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

Call Me Ripley, Dammit

The swirl of life can be all-consuming. Just the regular ToDos can make one day blur into another. Throw in a few curve balls, and some days it feels like your best option is to duck. Amidst all that hubbub, it’s easy to forget to have a little fun every now and then.

This weekend was my son’s birthday party for his friends, and the main event was laser tag. As things got underway, the host said to my husband and me, “You know, you guys get to play, too.” My eyes immediately lit up, but my husband was concerned we might put a damper on the boys’ game. Of course not, I told him—besides, we’ll mainly shoot at each other! And so we suited up.

I must admit, I had some seriously ridiculous fun. The place used strobe and black lights, plus it pulsed with the intense music of a Hollywood blockbuster. I let my mind only concentrate on the moment, and it reminded me of days where running around and playing Police Woman was a whole lot of fun.

Of course, I was in heeled flip-flops, so the men had a bit of an advantage on me, and my husband definitely took me up on the “we’ll just shoot at each other part,” as he shot me continuously. No matter where I turned, there he was, blasting away. I have to think it was a kind of marital therapy for him.

Look out, boys--Ripley is here!
Look out, boys–Ripley is here!

The completion of the first round gave us our stats, and I took…last place. We had a lot of fun comparing numbers, and as we poured over the info, I saw that we were all given names as players. The boys shared theirs: Tron, Spyder, Blade, Hammer…my husband’s was Alpha…What was mine you ask? Shaggy. Shaggy. That’s right—the dude from Scooby Doo known for uttering “Zoinks!” and always being hungry and afraid. What the hell kind of fighting name was that?! No wonder I was last place. Now if I had been named Ripley, then I would have showed those stealthy 10-year-old boys who was boss! Shaggy. Yeesh.

But the bottom line is that embracing the silly is good for the soul. I was never one for being too serious, but sometimes with all of life’s responsibilities, I forget to let myself just be plain old silly. Letting the troubles of the day wait a bit while I engage in a few minutes of play helps me to better deal with those troubles when I have to let them back in.

I’m sure that those folks looking through the window of the laser tag arena and seeing a 45yo woman (and a strange man with an evil grin stalking her!) amidst a bunch of 10yo boys having their own fun must have thought me pretty wacky. And that’s okay. I’m no stranger to wacky…and I thank God for that.

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


I’m not a fan of whining (not to be confused with “wining,” of which I am totally a fan), but I’m going to indulge in it for this post. Forgive me. I know that these laments are First World, that I am very blessed, and that others have it much worse, but…can’t a girl vent a bit?

Like in the movie City Slickers, I’m ready for a do-over of 2013. I was ready for a great year…I mean, come on, look at my cheerful Facebook attitude on New Year’s Eve:

NYE wish

2012 had been a bit of a pain in the patoot, and I was ready for that lovely clean slate that somehow takes on meaning because we rip the 12th page off of a calendar. But, I gotta tell you…so far, 2013 blows. Do-over time!

Yes, yes, I know it is only mid-February, but so far in 2013 sickness has reigned supreme—including taking a shot at my husband’s 50th birthday party. After weeks of planning and preparation (not to mention hand washing that would rival Lady Macbeth’s, as I tried to make sure I didn’t get sick as the party planner), the day of the party—a party where the band my hubby plays in is supposed to rock it out—he falls ill. And thus begins roughly a month’s worth of sickness for him. And because we believe in sharing, I eventually got sick. And so did the kid (though not as badly, thank God). We have yet to completely climb out of the sickness hole, but we hope that we succeed soon.

And once I’m well, then I get to do fun things like have my gallbladder out. And maybe my knee operated on. Have I mentioned that the furnace has needed repair twice in just over a week? How about the dryer conking? The car dying?

Yeah, I know—this whining is getting annoying. Sorry. I’ll stop.

Sometimes it just feels good to put words around that “ack!!!” that you’re feeling…and then move on.

Indulging in a bit of whining doesn’t mean I’ve lost perspective—I have people in my life who have it much harder—friends with significant illnesses or losses, people who have major, challenging life decisions facing them. My struggles are nothing in comparison to theirs.

So stick your eye roll back in your socket and know that I know what you know—I know I am loaded with good things, too. And sometimes it takes walking through the manure field to realize that you’ve got people in your life ready to walk right alongside you on that stinky journey. And that makes it all stink less.

So…here’s the deal. I think I’m going to create my own sub year. It will be known as 2013B, and it will only have 10.5 months. And it starts…now.

Posted in Wit's End

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.