Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

Hey, y'all.

It's the Holidays! It's fabulous! There is lots of stuff going on!

(...and I am TIRED ...)

The Fella and I are going to be Gone to Carolina in just a few days, but before we go, I wanted to take a moment to thank anyone who has ever read and commented on or liked or said something nice about this blog.

You're the best.

In 2015, you should expect frequent and reliable posting. I have a fabulous new laptop, the internet, and the most supportive Fella, Family, and Friends a writergeek could have, and I still have lots and lots to say. Don't you worry -- I'll be back in a big way.

In the meantime -- I hope that the holiday season and the New Year (and every day, really) finds you blessed and happy.

Hugs all around,


Monday, December 8, 2014

Eau (de) Christmas Tree

There are about seven trillion reasons that I can't have a "real" Christmas tree. I'm using the quotes deliberately here because I think that any item designated a Christmas tree is a real Christmas tree, but for the purposes of this post, let's specify: I cannot have a once living, now-cut down (or still living and hanging out with a root ball in a plant pot) tree of piney goodness in my house. Allergies, OCD, space issues, and a cat who likes to nom things that aren't actually designated cat food all contribute to my inability to have a real tree.

I'm okay with this. I grew up with an artificial tree, so the Christmas tree made of synthetic pine needles, wire, and plastic has never bothered me in any way. In fact, now that almost all artificial trees come pre-lit means that the fake tree is totally my jam. I don't have to put up strings of lights after I check to make sure that if one goes out, they don't all go out.

Because I've had real trees in the past as well, I also know that the fake tree is my jam because I don't have to water the tree. I don't have to vacuum up pine needles. I don't have to wait for the branches to settle.

I love my tree.

There is, though, a benefit to having a real, once living tree in your house, though.

The SMELLLLLLLLLL. Oh the smell. The piney goodness smell.

I love the smell of Christmas trees. Real trees? Smell awesome.

Fake trees? Or, at least, MY fake tree? Smells like the cardboard box it is stored in and the inside of my storage space. An indeterminate, slightly stale odor that is in no way festive and does not scream holiday cheer.

It doesn't even faintly whisper holiday cheer.

Fortunately, we live in a world that doesn't just make it super easy to get a fake tree -- it ALSO makes it super easy to get "fake smell of real tree."


Because just as we learned from Charlie Brown that not all Christmas trees are created alike -- some are robust, some are less robust, and some are just single branches from which one hangs a bauble -- not all Christmas tree smells are created equally.

This was reinforced for me when I came home happily bearing what CLAIMED to be delicious Christmas tree smell in a jar to plug into my air freshener, mentally checking "make the house smell like joy and dancing" off my to-do list.

Plugged it in.

Hit a button.

My house was filled with ... well, it was a smell of a kind. There may have been a hint of Christmas tree smell in there. I'm not really sure. It was hard to tell as it had been obscured by a smell that can only be described as "a heavily discounted manly deodorant" or, as I quickly began to think of it, Cheap Chemical Funk.

It was perplexing. We live in a world where science has figured out how to land a spacecraft on a COMET but no one who worked in the lab that created this monstrosity had the olfactory skills to determine that their new Christmas-tree fragrance smelled like sightly pine-ish poop.

"That's bad, right?" I asked The Fella.

"Yeaaaaaah," he said. "What's that supposed to be?"

"Christmas tree!"

"Huh," he said. "Weird."

It wasn't just weird. It was infuriating to me. Had the inventors of this abomination never smelled a Christmas tree? Were they sampling mutant trees in radiation saturated forests? WERE THERE ACTUALLY PLACES WHERE CHRISTMAS TREES SMELLED LIKE THIS?

"I can't even," I finally said. "I just can't."

So today, I ventured into another store and smelled EVERYTHING in it that claimed to smell like a Christmas tree. If it had a picture of a tree on it? I applied my sniffer to it and took a hearty whiff. This was not, by the way, the most festive exercise ever because as it turns out? Lots of things that claim to smell like pine smell like feet, Lysol, and desperation.

Not awesome.

Finally, after smelling about twenty things, I found something that actually smelled like glorious, wonderful spruce-y evergreen-y goodness.

I'm not saying that I danced with glee in the store aisles?

But I'm also not saying that I didn't.

So, right now, as I type, the smell of Christmas tree lingers in the air. The tree -- assembled, decorated, and illuminated -- shines gently into the room. There are carols on the radio and there is happiness in my heart.

It might all be man made, it's true.

But it's as real as it comes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I work in a construction-based business. This, mostly, is awesome. My job involves a lot of talking on the phone. I'm a talker, so this is also mostly awesome.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I sound young on the phone.

Young. Girly. On the phone.

This is occasionally problematic to the point that I've developed four or five different tones for work. They have names: Regular Danielle, Southern Belle, Chatty Girl, and the one we simply call The Voice.

The Voice is pitched several tones lower than my usual voice. It's a little bit breathy. My friend Skippy tells me it kind of freaks him out because it's so not me. But I find that I have to use it with certain customers because it's the only way to get them to listen to me.

The issue, I find, is that when people hear my voice? They make assumptions based on it... and those assumptions are usually that I can't possibly have any idea what I'm talking about because I'm a girl. I mean, I probably don't even OWN any tools, and if I DO own any they're probably pink and sparkly, and the few (pink and sparkly) tools I might own probably have never ever been used.

For the record? None of these are correct. I have tools. I have a BOX full of tools. Old, dinged up, NOT PINK OR SPARKLY tools that I love, treat carefully, and use regularly. I know how to fix things. I know how to build things.

I know how to discuss building and fixing things.

But people -- mostly men, to be clear -- hear me and think that I don't. Then they become ... weird. Some of them are patronizing and creepy-avuncular. Some of them become flat-out bullies. Some of them, bless their hearts, try to be helpful and are actually very nice.

It frustrates me every time, though, when someone won't listen to what I'm saying because they're too busy hearing my voice and deciding what I know based on pitch and tone and not content.

So I use The Voice. I hate myself, but I do it, and I do it because it works.

The thing that drives me crazy about this is that I know -- I KNOW -- that the menfolk with whom I work don't have to do this in order for people to listen to them... AND they think it's cute that I do. It amuses them that I have developed multiple job related personalities in order to have customers listen to me and actually hear what I am saying.

To be completely honest, there are moments when it amuses me as well. I sometimes enjoy a little acting while at work -- it means those years of theatre study were good for something! Wheee!

More frequently, however, I am annoyed by it and the perception that it's cute. I am annoyed by the fact that people hear my voice and assume a gender and an age and, based on that, become biased as to what I do or don't know. I am annoyed by the fact that it's acceptable for me to sometimes, despite The Voice, have to pass a call to a male co-worker because the fact that his voice is deeper than mine somehow makes him more credible.

While this bothers me on a so many valid feminist levels, it also makes me think of the 101 ways in which we all judge people every day based on the most trivial of things, as though they're relevant in anything but the most superficial ways. As though it's true that the guy in grubby overalls knows more about engines than the guy in the suit coat. As though it's true that the girl with the glasses knows more about books than the girl in the cocktail dress.

As though it's true that the man on the street is probably better at math than the woman standing next to him.

And as though it's factually accurate that the young-sounding woman on the other end of the phone knows less about building than the men in her office because she is a young-sounding woman.

Maybe we could all do each other a favor and instead of making assumptions about what someone is going to say, we could listen to what s/he is actually saying and make our decisions about what s/he knows based on that.

Stop assuming.

And listen.

And then the only voice I would have to use would be my own.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Greener Grasses, Better Things

I was going to say that today was sprinkled with an extra helping of crazy dust, but then I realized that described both some of the weekend AND today and THEN I realized that not all of the stories belonged to me so ... let's just say that there were shenanigans and I committed some of them and merely witnessed others and leave it at that.

BUT (come on, you saw that coming)...

If there's a something that sticks with me most from the past several days, it's this: I know a person -- or a couple of people -- who suffer from "the grass is greener"-itis. As in, the grass is always greener somewhere else. As in, they can never find joy in the place where they are but are constantly looking for something better, something more, something else. The better job. The better house. The better car. They never find their happy because they're never satisfied. Ever. With anything. They can't see what's around them -- and a lot of it is good, wonderful, valuable stuff -- because they're too busy worrying that there's something better and they're missing it.

They're kind of right. There is something better. They are missing it. That something is RIGHT NOW. This moment. The beauty that exists right here, where they're standing. The sunset in front of them. The kindness of a coworker.

Sure, we all want things. We all see things that could be better in our lives -- and better can mean "more expensive" or "more status-laden" or it can simply mean "easier". I know that there have been times in my life where I knew things could definitely be easier; I also know that there have been times in my life when I wished I could afford things that other people had. I also, however, know this: you can't wish your life away. You can only be where you are, and since you're there? You should try to enjoy it even as you move through to where you're going next.

I'm thinking about all of this because of Thanksgiving, of course. In our little neck of the woods, we had a big old snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving, which meant that the four day, glorious, extended weekend that I'd so been looking forward to was ... well ... a very cold weekend in which The Fella and I found ourselves in our tiny little apartment with no power.

This could have ruined our weekend. We couldn't cook. We didn't have the internet. There was no heat. Plans with The Fella's son (the Lil Fella) were shelved because ... did we mention that we didn't have heat?

It could have ruined our weekend. We could have groused and grumbled and talked about the kind of holiday we wanted, the kind we deserved, the kind we'd planned for and worked towards.

OR, we could do none of those things. Instead, we could relax because there was literally nothing that we could do. We could hang out, cuddle, play games. We could not worry about cooking. We could not run around. We could change our plans and just kind of go with it.

Let me say this as well: relaxing does not come easily to me or to The Fella since we are both prone to the stressies. I like things to WORK. He was really counting on having the Lil Fella over. None of this was what we would choose.

It was one of the best holidays I've ever had, though, because we were able to go with it and live in the day. With extra blanks and the cat on the bed and games and giggling. At one point there may have been a Weird Al sing along as we discussed all of the things that were wrong with the newest Star Wars movies (while hoping that the NEW one would make up for the sins of the previous ones and Yes, I know that doesn't seem like it would lead to singing Weird Al songs but it TOTALLY does) and there were hugs and hot chocolate and ... it made me really happy.

Could it have made me a maniac?


But sometimes the grass is green right here. And sometimes the best thing you can do is to notice it, and feel how silky is is beneath your feet, and just be glad to taking it all in.

Oh, and if you're lucky? You can sing Weird Al songs while you do that.