Uniting In Fury: Vol. 4

The fourth installment of Uniting In Fury is upon us, which may have you thinking I just sit around mad all the time. I don’t.

I’m usually standing.

1.
When hair is anywhere but on a head. Healthy hair is a beautiful thing, until it’s on a table—or in your ravioli. It goes from, “Your hair is gorrr-geous; I just want to run my fingers through it!” to “Eww, eww, eww, it’s on my glass! Get it off. GET IT OFFFF!”

In all fairness, I’d feel the same way about an arm or a finger that came loose.

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2.
When men call their wives “bride” LONG PAST THEIR WEDDING DAY.

Example: “Taking my bride out for cocktails!” and “Loving beach time with my bride!”

Yes, Reader, I know I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but it bears repeating—because I’m still catching whiffs of it online. Guys, STOP. Women don’t say “My groom cleaned out the gutters today” or “Holla! It’s date night with the groom!”

What is it about “bride” that makes guys enjoy saying it? It must be something, because I’ve heard some seemingly normal guys say it.

A mom of a 5-year old doesn’t say, “Taking the embryo to Chuck E. Cheese!”

3.
When I’m at a light, admiring the new Jaguar beside me—taking in its sexy lines and sleek curves; dreaming of how one day it will be mine—then it takes off and I see it’s a Hyundai.

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4.
When I’m riding a bike and I’m close to an edge, then really close, then so close I can’t make myself turn away from it—so I just go off the edge. What is this phenomenon? It’s been happening since I was probably nine. Do I have a defect?

5.
When I take my receipt from a cashier and say, “Thank you” and they say, “No problem.” What? How about, “No, thank YOU” or “Absolutely—thank YOU for shopping with us.” They should thank customers in any way other than, “No problem.” This tactic is picking up speed, which makes me wonder if it’s part of the training. Surely not.

Side Note: While we’re on cashiers and grocery store clerks, let me tell you about a recent experience that was nothing short of delightful. The other day I was feeling especially unfit for human interaction, so I chose the self checkout line. I started scanning and got to the bananas. I was pretty sure the code was 4011, but wanted to check, so I picked them up to peep the sticker, when I heard an impatient, “FORTY ELEVEN” from a gruff, female voice box. I thought, nah, that’s not directed at me, I’m in self checkout … which means I do this by MYSELF. I went back to look at the bananas and she barked, “FORRR-TYYY-EEEE-LEVEN!” Holy cow, it was the self checkout watchdog … “assisting” me. I looked up and she was standing there in her smock, arms crossed, crotchety and know-it-all’y as could be. We made eye contact and she jutted her face forward and said, “FORRRTY EEEE” and I snapped back, “Yeah, Chief, I heard you. The whole store heard you.” She sucked her teeth and looked away, 100% unbothered by my irritation. Crap, she was wearing the pants in this relationship—which I could not abide—so I purposefully picked up the habaneros and waved them in the air, as if to say, “What’cha got for me here, PLU Queen?” She looked from the peppers to me and back to the peppers, cocked her mouth in loathsome defeat and walked away. I said loudly, “3125 … THIRRRRTY ONE TWENTY FIIIIVE!”

Look, I told every one of you I was unfit for human interaction that day. You had fair warning.

6.
When people push the ottoman you’re sharing. Jesus take the wheel. It’s 10x worse when they claim it was you who pushed it.

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7.
When someone uses the “Looking for Recommendations” feature on Facebook, and asks for something—like the best landscaper or the least stuffy cruise line—and ends the request with, “GO!” As in, “Wanting to lay a stone border around garden. Need landscaper recs. GO!”

I’ll go do something—anything—to not “GO!” right away. Polish the silver, clean some grout with a toothbrush, make a labor-intensive risotto recipe that requires me to drive to the store for saffron.

Side Note: The GO! tactic is a second cousin to this nuisance: the person who goes on Facebook to ask for suggestions, but doesn’t really need them, just wants people to know what they’re up to.

Example from an asshat:

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Example from a normal person:

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8.
When people back into parking spots—for no reason other than to not have to back out. It’s simple math that even I can grasp. You either have to back in (which seems to take exponentially longer and annoy far more onlookers) or you have to back out (which is usually done in one try and seen as very normal behavior.)

Backer-Inners, please explain your rationale to me so I can let this agitation go. I’m assuming—since it’s a 50/50 thing that cannot be rationalized—that maybe you’re trying to show off? You’re highlighting one of your strengths? I haven’t been on a dating site to confirm this, but I’m assuming it’s a box you can check as one of your best attributes?

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I mean, it’s a little bit impressive to see someone back a big ol’ Dually into a parking spot (when I’m not the one waiting), but it’s also pretty impressive when someone just, you know, doesn’t do that.

9.
When honey mustard sneaks into my mouth. I love mustard, but you know what honey mustard is? Ruined mustard. Might as well try to sell me on Sweet n’ Low olives. I wish these delicacies could just be their acidic, tart selves—and not get pressured into hanging out with disparate flavors. Some people just aren’t boss enough to appreciate the power of vinegar and tang. To them I say, “Oh hey, Little One, let me show you to the door—to a special room away from me, where you can eat all the foods that are in the throws of an identity crisis. Go on now, figure out if you want dinner or dessert, then we can talk.”

Side Note: Mango salsa, I’m looking at you, too, kiddo.

10.
When people don’t keep their trees trimmed. I have to restrain myself from sneaking over to snip some branches real quick—especially if it’s a place I’ll have to see again.

Since we’ve established that I love chores where I can see a marked before and after difference, you can imagine that mowing, edging and trimming trees are all fulfilling “jobs” for me. That must be why—when I go for walks—I find myself plotting ways to circle back to particular properties to give them a good detail. I want to walk with some long pruners by my side and snip the hanging branches from the trees we walk by.

The “problem” (as Jocelyn puts it), is that it’s not a fleeting thought. I actually plot ways to make it happen—and get lost in planning the caper. I’ll be deep into mentally mapping it out when Jocelyn says, “Hello? What are you thinking about?” I usually say, “Oh, just how good babies smell.” But really, I’m just biding my time until I can hit up Amazon for a sling satchel to carry my pruners in.

BONUS FURY:
When I find out someone I thought I loved enjoys stuffed bell peppers.

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Not ready to stop Uniting In Fury? Great—here you go:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Holler at me on Facebook and Twitter!

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I Must Confess

A lot of times, I don’t like what—seemingly—everyone else on the planet likes.

Bacon, for instance. I’m not in the “bacon makes everything better” camp. I’m in the bacon-overwhelms-everything-with-bacon-flavor camp.

I can see y’all reacting like this already:

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I know; I’m used to it. That’s the same reaction someone has when they find out I don’t have a dog. I wrote Paws Off aiming to explain this apparent defect in my character.

I also wouldn’t pay $1 to see Johnny Cash or Led Zepplin. All these things consistently get me side-eyed by the masses. Since the head shaking is ramping up, I’m gonna go ahead and fully unburden myself with a few more confessions. I’d rather the truth be out there, than continue having to whisper, “And can you please hold the bacon bits?”

This talk is long overdue.

-ONE-

If a public door has a vertical handle, I pull from the tip-top portion to avoid the bottom—where I know kids’ dirty.ass.paws.go. Make no mistake, I know the middle and top are caked with adult grime, too—I just think kids’ filth goes the extra mile.

CASE IN POINT: You know those little matchbook cars you pull backwards to make the wheels spin, then let go and it catapults the car forward? I had the joy of watching a 4-year old rolling one all over the floor at our favorite mexican-food dive. I watched his parents enjoy their Micheladas while he crawled around their feet, under the table—scooting that car on the floor. And juuust when I thought I couldn’t be more grossed out, he pulled the car back and let the tires spin on his tongue.

I had to silence a scream.

-TWO-

I don’t like it when men walk languidly, with their hands clasped behind their backs. It’s the hands-clasped-behind-their-backs part that rubs me wrong—not the slow walking. A slow walker (though oft-times annoying) is just a guy who’s probably content, or maybe mentally preparing a marriage proposal. A guy slow walking WITH his hands clasped behind his back is either philosophising in a way I find off-putting or he’s plotting a grisly crime. I had a dozen experiences of seeing this—and having a negative reaction—before I realized, “Oh, I just kinda hate this.”

-THREE-

When I drive through small towns, I try to figure out where I’d work. With no corporate options, it’s fun to scope out my next gig. Would I be a checker at a grocery store—taking pride in knowing everyone’s name and remembering to ask about Sharon’s daughter’s wedding? Would I become partial owner of the skating rink—maybe even trying my hand in the DJ booth, mixing today’s hits with yesterday’s Rick James jams? Would I start a lawn service, called The Lawn Ranger? See, we don’t know. And that’s why it’s so fun.

-FOUR-

I don’t love tapas. I know I’m supposed to. I know people adore them. I know they’re sexy. But really, I’m just consistently underwhelmed (and still very hungry). I assumed going to Spain would change my (secret) opinion of them, but it didn’t. Tapas were definitely better there, but the hardcore fact remained: it’s a little bit of good for a lotta bit of money.

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-FIVE-

I see things. When I look at textured ceilings, at marble surfaces, at clouds in the sky—I see vivid images. You know how some people stand in front of a Monet, appearing lost, but actually looking reverently? That’s what I do when I stare at granite.

Is this called Pareidolia?

One time I saw an old 1920s gunsman—his sunken lips indicating he’d left his false teeth bedside. Another time, I saw Barbra Streisand with a scarf on her head, riding an old-timey motorcycle. I didn’t see the motorcycle, but her body language and blowing scarf suggested this activity. A pattern in the carpet at an office showed a couple saying bye at a train station—he on the step, her reaching up to him. I once saw a belly dancer in the clouds. I also laughed audibly once, when I saw in a marble foot rest at a spa, a group of weebles looking up at the Pope.

Remember the famous “blinking guy” GIF?

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Well, I see him every day in my shower:

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-SIX-

I enjoy watching someone walk into a glass door, which might make you think I like witnessing calamity—but I’ll give you evidence to the contrary. I haaate hearing playbacks of real 9-1-1 calls on TV or online. The terror and fear in their voices makes my ears cry. It’s too raw and tangible for me.

I also hate watching someone screw up the National Anthem. My skin crawls with cringe. In fact, I’m a ball of tension when I’m watching the anthem live, because I’m so scared the artist is going to mess up the words or get pitchy on us. I’m actually surprised anyone ever accepts the invitation to sing it—because there’s really no winning. If they nail it, the oh-so-judgmental public reacts with a *shrug*, claiming they’re supposed to kill it because they’re a millionaire who’s paid to sing. But if they mess it up AT ALL—oh man, watch OUT—they are the dirge of the earth and unfit to live in this perfect society.

Side Note: Some of y’alls best talent is typing with two thumbs, but until you’ve had to do that in front of millions—and not make any typos—just ssshhh and delete that judgy tweet. Go’head, I’ll save your spot.

-SEVEN-

When I’m truly chillin’ and have free time on my hands, I can go down a serious rabbit hole with social media—and it happens before I even realize it.

CASE IN POINT: Not long ago, I remembered that Kellie Rasberry, from the Kidd Kraddick Show, was talking about a protein drink she liked; but I couldn’t remember what it was. I wasn’t even sure where to look online, because I heard her verbally mention on the radio one morning. I did remember though, that she told listeners she’d post about it. I started with Facebook, and immediately remembered she said Instagram, so I was going to hop over there to locate it—but then I saw a friend’s vacation pics on Facebook and went through them one-by-one.

I regained my focus and went to Instagram, but got sidetracked when I noticed I had a lot of “likes.” I’d forgotten what I even posted—so I clicked over to see. Ohhh, the sushi pic! I looked at the photo again, congratulated myself on the composition, and decided I’d scroll through my Instagram posts. I spent 20 minutes reveling in my good taste.

Then I returned to the task of finding Kellie’s post, but came across several memes that I wanted my friends to see—so I spent some time (just how long is confidential information) tagging them … hoping they’d laugh, too, but also hoping it served as a hello-thinking-of-you-but-haven’t-texted today gesture.

Back to finding the protein drink post. Scroll, scroll, scroll—there it is! Once I found it, I considered buying it, but due diligence prevailed, and I decided to first read a bunch of comments from Kellie’s followers. Their comments and opinions (both for and against this particular brand) were intriguing enough to send me to Amazon.

I located the drink and saw there were TONS of comments and reviews:

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I dove in head first. I saw that Lacy wanted “a damn answer!” Sheesh, what was up her ass? I’ll tell ya—carrageenan. She was fit-to-be-tied over the ingredient, carrageenan (or, what I now call “Nancy Carrigan” because it’s easier and I can preserve brain power for reading about this “vile, vile, menacing family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds.”) Lacy demanded to know if there were even trace amounts of Nancy Carrigan.

I’m thinking, is Lacy playing with a full deck? Do these Nancy Carrigans warrant such vitriol? On Amazon? She takes issue with the fact that they have no nutritional value, but are used in a lot of organic, natural products to bulk it up—and she’s pisssssed about it.

SIDE NOTE: Wouldn’t she be fun to spend a day with?

I just started staring off into space, thinking of all the no-nutritional-value things I eat, and wondered if I should be as mad as Lacy was.

A good 90 minutes had passed at this point.

I scolded myself for going down the rabbit hole, but I guess I didn’t listen because a week or so later, I saw multiple headlines for some artist named 6ix9ine. I thought, “Who is 6ix9ine? Why is he trending?”

Cut to me watching nearly two hours of videos on him. The longest was his interview on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. I’d never heard of him, seen him, or heard a single song he’d ever recorded; yet there I was, watching him like I was a super fan (though I was decidedly not).

During the Breakfast Club interview, I noticed a weird vibe between him and one of the hosts, Charlamagne. I had to know that was all about, so I found a few articles dissecting their tension.

Then I watched a video of him describing all his tattoos. He has hundreds, so the article was kind of long.

I finally decided I should find some of his music, since he’s the self-proclaimed “King of New York City” (something Charlamange refutes). Oh no, no, no—it was super yelly and aggressive. Not soothing in any way. I doubt his little girl appreciates his rap style as much as the rest of NYC supposedly does. I bet she prefers Shawn Mendes and his velvety-sweet voice and gorgeous smile—but who knows?

SIDE NOTE: Please don’t tell 6ix9ine I said that—he’s easily riled and I don’t need that in my life.

–EIGHT–

Fisheye effects make me nauseous.

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It’s bizarre; I used to love all things spinny. I’d shake my judgy head at anyone who got car sick or couldn’t get on the Tilt-A-Whirl. That is, until I starting getting motion sickness so easily that I couldn’t even scroll too fast on a website.

I never throw up or get super sick, I just get a bit queasy. I’m convinced it started several year back, when we were snorkeling in Hawaii in some really deep water. I was taking really deep breaths (because I was a wee bit spooked by the depth and by all the swordfish that looked at me like I was dinner.) I think the combination of the slow-wave water and too-deep breaths made me nauseous. I remember popping up out of the water, feeling like I was going to toss my cookies and wondering, “Crap, how will this work? How do I throw up in the ocean, upright, and around other snorkelers?!”

Fortunately, I held it together, and all that shrimp cocktail stayed in my stomach.

The nausea lasted for a few hours after we got out of the water—then kicked back in the very next day when I was riding in our Jeep. True, it was the Road to Hana (which can cause it), but up to that point in my life, I’d have been FINE. And I swear, I’ve never been the same. Since that day, I’m just super susceptible to motion sickness, and I very much dislike any and all fisheye lenses. So can y’all please stop using them? And can you please stop offering me bacon?

On the second thought, give me the bacon—and keep your no-nutrional-value Nancy Carrigan far away from me (and Lacy).

Holler at me on Facebook and Twitter!

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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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?

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Why I Have Trust Issues

Overall, I’m not a distrusting person. I actually trust people wholeheartedly—trust that they’ll annoy, dismay and fascinate me. I rely, with confidence, on my instincts, and feel I’m a good judge of character. But I can’t deny the fact that I do I have some trust issues—and I have a pretty good idea why.

1. Shazam.

I’ve never once gotten Shazam to think I’m the artist. No matter how perfectly in key I am, how meticulously my timing is or how precisely I rap 16 bars, the app has never once popped up with the original artist and title after hearing me sing. I just find that so sketchy. How is it absolutely certain it’s not hearing an acapella version of the song?

trust issues

2. Two-faced.

Sometimes I think a person looks like an entirely different person—with different temperaments and different insecurities—if I just look directly at their left eye or right eye. Yeah, I know everyone’s eyes are slightly different, but some people have a totally different look in each of their eyes—so different that I think one eye could have committed a crime while the other was writing a sonnet. When I have the chance (if the person hasn’t busted me staring), I’ll study their two personalities until I decide which one I like best, which one I’d trust to have my back in a street fight, and which one would make the prettiest babies.

3. DVRs are spiteful.

DVRs wreck my trust, because 99 times out of 100, when I hit pause, it freezes the absolute worst look any actor or athlete could ever have. I simply cannot take that call or run to the restroom while someone’s face is frozen like a drunk monster. I just feel so bummed for them. I’ll un-pause and re-pause a dozen times if needed, to find a suitable face we can both feel good about.

4. Makeup contouring.

Every single thing about this trend has my body in a cauldron of distrustful emotions. See the image below or simply Google “face contouring makeup” if you want a full dose of this madness—or watch here if you want to unite in head-shaking shock with me.

trust issues

Unless you’re a model or actress, why on earth would you want to look so vastly different from your natural self? I’d never want to set people up to be so sorely disappointed—not with contouring, not with lip injections, not with colored contacts.

Side Note: I think the only cosmetic surgery I’d sign up for is a thus-far-undiscovered procedure to replace my least important finger with Cherry Chapstick.

5. Discontinued.

How is it that certain flavors, candy and scents have remained for decades, but all my favorite things cease to exist at fairly normal intervals? So, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are still hanging in there, but my favorite spicy dish at Pei Wei was written off about a year ago? How do spicy veggies and noodles go out of style? My favorite Sephora lotion went bye-bye recently, yet original Noxzema is still in the game. My favorite Bath & Body bath scent was discontinued last year—forcing me to re-order it from eBay while it lasts—but they still keep pumping out Juniper Breeze (or as I refer to it: instant stomach ache.) All of it makes me distrusting of my life and my disposable choices. If normal, good things can come to an end, then what else can come to an end? Sunshine during the day? MY MOTHER’S LOVE?!

trust issues

6. Good sportsmanship.

I get choked up by good sportsmanship. Players helping up opponents—even in the heat of battle—ends me. Athletes checking on their competition when they look hurt—has me reaching for Kleenex. When both teams circle around an injured player like they’re all one tribe—I can barely deal. So why does this topic feed my trust issues? Because sometimes, those jackasses won’t accept the opposition’s offered hand when they need help getting up. And when that happens, I feel the rejection all the way in my own living room.

Then there is this … which is awful … ly funny.

trust issues

trust issues

7. Comic strips:

I’ll just come right out at say it, then shield my face from your swinging fists. I don’t like comic strips. I don’t care if they’re funny or smart or even borderline genius; my brain shuts off when I see them. Even if they’re just out-of-this-world awesome, I’d never know, because I simply can’t make myself read them. I have no idea why this is so, or why they look no more appealing than a sheet of algebra to me, but I’ve finally just resigned myself to the fact that they’re not my thing. Decades of consistently adverse reactions to them have forced me to accept their non-existent place in my life.

The trust issues surface when people, who I hoped were like-minded, walk up to me and hand me one, awaiting my certain laughter. I trusted you not to put me in the awkward position of pretending to read it/get it/like it. You’ve burst our trust bubble with your thoughtless assumptions and forced me into a scene of false camaraderie. Oh, you thought I’d get a kick out of it? Well I thought you’d pick up on my disdain for tedious stories told in squares with weird illustrations—so great, now neither one of us trusts the other.

8. Google’s attitude.

Have you ever googled something like, “womens dresses”—wait, me neither—how about, “womens jackets” and Google returns a list, but the top line says, “Did you mean women’s jackets?” When did Google get so high and mighty? What’s with the punctuation police? It’s such a passive-aggressive, condescending question—did you mean WOMEN’S JACKETS, Moron? The Google I thought I knew would return endless results with the header, “Got it! Including options for womens jacket, women’s jackets and anything in the female jacket ballpark!” I always thought of Google as this cool, accepting type who didn’t judge. I mean, it does fine with disasters like this:

trust issues

… but it’s gonna get all in my face about an apostrophe? #TrustIssues

9. Pizza gone rogue.

I love good pizza. I could eat it everyday. I’m pretty picky about crust, but not all that hung up on ingredients. I try to be a good pizza eater and not insist on only my favorite toppings; so, I feel completely bamboozled when I open up a nice, hot, fresh pizza box and the pizza is cut into squares. WHAT AM I LOOKING AT HERE, PEOPLE.?! Why would any reputable pizza place opt to cut pizza into … pieces … rather than slices? If a place cuts a rectangular pizza into squares, I’ll be upset and never go there again, but if place cuts a perfectly normal, round pizza into squares, I won’t even associate with anyone who speaks of this establishment.

trust issues

Side Note: I feel the same way about waffle fries. Get out of here with that child’s play. I can just hear some of you right now, “What?! Waffle fries rule! Hello—Chick fil-A?!” Yep, I know. And those weirdo potato waffles are a big barrier between me and their supposedly good chicken.

10. My own irrational thoughts:

When I spot someone existing in oblivion—in public—I feel capable and ready to take the hit. If they’re walking around unaware of the humans around them, and I can tell they might actually run into me, my adrenaline kicks in and I relish the idea of absorbing a good blow. I’ll sometimes even change my path slightly so they run into me. I know this isn’t normal behavior, but I feel like I need to teach them a lesson—and I don’t see any of you people stepping up to the plate.

Side Note: I have especially serious trust issues (with myself) because I’ve been known to consider taking a hit on the highway. Obviously not when trucking along at high speeds; but when I’m getting tailed too closely by some douche kabob … or see a ditzy teen on her phone, swerving around, I’m not above at least letting the altruistic collision play out in my mind.

Since misery loves company, I’ll wrap up with this image. You’re welcome.

trust issues

Trust issues at an all-time high … Taylor and Bruno.

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Nip Tuck

Cosmetic surgery is overrated. While smaller noses and bigger boobs have their place in society, neither contribute directly to the mission of creating a harmonious, cooperative world. A co-worker with calf implants won’t make the work day easier, but you know what will? A co-worker with common sense implants. Enter: Character Surgery.

Imagine the possibilities.

A little nip here for tempering those passive-aggressive tendencies; a little tuck there for improving a woeful sense of humor.

Doctor: What brings you in?
Girl: Oh Doc, it’s my level of self-importance. It’s reached an all-time high.
Doctor: I see. Tell me what you’ve noticed.
Girl: Well, for starters, my selfies have become a real problem. I used to come up with clever ways of getting a selfie posted—under the faux self-deprecating guise of ‘this is what 3 hours of sleep looks like,’—but now I just post them without shame. I’ve even started hashtagging this fact.
Doctor: What do you mean?
Girl: Like I’ll hashtag #shamelessselfie or #overgrammer or #selfiesaturday, when I know it’s Friday.
Doctor: I see. We can fix that.
Girl: Good. I knew I needed help when I was making fun of someone’s selfies the other day and people were looking back at me in total silence and with big eyes. It was a real turning point for me. I even took a selfie to commemorate the moment—and because I love how blue my eyes get when I’m about to make tears—and posted it on Instagram right away.
Doctor: Did you post an explanation of the image you shared?
Girl: Just a simple hashtag #thesebabybluestho
Doctor: I see. Well, I believe we’re looking at a pretty minor procedure with no overnight stay.
Girl: Really? Even though I’ve noticed that things in my life no longer mean anything to me if I don’t post them?
Doctor: Oh. Well, now we’re looking at a moderately invasive procedure—requiring a full week of at-home recovery and drainage bags.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Botox could fix little nagging things that sometimes hinder good relationships? You’d make an appointment (hopefully with a Groupon) and 30 minutes and one syringe later, you’d be a much better listener.

Oh, I'm sorry—did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

Or we just don’t listen at all, because, you know, the game is on and the Twitter feed is fast.

What if a few cc’s of Juvederm could curb your woe-is-me outlook? Botox parties would take on a whole meaning. You could invite that one friend who is late to everything and talk her into an injection for punctuality. You and all your lady friends would roll up to that party and sip a little Pinot while perusing the menu. Each party-goer would simply figure out which characteristics applied to her (with a little constructive wine-induced nudge from a true friend), and check the corresponding box to indicate “help wanted.” The menu might look like this:

botoxparty1

And one for the fellas:

botoxparty

I used to tell all my friends, “Hey, if you’re ever with me when there’s an accident and I have to quickly go under the knife, tell the doctor to fix my nose!”

Side Note: My nose has had a few major collisions with spherical objects—the best/worst happened when I played college basketball and was defending a very tall, super mean Jamaican girl (I tell you her nationality only so you can picture her accent when imagining all the means things she yelled at me for no good reason.) Anyway, I was guarding her and she was looking to get the ball up the court. She enjoyed expending the least amount of energy possible, so she cocked her arm back—Payton Manning style—for a full court pass. The timing of my jump was so immaculately perfect that I full-on intercepted the pass WITH MY FACE. Actually, it was less face and more nose. A direct hit. Please take a moment to note the velocity necessary to pass the ball full court.

But if Character Surgery was an option, I’d tell my friends that if I’m in an accident—and need surgery and can’t speak for myself—to tell the doctor he is under strict orders to also fix my sensitivity to external noises. I’d come out of surgery with repaired ribs, a new nose, and blissfully unaware of nearby chip eaters, loud breathers, change jinglers and pen-tappers. I’d never notice anyone’s bracelet scraping the desk back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, as she used her mouse for eight hours in the cube next to me. Thank you, Character Surgery!

If Character Surgery was a real thing, I could imagine this conversation and similar:

Girl 1: I feel like Abby is never at work.
Girl 2: What? Why? I see her all the time.
Girl 1: Well, she’s always posting pics from places other than her house.
Girl 2: You mean like … restaurants … on the weekend?
Girl 1: Yeah, and other places, too.
Girl 2: Like concerts at night … or something after work?
Girl 1: Whatever, she’s always … at … places. And I can’t believe she doesn’t get fat. She’s always eating … food. And like, posting it.
Girl 2: That’s not even true—I follow her and she just posts once in a while!
Girl 1: Yeah, but it’s ALWAYS this great food.
Girl 2: Right, but it’s like 1-2 meals out of probably 21 meals a week!
Girl 1: Right, but she’s not a whale like I’d be.
Girl 2: But how do you know the other 15 meals aren’t apples and salads or something? Should she post a picture of her oatmeal or cottage cheese? Do you want an Instagram of her workouts? A pic of all the donuts she passed on?
Girl 1: Whatever, it just makes me feel bad and hate my life. She’s always eating and on vacation.
Girl 2: Girrrrrl, you gotta get something for that. You should try that procedure Lisa got last month. She said she was back at work the next day with no swelling and couldn’t believe she suffered so long with these ludicrous thoughts.

zd

Doctor: Well, Kacie, everything looks good. If you don’t have any questions or concerns, we’ll see you back here in one year.
Kacie: Great. But actually, I was wondering if I could get a referral to the Character Surgery Clinic on Westchester Ave.?
Doctor: What’s going on?
Kacie: I came across a quote from Betty White recently and it said, “I don’t know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.” It hit me pretty hard. I’m so exhausted from my anti-everything ways that I can’t keep my outrage straight. Is it Chick-fil-A I’m disappointed in? Am I for or against them? Can I have a chicken biscuit or not? Is it Target or Walmart whose policies worked me up into a frenzy last month? Which NFL team didn’t even request the video surveillance of Rice knocking his fiance out cold and then dragging her body off the elevator? Anyway, I want that procedure they’re offering because I just need to take care of my own affairs like Betty suggested.

I just see so many benefits of Character Surgery. Do you know someone who turns everything into a political discussion and creates a negative divide any time possible? That person is a real gem and delight, huh? Wouldn’t it be nice to send ’em in for a little day surgery?

opinion

Have you ever wondered if you’re a bad judge of character? Have you noticed that you fall hard and fast for people (platonic or romantic) you’ve just met or that you love-love-love a person/friend/co-worker, but then aren’t even speaking in six months? Do your relationships and friendships start out super intense and exciting, only to end poorly?

Then you, my sweets, might be a bad judge of character. But that’s OK in my perfect world—where Character Surgery exists—because you’d be able to fix that little flaw with a local anesthetic and a few stitches.

Perhaps not the best judge of character.

Maybe since we all have so many character flaws and such fluctuations in moods and circumstances, there could be a rule. The rule could be that once you’ve been told something three times, by three different people, you have to get a Character Surgery procedure.

August 2012: “You drive like you own the road, Dan.”
October 2013: “Danny! You don’t own the road, you know.”
May 2014: “Daniel, there are other drivers out here—stop acting like you own the road!”

Boom. Bang. Character Surgery. You did it to yourself.

See how quickly we could shape this place up, with just a few well-placed rules? A harmonious, cooperative world, People … are you with me?

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Dr. Noticer, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you mean Shine Yahoo, Moma?

Did you mean Shine Yahoo, Moma?

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

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

Peace out.

Peace out.

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

But then, there is this.

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

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

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

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

back roads

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

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

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

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

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

Hello! We're not saving lives here!

Hello! We’re not saving lives here!

So here is my take-away.

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

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

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

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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).

rude

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.

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!