When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the category “Holidays”

The Bulgarian Princess – Part 3

This is the third and final installment of this story. Read Parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t done so already and want this to make sense. Or maybe you don’t want to read those parts, and that’s fine. OR, maybe you want to read them out-of-order, which is also great. Enjoy!


After more than eight years of marriage, I thought we, including my brother, would have grown to like her. Wishful thinking is a dangerous thing, kind of like chain-smoking Marlboro Reds for 40 years and expecting that the CT scan will reveal the unsullied lungs of a newborn. Their marriage was a mess due to my brother’s recent job loss, a house in foreclosure, and her refusal to seek legitimate employment in lieu of her current money-making hobbies: performing body painting at nudist resorts, chauffeuring my seven-year-old niece to local beauty pageants, and black market trafficking Levis jeans in Eastern Europe. The Bank of My Dad kept them out of a cardboard box and her in designer duds and platinum-blonde hair extensions.

As Fall fell upon us that year, I started to dread the looming holidays. I concluded that I would rather shove a meat thermometer into my eyeball than spend another family gathering drowning in the palpable tension created by two married people who hate each other. (No, I’m not talking about my parents, they might actually like each other, on most days.)

On Turkey Day, they arrived at my parents’ house, the location of the Dad ATM machine. This year, the machine screen displayed “Out of Order.” Perhaps my dad’s spine reappeared because the turkey still had 30 minutes to go and he was two-thirds of the way through a bottle of Bordeaux – or maybe he valued his retirement savings far more than her pedicures and Coach bags.

News of the ATM malfunction did not go over well. Panicked and shocked, they locked themselves in one of the spare bedrooms.

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COL Letter: I want a refund for 2011

NOTE FROM AUTHOR: This is the first in a series of Crotchety Old Lady (COL) complaint letters, which I will write from time to time as life experiences and subject matter merit. My first COL letter was written in 2003 following a horrific trip on Delta, and it is a favorite among my friends. (Second best letter was sent to McDonald’s after purchasing their “new organic” coffee, which tasted like burnt mold.)

Dear 2011 Customer Service Representative:

I would like a refund for my 2011 flight (departing 1/1/2011, arriving 1/31/11). Perhaps a free first-class trip to Ireland or Italy would suffice, as long as you don’t seat me next to a 350-pound woman with halitosis (who won’t stop talking to me) or two kids watching Toy Story on their laptop loudly, with no headphones. Instead, I want to be seated next to someone funny or cute, like David Sedaris or John Cusack. That said, what I really want is a full cash refund for 2011 and the promise that my 2012 flight won’t be as crappy.

When you sold me this overpriced ticket, you promised me great things: A lovely trip with a non-commitment-phobic boyfriend I love (with first-class accommodations and plenty of legroom), happiness (in lieu of being coked out on three different anti-depressants for Major Depressive Disorder), and a normal family, finally. What a load of crap you sold me; lies, all lies.

The flight was smooth in January, albeit with storm clouds on the horizon. In early February, we made an emergency landing in a snowstorm and were stuck on the tarmac in Buffalo for six hours. With no heat. By the fourth hour, my now-ex-boyfriend (NEB) freaked out, opened the emergency exit door and disappeared into a haze of  snowflakes. I have no idea where he went and didn’t hear from him for a month.

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Holidays on Eggshells – Recap

The Family that Wiis Together Stays Together

It’s taken me a few days to decompress after the holiday trip now that I’m back in Providence (where it is so NOT 83 degrees, like it was in FL on Christmas). I’ve felt a whole range of emotions while reflecting on the six days spent in the womb of my childhood, where I was treated like a child and probably acted like one at times, too.

Yes, there were fights and misunderstandings and clashes of liberal vs. conservative viewpoints and heaping helpings of guilt pie. My brother, who got in a knock-down drag-out fight with my sister at Thanksgiving about Glenn Beck, tried to pick the shit with me about Anthony Bourdain. Seriously? What’s not to love? But apparently my brother thinks he’s a liberal, arrogant, toe rag. And my spoiled nephew threw the gifts that he didn’t like at us (my mother got the book “The Story of Santa Claus” hurled at her head), and I still detect the chip on my SILs shoulder, albeit a smaller one.

All that aside, a Rockwellian scene unfolded at my parents’ house from the hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 25. And do you know what the glue was that held us together? A Wii. Yep, nothing like a shiny object to serve as a welcome distraction and social lubricant. My parents have it at the house for my nephew, and one of his Christmas gifts was the London 2012 Olympics Wii game. I have never laughed so hard watching my brother try to do the rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming routines. (My mother, by the way, is very proficient at the sharpshooting game. Scarily so.) My father didn’t play; instead he videotaped the hoopla for prosperity’s sake, as we were ALL in the same room… and not choking one another. (I told him if it ended up on FB, America’s Funniest Home Videos or YouTube that there would be hell to pay). We”re just not a “videotaping” family. It was bizarre, but strangely nice.

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A Palate Cleanser

I need a break from blogging about holiday family fun. The song Holocene by Bon Iver is one of my favorite songs of 2011 — it is insanely gorgeous and haunting. The video, which I’ve shared below, is mind-blowing. It will make your day, hopefully. I know it made mine.

Holidays on Eggshells, Day 5

First off, Merry Christmas! I wish every one of you much happiness during the holidays and a stellar 2012. XOXO.

Now on to the other stuff…

A Christmas Miracle & A Sound of Music Rewrite

9:56 p.m. (December 24) — Watching The Sound of Music on network TV, alone and perfectly content (dare I say happy?)

I avoided the SIL Christmas Eve gala! After attending a stress-free and happiness-inducing Children’s Christmas mass this evening with T (I can’t continue this charade — you know who you are and you are definitely not a “Denise” my friend) and her dear son M, I decided to not drive 120 miles round-trip to an uncomfortable evening. This evening would’ve featured a very lumpy rug, because so much stuff had, and will continue to be, swept under it. My sanity is hanging from a frayed and fragile string and I didn’t want to tempt fate (or gravity). I am also sad tonight about my ex and need to reflect in a chaos-free environment. Yes, everyone thinks he’s an ass and that I should hate him, but not tonight. I spent last Christmas with him and it was a special weekend with his family. (Cue Memory sung by Babs.)

So after mass, I called Mavis — who was already at mySILs, an hour away — and said N O P E, not coming. She was not happy. Pissed, actually. So here I sit, blissfully watching The Sound of Music on TV,  nursing a Jameson’s and waiting for the cow manure to hit the fan when Mavis and Dick get home. The wonderful part: I don’t give a shit.

So in the spirit of the holidays, I give you a rewrite of the The Sound of Music‘s “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” (NOTE FROM AUTHOR: Edited song lyrics below are in bold. And yeah, nothing rhymes and I really don’t care.)

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Holidays on Eggshells, Day 4

A Vocabulary Lesson

5:22 p.m. (December 23) — Again, in my childhood bedroom trying to ignore the crucifixes on the walls

I received this most excellent quote from my friend K, via text, as I was was watching “The Help” with my mom last night. The timing couldn’t have been more serendipitous: I was in the midst of trying to extend the proverbial olive branch by renting this movie for my mom’s enjoyment. I think the branch worked, at least for the 2-hour-long movie, during which we didn’t talk. It was nice, but not quite paradise.

Paradise is exactly like where you are right now, only much, much better.
Laurie Anderson

Ms. Anderson got my insomniac self thinking at 3 a.m. this morning about the definition of things, and how definitions are defined by each individual’s perspective. For instance, the official definition of paradise is:

1. a : eden; 2 b : an intermediate place or state where the souls of the righteous await resurrection and the final judgment;
c : heaven

2: a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight

I like Laurie’s definition better. Take note Merriam-Webster.

I also realized I’ve picked up a few “new” definitions after spending the last 3 days in my childhood home. For your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled the following dictionary:

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Holidays on Eggshells, Day 3

Vacationing with Monks

Day 3 (December 22) — 10:16 a.m.,  Sitting at the kitchen table alone


That is what happens when one smashes their head against the keyboard. Repeatedly.

The honeymoon is over. Oh days 1 and 2, how I miss thee. Mavis and I had our first real throw-down. The conversation about Christmas Eve was just a warm-up to the main event. I’m thankful she’s gone off to work now so I can just be alone.

I woke up early this morning, with a slight I-imbibed-on-too-much-wine headache. After Mavis returned from morning Mass, we sat down at the kitchen table and had breakfast together. Spanish Inquisition #2:

Mavis: What are you going to do today? Do you need the car? Don’t you want to go out and take care of some things?

Anna: No, I’m good. I’m going to hang out here and wrap presents and burn some CDs for Elise and Vanessa.

Mavis: Are you sure? You can take my car of you want. You can just drop me off at work. Or I could stay home from work and keep you company.

Anna: Mom, I’m fine. Really. Go to work.

Mavis: You know, your dad is really worried about you. He thinks I should be here with you as much as possible.

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Holidays on Eggshells, Day 2

The Honeymoon Period?

Day 2 (December 21) — 11:29 p.m., Sort of tipsy

Four days until Christmas, and not a creature is stirring at this late hour, except for Mavis. I hung out with Elise and a couple of her friends tonight, and perhaps had a little bit too much wine.  I just got home 15  minutes ago, and Mavis was waiting for me at the door. I thought she was going to whip out the breathalyzer. Now she’s puttering around the house and lurking outside my bedroom door as I sit here writing. Just go to bed for the love of God, please.

Day 2 was pretty uneventful, but I have the sneaking suspicion that my parents don’t want to leave me alone. Do they think I’m going to spiral into some deep depression? (Oh, wait, been there done that already.) Find me in the bathtub clutching a razor blade? See me wandering the streets in my bathrobe while babbling incoherently and clutching a bottle of vodka? I wish they would jut let me be.

While my parents were both at their respective jobs, I spent the day reading, writing, napping and sitting outdoors on the terrace enjoying the weather and feeding peanuts to the squirrels. It was relaxing; for all the bitching I did about this trip, I’ve made the best of it. However, when Dick got home, it felt like the Spanish Inquisition:

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Holidays on Eggshells, Day 1 (cont’d.)

Day 1 (December 20) — 10:38 p.m., Sitting in my childhood bedroom

I am sitting on the bed in my childhood abode, staring at the crucifixes on the wall and giving the stink eye to the Sean Hannity book “Let Freedom” that’s mocking me from the bookshelf. My mother (Mavis) has thoughtfully laid out my old equestrian hat and other horsey items from my childhood as well as my tattered and dusty monogrammed Mickey Mouse hat. Why, oh why? I find this weird and I’m slightly suspicious as to her intentions. Oh yeah, I know: “Let’s make her feel right at home as the 12-year-old I’m about to revert her back to for the next six days.”

Mavis picked me up from the airport as expected. I made the sign of the cross as I always do (“Honey, it’s so good to see you praying. Are you saying grace before drinking that latte?”). I have not been the passenger in her car since November 2010, and her driving skills have gone steadily down a steep and treacherous hill since then. She can’t stay in the lanes, she can’t merge, she drives 45 mph in the fast lane with her blinker on, and when she does change lanes, she slams on the brakes and then switches lanes. One of these days, the keys will have to be taken away. I fear that day. She’s a tough broad, and my father (or whomever) may need to pry said keys from her cold lifeless hands.

On the way home, we talked a little bit about this, that and nothing, avoiding anything meaningful that would spark a disagreement or argument. And then….true to form, she mentioned that diabetes runs in the family and overweight people are more prone to developing it. (Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.) And that she and Dick (my father) are in excellent health; they don’t drink any alcohol and they exercise a lot. I guess excellent health doesn’t make one a good driver. Just saying.

Let’s pause here for a second. I don’t want to sound like an ingrate about my family. (There are so many people without family, and particularly at this time of year, it must be difficult.) I do love them despite their flaws, and I know I’m always welcome here. But sometimes, I just don’t like them. They drive me crazy, both literally and figuratively. I don’t blame them for my depression. I blame no one. But they certainly can exacerbate my illness. In fact, some of my family members could teach a class called “Depression Exacerbation 101,” followed by “Advanced Passive-Agression 402” and “Applying Guilt Effectively 404” (both graduation requirements).

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Holidays on Eggshells, Day 1

Note: Please refer back my previous post and the cast of characters. I’ve decided to write about the next six days of family holiday bliss, using those characters (who may or may not, um, be similar to my own family). I am Anna, of course, and it will be written from her perspective. No, schizophrenia/split personality disorder has not set in. I’m still  your garden variety neurotic, anxious gal with major depressive disorder. I just find that I can be more honest about my family members when I give them different names and tweak some of the details. They would shit their pants if they ever found this blog, that is — if they even recognized themselves (of which I’m not 100% sure; they tend to wear blinders).

The Beginning

Day 1 (December 20) — 8:00 a.m., TF Greene Airport

I’m sitting at the airport waiting for the clusterfuck of boarding a Southwest Airlines flight (people who have undesirable boarding numbers and push ahead of me in line annoy me, especially if I end up stuck in a middle seat). All my meds are in my carry-on bag, and I feel like I’m 90 years old as they clack around inside their bottles. So many many meds, just to keep me from staying in bed all day and crying my eyes out for no apparent reason. On the bright side, they will be very useful during this trip. I desperately want a cup of coffee, but I can’t. This new drug Viibryd is still giving me unpleasant GI issues. I do not want to experience that horror at 30,000 feet.

Flying into Orlando versus Tampa was much cheaper, but now I am regretting that decision. There are 100 kids waiting to board this flight, who are hyped up on DISNEY WORLD FOR CHRISTMAS! I’m kicking myself for not investing in those Bose noise-cancelling headphones.

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