I Am Not Fit For Calamity

I Am Not Fit For Calamity.

How do I know this? The power in our house went out for two hours (in broad daylight) and I reexamined my whole life.

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I like to fancy myself a resilient and resourceful go-getter; but that assertion got tested and destroyed just a few minutes into this misadventure.

For starters, I had trouble figuring out why WiFi wasn’t working. Since it’s just in the air, it being off made no sense. Did our WiFi air go off, too? Was the ever-mysterious Cloud involved in this?

Once I reconciled the WiFi situation, I roamed around for several minutes, noticing how dark it seemed.

“Jocelyn, does it seem super dark to you?”

“Not really, it’s 10:30 in the morning—it’s not dark in the classic sense of the word, just darker than usual.”

“Hmm, well it seems debilitatingly dark to me,” I said, and proceeded to walk with extra caution, holding my hands out to tap things so I wouldn’t run into them.

I’d already had my coffee for the morning, but thought I’d throw caution to the wind and make some more. If we were stuck with no lights, I might as well sip some java and ponder life on the back porch, where there was sunshine to light my way.

Crap. No power for the Keurig. Like, really? That, too? So let me get this straight—in the absence of electricity, we just can’t have anything hot? That’s ridiculous. Do you know how many things I prefer hot? I’ll tell you three: coffee, showers and breakfast.

And why was the power out anyway? It wasn’t even storming. Is that even a thing? To lose power from, just, nothing?

I guess I was stuck with stupid water. I carefully felt my way into the pantry for a bottle of water—and to scope out the canned food situation, should this go another full hour. Then I remembered I had a cold bottle in the fridge. Yes!

No.

“JOCELYN! The light’s out in the fridge! Do we even have those little replacement bulbs?”

“Anna. The power is out. That means the fridge is out—it’s not the bulb.”

“I know the fridge is out, but it’s also dark, so that’s a faulty-ass bulb we’re dealing with.”

<audibly exhalation> “I’m going for a run,” she said.

“How can you run when the power is out?”

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“I’m just saying, isn’t this sort of perilous? Am I safe here alone?”

<door shuts>

I decided to get on my iPhone, since 4G is apparently far superior to WiFi and doesn’t bolt at the first sign of the rapture. Then I noticed my battery was at 51%. Ugh, it must not have charged right last night. I made a note to send my new charging cords back to Amazon. I didn’t like that 3-pack anyway. They were too long and too stiff. How’d they get all those good reviews?

What if my phone gets to 49% What then? I cannot abide a phone under 50%. I can barely tolerate one in the 70s. I started wracking my brain for charging options. Could I plug it into my MacBook? I knew the MacBook wouldn’t be plugged in, but it had a full charge—could it transfer power? I’d need my phone more than my laptop—so maybe it was worth a try?

This complicated line of thinking zapped too much mental energy—energy I needed to reserve, if life as I knew it was over.

I gathered up all our candles, which was no easy task in a dim house (all alone, I remind you). I spread them throughout the kitchen and living room, wanting to make the house as welcoming as possibly when Jocelyn got back. I didn’t want a cavernous house to ruin her runner’s high.

I got all the candles lit, surveyed my work, and applauded my resourcefulness.

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Jocelyn came through the door and looked less appreciative than I expected.

“It’s noon,” she said. “It’s noon on a Saturday—not a cloud in the sky. Let’s blow these out and get ourselves together.”

Well hello Passive Aggressive, you old friend.

But I let it go, because I knew it was just the fear talking. She was no more ready to face a life of scarcity than I was.

I simply blew half of the candles out, left 12 flickering, and headed to the shower before the powerless water got below freezing.

I paused before rounding the corner, “Please take a little time while I’m showering to formulate a plan and decide how we want to move forward with so little.” I didn’t look at her, but felt sure she was nodding lovingly.

As I showered, I prayed, “Dear Lord, thank you for such a good run. Thank you for so many years of abundance and light and nourishment. I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time learning how to survive in the wilderness. I should’ve been studying survival techniques instead of watching Matt Steffanina’s dance tutorials. I should’ve been stocking up on canned beans instead of beer. Lord? Can all that beer sustain us through the dark days? Or should I believe the saying, ‘man cannot live on beer alone?’ What’s that? Did You say something about bread? Lord, I can’t hear You through all the chatter in my brain—and with this cold water pelting me. Just please know that I trust You to get us through this. They say if you’re going through hell, to keep going—and that’s what I plan to do. What’s that? Did You say something? Lord, is that You? Are You a lady?!”

Then I realized I was hearing Joanna Gaines’ voice.

The TV was on. HOW WAS THE TV ON WITHOUT ELECTRICITY? Was this actually the end times? Holy moly, I had to get some clothes on. I couldn’t meet God like this.

I dressed quickly and hurried to find Jocelyn, who was standing behind the couch, folding towels and watching Fixer Upper.

I put my hands out to the side and did a little head whip like, “What’s going on?”

“Power’s back on,” she said, barely looking away from the most perfect industrial farmhouse I’d ever laid my eyes on. “Let’s go out for lunch after I fold these.”

I took a second to feel the rush of relief. Oh, sweet deliverance, thou art mine.

“OK. Let’s run in Costco, too. I want to get some beans.”
“Sure.”
“And batteries.”
“Yep.”
“And an industrial-sized bag of tealight candles.”
“Sounds … uh, good.”
“And let’s swing by Half Priced Books. They’ve got a section on survival.”

She nodded slowly—probably taking time to appreciate how thoughtful and proactive I was, and said, “Ooookie-dokie.”

Later, when we were driving, I silently prayed, “Lord, thank You for knowing I am not fit for calamity. And please don’t be upset that Jocelyn ran at the first hint of catastrophe, she just … what’s that, Lord? Did You say something about exercise? These potholes are loud, sorry. Anyway, next time we lose everything, I’ll do better. I’ll be ready. I’d prefer it if You just spared me the whole ordeal, and maybe let more competent folks lose their home, but if You see fit to taketh away, I’ll make You proud. I won’t be able to make You coffee, but I’ll make You proud! What’s that, Lord? Did you say something about a day job? I can’t hear You when I’m laughing at my own funny jokes. Anyway, I do love You—Amen.”

 

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(Still) Uniting In Fury

Usually, when people get all amped up and fearful over things like Ebola and public breastfeeding, I’m just over here scared to death of sending a text to the wrong person, or accidentally hitting “like” on a Facebook post I hate.

So while you’re searching for the perfect bumper sticker to properly illustrate your feelings about Hillary in 2016, I’m fighting a losing battle with Saran Wrap—and pretty ticked about it.

From the time I tear it off, to the time I place it over a dish, one of two irksome things happen. It either curls up on itself like the melting wicked witch of the West, or it attaches itself around my arms—refusing to let go. Neither is behavior I tolerate well. Maybe it just doesn’t like its lot in life? If it did, it would take pride in its work and pull off effortlessly against the perforated edge, and stay spread out—like a flying sheet—as it approached a dish.

Anyway, here we are, Uniting In Fury like we have a couple of other times, about things that make us madder than they should. Let’s get it.

If there is anything more maddening than a water hose that loses its flow because it kinks, then you better tell me what it is. For some reason, it sends me into a place of near-rage, and I literally have to tell myself I’m being filmed so I don’t act a fool as I drop the nozzle to go untangle the disaster. Sometimes I try to whip it up and down to unravel it from afar.

I’ve found success with this method approximately no times.

I genuinely—as in, really and truly—believe it’s God messing with me to lighten His load. I think He’s up there handling a lot of real serious, real heart-heavy stuff and just needs some comic relief—and picks me to shake-laugh at. He kinks the hose, stops the water flow, watches me try to whip it around before making the walk of shame to the knotted part, then doubles over in His throne snorting. Then I think he taps Jesus on the shoulder and says, “You gotta watch this” as He makes it flip around like a dancing snake and spray me.

Yes, Sir.

Yes, Sir.

Get as fired up as you want about our borders or having to press one for English—I’m saving my wrath for people who double-click links online. When someone who isn’t new to computers does this, I want to fall on a rusty sword. If you’re nodding along with me, then you don’t do this; if your head is cocked like a little Jack Russell Terrier, then maybe you’re guilty. Ssshhh, we don’t even have to talk about it—if you double-click links, instead of single clicking them like the Good Lord intended, just stop, and I won’t make any more trouble for you.

The alternative.

The alternative.

Do you ever think of something you want to Google and when you get the chance later, you can’t remember what it was? So frustrating! It never helps when someone close to you tries to help.

You: Crap. What did I say I was going to Google? Do you remember?
Someone: Weren’t you going to look up Neti pots?
You: No. I already did that—like a week ago.
Someone: Were you going to see if you were eligible for an iPhone upgrade?
You: No. I mentioned it earlier, in the car, when we were passing the new Whole Foods.
Someone: Oh. Hmm. Was it when we were wondering if owls mate for life?
You: No. I already know they do. Well, they get around a little, but only make baby owls with the same owl.
Someone: You’re making that up. I want to Google it. Remind me later.
You: Come onnnnn, what was it? You were there when I brought it up!
Someone: I’m not sure; I just remember you asking about the blood moons.
You: Yeah, but I wasn’t going to Google that. I’ll just ask my parents.
Someone: OK, well I can’t help you. I’m out of ideas.
You: Oh! It was that Taylor Swift song! I wanted to see if the “hella good hair” reference was Harry Styles! *does a little happy jig*
Someone: How do you survive life?

Side Note: Speaking of Google, it’s fun to play the Google game when you have friends or family over. Everyone has to pull out their smart phone and say what they Googled last—no matter how embarrassing (“embarrassing” includes, but is not limited to, things they should already know and things they shouldn’t care to know.)

It’s awesome to watch everyone pull it up and then see heads drop.
Me: OK, quick, we’ll start with Rob and move clockwise—go.
Rob: How tall is Miley Cyrus?
Candace: What’s God’s address?
Brian: Does a watched pot really never boil?
Laura: How do I use my super powers for good?
Leslie: How can I plug a USB cord in the right way the first time?
Jennifer: Are mice just baby rats?
Justin: Why can’t I do a pull up?
Mike: How do you spell bootylicious?
Jocelyn: Do owls get around in the off season?
Promise me you’ll play it next time you have company.

Oh my gosh, I get so mad when I click over to ESPN and they’re showing the World Series of Poker. Are you kidding me with this? HGTV doesn’t show people playing Candy Land. CNBC doesn’t show the World Series of Monopoly. Stop this madness. I’m not saying the World Series of Poker shouldn’t exist, necessarily, I’m just asking that it be on the Game Show Network … or another channel I never go to, so I don’t have to be mad when I’m snacking on Takis and in the mood for SportsCenter.

What is it about individual athletes that makes them think it’s OK to talk about their good performance like a total douche-canoe?  “Well, you know, I played amazing tennis today. And I’ve been playing incredible tennis for a few months now. I’m hitting the ball excellently and reading my opponent like a true master.”

emma

Whoa! Really? I just went from cheering you on to kind of wanting you to lose the next few. When you hear a post-game interview with a star from a team sport, it’s typically more like, “Well, I couldn’t have done what I did without my teammates, man. They got me the ball and also did their thing when I was in that 2nd quarter slump. Our coaches had us ready with an amazing game plan and we worked hard to execute it all week. I gotta give it up to the staff and my teammates, and thank God for this chance.”

Then, a golfer. “I’m just really one-of-a-kind. I’m swinging a great club and my trajectory is unmatched. I’m one of the greats and will remain unchallenged the rest of the year if I just play my game.” Now I’m wishing individual sports would also be shown on the GSN.

Do you know what angers me on the highway more than a forgotten blinker? When I see a motorcycle with those absurdly high handle bars.

Have you seen this tomfoolery?

Have you seen this tomfoolery?

Doesn’t it just make their already rough motorcycle life harder? Who wants to steer above their head? How quick is their reaction time when their hands are completely numb? Which reminds me … if you have this kind of motorcycle and I end up anywhere near you, I better see you shaking some circulation back into your extremities when we get to a red light. Oh, for the love of Lucy. Are you kidding me? The handle bars have a name? APE HANGERS? Excuse me while I go work off this rage.

This should help.

This should help.

Recently I found myself mad at my sister. I was having to take a lot of extra time to text her; because, for some mind-boggling reason, she requires full spelling and grammar accuracy in texts. I was telling her something really important and she wrote back, “Is there a reason why you’ve stopped capitalizing words?” I just stared, open-mouthed before responding, “I haven’t stopped capitalizing—I’m just typing fast!” I waited on a quick “jk!” back, but nope, she responded, “Uh, not true. Lately you’ve been texting like maybe you didn’t pass the language portion of the SAT.”

So now it takes me twice as long to construct texts to her liking. The only thing that will assuage my anger, concerning this rule of hers, is that now I know exactly how to get under her skin. “hey sis, i was wndring if i could take libby 2 a movie tmrw?” Boom, take that, Lady. “Not if you can’t take more pride in your written word.” Bang. Winner: Big Sis.

Moving on.

What. The. Blankety. Blank. is this disaster?

Why have prom mums gotten big enough for a casket?

Why have prom mums gotten big enough for a casket?

Maybe it’s not ideal that something that makes you happy, makes me mad, but we’ll just have to move on. I refuse to spend one more second trying to understand whyyy anyone wants a mum so big it has to be worn like an apron.

A second cousin to the mum fiasco is the sorority girl side-pose and the group shot with a front row of half-squatters.

This is not natural, people. I've gone my whole life without posing this way and it's worked out just fine.

This is not natural, people. I’ve gone my whole life without posing this way and it’s worked out just fine.

Peeing? Need to pee? What is this?!?!

Peeing? Need to pee? WHAT IS THIS?!?!

No, GUILTY PARTIES, it’s actually not necessary. I was in group pics for a few decades, where not one single solitary person pulled this crap—AND WE WERE ALL ACCOUNTED FOR. When I see these pics, my jaw tightens and I immediately imagine our forefathers seeing one and becoming awash in confusion, and then I feel sad about their confusion and extra mad at the girls who confused them.

I’m also not happy about the frequency with which I’m still seeing memes, status updates and tweets that end in “said no one ever.” It was semi-partially-a-tiny-bit OK for about four weeks. That time has come and gone, Folks. I feel the same about “at the end of the day.” I fully understand how easy it is to use this phrase, I just ask people to mix it up with, “when it’s all said and done” or maybe, I don’t know … silence. While we’re on this topic, I’ll go ahead and tell you that “just sayin’” is going to get its own blog post some day. Until then, please try to pull back on this one, as well.

Side Note: I got a text from my mom awhile back:
Promise me here and now that you’ll never use the “said no one ever” line.
Oh, don’t worry—I promise.
Thank you Sweetie. Sleep good. Ily

Now I can’t stop venting my anger.

Bad perfume angers me on its own; but, the fact that bad perfume is always worn too heavily—like she dunked herself in it and then re-applied it to each pulse point every hour—makes me want to twist up a wet towel and pop her with it. I don’t care if she’s 30 or 90, I’ll snap her good. It’s not maddening just because it’s not my kind of scent, it’s that the worst perfumes (and the ones worn like a cloak) actually make my stomach hurt like I’m sitting in traffic behind a diesel truck.

gag

I love Pinterest dearly, but I lose it when I’m trudging through a healthy eating week, and then happen upon some cheddar drop biscuits. Are you serious with this? Do you know what someone like me does to biscuits? Probably what someone like you does to warm cookies. It’s not for innocent eyes. I wish Pinterest would implement something similar to child safety settings, but for people trying to eat well. Then I don’t have to obliterate a healthy-eating run just because I scroll past some buffalo mac and cheese. We could also turn on the safe settings when we get back from vacation, and don’t want to see all the new places we have to wait another year to visit.

Last thing (for today) … there is something people say that makes me mad enough to tackle them—and lead with my helmet.

“I’m bored.”

Even typing it makes me see red. This response is not my own, but I wish it was because I love it so much. Someone once said, “You have seen none percent of this world—boredom is inconceivable.” And it truly is impossible for me, thus far in my life, to be bored. I’m never, ever bored. As long as I’ve got ears to hear, eyes to see and a voice to converse—and as long as there are books and food and loved ones—there isn’t a way in the world to be bored. I think I’d punish my child more for saying she’s bored than for using the F-word.

Just sayin’.

OK, let’s hear it. Y’all always have such funny things that get you worked up and mad. I want to hear them!

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My Untimely Demise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

escalatorcard

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

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

Battery-operated butchery.

Battery-operated butchery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I did not account for was his wherewithal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fear Factor

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

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

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

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

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

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

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

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

I can't.

I can’t.

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

Well that's unlucky.

Well that’s unlucky.

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

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

ladysailor

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

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

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

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

So yeah—I’m scared.

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

These are MILD examples of my fear.

These are MILD examples of my fear.

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

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

Well I Never!

I can’t say what’s right for you and your life, but I know for mine, saying “never” is a big no-no. Saying I’ll never do something is the fastest and most certain way of seeing it come to life in full HD.

I’ve touched on it before, but when I first started actually noticing being brought down a notch, was when I piped off that I’d never work retail. Not only was I sporting a Barnes & Noble name tag before long, but I was doing so with a Master’s Degree and a meaningful 7-year career under my belt.

Talk about being humbled.

Talk about being humbled.

I had to learn some serious humility (and quick) because every time a jackhole customer got snippy over an out of stock book—and looked at me like it must be my fault because only uneducated slackers would work retail and have an out of stock book—I had to keep myself from launching into the very logical explanation of what led me to that position.

I wanted to tell them all about my education and previous career. I wanted to say I wasn’t a person without ambition—and this job was temporary. I wanted to show them every single book in the store I’d read and assure them most of the associates were wonderful, well-read people. I also wanted to tell them Amazon might be a better option for them because in the privacy of their mother’s basement, no one could see them in their tighty-whities whining like a little punk because we didn’t keep our Lawmen of the Old West section stocked to his satisfaction.

I did none of these things. God was good. He taught me multiple lessons in one fell swoop.

Self-Reporting: In the year I was there, I only have one moment I look back on with any measure of shame. I was closing on a Saturday night and rushing around shelving abandoned books—in between helping customers. My jurisdiction for that particular evening was the children’s section. There were a few families notorious for letting their herd run wild, never returning a single book to its shelf or replacing a Thomas the Train figure once bored of it.

None. Of. Us. Could. Stand. Them. Not the parents, not the kids, not their ways.

It was approaching 11:00pm and the kids were still having their way with my section. I did a quick scan for the parents, saw they were preoccupied (shocker) and rounded the corner to where the mayhem was in full swing. I glared at the guiltiest of the group until she stopped throwing books off the shelves and looked at me. When she did, I bore a hole through her with narrowed eyes and with my thumb, slow-cut my own neck.

OK, back to the reason we’re here.

I also used to recoil when I heard people talk about coffee like it was the ruler of their tiny world. I’d hear, “Everyone knows not to talk to me before I’ve had my coffee!” and, “Let me get properly caffeinated and then we can meet.” I’d audibly groan in disgust. And the worst of the worst? Someone being so addicted to coffee that she purchased and PLACED this bumper sticker on her expensive car: No Coffee, No Workee.

I’d sit at a red light behind her and think, “Really? Two e’s on workee? Coffee is so delicious and necessary that you tattooed your car with a baby-talking edict? Grow up. Drink some water.”

Cut to two years later when my Keurig Platinum is one of my more prized possessions and making its way on the list of things I’d grab if there was a fire.

jimhalpert

See? Haughtiness leads to dependency. Let this be a lesson.

I’ve become so convinced that saying I’ll never do something or never be a certain way is so wrong for me that I feel the need to shut it down in others, too. In the same way I cringe when old people still use racial slurs, I want to physically jump up and shield people who make “never” proclamations like it’s no big deal.

I was having lunch with a friend one time and through a mouthful of buffalo chicken tenders he said, “I mean can you believe that? I can’t. I’d never die in a fire—I mean gimme a break.”

I mentally hurled myself across the table to cover his mouth and wail to the sky, “Forgive him! He knows not what he says!”

I said, “Don’t even say that! No one thinks they’ll die in a fire, you ding dong!”

“No, I’m serious. No way I’m dying in a fire, no way. Or drowning … never gonna happen.”

Now he’d gone too far and my brain flashed forward to his obituary and some awful apartment fire with his arrogant charred remains.

It’s not like I think God says, “Oh really? You’ll never fall overboard on a Carnival cruise line? Hide and watch, my lady—HIDE AND WATCH.” I don’t think that at all (although you’ll never hear me saying I’ll never fall overboard on a cruise. Wait … I mean, I hope I’m never dumb enough to say I’ll never fall overboard on a cruise … see, still working on it).

I just think for me, the bottom line is that I’m not supposed to be high and mighty or know-it-all’y. It probably all comes down to judging. I try not to judge and in a lot of ways, using the phrase “I’ll never” is a form of judgment.

Think of all the definitive statements people so carelessly make without knowing or having been in the situation:

1. I’ll never put my mother in a nursing home.
2. I’ll never get blindsided like that because I get my mammograms on time.
3. My kid will never post obscene garbage on the internet.
4. You’ll never see me getting fast food for my family.
5. I’ll never grow cilantro that begins to suspiciously look like marijuana, then be convinced the DEA is hovering over my house in a helicopter one night.

Follow-up to #5:
Anna: Moma! Where did y’all get the cilantro seeds you gave us?
Moma: I think (name not disclosed) brought them back from Mexico with some antibiotics, why?

My point is, it’s not only short-sited, but extremely presumptuous and egotistical to think you know everything for all of time, present and future. Situations change, finances change, hearts change—life happens. One day you’re making salsa with homegrown vegetables and the next thing you know, you’re high as a kite from some suspect cilantro.

motherslove

For some odd reason, three different people in my office building had some kind of foot injury that necessitated those knee scooters … one knee was on the scooter and the other foot would push off and they’d have their notebooks and peanut butter sandwiches in a little basket as they traversed the halls.

I’d watch them, shaking my head and thinking, “I’d rather open up a wrist than have to use one of those things at work.” I started thinking it so often that I became worried it would soon be my fate. So, I changed my thought pattern when I peeped someone scootin’ my way: “Oh please Lord, if I must fracture my foot or have some random heel surgery, please please please let a boot or crutches suffice.”

scooter

Because as much as I knew I’d do everything in my power to not be on a knee scooter at work, I also recognized that maybe they didn’t want to be either—maybe it was the only choice—so I shouldn’t be judgmental.

Of course, I shared this thought with a friend and she said, “Oh please, he’s a lazy #@$%. He wanted that scooter.”

Fair enough.

“Never” has a cousin. His name is “not.”

Example: Cocky head-twirl with a sassy finger-point, “I am NOT working into my 60’s.”

If anyone hears me say this, please run at me full speed and tackle me so I land face first and can’t say another ill-advised word (because I really, reallllly don’t want to be putting 40 hours into anything but travel by then … but if I get all insistent, I might be in a cube ’til I’m 80).

A better proclamation: “I really hope to plan well enough to not work into my 60’s.”

Whew, that’s better. That shouldn’t get me schooled.

And for those of you who pompously declare you’ll “never associate” with (pick one) a liberal/a Bible thumper/a hunter/a gay guy/an evangelical/an atheist/a tea partier/a drug addict/anyone in the Palin family … please wait while I get a huge bag of popcorn, because for once, I want to see what evaporating superiority looks like from afar.

Jfpopcorn

I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.

My Missing Gene

I don’t have the gene that makes me enjoy feeling scared.

My sister used to call me a titty-baby. On one hand, it’s one of the more hysterical names a person can be called—if you really think about it (and its possible origin). It’s also wholly inaccurate in this instance, because I wasn’t even nursed, so she jumped off from a faulty premise.

Now that she has a child and watches her filthy mouth, she calls me a fraid’y cat (probably a cuter version of scared’y cat). I accept both of these, even though I consider myself more in the precious puppy family than finicky cat family.

Regardless, what some call being a chicken, I just call being logical. Why on Earth would I knowingly scare myself? What do I gain from being startled, afraid or on edge?

No, sorry, I do not enjoy roller coasters. I don’t like the wretched anticipation I feel when I’m suffering through the long lines, only to climb into a bucket of death. I’d rather be doing just about anything else—picking weeds, fixing wifi issues, trying to understand a customer service rep.

titan um no

And I really … I mean REALLY … hate the click-click-click sound and feeling as the carts hitch themselves up the hill of horror. With every click, a new and exotic cuss word pops into my brain until I’ve strung together whole sentences of nothing but colorful language that would offend a sailor.

Along with that, I’m just thinking, “Why, why, why am I here doing this to myself? I hate this thing, I hate this place, I hate pedicures that hurt, I hate hearing 911 calls, I hate it when grown people say tush, I hate it when someone answers only 1 of my 3 questions in an email, I hate it when companies spell their name with a K when it should be a C.”

So yeah, I don’t enjoy roller coasters. I don’t actively seek out ways to feel frightened. I’ve been on many and will probably have to be on a few more during my life, but I won’t like it and it won’t be my idea. I’m not scared I’ll get injured or fall to my death—I just simply don’t enjoy feeling scared when I don’t have to.

I guess that’s why I don’t watch many, if any, scary movies. I don’t mind something that’s psychologically thrilling, but if a film is categorized as a horror movie or has possessed beings or shadows holding machetes, I’ll pass. I just have no desire to throw away two good hours actively terrifying myself and knowingly facilitating bad dreams.

I know I’m not the norm. I realize many people love all things scary. I’ve just decided I’m missing that thrill gene.

Side Note: In my opinion, it’s one of the better genes to be missing. About the only one I’d swap it out for is the one where I don’t hear all the horrific noises people make when they eat … or jingle their change, or tap their pencil repetitively, or type really loud like they’re doing a drum solo on their keyboard, or crackle their water bottle, or eat anything in the nut/carrot/apple family at work, or breathe. Oh dear, I just realized this could be its own blog post—it’ll be called “Misophonia and My Untimely Demise.”

Sometimes when I’m watching Amazing Race, one of the contestants will say, “Oh! Bungee jumping! I’ve always wanted to!” This, along with, “Which heels go with this dress?” are two things you’ll probably never hear me say. It has to be a gene that makes a person want to climb really high off safe ground, get harnessed up and plunge to possible death/certain whiplash. Yes, odds are that you’ll survive and have an adrenaline rush, but is it worth the risk?

scurred

I’m not saying these people are crazy, I’m just saying I don’t understand the appeal of putting your life in peril. It’s gotta be a DNA thing.

An adrenaline rush is no more appealing to me than, say, a delicious sandwich. I mean, it’s good, but I won’t risk heart palps or my life to get it.

Leaving work last week, I was overzealous in my descent of the stairs—and missed one. Thankfully, I landed safely on the next step; but, not before my life flashed before my eyes—and that was enough of a scare to last me a solid six months. Would an adrenaline addict think, “Whoa, Dude! I’m totally doing that again tomorrow!”?

They say that “perceived danger” is what draws adrenaline junkies to skydiving, haunted houses, swimming with sharks and driving at high speeds. But here is the thing—I perceive danger on a much smaller scale—like trying a new sushi roll, using a public toilet or skipping my daily multivitamin.

I’ve also heard that the aftereffects—the sense of relief knowing you’re safe—is the appealing part of being scared. But what I enjoy is already being safe … without a harness or helmet.

A person with the thrill gene might say, “I just feel so alive afterwards!” But I can eat a great meal, or take a hot shower, or put on a stellar concert in my car and feel alive. Actually, sometimes creating a really solid Excel document does the trick.

Truthfully, I love excitement and spontaneity. I even love things that could be dangerous if not handled responsibly—4 wheelers, snowmobiles, zip lines, rattlesnake roundups—I’m just not going to risk my life for an adrenaline rush or consciously create a “fight or flight” situation to get my blood pumping.

Between dealing with olympic-caliber passive aggressive co-workers, and delighting in Tina Fey’s return as Sarah Palin on SNL, I have more than enough excitement for the week.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

Against All Odds

I have an irrational fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t think that, in and of itself, is irrational. It’s probably common to fear being wrongfully accused of a crime or the star of a tragic accident.

What makes my fear irrational is how specific it is:

I’m afraid a casting director will approach me about being the leading lady in an erectile dysfunction commercial.

bathshot

I’m guessing none of the women who auditioned before me had the right look. No, I’m not talking about their physical appearance. I’m saying, maybe none of them could pull off the “challenge accepted” look the woman gives back to her man once he realizes all systems are go.

You’ve seen the commercials—you know the look. They’re cooking together, he looks at her with such hope and she dips her head coyly, then looks up with: I’ve-Been-Such-A-Sweet-And-Patient-Partner-And-The-Payoff-Is-Finally-Here-And-Let’s-Not-Worry-That-The-Pasta-Has-Already-Come-To-A-Boil-It’s-A-Metaphor-For-Our-Love-And-I-Bet-It’ll-Turn-Itself-Off-Take-Me-Now.

uhohyall

Maybe the talent scout is spying on me from the cheese aisle—impressed by my discerning facial expressions as I select cucumbers for my latest spicy pickle recipe.

What if the offer is really good money? What would I do? Me, in a Levitra commercial? I fear this could happen on any given day. My list of West Elm must-haves is getting rather lengthy, so I’m pretty sure I’d accept the role.

But then my fear becomes—what if I’m really bad on the day we shoot and I hear, “Levitra commercial! Scene where she accepts the challenge! Take 92!”

The director (A-list, I’m sure) will bark, “NO! No, no, no, no! You look disgusted by his silent request! You’re supposed to be enthused about midday love. Get it together!”

I’ll be in over my head and want out, but I’ve already mentally spent my earnings so I’ll need to plow through.

And now the fears are multiplying because what if I finally nail my facial expressions and my lines and they ask me to star in hemorrhoid and gout ads? What if I’m offered the lead in a Shake Weight infomercial? How can I turn down all this money? That’s right, I can’t.

oprah

But if I accept all these roles, somewhere down the line, I’ll become the face of all-things-no-one-talks-about. I’ll be recognized everywhere I go, yet no one will ever want a picture or autograph. No one will tweet, “Totally eating dinner at the same place as @levitra_preparationH_girl! #lifeisgood #winning #rightplacerighttime”

I’ll be famous, but never on Ellen. A household face, but never host the Grammys. Men who take ED meds will give me suggestive looks while I’m pumping gas or getting a pickle at the movies. I’ll have a huge mansion but when someone new moves into the neighborhood, the neighbors will tell them, “Oh, don’t be too impressed with that—she got her money in less than reputable ways.” They’ll think I deal drugs and never let me coo at their babies or DJ their pool parties.

One day I’ll get the chance to explain how I earned my money, but it won’t matter. The women won’t want me around their husbands and the husbands will be grossed out by my hemorrhoids and gout. I can’t win. I’ll start trying to get work in JCPenney and Kellogg’s commercials. They always look beautiful and peaceful in those.

I’ll go to an audition and hear the director say to the producer, “That Shake Weight has made her arms look great, but do we really want the hemorrhoid girl selling fiber bars?”

I know it’s not normal to fear things that have such a slim chance of happening. But from a very young age, I had a fear that something rare would happen to me—something that universally prompted the response, “NO WAY! What are the chances?!”

For years, when I was young, I lived with the fear that I would be the next Virgin Mary. I was SURE I was going to become pregnant without doing anything that would cause such a condition—and no one would believe me. I imagined myself pleading with my parents to believe me and them saying, “Oh really. So God picked YOU out of 4 billion people?” And I’d say, “No, not 4 billion, you can’t count guys—but yeah, I guess He did pick me out of a lot. Do you really think I could make this up?”

My mom would say, “Yeah, we do. You’ve made up plenty. You swore to us the word “turd” was on your spelling list.” I would say, “The suspect word was “queer” and I just got confused. They both seemed out of bounds for 4th grade.”

In essence, I don’t really fear things like spiders or flying or closed spaces—I fear things that seem unlikely, uncommon and implausible. Because hundreds of thousands of times in this life, people have witnessed or experienced something they, “Never dreamed in a million years would happen.”

Those are the things I fear.

But on the flipside, it’s also what makes me believe I’ll probably win the lottery one day. I’m genuinely surprised every single time my numbers don’t match. Somehow, someway—in my life—something will happen to me that is extremely rare. I just know it. And I hope it’s more lottery and less Levitra.

I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.