She Made Me Do It

I’m a relatively private person, but have decided it’s time to share some text exchanges between me and a certain someone I’ve known—and disliked—for years.

My disdain for her centers around the unequivocal thoughtlessness at play—but her controlling, bullying ways are equally problematic.

She’s a phenomenal fun-ruiner, and a perpetually unwanted third wheel. She loves weekends and traveling—and bullishly inserts herself where, and when, she’s least wanted … and even knows she’s not wanted.

Doesn’t stop her. Doesn’t deter her one iota.

She’s hateful, catty and short-fused—demanding we get fast food, making me cry over an All-State commercial, planting seeds of doubt in my mind, pressing me to think super-mean (not-fit-for-repeating) things about people I encounter throughout the day.

Her name is Flo.

Some call her Aunt Flo. Some call her Cousin Red. Gross. She’s just Flo to me—or sometimes #$%&*@! Flo.

It’s time I put her reprehensible conduct on blast.

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She even ADMITS to premeditated timing. Can you imagine being so ill-thought of and still coming around again and again and again?

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Gee, thanks for the heads-up. Some months I feel her all around me—know she’s made her displeasing descent—but have no proof, because she’s yet to show her dumb, stupid face.

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scully2

Great. Thanks. I love running into door facings, dropping things, and feeling generally swimmy in the head. You’re a real treat, Flo.

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So she’s Flo Angelou now? Ugh. Silver lining? She’s actually here, which means the clock has started and she’ll be gone soon. Ish.

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For reasons unknown, this heifer LOVES McDonalds. Is it the grease? The salt? I’ve basically accepted that when she’s here, I’ll be in a McDonald’s drive-thru at some point—hating myself and loving life, all at once.

eatingcontest

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crybaby1

Oh my gosh—they look so sad! They just sit there kinda humped over and dejected-looking, usually with their back to the camera. Why? Why are they so sad? Why have they turned away? WWHHHYYYY????!

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As if I needed any extra help being annoyed by people and their noises. She will NOT let me ignore anything. I try to buckle down and forge ahead, and she’s just there, nudging me, poking me, “Listen. I know you hear him chewing. I know you do. It will make you feel better if you get annoyed. There you go—feel that undiluted agitation? That’a girl.”

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Uncommon sleepiness, abnormal hunger and astronomical agitation. Every month. Of every year. For decades. What’s not to love?

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rihanna

Grrrrr. Where did you go?? You were gone! ANSWER ME!

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Women + Ibuprofen = BFFs 4ever.

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bbad

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butch-jones-is-pissed

Ohhh, Bubba and I are mad-mad-mad. How you gon’ roll up in here and wreak havoc and then stay extra days when I have fun plans?

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Cut to me with orange fingers, crumbs down my shirt and an empty bag of Takis—looking lost in a haze of regret.

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The name-calling is especially pleasant; but at least she’s gone and I can get back to a normal routine—and normal behavior—for 28 days.

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britcry5

No problem, Florence. Come on back. Disrupt everything I do, boss me around and call me names. Nothing would please me more than getting another day with your rotten face.

Several years ago, one of my guy-friends said it was weird to him that girls faced her every single month, of every year—but hadn’t figured out how to deal with her. As in surely at some point, we just go, “Oh, hey, ‘sup old friend—make yourself at home!”

dexter

This was my response.

Sorry. Flo made me do it.

Let’s link up 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 🙂

 

Patience Cards™

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

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

Uniting In Fury (Again)

Remember when we United In Fury a while ago? I shared with you some things that made me a LOT madder than they should (misbehaving clothes hanger, I’m looking at YOU.) I found out that we truly did unite, because many of you expressed getting unduly upset by things way less serious than a canceled flight or your favorite team losing. It’s true, anger towards bad weather on your vacation is entirely warranted; however, fury aimed at your phone for using initial caps against your will, is ludicrous.

Yet. Here we are.

1. Go ahead and tell me I can change the settings. I know. But, how about when you fill out a medical history form online or sign up for a jibjab account—what then? Where is the logarithm or other techie rule, so that when you fill in your email address, it doesn’t assault you with an initial caps? I want to venture a guess here and say that maybe 2% of the population chooses an initial caps for their email, so let’s please not cater to that misguided bunch.

I don’t mean to be judgmental towards this potentially marginalized group—I know they’re just living their lives and bleeding the same blood as the other 98%—but I don’t agree with their choices and I don’t want to be inconvenienced by them.

2. I am vehemently opposed to football players getting water squirted in their mouths when they come off the field. It’s so embarrassing to see the trainers nurse them that way. They might think it gives off an air of importance—like the little people are there to cater to their every need—but I think it gives off an air of you-just-lost-your-man-card.

This must stop.

This must stop.

How can they pile drive a 240-lb running back, who is sprinting full speed ahead, and then run off the field and open up like a baby bird? It’s one of the dopiest things I’ve ever seen. Professional athletes’ eye-hand coordination is second-to-none, but somehow they can’t negotiate their own drink of water?

Side Note: If we’re not going to demand an end to this insanity, can I at least get someone to swing by my cube and hydrate me, while my precious hands type mind-blowing copy?

3. While we’re on a sports wave, let’s unpack some more nonsense. It infuriates me when football players don’t dress for the weather. The edge they gain from being a Mr. Tough Guy in short sleeves, when it’s 0 degrees is, oh I don’t know, nothing. None. Not one guy out there thinks, “Dude, Jason Witten doesn’t have sleeves on … like, his arms are just … out in the elements … uncovered … I can’t compete with that kind of toughness. I’m going back to the locker room.”

At least 10 knuckleheads I'm mad at.

At least 10 knuckleheads I’m mad at.

All they do, when they hit the blizzardous conditions in short sleeves, is make the rest of us extremely uncomfortable—to the point of anger. I get mad and so do my friends.

A text I got last week: I’m uncomfortable with the temperature of this game and displeased with the short sleeves I’m seeing.

We are incensed with their blatant disregard for our comfort. Do they know what happens when they get hit and slapped at and punched by a corner trying to strip the ball from them? WE FEEL GENUINE PAIN BECAUSE WE KNOW THEIR SKIN HURTS. We’re cheering our hearts out for them—the least they could do is meet us halfway.

Please don’t tell me the players’ adrenaline warms them up, because the coaches do it, too.

Another text from last week: Anna, can you and Jocelyn please unite in refusal with me? It’s 15 degrees and UM’s coach is wearing a short-sleeve shirt and no coat. Literally, a polo and khakis. 15 degrees with blustery wind—please help.

Side Note: I’m actually mad at anyone who doesn’t dress for the weather. Shorts at the mall in December? Get outta my face. Short sleeves in any restaurant, at any time of the year, in Texas and not shivering? Off with your head!

4. Now my anger is escalating and it’s about to get gross up in here, so consider yourselves warned.

I have a really strong stomach. I don’t puke when others puke (I’m too busy laughing for some very weird reason.) I don’t lose it when I see blood. I can watch surgeries on TV without covering my eyes. But I cannot, under any circumstances, abide a nose picker. I’m ALREADY queasy just typing it. I will turn my head like a damn owl, risking injury to my sternocleidomastoid, to escape the sight of a nose picker.

And make no mistake, I’m crazy coo-coo for babies and kids, but when I see a child picking his or her nose, I full-on abhor that child. Sorry. I will change their rancid diaper and accept their throw-up on my person, but I cannot tolerate a nose-digging brat (sorry, that’s the anger talking.)

Side Note: If pinned down, I think I know the origin of this contempt. My college team played a couple of games in LA one year and our coach drove us down to Hollywood Boulevard and the Rodeo Drive area. He wanted to drive by as many sites as possible before letting us loose to explore on foot. For reasons that are now a blur, one of our rental cars was a minivan, with a rear-facing back seat.

Like this, but not remotely as nice.

Like this, but not remotely as nice.

I jumped back there with a couple of teammates and a kid who was with us on the trip. Seeing the sites was awesome, but the more we drove—with me riding backwards—the more semi-motion sick I became. And then I turned to point out the Hollywood sign to the child and she was digging for gold like it was her J.O.B. But wait! My timing was so immaculate that I not only caught the tail end of the digging, but also the front end of the consumption. Bang. I’ve been haunted ever since. Now I live in fear that every picker will have the same follow-through and the quality of my life will implode.

5. I feel actual anger when I read blogs or Facebook status updates where a girl calls her husband “Hubby” or “The Hubs.” I realize it’s simply a matter of taste and lots of people don’t feel similar anger, but it actually taints my opinion of that person. I don’t truly believe her husband would think it’s cute, either. I bet he’s never said, “Babe! I saw that you called me ‘The Hubs’ today—aww! You’re the freakin’ best, Babe!”

What’s wrong with “My husband” or, I don’t know, “John?” Is it just simply not cute enough for you?

A Facebook status update that makes me want to roundhouse kick your hands away from the keyboard:
The Hubs and I are heading out for a fun weekend get-away!
An Instagram that makes me want to comment with a throw-up emoji:
Hubby and I are heading out for a fun weekend get-away!
A better Facebook status update:
John and I are heading out for a fun weekend get-away!
A perfectly acceptable Instagram:
My husband and I are heading out for a fun weekend get-away!

You get the idea.

Stop—I know. Now you’re mad that I’m mad. I get it. But channel that anger into something positive, like calling your husband by a name that’s not going to injure my eyes as they roll.

Side Note: I’d be remiss if I didn’t call attention to the guys’ equivalent. Nope, not “Wifey” … that’s minor, comparatively. I’m talking about the use of, “My Bride” when it’s not YOUR WEDDING DAY. She was once your bride, but now she’s your wife. You don’t hear her calling you her Groom. Or wait, do you? Hurry, someone help me … if I see that on Facebook, I’ll need to be restrained.

6. Ladies. I say this with loving tenderness … but I know you’re still going to be mad (join the club.) If you can’t walk in heels, then YOU CAN’T WEAR HEELS. Sorry to yell, but it’s that important—ssshhh—it’s also non-negotiable. I’m not saying you have to be able to walk exactly the same as you do in flip-flops or running shoes; but, if you feel yourself walking like an inebriated Clydesdale, then you’re canceling out efforts to lift your butt. Please believe me on this. If a guy sees you walking with the grace of toddler who got into Mommy’s liquor cabinet, he’s probably not even going to notice your butt. I feel super solid about this assertion.

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I guess it’s wrong to say this makes me mad. I’m more disappointed than mad. Truthfully, I’m disappointed in you for making me mad. The fact that you think it’s sexier to be a one-woman stampede in heels, than to walk like a fully developed human, with some measure of graceful agility, angers me.

Side Note: As distressing as it may be, we all have to give up things that don’t work for us. Take me and my fivehead for example. Would I like to grow my hair out so I could just pull it into an easy ponytail? Every once in a while, yes, but I can’t, because my fivehead would make you mad. It’s called being thoughtful. Would it be an easy hairstyle? For sure—but it’s not worth making you mad every time you have to look at the unabridged version of my forehead.

7. When I pull up to a car wash and the attendant asks which wash I want, and I say, “Just the basic $5 one, please” and he says, “You don’t want your wheels done?!” … am I just completely out of my mind and expecting too much, in thinking my tires are very much a part of my car and that yes, of-freaking-course I want my tires washed?

If you go to a hairdresser and say, “Just a trim, please” … they don’t reply with, “You don’t want your bangs trimmed?!”

8. I know this shouldn’t make me mad, but when I’m at work and someone nearby pops open a Coke, I’m suddenly incapable of thinking about anything beyond how much I want a Dr. Pepper—right. here. and. right. now.—and I hardly ever even drink them! Is it too much to ask people to open their super fresh delight somewhere out of earshot? You don’t pipe in dreamy island sounds around me or waft spa scents through my cube, so why would you tempt and tease with a can of Dr. Pepper? Your thoughtlessness enrages me.

9. This one should make everyone mad—but if it’s new to you, hopefully you’ll be mad after you read it. I feel irrational anger towards celebrities—and especially a celebrity’s offspring, when they Instagram or Facebook a picture at work (or working out) and caption it, “Just tryna put food on the table” or “Out here grindin’, tryna feed the fam.”

WHAT? You’re Sean Combs’ son. Your dad is Diddy, and worth over 500 million dollars. Food is not, and never will be, a problem, Son.

We get it, Justin—you're starving.

We get it, Justin—you’re starving.

By all means, Instagram a photo of yourself in the studio or at the gym, but please be honest and tell us you’re out there “grindin’ for a Lamborghini Aventador,” not Top Ramen.

In no way am I suggesting living off your dad’s money, but you do know Taco Bell and McDonalds have dollar menus, right? You play for UCLA and your dad is a mogul—you and your family will be eating just fine, well into your 90s, whether you’re “out there grindin’ to feed the fam” or not.

10. I’d like to close with something that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, will have you nodding your head ferociously up and down, in united fury. I practically forget.my.own.name. when I go to pull a paper towel or Kleenex and only the part I’m pinching breaks free.

Only Kristin Wiig can accurately portray my anger.

Only Kristin Wiig can accurately portray my anger.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter … then we’ll all be happy!

The Thoughtful Olympics

I love thoughtful people.

To me, it’s one of the best qualities a person can have, so it’s not surprising that most of my favorite people are very considerate.

My idea of thoughtfulness goes well beyond the usual stuff. It’s a given that you should consistently do the remedial stuff: pick up after yourself, say please and thank you, hold doors open for people, remember and acknowledge people’s birthdays (especially people you love), never miss Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (not only because it’s inexcusable but it’s also disrespectful to those who’ve lost a parent and don’t have the utter luxury of celebrating it).

These are absolute-no-brainer-givens, among a multitude of other non-negotiables (like not interrupting people when they’re talking—even if you’re certain your story is better or more exciting. Life isn’t a contest to land on the best version of every story ever told, so be thoughtful and let people talk).

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But there are many other—perhaps more creative—ways of being thoughtful.

1. When you cross the road in front of Target, cross it in a straight line. For the love of all that is good and right in this world, do not make cars wait as you saunter across at an angle. This involves such simple math that even I understand it—the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Cars are waiting on you. I’m waiting on you. And now I’m doing angry geometry in my head. Your walking angle is thoughtless. Given the extra time I have on my hands, I’m deducing a few things about you as I wait.

  • You think it’s your world and we’re all just passing through.
  • You are controlling (just because you can make people wait, lest they plow you over, doesn’t mean you should).
  • You are passive-aggressive, long winded, inefficient and take the circuitous route to tell the simplest of stories.
  • You and I cannot be friends.

2. Be less descriptive when ordering at Subway. Professor Detail, look behind you. There is a line of people—likely on their short lunch break—trying to get in and out with a turkey melt on flatbread. Here is the interesting thing … if you want most of the veggies, you really don’t need to list them all with the addition of an adjective.

“Purple onions, black olives, green peppers.”

While colorful, three of those words are unnecessary. In fact, if you want 3/4 or more of the veggies, just say, “Everything but onions and olives” because again, we’re not just passing through your world; we’re actually hungry and on a schedule, too.

3. Don’t bring Whataburger into an area where people might be hungry. There are two known camps out there—one faction thinks Whataburger smells like a steam room of construction workers and the other thinks it smells like Heaven on a platter. Personally, I’d scale every wall to get to it—even if I’m not remotely hungry—but that is neither here nor there.

With one inconsiderate move, you’ll upset everyone—the ones with the sensitive noses, the ones trying to diet and the ones who already ate at Subway and are unable to rewind time and make a more scrumptious decision. You can’t win with that thoughtless move, so please eat your Whataburger somewhere void of humans.

4. If I let you and your car in front of me, I really, really need a quick wave from you. Whether it was a logical allowance or I had to go out of my way—and risk making people behind me mad—you’ve got to offer a quick wave of acknowledgment. It’s an extremely simple gesture that goes a long way. When you don’t recognize that kindness in any way, I’m forced to think terrible thoughts about you and your stupid car.

Side Note: The best of the best? When someone lets me in and I wave and they wave back! That’s some sweet harmonious living that gives me chills every time.

simon

5. Paging all drivers who make wide turns. Please take some time and familiarize yourself with your car and get a handle on your turning radius. The two of you can practice together in an empty parking lot somewhere after dinner. And for the love of mankind, if you’re in a little nugget car like a Ford Focus, you never, ever need to take anything wide. Period. No, ssshhh, you don’t—please stop talking.

6. Retail associates … if I track you down and say, “Hey, do you know if you have water bottle filters?” please—I BEG YOU—don’t get a confused look on your face and start guessing. Please don’t say, “Well, if we did, hmm, they’d be over here in the water bottle section.”

Stare.

The simple phrase “if we did” makes me want to challenge you to a chicken fight, pin you down after I win and explain in hushed, aggressive whispers that I know the basics of store arrangement and I’ve looked on all logical aisles and don’t need your patronizing head-scratching guesses.

By no means do I expect every associate to know where every miniscule item is. What I do expect and yearn for—across the board in all of life—is for people to just say, “Actually, I’m not sure. Let me find someone who knows.” Not wasting people’s time is super thoughtful.

Lastly, if we’re out to dinner and I say, “Backhand me if you see me reaching for another bite” … that literally means BACKHAND ME IF I TRY TO TAKE ANOTHER BITE. I wouldn’t have laid down the edict if I wasn’t ready for the fallout. Please be thoughtful and do as you’re asked.

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

Clouding The Issue With Logic

Do you have a problem solver in your life? No, I’m not talking about someone who tackles the logistics of a trip or troubleshoots a circuitry problem with your garage door opener. I’m talking about the person who—when you say, “Brr, I’m cold!”—suggests you put a jacket on.

You do, don’t you? So do I.

My dad was my first problem-solving specialist. “Daddy,” I’d say, as I slowly rotated my arm backwards, “it hurts when I move my arm like this.”

“Well don’t move your arm like that.”

Stare.

I guess I was hoping he’d say, “I’m sorry, Sweetie” but no, he chose to cloud the issue with sound logic.

Similarly, when I say I’m cold, I’m just seeking camaraderie. Because, as it turns out, I actually know my options for warming up.

camyeah

I used to think it was a guy thing—that they were more hard-wired to be solution-oriented and less inclined to devote time to seemingly idle chit-chat. Most guys never seemed to put much stock in volleying corroborative observations just for the sake of interaction (i.e. I’m tired … Me, too! I’ve been hot all day … Right? Bring on fall. I’m starving … Same here, I must have a tape-worm.)

But lately I’ve come across more and more women who have multiple solutions to my problems.

Me: I’m so sleepy today.
Problem-Solving Guru Girl: Have you had any caffeine?

Me: The weekends just don’t seem long enough anymore.
Problem-Solving Guru Girl: Do you have any vacation days to tack on to the weekend?

Me: I feel like I’ve been so forgetful lately.
Problem-Solving Guru Girl: Are you sleeping enough? Sleep deprivation can really affect your memory. So can low levels of B-12.

My new theory is less gender-centric and more brain-specific. I think people who are literal are the ones most eager to impart helpful solutions.

I’m not very literal-minded, so I tend to think my conversation partner is just wanting to converse—you know, banter back and forth with no real intent to wrap things up quickly. If she says, “Ugh, I so hate Mondays.” I’m pretty sure she just wants to know the feeling is mutual.

By no means do I assume she wants to hear, “You do? Are you unhappy in your job? Have you considered doing something you look forward to rather than something you dread? Do you have an updated resume? One that’s not comic sans?”

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, unless I preface my statement with:

“Hey, let me get your opinion”
or
“I could use some advice”
or
“Tell me how you’d handle this”

… then I’m not actually requesting your nifty problem-solving skills. Anything short of the aforementioned prefaces is just the two of us shooting the breeze. It’s not a covert ploy to get advice.

If we’re hanging out and I say, “I’ve been thirsty all day”, you absolutely have to know that—AS A FULLY GROWN ADULT WHO IS STILL ALIVE—I know how to hydrate myself. So saying, “You should get something to drink” simply isn’t needed. Telling me that “unquenchable thirst” is the #1 symptom of type 2 diabetes is overkill. I was just looking for a friend who wanted to make a Sonic run.

Hey, I like solving (real) problems as much as anyone. The difference is, not being very literal-minded, I don’t hear things like, “I need a pedicure in the worst way” and feel I should spring into action with the remedy, “Day spas offer those—you should book one.”

look at me! I've got answers!

look at me! I’ve got answers!

Of course it goes deeper than this, too. I had a friend tell me about going home after a particularly terrible day at work and just letting loose with everything that went down, why it upset her and how she would properly reflect her feelings on Facebook—until her husband interrupted her—not with exasperation, but with … wait on it … solutions.

His suggestions were logical, on point and precisely fitting—but she wasn’t looking to solve a problem. She was hoping to vent. She was looking for a listening ear.

Operative word: LISTENING. Guys, if you can stomach sacrifice a little chunk of time to just nod and actively listen with your eyes, you might escape with uttering only a handful of words. If you can be present and listen, once she takes a breath finishes, just nod and say, “I hear ya. That would ruin my day, too.”

Bang. You will be amaaazed at how quickly she can wrap it up if you just listen and commiserate with a short, heartfelt, “Yeah, that sucks, Honey—I’m sorry.”

Problem Solvers … if you are even half-way plugged into your partner, you will KNOW when she wants advice or solutions. If you don’t see inquisitive eyes or hear something like, “What should I do?” then always, always opt for simply uniting in fury or disgust or shock with her. Save your commercial-grade problem-solving skills for a time when they’re truly needed—like exacting revenge on people who post/pin pictures of animals with baby-talking captions.

even posting in jest makes me despise myself

even posting in jest makes me despise myself

Non literal-minded people … help out your brethren. They’re not trying to upset you by offering up (obvious) solutions, so let them know—before lift-off—if you just need to vent.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Ok, look. I need to talk, so just let me talk. I’m not asking for a game plan, I just need to vent.” It works. And if, in the middle of your unleashing, they get all Literal-Linda and forget to NOT HELP, shoot them a quick reminder look or press your index finger to their lips. People love that.

ssshhh

ssshhh

The truth is, we all think differently and have unique brains. So in the same way, “You should eat” in response to, “I’m famished” makes me want to hurl a boulder through a window … that same literal-minded person is exhausted by the constant stream of rhetorical banter that flows so freely from my aggravating lips.

Side Note: I think the best, happiest couples are a mix of both types. No matter where we fall on the scale, we all need someone to balance us out. Imagine a world where everyone walked around saying: I’m exhausted. I’m full. My skin is dry. I don’t like to eat broccoli. Ugh, no thank you! But on the flip-side, you can’t have a planet of problem-solvers with no problems to solve.

So, if you’re single, perhaps you should stop looking at what a potential spouse does for a living or how he or she treats the wait staff. Look for your opposite. Somewhere in the middle of your first date, tell them you don’t like your new toothpaste. See if they say, “You should buy a different brand” or “Don’t you hate that?” It might be all you need to know.

Advice To People Who Are Constant Recipients Of Unsolicited Problem-Solving: Be patient and be kind. No one is trying to harm you with help.

Advice To Problem-Solvers: Most people over the age of 3 understand their options for regulating body temperature, quenching thirst, satiating hunger and acquiring rest. For you, in simple terms, that means less trouble-shooting and more nodding … even if in your head you’re thinking, “put a sweater on, drink some Gatorade, eat a corndog, take a nap” … please, just nod and make a supportive noise of some sort.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m thirsty and hungry and need to go tell someone all about it.

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

I’m Judging You

I’m judging you and really do feel a little bad about it.

I think we’ve all read articles, blog posts, status updates and tweets with commentary on the misuse of words like “your” and “you’re.” Some people say it’s their #1 pet peeve.

youhadme

My feelings are a bit different. I’ll paint you a picture:
When I’m reading along, imagine I’m actually strolling down a beautiful tree-lined street, joy in my heart, gratitude in the air. Then I come across, “Your not going to believe there response to my request”, and it’s like Demarcus Ware blind-siding me with a form tackle after he’s reached his maximum 40-yard dash speed—and he’s got his helmet on.

It’s more than a pet peeve or annoyance. I feel assaulted.

To the offenders: I’m judging you. I’d like to say, “I’m judging you and I’m NOT SORRY!”, but I am sorry. I know it’s unkind to wish you’d go play in traffic until you learn simple contractions. It’s not right or OK that I want your entire Facebook page to burst into flames when you can’t figure out the difference between “to” and “too”. So, I’m sorry.

If you write as your status update:
“You guys, I saw the most awful thing today. This sweet old lady offered to help this rough-looking guy pay for his groceries because he’d forgotten his wallet and then that son of a biscuit tried to jump her out in the parking lot and take her purse! Luckily some other guys took him down and everything was OK. What is this world coming too?!”

I’m out. You lost me. Consider yourself mentally roundhouse kicked into next week. I’m sorry.

You could save a precious litter of puppies (even shar peis) from being swept down a rushing river, but if you write about it by saying, “There precious wrinkly bodies were just being whisked away so quickly!” … I’m out. I’m now picturing you being the one swept away by the rapids. I said I’m sorry!

comeon

Without the basic understanding of simple contractions like your/you’re, their/they’re and its/it’s, you become Public Enemy Number One in my grammar world—and all kinds of things happen to you in my mind. Sshh, there-their, I’m not killing you, but you are absolutely the recipient of some bad luck. Some faves:

  • your child sleep-kicking you in your unprotected face at 3:00am
  • tripping with your arms full (and not on carpet)
  • not being able to pull the baskets apart at Target (with people watching and waiting)
  • hang nails (that you make worse because you can’t leave them alone)
  • dirt in your eyes (and under your contacts)
  • stubbed toes (that are so swift and forceful, you can’t even get oxygen to cuss)

I’m not finished. If you say “anyways”, we can’t be friends. I’m hesitant about this announcement because I’m fairly positive I have current friends who use “anyway” in its non-existent plural form, but it’s out of my hands and I have to cut you loose.

Uh oh. Light bulb. You’re also gone if you haven’t figured out lose vs. loose. This one takes years off my life.

Facebook status:
“Dear Cop Who Pulled Me Over, your sunglasses and night stick don’t make you that cool—you can loose the attitude.”

Nope. I’m now firmly Team Cool Cop and feel very good about your citation. I’m sorry. I wish I was a better person—but I’m not and you made me this way.

One Facebooker wanted to know why Fitbit hadn’t released their new Flex band, so she posted, “Seriously Fitbit, I’m loosing patients with you!” I’m sorry, are you a doctor? NO. And now I’m not only losing my patience with YOU, but I feel 9x the exasperation because 9 home skillets just “liked” your comment. Even if you’re equally upset with Fitbit, do you really want to be an accomplice to such offensive grammar indiscretions and incriminate yourself by “liking” the status update? Because that’s what you just did—you just endorsed a grammar catastrophe.

Self-Reporting 1:
I used the phrase “fixin’ to” until I was about 28. I was, for the most part, unaware that it was regional slang. Someone from another part of the country asked what it meant and I just stared—confused—thinking, “What do you mean what does it mean? How can you be an adult and not know the definition of ‘fixin’ to?”

I eventually tried to describe it by explaining that it’s akin to “preparing to” … I’m fixin’ to take a shower … I’m preparing to take a shower … and you prepare food and fix food … and the more I talked the more I realized it’s just really not a word, and I stopped using it. Not an easy task after 20-something years.

Self-Reporting 1.5:
Once in awhile it’ll fly out of my mouth when I’m excited during a conversation. It’s more slang than anything and I definitely do slang—which means I just unnecessarily self-reported.

Self-Reporting 2:
I’m also forever tripped up by past vs. passed. Try as I might to differentiate them by considering “time” vs. “distance” I still become disoriented and often opt for bypassing the word entirely. Inner Dialogue: A lot of time has past us by? A lot of time has passed us by? Hmm, I’m talking about time so I bet it’s past, but I’m also talking about distance so maybe it’s passed? It is past or passed? Why is this so hard? It’s like harder than math. I think it’s passed. Passed sounds right. But what if? Oh never mind, I’ll just say the years have flown by or something.

Then I walk away, beaten and defeated. I cheer myself up by remembering how good I am with were vs. we’re.

I self-report to say that I make mistakes all the time—most people do. But there is a difference in occasional misspellings or accidental grammar mishaps here and there and the consistent misuse of words that shouldn’t be problematic. If you can figure out Black Ops and know every word to every song in your iTunes library, you can get a handle on their, there and they’re.

embarrassed

My prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the rain and the delicious recipes I find on Pinterest. Please bless this day and shield my eyes from improper punctuation and spelling. Please protect me from poor grammar online—especially when I get left-jabbed and uppercut by something like, “I should of known better.” Keep me from commenting that “should of” should be “should have.” Help me walk away from the travesty of “your so hot” comments on Justin Bieber’s Instagram pictures without swooping in with a lesson on contractions. But more than anything—if I do, in a weak moment, step in to make corrections—please help me to not misspell anything. Amen.”

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

Uniting In Fury

Things That Make Us Madder Than They Should: Hangers Misbehaving Disobedient hangers are instigators. You know when you’re swiping through shirts and an unchosen one slips off the hanger and falls to the ground? I always blame the hanger and become frustrated with its lack of commitment. I assume it hasn’t embraced its job or simply thinks it’s too good for the service industry. Maybe it just wants “out of this dump.” But here is some news, Hot Shot … you’re a wire hanger, bought as a set of 10. You gotta crawl before you ball. Let’s start with shoring up your shirt-holding skills, then we’ll talk. How about when two hangers get hung up with each other? When did this courtship start? I doubt this union is even legal in all states. Was there some hanger wedding I wasn’t invited to? I can see that invitation now: “Come Hang With Us As We Celebrate Life in the Closet” It’s maddening trying to get one down when it won’t let go of its friend. I get frustrated and want to show it who’s boss—but don’t—because I really can’t get it down. I also have irrational anger towards hangers that swing out when I pull something off—and stay there, hitched up—not swinging back into place. Why am I so mad? I normally come in peace. TFeyAintMad Getting Trapped In The Sheets You know when you’re changing positions too carelessly while trying to get comfortable, and you somehow end up laying on top of the sheet … and you become trapped? You’ve tugged and writhed but you’re super stuck? Infuriating. You’re a grown person who can lift a Fiat if needed—should a piece of fabric unravel you this way? Should we be this mad about pulling the sheet out from under our back? Isn’t it always made worse by a puzzled, unsupportive onlooker? “What are you doing? What’s wrong?” “What’s wrong?! I’M TRAPPED!” Your Purse Falling Off Your Shoulder It’s happened to every person who’s carried a purse or bag on their shoulder. Your hands are full and you have to unlock a door or reach down for something and your purse aggressively slides off your shoulder—finding its resting place in the crook of your elbow—where it is NOT welcome. Enter: outrage. Poor moms out there. Maybe you handle the fury better because your purse falls daily as you negotiate a baby carrier and backpacks. I’m curious though … when your child wants to hold your hand, doesn’t it automatically create an arm slide your purse can’t refuse? Does the purse ever just slide from your arm onto your child’s arm? Sweet, sweet victory. “Hey, you wanna hold Mommy’s hand—and purse?” The only time our anger is truly warranted over the purse slide is when it actually empties itself in public. All bets are off. Angry tears are legal here because now you have receipts, make up, coins and pens strewn about. You better believe those belongings get thrown back in and man-handled. You’ve never hated your lip balm or Ibuprofen with such fervor. Leaving Your Glasses On When Pulling A Shirt Over Your Head, Causing Them To Become Askew Maybe it’s just me. I only wear glasses for maybe an hour at night when I take my contacts out. But when some sort of apparel change leads them to the top of my head—or worse, they come completely off and get lost in the clothes—I actually feel true anger. But why? I’m not blind. All I have to do is put them back like a civilized human being. So why does such a small thing awaken my normally non-existent temper? It’s absurd! Imagine if someone saw your pursed lips and scowling face as you straightened your shirt and roughed up your glasses. “You ok? You sure look mad.” “Uh, YEAH. My glasses moved from the bridge of my nose.” Cell Phones Dilemmas These are only two of the many mobile phone annoyances in existence. You know when a call drops—so you’re already irritated—but then you go to call the person back and it goes straight to voice mail, because they are also trying to call you back? Why is this so maddening? Please tell me I’m not the only one who wants finds this infrustriating (that’s a frustrating-infuriating word sandwich that I’m not ashamed of). I don’t talk on my iPhone a lot, but when I do enter into a phone-talking relationship with someone, I troubleshoot that business right away. “Look, if at any time we get cut off or the call drops, the rule is that the one who originally called, calls back. If you didn’t make the first call, don’t make the second.” Next thing. You know when the other person is having phone issues and they can’t hear you (but you can still hear them), so they start saying your name really frantically? “Anna? Anna??! ANNA!!!” This just about does me in. Why so panicky? Do you think I got abducted? Let’s all just take a deep breath and follow call-back protocol. Bad Drivers Who Aren’t Immediately Threatening Your Life I really do understand being annoyed by bad drivers. But if it’s just something you’re watching from afar, you probably shouldn’t get as worked up as you do. “Are you KIDDING me? Look at this joker just LIVING in the left lane?! UNREAL!” Don’t you get so fired up watching a car weave in and out and pass from both sides way more than you think is appropriate or safe? Are you mentally harming that driver with your bare fists? Yeah, I am, too. But should it really make us as mad as it does? I’ve passed people before who were not driving to my satisfaction, only to see they were talking on the phone—and it makes me 4x madder than I already was. I think the problem with getting so mad at other drivers is that no one is innocent or without guilt. Even the best, most courteous drivers commit an occasional foul. But I know, we’re still enraged to witness such highway lawlessness. A Few Things We Have Every Right To Be Mad About: A lost sneeze. It’s on its way, you’re welcoming it and clearing a path for its arrival and it crawls back up. Come baaaaaack! Let me love you! When the string of your iPod earbuds get hung up on something—violently ripping them from your ears. That doorknob or armrest is now public enemy #1. When you can’t get your home printer to print. “Could somebody bring me my sledge hammer, please?” When water runs UP your arm and into your sleeve. You’re officially beaten and defeated. It’s a wrap. Cyclist in the way of traffic. I know, I know—they have a right to the road, too. That has never stopped me from thinking things. I have 3 choices here: wait patiently, speed by making as much noise as possible or … never mind—I’m too ashamed of my thoughts. A cricket in the house … somewhere. Cricket 1: You 0. I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.