This is it. My last post before 2011 fades away and 2012 becomes the year that we all joke about the end of the world. I had planned for something Deep and Meaningful. But that was before I remembered that the in-laws were going to be here from Michigan and that would mean day-long outings and running out of room in the refrigerator for yet another set of restaurant leftovers and a frantic search through my non-existent draft folder in the hopes of finding something Wonderful that I might have been saving.

I looked. I found plenty of Somethings. But none of them were anywhere near the vicinity of Wonderful. Some were kind of Meh and a few gems were complete Disasters. More like an exercise in free-writing while high on expired Nyquil than something I’d like to share with the world.

So that leaves me to come up with Something New. And I’m hoping it’s Deep and Meaningful.

I’m supposed to talk about those as-of-yet unbroken promises I haven’t quite narrowed down to committing to for the immediate future. And buy some new running shoes so I can get to that new gym with the brand new membership I’m supposed to rush out to buy so I can fight for an elliptical machine until most have decided to wait until next January to try again, right? Or am I supposed to look back on 2011 and the stories shared, memories made, and goals achieved?

I could do that, except maybe I won’t. Not because I’d rather avoid the imminent panic attack next December when I finally fall asleep wondering if the world will still be there for me to wake up to or if social media will be alive and well and pointing fingers at the Mayans for being total drama queens. And that’s because this (read: the me having a Conspiracy Theory-worthy panic attack) will probably happen. I’m just wired that way.

I won’t wax poetic about the end of the old and the start of the new simply because, for me, I feel caught in limbo. Between what and what, I have no idea. I just know that this feels like my last post of 2011 no more than the first one did and that this was the first year that my birthday was really just another day and maybe 34 is the year that the passing of time becomes nothing more than a measure of how fast my child is growing and not a direct reflection of myself or that last grey hair I pulled out.

If I didn’t have a checkbook with what will probably be a month’s worth of ruined checks during the 2012 honeymoon period while I retrain my brain to write the new year, I’d probably forget that anything has changed.

Buttercup and I were out shopping the other day when a store employee asked Buttercup how her Christmas had been. After the expected excitement and squeals and Santa Brought Me’s, the employee smiled and asked Buttercup what she was doing to bring in the new year. Buttercup wrinkled her nose and blinked.

New Year? The look on her face told us both that she had no concept of what was being asked of her. She simple stood there for a moment while she tried to figure out for herself what this New Year was and how exactly one was supposed to Bring It In.

Finally, she smiled and her eyes brightened.

“But it’s not June yet,” she said, “and that’s when my new year starts. I’ll be five then. I’ll probably have a birthday party with my friends. Right, Mama?” And  I told her that yes, she very probably would.

 

I love to laugh. Almost as much as I love to make other people laugh (clarification: on PURPOSE, yo.)

So when I was asked to officially hop on the An Army of Ermas bandwagon by the incredibly awesome Stacey I. Graham, I naturally said (and I quote), “Hell Yes!” The beauty of the Ermas site is the multitude of talent you’ll find and the humor* (and ability to relate to the real life moments) in the stories shared by each and every writer for the site.

Being a writer myself, I always like to get to know the person behind the words on the screen, and I’m hoping you will, too. There’s a lot of Ermas and I’d like for you to get to know each one. Today I’m featuring an interview with Adam Slade. I promise I only featured him first because of the sexy English accent I’m imagining.

PMC- Vanilla or chocolate? I know you expected me to start with age, rank, and serial number, but we need to set the tone for this interview first. Vanilla is safe and boring. Chocolate is funny and a bit adventurous. Or was it the other way around?

Adam-Vanilla, but in a funny and adventurous way. Ha! I’m complex!(With real vanilla pods. Mmm…)

PMC: Sneaky bastard. Okay then. Do you chew your ice cream?

Adam: Yes. Unless it contains nothing chewy. In which case, yes.

PMC: Good. I don’t trust people who don’t chew ice cream. Now that we’re past the pleasantries, I want name, rank, and serial number. Who are you, exactly. And why should I think you’re funny?

AS: Adam Slade, Chief Accountant in Charge of Sheep-Dip, #42, MA’AM.

I’m an English author of fantasy and humour (with a U), and have a few books under my belt that you should definitely buy. I’ll even throw in a belt to carry them with (I won’t). I currently live in Canada with my wife and cat. Both are lovely, though one occasionally bites me.
You should think I’m funny because I try really hard at it. (Don’t believe those who say it should come naturally – notice how they’re never funny people.)
PMC: I see. Where can one buy your books? And I want that belt.

AS: One (and you, yes you) can buy my books on pretty much every internet ebook seller there is. To cut down on finger strain, though, I’ll just link that Amazonian one.

Belts come only with large purchases. Large enough that I can afford to buy a belt from the royalties.
I also write erotic romance under another name, but that’s a secret, so you’ll just have to buy lots and lots of it in the hope that you get one of mine.

PMC: I was waiting for you to tell me erotic was spelled with a “u”. So, Mr. English. Tell me about this Erma gig you’ve got going on. Did you bribe Stacey with brownies to get in, too?

AS: Nope. Unless you have a past you’re not telling me about, there’s no “u” in erotica. If I plied Stacey with my brownies, she’d have me arrested for attempted poisoning. After she beat me up, of course. Everyone knows editors have serious guns from all that crossing-out.

Last Christmas Our Glorious Leader put up a competition, asking people to submit their funniest Chrimbo-themed articles. The winner would get both praise and their article posted on the site. Since I’d wussed out of the previous call for writers, I manned up just enough to write something for the contest, and Stacey decided it was worth posting. Just after that, she offered me a spot on the Ermas roster and I said ‘booya’, followed by ‘yes’.
I tend to post about once every 2 months, as spots are limited, and sometimes I’m too late/lazy to grab one. I try and keep the articles silly.

PMC: No bribing? Obviously, there is some favoritism present. *lesigh* I was gonna say there is no “I” in erotic but that just backfired on me. So back to you. Where can one find you on the interwebz?

AS: What can I say? It’s my English charm. Or the begging. Probably the begging, come to think of it.

I’m speedy with my innuendos. It’s a gift. Or a curse. A girse? That sounds like a cross between a giraffe and a horse. Cuft, then?
You can find me in many many places, as I use the internet far too much. My main blog has links to everything else. I’d love for some new followers to go with my ol–, uh, less new ones. They’re a lovely bunch. Most can move about without walkers, too.
PMC: Do you ever tweet? Cuz I’m on, like, all the time. And I never see you! Talk more. That might reel in the non-walker crowd.

Just my two cents.

Okey dokey then. Oh wait! You said English charm! Do you have an English accent to go with it? Will you read my my grocery list?

AS: I do tweet, but nowhere near as frequently as I used to. It’s a failing of mine.

Yes, I have an English accent, and yes, I can read your shopping list. Lemme see…
Mexifro comb, oil for elliptical trainer, three extra large packets of sarcasm

PMC: You’re lucky I like you….

***

*I thought about adding the “U” out of respect for my English guest. Then I decided I like the way the word looks better when spelled properly.

Dec 262011
 

Let’s tell each other one thing that we love about the other person before we go to sleep.

Okay, Mama.

I’ll go first. I love the way your whole face lights up when you smile.

Oh, Mama. That’s sweet…And I love when you give me strawberries.

***

 

Where did I come from?

A wish on a star.

I’m happy you wished me.

Me too, baby. Thank you for being my wish.

Thank you for being my mom.

***

Mama?

Yes,  baby?

I love you so much it makes my heart pop.

You make my heart pop, too.

***


 

Mama, can I…?

No.

Why?

Because.

No, Mama. You have to give me a reason. “Because” isn’t a reason.

It isn’t a reason when you say “because.” But I’m a mom. So that makes it a reason.

Well that isn’t exactly fair.

 

***

Happy birthday, Mama. I’m going to hug you now. Because sometimes I just want to hug you because I love you so much. Okay?

***

 

And my heart pops just a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Claus,

May I call you Kris? I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your yearly contribution to the marked improvement in my daughter’s behavior at the end of the year. Although I do have to say that it is a tad disconcerting that, unless reminded that you can see her when she’s sleeping and know when she’s awake, I can’t get her to put one foot in front of the other without a fight. Not to mention that, after having reread that last sentence, I just realized I may be a little bit afraid of you now.

No matter, Kris. I may call you Kris, right? Santa seems to be reserved for the sitting on your lap crowd, and I am obviously beyond that. But do you mind if I ask you to submit to a background check before next year’s mall photo and gift request? (I do hope you understand.)

I found it quite charming how you made Buttercup so comfortable during her time with you this year. She can’t wait to see if you brought her that special doll she asked you for. And no thanks is necessary, Kris. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to go to extreme lengths to purchase the requested item, buy a special roll of wrapping paper that is only being used for gifts “from you”, and hide said gifts until one of us can sneak downstairs after she falls asleep on Christmas Eve to leave the small stash of goodies “from you” beneath the tree. We all know the economy sucks and I’m sure the lost manpower during the last round of elf lay-offs still has you frantically trying to keep up with and meet product demand by the expected deadline. We will, however, be submitting an itemized expense report outlining all expenses incurred on your behalf and expect to be reimbursed for our troubles. I hope Paypal works for you and the Mrs.?

I’d also like to ask your opinion on parenting tactics come the day after Christmas. Let’s face it, Kris. She’s four and has no real concept of time. Next year is about as threatening to her as next week, and because neither is happening in the next five seconds, they don’t matter in the slightest. That means I’m looking at about 10 months of parenting hell because I can’t drop a Santa-bomb until Target kicks the Halloween candy to the curb, skips right over the Thanksgiving turkey, and starts blasting the Christmas music early enough to make even you want to throw up. And please give me more detailed advice than last year because asking her to “follow me in merry measure” when we would both rather throw tantrums frankly does me no good.You deal with a world-full of children in one 24-hour-period, while they are all sleeping of course, so I’m sure you understa…

Oh never mind.

Anyway, feel free to stop in on Christmas Eve and don’t feel that you need to BYOP (We already covered the presents, remember?) but do enjoy the cookies we will be baking in your honor. We left a magic key for you to use since we don’t have a chimney and you can’t seem to remember the alarm code before the damned thing goes off, so please, consider the key our gift to you. We will leave it hanging on the front door. We just ask that you remember to lock up after you leave. And for the love of Christmas, please make sure to pick up and properly dispose of any reindeer business before you take off. I’ll be sure to place the garbage can where you can find it.

Please give my love to Mrs. Claus and remind Rudolph that he’s always special. I do remember how the therapist said he thought Rudolph only felt worthy of attention after a major snowstorm and all.

Sincerely,

Aspiring Mama and The Husband

 

 

Ever since I can remember, the response to “My birthday is the day after Christmas,” has been one form or another of  “Oh, that really has to suck.” I used to argue the point as a child, especially when I was young enough to still be included on Santa’s list because really, gifts from Santa, every relative in a huge family, and the parents kind of made up for the constantly combined gifts. I got older eventually and Santa Stopped bringing my presents. My refusal to get pregnant without planning the child’s birthday to be as far away from Christmas as possible is probably more telling about what it’s like to have been brought home in a Christmas stocking than anything else.

I’m the oldest of five girls and my sister immediately following me was born on December 23 just a few days before my second birthday. Trust me, I’ve made it perfectly clear to my mother that she should have seriously considered knitting during the month of March instead of working on procreating. Think of the children, lady.

Because we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with our extended family on my father’s side, my sister and I would jointly blow out the birthday candles on the shared cake, laughing every year as our names got jumbled because it was more fun that way, after our holiday meal. Our birthday gifts were then handed over as a means to distract us for a few hours. Tradition in our family dictated we open the presents under the tree at midnight, after placing the baby Jesus in nativity scene between Mary and Joseph, to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. I’ll be honest in telling you that all of this was lost on us as children because the chance to stay up all night and sleep all the next day was something we looked forward to all year just as much as opening our gifts to see what Santa brought us.

Nonetheless, that was how it went, and we eventually got smart enough to start putting the presents in pile for each relative around 11:30 so that the moment my tia had placed the baby Jesus in the  collective rip of wrapping paper signaled the start of the races. We’d stay up for hours playing with our new stuff; sisters and cousins trying to fight the sleep that would eventually see us nodding off into a pile of wrapping paper before we were shuffled off to our make shift beds. Morning always came late on Christmas day with dinner leftovers for breakfast (Mexicans are famous for scrambling anything in eggs and calling it a meal) and adults playing poker while we basked in the New Toy smell of as-of-yet-unbroken toys and games without any missing pieces, at least until my parents herded my sisters and me in the van so we could drive over an hour to my mother’s sister’s home for dinner with her side of the family. By the time we got back to my tia and tio’s house that night, we were tired enough to not be kept awake by the always loud and sometimes louder jokes and resulting laughter while the adults finished their poker game and enough beers to rival the empties found on the floor after a college frat party.

Sometime around noon, our rumbling stomachs would be loud enough to stir us from our beds the next day. Tio would already have been up for hours and something scrambled with eggs would greet us for breakfast. The rest of the adults usually joined us later and dove into a steaming bowl of menudo to cure their hangovers. Sometimes I remembered it was my birthday before the first relative kissed me and wished me a happy day and sometimes I didn’t. Either way it kind of didn’t matter because I’d already opened my birthday gifts after dinner and before midnight on Christmas Eve. At least there was leftover cake.

I’m not telling you this to feel sorry for me, unless you are also a Mappy Birthmas baby, because then you are totally allowed to relate. My birthday is what it is, and even though the date isn’t even singularly spectacular enough to refer to it as anything other than “the day after Christmas,” only three birthdays in my entire memory actually sucked.

The most obvious one is my 30th birthday, which came just about four weeks after my father died unexpectedly. Then there was that Christmas when I was about ten and had begged and begged all year for a ten-speed bike. Points for you if you’ve already figured out why your father proudly putting together your new Birthmas gift in the living room turned out to be the world’s biggest punch line until summer. But perhaps my favorite was the year an aunt took me to see The Nutcracker Ballet and I sat through the entire performance proudly playing my “air flute” on my lap during the appropriate parts. We were there because I had asked her to bring me because I was learning some of the music in concert band. And it sucked because I soon learned that my ticket was my Christmas gift and hers was my birthday gift.

The kicker was that we didn’t even have good seats.

This year I finally realized I’ve hit that time in my life that children won’t understand themselves until they, too, get to where I am. It’s just a day. Another year. I hear most women turning 34 are like that, which makes your birthday and my birthday just about the same.

And for the record? Buttercup was born in June.

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