You know you’re Jewish on Christmas…

1. You can hum along with every Christmas carol but can’t recite the words to any of them.

2. You stare in disbelief any time you see someone voluntarily consume eggnog.

3. You find the idea of a stranger sneaking into your house through the chimney to be terrifying, not magical.

4. Elf on the Shelf…What?

5. There are no childhood photos of you screaming bloody murder on  Santa’s lap. I’ve seen dozens of friends post these images of themselves and their kiddos this week, and I can’t say I regret missing this rite of passage.

6. The only holiday movie you’ve seen in its entirety is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

7. You don’t know what the word “yule” means. Yuletide…Yule log…Clueless.

8. You desperately seek plans on December 24th to avoid #FOMO

9. It feels appropriate to crave Chinese food on December 25th.

10. You own Christmas pajamas but have no photos of yourself wearing them.

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Tuesday Confessions

1. Before leaving for work today I had the privilege of cleaning up a double whammy of dog urine AND dog vomit.

2. Last week I asked a delivery man at work to only speak to me in Spanish when he passed by. Today was our second conversation. “It’s all coming back, all coming back to me now” -Celine Dion

3. Everything on Facebook makes me cry lately. What gives. Inspirational stories of goodwill, pets up for adoption, sleep-deprived friends lamenting motherhood…I think it’s the holidays, but I may need to abstain so I can stop snotting all over my computer.

4. I have a knack for catching onto shows way behind everyone else. Usually two to five years behind. But I’m almost current with House of Cards (which is on, like, now), and I like it very much. Makes me miss working in the governor’s office and slightly remorseful that I never used my journalism degree to become an actual journalist.

5. I critique neighborhood Christmas light displays in my head with the intensity of a Romanian gymnastics judge. I have no experience but very competitive standards.

6. My oldest friend Amy lives in LA and lost her cell phone this week. This tragedy has been alleviated through several lengthy, humiliating and hysterical Facebook exchanges that culminated tonight in a photo of the cast of Dawson’s Creek.

7. Three jobs I’d be terribly suited to pursue are cab driver, calculus professor and exterminator. “Plumber,” adds my husband.

8. When I went home for Thanksgiving, I brought back about 120 plastic horses I’d collected as a child, that I’d forgotten about until I realized they’re now selling for a pretty penny on ebay. At the time, taking them from their safe stable at my mom’s seemed like an easy way to make some money, but now, I’m not wildly excited to begin selling and shipping plastic figurines in my spare time. Unfortunately, these giant boxes of horses are taking up a lot of space in the garage. I’m open to suggestions here.

9. Jim and I bought new living room furniture yesterday. I’m 30 and it still feels strange to buy furniture at places other than IKEA or Goodwill.

10. We painted the living room Wheat Bread and the bathroom Grey Goose. Guess we like grains. Draw your own conclusions on where the parties happen.

Since Last Thanksgiving (part 4)

Time for the 2013 edition. Lots of older Thanksgiving reflections went down in 2012,  2011 and 2010.

Since last Thanksgiving I…

Camped out at a four-day country music festival. Minimal showering, maximum entertainment.

Was elected to the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

Sold a first house, bought a house. We have a garage now, and a fireplace like legit grown ups.

Celebrated my second wedding anniversary.

Had surgery on my wrist.

Traveled to LA, Boston, San Diego, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Fran and Denver.

Journeyed to Singapore and Vietnam for an epic two-week jaunt with Jim, Dan and Jenny.

Turned 30. It’s awesome. Great friends planned a surprise party that was perfect.

Became a big fan of The NewsroomHomeland and The Mindy Project.

Wandered across Arizona…threw axes at the Renaissance Festival, went tubing down the Salt River, toured the Queen Mine in Bisbee and tasted wine in Wilcox.

Paid off my car.

Watched a lot of friends become parents to adorable little humans.

Saw fun. perform for the fourth time, and Tegan and Sara for the first time (then found out my husband is related to T&S). Also saw and loved The Book of Mormon.

Did my first pull-up, ever. And mastered a whole bunch of other physical feats at an amazing new gym. To say this place is life-changing is an understatement.

Hiked a lot and went to brunch a lot. Two lovely but unrelated pastimes that I think are divine.

Created a freelance writing portfolio. Later broke up with a company I did freelance writing for, in a flurry of passive aggressiveness.

Got promoted.

Became mildly obsessed with antique stores.

Prayed more.

Gave more.

The Scariest Words to Speak

I’m convinced that the simplest phrases are always the hardest ones to say. No matter how many times we use them, spitting them out is always a terrifying, sweat-inducing experience.

It’s not because we don’t know how or when to say them, but because speaking them out loud makes us face things that are challenging – things that make our hearts beat a little faster. We become vulnerable, and in case you haven’t noticed, vulnerability is UNCOMFORTABLE.

When you’re vulnerable, you’re putting yourself out there. It’s like emotional nudity – your feelings, reputation and desires are out on a figurative chopping block for the world to see. That’s terrifying. More terrifying in fact, than a lot of things that are genuinely scary, like spiders or roller coasters. Spiders and roller coasters can kill people, you know.

Here are some of the simplest yet hardest things to say. Maybe they should al be printed as bumper stickers so we get more accustomed to seeing them around town.

1. I’m sorry. Apologizing is akin to admitting you were wrong or taking the blame for something that caused others distress. Not a fun position to be in. What’s more, just saying the words doesn’t automatically resolve a situation, it can make it worse when it initially brings things to the surface. But saying I’m Sorry isn’t something anyone ever seems to regret, and it usually leads to feeling better before too long.

2. I need help. Asking for help is hard when it makes us feel like we’re incapable of something that we want to execute independently. It reveals the simple reality that we can’t accomplish something without support and humbles us into relying on others. I’m very independent so this one’s sometimes a teeth-gritted-grimacing kind of desperate plea.

3. I don’t know. Why not just scream, “I’m an idiot!” That’s pretty much how it feels to admit this. Like at my first internship in college, when I had to tell my boss I didn’t know how to use a coffee maker. There’s a caveat to this one, though; sometimes it’s a great ice breaker or gateway to get something you want.

4. I want more money. It probably wouldn’t come out this directly, but no matter how you spin it, salary negotiations can be icky. I guess there’s an art to asking for more money in a non-greedy manner, but it’s not one I’ve mastered. Women are constantly reminded that we need to fight for equal pay, but our emotional intelligence interferes and alerts us of a risk of offending someone.

5. I can’t drive right now. Impaired driving is a horrible thing to do. Selfish, dangerous and stupid. Yet so many people avoid admitting they’ve had a few too many to drive, and the inconvenience and embarrassment take precedence. This is one that everyone should practice and use, even if it’s awkward or scary or hard to explain.

6. No. Because it’s awkward, and makes us feel selfish.

7. Yes. Because it’s awkward, and makes us feel selfish.

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Alicia-isms

A birthday top 10 list in your honor:

1. Always assume positive intent.

2. Never make decisions based on money or fear.

3. When in doubt, take it to the source.

4. Your 30s are better than your 20s, and your 40s are better still.

5. Learning is uncomfortable.

6. Relationships are where the real business happens.

7. It’s not good to lose your cool, but sometimes you just have to tell people when they’re acting like assholes.

8. Adults learn from action, and then reflection.

9. Fans of rival baseball teams can learn to be friends.

10. Say what you know, when you know it.

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Some advice for my 16-year-old self:

Oh hindsight, you are always 20/20.

Dear me…

1. Don’t complain about driving an old car. Old cars are cool and safe and make you more awesome than the kids who get beamers on their sixteenth birthdays because your ride has character. Acquiring a driver’s license is not a passport to becoming a good driver – let’s face it – the first few years you’re behind the wheel your brain isn’t even fully developed. Better to cruise around in a righteous, dinged-up tank than anything you’ll back into a pole and ruin. Not that I ever did that. Believe it or not, in 15 years, people called hipsters will seek out old vehicles as a trend – even station wagons – ON PURPOSE. So maybe hold on to that beater for its unexpected return to coolness.

2. There is literally no chance that you will live happily ever after with anyone you’re infatuated with in high school. Zero. Consider it a blessing. High school romances are fleeting for good reason – so that you can become an adult before you decide who you’d like to spend the rest of your life with. Take comfort in knowing that one day you’ll be 30 and randomly remember some boy you loved as a teenager and you will laugh uproariously. Because he might work at Subway now, or be gay, or have become really ugly. I cannot divulge how I know all of this could happen, just trust me. When you finish laughing you’ll be incredibly grateful that no weird stars aligned to make the wish of marrying him come true.

3. Don’t prioritize being popular. Crazy talk, I know, but it will save you so much grief. As teenagers, the opinions of others play a huge role in the opinions we form about ourselves. This is a necessary growing pain. But for the record, no one in your post-high-school life will care about your prom date, how many yearbook pages you were on or what brand of jeans you wore. Take pride in knowing that most of the popular kids in school will be less popular as adults in the real world. As you age, coolness requirements rapidly transition from participation in varsity sports and older siblings who can purchase Keystone Light to being smart and kind and successful.

birdbaths and corn and reasons to be happy

Today didn’t start off perfectly. I woke up tired, the hot water heater wasn’t working and I realized once I got to work that I forgot to put on makeup. Fortunately, things turned around.

1. The Red Sox are headed to the ALCS.

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2. It’s nice enough to hike with the dog, without risking heat exhaustion, as indicated on scary park signs.

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3. This shirt.

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4. This is how I sometimes find my dog sleeping.

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5. I’m obsessed with the birdbath at our new house.

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6. My date to the cardinals game this weekend.

photo_57. A triumph on the slackline.

photo_68. This photo my brother sent me of a man walking his EAR OF CORN.

photo_89. Surprises in the mail from friends.

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10. The comfort of this.

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