Please pass this on to everyone you know or will ever know.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The holidays brings a side of me that rarely comes out. A sharp, aggressive, competitive and rigid persona emerges and takes over mine and the lives of those who have the pleasure of interacting with me.

I call this character Dickens, after both "Charles" and "Hurts like the."

Dickens has his benefits. He helps me find the perfect gifts, and to pry them from the cold dead fingers of whomever got to them first. Can't tell you how many times that has come in handy. Next, when the family gets together and plays the inevitable card games, I emerge triumphant, wiping the blood and tears of my competitors from my victorious hands. He also helps me decorate the best gingerbread houses known to man.

Of course, I can see the downsides to having a wry, abrasive and fanatical Christmas guise. For one, kids don't like to hear the truth about Santa, or that they don't make Crazy Bones anymore. Dickens has also been known to drive through slush piles, scoring bonus points if the soaked victim flips him off.

This year, Dickens may come out stronger and more ferocious that he has in a while, because I have put off my preparations for Christmas until the relative last minute, and he has a lot of time to make up. For example, Dickens broke almost half of the lights on the short strand he hastily hung on the front of the house, which I later had to fix when he calmed down.

Oh, and he has a perfect Cockney English accent.

The holidays are an interesting time, and I think my alterego is one of the more tame personas I've seen this season. As you go finish your last minute shopping, and especially as you gather your loved ones close, stay in control of your "dickens", lest this be a Christmas to remember.

 I am not schizophrenic.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Optimism v. Pessimism. Which are you?

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twins' birthday their father loaded the pessimist's room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist's room he loaded with horse manure.

That night the father passed by the pessimist's room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.

"Why are you crying?" the father asked.

"Because my friends will be jealous, I'll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I'll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken." answered the pessimist twin.

Passing the optimist twin's room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. "What are you so happy about?" he asked.

To which his optimist twin replied, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"


This Christmas, remember that someone is going to be a pessimist, so include extra batteries. Also, someone will be an optimist, so keep an extra fudge bar hanging around somewhere! I plan on needing batteries AND fudge, so you know what to get me!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Newcomer’s Guide to The Cross Stitching Men of America Cruise 2010

My journey of a thousand miles started with a single footstep: toward my car so I could drive to the airport. Loaded up with snacks of all kinds, I was prepared to embark on the trip of a lifetime. I was headed to the First Annual Cross Stitching Men of America Cruise 2010; the world’s largest gathering of cross-stitchers from across the nation. At first I was nervous, since I was just beginning my love affair with the hoop and needle.

I arrived on a Monday afternoon to a crowded loading platform, seasickness pills in hand. I was impressed by the immensity of the ship; I was even more astonished by how muggy the hot Florida weather could be. The line to check in was brief and before I knew it, we had set sail on an adventure I knew I would never forget.

I took my time unpacking my suitcases. I have always been very meticulous about the way my shirts stack, and I am especially careful that my socks are separated into colors. Like food, different colored socks should never touch. When I was done, I decided to go explore. This was not the best idea.

I was ten feet outside my cabin when two guys came sprinting down the hall, laughing all the way. They ran right into me, knocking my Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket to the ground. I shook my head as I thought, Why do they let guys like that on board? This must be how Dr. Otto Scratchensniff must have felt while dealing with The Warners, Yacko, Wacko and their sister Dot, from the cartoon The Animaniacs.

My first class was a basic course on how to make my own custom cross stitch hoops. The instructor looked like he came right out of a big bad biker dude movie. He wore a black, sweaty bandana, and the tip of his frizzy gray beard brushed the top of his large belly. He was the last man on Earth I had expected to teach a class like this.

Though a little gruff, his lesson was extremely comprehensive, and I left excited and anxious to make my first classic car shaped hoop. From there, I headed straight to my second course, entitled Pattern Design for the Modern Man. I was excited for this class, however, you can imagine my dismay upon walking in to see none other than my two friends from the hallway. Suffice it to say, this class was not as enjoyable as the last one, the constant chattering will be echoing in my head throughout the night. I did make a completely radical design for a WWII airplane dog-fighting scene.

There is something to be said for cruise food, let me tell you. Ice cream for appetizer, entrees from all over the world, and finished off with another heaping dish of ice cream. Mother is not here to make sure you are eating a balanced meal, so feel free to explore!

Later on in the week, I enjoyed an all day class where “Size Does Matter”- A Course on Giant Cross Stitching. Joined by Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, I decided to use their excited energy for good. We formed a team and created the best piece of art I have ever made, at least since the second grade: A 12’x12’ rendition of “The Flag Raisers on Iwo Jima.” Instead of the classic thread and needle, we used colored nylon rope and a 3-foot-long PVC pipe to create a high-octane, man-core piece of art.

Believe it or not, I enjoyed working on a team with Orville and Francis.  I learned that high energy is a wonderful asset to have on a team, when channeled correctly. I also learned that it is important not to judge too harshly at first. Especially on a cross stitching cruise!

The rest of my experience was similar to my first day; enjoyable classes complete with my new found friends, amazing food, and a lot of time spent working on my tan at the pool. I must have spent $50 on band-aids for all the times I pricked my fingers! I’ve got to find a company that makes thimbles big enough for my great big fingers! Overall, I think my cross stitching skills have been enhanced in a way that would not have occurred otherwise. To be honest, it was one of the most enjoyable vacations I’ve taken in a long time!

Men of the world: I am issuing a formal invitation, nay, a call of duty! Cross stitching is an art form! There are literally hundreds of us just like you. Please join us in June 2011 for the second annual cruise. You will enjoy yourself while honing your skills and meeting other cross stitchers from around the country. You will be so glad you did. Bon voyage!