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What is Christmas with no snow?

As you may or may not know, I live in Florida. Right now, it is 79F outside, sunny and it does not feel like Christmas at all. My inflatable snowman in the front yard looks a little ridiculous surrounded by green palm trees. Same goes for the Santa and the reindeers display since if Santa ever landed by my house his landing would have been really rough, having no snow and all. Or maybe his team is used to a grassy terrain?

So it’s Christmas…. but with no snow it is missing that…. je ne sais quoi. I can’t enjoy a hot beverage by the fireplace since I am already in a tank top and shorts. It is too hot to have the fireplace going. My only snowflakes are the ones I hung up on my tree (DIY for the win, ya’ll!!).

I probably should have gone to a snowy place this year. But money is tight and I don’t like to spend money on what I cannot afford. I am sitting on my couch, reminiscing my days in Europe. Honestly, I am re-reading parts of my book because the way I described Jenna’s snowy days in France are legitimately what takes me back to the days of snowy bliss.

So what is Christmas with no snow? Well, it is weird. It feels like something is missing. You may say Christmas is about Christ. Spending time with your family. For some it is about presents. And it is all that. But there is something even better about going to church on Christmas, marching through the snow, hiding your cold hands tucked deeply into your heavy jacket, breathing heavily into the wool scarf, and snowflakes falling on your head.

***Merry Christmas everyone!!***

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Luckily, my Mom is on Facebook.

I know kids these days don’t know what Facebook is or they roll their eyes and say it is SO passé. But I still use it as it’s been a part of my life since 2007 – woah, 9 years!- and I’ve stuck with every layout change that they made, specially in the first five years before they kind of decided to stick with the timeline format.

Of course, the usage of my Facebook greatly changed throughout the years. I was much younger and more naive 9 years ago and therefore the posts were age appropriate. I have since, as might be expected, deleted quite a few but all in all my posts were/are alright.

Around 2010 (2011?), my Mom joined Facebook and as many others, I dreaded adding her to MY Facebook. Gosh, these are my private thoughts I share on the internet with my friends, not my MOM! What should I do? Add her or block her? After a week of listening to her whining that we are truly not friends if we are not Facebook friends I decided to add her.

My Facebook posts have changed since. I think twice about what I write or think twice about who am I arguing with about a certain hot issue (btw, never get into arguments on Facebook, they are a complete waste of time and pointless!).

I guess it is safe to say that since my Mom joined Facebook, I think twice about what I say or do because I do not want her to see her daughter act like an idiot or say something stupid. Not that I do that often, but it happens. It happens to all of us and we should all be happy we have our Moms as Facebook friends- internet is not a public diary and we don’t want them to find out every detail of our lives. Or do we?

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The absurdities of “men caves” and other “men-only” nonsense

A friend of mine, let’s call him Dave, has been really pissing me off lately (can I say piss off on WordPress?)

Anyway, everytime we hang out with him and a bunch of friends he wants the guys and the women to hang out separately. In the same house, just different rooms. And if we play games, god forbid women should play. Because not that women are not capable of playing along, but women don’t take the games seriously enough….. which yeah, it’s just a game, Dave and just because you win at it it doesn’t make you somehow a winner in real life. Akhem.

In addition to his segregated time spending between sexes he also has a man cave. Two men caves, technically. One glorious man room filled with his workout equipment, comicbooks and pheromone-based scents (I’m guessing) and his garage crammed with motorcycles which reeks of testosterone, or whatever that scent is. The rest of the house he is in is mostly decorated by his fiancee, Lindsey.

Now, every couple has their vibe but here’s what I’ll tell you about men caves and men only time.

  1. Men caves shouldn’t exist- women should compromise and not take over the whole damn house and decorate it upon her liking, it’s that simple. You’re a couple, you live together, you share things. Both parties should compromise.
  2. Girls time/guys nights- they are ok every once in awhile but the reality is- if you need some time away from your spouse/bf/gf, then something isn’t right. Because I can tell you that after I come home from work at cca. 6pm and I only get to see David for a couple of hours before we both hit the hay exhausted, I don’t have any desire to spend even LESS time with him. If anything, because I only see him for those few hours I actually want to see him MORE.

So this whole men only, girls only stupidity needs to stop. If we want men and women to have 50/50 relationships, have them work as partners, then compromises have to be made.

Because guess what, your partner is your team.

You both live in the house. You can both ride the motorcycle. You can both read comic books. You can both BBQ in the back. You can both fix the sink together. You can both wear boots and know how to use a jack. You can both play sports… etc. It’s common sense, Dave.

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Best advice for people scared of dogs: DON’T make a SCENE!

I have to speak up about this topic because as a former dog owner, and watching my sister having to deal with people who are scared of her little hyperactive mutt, I get beyond irritated with the way people behave around a dog when scared of it.

Here’s the thing. We get it. You are scared. Maybe you got bit by one in the past. So what? A dog bit my hand when I was ten years old- it was my fault- the dog was pretty much blind, I wanted to pet him, I surprised him, and poor thing got scared because he did not know I was coming and defended himself. I ended up with a bleeding hand, and poor thing was scared more than me. It didn’t stop me or my family of having another dog.

So here are key steps what to do/not do when you are scared of a dog:

1- You are NOT at the center of that dog’s attention:

People who are scared of dogs always somehow assume that the only thing the dog pays attention to is to them. Not true! The dog is busy exploring the surroundings, smells, other dogs, other people. You don’t stand out, to a dog you are just another person passing by!

2- Do not suddenly stop and stare at and/or talk to or yell at the owners (or dog)

So far everyone who is scared of a dog ALWAYS stops moving. If you had JUST WALKED BY the dog would have NEVER noticed you. By suddenly stopping you are making YOURSELF the center and you are making YOURSELF stand out. The dog probably would not care at all, HAD YOU NOT MAKE YOURSELF SOMETHING TO PAY ATTENTION TO.

You suddenly stop moving, that gets the dog attention- it is not normal behavior to a dog. Most people pass by, right? Asking the owner to “take care of the dog/put it on a leash/ grab it closer” is a reasonable request in human’s mind- to a dog, an UNKNOWN person in a hostile voice is talking to their owner: of course they will growl at you, they are sensing negative vibe and they will always protect their owner.

3- Don’t make the dog suspicious by making a scene

For some reason, people scared of dogs have a need to explain for ten minutes how they are scared of dog and how to “Get that thing away from you.” There is NO NEED to explain for such a long time that you are scared. Everyone gets it. The dog smells your fear, the owner can hear what you are saying. Walk on by and this scene making can be over. No need for the story and background details on your fear of dogs. KEEP WALKING!

4- Most dogs (despite of what you think) won’t bite you

Most of the dogs you are scared of are nice dogs. Even if it is a Pit Bull, doesn’t mean it is a killing biting machine.

I mean, it is so simple. If you are scared of the dog, just keep walking by and the dog won’t even care. Don’t stop and make a scene about how you are scared of dogs!!

Think about it- let’s say you are scared of snakes (I am definitely scared of them). So, let’s say I was walking down the street (maybe at some exotic location so it is more plausible), and there was a guy with a few snakes around his neck and maybe one or two following him around. Would I intentionally stop and started yelling at him to move his snakes away? NO!!! I would pass him and the snakes by to get the hell away from them all.

What do you think? What have your experiences been so far? Leave a comment below! Thanks for visiting my blog, and don’t forget to check out my books on Amazon!

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Male heros of children’s books

Children’s books are a special genre to write in. Not everyone understands the imagination children have or how they think. Or perhaps even what they find funny. Since I am writing my children’s book, I have- of course- done my due diligence to research the genre and not make any mistakes. Or, at least not as many mistakes.

What bothers me is that all this articles recommend using a male character. Little girls can better relate to male characters, while apparently vice-versa is impossible for them to do. I understand that probably a boy will not relate to a character of a ballerina (or will he?) but why can’t he relate to a bold, young girl who is seeking adventure? Or a young female scientist who is on the verge of a major breakthrough in dragon healing?

It is sad that even in children’s books there is sexism. By not including female characters or giving males main role, we are saying female characters belong in the background while the lead should be for men. It’s a disturbing thought! No one thinks about it so much, until actually faced with data (btw, here is a great article). Not all stories require a certain gender character, and sometimes one just wants to have a male character but the fact that writer’s are using male characters merely to increase sales is gross. Just gross. Our kids are the new generation of open-minded people, so start putting more female characters out there! Do it for the kids. If not for your sexist self.

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What about the young people, Europe?

Europe, the land of the kind socialists and good-hearted people, is exploiting its young work force. Every time I am done with my Skype session with my friends from Europe, I am astounded. Simply astounded. The stories they tell me….

Young, fresh out of college graduates cannot find jobs, for months, even years! Even in Germany, the amount of people seeking for jobs is so high that students are paying agencies to find them internships- INTERNSHIPS- which are UNPAID! They are willing to pay to to get a job and work for free just to get experience. Companies have young students, graduates and even those with work experience by the balls (pardon my French). And they are exploiting them just like cruel Americans make their people work. Before anyone goes on about American crisis, I assure you, it may have been bad a couple years ago but it has been picking up and my God you could at least get a job at Wendy’s.

Many in Europe complain about Americans…who “work hard all the time. No one has vacation, no break ever”- they say. “Your healthcare system sucks and you work like a slave.” But what happened to Europe I ask you? Why is Europe failing to see that the future is in the young, spirited and driven young workforce, and not the one that  has a degree but brings you coffee, makes copies for you and secretly hates you for doing it? And why are those lucky ones that find jobs significantly underpaid?

I leave you with these thoughts, those that have comments, type away in the section below…. 😉

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Russia didn’t win the Eurovision. Phew!

First off, as an American I had no idea what Eurovision was until I did my study abroad in France (which – just throwing that out there- inspired my book “Six months of Croissants, Cafe cremes, Parties and Love available on Amazon :))

At first sight, Eurovision meant glitter, pop fever and everyone dressing up like they were about to go to a space convention. It was a bizarre sight, but I’ve been watching it for almost seven years now and I enjoy it. I love to love or hate the songs being performed and I gasp and shout at the TV when countries award points.

This year, it was about as political as usual; countries were awarding highest scores to their neighbors or their economic alliances. Okay, fine. We are used to it at this point. But this year I was completely and utterly against Russia winning. Why? I didn’t care much for the song but mostly it felt wrong if they won. With Ireland overwhelmingly voting for same-sex marriage on the same say and celebrating, I couldn’t help but think how they treat gays in Russia.

Russia is a very closed-minded/intolerant country. As I saw Conchita Wurst sitting next to the Russian representative Polina Gagarina who was leading in the half time, I could not help but think how unaccepted Conchita would be in Russia. How they would treat her being who she is. How they treat LGBT community. So this year, specially, I cheered for the Enrique Iglesias/model runway looking Swedish Mans Zelmerlow who not only had amazing graphics to support his act but had an uplifting song and a message that will continue the open-minded legacy of Conchita Wurst and not pull it back. Because…. as much as it should be about music, it is about something more to, and in this case it was about “building bridges” and not burning them.

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Time to go

A week or so later, the plane crash tactically planned by the German co-pilot still haunts me. I mean, it has been in the media so much too that I can not look away anymore. But that’s almost beside the point.

What haunts me is the conversation I had with my friend. He’s in the military, and I know he has seen a lot of things already and he definitely has a different take on the world than I do. He is much more brave, that’s for sure. But I remember talking to him about it, and he felt bad, of course, but then he added: “maybe it was their time to go.” How was this their time to go? They did not decide upon it, but some other asshole decided it for them.

There is really something scary that so much of our lives are dictated about other people’s actions. Accidents happen every day, and those are inevitable. But mass murders like this? It is not in any way, shape or form fair to have a life ended this way. Yes, before you comment, life is unfair but there is just something so fundamentally wrong when you have to go that way. And I do not think that is your time to go. That is someone else deciding that for you- your time to go is when you die of natural cause.

What do you think- would you accept the fact if something like this happened to you? Does it even matter in the end how you go or when (since it is after the fact?)

Either way, R.I.P. innocent victims. This world can be a cruel place.

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Dinners on plastic plates

The first time I was ever almost stoned to death because I brought plastic plates for dinner was during my first dinner in France. Growing up, my mother stored all the fancy china Grandma inherited in a special cabinet, while she made all of us use plastic plates. I did not think anything of it- Mom did not have a dish washer and -therefore-logical thinking- we used plastic plates so she did not have to clean the dishes after.

And then I came to France. Study abroad and all, with people from all over the world (which btw, my book on the study abroad is available on Amazon). Anyway, we were almost like representatives from the United Nations or something, gathered behind a tiny table. Trying to be helpful, I brought plastic plates, plastic cups and plastic silverware to eat with. It was not cheap either, so I really thought I was doing everyone a favor. Well, I guessed wrong. Needless to say, most attacks came from the Germans and the nature-loving Scandinavians. I think I had to listen to “how wasteful” Americans are through the whole dinner. I never felt so judged. Is it really so wrong to use plastic plates? Isn’t using a dish washers equally wasteful? Why I am such a horrible person?

The type of treatment I received was more than brutal. Even the Canadians loved to bash my wastefulness and hatefulness for nature. But I did not care- all I kept thinking was my Mom, and how many nights those plastic plates saved her from being the dishwasher. Instead of cleaning the dishes for half hour, she was able to sit down, relax and talk to her kids. That’s worth something too, right?

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Why in Europe sometimes you just have to dump things on the street

When I was younger, I loved yard sales. I was able to sell some of the stuff my Mom never used and made a couple of bucks while at it. Then, a few years later, I gave my bike to somebody who needed it for free. I still remember the message he sent me, thanking me over and over that he takes the bike to work instead of walking there. He was so grateful and I was thrilled I could help. So, every once in a while, I still leave a box on my yard with a sign “Free stuff.” Someone always pickes it up.

Then, I did my study abroad in France. I lived in a furnished apartment I shared with other students. (btw, my book about the French study abroad is available on Amazon ;)) We only got the bare necessities, so we decided to buy a few things to make our lives more, errr, livable I guess.

At the end of the semester we listed them on a board at school and on a Facebook website where people who wanted to give stuff away for free were welcome to list the items. I mean, surely people will be happy to get nice stuff for free? Surely they will come on time and won’t be picky, right?? (btw, it is forbidden to dump stuff on the street)

We only had a few people genuinely interested… everybody else wasted our time, energy and generosity with the following stupidities:

1) “Your place is too far” (far being 15 minutes out of the way)

2) “I only want one of the items listed in the bundle” (yes, let me make a special appointment for each of the people who want to take the damn dying flowers)

3) Didn’t read the ad right (“I thought you were offering X” (when in fact it was Y))

4) Showed up 2-3 hours late (because of course, I have nothing else to do in my life)

5) Say they will show up and they don’t- without telling me (because again- apparently I have nothing else to do in my life than wait for them)

6) Book a time to come and cancel after they realize that it is too expensive to rent a truck (because checking rental prices prior to making arrangements would be nonsensical)

7) “Do you have it in another color?” (please, can I refer you to a furniture store??!)

8) “Could you deliver it to me?” (no comment…..*sigh*)

Ultimately, the amount of effort I had to put in to deal with these people just made it not worth it. It actually killed my joy to try give useful stuff to people. I follow the online blogs/websites and I am still a memeber of some of these groups and complaints like mine show up  all  the  time.

The biggest problem with giving things away for free is that people think you are also giving away for free your time, energy and sometimes even your transport. And it truly kills the joy of trying to do good and trying to help. Ultimately, after offering the items to some charities (which only took selected items), we sneaked out in the middle of the night and dumped the stuff on the street. Eventually it was all picked up but I promised myself I would never give stuff away for free anymore, not while I was there. When people have to pay, they suddenly realize their time and energy are vested in the exchange too.

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