I Wish I Was Better

Like most people, I fall short in many ways. I wish I was better at managing my time—at turning off my work mind, and turning on my calm mind. I wish I was better at goal-setting, and not allowing mindless iPhone scrolling to replace actually productivity.

I could document a laundry list of things I’d like to get better at; but today, in this very moment, my wishes are not that simple.

I wish I was better at knowing if someone was a good drummer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pre-teen phenom or Travis Barker—once the solo part hits, it just sounds like a damn free-for-all. All I see are limbs flailing and sticks flying. I can’t find the rhythm in a drum solo to save my life, so I just end up feeling like an idiot. An idiot caught in a scary, chaotic storm of frenetic high hats and snares.

I wish I was better at handling the surprising news that a couple has broken up—especially if the news comes via Facebook. Not as an announcement, but as a clue. It’s so alarming to be scrolling along, then notice something is amiss.

“Oh, there’s Lauren. Seth’s wife. With a bearded guy. A bearded guy that’s not Seth. Looking a bit too chummy for my taste. With “God is good!” as her status update. Wait one cotton-pickin’ minute, Lauren. I don’t think so, you two-timing ninny. Not on my Facebook watch. Then I go to her actual page and scroll through it—noticing the last time I saw a pic of Seth was over four months ago; but that Beard has been making weekly appearances with his stupid, cheating beard.

It’s so upsetting, even though Lauren and Beard look pretty happy. Where is Seth though? Oh no! He’s not on Facebook! I can’t see if he’s happy with a pretty lady with a pixie cut. How will I know if Seth and Pixie are happy? What if I never see them on a ferris wheel saying God is good? Will I be left believing that Seth is at home, unshaven, going through old photos of Lauren, while eating expired Vanilla Wafers? Yes. Yes I will.

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I wish I was better at policing my online activity. When I know I should be writing, or making headway on a work project, or updating my passwords—but instead, I’m taking a quiz to see what my werewolf name would be, I’m left with the thought, “I am what’s wrong with the world.”

When I spend an hour scrolling through Soulja Boy’s social accounts, looking for clues that he’s finally off the sizzurp—I’m left with the thought, “I don’t deserve 24 hours in a day.”

I wish I was better at not feeling personally affronted by other people’s lack of dignity. When I roll up in the work restroom and am confronted by two co-workers having a deuce-off, I’m nearly incensed.

Side Note: A deuce-off is what sometimes happens when two people go into the restroom close to the same time—with the intent of doing private bowel things in public—only to be left waiting on the other person to start, stop or leave.

Back to the outrage. The silence, the two pair of motionless shoes, the waiting. I will not be a party to this scene. I will not provide them the outside noise they’re undoubtedly counting on. I won’t do it.

I’ll walk in, realize it’s a deuce-off and promptly leave. I’ll go to another restroom in the building (which is precisely where their shameless asses should’ve gone when they realized a number two was on the horizon.) Why wouldn’t they drop their kids off at the pool in merchandising’s wing? Why would they want to do their private biz in the same small space their CMO uses? Where is their pride?

not_amused

I wish I was better at understanding our rogue refrigerator. Some couples have to keep their voices down or spell out words so their pets don’t know they’re leaving for a trip—we have to keep our voices down and spell out words when we’re going to have company … so the fridge doesn’t stop making ice.

Can anyone tell me how it knows people are coming over? Never do we ever have ice issues until the day people are coming over. Then, like clockwork, not one cube of ice is produced. That is, until the final farewell is said—at which point the little spoiled brat promptly gets back to cranking out delicious ice. And she knows we have to take her back—or we won’t have ice. HOW DOES SHE KNOW THIS?

What sensors were added to this LG model to notify her of our plans? Go ahead and make fun of us, but we now discuss our plans for company outside the house—then come back in and try to keep our body language cool. Sometimes I even walk extra languidly, as if to say, “It’s cool. There’s no news here.” We’ve even stopped taking chances with spelling—because we’re pretty sure she knows p-a-r-t-y by now.

I wish I was better at allowing myself to pray with poor grammar and syntax. I can be knee-deep into an earnest ask, but unable to stop myself from rewording sentences that end in a preposition.

“Thank You for all Your abundant blessings I’m so unworthy of … grr … Thank You for Your abundant blessings of which I’m so undeserving … ugh, Lord, please forgive me for sounding pretentious with that proper grammar. Sooo, thank You for all the blessings I don’t deserve. Thank you for Your guidance and protection. Please watch over everyone I love, and protect Jocelyn and I as we … grr … please protect Jocelyn and me as we leave for our trip. Please guide me on if I should go a step further in my efforts to … grr … go farther in my efforts to … grr … further? Farther? Sigh, never mind, just please guide me? And please forgive me for my inability to pray with questionable grammar. I hope that’s not some sin of pride or something. If it is, please show me how to have less pride—like the hosers at work who light up the bathroom I use. Please give me their low level of pride, if that is pleasing to You. No wait, please don’t do that. Please? For real though. Actually, please deal with them. Please lead and guide them … to another restroom. Thank you, Father. I love You, Amen. Wait, do You prefer Ahh-men? Is this one of those things that annoys You—the same way it annoys me when people say a Y instead of an H in words like Houston? They say Youston. Please let me know so I don’t annoy You. For now though, I do love You—Amen.”

I wish I was better at knowing, understanding, or caring about characters or stories not based in reality. When people talk about fairy tales or cartoons, they might as well be talking about quantum physics. Aside from the way they look, I don’t know Batman from Peter Pan. I don’t know what Peter’s superpower is. I also don’t know what a zombie actually is. I truly don’t. I mean, I know they’re not real, and I know they’ve got terrible complexions. I think they might be forest people? Or forest creatures? Pictures I’ve seen of zombies look super foresty.

Because we didn’t really grow up watching cartoons, I’m not clear on different cartoon characters—and I don’t know any fairy tales. You could offer me $1,000 and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the outcome of The Three Little Bears—or the premise of that one story with the shoe, and the lady, and the prairie dogs, or whatever they were.

It’s a bit odd that I’m extremely imaginative, but wholly uninterested in anything not realistic. Even in my made-up stories or daydreams, my thoughts have to be plausible. Not necessarily likely, but plausible—or I can’t focus.

I see people in restaurants or airports and concoct great tales of why they’re there, or where they’re going (but I can assure you, in my story, they’re not on their way to another planet or going back into the forest to do zombie things.)

Side Note: I need to out myself before someone else does. I did actually read—and enjoy—the Twilight series. Although totally out-of-character, I cannot apologize for that lapse in my everything-needs-to-be-realistic personality. Jacob meant too much to me, and I will not forsake him in that way.

jacob

Team Jacob.

 

I wish I was better at troubleshooting embarrassing death situations. Like honestly, I don’t want to croak and have someone see that the last thing I was listening to was the Richard Marx version of O Holy Night—or that the last thing I googled was, “is a Trapper Keeper an age-appropriate notebook for my career?” Should that keep me listening to it or daydreaming about the day I can once again pick out and carry a Trapper Keeper? Maybe.

I also like to wear two pair of socks. I just do. I have bony, baby-soft feet, and they fancy proper cushioning. Maybe even three pair of socks on occasion. I SAID MAYBE! But, do I want to be—literally—caught dead in three pair of socks? I do not. Should I stop wearing them? Probably. Because even though my feet would be super comfy at the time of my death, and although I’d be in Heaven, and shielded from the embarrassment of it all, my family would not be.

I can hear them now, “I knew she wore two pair of socks sometimes, but three is news to us. This is something she kept hidden from us. We’ll never get over this rogue life she led.”

I wish I was better at not feeling offended by people’s lawn-mowing habits. It rubs me so wrong when people mow, but don’t edge their grass. I have to fight the urge to grab our weed-eater and finish the job for them. The only thing stopping me is Jocelyn—she says it’s not appropriate. I actually think they’d appreciate it—and be keen on me trimming their out-of-control trees while I’m there.

I feel like these non-edgers are the same people who claim their house is clean, when all they do is “pick up.” If you pick up toys and put bills in the junk drawer daily, but only bleach your bathrooms and do your floors every three months, your house is clean exactly four times a year. Stop shouting at me! I don’t make the rules—I just follow them!

I wish I was better at singing Happy Birthday. I do okay until the third “birthday”—then it’s wheels-off. “Happy birthday to you” (not bad) … “Happy birthday to you” (not bad at all) … “Happy BIIIIRTHDAY dear Delilah!” (cue the howling wolves) I’ve learned to just mouth this note … then come blazing back with “and many more!” I feel like that somehow makes up for my lip-syncing.

brit

Britney forgives my lip-syncing. Trust me.

I wish I was better at not honing in on external noises. This issue probably deserves its own blog post, but for now, I’ll just re-iterate my desire to not notice “noises.” I’m fairly certain I have a mild-to-severe case of Misophonia—and I would absolutely love to shed it if there was a way. Okay-okay, not a severe case. People with severe cases want to literally OFF an offender. I’ve wanted to OFF a chip eater, pen tapper, bad water-bottle drinker, inner smacker, loud breather, aggressive typer, bag cruncher—only a dozen times or so. Over the past week.

Seriously though, as bad as it is, and as on-edge as all these sounds make me feel, I’d never want to be medicated for it. Not at all. I’ve told y’all, I barely like taking Ibuprofen. Buuuuut, helped along with a little hypnotherapy or acupuncture? YES. That seems healthier than the physical harm I imagine unleashing on people who attack chips like it’s an MMA fight—or sound like they’re taking a bath when they drink from their water bottle.

Like I said, the issue deserves its own blog post—which brings me to my last desire.

I wish I was better at posting more often. Send money and I’ll do my best. No amount is too small. And don’t pull any of that “in lieu of” crap. Send actual cash. I wish you were better at that.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

Love Thyself

It seems very trendy lately to “love yourself.” I’ve noticed an influx of headlines, quotes and articles that tout the importance of putting yourself first, and loving who you are—seemingly above most other things. I’ve seen, “Love yourself first and everything else falls in line,” and “If you don’t love yourself, you’ll never be able to love anyone else.”

Yeah, I’m not really into this “movement” at all. First of all, as we’ve discussed, I think it would repulse our forefathers. Second of all, you—above all others—know what a jackass you can be. Even when you have the restraint to keep it to yourself, you still know you’re kind of a tool. You know the wretched things you think about people:

“Ever heard of a little thing called ‘exfoliating’? Let’s get on that.”
“Nice blinker, Turd-Waffle …” (as you speed up to see if they look as fill-in-the-blank as you expect) … “Yep, just what I thought.”
“Blech! Her breath smells like sewer and hot socks.”

Love yourself? I can barely tolerate my thoughts, much less my self sometimes. Do you understand what I’m saying here?

Why is no one saying it’s OK—actually quite normal—to hardly be able to stand yourself? Can’t you be quite selfish? Petty? Hateful? Snide? Shallow? I’ll answer for you—YES. So you’re not actually all that lovable sometimes.

You know it and I know it.

deserve

Deserve? I deserve to be slapped upside the head for the grace I don’t always extend and the hateful thoughts I sometimes have.

“Is that cat pee I’m smelling? I smell cat pee. Why do I smell cat pee? WHO IS ALLOWING CATS TO PEE ON THEM?!”

But as always, the most offensive part about this meme is the design itself. Appalling kerning, leading and spacing.

loveyourself6

It’s a project? Loving myself has been elevated to an actual project? Is it gonna take time away from loving someone else?

“Wow, I’m having so much fun—thank you for a perfect night.”
“Of course! I love spending time with you. Let’s go find dessert and coffee—maybe some bread pudding?”
“Gosh, I’d love to, but I have this project I need to work on. Rain check?”

loveyourself5

OK, maybe eventually. But we needn’t be too hasty in our forgiveness. Sometimes we need to let ourselves sit in the selfish mess we made, and take a hard look at our less-than-honorable motives.

love thy self 9

I’d much rather read an article titled, “50 Easy Ways To Get Rich That Involve Pizza.” But as it is, I did click into this piece—and promptly went on an eye-rolling marathon.

Side Note: I got online to order myself a 26.2 bumber sticker, set in the image of a rolling eye, but sadly, my search came up short.

One of the ways to supposedly love yourself more is to wear red lipstick and heels “just because.” I know I’m only 80% Girl, but that’s the best way to get me to break up with myself.

Another one was, “Put your fork down between bites.” I’m sorry, but are you trying to cause a divorce?

Another, “Buy yourself roses on Valentine’s Day.” Great, now I’m single, pathetic,  broke—and not into myself at all.

Also, “Give yourself a day off.” Well, that pretty much completes it—I was supposed to be loving myself, but have instead found myself fired and in need of couples’ counseling for all my bad choices.

love thy self 7

I’m sorry, what? What does this even mean?

love thy self 6

This meme lists seven ways to love yourself. This list also contains seven pieces of fiction.

1. Some negative thoughts should be accepted. More than likely, you really are a lazy sack—at least some of the time. It’s OK to accept this thought.
2. You should apologize for what you like from time to time. Case in point:

rawpasta
3. It’s a misnomer that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Comparison isn’t always the “thief of joy,” as they say. If done maturely, it can be a healthy motivator.

Monkey see; monkey do. Please.

Monkey see; monkey do. Please.

4. No; try to work on them. The shape of your eyes is uniquely you—but, being a guilt-tripping gremlin or a judgmental jerk is just you being a total turd.
5. OK yes, fine—but if you reject the media’s expertise in that arena, please also reject in it in all the other super-suspect ways, too.
6. Perfection is unattainable even with acceptance.
7. Some acceptance happens even quicker than overnight. It took me approximately 30 seconds to accept that I like food and fun more than dieting and deprivation.

love thy self 5

This is abjectly false. Sometimes bad thoughts about yourself come from your subconscious—because your subconscious knows what a petty, self-serving slime you can be.

Ilove thy self 4

No. No I don’t. I think God thinks, “That a girl; way to recognize how deplorable that thought was.” I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God would never be so neglectful in His punctuation.

love thy self 11

Be proud of mistakes?? Accept your mistakes and learn from your mistakes—yes. But be proud of them? I’m barely proud of the actual good things I do. And now you think I should be proud of choosing my own comfort over someone else’s need? Or gossiping about someone being off her meds? Or getting into a battle of wits with an unarmed person? And what’s with the unnecessarily awkward slanty lines? I hope you’re not proud of your design skills.

love thy self 12

Eww. I’m beyond tired of this phrase anyway, but now I can’t even tolerate it.

love thy self 13

So now we need an acronym for loving ourselves? How about this one: GOYA (get over yourself already.)

love thy self 14

OK, sure. Right after I finish throwing up in my mouth. Do people do this? Do people halt—mid-thought or mid-task—to appreciate how awesome they are? If you’re sitting there nodding and thinking, “I do that,” then please make a quick mental note to stay far away from me.

love thy self 15

Michael Masser? Was that Whitney Houston’s pen name? Never mind—loving yourself isn’t the greatest or even second greatest love of all.

love thy self 16

I wish people who don’t care about punctuation would stop making memes. Regardless, is it really the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Have you ever put on your own bracelet? Refrained from replying to a Facebook post that ran counter to every belief you have? Gotten too cocky in a pepper eating contest?

love thy self 3

This isn’t even 1% true.

love thy self 2

How does one do that? I don’t know how I’m supposed to be a hero. The most heroic thing I do on any given day is bite my tongue to keep my uncensored thoughts from spilling into the world.

Side Note: I also feel pretty heroic when the coffee is over—and I don’t cry.

love thy self 1

Is now a good time to puke? Who thinks this thought and documents it in a meme? I’ve eaten by myself in public many times, but I can assure you it wasn’t a date—and I certainly didn’t stroll around a museum falling in love with myself. If anything, I was like, “I’m not sure about your taste.”

becareful

That’s not true. I don’t always listen to myself. “Eat a salad.” Not listening! “Lock down that sarcastic remark.” Not listening! “Stop wishing you could write that co-worker out of your story.” Not listening!

bekind

I am. That’s why I give me tacos. And beer. And permission to love the Biebs.

affair

An affair? So I’m a side piece? The other woman? Is guilt associated with this affair? Do I hide it? Do I text myself under a different name, like, “Dry Cleaner?”

“Well look at you! You sure are glowing these days! What’s the what, Lady?!”
“Oh nothing” (coy and coquettish)
“Oh come on! Tell me!”
“It’s just … well, I met someone and … oh Becky, it’s going really well!”
“What?! Oh my gosh! Who who who!”
“Me.”

Gross.

gag

happiness

That’s what happiness means? Hmm, I was unaware. So you’re saying that if I just walk around smitten with myself, I’ll be happy? That seems plausible. Just knowing that even though I screwed up at work—as long as I love myself—it’s all good. What a comfort. I wonder if everyone else knows? This type of sound logic seems like good info to have very early in life.

loveyourself-beach

Whoever found themselves at a beach—and opted to write this in the sand—is a top level clown. “Guys! Come on, let’s go! Let’s get down there while it’s sunny and beautiful! I want to get profound in the sand! Come on!”

I guess I’m just looking for some balance here. Let’s try to equalize loving ourselves with also being a little disgusted. That’s more realistic, right? Otherwise we’re living pretty inauthentic lives—because we’re all flawed, and sometimes unlovable. I’m not proposing a turn towards sef-loathing—or memes filled with woe-is-me negativity. Please no!

balance

Let’s start a movement to be this person. One part awful; one part awesome. 100% real.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

Share If You Agree

I’m not afraid to say I’m sorry—and some of these apologies are long overdue. Facebook has done all it can do to help us declare our love, devotion and allegiances; but I feel like I’ve not only let them down, but scores of others, due to my unwillingness to share what I’m told to share. Let’s go.

brother

I have this brother, but I couldn’t—in good conscience, hit “share,”—not because I don’t have the best brother in the world, but because it’s one of the most poorly constructed memes my feed has ever seen. Since when did ellipses become two periods? Oh that’s right, just up until the 11th line. They had to warm up, I guess. Where is the apostrophe on the complicated contraction “can’t?” The worst part? It doesn’t even complete the thought it ramped up to. It started out as an if/then, and left us hanging.

It was like saying, “If you like food and love meat and adore spices and can’t wait to eat it and enjoy it and savor it and can’t be without it !!” Don’t even get me started on the space before the two exclamations. Sorry—I can’t share ill-designed memes.

dad

Again with the atrocious sentence structure—but anyway, Daddy, I didn’t post this (like I was ordered to do), even though you fit the criteria stated in the meme. I am truly sorry. I hope you weren’t on Facebook the day it made the rounds, because I’m quite sure its absence on my wall made you second-guess every parenting decision you ever made. Maybe you even looked back with regret, the day you came home from work to hear of a fight Jeni and I had—and proceeded to ask HER if I deserved a spanking. That was a pretty bad misstep—which not surprisingly led to me getting spanked, but I assure you it’s not why I didn’t post this horribly written meme.

Jesus

Jesus, I wasn’t ashamed of You; I didn’t ignore You; and I do love You. I just wasn’t too keen on the rendering of your beautiful face—the eye shadow seemed excessive, and far too much time was spent on the chisel of your already perfect cheek and jaw. The red border around the green background also threw me off, as did the out-of-character exclamation point. That’s all—that’s why I didn’t share. Because I do totally love You. I’m sorry for possibly seeming like a heathen when I didn’t share this.

lies

I almost agree. The thing is, sometimes we need to fib out of kindness. There is just no way to always tell the truth, if you have a considerate bone in your body. You don’t agree?

“Your new baby isn’t very cute. She almost is, but those thin lips and that scaly skin are super off-putting.”

“I’m gonna pass on meeting you for dinner this weekend. It’s monumentally more important to me to get this bra off and eat cereal while standing up.”

“Sometimes I wonder if you’re responsible for the low-life deviant your son has become.”

Sorry I didn’t share what was intended to be a character-proving meme, but was actually a short-sighted, inconsiderate theory.

pets

I don’t own a pet, so this wasn’t directed at me. However, even if I did have a boxer named Rookie or a bulldog named Shakes, I’d never be able to share this meme—I’m sorry. It’s in need of some punctuation and some grounding in facts. Dogs ARE pets—and that’s OK, because pets are certainly family. We needn’t split hairs here. While we’re on it, “Like” and “Share” have incorrect punctuation around them—and there are two exclamation points in a 3×3 space. Again, I’m sorry, but no.

prison

I’m sorry I didn’t share this gem. I totally should have, because if I believe anything with fervor, it’s that declaring my own personal, possibly divisive and inciting opinions on Facebook is a wonderful idea and an excellent use of time.

proud parent

I’m mostly interested in why this meme came to pass. I want the back story. And not unlike so many of these head-shaking calls to action, the punctuation and “your” usage is dreadful, so I’m gonna scroll on by without apology here.

gym

Sorry I didn’t share this riveting sentiment. I was lost, broken and lonely—and doing some lunges at the g.y.m. And now I’m s.o.r.e. And still quite lost trying to find the nearest Chipotle.

daughter

I don’t have a daughter, but it’s such a relief to know how I’d hold her in my heart for a lifetime—just by sharing this meme on my Facebook page. This mom seems to have a particularly large heart area. No need to do things with my beloved daughter when it’s so much more efficient and lasting to post about my undying love on social media. I’m sorry I don’t have a daughter so I could circumvent all the bond-building with a simple share.

daughter 2

Again, I don’t have a daughter, but you know who I just realized does? MY MOTHER. What the hell, Moma?

Heaven

I love someone in Heaven, but I couldn’t share this because I didn’t connect with the chosen image. Heaven is everything good and perfect, so I know it doesn’t have hard benches. If the designer had gone with a big leather chair from Restoration Hardware or maybe a polar fleece beanbag, I’d have hit “share” immediately. I’m sorry your choice of imagery kept me from sharing.

family

The sentiment is probably fairly accurate, but again, I couldn’t share this because of the sheer number of design and punctuation flaws. “No family is perfect we argue, we fight.” Really? Even people who hate all things composition know that’s a pitiful attempt at a sentence, right? And what happened to the poor “will” towards the end? The previous serif fonts were like, “You’re not one of us! You’re san serif, so just get away from our family, you freak!”

Pure love

Pure Love doesn’t pay the AT&T bill. Being a mother is the most important position in the world—agreed—but let’s work on our word choice here and maybe more “likes” will follow. First of all, let’s aim to be less cheesy than a crock of queso. Second of all, let’s bring home some bacon so we can feed the children. Do those two things and I’ll share with abandon.

sizes

I agree, but I didn’t share, sorry. The image chosen was too limiting for the sentiment. I’d have shared if they’d chosen four beautiful things—all varying sizes—like they purport to believe. Preferably—this lady, a Jaguar XJR, a quarter-pounder with cheese, and an itty bitty jungle frog.

lady friends

I didn’t tag my lady loves like the meme recommended because of one simple reason. I’m not seeking confirmation of their devotion. I’m not unsure of their loyalty. Except Ellen—I’m not all that confident she’d repost and tag back. Or Maya Rudolph. If history is any indicator, I’d be waiting on that validation for quite some time. Better to just go on not knowing. Ignorance is bliss when you’re forcing the hands of true friends you’ve never met. Sorry.

sister

Sorry I didn’t share this, but I had a good reason—and it wasn’t because I don’t love my sister. It was because I’d just told her I loved her in a text. It was also because I knew she saw this in her Facebook feed and didn’t share it for me. I’m the little sister, and little sisters can be kinda bratty—sorry.

children

I should’ve shared this, because I agree, but I didn’t and I’m sorry. It just seemed too remedial—like saying, “Cold beer should be sipped and enjoyed, not used to wash the dishes.” It was the captain-obviousness of it that kept me scrolling right through.

arms

Yeahhh, the day I share a fear-mongering political post like this is the day I renounce my love of guacamole. Not. Gonna. Happen. It should’ve said, “Unfollow me if you don’t agree” because that’s what I did.

I hop on Facebook to see cute babies, unlikely friendships between animals and killer sushi spreads. I also pop in to see what interesting things my friends are up to. I’ve never once thought, “I just can’t make my mind up about immigration—let me log on to Facebook and see what my high school friends think.”

Side Note: No offense, high school friends. Y’all are the best. Go Bulldogs!

creepy eyes

I’m sorry I didn’t share this, but quite frankly, I found the eyes just a wee bit crazed and creepy. I didn’t think it painted an accurate portrayal of my deep and abiding love for my mom. I’ll try to snag and share the next one I see that has kinder, more childlike eyes. I love you, Moma—which means I love you enough to not creep you out with eerie-eyed smiley faces in your Facebook feed.

stray

Happiness is feeding a stray if you want that stray to be YOUR stray. And many of you do! More power to you and God bless you (sorry, God, I’m not bossing You around—You totally don’t have to do that … only if it was in Your plans and You want to … I mean, I think it would be swell of You, but that’s Your call. Next time I’ll say, “May God bless you.”)

Maybe the meme should say, “KINDNESS is feeding a stray.” Because, like, I’m sure it makes you happy to do it—I know how happy it makes me to give homeless people food—but are you going to stay happy when you’ve got a new member in your family and your 4-year old wants to name him Tooter? Anyway, that’s why I didn’t share. I thought the word choice was suspect.

bitching

I didn’t share because I already know bitching burns calories. So does complaining and so does whining. These are facts. We wouldn’t do them so often if they didn’t help us work off french fries. #sorrynotsorry

idiot

With all of my being, I hope I don’t need to explain why I didn’t share this handmade sign. I have four reasons, but I’ll be happy if you just know the main one. Are cyber-friendship depends on it.

one eye

I’m sorry to be so picky, but I couldn’t share this since I actually have two eyes. It felt wrong to act like I only had one—like I was fishing for sympathy. I also could really use some past tense on “love” … “because I LOVED my mom.” Combine those two dilemmas and that’s one big non-share here. I also vividly recall my first thought upon opening my eye(s), and it was more along the lines of, “Feed me, Womb Lady!”

Anyway, you know how, when you check out at Target or Banana Republic, they say, “Do you want to save 15% on your purchase today? And you feel so dumb saying no? It’s that whole “Yeah, but” thing. Yeah, but I don’t want a credit card.

It’s the same with all these incriminating memes on Facebook. Do you love your mom? Yeah, but I don’t want to share something where “your” and “you’re” are treated as the same word. Do you believe that guns don’t kill people—that people living in a culture of glorified violence with unfettered access to firearms kill people—with guns? Yeah, but I don’t do politics on social media.

I can’t help but think I’m not alone, so if you want to get more likes and shares, proofread your work, put thought into your imagery, and … you know what, scrap that. Stop posting things and asking for shares and likes. It’s obnoxious and it ruins Facebook for people who want to see this:

friendship

and this:

sushi

and this:

tinyfrog

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Girl Fight

I am neither proud nor ashamed to tell you that I almost got my ass kicked at Chick fil-A last week.

I’d made, what was supposed to be, a quick Target run at lunch—but 45 minutes and $100 later (I’d gone in for a green Sharpie), I needed to grab a bite and get back to work. For the most part, I can take or leave Chick fil-A, but considering how close it was, and how their spicy chicken sandwich is actually kinda spicy, I headed that way.

I joined the drive-through line, and that’s where the trouble began. It’s one of those poorly planned lots, where the drive-through line prohibits the cars parked there, to exit easily. If drivers aren’t consistently aware of people needing to pull out, it can get dicey.

It got dicey.

But not for the reasons it should have. There I was, sitting contentedly in line, listening to Jason DeRulo, and looking forward to some unhealthy, spicy goodness—when I spotted a car, in one of the bad slots, with its reverse lights on. I saw their intent and delighted in patiently awaiting their exit—happy to make it simple and undramatic for them. I was in a cocoon of happy and wanted to spread good cheer. They were sitting in their car, reverse lights on, waiting on the car in front of me to move up in the line so they could squeeze through us.

CFA lot0

Just as that was about to happen, a new car pulled up to the right of me and aggressively angled in at my front, right bumper—as if to say, “That spot is MINE”—to which I thought aloud in my car, “What are you DOING? I don’t want that spot and you need to let her out before you can take over, you greedy, impatient nit-wit.”

Then, she inched even CLOSER to me, like centimeters from my car. In hindsight, I wish my car had a nice, friendly warning horn, but like every other car on the planet, it only has the loud, yelling kind. Regardless, I had no other recourse, so I honked.

Side Note: If horns could speak, mine would have said, “Hey pretty lady, that spot is ALL yours, but you’re about to get hit, because she’s backing up—so save yourself!”

CFA lot1

In much the same way she maneuvered her car in for her anticipated lunch, things took a sharp left turn.

She swiveled her head to me and threw her hands up—while her mouth made reptilian yelling motions. Because I was still on a Target high, and within minutes of my sandwich, I stayed calm and pointed to the car wanting to come out—and made a motion that I thought said, A: I come in peace. B: In your haste to dine, you must not have seen the Corolla’s reverse lights.

It was instantly apparent that she mistook my friendly warning as something far more hostile, because her neck veins and eyebrows joined her mouth in the yelling motions. Then she rolled down her window to, I assumed, tell me a thing or two. I Penelope’d her and rolled mine down faster.

Side Note: An angry confrontation with a Looney Toon—in a fast food parking lot—is not my idea of a good time, but I felt it was important to meet her aggressiveness step for step. I’ve also never been afraid to do a little time.

She barked out something about me honking and demanded to know what my problem was. I refrained from telling her my only problem was Chick fil-A’s decision to sell waffle fries instead of real ones. I calmly said I was trying to give her a heads-up about the car that was about to back in to her—and pointed out that they were still waiting to get on with their day.

She started to yell something else, then stopped and looked towards the Chick fil-A door. I turned to look the same direction and was met by the visual of Big Bubba, waddling out the door and also demanding to know what the funk I was honking at.

Side Note: 2 things. Funk is replacing its real-deal cousin in this story. Also, these two clowns probably have y’all thinking I laid on the horn like an instigator, and kept at it. No. It was the quickest beep a car can execute.

CFA lot2

Dang, was my quick horn that antagonistic? You’d have thought I blew a bullhorn in their ears.

Because I have good manners and cockpit-level skills, I rolled down my window for my discussion with Big Bubba—while simultaneously rolling up my window to shut out his little lady. I’ve watched enough crime shows to know not to leave an opening for a sneak attack by a woman who’s hangry. He stayed on the Chick fil-A entrance step, so he was far enough away from me that I had no fear of getting snatched out of my car by my hair—like I have no doubt he wanted to do.

So again, he insisted on knowing what the funk I was honking at—with animated arms. I said, “Are you being serious?” I asked this in reference to the surprising escalation of anger over something so inconsequential.

He said, “You damn right I’m serious! What the funk are you honking at my wife for?!”

I said, “First of all, it’s ‘you’re’ damn right, not ‘you’ damn right, and you need to chill out a degree or two. Secondly, I was only trying to let her know that Corolla was about to back into her. That was clearly not welcome—my bad—you can go rejoin your chicken nuggets.”

“Well don’t funking honk at her again. You need to move the funk on. Get funking moving.”

It actually was my turn to inch up, so I did, and said, “Chivalry really isn’t dead. You should be so proud.”

He said, “Oh I am! I am funking proud!”

At that point, I’d moved up probably two car lengths and I was two cars away from actually getting to place my order. Then I saw wifey walking toward me. I rolled down the window and she said, “WHY you were honking at me, and why you were flailing your arms like this and why you weren’t getting out of the way?” (She started doing some kind of wild-arm dance that was wholly unflattering and not at all representative of my simple pointing motion.)

“That doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever done with my arms … and out of the way? Where did you want me to go?! I already told you, I honked to let you know that car was about to back into you—it wasn’t appreciated—noted. Move on and get back to your hot date with that knight in shining armor.”

“Yeah, you move on. And funk you. And GOD BLESS!

She said it, y’all. She really said God Bless. It’s like for a fraction of a second, as she was wheeling around, she spied the Chick fil-A sign and wished to remain in good standing.

I laughed and said, “Classy. You and your husband are a delight.”

She flipped me the bird and stomped in. I’m sure they had a super romantic lunch.

The truth is, I have absolutely zero doubt that if I hadn’t been in my car, she’d have wanted to actually fight. Like, with fists. Or hair-pulling. Whatever it is that people who get mad enough to fight do. I just don’t get that level of mad.

Side Note: Years ago, Jocelyn, my sister, my sister-in-law and I took a boxing class. We mostly did it for exercise, but we also thought it was kind of cool to do something different from aerobics or kick-boxing. We learned all kinds of techniques and punching series—and got in decent shape.

One night at class, the instructor talked to me about competing. I wanted to hit the floor laughing. I knew I was pretty good at the technical stuff and picked things up quickly, but compete? As in, go into a ring and try to win a fight with another living person? No way, no how—I didn’t have the gene required to want to hurt someone or beat them, just for the sake of fitness. I just didn’t.

But someone did—my sister-in-law. We got to the point in class where it was time to spar. He paired us up and told us to get gloved. We were spread out around the mat and told we’d spar for three minutes. I was thinking, “Well this should be fun—dancing around, avoiding contact for 180 seconds.”

The bell rang and we bobbed around for no more than four seconds, before she punched me square in my mouth. Hard.

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Here is my point, I’m probably never going to want to physically fight someone. I think I could hold my own in a lot of circumstances, but it’s just comical to even think about it. But this Chick fil-A dope wanted to fight me over a horn! A horn that was intended for good!

I got back to work and was a little amped up. One of my co-workers was like, “Good lunch?” I said, “Yeah, considering I just avoided a beat down.”

I’ll now take this time to answer some FAQs that I’ve conjured up in my head.

Q: You know that could have gone terribly wrong, right?
A: I do.

Q: You know people get shot over stupid stuff like this, right?
A: I do.

Q: You know it makes people 10x madder when you greet their anger calmly—and with jokes, right?
A: I do.

Q: You know a lot of people actually love waffle fries, right?
A: I do.

The whole scene lasted about a minute and a half, and it ended with all of us getting our sought-after lunch. So all-in-all, it wasn’t such a bad outing.

chickfila

If either of you whiners are reading this, don’t bother looking for me. I now live in a remote corner of Alaska, where I have become a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I live near my uncles—Big Paulie, Fat Tony and Joe the Ice-Man Barber.

Honk-honk.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

Dear Diary, I Get Around

Last week I had a conversation with a co-worker about why some people seem to have no self-awareness. We questioned why some people don’t pick up on social cues; why they can’t tell when they’ve intruded on a conversation; why they don’t read the faces of those who are negatively receiving the words they’re delivering. We puzzled over some people’s inability to read the unfavorable reactions of others.

But also not funny.

But also not funny.

We both confessed to hoping our self-awareness was on point and felt like—as a rule—it was. We ended the conversation feeling pretty darn good about our ability to read social cues and self-regulate.

My self-awareness confidence took a mighty blow later that night when—for reasons I can’t remember—I peeked into the first journal I ever owned and saw something wholly mortifying.

Unbeknownst to me, I was a first-rate floozy.

Let’s unpack these shameful years.

diary

This was my first diary, and it was given to me by my sister. Many months ago, we discussed a few of the entries in this journal, related to the rigorous crush I had on one of my middle school teachers, Coach McCahon.

That was but the tip of the iceberg.

diary1

You’ll see that this is the first of many professions of love. Apparently, I had a lot of it to give as a kid. Also, please note—I am nine. This will be an important detail as we move along.

diary2

I wonder what good things happened to me? Was it the fact that we had company? That my autograph was coming along? Time will tell.

I’m not sure what’s more shocking—that I felt Groundhog Day was worth two mentions or that I love a boy “very much” when I’m still drinking milk with my supper.

diary4

Here we are. And because this simply cannot be said enough—I’M NINE. Okay, I kind of understand how I could think I love him; but it’s shocking to me that I’m eager to kiss him. It’s more shocking that I want it to be “for a long time.” It’s jaw-dropping that I’m going to take the bull by the horns, when I don’t even have enough years under my belt to spell lips correctly.

diary5

Great. I’m ready for marriage. I’m simple-minded enough to think a definition of spring is warranted, yet I’m contemplating the rightness of nuptials and monogamy.

diary6

Still hoping he pops the question. I wonder where I thought it would happen? I have vivid memories of playing inside the big tractor tires on our elementary playground with him—I bet that’s where I hoped he’d drop to one scabbed knee. Oh, and if the suspension is killing you, I did get Mrs. DeShields—so my appalling punctuation was her gift that year.

diary7

WHAT?! What the hell is, “well, you know?!” No, I don’t know! WHERE ARE MY PARENTS?! So again, I think it’s worth pointing out—I’m ready to get serious, but I only manage to get the first and last letters right.

Side Note: I actually remember writing this. I was listening to the Top 9 at 9 on KQTY. I hate to tell you this, but it was when, back-to-back, they played Endless Love by Lionel Richie and Feels So Right by Alabama. This is not cute, y’all—it’s capital T Troubling.

diary8

Still love Billy. Still can’t spell for shit.

Side Note: This kind of enduring love shouldn’t be plausible when I’m young enough to still enjoy puppet shows.

diary9

Hmm, wonder when this happened—a new dude. You will see that this is the beginning of my downward spiral into tramp-ville. I’m 10 now—apparently approaching womanhood—and want some skating rink lip-locking.

Side Note: I remember this entry too, and he was there. We couple-skated to Hard To Say I’m Sorry by Chicago, and the song was especially meaningful to me because, while Brandon was a “hunk and a half,” I felt like I owed him an apology for coveting his speed skates.

diary10

More love in the air. I love God and I love a new boy, Kevin. I found my watch a week later in a pair of shoes—so I’m sure I double-loved God that day, but just didn’t get it documented.

diary11

Still love Kevin.

diary12

I’m going with Daxton, but I’m not sensing much love. Maybe it’s because I’m in love with a man 18 years my senior. No big deal. Oh, and I’m still struggling with basic spelling.

dairy13

I guess Coach McCahon was a gateway drug to Paul McCartney. Let’s see, I was 11 and he was, what, 70? Seems natural that I would love him and write about him in my diary, along with my grades, my Christmas gifts and an unforgivable spelling of the complicated word, “for.”

Side Note: The super clever initials are, Anna Christie BFFs … I love Paul McCartney (because one mention wasn’t enough) … I love Daxton Patterson (guess I did love him after all) … I love Scott McCahon (so, two men whose combined age was approximately 100) … I love my family … and Heaven only knows what BMOA stands for. I shutter to think.

diary14

And we’re back. Yes, these entries are in order.

diary15

In case anyone forgot.

diary16

Whoa. Daxton is out of the rotation.

diary17

Enter: Donny Griffin. Sure doesn’t seem like I’m very judicious with my love. If I spent half as much time on learning to spell as I did on acknowledging my love for anyone with a Y chromosome, we’d be in good shape.

diary18

There’s a lot going on here. Apparently I enjoyed learning about Anne Frank. I also worried a lot about our income tax return. I thought my TV debut—for something related to basketball and a telethon—would catapult me to stardom. I still loved Coach McCahon, and his body—despite his snotty behavior—but it wasn’t reciprocal. Spelling is still out of my wheelhouse.

diary19

Spoiler alert: I still love Coach McCahon, and Christi and I did not remain best friends for all of eternity, as I predicted—but hey, my grades were on point and I spelled some words right.

diary20

So much love to be had here. I’m still in love with a fully grown man, and Donnie (a new Donnie) is romantic. HOW? How is a 12-year old romantic? I have to know. Can someone remind me what pre-teens do to be romantic? Seems as if all that romance is fleeting, since I’m still with Donny G, but would also be down for some Donnie W, or Scott or Mike lovin’ on the side. Well, at least I also love my family and God—so some morsel of me remains honorable.

diary21

Sheesh, what’s with this income tax return? And why was I on TV again? I didn’t profess any love in this entry, but I can tell you that I wholeheartedly loved DQ. And it’s almost worrisome that I was so attached to my diary that I thought it could join me in prayer.

diary22

A new player: Mike Hammonds. I see no mention of love, so I must be taking things slow this time around.

diary23

Aww, poor Mike—I still don’t love him. I guess I’m just passing time until Coach McCahon and his “good body” get with the program.

diary24

I loved IZODS. I wonder if that’s why I was so obsessed with our income tax return?

diary25

I love God. I also love Coach McCahon, Mike Hammonds (although I question my sincerity on this one), God again, my family—and as a bonus, the w/w/w (whole wide world). That’s you—you’re welcome.

diary26

No love here, but I include it to tell you that my friends and I tried out for the talent show by dancing a choreographed number to MJ’s Billie Jean. On the opening beat, our backs were to the judges—as we stood with our feet shoulder-width apart—and one by one, we spun around and pointed out across the auditorium dramatically. We wore white tennis shorts, IZODs and Gilligan hats. I can’t make this up—nor would I want to.

Side Note: We didn’t make it.

diary29

I was single? How did I survive? Oh I know—on the “total” love I had for Scott Frederic.

diary30

Really diggin’ this Scott fellow. Let’s not allow the misspelling of his name to negate the obvious depths of my love.

diary31

But for now, Layne Moffitt will do.

diary32

I’m now going with Steven Moore, but love Ricky Schroder. Where’d Layne go? That was fast. I can say with confidence that I was more devoted to The Ricker than Steven, as I had approximately 104 pictures of him wallpapering my bedroom.

diary33

My love for Brad (yes, this is a new guy) is making me question my feelings for Steven.

dairy34

Annnd I’m back with Daxton. Enough time has passed that we’re now making out at dances. The first time around, we probably just played in the sandbox.

diary35

Oh hey, Travis. When did you get here? Have you met, Ricky?

diary36

I think kids who call people and chomp ice as their prank are totally mature enough to juggle a dozen loves in a few years.

I hope my diary was a way for me to work out all this angst and longing in a safe place—and that away from this time of reflection each night, I was out having fun and not drooling nonstop over these dudes. I have exponentially more memories of friends and laughter, than yearning and solitude, so I guess it was just an outlet I enjoyed. I must have, because I have stacks of journals from most of my life.

You should look back at your old stuff. Hopefully you’ll get some good news about your past ways, and not be confronted by the surprise news that the journal of your youth was actually a little black book housing enough names to field a pee wee football team.

The bad news? I only shared a fraction of the journal—and professions of love. The good news? Spelling is no longer my undoing.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

Say What?

I make every attempt possible to never say never. I even outlined my reasoning behind this ongoing personal goal here.

But this is different. Even though I don’t say things like, “I’ll never get a bad tattoo” or “I’ll never leave the oven on” (for fear of eating my words), I’m relatively certain you’ll never hear me say any of the following.

“No, thanks—I’m not really in the mood to hold your baby.”

At one time, I wanted to be a Rockin’ Mama so bad, I was calling around to all the hospitals, trying to get information on the process. It’s a program where hospital baby wards put you in rotation to hold babies who don’t have anyone—so the newborns can get love, warmth and human contact.

I just have an endless capacity to hold babies, and I get geeked when friends tell me they’re pregnant. I’m less geeked when they tell me we can’t actually share the baby. That’s pretty selfish; but I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes they’re all, “Oh, let’s lay him down so he doesn’t get used to being held while he sleeps” and I’m all, “Shut your dumb mouth.” The feeling of that warm little nugget on my chest is an unmatched delight for which my longing never ends.

“I’d really like to see him in a jock.”

I don’t care if you’re Roger Federer or Magic Mike, I don’t want to see you in a jock. No day is made better by seeing a man in a jock.

“No, thank you—I’m full.”

You might hear me say no to food, but it won’t be because I’m full. If it’s food I love (and not dessert), I’ve got the restraint of a pack of raccoons who’ve just found campfire leftovers. On special occasions (i.e. weekends and vacation), I like to eat until I’m full up to my collarbones. Some days—especially when traveling—my lone goal is to get hungry again after a meal. And I’m not ashamed to admit that when I’m greeted by that first hunger pang, it feels like such sweet victory—like precious hope in a dark, dark world.

“I don’t really care who wins the game.”

I have to root for someone. Even if I’m not following the teams or the series or the sport—if it’s on—I have to root for someone. I can’t be ambivalent. If nothing else, I just need a good human interest story on one of the players, and I’m set.

Me: Who are you for?
Jocelyn: Oh, no one really—I don’t really care about this one.
Me: No, come on—help. If it’s gonna be on, I need to root for someone.

The following are the types of things I’m looking for at this point—to tip me to one team or the other:

Jocelyn: Their coach is that one who made it to his 14th conference championship, but still got fired.
Jocelyn: A Utes win would help the Zags.
Jocelyn: Their running back got arrested for domestic violence.
Jocelyn: #4 has the little sister who can’t walk and he carries her everywhere.
Jocelyn: Their shooting guard wasn’t expected to ever play again after his compound fracture.

“There’s no hope for that situation.”

I believe there is hope for everything. Hope is what gives life color. Prayer—and a basic understanding that we don’t know a fraction of what we think we do—tells me that there is always hope.

“Here, take a picture of me drinking out of this straw!”

“And make sure to snap it when my eyebrows are raised mid-drink!” I just hate those posed drinking-out-of-the-straw pics. I can’t explain it. And the recent “Slurpie Day” was just an excuse for everyone to post one and dampen my day.

“Just sayin’.”

Unless you were raised by a honey badger (an animal who truly does.not.give.a.$%#@), then I challenge you to start taking steps to break this fall-back phrase habit. I understand how tempting it is to say what you want—no matter how hurtful or bossy or judgmental—and then smooth it over with a shrugging “jus’sayin’; but please stop.

It’s now so prevalent that people are ending posts and comments with “JS.”

“Well he sure is dumber than a box of hair. JS.”
“The sound of her voice alone makes me wish she’d burst into flames. Just sayin’.”
“My day would improve if she’d go play in traffic—jussayin.”

“Just sayin'” and “Bless her heart” are not get-out-of-being-a-jerk passes.

“I’m not reading anything at the moment.”

Lord-willing, you’ll never hear me say this. I read a lot and can’t imagine my life without books, stories, characters—and the joy they bring.

“Oh here, let me just throw this bloody Band-Aid down for the next person to see.”

I hope this is self-explanatory. Pretty much any awesome day can be wrecked by one sullied Band-Aid sighting.

“Nah, Mexican food just doesn’t sound that good today.”

This nonsensical statement is akin to, “I’m actually pretty ambivalent about oxygen today” or “I’ve never really bought into the wisdom of needing all 10 fingers.”

There is not a day on earth when I couldn’t get down with some tacos. Or burritos. Or chips and salsa. Or all of the above.

“Traveling is a hassle. I think I’ll just stay home.”

Nope. Hassles always arise when traveling—always. But the trade-off isn’t even in the same ballpark for me. A little airport or luggage nuisance in exchange for exploring the world and seeing new things? I’ll “endure” that any day, any time, anywhere. Almost anywhere.

“You relax—I’ll tie those balloons for you.”

I don’t want to blow them up either. I go too fast and too hard and end up hallucinating that Rue McClanahan has come back to cross stitch with me.

“I don’t care what kind of grocery carts they have.”

FALSE. Target’s new, chunkier carts have ruined me for all other carts. I’m obsessed. It feels like I’m pushing around a weightless hover craft. They make me want to sing and skip and do good deeds.

Additionally, there are no words for the sheer and utter joy those smaller half-carts bring me. They’re like little speedy athletes with the agility of a gymnast, the focus of a goalie and the eagerness of a Wimbledon ball boy.

If anyone ever combined the two carts, I’m not sure I’d make it out alive.

“You’ll never hear me refer to the universe as a living thing.”

“The universe has a way of …”, “The universe lets us know we should …”, “This is what the universe has told us …”, “This is what the universe asks of us …”

Never. Like, ever.

“Hmm, I haven’t heard from Whatsherface in a while; I think I’ll poke her on Facebook.”

“Why aren’t you breastfeeding?” or “Why are you breastfeeding?”

Why won’t you ever hear me ask this? Because it’s none of my business, and I assume a mother has a very good reason for her choices. Oh, and I’m not the breastfeeding police. Oh, and that’s right—it’s none of my business. Or did I already say that?

“I’m not a crier.”

I’ve been able to say that truthfully most of my life. But I’ve now come to accept that I can’t see a soldier’s reunion with a loved one or a marriage proposal, and not cry. I’m not a weepy, soppy mess—and I don’t cry over much else—but these two things start the waterworks. I also cry sometimes when I hear the song, O Holy Night. Not so much the David Archuleta version, as the Celine Dion one. And sometimes I cry when the food is over.

“Tush”, “Tushy” or “Bum.”

It’s butt, bottom, ass—or nothing. I remember once, a long time ago, I read a quote from Freddie Prinze, Jr., and he said someone was looking at his “tushy.” No. No, no, no. FPJ was instantly dead to me. He was a grown damn man calling his own butt a tushy. Maybe, maaaaybe if he’d been talking about his baby’s bottom, I could have let it go. But he wasn’t. And I no longer had a place for him in my life.

Do you have things you’ll never say?

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

 

Sometimes I Want Funyuns

My eating habits aren’t too bad. They’d need to be better if I cared more about six-pack abs than general happiness, but I do not—so for what I value most, I do pretty well. For me, the quickest way to make life less lovely, is to wake up day after day with food restrictions.

food

I opt for a more doable solution, which is simply … moderation. I eat really well more meals of the week than I don’t. If there are 21 meals in a week, I go wheels off for probably 6-7 of them. That’s really all there is to it.

When it comes to the other 14-15 food decisions, I’m usually pretty good.

Although.

Sometimes I eat good and stay mindful of what I’m putting in my body—doing quick calculations of my veggie and protein intake, ensuring I have a well-balanced eating day in the works … but sometimes, I just want Funyuns.

Sometimes I want to take a short plunge into clean eating—really go all-out whole foods from the earth—and truly experience feeling light and good and full of energy. I want to blog about whole food recipes that I’ve tweaked for full flavor; I want to post on Facebook about a new spaghetti squash recipe that hit the spot … but sometimes I just want two dozen donut holes and a quart of chocolate milk from the “spudnut shop” where I grew up.

Sometimes I count calories and do my best to stay away from empty ones (or ones that are a total waste simply because they’re not shared with someone who’s fun to eat with) … but sometimes I count how many Takis I can eat in a single sitting without a drink of water.

takis

Sometimes I want to go home after work and make baked Dijon chicken, cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, grilled asparagus from the garden and a spinach and edamame salad with Meyer-lemon balsamic vinaigrette … but sometimes I just want to whip up some Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. From the box. And not share.

It’s really not much different in other aspects of my life. My intentions are usually good and I typically end the day feeling pretty happy with my decisions and follow-through.

Except.

Sometimes while driving, I’m deep in thought, pondering the gift of life and love, the importance of forgiveness, the beauty of hope and the depth of my gratitude for having all of them … but sometimes I’m just thinking about all the ways Stephen Curry lights up an often dark world.

curry2

Sometimes I’m listening to books and learning more about things like Aspergers or organic gardening or slavery, through the magnificent characters in the stories I choose … but sometimes I’m listening to my iTunes library on shuffle, which means—for reasons I can no longer recall—I’m listening to Barry Manilow singing Even Now, live at Madison Square Garden.

Sometimes I wonder what it will be like to be in God’s presence. I think about the depth of His grace and mercy and play out all the ways I imagine Heaven to be—full of everything good and happy, from love and peace to music and feasts … but sometimes I just wonder what it would feel like to drive a riding lawnmower.

Sometimes I want to extend grace to the driver who rushed past everyone on the shoulder, and now demands entrance in front of me … but sometimes I want to get out of the car, assume an athletic stance—with my knees shoulder width apart—and fully extend my arms in front of me to flip them a double bird. For a full 5 Mississippi count.

Sometimes I want to dive into the gazillion pictures I have on multiple hard drives, and take time to go through them and delete near-duplicates and ones I’ll never need again … but sometimes I end up watching YouTube videos of animals who became unlikely friends.

unlikely friends2

Sometimes I want to stop wishing for it, and talking about it, and wanting it, and just get online and register for Rosetta Stone and learn Spanish … but sometimes I end up on curious.com trying to learn how to start a fire in the wild.

Sometimes I want to be really patient with people who aren’t keeping up, (like when I’m deep into a great story, and building to the ending, and then I reach the crescendo and someone says, “Now who was this about?” voiding out the entire narrative.) I want to be kind and understanding and give them the benefit of the doubt that I wasn’t clear who the main character was (even though I know I’m not that inept) … but sometimes I actually just want to forbid them from being in my presence until they’ve taken some classes on keeping up.

jimhalpert

Sometimes I sit down to hand-write a couple of notes or letters … but sometimes I end up just practicing my autograph instead.

Sometimes I want to be more limber and get my muscles stretched out. I’ll read about an ideal stretching routine and all its benefits … but sometimes I just squat like a catcher for 6-7 seconds, then pour myself a cold beer and take pictures of the garden.

Sometimes I become resolute in my intentions to kick my Chapstick habit addiction … but sometimes I tell myself to calm down and remember that there are worse compulsions— then I reward my enlightenment by replenishing my stash in every spot I might spend more than 10 minutes.

Sometimes I’m good at dealing with difficult people at work and at Costco. I employ tactics like imagining them as a 6-yr old child, or telling myself everyone is fighting some kind of battle … but sometimes I watch them being their stupid, controlling, infuriating self and I want them to burst into flames.

Sometimes I want to finally go through old boxes and throw away some things I’ve hung on to, and no longer care about … but sometimes I end up reading my middle school report cards and college basketball stat sheets—and posting them on Instagram. #baller #3pointsforme #notalwaysanAstudent #basketballb4boys

Sometimes I have the patience of Job and enjoy the journey … but sometimes I have the patience of an itch and just want all of the guacamole in my belly.

Sometimes I want us to keep saving as much money as we do now—even more—so we can spend our retirement very comfortably and happily, traveling the world and decorating a second home bungalow … but sometimes I think surely all these blood moons mean something, and the end is near, and maybe we should just head out now.

Sometimes I get really antsy wanting to go back to Italy and spend two weeks looking at the Mediterranean, enjoying the Tuscan countryside, eating fresh pasta, eating fresh bread, drinking local wine, getting away from work, getting away from traffic and construction, getting away from a schedule … but sometimes I … no wait, I always want that. Those intentions are solidly in place.

Where do your good intentions take a sharp left turn?

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What Would Louie Think?

Complaining was a lot more fun before I read the book Unbroken.

If you’re not familiar with the book or movie, just know that Louis “Louie” Zamperini (a real person), had his Olympic track dreams cut short when, in 1941, he was drafted into the air corps to serve as a bombardier. Louis then proceeded to:
1. survive an airplane crash in the Pacific Ocean (after being trapped in its wires deep in the sea)
2. survive being stranded at sea for 47 days
3. survive a series of POW camps (despite being targeted by a sadistic guard named Mutsuhiro “the Bird” Watanabe)
4. survive multiple brutal beatings and canings (one time, the Bird ordered more than 200 other POWs to punch Louie in the face, one after the other)
5. survive losing 68 lbs at sea and arriving at the first POW camp weighing 87lbs (and then getting severe dysentery, while enduring extreme starvation)

Side Note: You need to know that the 47 days at sea, also included 47 NIGHTS at sea. I’m gonna give you a few moments to really go there in your mind. I don’t particularly want to be in my own home in the dark—and neither do you.

Before we get into why this story really cramped my style, you need a few more facts. Louie and the other survivor, Phil, had to deal with sharks circling their raft daily. The sharks made their presence felt by rubbing their backs along the bottom of the raft, and as they became more aggressive and intentional, Louie would have to punch them repeatedly in the snout. Again, I’ll give you a moment.

Also worth noting, the emergency raft contained ration-D bars—a bitter chocolate designed to replace their daily caloric intake. Louie woke up in the morning to find all the chocolate gone … one of the initial other survivors had woken up and eaten them all. This meant they had NO FOOD left whatsoever. Imagine how you feel when someone eats your chocolate—and you have a store just down the road. But wait! Louie and Phil did get a little something to eat … the raw liver of a shark and the raw meat of an albatross. Sit for a minute with this disturbing information. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll move on.

Dinner.

Dinner.

The story, while magnificent, is a real fun ruiner. I read it a year ago, but it still monopolizes my thoughts at every turn.

I think: I’ll never make it to the end of the day if *insert co-worker’s name* doesn’t get her loud ass off that personal phone call.
I hear Louie:
So, now what is the problem? I’m confused. I’m really asking here, because regular canings didn’t stop me from making it to the end of my day, where I slept with rats.

I think: I really want to try on some new pants during lunch but, grrrrr, ugh, I don’t want to have to take my boots off.
I hear Louie: I wore the same clothes for over two years.

I think: I really want to go to LYFE Kitchen for lunch, but I never get totally full there.
I hear Louie: I ate raw bird parts while lost at sea.

I think: Ugh, I wish I had some lemon for this water.
I hear Louie: I was surrounded by nothing but salt water for 47 days and had to wait on rare rainfall to open up the hatch and grab a few drops.

I think: It’s FREEZING out here; this sucks.
I hear Louie: Oh, are you referring to the 3-minute walk from your heated car—that’s in covered parking—to your heated building? Yeah, your life is nearly impossible.

I think: I wonder if the mattress needs to be flipped? It seems to maaaaybe feel slightly more caved in right here by my torso.
I hear Louie: Your super plush mattress MIGHT need to be flipped? There MIGHT be a miniscule dip by your torso? Mine didn’t have that issues BECAUSE IT WAS A SLAB OF CONCRETE.

I think: Ugh, my sister won’t text me back—I texted her nearly 15 minutes ago.
I hear Louie: I had no contact with loved ones while imprisoned, and never knew anything. Never knew when someone got married, got sick, died, had a FUNERAL … and all you need to know is if your sister got the same weird friend request on Facebook?

I think: Sigh, I wish I didn’t have commitments this weekend.
I hear Louie: Yeah, it’s rough having plans with people you care about.

I think: You’ve got to be kidding me. Another meeting? For TWO HOURS????!
I hear Louie: You poor thing. Two hours in a temperature-regulated room, where they provide you with drinks and snacks—and pay you for your time—sounds downright dreadful.

I think: Ugh, I dread going to the store; we need so many things.
I hear Louie: Yeah, it’s hard having plenty of money to buy all the food you love most.

I think: I’m freezing!
I hear Louie: You’re in a home you love, that’s fully secure from drafts, with access to a thermostat, fireplace, a cord of wood, hot shower, hot bath and an endless amount of clothes, hot chocolate, hot tea and coffee. Shut your shameless noise hole.

I think: Groan, these thicker socks make my foot fall into the wrong grooves in my UGGs.
I hear Louie: I will strangle you with sheepskin.

If you want to be less ass’y and ridiculous, always consider what Louie Zamperini and the rest of the Greatest Generation would think.

Side Note: When I was younger, I’d tell people that the way I stayed out of trouble, was to imagine what my parents and coaches would say or think. It’s simple, but highly effective if you have a shred of pride. I obviously still did some really stupid stuff—but very few terrible things. Of course, as I grew up and got through grad school, I cared a little less about what some of those peripheral people thought, because I was a coach and teacher myself; but I still kept (and keep) the basic premise in tact.

I believe firmly that we can live less embarrassing, regretful lives if we simply consider the reactions of various people.

What Would Martha Stewart Think?
When you’re about to wad up a fitted sheet, stop for just two seconds and imagine Martha standing in the doorway, watching your every lazy move. I hope you’re imagining her arms crossed and the disgusted look she perfected way before she spent time in the clink.

What Would Your Future Child Think?
When you’re considering posting a pic that’s 75% cleavage and 25% duckface, tap the brake and imagine the look of confusion on your toddler’s face.

What Would Great Grandmother Esther Think?
When you’re about to purchase this:

digicup

Take a minute to imagine what your Great Grandmother would have to say. Hopefully you’re realistic in your mental inquisition, because Great Grandmother Esther is not going to be pleased.

What Would Your Guardian Angel Think?
When you have the opportunity to do some dirt, grab a little time from planning that mess, and figure out if it’s something that’s going to make your Guardian Angel look away. If it is—like if it’s something that’s gonna embarrass him among his Angel friends—back that truck up. *beep-beep-beep* This includes, but is not limited to, ALL THINGS SHADY.

What Would Oprah Think?
When you’re about to make a suspect life decision, ask yourself if it would jive with Oprah. Even if you’re one of those people who boldly claim to hate her, I bet you’d get your sorry act together if you met her.

Yeah, I know these things are just mental games—sort of like setting your alarm 14 minutes fast to trick yourself into getting up. Deep down, you know the score and know you have 14 free minutes; but shockingly, it still works the majority of the time.

It’s the same with this; because, of course there are times when you’ll just say, “Well guess what, the Greatest Generation ISN’T with me,” and you’ll go ahead and complain about your Keurig making piping hot coffee in less than a minute, but it being too hot to drink for another 10 minutes.” There will also be times when you say, “Eh, my Guardian Angels have seen it all,” and you’ll go ahead and throw your gum out on the sidewalk or create a fake account so you can do some cyber stalking.

blake

What we’re shooting for here is not perfection. We’re just trying to live a life with less complaining and better decision-making—things that contribute to a harmonious world.

So let’s wrap up with some best practices.

First, run every complaint through the Louie Zamperini Filter—and imagine he’s in the room with you. Do this and you won’t be so quick to announce you’re freezing or famished or exhausted–when you know dang good and well you have access to all the things made to combat those issues. It might also keep you from claiming an inability to be civil before coffee or nice when you’re hungry.

As for the rest of your day, only you know who influences and motivates you. Only you know who makes you want to be better. Think of them. Consider their reaction. And if that person’s name rhymes with Dill Dosby, Dama Dune or Day Dice, then you’ve totally missed the point and upset me greatly. Run, don’t walk, to get a copy of Unbroken and consider doing a quick re-boot on the hard drive that is your life.

Shoot. I just imagined Joyce Meyers reading that last line, and felt her disappointment. Man, this stuff really works.

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World Class Empathy

I’m not bragging, but I have a rather large capacity for empathy. Is it greater than yours? Maybe. Do you empathize with waiters of demanding people? Homeless folks in winter? NFL kickers who blow a win? Me, too; that’s child’s play.

Do you empathize with a candle’s life who was cut short because of your faulty wicking abilities? Do you feel bad when—because of your mistakes—a recipe goes awry and has no future with your family? Do you feel sorry for the rarely used Kelvin filter on Instagram? Does your heart ache for the remote control batteries who’ve performed flawlessly for six months, and who are now being thrown (with force) into the trash, while being called hurtful names? Nah, didn’t think so.

Most of you know I Talk To Fruit (and a good many of you do, too), so none of this should be too shocking. Let’s rip off that bandage.

I feel bad for my clothes and shoes that never get to go on vacations. I worry that the chosen ones act haughty in the closet or drawers when I’m not around, “Hey, Old Tee, have fun working in the yard today? *snicker* Hey, Old Jeans, how was that quick run to Kroger for the forgotten tortillas? *snort* Hey Too-Big College Sweatshirt, have fun painting? *high-fives vacation tee buddy* What—you don’t want to ask me if we had fun in Italy? Nope, you’re good?”

I hope this doesn’t happen, but I worry that it does. If I think too much about any of the lucky pieces acting superior when I’m not around, then I start fixating on ways to keep them separate—maybe some zoning in the closet to cut down on intermingling? I know the ones left behind don’t think life is fair. I know they wonder why they have to clean the pool filter and go up in the attic. Most of them have had their time in the sun, and been able to get out-and-about at some point in their lives, but I still worry about their self esteem.

Side Note: Now I’m wondering if my work clothes exude an air of importance, too. If I hear as much as a whisper about it, I’ll march them straight out to the garden and dig up an old potato. Don’t test me, Dress Clothes—don’t.test.me.

BBQ. Even though it’s loved by millions, I wonder if it fixates on the few of us who don’t care for it? Does my ambivalence towards ribs and barbecue sauce and potato salad bring it down and make it question its very existence? I feel like I need to show it some love occasionally, so its insecurities or possible feelings of unworthiness aren’t on my conscience. I want BBQ to enjoy its massive fan base, but I feel like maybe it can’t fully immerse itself in congratulatory gaiety because it knows I’m out there … never even considering it an option.

Harry feels the way I do.

Harry feels the way I do.

When I see a lady’s bra strap twisted on her back, I want to fix it. When I see a belt loop that’s been missed on a guy’s pants, I want to tell him. When I see the clasp on someone’s necklace butted up against the charm, I want to point it out. Why? Because all these things want to be pretty and do their job—and by no fault of their own, they instead, spend the day off their game. It’s especially unbearable if they see me see them in disarray, and watch me walk away. I worry about the message that sends them in regards to their importance in this life.

Side Note: I have a confession that doesn’t align with the previous confession. I’m very reluctant to I don’t tell people when they have something in their teeth or in their nose. I know, I know—lower your voice. I’ll answer your questions calmly. 1. No, I don’t want you spending the day like that. 2. Yes, I’d want to know. 3. No, I don’t think it’s OK to say nothing, but that’s what I’m going to do.

kwiig teeth

Oh hey Kristin, you have … there’s … you have … such kind eyes.

I feel bad for things that do such a good job—such a solid, thankless job—and because they’re not flashy, they go unnoticed … until, that is, they don’t do their job.

Think of the anger directed at such priceless items like water heaters, washers, dryers, refrigerators and car batteries. It’s shameful the names they’re called once they meet their Maker. A sorry S.O.B. and a stupid P.O.S. Where was the praise for their solid performance hour after hour, day after day? Did you offer even one ‘attaboy along the way, when it functioned a thousand times without incident?

How about your body? You love your pretty eyes and strong forearms, but have you admired your kidneys lately? No. Revered your thyroid? Doubtful.

Imagine a few hard-working bodies meeting up for a beer after their owners are asleep. Every part is sitting around, exhausted from putting in their thankless time for the 7000 day? 18,000th day?

Head: So how was everyone’s day?
Chorus: Eh, pretty good.
Brain: I’m wiped out. Tina worked 18 hours today while taking calls from Jake’s school, because he put bugs in Sadie’s pencil box—so she was all over the place mentally, and is barely asleep now, so keep it down.
Butt: Laney talked shit about me all day—no pun intended. She tried to squeeze into some jeans from last year, and then talked bad about me to every friend who would listen. It really bummed me out.
Eyes: Waa-waa, Michael’s been talking smack on me since he turned 40 in April.
Retina: (interrupting) Shut up beautiful Caramel Eyes, he’s not talking bad about YOU, he’s talking bad about ME. You get complimented almost daily. It’s me he’s treating like crap, because he needs reading glasses.
Lips: I guess I should count myself among the lucky, Bette seems to like me. She keeps me hydrated and lets me in on all the gossip. And best of all, she ditched her boyfriend with the constant stubble—I hated that lumberjack.
Hands: Pretty good day. I was cold a lot—couldn’t seem to shake the chill, but all in all I had a good day.
Liver: Hey guys, I can only stay a minute; I’ll be working overtime tonight. Maddie went to happy hour and got into some tequila, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Sphincter: Dani just doesn’t get it. She was taking a Buzzfeed quiz today and it asked what body part was her favorite and she said her lips. Guys! She said her lips! She never gave me a second thought—I wasn’t even in the running! That’s a girl who just doesn’t understand basic biology. You wait, one day, when I’m in a bad mood, I’m gonna show her once and for all why answering anything other than sphincter is a bad, bad move.
Heart, Lungs, Large Intestine: Chill out Sphinc, we’re way ahead of ya. You are truly important, but we’re vital and Chris has never once talked about us like he talks about his pecks and calves. You just have to get over it.

causeapplause

Fanny packs. The one and only thing wrong with fanny packs is their name. It saddens me that these poor, handy bags had their life cut short because of a detrimental naming mistake. I feel just as badly for me as I do for them. Imagine if that convenient delight had a cool name like “hip sling.” They’d still be enjoying the limelight, and we’d still be enjoying a life with both arms and hands.

I don’t know a single girl who doesn’t wish it was acceptable and cool at certain times to wear a hip sling—Disney, the zoo, a movie, etc. I want to find the person who said, “fanny pack!” and explain what they’ve done to us. I simply must know how the word “fanny” ever even came up in the first place. Even “waist wallet” is better than fanny pack, and waist wallet is super bad. Crossbodies and messenger bags are terrific, because they keep you hands-free—it’s as good as we can hope for thanks to the fanny debacle—but they start making one side of your body hurt after a while, because they’re not balanced. Poor hip sling. Poor me. Curse you fanny pack namer!

As worked up as I am, I need to move on. I’ve got appliances to brag on and a tumbler of water that needs ice to feel sassy.

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

I have a passion for traveling—deep, abiding wanderlust and a consuming love for adventure.

I’ve been fortunate to visit 42 of the 50 states, and various places like Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Mexico and Canada. Two years ago, though, I was finally able to take two full weeks off and travel overseas. Thankfully, I got to do the same thing about a month ago. During those combined four weeks, we visited Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Greece—with 75% of that time spent in Italy. Heavenly, dreamy, unmatched Italy.

Before my first true international trip, I was under the assumption the biggest challenge would be communicating with locals. I thought it might be frustrating trying to read signs and order pasta and wine. I believed we’d encounter many residents who really didn’t want us in their village, town or country. I had a lot of preconceived notions about what traveling abroad would entail. Boy, was I wrong. None of these concerns came to fruition—not one.

But there were real surprises for which I had not accounted.

1. Trusting strangers becomes normal and natural.

I don’t know why, but I found myself trusting people and situations I’d have never even considered back home. In fact, there were times I didn’t want to text anyone in my family about something, because I knew it would sound the alarm.

Case in point.

Jocelyn and I headed to the train station in Salzburg, Austria to board a train going to Venice, Italy. Because of a stretch of railway under construction, we were going to have to take a train part of the way, then transfer to a bus, then back to a train. The first train leg was amazing in every way—watching the Austrian countryside become the Italian countryside was a dream come true. We disembarked and made our way to the bus to ask about tickets. It was leaving soon, and although we try to never split up when traveling—and succeed at this about 98% of the time—time was of the essence, and I needed to wait with our bags while Jocelyn ran in to buy tickets.

Suddenly, after a few minutes of me frantically looking back and forth at the driver (who was clearly getting ready to hit the road), and the door (where I hoped she’d shoot out of, with tickets in hand), he waved at me in a way that said, “We’re leaving and you’re not going with us.”

I was a bit crestfallen because we had a room reserved in Venice and the next train wasn’t leaving for hours. I wheeled our bags into the ticket area, where I found Jocelyn … beaming.

Me: They left.
She: (all bright-eyed and awash in jubilation): There’s a lady who can take us to the train station in Latisano!
Me: (hard, slow blink … stare … trying to make sense of the words coming out of her mouth and reconcile them with the merriment in her eyes): I’m sorry; what’s that?
She: I met a lady. She’s like a mix between my mom and yours, totally normal and nice, and she heard me trying to get tickets and tapped me on the shoulder. She said she just dropped her college-aged daughter off and was driving back to Latisano and would be happy to give us a ride!
Me: You want to ride in a car … on the highway … with a stranger? Is this what you’re telling me?
She: She’s not a stranger! She’s Katherine! And she’s a mom! Oh, here she comes—what do you think?

I’ll cut to the chase. Katherine was indeed a mix of Katy and Meralyn—in both maternal demeanor and warm disposition. She had a nice mini-van and the three of us had quite the little adventure.

While en route, I sent a text to my mom and dad: “So, I can’t send a lot of texts, but I figured this would qualify as important. We’re speeding along the Autobahn at 90mph with a mom named Katherine who helped us out of a jam. Don’t worry! More details through email later!”

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It gets better. We had some time to kill before going to the train station and she asked if we’d like to visit the local winery and get some vino to take with us. Oh, why not.

We got there and ended up meeting some neat people and seeing part of the real-deal wine-making process. It was as Italian as it gets, and we were in hog Heaven. We just kept sneaking looks at each other like, “This is crazy. We’re crazy.”

Umberto Baccichetto Winery ... and Katherine translating.

Baccichetto Winery … and Katherine translating.

We bought red and white wine, and she asked if we’d like to see the villa she and her husband were building. Go to a remote location with a stranger in another country? What’s not solid about this plan?

But, it was beyond cool. Very “International House Hunters.”

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After the tour, she took us to the train station, and we felt like we were saying goodbye to a beloved aunt. We took our seats, and the train started moving. We just looked at each other, shook our heads and laughed.

I’m thankful we trusted our instincts and intuition, and said yes. It’s an experience we still talk and smile about today.

A similar’ish thing happened on our most recent trip to Italy. We were leaving a two-day Farm Stay at a working organic farm between Rome and Naples. Our cab driver picked us up at 6am, to take us to the bus station. From there, the bus was going to take us to the train station in Rome, for our ride to the Amalfi Coast.

He picked us up in supremely rural Italy, in the pre-dawn darkness, and took us to his full-time job—the restaurant he owned that overlooked incoming and outgoing buses. We got there a little early and he said, “Come in’a, come in’a, I make a’cappuccino!” We followed him as he raised up a garage door-like front. He turned the lights on, got the coffee machine going and we talked about his family. He presented us with a perfect espresso, and as we finished it, our bus arrived and he sent us off.

Sweet Maro and his Bar & Pizzeria.

Sweet Maro and his Bar & Pizzeria.

There wasn’t one thing truly scary about any of it, except the idea that we should be wary—but we just weren’t. It was another lovely experience.

2. Bathrooms.

Bathrooms are surprising, for so many reasons and in so many ways. Even if you aren’t one who discriminates between public restrooms and the ones in your home—a lot of the bathrooms overseas will test your resolve.

My first experience with this was at the winery Autobahn Katherine took us to. I was about to bust and asked the owner for a restroom (well, Katherine did; he didn’t speak a lick of English). I hustled back, only to come face to face with this:

The heck?

The heck?

I just stared—truly unsure of what I was seeing or what I was supposed to do with it. I buttoned back up and poked my head out and did a quick, “Psst!” in Jocelyn’s direction. I tossed my head like, “Come here! Trouble is afoot!” and she rushed over. I said, “What is this madness?” She laughed so hard. Even after her explanation, I kind of wanted to die— but I had to go too bad to waver much longer. That was my first, but not last, foray into in-ground toilets. Here is another one in Desenzano, Italy. Again, I’d waited far too long to discriminate; it was this or an even worse alternative.

So we meet again.

So we meet again.

Side Note: If/when you travel overseas for the first time, make a point to use a WC when you see one. They’re not as plentiful as they are in the states, and as a best practice, you should take advantage of the free ones when they appear. (Yes, exactly when you are at your most desperate, they’ll cost €1 to use.) Oh, WC stands for “water closet” … bathroom.

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Greece upped the ante with many, many WC’s displaying signs reminding users to not flush toilet paper. I’ll say it again … you’re not supposed to flush used toilet paper in the toilet. You’re supposed to put it in the trash. I don’t feel guilty telling you I rarely followed this order.

Most of the time, it was neither here nor there, but truly, the Santorini airport smelled like a giant port-o-potty—which was shocking, because the island itself is stunning beyond measure.

There is one particular highlight of all the restrooms though—the signs on the doors  indicating the gender. I wish I’d taken pictures of all of them from both trips, but I do have a few. Each and every WC has its own personality and it’s fun to see them all.

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3. The array of quality—and fun—transportation.

Another surprising thing about traveling overseas is how many forms of transportation you take—and often in the same day. It becomes second nature to hop on a train, a bus, a ferry, a quad, a funicular, a plane, a bike, a scooter, a kayak, a gondola. And it’s all so organized and seems to run like clockwork. The schedules for us, so far, have been largely accurate and seamless. It makes you realize how far behind most states in the U.S. are, when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B—without a car.

My absolute favorite—trains.

My absolute favorite—trains.

Quads, scooters, bikes.

Gondolas, planes, buses.

Ferries, chairlifts, funiculars.

Side Note: Jocelyn and her mom have this word they say that means one of several things. The word is “oofta” and it can mean something’s hot, something’s cold, something’s strenuous, something’s shocking, etc. A synonym might be “wowza” or “yikes” … from what I gather.

Anyway, we were on a train going to Cinque Terre … the region of Italy with the five famous villages that look like this:

Nothing compares to Cinque Terre, Italy.

For reasons still unclear, the train was jam-packed and we ended up having to ride in the area between the carts, where you typically just board and pass through. There was a pole in the middle that we were able to hold on to. Here:

If you don’t note a hint of impending hysteria on my face, then you’re not looking.

Standing—and holding on to the pole during a ride—normally wouldn’t be necessary, because that area isn’t often crowded. Most of the time, it’s only used by someone getting on, and then quickly off, at the next stop. But this time, more and more people kept boarding at each stop and we were completely smashed in there. In fact, upon subsequent stops, we became so tight and immobile that the next time we stopped, and the doors opened, we bellowed, “No room!” But guess what; 11 more people shoved their way in, and Jocelyn and I became separated (but when you’re in an 8×8 area, what’s the difference?) We had never experienced such an over-packed train—and the escalating situation would’ve been comical—if it weren’t for the HOUR remaining on our trek.

Then came the smells, y’all. The smells. With every boarding body came a new odor. It was a 95 degree morning and many people had their arms held high, grasping the pole, and others had opted to skip toothpaste. I started getting slightly panicked, not over anything clausterphobia-related—I’m not clausterphobic—but over the smells, and if I was going to survive them. We were so sandwiched in place, that I couldn’t even bring my hand up to cover my nose, so I was getting nasal-assaulted in a major way. Someone in particular was quite tart—like really super-rank—and I was talking myself off a ledge, when all of a sudden I heard a faint, “Oofta!” Suddenly, all was right in my world, because in the midst of that tense ride—even though I couldn’t see her—I realized Jocelyn detected the funk and registered its severity, and I began silent shake laughing to the point of tears.

4. Architectural character.

One of my absolute favorite surprises abroad is, not just their architecture, but how they build their homes, towns, villages, shops and cafes around the landscape … and into the landscape—not leveling it all and starting fresh. It’s exquisite. It’s swoon-worthy. It’s the definition of character—and it’s captivating. Getting away from cookie-cutter buildings, strip malls, houses and highways—and immersing yourself in the pure art of their landscape—is breathtaking.

Nothing sparks my creativity or sends me into a glorious daydreaming stupor more than being surrounded by such character and beauty.

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Although, along with this design style comes one very predominant thing. STEPS. Lots and lots and lots of steps.

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Regardless of ample transportation options, our #1 preferred mode is walking. It’s truly pleasurable to be able to get around by foot—something we simply can’t do back home. Our Fitbits got LOTS of playing time. The image below was just one particular day.

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5. Traveling changes how you think.

Traveling overseas—or really anywhere for me—makes my head spin in such a good way. When I’m in new places, seeing fresh sights—and away from my normal routine—it becomes so glaringly obvious to me that we (as people) just aren’t doing life right. That’s a strong statement, but I believe it. I work 48 weeks a year, so I can do what I actually want to do four weeks a year. I don’t know about you, but that math is a real downer.

Don’t get me wrong, I L-O-V-E those 48 weeks—namely the evenings and weekends—but I love them in a different way than I love traveling. They’re comfortable, safe and very fulfilling; but, they don’t ignite my imagination the way adventures do.

Inevitably, every time I travel, whether it’s abroad or two states over, more than one person asks on Facebook, “Do you ever work?!” It’s comical to me. Why, during the 48 weeks I work, doesn’t anyone ask, “Don’t you ever take time off?!”

We met many people on our trips who were in the middle of month-long vacations. Successful, well-balanced people.

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Traveling is a blessing. I’m so abundantly grateful every single time I get to climb out of the lather, rinse, repeat cycle of commuting to work—to see how others live and to enjoy their landscape and eat their food and hear their stories. I thank God every time I get the opportunity to experience more of His world. I don’t travel to escape my life—I’m in love with my life—I travel to show my eyes something new; to open my mind to life outside of my tiny, tiny world, and to revel in the heart-swelling splendor of it all.

6. I almost forgot.

The single most surprising thing about traveling 5,600 miles away is passing Guy Fieri on the chairlift—and somehow capturing a pretty clear selfie—on the Isle of Capri.

Yes, this happened.

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