Friday, November 17, 2017

The Ghosts of Christmas Presents Past........

Tonight we ended up in side-splitting laughter, reminiscing about our dollar store Christmas shopping days.

Let me explain: when the kids were little, I would take them to the local dollar store and give them enough money to buy a present for each family member. It was a fun, affordable way for them to participate in gift giving. We would usually go on a weeknight after school, and they would start the shopping expedition by grabbing a hand-held basket and a bandanna. The bandanna was to cover their selections, lest they pass a sibling in the aisle. When it came time to pay, I slipped them the cash and they went through the checkout one-by-one, keeping a safe distance from each other so as not to spoil the surprises.

When we arrived home, the kids would take turns wrapping their gifts themselves. There was one year they chose the most expensive gold-foil paper I had just purchased from one of those ridiculously over-priced fundraisers. I had planned to wrap a few select packages in the paper to make a stand-out display under the tree. Instead, it wrapped $1 gifts. But, damn, they looked GOOD.

The kids' choices were pretty predictable - a candle for mom, a garishly-colored stuffed animal for their siblings, and a tool of some sort for their dad. One year, Hannah picked out a delicately-sculpted floral candle for me, and it didn't survive the trip home without breaking. She cried silently in her bed until her dad finally asked what was wrong. They made a return trip to the dollar store to pick up a new one to soothe the devastation. Another year, Harrison got me one of those candles that has dried flowers in it. A few months after Christmas, I lit the candle in preparation for a party we were hosting. A short while after the party started, a guest took me aside and said "there was a small fire" - apparently the dried flowers had burst into flame. She put it out without incident.

Then there was the year Arlie gave several people a bag of rocks. Not just any rocks - these were those flat, glass marble things. There were clear ones and blue ones. I'm sure she thought they looked just like jewels. SHINY! Other years she chose a theme of resin sculptures - leaping dolphins, swimming pairs of dolphins. They looked like they had been painted by a blindfolded toddler, and always contained glitter accents.

Jeff was the lucky recipient of cheap plastic kitchen items. Spatulas, oven mitts, sets of measuring cups. If not a kitchen item, he was gifted a tool of some sort - a screwdriver or a clip-on light. Occasionally he would receive a new pair of sunglasses or a shoe-shine kit. There aren't too many dad gifts at the dollar store.

For a few years running, the kids exchanged the same brightly-colored teddy bears that looked like they had a bad case of mange. They were stuffed with what must have been the bare-minimum of fluff to be considered a "stuffed animal" and they flopped around in an ungainly fashion. They could hardly be called cute.

Some gifts were actually useful - note pads, nail polish, dish towels. As the kids got older, and especially as they started earning their own money, the dollar store lost it's florescent luster and pricier gifts from the mall replaced the BPA plastic wares from the dollar store. No longer did we take our annual gift excursion to the land of the almighty dollar.

I kind of miss those days. And I'd gladly take another cheap candle for one more day walking around, picking out surprises hidden under bandanas with my little ones. The gifts were cheap but the memories were priceless.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Shred this!

I've had a virus or something the past few days. And the main symptom that has persisted throughout is feeling like I have a balloon inflated in my belly. My belly is tight and full of, well, GAS, I guess, but it didn't seem to be wanting to expel itself anytime soon. So, I've been walking around like a Macy's Thanksgiving day balloon wishing someone would shoot me out of the sky. And if you think that's too much information, just wait.

After five days of this bloated business, I started to look things up online (as one does). Nothing quite fit my symptoms and it appeared it was just a problem of too much gas and not enough escape. It would pass eventually so I set my mind at ease. But every few hours, it would intensify and I'd think, hmmm, maybe this isn't normal. So, back to Google I'd go (as one does).

Last night, lying in bed around the wee hour of 1 a.m., I Googled some more and I unintentionally fell down the rabbit hole of reading medical discussion boards and clicking on links which led to more links (as one does).

And that's when I discovered it.

Maybe you already know, but if not, please let me introduce you to Shreddies. Shreddies are "flatulence-filtering underwear." These are special undergarments designed to absorb all offending odors from your offing of intestinal gas. A special carbon kryptonite something or other is woven into these briefs and you can fart the day away with nary a person being offended by your stench (it doesn't say if they also absorb sound).

Of course I had to explore more - fart-absorbing underwear, people! And, honestly, as I read some of these discussion boards, I felt kind of bad for this one young lady who was afraid she would never find love because of her nonstop sulphuric secretions. It's a real problem! For real people! I'll admit I eked out a particularly floral toot and that's what started this dubious Internet search. Why DO your farts smell like rotten eggs? (You can Google it. As one does.)

Now I'm afraid my Internet search history is going to look pretty suspicious, but Shreddies are a thing and maybe this will change your life. I was really curious as to why they are called Shreddies and I was hoping "shred" was a euphemism for flatulence in the British culture, but, alas, it refers to a particular undergarment worn by soldiers, who were said to literally "shred" their shorts during marches (bet they never heard of Fruit of the Loom).

Better than the description, the science behind the undies, and the exorbitant price (which, according to Amazon reviews is worth every penny) are the pictures! Here, let me show you:

This is called the "Shreddies Bum Kiss." I don't see any kissing going on there. Only sniffing. And the guy is like "Erm, Daisy, can you just gimme a sniff, love? I've just trumped one!" (P.S. I am not making that part up. Trump is slang for fart in Britain)

And then Daisy gives him a whiff of her daisies. a breath of spring! 

And this guy? I don't care what kind of underwear you're wearing. DO NOT fart in an elevator. Just don't. It's a total douche move. Even if you have a carbon filter on your ass. 

This one might be my favorite. Just LOOK at how happy she is to have her bum sniffed! And he's up in there, good, too. "Let 'er rip, Kate!"

Wait, how would she know if you're wearing your Shreddies? 

Ok, all kidding aside, I'm all for staunching the stench. Who wants to smell a fart? I mean, there WAS a study saying smelling farts was good for your health, but it was quickly snipped by Snopes, so stop it already. You don't need to inhale for your health. I've often thought, why can't we have some sort of little disk that lightly adheres to your button so when you "exhale through your butt" you can release a pleasant scent of your choosing? Bath and Body Works could sell these - pumpkin spice, Winter candy apple, peach Bellini, lavender and vanilla. You could buy, like, six in a pack for $3.99. They could be called "Butt Puffs" or something cute. Brb while I go register my patent for that. 

So, if you have an odorous orifice, Shreddies might be your new best friend. Imagine being able to stride with confidence into any conference room, first date, or shared hotel room with absolutely no fear of fouling the air. That whole awkward period in a relationship before you're comfortable enough to fart in front of each other? Eliminated! Chili for dinner? Correspond with confidence around the water cooler with no repercussions from the musical fruit. Hungover? Hang with your homies over Denny's brunch with no fear of peeling the paint off the walls. Yes, friends, Shreddies is a thing. What a time to be alive! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday musings.........

Once again there has been a mass shooting. This time in a church and 27 have died. These include an 18 month old and a 77 year old. In some instances, several members of the same family have died. The pastor's 14-year-old daughter has died. Didn't we JUST have a mass shooting in Las Vegas? Where 58 died and over 500 were injured? But that's yesterday's news, right? So soon we forget - it's as if we expect this to happen weekly now. We become numb. I feel agitated all the time and I am on alert - in the schools where I work, and on edge because my kids go to a public college and school shootings are the norm now, right? How can we possibly tolerate this and what changes can and will be made? Thoughts and prayers are meaningless when scores have died. We need concrete answers and real action. I don't know what the answer is. I personally don't think ANYONE outside the military (and only when on active duty) needs an assault rifle. And, Jesus, could we at least make it a little harder to GET a gun? Our world is completely nuts. Sometimes it's hard to get through a normal day without an inordinate amount of anxiety. Yes, bad things happen all the time. But it's a war zone out there - do we all have to be armed and dangerous just to survive?

In this month of thankfulness, I'm posting a daily gratitude on my Facebook page. And yesterday I almost wrote "I'm thankful I'm still alive and wasn't a victim of a mass shooting - yet." It seemed a bit crass on the timing, but I can't pretend we don't all run the same risk of being subject to the whims of a crazy person with a gun. Every time I go to work, or the store, or a concert, or.....anywhere, my number could be up. Or it could be my husband. Or one of my kids. I don't like to live with those odds. When is it going to be enough? When will the powers that be DO something? I don't think anytime soon because our leader is a crazy man himself. A year into his presidency, and Donald Trump is still a complete nut job. WHY is he still president? When will he be held to the same accountability as others before him - or others serving alongside him now? Money really talks. And what it says is evil.

It's pretty depressing (and it's a Monday, so it's like a double dose of depressing). I try not to let it get me down, but it is HARD. Add the darker days of fall and you have a perfect storm for falling into a abyss....a cycle. Whatever you want to call it. It's a dark time and it makes me want to hunker down at home with my family. And so I do, and then the days are long and unproductive and I sink a little bit more. I'm not one to be home for a long time. I need an escape - even from my protective cocoon. In order to survive, I need to purposely place myself in the world of mass shootings and crazy people and paralyzing traffic. I need to "get out" and be productive and work. And then I need to retreat and lay low and avoid socialization. It's a crazy time. I miss summer.

And I do try to focus on the positive. There is always, always something to be grateful for and happy about. Mostly it's small stuff - nothing grandiose or notable. A warm drink. Fresh-baked sweets. A movie. A fuzzy blanket. Fall decorations. Something to look forward to. Always that. Even as a child, I remember thinking I couldn't die if I had something to look forward to. As in, I can't die because there's that birthday party coming up. I can't die because it's almost Christmas. I can't die because I'm going on that trip. And as I grew older, I realized there is ALWAYS something to look forward to and I will die anyway. One day, I won't actually make it to the special event or awesome party. But how wonderful to always have something to be excited about. You just have to look hard sometimes, because it might not be a big event. It might just be the smallest thing.

So, in these dark times, we have to look harder sometimes to find the good, the happy, the anticipation. It's REALLY hard some days. But it's there. Go find it.