My Untimely Demise

If any of the following incidents serve as foreshadowing, I might be in for an unfortunate, untimely demise. I’d rather die when I’m around 90, from a battle of wits gone awry, but it’s out of my hands.

Here are a few reasons why I could probably die in a mortifying way.

The bounce house incident. My sister and I were fully grown and her daughter was around six. Our neighborhood was having a party in the park, complete with hot dogs, sno-cones and bounce houses, so we invited Jeni and Libby to come out for it. I can’t even remember if my niece wanted any part of the big bounce house—but Jeni and I sure did—so I tossed Libby up in it and we trailed behind.

It's all fun and games until Disney suffocates you.

It’s all fun and games until Disney suffocates you.

After getting her footing, she started to really enjoy it—jumping wildly and giggling heartily. I thought I’d crank up our good times by showing her some cool flips I had in my arsenal. My sister bounded off to the side, giving me ample room to impress. Once I got the tricks out of my system, I hopped off to the side to join Jeni and give Libby more room. On my final hop over, the bounce house shifted on its axis a bit, and instead of landing next to her, I slipped into the side seam (imagine a 1970s water-bed and the part between the “bladder” and the side frame.)

We were laughing really hard as I tried repeatedly to leap, catapult and fling my way out; but then Jeni realized that—based on the size of the blow up and the amount of strength I lost from laughing—I wasn’t going to be able to dig myself out of the crevice of death. She reached down to pull me out, but this caused a full tilt, and she quickly joined me, head first, in the valley of doom.

Now the “super fun” bounce house was 75% on its side and kids started tumbling towards us—not intentionally—and an unfortunate 10:00 news story flashed through my mind of solemn newscasters reporting injuries to several small children and two 30-somethings in a Disney Princess Bounce House.

Somehow, we acted quickly and propelled our way out, with Libby in tow. Little Doodlebop seemed unfazed, but Jeni and I were emotional wrecks on the inside. We race-walked up to Jocelyn across the park—wild-eyed and out of breath. She looked at us suspiciously before tossing some Cheetos in her mouth and saying, “I told you they’re built for kids.”

The escalator incident. Before I begin, two factions of people exist. People who think this story is funny and people who actually love me the way love was intended. I’ll go ahead and tell you that it’s a “true colors” kind of story and I remember each person who laughed before making sure I was okay.

I’d flown back home from a trip up North. I retrieved my luggage and headed to the down escalator to catch a tram to my car. It was one of those escalators with the see-through cover over it … like a tube. The genius traveler 10 steps below me had his big rolling suitcase IN FRONT of him (rookie) and when he got to the bottom, the bag didn’t make it over the lip—and it caused him to fall backwards. He was down, but of course the escalator kept moving. Since the exit was blocked by a body and luggage, the next man behind him fell backwards also. Within one second, several people in front of me had fallen and were trapped among moving metal and several tangled bags—while the sharp teeth of the escalator continued on its merry way.

It was a small pile-up and I was going to be next in the heap. I could have turned and run up the escalator to escape that outcome, but it was packed with people and bags. I stepped backwards, trying to gain even a step before I joined the mess, but an escalator full of people facing forward, going down, and trying to step UP and BACKWARDS on a relentless DOWN-MOVING escalator was causing complete mayhem. As soon as I could, I literally jumped over the four fallen men in front of me to get away from those incessant steel steps.

Women with children, still coming down and seeing the chaos, but unable to stop it or escape it, were screaming. It was awful—so scary. I was at the bottom at this point, and looking up, but also scared of what I was going to see in the melee (I was imagining fingers and hair getting stuck in the rotating linked steps.) Someone was finally able to hit the emergency stop button and people peeled themselves up and away. Bags were everywhere; kids were crying.

I headed to the (wrong) tram really shaken up and hurting, but not sure what was injured. I had blood all over the side of my jeans, by my knee, and my palms were bleeding like I’d fallen on gravel. Once I got home and surveyed the damage, I had grotesque bruises where the steel teeth of the steps had scraped down my thighs and calves. I also had some awesome bruises on my lower back and upper butt. I mean, these bruises were colossal. I felt like I’d been beat up.

escalatorcard

Side Note: I’m actually glad Instagram wasn’t around then, because I’d surely have my bruised ass on the internet—there is not one doubt in my mind.

The bug-killing incident. Last summer, we had quite a wasp/yellow jacket/hornet issue. By some people’s estimation, we didn’t actually have a situation, but because I see all of them as flying grim reapers, I took to Amazon for an answer to the nuisance. Enter The Executioner.

Battery-operated butchery.

Battery-operated butchery.

With the acquisition of The Executioner, I became a lean, mean anything-flying-with-a-stinger-killing-machine. For those of you new to this wonderment, the “strings” of the racket are actually wires with an electrical current running through them. A mobile bug zapper.

Side Note: I’m a major nature and animal lover (think more owls and bobcats, and less cat litter and dog hair) … and I really do go out of my way to take bugs outside and generally relocate all unwanted critters, as opposed to ending them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a huge tarantula stopped by unannounced. We were sitting by the pool when he let himself in the yard. We went the extra mile to gently coax him into the pool net and I ran a 1/4 mile to introduce him to a more fitting oasis, where he could mingle with his own kind. But, I’m telling you, when it comes to aggressive things with stingers (wasps, scorpions, etc.) … they’ve got to go. I don’t mess around with that crew. In fact, I’ve considered displaying their dead, ratfink body on a stake in the yard, with a sign that reads, “Anyone who thinks this was a good guy is NEXT.”

Back to the point. I’d had a fair amount of luck with The Executioner connecting with random stinging insects—not an elite performance, but nothing to be ashamed of. Enter the Cicada Killer. They’re like a honey badger with wings. They sound like a helicopter and THEY HAVE THE WORD KILLER IN THEIR NAME. Have you seen them?

They're up to 2" long and called a "ground dwelling predator wasp."

They’re up to 2″ long and called a “ground dwelling predator wasp.”

Have you been dive bombed by one for absolutely no reason? Well, I was tired of it. One evening, I decided it was time to show the little jerk what happens to evil trespassers. I heard him coming around (how could I not?) and I grabbed The Executioner and positioned my thumb over the on button. I walked out onto a wider span of grass and said, “You wanna go, son? Let’s do this” as I spun the murder racket in my hand like Roger Federer. I stopped just short of pounding my chest to signify the size of my heart.

In he zoomed, all hateful and aggressive, like my clothes were made out of cicadas. I was in a good crouched position with my racket poised, so I swung hard and, shockingly, made good contact on the first try. Down he went. I bounced like a boxer, saying, “Yeah, Punk—what now, Homie?!”

What I did not account for was his wherewithal.

He had been zapped square on his despicable face with electricity and he got up. HE GOT  UP. I hoped he’d be stunned and clumsy, but he was reinvigorated and irate. He came at me so hard that I almost zapped myself with The Executioner. I was swinging and tripping and ducking and swatting like a lunatic who’d lost control of every limb.

Fortunately, the Cicada Killer ended it by flying away; otherwise, I’m almost certain it would have ended poorly for me. Feel free to Google “cicada killer stings” to see what torment befalls a sting victim.

The entire brawl probably lasted all of 25 seconds, but you’d be surprised how many times your life can flash before your eyes in only a few seconds.

After the trauma of nearly nuking myself with my Amazon purchase, I headed back to the patio and was ill-prepared for what I saw—Jocelyn, virtually immobile as she fought for a breath in between noiseless convulsing laughter.

All I saw was the headline, “Woman underestimates tenacity of giant predator wasp; turns weapon on self. Expected to plead guilty to personal assault and battery.” But apparently  Jocelyn saw the best comedy show of her life—from the front row.

I’m doing my best to live a long and productive life—to die with dignity and without a headline. But it sure is hard when there are predators to eliminate and bounce houses to capsize.

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I’m Not That Picky

It’s not a secret that quite a few things in this life bug, bother and baffle me. We’ve united in furytwice. But the other day, I was chopping up pickles for tuna sandwiches—and making absolutely certain to keep the butts (where the stem had been) out of the mix, for people who are particular about such things—when I realized that it really all balances out. Meaning, there are lots of things I don’t mind at all, that others simply cannot abide. I noted this fact as I popped the butts of about 15 baby dills in my mouth, while doing a happy food dance.

Maybe I’m not as picky as I once thought. Let’s swan dive into some examples.

I don’t panic over banana strings, because I’m too busy eating them. They’re called phloem bundles—but I just call them “part of the banana”—and they help carry nutrients to the entire fruit. So while you’re delicately removing them with grouchy, pursed lips, my fully nourished body has moved on.

bstrings

I also don’t mind extreme heat. I was born and raised where it’s routinely over 100 degrees in the summer—and I like it. In fact, I like it to be so hot it’s hard to breathe. Bring it. I prefer dry heat, but I’m not that picky. I also love the deliciously crippling heat of saunas and steam rooms.

Side Note: My mom loves steam rooms, too. One time we were at a spa in Arizona and decided it was time for a good steam. The room was rather large and looked a lot like this:
steam room
Ours was brighter and appeared welcoming. Other women were already in the middle of their terrifying experience steam, so we found a spot and sat near each other. Our moods were good as we anxiously awaited purification. We were quietly carrying on about something—more than likely the location of our next meal—when all of a sudden, the loudest, eeriest, most horrifying sound came surging out from below the benches. I’d liken it to Darth Vader’s breathing, but about three minutes longer and maybe how he’d breathe if he had fingernails and someone was pulling them off, one by one, with needle-nose pliers. Right when the sound started, I jumped out of my skin and held both palms up high to show I wasn’t armed, then turned to look at my mother—who I thought would always protect me—but I couldn’t see her. I couldn’t even see my own body. WHERE WAS MY BODY?! It was like a thousand angry cumulus clouds had filled the room. The sound, plus the absolute blindness—and truly not knowing if something had gone awry in the bowels of the generator—had me disoriented and confused. Just when I was about to assume the fetal position and re-invite Jesus into my heart, the steam stopped. I could sort of see the door, and soon, a few faces even came into view. I looked to my left and my mom was sitting straight up, bug-eyed, with both hands on her heart. Once we made eye contact and blinked hard a few times, we died out laughing. Then we held each other and promised to never let go. Then we remembered food was next on the itinerary, and the joy was back.

We needed comfort.

We needed comfort.

I’m guessing this isn’t common, but I like to listen to songs on repeat. If I fully and completely love a song, I can literally have it on repeat for several days. However, I never re-read books—ever—even ones I dearly love. I have zero desire to re-read a story I’ve already fictitiously experienced. I’m sure these two things don’t jive, but it’s my reality. I also never re-watch movies. Wait—that’s not true. I forgot about Dumb & Dumber. And Tommy Boy. And Knotting Hill. Oh, never mind; I was younger then. These days it would feel like such a waste of precious time to re-watch a movie.

And now I’m probably going to make some of you mad. So if you have a short fuse or feel defensive over your slothful ways, you might want to go stand by that sink of dirty dishes and count to ten. Here goes.

I enjoy cleaning. The house, the garage, the porch, the car. I love trimming trees and pruning hedges. I like putting away clean laundry. I like taking out the trash. I like sweeping off the patio. Certain tasks are more rewarding than others, and I especially delight in the ones where I can see marked improvement and revel in the visual appeal of orderliness. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind, so I love making—and keeping—things neat.

Order creates harmony and happiness in my brain synapses, so cleaning doesn’t feel like a chore to me.

Side Note: This is one of the many reasons I’d find driving a tractor or running a lawn service more fulfilling than wordsmithing Hello Kitty dresses. Plowing a field, mowing, landscaping—something where I can see progress—satisfies my being on a cellular level.

Side Note For The Side Note: My friend text the other morning and said she stopped to fill up on her way to work and saw a bunch of lawn guys jump out of a truck. She found herself looking at them longingly, like TAKE ME WITH YOU. She also has a good job—the kind we’re supposed to want—but there she was, looking dreamily at the crew and wanting to jump in the back of the pick-up with her own bag of Takis. She thought I’d think she was crazy, but I told her, “Shut. Up.” the way I do when she texts me pics of good food, because, I. KNOW. AND. I. WANTS.

This plus this equals YES PLEASE.

This plus this equals YES PLEASE.

Hand in hand with cleaning is this: organization soothes my soul. I love the satisfaction I get from changing a light bulb, putting new batteries in a flashlight, charging my Fitbit and cleaning out a junk drawer (I’m almost totally positive I don’t need the gas bill from 2012 or those tiny, random screws or 2-year old lip balm I never liked to begin with.) I love adding new passwords to my master file and feeling like I have my affairs in order. Disorder weighs on me—I can feel it physically. I have approximately umpteen thousand trillion photos and videos saved across 3 hard drives and the Backblaze cloud—and they’re mostly organized by date and event—but I also have lots of duplicates because of edits and photo albums. It soothes me that they’re safe, but weighs heavily on me that they’re not fully organized the way my brain wants them to be.

Side Note: At any given time, if someone thinks I look off my game and asks what’s wrong, it’s probably just that I need to organize the pantry or pack for a trip. Nothing is wrong, I’m just mentally tidying up—which often times presents itself as a serious face.

Please don’t get physical with me, but I also love waking up early on weekends. I know that’s not popular, but for me, it just means I have more time to do things I love. An extra hour or two allows me to make the most of every minute not spent at my work computer. If I’m asleep, I’m just dreaming of life, but if I’m awake, I’m actually living it—and that makes me happy.

I drive 40-45 minutes to work each day—each way—and I don’t mind it at all. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Reading is fuel to my soul and my commute allows me to get through exponentially more books than I would if I just read before bed. I actually look forward to getting in my car each day, so I can get back to my story.

audible

I know many people who just hate certain words. I have to say that, while I completely and irrationally despise the word “tasty” … I’m not as passionately disgusted by “moist” as a lot of people I know and love. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it or use it, but I don’t run away plugging my ears either.

Side Note: One time, my sister and I were discussing words we dislike and most of the usual suspects came up (ointment, panties, goiter), and then she said, “I HATE the word duvet.” I just laughed like, “Duvet? You hate duvet? You actually have an opinion about duvet?” She got more and more worked up the more she considered this “obnoxious” word. I was becoming weak from laughter when my niece—just as serious as her mom—chimed in, “I can’t stand the word “elsewhere.” I decided they were two peas in a pod—just two peas hating-random-words-they’d-have-a-hard-time-escaping-in-this-life in a pod. Just two ointment-hating peas in a moist, tasty pod.

Sorry, I’ll go now. But not before I share the greatest comment section of all time—please enjoy all 2,800 and thank me later.

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Meant To Be

Have you ever thought you were destined for something? Do you possess unconfirmed, yet irrefutable knowledge that a certain existence is meant for you?

Me, too.

Through all the iterations of life, I’ve never shaken the idea that I’m meant to be BFF’s with a celebrity. And when it happens, it’ll be so organic—and that’s why it’ll work.

I’m not positive how it’ll go down, but I have a pretty good idea. I’ll be using the restroom at a random Starbucks or Vitamin Shoppe and just as I’m wrapping up and about to flush, I’ll hear, “Ouch! Oh no!” coming from a few stalls down. Then I’ll hear whimpering and some pretty ambitious swearing.

cubedoubletake

I’ll be able to tell no one’s around but me and I’ll contemplate asking if she’s OK or just slipping out without washing my hands—ever mindful that wiping my hands on my jeans doesn’t actually kill germs—but knowing it might be worth the risk, since I just can’t be sure what I’m walking into. Is there some sort of embarrassing pain going on in there that I’ll never be able to un-see?

Then the swearing will become so impressive—in both creativity and delivery—that I’ll have to know more.

“Hey, uh—you OK in there?”
“I … don’t really think so.”
“How can I, I mean, do you want help?”
“Uh. Yeah? Could you maybe crawl under the stall door? I’m a little … I’m stuck.”

I’ll look around, trying to glean to the best of my knowledge, if I’m on the Ellen-Cam. I’ll see nothing but a fragrance shooter and decide I’m going in.

Once I complete my acrobatic entrance, I’ll see that this woman is stuck in the only way someone could get stuck if it was her worst day on Earth. She’ll be facing the back wall, left foot firmly on the ground, with her right leg submerged and her 4” heel fully wedged in the base of the bowl—toilet water up to her calf. Her purse will be draped embarrassingly tight around her neck—though safely suspended above the water.

I’ll laugh to myself because I do the same thing when there is no hook.

Her head will be down as she tries to avoid eye contact.

I’ll press my lips together to stifle a laugh, while deciding the best way to extract her.

She’ll begin to speak without looking up, “I always knew that karate kicking the flusher would bite me in the ass one day. Please, please—I’m begging you not to tweet this.”

Her request will interrupt the tweet I’m constructing in my head. I’ll reply quickly, “I’m only mind-tweeting. Why would I actually tweet this?!”

And she’ll look up … and it’ll be Tina Fey.

tinafeyyep

I’ll actually jump backwards a bit, hit the stall door and automatically say, “Blurgh!” Then I’ll spring into action and never stop talking while I attempt to loosen her from the grips of humiliation. I’ll no longer feel the need to laugh because I’ll have gone into protection mode.

That is, until we hear someone come in, making us keenly aware of our scene behind the stall door. We’ll both realize the utter absurdity of it all and know we’re going to explode with laughter (hers from stress hysteria, mine from regular hysteria), so we’ll cover our mouths, silent shake laughing until we have tears running down our cheeks.

Once we’re alone, I’ll finally get her loose by breaking the strap on her heel.

And this is how it’ll start. I’ll find out she’s filming a movie in town and on an afternoon break. I’ll offer to run her to my house or the mall … and for reasons we’ll later laugh about, she’ll accept.

I’ll joke about my Ford Escape—telling her to get ready for a pretty sweet ride and let her know we’ll be rollin’ on 16’s. I’ll ask her to keep her envy levels locked down when she sees bird droppings all over my windshield.

I won’t even have the chance to pretend I’m anything but super average, because as soon as we get in the car, I’ll remember my gas light is on. Yes, QuickTrip will be the first stop with my A-lister. Fantastic. I’ll pop my head in as I pump gas and ask if I can get her a Slim Jim or some pretzels. She’ll say she’s good and I’ll offer to get us Lotto numbers, impressing upon her the importance of getting in on the 14 million dollar jackpot—before I remember she’s worth 45 million. I’ll then ask her to get me Lotto numbers. And some Funyuns.

Once we’re gassed up and ready to rock, I’ll ask her how I can help.

“What size of shoes do you wear?” I’ll say, “7.5” and she’ll start clapping and light-squealing with the knowledge and relief that we share a shoe size.

“Uh, tap the brake there Liz Lemon. I don’t own any Louboutins.”

“Oh please,” she’ll wave, “Any heels will do!”

I’ll stare at her in an “we’re at an impasse” kind of way.

“I’m serious! Any shoes will do, promise!”

“If you say so. I hope you like Sperry and Nike. I also hope you’re good at living with regret—because I’m probably the only chick who won’t have something you like!”

“Um, Anna? You rescued me from public toilet water. My regret level is none percent. Besides, if I had my choice, I’d live in Chucks, so I’m sure we’ll be fine!”

She’ll let me know she doesn’t have to be back to the set for three hours, so we’ll fish around for something she can wear and spend the rest of the time talking over cold beers. One of the things we’ll recall down the road, that solidified us as friends, will be me reaching for wine (assuming it’s her poison) and her asking, “Actually, do you have any beer?”

I’ll take her to the garage to show her our beer fridge.

Yes, we have beer.

Yes, we have beer.

We’ll talk and sip for a couple of hours and what will touch me the most is how equally interested she is in my very average life as I am in hers.

We’ll bemoan having to get her back to the set, but we’ll also just “know” we’re friends now. We’ll have clicked and it’ll be as natural as anything—the connection, the tenor of our conversations, the ebb and flow, the similarities in our likes and dislikes. She’ll ask if I like to travel and if I’d be up for somewhat short-notice trips to various things. I’ll say, “I don’t know. Let me check with my secretary.” Then I’ll say, “Yep!”

We’ll carry on a decades-long friendship of her coming out my way for fuss-free time off and me meeting up with her for occasional premieres and annual get-aways with our families. I’ll teach her how to cook and she’ll teach me how to pose for photographers. I’ll show her what a beautifully normal life looks like and she’ll give me peeks into the fascinating, yet a-little-goes-a-long-way, Hollywood scene. She’ll even use some of my lines in her movies, then remind me of it when I don’t want to let her pay for my airfare.

I’ll get to meet Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. I’ll tell them about a movie idea I’ve been sorting out for years and they’ll exchange a bona fide look of genuine intrigue (Amy with her chin-down-head-tilted look and Maya with her chin-up-looking-down-the-bridge-of-her-nose look) and I’ll know I’m onto something. Little Alice will take a shine to Jocelyn and begin mimicking her every move and calling her Aunt LaLa—for reasons we’ll never know.

Tina's Mini.  photo cred: INFDaily

Alice—Tina’s Mini.
photo cred: INFDaily

I’ll always marvel at—and appreciate that—she’ll seem just as interested in the new content management system we’re rolling out at work, as I am in her stories about Jason Batemen’s practical jokes on set. She’ll say things like, “Some of those gaffes are his buddies from his Silver Spoons days and he just torments them in every way imaginable. Like the other morning, he …” and I’ll say, “Shut. UP. That’s freakin’ hysterical. It reminds me in no way of the conversation I had with an assistant buyer today, where she wanted us to add inseam measurements to 4,000 pairs of jeans by Friday.” I’ll be teasing, but then she’ll ask, “What’s up Katie’s ass?” and I’ll smile at her remembering her name.

Since we text a lot and I’m her number one get-away-from-it-all friend, I’ll put her in my phone as “Granny” … so as to not shout my good fortune or blow her cover. She’ll tell me repeatedly that she doesn’t even care anymore; but, I’ll be so into the game by then that I refuse to change. I’ll love getting a spectacularly funny text from her when I’m at a baby shower with co-workers, because they’ll be curious and I’ll just say, “Oh, it’s just Granny. She’s a hoot.”

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Dr. Noticer, PhD

I’m very visual. I need to put a face to a person. Whether someone is telling me about their crush, their nephew or the grown woman wearing NASCAR pajamas at Kroger, I almost always ask for a physical description.

Side Note: Loosely, what I’m looking for here is height, frame, hair color/style and a general consensus of appeal. (example: 6′, athletic build, wavy brown hair, a little above average) See? Nice and concise, but you get a very workable visual of this character. You may wonder why “appeal” is in the mix. It’s in there because typically, if someone says a guy is 6-feet, with wavy brown hair and an athletic build, you’d say, “Oh—so attractive, right?” Too often, that’s followed with, “No, not at all. His teeth were kinda jacked and his complexion had seen better days. He also had three tears tattooed down his cheekbone.”

The weird thing about my need for a visual is that I tend to be more curious when the situation is negative. Like at work, if I’m exchanging emails with someone I don’t know—and I don’t care for her tone (or grammar)—I immediately go into our associate database to see who I’m dealing with. More often than not, as soon as the picture pops up, I just nod in victory like, “Yep. No surprises there.”

Please know that while I’m not proud of my ways, my conscience is mostly clear because I accept that it goes both ways. I don’t pretend that someone looks me up and goes, “Oh! I’m a fool! She’s delightful!” Actually, I don’t pretend that anyone else even looks people up to satisfy their curiosity and justify their irritation.

Just last week, I had a somewhat pointed email exchange with someone from another department. I couldn’t see her head shot fast enough. Sure as the sun rises in the East, her image popped up and I immediately thought, “Yep, a bitty, just like I thought.”

Side Note: My mom had a few off-shoot cuss words when I was little. Bitty was a favorite, as was ninny … “What a little ninny!” I used to secretly love it when she’d accidentally say “shit” and immediately turn it into, “shitawahoo,” like any of us kids thought that was a legitimate word or place.

Did you mean Shine Yahoo, Moma?

Did you mean Shine Yahoo, Moma?

When I’m mad at another driver, I just have to see him or her so I can put a face to my rage. I can’t enjoy my ride until I see.that.face. And so often I’m like, “Ugh, that’s what I THOUGHT.” Rarely do I back down from my disapproval based on the visual. There is something satisfying about being irked by a careless driver, then seeing his dumb, selfish face as a reward.

When I make the grave error of reading comment sections online, I have to imagine what each and every troll looks like, in order to even halfway assuage my disgust with their ignorance and recklessness. Imagining they are greasy, fat men in ambitiously over-sized tighty-whities, living in their Grandmother’s dank basement, eating a chili dog with one hand and typing with the other, is the only way I can self-soothe. I simply cannot believe that the vast majority of people I know, or come across on this planet, would ever write the things these dopes write in comment sections. If you tell me otherwise, I’ll have no option but to remove myself from society.

Peace out.

Peace out.

Lastly, when I read novels, I have to associate a character with an actor or singer if the author doesn’t provide me with a clear visual. I just have to know who I’m working with or my brain bounces around trying to place people.

But then, there is this.

I, in turn, am the worst at describing people on the fly. I’m a BIG TIME noticer in so many ways, but I often struggle to describe a person when asked. This just happened yesterday:
Clerk: Thanks for calling. This is Lindsey, how may I help you?
Me: Hi—I was just in there and I’m wondering if you could hold an item for me?
Clerk: Sure, who was it that helped you?
Me: Uhhh, a girl—a lady?
Clerk: Ooo-kaaay. Did she have blonde hair?
Me: Uhh, I’m not sure. It might’ve been longish though.
Clerk: Tell ya what, just let me know what item you need and I’ll go track it down.

The problem is that the only things that popped into my head, when she asked who helped me, were wholly inappropriate.
The Worst Me: Hi—I was just in there and I’m wondering if you could hold an item for me?
Clerk: Sure, who was it that helped you?
The Worst Me: A short, sturdy lady with nondescript hair, large gums and sausage fingers.

I know! But I can’t be the only one who has had to stop herself from describing someone in an unflattering way—even if that way would actually pinpoint the person quite efficiently.

Me: There’s a lady I pass by a lot on the 3rd floor—over by the big conference room—who is so sweet.
Co-worker: Which wing?
Me: Ours.
Co-Worker: How is she sweet?
Me: She just always smiles like we know each other and says hello without fail, even when I see her more than once in a given day.
Co-worker: Hmm, what does she look like?
Me: Oh, she’s about 5’5” and really homely. She has no shoulders, wears Little House on the Prairie dresses and needs about 6 inches off her hair.
Co-worker: Oh! Her! She’s nice to me, too!

back roads

But the truth is, my failure to properly describe someone has been pointed out to me more than once. (“He was a male, with hair and he had a voice” hasn’t garnered a lot of praise.)

It’s bizarre, because I can tell you about someone’s personality, tendencies and quirks, but I rarely remember the color of her hair. I can mimic and impersonate the finest nuances of certain people quite well (for an amateur), but I don’t always notice what they’re wearing.

Side Note: I grew up around some smokers and I used to watch my aunt obsessively, because I was fascinated with the process of it all—the technique and routine it required. I got so good at imitating her that I took to picking opportune moments (i.e. moments when it was least expected and most mortifying for my parents) to reach for a pack of smokes, tap them on my palm, pull one out, place it between my lips, and through squinted eyes, fake light it with my thumb. Then I’d take a long, deep pull—before removing it with my scissored index and middle finger—and blow pretend smoke out of the side of my mouth, in an effort to keep the make-believe smoke away from the guests. If there was enough time before my mom or dad snatched the cig away from me, I’d delight in pretending someone said something funny and I’d laugh-blow smoke out like a seasoned toker. Everyone agreed that I truly looked like I’d smoked for years, even though I was only nine. (I still do it today, when the opportunity presents itself.) I used to like to put the unlit cigarette between my lips and let it kind of hang loosely from my mouth as I pretended to fix something that required both hands. I’d squint as the fictitious smoke assaulted my eyes—then I’d pull the ciggy out, exhale dramatically and place it back between my lips to work some more.

Side Note Addendum: I never said I was normal. Remember, when I was little, I liked to face backwards in the backseat of the car and—if there was a trailing driver looking at me—pretend to be having a heated argument with my parents. I have no idea why that lie appealed into me. Was it the nicotine?

A recent conversation:
Me: Hey, one of the neighbors came by when you were running and asked where we got our rose bushes.
Jocelyn: Guy or girl?
Me: A guy. He had a dog with him.
Jocelyn: A chocolate lab with a yellow plaid leash?
Me: *stare* I don’t know. The dog was big and brown.
Jocelyn: Oh, that’s the neighbor who works at a dealership—the one who drinks IPA and whose brother visits all the time.
Me: *stare* How do you know this?
Jocelyn: Because I pay attention! Haven’t you noticed that he has a different Mercedes every month? And sometimes when I run, he’s washing one of them and drinking a Stone IPA. Oh, and his brother looks just like him!

Hello! We're not saving lives here!

Hello! We’re not saving lives here!

So here is my take-away.

  • I need to practice noticing clothes and hairstyles as much as I notice idiosyncrasies.
  • If I notice someone has a wonky eye, I need to make sure I also notice something I can actually speak out loud to describe them.
  • I need to come to terms with the fact that “brown hair, medium build and two eyes” are not sufficient descriptors.
  • I can’t describe someone by saying, “She’s a nervous-laugher whose two crutch phrases are ‘Does that make sense?’ and ‘At the end of the day'” … because most people will say, “Huh? But what does she LOOK LIKE, you nut job?!”

I like to believe that being a Behavioral Noticer is more prestigious than a Physical Noticer, but it actually gets me in hot water from time to time. I’ll say to someone, “Have you ever noticed how Rick says ‘when that’ when he actually just means ‘when?'” And two weeks later, she’ll grab my elbow and pull me off to the side and whisper-growl, “Hey thanks a whole shit ton for pointing that out about Rick—now I can’t even concentrate in meetings because it’s all I notice!”

I’ll quietly remove her clenched hand from my elbow and say, “It’s ‘shitawahoo ton’, thank you very much … and you’re welcome.”

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Voluntary Torture

Last week I woke up with a crick in my neck. Or maybe it was in my shoulder or trapezii. I’m not sure—but it was something in my upper third. I couldn’t pinpoint the origin of my suffering; I just knew it kept me from break dancing or rolling my neck when I told someone off. I tried to regain mobility by stretching and pulling and complaining—but, to no avail. It was time for Happy Feet.

Happy Feet is a massage place we like to visit when we fancy a proper mauling. Its name is deceptive, as they specialize in total body massage—not just feet. You can opt for hour-long packages that divide time between your feet and body in a number of ways. I always do the 30/30, because, while I do enjoy a good foot and lower leg rub, enough is enough.
… keep reading

I’m A Banana

If you’re like me, you have seasons of carefree living and seasons of introspection. I think our soul knows that looking inward and facing hard truths is something we can only endure occasionally. That occasion for me, was last week—on a Tuesday of all days. After taking a short quiz, I found out that if I was a car, I’d be a Volvo Station Wagon.

It’s simply not true. I’m a spirited and reliable Volkswagen Beetle, and I’ve known this since I was a 12. I think the discouraging station wagon result came from my preference to read, rather than watch Hoarders, and to cook, rather than drive through Taco Bell. I guess favoring a clean house and order in my life automatically separates me from my spunky, resilient Beetle persona? Maybe my somewhat abnormal love of spring cleaning catapults me into this sensible, rule-following ride? … keep reading

Patience Cards™

T: West, can you spare a few Patience Cards™?
Me: Sure, what’s up?
T: My mom called and they’re having issues with their router. She asked if I could come help my dad sort it out.
Me: *sympathetic silence* Please take what you need.
T: I wouldn’t ask, but I just loaned my sister my last two PCs™ because our cousin needs help with her resume.
Me: What’s mine is yours. I have nothing in the foreseeable future that necessitates any, so take ‘em. Godspeed.

Patience Cards™ were born out of a desire to be patient with people you love. … keep reading

I Peel Bananas Wrong

The internet recently brought to my attention that I peel bananas wrong. I watched the video intently, as some guy demonstrated the right way to do it (i.e. the way a monkey does it.) I made a mental note to try this method ASAP, as I’m not in the business of purposefully doing things wrong.

Side Note: Actually, sometimes I am. I really do know that when someone asks how I’m doing, I should say, “I’m doing well” … but I just can’t. I’m a, “Doing good!” kind of chick. So the other day, an unmistakably pretentious woman rang up my bill and asked how I was doing, and when I responded, “Doing good, how about you?” she made a big point of saying, “I’m doing very well, thank you.” I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “Good, good—glad you’re good. That’s good.” I could literally see how repelled she was—and it delighted me.

Anyway, before I had a chance to test run the new (right) way to peel a banana, the internet told me I also fold fitted sheets wrong.

You don’t say? So, good intentions, plus a half-hearted attempt at a 90-degree corner, followed by frustrated, hapless rolling isn’t right? I had no idea.

sheets

Just as I was mumbling to myself, “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here,” a new article popped up and informed me that I wash my hair wrong.

I do?! If it’s because I don’t wash, rinse, repeat, then I reject that. What a racket.

That’s not all. I breathe wrong. I eat chicken wings wrong. I shower wrong. I open Tic Tacs wrong. I eat pomegranates wrong. And just to add insult to injury, I pack my suitcase wrong and I boil eggs wrong.

Getting called out hurt. And since misery loves company, I think I need to call some of you out. I’ll try to be gentle, but sometimes the truth is a little painful. Let’s dive in.

You use Facebook wrong.

If you don’t see a striking distinction between Facebook and Google, then I’m talking to you.

Example #1:
Status Update: Hey Facebook Family! Do suppositories help nausea?

Google actually welcomes this inquiry.

Google actually welcomes this inquiry.

Example #3 (I didn’t label this one #2 because that’s too easy)
Status Update: Crazy Mom concern … Tanner’s deuce nuggets are green. #momprobs #help

Oh, look who has answers!

Oh, look who has answers!

Example #4:
What time do The Oscars start?

Wow, who knew Google was so all-knowing?

Wow, who knew Google was so all-knowing?

You use your imagination wrong.

You let your imagination run wild with the calamity that will “surely” ensue if you chase your dream job. You imagine failure and ridicule. You see all your naysayers patronize you with condescending head shakes. You rehearse an exit plan before you even take one step.

Yet.

There you are, walking out of a public restroom—that other disgusting humans have used—without washing your hands. I’m convinced that people who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, simply are not using their imaginations properly.

The sooner you accept that human beings are disgusting, the better off you’ll be. If you think each person who used the public restroom before you, walked in with pristine hygiene, didn’t touch anything, hovered carefully, then made a crisp, clean exit, you are not using your imagination right. PEOPLE ARE GROSS. Know this. Accept this. Use this information to make yourself less gross.

You also give your imagination sole jurisdiction over your love life. You’re in love with someone but too scared to confess your feelings, because you imagine losing the friendship or being rejected. You go to all the terrible places in your mind where humiliation and abandonment live.

Yet.

There you are, angrily tailgating a car at 70 mph. Where is that over-active imagination now? Why isn’t it reminding you that a single wrong move by one of the other 20 drivers—also speeding down the freeway—could end it all?

You exercise wrong.

You might not realize it, but all those kettle bell and crossfit workouts you do in the gym aren’t properly preparing your body for the rigors of real life.

If you have ever said or heard one of these statements, then you already know that you’re as wrong as a hairless cat.

  • I made the mistake of bowling at my son’s birthday party and was then unable to feed myself the next day.
  • We picked weeds on Saturday and I feel like I should be in a full body cast.
  • I sanded and refinished a dresser this weekend and I’m sore in places I didn’t know existed.
  • My daughter wanted to practice pitching after school, so I played catcher and my lower body is so sore I can’t sit down without a cane.

You save time wrong.

If you believe in your heart of hearts that typing “ur” instead of “your” is buying you precious minutes, then you don’t understand clocks.

Also, to the married guys, replying to a thoughtfully written out text with “k” saves a second or two in the moment, but later costs you dearly when you’re sleeping on the couch.

If you take your clothes out of the dryer and throw them into a laundry basket or the “clean clothes pile” (because it takes too long to fold and put them away), then you have an unsound comprehension of time. Yes, it takes only three seconds to toss them in a basket, but then it takes a million frustrating minutes each morning to find what you’re looking for and make it presentable to wear. I know you can grasp simple cause and effect!

math

You ask for attention wrong.

I’ve talked about Vaguebooking before, but have yet to see a reduction in these blatant cries for attention on my Facebook newsfeed:

Status Update: What else could go wrong?
Status Update: I have to stay strong; it’s the only choice I’ve got.
Status Update: One more week!

Side Note: Sometimes I see “Unspoken prayer request, please” but I don’t consider that vaguebooking, because it’s relatively overt. People needing privacy for certain matters doesn’t negate their belief in the power of prayer. But I’ll be honest, until fairly recently, I was pretty inept at handling these vague prayer requests—that is, until I realized a prayer doesn’t have to be perfect to be blessed.

But before I honed my generic praying skills, I pretty much sounded like, “Dear Lord, please help Lacy to … no wait, please keep Lacy from … ugh, please show Lacy the … crap, please don’t let Lacy … dang it, please reveal to Lacy … OH, FOR THE LOVE OF YOU, PLEASE FREAKIN’ HELP LACY!”

I think most of us know that what happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas. Probably the only place that slogan is true is here, “What happens online stays online.” So go on an attention-seeking voyage across the interwebs by telling the world everything you do and think (highlighted by how much you drank, how stupid your boss is, and who all was involved), but just remember that the internet is not a diary you can toss into a bonfire when you grow up, wise up and sober up.

OK, last Facebook thing (for today). Changing your profile pic back and forth between two pics is like telling the same joke again so you can re-hear the laughter. To the friends of the frequent-profile-pic-swapper-fishing-for-likes-with-an-undisguised-lure, please don’t take the bait. It’s up to us to end the attention-seeking cycle!

Side Note: I have such an aversion to attention seekers that I’ve crowned myself “Attention Seeker Destroyer.” I felt pretty good about my abilities until last year when one of my younger nephews taught me a lesson.

He’s extremely bright and a very early reader. I talked him into reading me a book, but when I curled up with him, he proceeded to change nearly every word in the precious story to some form of bodily function. And this is tough for me, because I don’t like or say the p-word, but allow me to give you an example:

“Dexter rode his poopy bike to the poop store so he could buy some poop for his poopy family. He pooped all the way there and had a wonderful poopy day making poop sandwiches to feed his poopy brother.”

After the third p-word, I realized what was going on, so I pretended to love his rendition, nodding in affirmation and encouraging him audibly. I figured I’d stop that little rascal in his tracks. Nope. He elevated his game by bringing in every other form of bodily grotesqueness known to man, and combined them in such a way that I was nauseous and had to call our reading session off a bit early.

I guess I aunt wrong.

What do you do wrong?

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Fear Factor

I think of myself as pretty courageous. I mean, I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I’m also not afraid to take some risks or speak up when it’s difficult. I’ve lived all over the country and never hesitated to venture out on my own and explore new places.

Side Note: There was that one time, years ago, when I was driving from Indiana to Rochester, Michigan and my low fuel light came on. No problem, I’ll just pull into this convenience store and gas up. WRONG. The clerk came out and told me to keep moving. I guess being 24 and irresistible in Detroit after dark isn’t a great combination. What’s that you say? I am resistible? Noted.

But back to the point. I’d say I’m pretty brave as a whole. There are, however, some things that scare the living daylights out of me. I should say tornadoes and death row, but I’m actually more scared at work when I pull open the restroom door to leave and someone’s coming in at the exact same time. Full. on. fright. with scary jazz hands and heart palps.

It’s also no secret that my sympathy pains are second-to-none, which frightens me a great deal during the Winter Olympics. For this reason, I’ve had to take breaks during both the moguls and Bob Costas’ commentary. I simply cannot abide a torn ACL or pink eye right now.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Another thing that scares me lifeless is turning on my iPhone camera, and being met unexpectedly by a grotesque person I’ve never seen before: me. Why is my camera in front-facing mode and when did I become a sullen grumpy gus who super-sized one too many #3’s at Mickie D’s? What the WHAT is up with that view? Do we really look like that to the world at large? It’s so discouraging when your worst face shows up with an extra chin … unannounced. I go from epic confusion to pitiful self-loathing, in under five seconds. But then that sweet old friend named Denial kicks in and I grab a bag of Takis.

Speaking of photos, I’m legit scared that I’ll be involved in something that lands me on the news and they’ll use a hideous picture of me. I feel like I should handpick one now and make sure everyone in my family has it, just in case. I could send them a file labeled CNNanna.jpg. I should send two actually—one where I look happy and loving, in case I get framed for some terrible crime and people need to see me in a better light. The second one could be me looking humble, modest and unassuming, in case I’ve done something heroic and need to temper the flames of admiration.

My mom and I are scared to death of water treatment plants (and some dams). We’re good with massive oceans or lakes; they’re part of nature and less menacing. And I can’t speak for her—nor can I put my finger on it—but I feel like some unsavory activity is going on in these facilities. We’ve braved the sight of a few dams together (though not comfortably), but a water treatment plant shuts us up and renders us speechless until it’s well in our rear-view mirror.

I can't.

I can’t.

Every time I get a new car, I’m scared I’ll be assigned a license plate that’s got unfortunate letter combinations, like KGB or NIP or FRT. I absolutely hate the F-word (no, not that one, the other one.) Even when it’s used like “artsy-f***sy” or “brain f***.” UGH. I don’t even want to type it, so of course I worry that I’ll get it as my license plate—and God will be on His throne, shake laughing and thinking He’s pretty funny. I think the DMV would show some mercy if I got the sign of the beast, but would those same good folks care that I’m put off by the F-word? What about this one?:

Well that's unlucky.

Well that’s unlucky.

I’m super scared of pirates and beheadings. Please don’t tell me they go hand in hand, because I could maaaaybe handle a couple of weeks with pirates, but only if it didn’t automatically end in a beheading. As much as I hate paper cuts and stubbed toes, I can’t imagine how much worse a beheading would be. But now that I think about it, if all the pirates could just see what I look like on my front-facing iPhone camera, they’d have little use for me. WAIT—unless what they’re after is a breakdancer with nunchuck skills, in which case, we’d have a big problem.

I’m scared of the savage thoughts I think when I hear someone scuffing their feet when they walk. I wouldn’t be frighted of just thinking, “Oh my gosh, pick up your feet,” but the places my vocabulary goes is appalling—not to mention the ways I imagine giving that person a reason to shuffle. I KNOW! I said it scares me! I usually come in peace, but that lazy-scuff-walk makes me go to dishonorable places in my heart.

ladysailor

I’m afraid of how I’ll react when I finally meet some of my favorite celebrities. There is a decent chance I’ll mess it up. I say this for two reasons. Back in the day, when Dr. Phil was just blowin’ up and hadn’t yet become a fixture on Oprah’s show, I ran into him at a bookstore. Someone already had his attention so I hung around, perusing the Western section, until he was free. This is when I blurted out, “I think you’re awesome!”

Not “Hello.” Not “What are you, 6’4?” Nope.

Then there was the time when we’d just hired a lady at work who, for all intents and purposes, was a pretty big deal. I’d seen her speak at a couple of events and was extremely impressed. One day I saw—well ahead of time—that we were going to cross paths. As with the Dr. Phil situation, I had time to think; but couldn’t decide between “Hey” and “How are you?” Things took a sharp left turn when she spoke first, saying, “Gorgeous day out,” to which I replied, “Heee-howwww.”

Hey came out sounding like Hee and How came out sounding like Howwww; which meant, combined, it sounded like an offensive half donkey, half Native American impersonation. And just when I wanted to vanish into thin air, I felt my hands coming together in prayer as I bowed towards her.

So yeah—I’m scared.

I’d like to leave you with one last fear of mine, and that is the very real terror of autocorrect finally winning. I’m not talking about the occasional “her” instead of “get” or “coco” instead of “xoxo.” I’m talking more along the lines of these disasters:

These are MILD examples of my fear.

These are MILD examples of my fear.

It would make me feel better if I could hear some of your irrational fears. Even if you’re just secretly scared that the snow in Sochi is going to melt before the games are over—we’re friends here—and I’d like to know.

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A Better Love

Happy New Year! Oh, come on—it’s still January—there’s no way you’re already crying Uncle. You are, huh? Well, alright then … that means you have plenty of room for a new resolution. It doesn’t require a yoga mat or a Ninja Blender, but it does involve removing the focus from yourself for a bit.

(I just mentally saw some of you backing away. I won’t name names.)

Um, no thank you, please.

Um, no thank you, please.

This resolution is simple: Love (the people you love) better.

Don’t cringe—you love these people! I’m not even talking about co-workers or the table full of unreasonably loud chip-eaters next to you. I’m just suggesting you start with the people you truly love and value.

Side Note: If it’s actually your family eating chips too raucously, then that is something we’ll address another day.

By no means do I want this new resolution to take the place of your original resolution to post fewer selfies—please, PLEASE do us all (and yourself) a favor and stay.the.course.

Also, go ahead and organize your pantry and back up your photos to yet another external hard drive. Give coconut oil a try and see if cauliflower really can serve as passable pizza crust; but, in and around and between all those lofty Pinterest goals, I want to encourage you to just treat your people better. Make an intentional effort to be a better spouse, daughter, mom, sibling, son, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, dad and friend.

If your head is cocked in confusion, then you’re not using your imagination. The very best way to figure out how you can do better is to ask yourself what you would regret if that loved one was no longer in the world or in your life. It might sound slightly morbid, but that’s OK, because it’s eternally important.

Here goes. What would you regret if _______ was gone?

I have a feeling you’ll say things like:
Why did I fixate on the little things? Why didn’t I encourage her more? Why didn’t I thank him for the invaluable life lessons? Why didn’t I make sure she knew how much joy she brought me? Why didn’t I take a day off work and spend it with her? Why did I let our yesterday cloud our today? Why did I tell everyone but him how amazing he was? How could I have ever been too busy to hug her?

And on a smaller, but equally important note, you might ask yourself:
Why did I continue to leave clothes in the washer when I knew it drove her nuts? Why didn’t I rub his shoulders more often? Why didn’t I put my dirty clothes where she asked me to? Why didn’t I surprise her with more dates? Why did I stop leaving him love notes? Why did I play on my phone when I could have been reading to her? Why did I always let my car get below half a tank when I knew it was his pet peeve? Why did I try to temper her spontaneity? Why did I miss his games for meaningless work meetings? Why did we stop talking for hours and replace it with texts? Why didn’t I write him letters when he was serving our country overseas?

When your loved one is gone, the smallest thing is going to send you into a downward spiral of unspeakable sadness. Yes, things like moving a load of laundry into the dryer and remembering how happy that would make her. Yes, things like seeing The Pokey Little Puppy at Barnes & Noble and remembering how she’d curl into you and giggle when you read to her.

A loss is going to be devastating no matter what, but if you can lessen the number of unnecessary regrets AND make your loved one happy, isn’t it worth the effort now? The only thing that will make paralyzing sadness worse is to stack on top of it a profound remorse for which you are now helpless to fix.

I thought we might need a smile break.

I thought we might need a smile break.

So let’s crawl out now, while we can, and resolve to do better by our loved ones. Whether it’s your relationship with your spouse or your mother or your adult child—if you search your mind—you know where you can extend more grace, be more patient and give more effort.

Does your husband do something that gets on your nerves? Like, does he always want to know the plan? “Hey, what’s the plan when your family comes in town next week?” Do you reply with exasperation because it’s a week away and you haven’t even thought about it? Does it annoy you that he continues to ask?

Here’s a tip … he’s probably a hard-wired planner and not likely to change. The quicker you accept this, the better. Just meet him halfway and get some plans going. He’s not asking you to re-shingle the roof or move cross-country. He’s just asking for something that meets his predisposed needs. All relationships are give and take, so just think what you might gain by meeting him in the middle here—this could open up a whole new world of him asking for directions and clipping his toenails in private.

Do we all agree that the majority of arguments start over extremely stupid things—sometimes so little and ridiculous that you don’t even want to tell your friends why your morning is off to a bad start?

Me: How’s your day so far?
Friend: Sigh, just so-so. Brett and I left the house kinda “off” today.
Me: I’m sorry, is everything OK?
Friend: Yeah, it’s fine, it’s just got me off on the wrong foot. It’ll be fine as soon as we text or talk.
Me: OK good. Wanna talk about it?
Friend: Sure, if you’re up for learning how CEREAL can actually cause a fight.

Sometimes you have to sit back and acknowledge that life is short—and grasp that being upset over trivial things OR needlessly contributing to someone’s fury, is a waste of precious time.

You: Hey, what’s the deal? You and Kirk seem like you’re in a fight.
Friend: Ugh, we’re not in a fight, I’m just so mad at him I could spit.
You: Oh no, what happened?
Friend: Grrr. He won’t use exclamation points or smileys when he texts me.
You: *stifles a laugh* Is this something you two can get past?
Friend: Who knows?! I’ve told him a hundred times that I can’t read his tone without them, but he still refuses—it’s infuriating.

I can't live like this.

I can’t live like this.

To the one who feels slighted: Is it possible that you should just always assume his tone is normal and loving, unless there is reason to believe otherwise?
To the one who refuses to text properly: Could you tap the stubborn brake and do what you can to ensure your tone is reflective of how you’re feeling? Could you reply with more than one word, so she gets the reassurance she needs?

I’ll answer these questions for you both: YES, IT IS POSSIBLE and now is your chance to compromise. I can assure you that when he or she is gone, you’re going to wish you weren’t so unyielding.

Another way you can be better to people you love is to tell them how you feel.

I think it’s potentially a big mistake to assume that everyone you love knows you love them—and to what degree. Yes, perhaps your partner (perhaps) … but what about the rest of your family? “Oh sure! I say ‘I love you’ all the time!”

Not so fast. I’ve had instances where people told me something nice or extremely loving another family member said about me and I was stunned. Like, I knew we loved each other, but the details were such news to me. Good news. Life-enriching news.

So, consider that not everyone in your close circle really knows how you feel, and by all means, tell them! It can be a conversation, a letter, a card. Don’t recoil and say it’s too hard. Fighting in Iraq is hard; watching someone suffer with a disease is hard; seeing Sherman scare the daylights out of Erin Andrews is hard … but sitting down with a pen and paper and telling someone you love them—and why—is not hard.

Even if it’s slightly awkward, it takes about 20 seconds to say, “Hey, you know I love you, but I also want you to know that having you in my life means the world to me … and I didn’t want another day to go by without telling you that you’re wonderful and one of the best parts of my life.”

Again, all you have to do is imagine what you WISHED you’d said if you were no longer able to … and say it while you can.

When you’re in your final moments, which of these statements do you think will play through your mind and heart?

A. I wish I had more Facebook likes. B. I wish I had shown people how much I liked them.

A. I regret putting the care of my aging parents first. B. I regret putting the state of my bank account first.

A. I regret spending time with loved ones. B. I regret spending time being angry.

A. I wish I’d made more time for myself. B. I wish I’d made more time for them.

A. I wish I’d spent more time on my diet. B. I wish I’d spent more time enjoying a feast with her.

A. I wish I’d kept up with the Joneses. B. I wish I’d kept up with my old friends.

A. I wish I’d worked harder to get promoted to the corner office. B. I wish I’d made more reservations for us in a corner booth.

See, you didn’t even have to study and you aced it. In our bones, we all know these things. And we’re never going to be perfect. We’re never going to give every person everything they ever wanted—but we can do better. We can be more aware. We can try harder. We can be more selfless. We can and we should.

Let’s make this the one resolution we keep.

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