This is Your ‘Mad Men’ on Drugs – Any Questions?

I honestly despise “concept” episodes. They feel like an exercise in pretension. There are ways of making television interesting and challenging without forcing the viewer to slog through nonsensical dream-based episodes, something “The Sopranos” was frequently guilty of in later seasons. (It’s not surprising that Matt Weiner was a Sopranos scribe when he started out.)

The first season of “Mad Men” was about as perfect as it gets, and I don’t recall a single drug-fueled, dreamy, surreal episode.

Since then, we’ve had the “Don has a fever” episode where he “murders” a hallucinated mistress. We’ve had the “Roger takes LSD” episode that messed with the time structure (I actually kind of liked that one, mainly because of my love for Roger, but still hated the gimmick). We’ve had the “Betty is doped up to give birth and hallucinates” episode.

And now we have Don and much of the other SCDP/CGC creatives hopped up on what I can only assume was a shot of methamphetamines. Wonderful.

The only good parts of the episode was the Peggy and Stan kiss and conversation, and the truly scary interaction between Sally and the burglar, which I found so unsettling I was nearly sick to my stomach every time the story shifted to them.

Other than that, I’m just here for the gifs, because that was a big, hot, mess.

So, Don Draper has Mommy Issues and a Madonna/Whore Complex?

You don’t say! Tell me more!

Boston, You Are The Only Only Only

Growing up less than an hour away, I built plenty of childhood memories of Boston. Countless field trips to the Museum of Science and the Aquarium. Family trips to walk the Freedom Trail and visit Faneuil Hall. Too many Red Sox games to remember. Getting Hoodsie Cups at the Hood Milk Bottle.

Despite this, I don’t know that I truly knew Boston until I was older. All my childhood memories were profoundly touristy — you don’t get to know much about the neighborhoods and the people from the Aquarium.

My sister went to Northeastern, and I started driving down for weekend visits as soon as I got my license. Say what you will about my parents’ decision to allow this, but I will say being forced to navigate Boston’s labyrinthine streets at age 16 in the days before cell phones and GPS devices proved invaluable. Salty language aside, there’s rarely been a more accurate comparison:

bostonvsnewyork

It was during this time that I got to know the city a little better, and it was after college that I fell in love with it. I spent a memorable birthday weekend in 2001 in Boston with friends. I went to a Sox/Yankees game (with Pedro on the mound, no less) with total strangers I’d met and bonded with at the Cask and Flagon. It was during those years in my early twenties that I became an expert couch surfer. Who wouldn’t spend time with friends in Boston when your alternative is Manchester, NH?

Other brilliant weekends were spent with my sister in Mission Hill, with my friend Erin in Somerville, Brian in the Back Bay, Erica in Charlestown, Jenn in Brighton, Matt in Jamaica Plain, Nate in Revere.

My journey never brought me to Boston to live. So I took Boston with me instead.

In DC, I sought out other New Englanders as friends. We bonded over our love for the Red Sox and compared New England accents. We traded stories about navigating the cramped streets of the North End in search of pasta and pastry, and which neighborhood had the best dive bar (my money is on Charlestown). We dissected every game of the 2004 playoffs and whooped with joy from afar when the Sox came back to win it all.

I never lived closer than 40 minutes North, and currently live 500 miles South, but Boston has always been a part of me.

I don’t know what to say about the act of terror at the Boston Marathon. I watched the videos and images yesterday with my heart in my throat, wondered about the safety of my friends (they all are accounted for, mercifully), prayed for the victims and shook silent fists of fury at the perpetrators.

We live in a violent time, and I’m not sure that will ever change. But we also live in a time of great humanity, and in a time when our technological advancements have made it possible to share that humanity with others.

Because of social media, the world was able to see the first responders and passerby running towards the blast to help the victims. We saw an outpouring of support from big-hearted Bostonians offering to open their homes to stranded runners. We shared countless messages of hope and prayer, images of everything from Mr. Rogers to anonymous heroes.

I still have faith in humanity. I have always had faith in Boston.

“If This Is Just The Beginning, My Life Is Gonna Be Beautiful”

So, we’re married!

You’d think that alone would have been cause for me to return to my blogging ways, but as it turns out, I took that particular story to another blog. Since my zeal for blogging has been on a downward trajectory for years, I wasn’t sure I’d continue on here. But, as it turns out, I am not totally out of Very Important Things To Say.

In which case, let’s catch up.

I haven’t posted in a year. Here’s what happened:

We Got Engaged:

For me, being engaged was incredible. No one really tells you this; all you really hear about is how hard and stressful it is to plan a wedding. And I suppose that’s true, but being engaged is also just completely tops. There was always something to look forward to! Nearly every month there was a major happy event: a bridal shower, an engagement party, multiple visits home to New Hampshire, a visit from my mom and sister to take me dress shopping, a trip with my folks to meet Jon’s parents in New Jersey. Bountiful phone calls with family and friends, hours spent curled up reading Martha Stewart Weddings, stealing ideas from other brides and envisioning the day. Stuffing envelopes with my fiance and being completely grateful that he wanted to be so involved, because I sure as hell couldn’t have done it alone.

I ate it up. Along with everything else, apparently, which might explain why I am the only bride in all history to not drop a dress size or two prior to the big day.

(Whoooooops, I forgot to get skinny. Oh well. I can state with certainty that had I been able to force myself into something resembling in shape in time for my wedding, our engagement would have been approximately 63% less fun. And who wants that?)

We Got Married:

Again, just see here. Pictures, my thoughts on the day, some touchy-feely treacle. Whole nine yards.

Also, this was our first dance song, and I think it sums up my feelings, which is why I cribbed the lyric for my post title.

We Went To Hawaii:

Our honeymoon; well, I cannot do it justice. Should you ever have the opportunity to spend almost two weeks (or any time at all, really) in Hawaii, just do it. Kauai was jaw-dropping. Honolulu was bustling. The North Shore is a place I’d like to return and spend more time (if only for the shave ice, because hello? Delicious.). Even the parts that weren’t so great were great. I didn’t care much for Oahu, but it still had some of my favorite parts of the trip, like seeking out local eateries (tater tot nachos, anyone?), watching surfers, and visiting “LOST” filming locations in a giant Hummer. Just go.

I Got A New Job:

This part happened at the exact same time as the wedding and honeymoon, and yet it still managed to be a fairly seamless transition. This is probably due to my new gig being pretty awesome. Want to talk about business? Find me here.

Married Life:

If you’ll allow me another musical indulgence, at my wedding I walked down the aisle to this ditty from “UP!” How I made it down the aisle without bursting into tears is beyond me.

The biggest lesson I’ve taken from four months of marriage (four months today actually!) is that changing your name is a massive pain, the unsolicited uterus inquiries begin the moment you say “I do,” and that I was all wrong to be so worried about my parents fighting when I was a kid.

For reals, married people fight. And it’s completely, totally, fine. Sometimes it’s even fun. I kind of want to smack my 8 year-old self upside the head for being such a weenie, especially when you factor in that my parents didn’t even fight that much, if you really think about it. And that their marriage is and always has been terrific, even with the occasional war of words.

But when you’re a little kid, and you hear your parents yelling downstairs at night (when you’re supposed to be sleeping but are actually huddled up next to the not-so-bright glow of your alarm clock hoping it will cast enough light onto your Sweet Valley High book that you can get through the chapter and find out whether or not Elizabeth and Todd are like, broken up for real this time), it’s completely traumatic. It’s omgtheyaregettingdivorcedtomorrow!

I remember one time when my parents were bickering, my sister tearfully asking from the back seat of Ye Olde Minivan whether or not they were getting divorced. My mom’s completely exasperated reply: “If you ask me that one more time, I swear I’m going to just go out and do it!”

Granted, this is not a nice thing to say to your tearful young daughter. Then again, my sister was always a bit melodramatic and I’m pretty sure she asked this question every time my parents had so much as a minor disagreement. Which is just ridiculous. The way I figure, in the absence of deep problems that require more serious attention, most things married people fight about are completely inane. Here’s a sampling of things we’ve fought about, in fights ranging from the minor gripe to the door-slamming, silent-treatment giving, storming out of the house for a cool-off, yell-fest. And you’d be surprised about which is which:

Things We’ve Fought About Since The Wedding:

The toilet seat (duh)
Toilet paper (what is it with the toilet, right?)
The kitty litter box*
Thank you cards
Parking spots
Chicken Parmesan
Grey’s Anatomy
A cardigan
Shampoo
Modern Warfare (ha!)
Sleeping positions**
Nail clippers
Meatballs
Using military time

There is no need for you to know the details of these fights, of course. I just have been reflecting on a couple of my parents’ especially big barn burners from my childhood (including one that resulted in a dented sauce pan that turned into a beloved family artifact that I can’t believe I sold, along with all my other pots and pans, in a moving sale a couple years back), and truly understanding how something so silly (in the case of the sauce pan, I believe it was a family fire drill that went awry) can turn into a screaming match.

In short, when you love someone that much and live with them for long enough, somehow a discussion about the family smoke detector can turn into a five alarm fire, if you’ll forgive the terrible metaphor.

So mom, if you’re reading this, forgive me for being such a weenie. I’m sure my kids will take their revenge by asking me, repeatedly, whether we are getting divorced every time Jon and I snark at each other over changing that damn toilet paper roll.

*We managed to solve this one in an epic win of Marital Negotiation: as long as the toilet seat remains down, dealing with the litter box will never be a Husbandly Duty. Should the toilet seat find its way up on any given day? The very next day said husband will be on Scooping Patrol. So far he that toilet seat has been down every. single. day.

**An illustration of how having a king size bed really doesn’t solve the problem of needing lots of space to stretch out in:

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Three Recent Scenes

People have been expecting a detailed engagement post. Oh, did I mention we got engaged? We did. Here’s all you need to know:

Picture 7

It was in New York City at Christmastime, and Snooki was there. I mean is that epic or what? Okay fine, the rest of the story can be found at our awesome wedding website, about which I have no qualms in pimping, because it kind of took a long time. So go check it out, I’ll wait.

~waits a reasonable amount of time for you to be wowed by our very ordinary wedding website~

Oh, but did you turn the sound on? Jon added the song. He’s very proud. Now you should go back and check it out again so you can hear the song.

~humming~

Ah, you’re back. So, here are the top three questions I’ve received since getting engaged:

- When is the wedding!??? (No joke, it’s not a cliche, that starts the exact moment you put on the ring. We were in public, and some nice yentas surrounded us to congratulate us, and immediately inquire about when the big day would be and whether they would, as our official engagement witnesses, be invited. Hoo boy.) (It’s September 24.) (That is either an excellently lengthed engagement or excessively short, depending on who you ask.)

- Are you changing your name? As a well known feminist crank, I am still in deep thought about this question. Most people ask it with a great deal of amusement, and most people cackle as though they themselves personally have acheived a great victory against women’s rights when I tell them that I’m about 98.3% certain that this blog will soon be sporadically updated with semi-amusing and poorly drawn cartoons under the name SarahSantucci.com. What can I say? Maybe I am old fashioned at heart after all. Bring on the bon bons!

- Are you fighting about the wedding yet? Uhhhhh….

Picture 6

And of course, there’s the obligatory frenzied weight loss efforts. Which so far, have not exactly been successful.

Picture 5

But all in all, it’s been pretty great. I couldn’t be happier, and maybe now you will leave me alone about writing about my wedding plans!

Most Illogical

Today, despite all the Christmas presents I still need to buy and credit cards I still need to pay off, I managed to spend 30 dollars for breakfast and lunch.

This is enough of a ~zomg~ on its own, with regards to my raging stupidity.

(I mean…I even spent three dollars and fifty cents for a crappy fountain Diet Coke.) (Which is outrageous on its own, but especially so when you consider the endless amounts of fountain Diet Coke I can drink at work. Every day. At our very own Diet Coke fountain in the break room. For FREE.) (To say nothing of my Starbucks/Dunkin coffee habits, which also fail to consider the endless amounts of coffee available at work. For FREE.)

This is my ridiculous disconnect. Yesterday I went to CVS and spent 15 minutes in the soap aisle trying to find the cheapest body wash and face cleanser, ending up with a CVS brand neutrogena knock off that was on sale for only $2.43, WHOO!). But what is the purpose of this spendthriftery when I am going to waste all of my available funds on coffee and thai food while I’m at the office?

I am a financial fail. I even tried to turn over my financial life to the boyfriend, now that we live together. But that hasn’t really happened yet, as we’ve had other crap going on for the last few weeks, including multiple family visits and Thanksgiving.

And in the meantime, I’m faced with my own pathetic weaknesses, which boil down pretty much thusly:

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Who Wants Pumpkin Butter?

I have developed, in my unbridled lust for autumn finally showing itself in DC after months of humid, sticky, historically disgusting summer weather, a real love affair with Maple Pumpkin Butter.

It’s rich, sweet without being sickly so, fat-free, and delicious on everything from toast to fruit to oatmeal. I love it. I love it so much, in fact, that I texted my sister, who also enjoys finding good healthy snacks (especially now that she’s a mom), a picture of it to share in the delightfulness and wonder that is Pumpkin Butter.

Yummy and nutritious!

Too bad I don’t think I can ever eat it again.

Lately, my sister has taken to amusing herself on occasion by texting me “hilarious” photos of my 2-month old nephew’s dirty diapers. In my opinion this only shores up my long-held belief that it was not actually me who had the fecal fixation as a child.

I myself drew one (ONE!) picture of a horsey moving its bowels in kindergarten (what 5-year old wouldn’t want to document in crayon the first time she, on a trip to Benson’s Animal Farm, saw that particular act of nature?), and have borne the brunt of my family’s poo jokes ever since. It’s been a quarter of a century, and my dad still thrills in telling my boyfriend about “Sarah’s drawing of a horse with poop coming out its butt!”

Meanwhile, my sister is the one who broke into my diaper pail as a toddler and used it to draw on the walls of my nursery, along with several other poo-related incidents that I won’t even share here. And now with the texts.

But what on Earth does all of this have to do with my love for pumpkin butter?

Well, see below.

My pumpkin butter photo ended up on the same screen with her dirty diaper photo, and I am now forever traumatized. Stupid iPhone.

At the Gym

At the gym, when I am on the treadmill and “Higher Ground” comes up in my playlist, for motivation I pretend that I’m dancing with Cooper Neilson at an underground dance class that is sooo against the proper training of the American Ballet Academy:

Peter Gallagher would NOT be pleased.

I offer this reveal as a non-post, and as a way to promise imply that a real post will be coming soon.

The topic of said post will be something that surely NO BLOGGER has ever covered before! That completely uncharted topic — the crappiness of moving! Surely I will be the first to cover this. And definitely the first to draw silly cartoons about it.

Stay tuned…

It’s So Damn Hot…

milk_was_a_bad_choice-777706

Things I Would Have Very Much Liked To Do Today*:

- Clean my apartment

- Talk a walk

- Go grocery shopping

- Get a pedicure

- Clean my car

Things It was Too Damn Hot To Do Today:

- All of the above

* It is likely I would not have cleaned my car or apartment regardless of the heat, but it’s nice to have a scapegoat

I despise the heat. Despise. The feel of a bead of perspiration making its way down my back. Damp hair sticking to my neck and forehead. The sting of my car’s piping hot “leatherette” interior as it fuses to the backs of my thighs. Pit stains. Sunburns. The way sweat pools under my eyes as the heat gets trapped behind my giant sunglasses, which are foggy with humidity.

Relief, found in chilly movie theaters and frequent cool showers, is merely temporary. If I were ever to embrace objectum sexuality, the object of my most sincere affections would without question be an air conditioner. Or, perhaps, a meat locker. But the window units in my rather old fashioned apartment are woefully inadequate. As they work overtime trying to satiate my desire, they sputter moisture out onto the window sills, which drips down the wall, causing the paint to bulge and crack. All in the service of bringing the temperature in the room from “unfathomably unbearable” to “at least I’m not actively perspiring (so long as I lay very still)”.

I long for ice-cold central air with an almost carnal passion. I simply cannot bear to be hot. We can’t all look “glistening and sexy” like Ashley Judd in “A Time to Kill” (probably the world’s sweatiest movie; the make-up department had to have been working overtime misting Judd down with a dewy, Southern glow).

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I tend to look more like Oliver Platt’s character when the mercury heads above 95, as it has been for weeks. Fat, sweaty, and uncomfortable:

Picture 11

So please, God, if your’e out there, I know I take your name in vain too often and, frankly, only ever appeal to you for selfish reasons, seeing as how I’m not even remotely religious. But if you wouldn’t mind taking things down a notch, perhaps from “Hellfire and Brimstone” to something in the neighborhood of “Kitty Cat Relaxing in a Spot of Warm Sunshine,” I’d be ever so grateful. I may even show up at church.

Provided it has air conditioning.

Very Important Advice

I’m about to lay down a very important piece of life advice. It is vital to your future sanity. Are you ready for it? In fact, it’s not even going to come from me. It should come from someone with the appropriate amount of gravitas.

This ought to do it:

Listen up kids, because I am about to lay down some knowledge.

Listen up kids, because I am about to lay down some knowledge.

Now that I have your attention, and a spokesman with the right amount of gravitas, listen carefully to Morgan Freeman:

Never, ever, loan your books or movies to friends. And if you do, be prepared to never see them again.

Sarah! Morgan! How can you say such a thing? Don’t you trust your friends? You’re implying that your friends will maliciously make off with your possessions so they don’t have to shell out $12.99 at Target? That’s terrible!

Settle down, I’m not saying that at all. I’ve certainly loaned books and DVDs and gotten them back in a timely fashion. I’ve also loaned them and never seen them again. I’ve also borrowed books and DVDs and returned them, and in turn borrowed books and DVDs that remain in my collection to this day.

None of this is malicious. It’s just that a certain amount of time passes, and unless the borrower or lender make a specific effort, sometimes you just don’t return something, and then you move away, and then 5 years have passed and you’re like “Hey, I didn’t know I owned ‘The Big Lebowski’, let’s watch this Dude!” all the while some poor friend of yours back in New Hampshire is probably all “what mofo made off with my Lebowski DVD?”

Or you know, something to that effect.

Which is what was running through my head last week when I was attempting to track down my “Good Will Hunting” DVD. I know I had one. I remember watching it about 1,000 times before its mysterious disappearance. (I can’t decide if it’s the allure of a young and occasionally shirtless Matt Damon, Ben Affleck sporting an inexplicable pompadour and tracksuit combo throughout as if he were a Sopranos extra despite obviously portraying a Boston Irish type, or the math professor’s gay assistant–one of the most underrated performances in the whole movie…I just can’t resist Good Will Hunting.)

The movie is no longer in my possession. And that’s okay, because it’s my own fault, because if “Good Will Hunting” is not around despite the fact that I apparently own two copies of “What Dreams May Come” (on VHS no less), then I know that’s because I loaned it out. I am certain the person I loaned it to did not mean to steal it, any more than I intended to steal Lebowski. This stuff happens.

Which brings me back to my point: Never, ever loan out your books or DVDs unless you’re prepared to bid them a fond farewell. And go to Target and spend $12.99 on a movie you already own.

(And if it’s your copy of The Big Lebowski that made its way into my DVD cabinet, well…I kinda hope you don’t read this, because that was a pretty good get. )

Quitters Never Smoke (and other tragedies)

quitting

It’s possible that I’ve quit smoking.

It’s been over a month since I’ve had one, and just about 2 months, I think, since I’ve smoked more than one or two. I can’t even remember, actually. So it’s possible that I’ve quit. As I wrote last year, the thought of quitting smoking seemed like some unbearable punishment. Mostly because, as everyone knows, smoking is awesome. (Remember kids, don’t smoke! Because it’s awesome, so you will never, ever be able to stop, and then you’ll end up accidentally essploding your oxygen tank, like happened in that one episode of that hospital show I saw that time, with the doctors who make out in supply rooms all up against the sterile equipment and stuff. Gross, doctors!)

My reasons for quitting can be boiled down thusly:

1) The awesomeness tax that has swept the nation has caused the price of a single pack of smokes to skyrocket to approximately $147. I could buy a ticket on Southwest for that, and go to Phoenix or something!

2) People hate awesomeness. They don’t let you smoke, anywhere. Not even at outdoor bars, where it is acceptable to smoke only if you get up out of your chair and take one large step to the left, to the other side of the invisible smoke forcefield.

3) My boyfriend made me.

Number three is highly problematic for a fire-breathing dragon-lady feminist like myself. It requires many rationalizations, such as:

1) Is smoking really worth fighting for as a feminist sticking point? Well, of course it is, if you really think about it, but on the surface: no.

2) I have a chit to cash in whenever I feel like it!

“I gave up smoking for you, and you can’t even shut the shower curtain after your shower? Well, I nevah!!!!”

3) I’m certainly not doing anything else that I started doing when I was 17. Do I have Leonardo DiCaprio pictures on my wall? Do I wear tie-dye shirts and Birkenstocks and flannel shirts every day? (What? It was the 90s!) Do I listen to Smashing Pumpkins albums on repeat, searching for hidden messages sent straight from Billy Corgan to my damaged teenage soul?

No, no, and BWAAHAHAHAH, no. So why am I still smoking?

Of course, now that I’ve written this blog I will no doubt set out to chain smoke at my earliest convenience, having irrevocably jinxed my chances of making this hiatus permanent. I’ll let you know.