Category Archives: life in general

How Life Hacks Really Work

We’ve all seen those Buzzfeed lists touting life hacks; ways to use everyday items that will simply change your world. It appears to make so much sense. “And you thought bread ties should be thrown away – look at the magnificent ways to use the bread ties instead!” I feel like these ideas fall dangerously into the Pinterest zone. Pinterest encourages average people to do non-average things. It makes non-crafty people think they can be crafty. You can’t. You’re either the type of person who can make art out of melted crayons or you’re not. That’s all there is to it. Believe me, I feel the pain. Deep in my heart, a wannabe crafty soccer mom resides; one who believes that she can turn string into art projects, who can quickly and easily make paper-mache* holiday decorations without covering the cats in glue and ruining the kitchen table. ‘Tisn’t true. Pinterest lies.

*Any option spellcheck gave me to spell this correctly made it look French and capitalized the second word. Sorry. I’m not fixing it.

The problem with these life hack lists is that they have an infomercial-like quality to them. You know what I mean? If you watch an infomercial long enough, it makes perfect sense. “You know, it looked stupid at first, but hot damn, I certainly WOULD like perfect pancakes every time! Where’s my credit card?” Same with these everyday product uses. On the surface, it looks great. In reality? Not so much.

Bagel ToteFirst of all, anyone who uses the term “bagel tote” should probably get punched.  Second, last I checked, bagels can be transported pretty easily in plastic baggies, which are a little easier to find than CD spindles, being that it isn’t 1998.

Paint can

Not Shown: Average American trying to wrestle a rubber band around an open fucking paint can.  This ends in tears. Trust.

Drink at the Beach

Okay, sometimes they work.  This makes a lot more sense than dumping a bottle of rum in giant bottle of grapefruit juice.  Touche, life hacks.

Pool Noodle

You know that the fitted sheet isn’t like a magic sheet right?  Just because things are under it don’t mean they don’t move. Ask my cats.  They’ve been accidentally made into the bed many a time.

Lending items

Yeah, I want to be friends with this guy.  Don’t worry, dude, I’ll bring back “Memento.”  You fucking douchebox.

Ninja fold

This?  Is amazing.  Tried and true, no joke.  Google it.

Ketchup

For all of the effort it would take to try and unroll your paper ketchup receptacle, wouldn’t it be easier just to fill another?  Also?  Have you ever used those ketchup containers?  You can easily carry two of them with one hand.  This method makes that impossible and requires a tray.

Pancake Batter Ketchup Bottle

No mess experience.

Not Shown:

1.   Trying to clean a ketchup bottle enough that it is fit for other foodstuffs.  Seriously, I don’t know about you guys but a bottle of ketchup in this house may stick around for a year or so before it’s done.  I don’t really want to think about trying to clean it out.

2.  Pouring pancake batter into a fucking ketchup bottle.  When I think no-mess, I don’t think trying to pour thick liquid from one container with a small opening into another container with a smaller opening.

Spa

I love this so hard.  You know why?  This was born of resourcefulness.  “Well, we’re out of matches and a lighter won’t work.  Get the spaghetti, Betty, I’ve got it figured out!!”

Excuse Me, I Have a Tiny Violin I Want to Hit You With

I don’t read gossip magazines.  I don’t follow celebrity blogs or Twitter feeds, I don’t watch E! or Extra or TMZ.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure if those are the “popular” celebrity sites or shows; those are just the ones I remember flipping past on the television when I do watch my late night reruns.  Part of the reason is that it makes me feel old – either they’re showing videos and photos people like Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin doing grown up things when in my head, they are permanently ten years old – or they make me feel dirty and old, i.e. showing a picture of Taylor Lautner shirtless and I’m all “Ooh, yummy,” until I remember that he was probably still in diapers when I graduated high school and then I’m all, “Ew, I’m old enough to be a cougar,” and have a drink instead of continuing to hurt my own feelings.  Another part of the reason?  Is that I despise everything Kim Kardashian and it is fucking impossible to watch any sort of gossip/celebrity show without that stupid bag of hair smiling beatifically for a photo-op with that walking piece of arrogance she’s engaged to.

But the biggest reason of all is shit like this interview with Mariah Carey in which she compares her time on American Idol to working with Satan every day. I had to read the whole thing because I thought to myself, “That’s impossible.  She wouldn’t actually say something so ridiculous.”  She did.  Read the article.  Her exact words? “It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan.”

Really, Mariah?  Was it really so bad?  Was it really just so, so, very difficult to get paid 18 fucking million dollars to judge a talent show?  18 million dollars.  Do you have any concept of how much money that actually is?

 

THINGS I WOULD DO FOR 18 MILLION DOLLARS

Yes – Pretty much anything

No – Eat a baby

I once had a manager when I was waiting tables whose night was not complete unless he made someone cry.  He would scream profanities at you that didn’t even make sense, “Fucking yes bread is slow stop waiting dammit go!” “Don’t care steak broken fryer!” and my favorite, a horrifying Hunger Games version of red light green light, “Get out! Where are you going! Get that out!  Get back here! What are you waiting for?! Pay attention and stop!” until you were slip sliding in your own sweat holding a full tray of food above your head with one hand, questioning every life choice you ever made.  Do you know how much money I made doing that four or five times a week for three years, Mary Poppins?  Three dollars an hour.  And do you know what else?  I did it with a fucking smile, because I had a job and I was grateful. How long would you make it in a regular job, Ms. Mariah?  As a mail carrier, a receptionist, a customer service rep?  A nurse, a social worker, a teacher?  You’re a very lucky woman.  You were born with an extraordinary talent that you’ve used to your advantage, which ensures that you will never actually have to “work,” in the real world a day in your life.  From what the article stated, part of your problem is that Nicki Minaj called you “insecure,” and “bitter.”  Instead of having the audacity to feel sorry for yourself, prove her wrong.  Take a look around and be happy and humble at what life has provided you with. Or at least get a better publicist that will advise you against complaining about the show that paid you 18 million dollars in one year to sit on a stage and look pretty.

Yes.  SHHHHH.  Dummy.

Yes. SHHHHH. Dummy.

 

Great. Now I’m Dysfunctional, Too.

I recently came across the blog post, as I’m sure many of you did, by Matt Walsh entitled, “Abstinence is Unrealistic and Old Fashioned.”  In it, he details a letter written to him by a high school fan who felt uncomfortable with his desire to wait until marriage to have sex after his health teacher called his approach outdated and old fashioned.  It’s an interesting subject, and I certainly don’t envy the high school health teachers of today who have to teach it.  We’ve put them – at least in public schools – in an impossible position; yes, you have to teach sex education because our students are having sex, but don’t glorify it because we really don’t want them to.

I’m a fan of Matt Walsh.  I don’t always agree with him; in fact, I often don’t agree with him, but I like his style and conviction.  That being said, his response to this particular subject?  Pissed me off.  Anyone who blogs – myself included, and believe me, I understand that not everyone believes that all bus drivers and Dominick’s customers are sadists who simply want me to explode in public – writes with a broad stroke, tending to stereotype both sides of an argument.  I’m right, you’re wrong, here’s why.  I get that.  But while I hope that the fan who wrote the letter sticks to his own convictions, it’s because they are HIS opinions, his thoughts, and his beliefs.  Not because his perspective is “right,” but because when it comes to sex, your own convictions and beliefs are the only ones that matter.

So to his scathing response, in which he accuses the teacher of being a gossipy teenager at a sleepover and likens her to a bully out to humiliate those who choose to abstain; where he challenges that any sex outside of marriage is dirty, wrong, and casual; and calls anyone who had an enjoyable sexual encounter before marriage a liar – I have a few counterpoints.

No Matter What You Believe, Teaching Abstinence Isn’t Effective.

There are plenty of articles and studies to back me up here, and I’m not going to list them all.  Instead, I’m going to employ some common sense.  Take a hormone-fueled teenager.  Now, pick one thing in the world – doesn’t matter what it is, but let’s say a grape – and tell them absolutely, no, you cannot TOUCH or even THINK about grapes until you’re married.  Grapes can have very bad consequences and if you touch the grapes now, you’re going to regret it.   Now, in every movie, commercial, magazine, and billboard that said teenager is exposed to, show a whole bunch of people enjoying the fuck out of grapes.  But repeat, over and over, that grapes are totally awesome, but just not until you’re an adult and married.  Does anyone else remember being a teenager?  Do you remember how impossibly far away being an adult seemed?  Here’s a clue – they’re going to touch the grapes.  And if the teenager hasn’t been taught the actual significance and importance of them but instead only been told “NO.  YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE GRAPES AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU ANY TOOLS TO COPE WITH THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE TAUNTED WITH GRAPES,” chances are when they do get a hold of them, they’re going grab and enjoy them with complete and reckless abandon, because they don’t understand what they’re dealing with.  Doesn’t it make more sense to teach them to enjoy and respect the grapes instead of smashing them?

Single People Can Have Meaningful Relationships, Too.

The author disparages what he calls “casual sex,” which in this post, at least, seems to blanket all sexual encounters outside of marriage or a lifetime commitment.  Someone who considers themselves sexually liberated is actually just a sad, lonely person willing to settle for, and I quote, “Use me and I’ll use you.”  The fuck? Say I am a single woman in her thirties.  I have a career, a home, a plethora of interests, and an active social life.  I don’t get to have sex? Or I do get to have sex, but any encounter I have is sad, lonely, and meaningless?  Bullshit.  Not everyone’s life map directs them to a singular committed relationship, and to say that those people don’t understand sex or what it means is ludicrous.

There’s a Whole Lot of Dysfunctional Folks Out There.

There was one particular quote in this post that really made me want to respond, and this was it. He asks, to anyone who had premarital sex, ” Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally?”  and if the answer is anything but no, “you’re dealing with someone in a very dysfunctional marriage.”  How dare you?  How do you unilaterally decide that anyone who didn’t save themselves for marriage and isn’t despondent about it is incapable of a healthy relationship?  It’s untrue.  And telling people they should be ashamed of themselves for enjoying something natural does nothing but make people question themselves and really, don’t we have enough to fucking worry about?

Here’s the thing.  The letter from the kid who wants to save himself for marriage?  Good for him.  I hope he follows his beliefs and is happy with whatever decision he makes. He’s not wrong – because it’s his decision – and maybe his teacher didn’t respond appropriately. But that girl sitting next to him in health class, the one who thinks she’s in love with the boy that may be in love with her, who is going to “give herself” to him – she shouldn’t be made to feel bad about her decision, either.

Everyone is going to enjoy the grapes eventually.  Let’s not shame anyone for deciding when to take them.

Forbidden grapes.  You know you want them.

Forbidden grapes. You know you want them.

Jimmy Kimmel is Awesome and Please Calm Down

By now pretty much everyone has seen Jimmy Kimmel’s video montage of the reactions of children after their parents tell them they ate all of their Halloween candy.    If you haven’t seen it, please take a minute or six to take a look.

Priceless and hilarious, yes?  Apparently not everyone thinks so.  Here’s some quotes from folks outraged at this horrible example of parenting.

“Is it just me, or does anyone else thinks this sort of borders on emotional and mental cruelty toward children??  It’s pretty darn close to bullying, isn’t it?” Commenter on NBC article.

“Cruel and potentially damaging.” Child psychologist Mark Barnett.

“Inappropriate parental behavior.” Psychologist Jane Annunziata.

That’s just a couple of the criticisms, but you get the gist of it.  These parents are only out for a couple minutes of fame, and by participating in a prank, may be causing lifelong damage to their children’s psyches.

People?  Get the fuck over yourselves.  It’s funny.  It’s CANDY, for fuck’s sake.  They didn’t tell them Santa hated them, that the Easter Bunny didn’t exist, that their favorite teacher was actually an alien, that the dog was dead.  They told them someone ate their candy.  And they didn’t even do it!  The kids got their candy back!

I’m just going to point out two things and then leave it alone.  One – most kids that have parents willing to buy them a costume and take them trudging around in the rain for several hours trick or treating are probably reasonably in tune with their children and whether playing a prank on them is going to destroy their entire life.  Two – if your kid reacts like some of them did, such as the two-year-old who called someone a bitch, they probably deserve a spanking a lot more than a bag of candy, anyhow.

Hell, I believed my dad built the Sears Tower until I was probably eleven.  My cousin Carrie – who isn’t actually my cousin, MORE LIES, MOM AND DAD – was told that Santa vacationed with a bunch of girls in bikinis in the off season.  The list goes on and on.  We’re fine.  These kids will be fine too.  Get over yourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Pay Someone for That??

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be some weird amateur expose on prostitution or how sex sells.  Mostly because even if I wanted to, I don’t have the money to buy it nor the body to sell it, so it wouldn’t be all that interesting or factual.  Also because the last time I had a conversation about that subject, it devolved into an extremely stupid argument about whether Hooters girls are being exploited and sexualized or simply using the good looks they were born with to increase their earning potential while having to work as a waitress.  I’ve waited tables, and I can say with complete authority if I’d had the body for it, I promise I would have happily donned the fluorescent short shorts and a push up bra faster than you could say, “Excuse me, miss?”  with nary a qualm.   For all of you shouting, “Oh, but it’s so degrading for those poor girls,”  you know what else is degrading?  Wearing a vest and bow tie while trying to fish a lobster out of a tank in front of a cheering crowd for a four dollar tip.  Trust.

Anyhow, the other day, I got some random email from a site I must have registered for during my desperate days of unemployment.  It was advertising some degree and certification programs when one of them caught my eye and I thought, “Wait – the fuck?  There’s a certification program for organizing your house?  What is happening here?”  And thus came up with a list of jobs that are apparently born from the realization that we are so lazy and stupid that we are willing to pay someone to do almost anything so we don’t have to deal with it.  Here we go.

Life Coach.

Sure, it sounds good in theory.  Pay someone to help realize your untapped potential, uncover your hidden talents, discover what you were really meant to do in life.  Are you really SUCCEEDING as an accountant?  Should you follow your dream to become a world-famous sculptor instead?  Your life coach will help you find your inner happiness, your true calling in life.  Here’s the thing.  There’s a good chance that this life coach that you’re paying to help you realize your true calling in life?  Doesn’t have any fucking idea what theirs is.  Instead, they have some drive and ambition, a decent head for marketing, and a thousand bucks to pay for the course.  Do you know what that means?  That means I could be a life coach, folks.   I am fucking fabulous at taking tests – I promise you I could ace this class.   Sure, my husband decided to have popsicles for dinner and my cats are sitting on the kitchen table, but hey, your life?  I can totally fix thatI got this certificate to prove it.

Animal Behaviorist/Psychologist.

Nope.  Just fucking no.  Of course you want your pet happy.  I want my pets happy.  You know how I make that happen?  I feed them, clean up their poop, and give them a warm place to live.  I give them love and attention, I let them sleep on my head, scratch my furniture, and buy them toys and treats that are good for their well-being.  And if they’re not happy after that?  Fuck em.  I’ll still love them, I’ll still take care of them, but yeah, I’m going to resent them a little bit.  In much of my research as to why my small cat finds it necessary to occasionally relieve himself in places other than the litterbox, I found several articles from these professionals explaining that my pet is stressed, and is “voicing his displeasure,” by acting out.  You know what, doctor?  I’m stressed too.  You know what adds to my stress?  Waking up in the middle of the night and having to change my sheets.  You don’t see me taking a shit in the cat bed, do you?  No.  That cat is clean, well fed, and safe.  If he feels “threatened,” by the different noises in the new apartment, too fucking bad.  Adjust.  If I don’t get Prozac, he certainly doesn’t.  You know why?  He’s a CAT. He’ll be fine.  Promise.

Professional Organizer.

At work, I’m pretty organized.  My job often requires keeping a lot of plates spinning at the same time, and for the most part, I’m relatively good at keeping them all in the air.  At home, however, I kind of fall off the wagon.  In the past couple of years, the list of things I have lost (and found again) is simply ridiculous for a grown adult to misplace.  They include: my crockpot, winter boots, an entire set of tools, my good knife, a garbage can, winter coat, my Kindle, my husband’s wallet, two phones, a set of cutlery, the remote control, my neighbor’s favorite sweatshirt, a significant amount of Halloween decorations, and the glass shelves to my china cabinet.  Things I have never lost sight of include a random collection of forty dice, a solid brass monkey that holds a hackey sack, a singing stuffed chicken, four candles that I’ve had since 2005 and never lit despite having zero personal significance, and a box of collected rocks that neither of us can recall ever gathering.  One might argue that I could benefit from a professional organizer.  If you can believe it, there is a entire association of professional organizers, and you have to have been practicing in the industry for 1,500 hours before you can even become ELIGIBLE to take the test required to become certified.  So maybe they could help me.  Or, instead of giving them money, maybe I could use a combination of common sense – stop being so lazy and throw out the goddamn box of rocks, dummy – and my mother’s advice, “Get a goddamn calendar and put shit back where it goes,” and voila!  I’ve saved a couple hundred bucks and I can find my silverware.

Then again, all of these people are managing to make money completing basic, everyday tasks, while I go to work every day, so who the hell am I to judge?

Hi!  For thirty dollars a month, I'll organize your spices!  Interested?

Hi! For thirty dollars a month, I’ll organize your spices! Interested?

 

 

 

Is Marriage for You? An Easy Test.

There has been a lot of buzz the past few days about Seth Adam Smith’s recent blog post entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”  Take a look at the article if you aren’t one of the 20,000 people that already have.  From the thousands and thousands of Facebook shares with a “Hell yeah!” comment posted with the link, I think I’m somewhat in the minority in that I just don’t agree with his message at all.   Even a little bit.  The quote, “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy,” just strikes me as all sorts of wrong.  Everything I was brought up with taught me that marriage is a partnership that you want to be a part of because you make each other happy, not to blindly serve.  And while the idea of being married to someone who did whatever I said just to keep me happy has some bright spots – as in, I would totally never, ever wash any silverware or take out the garbage again – the reality is I would have a lot of trouble respecting someone who didn’t value their own happiness or opinion.

However, every marriage is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others.  What some women couldn’t deal with, others relish.  What some women love, others don’t understand.  Some men have to be protectors, some women find that overbearing.  For every woman who wants a sensitive man, there’s another one that cringes when her date bursts into tears at the movies.  To me, this article sounds like a justification, an attempt at explaining, “Well, no, I’m not happy, but I’m not supposed to be as long as she is.”  But I am not part of Seth’s marriage, so if it works for him and his wife, I’ll try not to judge too much.

That being said, I feel like if I weren’t married yet, this would confuse the fuck out of me.  Like, if we’re both only trying to make each other happy, how does anything get done?  It would be a constant loop of “Whatever you want,” “No, whatever YOU want,” until you’re both ready to scream, “I don’t care just pick a goddamn restaurant before we both starve to death!”  I met my husband at the tender age of 20, when I was still too young and stupid to have any concept of what marriage actually entailed and he was still naïve enough to think that I was actually going to keep looking like that.  We’ve been married for over nine years and haven’t killed each other or our pets and still laugh a lot, so I think we’re doing okay, and this makes us pretty lucky.  But for those of you still wondering if you’re with the right person, here’s a test.  Do all of the below things, together.  If you’re both still standing and aren’t actively plotting each other’s demise, you’re ready to get married.

 

Move a Couch Up Three Flights of Stairs.  Bonus Points for Narrow Stairways.

Here’s the thing.  There are people that can move shit and there are people that cannot.  You and your partner?  Will be one and the other.  One of you is a planner, plotter, and thinker.  That’s me.  “Okay.  Well, if we tilt it at this angle, then lift that side over the railing, and then completely flip it over, it will go smoothly.”  The other is spontaneous.  His thought process is this: “Pick up couch.  Move up stairs.  Fucking done.”  Railings, ripped fabric, the person trapped against the wall trying to help – these things are of no consequence or importance to him.  If you could harness your thoughts and talents together, the couch moving would probably go smoothly, because you’re both a little bit right and a little bit wrong at the same time.  However – and this is always, always true – there is no giving in to the possibility that the other person is right once you start moving the couch.  Being right somehow morphs into being more important than actually getting the couch up the stairs, and you would be more willing to cut it in half and throw it away than admit your way won’t work.

Get the Stomach Flu at the Same Time.  With One Bathroom.

If you can survive this, you can survive anything.  Nothing strips your pretenses and dignity like lying on the floor outside the bathroom, spouting lies such as, “I brought you a 7-UP!” while trying not to vomit on the cat.

Pack for a Trip.

Travelling brings out the worst in a lot of people.  Packing brings out the worst in most.  One half of a couple are economical packers, trying to fit as much as possible in a small carryon suitcase so as not to pay the baggage fee, optimistically thinking they will only need one pair of shoes and a couple of mix and match outfits.   They think they are a lot more organized than they actually are.  The other will need to be prepared for any possible situation, including but not limited to meeting the Pope, taming a tiger, being interviewed on television, playing on a organized sports team, scuba-diving, extreme heat, extreme cold, tsunami, blizzard, tropical storm, and mountain climbing.  You will each secretly mutter about what an idiot your partner is.  You will both forget to bring more than one pair of socks and stare at each other, uncomprehending, when one of you dresses in black tie for dinner and the other is wearing their bathing suit.

Get Lost.  Literally.

Tread carefully on this one, friends.  Technology has had many evolutions in the last fourteen years and none of them have improved our sense of direction, so we’ve gotten lost a lot of different ways.  Getting lost while following a map is actually much easier and less rage-inducing than getting lost while using turn-by-turn navigation on your smart phone, and here’s why.  When you get lost following a map, you don’t have a lot of choices.  You pretty much have to pull over and ask for directions.  When you get lost following the turn-by-turn directions, someone is always and clearly at fault because obviously, the technology knows more than either of you.  Worse, the navigation system makes everyone involved feel as though it will be simple to backtrack and easily find your destination.  It gives you a false sense of security.  Here’s a tip – the navigation system is a dick.  The navigation system will make you yell such nonsense as “Turn left 300 yards ago!  Aren’t you listening?  Idiot!”  while the driver aggressively pulls a U-turn in front of a semi-truck out of defiance; daring the navigator to criticize his driving.  At this point, the driver already has seventeen responses at the ready, just waiting for the slightest provocation.  He is a pot waiting to boil over, a powder keg ready to explode so that when the navigator says brightly, “Hey, there it is!” the driver can’t help but respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, you fucking think so, don’t you?  Is that it?! IS IT?!?!?!?!  Are you sure you don’t need me to keep driving right into this fucking lake like you wanted me to before, fucking Magellan???”

I think it’s a pretty fair test.  If you can do all of these things without taking a hostage or hitting your partner with a shoe, you’re totally ready for marriage.

It's funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Hey Macklemore, I’m Going Thrift Shopping. Again.

To my knowledge, I had never stepped foot in a thrift store prior to September of this year.  If I had, it was by accident and probably against my will as I generally regard shopping as a necessary evil to be performed only as a drastic last measure once I literally have nothing to wear on my person or feet.  Think I’m kidding?  Before my nephew could walk, he owned more pairs of shoes than myself.  This is not because he had an exorbitant amount of shoes, it’s because I literally had four.  A pair of ballet flats, a pair of rain boots, a pair of gym shoes, and some flip flops.  I hate wearing shoes and would walk around barefoot 24/7 if given the opportunity.  Same with coats.  As previously mentioned, I hate wearing them.  If there is a remote chance that I might be hot at some point while wearing the coat, I will rip it off and take my chances on getting frostbite.

Regular clothes pose a bit more of a challenge as it’s illegal to go outside without pants – I think – and once it’s too cold for me to pull off sundresses, I have to figure something else out.  Left to my own devices, I’m perfectly happy to wear leggings, mismatched socks, and a hoodie.  But some people – TONY – refused to leave the house with me a few weeks ago so I was forced to consider that it may, in fact, be time for some new clothes.

Of course, me being me, once I decided I needed to new clothes, it distracted and bothered me to the point that I was in near tears every morning as I schlepped along in my outdated dress pants, scowling at the girls waiting for the train in their a-fucking-dorable skinny jeans and leggings.  It morphed from “Hey, I should probably get some new clothes,” to “OMG I NEED AN ENTIRELY NEW WARDROBE AND I HAVE FORTY DOLLARS AND I HATE EVERYTHING UNTIL I HAVE SKINNY JEANS AND BOOTS.”

Enter the thrift store.  There is a giant one in my new neighborhood, and a few weeks ago decided I would check it out.  Just figured I would take a look, see what I could see, maybe get lucky with a couple of new things.  Four hours later, I was walking home with a vintage Band-Aid dispenser, a wooden black cat statue Halloween decoration that scared the shit out of my cat, two t-shirts, and an obsession.  It. Has. EVERYTHING.  I was a little daunted the first time around, as it’s giant maze of humanity; the kids clothes are by the vacuums, the bathing suits (fucking ew, absolutely not, there has to be a line somewhere,) are by the electronics, the furniture is by the shoes, and the coats are mixed in with the dresses.

In addition to the disorganization, it’s simply confusing.  There’s these random, unwritten rules; for instance, you are supposed to take the clothes off the hangers when you get to the register and if you don’t are ostracized by fellow thrifters and the cashier alike, which – especially for the faint of heart like me – can be relatively tough on the self-esteem.  Also, the clientele at this particular store, due to its location, is comprised of stupid hipsters that are simply looking for the most ironic thing they can find, families that are there out of genuine need, and big, scary soccer-mom types who will muscle past you while talking on a cell phone and somehow traveling the aisles with three carts.  (Note: they’re the ones to watch out for.  Trust.)

All of that being said, there’s somewhat of a party atmosphere; there’s a guy with a cart outside selling elotes and tacos who inexplicably has balloons, and they play the most random, fabulous soundtrack of any store I’ve ever been in.  The last time I was there, in succession, they played the Spanish version of “Unchained Melody,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”  It was fucking amazing.

Certainly, you have to go in with an open mind.  You have to be willing to pretty much look through everything; clothes are grouped by color, not size, so there are size zero jeans next to size 22s, size smalls next to XXXL.  But here’s a secret – nothing will open your mind faster than getting six pairs of brand name jeans, two pairs of boots, and five shirts/sweaters for a grand total of $37.00. I have gotten more compliments on my thrift store finds in the past three weeks than I have gotten since I began my job almost two years ago.  And thus, an obsession has been born.  Almost without my realization or intent, we seem to be propelling ourselves there every Saturday morning (it’s HALF PRICE DAY!!  HURRY!!) and coming home only ten or fifteen bucks lighter, but with new clothes.

Downside?  It’s actually cheaper to buy new clothes than to do laundry in our building, which for two extremely lazy people will likely become a problem in the very foreseeable future.  Upside?  Aside from the obvious, it’s possibly the greatest people-watching on the planet save for Las Vegas, and it’s a lot cheaper and less stressful to go to Village Discount.

Case in point?  When we were there Saturday, the lines were outrageous.  This is obviously not a big surprise and again is part of the whole “open mind” part of the experience.  Expect to be there awhile.  Anyhow, we were about seventh in line once we finished shopping and settled into our favorite game which basically consists of  mocking others for sport.  While we debated the purchases of the three – seemingly unrelated – men at the register who were buying, among other things, a badminton racket, a dollhouse, four towels (fucking ew again,) and a VCR, when something caught my eye.

Or rather, someone caught my eye.  This girl a couple carts in front of us, all hundred and twenty pounds of her, wearing leggings with cute little patterned leg warmers under her knee high boots (seriously, I don’t even want to talk about how difficult it is to fit my pants inside my boots; you have to have a special kind of tiny baby-giraffe legs to wear thick knit leg warmers underneath them,) a teeny-tiny shirt, and super cute jean jacket.  She had curly hair all piled up in a bun in that way that is meant to look messy but takes most people three hours to accomplish.  She was pretty much stunning and what I pretend I look like when I am putting outfits together in my head, and she was hurting my feelings just for existing.

I looked down at my yoga pants and big comfy t-shirt – perfect for shopping! – and, noticing a stain, remarked to my husband, “Life’s not fair.”  Without missing a beat or taking his eyes off of her, he replied, “No shit.”  A couple of minutes later, he nudged me.  “Yeah, this is probably more our speed,” while pointing down another aisle where a woman was trying to knock a shirt down from a high rack by waving a Halloween scarecrow at it wildly, muttering, “Come on, come ON,” prompting me to burst out laughing so hard I couldn’t compose myself and he nearly sent me outside.

So yeah.  The thrift store pretty much has everything; entertainment, music, people watching, and every possible item you could ever imagine wanting for under five dollars.  Grab some friends and forty dollars — I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Is that your grandma's coat?

Is that your grandma’s coat?

 

Well, Color Me Hurt and Confused

I’m not even sure how I came across this article; one minute I was reading about Tori Spelling’s money problems (that post almost writes itself, but I have to take a step back before writing it so as not to be a hate-filled obscenity spewing rant about how she should be ASHAMED of herself even saying such a thing as how she lost a million dollars in her efforts to scale down,) (Seriously?!  Many other notes aside, you had to make some money of your own playing that unbearable Donna character, lording your virginity over poor David Silver for so long,) and the next thing I knew I saw this article by one Abigail Geer entitled, “10 Signs Your Kitty Actually Loves You.”  Well, I thought to myself, I could use that!  Perhaps there’s some signs here I was unaware of that will help me understand why I keep feeding and cleaning out boxes of shit for two animals who – at least on the surface – would eat me if I stayed still long enough.

Ms. Geer’s article gives, as advertised, ten cat behaviors that supposedly prove their love.  For her reasoning, please feel free to read the article linked above.  Here’s what I thought.

1. Head butting. Right. Because very few things say “I love you,” more than face-to-face combat, especially if one opponent is wide awake while the other is in a blissful slumber.

2. Powerful purrs.  My stupid small cat sounds like a motorboat when he purrs.  It’s actually cute – he only weighs like six pounds and it’s unbelievable what a loud sound he makes when he’s purring.  Unfortunately, he purrs the loudest and most frequently while he is licking the (surely lead-based painted) walls.  Try to pick him up or pet him and he recoils as though you’re trying to throw him in a vat of boiling acid.  The other one?  See sign number three below.

3. Love bites.  Apparently there is a difference between a “love bite,” and a “cat bite.”  Hmm.  Tell me, Ms. Geer, when the cat is chomping about your ankles while you’re making dinner, is that a love bite?  When the cat curls up all sweet right next to you while you rest and then sinks her teeth into the tender flesh on the underside of your arm when you pet her, is that a love bite?  How about when she tries to take a chunk out of your knuckles while you attempt to eat a popsicle?  Which type of bite is that?  Cause I’m pretty sure it’s the “my cat is simply a complete asshole,” bite.  Does yours have one for that designation?

4. Tail twitching. You know what my cat is getting ready to do when his tail twitches?  Pee in my shoe.

5. Tummy up. Ms. Geer says it shows trust.  I say it shows a grim determination to trip me to my death while trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, as that’s the only time either of these jerks ever flops down in front of me.

6. Licking your hair or ears.  Hmm.  Have you ever woken up to a cat trying to pull your hair out of your head via her teeth in the middle of the night?  Do you know what that sounds like when it wakes you out of a sound sleep?  It sounds like the murderer you’ve known has been coming TRYING TO SAW THROUGH YOUR HEAD, that’s what.  To your other point about the ears, I refer you to my husband who suffered an (undiagnosed) punctured ear drum when the cat resting on his melon got scared and clawed his way to the ceiling via his head.

7. Kneading.  Nope.  This does not make me feel good.  This reminds me I really, really need to go to the gym and stop eating so much damn macaroni and cheese.

8. Slow blinking. You call it “kiss with their eyes,” all you want, you weirdo.  I call it the creepiest staring contest ever because my cats?  Don’t fucking blink.

9. Nap time. Apparently cats crave a safe place when they sleep, so if they pick you to be their naptime spot, you should feel honored.  Sure. Recently, Potato fell asleep with his head and front paws hanging off of the top of the refrigerator.  Ramon once got trapped INSIDE the refrigerator (not a good day,) and when I opened it she blinked repeatedly, jumped out, and took a swing at me; apparently I’d ruined her nap.

10. Gifting.  This was geared towards a cat leaving a mouse they’ve killed at your doorstep, showing their prowess and bounty to you.  If that’s true, when that baby possum got on the porch and I was chasing it down the stairs with a broom – CRYING, mind you – where the fuck were these cats then?  Cowering under the blanket, that’s where.

I’m starting to think maybe I should have a dog.  Or a pet rock.

Thought I was kidding?  Tell me these aren't faces of evil.

Thought I was kidding? Tell me these aren’t faces of evil.

Surviving Winter

If you’re in the Chicago area, you undoubtedly had the conversation today.  It was impossible to avoid, no matter how hard you tried.  The news was all over it, Facebook was awash with amateur weathermen, (excuse me, weatherPEOPLE,) and casual conversations on the elevator couldn’t help but veer towards it; today was the first day of possible snow.  And despite all of the obvious, i.e. it’s the end of October, this tends to happen, and oh yeah, we live in Chicago why are we still surprised at any weather, EVER, we just can’t help but be surprised.  It’s like Mother Nature stopped her tease of the past few weeks, which had lulled us into a false sense of security, thinking, Hey!  Maybe this will be the year we actually WILL have a fall! and just dropped the temperature like 30 degrees while at the same time taking away the sun, leaving half of us standing in flip flops and dresses and the other half in gear fit for Antarctica on a bad day while we all stare at each other, uncomprehending.  Seriously, if one were to come from another planet today and was forced to make assumptions based on how well we dressed for the weather, we would fail everything.

That being said, I’m trying to get over my frustration with the fact that once the temperature dips below 40 degrees social media loses its collective mind and can concentrate only on the weather outside.  So I decided to embrace it; cold, snow, sleet and all, and make a list of what I’d like to accomplish during this upcoming glorious six months of slush.

winter

Dress Appropriately

Here’s something that will likely surprise no one – I am woefully lacking in dressing for the weather.  You’d think, with all my bitching, that I’d pay a tiny bit more attention to all of the Facebook weather updates and manage to dress accordingly, but you would be wrong.  For one, I hate wearing a coat.  Hate it.  I hate being hot more than pretty much anything in the world, and if walking to a bus stop and then waiting for a bus and train in below freezing temperatures for a total of 30 minutes while freezing in a long sleeve shirt means I don’t have to suffer through it being all hot and twisty and miserable for five minutes while ON the bus, I’m all for it.  I tried wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf with my normal clothes last winter so as not to give myself frostbite, but I was still smoking then and not only almost lit myself on fire, but lost at least one of these items on a daily basis.  In addition, being asked 20 times a day, “Where is your COAT???” from concerned citizens and co-workers is only slightly less annoying than being strangled by that stupid coat.  So this year, I bought a pair of boots, and this weekend, I am buying a coat.  And I am going to spend time – ugh – shopping for said coat, so I don’t leave it hanging up every morning while I throw a DC sweatshirt over my dress pants.

Go Sledding

I haven’t been sledding in years.  The last time I consciously remember sledding, I was in high school and me and one of the boys in my class damn near killed some innocent schoolchildren while careening down the hill, Griswold-style, completely out of control.  It was glorious.  I love sledding.  There is a big sledding hill at the park near my new apartment, and despite the negative effect the addition of forty pounds, Peppermint Schnapps, gangbangers, and diminished coordination may have on the experience, I am going this year.  I don’t particularly care if it kills all of us, because we will die SLEDDING which is awesome.  (Note to self – Google “sleds for uncoordinated adults.”)

Embrace the Chicago Holiday Season

Every year, I’m all, “Ugh, it’s so crowded, and who the hell wants to see stupid window decorations and lights with four hundredy billion tourists?”  This year, I’m going to embrace it.  You know what, Chicagoans?  Especially all of you Loop workers out there?  We are so, so, lucky.  People take bus tours to come see our lights.  People from all over the country make a point to come look at our windows and go shopping in our historic stores.  People visiting will talk for years of the street performer they saw inexplicably playing the Flintstones theme song on the saxophone, (seriously, that must be the easiest song ever on the sax.  EVERYONE knows it.)  And us?  We just brush by all, Ugh, please, people, learn to cross a street!  This year, I am going to do my best to enjoy it.  Please note, I said I would try.  Should you see a post around December 20th entitled “OMG Why Can’t People Just Stay at Home and Shop in Their Own Damn Stores, I Just Need a Fucking Extension Cord and This Target is Not Any Different Than the One in Kansas!” do not be surprised.

Not Fall Down.  In Case of Failure, Allow Self to Wallow Under Blanket for the Rest of the Day

Again in the you’re-probably-not-surprised category, each year I tend to “lose my balance,” at some point during the ice-filled, snow-covered season.  Sometimes it’s because of black ice, sometimes it’s because my shoes are completely unsuitable for snow, and sometimes it’s because I’m just really bad at walking on uneven surfaces.  But this year, I have fucking boots.  This year, I am going to pay attention.  This year, I am considering walking along with one of those wheelbarrows that spreads salt, just to be on the safe side.  However, if this should fail, and I fall down in a puddle of mess on my way down the street, I am GOING BACK HOME.  This year, I will not be mocked on the bus when I get on, covered only on one side with dirty slush.  This year, I will not be asked, whilst trying to maintain dignity despite being soaking wet and bleeding from my hands, “What happened to you!?” from co-workers desperately trying not to burst out into laughter.  I will turn around, go home, make myself a hot toddy or seven, and stay under the blanket where it is warm and dry.

What are your goals for the winter?

You’re a Big Mean Bully, Social Media

Remember when you were in junior high school and there was that one awful, mean girl?  The one who made a big point to take your usual seat at the lunch table and leave you standing with your stupid lunch bag, too timid to stand up to her and turning bright red when none of your other friends did either?  She was the one that told the boy you liked how you wrote his name in your notebook, made fun of your bookbag, helpfully told your teacher about the note you wrote (at her insistence,) and loudly announced that you had your period in a room full of prepubescent boys.  Then she asked that boy to the dance for you, bought the same bookbag in a different color, and conspiratorally asked you for a tampon in the bathroom, fooling you once again into thinking she was your friend.

Of course you remember her.  She was a fucking menace.  All of us remember her.  Because at one point in time, we all knew her, or we were her, or wanted to be her friend, depending on which way your hormones were raging that day.  Junior high girls are the epitome of bullies; they’re why no woman, ever, recalls with complete happiness the preteen years.  There may have been good moments, but they were all tainted by that awful girl.  You show me a woman that cannot recall, with alaming accuracy, a traumatizing encounter with that girl at her school and I will show you a woman who is still plotting her revenge.

So what is it, exactly, about social media that makes grown women turn into the adult version of that girl?  Under the guise of screen names, we have no problem calling other women fat, ugly, stupid, the list goes on.  We have no trouble criticizing a woman’s entire parenting style based on one photograph, her entire wardrobe based on one outfit, her entire personality based on one comment.  What the hell, ladies?  What about the anonymity of the internet has turned us all into Regina George?

I bet Maria Kang is wondering the same thing.  If you haven’t heard – and I’m sure most of you have – Ms. Kang is a fitness blogger who has come under a staggering amount of scrutiny for a photo she posted to her own Facebook page.   Here’s the picture.

What's my excuse?  Macaroni and Cheese?  Does that work?

What’s my excuse? Macaroni and Cheese? Does that work?

Looks pretty good, doesn’t she?  Three little kids and still puts that much time and energy into her fitness and health?  She probably eats healthy and hardly ever uses the cats “bothering her” as a reason not to do her home fitness DVDs.  I bet she doesn’t have a recipe called “Spaghetti Monster” that includes cream cheese.  And I’d wager she doesn’t eat chicken kiev for breakfast whilst watching the marathon on TV!  Kudos to you, Ms. Kang!

This is what went through my head when I saw the picture.  Did it make me feel bad about myself?  No.  Did I feel as though she was chastising me or shaming me?  Not so much.  Did it propel me off the couch?  No, but if I was forced to pick an emotion, it would be “inspired” as opposed to “shamed.”  If she can do it with three kids, I certainly could.  Then I saw she was a fitness blogger with a huge following, and honestly, I thought, what a fabulous tagline!  If I was actively trying to lose weight, I would print this picture out and put it on my fridge.  Good for her!

The internets disagreed.  While there were certainly people that supported her and agreed with the message, a good portion of the 18,000 comments – yes, you read that right, and I bet you couldn’t find an article about the government shutdown with half as many comments, but that’s another bag of apples entirely – were downright hateful.  People called her a liar, (because obviously she couldn’t look THAT good,) a terrible mother, (because clearly a nanny was raising her children; obviously the only thing that is important to her is looking beautiful,) and even went so far as to question her children’s parentage, (“They’re probably not even her kids; they all look different.”)  Common denominator in these comments?  All women.

What the hell, ladies?  Why the hate?  Here’s a successful woman – a wife and mother who blogs about what works for her and how she’s been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and workout routine while managing a busy family.  She’s a fitness blogger, which leads me to believe that most people following her are women trying to do what she does, who are looking for advice and inspiration.  So why, instead of taking that photo as an inspiration and getting moving, are we sitting behind our computers, trying to find the faults to tear her down?  It makes no sense.

While we’re on tearing down – can we all please leave Miley Cyrus the fuck alone?  I swore I wasn’t going to chime in on this so as not to add to the fact that WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HER, but I can’t help myself.  I saw today that Paul McCartney finally weighed in on what is apparently the debate of the goddamn year.   It’s only a matter of time before the President chimes in and then we’re all going to be mad because he has better things to be doing but you know what?  We made this happen.  We have taken a performance on an awards show and elevated it to a national concern about the youth of today, turning Miley into a cautionary tale about what happens to good little Hannah Montana when she doesn’t listen to her parents.  Give me a break.   You don’t want your daughter to look up to or emulate her?  I bet your mama didn’t want you to act like and dress like Madonna, which only made you like her more.  And I bet her parents didn’t want her dating that boy who tried to look like that dirty hippie, Paul McCartney.

My point?  She isn’t really doing anything different – it’s just that every single word, thought, and action is immediately visible and public now.  And at this point, it doesn’t matter what she does or says – she could be saving orphans and kittens in her spare time and people are still going to be all, from behind their computers, “Yeah, but did you see those shorts she was wearing?”  Which is how I hope she sees it – something along the lines of “Well, they’re not going to be happy anyway, might as well get naked on a wrecking ball!”

Maybe next time instead of automatically assuming the worst, we think for a second of whether we would say out loud to one person what we’re about to publish silently to hundreds?   Don’t turn into that junior high bully.  You remember how awful that felt – I bet women like Maria and Miley do, too.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 211 other followers