30
Dec

When saying hello or goodbye, one has at his disposal a few options.

1. The Bow. Unless you’re Japanese – and in Japan – or you’re making the acquaintance of Queen Elizabeth, I would suggest foregoing the bow route.

2. The Wave. Comes in handy for the germophobic segment of the population. Also, a very passive-aggressive gesture. Akin to saying, “I like you, but not enough to touch you. In fact, you’re kind of gross. Don’t get too close.”

3. The Handshake. This type of exchange is just that… Ahem, do you know where that hand has been? Very likely somewhere you don’t want to know about. And now it’s touching your hand. And whatever is on that hand is now on your hand. Don’t be surprised if you have pinkeye in the morning.

4. The Kiss. Unless you’re smooching your significant other or young offspring, I would highly discourage lip-to-lip contact; it might get you arrested. Not quite as alarming is the cheek kiss. Most Europeans do it. Most Europeans also shower twice a week. Proceed with caution.

5. The Nose Rub. Cute if you’re five-years-old and an Eskimo, but otherwise a bit weird. If you don’t believe me, try nose rubbing your boss at your next review.

Which leaves us with The Hug. Hugs are multifunctional. They can be used in times of happiness or sadness, triumph or defeat. Moreover, hugs have no restrictions. Use them anywhere. One can hug at home or school, the hospital or airport without worry of repercussion. Not to mention, a hug can get you out of a bind when that creeper blind date goes in for a kiss. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

Most importantly, a hug can brighten someone’s day… and I’m not referring to the lucky recipient. Think about it. How many times have you regretted giving someone a hug? It’s the best pick-me-up around. Quicker than a vacation. Easier than losing that muffin top. Cheaper than drugs.

However, a word to the wise… Commit to the hug. Worse than a limp handshake, no one likes a bad hug. It makes both you and the hugee feel terrible. You know you gave a bad hug. They know you gave a bad hug. They don’t say anything about it. You want to apologize, or at least explain what happened – perhaps you realized as you were hugging that you had forgotten the deodorant that day – but you also don’t say anything. The only thing more awkward than a bad hug is saying, “Sorry about that hug.”

Otherwise, the hug is the hands down winner. Still don’t believe me? Then I present to you a hug challenge. Pick a target. I can be anyone. Your spouse of ten years that you hug everyday anyway (I hope!) or your coworker who totally covered for you the day after that crazy holiday party when you were too hungover to show your ragged face at work. Once you have selected your target, just do it. Hug them. Hug them good. Hug them hard. Let ‘em know you mean it. Then see what their reaction is. Sure, you might initially get a confused “what was that for?” look, but I guarantee within moments it will transform into a goofy smile and giddy laugh. Why? Because someone just showed them love. Who doesn’t love love? And once you see that goofy smile and hear that giddy laugh, you’ll have your answer. It’ll be a wonderfully weird but totally rewarding moment.

Good luck. May the Hug be with you.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

22
Dec

I have never believed in Santa Claus. Eleven months out of the year, this is a non-issue. Yet come December an unsettling feeling comes over me that perhaps, just maybe, I might have missed out on something special during my childhood. This strange sensation flares up quite a bit during Christmastime – while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or merely cruising the mall – but grows to a crescendo whenever I catch a glimpse of how excited the kiddies get if someone utters the name Saint Nick.

So the other day I was doing my thang and volunteering with that very rad organization Reading to Kids. Per usual I was going to read to the kindergarteners (my apologies to the six and above crowd, but you’re not nearly as much fun) and was expecting to carry out the same drill: read, craft time, the end. However, it being the holiday season, Reading to Kids decided to bring in Santa as a surprise for the little ones and to spread some holiday cheer. Well… it was supposed to be a surprise, but word gets around quick when it involves the big man with a belly like a bowl full of jelly.

Sworn to secrecy, we grownups were told that Saint Nick would be making his appearance during reading time, and one little girl in my group was only too eager to meet him. While the other kids could be easily distracted by counting the number of snowflakes on each page – appropriately enough this month’s book was about winter – this little munchkin would periodically lean into my ear and whisper, “Is he coming?” to which I would reply, “Shhh… It’s a secret.” She then would nod knowingly, a Cheshire grin stretched across her dimpled face.

But no Santa.

We finished up the book and moved on to craft time. FYI: When it comes to five-year-olds and crafts, save yourself a world of frustration and let them do whatever the hell they want. The theme for the month is magic, but they want to draw a dinosaur? Great! You were super stoked for them make hand turkeys, but they’d rather do a portrait of Buzz Lightyear? Fantastic. So while our tykes were busting out their best double rainbows and renditions of Optimus Prime, we all waited for Santa to show, and no one was more excited for his arrival than my little munchkin. Every so often, we could hear bells jingling outside; each time that little girl would look up from her drawing, eyes wide with anticipation, and stare at the empty doorway. Disappointed, she would inevitably turn to me, her face a question mark. I would then reassure her with a smile and softly say, “It’s okay. He’s on his way.”

Minutes later, I was so totally absorbed in my Frosty the Snowman masterpiece that I failed to notice Saint Nick finally entering our classroom. It wasn’t his jingle bells or hearty “ho, ho, ho!” that got my attention, but the pitiful wailing of munchkin. I was shocked. What had happened? Was she on the naughty list? Had Santa smacked her around or something? I looked to Saint Nick who simply shrugged his shoulders in bewilderment. I then scanned the rest of the children. I could see the wheels turning; if munchkin was crying, they naturally assumed there must be a good reason for it and were about to follow suit. I had to act quickly.

I rushed over to the little girl’s side, swept her up into my arms and retreated to a corner of the classroom while my partner desperately tried to redirect the children’s attention back to Santa. We were on the verge of a kid catastrophe, but thankfully Kris Kringle knew how to get the situation back under control. “What do you boys and girls want for Christmas?” Immediately they were too preoccupied with their demands to worry about munchkin anymore.

Apparently the reality of Santa versus the idea of him was just too much for her to handle. I wasn’t surprised. He’s huge. He’s loud. He wants you to sit on his lap and then promises to sneak into your house in the middle of the night while you’re asleep. Yeah, I would say that’s sufficient grounds for a breakdown. This little girl didn’t trust Santa any further than she could throw him, and though I managed to quell her tears, she gripped me like her life depended on it until Saint Nick exited the room.

At last it was time to wrap up, and we headed back to the auditorium. While waiting for their parents to arrive, the children were encouraged to sing a few holiday jingles. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the red suit. Uh oh. Santa was back. I immediately turned around in my seat to see if munchkin had noticed; she was already crawling over her little buddies to get to me. Promptly positioning herself in my lap, she pulled my arms around her as a physical barrier and stared down Santa until he finally waved goodbye and left for good.

Maybe I didn’t miss out on much after all.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15
Dec

During this time of year, one might feel obligated to attend his or her company holiday party. If you are anything like me, this may be your response: “Why in the world would I want to spend any more time with these people than I already do? Plus I always get shafted during the white elephant exchange.”

Understood. Your reasons are completely valid. My advice? Don’t skip the festivities. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to enjoy some free food, bad karaoke and (hopefully) an open bar. Just make sure that the office party you attend isn’t for your office; it’s much more fun that way.

Rewind to my first job in LA… I still remember how giddy I felt as I walked out of that fateful interview. Immediately I called my dad and exclaimed, “That’s where I want to work!” It was love at first sight. A few weeks later, I was sitting at my new desk and desperately trying to remember everyone’s name. I instantly bonded with my fellow coworkers; yet as the weeks and years went by, I realized as most adults do that my job had its highs and lows. What exactly was my job? Hmm… How to put this delicately? In a nutshell, I was the meanie. I was the one who yelled at you if you lost your parking pass. I was the one who told you that you didn’t have enough vacation days left for that trip home over Christmas. That kind of thing. As you might have guessed, I was super popular.

Also as you might have guessed, I like to write and that just wasn’t happening while I had this job. Of course 99.9% of people in Los Angeles have a “day job” while they work toward their dream of being an actor/director/big shot. It’s a hard line to walk. So eventually I decided that it was time for me to move on and tearfully said goodbye to my work family.

But whaddya know, they liked me! They really liked me! I had my doubts, but hugs never lie, and nothing beats showing up at the holiday party of a company you’ve quit and getting inundated with dozens of hugs.

And of course there’s the gossip.

This is the real reason why you should adopt a strict “only if I don’t work there anymore” policy when accepting an office party invitation. Even better is if you show up a few hours after the party has begun; by then most of your former coworkers have indulged in a drink or two or ten, and not only are so happy to see you, but also they almost immediately launch into all the good gossip. They know you, so they feel comfortable with you. Since you don’t work there anymore, you’re also a safe outlet. They don’t have to worry that come Monday morning you’ll tell all your coworkers that so-and-so did this-and-that with whats-his-face. It’s a win-win for everyone.

With one exception. If at the end of the evening you realize that you’re the only sober person left in the building, you have a choice to make. Either you silently slink out and say a quick prayer that your former coworkers get home safely despite their inebriated state, or you suck it up and offer them a ride. However, should you allow that holiday-induced “good will toward men” attitude to guide your actions, you just might end up with a half-dozen drunken holiday revelers stuffed into your compact backseat… and possibly someone in the trunk as well. Don’t ask me how I know this, but consider yourself warned.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

08
Dec

So not that long ago I was having a lovely little chat with my father. Having sufficiently discussed the weather, we had now moved on to sports. Specifically, Jay Cutler. Somehow we had gotten on the topic of last year’s season and the many sacks Cutler took. Though our offensive line has much improved since then, I at some point commented in a very serious tone, “Cutler can’t afford to have another concussion.” (This was prior to his season-ending thumb injury.)

I assumed that my father was attentively listening and perhaps even impressed by my astute observation regarding Cutler’s physical state. A moment of silence. He then declared, “You know he had a concussion, right? Can’t afford to have another one of those.”

Hmm… I guess my dad wasn’t listening as closely as I had thought. In fact, it was quite apparent that he had completely tuned me out while I gave my layman’s analysis of our favorite football team. That’s cool. I’m just his baby daughter who loves him dearly. No big deal.

Alas, this is just one more example of what I have been told once or twice or for a lifetime: I can talk a lot. A friend once informed me, “Anna, you could have a conversation with a rock.” It’s true. I dunno; maybe it’s the whole Gemini communicator trait or I simply have a sad need to be heard by the rest of the world. Either way, it recently came to my attention that the post you are currently reading happens to be my one-hundredth blog piece.

Wow. Even I’m surprised that I could find a hundred different things to talk about.

Usually I don’t discuss the “big three”: politics, religion or sex. It’s not that I don’t care about these topics, but there are enough people out there who can comment more intelligently on them than myself. Plus, I just don’t think they’re that much fun anyway. If Facebook is any indication, those issues usually get everyone pretty ornery. I don’t have enough fingers to count the times I’ve witnessed a status update blow up with twenty or more – ahem – impassioned comments whenever someone mentions Obama, Perry or anyone else crazy enough to put themselves in the political spotlight. (Yes, I do think you have to be insane to want to do that in this day and age.)

That’s why I comment on the little things. People watching at the car wash. The thrill of competition that is Catch Phrase. And Nazi lemonade stand proprietors. They may not be those big life moments one remembers on their deathbed, but I guarantee we’ve all experienced them.

John Lennon was on to something when he said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” I also like, “There is a great woman behind every idiot,” but I digress… Regardless of whether you think Lennon was the walrus, he was right on this one. Life is about the little moments. Battling a stubborn kayak. Getting caught primping at the DMV. Finding the perfect old folks diner.

Which is why I love my readers all the more. I don’t write about anything that’s going to change your life. No career or health tips here, and I certainly don’t write about anything that will make you rich. Yet you continue to read. I can only assume that you see some value in what I am writing because the one thing I do know is that time is money. Whether you’re a CEO of a multi-million dollar company or the CEO of your husband and two kids, we all have packed schedules. So thank you. Thank you for humoring my humor and supporting me for these past one hundred posts. I hope you continue to find as much joy in reading my silly little stories as I have in sharing them with you.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

01
Dec

 

My parents didn’t believe in the concept of babysitters. Never had one. However, they did believe in free labor; my big sister usually was drafted into watching me whenever they went out. If Mila wasn’t around, then Plan B was to drag me along wherever they needed to go.

Big mistake.

One evening they decided to go couch shopping. Few things are more boring to a six-year-old child than furniture shopping. Especially in Sears. So while my parents discussed swatches with the salesman eager to make a sale, I dejectedly trudged behind and waited for my hell to be over. Luckily I then happened to notice the bed section. For a few moments I was again a happy child, enthusiastically throwing myself onto every bed in sight only to be shamed minutes later by the nearby saleslady who informed me that mattresses weren’t toys.

Sidenote: My parents didn’t even notice that I had gone missing.

Defeated once more, I started back to the couches… and that’s when I saw it: a Strawberry Shortcake canopy bed. It was beautiful. Tall and frilly and bright, it was the bed of my dreams and I instantly fell in love. It had to be mine.

Except that I already had a perfectly good bed and my parents had no intention of making a second big ticket purchase that evening. So I did the only thing a six-year-old could do; I whined until I got my way. I even went into “IwantitIwantitIwantitIwantit!!!” mode until they finally gave up. Several days later that Strawberry Shortcake canopy had found its forever home in my bedroom.

I was so insanely in love with my bed that I would jump up and down on it for hours on end. My initial goal was to jump high enough to touch the top of the canopy frame. Once I accomplished that (super easy), then my goal was to see how many times in a row I could hit the top of the canopy frame. Of course my father wasn’t too thrilled with my newfound pastime. He warned me repeatedly that my bed wasn’t strong enough to withstand the constant jumping, but I couldn’t stop myself. I was a little girl obsessed.

The inevitable happened. One night I was jumping and jumping and jumping until I heard the crack. A section of the plastic frame had split in two. This then caused the rest of the structure to strain, and the whole thing began to tip over the side of my bed. I held completely still, desperately hoping that somehow it would magically fix itself. Nope. Dramatically pausing for a split second, it then fell to the ground and made a spectacular crash onto my hardwood floor.

Uh oh.

A second later there was a knock on my door.

“Everything okay in there?”

“Yeah… I-I just dropped a cup.”

“You dropped a cup?”

“Yeah, I dropped a cup.”

“Okay… Let me know if you need any help.”

I’ve never been a particularly good liar. My father knew. I knew he knew. There was no way I could cover this one up, and I had no one to blame but myself. Eventually I would have to face the music… *

Everyone has to face the music at some point, though sometimes I’m boggled by what people think they can get away with. Meaning? Once again we’re in the middle of a scandal where some politician has been accused of messing around with another women. This time it’s Herman Cain. Six months ago it was Anthony Weiner. A few years back it was John Edwards. Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Gary Hart… Certainly there have been more before these men and without a doubt there will be more after them. Just like me, apparently they couldn’t help themselves. Just like me, I’m sure someone warned them of the consequences. And just like me, they screwed themselves in the end.

To those politicians who have messed, are messing or will mess around: you will get caught. It might have taken a few hundred years, but we even outed Thomas Jefferson and his extramarital escapades. To think in an age of text, Twitter and Gloria Allred that you will escape is ridiculous. Take it from one who knows… You can never hide what you do in bed.

* As punishment, I was forced to keep that ridiculous bed – sans canopy – for the next ten years. Lesson learned.

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