Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes First (even if you want to tell the whole holiday season to suck it)

I'm writing this for my new friend, Suldog, who writes fabulous blog entries that I need a thesaurus to interpret but inspires me to be a better - or at least a more loquacious yet articulate - writer (like that?!).

Sully hates the fact that Christmas is now officially celebrated for a quarter of the year.  And I tend to agree, although for slightly different reasons.

It used to be when I was a kid that I looked forward to Thanksgiving for the pure reliable family traditions.  Every year, me and my mom, dad and brother would walk up the street to my grandparents' house for the yearly Thanksgiving feast.  The men would watch football while the women finished up the meal preparations.  Around 2:00, everybody would sit down to turkey, potatoes, cranberries, rolls and some kind of veggie/fruit jello mold thing.

To this day, Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without a mystery-fruit jello mold.

After dinner, everybody would lay around like giant slugs, maybe play a game of Scrabble or cards and then reconvene in the living room for pumpkin pie and the inevitable showing of The Ten Commandments or The Sound of Music on TV.

There was a lot of comfort in this familiarity.  Family spending time together before the advent of cell phones and Twitter.

The next day, you would start to see traces of Christmas here and there.  Christmas lights on the neighbors' houses, candles and poinsettias in church, holiday trees in the department stores.  Christmas had officially begun.

The sales circulars didn't show up in the newspaper until Thanksgiving Day.  It was fun to sit around after Thanksgiving dinner with a 10-pound newspaper and piece together an imaginary Christmas list.

But Thanksgiving always came first.

I don't know exactly when it started to happen, but Christmas started to creep.  Some years ago, I noticed that stores started to kick-off the season the day after Halloween.  And then it started before Halloween.  In a year or two, I imagine that we will start to hear Santa Claus is Coming to Town on July 5th.

This year, I admit, I haven't paid much attention to the holiday creep.  But now with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's hard to ignore.  Something about being newly single again tends to make the holidays seem not so warm and fuzzy, and more like a axe hanging over one's neck.

Perspective changes everything.

To me it's not so much that Christmas is taking over, it's that I don't want to deal with the holidays... period.  How does starting it so much earlier sound like a good idea to anybody...except maybe Best Buy?

The holidays as an adult are tough as it is - parties you don't want to go to, gift-exhanges for people you don't like, forced jolliness, fruit cake.  Add into it the pressure to singly provide a fun and memorable holiday for a 11-year old when money is tight and your entire family lives 2000 miles away, and the holidays are downright frightening.

I'm not in the mood for the neighbors who never took down the Christmas lights from last year but turned them on the day after Halloween with a "look how on top of things we are, fuckers".

I don't want to hear Christmas music on the radio before Thanksgiving...or Halloween...or the first day of school.  It's bad enough to be depressed and flipping through the radio stations and have to deal with occasionally landing on the easy listening radio station that plays "all love songs all the time" - or as the newly single like to refer to as "stick-your-head-in-the-oven love songs".  But throw in deck the halls and chestnuts roasting and Frosty and I'm ready to forego something as elaborate as the oven and head straight to the George Foreman grill to see what kind of damage I can inflict there.  I'm not sure I know how to use the oven anyway.

Let's not move this shit up on the calendar any earlier than we absolutely need to!  Sheesh.

But there are things for which I am grateful and I will remind myself of those things on Thursday when everybody takes a break from a full month of Black Friday and gorges themselves on turkey and jello molds.

I am thankful for my amazing 11-year old daughter who, with one smile, makes me forget everything else.

I am thankful for my friend, B, who has had pity on me and invited the me and the Princess to Thanksgiving dinner because she knows that we are alone and I don't cook and I'm a vegetarian and the Princess should definitely not have to suffer without turkey and would likely be served Oscar Meyer processed turkey if we didn't go to B's.  (Note to B - shall I bring the jello mold?)

I'm thankful that the Princess's Christmas list has gone down from "everything in the Pottery Barn Teen catalog please" to a pair of Uggs and a new cell phone.

I am thankful that I have a job.  And that I have a job that only makes me want to stab myself in the eyeball with a fork about half the time.

I am thankful I have good friends who still love me even when I'm sad and anti-social.

I am thankful that I don't have any cavities.

I am thankful for my friend K, who let me cry on her shoulder even though she was 3000 miles away.  And then I forgot her birthday, making me the worst friend EVER.

I am thankful that I have my health and good shoes.

Even though I will likely only receive a hand-knitted slightly crooked Princess-made scarf for Christmas, I am thankful that I will be receiving a hand-knitted slightly crooked Princess-made scarf for Christmas.

And I am thankful that I know when I am coming dangerously close to insufferable self-pity.

So for candy canes until after the tofu turkey.  No Christmas shopping until after the actual Black Friday (or the next paycheck, more likely).  No holiday music...ever.

I'm going to stop and be thankful.

And then I can be a Grinch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Touch my junk" and other reasons to feel better about the world in general

I was fully planning on sulking for a while longer, but then I heard the airport security tale of John Tyner.  And nothing will temporarily pull me out of a funk faster than hearing somebody bitch about TSA security processes.

In case you haven't heard, John Tyner - a software engineer from San Diego – chose to “opt-out” of the new and improved full-body naked airport scanners and was asked to submit to the new and improved full-body pat down by a TSA agent.  Mr. Tyner decided, that, no, he didn't want his crotch grabbed by a complete stranger, told them so and offered to go through the regular metal detector like most of the other passengers.  The conversation soon escalated and Mr. Tyner was told that he not only couldn’t board his flight, but also couldn’t leave the airport AND he was likely now subject to civil charges and a $10,000 fine.  Mr. Tyner left the airport.

The best part is that he recorded everything on his cell phone and now the phrase “touch my junk” can be inserted into polite conversation.  


You can read the first-hand account through this link.

Much like the Jet Blue guy who grabbed a beer and exited his plane via inflatable ramp, Mr. Tyner has received both resounding praise for his actions, and loud derision. 

I, for one, am a fan.

I started writing about my experiences with TSA at the San Jose airport back in September.  Back then – which I can now refer to safely as “the good ol’ days" – my biggest issue was continuously setting off the security metal detector with my underwire bra and having to face a friendly “back of the hand along the boobs” pat-down to ensure that I hadn’t stuffed an uzi or exploding breath mints in my bra.

Then it was the backscatter scanners – or the porno scanners as I've now heard them lovingly referred to.  I submitted (and I really can’t think of a better word here) to the new naked Kodak box in September and then was surprised on the other end, without warning or notice, with another friendly “back of the hand along the boobs” pat-down.  The TSA chick just reached and started working me over – although, truth be told, I DO have nice boobs.


Now, because somebody tried to ship something in a box…on a cargo plane…that was definitely NOT a passenger plane...TSA has been given permission to feel you up with the front of their hands.  They are allowed to reach until their hand "meets resistance", like your crotch or testicles or tampon string.  In other words – and as John Tyner implied – government-condoned sexual assault.  Where else in the world would you allow somebody to do that to you?  

I’m still waiting for somebody to coherently explain to me how cupping my breasts and taking naked pictures of me is going to make flying safer or stop bad guys from shipping bad stuff on planes.  Evidently, the porno scanners likely wouldn’t have even detected the underwear bomber's tighty-whitey bomb because the scanners are not good at detecting plastics, liquids or other low-density materials.  

I am, however, pretty certain that there will be a few TSA agents who like their jobs a whole lot more.

In TSA’s defense, there are some pretty awesome officers out there.  I've encountered several at security checkpoints in Oakland and, yes, even San Jose.   I didn’t want to like them – but they were nice and professional and didn’t show any interest in touching my boobs.  This, of course, is the quickest way to my heart.

In fact, the last few times I’ve been to San Jose, the big porno Kodak boxes have been unused and roped off.  I hope it stays that way.  I hope that the TSA receives so much flack on the issue that they have to let their expensive new toys sit and collect dust.  Maybe they can cover them with wreaths and tinsel for the holidays.  

Big, expensive, dusty Christmas trees.

Now THAT is something to cheer me up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jane is going to curl up in the fetal position for awhile but not forever

Sometimes life is fun and easy and sometimes it just sucks.  This is one of those times when it just sucks.

I'm sure that in a few days blogging will be a welcome distraction, but right now I got nothing.   I'm going to take a few and lick my wounds and will be back shortly.  I promise.

Try not to have fun without me.