Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays

I know I haven't been around much lately. And the truth is, I've been busy. It's the holidays with all the festivities and craziness that goes with it. I find myself committing to too many social gatherings while work is busier than ever. Whatever free time I have, I've had to decide between sleep and recreation, and sadly, my recreation time is being reallocated for the time being.

But I'd like to take this time to wish you all a very Happy and Festive Holiday Season. I know that for many, it's crazy trying to find the right gift for people this time of year. And the stress of the holidays gets to be too much sometimes. But, aside from all the commercialization and chaos that often pervades this holiday season, I'd like to stop and take the time to truly remember what the spirit of the holidays is all about. It's about taking the time to be thankful for all the good things that have happened in your life, and it's about taking the time to let the people you love know how much you appreciate them and are thankful for having them in your life.

So, I'd like to thank you all for your support this year, and I'm truly honored and grateful to count you among friends. You're all a wonderful group of funny, smart, and incredibly caring and brave people. It's been a crazy year, and with your efforts and kindness, we survived, ready to face the new year with hope for better times to come. So thank you, for everything. And I want all of you to have a wonderful holiday season.

Now, I've put up on the side bar some old holiday posts to keep you entertained in the meantime. I've a few days after Xmas where I'll be free to roam the blogosphere once more. Until then, Happy Holidays to all, and Merry Xmas, everyone!!!

P.S. I know it's very, very, VERY late, but I'd like to send y'all some Holiday Greeting cards, so, when you've stopped laughing and shaking your head, feel free to send me a mailing address to eroswings AT if you want a Holiday card from me (and yes, the AT means @ in the email address). Last year, I emailed e cards instead. This year, I want to mail regular holiday cards. I know, it's late, but hey, just be happy that I spent the postage to let you know that I want to wish you a very Happy Holiday Season! So cheers!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Something to talk about

Sometimes, I wonder where common sense has gone, and how much things have changed. Take dinner parties, for example. When I was younger, I learned that the three topics never to bring up at dinner parties were religion, politics, and sex. It's always polite to talk about the weather and geography and the food. Either people haven't gotten this message or times have truly changed!

It started when my friend made a comment about how the weather was making her skin dry. I told her that I agreed with her, and that the dry, cold air was making my skin dry, too. Suddenly, my friend's elderly aunt--a former Hippie in her 60s--decided to join our conversation, stating, "Oh, you youngsters don't know the meaning of the word dry."

We paused to give her our attention. And I regretted it immediately when she continued, "At my age, everything's dry--my skin, my hair, even my vagina."

That's right. She said her vagina! At which point the other conversations going around the dinner table stopped, and everyone else started paying attention to what the old lady was saying, "I have several different moisturizers for my skin and sex is very uncomfortable with a dry vagina, so I have to use a lot of lubrication so I can enjoy it better."

That's right. She said she has to use a lot of lubrication! She continued, "When you get to be my age, after menopause, it's like a desert down there."

At this point, I imagined a vulture, circling the skies, looking out for dead and dying creatures on the desert floor that is this woman's vagina. Suffice it to say I kept my mouth shut for fear of what other tidbits this elderly lady might want to share. Now I know why they call it menopause. Because at that age, the things that these women say give men-a-pause! Whether it's hormonal changes altering behavior or these women just don't give a damn any more, I don't know.

Now, I may not read Miss Manners, but I'm pretty sure that dry vaginas are not topics one should discuss at dinner parties. It's a dinner party, not a gynecologists convention! This morning, after I met my friend for breakfast, she asked me to go shopping with her. I blame the fact that I'm not a morning person, that my brain was not fully functioning when I answered her question, "What do you think I should get my aunt for Christmas?"

To which I immediately replied, "A big bottle of lube!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where did November go?

It's hard to believe that it's the last month of the year again. Once again, time went by quickly. When I think about what I did last month, I draw blank. But I'm sure I did some very important things. And when I think about it some more, really concentrate, I start to remember what those things were.

It's no surprise that I went out and voted on Nov 2nd elections. They may not be as popular as the Presidential elections every four years, but they are important. And I want to be sure to cast my vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job of representing my interests and shaping the policies and laws that affect our lives and our future. Not all the candidates I voted for won, but some did, and I feel good knowing that I made a difference in some of these tight races. I like being able to vote. In some countries, they don't have this right; some people have to brave bullets and bombings and death threats to cast their votes in hope of a better life. The way I figure, if you don't vote or take part in the workings of your government, then you shouldn't complain when the government doesn't work they way you want it to work. Government only works when people participate.

Work has been getting hectic. Not only has the workload increased, but we've lost key members of our staff, including some supervisors! Not that I blame them. The work is hard. I find myself taking on more and more responsibilities, doing management level work without the compensation and in addition to my own workload. And when middle management tried to change my classification into an official supervisory role (without any increase in pay or compensation), I declined! Much to their dismay and shock!

I'm not taking up any more stress and demands on my time without the proper compensation and official change in responsibilities. I can't do two different, demanding jobs at the same time! I've no doubt some higher up thought it would be a good way to save money, but there is no way in hell am I putting myself on the line for that kind of stress and hazardous working conditions! And did I mention that the workers have organized themselves and have made remarkable gains in membership and power in their dealings with the big corporation? It's a stressful time at work, but I confess that I'm also excited to see the staff starting to band together to create solutions to serious problems that have long plagued the workforce and driven away other good staff to the competition.

Some people like working overtime, for the money, I suppose. But I don't. I'd rather have my free time, my weekends off to do the things that make me happy, the things that make life worth living. And no amount of money can ever replace the time I use to enjoy life. You can't ever have enough time...once it's gone, you can't replace it. Life is short. Live it as best you can; do the things that make you happy. Spend time with the people you love and the ones who make you laugh.

And it wouldn't be November without Thanksgiving, the holiday celebrated on the last Thursday and Friday of November. It's basically a holiday to gather with loved ones and give thanks for all the good things that've happened in the year and to remember to be grateful for all the things you have and for the loved ones still in your life. It is supposed to remember how those early English Pilgrims, fleeing religious persecution in England and seeking a new land to call home, were able to survive that first harsh year in the New World, thanks to the American Indians. Those Native Americans took pity on those starving strangers, who had lost almost half of their original number since their arrival. The American Indians taught the Pilgrims how to farm and fish and hunt, how to live and survive in the New World. And with their first bountiful harvest, they held a 3 day feast to celebrate their survival and friendship. Or so goes the school children version.

If those American Indians had foreseen that in a few years, those immigrant Europeans would start taking their lands and killing their people and extinguishing their culture, I doubt they would've been so helpful and kind to the invading hordes. But no good deed goes unpunished. And now we're left with the remnants of a once great people whose lands were taken by deceit and blood and forcibly relocated to the wastelands, far away from their homes. Now, they struggle to survive and they are not finding the kindness they once showed these starving strangers returned to them. History is myth created from facts chosen by the victors. I say, give the Indians back their lands! So they can build more casinos! I'm tired of taking the bus for hours to get to Louisiana to gamble! I'd rather spend more time gambling locally instead of taking the bus out of state! Support local businesses!

Seriously, though, they didn't have turkey that first Thanksgiving. Just like Christmas, the whole Thanksgiving traditions were born after years of different people adding different ideas to create the Thanksgiving we know and celebrate today. Sure, it's much different from the first one. After all, it took those Pilgrims and Indians 3 days to chomp down on that feast. These days, we can chow it all down in one evening and go shopping the next day! I did get a turkey for Thanksgiving--for free, actually. And as soon as I got it defrosted, I roasted it and called some friends over that Sunday, and served it up with some fried chicken, sweet cornbread, potato salad, corn, gravy, mac & cheese, and with peach cobbler as dessert.

For Thanksgiving that Thursday, I went to 3 different dinners, bringing wine wherever I went. I had a crate of white wine in my trunk! The first Thanksgiving meal was celebrated before noon with a deep fried turkey! It was perfect as the weather was a little cooler but still good enough for outdoors cooking! That turkey was moist, delicious, and spicy! Around 4 pm, I went to another Thanksgiving gathering, where we were served Turducken--turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken! It was delicious! And after playing some games with some friends, we went to the last Thanksgiving dinner of the day, held later that evening with a traditional roasted turkey, complete with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, candied yams, and pumpkin pie. It was a wonderful feast! Heck, all three celebrations were tasty and fantastic.

There's a trick to eating this much food in one day, one that I've mastered over the years. You have to stick to the meat! Avoid fillers like vegetables and bread! Stick to the meat and you'll be able to eat as much as you want! And sample the dessert and decide if you want it. You can wrap it up and take it home to eat later!

After taking a nap to rest from the day of stuffing myself, I was dragged to the stores before midnight. Not because the stores were open, but because my friend wanted to be among the first to enter the stores when they opened at 5 am! We were fourth and fifth in line! It's a commercial tradition that's unfortunately become a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. It's called Black Friday, when stores slash their prices for a few hours to encourage customers to come shop for the holidays. It was freakin cold! We took turns making coffee runs and restroom breaks as we huddled against the wall. Luckily, this year, it was more organized, because the workers handed out tickets that allowed us to buy certain desirable merchandise on special sale. And the tickets were handed out according to line order. Was it worth freezing my ass off for hours, waiting to enter a store that I had no intention of purchasing an item from? Well, yeah, if only to see the look of joy on my friend's face.

She wanted several expensive electronic items--a large screen tv and a new laptop--that were on special sale just for a few hours, and they could only be purchased with a special ticket. So I used my ticket to get her that large screen tv on sale--she paid me after, of course. And as cold as it was huddling outside along wall, sitting on hard concrete, sipping hot coffee and dreading having to make another restroom break because all that coffee made me just want to pee, I had a good time.

We laughed; we talked; we shared a camaraderie with the others in line; everyone seemed excited and happy. I have to say it's the first Black Friday that I've been to in over ten years, where I actually enjoyed myself. I didn't experience any of the hustle and rudeness and mayhem usually associated with these sales. That was a nice change. And even when we hit the other stores that opened later, we were still able to find some good deals on great merchandise.

Would I do it again? Probably not on my own, because really, I didn't think I needed anything that was on sale. Still, if a friend wants me to go with them, I probably would go along, if only for the company and help them get what they want. Sure, it's time for giving, but it is the season where we do hope we get what we want.

And what do I want? The same thing every beauty pageant winner wants: World Peace! (and Harmony!). Here's to hoping we make the most of this holiday season, and may we find it full of good cheer, good company, and good friends.