Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

I Was Almost Vinced.

Last week, I learned the meaning of the word “vincible” in more ways than one. Obviously, I looked it up in the dictionary, and wasn’t surprised to see it there. It literally means the opposite of “invincible,” which we all know, means you can’t be vinced.

I also learned the definition the hard way, by getting into a car accident. It’s worth mentioning that everyone survived, so, this isn’t that kind of invincibility (or vincibility, as it were) story, you can relax. It’s more about realizing that you’re human.

As of the day I am writing this, it has been a week since the crash, and I have experienced a metamorphic transformation of sorts, in those seven days. Nobody ever expects an accident, and when you get into one, it happens so fast, that you can easily get lost in the true events of what you’re experiencing. You ask “How did that happen?!” which is a fair question to ask, unless you were doing something risky and it just caught up with you. In that case, be your own detective.

Not only do you wonder how it happened, you can actually block out the details of what happened. One minute, you’re driving, and the very next moment, you’re spun around in a ditch on the other side of the road. If you were rear-ended, it can be extremely unclear, and you’re left with unanswered questions because the other driver probably isn’t going to want to incriminate themselves for the sake of your peace of mind. Sometimes, they’re an old couple, who you run over to check on, and they’re grouchy fuckin dicks to you. Or, it’s a redneck who wasn’t paying attention while driving way-too-fast mph on a back road in the winter, and they tell the insurance company that it was your fault. Or, sometimes it’s an extortionist who wants to make a quick buck on an insurance payout, and isn’t afraid to lay low for awhile to prove how useless injured they are. In any case, even if they’re nice, they aren’t worried about you, as much as they’re worried about themselves. But feel free to call them for an interview, if you think you’ll be able to figure some shit out. I wasn’t so lucky.

This was my second accident with my son in the car, and I’m grateful beyond all that is powerful in the universe, that he was not hurt in either one. This one was a bit less intense, but he was a champ throughout the whole thing, and has been ever since. The thing I haven’t been able to shake, is the feeling that, if we had collided one second sooner, my son could have been killed. I don’t know what I would do without him in my life, but if something happened to him because of my inability to protect him, I would struggle with being able to recover and cope. Again, I am so thankful that he is okay, and that he isn’t also caught up in this line of morbid thought that I can’t seem to get out of.

Another thing I have been struggling with, is the fear that everyone is going to come out of nowhere and hit me. I can’t check both ways enough times before pulling into the street or turning a corner. I can’t slow down enough, or allow enough space between myself and other vehicles. I know it’s normal to feel this paranoia after a crash, but I feel like it’s becoming ingrained in me. I am always a cautious and attentive driver; I never text and drive, I don’t look at my phone at all, I watch my mirrors and blind spots, and I minimize my interactions with other features in the car. I have impeccable reaction time, and have always been able to work around the poor planning and neglectful habits other drivers. I do well with rotaries, highway traffic, crazy drivers, construction, darkness, inclement weather, and distractions from my passengers. I can drive for long distances without falling asleep, and even though I’m a terrible navigator, I can follow direction. So, being in the mindset that I need to be even safer than that or we’re all going to die, is so unhealthy. Matt says the more I think about it, the more distracted I’ll be. I do know this already.

Perhaps the oddest piece of this puzzle, is that, no matter how hard I try to relive the crash, I cannot figure out where those old people came from. They weren’t there, and then they were. They were not there, and appeared in the same space as me, at the same time, and my car fell apart, while theirs was virtually untouched. Not a scratch on it. And not only that, but neither of them were hurt even a little, and they didn’t call their insurance company, or talk to mine. Didn’t even give their names. Which leads me to the conclusion that they weren’t real.

Maybe I’m just trying to compensate for my momentary lapse of perfection on the road, but I have been so confused about their existence, that I can think of no logical explanation to account for their involvement in the accident. There was nobody on that road with me, in any direction, and it was broad daylight, bright sunshine, no distractions. I didn’t just imagine this; my son is also perplexed by the fact that they literally came out of nowhere. This is some Unsolved Mysteries shit, at the highest level. Someone needs to open an X-File, not an insurance claim!

When your car becomes worthless, it’s what they call a Total Loss, which means your car has sustained more damage than it could ever be sold for again. I think mine was already at that point, prior to the accident, but if someone thinks they want to give me the Kelley price for it, then I’ll take it. It certainly helps, when you have no idea how you’re going to get around all of a sudden. If you’ve ever been one of those people who doesn’t have multiple working vehicles, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, and motorcycles in their garage, you know the struggle. In my area, everyone has 450 trucks and cars in their yard, but you can’t borrow one for a few days, because that person needs those cars to sit there, in case all of their other vehicles somehow mysteriously stop working at one time. You figure your own shit out, but don’t forget… they’re there for you if you need anything. Just ask.

Since the accident, I have driven over 400 miles, and I may as well be walking on eggshells. The anxiety I feel over the responsibility to keep my family safe has been great. Not great, as in good. Great, as in MASSIVE. I have a brand new car, and every sound is making me obsess over whatever the worst case scenario could be. I hate that feeling. I feel like I already live my life that way, ruled by irrational fears, due to traumatizing experiences in the past. (I am aware of what PTSD is, thanks) I just want to be able to shut out those thoughts, so I can be happy and enjoy life while it’s going well.

But the dilemma is, if I relax, I might miss something or neglect to act somehow. I know I’m vincible now, and that I have to rely on more than just my instinct; I have to be mindful in every second. How can I just sit back and enjoy life, when I am responsible for so much? I don’t have the “working” job, I have the job where everyone’s well-being rests in your hands. They eat, because you shop for food, cook the meal, and feed them. They go to school and work, because you take them and pick them up. The bills are paid, because you call the company when there’s a problem, and when there isn’t, you are making sure that things remain problem-free. The laundry is done, because you took care of it between other tasks. The appointments are scheduled around each other, however plentiful they may be, because you pay attention to the packed schedule, and ask what everyone is doing, or needs. Teachers and counselors stay informed, because you keep them in the loop. Unspoken issues get attention, because you notice that something isn’t right, and you dig. It’s not a paid job, but it takes from you. You end up being the one who pays, because the worry and responsibility of being a parent at home is a lot to bear.

That is, if you love and care about your family. I don’t know, some people don’t. Some people let all of the responsibility rest on the child(ren). Some parents don’t even like to be considered a parent. They want to be the Best Friend. In my opinion, a Best Friend would offer to do my dishes once in awhile, or clean up their shit around the house. Might be why I don’t have a best friend (just kiddin, Matt!)

I’ve learned about the fragility of life, and how easy it would be to just stop living, if we don’t take the time to care and consider. Even when you think nothing is happening, even when you think you’re not in danger, even when you think you’ve taken every precaution… it’s important to realize that we are not invincible, and that we are constantly surrounded by circumstances that we don’t even notice. Circumstances that can change your life greatly (great, as in massive). Even the most cognizant of people can miss something, and everything can be taken away in that instant.

But don’t forget to relax.

-jg

p.s. nothing heavy next week, I promise! I will come back swinging, whatever that means in the writing world.

 

“Why Now?” revisited

*EDIT: apparently I’m going to lose some readers with this one.

Earlier this week, my son was talking to me about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is a current story in the news, so naturally, his “Social Studies” (for a lack of better description) class talked about it. I’m glad they’re talking about it. They should be talking about it more classes than just that. But I’ll take what I can get for now.

One of the things he asked me, was “Doesn’t it make it less believable, that she came forward so long after it happened?”

Of course, we already know how I feel about this, but in case you don’t, I have linked it below, as this week’s post. I find it important to repost it, because it’s clear that there are people who truly don’t realize what others go through, particularly when it comes to sexual abuse/assault survivors. It isn’t just my 15 year-old son, who is lucky to have a mother that encourages he pull apart the patriarchal traits that have been sewn into the youth of this generation. It’s not just right wing misogynists. It’s not just the wife beaters. There are some really good people- some of whom may be closer to you than you think – who just don’t know the answer to the question:

“Why didn’t they come forward sooner?”

(click link above to jump to article.)

-jg