Santa Can be a Real Jerk Sometimes

452535925Every year as I dug through the gifts and candy in the red felt sock that hung from my bedroom doorknob, I hoped against hope that the last gift I hauled out of that thing was not going to be an orange. I could see the orb-shaped something filling out the toe of the sock. Pulling out the little cellophane-wrapped sweets that had dropped to the bottom, my nails must have scraped the bumpy texture of the peel. The fresh citrusy smell must have wafted past my nostrils. But I held out hope that it was a ball, or a pair of really pretty mittens, or anything . . . but an orange. Yet, every year it was an orange. Either Santa had a messed-up sense of humor, or he was just a big dick dressed in red.

Santa left my other gifts unwrapped under the tree. That worked, because my next oldest sibling was ten years older than me, and by that time, was most likely helping to perpetuate the storyline. So any unwrapped gifts under the tree were From: Santa; To: me.

Like any kid, sometimes Santa brought exactly what I wanted, and some years he hadn’t a clue. The year I got my pixie haircut, he brought me a long, blonde wig. It was exactly what I wanted, and I tossed my head like the girls in the Prell commercials swinging it sensuously in slow motion.

49929aThe year he brought me a fire engine pedal-car, he lost some of his magic status. The box featured pictures of all the models, and my parents asked me which one I wanted to be in the box. I imagined it was a magical box that would change whatever was inside to be exactly the model you wished for. I wished hard and pointed to the Tee Bird, but what they pulled out of the box was a fire engine, complete with a bell on the front for announcing emergencies. The toy was my first encounter with independence because back then little kids just pedaled around blocks unchaperoned for hours at a time.
320856568024So that was cool, but I knew somewhere there was a little kid who pointed at the fire engine and got the blue Tee Bird. That was my second clue that Santa wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.

Eventually I learned the harsh truth that my parents were just filling in while Santa sat at the North Pole consuming dubious amounts of cookies and Amaretto. I couldn’t believe it was them putting that damned orange in the bottom of my sock all along. And while it might have been forgivable for Santa to make that mistake — after all, he had millions of socks to fill — I could not say the same for my parents. They had only one job that night, to place a few unwrapped gifts around the tree and fill my sock with toys and candy, saving the obvious best gift for the bottom of the sock.

I don’t mean to say that I harbored ill feelings over the faux pas of my parents. Christmas was and is still something I hold dear and find magical. I wish joy and peace to all in the new year, and in the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve turned out alright.

But for the life of me, every time I see a big, round, juicy orange at this time of year, I remember the disappointment of finding one in the toe of my sock on Christmas morn.

And I am reminded of what a sick jerk Santa really can be.

Peace . . .


Yesterday We Argued

Yesterday morning, we argued. It was the oddest thing. For a year we were on the same side. Preaching to the same choir.

Then we elected our next president of the United States, and suddenly we were at odds over how to move on. One of us was in despair, and the other was angry. One of us wanted to protest peacefully, and the other wanted to burn some shit.

Didn’t America know this wouldn’t end? There was too much division. Too many issues still at stake no matter who we elected .

Yet, this division in our own home I hadn’t expected. It didn’t last long, but it was a little like this:

Bubba: All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if I end up in jail.

Me: Well don’t expect me to bail your sorry ass out.

There are more elections to come. No, not the one in 2020. I’m talking about how we elect to move on. To re-weave the violently broken threads that held us together. Emotions are high.

Excitement. Rage. Pride. Sorrow. Anxiety. Validation. Elation. Intrigue. Apprehension. Hope. Apathy.

Add to that list whatever you’re feeling. It’s valid. And so are the ones you aren’t feeling. That is to say, him — over there, on the other side — his feelings are as valid as yours.

Just because you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, isn’t true, doesn’t matter . . . doesn’t hurt.

I argued that all this division comes back to fear. Bubba disagreed. He restated that it was anger. I raised my voice and told him it’s because we’re all afraid. Some people are afraid of those who are different. Others are afraid of freedoms being lost. There is fear of lost jobs, or being deported, or emails. The media preys on our fear for viewership. Both campaigns were all about fear of the other side. It’s all fear!

Bubba said this is what attracted him to me, this glass half-full, sun-shiny for-the-people way of looking at the world, but that I was dead wrong. It’s about hatred and anger.

So I interrupted him and said, “Wait a minute. Didn’t Yoda say something about anger is fear?”

And as he walked away from me throwing his hands up into the air, every word coming out louder and faster, he said,

“Yes . . . Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Goddamit, you’re right!”

And because in our household, there is no greater authority than Yoda, I won this one.




I Envy the Trees


I envy the trees. Their mindful growth. No worry of the future, no regret of the past. Only reach. Grow. Endure winter. Expect spring.

I envy the flowers. Bloom authentically. Attract bees. And butterflies. And buggy bugs. Smell delicious. Scatter seeds.

I envy the path. Cares not where its going; nor where its been. Not burdened by guests; insects, mammals, humans. Not lonely with the lack thereof. Here for those who seek.

I envy the sky. Stormy anger. Bitter rain. Peaceful blue. Quietly watches. Patiently listens. Trustworthy secret-keeper.

I envy the soil. Cool, earthy, deep. Receives the trees, the flowers, the path. Consumes the sky. Provides.



The organist and vocalist were late. I hated my dress. I had little say in the flowers. Yet, there was a smile on my face. I was following in the footsteps of those young women who had gone down the aisle before me. No, not my bridesmaids — the women who followed in the footsteps of their mothers and their mother’s mothers before them.

The person who walked down the aisle that day so many years ago seems like a completely different person from the one who writes here today. I had different beliefs, even though my values have remained the same. We base our beliefs on myths and facts  that updated as new information becomes available.

Values are the things we find important, and although the priorities of our values may shift with time or age, they typically remain unchanged. I value love, but I no longer believe marriage is the only way to secure it. Does that help explain it? Life doesn’t grant do-overs, but it does grant start-overs, and we are all encouraged to grow and evolve.

barbara-billingsleyJune Cleaver and Mary Scott were my role models. June Cleaver was a fictional character on a black and white television show where men came home from work expecting quiet children and dinner on the table. June was known for her impeccable dresses and tidy pearls.

20580367823_243881f7c6_zMary Scott was my grandmother. She was a non-fictional character who watched me while my mother worked. She was known for her jet-black hair, slight frame, and dainty gestures.

Both June and Mary believed it was the woman’s duty and privilege to run the home while their husbands worked. Their homes were always as tidy as their skirts by the time their spouse returned home, and they knew how to get a steaming dinner on the table at the same time each day. Boy, did I have a rude awakening!

It’s hard to talk about how I might have done things differently if I had a the chance. After all, I might have had different children, or no children at all. I’d have waited. I’d have learned more about myself. I’d have considered the impact my choices make on the world, and my life. But life doesn’t give us do-overs. Fortunately, it does give us start-overs.

Is it time to update your beliefs? What myths might you hold as truth? What facts must be updated with new information? What are your values? Do you need to reprioritize them based on a change in your life, age, job, or family?

My children are waiting for marriage and children. I’m proud of the choices they’re making. If they do decide to do either, they’ll have so much more to offer their spouse and/or children. They’ll have a better idea of how to live with other people. They’ll have a better grasp of their own values and beliefs, and not rely on ones borrowed from their parents, grandparents, or fictional t.v. characters.

It’s okay to change your beliefs. It’s okay to realign your values. It doesn’t mean you’re a whole different person. It means you’re evolving.

Peace . . .



I promised.

As promised, I’m letting you know that I found the picture of me in my little pixie cut. So homely, I’m cute. And after all these years, I have to say it’s true.

Peace . . .


Married White Women are the Problem

I had this post I was writing, and somehow I lost it. It’s. Just. Gone.

So that was disappointing. And now that you can’t read it, I can tell you it was probably the most amazing and life-changing post you were ever going to read. Instead, I will leave you with a YouTube link that was kind of the inspiration for the awesome post I lost.

I wanted to serve you an ice cold margarita in a frosted glass with lime on the rim. Now all I have is lemons. Enjoy your lemonade.

Peace . . .


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Over the Drinking Age

2.20.14 VFW

Shot of the VFW out the sunroof of my car

He was a pleasant-looking man, probably a little older than I.  He mocked himself as he wheeled across a floor littered with tables and chairs.  It was clear he had only one arm to work with.  I debated between whether to help him, or preserve his dignity and let him do it himself.  Eventually he was close enough to engage conversation.

His first words were, “You’re beautiful.”  To be honest, most of the people in the VFW sport grey hair.  One quarter of them are women accompanying their husbands.  The other half are lonely.  So I suppose I stood out, but I never know what to say.  I said “Thank you,” because I’m told that’s the correct response.

He told me his name, and asked to buy me a beer.  “It’s not necessary,” I told him.  He said he wanted to, so I showed him what I was drinking, and allowed him to order a beer and chat for a while.

Back in 1980, I was working the store alone, as I often did.  A class ran downstairs — I want to say it was woodworking or tooling of some sort.  It drew men who often ogled me through the glass.  Only once was I approached.  It was one of the younger men, using a crutch and missing a leg.  He asked me on a date.  I told him no — probably too quickly.  I explained that I had to go home and pack because I was moving to an apartment closer to work.  I realized it sounded like an excuse, yet I was glad to have a real reason to decline.  I was nervous and unaccustomed to random men asking me out.  I often wonder if he knew I shot him down so quickly because I was shy, or did he think it was because of his leg?

Here I was again, older, much wiser, in almost the same situation.  I remembered the guilt of turning the younger man down, and had no intention of reliving that, and no honest reason to refuse.

It’s a happy place, a good  casual spot to grab a cold beer after work, and I know a couple of the  women who work there.  While he went up to the bar, my girlfriends took their break and sat down at the table.  I prefer bellying up to the bar because it’s easier for men to join you at a table, but the stools were all taken tonight.  When he brought my bottle to the table, it was clear he was a regular, which made conversation easy.  We passed around pictures of their grandchildren, who were adorable, of course.  Eventually, the women went back to work, and I was left to make small talk.

He strained to find the words he needed, but I learned about his boys and what he had done for a living.  The details were difficult to understand.  He struggled to remember if he was 72 or 65 or some other number.  Then he would get frustrated, and say, “Oh, screw it!”  Which made me laugh.

So while he spoke, I had time to think.

What is it about a bar that makes women so approachable?  Had I been in a restaurant or coffee shop, it’s unlikely that anyone would have spoken to me.  Bars are social, I suppose.  I really enjoy stopping for a beer after work on a Friday, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.  Unfortunately, because it’s so rare to see a woman alone in a bar, they assume I’m looking for company.  I’m not.  I just want a cold beer and to check emails on my phone while doing some serious people-watching.

Was I leading him on by letting him buy me a beer?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I should have said, “If you’re looking for someone to chat with, you can join me whether you buy me a beer or not.  If you’re looking for someone to date, you should know I am not available.”  But what if I really want to be alone?  Then I should say “No, thank you,” and risk feeling awful about it.  Why do men put women through this?

Don’t think I haven’t tried the shoe on the other foot.  I know what a leap it is to ask someone if you can buy them a drink.  But at what point am I obligated to say yes?

  • because I know it took a lot of courage to ask?
  • because I know he had more obstacles than most to overcome?
  • because I’m in a bar alone, and I should expect to be approached?
  • because I don’t wear a ring on my left hand?

Back in the 80s, my desperation overshadowed what little confidence I had, and men avoided me like the plague!  Nowadays, I’m not the least bit desperate, and am quite comfortable in my skin.  Men sense these things.  I get hit on a lot more in my 50s than I ever did in my 20s, and don’t think I don’t appreciate it!

I met Bubba in a bar.  He let me buy my own drink — the first one anyway.  I can’t resist a man who enables my independence.  It’s a good story and one worth telling someday.

That was back in my 40s, and apparently I still have it.

My girlfriends tell me I have to come back for the VFW BINGO.  My daughter tells me she loves BINGO, but I still regard it as something little old ladies do on Sunday afternoons.  I looked at them and said, “How old do you think I am?”

Peace . . .


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