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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Holidays (9)

Monday
Dec262011

Santa KNOWS.

He does. Santa knows the good stuff to give. He whispers my wants and desires into the unsuspecting ears of my friends and family. The subconscious takes over from there and in deciding what to give me for Christmas, these minions of Ol’ Saint Nick get it right and get it good.

The Candyman was creative and thoughtful in his gift-giving, as he always is. My family and friends were generous to a fault. I feel so blessed and lucky to be the recipient of so much generosity. I have to admit though, I’ve got some favorites.

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Real English Nottingham lace that my aunt bought in Nottingham. Loverly, no?  She wrote that she would like to see what this lace grows up to be. Me too. Me too. It’s incredibly beautiful.

Now my father-in-law gives me/us the most interesting gifts, I must say. Last year he bought me perfume ( I am a perfume whore, so this was much appreciated). The year before that I got a ceramic Santa candleholder. The year before that it was Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue (I couldn’t get past page 12). That same year he gave The Candyman a framed painting of Elvis, the canvas of which was a mirror. This year? Oh, this year was epic.

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Aw yeah, that’s right. It’s an Olan Mills special delivery, y’all!  It’s a canvas print of The Candyman circa the late 70’s, perhaps the early 80’s. It’s been hidden away somewhere, hence the water stains or mold or whatever the schmutzy stuff is on the edge there, but I believe that schmutzy stuff gives the piece (and it is a work of pure  genius)  its character.  Are The Candyman’s hands resting on his invisible knees or on the dark, evil shoulder of  Lucifer? With his blonde, Damien Thorn-esque hair, it gives me pause to consider the latter.

It was the merriest of Christmases! How was yours?

Friday
Dec232011

Winter Solstice

It’s hard to sleep late on the longest night of the year. So this morning, after too many hours in the car with The Candyman and a restless night in a new bed, I ventured out into my Christmas wonderland.

Dawn, Topsail Beach, North Carolina

As a family, we’ve spent countless summers on the beaches of the southeastern seaboard. We’ve gone as far south as Hilton Head in South Carolina and hadn’t gone further north than Litchfield Beach, North Carolina, until now.

A few years ago, I was talking with my dad about spending some time at the beach in the winter. I’d never done that. He hadn’t either and thought it might be a good idea. My mom wanted to as well. The Candyman, having lived just 30 minutes south of here for the majority of his life sang the praises of a winter beach.

And now here we are. The weather has been so mild this week. The car said it was 75 degrees at one point yesterday. This morning, I walked out to take these pictures in my bathrobe and while cool, not cold. At any time in the summer, the pier above would be dotted with fishermen at dawn. The only soul I saw either up or down the beach was my dad, who was surf fishing.

Winter Beach4

Winter Beach3

It’s good to be at the beach.

Thursday
Nov242011

Lest We Forget the Source of Our Bounty…

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thursday
Nov032011

Sleigh Bells Ring, Can You Hear Them Yet?

Despite Nordstrom’s much appreciated holiday notice:

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the fact remains that there are exactly 52 shopping days left until Christmas. That ain’t a lot of time.

In fact, this week marks the one year anniversary since I left my full-time gig in Nashville. I mean, come on. A year? It feels more like six months. Why is it that the older I get, the faster time goes? I remember painfully ticking off the days of eighth grade, s l o w l y as I inched my way towards the Middle School Mecca: High School. How is it that the same amount of time is now gone in the flash of a mascaraed eye?

Meh.

That’s not what this post is about though. Apologies for the side bar.

This post is about Christmas cards. Christmas cards is my thing. At least is was my thing. I used to love sending them out and getting cards in return. I spent serious time and money on them too. I didn’t just go to Target, buy the cheapest cards and slap my name on them. Oh no.

I’m the kind that writes the letter. That’s right, the Dreaded Holiday Letter. Go on, you can admit it here. How many of you dread getting one of those from your friends or family? I know more often than not, I get one and I see the long-ass paragraphs and size 8 font and I want to stab myself in the eyes.  Most of these are all about the kids. Little Betty Sue is kicking ASS in her ballet class. Poor Bobby’s baseball team ALMOST made it to the state finals and boy, was that last game a nail-biter!

*YAWN*

I mean, I’m really happy that my friends and family have happy and fulfilled lives, despite my snarkiness here, but man, put a little effort into your writing. You people are my friends because you’re exciting people. You have fantastic personalities. You’re so much better than those letters. Oh, and those photo cards you get done at Costco that are pre-printed and all that? If you MUST do those, please send one that includes YOUR face and not just your kids. I mean, I haven’t seen YOU in forever. I don’t know your kids. I’m happy they are healthy and growing like weeds, but I want to see your ugly mug too.

My letters? They rock. I’ve been told so on MANY occasions. One year I wasn’t able to send them out and I got several inquiries, nay demands, for said letter. When a friend found out about this blog, he wrote me an email saying “Holy shit! It’s like your Christmas letter EVERY DAY!” So much like this blog, they are meant to be tongue-in-cheek and I will occasionally drop the f-bomb. Generally, the letter is on one side and the opposite side of the letter is a collage of pictures I’d taken throughout the year of places I’d been, events that occurred, drunken debauchery. You know, the norm.

So here’s how it goes: I have to write the letter (no small task) and then format the pictures with snarky little accompanying quotes. I have to print on both sides. A full 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of pictures plus letter takes up a shit-ton of ink, just in case you were wondering. I then sign the letter fold it up, sign the card, argue with The Candyman over the course of a week for him to sign his name too, stuff the envelopes and address them all. I generally print out the address labels and return address labels so this saves a little time.

The cards? Oh yeah, the cards. I OBSESS over the cards. I don’t really like to send funny Christmas cards. And I don’t like them to scream of Christmas either. I generally go for the “holiday” card, one that has a statement about peace, love and happiness during the holiday season and all year long! I try to take my non-Christian friends into consideration in my holiday card selection. 

In Christmases of Past, I’ve sent out a crap load of cards. Basically if I know you and like you, you get a card. Even if you’ve pissed me off, you get a card because I try to put petty bullshit aside during the holidays. I try to be that good person. 

Last year I basically went through this process twice. Since we moved in November, I sent out change of address cards to EVERYONE. Like over 100 of those damn things went out. And I DIY’d those suckers. I basically did the exact same thing for the Christmas cards, just sans the DIY on the card part. Quick math on this: 100 cards = 100 stamps. 1 stamp = $.44. Total cost of POSTAGE ONLY = 100 x .44 = $44.00. I mean, all you brides know this shit because you obsess over your invites and the weight and the dreaded possibility of extra postage and returned invites. You get this, right? So the fact that I did this TWICE last year, included the letter with all the printing and ink-suckage and the cost of the cards and the time to do it…you get where I’m going here, right? No small task is the holiday card from T30SB and The Candyman.

Here’s why I’ve brought this all up. Last year, after sending all this shit out twice in two months, after all the work I did, I got 26 cards in return. Yeah, 26.

Now hold on. Don’t go railing on me about the Christmas spirit and how it’s all about the giving and not the getting, blah blah blah. Yeah, I’ve already been through all that. Even talked about it at great length (much to his dismay) with The Candyman last year.

The reality of it is that it hurts my damn feelings. I’ve been sending out these cards for years to people across the country and around the damn world. I’ve put a LOT of time and effort and money into these cards for a long time and lots of people don’t send them back or even acknowledge the receipt. I even get a few “return to sender” from people who moved and didn’t even tell me.

I’m probably too old school. I’m too sentimental. The thing is, I used to enjoy the process. As I signed the cards, wrote little notes to my friends and put their address label on their cards, I thought about them. I hoped they were well. The process made me happy because in my heart of hearts, I hoped that they were thinking of me too. I hoped that they remembered that one night at that one bar where we did that fun thing. I thought about Betty Sue’s dancing and Bobby’s little league team. I didn’t just send a Christmas card, I sent them my thoughts, my feelings and a little of my heart. While I was snarky earlier about the picture cards and the size 8 font, I do appreciate those cards because of the time, effort and money that went into them.

Because of all the effort I put in last year and the horrible feeling I got in return, I made a declaration to the The Candyman. I said I would not, could not, should not do the massive Christmas card thing again. I actually kept the Christmas cards I received and noted on my address label template who sent me cards. Those 26 people got highlighted. Those are the people who will get cards this year. I will make exceptions for certain family members to keep the peace or who I know can’t afford to send them. I’m simply not going to make the effort again because I don’t want to feel as badly as I did last year. I don’t want to feel like a chump; sending out heartfelt good tidings with a deafening silence in return.  I refuse to put myself through that for another year. The Candyman totally has my back on this one too because he hates to sign his name on shit.

I’m going to try to stay strong on this. I get weak when I see the Christmas card aisle. I get sentimental and forget how bad I feel after the fact. I make this declaration here: I will not be swayed by three dimensional cards, heat-transferred foil pine trees or 100% recycled paper and soy ink. No. I. Will. Not. You 26 people will get the letter and the card. If I get something from someone that is not on that list of 26, you will get a return card and you get highlighted for next year as a recipient. A little distant from the original Christmas spirit? Perhaps, but all’s fair in love and postage, right?

Monday
Sep052011

Labor of Love

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Today is Labor Day – the day Americans celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers.

I was about to start writing about who we should be thanking today: the firemen and policemen and doctors and nurses and retail sales people – all of whom are working today, holiday or no.

We should thank those people, profusely and often.

But I also want to thank the unemployed today. I want to address the people who are competent, intelligent, hard-working individuals who are unemployed to no real fault of their own (I could totally start a rant here about politics, just so you know…).

The National Unemployment Rate is at 9.1%.  The U.S. population is hovering at just under 312M. That’s 28.1M people out of work. Look at it this way too: 28,000,000. That’s a shit-ton of people.

The majority of these people get up every day and sit at their computers, trying to find the thing they hope will employ them. They go to job fairs, networking meetings, unemployment offices and libraries – all in hope of finding work.

Being unemployed these days is nothing like it was a few years ago. The technology we have at our fingertips allows for a sick amount of automation.

For instance:

Many on-line applications require you to fill out salary history or salary requirements as part of the application process. Bid yourself too high and you’re automatically rejected as a candidate (not that they’d tell you that, mind you). Bid yourself too low and you’re potentially hurting yourself financially, or simply under-valuing your skills that again, get you rejected before your resume has finished uploading.

Most resumes that are sent through job boards (like Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) and well as through company websites now have scanners and filters that reject resumes before a human eye gives it a cursory glance. It searches the digital resume for key words, so that every time a person applies for a position they must re-write their resume and/or cover letter to reflect the key words noted in the job description.

A few months ago there was a big hulla-baloo regarding a statement several companies had posted on their hiring sites: “the unemployed need not apply.”

Does that make you throw up a little in your mouth? It should. Here’s the rub: explicitly blocking unemployed people from applying does not qualify under the definition of discrimination, since unemployment is not a federally protected status like age or race. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been researching whether employers are discriminating against  groups because they are now overrepresented more than ever amongst the unemployed, such as African-American and older workers.

Yeah, great. But does that mean an HR person can’t look at a resume, see the dates worked and draw their own conclusions? That was Rhetorical Question number one.  And guess what?  If you lie about that on your resume (number two)? Don’t plan on being hired for long.

Between November 2010 and today I have applied no fewer than 5 times to a company here in Charlotte for positions that 2 or 3 years ago I wouldn’t have lowered myself to even consider. If someone has asked me if I wanted to be a buyer for a retail department store I would have probably sneered, rolled my eyes and expounded on the evils and ineptitudes of retail level employees. My, how things change.

What’s rough for all of the unemployed is the constant hum of rejection. To apply and re-apply to the company who apparently likes to reject me? That takes some doing. And the funny thing is, the rejection is in a form of absolute silence. You wait, not knowing, assuming after time period “x” that the position has been filled, your phone calls to said company being dejected and rerouted endlessly. Pleasant, no?  There’s another company I’ve applied to 3 times. At least those folks have the decency to send me a rejection email. I take some comfort in that.  At least  I know.

The name of the game these days? It’s all about who you know. It’s about making cold calls to people in your industry, to find out who’s looking before the job is even listed. It’s all about the inside track. It’s about working that inside track to within an inch of its life. There are teams of people who teach individuals how to do this these days. The unemployment  game is precisely that: a game of Who Do You Know.

But let’s get back to the point of this post: a celebration of Labor Day and what it means to me, right about now.

First, how about a quick list of what unemployed does not mean:

Lazy.

Stupid.

Incompetent.

Undesirable.

Unmanageable.

Worthless.

Ignorant.

Sad.

Pitiful.

Unemployed simply means that you do not have a place of employment that pays you taxable wages. It most certainly does not mean that an individual is not working because let me tell you, being unemployed is one of the hardest jobs you can ever have. I guaran-damn-tee you that trying to find employment is working.

And let’s stop defining people by what they do, shall we? Avoid asking the people you’ve just met, “So, what do you do?” Think a little harder first. Try, “Tell me about yourself.” Or “What’s new with you?” or “What do you enjoy doing?”  Value the person, not their place of employment/non-employment. And if you find yourself compelled to ask that question and see the person squirm, shuffled their feet, look down at their shoes or attempt to grasp the answer with difficulty and apprehension? Give them a break. Interrupt yourself with a new and different question. If you stop defining people based on a job description, perhaps they’ll stop attempting to define themselves as well.

So on this American Labor Day holiday, I want to thank all of our domestic service people who must still work today to keep us up and running, safe and protected. I want to thank our soldiers here in the U.S. and particularly those who are far from home, for all the work they’ve done and continue to do for the safety and protection of our lives and country. I also want to thank the unemployed – those people who are working, and working hard to find a place; a place where their skills are needed and appreciated, a place to support themselves, their families and their souls.

Happy Labor day to us all.