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Let Them Eat Marshmallows

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“To be young again, if we could…” ~ William Shakespeare (All’s Well That Ends Well, II, ii)

Yesterday I took my two oldest nephews and their father (my brother) to a kid’s improv show at a local comedy theatre.  Both of the boys had a good time, although the almost-8-year old was much less inhibited while the 9-year old is starting to exhibit signs of a brooding pre-teen and was a little more embarrassed about getting on the stage in front of everyone.  On the way home in the car, I told them they should act silly for as long as they can while they’re still young and have a good time doing it.

The 9-year old said (who was also upset at a no-electronics ban for the day) grumbled from the backseat “what’s so great about being young, why can’t I just become a grown-up as fast as possible?”  I glanced at his trademark furrowed brow in the rear-view mirror and wished I could make him understand.  I guess we all thought that way when we were little and wanted to be big.  They made a whole movie around that yearning premise, after all.  I answered him by saying something to the effect of it’s nice being carefree when you’re young and not having to worry about things like money and houses and cars. 

When we’re little we never know how good we actually have it, right? (Even after we’re official adults, sometimes we still don’t realize it, something about always wanting that greener grass…and no, not the kind you can find in Colorado or Oregon.)  Or as Andy Bernard said in the finale of the ‘The Office’ this past May: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

And there is no better reminder of how good the young have it than around the holidays.  This past week I looked into the pure, innocent eyes of my 3-year old nephew as he recited what he wants Santa to bring him and nodded seriously that yes, he’s been a good boy (I’ll vouch for him, Santa), and marveled at how completely happy he seems to be almost all of the time.  I listened to the almost-8-year old sing every word to Feliz Navidad along with the radio while in the backseat – no holding back or second thoughts, just his joy at singing a favorite Christmas song (in perfect pitch and Spanish accent I might add).  I watched as a friend’s twin toddlers ripped tissue paper to tiny shreds that had accompanied their present and laughed at their cute baby giggles as they played peekaboo with the gift bag (holiday tip: just give the 1-year olds in your life some bags full of wadded up tissue paper and they’ll be perfectly content for hours).

Oh to be young again, if we could…  To not have to worry about paying the nonstop bills, or enrolling in the new government healthcare plan, or trying to figure out why you have a new ache or pain every other day.  To not have to stop buying bread and cheese to shed those stubborn extra pounds, or deal with the dynamics of intricate family politics, or calculate the least-damaging tax structures for your financial situation.

Oh to be young again, if we could…  To fly down the stairs each morning looking for the newest spying spot of their Shelf Elf.  To sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs and dance like a lightning bug with your hands in the air.  To dream about that new toy or game that you just have to have, that will just totally make your life complete.  To eat handfuls of Christmas cookies and drink endless cups of hot cocoa (with mounds of marshmallows of course). To eat more handfuls of more marshmallows even after you’ve run out of hot cocoa…

cocoa

The growing-up part will come soon enough; in the blink of an eye actually.  And I think we expect kids to be more than just kids these days – we expect them to be young grown-ups, perhaps because they have more in terms of resources and technology and opportunities than any generation before them.  But at this time of the year, we should remind ourselves that it’s fun to just watch them be excited, hopeful, wide-eyed kids.  Let’s help them, as much as possible, realize that they’re in the good old days right now.  I  know, easier said than done when they’re screaming and shrieking and running around the house like sugar-whacked banshees…(deep breaths).

Life moves on despite the holidays, and sometimes brings hardship instead of happiness.  My father’s aunt passed away a few days ago, some friends and family members are having some health struggles, and a close friend of mine is mourning the recent loss of her beloved dog, so my thoughts and condolences are with them.  If someone around you is having a hard time this holiday, be sure to try to bring them a little extra cheer if possible (flowers are always nice, if I do say so myself).

schnauzer flowers

And if you do celebrate Christmas, I hope you are with family or friends this week and experience a relaxing, UNunhappy holiday.  I recognize that not everyone is fortunate enough to be in that situation or that we don’t all celebrate the same occasions, and so I wish peace for you too, in whatever form that may come. If you yourself need some cheering up, then this video about super-cute penguins in Santa suits is for YOU:

March of the Santa Penguins (Click to view)

March of the Santa Penguins (Click picture to view)

Mele Kalikimaka! (I think that’s my favorite Christmas song by the way and I’ve never even been to Hawaii…)

hohoho

Joyeux Noël et À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

Snippety Snippets Vol. 1

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“What, shall a child instruct you what to do?” ~William Shakespeare (King Henry VI, Part 1, III, i)

Welcome to a new segment of the operationUNunhappy blog that I’m calling “Snippety Snippets.”  Yes I know it’s the season of giving and light and red-nosed reindeer, but – admit it – it’s also the time of tried patience and shopping fatigue and please-let-there-be-alcohol-in-that-eggnog.  If you haven’t looked into the price of plane tickets for an escape holiday trip to the Caribbean at least once, you probably are in the minority of revelers out there.

island

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-Christmas at all.  I think it’s really cute the way my nephews start behaving noticeably sweeter in the weeks leading up to the big day, with thoughts of red-suited deliveries on their calculating little minds.  A few years ago, I really got into the spirit when I bought a purple (yes purple) faux Christmas tree for my house.  I like hearing a good Victorian carol song, and I look forward each year to my annual holiday screening of ‘Love Actually’ with a good cup of cocoa.  And I really do enjoy the rare occasion when I come up with just the right gift idea for someone.

But that being said, I know I’m not the only one that thinks this over-extended, over-commercialized, bank-account-draining time of the year is a little trying on the nerves. Add into that mix the misery of cold and flu season and the insanity of cedar fever here in central Texas, and pretty soon the patience wears pretty thin for all things even remotely irritating.  (Google ‘cedar fever’ if you’re not familiar with it…it’s the miserable annual price we pay each winter for living in Austin TX and what puts the city at #1 on the list of worst allergy cities in the US.)

So I thought I’d indulge myself with this Snippety Snippets segment to be able to just vent about stupid little mundane things that have annoyed the crap out of me lately.  Don’t you just want to be able to say what’s really on your mind sometimes?? 

kellytheoffice

I have the feeling this will actually be very beneficial in terms of my UNunhappy level, so here we go:

  • Last Wednesday, SIX days after Thanksgiving, a female co-worker cheerily wished me “Happy Thanksgiving!” while I heated my lunch in the microwave.  This was a first for me.  I’ve been Happy New Year-ed up to several weeks after the actual day, which is also annoying, but for some reason this much-belated post-turkey sentiment was especially weird and should not be allowed.  I didn’t say it back to her but rather gave her a sideways suspicious look while mumbling “thanks.”  The stores have had Christmas decorations in the aisles since before Labor Day, no one cares about Thanksgiving after the actual day; move on, lady.
  • Everyone knows you don’t mess with perfection.  A few weeks ago I went to pick up my to-go dinner of chips & queso from my favorite taco place, only to find out once I got home that they’d completely changed the recipe.  They’d added in humongous chunks of red and green bell peppers and extra long pieces of slimy onion, which were not part of the plan prior to that.  Once I fished out the offending newcomers, there was hardly any actual queso left in the container.  And what was left tasted all bell peppery and oniony, blech.  So much in life is changing all the time – is it too much to ask that you just let the queso be, favorite-taco-place-of-mine?  Or is this a sign from the universe that I should stop eating queso?
  • People who yawn with their mouths uncovered right in front of me in the Starbucks line (or any line, anywhere actually) so that I then have to move into your plane of yucky yawn breath air:  STOP IT.  Is your arm broken?  Are you completely uncivilized?  I get that you’re tired and haven’t had your caffeine yet, but yawns should be considered the same as sneezes and coughs in my book – cover with your arm or hand and spare the rest of us the view of your silver filling collection and leftover yawn breath.  Gross.

lionsyawn

  • This one is for any woman who has ever visited any public restroom, especially one in the workplace/office:  this is not your bathroom at home.  We have to share this space multiple times a day with you.  So if you decide you just have to fix or brush your hair while in the bathroom (and why didn’t you do this at home before you came to work?), finagle your neck muscles to actually look down at the vanity/sink area before you leave.  See all that hair you left behind in the sink and on the counter?  No? Look again, it’s there, all over the place.  CLEAN IT UP.  Quit being such a slob.  (This point can also not be stressed enough regarding any substance of any kind you left behind on the toilet seat when you were performing bathroom acrobatics in order to avoid coming into contact with the actual toilet surface; spend ten extra seconds to actually look down before you leave and make life more pleasant for the rest of us by cleaning it up, thanks.  Guys, you are so lucky.)
  • Healthcare.gov… *sigh*  Still unable to enroll after a month of trying.  Can’t talk any more about it or my head may explode.
  • The 170 people who move to Austin EVERY DAY – please stay off Mopac and 183 as much as possible, you are making a horrible traffic problem much worse and your slow rubberneck driving is going to give me a stroke before too much longer.  Just please move downtown and find a job that you can run to on the Hike & Bike Trail so you don’t have to drive anywhere, thanks.  And – did not you not hear about cedar fever before you made the decision to move here??!  Bring lots of kleenex and allergy meds with you, you’ll need them.

Ah, well, I guess that’s all the snippety snippets I have for now.  I feel much lighter now, thanks.  (Maybe it’s because I haven’t had chips and queso in two weeks…)

How about you, anything you want to get out there off your chest and into the universe?  Go ahead, get snippety, let us know in the comments section.  We won’t judge you.  We get it.  Oh and Happy Holidays!

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

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