And this is why I should never (by never I mean ALWAYS) go shopping with my mother

I have to buy a new car. Gil and I are planning to move to Colorado this summer, and I have to have a car that can handle the snow – I don’t think my Hyundai Veloster is going to hack it.

I started thinking about this last year and narrowed it down to 2 different cars. One was practical and had an amazing safety rating. And the other got about half the gas mileage and was apparently discontinued this year because they would have had to overhaul it for “regulatory reasons” involving safety and they decided it wasn’t worth it. Too bad – it came in bright yellow and would have been wonderfully obnoxious.

On the plus side, it helped narrow down my choice. I’d already test driven the non-deathtrap one, knew I loved it, and a few weeks ago made the mental decision I was going to buy it before spring. But before I could really pull the trigger, I had to make sure Gil would be comfortable in it since I make him drive a lot. Like when the roads are windy. Or it’s dark. Or raining a lot. Or there is red wine.

So I dragged him to the dealership on a Saturday and made him sit in it and then test drive it. The only acceptable answer when your partner has decided something already and is just looking for your seal of approval is obviously “I love it!” Unless of course it’s so uncomfortable it’s pinching nerves or something. I’m not sure Gil ever actually got that memo. He said that of all the crossover-type SUV’s, this was the “least hideous” and he had enough room for his 6’3″ frame, so I’m gonna choose to hear that as “I love it!” Side note: I bought my tiny Hyundai almost exactly a year before I met Gil – the fact he’s been bending himself into a pretzel for the past few years has always made me feel a little guilty, so I’m really happy to be upgrading to something with more space.

While we were on the lot, the guy was talking about the different trim levels, as sales guys do, and we were walking through what was important to me. I think you should probably know that I’ve been working in sales for a decade, and yet I am still the EASIEST person in the world to upsell. I can’t explain it. (Actually I think I CAN, but it’s probably got something to do with endorphins and a shopping addiction, and I figure it’s best not to pull at that thread.)

But apparently these guys don’t actually work on commission at this dealer group, so he was super low-pressure. Actually recommended I not get the highest trim level, since the biggest difference is leather upholstery and heated seats and I said those weren’t important to me.

Until I got home and launched into what is one of my greatest gifts – rationalizing spending more money. I do this on vacations too, but basically the thinking goes “If I’m going to be spending ‘X’ (X being a significant amount of money) on this, it really makes sense to just spend 10-20% more to get what I REALLY want instead of just settling. It would be irresponsible to spend that kind of money and not fully enjoy it.” I mean, I’m pretty persuasive. I can pretty much upsell myself – the sales guys don’t even have to work me over.

I called my mom that night, and she knew we had been looking at cars that day. First thing out of her mouth when she answered the phone: “Well, how’s the new car?” SHE GETS ME. I told her I just had to make a final decision about important things like heated seats, and she reminded me that my wimpy California ass will not be used to cold weather and it was definitely worth thinking about.

So I started dreaming about heated leather seats in the snowy tundra of Colorado and all of sudden I had sold myself into the highest trim level. Gil happened to hear snippets of my internal sales pitch to myself later that night, followed by my announcement that I was going to go back the next day and buy the damn thing. He suggested I wait a week before making any rash decisions. Because according to him, I make impulsive decisions when it comes to shopping.

“Excuse me??” I practically squawked at him. “You may not realize it, but I NEVER make impulsive decisions. I internalize my thought process and research and mull it over for quite awhile. Only once I’ve gone through that whole process do I reach a PRACTICAL decision. And I just happen to be someone who acts very quickly once a decision has been made.” It was a beautiful monologue, full of passion and conviction. I mean, that’s how I heard it. I was totally convinced by the time I was done with myself. He basically just rolled his eyes and walked away.

I was fully prepared to ignore that kind of crazy talk, but that week as I was running errands and dreaming about my car, I called my mom to see if she wanted to go to Bed Bath & Beyond with me since there were a few things I needed. OK, see, so the thing is…. the “beyond” part of Bed Bath & Beyond is actually kind of amazing these days. There is stuff that you didn’t even realize you NEEDED until you actually see it. It’s more dangerous than Target.

We’re working our way around the store, and I’m finding gems like full fur throw pillows that would actually tie in really well with the blanket I just bought. And Gil and I are always fighting over the 3 tiny pillows on our massive couch, so really those pillows would be practical AND benefit our relationship. My mom totally agreed. I had the self-restraint not to buy any (very reasonably priced) wall art that we have no room for in our condo so if anything, Gil should be impressed with my lack of impulse purchasing. If I gave into all the impulses I actually have, I’d have to get another storage unit.

Gil keeps telling me to stop buying things and bringing them into the house since we’re going to have to pack and move all this shit in the near future. Pfffft. I have a system for that. I just leave my purchases at my parents’ house and then have them give them to me as “gifts” for different holidays. No way he can tell me I can’t accept a gift FROM MY PARENTS without looking like a total ass. My parents are seriously the best. Also, I think there is a chance Gil might figure out my brilliant plan now.

So anyway, back to BB&B. We were making our final lap around the store when I saw it. A plastic toy with the words “HUNGRY BEAR” across the box – inside was a (duh) hungry bear with a huge open mouth, see-through belly and big pink dangling tongue. With an air gun to shoot yellow balls in its mouth. And it made noise. And it was on clearance. Plus my mom reminded me I had a 20% off coupon. It would have been irresponsible NOT to jump on something like that. I mean, Gil’s really had a stressful year, and I figured this might bring out the child in him and make him laugh a little. Basically, if I didn’t buy it, I’d be a bad girlfriend and I just couldn’t live with that. So into the cart it went.

hungry bear

hungry bear in action

As we were walking to the check out counter, I looked down at my cart. Full of fur pillows and a giant brown bear with a gun. And I thought…. maybe Gil has a point.

But then my mom reminded me I should spend my money however I want and I snapped right out of it and marched right to the register.

Basically the moral of the story is that I should always take my mom with me when I go shopping. When I head to the car dealership and have to make the final decision to sign on the dotted line, she’s the one I’m bringing with me.

Bah-Humbug?

We just rang in the new year, and for the second consecutive year, I didn’t have any decorations up in my home, except for one lone rhinestone Noel sign that I found on clearance a few weeks ago.

Which, in case you have never seen the inside of my house in December, is a really big deal. Actually, assuming you HAVEN’T seen my house in December, here is an idea of the level of obnoxious Christmas decorating that happens:

pink christmas tree

It’s bright, it’s tacky, it’s full of Christmas spirit. I love my pink Christmas tree more than pretty much any other decoration I own, which is an impressive distinction to hold, considering I have a 3 foot dancing snowman that sings “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus” and twirls a real live lasso – don’t question it, just trust me – it’s awesome.

But both of them sit in my storage unit along with the rest of my equally ostentatious Christmas decor, boxed up and probably feeling slightly forgotten.

I have lived in a lot of different places over the last 10 years, but I always decorate for Christmas – it’s one of my very favorite times of year. Last year was the first year that I didn’t unpack all my boxes and turn my tiny living room into my version of a winter wonderland.

We spent Christmas in Paris, so while I didn’t get my fill of decorations at home, Paris was like one big Christmas display on steroids. I was in heaven; Gil literally could not care less. He let me drag him through Christmas markets and waited while I ogled their legendary window displays, but I definitely had to be careful about overdoing it on Christmas cheer, since that is so not his thing.

christmas in paris

I had a really valid excuse not to bother decorating last year, but I think it might have set off a bit of a pattern.

This year, I used the same excuse in another form – my parents and I went to Turks and Caicos for Christmas (rough life, I know), and once again it seemed like a lot of work to put it all together when I was going to be spending Christmas on a beach surrounded by palm trees instead of pine trees. Especially since Gil would prefer no decorations, and he was the one who was going to be in the condo for Christmas, not me.

But really, it’s not like I need to have an excuse not to decorate – the only one I could possibly be letting down by not decorating would be me. I have lived alone most of my adult life, and the lengths I went to in transforming my various apartments over the years was purely for my own enjoyment. That, and I like to entertain, so it was always fun to show it off when I had people over.

But something has shifted, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. This year in particular, I just never seemed to get into the Christmas spirit. Normally, I legitimately feel like this is the most magical time of the year, but this year I couldn’t seem to capture those feelings. Maybe it’s just because I was travelling at Christmas again, or maybe part of it is because I live with someone who legitimately hates Christmas and it’s starting to impact how I feel about the holiday season. Gil CAN’T STAND anything Christmas related, which if I’m being totally honest with myself, kind of breaks my heart a little.

He tolerated the bedazzled Christmas explosion that happened in my condo the first year we lived together, mostly I think because he had only moved in a few months before, and was still in that “I’m not going to say anything that could fuck this up” phase. Years later, he is much more comfortable, and much more… vocal.

I get it – he was raised Jehovah’s Witness, so growing up his family never celebrated Christmas. He didn’t have the same experience I did as a child – the excitement of Christmas morning, the anticipation leading up to Christmas Day, and how hard it was to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. His family had other traditions, but none of them had anything to do with Christmas itself. So as an adult, Gil just has no connection to Christmas and finds any kind of Christmas decoration, or music, or movie, to be unbearable.

And it has nothing to do with current religious affiliation – Gil is not religious in any way so is free to celebrate whatever he chooses. He just abhors traditional Christmas celebrations.

As I feel my own Christmas spirit slipping away this year, I’m realizing that I am struggling a bit with our polar opposite positions on the holiday. He certainly doesn’t have to participate in Christmas in any way, and it would be unfair of me to expect him to. It would be about as fair as him expecting me to listen to death metal because it’s something he loves.

But we are going to have to come up with some sort of compromise on his level of Grinch, because I refuse to lose all my December magic.

The reality is, it’s just going to be me and him for the long haul. Since I lost my brother and I don’t have any other siblings, it’s just me and my parents. No grandparents, no local extended family. And now that I’m with Gil, he is my family.

Part of starting your own family is creating new traditions together. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to. And since we never (ever) want kids, our “family” is me and Gil, on our own. Not being able to create those traditions together is essentially a loss I have to mourn. I mean, he’s not a monster – OF COURSE he comes to my parents’ house on holidays when I ask him to, and he would never ask me not to put up decorations, but I know he’s really just tolerating those things for me, not actually enjoying them.

I know there are going to be countless traditions we build for ourselves, especially once we make the move to Colorado and hopefully buy our first home together. There will be many firsts, and a lot of memories to make. But sharing in the joy and excitement of Christmas is just never going to be one of them.

I am going to have to find a way to rediscover my own Christmas spirit and enjoy it myself, alongside a partner who does love me unconditionally, even if he will never, ever, ever, let me blast Christmas music through our house and help me decorate my very pink tree.

Percocet Is My Frenemy

Well, it’s official. I have scheduled surgery for next Wednesday. Apparently the only time available was at 7:30am with check-in at 6, which means I have to get my tired, anxiety-ridden ass up and to the surgery center at an hour I like to pretend doesn’t exist.

This is a follow-up surgery to the incredibly painful ankle surgery I had 18 months ago. When my heels tried to kill me. Seriously, it wasn’t even a good story – I was wearing 5 inch wedges for a wedding, and rolled my ankle on loose carpet in my condo. Cracked my left ankle and subsequently FELL on it, breaking two bones, dislocating it and as they discovered in surgery, tearing every single freaking ligament.

melanie wedding

Because I don’t go halfway on stuff, people. Go big or go home. So I literally destroyed my ankle and had surgery early last year to put it all back together with the help of a mental plate and 8 screws. Recovery sucked. I’m hoping it’s not quite as bad this time around – turns out somewhere over the course of “healing” in the last year and a half, I tore a major ligament again and some of the metal screws are coming loose. My screws are loose. Literally.

So I am hopeful this will alleviate the pain that never really went away, and make it easier to you know, walk. Live my life. Little stuff like that. You can expect some Percocet-induced posts once I have had a chance to get through the initial recovery.

Speaking of, I decided I wanted to share a little story with y’all today – the story of me and my Percocet adventures. Percocet and I have an interesting relationship. I would say Percocet is my frenemy. There were days when I didn’t know where I would be without it (like those first days after surgery when I couldn’t even see straight from the pain) and there were days when I hated it more than anything (like when I hadn’t pooped in 5 days).

It was a catch-22 actually – one of the things they stressed after surgery was the importance of managing the pain, but that meant high doses of painkillers, and let me tell you – there are trade-offs.

Because there was such extensive soft tissue damage (I’ll spare you the details – reading the surgery report made me throw up in my mouth), I was experiencing much more pain than I would have if it was just a bone break so I was in desperate need of the drugs. But taking high doses is not only hard on your liver, but it constipates the hell out of you, and makes you physically sick sometimes. Try getting to the toilet in time to puke when you just had major ankle surgery, are high on painkillers, and uncoordinated on your crutches. Keep in mind, I broke it in the first place because I’m so clumsy to begin with!

Anyway, a stressful situation like that could use some comic relief and it came in the form of my frenemy, Percocet. I was staying with my parents during that time, and my mom was usually the one who was home more often. Anyone who has taken painkillers knows that while they do help with pain, they make you a little loopy and loose-lipped as well.

So let me paint you a picture. I’m sitting on my parents’ couch, ankle elevated on their recliner. My mom is sitting across from me and we’re just chatting and hanging out. This was beyond that first horrible day or two so I was in a much better state for conversation. She had already had to help me with a makeshift shower situation, help me get my pants on and off those first couple times and help me to the bathroom the first time, so she’d probably seen more than she’d care to at that point, but hey, what are moms for?

We were essentially talking about that exact point, when my Percocet drenched brain decided to volunteer the following information. TO MY MOTHER.

You know, I’m not always like that. Down there. 

She just stared at me blankly. It could have been over then. But OH NO, Percocet and I weren’t done.

I’m talking about the hair. I don’t usually have a bush. It’s a new thing I’m trying. He (the guy I was dating) likes it… maybe it’s a generational thing, something older guys like more. He is in his forties after all. I used to go Brazilian but that shit hurts… so it’s better this way. It’s kind of nice. I think I like it. I feel all… womanly.

Let that sink in for a second. I just said that to my MOM. My thoughts just poured out of my mouth in one big rambling mess and I don’t even think I fully comprehended how awkward that could be for her, even after the words were hanging out there in the air, trapped in time like they were in a cartoon bubble.

My mom looked at me for a second, probably trying to process what had just happened. And then she just laughed. There are a lot of reasons my mom is awesome, not the least of which is that in this moment in time, she laughed.

Oh yeah? I can’t imagine ever doing that – what your generation does. I’ll just never understand it.

No? You’d never get a Brazilian, Mom?

<more laughter> Listen, I’m in my sixties, I’m not about to start something like that. Besides, I’ve never gotten any complaints.

Well, OK then. Go Mom.

I can’t tell you exactly how the rest of the conversation went, but it definitely continued. Me, laid up at my parents’ house just sitting with my mom and explaining that my boyfriend liked a full bush, and how convenient that was since I was in no position to get to the salon anytime soon.

Eventually the Percocet faded. That relationship disintegrated. My ankle started to heal. But that conversation with my mom? It’s burned into my brain FOREVER. We joke about it, and honestly, it’s probably one of the best things that could have happened at that point. We both needed a good laugh.

This time around, I won’t be staying with my parents. Since Gil and I live together, he will be able to help me out so I can actually stay in my own place. I’m pretty curious to see what comes out of my mouth this time, and even a little nervous – I mean, imagine all those crazy things you think but would NEVER say out loud to your significant other. I wonder what will make its way from my brain to my mouth. That Percocet, I tell you… she is a sneaky bitch. Stay tuned – it should be interesting.