Thanksgiving may only be my 5th favorite holiday, but I’m still thankful for it

Ah, Thanksgiving. My fifth favorite holiday.

Mostly because it gets me out of school for four sweet, glorious, sleep-filled days.

Well not this year, because I’m going to LA at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning (literally. The VERY crack of dawn), and coming home on the red eye Saturday night because my dad is a complete and utter psychopath and the antithesis of sleep.

Why is it my fifth favorite holiday? Well Purim is the clear winner because you get to dress up in costumes and (they don’t tell you this part in Hebrew school!) you’re SUPPOSED to get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Jews know how to celebrate a holiday.

 Of course, all of our holidays are basically about the same thing. Someone or something tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.

Hanukkah is number two because I love presents. And the hot firemen who show up when I almost burn my house down every year. That alone makes it an awesome holiday, even though it’s a little weak on the religion side.

Thanksgiving probably used to be higher on the list, but the combination of crazy family drama (my desserts aren’t kosher enough for the very recently ultra-orthodox branch of my family. Hypocrisy at its finest considering how often I’ve seen them eat shellfish, but I digress.) and the major weight loss this year that makes me feel that food is my absolute arch enemy has lowered it in the ranking. Now it’s somewhere in between Rosh Hashanah (I like apples. I like honey. Win.) and Tu B’Shvat (which I think is the tree holiday. I’m not really sure what it is, but it doesn’t require that I do anything and I can claim it’s a holiday so I don’t have to do work).

I get to avoid the majority of the drama this year because we’ll be in LA, but that makes this year’s celebration a religious experience for my parents. Their religion? Adamism. They will be spending the long weekend worshipping at the altar of my brother’s feet, while I gag in the corner and try not to incur the wrath of Adam’s most fervent followers while looking at all the yummy food that I no longer eat.

Oh joy, rapture!

Sorry, do I sound bitter?

I’m really not.

And to prove it, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the things that I’m thankful for this year.

1) Bruce Springsteen is alive and well and touring. I know it’s an odd thing to be thankful for, but it’s been a hell of a year for me and Bruce! The future of the E Street Band looked uncertain at this time last year because of Clarence’s death, but I did four shows in the same week in the spring run, and then had my own personal Courtney Cox moment when I got pulled up on stage to dance with Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. Seriously, one of the best nights of my life and I’m thankful that I got to experience that!

Hugging Bruce. Yeah.  It happened.
Dancing with Jake. Because he rules.
Campaigning with Bruce.  I still don’t know how this wasn’t the official Obama campaign ad.
Yup.  Just holding hands with Bruce Springsteen.  Typical day in the life of Sara Goodman.

2) My newspaper kids—I promised them a shout-out! It’s no secret that I was pretty miserable at my old school, and I still don’t want to be a teacher when I grow up. But my newspaper kids are the ones who get me out of bed in the morning. Okay, technically, my psychotic addiction to exercise gets me out of bed in the morning, but my newspaper kids are the ones who get me to school. Love you guys!

3) The new version of the Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio in it.  Leo + Gatsby? Oh, there aren’t words to describe the level of thankful that I am for this combination! If there was just a Bruce song in this movie, it would be the most perfect thing EVER in the history of mankind. Just saying.

4) Obama winning! Woohoo! I don’t have to get my ass back in the kitchen and make you a pie!

5) My super awesome boyfriend, who I am sending home for Thanksgiving with a pie that I made. Not because I had to because Romney won, but because I WANT to. See the difference? (But seriously, I’m thankful that this year, when I have to deal with my family, I’m no longer the sad, pathetic, schoolmarm-ish spinster. Not that I ever was, but I was treated that way, which was almost as bad. He seriously quoted Springsteen to me at 7am yesterday. Epic win.)

6) Rosie. That little furball ruined the carpet in my apartment, pretty much destroyed my leather sofas, and has basically destroyed everything else I love. But she’s my baby, and I’m grateful that the little demon is in my life every day.

7) My parents. They annoy the bejeesus out of me. They call me every three minutes with absolutely nothing to say, try to run my life, yell at me constantly, and are generally pretty mean to me. Because they love me very much. They won’t SAY that. But they show it through the constant need to talk to me and the presents they buy me instead of saying they’re sorry when they’re REALLY mean to me (or in my mom’s case, when she creeps me out by picking out baby clothes. STOP IT MOM!)  But my mom did FIND me number 5 on my list, so thanks for that too… JUST STOP BEING CREEPY!

8) That my best friend’s divorce is final. Seriously, I did a little happy dance when that came through. She’s the best and deserves the best and now she has a chance to find it, which I am VERY thankful for!

9) The people who buy and read my books! Someday, when I’m a famous author, you get to say you were reading me before everyone else. You’re my Obie (the Bruce fans get that one) and I appreciate and love you all!

10) Cake. Do I need to explain this one?  (The people who got the joke just died laughing, I promise.)

11) RGIII. Again, no explanation needed. He is the Luke Skywalker of the DC area. He is our hope. He is our future. He will hopefully not kiss his own sister like Luke Skywalker did. But if he does, it’s okay. Because the Redskins suck significantly LESS with him in town.

12) The block feature on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of you know why I’m so thankful for this one. And to Verizon, yes even Verizon, for allowing me to block phone numbers when stalking gets scary.  Thanks guys.

13) Apple products. They all just work, and they work together, and they can do anything and everything. (Hint hint Nick.)

14) Black Friday sales. Because losing weight was REALLY a ploy to get my mother to buy me new clothes. It’s working beautifully.

 

15) Sushi. I’m a newbie, but I’m obsessed. It rocks.

Obviously this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it’s a start. And thinking about what we’re thankful for is really what this holiday is about.

That and carbo-loading for all the Black Friday shopping! Stock up on that stuffing and cornbread now! You’re gonna need it to keep your strength up for tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

What would Don Draper do? Scratch that, what would a NINJA do?

My parents recently discovered that the best way to watch television shows is to wait until they’re about six seasons in and then buy the first five seasons and watch them in a row without commercials.

Which also means that my parents are now shut-ins who haven’t left their house in six months except to forage for more complete seasons of Dexter, Mad Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Gossip Girl (don’t ask. Trust me).

At first, I found this amusing. Then sad. Then amusing again. Then sadder. And then horrifying.

Because my parents tried to lure me into their shut-in, complete-seasons-of-television-watching lifestyle by offering me the dvds when they were done with them. And as they dangled free shows in front of me like a carrot in front of a horse, it dawned on me that this is how cults begin.

But I fell for it anyway, because free stuff is free stuff. And until my book takes off, I’m poor. In fact, because I buy so many pairs of shoes, I’m SO poor that I can’t even afford the whole word “poor.” I’m just po’. Which means that my shopping addiction has even cost me my ability to speak proper English. I’m three more pairs of shoes away from just being p’.

So primarily to keep myself from thinking about shopping, I started watching Dexter.

Three days later, I had seen every episode. Some of them twice.

Four days later, I was caught up to the current season of 30 Rock. (I’d never seen an episode before that. Too many shows are on Thursday nights to dvr them all, so I stuck with the ones I was already watching. Plus I used to have a life.  Now I have Liz Lemon.  It’s a fair trade.)

And I’m now working my way through Mad Men.

However, I encountered a major problem.

My parents are ALSO working their way through Mad Men. And I’m caught up to where they are. And they don’t want to let me watch the third season before they do. Which is COMPLETELY unfair. I mean, yes, they paid for the dvds, but they’re not chronic insomniacs like I am and therefore waste precious hours that they could spend watching Mad Men sleeping. Which I think makes them fair-weather fans and therefore they should forfeit their right to the third season until I’ve watched it. And besides, what am I supposed to do when I can’t sleep if I can’t find out who Don Draper is going to be sleeping with in the next episode?

So I asked myself, what would Don Draper do in this situation?

Which wasn’t all that helpful. He’d steal someone’s identity, then lie for twenty years, and then cheat on his wife with someone new once a week, all while drinking an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and coming up with the perfect campaign for a new Sterling Cooper client.

That wasn’t going to get me any dvds.

So I asked myself, what would Betty Draper do?

That wasn’t very helpful either. I drank a lot of wine, chain smoked six packs of cigarettes, and tried to look the other way.  Then I snapped and broke a chair.

No dvds in that strategy.

What would Peggy do? Well she’d be really frumpy, then get really fat, then turn out to be pregnant and not tell anyone for two years.

No thanks.

Joan would work her feminine wiles, but I’m 100 percent sure that that wouldn’t work on my PARENTS. And it’d be beyond icky if it did.

So even Joan failed me.

Then I wised up and realized that acting like a character from Mad Men wasn’t going to get me any closer to season three.

So I asked myself, what would a ninja do?

Jackpot.

I spent the next three days learning martial arts on demand (seriously, they have EVERYTHING on demand these days. I took a break from my training montage and learned how to make crème brulee, change a tire, and churn Amish-style butter, all courtesy of on demand programming). Then I dressed in all black, painted my face black, dyed Rosie’s fur black, and snuck over to my parents’ house in the dead of night.

Once there, I climbed up onto the roof and lowered myself down the chimney Mission Impossible style to steal the dvds.

Maybe I should have just let myself in the front door. I mean, I do have a key. Or maybe I shouldn’t have brought the Mission Impossible theme music with me. Or it could have been because I brought Rosie and apparently schnauzers don’t like being dyed black then lowered down a chimney in the middle of the night, even when they’re highly trained ninja schnauzers.

But whatever it was that I screwed up, somehow my parents figured out that they were being robbed, which resulted in my dad chasing me through the house in his underwear with a baseball bat until he realized that it was me. Not a pretty sight.

Of course, when he realized that it was me coming to steal the third season of Mad Men, he woke my mom up, she grabbed an axe, and then they BOTH chased me while brandishing weapons.

And as I learned the hard way, apparently learning to be a ninja from on demand television does NOT actually prepare you for combat with deadly weapon-wielding parents who are defending a complete season of Mad Men.

My parents won that round.

But I didn’t give up. Oh no. I’m no quitter.

They thought it was the snow last week that knocked out their electricity. I’m not saying that I went over there with a pair of wire cutters. I’m just not saying that I DIDN’T go over there with a pair of wire cutters.

No, not really.  I had nothing to do with the epic failure that is Pepco.  They managed that all on their own.

What really happened is my dad went out of town and my mom wasn’t going to watch the third season without him, so I convinced her to let me borrow it on the condition that I return it by the time my dad comes home.

Which means if I don’t get through another two discs by tomorrow night, my parents are going to launch an attack that’s going to make the situation in Egypt right now look mild. We’re talking cutting off the whole country’s internet, looting, extreme political unrest, the works. 

Hell, they’ll probably make the biblical problems in Egypt look mild, complete with rivers turning to blood, locusts, frogs, cattle disease, slaying of the first born, and (horror of all horrors) the destruction of my entire shoe collection.

In other words, I’m potentially endangering the free world by taking a break from watching Mad Men to write this. See how dedicated I am to you? Feel special.

And I get to go through this all again when season four comes out on dvd.  Which leaves me a few months to perfect my ninja skills.  This time, I WILL defeat my parents in the epic battle.  But until then, it’s back to Mad Men

Shh.  It’s starting.

If Luck is a lady, Karma is her trashy illegitimate cousin (Back to School Night)

Tonight is one of my most dreaded nights of the year: Back to School Night.

I don’t dread it because I’m specifically scared of meeting my students’ parents en masse. (Although I DO sometimes worry that they’re going to take one look at me and start laughing hysterically and ask, “No, really, where’s our kids’ ACTUAL teacher?”)

I dread it because I was the kid who used to send my dad after the teachers I didn’t like when he went to my school’s Back to School Night.

And if I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that if Luck is a lady, Karma is her illegitimate cousin who’s too trashy to even be cast on Jersey Shore.

In general, Back to School Night has been fine for me. Because I run the school newspaper, I wind up speaking mostly to parents who I’ve already known for a couple of years. So for my newspaper classes, parents usually come in, hug me, then ask how they can help support us. In other words, they’re wonderful and I love them.

My English classes are a little scarier. With a room full of kids, it’s easy. I am clearly in charge. I know it. They know it. Piece of cake. With a room full of adults, some of whom are old enough to be MY parents, I don’t feel like I’m in charge. Especially because I get asked every year by at least one parent how old I am. And if you’ve been reading my blog faithfully, you know that I do NOT like to talk about my age.

 And in a couple of disturbing cases, I’ve been asked out.  Even if the parents are good looking and single (which hopefully they are if they’re asking me out), I’m not exactly ready for a high school aged stepchild.

The trick is to have enough to talk about to fill the whole ten minutes without room for a lot of questions. Because if you talk too fast (which I am constantly guilty of), you’ll have six minutes left for questions. And no one ever has general questions about the class. The questions are always specific to their child (and you can’t answer ONE of those without answering all of them), or they’re policy questions about the county or the school, and I never know the answers to those.

Usually I come away from Back to School Night knowing that I did a great job. But every once in awhile, a parent comes in with a grudge. The worst of those was at my old school. I was talking about the books that we were reading in the class, and one mother interrupted me to say that she found our choice of books inappropriate (Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird).

I tried to be honest and say that while Of Mice and Men isn’t one of my favorites, I think To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best books ever written. This particular mother argued that the kids should be reading more contemporary choices. I said that I agreed that using books that they were already interested in reading, such as the Harry Potter books (which were HUGE at the time), would be useful in getting kids to develop a love of reading, I didn’t think that the county, who selected our books, agreed with that idea, but I encouraged her to take it to them.

Apparently this was a big mistake.

The next day, I was called down to my principal’s office during a planning period and told we had a serious problem. The mother who had criticized the book choices went up to my principal after my class, absolutely livid, and claimed that I was promoting Satanism.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Then, my principal told me that we had an even bigger problem with her other complaint about me, and that it was something that I was going to have to deal with.

Her complaint?

I was too young.

And my principal told me this completely deadpan. It took me a good five minutes to realize he found the situation funny.

I’ve never had any situations like that since then, and I usually get emails from parents the following day telling me that they loved my enthusiasm or see why their kids love my class. Which is a great ego boost.

But I’d still rather be home gearing up to watch Jersey Shore. If it runs late, I really hope the parents will understand that I need to get home to watch that. Their kids are my top priority from 7:25am until 2:10pm. The fight between Snooki and Angelina is going to be my priority tonight from 10pm until 11pm.

I’m not going to tell them that though. If liking Harry Potter means I was promoting Satanism, I don’t even want to begin to think about what liking Jersey Shore is promoting.

Team Snooki all the way!