Costco on a Saturday=Suburban Zombie Apocalypse Training

Living in suburbia, as I now do, is generally fairly peaceful. Yes, we have a full menagerie of unwanted animals making their home in our gigantic yard, which leaves me feeling like Snow White from time to time (although instead of singing at the animals, I’m screaming at them like an angry old man to get off my lawn). But overall, suburbia is peaceful.

Which is why we have Costco.

Because going to Costco on a weekend is the single worst thing you can do in suburbia.  

But it’s necessary. Not just because once you have a house, you need to buy all of the toilet paper in the world to fill it, but also because it’s the only training ground that we suburbanites have for the zombie apocalypse.

Your training begins in the parking lot, which closely resembles what the world will look like after most of humanity falls prey to the deadly disease that will cause zombie-ism, but before the zombies rise back from the dead. It’s a sea of abandoned cars, where it’s necessary to practice dodging around the remaining people, children running amok, wayward shopping carts, and cars filled with the elderly. Danger is everywhere.
If you have survived parking (and the torment of watching people spend nine years trying to back an SUV into a parking space…which I will NEVER understand. The whole purpose of Costco is to buy items in such quantities as to necessitate the use of your trunk. WHY WOULD YOU BACK YOUR CAR IN AND MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH YOUR TRUNK???), you have to show your membership card at the door. This is NOT actually to keep non-members out. The real reason they have this protective barrier at the gate is to make you think about whether you actually want to descend into the hell that is Costco on a weekend. It’s not too late to turn back yet!
Except it is, because you already parked. And it’s not worth fighting that parking lot again to come back on another day because even though Costco itself may be less crowded on a weekday, the zombified parking lot won’t be.
So in you go. Your first thought may be that you’ve entered a foreign country, which is understandable because it resembles the airport scene in Romancing the Stone.  Rest assured, you’re still in the United States, but zombie apocalypse training has begun in earnest.
 
In the early stages of the store, it’s not so bad. The zombies are just starting to turn, and unlike the crazed rage-virus/World War Z (the movie, not the book) zombies, they’re still fairly docile at this stage. And it’s time to stock up with the supplies you’ll need to survive the rest of the store/apocalypse. You can grab inordinate amounts of Ziploc bags, sponges, Kirkland-brand clothes, batteries, etc. 
But make sure you visit the sporting equipment area because you’ll need something to fight off the hordes when you get to food. I recommend a samurai sword. It’s Costco. They have them. They have everything.
The problems start as you near the baked goods. Now if you’re smart and/or paleo, you don’t eat baked goods and therefore don’t NEED to visit this section. But you have to cross it to get to the rest of the food, so you’re screwed either way. This will be your first encounter with the zombie masses
.
The next stage of your training will really depend on how hungry you are when you arrive at Costco, how much willpower you have, and whether you possess any athletic ability. 
 

If you’re not hungry or have the willpower to avoid whatever delicious treat the sample lady is providing to the zombies, then this is a great opportunity for you to practice sneaking past hungry zombie herds. You have to be careful so that they don’t turn on you, but this is an important skill to possess in the zombie apocalypse. There will be times when you have to sneak past the zombies in order to survive. And you want to be able to do that without hiding in a bathtub like that Will Smith coward!

The trick is vigilance. Wait until the sample lady is JUST ABOUT to start serving something. Because if you’re standing there when she runs out of food, you’re going to become the food. And if you’re walking by when she’s serving, it’s going to feel like the running of the bulls. The zombies won’t care, they’re just going to trample you to get to the delicious serving of brains/sponge cake that’s being given out. So when the zombies begin massing toward the sample, you RUN past them. Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back. Just run. And if anyone gets in your way, that’s why you have a cart! Plow them down! It’s kill or be killed!

You’re now in the most dangerous part of the survival maze because there are sample stations everywhere. The middle of the aisles are generally safe, but you’re in serious peril at ever crossroad. And the zombies have gotten their blood sugar up from the baked goods they sampled first and are now starving and descending en masse on any sample station they can find. 
 

You’re outnumbered here. If you use the trick from baked goods of waiting until they begin serving, you’ll die. Believe me. Once the zombies know the samples are coming, they’ll rip you limb from limb to get a good spot to wait for them. I still have the scars from the time I happened to reach for a case of Greek yogurt just as the sample lady was pulling pizza bagel bites out of the toaster oven. It wasn’t pretty, and some wounds never heal.

Instead, you have to sneak past the outer perimeter of the herd while the food is being prepared. They’re in rest state at that time, as long as you don’t disturb them. If, however, you try to blend in for a sample and don’t stay on the outer perimeter, you won’t live through the day.

But, Sara, pizza bagel bites are delicious! I have to try one!

You poor, poor fool!

Okay, here goes. Remember that samurai sword or other weapon you grabbed in the sporting goods section? Strap it to your back so that you can access it, but don’t go in wielding it. If we’ve learned anything from South Park, it’s that you can’t go around decapitating zombies left and right! 

 
If you want to make it to the food, you have to blend in with the zombie throng. If you have any cold cuts in your cart, putting them on your face Silence of the Lambs style to make it look like you’re already half eaten will help. If not, any random blood will do. Rend your clothes, slow your walk to an undead amble, and mumble gibberish. If you speak another language, that’s fine to use, if not, make a lot of guttural sounds—zombies speak a language very similar to Yiddish. 
Above all, do NOT make eye contact!

Slowly follow the zombies to the food source, grab yours quickly and then run as fast and as far as you can. If you get stuck, use the sword! That’s why you have it! GO! 

Assuming you have made it this far, you’re home free! Until, that is, you get to the unending series of lines, at which point you wait. And wait. The process of which coagulates your blood until you begin to feel like one of the zombies yourself. Try not to gnaw anyone’s limbs off as they stack your things in your cart without bags. It’s the ability to keep from eating the other people that makes the distinction between us and them at this stage.
Then you’re just a sharpie mark on a receipt away from freedom! Or at least the parking lot.

And just think, you get to do it all over again next weekend.

Ah, suburbia.

The wedding registry: One small step for man, one giant step toward being able to live together on a teacher’s salary

While I am definitely not a “wedding girl,” I have to admit that I’ve gotten into a few aspects of planning the big day. I have a venue, a date, a DJ and a photographer. And the fiancé has been wonderful and booked the honeymoon for us.

I even have a real wedding dress. It’s white and lacy and everything. It was obtained with ease at the second store that I went to. The first store was a horrific nightmare starring an evil witch who banished my mother from the dressing room, ignored everything I told her, and then kept forcing me into puffy monstrosities that made me look like a marshmallow Moby Dick until I sobbed that I was fat and didn’t want a wedding. Literally. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if she chased me through the store with a harpoon yelling, “Call me Ishmael!” The evil witch wouldn’t leave me alone until I squealed that I was a little piggy who didn’t deserve to get married.

Then I went to P. Lawrence in the Kentlands, had a lovely experience, and emerged an hour later looking forward to my wedding again.  

So with the dress ordered, I started to get excited about the idea of registering for gifts. I mean, this is pretty much the only time in your life when you can pick out the exact presents that you want and force people to buy them for you (ignoring the fact that I’ve hacked my dad’s Amazon Prime password and can therefore pick out presents for myself and order them, forcing HIM to pay for them with free two-day shipping… that’s a close second to a wedding in a lot of ways. But he screams at me and then changes his password if I buy anything too extravagant on his account, so that has to be used with caution).  

So on Saturday, the fiancé and I set out for the mall.

The end result of which was shockingly similar to the first wedding dress shopping experience, because I wound up curled in the fetal position, sobbing that I didn’t want a wedding.

Retail does not seem to be my friend these days.
What could have happened to turn shopping into something so horrible?

Well, to start with, I was completely overwhelmed. The fiancé and I are in the process of selling my bachelorette pad and buying our perfect suburban dream house. Which, shockingly, was much easier than I could have imagined. We found a buyer for the condo, fell in love with the perfect house, made an offer, and boom! We’re moving in a month! (Message me if you need the best real estate agent in the DC area. Seriously. He’s amazing.)

Which is all wonderful and happy and the birds are singing and I’m so excited about it that I don’t even care that the new Bruce album comes out tomorrow. (Besides, I’ve had it for three weeks. And stopped listening to it two weeks ago. Next.)

But it means we need a LOT of stuff. Yes, my one bedroom condo was pretty full, but it’s not going to make a dent in a five-bedroom house. And the fiancé has declared the new house to be an Ikea-free zone, so none of my furniture is making the trek with us.

AKA we need pretty much EVERYTHING.

Which is fine. I’m my mother’s daughter, so I’m a pretty freaking awesome shopper. No, I’m not quite at her level, because she can walk into stores and basically have them pay HER to take clothes (or at least that’s how she explains her purchases to my father, a trait handed down from my grandmother. You can buy anything as long as it’s a bah-gan (bargain with a Gloucester, Massachusetts accent). But I’m good. So picking out all new stuff that I don’t even have to pay for? Piece of cake.

Or it would be, if I was just shopping for myself.

Here we reach a problem—I have pretty much the only fiancé in the world who not only has a distinct opinion about every single thing we put in our house, but he was also raised in a much wealthier area than I was. So while he wouldn’t characterize his family as “rich” per se, the idea of shopping anywhere below the level of Bloomingdales is as abhorrent to him as the idea of shopping below the level of Target is to me. Like I’m pretty sure he equates Bed Bath and Beyond to Walmart or Big Lots.

And I didn’t understand that prior to Saturday.

So savvy shopper that I am, I figured, okay, we’ll start at Bloomingdales. He’ll see how absurd the prices are, laugh, and say okay, let’s go somewhere reasonable.

I like Bloomingdales. It’s one of my go-to stores when I need a really nice formal dress. No, I don’t buy anything else there. But formal dresses, if they’re on sale, are doable at Bloomingdales.

Unfortunately, my plan backfired, because when I laughed at the absurdity of spending $750 on a duvet cover before even factoring in pillow shams or anything else to go WITH the duvet cover, my fiancé said, “Wow, that’s a good deal.”

I laughed harder, and he looked at me uncomprehendingly. “What?” he asked. “It’s on sale. It WAS $1200.”

And suddenly, I realized that he wasn’t screwing with me. He actually thought $750 for duvet cover was a good price. And that a $3,000 set of four pieces of cookware was a steal. You don’t even want to think about what he was willing to spend on towels. I did a quick tally in my head and calculated that at the prices he was considering, a casual dining set would cost more than our combined gross income for two years.

It was time to regroup. If we registered the way that he wanted to, it would take all of our guests combining their gifts to buy a full set of bedroom linens, before we even got into anything like dinnerware, cookware, glassware, or silverware.

So, faking a deathly allergy to Chanel perfume, I dragged him out of the store.

We tried Crate and Barrel, which he conceded was tolerable, despite having never heard of it (how has anyone never heard of Crate and Barrel? I wanted to register there for my bat mitzvah, but my mom wouldn’t let me!), but we honestly didn’t know where to start. And when he began admiring the $3,000 dressers, I debated tattooing the words “Teacher’s Salary” across my forehead.

And then I took another page from my mother and grandmother’s book. Bribery. I had come prepared with Reese’s peanut butter cups in my purse, which are the fiancé’s kryptonite. Just as I can be placed under a hypnotic spell by pretty shoes, peanut butter cups allow me near-total mind control over my beloved future husband. A man’s secret weakness is necessary for any woman who plans to spend her life with him to know, as long as it is only used for purposes of good, not evil.

So a handful of peanut butter cups later, we got to Bed Bath and Beyond. Where he insisted on registering for a $200 sheet set in Exorcist-vomit green.  

Which I took as progress. One small step for man, one giant step toward being able to live together on a teacher’s salary. That kind of thing.

And at least I can modify the Bed Bath and Beyond registry from home.

But when we turned in our scanning gun to go home from an eight-hour day of shopping, the guy manning the registry counter looked surprised. “Still getting married?” he asked us.

Apparently we’re not the only ones who found registering to be a complicated process. But at least they sell peanut butter cups there, for future registry excursions.

Winter may be coming, but winter break can’t come soon enough!

Tomorrow begins my least favorite month of the year.

Stop calling me a Grinch! It’s not because I hate Christmas!

And for once, I actually have a boyfriend, so Christmas this year will not be spent sitting in a darkened room with my parents and grandparents watching Rooney Mara get anally raped.  

 
 (No, Goodmans don’t typically celebrate Christmas with voyeuristic sodomy. My family made me see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with them last year. And I had to watch that scene sandwiched between my mother and my grandmother. It was worse than the time my dog rolled in another dog’s excrement. We’re talking THAT level of bad.)


And it has nothing to do with my complete and utter lack of understanding of Christmas decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas. (Although I still don’t get why Christians make up random characters to go with their holidays. Jews have the Maccabees and Mordechai and Esther and all, but they are actually related to the holidays they go with. We don’t let a random fat man into our house to lure our children under a tree with presents. Nor do we send our kids to go sit on a strange man’s lap at the mall. Seriously, how does no one recognize that Santa is creepy? And wtf is up with a giant pink bunny hiding eggs? Bunnies don’t even lay eggs! That’s just confusing and equally creepy if it’s the same guy in the bunny suit as in the Santa costume!)

No, December is my least favorite month for three reasons: Hanukkah, cold weather, and school.

Let’s go in order, shall we?

Hanukkah is the world’s worst holiday. And the world’s best holiday because my parents still get me eight wonderful night’s worth of presents. And Sara loves her presents. (Hint hint loyal readers, my shoe size is 8 ½, Ulta gift cards are lovely, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just saying.)

But Jewish guilt then demands that I make sure that my parents both have presents to open for each of the eight nights. Stupid? Yes. But I’m not telling my parents that it’s okay to not give ME a present for any of the eight nights, so they need something too. Even if it’s something little. And my dad hasn’t purchased a present for my mom since I was 12 (in some indeterminate year in the 1990s. I will give you no more clues to my age than that!), when he started dropping me off at the mall with a credit card and saying “buy your mother something nice.”

The problem? My mom hates everything. Like she’ll literally pick out a present, tell me she wants it, send me all over creation to find it, then decide she doesn’t really want it and make me return it. She doesn’t return it. I have to return it.

Add in that I hate malls, hate the Christmas music that blares in malls at this time of year incessantly (except the Bruce versions, which are acceptable year round), hate holiday shoppers, and hate crowds, and this time of year becomes the stuff of nightmares.

This year, I came up with a solution to the What-to-Get-My-Parents problem. I sent them the following email.

Okay parentals, we have reached the point where you need to give me Hanukkah ideas. I have one tiny present for dad, nothing for mom. Failure to respond to this email with ideas for yourself and/or each other will result in me getting a tattoo of “Mom” in a heart on one butt cheek, “Dad” in a heart on the other, and I will personally deliver and show off said presents at your respective places of business. So please give me some ideas because I really don’t want that crap tattooed on my ass. K thanks bye.

Mom replied that she would work on it.

Dad didn’t reply.

And when I called my dad to tell him that I was on the way to the tattoo parlor to get his present, he said “Cool. Have fun.”

Thanks dad. Really. That was helpful.

Worst holiday ever. And therefore the panic attacks leading up to it when I have to come up with eight things to give my mother (she wants a grandchild, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have decided that if we DO have a child in the future, we are naming him Jesus Nixon the Baptist III, just to piss my parents off. But that’s one present she’s NOT getting any time soon!) make December the worst month ever.

And even worse? It’s cold out. I’m a warm weather girl. I drive a convertible. I love the beach. And I REALLY hate shivering in the freezing pre-dawn air waiting for my dog to sniff out the one and only spot that she finds worthy of receiving her bodily excretions. (As a teacher, I’m not supposed to use profanity in my daily life, so I need to find creative ways to explain the process my dog uses in finding a spot to shit. Oops. Sorry mama.)

Is it winter break yet? OH WAIT, I still have three full weeks of school to teach in the worst teaching month. Because as kids get closer to time off from school, their behavior gets exponentially worse until even the best behaved students turn into something out of Lord of the Flies, complete with a conch shell, spears, hunting a beast, and killing a fat kid. Add the possibility of snow? You don’t want to think about that. Add in the fact that they KNOW a break is coming, that they’re getting presents, and that it might snow?

If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my desk, rocking like an autistic child. Just 75 more classes to teach after today until winter break. FML.

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend, Ary!  Love ya!

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!

‘Tis the Season… to hide from crazed holiday shoppers!

Ah, the Christmas season.

Aka the time of year when I go into hiding from the end of Thanksgiving dinner until Christmas Day, when I re-emerge to go to the movies with the other Jews.

Why?

Because at this time of year, I hate all of you.

No, it has nothing to do with being a grinchy Jew. I mean, okay, I’m already sick of Christmas music and they JUST started playing it. When I rule the world, the only acceptable Christmas songs will be the Springsteen versions of them. All existing copies of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” along with ANYTHING that Justin Bieber sings will be mandatorily destroyed en masse as part of a new holiday that I plan to create celebrating the destruction of all inferior holiday music.

And it has nothing to do with the decorations. When tastefully done, I like Christmas lights.

It’s not even because the holiday makes no sense. I mean, If Jesus was born on Christmas, why does the calendar, which is clearly labeled BC and AD referring to Jesus, begin a week later? I’d ALMOST buy it if the new year started eight days later, because that would have been Jesus’ bris. But seven days? No.

And don’t even get me started on the Santa Claus thing. In my mind, a fat man who sees you when you’re sleeping and breaks into your house once a year is a creepy pervert who belongs behind bars. Seriously, he knows EVERYTHING all children do all year and you give him open access to your house? What’s next? Gonna let those same kids in a shower with Jerry Sandusky? (Sorry. Had to do it.)

But none of those things are why I spend a full month of the year barricaded in my apartment with the door nailed shut and a shotgun like I’m afraid the zombies (or that Santa freak) will break in any second.

It’s because Christmas ruins my main form of entertainment for a month out of every year: shopping.

I admit it: I shop too much. I inherited the Shopaholic gene from my mother, who doesn’t believe in eating when you’re bored or upset or at any other time for that matter.   Instead, at all times when other people eat, she shops. Seriously. She’s so skinny that you can’t see her most of the time. She could be standing right behind you, right now. And you’d never know. But unless you’re reading this from a smartphone while you’re in line at a store, she probably isn’t. Because that’s where she is. At all times.

If you’ve seen my closet, you know that I’m pretty much the same way. I had to build a cubby system into it for all of my shoes. And even though it’s fairly organized, the EPA still lists it as one of the biggest threats to the environment because it is so full that it could, at any moment, explode, spewing dresses and high-heeled shoes so ferociously into the atmosphere that they would block out the sun, causing the kind of catastrophic environmental crisis that killed the dinosaurs.

My actual closet.  You can’t see the shoes that are along the top left or the bottoms of both sides.  But trust me.  They’re there.

Or, because it’s so densely packed, it could just implode, creating a black hole that would destroy the entire universe.

Actually, maybe the Christmas season every year is a good thing because it prevents me from adding anything to the Closet of Doom (which, incidentally, is the title of the fifth Indiana Jones movie, if they ever make it).

Nah, just kidding, I still shop. I just do it online for a month.

Because the problem is that the stores are completely uninhabitable from midnight on Black Friday until after New Year’s. I honestly don’t understand the psychotic nature of holiday shopping. But it scares me. A lot. How have we reached a point in our society when family bonding entails rushing through Thanksgiving dinner so you can wait in line for a mall to open at midnight to save a few dollars on crap you didn’t need in the first place? I mean, after everyone left my parents’ house Thursday night, my immediate family and I sat around playing Words With Friends with each other on our iPhones. Like a normal, rational family. (Of course, my brother pointed out that if we pulled out the Scrabble set, we could ALL actually play TOGETHER. But no one wanted to do that. Technology reigns supreme in my family.)

Venturing into a store during the month before Christmas reminds me of the victory riots at the University of Maryland after we would beat Duke in basketball, but without the celebratory feel. People are running around, screaming, climbing on things, tearing stuff down, looting, and starting uncontrollable fires. But unlike at UMD, the riot squad is nowhere to be found. That unholy, Lord-of-the-Flies style behavior is CONDONED at Christmas time.

But in the interest of research for this blog (and beauty, because if I don’t go buy something at Ulta every three days, I’m pretty sure they’ll go out of business. My makeup obsession is single-handedly keeping them afloat in these troubled financial times), I ventured out to a couple of stores this weekend. I waited until late Saturday afternoon, when I figured most of the madness would be over. And I was right, the crowds weren’t too bad.

The carnage, however, that the crowds had left in their wake, was horrific. The ground was littered with the bodies of the fallen, and there was even a tattered Confederate flag flying over the scene to complete the Gone With the Wind analogy. And every store that I went to looked the same: just like a DC area grocery store when snow is in the forecast. There was nothing left.

So I retreated to the safety of my house, happy to have avoided being massacred in an attempt at holiday shopping.

I’ll see you all in a month or so when I emerge from hiding.

Happy Cyber Monday!

Yes, Virginia, there is a gift that even a picky woman won’t return!

The Christmas season is rapidly approaching, and we all know what that means.

Well, it means absolutely nothing to me, except that I’ll be going to the movies with my parents on December 25, because I have a grand total of zero Jewish friends.

But to the goyim out there (that means non-Jews for all the goyim who didn’t understand that), it really only means one thing:

The mad, panicked search to find a present for the women in your life.

Because in case you didn’t know this already, women are…um… difficult. I don’t mean to shop for. Women are difficult in general. When it comes to shopping for us, women are impossible.

Which is why you’re so lucky that you have me. Because I’m about to decode what women want as presents so that you can buy the lady in your life something that she WON’T return.

Are you ready?

It’s actually simpler than you think as long as you remember one basic underlying principle:  ALL women will tell you not to worry about a present for them. This is a lie. When a woman says this, what she really MEANS is, “You’d better have picked out something super nice for me already, or you will never see me naked again.”

(Or, if it’s a woman buying a gift for a female relative, it means “You’d better have picked out something super nice for me already, or I will make you feel so bad about yourself for the next thirty years that even if you spent every day of the rest of your life in therapy, you couldn’t even begin to undo the psychological damage that I’m about to unleash on you.” Trust me. I’ve messed up on this one before. And I now spend the month before any holiday that requires gift giving huddled under a blanket in the corner of my bedroom sobbing because when I was four years old, I gave a macaroni necklace to a female relative, who shall remain nameless. But it wasn’t my mom. I swear. Please don’t hurt me, mommy.)

Basically, you have to get a present, ESPECIALLY if a woman tells you not to. And you know that expression, “It’s the thought that counts”? That’s up there with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Boogeyman in the closet. Because unlike the monster under your bed (who, in my case, is unfortunately all too real. He’s friendlier than I thought he would be, but he’s still there. His name is Steve. He said to tell you all hi), “It’s the thought that counts” is just one of those lies that parents tell children. And by the time you’re seven or eight years old, you’re not supposed to believe it anymore.

So what SHOULD you buy a woman in order to see her naked again and/or avoid massive psychological trauma? (Because seriously, the PTSD from giving a woman a bad present makes Vietnam vets look totally sane and normal.)

The key is to understand why women want a present: we want to feel like you really understand who were are and what we want. But to quote the movie Sliding Doors, women “don’t say what we want. But we reserve the right to be pissed off if we don’t get it. That’s what makes us so fascinating.”

The trick to finding the right gift depends on what type of woman you’re dealing with. There are four types, and all women fall into one of these four types.

1) The Vickys—These women love underwear, and it’s no secret. If she comes home with a striped pink bag every time she goes shopping, can name more than two Victoria’s Secret models, and/or has any item of clothing that says the word “Pink” on it, you’re dealing with a Vicky.

2) The Bathing Beauties—These are the women who are obsessed with bath products. They have different scented soaps for all seasons. The easiest way to spot a Bathing Beauty woman is to peek in her bathroom. If she has a loofa and more than one type of perfume/body spray, look no further. You’ve identified a Bathing Beauty.

3) The Imeldas—Me. Aka obsessed with shoes. To the point where we pick out our shoes in the morning and then pick out an outfit to match the shoes we’ve selected. If the woman you’re shopping for has ever done that, she’s an Imelda.

4) The Weirdos—non girly girls. If a woman falls into none of the above categories, You might as well just buy her a softball mitt or a powerdrill.

I’m kidding.  She already has both of those. 

Once you’ve identified the type of woman that you’re shopping for, picking a gift is fairly easy. If she’s a Vicky, do NOT pick out the underwear that you would like to see her in.

She’ll hate that. Instead, buy her something from Victoria’s Secret that SHE’LL be comfortable in. If you buy her a comfy robe or cute pajamas instead. Trust me. She’ll WANT to break out the sexy underwear for you if she feels like you appreciate her even when she’s dressed down.

If you’re shopping for a Bathing Beauty, it’s all about pampering. I’m less of an expert in this category because I’m happy with Dove soap and loofas just confuse me. But figure out her favorite store to buy her bath products from (if she’s a Body Shop girl, don’t get her something from Bath and Body Works, and vice versa. Look at the labels in her bathroom and stick with the winner!) and then pick out something that’s geared toward relaxation. They all have home spa products. If you get her something like that, she’ll feel safe and secure because you want her to feel pampered, taken care of, and special.

Imeldas, on the surface, are the toughest group of women to shop for. Because it’s practically impossible to buy shoes for anyone else. But an ex-boyfriend of mine mastered this technique (granted, it was pretty much the only thing he ever did right, but he did this SO well that I kept him around for way longer than I should have) and if that idiot could, you can too. Here’s the secret: if you want to REALLY impress an Imelda, go shopping with her one day.

I know, I know, you’d rather gouge your own eyes out with rusty nails. But trust me. When she spots a pair of shoes that she LOVES, but knows she shouldn’t buy for herself, encourage her to try them on, then be a jerk. Tell her she doesn’t NEED another pair of black leather boots/leopard-print heels/black pumps because they look exactly six other pairs she already has. She’ll get annoyed, which is good because it gives you the chance to make sure you know exactly which pair and which size she liked. Then, when you surprise her with the shoes that she loved in the store but didn’t buy, she’s going to think you’re the best boyfriend/husband/creepy stalker/etc in the world. NOTHING will win an Imelda over like this move will. I would know.

Then there are the weirdos. Most women do NOT want electronics as a gift. But if your woman doesn’t fit into any of the first three categories, you can buy her something practical with a sweet touch (like an ipod, but set it up for her and preload it with music she’ll enjoy), and you’ll probably be fine.

However there is one present that trumps all of the others no matter what type of woman you’re dealing with.

I’ll give you a hint: a dog may be man’s best friend, but ___________ are a girl’s best friend.

Hit it, Marilyn.

It doesn’t have to be a ring, and you don’t have to propose. But diamonds tell a woman that she’s loved. Just make sure you pay attention to whether she’s a white or yellow gold type of girl and pick out something to match. And especially when it comes to diamonds (but, I hate to break it to you, this applies to most things in life as well—sorry), size DOES matter.

Happy holiday shopping!

My name is Sara, and I’m a makeup-aholic… and a shoe-aholic… Help!

Hello my name is Sara, and I’m a makeup-aholic.

And a shoe-aholic. But Shoe Addicts Anonymous meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, so today it’s time to address my other raging addiction.

I’ve been addicted to makeup for as long as I can remember. It probably started with my mother, who is also a makeup-aholic. Although she doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, so I grew up thinking it was normal to be obsessed with makeup.

As a child, the most exciting day of the year wasn’t my birthday, which was just another day because I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. No, it was Halloween, when I could wear as much makeup as I wanted. And that’s the entire reason why I enjoyed ballet as a little girl: I got to wear makeup for the recitals. (And a tutu, which of course, as the girliest girl on the planet, I would have lived in from age two to age fourteen if I could have. To be honest, if it was socially acceptable, I’d probably still wear a tutu. But, in one of the great tragedies of my life, it’s not.)

Of course, when I got a little older and saw the pictures of myself for Halloween and ballet recitals, I understand why I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup regularly until high school, because I looked like a prostitute in training. And bright blue eyeshadow isn’t a particularly good look on anyone, especially not an eight year old in a tutu.

Now, as an adult, it’s not even that I wear THAT much makeup on a daily basis. My entire makeup routine from start to finish takes less than ten minutes and, when I’m running late (which, let’s face it, when am I NOT running late?), can take far less time than that.

And because I have Rosie, I’ve even been known to leave the house without makeup to walk her (which horrifies my mother). Granted, I don’t walk her further than ten feet away from my building when I have no makeup on, and now that I’ve discovered that a couple of seriously cute single guys live in my building, I’m less likely to walk her without makeup when it’s not 5am. But I AM capable of leaving my house without makeup, which a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say.

Baby steps, but steps all the same.

So what’s the problem?

Ulta and Sephora.

No, those aren’t weirdo new names for children or (because I have no children) my boobs. They’re the two leading makeup stores. And they (along with shoes and Springsteen concerts) are why I might lose my house in the near future.

Because I am physically incapable of passing either store without going in and spending at least $100. Literally. If I walk into a mall and pass Sephora twice, I have to go in both times and buy things both times. That’s not normal.

I can’t explain it either. I DO know, on a practical level, that I don’t NEED every shade of Urban Decay’s liquid glitter eyeliner. I do. But I was SO upset the one time that I wore my one outfit that had some gold in it (because I’m the only Jew on the planet who’s allergic to gold jewelry. Seriously. I don’t know how that happened) and I didn’t have the glitter eyeliner that would have looked perfect with that dress.

Literally. I wound up dashing out to Ulta in my gold outfit and getting there 30 seconds before they closed and BEGGING them to let me in to buy the one eyeliner that I didn’t have because it was the ONLY thing that could complete my outfit. Which they did, because I am single handedly keeping them in business. And since then, guess how many times I’ve worn that gold glitter eyeliner?

If you guessed zero, you guessed correctly. But I have it. Just in case.

I also have the same eyeliner in magenta, fuchsia, mauve, teal, aqua, purple, light blue, royal blue, navy blue, green, forest green, olive green, blue-green, and green-blue, all of which are JUST different enough to convince me that I need to spend the $17 each on them to complete the collection.

Do you see what I mean? I need help.

Every once in awhile (usually when my linen closet, which in my case is actually a cosmetic closet, explodes and spews old makeup volcano-style sixty feet in the air and shuts down all of the airports over the entire eastern seaboard), I decide to throw out the makeup that I haven’t worn in years. Which, to the untrained observer would seem to be a step in the right direction.

But my fellow makeup-aholics know where I’m going with this.

Because then I have room for all of the exciting NEW makeup that I swear cosmetic companies put out just for me.

It’s actually gotten to the point where one of the employees at my local Ulta tries to help me, because he knows that I can’t afford to keep buying makeup at my current rate. So when I go to check out, he holds up everything I’ve brought to the counter and asks me, “Do you NEED this? Or do you just WANT it?” and if I can’t justify why I actually need it, he makes me put it back.

Which means that I go to extraordinary lengths to avoid going to his register. To the point where I’ll call the store to find out his work schedule, then go in when I know he won’t be there.

They say the first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Which I suppose means that I’m on my way. But the real point of this blog post isn’t to explain my problem or recover.

It’s to tell you that if you’re looking for a holiday present for me and you’re not buying me shoes, the next best thing you can get me is a Sephora or Ulta gift card and Curtis’ work schedule for the Ulta in Rockville.

Because makeup may not make the world a prettier place. But only because not everyone wears it.

And it makes me happy. And in the end, isn’t making me happy what the holidays are REALLY about?