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Happy Galentine’s Day AND Happy Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and today is, from what I understand, Galentine’s Day.  What, prey tell is Galentine’s Day? Galentine’s Day is from an episode of “Parks and Recreation”, a show starring the very talented and hilarious Amy Poehler as well as an equally talented and hilarious supporting cast including Nick Offerman (and his EPIC mustache), Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari,  Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. See? Why aren’t more people watching this show? Including me actually since I don’t watch it on the regular either. I know, I suck, but in my defense I just now figured out how to program my DVR.

Anyway, Galentine’s Day is a day invented by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope,  to celebrate the women in your life. It doesn’t matter if your gal-pals are married or otherwise attached, Galentine’s day is a day to let the gals in your life know that you love and appreciate them. Here is what Leslie Knope herself has to say about the day –

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lillith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.

Sounds like fun! I am extremely fortunate to have an excellent support system of women near and far that I call friends. Some are family members, some have been my friend for over 30 years, some for not that long, some I haven’t even met in person but thanks to social media we have become friends. I share in their lives and they share in mine. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I know when I need anything, they are there. We have cried together, we have laughed together, we have gotten outraged together over my seemingly endless bad luck regarding relationships, and we have nervously laughed at my sometimes terrible decisions, because if WE can’t laugh about not being able to stop texting someone who clearly doesn’t want to be contacted simply because I think I thought of the PERFECT way to explain why I sent so many texts to him BEFORE, then who can?

So to my gal pals I say Happy Galentine’s Day! I love each and every one of you and I thank you for being there for me.


As for Valentine’s Day, I grew up with a father who felt it was important to give his daughters Valentine’s presents and/or candy and/or flowers and because of him, the day is much LESS about having a romantic relationship than it is to shower those you love with love, and a balloon or little box of Scooby Doo bubblegum balls (spoiler alert, that’s what my children are getting from me this year).

I have my fair share of stories of Valentine’s Day plans that went terribly awry. My personal favorite is when I was dating someone and we had plans for him to come to my house for dinner, this was when I was in my 20’s so when I say “my house” I really mean a crappy studio apartment. I searched all day for a heart-shaped baking pan and I made a delicious yellow cake and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries. Rick never showed up that night or called until the next day.  I don’t remember why he couldn’t come over, but I do remember that over the course of about 6 hours while waiting for him, I ate that entire cake with a fine white wine (just guessing since I don’t remember but it was probably from a box).

I’m not involved in a romantic relationship this Valentine’s Day, BUT I can guarantee you, I will feel loved and I will show love. I will be spending the day with my two favorite Valentines, my kids, and I will tell them that I love them, just as I do every day, and I will hug them a little tighter than usual and I will tell them that no matter what, their mom will always be their Valentine, and this will creep them out immensely, but hopefully when they are older they will carry on the tradition of looking at Valentine’s day as a day to show appreciation and love to everyone just a little more than they do every day, and that being single on Valentine’s Day is not a big deal.

And I may or may not, just for old time’s sake, eat a whole cake with some wine.




What the Hell? Christmas Edition

16 Dec


Before you balk at the title of this post,  I like Christmas. I like the food. I like Christmas specials. I like the songs, though if I never hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” ever again in my life, that will be fine with me.  I like to get presents, and I like to give presents.  I like that this time of year seems to make people want to give of themselves a little more than any other time. I like my family and I love spending time with them. Having said all that, there are a few things about this time of year that I just don’t understand.

Let’s start with what I find the most heinous of all Christmas-related phenomenon, Elf on a Shelf. I kid, I don’t find it the MOST heinous, and I will most definitely be writing about it shortly. However, without a doubt, what I find the most heinous is that big bucket of peppermint scented poop  known as black Friday. I understand the appeal of shopping on black Friday.  For several years on Thanksgiving I would peruse the sales flyers and outline my plan of attack for the next day. The next morning I would wake up at 4:00 am, grab myself an Egg McMuffin and a coffee, and dash into the Target or Toys R Us, or Joanne’s Fabrics, to pick up  whatever was on my list. I would save some money and get the boys some toys that I might not be able to without the black Friday sales.  I understand for a lot of people, they treat it the same way I did.

Now, this is why we can’t have nice things. Black Friday is now starting on Thanksgiving day, people are literally being attacked over sales items, and do you know the number one seller at Wal-Mart during black Friday this year? Towels. A mother fucking bunch of towels. Not that I don’t appreciate a luxurious 5 thread count cheap towel, but come ON. This might fall under the category of irrational anger, but dammit, I’m angry about it.

And yes, I understand that Christmas shouldn’t be about presents and commercialization and let’s all hold hands and sing around a tree like the Who’s down in Whoville. I am ALL for that, I really am, BUT, there won’t be a Christmas where I don’t give those I love a Christmas present, even if it’s very small, because I just want to. I give of myself, and sometimes myself is in the form of a gift card or a pair of earrings.

So far, I have used the word “Christmas” rather than “Holidays”. This is because I grew up celebrating Christmas, and these rants are CHRISTMAS related. All Christmas was for me growing up is what I listed in the first paragraph. I can count on one hand the number of times I was in a church, not including for other people’s weddings,  but I did consider myself a Christian growing up. We had a nativity scene, and I knew the whole story about the baby Jesus and Mary and no room at the Inn and following the Northern star and all that jazz. I don’t recall being told the story, but I assume I was, and didn’t just piece it together through Christmas songs and specials.

As an adult, I don’t consider myself a Christian, more like an agnostic, or sometimes, an atheist, depending on whether the University of Alabama wins its football games or not (settle down, I’m kidding). I have tried to educate my boys about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the fact that some people don’t celebrate anything at all, and that to some people Christmas is more religious than it is for us, and  it’s all fine and good. The same rule of life applies, believe and/or celebrate what you want, as long as your beliefs and/or celebrations do not hurt another living creature.

I tend to say “Happy Holidays” as a catch-all for this time of year. Does this make me ANTI Christmas? Is this me waging my own personal war against Christmas?  Hell no, it’s not. This is me being cognizant of the fact that not everybody celebrates Christmas. Why in the tinsel covered hell does it matter if someone chooses to say “Happy Holidays” OR “Merry Christmas” OR “Happy Hanukkah” OR “Happy Kwanzaa”? It doesn’t to me. Thank you for the greetings, may you have a happy whatever as well. End of story. I don’t feel the need to go into this further because it is Elf on the Shelf time.

I don’t get this Elf on the Shelf thing. At all. I read that it was to help children become “more excited” about the impending holidays. WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN WHO NEED TO BECOME MORE EXCITED ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS!? The day after Halloween, mine start counting down to Christmas. I don’t need and/or want some creepy elf to help us in any way, thanks. Maybe I saw Poltergeist one too many times, but the fewer clown/elf dolls in my house, the better.

Happy holidays everybody.


Look to Miss Piggy for REAL Guidance

13 Dec

As I try to crawl out of Amyland and pick up the pieces of my heart and start to move the hell on, I want to recognize that I am thankful for a few things  –

1) This is not a bad thing. Having a broken heart means that I was open and vulnerable and I tried. If you had asked me years ago if I was ever going to have deep enough feelings for someone so that they could break my heart  I would have said hell no. Not going down that path again. But, I did. And I will again.

2) When trying to make a list of things that you don’t like about someone, and the only thing on the list is “wants to date other people”,  that is really all you need to remember, unless you’re okay with that then fine. If you’re me,  it’s not fine. And here we are.

3) My friends, including my ex-husband and his girlfriend, and my sister, are amazingly supportive.

One of my friends named Cara, and I’m fortunate to have two friends named Cara, one long distance and one right here in town, reminded me of someone I have looked to for advice and guidance more than once in my life.


Miss Piggy

I have been a big fan of Miss Piggy and her sense of humor, her sense of self, and her sense of style for as long as I can remember.  In elementary school a girl told me that I reminded her of Miss Piggy. I was so flattered until I realized she meant it as an insult. This girl continued to tell me that the boy I had a crush on was Kermit. She was trying to say that he was skinny and little and I was big and fat. Turns out this girl was kind of a bitch.

I would be totally flattered to be told that I remind one of Miss Piggy. I used to watch her on the Muppet Show when I was a kid, and I marveled at her confidence. I played with Barbie dolls. I played with them until I was a teenager in fact. I also had a Miss Piggy doll. My dolls all played together. They all swam in my ghetto version of a Barbie pool, a giant Tupperware bowl, together.  In my mind, Miss Piggy talked to Barbie about waking up to the fact that Ken was more into the Donny Osmond doll than her, and they shared makeup tips, mainly eye shadow application techniques.

I credit Miss Piggy, because of her ever-present lavender ones, for introducing me to the world of opera length gloves, which I memorably wore to the opening event of the Dick Tracy movie at MGM Studios in Orlando. I wore black opera length gloves with a white lace shorts suit, that is shorts and a jacket, with a black bustier underneath. STOP LAUGHING, IT WAS THE 80’s.  My date was my Brett, who I made wear a tuxedo. We were both very overdressed, and he was mad at me until we got there and discovered the free booze and food.  I learned a valuable lesson that night about not mixing whiskey sours and escargot. Actually, the lesson was more learned the next day, when I went out to my car and saw where  I had thrown up on the way home and it didn’t make it further than outside the passenger side of the car, and there, swimming in a pool of vomit and whiskey, were perfectly formed snails.

Miss Piggy knows who she is. She revels in who she is.  She doesn’t let other people tell her who she should be, or how she should behave.  When having a hard time, ask yourself, WWMPD? What would Miss Piggy do…and go from there. Here are just a few pearls of wisdom from the blonde bombshell.

You have to be going to a pretty awful place if getting there is half the fun.

There is no one on the planet to compare with moi.

Express your feelings all the time unless you’re trying to hide something.

There is the satisfaction of providing your public with a vision of true beautology, true sytlisity, – how can I put it? – true glamorositude.

Only time can heal a broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs.


Confidence or Delusion? Yes, Please

11 Jul


I played tennis when I was a kid. I absolutely loved it. My coaches were the daughters of a friend of my Mom’s and they were so cool and patient and they took me out for ice cream every now and then as a reward for waking up so early on a Saturday morning for my lessons. My coaches were always telling me that I was a natural and that I should play in tournaments. I really thought I was hot shit until Mark Tija knocked the confidence right out of me.

Mark was a friend of mine from elementary school. He was the cute, nice kid that everybody liked. Mark challenged me to a friendly game of tennis one weekend and I gladly obliged while secretly hoping that I wouldn’t beat him too badly. I was after all,  a natural.  When the day of the big match arrived, I put on my cutest tennis skirt and shirt, laced up my shoes, grabbed my racket and dragged my Dad out of bed to drive me to the courts. Mark was there hitting a few balls with his brother while he waited. It was at that moment I knew I was in big trouble. Mark had mastered the forehand and the backhand swing that had given me so much trouble. I blamed my difficulty with the backhand swing on my already massive breasts, but that’s another story. I kept my cool and walked over to say hello to Mark and see if he was ready to play. I unzipped my racket cover and took my position on the court. Mark served to me, a ball that I immediately missed. I had never seen a ball fly so quickly over the net! My coaches had lied to me! I sucked! I missed practically every ball that Mark served and when it was my turn to serve, I sent the balls limply into the air and they struggled to even make it over the net. By the end of the game, I was covered in sweat and the darling headband that I had so gingerly placed to keep my big bushy head of hair out of my eyes was totally ineffective. In contrast, Mark was still all tucked in and his white shorts and shirt still had creases in them. I was totally humiliated and Mark never asked me to play another game of tennis with him. I continued to take lessons until we moved and only stopped then because we couldn’t find a coach in our new little town.

Now, years later, I still have the nerve to trash-talk pretty much everybody I know who plays  and challenge them to a game. Of course, I  need a new racket, I don’t have any tennis shoes, I need a new tennis outfit, I can’t afford to buy balls, and don’t forget, if I lose it’s because I have a metal heart valve so, I hope that victory tastes sweet for you. Asshole

As for Mark Tija, I recently found out that he is now the resident tennis pro at one of the local country clubs and is widely respected in the tennis world. Of course he beat me; he was obviously a child prodigy. Now, who wants to loan me a racket so I can wipe the court with you?

Books for Kids that Don’t Suck

14 May

When my boys were younger,  I would tell them non-traditional versions of classic stories. In my version, after the prince helped Rapunzel out of the tower, the two of them rode their horses through several little towns that were in need of a doctor, and she decided to go to medical school and provide medical services for the townsfolk.  She and the prince got married and their child ended up being the girl in Rumpelstiltskin, which featured a misunderstood disfigured little person who befriended the little girl who saw past his exterior.

Before the movie Hoodwinked even came out, in my version, Little Red Riding Hood was a bad ass and she didn’t need to wait for any lumberjack to come and save her from the wolf. She took care of that herself.  By the time the lumberjack came along, Red and granny were enjoying the treats Red’s mother had made and the lumberjack hauled the body of the wolf away.

The Little Red Hen was less about the lazy farm animals and more about why the little red hen couldn’t earn a living wage and had to live with 3 other animals (okay, I never told that story, but now I kind of want to).

Granted, I might have told the stories the way I did partly because I couldn’t remember the original versions but also  because I was sorely disappointed in the stories of my youth. In the stories I heard, females were helpless and waiting for their princes, or they were helpless and waiting for a lumberjack to come take care of the big scary wolf for them, or they were hens who couldn’t afford to live alone because they earned so much less than their rooster counterparts.

I heard these stories growing up, but my mom was far from one to tell me to wait for anybody or anything to save me. I vividly remember as a child watching a news report with my mom about a study that was done that said that during an attack women who did not struggle were more apt to get out of the attack unharmed.  My mom looked at me and said “you fight. You fight like hell”.

Once the boys got tired of my willy-nilly style of story-telling, I made it my quest to find books that were intriguing, had good lessons, and characters, male or female, in non-traditional roles. Here are a few that I found that fulfilled that wish and are charming and appealed to the boys, and didn’t make me want to stab myself in the eye when reading them aloud.

Pirate Girl  by Cornelia Funke – This is the story of plucky Molly, who is kidnapped by a not really very scary pirate, Captain Firebeard, while pirate girlsailing to visit her grandmother. The pirates take her aboard their ship with high hopes of holding her for ransom.  They try to convince her to tell them the name and address of her parents but Molly refuses.  Molly waits until the  pirates are all asleep every night and she puts notes into bottles (empty rum bottles, hence the pirates sleeping so soundly) and tosses them overboard hoping to signal for help. Help does come, in the form of Molly’s pirate queen mom, Barbarous Bertha.

The boys both really liked this story and the pirate voices are always fun to imitate when reading aloud.

I read an Amazon review that said that this book might be a little much for some kids, so I guess  if your child has a fear of pirates or the ocean or ships or rum or frightens relatively easily then skip this one, or read it to them as kind of immersion therapy, it’ll put hair on their chest.  I kid,of course. I suppose you won’t know what your child likes until you read it to them or they read it themselves, so your local library is a great place to try out books before you add them to your personal collection.

ThePrincessKnight_000The Princess Knight  by Cornelia Funke – I don’t know if I knew before right this second that Cornelia Funke wrote both of these books. You go, Ms. Funke. Anyway, The Princess Knight is Violetta, the king’s daughter, who is told that she has to get married because that is what girls do. Violetta would much rather learn how to be a knight, like her 3 brothers. Her father, the king, tells her that she will marry whoever wins a contest he has set up for her.  I don’t want to give away the ending but Violetta enters the contest herself and wins and makes her own decisions. DANG, I gave it away anyway.

Once again, the reviews on Amazon for this book are mixed, manly because the first page of the book states, without fanfare, that the queen, Violetta’s mom, dies when Violetta is born. This was never an issue for the boys and it actually gave me an opportunity to tell them a little about what it means when someone dies.  But, again,  if this is not something you are comfortable with or think they won’t be comfortable with then cross this one off the list.

Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed  by J.C.Phillips –  My youngest is fascinated with Asian culture and has been for many years. Ininja found this book because of the whole Ninja aspect, but was delighted, yes delighted, when I discovered that it has a lot to do with individuality and being comfortable with following your own path as well. Wink is in ninja training but would really rather be a performer than a stealthy ninja. His grandmother helps him realize his dream and combine his love of ninja-ing and performing, and yes, ninja-ing is totally a word.

Amazon reviewers have nothing negative to say about this book.  WHAT THE HELL, Amazon reviewers? Just for fun I read the three reviews that gave Wink a 4 out of 5 and their reviews are good too. I’m shocked that nobody could think of anything snarky to say, but unless your child is scared of ninjas, this book should be a good fit for them.

stripesA Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon  – Camilla Cream is the little girl who develops a bad case of stripes and only when she stops worrying so much about what other people think of her do the stripes go away. This book is still a favorite in my house and I am even asked to read it aloud every now and then.

This book has all positive reviews except for one reader who gave it 1 star out of 5 because his kindergarten age child has had nightmares since the book was read in her kindergarten class, and apparently is so scarred by the book she mumbles “the girl with the stripes” in her sleep, so, take that into consideration, albeit, with a huge grain of salt.

I will say, you never know what is going to scare some kids. I was terrified by the movie Gremlins. I was less a “kid” than a “teenager” but still, that Spike creature scared the bejesus out of me.

Todd Parr – This one is only an author because anything this man has written is awesome, from the silliness of Zoo Do’s and Dont’s,  that is still it's okayquoted by me and my ex-husband on occasion,  to the lovely  It’s Okay to be Different, because really, it IS okay to be different, to his books featuring his dog Otto, because who doesn’t love dogs?  All of his books are super bright and the illustrations are simple but engaging and the stories are sweet and/or funny.

I refuse to read the Amazon reviews for any of his books because I would like to hope that nobody has anything bad to say about them, but I have given human beings the benefit of the doubt before only to be proven wrong. I prefer to live in my bubble of ignorance on this particular subject.  Yay, bubbles!

One of my Mom’s Favorite Shows

12 May

I wrote this a year or so ago and I am sharing it here again for Mother’s Day –

Oh how I miss that show about those four ladies living in the big city; the relationships, the puns, the humor, the clothes. I saw a little of myself in each of them;  the somewhat spoiled and sheltered one, the one who was more than a little man crazy, the cynical one with a sweet side, and the sometimes voice of reason single career gal. No, not THAT show, this show had less to do with shoes and sex in the city and more to do with funky head scarves and character development. The show I miss is the Mary Tyler Moore show.  MTM was on TV from 1970-1977 and one of my very favorite early memories is watching it with my mom.

Mary Tyler Moore took place in the big city of Minneapolis. The Mary in the show, Mary Richards, was played by Mary Tyler Moore. She was a single woman in her 30’s who had moved to Minneapolis after breaking off her engagement. She worked at TV station WJM as an associate producer for the 6:00 news.  Mary was kind and sweet and cute as a button. She had an awesome bachelorette pad and I envied everything about her, from her shiny straight hair to her apartment. She ‘could turn the world on with her smile’. Even a 7-year-old me knew that Mary WOULD make it after all.

One of Mary’s pals, and neighbor, was Rhoda Morganstern, played by Valerie Harper. Rhoda was also single and seemed to date a lot, with pretty awful results.  Rhoda was acerbic and self-deprecating and she had an awesome collection of head scarves and she wore the hell out of them. She was a window dresser, which to me, seemed like the best job in the world. Play with and dress up life-size Barbie’s every day? SURE, I can do that! Rhoda met and married Joe and moved back to NYC a few years into the show (for a spin-off show) and I really missed her not being there. Her show was good, but I never liked Joe, and neither did anybody else apparently because they divorced after 2 years of marriage.  BUT, like Mary, Rho would be A-OK.

Rhoda and Mary’s landlady was Phyllis Lindstrom, wife of never seen doctor, Lars Lindstrom. Phyllis was a bit spoiled and rather snobbish. Phyllis’s teenage daughter Bess was in the show too, though I honestly remember seeing her only a few times.  Phyllis and Rhoda were uneasy friends. I think maybe, and this is me totally guessing, that Phyllis was a little scared of Rhoda. Rhoda was like Mary, but without the soft exterior. Rhoda was more ‘in your face’. I think Phyllis was more traditionally minded and she felt sorry for Mary and Rhoda for being single.  Cloris Leachman played Phyllis and she was funny and delightful in the role, and I remember she wore a lot of maxi dresses

And now….for my very favorite character of the show, Ms. Sue Ann Nivens. Sue Ann was played by the always amazing and talented, Betty White. Sue Ann was the perpetually dimpled star of the TV show (produced at the station where Mary worked) The Happy Homemaker. Sue Ann was, in no uncertain terms, a slut. She was a total man-eater. She constantly hit on Lou Grant, Mary’s curmudgeonly boss, played by Edward Asner (no, I didn’t have to look that up just now because I forgot the name of the character, but because I would SWEAR to you that the actor’s name was also Lou Grant), and every other man she found somewhat attractive. I remember she made a lot of smart-assey remarks towards Captain Stubing, er, Gavin McLeod, who played a copywriter on the show, about his baldness, so she DID have standards, they were just somewhat low.    Sue Ann was an absolute perfectionist and though I’m sure psychologists would say otherwise, I’m going to say she just loved men, and she was a romantic,  not that she was a mess and was constantly looking for validation in them. Sue Ann and Mary tolerated one another. Sue Ann was frequently jealous of Mary because she was younger and she had that damn shiny hair. How did a 7-year-old me relate to Sue Ann?  I don’t even want to delve into that.

In the series finale, everyone except the dumbass anchorman Ted Baxter, played perfectly by Ted Knight, is fired due to lacking ratings in the 6:00 news. The former work friends, and hopefully always real life friends, pile into a big group hug and then Mary turns out the light of the newsroom. The episode is considered one of the absolute best finales ever, and I would agree.

This show was groundbreaking at the time. It was rare to see a single woman on TV who was career minded. Mary was shown at work as much as she was shown in her fab bachelorette pad. She was a disastrous party giver and not ‘domesticated’, and while she did go on dates, she was selective in who she went out with and she wasn’t going to settle.  I always got the impression that if it happened for her, great.  If not, meh, she would still be fabulous.

I didn’t realize the effect the show had on me until I was writing a post about things being good, and I ended it by saying ‘I’m going to make it after all, and then I throw my hat up”.  It makes me curious about what effect the shows my boys watch now will have on them.  Honestly, the only TV they get to watch is on weekends because during the week we don’t even have time to even turn it on.  I have told them both how special it was that my mom used to let me stay up to watch Saturday Night Live with her, and I KNOW that had an impact on my life too.

The boys and I watch a lot of SpongeBob Squarepants and the cooking show Chopped together.  Valuable lessons can be learned from both, but I feel that is best left for another post. I have started letting my eldest stay up to watch Saturday Night Live with me, and though he falls asleep before it comes on often, it is special time for us when he can make it….after all. Sorry, I can’t stop now.


J. A. Allen

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