Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Filed under Uncategorized

Our New Year’s Eve Tradition

Most of our family’s traditions come from my family.  I think that’s because I’m the girl.  But our New Year’s Tradition comes from my husband.  And it is quite simple, and I’d like to share it with you.

Open the back door –

to let out all the bad luck.

Open the front door —

to let in the good luck.

The rest is optional, but we always:

 Drink a toast to the New Year.

Kiss anyone who happens to be nearby – especially Cooper the dog who might not be there to kiss next year.

And hope for all the best for all we care about in the New Year.

This year I will have a new bunch to add to the list of those I care about – my new blogging buddies.

 Happy New Year – may your good luck always be stronger than your bad.


Filed under Uncategorized


I am afraid of this weekend.  No, not of New Years Eve or the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012.  I take New Years in a Doris Day sort of way – Que sera, sera.  That’s French for WHATEVER.

But no, I’m afraid because I have to go back there again.  To the mall.  With a return.

There are two shopping malls not far from here Tysons Corner I and Tysons II.  Tysons I is a normal mall.  Homogenized.  Pasteurized.  It has the same stores as every mall in the U.S.  Macy’s.  Brookstone.  Ann Taylor.  Nothing different there.

Tysons II, however, is different.  Very different.  Tysons II, The Galleria, is filled with outrageously priced stores and a Macy’s.  Nordstroms, Cartier, Montblanc.  The Ritz has a direct entrance.

The only attractive feature to someone like me is that there is always plenty of parking and no traffic.  It’s seductive.  So Every year at Christmas time, I forget that I don’t belong and go for one last gift.  I vow never again to go.  But by the next Christmas I forget.

This year was no different.  Two days before Christmas, I needed one last gift, a scarf for my mother-in-law.

“I know,” I thought, stupidly.  “I’ll go to the Macy’s at Tysons II.” I am an idiot.  But, remember, lots of parking, no traffic.  Christmas Magic, right?

There were no employees in Macy’s.  I tried to buy a couple of things, and nobody would take my money.  So I went out into the mall.  I stopped in one store and found a nice scarf for Helen.  Looked at the tag — $198.  For a scarf for an 85-year-old lady who sometimes dribbles.  Nope.  Don’t think so.

So I continued down the main hall in the mall, occasionally stopping to look at something equally overpriced.

Then it started snowing.  In the mall.  INSIDE the mall.  On me.  It was 64 and sunny outside that day.   No snow THERE.  But inside, well, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I continued walking.

You know how car dealers show their latest models in shopping malls sometimes?  Well, this one did too.

(Google Image)


(Google Image)


(Google Image)


I did not buy a car.  I did not buy a $200 scarf.  I didn’t even get the Clinique skin cream I needed from Macy’s.

I did get a small gadget from the only reasonable store there, a kitchen store.  It doesn’t work, though.  So I have to go back.

If you don’t hear from me for a while, please send snow shoes.


Filed under Family, Humor, Stupidity

Door Number Two!

The thing about dreams is that the crushing, the squelching, the termination of them is so much better in retrospect than when it actually happens.

At 17, I just knew I was going to be an actress.  A stage actress (because, don’t cha know, film work is not true acting. ) And I made that choice even before I realized that the camera brings out the psycho in me.

Now, I was very serious about this dream.  Of course I took my high school’s acting classes.  And, all snark aside, they were really good.  The Players were renown throughout the area for the professional quality of its high school actors.  And the accolades were well deserved.

Me?  Was I the star?  Was I the ingénue lead in all the productions during my high school years?  Was there a reason for my hubris?  Did my classmates look at me, remember my face and say to each other “someday we will remember when the very highly talented Miss Elyse went sledding outside our Algebra class (with that other fab actress, Ray) when she was supposed to be writing her math problems on the blackboard – because now,” sigh, “she’s a STAR.”   Oops, no, I mean they’d think “because now she is a highly successful stage ACTress.”

Uh, no they didn’t.  I was invariably an extra in those acclaimed productions.  At best I got a line or two.

But I had heart.  And in the theatRE, that’s all you need, right?  “There are no small parts, only small actors.”  Well, I was NOT a small actor.  I just got small parts.  And I was short and thin.  So I was small.  Shit.

But I DID get an audition.

Yup!  I had an audition in April of 1974, the spring of my senior year, for the Central School of Speech and Drama, an acting school in London.  Now, I was an hour outside of New York, and that might have been a wee bit easier to manage.  But hey, this was a dream, remember.  And I wanted London:  The Globe, The West End, Masterpiece TheatRE (even if it was done on film, it didn’t seem like it).

I was ready to take the first step in my path.

My audition was held in a building at Yale University.  I performed my comedy bit first, a monologue from a comedy so obscure that I have blotted it totally from my brain.

I sang “Adelaide’s Lament” under the guidance of my friend Sue, who actually played Adelaide in our school’s production of Guys and Dolls.  She was good.  So was I.  Well, not quite as good, but who’d notice?

I delivered my Juliet speech – hey, what do you want, Lady Macbeth?  I was 17!!!  I chose one that is rarely performed, the one where Juliet is about to take the sleeping potion and is seeing her cousin Tybalt’s ghost:

O, look! methinks I see my cousin’s ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
Upon a rapier’s point: stay, Tybalt, stay! (I loved that line)
Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

I drank the potion, collapsed on the floor in the best Juliet evah.

I thanked the three faculty judges, repeated my name, made sure they had my completed application and my picture (although how could they forget me?)  I turned and walked to the door to leave.  Only there were two doors.

I opened the one on the right, walked through it and closed the door behind me.

It was a broom closet.

What do I do now, I wondered.  There was no script.  No stage directions.  No help of any kind.  I considered staying in the closet, but knew that eventually I had to come out.  After a minute that lasted forever, I re-opened the door and slunk out, saying a line I haven’t heard in too many successful plays:

“Ummm, that’s the broom closet.”

I opened the other door and left the room, closing my dream back in the room with the judges.

I know that if I’d just gone out singing and dancing, well, this chapter would be the opening scene of my life story.

Maybe it still is.  Cause it hasn’t been at all bad.


My thanks to MJ Monaghan, who posted a great piece today:  A Letter to my Guidance Counsellor.  Naturally I felt compelled to copy it.

Damn those copyright laws.


Filed under Childhood Traumas, Humor, Music, Stupidity

A Different “End”

If I’d known that I would spend “Boxing Day” with my head stuck in a toilet, I would have at least had way more to drink on Christmas Day.

And researching how to retrieve something that was accidentally flushed down the toilet was not the way I planned to spend my day off, either.  But hey, I’m always game.   Besides, it may just keep my marriage intact.  And with enough time, anything becomes a good story.  Just maybe not today.

And more annoyingly, I will have to begrudgingly admit that John is right.  Kind of.  My husband is the only man on the planet who not only doesn’t leave the toilet seat up, he even closes the lid.  I consider this to be superhuman behavior.  How can he possibly remember to do that?  Oh yeah, he’s looking at it the whole time he’s there, more often than not.  I have a totally different vantage point.

Besides, I grew up with two brothers, a father, two sisters and a mother in a house with one bathroom.  For me as long as there IS a toilet and it is not engaged, I’m game.

Over the years, it’s become a bit of an issue between John and me.  He has never given up, not even after 25 years.  He preaches, “Close the seat!” and I ignore.

“Dirt, Spray, Germs!” he complains.

“Access!” I respond.  And as someone with a 40 year history of bowel trouble, I win.

John finds comfort elsewhere.  The guest bathroom.  Many female guests have peed on the floor when they wander into our bathroom in the middle of the night and sat down on the pot.  I began keeping the mop there, so no one has to own up to it in the morning.  But I digress.

You see, in the wee hours of Christmas/not-Christmas night, I did the unthinkable in my husband’s eyes.  I changed the roll of toilet paper.  With the seat up.

There are now two of three pieces of the spindle on the bathroom counter.  I wonder where the third piece could possibly be …

So, now that my research is done, I know that I need a thing called a “closet auger.”

Then I need to spend a whole lot of time in the bathroom without John figuring out what happened.  Because, while I will spend my day with my head in a toilet, I ain’t gonna eat crow.


Filed under Family, Humor, Uncategorized

Public Service Reprise********** Gizmos and Gadgets

It’s not because there is so much yet to do for Christmas that I’m reposting this piece.  Nope.  The elves never arrived so I’m done with Christmas.  Whatever isn’t done, well, you know.

But I thought it really important to re-post this piece from early June (since clearly only one person read it). I believe it is my CIVIC DUTY to inform you that, when you are tearing your hair out over your new gizmos and gadgets,  you are NOT alone.  AND THAT YOU SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Whatever it is you want to celebrate!



In the last two years electronics manufacturers replaced  product instruction booklets with human tears — mine.

Until 2008, each computer, radio, TV, cellphone, or other electronic device had a little booklet that told all about the product I’d just bought.  Important things.  How to turn it on, for example.  It is not always that obvious, you know.  The booklet also told me how to turn it off, and how to mute it.  That last one’s especially important given the current crop of advertisements, mostly for other gadgets that won’t have booklets either.

Those were the days.  I remember fondly that I would pull out the instruction booklet first.  If I’d had any inkling that the lines and those pages would soon disappear, I would have treated it better.  But when I’d get something new, I’d push the manual aside, heartlessly toss it to the floor and completely ignore it.  I would turn on the gizmo and figure out exactly how to make it do just what I wanted done.  I could always figure out how to use it, even the most complicated ones.  The instructions were then put into the drawer next to the oven with the rest of the booklets.  That drawer collapsed in 2009 under the weight of instruction booklets for the 4,153 electronic devices we’ve purchased since we bought the house in 2002.

Now, I understand the need to cut back on paper usage.  I am all for saving rainforests I’ll never see, limiting emissions that may or may not be causing global warming.  I’m into all that sort of environmental crap, really I am.  But  they cut out my little booklets at exactly the same moment that they made the damn gizmos completely incomprehensible.

When manufacturers first removed my instruction booklets, I was brave.  I didn’t cry for the first three or four hours while I pushed every frickin’ button on my new cell phone, hoping in vain that one of them might just turn it “ON.” Naturally, the power button was the one I didn’t press because that had a picture of what clearly represented “OFF” and the bloomin’ button is RED.  Am I the only person who ever played Red Light/Green Light????  RED IS STOP.  GREEN IS GO.  Jeez.

OK, I know I should have gotten over this particular problem with my very first Windows product, but I didn’t.  And I won’t.  Not ever.  And I will never feel stupid for not pressing OFF when I want ON.

Still, I do try to not be a crybaby.  And sometimes I make it — for a while.

I didn’t cry for 6.5 hours when my new “plug in and use” laptop couldn’t be.  Equally exasperating, this laptop had no installed software that would have permitted use once it was plugged in.  As I sobbed to a Geek Squad Rep at Best Buy, I was told “there’s no software on it because people like to individualize.”

“I’m pretty sure,”  I said, pulling my head out of the paper bag I’d been breathing into, “that Neanderthals like me who buy products advertised to be ‘plugged in and used’ aren’t all that into individualization.”

It has gotten to the point where sometimes I don’t even bother crying.  I just throw stuff.  In fact, hospital emergency rooms see a 5-fold rise in shoulder, elbow, wrist and foot injuries during the holiday season as consumers throw, fling or kick their electronic Christmas gifts across the room, trying to miss the Christmas tree it took them so damn long to hang lights on.   Personally, I worry that I might decapitate relatives who wander into my house within 24 hours of a technology acquisition, when I’ve just sent something flying.

So all that is left for me to do now is cry.  And I do.  Every single time I buy something.  I’m considering going for a Guinness World Record for “Most electronics-related crying jags.”  Other contenders should just throw in the towel.  Or a tissue.


Filed under Humor, Stupidity

So these two guys are walking along …

It’s a bit early for this, but today I figured out my New Year’s Resolution.  I’m going to stop eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

I haven’t quite figured out how to manage it, though.  I could use those smushy waxy earplugs to stop up my ears.  Or “noise cancelling” headphones might do the trick.  Worse comes to worse, I could just be overzealous with the old Q-Tips one morning.

But somehow I have to stop hearing stupid people talking to each other.   It’s not my fault that it happens.  I’m pretty sure it’s genetic.  My father used to say that if there was a “weirdo” in the room, the weirdo would seek Dad out.  That’s true for me too.

Like today.  All I did was walk out the back door of my building to the salad bar next door, when the conversation of two men behind me caught my ear.

“…you only need to tune it every five years.”  Said the first. I’ll call him “Mr. O.”   “It just costs you $500 every five years.  Really holds its value.”

Whoa!”  I thought.  “A car you can ignore for five years?  This I have to hear.

But the two guys were not going to the salad bar next door.  They continued on past it.  I really wanted to hear about that car – it’s such a pain getting service around here.  So I kept walking in front of them, coatless, on a pretty nippy December day.  Yes, I’m an idiot.

“When you’re going to invest that much money,” continued Mr. O, “you want to get your money’s worth.  And you get it with an Omega.”

An Omega?” I thought.  Now John loves to talk cars, and while I don’t really listen, I do get some information by osmosis.  “I’ve never heard of an Omega.”

“I don’t think you can go wrong with a Rolex,” said Mr. R.

“What the F—-!  I’m freezing my butt off to listen in on two rich guys going on about their ridiculous, overpriced watches.  Can you say “conspicuous consumption”?  Now try it with your bloomin’ teeth chattering.

“No, an Omega is the way I’m going,”  Responded Mr. O.  “If I’m going to ask my wife for a $15,000 watch, I want an Omega.”

Now, as I shivered, I tried to imagine who needed a $15K watch.  Were they marine biologists needing a watch that would keep on ticking while the dove 20,000 leagues under the sea?  Were they astronauts, who needed a special watch for some reason I’ll never comprehend?  Were they simply close to Newt Gingrich and therefore got to tap into that Tiffany’s account?

By this point, I still hadn’t seen them.  But I was dying to.  Did Mr. Omega look like this:

Omega Ad with George Clooney (Thanks, Google Images!)

Did Mr. Rolex look like this?

Sly Stallone -- not my type, but still .... (Thanks again Google Images)

Nope.  They looked more like this:

Abbott & Costello, probably wearing Timex (Google, you've done it again!)

Me, I looked at my cheapo watch, and realized that I’d been outside in the cold for 20 minutes.  But hey, saved money today by eavesdropping.  By the time I’d finished listening, I was too nauseous to eat lunch.


Filed under Humor, Stupidity