Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Cheer

Happy Holidays...I received my first holiday letter...I'm so pleased....
I'm sending out this:

Happy Holidays to one and all
This year will be such a great Holiday season for us since everyone has been released and no one is on trial at this time. This will be the first year we don’t have to bring the specialty Holiday desserts we all love to the prison for Larry’s cousin.
It’s especially nice to have another member of the family to be able to join us at dinner on Christmas. It’s too bad he has to come with the anklet on. At least this year we don’t have to set an additional place for the cops that he had with him last year. They were nice but some of the family felt they had to watch what they were saying and they didn’t like having to go out back to toke up. It’s a good thing I remembered to whisk away the needles on the buffet before someone else saw them. I try to keep everyone on an even keel during this time of year and I have to remember to remove temptation.
Larry Sr. has finally conquered the last bout of syphilis. It was touch and go there for a while but the new dosage of penicillin finally kicked in, which we are thankful for. He had such a bad time before the last diagnosis since we weren’t sure where he picked up the bug from. We think it came from a bathroom he was using at a rest stop in Vermont. But you never know about those things, you can’t be too careful these days. I think he’ll finally agree to bring in the antibacterial wipes from now on.
The weeping sores on my legs and arms have finally subsided. I no longer have to wear the nylon netting and thank God, I don’t have to wear the sign around my neck anymore. I had many people come up to me and run away after reading the sign that said, “Contagious, please do not touch”. The CDC people from Atlanta told me that I would be incarcerated if I didn’t keep the general public informed and therefore safe, so I really had no choice but to wear it. It was really a drag as I walked around dripping; so messy, with no animals around anymore to clean up after me.
Speaking of animals…We had to put down the last of our beloved pets this year. Spotty got loose and tangled with a rabid raccoon. He was fine for a long time, and then we noticed his whole demeanor changed. He started to chase his tail, but more than the normal stupid dog stuff. He would circle until he collapsed. If anyone went near him he would lunge, teeth bared as he went for the offending jugular vein. I tried to tell everyone he was only being friendly, but when he bit the little finger off the mail lady, we knew something was wrong. I don’t know why she made such a fuss, it’s not like she needed that little finger to deliver the mail. The cops took Spotty away and both Larry and I had to have a series of rabies shots. They don’t hurt like they used to, and bonus! when you get them in your stomach, you don’t want to eat much afterwards, so it’s a great weight reduction method. We try to look on the positive side at this time of year.
This year we have both cars. Neither one of the cars was repossessed, so we have been able to get to our Parole offices with little or no trouble. After the house fire in March, we realized how important it was to have two vehicles. Larry’s vehicle we used as our bedroom. My car was used for all the rest of the daily needs. In the summer, we were finally able to fill in all the holes we had dug for the outhouses we had to have during our homeless period.
The house is finally finished. It took several months to get all the insurance people to agree and get us back into the house. We still don’t know what took so long. The insurance company said they’d fulfill the contract and paint the charred remains.
We hired three different contractors. The first one came to the house with his “partner” (wink, wink). The only thing we think they did was in one of the bedrooms. We found them in a compromising position one day and they never came back. They had received a rather large chunk of change from the insurance company to do some of the work, and they took that with them too.
The second group of contractors didn’t speak English, which wasn’t bad until I realized they were speaking some Arabic tongue and every time I entered the room, they spit at my feet and screamed, “Infidel, whore woman, scum of the Earth”. I tried to engage them in conversation a couple of times telling them that I too was an immigrant and I knew how difficult it was in the US as a new immigrant. They didn’t seem to want me around. I noticed they had plans laid out on my dining room floor. I guessed they were trying to figure out how to put my kitchen back in order, but I wondered why I needed a gun turret in the back wall. Oh well I guessed they knew what they were doing. I sure didn’t; funny though, a car came the following day and they all got in and the drove off shaking their fists at me. I still don’t know what that was about. The FBI says not to worry; they will get it straightened out.
All in all, the year has been uneventful. Larry and I hope to be able to leave the country in the next few months, before someone finds out what we did with the robbery money his cousin gave us.

We hope this finds all of you happy, healthy and looking forward to the next year with gladness and goodness in your hearts.

Love to you all,

Suzanne and Larry

PS Our prayer for this holiday is:
“Drop kick me Jesus, into the goal posts of life” Amen

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Day Dilemma

Today is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Normally I am in the throes of cooking and cleaning since the next day the family will be here. Not so this year. This year my kids are at their in-laws and we will be at another family member's home.

In a way, it's kind of nice not to have to do all the cooking and clean-up that's required in order for the family to come in and devour everything in 10 minutes flat. In another way, it's sort of sad. The times change so does the family dynamic. I'm bringing the veggies to the feast tomorrow, consequently I've been making our regular veggies: squash, turnip, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, Cole slaw, applesauce, pretty much everything except the bird. This is my choice since I like all the winter veggies and I eat very little of the bird thing. (It's not that I dislike turkey, it's just that I like all the trimmings more). Of course, I ran out of something and had to go to the market, not the best idea the day before a major food fest.

As I knew it would be, the market was crammed with people trying to do all the shopping they should have done last week but didn't, on this day, the day before the feast. As I walked around the store with my list of 5 items I needed, I watched and listened to the frenzied conversations all around me. I finally stood in one place and listened to what I think is one of the most prevalent complaints I hear from folks about the holidays, or for that matter, any large family gathering. The husband (obviously not at all happy to be in the market pushing a cart around as he followed his wife), "Hey, why do we have to get this jellied cranberry stuff? None of us like this, right?" His wife's reply, "We have to get it because Uncle Jerry and Aunt Selma are coming and they always have this at Thanksgiving". He replies. " Yeah, but we don't, and it's at our house so how come we have to have it?" She says, "I told you why". He says, "That's just stupid. What's that round purple-y thing in here." He's picking up a rutabaga or turnip as he's saying this. She replies, "That's the turnip we always have." He says, "Is this the thing, that when you cook it the house stinks like garbage for days afterward?" "No" she says, "that's the cabbage you're thinking about. The turnip isn't that bad and anyway you only get it once a year so what's the big whoop?" He looks at her and says, " I gotta look at all the stuff in here. We don't need all this stuff, nobody eats all this crap". She looks at him (I can see the disdain in her face-she knows this guy she's married to is going to keep this up and she's going to have to defend everything in the cart unless she stabs him in the heart right now before he grabs one more thing in the cart-but no, she knows she can't do that in the middle of the market-it would be too messy) and says, "Your Mother always had that on the table at holidays and YOU were the one that said you wanted to have all the same things your Mom served, since SHE knew how to cook. That's why we have all this stuff in the cart. Do you want to change the menu for tomorrow, and cook it?" (In my estimation this was the gauntlet being thrown down-there was no way in Hell I was moving from the vantage point where I could hear this very interesting conversation. I wanted to see if this guy was going to pick up the gauntlet and accept the challenge so carefully orchestrated by his wife. I could see he was going over thoughts in his head. Obviously, this guy had been married a while, he knew better than to pursue the challenge. His thoughts were almost tangible to me. I could almost feel his brain trying to come up with some kind of plausible way to extricate itself out of this mess the guys mouth had put them in. His face was a mass of emotion. I was holding my breath, hoping that I was far enough away from possible explosion, if this guy was too dumb to realize that he was walking in a minefield. Now don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about, because you know you do....We've all been on both sides of this kind of give and take and we all know how to tread water when we need to. (or else we'll drown) . I waited with bated breath, unsure of the outcome of this potential disaster I was about to witness, when I saw the guy put down the thing in his hand, look up at his wife and say, "No, hon, I think you probably know best about this dinner thing." She was standing at attention as the man of her dreams, backed down in submission. I could see her eyes, seconds before shooting flaming arrows out of the pupils, quieting to a more humanly look. I finally took a breath knowing how close I had come to being in the middle of a mini mine field ready to blow.

As I left my vantage point, I turned to look at the guy. He was standing still, sweat beaded on his forehead, lips pursed blowing cool air up toward his brain. He too knew how close he came to losing the life he knew and loved in those few moments.

I walked on into the freezer section of the market, just to get a breath of cool air. All around me I could hear mini battles being waged, lost and won. I thought at that time how much a market, the day before a holiday, was much like a battlefield. There were little army's all over the place trying to control other little army's.

Why DO we put ourselves through all this?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The New Demographic

For years this household has received numerous phone calls from everyone, and just about anyone, wanting to know how we thought about political ideologies, what TV programs we were watching, what paper products we used, and all sorts of marketing research.

Over the years we've tested products then given our opinions on the products or the services. We were the "typical" American family, Father, Mother, girl kid, boy kid, dog, cat, house in the 'burbs, yes, that was us.

As time has marched on we have changed our demographic. The kids have grown up and moved out, the dog died, the cat died, but we still live in the 'burbs. We still do some of the marketing research things but something has changed in the last few years.

The last time the phone rang I picked it up and the party on the other end said, in the very familiar voice, "Hello, this is Mark from XYZ Marketing. How are you today?" I responded very cordially, " I'm fine, Mark, hope you are as well."

I sat down on the chair waiting for the questions I usually am asked about some consumer thing or another. I waited for several seconds before "Mark" came back on the phone and said, "Whoops, I'm terrible sorry Mrs. Canell, but I see you and your husband are over 60. Is that correct?" "Why, yes, Mark that's correct." " Well, I'm sorry but you are too old for this survey. We're looking for people that fit the profile of the "average" American family, and I guess that's not you anymore. Sorry". He then hung up before I could say another word.

I sat in stunned silence for a while, looking at the phone in my hand. I thought to myself how much had changed over the last few years. No longer was I, or my family, the demographic needed to give the opinions to the advertisers. No longer was my opinion of any use to them. Apparently, when you hit the age of 60+ you are pushed on to the iceberg of advertising and sent out to sea.

When my husband came in, I told him of this strange phenomena that had occurred. I said to him that I didn't remember a time when I felt this "out of it". I didn't feel as though I was "out of it", but then maybe I haven't really spent time looking around at the things I see now, I didn't see before.

My mailbox is filled to the brim most days with advertisements about Medicare, Medicare supplements, what to do with my estate, how to survive grief, how to spend my money in retirement, how not to spend my money in retirement, who I should send donations to, who I should see to increase my libido, what vitamins I need at this advanced age, what I should do to avoid falling, how Medicare will pay for my "scooter", where I should go to retire not to mention what type of dwelling I need now that I'm in the "Winter of my years". The list goes on, but apparently I am no longer needed to tell the advertisers what and how their products are.

The worst slap in the face came from some snot-nosed creep who called from Mini USA. We have a Mini Cooper and we had one of the original ones as well. When we bought the new one we were constantly being sent information about the Mini and what a great car it would be for us. The car supposedly would bring back "fun" into our lives. (How these folks knew were down trodden and "fun-less" is beyond me, but then again maybe it was because they knew of our advanced age, old age=fun-less). Anyway, we were invited to all sorts of adventures and did many of the Mini trips. The Mini folks didn't seem to object to taking our money for the adventures. Somewhere, somehow, things changed. Now the Mini is a "young, sporty fun car" and the demographic age group that is needed to sell this vehicle is not a couple in their 60's.

I started to look at the folks on the commercials as well as in magazines. It seems to me that I may as well just find a hole in the ground, jump in and fill it in with dirt. The products I see on the TV are not for least a majority are not (there's still the incontinence stuff, erectile dysfunction pills, and an assortment of liniment things I guess I'm supposed to be buying).

So I wonder if anyone else feels as though time has marched on and decided to leave them behind.