Holiday shopping? Done. Presents wrapped? Uhhh… Help!

Hanukkah are mere days away, and I’m mostly done with my shopping. Which, for a normal person means that it’s time to kick back with a glass of eggnog, put on your Snuggie, and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

But I don’t drink eggnog. I’ve never had it, but it seems disgusting. Like seriously. That crap smells and looks foul. And it has like 37 trillion calories. If we want to help those scarily starving children in the commercials, that’s what we need to give them. It’ll fatten them right up.

And I don’t own a Snuggie. Because I’m not a crazy cat lady. Yet. And I’m not so lazy that I need to put on a backwards bathrobe to sit on my sofa. (I somehow feel like this blog post is now going to result in my receiving 24 Snuggies as Hanukkah presents. FML.)

And it kinda seems like a waste to watch a black and white movie on my awesome new gigantic super high-def tv that my parents got me for Hanukkah (LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD!!!!!!).

But even if I could do all of those things, I wouldn’t. Because the days leading up to the holidays are usually spent with me hyperventilating in a corner, rocking back and forth like an autistic child in an attempt to calm down.

Because the holidays mean three things that I just can’t handle: wrapping presents, teaching in the few days before winter break, and going to the movies/out for Asian cuisine with my family on Christmas.

I know, I know, none of those things sound bad. But that’s because you haven’t seen me try to wrap a present.

I honestly don’t understand my inability to wrap presents. I’m actually pretty good at folding paper. I can make a kickass paper airplane, and my newspaper hats are works of art. Literally. They used to have one in the National Gallery. Granted, I put it there myself and was promptly escorted out by two guards who could double as NFL linebackers. But the point isn’t how it got there or how long it stayed—the point it that it was there. And still could be for all I know, because I’m not allowed back. Draw ONE mustache on a Botticelli and you’re banned for life. Art Nazis.

But put a present, some wrapping paper, and some tape in front of me, and it winds up looking like a Hallmark store half-digested the present, then vomited it up.

Seriously, my method of wrapping a present is basically rolling the wrapping paper around it like it’s a ball and covering the whole thing with an entire roll of tape. And I see no problem with that. But the people I give presents to are judgmental bastards who expect their presents to look like Martha freaking Stewart wrapped them herself.

Which is why stores that offer complimentary gift-wrapping are my favorite stores in the world. And it’s also why I now hate Bed, Bath and Beyond with a passion that equals my hatred for the Cowboys and for Delaware before they fixed the tollbooth situation. Because they still have a gift-wrap station. But you’re now expected to do it yourself. I learned this the hard way when my best friend put me in charge of buying a wedding shower gift for one of our mutual friends. She figured I could handle that because she still thought they had gift-wrapping there.

What really happened was that I spent 45 minutes at the gift-wrap station until some woman walked by and literally said, “Oh, that’s so sweet that you’re trying!”

I wanted to stab her. I have a freaking master’s degree lady. I’m not riding the short bus to a special school where people have to tie my shoes and button my coat for me. Do you see mittens pinned to my sleeves? No. I just suck at wrapping presents.

Then everyone at the shower laughed when my friend pulled out the present and asked whose kid wrapped it. But on the plus side, my best friend said I never have to buy the presents from us for showers anymore. Because she doesn’t trust me to wrap them acceptably. Which is fine by me because I hate that crap. But she doesn’t seem to want to wrap all of my Hanukkah presents for me, so I’m out of luck.

Which could have something to do with the fact that I gave her STDs for her birthday.

By which I mean, the giant, stuffed variety.

No, really.  That was her birthday present.  Click here to give your friends STDs as a present too!

But I’m getting off topic.  Reason number two why I can’t handle this week: school.

My co-teacher and I have had a countdown going on my chalkboard since we came back from Thanksgiving break, tallying up the number of classes that we’ve taught so far and posting the number of classes that we have left to teach. And we’re down to 25 at the start of this week! Woo!!!

But those are going to be the longest 25 classes of my life. Because kids are CRAZY when they sense a break is coming. You know how animals can sense tsunamis and have an innate understanding that they need to seek higher ground? Yeah, kids can sense time off of school and have an innate understanding that they need to be as ridiculously off-the-wall as is humanly possible. Think Lord of the Flies. Those kids weren’t crazy because they were stuck on an island with a conch shell, no adult supervision, and a beastie. They were crazy because they knew they had time off of school.

I plan to spend the entire week hiding under my desk, Cold War bomb-drill style. And if any kids find me, I plan to scream until they go away.

Survival of the fittest, my friends.

And then there’s the third reason that I fear this week: I have no Jewish friends. At all.

I typically blame my parents for this, because they sent me to a high school that had three Jewish families including us. But they bought me that kickass new tv, so I’ll blame it on Hillel instead. I went to Hillel once in college, and the people there sang. Like after dinner. They sang. And I never went back. Because really, who sings after dinner other than Mormons and people in cults? Apparently Jews in large groups do, and that freaked me out, so I never learned how to bond with other Jews.

Which means that on Christmas, I’ll be going to the movies with my parents. At my age.

I know what you’re thinking: Sara, take that as an opportunity to meet other Jews! They’ll all be at the movies too. And you’re right—I’ll try to make friends with some other Jews. But if they sing when that movie ends, I’m outta there!

Happy holidays everyone!

And if you’re looking for a present for me, what I REALLY want this year is a helper monkey who knows how to wrap presents better than I do! It shouldn’t be hard. Because any monkey is sure to be able to wrap better than I can.

It’s only rock and roll… but I love everything about it!

You know how the mystical entity known as they “they” always say that as soon as you stop looking for something, you find it?

Well, it finally happened for me.

Yes, boys and girls, that most amazing, magical thing that could possibly happen to a person happened to me on Friday night.

No, I’m not talking about love. I’m single and probably will be for life unless they eventually make it legal for a crazy cat lady to marry her seventeen cats. Which in some states, might actually happen before gay marriage, but that’s a topic for another blog and another day. (For the record I have no cats. I hate cats. Which is why it’s truly horrible that my destiny is to become a crazy cat lady. Pray for me.)

So what happened to me on Friday?

Only the best and most wonderful thing that can happen in my world!

I went to New Jersey to see the Gaslight Anthem. And I wasn’t looking for it, I wasn’t expecting it, hell, I wasn’t even THINKING about it. But it happened.

Bruce Springsteen popped up on stage at a show that I was at in Asbury Park.

And I was front and center.

Okay, slightly off to the right of center. But close enough.

Several very reliably sources told me that he was there that night before he came out on stage.  But I was relying on Bruce’s own dictum to “Trust none of what you hear, and less of what you see,” because I had been burned by rumors before.

Of course, I probably should have been able to guess that Bruce would be there, because Friday was just one of those incredible, too-good-to-be-true, perfect days when the stars all align and everything works out exactly as it should.

There were no hiccups on the way to Asbury Park at all. The ICC is finally open in Maryland, shaving half an hour off the time it takes to get there. And even Delaware cooperated! Worst-state-in-the-union Delaware got its act together in time for my trip to Asbury Park. Somehow, in what can only be described as a Festivus miracle, the road work that has been going on since the dawn of time in Delaware seems to be FINISHED.

And even more miraculous, the toll plaza of doom that always caused traffic to slow to the point where you actually start moving backwards has been replaced with a high-speed EZ Pass. Granted, I’m sure when I eventually get to hell (and trust me, that’s where I’m going when I die), the gates of hell will look nothing like Rodin imagined and will instead be the exact toll plaza that used to ruin all road trips through Delaware, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.

Seriously, after Friday, I’m thinking about letting Delaware remain a state when I take over the world. The state clearly read my earlier blog about my plan to revoke its statehood and is making the changes necessary to ensure its survival. And I respect that effort.

And thanks to those changes in Delaware, we made it to Asbury Park in record time, even with a Superman-style stop along the way for Lynnlee and me to change out of our road-trip yoga pants and t-shirts into the glamorous rock and roll goddesses you see at a show. Seriously, we walk into the rest stop as Clark Kent and we emerge as Megan Fox. It’s amazing what a little glitter eyeliner, mascara, and cleavage can do.

Which is also probably how we managed to make it to the very front of the pit, despite not being the first people in line, but I don’t question these things. When the stars align, you let it happen. (Ana, that was for you!)

Of course, even in my rock goddess mode, I feel a little out of place at a Gaslight Anthem show. Mostly because I’m neither fifteen years old, nor do I have approximately 863 tattoos. Seriously. The band might sing about “your hightop sneakers and your sailor tattoos,” in “Old White Lincoln,” but they seem to have left out any mention of the skulls, mermaids, song lyrics, and the one really freaky tattoo that I saw on some girl’s chest that looked EXACTLY like my dead grandma.  Seriously.  It scared me.

And with how tightly packed that pit was, I’m really glad tattoos aren’t contagious because I’m pretty sure I would have caught a whole lot of them from the people around me. Piercings too. Like I didn’t know you COULD pierce your eyelid or chin dimple or pinky finger. But I learned Friday night that apparently there is nothing attached to your body that can’t be tattooed and/or pierced.

I’m also pretty sure that I now have internal bleeding from the moshers. I’ve never understood the appeal of moshing. Like I’m happy to dance at a show. And I understand the appeal of wanting to be as close to the action on stage as possible. But I’ve never felt the need to hurl my entire body at the people around me as hard as is humanly possible for the sake of showing my enjoyment at a concert.

I guess I’m just weird.

Especially considering that the old Asian couple behind us were seriously getting into it. They were there with their teenage daughter, and I felt sorry for her because I was positive that when the moshing started, they were going to yank that girl out of there faster than you could pierce an eyelid. But Asian dad was moshing like a pro. Like he actually was. And I think I even saw Asian mom crowd surfing at one point.

But I forgot all about the moshers and crowd surfers and the chick who was busy trying to tattoo the Gaslight Anthem logo onto the back of my shoulder when Brian Fallon told us that he had a Christmas gift for us. And somehow, collectively, the entire audience’s Bruce-dar went off.

I think Lynnlee still has nail marks in her arm from how hard I grabbed her.

It was only one song. And it honestly had nothing to do with why I was there that night, because the Gaslight Anthem is unequivocally my favorite band in the world after Bruce. But it was one of those moments that absolutely shifted my outlook on everything.

Clarence is still gone and none of us mere fans have any real idea of how Bruce is going to handle that for this next tour. Hell, we don’t even have a hint of what the next album is going to be called or any confirmed US tour dates. Just a promise that they’re coming.

But whatever happens, I’m ready.

Because when Bruce shows up to play in Asbury, all is right in my world.

And so, with a hoarse voice, massive internal moshing injuries, and a half-finished tattoo that looks like the one Steve-O got while off-roading, I return to my normal, non-rock goddess life, to await the new year of albums and concerts and touring, oh my!

But after Friday night, I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring.

In the words of the Gaslight Anthem, “Bring it On”…

I don’t care what Siri’s political beliefs are–I’m too busy playing Words With Friends

So a couple of months ago, I bowed to the inevitable and got an iPhone.

I had held out for years in an attempt to be non-conformist. I don’t LIKE doing the same thing that everyone else does. But the peer pressure got to be too much and I caved.

Of course, I waited until I could get the newest release and woke up at 3am like an idiot to pre-order the iPhone 4S so that I could at least have the far superior model to what everyone else had on the very first day possible.

And I have to admit, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

And one of the worst.

On the plus side, I’m no longer in the cellular dark ages. I can do all that cool crap that everyone else has been doing for years. And I am, in fact, kicking myself for not doing it earlier.

But the 4S is a joke. Like Siri was cool for the first day and a half when I asked her all the stupid questions that everyone else was asking her. And I laughed when she got mad that I kept asking about Hal 9000. (Please tell me that someone other than my dad knows what I’m talking about.)

Although I was extremely disappointed that when I asked what the airspeed velocity of an unladden swallow was, she didn’t ask “African or European swallow?”

But I giggled with moronic delight when I asked her “Who’s the boss?” And she came up with the ONLY correct answer.

And then I never used her again.

I mean, I know people are all up in arms about her unwillingness to provide you with the location of an abortion clinic. But, to be fair, what dumbass is walking around and suddenly says, “Hmm, I think I need an abortion before I walk another five blocks. Siri, where’s the closest abortion clinic?”

Actual answer from Siri on MY phone.  Just saying…

(That wasn’t a statement of political belief. I’m just saying you should probably make the decision before you leave the house. And maybe get a doctor’s recommendation on where to go instead of Siri’s. Yes, your iPhone can do a lot of things. And the x-ray app is kinda cool. But that doesn’t make Siri a medical professional.)

I also think the 4S was a complete rip-off. Like yeah, it has Siri and a better camera, but it looks EXACTLY the same as the 4. Which completely and utterly defeats the purpose of putting out a different phone, because unless I walk around obnoxiously asking Siri questions every three seconds, how are random people supposed to know that I have a better phone than they do?

Come on, Apple. Priorities.

But none of those things are why the iPhone is slowly destroying my life.

And it’s not even because I’ve spent a huge chunk of my savings that SHOULD have been spent on shoes buying worthless and pointless apps that amuse me for a couple of minutes before being forgotten about forever.

No, it’s because of the soulless, mind-sucking, life-destroying mental vacuum that is Words With Friends.

I’m totally addicted.

I honestly didn’t even plan to download the game. When I was a child, Scrabble was used as a torture device and the only form of punishment that I truly feared. Because being sent to my room wasn’t much of an inconvenience. I had my books and music and tv in there. So if I smacked my little brother upside the head for something and heard, “Sara! Go to your room!” it was like, okay, time to play!

But Scrabble? Oh no. That was REAL punishment. It was the only board game at my aunt and uncle’s Ocean City condo, and if my brother and I didn’t behave well enough, we had to play Scrabble with my mother instead of going to the boardwalk. I tried calling Child Protective Services, because that was CLEARLY a form of abuse. But when they showed up, my parents made them play Scrabble too until they finally lost, at which point they just turned to me, shrugged, and said, “You’re on your own, kid.”

Now that I’m older and have a much larger vocabulary, however, the game has become ridiculously addictive. Of course, it probably helps that it’s the high-tech version, because I still have nightmares about old-fashioned Scrabble sets in that Mommy Dearest, no-more-wire-hangers kind of way. But the game is approximately 94% more addictive than crack.

At the moment, I have nineteen different games going with fourteen different people. I’m not exaggerating. Like I know I sometimes blow things out of proportion for the sake of humor on the blog, but those are real numbers. I swear on Bruce Springsteen.

In fact, the thing that I hate most about Maryland’s new law prohibiting the use of cell phones even at traffic lights is that I can’t play while I’m at a light.

Well, okay, I CAN. I just have to keep my phone in my lap and my sunglasses on so it doesn’t LOOK like I’m looking at my phone when I’m stopped at a traffic light. Which is probably pretty conspicuous at night and when it’s raining.

And it’s probably bad that I play at school. Usually with other teachers during our planning periods, but also with former students. Who are also in school. But they’re at my old school, not the school that I currently teach at, and because they’re no longer in MY classes, I no longer feel compelled to tell Rachel and Alli to get off their phones. (I promised I’d mention them today… Hi guys!)

But I think my favorite thing about the game isn’t that I’m consistently beating my parents. Which I am. And it feels great. (Sorry mom and dad. Please don’t pull out the real Scrabble set next time I’m at your house. I’ll behave. I promise!)

No, my favorite thing is playing bad words to see what it will accept. For example, a certain four-letter word beginning with an “s” that means excrement is acceptable, although f-bombs aren’t. And it accepts “chode” and “dildos,” the discovery of which made me laugh out loud so loudly that people assumed I was having a seizure.

At this point, I will literally play any moderately profane word to see if it accepts it, even if it means I will lose the game. Because I apparently have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old boy. If he met me online and didn’t know what I looked like, Jerry Sandusky would love me.

But I also think that the game is secretly trying to kill me by being so addictive that I WANT to play it even when I’m driving.

And I have proof.

Words With Friends doesn’t recognize the word “Jews.” But it DOES recognize “shivah,” which is the Hebrew equivalent of a wake (but less fun), when Jews mourn for seven days after someone has died.

See? Jews aren’t okay, but DEAD Jews are.

Coincidence? Or evil plot?

To be honest though, I don’t really care. Because I’ve got nineteen games to get back to.

Peace out.