Posted in Frabjous Friday, Wit's End

It’s Not About the Nail

Today’s Frabjous Friday offering is just downright amusing. I’m thinking the men will be loving it more than the women, but for those of us women who can laugh at our (sometimes) selves, you will love this video, too.

I know I have been guilty of requesting that my husband just listen and not “fix,” and sometimes that is SPOT ON to what is needed.

But sometimes, girls…it IS about the nail.

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Posted in Bits & Pieces

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.

Posted in Life As I Know It

Spaz Hands

Cspaz handlutch shots are key in the world of professional sports. Adam Scott is wearing the green jacket after his pivotal shots at the Masters yesterday. But I am absolutely 100% certain that if I ever had the skills to put me in that realm of sports, my spaz hands would see to it that no victory would come my way.

No sunken putt to clinch the tournament.

No 300 game in bowling.

Never mind a no-hitter.

Of course, just imagining I had the physical prowess to get to such a level is silly, but even if that was all in place, my spaz hands would ensure that I could never achieve such glory. Are you familiar with spaz hands? Well, how about jazz hands? You know, the flashing little palms upright move that adds a little panache to just about anything?

(I have no intent to PR this show—it was just the best short version of “jazz hands” I could find on YouTube. And trust me, there were some “interesting” choices!)

For me, spaz hands is like a distant cousin seventeen times removed. It’s that energy that courses through my body when I get to thinking too much in such situations, and then it hits like lightning, thereby ensuring a spastic burst when the exact opposite is needed.

So if I was indeed lined up to try for that 300 game in bowling and it came down to the last ball…I’m pretty certain my spaz hands would strike—no, not cause me to roll a strike…but come upon me and cause me to throw the ball directly into the gutter. Maybe even overhand. Cause that’s how I roll. Literally.

And my spaz hands aren’t just involved in sports. Ask my husband what it’s like to walk into a room where my back is turned. Let’s just say I’m a little jumpy. He’ll often turn the lights off and on upon entering to give me a heads up, or lately he’s taken to walking in while gently saying, “I live here…I’m your husband…don’t be startled…” Poor guy. But I just can’t help it.

As long as I have this “special” quality, it would be awesome if it burned off a bunch of calories. After all, if reaching your target heart rate is the point of cardio, then like Ellen DeGeneres says, you should be able to just stand in front of an oncoming bus to achieve maximum results. Or, for me, have someone sneak up on me. And by “sneak up,” I mean just normally walk into a room. That should do the trick.

So I have spaz hands. Yeah, I know I probably need to calm down. (And that’s exactly what a person who needs to calm down wants to hear, too. “Hey, you need to calm down,” and—like a faucet—I will just turn off the crazy and calm down. Done deal.)

On the bright side, if there ever was a burglar who came upon me, I just might be able to spaz hand him into submission—you know, just like a Taser, but with flailing arms of hysteria. Shut up. It could happen.

Oh, well—I’m a spaz. It’s just another nuance of the special crazy that I am. What’s a part of your special crazy?

Posted in Bits & Pieces

Techno Interruptus

mobile-technologyI’ve started to write this post about 37 times now. I keep getting interrupted for various reasons…my friends and I refer to it as the “Something Shiny Syndrome” —something shiny passes by, and off I go. Too often it is of the technological variety. Text…email…a thought that sends me Googling to find something out…

It is true: I suffer from Techno Interruptus. And you know what? I have a LOT of company.

Sometimes it just borders on the ridiculous. Like many years ago, when one of my nieces was getting confirmed at her church. My sister, who needed to sit along with her at the front of the church, handed me her purse. “Here—hold this.” Simple enough words, but I had no idea the embarrassment I was in for. Right in the middle of the (very quiet) service, my sister’s phone rang some obnoxious ringtone. I quickly dug it out of her purse to silence it, but it didn’t respond to any of the methods I knew to stop it. All eyes were on me to shut that damn thing up. Eventually, something I did succeeded. The church breathed a collective sigh, and my trauma was over, right? Nope.

You see, they called back.

At that point, I simply got up, walked down the aisle while ringing all the way, found a cabinet in the lobby and shoved my sister’s entire purse into it and shut the door. I gathered my dignity and walked with head held high back to my seat. In silent prayer, I asked God if it was a greater sin to choke my sister IN church, or wait until we were no longer on “official” turf. She, of course, thought it was hySTERical.

I bet lots of us have been in meetings where there’s at least one person who thinks it is totally fine to let all of his audible notifications go off throughout the entire meeting. I mean, the phone isn’t ringing, right? So what’s a little chirp here or there? Sometimes I wonder if they just like people to hear how “phone popular” they are…because why else would that be okay? And the simple answer to silence phones doesn’t always do the trick, either. I have a coworker whose vibration setting makes a sound loud enough that you might as well have it as a choice for an audible sound. And I love when he leaves it on the table and he gets a call…We all just stare at it with our heads cocked like it’s some sort of scientific wonder. (In many meetings it is a welcomed diversion, I must admit.)

Beyond those obvious stories of cell phones causing distractions, there is a subtler form of Techno Interruptus (TI), though. Like when I have texted someone a question that I would like to have the answer to, and then I get into a face-to-face conversation with someone else. The text notification goes off, and…there are times I am guilty of wanting to know the answer right then. In my mind, I’ll be distracted from listening to the person who is right in front of me and think “remember to get that as soon as you can.” But even if I don’t, there is that moment when the other person I’m talking to hears the sound and must wonder “is she going to answer that or not?” I know when it happens to me, I typically defer to the person’s phone. I’ll say, “Go ahead and get that if you need to…” and then…I wait.

And that is kind of a lame feeling. And it’s really lame when the other person chooses to answer the text and then goes back and forth for a bit and finally tells you, “Oh, it was something stupid…” and then they tell you what the “stupid” was (which was indeed stupid), but now not only have you been interrupted for something stupid, but then they’ve taken more time to summarize the stupidity for you…And by the time it’s all done, whatever you were saying that got interrupted has packed its bags and headed for the beach.

It is a struggle to not let technological accessibility become the updated tyranny of the urgent. Accessibility can be awesome…but also detrimental. I love being connected. As someone who works a flex schedule, it is a necessity for me. But that doesn’t mean that because I can be interrupted, I should be interrupted. TI is bad for connecting with the people for whom you should be present in the moment. The easy, obvious answer? Simply power down.

Power what?! Yeah, I know. But disconnecting guarantees that no notification will cause a distraction. And, since I am not a brain surgeon, I’m pretty sure that any work fallout will not cause anyone any bodily harm.

Oh, mother of pearl. I just lost my train of thought because I got an incoming text. And it’s not coming back to me, either. Well, I guess whatever absolutely wonderful sentence or two that I was going to close this post with has now evaporated. Ironic, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Posted in Life As I Know It

Making Mac and Cheese Out of Uranus

UranusMaybe I should add the subtitle “a twist on making lemonade out of lemons.” That sounds a little less questionable, don’t you think? But stick with me for a bit, and my title will make perfect sense. Or at least I hope it does, because that’s kind of my whole point.

A while ago my husband, son, and I were able to get away for a few days. Living in the Chicago area, we wanted to pick something close enough that we weren’t in the car for too much of our getaway, yet far enough away to…well, get away. After a lifetime of treating St. Louis as merely a stopover for a bite to eat, we decided that maybe we should really check it out.

On the way, we discovered the wonderful little city of Pontiac. More than just home to Pontiac Prison (for some reason, they don’t offer tours…), it also has numerous museums (free!), interesting restaurants, and a lovely old town feel. We will return.

When we finally made it to St. Louis, we had a hard time narrowing down what we wanted to see. Of course, we had to “do” the Gateway Arch, and then there’s the Riverfront and a crazy, fun place called City Museum (I’m thinking the designer is familiar with herbal refreshment and/or various pharmaceuticals), and a fun, nostalgic day trip to go to the Meramec Caverns (the light show was…wow…I’ve never quite seen anyone flip old school circuits with such passion).

Beyond that, though, there were other choices to make. One that turned out to be a far cry from our expectations was the Planet Walk in the Delmar Loop. In our tourist info, there was a brief blurb about it being a scale model of the solar system. You don’t need to know much more for a nine-year-old boy to be jazzed.

Well, but, you kinda do.

After driving the twenty minutes it took to get there, we should have known something was up when we parked and asked the attendant which way to the Planet Walk and he said, “The what??” And then when we stopped in Starbucks to ask there and they said, “The what???Uranus

It was a rather blustery day, and walking around like lost puppies was quickly losing its luster. Just as I was Googling for more info, my husband asked a guy on the street, and he pointed to a sign on the sidewalk. It said “Uranus.” It also gave some other facts about the planet…and…there you have it, my friends. Turns out that the Planet Walk is…a walk…as in on the sideWALK. As in, “Look, there is a sign that says ‘Uranus.’ Several blocks down the street, there will be another one labeled ‘Neptune.’ Please keep walking.” Uh, yeah…While it is a nice little (stress on little) supplement to window shopping, it sure as hell didn’t qualify as a destination site.

As our 9yo stood there slack-jawed at the letdown of reality, a gleaming light shone through the gloom. Across the street, there was a little restaurant called Cheese-ology. We were hungry. We love cheese. We decided to check it out.

cheese-ologyIt’s kind of like Heaven smiled and out popped Cheese-ology. The restaurant offered several delicious variations of the beloved comfort food. Dishes had choices that included Gruyere, Goat, Bleu…steak, bacon, sausage…artichoke, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes…you get the idea. They even had breadsticks fresh out of the oven in case you needed more carbs. And…here’s the clincher: they served beer. Now, people. Really. It was indeed heavenly.

We warmed up, refueled our bodies, giggled a bit, and then were able to check out a little more of what the Delmar Loop had to offer. And here’s where it all comes together, people. Had we really known what the Planet Walk is, we would have never trucked out to the Delmar Loop for it. And if we didn’t do that, then we would have never had the supremely awesome cheeseilicous experience at Cheese-ology. Turns out there was a cheese lining to our solar system of gloom.

So you see, we did indeed make mac and cheese out of Uranus.

Posted in Soapbox

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Oscars 1Every year I watch the Oscars. Some years I see only a few of the actual contending films, but I watch nonetheless. I don’t like missing out. And while I love all of the spectacle, it seems to grow more and more ridiculous and excessive every year. This year, Kristin Chenoweth’s red carpet smurfiness was…wow. She seems so sweet, and yet I had the urge to choke her to see whether her voice could get even more annoying. And the “who are you wearing?” script gets old after the first 435 times it’s asked. But what a night, right?

We love movies and we love the people who make them, but most of us don’t work in an industry that is so spectacularly awesome at patting itself on the back. Can you imagine if you did? It’s hard enough to hear the one-on-one job well done, let alone have a special night that celebrates your work. “And the Oscar for best Year-End Report goes to…” Hard to visualize, isn’t it? And even for those industries that do have an awards night of some sort, well, who would watch beyond those directly connected? Accolades from the masses are rare. We are picky supporters—even the Academy Awards did away with televising the technical awards. Not so interesting for the general population, and it was one way they could chop the length of the show down to only 17 hours.

While a night of honor is farfetched, it would be nice (or kind, even) if people who managed others were gracious with praise (because words do count!) Especially in these days of 0% raises where more and more is being asked of the work force. But too often that’s not how it works. Many of us deal with bosses who like to pinpoint the single flaw in a project rather than lift up the rest that is done well. (Do they actually teach that in management classes? Because so many people I know have a boss that uses this method. Maybe they call the class “You Missed a Spot.”)

So for us mere mortals, I guess we’re stuck finding validation through less glorious ways. As in…within ourselves. No red carpet to walk. No designer to wear (unless Levi Strauss counts). Maybe not even a boss to let us know they appreciate what we do. Just little ol’ us knowing that we did our best work and hoping it makes a difference.

Because it does.

And just so you hear it once today from the “outside world”: Thank you for the job you do. Whether you are teaching kids, plowing snow, fixing a roof, designing a building, taking care of your child at home, cleaning teeth, solving problems, serving food…whatever you do that helps you take care of yourself and those you love…you are doing important work, and you are doing it well. (I’m trusting this is the case—because if you know you can do a better job, then…do a better job!)

I’d give you a raise if I could, but all I might be able to possibly raise a bit is your spirits. Maybe.

So please accept this non-award on behalf of all the rest of the world for getting up every morning and scraping a little of the crud off of things to help make it a better place. You rock.