There’s a Bow on This Blog Post – by Hetal

Saved the best guest post for last! BTW – who knew that these guest bloggers would write about me?? Had I known earlier, this would be a regular thing. Seriously. Anyway – here’s my little, bitty sister’s post…my basic take-away from this was that I taught her everything she knows….so…..anyway….enjoy!

I spent some time this past weekend thinking about what to get Neha for her birthday.

But “itty bitty sister,” you may be thinking, Neha’s birthday was last week. I know, okay? Sheesh. We’re all doing the best we can out here.

Anyway, my presents to her have varied in years in form and function. Some years I really knock it out of the park–I get texts from her on a later date about how much she loves the thing I got her. Some years I get her a card sometime in June. I wonder if she notices how inconsistent I am (that’s a lie–I know she does).

Although it may seem to her that I simply forgot to get her anything, the years I showed up with nothing really meant that I spent painstaking hours thinking about what to get her, got angry, and finally gave up. Is there a way to bottle up that trauma and put a bow on it? Because that shit should count for something.

Unlike many of the people I buy books for, Neha actually likes to read, so when I heard an interview with an Indian American cookbook author who had a new book coming out, I tucked it away. Then, over the weekend, a food blogger I know she also follows on Instagram posted about the book. She raved over it, featured several pages and recipes, and I thought, damn it. Because even though I didn’t ask her, I know Neha saw it. And tucked it away. I know that cookbook is being Amazon Primed to her house as we speak, and that there is a 60% chance that I’ll be unwrapping it for my birthday this month.

Because that’s the thing. If you’ve ever met me, you’ve probably thought about how different I am from Neha. And you’re right in a lot of ways. We’re over a decade apart in age, chose very different career paths, and kinda different life paths. Neha left for New York City when I was six, and really didn’t look back. I don’t blame her. In fact, as someone who spends her days with countless 18-22 year olds, I’m impressed at her bravery and independence at that age. You’ve probably heard some of her wacky stories from college. I’ve heard them all at least twice. And the truth is, I could never have done half those things.

She also knows way more than I do about the important things in life: makeup, wine, and reality tv.

But in other ways, we’re weirdly similar. Same sarcastic humor. Same love for food. Once we showed up with the same-ish housewarming gift for our cousin Sweta and her hubby Wendell. For a while we had the exact same iPhone case–bought separately. I know what Neha is thinking right now: she’s thinking that these ways we’re similar–that’s me taking after her. I’ve wondered about that myself over the years, though I’d never admit it to her face. Has she really had that much of an influence on me? Maybe, maybe not. But if saying so gets me out of having to think about her birthday present anymore, well, pass the bow, please.

Sh&t that drives me crazy – Event Planning Edition

Guest post! RD is back and I’m here for it….

– Overly scented florals (in general) but especially at food and wine events.  If I see hyacinths at Le Bernardin, I will smack you with them.

– A panel event that has no stage.  Why?  Are we in your living room?  Will Uncle Ed be treating us to his Richard Nixon impersonation?  Just because people are in the back of the room, doesn’t mean they don’t want to see.

– A podium with no podium sign, or a podium that is branded with the hotel logo.  Unless your speaker is actually from The Ritz-Carlton, you need to cover that mess up.

– Rude staff.  I’m giving you money.  Act like you work here.  Better yet, act like you work for me!  Because at least for the next few hours, you do.

– Columns.  No one wants to “work around” you.  We’re not in Greece.  This isn’t The Parthenon.  Time to find a new venue.

– Uninformed folks who refer to an event as “a party.”  If it was a party, I’d be having fun… Not running around like a crazy person trying to make sure nothing goes wrong.

– Wired microphones.  Bob Barker called.   He told me to tell you that this is the 21st century.  

And finally….It costs what it costs.  I don’t work on commission.  

Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learned from Neha

Guest Post! This is from Sarah. Let me tell you all something about Sarah. She could run a small country if she wanted to, that’s how smart she is. I’m not sure what serendipity led her to the same company as me, but I am forever grateful. During my first few weeks at this job, I felt like an alien. I was “one of these things does not belong with the other” material. Then I found Sarah. And Jeanette (another lucky strike). I don’t know why I trusted them both immediately – but I did. And it made everything ok. These are the people I hope will start their own blogs, because people need to have them in their lives, like I’ve been lucky to have them in mine.

Guest blogger here – I’m Neha’s friend, Sarah. She assigned me to write a blog post “by Friday. Not draft. Final copy.” I asked her for a topic or a word count and she said “no rules.” So I decided that to share the lessons I have learned from her over the past 5+ years with you, dear readers.


“No Rules” I brought my two and a half year old to her house with one request — please tell him that to hang at your house that you have to use the potty. We arrived, I tried to start the show with her about the potty… and she blatantly ignored me. “Um, there are no rules at my house” and then proceeded to feed my son chocolate, French fries, cake, flavored seltzer, and any TV show he asked for in a reoccurring loop. I secretly hoped he would pee his pants on her couch while he was under her spell. Another time she whipped out a big toy truck on a random Saturday to buy his affection. It worked. Lesson learned, visits to her house may only be about indulgence.

Earlier this week, I asked my little guy what is his favorite thing. He answered “Tia Neha” and then “cocktails.” 🤦🏻‍♀️ He is two and a half.

Friendship with Neha means telling her everything big and small In jlooking at the history of our texts, it’s everything from “please help me, I’m in a bind” to “Is this crazy or normal?” to “are you aware of how many orange cars there are in PA?” I feel like I must tell her all of my big and small thoughts. After her blog post last week about the Revlon hair dryer, I had to confess and apologize to her that I’ve had that for two years and never told her about it. Then to atone for my sin of omission, I sent her approximately 17 texts, including links, of my most important hair products, tools, and why. Yesterday I texted her a play by play about how I got and now have pink eye.

Don’t Only Drop the Ball, Through It Out the WindowAnd Neha has become the place I bring my confessions and guilt… and most of the time, she tells me that I am too uptight and let it (whatever “it” is) go. After hearing this for five years, during which time I became a parent, I have fully embraced not only dropping the ball, but throwing it out the window.
A few months ago, my husband asked me if we have a nice Easter outfit for our son the day before. Nope! Can you try and get one today? Probably not because it’s second on my list after my top priority of taking a nap. Little guy wore his “fanciest” sweatshirt. While playing in his sandbox today, our little guy decided to take off his shorts and underwear. Sure dude, now we have a “nudie beach.” Sand got in every possible crevice. I sprayed him down with the hose afterward like a dog.
Let’s forgot the “should haves” or niceties. Friendship with Neha is getting permission to tell someone who is being crazy that they are crazy, or declining an invitation no reason given.
So I leave you with that — don’t just drop the ball, throw it out the window. It feels great. And if you need permission…email Neha, send her your confession, and she will tell you to stop being so uptight.

Growing Old (un)Gracefully – by RD

Guest Post alert! Enjoy, I know I did.

So, I’ve accidentally discovered that I am middle age.  The other night, I was watching a comedian on Netflix, and she said that she had a simple equation — if you can take the age your are now, double it, die, and it’s not a tragedy—you’re middle age.   I did the math, and <gasp>….  When and how did that happen?  I just graduated from college a few years ago.  I’m on Instagram!  I drink beer right out of the bottle sometimes!  I swear.  I eat cheesecake for breakfast on occasion.  I have tattoos!  I wear Vans and sparkly eyeshadow.  Those aren’t the traits of a middle-aged woman.  Except when they are….

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with my age (44) and don’t consider myself a vain person at all (I would be much thinner and wear high heels if I was), but for years now, I have been under the delusion that I am “aging well.”  Is it strong DNA?  My youthful joie de vivre?  My age-inappropriate attire?  The exorbitant amount I spend on French and Japanese skin care?  Who can say?  But, I am often shocked when I find out a celebrity or someone I’ve recently met is in my age bracket — “He/she looks sooooo much older than me!”, I crow.  Hubby thinks this is hilarious.  Although, he knows better than to disagree with me. 

When I was growing up, all the women “of a certain age” I knew looked pretty much the same.  They had short hair, Gloria Vanderbilt glasses, wore sensible shoes, and often sported outfits that sort of looked like the adult version of Garanimals.  To quote Arya on GOT, “That’s not me.”

Side note – If you don’t know what Garanimals are, you probably aren’t middle age.  

Side note #2 – Yes, I refer to Game of Thrones as GOT.  I’m cool like that.

The question is, now that I’ve discovered that I’m middle-age… Does that mean I need to start acting like it?  Isn’t 50 the new 40 and 70 the new 60?  Look at Jane Fonda!  Robert Redford!  Other people whose names I am forgetting,  because I’m middle-age, and my memory isn’t what it used to be! Just kidding. But not really…

I’m no Jane Fonda…I haven’t exactly been vigilant in my upkeep.  At some point in the near future, the jig will be up, and I’ll really start looking my age.  Here’s the thing though…I have no intention of growing old the “old” way.  I will not be cutting my hair short.  I will not be wearing beige ortho tie shoes.  I won’t be donning a Mrs. Roper mumu with coordinating plastic beads.  Although, if you’re into that, that’s cool. You do you, as the kids say.

No, I think you’ll find me at the senior center (hopefully in the very distant future) in my holey jeans and Vans, hair down to my waist—even if it makes me look like I build gingerbread houses in the forest to trick children—most likely with a few more tattoos and sparklier eyeshadow, drinking beer right out of the bottle, and swapping war stories with the gals about the old days when women earned less than men.

Guest posts coming at ya….

It’s after 11pm and I’m still up, I’m super proud of myself. I’m almost pulling an all-nighter.

I wanted to let you all…let you ALL…that cracks me up. I wanted to let you three know that in the next few posts I’ll be featuring some guest bloggers. Some you’ve read before on here, and some new. They are funny, thoughtful and smart smart smart. I don’t know how I duped them into being friends with me – although one of these folks is my little bitty sister who had no choice 🙂

Each of these amazing writers should have a blog of their own, but until then I’ll happily take a backseat and share the work!

By the way – if anyone else wants to try their hand at this, hit me up!! You can even be anonymous, although what are you afraid of? Have you read the crap I shovel out? You’ll be fine.

Anyway – tune in tomorrow for our first guest blog of 2019. It’s one of my favorite people. Her humor is only surpassed by the amount of Christmas trees in her home during the holidays (seriously a lot of trees). She’s an old colleague and forever friend – RD is in the house.

She’s an event planner, dog lover, and all around garden enthusiast – she likes birds almost as much as I do – and I know you will love her. To see her older posts go to the search icon and type in Guest Post, or come back tomorrow and check out her latest!

Good night – or should I just say good morning since it’s 11:38pm?? What do people do this late at night? I don’t get it.

Xoxo

On Not Being a Grownup at Christmas – GUEST POST!

A big thank you to my little bitty sister for this great post! And look at those jazzy handmade stockings. Show off.
stocking
Last week, while lamenting to my colleagues that I had no idea what to get my boyfriend for Christmas, we ended up having a long conversation about the family present exchange. That’s when I realized that, shockingly, I have some pretty strong opinions on the topic. So here is my Family Present Exchange Philosophy
(FPEP):
In our family, Christmas is about the presents. Once I explain, you’ll realize that that wasn’t the saddest sentence ever to grace this blog.
Our family – cousins, aunts, uncles, significant others – gets together all the time. We celebrate every little thing with a big family get-together, and for the most part, it’s great (tis the season to overlook the drama). American holidays, Indian holidays, Hindu holidays, Christian holidays: it’s all fair game. Next year there’s even talk of getting a menorah (we’re equal opportunity around here). And there’s always food, fun, and more food.
But there generally aren’t presents. Indians are all about the benjamins, which is practical and smart, just like we are. That’s why Christmas is so great (here comes my FPEP); to me, unlike gifts of cash, Christmas presents represent the time and thoughtfulness of the giver. I don’t really care if I’m getting another fondue pot or something from the Dollar Store. Cheesy at it sounds, it really is the thought that counts to me. This person went out of her way to think about what I might like, spent hard-earned money on it, and then wrapped it in pretty paper (Here my colleague, the globetrotting poet I share an office with, disagreed. She wished her big Irish Catholic family would just give her money, instead of the “crap I’ll never use” they usually give.)
But it’s not just the stuff. It’s the entire experience. I love opening presents. I love that we all move away from the TV and sit around the tree. I love the anticipation of finding out what’s under the wrapping, and heck, I love the wrapping too. I spend way too much time thinking about how I wrap my presents, and I like giving my family the presents I’ve spent my time making beautiful.
During this conversation at work, another colleague recommended that my boyfriend and I get something for our apartment – a shared gift. He and I had considered this option, but we decided it was far too grown up for us. We wanted the presents, however small and inexpensive, but full of thoughtfulness and love.
tree

Forget the holly — haul out the Hallmark Movie Channel

 

GUEST POST alert. RD strikes again!

Some people who know me might be shocked to discover that I am a rabid fan of the sappy holiday movie. Beneath my jaded, hard-bitten, work-a-day veneer lies the mushy heart of a true romantic. Most of the year, I am able to hide this chink in my otherwise sturdy armor, but at the holidays, the jig is up and the tissues are out.

I am not a snob either, of course the classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, are always in heavy rotation, but I am also a sucker for the cheesy, un-original fluff that one is likely to find on Lifetime/Hallmark Channel/ABC Family and the like. Have you seen Holiday in Handcuffs, starring the too-buff Mario Lopez (of Saved by the Bell fame) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, aka, Melissa Joan Hart? I predict that it will become a new classic. It’s a fun, opposites-attract, Christmas kidnapping caper, that is so unlikely, you almost believe that it must have happened, because who could make that crap up? I LOVE IT!

Some of the other must-sees on my list include:

The Christmas Card — not surprisingly, a Hallmark standby. Starring the great Ed Asner, and some other people I don’t know, it’s a sweet, slightly predictable tale about finding true love where and when you least expect it. Plus it’s set in the Pacific Northwest, so the scenery is breathtaking.

A Holiday Affair — Starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. Call me Psycho (get it?) but I love this old black and white that you can sometimes catch on Turner Classic Movies. Allegedly, Mitchum was “forced” to make it by his management team because he had been caught smoking pot for like the 100th time, and they thought it would be good for his image. Whatever the reason, he’s dreamy and charming in it, and Janet Leigh is beautiful and gutsy–she had “moxie” or whatever they called it back then. I could do without the weird, pointy bra, but that’s another story.

Christmas In Connecticut — Another black and white sigh-fest starring Barbara Stanwyck. It has some funny, Three’s Company-style hi-jinks, but in the end, the right couple ends up together, and there’s lots of snow, and sleigh rides in a rural New England setting that looks like it’s straight out of a Currier and Ives print. I try to watch it twice if I can.

The Holiday — This is a semi-new fave, that I’m sure is much more familiar to most people. What can I say? Jack Black, Kate Winslet, Jude Law. Lots of house-porn with a luxe California beach home and a quaint English cottage. “Meet cutes” and witty, snappy dialog make it even better. Oh, and Cameron Diaz is in it too, but I don’t let that stop me from watching it with a bottle of wine…I mean, glass of wine.

There are many more I could list, but this entry is probably already much longer than WMEP anticipated. Besides, I heard Love Actually is coming on soon, so I have to go anyway….

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