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Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.

July 28, 2012 3 comments

It’s summer vacation time and I am so excited that I almost can’t stand myself.  This year, we’re checking out a new beach town that I am super pumped about.  Well, let’s be honest, I am super pumped any time I have the chance to put my toes in the sand.  There’s just something extra intriguing about a new place, especially when you’re creeping up on forty and not looking to get henna tattoos or go bungee jumping for a week.  We’re headed to one of those quiet, undeveloped beaches…on AN ISLAND.  A real-live island.  With PONIES.  And a WILDLIFE RESERVE. Hot damn, I think I just peed a little.

So, we’ve made our plans, booked our hotel, taken vacation from work and the time is nearly upon us.  But I’m just a little uneasy.  Vacation is like stepping out of your life for a week or so.  That’s what’s delightful about it, to be sure, but it also makes me just a little nervous.  I have some very minor, nearly undetectable, control issues and it makes me nervous to just leave.  What’s going on at work?  What are my cats doing?  What about my house and my bills and the milk I left in the fridge?

Yes, yes, I’ve taken care of everything.  We have a house sitter.  I’ve paid my bills.  I am covered at work.  My cats will be taken care of, and although they will hold a grudge for a while, they’ll get over it.  Everything has been carefully orchestrated so that we may leave for a while and think of NOTHING but relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  We’ve earned it.  We work our heinies off all year long.  We deserve a break, at least once a year.  But. Still.  I’m not going to be here.

When I was a kid, we used to take a two-week vacation to the beach every year.  It was completely wonderful in every way, until we made our journey home.  When we turned onto our street, without fail, my dad would say, “Well, I hope the house didn’t burn down while we were gone.”  Wait, what?  Holy catastrophe, Batman, that could happen.  Of course, the house could also burn down while we’re at work one day, but I don’t really think of that when I leave every morning.  In fact, I would have to assume that the house is probably more likely to burn down when we’re in it using appliances, cooking and lighting candles, or whatnot.  So why do I have such a vacation hang-up?

I am forced now to recognize that I am extremely uptight and, yes, a control freak.  I have difficulty relaxing.  I have a deep-seated belief that my tiny little world is barely hanging on by a thread if I’m not running it.  These things lead me to wonder how anyone can live with me.

So, yes, I need a vacation.  I am going to put my toes in the sand, eat fresh seafood, buy overpriced souvenirs and maybe even go on a boat tour.  (Just a two-hour one.  As a lifelong Gilligan fan, I cannot bring myself to go on a three-hour tour.  A three-hour tour.)  I’m not going to think about all the what-ifs at home, because I am leaving my tiny world in capable hands.  The sneaky squirrel who’s been stalking my house will undoubtedly eat my tomato plants, but everything else will be fine.  And I will return refreshed, rejuvenated, and probably sunburned.  Just the way it ought to be.

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The Most Valuable Lessons of My Childhood

July 25, 2012 5 comments

I’m not the kind of gal who lives in the past or analyzes my childhood, or, heaven forbid, goes to therapy.  Trust me when I say no one really wants to know what’s inside my head.  That said, there is a lot to be said for appreciating the things that have helped to make me who I am.  If nothing else, it’s a shout-out to Mom & Dad.  Thanks for all those little ways you messed with our heads, because there were lessons in all of it.

Don’t make assumptions.  For instance, if you reach into a dark room to turn on the light, you should never assume that the room is empty.  Odds are that your father someone is hiding in the dark waiting to grab your arm and laugh hysterically when you wet yourself.  While some may argue that this stress-inducing kind of behavior leads to jumpy kids who don’t trust any situation, I contest that it simply taught us to be ready for anything.

Tough love.  Gentleness may have its place, but I wouldn’t be the tough-as-nails woman that I am today if my mother hadn’t mercilessly jerked the knots out of my hair every day.  Detangler?  It’s for wimps.  I chuckle when my hairdresser asks if she’s being too rough on my head.  Please, lady.  You’ve got nothing on my mom.  Maybe it sounds mean, but, look, sometimes things hurt and you have to do them anyway.  It’s not a bad thing to know from earliest childhood.

Offer solutions, not problems.  Complaining is complaining, any way you cut it.  If you can’t also offer a possible solution, shut your trap, or you’ll likely be met with the ever-helpful offer to see your mom stand on her head in the corner.  (example.  complaint:  I’m bored, there’s nothing to do. response: Well, what do you want me to do about it? Stand on my head in the corner?)  Now that I have finally reached the point that I would dearly love to see my mother stand on her head in the corner, she no longer offers to do it.  Such is life.  Anyway, you can’t go through life getting all the answers from someone else.  Sometimes you have to figure it out on your own.

Always buy good quality shoes.  There’s no deeper meaning here.  Just, take care of those feets.

Dazzle them with bullshit.  Honestly may be the best policy, but exaggeration will get you far in life.  Never, ever admit that you don’t know something.  Say, yes, of course I can do that, then go home and figure it out as fast as you can.  If you want to be the person who knows everything, then be the person who’s willing to learn everything.  Thanks, Dad.  Now everyone asks me questions all the time.  I should have thought that through a little better.

I am not left-handed.  And neither is my dad, but in my childhood, we embarked on a contest to see who could learn to write left-handed the best.  (spoiler alert: we both sucked at it.)  My life has been full of these kinds of challenges.  Why?  Why not?  Maybe we were ambidextrous.  How will you even know what you can do unless you try?  And where’s the fun in trying if there’s no one doing it with you?

There you go.  A peek into a few of the things that produced yours truly.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.  I’m not totally convinced that you knew what you were doing at the time, but it worked.  Now, Mom…I’m bored.  There’s nothing to do.  Whatcha gonna do about it?

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

July 24, 2012 5 comments

Sometimes I, like you, have a bad day.  Today I was in a spectacularly bad mood.  The kind of mood that made me want to scream and cry at the same time.  The kind of mood that only a teenage daughter can bring out in her mother.

Since my company did not have the foresight to provide bad mood holidays, I had to interact with people today.  My coping device for this kind of situation is to withdraw.  I don’t want to discuss with my coworkers the myriad reasons that I’m considering selling my first-born on Ebay, nor do I want to accidentally abuse them for no good reason.  So I get quiet.  I get very, very quiet.  People know what this means.  Even if they haven’t overheard the twenty-seven phone calls punctuated with hissed threats, they know that I have a thing going on and it is not making me happy.  They see my grump face and the vein popping out of my forehead.  They could hardly overlook the green tinge my skin has taken on as my transformation into the Hulk progresses.

You would think, would you not, that they would appreciate my silence and avoid poking the bear?  They will not.  They will insist on making comments such as:  “Having a bad day?”,  “What do you have going on over there?”  or, most astute, “Shellie’s in a bad mood.”  You think?  Really?  Look, I am trying to make an attempt to be civil.  I will smile at your jokes.  I will make pleasant comments in something slightly more audible than a grunt.  I will not dump on you.  And all I ask of you is that you back the hell up off me for a minute.

This is something that many people don’t know, and I think they’d take a big step backward if they did.  I have a really nasty temper.  My silence is not pouting, it is a measure of my self-control.  When I fall silent, it is because there is a never-ending stream of mean and ugly stuff simmering right under the surface.  Once it’s released, it doesn’t care who it hits.  I am battling the crazy and the crazy is strong in this one.  Don’t taunt it.  Don’t invite it.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.  (I promise I will stop the Incredible Hulk references before I shred my britches.  Ha.  I love the word “britches.”)

Please, please, I beg of all of you.  When you see grump face paired with utter silence, it’s time to just step back.  Give me a minute.  I am probably not angry at you, but even if I am, we will both be happier to discuss it a little later.  You, because I will say mean things that I shouldn’t say out loud don’t mean.  Me, because I will probably cry like Ralphie in a Christmas Story fight while I say it.

This is not the time.  I am not suitable for public.  I can’t say anything nice, and that’s why I’m saying nothing at all.

If Wishes Were Fishes…

July 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Someone once said that you can do anything you set your mind to.  That person is a liar.  Maybe you can do most things, through hard work, persistence and faith.  But, there are some things you can’t do, no matter what.  I am old enough to understand this, but I’m not yet old enough to have made peace with it.  There are things that I want to do, that I wish I could do, but I can’t.  I know we all have our shortcomings and our limitations and I’m fine with mine.  Except for these:

Not me.
via beatclass.com

I wish I could sing.

Singing is so fun and joyous.  Unless I’m the one singing, in which case, it’s painful and sad.  I have, my whole life, wished that I could carry a tune.  I don’t have to be great.  I don’t have to be famous, or even good enough to audition for American Idol.  I just want to be good enough so I don’t scare children and small animals when I break into song.  But it’s not to be.  So I limit my singing to solo car trips and the occasional Rock Band concert in my home (before which, I always warn any guests of what’s about to happen to their ears).

Also not me.
via hrmorning.com

I wish I could remain composed.

When I get very, very angry, I completely lose my shit.  My voice quavers.  My hands shake.  And I usually cry.  This does not make me scary, it makes me look like a loser.  I can say that I’m crying tears of rage all I want (and it’s true!), but still.  I’m crying in front of you when I really want to rip your head off and poop down your neck.  (Not you, personally, of course.)  I want to be one of those really cool, scary, badass women who will let loose on you the tirade that you deserve.  Instead, I say something stupid that barely makes sense, then run away so no one will see the tears.  It’s really not fair, because I am terrifying, in my head.  I just want to be able to get what’s in my head out, and directed at the appropriate party, without blubbering and needing a Valium.

Absolutely, definitely not me.
via tetonrockclimbs.com

I wish I were brave.

Specifically, brave enough to do things like rock climbing.  Even more specifically, I just want to rock climb.  It looks incredibly fun, but I will never do it.  Firstly, I don’t have the upper body strength to climb out of bed, let alone to pull myself up the sheer wall of a mountain.  But let’s set that aside, shall we?  I could improve that, if it were the only issue.  Sadly, it’s not.  I’m afraid of heights.  I’ve subconsciously rationalized it quite a lot, to address my concerns about rope quality and those thingies that you jam into the side of the mountain, but really what it is, is that I’m pretty much convinced that I will fall off a mountain and land in a hidden valley somewhere (not the salad dressing kind of valley, either), get trapped under a boulder, and be eaten by wild squirrels (or something more terrifying).  So…no rock climbing.

Not my poor little gross eyeball.
via lasikguider.com

I wish I could see.

I know, you’re sick of hearing about my stupid eyes.  I’ve posted twice before about my deplorable vision.  This will be the last.  I want Lasik really, really bad.  I can’t even begin to imagine the delights of opening my eyes in the morning and seeing everything, all crisp and clear.  Actually, I can’t even imagine finding my way to the bathroom at night without tripping over a cat.  But alas, I can’t get Lasik.  Did I mention that my vision is deplorable?  It’s also still deteriorating.  So, I’ll just keep on wishing, at least until I can sign up for Lasik on the frequent flyer plan.

Yep, that’s me.
via professor-murman.info

I wish I were comfortable in social situations.

This is a big one.  I am not one of those people who can just strike up a conversation with any old person who happens to be nearby.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people, although I know that’s how I come off.  It’s just that I have no freaking clue what to say to them.  I suck at small talk.  I’m not good at upbeat, friendly talk that is approved for general audiences.  And, more importantly, I can be incredibly inappropriate when I turn off the filter.   The filter allows the following through:  “Hi.” “How are you?”  “Maybe we’ll  some rain.”  “Have a great day/night/weekend.”  Occasionally some random, slightly alarming facial expression will accompany these witticisms.  Or I will laugh, and when I laugh, I snort.  Not the conversation starter I’m looking for.  Most of the time, it’s much easier and more comfortable for me to be quiet, but that is unsettling to other people and makes them think I hate everyone.    Just be patient…eventually I will think of something to talk about, and hopefully you will find me to be somewhat entertaining and not too offensive.

Oh No, He Didn’t.

July 18, 2012 7 comments

I don’t write about politics.  It’s just not a pot I want to stir.   I’m a non-confrontational gal, to each their own, and all that jazz.  Therefore, I am not going to write a post about President Obama’s recent speech in Roanoke, VA on July 13, wherein he (seemingly?  allegedly? really and truly?) said the following.

“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

I’m not going to place it into context, which makes it only a smidge less offensive.  I’m not going to express my outrage on behalf of family members who are busting ass to run successful small businesses.  I’m not going to comment on the fact that I’m apparently ungrateful for the bridge I take on my way to work.  Without that bridge, I wouldn’t be employed by a company which was started fifty-plus years ago with one man who had one truck and is today a worldwide, well-respected company.  I won’t rant and rave about the hard-working people who start with nothing, with no help, no handouts and no complaints and come out on the other side successful and (rightly) proud.  I’m not going to mourn the slow death of the great American dream.

I’m not going to do any of that.  I’m going to be bigger than that.  But, since we all enjoy a good giggle, and since I’m sure that none of us take ourselves too seriously here, I’m going to share with you some of the fun memes I’ve seen on the subject.  Here are my favorites.  Many thanks to knowyourmeme.com for having such a delightful collection from which I could choose.  If you’re tempted to think I’m not an Obama supporter, ah well, you caught me.  However, that’s not what this is about.  If I didn’t write about the stupid things other people say and/or do, then I’d never write about anything but myself, and that gets boring.  So, there’s no need for the secret service to start watching me and there’s no need for Obama fans to get angry.  We’re just having fun here, y’all.  And now, please enjoy the clever things that other people posted on the internet.

Flawed Data

July 15, 2012 2 comments

If you’re wondering why I’m so chock full of blog posts today, well, studies show that my house is filthy and as soon as I pry myself off the couch, I’m going to have to clean it.

I just saw a commercial about home ownership.  It was one of those vague realtor commercials.  I’m not totally sure what the advertisement was for, other than buying houses in general.  I do know that they claim that studies show that parents who own their home have children with higher self-esteem and higher test scores.  Really?  I mean, really?  How many kids actually know if their parents are renting or buying the house.  Kids don’t know about this stuff and, as long as they have a place to call home, I’m pretty darn sure they don’t care.  Could there be something skewing that data?  Could it be that stable families with access to many resources for their children are more likely to own their home?  (I’m not dissing renters.  I’m NOT.  I love renters.  I used to be a renter.  I’m just exploring ideas.)  Could it be that the study was maybe conducted in an area with few rental properties?  It could be anything.  Just because you say a study proved it, doesn’t mean I’m buying it.  I’ll tell you what home ownership means to me.  It means I have to fix my own damn furnace if it breaks.  (Not dissing owners either, but let’s be realistic here.)

Years ago, I read something about a study that shows that children who use night lights are more likely to have poor vision.  Or, maybe, children who have poor vision are more likely to be afraid of the dark, since they can’t see if that’s a shirt on the chair or a monster in the corner.  There are two sides to every story and countless viewpoints to every study.  I’m sure you all know about the studies about the “family table.”  Families who sit down together at dinner have more successful children, or some such.  Or, families who sit down at the table together are fortunate enough to have the time, resources and schedules to spend that meal together.  Does that make children who eat a sandwich with Mom and Dad on the way to baseball practice less successful?  I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

I’m sick of the studies, aren’t you?  If you disagree, then I’ll remind you that studies show that people who enjoyed this blog post usually send me cash.

Beware the Typos

July 15, 2012 2 comments

I’m sure you all know by now that I am bothered by grammatical errors.  I am also bothered by typos.  I am guilty of a great number of typos because I’m always in a hurry and I don’t take nearly enough time to proofread.  However, what I’m typing in my daily life isn’t all that important.  Work emails?  Sure, I’ll have the occasional typo, but in a setting in which I can’t even comprehend half of the emails I receive, I don’t worry too much about it.  This blog?  Well, sooner or later I’ll catch it and correct it, and then I can pretend that no one ever saw it.  Texts, Facebook status updates, grocery lists…well, I was serious when I said I’m not a writer.  The things I write are very much on the small scale.  It’s not like I’m creating websites or advertising.

Which brings me to my point.  Have you ever noticed just how many people don’t know or don’t seem to care that their advertising is a hot mess?  I saw business cards recently for a small business which claimed, “No Job To Small.”  Okay, well, I wasn’t going to hire you to write a dissertation, but now I won’t hire you to clean my gutters, either.  This is just so unacceptable.  Even the tiniest error causes me to completely shut down.  This is business.  You are required to be professional.  If you can’t write, can’t spell, can’t decipher homophones and can’t proofread, then, please, find someone to do it for you.  It shows a carelessness and a sloppiness.  It makes me question every tiny little thing about you and completely breaks my trust in you.

I know every person has their own skill set.  I could not fix a broken toilet or change the oil in my car if you held a gun to my head.  I don’t expect my plumber or my mechanic to be writing blog posts for fun. (Although I’m positive that some of them do, but that’s neither here nor there.)  There is just nothing you can do to convince me that, no matter what your service or product is, you can’t put together a grammatically correct and typo-free advertisement for your business.  Wouldn’t you show it to everyone you know, before committing, to get approval?  Wouldn’t you take a few extra minutes checking everything before spending your hard-earned cash on something that makes you look incompetent?

Although this is not exactly advertisement, my son pointed out this sign in our local grocery store a couple of days ago.  It’s enough to make me want to take a red sharpie with me the next time I go shopping.  It has also now convinced me that my ten-year-old kid is smarter than whoever is running the grocery store.  (If you’re wondering what my ten-year-old kid was doing on the beer aisle, let me reassure you slightly.  It’s across from the frozen pizza.)

Photos like these remind me how truly awful my camera phone is.

I know this.  Companies who allow these mistakes to slide lose business.  They lose credibility.  I do not want to do business with anyone who doesn’t care enough to check for typos, or worse, doesn’t know it’s wrong.  Pay attention, people!  These things matter.  I suggest adopting a new slogan.  “No Typo To Small.”

as a side note, I caution anyone against relying on spell check, since spell check, just moments ago, suggested that I change “aisle” to “I’ll”.  What the…