Friday, December 21, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

 There is a phenomenon that has being going on for a while that I essentially knew nothing about.  And I feel so ashamed.  How can a woman who guessed correctly months ago that Channing Tatum would be named this year’s People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” be so behind the times?

I dunno; maybe I’m getting old.  But I didn’t know anything about this whole Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.  I just noticed it last year; perhaps because people started taking photos of their Elves and posting them on Facebook. 

Some of them were cute. Pictures of little elves drinking hot chocolate.  Or sitting in front of a half-eaten Christmas cookie.  Or peeking out from behind a book on a bookshelf.

But I’ve also seen some X-rated Elves. Bad Elves doing inappropriate things to Barbie. Or Drunk Elves who had too much egg nog kneeling over dollhouse-sized toilet bowls. 

Bad Elf  cleaning the toilet with your toothbrush?
Methinks this was not the original intent of the makers of Elf on the Shelf.

So I had to Google Elf on the Shelf to find out the back story.  Ah, I thought, it’s a form of parenting – a way to keep the kids in line.  

During the month of December, anyway.

How else would Santa know if a kid was naughty or nice?  He sends his tiny Elves to spy on little boys and girls and then the Elf flies back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa.  Man, that little guy must get awfully tired – he’s putting in a whole lot of frequent flyer miles.

When I pause to examine the whole concept, I find it rather creepy and I'm not sure I would've liked Elf on the Shelf  when I was a kid.  It's the sort of thing that nightmares are made of.  I mean, didn’t everyone have to peek under their bed to make sure there were no scary monsters hiding under there?  Or if we were too chicken to actually look under the bed, we’d take a flying leap onto the bed so our feet wouldn’t come within a foot of the dust ruffle and, thus, no hand could reach out to grab our ankle.

Yeah, what can I say? When I was young, I read way too many scary books and watched way too many scary movies.

But back to the Elf on the Shelf thing.  If it had been around back in the day, I cannot remotely imagine my mother participating in any such activity.  Taking the time to move an inanimate doll from spot to spot around our house in those precious few moments she had to herself after she’d finally managed to get all four kids in bed? 

Not a chance.

Besides, we didn’t need a “Santa spy” to keep us in line.  Our parents were all the spies Santa needed.  And it wasn’t even just for the month of December that we toed the line.  Back then our parents weren’t our buddies or our friends; they were our parents. We knew who was boss – and it sure wasn’t us! 

Not only that, but Santa just knew if we were on the Naughty or the Nice list because, after all, he was Santa.

Not that it stopped all of us from misbehaving.  When I was five and my brother was six, he was so concerned that Santa had gotten a bad report on him that he wrote in marker all over his stocking.  Part of it was that he wanted to assure Santa that he was a good boy. But the other part was that he didn’t want Santa mixing us up or making any goofs.  John didn’t want to find some stupid gift in his stocking like a girly hair ribbon or something.  So he wrote on his stocking, “John. Boy. Good.”  And he wrote on my stocking, “Jane. Girl.” 

You notice he didn’t add the word "Good” to my stocking. Either I was good and he didn’t want Santa examining our behaviors any too closely – or John was simply trying to fool the big guy into thinking the kid who had “Good” on his stocking MUST be good and the kid who didn’t, well, not so much. 

On the other hand, it’s probably better that I don’t overanalyze the mysterious workings of the mind of that long ago six-year-old boy.

I don’t recall how my parents reacted when they saw black marker all over the stockings that our cousin had so painstakingly crafted for us, but I don’t imagine they were calling him a “good” boy that day.

So I don’t know.  I don’t think a little Elf would’ve influenced my brother one way or the other.  He was gonna do what he was gonna do – bad reports to Santa notwithstanding. 

But, hey, who am I to knock what works for some folks.  And the Elf on the Shelf is kind of cute.  You get to name him and everything. 

But, people, please. Stop making your Elf do inappropriate things to Barbie and posting the photos on Facebook. You AND the Elf are going to wind up on Santa’s Naughty List. And it’s not easy to get back on his good side. Just ask my brother. John. Boy. Bad.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pajama Zone Sunday

Wow – what a weekend we had!  No, we didn’t flit from holiday party to holiday party all weekend long.  And, no, we didn’t enter the fray of frenzied shoppers at the mall. 

Instead, we had Pajama Zone Sunday.  And it was gooooood!

 I can’t remember the last time we didn’t change out of our PJs all day – if ever.  The operative word in that sentence, by the way, is “we.”  Why?  Because when I was single I had many a Pajama Zone Day.  Hey, I was a busy girl during the week and sometimes the weekends were mine alone to relax, rejuvenate and, well, stay comfy! 

But Vince usually is a go-go-go kinda guy and wants to get a lot of stuff accomplished on his day off.  Probably it didn’t help that neither he nor I felt well this weekend.  Are sinus headaches catching?  Because he had one Saturday night and I had one on Sunday. 

We didn’t start out deciding to stay in our PJs all day.  We talked about what groceries we need to replenish the fridge and discussed the menus over the Christmas holiday when family and friends will be visiting.  We talked about the odd gift or two we still need to purchase.  And we talked about driving to CVS to pick up some more sinus headache medicine.

But none of that happened.  Instead, I took a long nap and Vince had a chance to channel surf without me giving him “the eye.”  And when I woke up, we reheated some leftovers and then watched a couple movies on cable.  Can you say la-zy?

Now, this is not to say we didn’t accomplish anything.  I mean, Vince worked long hours this weekend.  And I did approximately 9,000 loads of laundry on Saturday.  I even managed to get it all dried, folded and put away in the dresser or hung back up in the closet.  In addition, I changed cat litter (ugh).  I scrubbed sinks and toilets (double ugh). I replaced soap in soap dispensers and put new rolls of toilet paper on the spare roll spindles so no one in our home will ever have to say, “Hey!  There’s no toilet paper in here!” 

And I wrapped Christmas gifts until 2:30 in the morning.  Well, I didn’t intend to wrap gifts until the wee hours of the morning, but I don’t really enjoy this task, so I just slogged my way through it until I was done. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love pretty wrapping paper, bright bows and colorful ribbon and seeing all the gaily wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree.  But I’m simply not a very good wrapper.  I either cut the paper too short so the ends don’t meet and cover the box – or I cut the paper so long I end up having to lop off at least half a foot on either end so I can fold the paper and tape it closed.  Nothing ever matches, especially the seams, so I tend to use wide ribbon to hide all my mistakes. 

This is why I adore gift bags.

The one chore I did forget was to water the plants, as evidenced by the droopy ficus I spied in the dining room this morning before breakfast.  So I took care of that little task after gulping my morning coffee and before racing out the door to get to work. Hope the ficus forgives me.

Other than leaving the houseplants thirsty, should we have felt guilty for having a Pajama Zone Sunday?  No, I don’t thinks so. And I’ll tell you why.

We spend so much of our lives busily checking off all the things on our to-do lists or bucket lists or career lists. We feel badly if a day goes by when we haven’t accomplished all we set out to do that day.  If we’re not moving forward, it’s bad.  You can’t have a “stand still” day – or, heaven forbid, a “going backwards” kind of day.

True, forward momentum is a good thing and makes us feel as if we’re accomplishing something with our lives.  But standing still for a moment can also be important. 

All we have to do is hear about a tragedy like that in Newtown, CT, and we're stopped in our tracks. How many people heard the news and then wanted to hold their children or loved ones close and hug them and kiss them and tell them how much they are cherished? 

Sure, we do that all the time.  We kiss our loved ones goodbye and call out “Love ya!” as we head out to start our busy day – and we mean it – but sometimes it becomes rote.  Maybe we’re distracted with what lies ahead or we’re thinking about that ever-lovin’ To-Do list.  So “rote” doesn’t mean insincere.  But it should never take a tragedy to make us realize how much we truly do love our family and our friends and that they are so much more precious than ticking off little boxes on our To-Do lists.

Vince and I spent a lot of time yesterday talking.  We held hands practically all day long (well, except for when I was napping and he was channel surfing. Oh, and any time one of us had a potty break. Yeah, yeah, I know that should go without saying, but some people are very literal.)  We didn’t just hurriedly discuss how we’re going to handle this situation or whether or not we’re going to attend that event and we didn’t spend those precious moments coordinating our schedules.  Instead, we spent the day reconnecting.

And through this experience, we once again realized how much we love each other and how fortunate we are and how abundant the gifts are that God has given us. 

So, while you don’t have to have a Pajama Zone day to come to these realizations, it can’t hurt.  Go ahead – try it one of these weekends. 

Just make sure your fridge is fully stocked and you don’t need to run to CVS for sinus headache medication.  Because, believe me, as cute as you may think you look in them, no one is interested in seeing you in your hot pink footy pajamas.  No. One.

(But, seriously, who knew you could even buy hot pink footy pajamas for grown-ups?)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Day in the Life. Sigh.

So the other day I met a friend for lunch in a quaint little German Village restaurant just down the street from where I work.  The only negative about quaint little German Village is that the streets are paved with bricks. Sounds all old-timey and makes you want to come visit, doesn’t it?  Well, hold your horses there, Skippy, because it’s not all that and a bag o’ chips. 

In reality, it’s a pain in the you-know-what.  Because the bricks are old and uneven.  Really uneven.  They are so uneven that cars that routinely drive up and down the bricked streets require front end alignments every 23 days.  I’m not even kidding.  My last car had a permanent list to the left because one time I waited a whole month before scheduling the alignment. 

And even though I’m a veteran German Village driver after having worked here for the last ten years, I did something really stupid on my way to the restaurant.  I tried to apply lipstick.

Go ahead – shake your head and roll your eyes. I deserve it.

Instead of looking less scary and ghost-like with my natural, non-existent lip color, I looked like Ronald McDonald with the exaggerated line drawn all around his mouth. 

But at least I wasn’t wearing the baggy yellow jumpsuit, goofy shoes or the fright wig.
Didn’t matter.  The big red mouth thing alone was scary enough. 

Nevertheless, I arrived at the restaurant within moments.  Knowing I wanted to make a pit stop to remove my Ronald-like lips, I happily snagged a spot on the street right by the restaurant.  I even parallel parked like I knew what I was doing and managed to align my car relatively, well, parallel to the curb.

Score – right?

Fortunately, I was first at the restaurant so I had time to fix the scary lipstick situation and by the time I emerged from the ladies room, the hostess was looking at me a little less aghast than she had upon first seeing me enter the joint. 

My friend arrived and we proceeded to have a lovely lunch together.  By the time the meal was over, of course, my lipstick was non-existent again so, yes, it did occur to me that applying lipstick prior to eating is a wasted effort.

But the real trouble started when I returned to my carefully parallel parked car on the street.  No, it was not a victim of a hit-and-run driver.  No, I was not blocked in with the cars in front and back of me so close to my bumpers that I couldn’t maneuver out of the spot without a can opener. 

The real problem?   Two words: The. Birds.

I swear to you, every bird in the tri-state area must have flown over my car to leave a deposit.  Every single one.  I am serious. If all those droppings had been hail hitting my car, it would have been totaled. 

It looked so bad, I was embarrassed to get in it and drive it away.  On the other hand, since I was clearly standing under a flight pattern of birds that had just eaten lunch, I decided being out in the open was not a great idea. 

Getting hit by bird do-do anywhere on my person would have been grounds for a true hissy fit the likes no one has ever seen.  All I would’ve needed was the crazy Ronald-like lips and someone would’ve called 911 and the men in the white coats would’ve come to take me away.

That might’ve been bad, but at least I wouldn’t have been the one who had to clean off my car.

It was disgusting!  And crunchy. I practically had to take a sand blaster to the vehicle to get the stuff off.  So no amount of drive-thru car washing would’ve helped.

Because I was at home when I did the cleaning, I didn’t run back out to take the car through a car wash to get it uniformly clean.  So my car was half clean and half dirty.  The birds apparently missed the lower panels. 

So for the past several days I’d been thinking I really needed to run through a car wash. Only there isn’t one close by and my schedule has been a little hectic. 

Well, as it turns out, it’s a good thing I didn’t spend my hard-earned dollars at the car wash.  Why?  Because as I was leaving the office yesterday, I noticed that my car was once again covered with bird...”stuff.”  And I had been nowhere near the restaurant I visited the other day! Instead, I was innocently parked in my own parking space at the office.  This, my friends, led me to draw the following conclusion: The birds had found me!

I shook my fist at the empty sky screaming, “WHY ME?” 

But the birds did not answer.

So what is this? Is it retribution for something I did in a past life?  Are they especially attracted to white cars? Did I not annihilate enough pigs in the Angry Birds game?  

Nah.  Probably it’s payback because I hated their movie.  You know the one?  The Birds.  Scared the snot out of me when I was a kid and I can’t stand it when more than two or three birds gather at one time.  I think they probably know this.

Interestingly, the black truck and the red car on either side of my car were guano-free.  Not one drop.  So maybe – just maybe – my paranoia is justified.

I had to do the sand-blasting thing again last night when I got home.  And I counted.  There were precisely 39 “hits” on my car.  Thirty-nine!  That’s a lot.  My car now has more clean areas than dirty, but it still needs some attention with a little soap and water.

So my plan this evening is to find a car wash – fork over the extra bucks for the deluxe wash – and then race home and hide my car in the garage all weekend.  And I will hope that the birds have decided they’ve paid me back enough and they’ll move on to another victim. Either that or the last of 'em have flown south for the winter.

But let me just tell you.  If a bird even accidentally flies into our garage in the next few days, I will be the one calling 911 and asking for the men in the white coats to come get me. 

Ronald McDonald lips won’t be necessary.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bad Customer Service and The Flinstones Lunch Box Incident

Don’t fall over, but I finally decided to write a blog today.  (What was that a big “whump” I just heard?  Didn’t I just say don’t fall over?)

But, yeah.  Since it has been so long since my last blog, I should probably make a point of writing something funny and lighthearted to make up for my lack of effort here in recent months. 

Instead, I’ve decided to write about Customer Service. The Good. The Bad.  And the Ugly.  The Reaaalllly Ugly.  And that’s not funny.

Any of you in that line of work?  Or will admit to it? 

It’s sort of a trick question anyway because we all, in one way or another, have some responsibility of providing good customer service.  The definition of “customer” changes from situation to situation – sure – but the basic premise remains the same.

There are, of course, obvious Customer Service situations.  Like when there’s a big sign over a desk in the department or grocery store that reads, “Customer Service.”  Yeah, that’s kind of a clue.  Or when you call a company to register a complaint or resolve an issue and get transferred to Customer Service. 

Most of the time, I don’t have too many problems with the level of service I get.  I try to treat people with respect and I also realize that mistakes happen.  I keep in mind that the person I’m asking for help is most likely not the person who made the error in the first place.  And I try really, really hard never to raise my voice. All these things usually help resolve the issue favorably. 

There are also not-so-obvious Customer Service representatives as well.  Like the operator at Company ABC who answers the phone graciously and directs you to the appropriate person so that you don’t spend a good portion of your day in Voicemail Hell wondering how you got stuck in an endless loop of “Listen carefully as our voicemail options have changed” and never again speaking with a live human being. 

Or it can be the runner who delivers your meal and, when you ask them to refill your water because you’re evidently part-camel and you’ve been sucking down water faster than your waiter can keep up, they do not act as though you’ve just asked them something unreasonable, like, say, cut off their big left toe or something.  Even though, technically, they’re just supposed to run your meal to you.  When they say, “Sure, it’ll be my pleasure!” You think, Wow, what great customer service! 

I’ve come away from exchanges smiling and thinking I’ve just received great customer service – and that always makes me feel good. What I’ve learned from Vince, however, is that I feel even better when I acknowledge that great customer service to a manager.  Chances are, the manager has already heard compliments about their employee because that person makes a habit of providing great customer service.  But one more “Attaboy,” or “Good Job!” never hurts.

But then there’s the flip side.  And it ain’t pretty. 

It can be the bagger who hates his job who starts tossing your groceries in the plastic bag with little concern that the sushi that has been artistically arranged for your husband’s dinner is going to get all mangled and the hot green stuff they always include with sushi gets smooshed into one piece in a big glob.

Vince, you should know, carefully portions out his ginger and…that hot green stuff…what’s it called?? Oh, yeah – wasabi!  He portions out the wasabi in equal measures on each piece of sushi. So having a big glob of wasabi smooshed into one piece is not a good thing.  

Blaming the bagger at Kroger’s always makes me feel like I’m passing the buck, even though I certainly didn’t cause the problem. It didn't occur to me that in addition to stating my preference for paper or plastic I'd also be required to ask that my groceries be packed in a non-smooshed manner.  

For me, it’s problematic when someone won’t take responsibility for the error – or they don’t seem to care that they goofed in the first place.  I don’t understand people not taking pride in their work, whatever work it may be. 

Mistakes embarrass me and it’s a good day when I catch a mistake I’ve made and fix it before it becomes public knowledge.  This is where the term “double-checking” comes into play.  More people should try it.

Plus, I try very hard not to make the error in the first place.  So I tend to have a reputation as accurate, conscientious and reliable.  I’d far prefer being this goody-two-shoes sort of person than having someone NOT be surprised that I’ve made a mistake. Or yet another mistake.

But when someone doesn’t care that they’ve erred and won’t even try to resolve the problem, then it becomes a major issue for me and my blood pressure starts a’rising.

I’ve decided that someone, somewhere made the universal decision that providing good Customer Service is no longer required.  Yep, they just took that little rule – you know – the one that says, “The Customer Is Always Right” and crumpled it up into a tiny ball, threw it on the ground and stomped on it a little bit for good measure.

Wish I could have a little chat with that person…

When I walked into the office this morning and realized one of my vendors had made not one, but three serious errors on one order, well, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. This is par for the course with this guy and I’m told we can’t change vendors.  I also shouldn’t be surprised and yet, each time he makes an error, I am.  He’s been doing the same job for us for over 10 years.  Shouldn’t he have the process down pat by now? 

Evidently not. And it’s not like we’ve changed procedures or anything.  He’s just, well, he’s just an idiot.  (In my humble opinion.)  He gets defensive every time I point out an error. He blame shifts.  He denies any involvement.  He blames the customer.  Or UPS. Or the weather. Or me. Everyone but himself.

That’s just not right. 

Good thing for him, he lives several hundred miles away from me; otherwise, I might have to go over and bop him on the noggin’. 

Yeah, like that would work.  Besides, I don’t resort to violence to solve my problems. 

Well, except for that one time in the second grade.  I call it the “Flinstones Lunch Box Incident.”  It occurred one lovely fall day as my brother and I emerged from the school bus.  A fourth grader had been picking on my brother the entire ride home and, once he got off the bus, he threw his books down on the ground in preparation of, I don’t know, a rumble?  A major beat-down? 

To a 7-year-old, that sort of behavior can only spell trouble and I thought the thug was going to kill my brother.  And even at that tender age, I knew my mother would be a little peeved if I went home and told her my brother had gotten murdered at the school bus stop. Not wanting to be the bearer of that bad news, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  So I lifted my metal Flinstones lunch box and, even though I was quaking in my Mary Janes, I wacked that fourth grader right in the back.  I probably only stunned the kid since I’m sure he wasn’t expecting meek little ol’ me to whack him.  Nevertheless, he paused momentarily in confusion, which gave us the opportunity to flee. So my brother and I ran for our very lives all the way home. 

And that fourth grader never again picked on my brother.  In my presence, anyway.

But, still.  Just because it worked in the second grade does not guarantee it will work now.  So, no.  I can’t whack our vendor with a metal lunch box.  Even though it is VERY tempting.

Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to keep double- and triple-checking his activities to try to reduce the number of errors he makes.

But maybe I should check eBay to see if anyone is selling a vintage Flinstones metal lunch box.  It won’t help our vendor become error-free, but it sure would make me feel a little better!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Digging in the Dirt is Not My Idea of a Good Time

My houseplants don't look quite as bad as this.  Yet.

Been a while since I’ve written a blog, hasn’t it?  Yeah, sometimes I’m about as creative as, well, a box of rocks and I can’t think of anything new to talk about.  My commute still sucks.  I still get lost.  And I still run into walls from time to time. 

All I know is it sounds awfully familiar when I start a new blog and it begins: “It took me an hour and a half to get to work this morning – and there wasn’t a single mangled car off the side of the road…” 

Last night, though, was a different experience – so I thought perhaps I could eke out a new blog.  Let’s give it a shot, shall we?

See, we went to Lowe’s last night and bought some plants.  To plant.  In the ground. 

I know – the Green Thumbs amongst you are rolling your eyes and thinking, That’s it? That’s the best you got, lady?  But what you don’t understand is that buying plants and actually having to plant them in the ground is a completely foreign concept to me.  I can barely keep a houseplant alive and all I have to do is throw a little water at it once in a while.  Certainly no digging in the dirt is required.

We didn’t even intend to buy plantable plants last night.  Instead, Vince and I planned to purchase a couple miniature evergreen trees that we could sit in pots on our front porch since the two fake green frondy things that we currently have out there leave a lot to be desired in the curb appeal department. 

Normally, I avoid walking outside and looking back toward the house and front porch as little as possible.  Trust me, I’m no Martha Stewart wannabe and I have absolutely no clue about how to make the flora and fauna out there look presentable.  Sure, I can appreciate it when I drive by a home that clearly houses a person who recognizes the difference between deciduous and…well, whatever word means the opposite of deciduous.    

I’m not entirely certain what “deciduous” means.  Heck, I couldn’t even manage to spell it correctly and had to use auto-correct – and you KNOW I’m the Spelling Queen.  All I know it that it has something to do with leaves.  But I don’t know if it means they fall off or stay attached. 

If we were rich, we could hire someone to deal with the deciduous vs. non-deciduous situation, but alas, my recent purchases of knickknacks for our new house prevent me from hiring a gardener.  And, frankly, if we were rich, we’d be hiring a cleaning lady first. 

And maybe a pool boy.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  We don’t have a pool.  But I always thought if you were rich, you were required to hire a pool boy.  No? Darn. Another myth busted.

But I digress.  (And I’m still thinkin’ about the pool boy…)

So, anyway, Lowe’s was pretty low in inventory and the few miniature evergreen trees they did have looked sort of Charlie Brown Christmas-ish.  So we passed on those.  The clerk was evidently some major horticulturist in a former life because she kept spouting Latin-sounding names at us.  Or maybe it was Swahili.  Or Greek.  I mean, who would really know the difference?

Nevertheless, she encouraged us to walk outside and see the plants, bushes and trees they had for sale.  Well, she didn’t encourage me.  If Vince hadn’t been holding my hand, I would’ve attempted to flee to the Flange and Bolt aisle as it might’ve held more appeal.  On second thought, no. No, it wouldn’t.  I’m not interested in flanges and bolts in the least.  Probably I would’ve tried to escape to the Target next door.  Yeah, that’s where I would’ve gone.  I’m all about the red bullseye.

Nevertheless, I was dragged outside where we saw a bunch of greenery.  By this point it was dark, so every plant out there looked exactly the same to me.  And they looked sort of sad.  They were droopy and losing leaves and looked like the sort of plants I would pass by in a store even though they were majorly discounted because the store was trying to unload them on some poor sap (like me) who would buy them and kill them within a couple days through no fault of their own (like me) and figure they were just a bad plant nurturer (like me).

Instead, we were assured that it was normal at this time of the year for these plants to look like half-dead specimens.  We were told that it was the best time to buy plants and plant them in the ground.  We were told they were 75% off.

Well, that did it.  Vince needed no further convincing and we loaded up a cart.  We bought some boxwoods.  And please don’t ask me what sort of boxwoods they were.  I’m lucky to have remembered the term “boxwood.”  We also bought two flowering trees.  One is supposed to have pink buds and the other white.  What kind of trees, you ask?  Hahahaha.  Aren’t you funny. 

What was even funnier, though, was watching us try to load seven boxwoods and two trees into my little car.  We looked like the Clampetts driving home with two trees hanging out the back of the trunk. 

So the plants are now sitting in their pots by the side of the garage where they will be planted into the ground this weekend.  By Vince.  Or maybe the gardener we haven’t hired.  Or the mythical pool boy. 

Whatever.  As long as the person doing the planting isn’t me.  Even at 75% off, killing boxwoods within a couple days doesn’t seem to make a lot of economical sense.

Besides, I don't have the proper equipment.  Like cute gardening gloves.  And those - whatchacallits?  Trowels.  Or spades.  Or pitchforks.  Or whatever tools you need to dig in the dirt.

Hey, at least I recognize my limitations.  Besides, I’m going to be busy this weekend.  It’s probably going to take all day to water the four house plants we have.  Unless they’re already dead.  In which case, I’ll probably need to go shopping for replacements.  I'll be easy to find.  I'll be in the Fake Houseplant aisle. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Mysterious Green Stuff That Is My Breakfast

This is my "fruit" smoothie. Yes, it's green.

So lately we’ve pared our breakfasts down to two possibilities – either bran cereal with soy milk or fruit smoothies.   Now, for the most part, I’m okay with either of these selections.  This is a far cry better than the cardboard-type cereal that Vince tried to palm off on me during one moment early in our marriage by saying, “But, Janie, it’s good for us!” 

Sorry, but I do not see how eating cardboard can possibly be good for us.

But that was then and this is now. 

Now, I do not turn up my nose when I arrive at the breakfast table that Vince has so lovingly set while I’ve been busy getting ready for work.  (He lost that coin toss early on since he leaves for work later than I.) 

He places my cup of coffee on the coaster, which is situated on the upper left corner of the placemat.  The small tin cup with the 1,000 or so vitamins and supplements we take on a daily basis is set on the upper right corner of the placemat along with a glass of cold filtered water.  And either a bowl of cereal and a spoon or my double-walled see-through “J” cup filled to the brim with a fruit smoothie and a straw are set dead center in the middle of the green glass charger.

Ah, routine.  It’s comforting to know what to expect in the morning, especially since I am not, have never been and never will be a morning person. 

In contrast, on the one morning a week I get up to fix breakfast for Vince since he works on Saturdays and I do not, the table looks like I have  haphazardly flung spoons, bowls, boxes of cereal and containers of soy milk in the general direction of our seat assignments.  That is because this is what I do.  Did I mention I am not a morning person? 

And sometimes I miss.  It is on those mornings when bran flakes litter the floor, that I sincerely wish we had a dog instead of two finicky cats.    

And, yes, it’s a very good thing that Vince leaves for work later than I most mornings.

Lately, we’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruit into our diet.  And by “we” I mean “Vince.”  I’m okay with green veggies like broccoli, sugar snap peas, beans and even spinach.  In my salads

But we’re crossing the line when I see a big bag of kale, for God’s sake, being emptied into the blender along with the strawberries, blueberries and bananas.  O.M.G.

He has tried to be sneaky about it, too, methinks.  First he started adding flax to our smoothies.  The only reason I knew he added flax was because he added too much and I was picking bits of what looked and tasted like sawdust out of my mouth. 

Then he started putting in a handful of raw spinach.  He didn’t tell me he’d put a handful of raw spinach in our smoothie that morning, however.  The only reason I knew (crack detective that I am), is that I spied on the counter the ring of cellophane used to seal the container of spinach.  Aha, I thought, there is green stuff in my smoothie!

I was all prepared not to like it – but surprisingly, it wasn’t bad.  I didn’t notice any “green” spinach-y taste and mostly tasted the sweetness of the berries and the banana.  Okay, I thought, I can handle this.

Sludge, er, fruit smoothie. Picture does NOT do it justice.
Encouraged by what he thought was my ignorance over his green food additions, Vince went a little too far.  It may simply have been that we were short on berries that day.  It may have been that he thought my salad for lunch wasn’t enough greens for me.  It may have been that Vince just likes to push the envelope.  But one day he added too much green stuff to my morning smoothie. 

And, this, my friends, was the result.  Can I just tell you, that there IS a visual appeal to food.  And this was not appealing.  The smoothie was not, well, smooth either.  It was gloppy.  It sort of oozed out.  And it was just plain nasty to look at.  Again, surprisingly, it didn’t taste as horrible as it looked.  But let me just say that it was NOT my favorite morning smoothie Vince had ever made.

Since then we’ve gotten a better blender.  And our smoothies do come out better.  But sometimes they’re still green. Or – more accurately – sort of a grayish green.  It makes them hard to drink.

So what can I do?  Stop drinking them?  Get up even earlier so I can take over blending duties?  (Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.)  Revert to pre-Vince behaviors and grab a breakfast bar and a can of Diet Coke as I rush out the door? 

Looks a little like toxic waste or something, doesn't it?!
No, that’s not a good idea.  I mean, I know this green stuff is good for me.  And I enjoy our morning ritual of sitting down at breakfast together, saying a morning prayer and downing 1,000 or so vitamins and supplements.  That’s so fun. 

So I’ve decided that my only option is to get another double-walled “J” cup.  Only  this time, I’ll make sure it’s opaque and not see-through. 

Either that - or I'll simply have to shut my eyes when I drink it.  Breakfast of Champions?  Sure - just don't look!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love and Marriage

Real life. 09/06/09

Last week was our third wedding anniversary – and I’m shocked by this.  No, silly, not that we actually made it to our third wedding anniversary.  I’m shocked by how quickly the time has flown. 

Has every day been blissful and wonderful?  Um,  s-u-r-e? 

Yeah, right.  Like there has ever been anyone ever in the history of the world that has had a blissful and wonderful marriage every single moment of every single day throughout their marriage. 

Heck, even the characters in those smarmy romance novels go through some sort of major conflict on their way to true love and happiness.  And, sure, it’s usually some nefarious villain who wants to inflict bodily harm on the heroine, so her knight in shining armor has to come to her rescue.  Or – because we’re in the age of enlightenment and us womens don’t need no man to take care of us no more – the heroine saves herself, but she knows her white knight could’ve popped the bad guy if only she’d said the word.   

Like no one in real life ever. Anywhere.
Hey, I warned you.  I used the word “smarmy” and everything.  (And apparently in the “age of enlightenment” we use poor grammar. Tsk, tsk.)

But, anyway, back to us.  And, no.  Our marriage is not perfect.  But I’ve gotta tell you, it’s pretty darn good. 

Could it be because we were older when we found each other and fell in love? Yeah, maybe. Could it be that we’ve learned from past relationships and past mistakes?  Perhaps.  

Could it be that we’re just really awesome people?  Oh, yeah.  That’s it. 

No, seriously, I think it’s because we communicate well.  Sometimes I get “quiet” and Vince – brave knight that he is – asks me what’s wrong.  And I feel safe enough to tell him.  Half the time I’m not even sure what the problem is.  But we talk it through and figure it out.    

Other times he does the guy thing of getting silent and pensive.  I’ve read that men get this way when they’re working through a problem.  They figure they are supposed to work it out on their own, so they don’t share with us what is on their minds.  Fortunately, Vince will open the vault for me and we’re able to talk about it.  Not that there are always solutions to every problem, but at least we don’t have any secrets and stand united in whatever situation that has arisen.   

The worst thing we could do would be to ignore something because we don’t want to deal with it.  As Vince says, “We don’t have lumpy carpet in our home.”  (Well, except for maybe when Twinks burrows under the area rug and peeks her little head out. But that’s not quite what Vince is talking about.)

It has been said before that communication is the key to successful relationships – and I’m sure it’ll be said again and again ad nauseam – but sometimes there is a reason things get repeated ad nauseam.   It’s because there is truth to it. 

And, yeah, so we’ve only been married three measly little years and what do we know?  But, c’mon.  I’ve known people who have had marriages fall apart in less time than that.  So at the very least we’re on the right track.

Probably it’s because Vince buys me a lot of flowers.  Doesn’t matter if some of them come from Costco – they still count.  It just lets me know he’s thinking about me.

Pretty Posies. 
So flowers help.  But, really, I think the communication thing matters a lot more than the floral thing.  

Oh, but I just remembered an even better thing: jewelry.  Sparkly jewels really, really help.  Yeah, I’m gonna go with jewelry. 

But…no.  No, I should still stick to the communication thing.  That has more weight and research behind it.

Or maybe it’s just a combination of all three?

Ah well.  No matter what it is, I’m happy to be in this marriage with my husband.  It’s good.  And we’re going to keep working on it to stay good. 

So I want to wish yet again a happy 3rd anniversary to my best friend and husband, Vince.  And happy anniversary to all of you out there who have celebrated, are celebrating or will celebrate another anniversary this year – whether it’s your first or your fortieth.  Remember that communication is the key. 

That, and lots of posies and sparkly things.  That way we can end with...

"...And they lived happily ever after."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Darn Karma

Today has been one of “those” days.  You know the ones where nothing seems to go right?  Yeah, that’s apparently been scheduled for today.

For me it started around 5 o’clock this morning when Jinx, our mirage cat, jumped up on the bed demanding my attention.  Other than Vince, no one has ever seen Jinx in real life since she scurries under the bed and hides whenever she even thinks someone might be approaching the front door.  To prove we have a second cat, we have to show evidence, which is either photo documentation – or her vet bills.

Nevertheless, at 5 o’clock in the morning, she’s pretty bold.  I think she really wanted me to get out of bed to feed her, but she has been around the block a time or two and knew that wouldn’t be happening.  So she was willing to settle for a little petting.  Problem is, at 5 o’clock in the morning, I’m not functional.  No amount of bumping her head against my hand or purring loudly into my one good ear was going to work on me.  So eventually she gave up and curled up at the bottom of the bed to catch a few winks herself.

It was at this precise moment I turned over, kicked off the covers and unintentionally punted Jinx off the bed.  I felt so bad I couldn’t fall back asleep – for about 2.3 seconds, anyway.

Karma got me back a short time later, though.  I managed to get up on time, get showered without slipping on the tiles and I even applied my makeup without spilling foundation down the front of my jacket or poking myself in the eye with my mascara wand. 

No, it was the hairspray that did me in.  Since it was not a scheduled hair-washing day, hairspray application  is mandatory.  Only I evidently hadn’t cleaned the sprayer of the bottle thoroughly the last time I cleaned it.  Because instead of a fine mist settling softly all over my hair, I got a direct spritz of spray precisely in the middle of my left eye.  Believe me when I say don’t try this at home, kids; hairspray in your eye stings!


Fortunately, the rest of the morning seemed to flow smoothly without any further mishaps, so I figured that I was paid back in full. Take that, karma!

Yeah. Right.  Not so fast there, Skippy.

So did you know that karma payback is transferable?  Seems to be.  There I was sitting in my office at lunchtime when my coworker walked in the door asking me if I’d seen what she had done.  Alas, I hadn’t.  She was walking into the building, talking on her cell phone with her purse slung over one shoulder, holding an open glass bottle of some fancy juice in the other hand.  She was also trying to open the door to enter the office.  In the midst of all this, her sunglasses start slipping off the top of her head – and she didn’t  want to stop her conversation or alert the person she was talking to that she can’t walk and chew gum at the same time (as it were), so she reaches up to grab her sunglasses with her other hand.  The one holding the open bottle of juice.  Which she then proceeds to dump all over her head, sunglasses, necklace and dress.

As I’m retelling this story, I’m SO regretting that I didn’t look out the window so I could’ve actually witnessed this spectacle.  Darn.

Anyway, I tried not to laugh – but it was a little tough looking at her with her sticky orange-flavored hair and the big juice splotch on her shoulder.  She cleaned herself off the best she could and went upstairs to her office to continue her afternoon. 

Shortly thereafter, however, she came back downstairs toting her big purse, the bigger-than-she-is backpack she carries every day and, because that’s evidently not enough storage for all her stuff, a third bag.  The bottle of juice was mysteriously absent.  She was rushing out the door on her way to collect her youngest son from school who either fell or was playing in a big mud puddle.  She needed to hose him off and put him in fresh clothes before bringing him back to school.

As she walked out the door, karma apparently figured she’d had enough, so it leapt back onto me. 

Right about then I decided I needed to hydrate myself and walked into our copy room where our water machine is.  Naturally, the bottle was empty as the last person to fill up their glass hadn’t replaced it.

(Um, that last person may or may not have been me.  But I'm not admitting to it since you can't prove it.)

Sighing in frustration, (um, mostly because no one else had felt the need to hydrate themselves and replace the bottle of water), I put down my cup and started to pull the empty bottle off the base.  Only it was stuck.  So I tried twisting it with one hand while holding the top piece of plastic down on top of the machine.  I was trying to be slow and methodical so as not to lose control of the bottle, but sure enough, the bottle suddenly popped free of the machine and smacked me right in the nose!  

I dropped the empty bottle and stood there in stunned silence for a moment as my nose started throbbing and my eyes started watering.  Fortunately, no blood was spurting out of my schnoz, so I determined that a trip to the emergency room was not warranted.

Even more fortunately, no one had witnessed this embarrassing little event, so that was a relief and I figured I was in the clear.  Of course, writing about it makes it public  knowledge, but whatever.  It’s one thing to talk about your embarrassing moments.  It’s quite another when those acts are witnessed by others who then get to spin the tale into something even more monumentally embarrassing.

Several hours have passed since the nose-bopping incident and nothing else has happened.  Maybe karma has moved on?  Knock on wood.  But, hey, I think I’ve learned my lesson.  Sorry, Jinky-Jinx.  Didn’t mean to punt you off the bed this morning.

And tomorrow morning when Jinx tries to jump on the bed for a little attention?  Yeah, she’s not gonna get that far since I’m planning to close the bedroom door tonight.

Take that, karma!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

JC's New CC

So we recently came home from a weekend away and discovered that one of the front tires on my car was flat.  The car had over 100,000 miles on it and we knew the front tires needed to be replaced.  And we’d been debating whether or not it was time to sell it and move on. 

But how do you know when that point is?  I mean, you could probably drive it for another 100,000 miles – but how much are you going to spend in pieces and parts to fix it and keep it running?  And where is the point of diminishing returns?

For me, the biggest question is: Does your husband work at a car dealership?

Since the answer to that last question is “yes,” it was a no-brainer.  And, let me tell you, it was the easiest car deal I ever had to contend with.  I drove to Vince’s office, signed my name a couple times and they handed me the key. Wow.  This is how I want to get every new car from now on!

And, yeah, okay, so I also had to hand over my credit card and put some money down on the deal – but I didn’t have time to dwell on that part too much.

In contrast, when I bought the Mazda over eight years ago in the PVE (that would be the Pre-Vince Era), I spent literally weeks online researching cars and trying to find out exactly what I should pay for the car I wanted with the options and features I desired.  

When I finally steeled myself for the trip to the actual car dealership, I went in armed with a notebook filled with my research and, because I am so lousy at math, I even had a cheat sheet of incremental percentage points over what I (and Consumer Reports and perceived the car should cost.  I was so prepared I even had the VIN number of the car I was interested in.  To make the deal as simple as possible, I had no trade-in, my financing was in place and ready to go and I just kept saying “No!” whenever they suggested something new. 

Yeah, I’m sure those folks loved me.  Fortunately, they were nice enough not to boot me out of the office or throw the key and paperwork out after me. 

But that was then and this is now.

Now I’m driving a 2013 Volkswagen CC.  It’s white. It has a beige and black two-toned leather interior.  It has really cool headlights and taillights.  And, oh happy day, it even has a Navigation System.  So now – just because I can – I sometimes turn that sucker on and press “home” and it provides me with turn-by-turn directions even if I know exactly where I am and precisely how to get home. 

It’s weird because it’s the first car I’ve ever leased and it doesn’t feel like “my” car. Instead, I feel like I’m sort of borrowing it.  This is silly because even when I purchased a car, it still wasn’t “mine” for several years until I’d paid it off.

But it’s probably better that I think of it as borrowed since I’ll think twice before painting my fingernails while stopped at a traffic light lest I accidentally drop the open bottle on the carpeted floor.  Or I might just refrain from eating that marinara-covered meatball sandwich so as to not mar the lovely beige and black leather car seat when I inevitably drop a meatball.

While Vince is not currently in my line of vision, I am quite sure he is vigorously nodding his head in agreement.  If he had his way, I wouldn’t even carry a purse or library book or briefcase or lunch bag with me every day.  And any grocery bags would be double-bagged for additional spill protection for the ride home in the trunk. 

There are a couple negatives about driving my new car.  Like, for instance, I have to worry about other drivers dinging my car door.  I can park at the far end of the parking lot, but sure as I’m sittin’ here, I would go out to the back 40 and find a crappy beater parked so close to my shiny new car that I’d have to crawl into the passenger seat and climb over the gear shift in order to get in to get away from said beater.

Another negative thing about driving my new car is that I was told that I needed to use premium fuel.  Really?  Darn.  My monthly gas budget has just increased exponentially.  I far prefer driving a car that uses plain ol ‘regular unleaded.

And, finally, a third negative about driving this new car is that this one is only a 4 cylinder as opposed to my 6-cylinder Mazda.  Sure, it has some sort of rocket booster thing-a-ma-jig on it so that it will go from 0 to 60 in mere seconds.  Blah, blah.  But it’s that first push to get it moving into traffic that is scary.  There was no hesitation whatsoever with my Mazda and I could zip into a line of cars traveling at speeds way higher than the posted speed limit without garnering the ire of my fellow commuters. 

But I’m getting used to my new CC and now know when I can safely merge into traffic without hearing the blare of horns from pissed off drivers.  And car dings are a fact of life.  I will just hope that this one’s dings are few and far between. 

Plus, a 4-cylinder engine really does get better gas mileage than a 6-cylinder.  Makes that expensive gas a little less hard to take.

And I have a Navigation System! 

Road trip, anyone?!

Friday, August 17, 2012

One of THOSE Days

Today must be Friday the 13th.  It isn’t?  Really?  ‘Cause it sure feels like it.

I woke up this morning in a relatively good mood.  I say “relatively” because no matter what time it is, I could always use another hour of sleep and I tend to wake up bleary-eyed and a teeny-tiny bit grumpy.  But it’s Friday – so I figured the day could only get better as it went along – right?

Oh, so not right.

I didn’t have to wash my hair, so that chopped a good 20 minutes off my morning routine and I showed up at the breakfast table early.  That rarely happens.  So Vince and I had a little extra time to chat and discuss our weekend plans and catch up on life.

Catching up on life is not necessarily a good thing when you’re also downing vitamins, munching on Raisin Bran and slurping coffee.  Time, you see, moves at warp speed when you think you have a few extra minutes.

Suddenly I realized I was five minutes late for my morning commute so I jumped up, grabbed my stuff and ran out the door. 

It wasn’t until I was nearly at the entrance to the freeway that I realized I left my cell phone at home.  This was surprising since (a) I never EVER leave home without it, and (b) I could’ve sworn I’d had the thing surgically attached to my body. 

Sure, I could have peeled off the road and done a u-ey and gone back home to retrieve the phone, but since I was already running behind schedule I decided to see if I could manage a whole day without my cell phone.

And, yes, smarty-pants, I did experience some dizziness, a touch of nausea and several heart palpitations at the thought of spending an ENTIRE day without my cell phone!

The first test came when I screeched to a stop behind a long line of stopped traffic as emergency vehicles and tow trucks raced along the berm to come to some motorists’ aid.  Turns out a truck had dropped a load of cement blocks on the freeway and a number of cars were unable to zig-zag around them.  There were half a dozen vehicles on the side of the road with smooshed tires. 

I’m guessing that those people were wondering if it was Friday the 13th, too.

Realizing there was no way I was going to make it to work on time, I reached for – yep, you guessed it – my cell phone.  And it wasn’t there. So now I had no way of alerting the office that I’d be a few minutes late.

Okay, not the end of the world.  I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to be hours late or anything.

Remarkably, the mess on the freeway didn’t hinder traffic too much and I was soon on my way.  I say “remarkably” because usually a single set of brake lights tapped on by a cautious driver is enough to slow down the entire platoon of commuters so that it tacks on an additional ten minutes to the commute. 

(By the way, did’ja like that?  “Platoon of commuters”?  I just made it up.  Hey, if there can be a flock of seagulls or a pride of lions, I figure there can be a platoon of commuters.)

But I digress.  As usual.

Anyway, I finally reached the office without any other delays or mishaps.  And fortunately I was only a few minutes late, so I figured the day was looking up.

That would make me wrong again, Skippy.

Once I’d gotten settled, I did a quick check of our bank accounts – something I do on a routine basis.  Dealing with the banking in our household is not for the faint of heart.  I mean, I was a single woman for a long time and I haven’t been able to give up all control by using just one joint checking and savings account.  So we have individual accounts and we have joint accounts.  My mom thinks I’m nuts, but then she has been married for over 60 years and can barely remember being single. 

Anyway, imagine my, uh, consternation, when I saw a negative balance in my checking account of over $1,000!  This is not possible, I thought.  Only I added a couple additional words for, um, let’s say, color commentary.

Apparently, I paid off a credit card, which was issued from another bank. Only I paid it off twice. So now there was a big credit on our credit card, but not enough money in my checking account.  Aargh!

You might think this was no big deal, wouldn’t you?  All I had to do was transfer funds from one account into the other to cover the deficit.  Well, sure.  And I did this. But the funds were in another bank and it usually takes 24 hours to complete the online transfer.  By then, I would’ve been hit with a $37 NSF fee.

I can’t remember the last time I had insufficient funds in my account and I didn’t want today to be the day I broke that streak, so I spent the next half hour on the phone with both banks.  Neither wanted to be accommodating and suggested that the other bank do thus-and-such to fix the problem. 

This was not helpful.

Now, I could’ve just let the second payment to the credit card bounce back as unpaid due to insufficient funds.  Then the credit card balance would’ve been zero instead of a big credit.  Plus, I would no longer have insufficient funds in my checking account.  Problem solved, right? 

Oh no.  Because I just couldn’t stand the thought of being charged that stinkin’ fee.

By the way, I was conducting all this personal business on my work phone – something I am loathe to do.  But who forgot her cell phone this morning??  Yes.  Plus, with the whole freakin’ banking industry being modernized and all, the automated system did not recognize the phone I was calling from.  So I had to jump through even more hoops to prove I was who I said I was.

Right about then I swear I heard a snarky little voice whispering in my ear, “Not a good day to forget that cell phone, was it?”

Now I could’ve done a number of things at this point.  Take a cash advance on my credit card to cover the funds and deposit it into my checking account. Withdraw cash from the savings account in another bank and deposit it in the checking account.  Go home and hide under the covers until Friday the 13th, er, 17th was over.  I mean, there were a number of options available to me.

So what did I do?  Well, I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I got all teary-eyed.  I just don’t make these sorts of mistakes – and I’m the one who has her checking account balanced to the penny.  So how dorky was it to shed tears over a measly thirty-seven dollar charge?  Because, bottom line, that’s what we’re talkin’ about here.  It’s not like the banking police were going to come and arrest me.  (I hoped, anyway.)  

But after indulging in my momentary pity party, I trotted myself over to the bank and covered the difference.  Tomorrow, of course, the online transfer will kick in and I’ll have twice as much in there.  And, of course, there is still that big credit on the credit card. 

So right about now I’m trying to talk myself out of doing a little retail therapy to get that credit card balance back to “0.”  I could have myself a whole lot of fun. 

But given how this day has gone, I suspect that the following would occur: 1) My purse would develop some inexplicable hole and the credit card would fall out and some nefarious character would swipe it and have a LOT of fun with it, and 2) That same truck that lost its load of cement blocks this morning would somehow find me on the way to the mall (since he missed me the first time) and I’d have four flat tires and no cell phone with which to call a tow truck.

So I’ve decided that my best course of action would be: 3) go home and hide under the covers until Friday the 13th, er, 17th is over.

Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.  But first I’m going to find my cell phone.  This dizziness, nausea and heart palpitations need to go away.  And next time?  Well, next time I’ll make a U-turn and head back home for the phone because I’m banking (ha) on the fact that none of this would have happened if I hadn’t forgotten my cell phone. 

That's my story anyway.  
Have a good weekend.  
But don't forget your cell phone.  
I'm serious.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Things that Bug Me

Lately I’ve been noticing that things bother me more.  Guess I’m gettin’ old and cranky, huh?  Maybe.  But with the immediacy of social media, we see the same things over and over.  And over and over again.  Ad nauseam. 

With that said, I’ve come up with a list of things that bug me. 

#1. Saying, “With that said…” or the shortened version, “That said…” 
Whenever someone says or writes either of these, my teeth grinding goes into overdrive.  I can’t remember the first time I heard the expression, but it seemed innocuous at the time.  It’s a transition. It works.  But by the time I heard it for the millionth time, it got a little old.  It’s kind of like people peppering their speech with “you know…” or “like…” or “totally…”

And, yes, I, like, totally wrote the line, “With that said, I’m coming up with a list of things that bug me” with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  It, like, you know, helps to keep me from grinding my teeth. 

#2. And while we’re on the subject of overused expressions, how about the ever-popular, “Just sayin’.” 
Ack.  Thank you for letting me know you said something.  I wouldn’t have guessed otherwise.

#3. Women who pose for pictures with their elbows bent and their hand on their waist.  This pose is everywhere.  Just look at Facebook.  And when you get a group of women together, only the two on the ends are happy because they get to pose like this.  The middle ones are probably itching to put their hands on their waist, but elbowing the chick standing next to them would probably be considered a little rude. 

Personally, I blame Hollywood and the whole red carpet thing.  Hollywood poses are everywhere these days.  But two of the worst offenders are Kim Kardashian and Snooki.  Try to find a photo of either of these, um, ladies without their hands on their waists.  I’m guessing that by now they must have a Pavlovian reaction of snapping their hand on their waist whenever they see a camera.

#4.  Making the Duck Face.  Do women really think this look is sexy?  Oh, sure, I suppose some women are able to pull it off.  But most of the duck face pictures I’ve seen just look plain silly.  Especially when some joker Photoshops big fake lips or Daffy Duck lips over the lips the poser already has. 

Marilyn Duck Lips. 
However, I do think we’re seeing the pose a little less frequently lately – possibly because it has been ridiculed so much.  And, actually, it’s not a new fad.  After all, you can Google pouty lip poses by Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Bridget Bardot.  But, like anything taken too far, it starts to look ridiculous.  Once Snooki started making the duck face, “sexy” left the building.

Whoa. Duck Face AND hand on waist. Score.
#5. Snooki.  There was a time when I didn’t know what a Snooki was.  And my life was still full and complete and, dare I say, happy.  Yet, I couldn’t possibly live in today’s society without knowing who she is.  And that bugs me.  Even worse, the fact that I’m writing about her bugs me.  All I can do now is wait for the day when people will once again ask, “What is a Snooki?”  And life will again be happy.  That. Is. All.

#6. Putting periods after every word for emphasis.  Okay, so I’m outing myself here.  I do this.  I just did it.  And while I haven’t quite gotten to the stage where it bugs me, I sense that moment on the imminent horizon. 

#7. Gas tanks.  Some are on the right side of the vehicle and some are on the left.  This bugs me.  Why?  Because I end up circling the gas station like a land shark trying to find an empty pump.  As soon as I spot one and circle around to it, someone with the gas tank on the opposite side of the car has snuck in there ahead of me. Grr. 

Hey, Auto Industry? Pick a side already and stick with it!

#8. Online shopping.  Well, actually, I’m ambivalent about this one.  I both love and hate it.  I get emails about things I never even dreamed I absolutely had to have – until I see the email or the online ad for it.  And then, of course, I realize I absolutely have to have it.  What’s worse is that they make it way too easy to order it online.  Just say no, huh?  Yeah, like that works for me…

#9. Being asked to take a survey.  Have you noticed that everyone wants you to take a survey lately?  You buy a single pack of gum at the neighborhood market and the clerk asks you to take a short survey about the service you received.  Survey requests are everywhere.  You only have to answer a few short questions online and you’ll be entered to win big prizes. Yeah, sure.  Does anyone really win these big prizes? I certainly never have.  Or if you went out to dinner, and you answer their “brief” survey, you’ll get a code you simply have to write on the receipt and you'll receive a free dessert or appetizer the next time you show up at that restaurant. 

This bugs me.  Why?  Because I can NEVER locate the receipt with the code the next time I go to that restaurant.  Or, if by some miracle I remember where I stashed it, I’ll discover that the code has expired.  Usually the day before.


About the only time I truly wish to take one of these surveys is when I’ve gotten lousy service.  Inevitably, that’s the very time I’m not asked to take a survey. Could there possibly be a correlation?

#10. Making lists of things that bug me.  Why does this bug me?  Because the list could get really, really long.  I’d be zipping along and arrive at #287 without a thought of stopping. And that makes me feel really old and cranky.  Really.  I mean, I can just see it now.  I’m going to be that crazy old lady with the gray bun, shaking her cane and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off her property.  I’ll complain about everything.  I’ll start every other sentence with, “When I was young…”  And, of course, everything will have been better back then.  Or harder.  Because if it was harder, then I must be better than these foolish young people who have it so easy.  And who don’t have anything better to do with their time than posting photos of themselves with their hands on their waist and making duck lips faces at the camera. 

Yikes.  At the rate I’m going, my status as the crazy old lady should occur sometime around the middle of next week.

Or maybe I’m already there.
Just sayin’.

(Shoot me now.)