‘Tis the Season…

How I know it’s Christmas…A Festive Rhyme, sort of…Bah Humbug image

Of gift catalogs and holiday junk e-mail from places I haven’t ordered in years, (or ever)…Black Friday, Pre-Black Friday, Cyber Monday, every day in between until the week before Christmas and post-Christmas clearance (did Santa forget something?) sales…don’t forget the free shipping, upgraded shipping and yes, there’s still time!  25% off, 50% off, reduced prices, special offers and buy one get one free!  Huge discounts…don’t fret!  Start next year right with that credit card debt!

Spending lots of money we don’t really have or think twice, for those kids and adults both naughty and nice, inundated with gift-giving ideas, Santa’s elves, Santa’s lap, hanging up the stockings, with greedy wish lists of material things dancing round in their heads.  Gift cards,  greeting cards, photo cards, email cards all about!  Sending holiday wishes the easy way out.

Of Christmas lights, fiber optic lights, LED lights, blinking lights, multi-colored lights, mini lights at 3-speeds, synchronized, indoor and outdoor, icicle, fiber optic and rope lights, incandescent net lights and trunk lights, Christmas tree lightings and storefront displays, all is wondrous and brightly lit, oh just wait till that next electric bill hits!

Of company holiday parties and open bars, bonus checks, Christmas vacations with pre- and post holiday stress!  No one’s at work so I can’t get any of mine done until they’re back.  Everyone’s frazzled with the season but I’ll be here (with my thumb up my butt) counting the days for everything to return to normal again.

To standing in line at the malls and post offices, those brown paper packages tied up with string, send it first class, priority, express mail, UPS or Fed-Ex – which way do they go?…Christmas wrap and ribbons, festive bags, boxes, stickers and bows…wrap it up, rip it off and just throw it away.  Oh crap! It’s not what you wanted anyway.

Watching holiday shows and movies all month long, flipping the channels hoping something else is on.

Those Grinches and Scrooges with poor holiday spirit, a miserly “Bah Humbug” to Heat Meiser and Snow Meiser, Bumble, Marley and Professor Hinkle’s magic hat!  Without them would those movies truly be as memorable?

Heat Meiser

To Santa Claus and his reindeer…On Jared’s, on Tiffany’s, on Zales, on DeBeers, and to all those poor schmucks proposing this year!

A Christmas Carol, Christmas on Ice, the Rockettes Spectacular, White Christmas, Nutcracker, Broadway in all its glittered glory…to Christmas parades as Santa waves on and those gawdy Christmas knit sweaters old ladies put on.Ugly Christmas Sweater

Fa la la la…Christmas music overplayed 24/7 from before Thanksgiving till ALL DAY ON CHRISTMAS, on all the radio stations you used to listen to.   Singers rendition the same stale songs, in too many tired versions over and over and over – Mannheim Steamroller and Silent Night, please Santa, bring me an iPod this night!

Of holiday drinks at Starbucks: peppermint mocha, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, apple cider, white chocolate, gingerbread, hot chocolate, and Christmas Blend taste the season so sweet.  Don’t forget the whipped cream on that decadent treat!

Gingerbread cup image

Bring the fruitcake and figgy pudding…gingerbread houses, candy canes, red and green-colored candies, cinnamon sticks, cranberries, chestnuts, mincemeat and egg nog, gift baskets with cheeses and wines, sugar cookies and rum cakes are what I adore, who cares if I gain 20 pounds and can’t get through the door!

Jingle bells and holly, to putting up decorations, then taking them down. Evergreens, balsams, spruces, firs and pines in a lot, stacks of dying trees to sell, then toss them away in the garbage to rot.  (Or hopefully transformed into wood chips to help the environment.)  Chimneys and ornaments and candles aglow, fireplaces, yule logs on DVD with fake Christmas snow!

Of Secret Santa and forced family time spent together, airline delays and traffic jams, obligations, guilt trips, nagging, nit-picking, bickering and overstayed welcomes.  They can’t stand to be near…but for what it’s worth, I wish my family were here.

To Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s…to my horror, it will all happen again next year.

Merry Christmas, Joyous Noel, Merry X-mas, Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays to all, and to all…don’t worry, by next week this too shall pass!

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Of Ruffled Feathers

Thingamajigs that just generate confusion in my world…

1)  Enya’s music embodies meditation, comfort and grace…too bad I can’t understand a damn word she sings half the time.

2)  Women: do you really need to use your cell phone in a public restroom?  What conversation cannot wait till you are done doing your business, truly?  Whenever I see a woman on her cell phone in the bathroom, I purposely flush the toilet often and run the dryers.  Odd thing is, they don’t take the hint and are still undaunted from ending the conversation.  Let’s face it, it’s a gross habit, so kindly stop. 

3)  Security Words online:  I get the whole point that these one or two words you’re required to type in to access a site helps alleviate hacking and spam, but when I can’t even read the damn lettering or word to type in, that’s a glitch.  Then again, I also have trouble opening child-proof lids.

4)  Is it coincidence that all the contestants, pastry chefs and hosts on the Food Network shows, Cupcake Wars and Sweet Genius, have flawless, immaculate skin?  Despite my own often futile efforts to restrict my sugar intake, I break out if I glance the wrong way at a cookie.  These pastry chefs spend most of their days surrounded by sugar: consuming sugar, inhaling sugar, living and breathing sugar.  I can feel the acne erupting just thinking about it.  Why did I get the short end of that lollipop stick?  Why did fate give me the burning desire to consume sugar, only to have me denied the pleasurable, limitless consumption of it?  How Antonio Salieri of me…

5)  Why do people go out to a restaurant, only to be focused on their cell phones and smart phones?  Such blatant disregard for their companions.  Oh wait, their companions are on their phones, too!  Great…all dressed up and nothing to do.  Trust me, you and the “app” are not that important!  Let’s stop to consider though, this is really no different from sitting in front of the TV during dinner with your partner.   It’s just a modern form of technological progress in that the entertainment is mobile.  We all know it’s annoying, so why are we still doing it?

On the flip side, I also notice older adults dining out who say nothing to each other throughout their meal.  I’m not sure which is more depressing.  Not much of a generation gap after all, when you think about it.  Elderly or young, it’s no different.  Just do takeout, it’s cheaper.

6)  Lifetime and LMN movies:  all those strikingly, attractive individuals residing in picturesque locales with their exquisite houses, lucrative employment, all hauntingly plagued with such melodramatic ordeals and torments!!  I’d embrace such sufferings in exchange for being gorgeous and affluent.  In fact, I’m confident I could tackle any trouble  were I blessed with fortune and beauty.   No one’s making a movie with me in it anytime soon!

7)  Why do they always put the little produce stickers on apples, deftly placed to cover the spots they don’t want you to see?  The stickers are just large enough so the buyer is unaware of the unsightly bruise or puncture (until you get home, of course).   How deceitful!  Then again, I try to not be too judgmental with my fruit.  After all, I have a lot of punctures, bruises and blemishes myself.  Think about it, aren’t we all a bit damaged? 

More to come…

© 2012 by Lisa Carbone, The Seasoned Secretary and http://www.letthepoisonout.wordpress.com

You Can Have Your Cake, Just Don’t Eat It!

It was a slow day at work so luckily we had the occasion of an office birthday party to disperse some of the dreaded monotony.  Everyone knows that an office birthday party is not complete without the adornment of the office birthday cake!

So, one of my colleagues eagerly purchased one at a local bakery quite popular for its treats and sweets.  We were quite considerate to make sure it was a flavor and style the birthday boy would appreciate.  All involved did the usual drooling with “Ooohs” and “Aaahs”  over it when it arrived in all its indulgent, rich chocolate, decadent temptation.

After the birthday song and office fanfare, strangely enough the cake went untouched.  Not one person claimed a piece of it, or even wanted to take a wedge home.  People practically ran from the room when offered some, as if they’d be dealt some evil curse or succumb to a heinous spell.

Nowadays, it’s allowed to oogle over a decadent delight all you want.  You can buy it, bake it, decorate it, display it, fawn over it, surround it with balloons and presents.  Look, but don’t touch.  Touch, but don’t taste…Taste, but don’t swallow.  Whatever you do, JUST DON’T EAT IT!

One little piggy has a gluten allergy,

One little piggy is too fat and on a diet.

One little piggy ate a big lunch and has a stomach ache,

One little piggy breaks out from too much sugar.

One little piggy cried “guilt trip” to the remaining little piggies all the way through the party, then went home.

Luckily, the birthday boy did take his cake at the end of the day, seemingly unphased.  I’m hopeful he actually did enjoy some of it, without any compromise.

Next time there’s an office birthday party, let’s just skip the cake.  What’s the point?  Getting older is painful enough.

© 2012 by Lisa Carbone, The Seasoned Secretary and http://www.letthepoisonout.wordpress.com

The Logic of Planet Fitness?

As a member of Planet Fitness, that especially entitles me to comment on a very strange practice of their health club franchise.

My goal when joining, as is most others, is to workout, stay fit, lose weight, yada, yada.  With budget-conscious pricing and modern, clean facilities accompanied by friendly staff, it’s a no-brainer to choose Planet Fitness over much local competition.  Truly, I enjoy my workouts there.  There’s a varied selection of equipment, ample enough for everyone, the decor is energizing and it’s a fun place to do physical activity.  Kudos!

What I can’t quite wraparound are the “perks”.  Do me a favor?  Don’t do me any favors.

  • Perk? No. 1:  Tootsie Rolls?  Handfuls of purple tootsie rolls are displayed temptingly in jars all across the Planet Fitness front desk areas.  Tootsie Rolls are not harmless.  Don’t be fooled by their miniature demeanor.  Red ants, bedbugs, MRSA bacteria, lots of evil things are small.  Planet Fitness even advertises them as “little treats – you deserve it!”  My friend gobbles a tootsie roll at various workout intervals throughout his routine.  My guess is he’s consuming about an easy 100 extra calories on those days.  I hope he’s doing extra sets while he chews.
  • Perk? No. 2:  Free Pizza on the First Monday of each month.  We’re not talking Plain Jane pizza either.  It could be anything from Buffalo Chicken to Pepperoni and Sausage.  Talk about ruining that diet you’ve been struggling with.   Want extra cheese and love handles to go with that workout you’re having?
  • Perk?  No. 3:  Free Bagels on the First Tuesday of every month.  Okay, this is almost as bad as the pizza.  Do they include complimentary butter and cream cheese?  They advertise it as the Breakfast of Champions.   When did Wheaties give up that title?
  • Perk?  No. 4:  Tanning.  With all the skin cancer concerns and warnings about tanning beds, to think a health club would incorporate such an amenity seems preposterous.  At least I’ll look good when I eat my pizza.
  • Perk? No. 5:  Pat on the Back Cupcakes.  Apparently you log onto a specified website to elicit a “POTB” as they call it.  Once they achieve a designated number of POTBs, you get free cupcakes.  I wonder if I can get extra buttercream frosting on mine.  I can spread it on my bagel.

So here’s the recipe for disaster: kill your members slowly from the inside by stuffing them with nutrient deficient carbohydrates, then destroy them on the outside with UV rays and melanoma.

If a health club serves pizza, bagels and candy, does that makes it sane and rational?  Does it make it okay to consume them?  It’s a conflict of the “reward” theory.  Exercise hard so you can treat yourself later.  You’re burning calories so what harm can an extra little tootsie roll do?   There’s a reason dentists used to give out lollipops to children.  You do the math.  I had a friend who admitted that the only reason she worked out was to be able to indulge in donuts afterwards.  (As long as the only one you’re fooling is yourself.)

Perhaps the logic is that they need you to keep needing them?  If you keep gaining weight, you need to keep working out.  “Free” stuff is addictive.   So are large amounts of sugar and simple carbs.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Eve was tempted with an apple, not a bran flake (and it worked!)

Hey, Planet Fitness – I hope those T-shirts you sell come in Extra Large sizes.

Planet Fitness – please revisit your perks.  Stop sabotaging our progress!  I’m all for perks, but they should be true to your mission statement.  Here are my nutritional suggestions: how about baskets of fresh fruits and nuts once a month instead of bagels?  Forget the tootsie rolls, we don’t need them before, during or after our workouts.  Replace the pizza with health-conscious noshes such as fresh veggies, hummus and pita chips or fresh sandwich selections.  Leave tanning beds to tanning salons that specialize in skin disease.

Until then, I figure I’m safer by the weights and cardio equipment.  Unless of course, I set off the LunkHead alarm!

© 2012 by Lisa Carbone, The Seasoned Secretary and http://www.letthepoisonout.wordpress.com

Smile…The World is Watching!

Working any length of time in customer service, it’s disarming to note how people tend to pounce on the negative.  A balmy, Southern sun gracing its way along a palm tree-lined beach is not enough to distract the most hardened individual.  The holiday season is far worse!  The old adage rings true:  if in one hand all the complaints and the other hand all the spoken niceties,  which one fills up first? How depressing that we all know the answer to that question. 

Why is it that consumers; people in general, achieve more satisfaction from the complaint vs. the compliment? Where does the dire need to “vent” originate?  Reasoning could suggest it stems from not enough motherly love, too little coffee, bad weather, “time of the month”, family issues, lack of sex,  ill-fitting underwear and so on, though it doesn’t justify such undignified behavior.
Should we blame society’s addiction to depressants and stimulants, where even children are prescribed  drugs to be “normal”.  What is the current definition of normal? Are we so inundated with the impersonality of technology that we have to “Google” smile just to remember what one is?
Why is it so painful for a compliment to roll off our tongues?  Are we afraid to choke on the word should it escape our lips?  Has it become a forgotten art of communication?  Although frowning uses more muscles in the human face, it seems to be quite effortless for most individuals to wear one; yet such a struggle to embrace that opposite, elusive expression.
There will always be a percentage of the population consistently miserable with their lives and so, the urge to exert such negativity on an innocent someone as soon as the opportunity presents itself is a pleasant release.  It’s a rush for some: the louder the bark, the more crass the insult – wrap it up in BIG BOLD LETTERS and deliver it with threats to call a lawyer!  All this exhibition to obtain some wretched, fleeting satisfaction.
It’s the undeserved that reap the havoc!  Minimum wage, front desk, retail customer service, fast food restaurant cashiers, waiters, coffee baristas, all those who work quite hard and lengthy hours for little pay.  Like pawns on a chess board.  Dealing with ingrates all day or night and having to smile through it all and just brace themselves against a verbal onslaught.
Now occasionally the planets do align and things will actually tend to run smoothly.  You will know this is happening because you will  hear…nothing.  No compliments, no courtesy.  Just the sound of  a pin drop. Happiness is not interesting enough to comment on.  It actually conjures the opposite effect.  See someone spirited and bubbly and you’re curious what drug they’re experimenting with.  It’s not “normal”.  It’s weird and strangely annoying to have someone always smiling at you.   Or, is it because we are so accustomed to the negative that any shadow of the positive is no longer recognizable?
Make it a habit!  Smile at least once a day for someone, “just because”.  Even if you don’t feel like it, don’t care, don’t want to, don’t mean it…do it anyway.  Practice it.  Try it.  It may hurt at first, but don’t be scared.  This pure, simple gesture will make someone feel good.  It will make you feel good, I promise.  It will spread like wildfire.  More compliments, more smiles.
But beware…someone might actually smile back!
© 2012 by Lisa Carbone, The Seasoned Secretary and http://www.letthepoisonout.wordpress.com