Monthly Archives: December 2011

My new year’s resolutions (and more unlikely things I’ll probably never do)

New year's a few years ago. (Not drunk, I swear. I think I was 18 or 19.)

It’s time to bid farewell to 2011. With less than 48 hours ’til the new year, now is the time to look back on the year and appreciate everything it was, both the good and the bad. It’s also time to crank out those silly new year’s resolutions that everyone makes every year but hardly ever sticks to. It’s kind of ridiculous that we feel we can only make these resolutions and changes at the start of a new year- if you want to change something in your life, just do it, you don’t need to wait for a new calendar year- but we make them nonetheless. In no particular order, here are some of my (unlikely) resolutions:

Be less sarcastic. I’m totally capable of that (insert sarcasm here).

Use more sunscreen. It’s hard when you want that perfect Florida glow.

Stop cursing. There was a brief stint where I actually accomplished this. Of course, I was working at a summer camp and was surrounded by 8- and 9-year-olds on a daily basis, so it made it a lot harder to curse (I used phrases like “that stinks” and “aw, man”). But it simply just comes out. I need something to entice me not to do it; maybe I can have Chuck Norris jump out and punch me every time I let one slip.

Watch less TV. It’s less that I watch it and more that I have it on for background noise. (Riiiiiight.)

Stop drinking Red Bull. If it’s so bad for you, why do they make it taste so good?

Eat less chocolate, cookies, candy, etc. I’m a chocoholic. There is no cure. The end.

Go to the dentist. I brush my teeth pretty regularly. Who needs to spend money to have someone else do it? Although I do like when they use that scraper thing on your teeth…

Get up earlier. Who would want to do that anyway?

 

If by now I’ve severely depressed you or made you lose faith in my ability to have self-control or to change, never fear. I do have changes I plan to implement immediately in the new year, and (hopefully) stick to for more than just 2012. Hope you all have something positive to look forward to in the new year! And if you’re going to make resolutions, avoid being lame and stick to them. 🙂

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Filed under Cynicism, Entertainment, Holidays, humanity, Humor, Lists, Society

Why I need to stop buying things (and other reasons why I don’t want to end up like everyone else)

We are a nation of shopaholics. No matter how much we buy, no matter how much we spend, we always want more.

The problem is, we like things. It could be clothing. Or jewelry. Or media. Or designer handbags. Or electronics- including the latest phones and tablets and other techie gadgets. It doesn’t matter. As soon as we have something new, we want something else, something better. It’s a never-ending cycle that companies in retail love and I hate (to love).

Sure, I bought all this at one point or another. But this photo is staged- it took me a long time to acquire all these bags. 🙂

Now that the biggest consumerist holiday is finally over, you would assume sales would slow and people would reel in their credit and debit cards, at least until the next gift-buying holiday (which, since I don’t count Valentine’s Day as a holiday, shouldn’t be until Easter). But no. I don’t have any concrete facts, no statistics or polls or surveys to support my views, but anyone out shopping yesterday and today would certainly agree there are even more shoppers out now than there were before Christmas. Sure, a lot of people are making returns. But with all the sales stores are boasting already, it’s too tempting to avoid another purchase or two. Or ten. So in reality, yes, you are making your return-something stores hate. But with the appeal of any sort of sale or store clearance, you’re actually more likely to buy and spend more than you brought in to return. And more times than not, you think you’re getting a good deal, because after all, it’s a sale. But if you think about the outrageously high cost you would have (or did) pay before Christmas, when everything was in high demand, and you’d pay anything to get the last iPad or Xbox Kinect, (regardless of how much it was), you’re really not saving anything at all. You’re merely paying what you should have paid in the first place, without the inflation. Stores in general overprice merchandise; they can especially get away with this if they are a popular store with highly sought-after merchandise-I should know, I worked at one most notorious for doing this (oh, Victoria’s Secret, how I do not miss you). Unfortunately, there’s no way around this; if you truly want the label or brand, you’re going to have to pay for it. Unless you forgo the designer label, in which case you can just go to Walmart. Or the dump.

Overall, it makes me sad to think that shopping is one of our society’s favorite pastimes. We care more about material things than we do about anything else. Sure, I won’t deny I like to shop. But there’s a limit, and most people don’t seem to know they’ve already far exceeded it. It seems the more progressive our society becomes, the lazier and more consumed by superficial things we become. If this is what the rest of the world is envious of, if this is what the rest of the world strives to be like, I’m not looking forward to what’s coming next.

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Choosing a tree (and other reasons why Christmas is tragic)

Oh, Christmas tree.

Whether real or fake, it has long been a tradition to put up a Christmas tree for the holidays. I’m not even sure where the tradition began, and why. Who decided, hey, let’s go outside, cut down a tree and bring it into our house. And while we’re at it, we might as well drape lights and shiny plastic and glittering globes of various colors from its branches. It’s kind of a strange tradition if you think about it.

I also wonder when the idea to incorporate fake, plastic trees into the tradition came about. Either way, I’d say the loyalty is split about 50/50 nowadays.

One of the many trees we brought into our home, loved, and discarded.

We always had a real tree growing up- although I can’t necessarily vouch for my early years of life; it’s very possible we had one or two fake ones when I was a baby, but with my dad’s less-than-friendly disposition toward the idea, I think it’s safe to assume we never did. As a kid, the mess and maintenance involved with having a real tree never mattered to me; my dad always took care of the setup, watering and break-down. Sometimes I’d help by vacuuming the stray needles that littered the floor after bringing the tree in and out of the house. But that was usually the extent of it. Instead, I got to help with the decorating and simply enjoy the tree’s beauty and ambiance. And there was always something comforting and homey about having a real tree, between the scent and the look of it.

Sometimes we would just pick one out among the many pre-cut beauties, deciding which ones were ugly, which were too small, which were too big and which was just right.  Usually we’d cut one down ourselves, though, trudging out into the fields, in the snow and cold, searching for that perfect one. My dad always did the cutting (naturally) but it became a tradition that made the whole concept that much more intimate.

But now, this being my first Christmas in my own place, the idea of a fake tree doesn’t seem as unpleasant. I decided to forgo a tree this year, unsure whether I’d even be around to enjoy it or not. But, although it saddens me to think I won’t have a real tree again (at least for awhile), the ease and convenience of a fake tree is becoming more and more appealing. The cost of a freshly-cut tree can get expensive, up into the hundreds for a real good one, and when you’re done enjoying it for a month or so, you throw it out. Sure, a fake tree (a decent one, not one of those ugly, tacky ones) is probably not cheap either. But what, you spend a few hundred once, and then you have it for years to come. You pull it out of storage once a year, set it up, and that’s it, no watering, no maintenance, no falling needles to litter the floor and prick your feet. The idea still bums me out, but I still have a year to think about it.

For now I will just try and focus on not thinking about what’s coming next, what happens to the real trees after they’ve served their purpose- or for those unlucky ones that were never bought, after they’ve been rejected over and over again. I always wondered what happened to the ones nobody wanted, but the older I get, the less I try to think about it. The outlook is bleak, and the more I let myself dwell on the thought, the more depressed I become.

Quite frankly, I mourn for you, Christmas tree. Not only are you disrespected by the millions of plastic wannabes that adorn shop windows the day after Halloween (and sometimes before), but for those who are lucky enough to be cut down and loved (for however long a time) your life is short-lived. When we’re done using you, when we’ve gotten everything we can out of you, when we no longer need you or care about you, you are tossed out, lost among the other trash, the crumpled wrapping paper, the empty boxes, the broken ornaments. You are nothing more than a decoration, and once you’ve served your purpose, we move on.

You mean nothing. You are forgotten.

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Filed under Christmas, community, Cynicism, Entertainment, Holidays, humanity, Opinion, Society

What I want for Christmas (and other unlikely things that will never come to pass)

Every year, friends and family ask me what I want for Christmas, and I never really have a good answer. More often than not (especially now, in my current state of holiday grinchy-ness) I convince people not to buy me anything, mainly to avoid the sheer uncomfortable nature of the whole gift-giving tradition. But every year, millions of kids around the world write well-thought-out (albeit highly grammatically incorrect) letters to Santa, describing their biggest dreams and ultimate desires, trying to convince him that they’ve been extra special good and deserving and could he please make sure to bring everything they ask for. So I’ve decided it’s time to write the fat man himself and get him to straighten out a thing or two in my world.

 

 

Dear Santa.

Look at that face. That's the face of someone on the nice list.

I know you are real, even though as a small child (and by small child I mean probably 11 or 12 years old) my parents- effectively ruining my life and crushing my hopes and dreams- told me that you did not exist. Even though there was a boot print in the fireplace that one year. And the cookies were always gone. Although, the milk was still there, I don’t know what that’s about. Anyway, here’s my Christmas list. I think I deserve everything on it because I’ve been pretty good this year. In no particular order, here’s what I want for Christmas:

A British accent.  But not a fake one. I have an impeccable British accent, but it’s fake. I want to be British and have a real British accent. Then I can move back to London and not feel creepy talking to people with my British accent.

The ability to talk to animals. Like Eliza Thornberry. But better looking.

World peace.

A new government. Because ours sucks. The end.

Jesse Lacey.

To find Atlantis.

The end of homelessness.

My dead dog Ninja. Because she was my best friend. And she’s better than your dog.

A haunted castle. Because I’m creepy and I want to meet a ghost. Plus who wouldn’t want a castle?

To meet aliens.

To dive the Titanic.

A penguin.

Self-driving cars. Because sometimes I’m just too lazy to drive.

My own country.

Smaller feet. 

The end of animal cruelty. Because I like animals better than people.

A submarine.

Antarctica.

Tim Burton’s brain. Because he’s an artistic genius.

Halloween year-round.

Love,

your biggest fan/admirer/advocate/supporter/enthusiast/believer/any other noun that will sway you to concession,

Julia

 

P.S. If you don’t bring me everything I ask for, I will have no other choice but to poison you with sour milk and raw cookies next year.

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Why I will (probably) never run a yellow light again (and other insights into a first-time experience)

Car accidents suck.

We know this as fact because they’re a part of everyday life, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. We’re intrigued by them because we’re nosy, we want to know what happened, how it happened, who was involved, whether they’re okay or not. We want to have a part in helping, in saving someone or calming them down. For most of us, we never believe one will ever happen to us. We see them all the time, we hear the sirens and wonder where they’re going. We sit in traffic because of them. We drive by them, rubbernecking to get the best look. Sometimes we’re even (un)fortunate enough to witness one. But none of it compares to the reality of being in one.

I wish I could still say I’ve never been in a car accident. To still have the pride of knowing I’ve done everything I can as a driver to avoid a crash. But I know things happen, things we can’t plan for, things we never anticipated. You can’t have that many close calls without ever knowing what the real thing feels like.

It doesn’t happen like you think it would. There’s no slow-motion flashback of your life, no replay of all the things you’re going to miss if you die. You don’t even have time to react because by the time you realize what’s happening, it’s already over. Cue: aftershock.

I always thought the sound of two cars colliding was exactly how they portray it in the movies. That crunching sound when one car smashes into the other. But it’s nothing like that. I heard the screeching tires, his brakes working overtime to stop the impact; I don’t even remember seeing him. I just remember the popping sound of his front end meeting my right rear tire.

It’s kind of like popping a balloon. Or uncorking a loud bottle of champagne. It’s fast and loud and nothing like what I expected a car crash to sound like.

But it sure hurt like hell.

My poor baby. Fingers crossed they can put her back together again.

I would imagine side impacts hurt a lot worse than front or rear impacts. While hanging out in a neck brace, on a backboard in the ambulance, the EMT, who genuinely entertained my witty remarks and blubbering commentary, confirmed my beliefs (it would make sense that your body can’t get thrown sideways without a little residual pain. or a lot). Thankfully for me, I walked away with nothing but some seriously sore body parts (see: strained neck and bruised ribs), but it was more than enough to completely rock me to my core.

Even now, several days later, it still feels surreal, like it was a dream I had, or something I made up in my mind. I didn’t even scream- sure, in my head I was yelling “did I just get hit? was I in a car accident?!” but no words ever came out of my mouth. I didn’t even hit the brakes- I really didn’t need to, I guess. His car slammed me sideways and stopped me facing the wrong direction. My first thoughts were “did that just happen?”; my mind raced, not knowing what to do. My windshield wipers were going off; I couldn’t figure out how to turn them off. I didn’t know what to do, did I move my car out of the road? My first thought was to call my parents. Some nice man came over to see if I was okay, and I put him on the phone with my dad. Thank god for that guy, cause I was crying so hard I couldn’t get the words out: I was in a car accident.

It’s weird to analyze the thoughts that enter your head when you’ve had an accident. I didn’t want to move for fear of further injury, so I waited in my car for the ambulance. Looking around, I noticed there wasn’t any inside damage to my car; nothing had gotten thrown around much, there was no broken glass or jagged car parts jutting in at me. I thanked god I had dropped my laptop off at home before going back out; I would have been pissed if my computer had been busted. Same thing with my phone; surprisingly it was fine, everything was fine. The only thing that had fallen onto the ground was a check. I was anxious about that check. I didn’t want it to get lost or be left behind, and I couldn’t move to bend down and retrieve it. When the EMT came in on the passenger’s side, I kindly asked him to shove it in my purse. When my dad arrived (I explicitly demanded I not be taken to the hospital until he got there), he took my purse, and I finally stopped worrying someone was going to jack my stuff. Now all I had to worry about was the pain in my back and the bruises from my seatbelt.

I’d like to say being in a car accident has opened my eyes and changed my life- and maybe it would have moreso if it had been worse (though I’m very grateful it wasn’t). Yes, I treat driving a little differently than I used to. Yes, I’m a little more cautious of all the a-holes on the road. Yes, I value my life and hope I never have to go through this (or put anyone through this) again. Will I never run a yellow light again? Probably not.

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Filed under car accident, community, Florida, rescue, Society, Transportation