Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Did Not Suck

I believe that this may have been my most eventful year—it was chock full of unique and first-time experiences.  Some were much more pleasant than others, but I hardly have room to complain.  I got to cross some big-ticket items off of my Bucket List, and a couple of them were things I didn’t even know I wanted to do until they happened!  If I were to really write a Christmas newsletter about myself for this year, it would go something like this:

I Turned 30
It happened in August, and it did not sting nearly as badly as anticipated, so I threw myself a New Wave Dance Party.  So many of our festive and obliging friends joined us to celebrate, decked out in their 80s best.  It was a memorable party that will be hard for me to top; although, I have been toying with the idea of a Depeche Mode party for my 40th.  Hmm, I’ve got time…
She doesn't look a day over 35

My First Grownup House
Kit and I moved into our first house in March--the first house I have lived in since I was at home with my parents.  Getting settled in has been a meaningful experience, and we have hardly had any run-ins with Tommy.  The house is very comfortable and just the perfect size for us plus the pups.  It has proven to be a great venue for parties, which makes me a very happy hostess.  I look forward to many years enjoyed in our home.

 It's adorable.  Admit it.

I Do Weddings
I have years of experience helping coordinate, decorate, and execute wedding ceremonies and receptions; I typically offer my services as a gift to family and close friends.  But one thing I never thought I would be asked, is to officiate a wedding—and it happened THREE times this year!

Back in June, my cousin in Denver asked if I would unite him with his fiancĂ©e, and how do you say no to that!?  It was an absolute honor to stand up with them and perform the ceremony, truly a unique experience that comes around once in a lifetime.  Or so I thought.

Lauren & Will on June 23rd

When word got out that I was performing one cousin’s wedding, another cousin asked me to perform her ceremony in September—so I got to be the Priestess for a second time!  I even wore the same dress, which I coined The Priestess Gown, since it already had good wedding juju on it.

Jen & Justin on September 15th

In December I was asked to perform a third wedding ceremony, and I was happy to oblige.  Kit and I have a dear couple friend, and her mother was planning to get remarried.  They asked if I would help with a small ceremony in their home, and we had a lovely time.  It was an intimate affair with just family and very close friends.

I currently have one wedding on the calendar to officiate in 2013, and I could not be more excited to unite such sweet friends who are absolutely perfect for each other.  I am looking forward to helping them put their ceremony together early next year.

Both Sides of the Operating Table
Earlier this year I actually had the opportunity to observe a surgery!  I was approved for observation privileges, and I was able to witness an actual surgical case.  For job preservation, I cannot say exactly when, where or what the surgery was, but I will tell you that it was simply amazing to witness surgeons do what they do.  I have so much respect for the physicians I have the pleasure of working for—they truly are the best.

Would you let this woman operate on you?
Me neither. 

Disclaimer: I did NOT touch the patient.

In July I began to not feel well.  I thought I had a tummy bug that I was having trouble shaking, but two months of testing and progressively feeling worse finally revealed a bum gallbladder.  On October 4th, I went under the knife for the very first time!  Surgery could not have gone better—I was fortunate to have the Chairman of Surgery perform the procedure, and recovery went quite smoothly.  I was nearly immediately able to tell a major difference, and life is fantastic once again.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend that you have them suck yours out, too.

I don't look as tough in this one.
Full disclosure: (1) I have never been so terrified in my life;
(2) Yes, I did my eyebrows before surgery.  If I had died,
there's no way the funeral director would have gotten them right.

With all of the things we have had going on, it’s no wonder 2012 felt as though it flew by.  We have been busy between traveling and helping others with their important events, while also continuing to get completely settled at our new home.  We hosted our families for Thanksgiving, and our first Christmas in the house was truly a delight.

2013 already promises to be off to an exciting start!  I will be able to reveal much more about that in another week, but I can say that I am going to be a very busy gal and I can hardly wait to dive in!  Thank you for checking out my Christmas Confession series—I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading them even half as much as I enjoyed writing them.  I wish for you a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Crying.

The very same night that our new friends lied to us, we had yet another occurrence.  Kit's roommate had a little dog, which he mostly ignored and she was really shy and neurotic.  He typically kept her in his bedroom, and on this particular night, I was counting on that.  He said that he would keep her put up for our party.

I had made two dozen beautiful cupcakes for the party and had them sitting out with other snacks on my grandmother’s dining table, waiting for us to return from dinner and for the party to officially begin.  When we finished up at the restaurant and returned home, I was quite unpleasantly surprised to learn that not only had he failed to put the dog up like he said he would, but she had also managed to claw her way onto the dining table and ate most of the cupcakes and smooshed/ruined the ones she did not manage to eat.

I started my New Year’s Eve party by crying over smooshed cupcakes.  We had had so many troubles with the roommate, and my emotional outburst must have been an accumulation of emotion from half a year of stress.  And my poor Nana’s dining table!  Every time I change the table cloth, I see the claw scratches on the wood and am reminded of that night.  I am an animal lover, and I have an extra special soft spot for the pups, but I have never in my life come closer to drop kicking a dog off of a balcony.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Lively Newsletter

I have wanted to work on a project with Kit practically since we were first dating.  Eight years later we wrote our first family newsletter together, to send to family and friends at Christmas.  We typically receive Christmas newsletters from lovely families we know, updating us on what they've been up to since the last newsletter we received.  We thought that we could do something similar, except we do not have children nor have we ever accomplished anything.  So we sat down together one evening, and the newsletter nearly wrote itself.  Below is the text of what was sent out and also the family photo that we included...

Ho, Ho, Ho!  Merry Christmas!
It’s the 8th annual Lively Christmas Newsletter!

We hope this note finds all of you jolly and in the Christmas spirit!  Staying with tradition, we would like to update everyone with what we’ve had going on in 2012:

Kit’s Charity!
As many of you may remember, Kit pledged to allow his back hair to grow for the duration of this year so he could then donate the accumulated growth to Locks of Love.  To our surprise they do not accept back hair, but fortunately we were able to bring the bag of clippings down to the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where they make toys that will be donated to underprivileged children who were born without a sense of smell.  It warms our hearts to know these kids will have toys to snuggle this holiday season.

¡New Casa!
We moved into our house back in April, and we have loved the process of getting settled in.  We finally made peace with the ghost, and he has agreed to mostly occupy the unfinished portion of the attic.  We were all, “Are you sure?  Isn’t that like a stereotype to have a ghost in the attic?”  And then he was all, “It’s cool—after almost 80 years, I’m used to it.”  We have been getting used to having a gas stove and furnace, and the house has not yet exploded, so we have been pretty excited about that.  Also, our lawn mower and car battery were stolen earlier in the fall, but that is just part of the charm of living in Oak Cliff.  And besides, now we can do our part to boost the economy by hiring someone to manicure the yard!

Julie’s Evil Twin!
Regular readers of the Annual Lively Newsletter will be relieved to learn that Julie’s twin sister, Vivian, who manages to break out of Ferncliff Home for the Criminally Insane every holiday season in order to assume Julie’s identity, is still presumed dead after the fire back in June.  Although her body has not yet been recovered, authorities seem confident that we can rest easy year.

We were alarmed to recently learn that Vinnie and Reggie no longer believe in Santa.  Apparently they were able to understand when they overheard us discussing their holiday gifts.  Take comfort in knowing that we have altered our vocabulary and began spelling words when we do not want them to know what we are talking about.  The reconditioning process has begun, so hopefully within the next two weeks they will have completely forgotten any doubting words we may have said regarding Santa, and they will be believers again come Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas to our family and friends, near or far!  And Happy New Year!

Lots of love,

Kit, Julie, Vinnie and Reggie

P.S. As this newsletter was going to press, we were contacted by Ferncliff and there have been recent sightings of Vivian in various areas of North Texas.  The authorities still say we should feel safe, as they believe she is not yet aware of our new address.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The New Year's Betrayal

After a year of dating, Kit and I were not quite ready to move in together, so he decided to have a roommate at his condo in Addison.  The roommate was less than ideal—we frequently noticed eviction threats on the door due to his portion of the rent not being paid [and he never let us know that he was short on rent, so the notices on the door were our first indication], and he would even park his car down the street and walk to the condo so the repo man couldn’t reclaim his delinquent vehicle.

The roommate was a writer, which is actually how he and Kit met, and so we knew a lot of the same people and hung around some of the same circles.  We were getting to know two new couples around that time and felt like we had enough in common for the potential of a good friendship.  Since things were tense around the condo and possibly because he felt threatened or a competition for their friendship, the roommate swooped in behind our backs and conjured up a series of untruths, which they chose to believe.

When the holiday season approached, we [Kit, the roommate and I] decided to host a New Year’s Eve party at the condo and invite all of our friends, including the two new couples, and we were completely unaware of what they were told or that they thought we were jerks.  The plan was to invite a few people out to dinner first, then we would all head back to the condo and all of our other friends would join the party later that evening.

The two couples initially said they would be at the dinner as well as our party, then as the holiday neared they all suddenly had “other plans” – one couple needed to get their car fixed [really?] and the other either said they weren’t feeling well or couldn’t be out late, etc., but they all would still be able to join us for the dinner portion of the evening.  No big deal; we would still have plenty of people at our house party, and New Year’s Eve is one of those tricky holidays where people sometimes have multiple options or they may opt to stay closer to home.  My feelings were not hurt and I did not think much about it…until the roommate also happened upon “other plans”.  Our co-host was also bailing on the party.

We later learned that these two couples ended up throwing their own house party and invited the roommate to tag along, you know, since he was so abused and mistreated at home.  I am still curious to know why they would even come to our dinner if they did not like us at the time.

That next spring, we ran into one of the couples at a con, and they had spent enough time with the roommate to see his true colors shining through.  They had come to realize that we were not the bad guys, and they wanted to be friends with us.  We only teased them a time or two about lying to us on New Year’s Eve, and we have been friends with the group ever since.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tell It Like It Is

The best secular Christmas song ever written is Winter Wonderland, and the most brilliant version of this song is performed by Eurythmics.  It had to be said.  And the first time I remember hearing it, it came from a giant, silver boom box that was being carried down the hallway of a retirement home in the very early 1990s.  From the ages of 10 to about 13, I would go with my aunt and cousin every year to sing Christmas carols to elderly folks.

My aunt’s aerobics class would arrange it, and they let my cousin and me join them.  One of the ladies in the group would put together a mix tape of festive ditties for us to sing along, and we would walk the halls with hopes of spreading cheer around the retirement home.  My cousin and I would wear our most rad and obnoxious holiday sweaters, of course with jewelry that jingled.  As a kid, I thought of it more as a fun thing to do with my cousin [and some of the other ladies would have their cute sons come with us, too, heeeeeeey], but we were also there paying attention to people who might not otherwise get a visit during the season.

Some of the residents of the home would get up and go down the halls with us to sing and be part of the excitement, and we would help those in wheel chairs that wanted to join us, too.  Every time I hear this particular version of the song, it reminds me of walking those halls and seeing faces light up as we would come in singing with candy and hugs to share.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chi-Chi-Chi Chia

My brother and I had a brilliant idea for Mom's Christmas gift one year—I was 9, which made my brother 6—we were going to get her a Chia Pet!  We saw the commercials and knew how much she loved her plants, so we put our money together and got one.  We had it wrapped up so pretty and under the tree, and she really seemed excited when she opened it on Christmas morning.  But then we noticed that she never really took it out of the box or attempted growing it, and the box even disappeared by sometime in February.

It was that spring when we discovered her beloved Chia Pet on a shelf in the garage.  Surely this was a mistake!  When we asked Dad about it, he assured us that Mom loved the gift we had given her and suggested that we wrap it up and give it to her again on her birthday as a reminder.  So, in April we did just that.  Mom seemed so excited all over again to re-receive her Christmas gift, which was now her birthday gift, but we never saw her do anything with it.

Around Christmastime that year, we actively went looking for the Chia Pet and actually found it in Mom's bedroom closet.  She clearly did not have the heart to throw it away, but we were baffled as to why she never grew it—it was so cool!  We snuck it down from her closet shelf, wrapped it up and gave it to her for Christmas again.  Since Dad didn’t know about our scheme, he had a great laugh when Mom opened her gift for a third time.

This became a running joke in our house; we would wrap that Chia Pet for Mom for another three or four Christmases, but I am sure she finally threw it away at some point.  I am now tempted to get a new one and have it for her under the tree this year.  Since we haven’t done this in over 15 years, I am sure she would not suspect a thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blue Christmas

I LOATHE Elvis Christmas songs, especially Blue Christmas.  I can hardly stand those “Ooh-OOH-OOH-ooh”-ing girls in the background.  I would look forward to punching them in the throat if I ever encountered one of them, except for the probability that they’re dead now.

Anyway, what disturbs me most about the whole thing is that every time I hear the song on the radio, I make myself listen to it.  I cringe and I’m sure I roll my eyes or make a horrible face the entire time, but for some reason I have to hear the entire damn thing just so I can despise it completely.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Confession #11

Today I have decided to repost a story that brought me much embarrassment, but I love sharing it.  I posted this story to my blog in 2011, but I thought it would be appropriate to retell it at Christmastime.  I hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Cried When I Wrote This

I grew up listening to the Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait album on vinyl.  One of my earliest holiday memories must have been when I was four or five and dancing to this album in our living room, which was lit solely by our Christmas tree.  I was wearing one of my white silk full-length slips because I thought it was prettier than the dress I was wearing over it.  It was trimmed in lace and I felt so elegant in it.  I also remember wearing black patent leather shoes that clicked when I walked—this was very important to me, as it made me feel like a big girl.

I remember my mom had candles lit, I even remember how the house smelled, and I danced in the living room to the music around the tree and felt that all-filled-up feeling in my heart that used to happen so often when I was little.  The best way I can describe it is a completely and overwhelmingly pure feeling of carefree excitement, almost how I would describe being high.  I absorbed the music and was so innocent and joyful.

It broke my heart to learn that we experience that feeling less and less as we become an adult.  Every few years I get a glimpse of it, but it is nothing like it used to be.  If they bottled and sold it, I would spend all of my money on it—it is the best feeling in the world.  Please don’t tell me heroin does this.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another [Local] Celebrity Tale

The same year I was working at the card and stationery shop at NorthPark, a local celebrity [who was on the news and radio at the time, and she also married someone else who was on the news] came into the store with a friend the week after Christmas when we were having a “Buy One, Get One Free” promotion on holiday-related items.

After browsing the store for about 10 minutes, she brought one item to the register.  “I would like to get this item.  Can I get it for 50% off?” she asked.  I gently told her that she could pay full price for this item and take another one with her for free.  “But I only want one.  I think it is ridiculous that I have to buy two to get the discount.”

I apologized and reminded her that the sale was for “Buy one, get one free,” not “Everything is 50% off,” as I was gazing at the magnificent diamond on her finger.  Knowing what she and her husband did for a living, she could clearly afford to spring for full price, then give the free item to someone else.  Or keep it.  I really didn’t care.

So why was she being like this over a few dollars?  Because she could.  She was a self-important entitled person who was probably used to being recognized around town and then having her ass kissed for gracing people with her presence.  And because of me, she was not going to get her way this time.

After another moment of back and forth, she not-so-gently set the item on the counter and said, “Keep it.”  I wished her and her friend a pleasant afternoon as they left the store, but they did not turn around or answer me.  The lady next in line approached the counter, put her items down and asked if I could believe their nerve.  I shook my head and told her that I refused to give [silly former local celebrity] the satisfaction of knowing who she was.  The woman laughed, and I rang her up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

White Elephant Games, Part Two – “There Were No Laughs”

Despite my better judgment, I participated once again in the “game” at my office the next year, and I was actually winning!  I had just scored a beautiful hors d’oeuvres/cheese and cracker tray.  The tray was brown with five different colored dishes on it—a larger square in the middle and then four rectangle-shaped ones around it.  I collect Fiestaware, particularly one dish, bowl, cup, etc. of each color, so the tray was especially perfect and would go with everything in my kitchen.

I was clearly meant to be the rightful owner of this tray—which is exactly what I was trying to explain to the nurse who was stealing it away from me.  I know I sat and pouted [never mind the fact that Santa was watching], and in the moment I didn’t care if I looked like a poor sport.  I was genuinely upset about being separated from something to which I had immediately become attached.

That year I ended up with a “Laugh-A-Day Doctor Humor” daily calendar.  There were no laughs.  The jokes weren’t even funny as flipped through the days.  I lost yet again.

That next week I arrived at my office to a beautifully wrapped box on my desk with a card that simply read “Enjoy”.  I opened the package to find my hors d’oeuvres tray inside!  We were reunited!  I welled up over how generous and thoughtful the nurse had been, and then I immediately felt like the world’s biggest brat about it all.  I will say this—that tray looks fantastic on my table.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Those Two and Their Traditions

This year will be the seventh that my husband and I have Christmas Eve dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Ferrari’s Italian Villa, in Addison.  It is where he took me on one of our first dates, and I immediately fell in love…with the restaurant.  Aside from the exquisite food, the ambience and people are equally delightful.  Every time a guest walks in, the owners, Francesco, or his wife, Jane, greet you at the door.  He always kisses my hand, and she hugs me and kisses me on the cheek—it’s like you are part of the family and they’re welcoming you home.

In their main dining room, they have a large, white Christmas tree decorated all in red that hangs upside down from the high ceiling and slowly rotates.  This is what stood out most to me the first year we went for Christmas Eve dinner—I had never seen that anyplace else.

Last year was the first time that we invited a couple of our closest friends to join us; up until then, we had always gone alone for one last quiet date night before the madness of the Christmas and New Year’s rush.  It truly added to our enjoyment of an evening we always look forward to, to now share with our dear friends, and I would love to make it part of our annual ritual this year and hopefully for many years to come.

We were last there around our anniversary in October, and as we said our goodbyes to Jane, I said on our way out the door, “Thank you!  We’ll see you on Christmas Eve!” and I heard her say to some entering patrons as the door was closing, “Those two and their traditions…”

Monday, December 10, 2012

White Elephant Games, Part One - "The Year of the Snuggie"

I do not like White Elephant Gift Exchanges, Chinese Christmas, or whatever you would like to call it.  There are three things you should know about me:

1.       I take games very seriously, to the point that they stress me out.
2.       I do not lose gracefully.
3.       I always lose at White Elephant Gift Exchanges.

Several years ago I participated in one such “game” at my office.  It was the year of the Snuggie, and I had this grand idea to bring one to watch everyone’s faces as one unknowing victim opened it.  I fantasized about pointing and shouting “Sucker!” as they realized what they had selected, but I had no such luck.  They collectively gasped in awe [not horror!?] when it was opened.  Co-workers and physicians took turns stealing the Snuggie and even tried bargaining to trade their gift for it.

When it was my turn to select a gift, I went for a medium-sized [don’t always go for the largest gift on the table—trust me, I have been tricked before], nicely wrapped box.  Someone obviously put effort into it.  Everyone watched as I opened yet another damn Snuggie.  My irony was not only lost, but it slapped me in the face.  Thankfully one of the other goobers in my office swiftly stole it away from me.

That year I ended up with a two-pound box of licorice.  Who the hell thinks it is ok to bring licorice anywhere, much less as a gift?  Even if they did it as a joke, I interpreted it as pure evil.  It was then that I wanted my Snuggie back, as I knew it was at least worth $15.  Four years later, I have come to realize that I may not get to the bottom of this, but the person responsible better pray I never find out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Call the Exorcist

I had an upper respiratory infection during my Sophomore year of high school, and I was on a strong [blue] antibiotic.  On Sunday morning, I was running behind getting ready for church with my parents, so I skipped breakfast, popped my antibiotic, and we were out the door.  About half-way through the homily, my empty stomach took a turn for the worse.  I had that all too familiar feeling where a warm wave came over me and I was suddenly coated in sweat.  And then I felt the inching up sensation of something inside of me that insisted on coming out.

I ran outside just in time to vomit blue all over the front church steps.  By the time I finally finished and made my way to the bathroom to regain composure and freshen up, Mass had ended.  So I didn’t even get to see the congregation’s reaction to what they discovered as they exited Sunday services.

Oh, this was supposed to be related to Christmas?  Ok.  I believe it was later that year when I made my Confirmation, which satisfied my parents and then they no longer made me practice Catholicism.  Even though I no longer choose to attend church with regularity, I will say that Christmas Eve Mass is absolutely beautiful and it is my preferred service to attend when I do.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Orange Faced and Oh So Proud

I believe I was 11 when I received my first gift of makeup for Christmas.  For those who missed the early 90s or weren’t a tween at the time, Tinkerbell was a brand of cheap cosmetics geared towards those who shouldn’t yet be wearing makeup.  I received a boxed set complete with a compact and powder, a hot pink lipstick, and some perfume that I wish I could remember.  I am sure it was awful, and I am equally sure that I loved it.

I don’t even think they made shades of the powder—it was like a one-size-fits-all of foundation.  It came in a lovely beige-orange color which had to look horrendous on anyone, but especially on a transparently white ginger girl with freckles.  I could hardly contain myself after opening this menagerie of beauty products and immediately ran to the bathroom to fix my new, grown up face.  It was so much fun putting the powder on—so I did it twice!

For some reason, my parents decided to let me leave the house looking like a clown, and it was onto Nana and Papa’s house we went for Christmas with the family.  I brought my compact and lipstick with me to show off to my cousins, and also so I could touch up and reapply. All.Day.Long.  I am sure I looked [and smelled!] like a pre-teen hooker, but I felt pretty and had a blast.

Thankfully, my mom only let me play with the makeup on days that I wasn’t going to school; I am sure that was to keep us both out of trouble.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Lived in a Mansion

For one month.  When I was 22.  I used to work for a wedding and event coordinator, and through the years I got to meet many interesting people.  Working events at venues,  you get to know the owners, and there was one couple in particular who owned an exquisite Plantation-style monster of a home in the country outside of Waxahachie.  It was a popular indoor/outdoor venue for weddings and parties—we had worked events there, and we had been guests there as well.  I was fond of the owners, and at the time I believe they were fond of me, too.

They were going back home on holiday [he was from Italy and she was from England], and they asked if I would like to stay in their home to keep an eye on things from mid-December to mid-January.  Um, fuck yeah I would.  Kit and I had only been dating a few months, and he was kind enough to drive all the way down from Richardson most nights to stay with me so I wouldn’t be alone in the gianormous house.

While they were away, the couple asked that I not host parties in their home, I was to stay on the ground floor of the house, take care of their dog [a large black Labrador], and keep things in order—they even had their maid come in and change my sheets and pick up after me!  So naturally, the first weekend there, I hosted a party and it mostly took place upstairs.  They had an amazing upstairs media room—we had to go up there to watch movies!  And they had a fantastic balcony/wrap-around porch upstairs—like we weren’t going to hang out on that.

During that month, I managed to break their stove, their dog ran away, and I also broke one of the tobacco pipes in his collection [it was a freak accident during an epic photo op including his giant old man glasses, which I managed to not break].  A week after their return, she stopped by my place of business to return a pair of man undies that had been left at the house.  I wasn’t asked to house sit for them again, and I heard they moved back to Europe some time later.  I would like to think it wasn’t because of me, but I am not completely certain.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wrap Star

I had the misfortune of working retail for four years of my life.  If you are looking to completely avoid any sprinkle of holiday cheer, if you loathe the feeling of being in the “Christmas spirit,” then consider working in a store at Christmastime.  You will lose faith in humanity and possibly even yourself.  The final year I worked retail, it was for an upscale card and stationery shop at NorthPark.

I headed up the custom printing division, so I was slammed from mid-November through the first week of December with orders for holiday greetings.  Once the Christmas card craze died down, I mostly helped with various projects around the store, and since I had a knack for gift wrapping, I would volunteer to wrap gifts when a customer requested it.

One morning, a member of a prominent Dallas family brought in all of their packages from various fancy stores and boutiques around the mall and asked if I would wrap them up.  I had wrapped for them before, but nothing like this—it took me two full working days, wrapping around 10 hours straight each day, to complete the project.

I admit that I am a weirdo who actually enjoys wrapping boxes and making bows, but I was beyond relieved when this task was finally finished.  My fingertips ached for the next couple of days from pinching perfectly straight and crisp lines along every edge of every box and from making dozens of bows from ribbon.  When they came to pick up their packages and as I was ringing them up, I thought to myself, “It must be nice to be able to spend hundreds of dollars for someone else to wrap your Christmas gifts for you.”  And I quit that job two months later in pursuit of something better.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Twisted Peppermint Schnapps

Someone recently gave me one of the “Twisted Peppermint” holiday-themed travel-sized anti-bacterial gels. That was a lot of hyphens.  I believe rubbing your hands together is what helps dissipate the alcohol and brings out whatever scent you actually paid for.  Every time I pop up the cap and squeeze some into my palm, I have to take a deep whiff before rubbing it in.  As I breathed in the potent alcohol and peppermint combination, I was magically whisked back to high school—when I would sneak out of my house and go drink peppermint schnapps with boys who were too old to be hanging out with a 16 year old girl.

A friend of mine and I would either sneak out or tell our parents that we were spending the night at the other’s house, and then we would go to her boyfriend’s house, where a motley crew would gather and peppermint schnapps and clove cigarettes were consumed.  The rightful owner of the house was the father of my friend’s boyfriend.  He was an alcoholic that would often be passed out somewhere in the house, or, better yet, he was awake and ready to entertain us.  He would sing Garth Brooks songs and speak random nonsense.  In hindsight, it is kind of messed up that we were hanging out with this guy, but we were teenagers at the time and he made us laugh.

Despite deceiving our parents regarding our whereabouts [and aside from the occasional swig of booze or smoking a cigarette], it was a relatively innocent time—we would play video games, watch movies, and mostly just hang out.  We felt like we were bad just because we had snuck out of our houses or lied about where we were spending the night.  And in the morning, we would go home.

I was “sleeping in” one Sunday morning, which was really just me sleeping from being up/out the entire previous night, and my dad was mowing the front lawn.  He seemed confused when he came back in the house, wondering how my window screen had fallen off of my window—I must’ve not done a stellar job of putting it back on when I got home a few hours earlier.  So I played dumb and acted equally confused, “Yeah, how did that happen?  SO weird.”

Years later, when I no longer lived at home [and I was certain that the statute of parental limitations had expired], I confessed my dishonesty and semi-rebellious teenaged adventures.  Looking back, we really were fortunate that no one took advantage of the situation or misbehaved, and even the alcoholic father was mild mannered and typically in jovial spirits.  Also, I don’t think I will ever have the desire to drink peppermint schnapps again.  Blech.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Birthday Hit and Run

We kept Kit’s birthday low-key this year.  It fell on Easter Sunday, so he requested that we go out another night for a steak dinner, only inviting a couple of others.  I went to our favorite bakery that afternoon and picked up a dozen cupcakes—they were perfect.  I brought them home and put them in the refrigerator while we relaxed at the house.

We got ready later that afternoon and headed out for the restaurant.  I was driving my truck northbound on I-35E and we were approaching the 35/183 split.  We were veering to the right to remain on 35 and I noticed an older gold sedan to our left that was getting a little closer, little closer and before I could do anything about it, they hit us!  They must have not meant to get on 183 and at the last minute they attempted to merge onto 35.  The problem, of course, was that we were already occupying that lane, so they merged into us instead.

They hit the left side of my truck in four areas, which, while going 70 miles per hour on the highway, sent my truck flying across three lanes of traffic and somehow we ended up on 183.  It is still amazing to me, how I managed to maintain control of the truck.  We are so thankful that there wasn’t an 18-wheeler or other vehicle in one of those lanes where we ricocheted; things could have been much worse.  I pulled onto the shoulder of the highway, we stopped and got out to survey damage.  My otherwise perfect 11 year old truck now has battle wounds all up her left side, and it actually looks surprisingly minor for how hard we were hit.

No one stopped.  I can see how it would be difficult to stop on a highway, especially where two highways split, but I was still disappointed.  The gold sedan kept going along 35 and we were not able to get any specific information on them to report it.  My truck still ran just fine, so we decided to get back on track and continue on to the restaurant.  We were only about 10 minutes behind.  I remained calm and was curious as to how I hadn’t reacted much from what had just happened.  I was actually impressed with my ability to handle things in an emergency and proud of how I held it together.

We finally arrived at the restaurant, where we had family and a couple of friends waiting for us.  I handed off the box of cupcakes to the hostess, who said she would bring them out later.  We sat down and began retelling the story of our eventful trip when the restaurant manager approached me.  “Could you come with me for a moment, ma’am?” he asked.  I had no idea what this guy could have wanted.  My first reaction to this type of question typically is, “Oh, shit.  What did I do wrong?  I am not packing heat and I didn’t bring any drugs with me today."  I decided this issue wasn't with me personally.  Whew.

The manager brought me to the bar area, where the bartender had our box of cupcakes.  The manager said, “I just wanted you to see this, so you don’t think we did it.  This is what they were like when you brought them to us.”  The cupcakes were demolished.  Of course I wasn’t thinking about them through the wreck—the box didn’t tip over or anything, but the cupcakes all came out of their slots and flew around and smooshed in the box.  I felt the need to explain myself, “We were just in a wreck on the highway on our way here, and that is how this happened.”  We were just in a wreck that could have easily put us in the hospital or worse.  Saying it out loud and seeing the ruined cupcakes prompted me to begin blubbering in front of him.  The bartender came over and asked if I was alright.  I began to tell her what happened, I started crying again, and then she began crying, too!  The bartender hugged me and we cried together over my smooshed cupcakes and highway wreck.

I soon excused myself to the ladies room where I finished being upset, I put myself back together and was back at the table with my loved ones.  We ended up having a very pleasant dinner and time together.  Thankfully everything is alright, although I still get slightly nervous on the highway when I see someone approaching me on the left…

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Chocolate Chip Hooptie

I saw something amazing today.  I wish that I would have been able to snap a photo to share, but unfortunately it didn't work out--so my description will have to do for now, along with the lame makeshift illustration I just made.

A car pulled out in front of us on our way to work this morning.  It was an old hooptie, must've been a Buick or Cadillac--light tan with COOKIES painted on it.  All over it.  And on the side of the car it read "Chocolate Chip" in gangsta-style letters.

There was no telephone number or website to indicate that this was someone's small business and they were advertising on the cheap.  This guy just really loves chocolate chip cookies, and he wants everyone on the road to know.  Kit chuckled and shook his head about me making such a big deal out of the situation, so I reminded him that this is the exact reason we moved to Oak Cliff.  So we could see some neat shit.

I pray that I encounter Chocolate Chip again so I can get a photo and you can also witness the greatness.  I haven't laughed that hard on the way to work on a Monday morning since...ever.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The House Ghost

Odd Occurrences Before the Move

The first time we visited the house, it was a cold and windy afternoon in mid-February.  We explored all over the ground floor, upstairs in the loft, the backyard, and we ended up in the living room with our realtor.  While we were standing there, the front door opened on its own.  I didn’t think too much of it because of the wind, until that following week…

It was the next Wednesday when I received word that the house was ours for the taking.  My realtor called me and said that he had just emailed the agreement to me.  He advised me to print it out, review it with Kit, and then turn everything in, along with our deposit, the next day.  I just happened to be home this day, so I immediately went to our computer and proceeded to print out the 28-page document.  About seven or eight pages in, the computer shut itself off.  I thought it was a bit odd, but I powered the computer back up and found the place where the printing stopped.  I resumed printing, and several pages later, the computer shut itself off once more.  I was beginning to get weirded out, but I figured there must be a logical explanation for it.

I powered up the computer again, found the place where the printing had stopped and resumed printing for a third time.  Several pages later, the printer stopped—it was suddenly out of ink.  I had to run out to the store to purchase more cartridges, and then the remainder of the agreement finally printed without trouble.  I stacked the agreement neatly and placed it on our coffee table in the living room, then I went back to our dining room where I had been packing some dishes and other things we weren’t going to use prior to the move.

Vinnie and Reggie’s crates were also located in the dining room, so the pups were there with me.  For most of February, we had unseasonably mild weather, and I had windows and the patio doors open.  While packing, I heard someone’s television turn on—I figured I could hear it since the patio doors were open.  It was an hour or so later when I finished what I intended to pack that day, and I went into our bedroom to discover that it was actually our television that had been turned on.  I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up—I hadn’t been in our bedroom since that morning, and nothing like this has ever happened before.  If a neighbor’s remote could have somehow triggered our television to turn on, you would think that it would've happened some other time in the seven years we had lived there.  But no, this was the first time, and I was home alone.  I unplugged the bedroom television, and we didn't use it the rest of our time at the condo—and, thankfully, it never turned itself on again.

Any of that day’s events, on their own, could be filed under coincidence; however, all of those occurrences in conjunction, and within only a couple of hours’ time, had me beginning to believe I was receiving some sort of sign.  Could there be a presence that either didn’t want us in its house, or a presence that simply didn’t want us to leave the condo?

I spoke with my dad and with a close friend, and [whether they meant it or not] they both told me that, while these events were indeed oddly timed, they should not be a determining factor on whether or not we move out of the condo and into the house.  I was frustrated because I was completely freaked out [I still get goosebumps now just remembering how I felt that afternoon], but I really, really wanted the house.  We opted to proceed with the move.

Odd Occurrences Since the Move

The house was built in 1933—it’s 79 years old.  We have adjusted to some of the house’s settling noises and hardwood floor creaks, but there have been a few weird noises that have gone unexplained.  Closet doors open themselves, lights are the opposite of how we remember leaving them—we find some on, that we are sure we had turned off, or vice versa.  The attic door is accessed through the loft, and I’ve seen it sitting open after I’ve closed and locked it earlier in the same day.

Thankfully, I was not at the house to witness the creepiest event which occurred last Saturday morning.  I was out at the market and the pups were still in the bedroom with Kit, who was still snoozin’.  Kit heard one of their toys squeak in the living room—no one else was in the house, and the toys have never squeaked on their own before.  I would have lost my shit if that happened on my watch.

We have not heard a voice telling us to “Get out!” or noticed any bleeding from the walls, so hopefully things will be alright.  I can cohabitate with a spirit, as long as it is not evil and means no harm, it stays up in Kit’s loft, and it doesn’t keep opening the damn attic door and running up my electric bill.  And if it doesn’t turn on the gas and explode the house, that would be great, too.

Why can’t it just go live with Tommy in the garage!?

Possible Origins

I had dinner with a close friend a few weeks before we moved into the house.  In my excitement of the pending move, I was showing him photos of the house and explaining the layout when he interrupted me to get clarification on its location and neighborhood.  I explained where it was, and he began asking questions about the layout—“…right, so from the living room, there is a hallway with the guest bath here, the master bedroom there, and then the loft is over this way, right?”  He knew this house.  He had been there before—a lot more than he led me to believe initially [Which I found out recently.  Yeah, that’s right, I know how much you were really in that house, Friend!].

Apparently, 8-10+ years ago, someone owned the house and it was quite a popular venue for parties.  Parties = Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll…lots of all of those, and not necessarily in that order.  And I bet there was booze, too!  My friend revealed that he had been to the house for a party or two back then, and he had engaged in acts of paramour while there.  In my house.

A friend of mine had relations in my house before I did.  It was quite funny to think about, while trying not to think too far into detail about it, that this had all transpired.  What a coincidence!  Who knew I would find this house 10 years later and decide to live in it.

Due to the oddity of it all, my friend shared this information with some mutual friends, and word got around.  I was out shopping one Sunday afternoon when I received a text from one of these mutual friends which read, “Girl, I’m going to bring some sage for us to burn out those 90s gay sex ghosts from your house!”  When I finished peeing my pants, I told him that I may need to take him up on that offer.

We may never know the exact origin of our house ghost, but if it has anything to do with the wild gay parties of the 90s, that would at least explain why the closet doors randomly open.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Midnight Intruder

We fell asleep in the living room last night watching television.  Sometime around midnight, we woke up just enough to turn out lights and waddle ourselves to the bedroom.  Kit, Vin and I laid in bed, drifting back off to sleep, and Reggie was nestled in his "night-night" crate next to the bed.

It was completely dark and silent when I suddenly heard the tap, tap, tapping of claws walking on the hardwood floors in our bedroom.  At first I had assumed that Vinnie jumped off of the bed and was roaming around the room.  To check, I stretched my leg towards the foot of the bed.  When my toes touched fur, I knew Vinnie was laying with us.  So what the hell was on our floor?

My insane imagination began conjuring up ideas about what had somehow gotten into the house and was preparing to devour us in our slumber--I narrowed it down to either a squirrel or a giant rat.  Oh, God, what if it had been a possum!?  If it were a rat, it would've been absolutely huge because it sounded like the animal had to weigh several pounds.  Whatever it was, I was almost certain it had rabies.

I told Kit to stand on the bed to turn on the ceiling fan light so we could see what we were dealing with—I had no idea what to do if either of those animals were actually standing in our room.  Some people stash firearms and cash between their mattresses; thoughts were racing through my mind about, "if only I had thought to keep a net and tranquilizer gun there for this very moment…"  That would have been convenient.

The animal intruder must have known where we were in the room—it must have heard us talking—because it approached our bed to greet attack us.  It turned out to be Reggie, wagging his tail and surely wondering why no one had put him to bed.  Kit and I both assumed that the other had put him up for the night.  It took a while, but my heart finally stopped pounding and I was able to drift back off to sleep.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Tommy Situation

Another couple walked into the house to view it while we were there for our first visit back in February.  I had already declared it mine in my mind—it immediately felt like home right when we walked in.  So the race was on.  We needed to beat them to the realtor’s office with our completed applications and the application fee to get first dibs on being considered.  I hadn’t washed my hair, so I was wearing a hat—it was one of the actually cold days we got in Dallas this winter, and it was sooooooo windy.

I insisted on going home to sit down and complete the applications, and while we were there I could wash my hair to look more presentable to the realtor [if anything was going to win this house for us, it was going to be my hair].  We got freshened up, completed the applications, purchased a money order for the application fee and we were on our way back downtown.

The realtor’s office is in the Lakewood area, and even though I’m familiar, his office happened to be on the opposite side of the large building from where we parked.  We weathered the bitterly cold wind in the shade of the building and made our way around to the sunny side where his office was.  My hair still looked great, don’t worry.  So we went in, all excited and confident that we beat our competitors to the finish.

The realtor came out of his office to greet us, and we were all grinny when he told us that we were the first applicants to arrive—all we had to do was pass inspection and the house was ours!  I wasn’t too worried about that part, so we had a win as far as I was concerned.  I gushed about the house to the realtor and elaborated on a few of its features that I really appreciated and assured him that we would be very happy there.

The realtor said with a smirk, “Yeah, it is a lovely house; the main thing that sometimes turns people off is The Tommy Situation.”  The only logical question to ask was, “What is The Tommy Situation?”  The realtor went on to explain that Tommy comes with the house as a package deal—he is an older fellow who lives in the garage, which has been converted into an efficiency apartment.  He said that Tommy is quiet and keeps to himself; he will get one covered parking space and we will get the other.

My immediate knee jerk response was discouragement.  Part of my excitement about living in a house after living in a condo for so long, is the added benefit of finally having a yard and a garage.  Now, not only do we not have a garage, but only one of our vehicles will be covered.  Even at the condos right now, both vehicles are covered.

I still really wanted to live in the house, but having a property-mate was not at all something I had anticipated as a possibility.  Should we continue to pursue this?  Was this a deal breaker?  I decided to go to the most level-headed and rational person I know for advice—my dad, the cop.  Daddy brought up great points about Tommy being older, so he will probably be at home more often and able to keep an eye on the property while we’re away.  And if we had an emergency, Tommy would be a built-in neighbor who could possibly lend a hand.

That next week, once we found out the house was ours if we wanted it, I had a few questions for the realtor—like, is Tommy going to pop up in the backyard at one of our barbecues?  And is Tommy going to be sitting at my dining table reading the paper when I get up on Saturday mornings?  The realtor assured me that the only property access to which Tommy is privy, is the garage apartment and one parking spot in the carport.  He said that Tommy will have zero access to the house proper, and he will not be in the backyard—and the backyard shed is our storage space solely.

So we completed the agreement, paid our deposits and are less than a week away from the move [why am I not packing right now?!].  We plan to make one last visit out to the house today to clear some shed space, take a couple of final measurements, and finally meet Tommy.  Since we made up our minds to be positive about it, we have let our imaginations run amuck with the possibilities.  Is Tommy a superhero?  Is he a serial killer?  We have absolutely no idea, but we are so excited to find out!  I personally have pictured him as Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons—I hope I’m not let down.  He better be in overalls this afternoon because I’m coming over!