Nov 23, 2013

Santa's Not Angry -- Why Are You?

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, but I need to talk about something more important. Christmas. The radio stations began playing Christmas music on Nov. 1, and some people have their Christmas lights up already. Bravo, I say. Many people are pooh-poohing these early celebrations. To them I say, what’s your problem? Don’t you like Jesus?

Every year since I started working at the quickie mart, Christmas has been a mad dash and a blur. I didn’t have time to appreciate or have fun because I was running around, checking things off my list. Who wants to run around buying Christmas crap for their kids? You get frustrated and angry with all the dumb people around you in the stores as you wait in long lines, and it’s not unusual to amass a few assault charges here and there. I know my friends Dodie and Muffy have, but that’s not what we should be like. Santa is kind and jolly, not irate, haggard and potentially psychotic – at least not the real Santa who bought me a drink at a bar last week.

Well, on Nov. 1 when I turned on the car radio and heard a snappy Christmas song, the kind you can march to, suddenly - just like the Grinch - my heart grew ten times larger. Well, it wasn’t my heart, it was really my brain. It suddenly dawned on me that I want to enjoy Christmas like I did in the pre-quickie mart days. I want to watch Frosty the Snowman and It’s a Wonderful Life. I want to attend Christmassy things, like concerts, Hanukkah and tree trimmings.

My family agreed with me. We started by decorating the outside of the house early. Our motto is, “Give me liberty or give me death.” So we followed accordingly with inflatables, lights galore and moving reindeer. People stop and stare in admiration. The lights are so bright that it looks like daylight even at midnight. You might think our electric bills skyrocketed, but my sons came up with a great solution – they used extension cords and plugged into our neighbor Ann’s outside outlets. If she's going to enjoy our decorations, she's going to have to chip in and pay for them. So quit whining, Ann!

Done with the outside of our house, I set about decorating the inside and finished by Nov. 10. Now if you walk into my home, you’ll swear you’re at the North Pole or at Wal-mart’s Christmas section. We have Santas, nativities, ornaments, candy canes and lights everywhere. It's downright magical. You can’t even use the restroom without making eye contact with a hundred elves and reindeer.

Other people will soon rush around in a frenzy starting Black Friday, but since my halls are decked, I’m lounging around now enjoying some Christmas cheer, compliments of Croskey’s 24-hour liquor store (open 24 hours a week, that is). I bought most of my Christmas gifts there too – Toys for Tots will be amazed when they see my generous donations.

Anyway, the point is this: you have two choices -- run around like a nut at Christmastime, making it about chores and a to-do list OR you can have fun, help others in need, and spend time with your family and friends. I say choose to enjoy the holidays and make them more meaningful. And please keep the “Christ” and “ristm” in Christmas. But don’t call me. I’m busy.

~ Jackie

Click here to see a Christmas posting from a previous year, Has Christmas Gone to the Wolves?

Aug 23, 2013

Back to School Blues

Well everyone, it’s time for school to begin again here in the Midwest. Back east, youngsters start school after Labor Day, but here in the middle of nowhere, they start early so we can do farmy things to the fields and do other things to the cows. I’m not sure what we’re actually supposed to do, and I’m not even sure why I own cows, but I do know that having them makes me fit in.

Some parents are excited about sending their kids back to school. I am not. It sucks for everyone involved. Kids don't like learning and homework. Teachers don't like kids. (I can attest to this. I know a couple teachers personally and they told me they don't like my sons. -- Is it ok that I published that, Connie?) And parents hate the added responsibility. We have to fill out forms, sign papers, look at grades, and attend orientation nights -- all kinds of stuff that cuts into my Seinfeld time. What a burden. Plus with the fall lineup of the new 24, the Mentalist, and the Walking Dead, I have little time to do much else. I might have to quit my job.

I actually have only one son in high school now, Roberto. He has never been a big fan of education, but now that he's beginning his second senior year, he's pretty excited. He's determined to pass his classes this time. He worked hard all summer to save up bribe money for teachers in case his grades dip towards failing. That kid always has a backup plan.

The older two sons just returned to college, which is like a dagger in my heart. I already miss them terribly. They're so much fun. Now, some of you who have met my older sons might be thinking, "What is she drinking? Those boys are no fun at all!" Well, the truth is, I have been drinking.

Then there's the financial aspect of kids moving out that really stinks. Every time you turn around, the boys need money for tuition or the meal plan or weed. I don’t understand. Why does the college charge my kids for weeding the campus? The financial responsibility has become so worrisome that we tried to put the older two up for adoption, but the state says you have to get rid of your kids before they're 18 or you're stuck with them. You people with younger kids, if you were dozing off during this blog, you'd better wake up and reread that last sentence. It could change your life.

Anyway, I am very sad that my little buddies are going back to their own lives. It's not fair! I miss them and the carefree days of summer, but what can you do? Life is all about people leaving you. At least I have Joe. He may not listen to me, talk to me or even like me, but at least he's a warm body in the house. Of course, he's not home at this very moment, but I'm sure he'll venture back. Enjoy the school year everyone.

~ Jackie

P.S. Since Hans is my editor and he has moved out, my blogs will no longer be mildly amusing or grammatically correct. I can’t write good or funny without him. The only one left at home now is Roberto, and he can hardly think. (No offense to cute little Roberto.) So if you want to read something funny from here on out, you'd better just Google it. Have a great weekend!

Jul 21, 2013

A Change of Pace

Sometimes I feel like a hamster on one of those little wheels that hamsters run on. I think they’re called spinning wheels. My family and I were all running on our little hamster spinning wheels, busy with our jobs and workaday lives, and I felt like we all needed a break. So I came home from work one day and announced to my sons, “Pack your bags, kids. I need a change of pace!”

The boys were immediately upset. “Are you leaving dad?” one asked.

“Is Liam Neeson going to be our new father?” another questioned. For goodness sakes, you invite an actor into your home, and the family immediately concludes you’re romantically involved.

“For the last time, the only reason Liam Neeson only comes to our house is because it’s cheaper than a hotel!" I shouted. Can’t you see he doesn’t even like us?” (In truth, Liam loves me and Joe. He just doesn’t like the boys. His exact words were, “I hate them.”)

But the boys weren’t listening to a word I said. They were wrapped in their own frenzy.

“Which one of us is going to be forced to live with you?” my youngest asked. Then they began arguing about who gets the Xbox and who gets the GameCube.

“We’re not dividing up any assets,” I said. “We’re just going on vacation!”

“Vacation?” Suddenly the boys’ demeanor changed quickly from frantic to excited. Or so I assume. I really can’t tell what my boys are thinking. I’d have to speak with them and listen and stuff, and I was not up to the task. I hadn’t even had my third beer yet. It didn’t matter. Everyone was happy, so we packed our bags and loaded up the car in no time.

As we were pulling out of the driveway, one of the boys stopped me. “Hey, shouldn’t we wait for Dad to get home from work before we leave?” Oh my gosh, I knew I had forgotten something. It would’ve been so embarrassing to go on vacation without Joe a second time. Joe still nags us about the year we took the UPS guy with us on our vacation to Boston. It took us four days before we noticed that Joe was not a 6-foot-tall Arab. On the flip side, Joe called it the best week of his life.

So we waited for Joe to return home, and then I told the boys our destination. “Dad and I are surprising you with a trip to our nation’s capital.”

“Yippee! We’re going to San Diego,” cheered Raphael.

“That’s a state, dummy,” said Hans, the oldest. “New Mexico is our capitol.”

“No, it’s America,” corrected Roberto. We all turned and glared at Roberto. No one could tolerate his stupidity.

“Why are we wasting money on college for any of these boys?” my husband asked me.

Having no answer, I shrugged. “They may be dumb, but they sure are handsome,” I said. Joe nodded in agreement. Those kids are gorgeous. Too pretty to be smart.

Only 15 hours later we arrived in Washington D.C. We couldn’t wait to see the sites. Our friend Lola (Katie), who lives in D.C., had written out a daily itinerary of the best places to visit. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that most of the sites she recommended were just fictional places from the Harry Potter series, which explains why she talked so much about her new friends Ron and Hagrid.

After the trip, Lola’s husband apologetically explained that his wife often doesn’t take her medication. He said he assumed we knew her long enough not to listen to her. Poor Lola, bless her heart. Thank goodness she’s pretty.

Regardless, we had a blast and really got to unwind. We stayed at an Embassy Suites and walked all over D.C. I took pictures of the boys and Joe in front of the White House, the Pentagon, the Smithsonians, the Capitol, the monuments, Arlington, Embassy Row, everywhere. No one took a single picture with me in it. I even asked them to, and they laughed as if I was making a funny joke. It’s like I don’t exist. But this is not the forum for this discussion. I’ll tell Liam about this later.

Anyway, we wrapped up an amazing week by watching the Fourth of July fireworks from a bridge near Georgetown. The boys left D.C. with lots of memories and some of the lamps and furniture that weren’t bolted down in the hotel room.

Now we’re back to our hamster spinning-wheel lifestyle, but I feel refreshed and renewed. I hope that you've taken some memorable trips and that you are having a great summer too.

~ Jackie

P.S. If you want to post a comment but can't figure out how, just email it to me at, and I'll post it for you. Will that work for you, Carol? :)

Jun 6, 2013

25 and Counting

My husband and I just celebrated 25 years of marriage. Twenty-five years really isn’t a long time, but if you say it’s your silver anniversary, people assume you are happy and ask for the secret to a good marriage. I personally have three secrets that keep me happy . . . booze, liquor and a boyfriend. Joe’s secret to success is a great wife.

The big 2-5 is a huge deal, people say, so you have to do something really amazing to celebrate – travel somewhere spectacular, do something adventurous, buy something extravagant, etc. Joe and I were quite stressed about doing this right and couldn’t figure out what to do. Some friends suggested we renew our wedding vows. This added more stress – neither of us is ready to make such a huge commitment. Instead, we shelved all the traditional ideas and decided to plan our perfect day. Joe went to a baseball game with friends, while I went to Home Town Buffet for several hours. What a great time we both had! I’ll never forget getting so much food for just $8.99, and Joe will probably always remember whatever it was that he did. We wanted to stretch out the celebration to the perfect week, but Home Town buffet is closed on Sundays. In any case, we wrapped up the festivities with family trip to the car wash and a stop at the Arby’s drive through. What a wild celebration, full of amazing memories.

When you ask people who’ve been married under 10 years what it takes to have a good marriage, they’ll tell you the trick is to never fall asleep angry or that you have to work at it, blah, blah, blah. What they don’t understand is that falling asleep angry and whatnot are routine parts of a strong marriage, especially after menopause hits. And anyone who has been married for 10 years knows that working at marriage is something you should've given up on pretty quickly; it's much like exercising or dieting. I have to say that I’ve never worked on my marriage a day in my life, and I’m certain Joe will attest to that.

So instead of worrying about making your spouse happy, people should relax and understand that marriages automatically become stronger with the natural progression of time and aging. The things that made you bicker when you were younger become moot points as senses degrade. For example, hearing loss is a good friend when you’re tired of hearing your spouse yacking (this is different from a disease called selective hearing, which Joe contracted at the altar as soon as he said, “I do”). Then there’s the deterioration of vision, which makes each partner feel their spouse hasn’t changed a bit. Because of failing eyesight, Joe doesn’t notice that I have been developing whiskers and sporting a mustache as my estrogen levels diminish. He says that I’m as pretty as I was the day we got married. This is also a memory issue, another asset in a healthy marriage. You often forget what you were fighting about, so you eventually give up on being angry. Joe and I have both found that the more the senses dull, the better life appears to be.

One thing that’s different about Joe and I is that we like to spend time together and we tend to be together all the time. This is basically habit, started when we were dating. It feels weird to me when Joe is not around, and he feels the same when I’m gone. The only time I’ve ever seen Joe asks for some space is when he’s out with his girlfriend.

Anyway, none of that matters. What matters is that I’m sincerely glad I married Joe. He has been my best friend since I was 17, and he continues to be all these years later. He is funny, intelligent, multitalented, kind, and the type of person everyone likes to be around. Take all those attributes, multiple them by 20, and you’ve got me! Now you see why this marriage works! Happy 25th anniversary, Joe. I’ve enjoyed every minute!
(Disclaimer: I have not enjoyed every minute.)

~ Jackie

Jan 17, 2013

Way to Go Roberto!

Great news, my little son, Roberto got his driver's license just recently. He got a perfect score on both the driving and maneuverability parts! Then he drove home and hit our garage. Regardless, it was very exciting to see my youngest get his license. We celebrated at Wendy's, allowing him to choose two items from the dollar menu. What a fabulous milestone.

The driver's test in the Midwest is different from driving tests on the East coast. In New Jersey, we were given the road test and were also tested on parallel parking, which is extremely useful for parking on city streets. Another part of the test was doing "K" turns or "three-point" turns, which come in handy when you need to make a quick getaway in an alley when the cops are chasing you.

In the Midwest, maneuverability testing is comprised of slowly moving forward 10 feet through orange traffic cones and going to the left or right of them, then slowly moving backwards the same distance. This comes in very handy in these parts, where traffic cones are often found in random places on our local streets and highways. It's quite a problem, and we’re just fortunate that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles here has found an ingenious way to combat this recurring issue.

So now my youngest son is street legal and ready to roll. Unlike my middle son, who hit the test examiner a couple times before the driver's test, Roberto has only hit random edifices. He's not a people person. Never has been.

The most exciting part of having three sons under 21 who are driving is that they are all covered by my insurance policy. My oldest son, Hans, tested that policy on Monday, when some college girl hit him and ran. Many choice words come to mind as I think of her, but I can't say them in this G-rated blog, for fear of offending the infant members of my readership population. Is that (hitting and running) considered Midwestern hospitality? I don't think so. Now I hate that son, and we have asked him to move out. It's time to cut the cord.

So now we have to get body work done on our car, and Joe and I have to pay out of pocket. This happened just after we had to buy four new tires for another car. I tried to get the estimator to give me a low price by flirting with him and showing some leg, but I guess I'm not as good looking as I thought. He said, "Sorry, sir, I only date chicks."

Well, that's my life folks. I've got kids getting licenses, other kids who like to get hit by women, and a man who thinks I'm a man. All in all, not a bad week for me. Happy New Year to all! Hope your week was just as good as mine.


P.S. My youngest son actually got his license in August. I forgot I had a blog or I'd have written about it earlier.