Garage Assail

GarageSale“This is the last time I’m having a garage sale!” has come out of my mouth at least a half dozen times, but…this time I mean it. For real. Seriously. The whole process is loathsome to me, and…I’m done.

You would be correct if you are assuming I had a garage sale this past weekend.

Yes, we made a few bucks at a time when it really comes in handy, but…it was indeed my swan song.

What about garage sales do I find dreadful? Well, it’s a bit of an anxiety trigger for me, I admit. One issue being that every sale before this last one, I have had the joy of dealing with a mom who argues with people about what excellent quality her things are and what she paid for the items when she bought them retail. She reminds me of Rocky Balboa in the corner of the boxing ring crying out, “Cut me, Mick!” so she can get back in the ring and remind the person who was looking at a toaster that “they don’t make them like that anymore,” and then proceed to explain that the toast that comes out of said toaster is delectable.

Let’s just say that my mom isn’t cut out for garage sales. And…neither am I, I realize.

Not for the same reasons, though. For me, it’s the overwhelm of culling through the stuff, hauling, setting up, closing up, setting up again, tearing down, boxing up, and giving away gsalethat is what I am pretty sure I can live without from here to eternity. With my mom laying low on this one, I thought I may have a better time, but the stress of getting “open” our first morning manifested itself in my being less than pleasant, and that’s when I realized that maybe it’s best that I live up to my vow to skirt future sales.

I chose not to mark prices on anything and just go with whatever came out of my mouth when people asked. The main goal of the sale was to purge a lot of “treasures” that had accumulated over time and were really just taking up space. I told myself that people were paying me to lighten my load to the Salvation Army drop-off. And I got rid of a mountain of stuff and made scores of people smile as they heard my pricing.

But that doesn’t mean I accepted everything. While I totally get that some people really like to bargain for their finds, I am not a fan of someone trying to quibble over something marked 25¢. Especially when it’s something for which I should legitimately have asked much more.

Perhaps that is why I decided to stand on principle with the little man that wanted this beautiful blanket for 50¢ when I had asked him for only a dollar. Even when he tried to explain to me that since he was a little man he only wanted to pay a little for the blanket, I smiled and told him, “No…I’m pretty set with the dollar.” He smiled back but didn’t seem to register what I was telling him. It may sound terrible, but in our haggle tango, I was not ready to succumb to his charm. Perhaps it was because he had shown me his wad of money when I had to break his twenty dollar bill so he could pay 25¢ for something else.

He came back later that day, and my husband saw him the next day, too. I admired his tenacity, and had he shown up at closing, I would have simply given him the darn thing (which no one else had asked about) to reward his persistence. But for whatever reason, I chose to stand my ground with him. Mom should be so proud.

Garage sales bring me to an obvious assessment: people are crazy. From the ones that don’t even turn their cars off because they are sweeping in and out looking for a specific something to those that spend loads of time debating whether to buy a decent dresser for a mere $3, it takes all kinds—and we are clearly a nation of overabundance. My dad used to say “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and that is certainly true in the garage sale world. I can’t believe how much, well—junk—left our house this past weekend. I hope our buyers are enjoying their new treasures.

When the last of the leftovers was packed away, we were exhausted but lighter. There was a definite satisfaction in having survived yet another sale. Our last sale. I mean it. Quit smirking—I’m serious.

Is This the Party to Whom I Am Speaking?

Stop callin', stop callin'...
Stop callin’, stop callin’…

One thing I lament for “today’s youth” is that the beauty of the simple prank phone call is no more. Now, I know there are ways around it, and that there’s plenty of mayhem occurring in today’s Caller ID world, but it’s not the same. While you can block your number from appearing on Caller ID…do you answer those calls? Yeah, me neither. So the opportunity for calling a neighbor to have a few innocent yet mischievous giggles just isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid.

My best friend Jen was my main partner in crime. Like most pranksters, we aimed low at the beginning but quickly graduated from the level of “Is your refrigerator running?” (yawn) and “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” (we weren’t even sure who this Prince Albert was, so we didn’t find it all that funny) to more clever—at least to us—calls.

Since we had our own “radio show” (i.e. we had a sketch comedy show that we recorded on cassette tape…man, we were cutting edge), we liked to think that we had a wide array of voices and characters at our disposal. I’m not sure how we, as 11-year-old girls, pulled off convincing men’s voices, but based on the success of our pranks, we must have been somewhat believable.

[Side note/disclaimer: if anything in these stories can be found to be illegal, then these stories are absolutely not true. Completely fictitious. If not, then never mind this disclaimer.]

One bit that we loved doing was acting as though we were from the fire department. During sleepovers, we would be up at 2am and just call someone we knew and say, “Mrs. So-and-So (that’s not really her name—because that would be an awesome last name to have, but it’s not—it’s just because Jen and I still need to maintain our cloak of anonymity even after all these years. I’d hate to have to relocate.) Anyway, we would say, “Mrs. So-and-So, this is the Mayberry (no, not really Mayberry…come on) Fire Department. Forgive me for waking you up, but fires can strike a house at 2am, and if one did, would you have an escape route planned?” Of course, Mrs. So-and-So wouldn’t know which end was up. On the one hand, she’d just been awoken by a call, but on the other hand…that call was trying to save her life. How could you get mad at that? Remarkably, she could. After a few minutes of back and forth conversation, where the “fire department” was expressing concern for her home safety plan, Mrs. So-and-So finally told me to go to hell. Jen’s convulsive giggling in the background probably wasn’t keeping a tight lid on our ruse, but…that was what it was all about.

Another fire department call that we had fun making was when our neighbors were having a big party. We called the partying neighbors and told them I was the fire chief and that we had heard they were having a big party. Did they have a permit for that party?? Jen and I almost wet ourselves laughing as we could hear the man switch phones to go to a quieter room where he could better answer “the chief’s” questions, as he worriedly told his wife. “Mr. So-and-So (no, he was not married to Mrs. So-and-So…please, quit being so literal), can you please tell me the number of people in attendance at your party?” Again, Jen and I had all we could do to keep it together while we overheard him count off bunches of people and then finally come in with a guess of “around 40.” “Well, based on the size of your house, you are just under the number where a permit would be required. Carry on.” And the very relieved man thanked me and went back to his party.

We also loved calling up people and freaking them out just a teensy bit. We had a neighborhood phone book that listed the names of the children and their ages as a way for neighbors to get to know one another (my, how times have changed in that regard, no?) We would call up strangers and act like we were related to them. “Uncle John? This is your niece Susie. How ARE you??” To which John would reply, “Uh, I don’t have a niece named Susie, you must have the wrong number…” And I would jump in with, “But Uncle John, I can’t believe you don’t remember me! Can you put Aunt Linda on the phone? Or how about one of my cousins? Alan must be around, what? 11?…” to which John would, well…freak out a bit. “Listen, I don’t know who the hell this is, but…” and then he would rage on and threaten us…you know, fun stuff.

Okay, maybe it’s better that there is Caller ID. Nah, I take that back—it was a lot of fun that was mostly harmless. Well, now that I’m all grown up (technically), I wouldn’t want my kid doing it, but, as a memory it’s harmless. And who knows, maybe Mrs. So-and-So decided to create an escape route in her house after all? Maybe these calls of ours were actually helpful. In fact, I’d like to think they made the world a slightly better place.

P.S. Bonus points if you get the reference in the title.

A Hairy Decision

baby me
Baby me.

God blessed me with a head of hair—in fact, I was born with so much hair that the nurses put a gauze bow in it for the first time my dad saw me (back in the day when dads hung out in the waiting room). My hair is thick, and it has a mind of its own.

I started going gray at 21, and I didn’t give it much thought. At 29, my “thought” was to wait to do anything about my hair until I was 40…and then I would color it and look so much younger people would think I’d had a facelift! (Good plan, Lis!) At 30, I decided to have my hair professionally colored…once…because I was getting married, and I figured a few photos might be taken. At 35, looking at photos of me in the hospital after giving birth to my son, I decided he needed a mom who didn’t look any older than she already was, so I began to color my hair via my personal stylist Ms. Clairol.

Why the hair backstory? Just to frame a little episode I had this past summer. I was in a long-hair phase (I, like many women I know, have spent my whole life either growing out my hair or thinking about getting it cut shorter). I was pretty dedicated to this phase, growing it all out for a couple years. Long, thick hair + needing to color it every three weeks (yes…that’s right…unless I want to be confused with a skunk, I need that kind of color upkeep) was wearing on me, though…but I didn’t know just how much, until “the incident.”

Early one morning, we were headed out as a family to Six Flags, and I was hustling to try and get everything ready—including myself. I was at the point where I had just put product in my hair and was getting ready to wash my hands when my son called me into his room as though a limb had just fallen off. After immediately running in to check on him and learn that the crisis involved finding a particular shirt, I gave him a little what-for, and then promptly took what was left on my hands at the time he called me and ran it through my hair. There was just one tiny little problem.

In less than a moment, I had forgotten that what I had on my hands was not hair product but liquid hand soap.

By this time, my son had left the room and my husband stood there to see me begin to twitch and wail over this recent development. He offhandedly said, “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just rinse it out?” Well, what followed was an eruption of what I later realized was “latent hair anger.” It came bubbling forth like Mt. Vesuvius. My husband stood there slack-jawed as phrases like “you have no idea what it’s like to blow dry this hair every day!” and “not to mention that I have to color it every three weeks!” shot out of my mouth. He just slowly backed out of the room and said, “Uh, okay…I’m just gonna close the door and let you be for a while…” Wise man.

I realized in that moment that maybe it was time for a change. Very soon after that I got my hair cut to shoulder length. It still is a lot of hair, but it takes less time overall to care for. Long-hair phase #258 was now over.

But the gray issue was still to be figured out. There were several shades to it, though probably less than 50 (…sorry…like I was gonna talk about this and not make a bad pun about that damn book?) I went on a fact-finding mission about what it’s like for a woman to let her hair go gray. Pros: Freedom! Time! Money! No chemicals! Cons: The process is a bitch, and you’ll look way older.

I brought it up in conversation to numerous people to hear their opinions on it. Lots of opinions. Many, many opinions. They fell into two main categories: “I think you’d look good gray” vs “Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!” Lots of food for thought.

So, you may wonder…what was my decision? To table it. I’m blessed to have hair to color–this I know. So I’m going to keep calm and color brown. For now. But who knows? Maybe Hair Vesuvius will blow again and cause another change to happen.

Do you have an opinion on the matter? I thought just maybe you might.

Ask Dad. He Knows.

Two cents' worth of shoelaces?
Two cents’ worth of shoelaces?

I fell in love with the movie It’s a Wonderful Life when I was just a little girl. Back then, they showed it numerous times during the holiday season, and it’s a safe estimate to say I’ve seen it close to 100 times…so I’m a tad familiar with it. I think most people are familiar with it, too, as well as the main themes of the movie. The ideas of “Each man’s life touches so many other lives” and “No man is a failure who has friends” are the one-two punches of the movie and still so relevant today.

But there’s lots more to be learned in this lovely movie, too—like don’t ride your shovel onto thin ice…a turntable can make one helluva rotisserie…whispering into someone’s deaf ear is a great way to admit your love without having them know it…it’s best to periodically check the floor when dancing…and the valuable tip from Uncle Billy that has served me so well in life: when drunk and in doubt, choose the middle hat.

Think you might be on your way to deliver poison? Best ask Dad.
Think you might be on your way to deliver poison? Best ask Dad.

Indeed, the film is loaded with life lessons, but there’s one in particular that I want to take a moment with, and the title of this post probably already clued you in. Ask Dad. He knows. When George is presented with the problem of delivering what he knows to be deadly “medicine,” he barges into a meeting and attempts to ask his dad what to do. Of course, later in the film you can connect the dots to know that the dad he really needs to ask about his big problems is The Dad of All, but his earthly one is pretty damned important, too. In fact, when George’s dad dies, it ends up shaping the rest of his life.

When I began my love affair with IAWL as a child, I had no idea the parallels that George Bailey and I would have, with a key one being that my dad died just about the same time of life as Peter Bailey left George. His chances to ask his dad disappeared, as did mine.

And, oh, the things I would have loved to ask my dad…Of course, plenty of serious life issues, but lots of others, too. Like how was “Oh, I trust you, it’s just your date that I don’t trust…” supposed to ever even appear fair? And why didn’t you wear shorts except for swimming? And couldn’t you have used another comparison instead of “poodle” when I got that one perm in junior high?

For the years lived without him, lots of questions from my 20s would have begun, “Dad, why do guys…?” and there’d be the specific one that asked, “What do you think of this guy?” In my 30s, I know one question would have been, “How do you like your new grandson?” And now in my 40s, I still find myself wondering, “what would Dad have thought?” about any variety of things.

But all of these questions are no longer possible to ask. So, my friends, I want to encourage you: if you still can, ask Dad—and ask Mom, too. From the silly to the serious, if you don’t ask…you’ll never know. Don’t let them take too many answers with them. After all, it IS a wonderful life, and the more we learn about and love one another, the better.

Recipe for Success

Less than a month away from the start of 2013, many of us may be thinking about goal setting for the New Year. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have it all figured out. Yep. I have the recipe for success. It’s all about proper goal setting. I don’t mean to appear smug about this, but really…I have the answer. After years of living as me, I now know what I must do to be a success at something. And I’m pretty sure I have the answer for you, too.

Choosing what you are innately good at is key to my method, and my new goals will reflect this. Let me share with you some goals that I just know I will successfully achieve: I will gain weight. I will sleep less than I should. I will let myself be easily distracted, and—as an offshoot of this, I will watch more mindless youtube videos, particularly ones of ridiculously cute puppies. I will continue to undermine my short term memory by Googling anything and everything that crosses my mind.

See?!?! These are things I can achieve! In fact, these are things I am already doing—I just haven’t intended to! So what if I make them be things I am trying to do on purpose? Yes, these are simply horribly bad goals–but imagine the boost to self confidence that I will feel when I start knocking these goals off my list one-by-one! You go, girl! You are on fire! Who knows what I might be able to achieve with a string of successes under my ever-tightening belt?!

Of course, I am familiar with failure, and there is the slight chance that I might fail here, as well…and then what to do? Here’s the added bonus to my recipe for success: failure is even better! “Oh, darn…I’ve lost another pound this week. I have failed yet again.” Yes! Failure in this plan IS an option! It could result in a slim, well-rested, and more focused me! Failure would be the new success!

Feel free to use my exciting new method in achieving your goals, too! We could start a whole wave of people who are succeeding like never before! We could change the world!

Or not.

No More Softie, Mr. Spider

I’m not the kind of girl that goes squealing for her man to kill a spider. Well, at least most days. Two days ago as I was busy getting ready for a long day when I noticed a spider tucked in the corner in the far reaches of my bathroom. Normally I would just climb up and take care of business, but I was in a hurry. I told the spider that I was giving him a reprieve—that this was his shot at freedom, and that I hoped not to see him again. Since these days it takes perhaps 1.4 seconds for me to forget something, I barely exited the bathroom before forgetting about my multi-legged visitor.

Flash forward to the next morning. While in the shower singing away–no funny microphones anymore–out of the corner of my eye I see three hairy, scary, spindly legs peeking out from the corner of my shower behind the spring rod that holds my shelves. I looked behind the rod to see into the very corner, and…holy cry. It was this huge spider with a body shape I couldn’t really make out due to the crazy legs akimbo. I gasped in sheer horror and instantaneously regretted my earlier Ms. Nice Girl approach to this damned arachnid. I mean, it was seriously ginormous. And angry looking. Not the least big appreciative of my earlier generosity. In my vulnerable state of nudity I weighed the option of just taking my handheld shower head and trying to nail the bastard. But the overly responsible side of me said, no…that I would get the wall much too wet doing so (yes, I KNOW I was in a SHOWER. Cut me some slack. I was dealing with a steroidal tarantula). Instead, I decided to keep an eye on the fiend and make sure to get him once I was in a better, dryer position to smash the crap out of him.

What followed probably should have been filmed—with generous black bars covering any sensitivities, of course. But it had to have been ridiculous to see. I would bend down to shave my legs and then do this wild convulsive move over my shoulder to keep an eye on Grizzly Adams. After one and a half legs’ worth of this kind of spasming, I did my ultra-cool move only to see…that…he…was…gone. Gone. The colorful expletives that came out of my mouth impressed even me. How could a mere second allow this demon to disappear? I looked all over…every shelf, all around the rod. He was nowhere to be found. At that point, screw wet walls—I sprayed my showerhead in that corner like an AK-47…and….nothing. No. Thing. More expletives. The fact that a large spider can reduce a grown woman into such psycho jello is amazing. And then…after several seconds—pretty nearly an eternity’s worth—the damn spider dropped onto the tub floor. Oh, I’d like to share that I collected myself and casually sprayed the mother down the drain, but I’d be being much too kind to myself. No, instead I will admit that Barney Fife was channeled through me on my final move of this incident. But he did go down the drain. And then, just to make sure, I kept spraying and spraying down the drain…wouldn’t want him clawing his way back up, right?

Of course, visions of the Demon Spider doing just that continue to haunt me. Could he still come back up? Did he have some sort of aquatic ability? Could he be so pissed that he is making it his life’s mission to come back and finish what he started? I don’t know. But let me guarantee one thing: there will be no more spider reprieves issued from this girl. Oh, no. Once was enough.