, good luck. They're sold out everywhere." Naturally, Dan got one gratis so he can review it on his channel. I wanted to show my daughter said video, so that she can see what I played when I was her age.

She would not come upstairs. She wouldn't even answer me. Know why? Because she was on her tablet watching a different Dan video.

I had an idea for a birthday surprise... I was going to message Dan and see if he'd do a quick video message to my daughter wishing her a happy birthday. So I searched for his contact info on Google. That's when I learned that he has over 13 million subscribers on YouTube. That's just a few more viewers than my favorite YouTuber.

You win this round, Daniel-san

YouTube subscribers:
Dan - 13,146,678
Taryn - 460,109

Twitter followers:

Dan - 797,000+
Taryn - 87,400+

Instagram followers:

Dan - 2,000,000+
Taryn - 66,400+

So, yeah...that birthday greeting? Not happening. 

I gave up trying to get my little one to come upstairs and watched Taryn's latest video instead. She needs all the views she can get 😸

Speaking of attractive women (and honestly, when am I not?) I have a little confession to make... don't judge, kay?

The receptionist at my law firm has been there forever, much longer than I've been there. She's not particularly pleasant but she's not nasty, either. She can be bossy, though (at one point a co-worker whispered to me "don't let her push you around.") Anywho... I've always known that she has a great figure.. and I've overheard her occasionally mention to co-workers that she exercises every day, eats crazy healthy, and all of that. She doesn't brag or anything (okay, she bragged once back when I was still fairly new there.)

Now..remember the new girl that I assumed had reported seeing "inappropriate images" on my computer? First of all, I no longer believe it was her. Second, I completely ignored her for about two weeks, until she got a call for me and we had to speak. And third, if I ever quit or get fired I might apologize to her for being cold - even though she'll think I'm weird.

Anyway, a short time ago New Girl complimented Receptionist Lady on her fashionable wardrobe. She said something like "I don't mean this the wrong way, but you don't dress like an older woman." Then she got all flustered, because Receptionist Lady isn't particularly warm and doesn't take compliments well. She just sort of shrugged and said "I know what you meant" and explained that she refuses to dress her age.

A week or two later, New Girl was hush-talking to my Work Mom about Receptionist Lady's svelte figure/health-nut regimen and I heard her say "It's awful. I mean it's great... but it's awful."

Cut to Wednesday morning.

Receptionist Lady needed help looking up some tax assessment info she couldn't find, so she came into my office ...wearing this figure-hugging smoking hot ruby red dress and black heels. And as she's explaining to me why she couldn't find the info on her own I'm doing this

I somehow manage to hold it together and find the info she needs. Then I go to her desk and explain how I found it. I gave it to her, she thanked me for my help, yada yada yada... I walked back to my office. And on my way I had this conversation in my head.

Hang out here for a while, I'll help you with anything you need.

The hell is wrong with you, boy? She's old enough to be your mom.

She is in fact a quarter-century my senior. A few months ago, I came in to the office and saw that her station was decorated with birthday signs, balloons, and streamers courtesy of Work Mom.

This was one such sign:

Yeah. She's f*ckin sixty, guys.

Don't judge me.