Hello Darkness, My Nemesis…

Yeti&woman

Last year we sat in Indianapolis trying to decide if we would take my husband, The Turk’s, relocation and start over in New England, The Turk pro-New England and me not so sure. Our evening conversations looked something like this:

Me: “It snows there for like 8 months!”

The Turk: “You born in Iowa. That is like tundra. You will be fine.”

Me: “They have hurricanes.”

The Turk: “Here there are tornados.”

Me: “It’s so far north it’s like Canada. We’re going to freeze.”

The Turk: Slyly eyeing my extra 20-post-baby-five-years-ago pounds, “I think you be fine.”

Eventually I agreed to take the plunge into the frigid North Atlantic, but my climate worries were never truly eased. Since our arrival in June we’ve had winds that made me doubt the Turk’s choice to buy a house surrounded by 40-foot pine trees and rains that made me glad to be far above bog level. But these are small potatoes compared to what  awaits us.

Winter is coming. (Insert Game of Thrones music and other nerd references of your choosing here.)

But before the seasonal horrors I must face such as traversing an insanely steep, ice covered, driveway or dodging snow covered pines as they fall upon my roof, I must contend with last weekend’s horror, (aka the stupidest idea since literally, the dawn of time) the end of Daylight Savings Time. Instead of waking in the dark and enjoying sun well into cocktail hour, we swap the clocks, ultimately screwing up the body clocks of every human and animal in that time zone and beyond. For what? No one really knows. Daylight Savings Time is bad, but the end of Daylight Savings Time in New England is a horror unspeakable.

Last week the weathercasters began bantering about the time change. “It’s almost time to change those clocks New Englanders and you know what that means.” The helmet haired man teased.

To which I would scream, “No! What dose that mean Helmet Head? How ‘bout a recap for the newbies?”

The next day he was at it again. “Day Light Savings Time is almost over and New Englanders, we all know what happens.”

“No we don’t Helmet Head.” I’d scream at the television causing my children to question my sanity. “Some of us have no clue! Don’t be such a Masshole.”

Finally, the morning news explained everything, “It’s about time to turn back those clocks and get ready for 4:30 sunsets.” The beautiful Asian anchor lamented while sharing a forced chuckle with her co-anchor. I’m sure they shared other important tidbits of information but my brain was stuck. The sun would set at 4:30? How could this be?

As most do in a panic, I turned to Google for confirmation. Though she seemed like a credible new source, the beautiful Asian anchor was wrong. The sun didn’t set at 4:30 in my new homeland. No, depending on the day, it set some days as early as 4:12. God help me.

Indiana was the westernmost edge of the Eastern Time Zone. It didn’t belong in the Eastern Time Zone at all but had wiggled its way in against the wishes of many a few years before we moved there. This meant that sunset in Indiana was more than an hour later than most places on the East Coast. In the summer it sucked trying to get kids to bed when it was still light at 9:30 but in the winter, the sun would still be shining to usher you home from work and well into dinner prep, usually setting around 5:30.

Were we spoiled by sun time in Indiana? Most certainly but a 4:15 sunset seems excessive New England. It’s not that I’m a sun bunny or anything. (Especially when said sun is hot and makes my butt sweat.) But I really hate darkness. I hate driving in the dark because I’m old and blind and sometimes see things that aren’t there like a loose moose or a crazed yeti. I hate being outside in the dark because I’m pretty sure there is a murderous madman lurking behind every building, bush or tree. To top things off, I now have a house in the woods and you know what happens in the woods at dark? Sasquatch. Sasquatch goes frolicking through the woods in the dark and now that hairy bastard will be frolicking through my backyard from 4:30 on every damn night leaving his big-ass footprints where I’m trying to re-grow grass. Not cool Sassy.

On the first day of the time change I lamented my newly found horror to a few other parents at the football game. These were all native New Englanders and they had a few tips.

  1. “Get some good fuzzy jammies and get used to putting them on early. We tend to jammie up as soon as we get home and stay that way until morning.”

This seemed reasonable. If I love anything it’s loungewear and staying home. What’s better than an excuse to extend my loungewear time and remain homebound?

  1. “We drink more in winter.”

I think this goes without saying, but hells yes, sign me up. Perhaps I can convert Nugget’s closet into a wine cellar. He’s little and his pants don’t take up much room. It is for survival after all.

  1. “The time change here means you need to do two things, hook up the generator and refill your antidepressants. No shame in happy pills. Everyone else here is on them.”

I liked this acknowledgement of using the pharmaceutical assistance invented for getting through metaphorical darkness to get through the physical darkness of New England. And fortunately, we bought our generator a few months ago.

I’ve tried to keep my panic at bay about the impending period of darkness but I’ve been unsuccessful. The looming sunset is always on my mind.

“Boys, you know it’s going to get dark soon. You better get ready.”

“Mom, it’s 11:30 in the morning.”

“Exactly. You have 6 hours left of this day. You better use it.” (Insert horrific tween eye rolling here.)

It’s 3:30 now so I’d better go. Looks like its time to put my jammies on and pour the wine. After all, if I’m going to make it though my first New England winter I’d better adhere to the advice of the natives. Maybe in time I’ll adjust to the darkness and learn to embrace it by treating it like a sort of hibernation. But for now, I’m going to keep whining as I turn on the security lights in the hopes of keeping a Sasquatch from doing a soft-shoe on my back deck.

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Confessions of a Halloweenie

halloween costume vintage

I hate Halloween. There. I said it. I know that due to its recent rise in popularity admitting such hatred is paramount to hating Christmas (which I may or may not be guilty of as well) but I really, really, really hate Halloween.

It might seem hard to hate a holiday that is focused upon the gross overconsumption of sugar and in the case of the older ghouls, booze, (…These are a few of my favorite things…) but I do. And it’s probably difficult to fathom that having been a professional costume designer for a large chunk of my life, I would so actively despise the season of donning costumes, but I do. My level of hatred for Halloween is on the same level of Eagles fans’ hatred for the Dallas Cowboys. (And as a bleeding-green Eagles fan, I promise this is some serious revulsion.)

My reasons for hating Halloween falls into 3 major categories: Costumes, Scary Things and Candy.

  1. Costumes

It’s all so complicated now. Gone are the days of slappin’ a sheet over your head, cutting a couple eyeholes and hittin’ the streets with a pillowcase to collect the goods. (Though my mother never allowed this as sheets weren’t cheap so “You’re not going to ruin them.”) I once had a Lucy from Charlie Brown costume that left nary enough room to breathe through the plastic mask and the coordinating plastic smock was so flammable that my mom kept steering me clear of all jack-o-lanterns so I wouldn’t melt. It wasn’t great but it served the purpose for the 3 years my mother made me wear it until I outgrew the plastic smock. Sure, I was oxygen deprived when I got home but I wasn’t spending a year’s college tuition on a costume for one night. Nor was I competing in some unspoken parental contest for the best costume. (Don’t think I didn’t see you over there lady, eyein’ up my kid’s costume…)

As counterintuitive as it seems, costume designers are generally not fond of Halloween. People steal your crap or expect you to whip them up something at no charge because, “You do costumes? Cool. Can you make me a giant Velociraptor-Meets-Headless Horseman costume for free?” Hells no fool. Do you expect an accountant to do your taxes “for free”? I didn’t think so. But when it comes to my own kids, I’ve made every costume for their entire lives. From Nugget’s pirate costume requiring a “hooker” (We eventually realized he meant hook) to Number One’s choice this year – the murderous Viking. If they can dream it, I’ll find a way to make it happen (though I often need to remind them I’m not Dreamworks.)

What I can’t deal with is adults in costumes. Why? Because it’s too damn hard to tell who’s wearing a costume and who just looks like that anyway. For example, the other day, Number One and I pulled into Dunkin for replenishment (Because we’re in New England so…Dunkin…) and we spent the next 10 minutes trying to decide if the lady who waited on us was in costume or if she just looked like a witch naturally. And it wasn’t just that one woman. It happens everywhere you go in the week leading up to Halloween. Is that a mask or is that your face? Did you mean to wear your make-up like that or is it a tragic error? Should I tell you? Is that a fashion failure or a costume? Do I compliment you on your costume and risk humiliating one or both of us?

People, I beg you, do not put me in this position. I have neither the tact nor the self-control to handle these situations without intense embarrassment to us both.

  1. Scary things

With Halloween comes bloody stumps, dripping goo and splattered gray matter everywhere. Lest we forget, there are also scary movies, spooky spectacles and terrifying haunted horrors that are on television, billboards and in every store from the place I buy my hardware to the place I buy toilet paper. These images stick in the minds of my offspring and reappear just as I tuck their little bodies into bed minutes prior to Mommy’s chill time. Thanks to Halloween, I spend a large chunk of autumn sleeping on a sliver of Nugget’s bed, talking an insomniac Number One down and forgoing large chunks of my badly needed Mommy chill time.

My children, like their mother, are giant wusses. Back in the day, when my crew gathered around the television to watch rented VCR tapes of classic flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th, I was the one volunteering to throw more corn into the air popper, or grabbing another round of Crystal Pepsi – from the store 5 miles away. If things got too tense and I ran out of errands to keep me from actually watching the terror, I’d fake an early curfew or, if necessary, diarrhea. As Nugget says, “Scawy suff is da wurst!” Preach little man.

  1. Candy

If the social confusion and terror inducing festivities were not enough, there is the candy. Starting in September, every store moves out the school supplies and swaps in bite-sized bits of chocolatey-peanuty-gooey-fatty goodness. As a woman of girth, I do not need this. I’ve been in a long-standing battle with an extra 20 pounds since the birth of Nugget, five years ago. (Spoiler alert – so far the 20 pounds is winning.) The last thing I need is to be met by pocket-sized temptation at every turn.

In my brilliance, I usually start my newest life change in September making my dive into a carb-free or sugar-free or fat-free or whatever-free lifestyle I’m pursuing in full swing just in time for Halloween. Try as I might, things always get ugly when Fun-Size arrives.

Then there is the battlefield that engulfs our home as soon as we return from the trick-or-treat trail.

“Mom! He took my candy!” Nugget screams even before he’s shed his costume.

“No I didn’t.” My husband, the Turk, retorts.

“Mom, Baba always takes the good stuff. That sucks.” Whines Number One Son.

With chocolate fingers and a guilty smirk the Turk replies, “Taxes. You live in my house, you pay taxes.”

This battle rages on until the last bit of candy is finally gone weeks later. The Turk claims it to be a good dose of reality for our future taxpayers while the kids loudly lament the injustice. While the Turk is blatant about his thievery, I like to keep mine on the down low, sneaking a piece when the goods are left unattended. Either way, every Halloween sends the Turk and I both a little further down the diabetes track.

So yes, I hate Halloween and I think my reasons are pretty valid. But for another year, I will suck it up. I’ll dress my offspring in so many layers they can barely move and follow behind as they cover more miles in one night than their legs knew possible. I’ll watch their sugar highs rise and fall and shield Nugget’s eyes from “scawy guys.” And when it’s over I’ll pair my wine with a side Mr. Goodbar and check off another year.

Happy Halloween!

Load ‘Em Up And Move ‘Em Out

packing and moving

The email from our relocation agent concluded, “We realize that relocations can be difficult so we are here to make the transition as seamless and comfortable as possible for you and all members of your family.” Were this my first relocation rodeo, I might have bought this line, but I’ve done the relocation jam a few times so in response to the email all I could think was, “bitch please.”

From past experience, (And I’ve had way too much experience with moves.) I know that the load out is the worst. When you have control issues, like myself, it’s even worse. It might not be bamboo under your fingernails while being held hostage in a goat crate bad, but it feels about like that.

Load out week is when the proverbial crap hits the turbo fan. Packers show up and progress at a pace that illustrates utter disdain for any form of organization you may have attempted to put into place. Bubble wrap and packing tape flow like confetti at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Boxes form a modern art version of Mt. Rushmore in your garage and every ounce of hostility or contempt you’ve suppressed towards your spouse for the entirety of your union flows to the surface like the damn Mississippi. It’s an ugly, ugly time.

Having traversed this path before, I knew what was coming. However, I tried to block  out the horrors when I realized this particulair move out week would coincide with my end of the school year. The same week I would be wrapping up a job, finishing grades, preparing to close on a house, finishing underwriting on a new house and dealing with my own children who were done with their educational pursuits and ready to wreck summertime havoc, total strangers would be shoving my earthy possessions into a semi without my watchful eye. Conversely the children I teach were likewise ready to be done for the summer, acting like rabid monkeys while partaking in a final week full of exhaustive “special” activities. I was on the precipice of mayhem.

This timing meant there was no choice but to turn over the reins to the Turk but the mere thought of such an action gave me palpitations. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of control, I woke at 4:00am daily to organize the packing and leave psycho post-it notes on virtually everything. “Pack!”  “Don’t Pack!”  “Pack Carefully!” (PS – had I encountered my own post-its, I’d have immediately hated me.)  I laid out all this psychosis before going to work at 7:00 where I did thinks like standing in a stream with a bunch of middle schoolers in 90 degree heat or leading group hikes without mentioning the giant snake that crossed the trail before us.

Initially I’d crafted a much more sensible plan. I was going to finish teaching Friday, have the packers on Saturday, load the truck on Sunday and leave Monday allowing me to orchestrate every moment without relying on the Turk. Perfection. But then the moving company changed their mind and the crap-tastic moving maelstrom began.

The packers arrived mid-week while I was at work rather than Saturday as was scheduled in my master plan. They then informed us the moving van would arrive on Friday rather than Monday shooting my plan completely to hell. While the Turk was awed by the two heavily tattooed and equally heavily muscled women packing our house, I was left void of all control and near death by anxiety. When I arrived home from work to the disarray, I’m pretty sure the look of terror in our cat Cengiz’s eyes was the same one reflected in mine. I harkened back to the earlier email, “…we are here to make the transition as seamless and comfortable as possible for you and all members of your family.” In that moment, even the cat was thinking, “Bitch please.”

The night before the truck was to load, I had to go to graduation to say my final, tearful goodbyes to my school babies. I tucked my mini-Turks safely away at grandma’s and left the Turk with some important tasks at the house in lieu of child rearing.

1 – Get Cengiz to what the The Turk likes to call, “The Cat Hotel” (aka boarding) to avoid traumatizing the surly cat any further.

2 – Clean the refrigerator. (Including scrubbing Nugget goo off the doors.)

3 – Clean so I don’t have to clean the entire house before we roll out.

If you’re a regular reader, (and I’m sure you are…) you know how the Turk responds to to-do lists. I rushed home from grandma’s the next morning before work only to be met at the door by Cengiz.

“Why is the cat still here?” I asked.

“He did not want to go.”

“You’re kidding me right? How do you know this?”

“He tell me.”

“You speak cat now?”

“Yes. Turks are very connected to animals.”

I tried to do one of those deep breathing techniques we teach the kids at school to keep them from having a meltdown. It worked for like two seconds until I opened the fridge.

“What the hell? Why is this still full and gross?”

“I can do it.”

“But the whole point was you stayed here to do it last night.”

“Well I started with the beer fridge. I got that done though.”

“You cleaned out the beer fridge? Let me guess, by drinking it clean?”

“Yes. How else I clean it?”

Before I could express my profanity laden frustration rant, a massive semi pulled into our little segement of suburbia. It was gameday and we were painfully unprepared.

I had less than an hour before I needed to be at work and my hostility and anxiety were in overdrive.

I began throwing orders at the Turk, “Get the cat in the carrier. I’ll take him to the Cat Hotel.” before heading off to instill adequate fear into the moving crew. I needed to insure supreme care and caution would be exercised in my absence. (I may be 5’4 and squishy but in my mind I’m like 6’7” and intimidating as hell.) Five minutes later I returned to find the cat holed-up under a futon with the Turk on his knees pleading.

“Come out Cengiz. It be ok. You will love the Cat Hotel. You meet friends. It be fun. I promise.”

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“See? He not want to go.”

“It doesn’t matter! Get the cat in the carrier. I have to go.”

I watched the Turk click, snap, use baby talk and even use Turkish sweet nothings but Cengiz wasn’t coming out. I’m all for letting people pursue their own methodology but sometimes there is no time for such madness when my method is proven.

I snapped to Number One Son waiting downstairs who magically appeared with his brother, both clutching the cat carrier. Stepping over the Turk, I clutched the futon and She-Hulked that badboy across the room, grabbed Cengiz by his neck scruff and put him in the carrier. Done.

The Turk put him in the car all the while cooing and reassuring the cat.

The entire load-out would progress in a similar fashion. The Turk was left in charge but I’m sure you know who had to finish the job with a hostile cleaning in 99% humidity at the end of the process. But hey, at least the beer fridge was clean.

Somehow, it all got loaded, the house got cleaned and Cengiz treated his first stay at a Cat Hotel like a spa visit. Most importantly, I will not disclose how much wine it took to get me through phase one.

 

Misfortune Is Simply Fodder For Funny

falling down

We’ve all met that person who has a full cannon of personal anecdotes with stories so crazy, so outlandish that you end up wiping tears from your cheeks while you wonder to yourself, “This can’t be true, right?” Well, I’m here to tell you these stories are true. (Unless the storyteller is in a bar, then these might be big ol’ booze lies.)

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that there are people, like myself, whose lives are so ridiculous that our life’s purpose is to provide entertainment to the masses by sharing our tales. I’m also certain the universe crossed the paths of the Turk and I all those years ago for no other reason than to make us the life of every party we attend by recounting our daily foibles and if last week is any indicator, there is no hope of things changing.

It began on Sunday. I was working in the yard when I heard the vacuum. Since I’d vacuumed an hour earlier, this Nancy Drew needed to investigate. As I called to him from the garage, he began to stammer his now frequent catch phrase. “Don’t worry, I fix it.”

No woman, anywhere, ever wants to hear the phrase “Don’t worry, I fix it.” Ever.

Inside the house, I found a dusting of drywall with bits of plaster coating half of the living room and interspersed within the furniture were huge chunks of insulation. Reflexively I looked up to the vaulted ceiling and released a large, involuntary, “Ohhhhhh nooooo.”

The Turk stood at the top of the stairs, right below the giant hole in my living room ceiling. Sheepishly he added, “I fix it. Don’t worry. Next week I take vacation and I do it then. Don’t worry.”

He’d gone into the attic to check on a leak and prepare to install a ceiling fan (Another project he felt capable of executing after watching a couple YouTube videos. God help us.)

“You stepped off the beams didn’t you?” I asked.

“How you know?”

“Because in American houses there is nothing between the beams.”

He looked down at me with utter confusion. “How I know that? In Turkey houses are concrete.”

Touche.

“At least I didn’t fall through there,” he added pointing to a full set of six other dent/not quite holes, going across the ceiling.

—-

That was Sunday. Monday was uneventful followed by a Tuesday that started the same but escalated quickly to hot mess status.

Thanks to summer storms, we dealt with a long day of power outages so though I’m usually a frugal gal, (cheap ass and tight wad have also been used to describe me but I prefer frugal.) I declared, “We’re going out for dinner!”

As we enjoyed a dinner prepared by someone other than myself and served in an air conditioned establishment, I cut a deal with the Turk – “Help Number 1 get ready for football tryouts with a little catch or fold the 3 loads of laundry I busted out between power outages.” The choice might seem obvious but in our house, football is my jam so it could go either way. (For a recap of our football journey, check out this previous entry.)

“I take football.” And those were his famous last words.

Minutes later a small voice outside yelled, “Um, Mom…Mom…Mom!!!!” immediately followed by a loud Nugget voice yelling, “Mom! Baba is boken.”

From the upstairs window I could see the Turk writhing on the ground and spewing Turkish profanity. His thrashing body was mere inches from a hole I’d asked him to fill for the past two years (Isn’t it always?) so I bit my tongue and yelled from the window, “Are you broken?”

“Evet.” (‘Yes’ in Turkish. We go bilingual for clarity in states of emergency.)

“Do you need help?” I called; wanting to make sure it was real and not soccer field drama being employed to get out of playing catch, before I abandoned my laundry pile.

He switched back to English, “I think I need go hospital.”

After some Turkish profanity on my part, and an epic level of tongue-biting around the whole hole situation, I loaded up one broken Turk and two half-breed Turks and headed to the ER where I nervously filled the silence with statements like, “You’ve only been an American for 4 years, you’re not American enough for football yet.” And “Next time I bet you choose laundry.” (FYI – Unless you’re open to sarcasm, nervous joking and huge bouts of impatience, I’m the last person you want by your side in an Emergency Room.)

…3 hours later we had a diagnosis of a fractured ankle along with a pair of crutches, orders to put no weight on it until he went to the orthopedist and a prescription for pills that made him so goofy I thought he might have to sleep it off in the car.

Thankfully, by the end of the week the orthopedist put him on one crutch and a walking boot. It was a damn good thing too because when it comes to caregiving I am nothing short of Nurse Ratchett and between one immobile Turk and two incredibly needy ½ Turks, a few more days might have given me a ticket to a vacation at Betty Ford Rehab.

So that was last week, and while most of our weeks don’t usually result in a maiming, the level of drama is constant and this summer has been no different.

The other day Number 1 Son said, “Mom, why do you always laugh when bad things happen? It’s a little psycho.”

I replied, “Well son, yes I am a little psycho, but years ago I learned that with this ridiculous life, if I didn’t laugh and entertain people with my crazy tales, I’d be dead.”

He nodded in understanding but I think that was just for the part where I admitted to being a little psycho.

There are 2 weeks left before school starts and 4 more weeks before the Turk is out of his cast. That’s a lot of room for more ridiculousness. But fret not, I’ll keep sharing my stories because clearly it’s my station in life. I’m preparing for my canonization somewhere in my 60s..St. Margaret of the Turks…what do you think?

 

 

4 Wise Men and Krampus Wished Me a Merry Christmas

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Ten days ago, a goat appeared in my mailbox. It was a small goat, carved of wood with a couple of crazy-ass eyes that did conjure thoughts of Krampus, the half goat, half man Christmas demon. It was wrapped in tissue with “On The First Day…” scrawled on the paper. Immediately, as one does in situations such as this, I began to sing. (When faced with a mystery everyone sings right? Didn’t Matlock?) In my sought-after style resembling a tone-deaf church lady, I sang, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a goat in my mailbox.” Hubba whaaa? I am known for my extreme skill at misquoting lyrics, (You will never convince me it’s not really Big ‘ole Jeff left the lights on instead of Big ‘ole jet airliner) but I could’ve sworn it was a partridge in a pear tree.

Entrenched in end of semester grading and swimming through the pain that is the lead up to Christmas break, I didn’t have any extra brain cells to spend on my mailbox Krampus so I tucked him in the napkin bin and chalked it up to something quirky in my strangely friendly neighborhood. (For real, people bring you baked goods in this ‘hood and they are not even laced with weed or trying to convince you to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. Definitely unlike all of our old ‘hoods.)

It was all rather innocuous until the Turk found the goat and with a quiver of panic in his voice said, “Wat is dis? Is religious thing?”

My darling husband The Turk, simply by being from a Muslim country, frequently finds himself the recipient of unwarranted advances from the devout of Indiana hoping to save his soul. (If only they knew it was a lost cause long before he married this lapsed Catholic infidel.) The poor guy has received more invitations to attend church than a Kardashian has had butt lifts. (I don’t get the whole ‘come to church with me thing’. In the Catholicism I grew up with, if you weren’t part of the club by birth, we offered you nothing more than a cool welcome and a rear pew.)

Given his experiences, it made sense that he assumed the goat was another attempt to convert the foreign neighbor to some form of Christianity. I however, not nearly as sane as my husband, went to a much darker place.

As a long-time crime show connoisseur and the proud owner of a ridiculously wild imagination, I surmised I knew the real meaning behind the goat in my mailbox and when two more goats arrived on day three, my suspicions were all confirmed.

On day three, upon returning home from a long day at school I opened my mailbox to find 2 more carved animals with the crazy-ass Krampus eyes. A snowstorm had forced my stalker to double up on a delivery. A total of three tissue clad, goats was too many. It was time to open an investigation.

Thanks to my incredibly warped and well trained mind, I concluded I had 9 days left to live as I was now facing death by bludgeoning with a goat horn underneath my Christmas tree, orphaning my children and leaving my Turk a widower. (Which also meant I had 9 days to line him up with a new wife because I love him that crazy bastard too much to leave him to handle life on his own.) While changing into my evening yoga pants, I took a quick glance through my closet to choose my 12th day of Christmas ensemble because even though I’d be dead, I still wanted to look good when they showed footage of the crime scene on Dateline.

Once I’d covered those important things, I laid out my investigation. (Using the scientific method of course, because when you spend your days drilling it into the minds of middle schoolers, it infects your world.)

Question: Who is leaving secret messages in my mailbox and what is their motive?

Hypothesis: I hypothesize that the messages are a warning that I will be killed by a crazy-eyed goat on the 12th day of Christmas.

Procedure:

  1.  Establish a perimeter
  2. Dust mailbox for prints
  3. Set up surveillance
  4. Swab goats for DNA and run any findings through CODIS
  5. Install a camera in the mailbox, record all criminal activity. Isolate images of any questionable individuals and run the images through FBI facial recognition software.
  6. Interview neighbors in the hopes of identifying suspicious behavior.

Since steps 1 – 5 were hard and would likely be a lot of work and I had laundry to do and dinner to make, I decided to skip ahead to step 6. I sent a text to my neighbor on the right.

  Me: Weird question, but have you been receiving any small carved goats in your mailbox recently?

            Her : Um no. It’s 4:00. Are you drinking already?

            Me: Perhaps. Do you think these are a sign that someone is coming to kill me?

           Her: Totally. You should have some wine to relax.

I told you this neighborhood was idyllic.

Having reached a dead end with the right side neighbor, I went left.

   Me: Odd question – have you been receiving small carved goats in your mailbox or is this a message that someone is coming to kill me?

            Her: No but we got them last year.

            Me: OMG. Really? Did someone try to kill you? I didn’t see it in the HOA newsletter.

            Her: No attempted murder. It’s a surprise gift from a neighbor. It will be a nativity set in the end.

           Me: Ahhhhhhhhh. Good to know.

           Her: No need to panic.

           Me: Well, I am from Philly…and Turkey…sooooo….

           Her: Understood.

And there you have it. Word is that this is not a message from a serial killer or a secret summonsing from Krampus. But so far I’ve got 3 goats, 4 wise men (Even though I’m sure Sister Nora said there were only three.) and what may be a shepherd or a member of Al Qaida, I’m not yet sure.

I’m not sure I believe the story so if you never hear from me again, I ask only two things – make sure you watch my Dateline episode so I win at ratings postumously  and more importantly, make sure the Turk doesn’t marry a whore.

Merry Christmas to all!!

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Hells Yeah, It’s Thanksgiving Gurl!

turkey-riding

The time is upon us again and my heart, with her arteries prepared to clog within days, is all a twitter. Why? Because, my friends, it is nearly Thanksgiving the most wonderful time of the year.

I’ve always had a solid love of Thanksgiving (not really that odd for a fat kid) and that love has only grown stronger with age. During our years living in Turkey, I deemed November the “Month of Which We Do Not Speak” and would refer to the month only by it’s Turkish name, Kasim, so I would not be reminded of what I’d lost. (On more than one occasion post-repatriation, I have legitimately been asked how the Turks celebrate Thanksgiving so I feel like I should issue a little reminder that while there is a Thanksgiving turkey, there is no Thanksgiving in Turkey. I’ll just leave that there. No need to admit if you had to think about it. I judge silently.)

While many people get the tingles at the mere mention of Christmas, I do not. I’m not a fan of the Holly Jolly. Christmas is hectic and expensive. There is always high drama and high expectations and quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that. The Turkish version of Christmas happens on December 31st and includes a skinny dude with a ‘stache called Baba Noel delivering, one – just one- gift to ring in the new year. None of this 3-month lead up, no stores blaring Christmas music from the first of October and they give you a whole extra prep week. I’ve lobbied for this approach in America with no takers. (America, considering our current plague of obesity, would it be so bad to have a chain-smoking, trim Santa as a role model?)

No, Thanksgiving is my jam. Last year Thanksgiving came after a dismal autumn that included Nugget’s kidney reconstruction, copious visits to get his hearing aid fitted, his Apraxia diagnosis and our introduction to learning ASL. Mama was playing stay-at-home mom so funds were tight and I was weighing my options for pole-dancing as a means to provide Christmas. It was not our finest November and even Thanksgiving couldn’t bring me around.

But this year…this family is in fighting form! Mama’s back to work in a job that does not include dancing or poles, (Yes society, your collective sigh of relief is audible.) Nugget’s kidney is pumping like new. And though he has a love/hate relationship with it, his hearing aid has been a game changer for his speech and while he still uses ASL to communicate on the reg, he also never shuts up. (Though I can only decipher about 50%, in his mind he’s fluent and has gone so far as to begin adding in some Turkish which isn’t all that helpful but amazing all the same.) This year Thanksgiving, it is GAME ON.

I made my menu last Friday and had 90% of my food shopping done by Saturday morning (and booze…of course I already bought the booze.) On Sunday, I began the great turkey thaw of ’16 so I can brine that bird on Tuesday. Monday I sent the Turk (who took the week off to use up some vacation time with the intention of winterizing our world, but instead became my Girl Friday…or I guess that would be my Turk Friday.) all over the city in search of missing ingredients. Before you feel too bad for the Turk, know that while he’s relatively new to this whole Thanksgiving thing, he is a Black Friday junkie and he spent much of Sunday laying out his own plan of attack for the wee hours of Friday morning.

Tuesday as I lovingly rub Lonna, (That’s this year’s bird. I find I put in more effort if I name them. Don’t judge me.) and whisper sweet nothings into that little slot where her head used to be, I will cover her in brine and await the glory of what she will become. Tuesday evening I will return home after a hard day at school, elated to begin Thanksgiving break. As I turn Lonna in her brine, in a celebratory gesture, I’ll grab her by the wings and turn my kitchen into a dance floor as Lonna and I execute a quality Argentinian Tango. (I get all my moves from Dancing With the Stars. So does Nugget.)

Wednesday is what I like to call the pregame. Pies, cake, relishes, rolls and anything else I can chop, dice or shred. Don’t expect meals, children, Mama’s got cooking to do. Number One Son will be whipping up piecrusts while Nugget proofs the yeast…ok more like Number One will whine about going to play outside while Nugget rubs roasted pumpkin into the cat’s fur.

And Thursday when my alarm goes off at it’s usual ungodly hour I will rise without once even considering snooze, pull on my fatigues,(or yoga pants, whichever is clean) paint my face with camo (or moisturizer as camo make-up makes my glasses slide down my nose) and take my place at the kitchen counter, prepared for greatness.

It’s been a crap year. 2016 has held maximum suckage. We’ve lost greats, lived on edge for an entire year, been bombarded with stupidity on so, so many fronts, face great uncertainty about our future and elected a moron. But even amid all that, my family has so much to be thankful for and what better way to celebrate than by stuffing ourselves into obesity with high quality edibles made with love by a surly mother. (I’m pretty sure that’s how the first Thanksgiving got started too.)

So do as I’ve been doing since about November 9th, turn off the television (except for football or Dancing With The Stars) unplug from the stress of social media (love you all but the break has done me good) explore new wines, play obscene amounts of Uno with the kids and enjoy this fine, fine holiday.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING From the Turks!!!!

I Got Your Christmas Cheer Right Here

ChristmasThis is one of those years when it’s hard to get that holly jolly feeling going. With all the crap happening in our world, the hate and stupidity that feels like it’s reaching epic proportions and this weirdo weather, (I’m looking at you El Nino) Christmas spirit is hard to find. Combine that with the normal drama that comes with the holidays like family dysfunction, feelings of inadequacy (I love Martha, but I blame you.) hectic schedules, whiney children and financial stress and it’s easy to just throw a pair of socks in a gift bag and call the whole thing off. (Full disclosure, I did this once in Turkey. My dramatic gesture was totally wasted on my Muslim-non-Christmas-understanding-extended family so I wouldn’t recommend it.)

After all that we’ve been through this year with the Nugget’s health, my not working to care for the afore mentioned sick Nugget (For you long-term readers, things have been tight but, I haven’t resorted to working the pole on Cellulite Night yet, though Christmas could send me over so I’ve worked up a little number to Brickhouse just in case.) the Turk’s crazy work stress and the strain of a new home, new town and new school, I seriously considered a repeat of the socks in a bag scenario this year. (Full disclosure: I also considered putting a receipt for dental work in one stocking and a hearing aid in the other with a note from Santa that said, “Here kids, Santa took the practical route this year.”)

Luckily, a couple weeks ago a brilliant man who’s only been celebrating Christmas since he married a stunningly good-looking American broad, saved our Christmas. “You have to relax. You cannot cancel Christmas. The boys will be little just for short time. I know you are tired and worry about money but we are very lucky this year. We made it through everything. We have forever for saving money.” While my gut disagreed, my heart knew that crazy, hairy bastard was right. So, I adopted a few well-known mantras to change my Christmas vibe and I now pass those to you.

  1. News and Politics- Just say No.SANTA (1)

The Turk and I are news junkies. NPR, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNN TURK, HaberTurk, Cumhurieyet, we subscribe to them all. The crux of our marriage has long been discussing both Turkish and American politics. But right now both of our countries are panic-stricken train-wrecks and all this hate-mongering and sabre rattling is killing me so I’m checking out. No Turkish news. No American news. I’m going to just say no and to be honest, having my morning coffee with Curious George instead of George Stephanopolis has been rather nice. I’m choosing a week of ignorance and two days in, I can say ignorance has definitely been bliss.

  1. Stupid People – Let it Go

We’ve all got one. You are minutes away from diggin’ into some figgy pudding when your gun-lovin’, NRA-fundin’ Uncle Dick starts spewing his views on the need for all kindergarten teachers to pack heat in order to fend off evildoers. Before he’s done he will go on to tell you that Obama is a Muslim, Trump is going to make a great president and Starbucks started the war on Christmas with those red cups. I don’t think I’m the first to point out that Uncle Dick is crazy. (Unfortunately, in my family we’ve got several scattered on both sides of the globe) Sure, you could put down your hot toddy and try to school Uncle Dick but he’s already been lost to the Dark Side. You can’t fix crazy so why let it ruin your Christmas? Let it go. Sing the song in your head while he’s talking and let it go. And later, when you log onto Facebook and see ridiculously racist posts from people you’ve not spoken to since high school graduation in 1990, do you need to chime in and school them? Nope. Remember, you can’t fix stupid either. Just let it go. It’s only hurting you. Feel free to pick the fight up again in few days but as for Christmas, pour yourself a tall glass of wine, sit back and watch the crazy train pull right past your stop. Don’t get on, just let it go.

  1. Food, Drink and Fun– Treat Yo Self!

The holidays are a time for indulgence and for those of us who cannot buy our beloved a new Lexus with a bow on top or an armful of Le Vion diamonds from Jared, (not that I know what those even are) we must turn to budget indulgences. My budget go-tos are usually food and booze. I’m classy like that. Give me an iced Santa cookie with a cup of Folgers for breakfast or some $3 chardonnay with a port wine cheese ball and I’ll turn into freakin’ Little Mary Sunshine. It’s the little indulgences that make things special and that is also what the kids remember. So, treat yo self. Have cookies for breakfast. Push bedtime back. Cheat at Memory (I’m old. I have no other choice.) Have a dinner of cocktail weenies and peanut clusters. It’s Christmas for godssakes. And when faced with the age-old dilemma- Should I have that additional glass of wine before heading to mass? WWJD? Jesus would say, “It’s my birthday. Treat yo self.”

So there you go – Just Say No like Nancy Regan, Let It Go like those broads from Frozen and Treat Yo Self like Tom Haverford and you too can find your holiday Zen and avoid a socks in a bag Christmas.

As for me, I think it’s acutally working because I was awakened by a barfing toddler this morning and I’m still feeling pretty damn good. Now, go Treat Yo Self to a bottle of $3 merlot. It’s Christmas.

From our half-breed – bi-cultural home to yours, Merry Christmas- Mutlu Noel!

christmas tree