I am a woman of many contrasts. Or perhaps only two.

I just got back from the grocery store. Perhaps the only thing worse than going grocery shopping three days before Thanksgiving in the pouring rain and realizing that you left your grocery list at home is going grocery shopping three days before Thanksgiving in the pouring rain, realizing you left your grocery list at home and after buying all the groceries you could remember you needed, forgetting where the hell you parked the car.

On the plus side, I spent two hours clogging this morning and now I don’t need to take a shower.

Here’s another thing: Most of the time it is kind of a pain having a car where none of the windows roll down. On the plus side, it does keep you from going through fast-food drive-thrus for purely emotional reasons.

I’m still trying to decide what this day requires as far as lunch goes. Emotionally, I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But what I’m really craving is a grilled cheese sandwich. I just don’t know what I’m going to do. I really don’t.

On a semi-related note, my laptop is unfortunately at the shop again. On the plus side, it has given me the perfect excuse not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Like I was going to anyway. I know! But now I have a an excuse. I never let excuses go to waste if I can possibly help it.

I have strong feelings about people who put up Christmas decorations and start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I think they’re going to hell. No offense to any of you gentle readers who may be going to hell. I still like you, and you are welcome here until Satan claims you as his own.

I don’t have anything against people who do their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, as long as they keep it to their damn selves.

I just can’t think about Christmas yet. Thanksgiving is not really such a stressful holiday for me, aside from the shopping, because (on the plus side!) I don’t have to do any of the cooking. (That’s my husband’s domain. I do have to put up with his diva-like kitchen persona for about 18 hours, but again, on the plus side, he makes a really good Thanksgiving dinner.) But Girlfriend’s birthday falls right around Thanksgiving, and I am constitutionally incapable of thinking about Christmas until everyone’s birthdays are over. Thank goodness I don’t have any December birthdays to worry about. (Except my sister’s. Doh! Like I was going to remember it before Christmas anyway. I know! But still, doh.)

Anyway, Girlfriend’s birthday is on Friday, but her birthday party is on Wednesday. Wednesday morning, in fact, because there’s no school on Wednesday due to budget cuts. That’s what they put in the school calendar this year: NO SCHOOL BECAUSE OF BUDGET CUTS. Really pretty heavy-handed, if you ask me. Actually, if they had asked me, I would have suggested NO SCHOOL BECAUSE OF *NEW* BUDGET CUTS, but that’s just me. I digress. How many kids, you might be wondering, are going to be in town the day before Thanksgiving when there’s no school? Well, you might be surprised. Or you might not. People still have to work, after all, even if their kids are off school. How many kids whose parents have to work the day before Thanksgiving, you might wonder, are able to come to a birthday party at 10 a.m. that day? Well, I don’t know. I’m only aware of one whose parents’ work schedules are preventing her from attending. We got enough “no” responses initially that we started inviting the second-tier guests (not that any of them are “second-tier” people, but…forget it, I don’t have to justify myself to you) in order to avoid having the world’s saddest birthday party. On the other hand, I have about 6-8 people who just haven’t RSVP’d at all yet, and I don’t know what to make of that. We are allowed 14 kids before we have to start paying the $10 per extra kid charge, and according to my calculations, we will either have 14 kids or 21 kids. Who knows??? But that’s not why I started talking about this.

The real stress is not so much the party as the fact that a) I haven’t bought her a gift yet (I know! I know! how hard is it? I don’t know!) and b) I have to make her a Scooby-Doo cake before Wednesday morning. How hard is it, you might be wondering, to find a bakery that will make a Scooby-Doo cake for you? Well, I don’t know. I really don’t. I haven’t had the emotional or mental energy to go to every bakery in town and find out their positions on Scooby-Doo cakes. All I know is that if I can’t get it at the Safeway, that’s it, never mind, I’m just doing it myself. Because baking cakes is not actually that stressful for me. I kind of enjoy baking cakes. Our old babysitter, Gertrude, said that she had all of these Scooby-Doo items wherewith to decorate a Scooby-Doo cake, so I said, great, let’s bake her a Scooby-Doo cake. But Gertrude also has this vision of how the cake should look, ideally, and she would like to help me with it. I would actually rather not have her help, which is a terrible thing to say about a person who has given so much to your family and has been sort of inevitably squeezed out of your kids’ lives by virtue of the fact that you no longer need a part-time nanny anymore due to Grandma living in town and the kids being a lot older than they once were and so, not being forced to see her by virtue of the fact that you’re paying her to show up at your house, you don’t see her any more than you see anybody else who isn’t related to you by birth or marriage, even though you still consider her a friend. Did you follow all of that? I think I did, but I’m a little punch drunk, not to mention soaking wet and a little bit hungry, with only fifteen minutes to decide what I’m going to eat before I go pick Princess Zurg up from school. Also, my back hurts right now. That’s a propos nothing, but it’s true–in addition to the fact that when I bake a cake for my kid’s birthday, I would rather just do it myself. But really, not so much because I don’t want Gertrude’s help or think her ideas are worse than mine, but I think the only time I will have to bake and decorate this cake will be Tuesday night after everyone’s gone to bed, and I don’t want Gertrude over then, because then she will be here until midnight.

But it’s too late. It’s decided! She’s going to help me decorate a cake sometime tomorrow, and that’s that. I just have to accept it and decide what’s for lunch now.

Just two more things: My husband asked me to buy fresh cranberries, which I remembered, but I couldn’t find any. I didn’t even know where to look, frankly, but that didn’t stop me from looking in a myriad of what I thought were likely places before giving up. I think that means I will have to go out again later. Also, I hate the song “Silver Bells.” Also, third thing: I may need to see a neurologist because I spent a half-hour driving aimlessly about a western-Portland suburb because I couldn’t remember where the grocery store was in relation to any of the streets I was driving on when I left my clogging class, and I have lived here for nine years, people. Nine years. I need to eat lunch now. I have ten minutes to sort out my emotional food needs.