Daily Prompt: Life After Blogs

Daily Prompt: Life After Blogs

Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

If you’ve been following along with my rambling lately, you’ll know that I’m currently twelve-hundred-and-something miles from home visiting my parents in the lovely state of Michigan. Not only do they have a nice, spacious house in the country, but they also have a cabin on a quiet little lake in some backwoods Podunk town that you might miss entirely if you blinked while passing through. We’ll be spending the rest of the week here, at their little home away from home, where Internet access is extremely limited. As a matter of fact, I’m eating into my mom’s Mifi data plan just to share this with you, my adoring fans.  All 2 of you.

So what does MY life without a computer look like? Well, this pretty much sums it up:

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I’ve found a wonderful spot…

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…A very special spot…

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…a beautiful spot…

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…An ideal spot…

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…for the catch of the day.

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The Water Lilies love it…

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…Bella loves it…

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…John and Debbie love it…

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…even Ray Darr loves it!…

…and the escape from civilization isn’t really breaking my heart.

Crazy Defined

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THIS in my father. My father and his entourage. My parents happen to be the equivalent of your average crazy cat lady with their animal collecting, except they collect…Collies. Full-fledged, bona fide Lassie dogs. They have 5 of their own right now, and they also participate in a collie rescue program where they foster unwanted collies until they can be adopted by worthy families. There can be up to 7 of them in their house at any given time.

I grew up with a house full of Collies, so I’ve never known a different way of life at my parent’s house. Since I’m an only child, my parents had me convinced that these hairy, slobbery 4 legged beasts were really my brothers and sisters until I was about 12. This is probably why I love to have my hair stroked and petted now.

My favorite childhood collies out of the many that have passed through my life in the 38 years since my birth were Jaica, Mica, and Nick. We had them all within the same time frame, and my parents thought that having 3 collies at once was really pushing the limits of sanity back then. That must make them certifiably straight jacket and padded room crazy now because they’ve expanded their brood to 5 plus the occasional extra.

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Jaica (left), Mica (middle), and Nick as a puppy (right)

Jaica, or “Jake Break” as she was called by my father, was a schizophrenic nutball of a critter. She was scared of her own shadow. I’ve found out over the years that most female collies are. She ran away for 2 weeks once because she heard a gunshot while she was outside. We put up lost dog flyers, and several people spotted her, but she’d run from them in fear. My mom was driving home from town one day when she spotted her crossing the street and called to her. It took her a minute or 2 to recognize my mom, but she eventually came to her. I was so happy to see her when she got home, that I ran to her and hugged her tight, and we fell on the floor in a big bundle of arms, legs, and fur. The fur was mostly mine. Yep, she was nuts, but I loved her. She would sleep with me every night, and she was the best cuddler. She had some wicked dog breath, though.

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My Jaica

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Poor Jaica. I tormented that dog.

Mica, “Mr. Mica-phone” as my dad later dubbed him, and Mikey to me, was my buddy as a kid. He was trained to go into my room, jump onto my bed, and lay across me to wake me up on Saturday mornings. There was no sleeping in with him around. We’d play house. He was quite the hairy husband.  We’d play office. He was my boss, I was his secretary. We’d try to play barbies, but he wasn’t very adept at upholding his end of the relationship as Ken. So, I’d use him as a barbie, and dress him up in beads, purses, dresses, and hats. My dad came downstairs to yell at me once for something that I had done, saw Mica in full ‘bag lady’ regalia, and laughed all the way back up the stairs after he had forgotten whatever atrocity I had committed. Mikey tolerated it like a trooper, too. I once dressed him up in a white T-shirt and a bow tie, put Jaica in my favorite dress, and held a wedding ceremony for the 2 of them. It was a teary-eyed, beautiful moment.

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The Infamous Wedding Picture

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Mica. I tormented him, too.

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Mica loved car rides.

Nick, a.k.a “Nickymeister Burger Bear”, as was his ‘Nick name’, will always hold a special place in my heart because he was discovered by me. I was Christmas shopping at the mall with my friends and decided to go into the puppy store, where I stumbled upon 2 of the cutest little collie pups I’d ever seen. I went home and told my parents that evening, and we went back up to the mall to see them. By that time, one puppy was already gone, and there sat Nick, staring up at us with his big, forlorn ‘please love me’ eyes. We didn’t stand a chance at that point. We went home with a bundle of fluffy collie pup, complete with hernia that had to be removed by the vet. He kept us all up howling that first night, and several nights after that, and I remember my dad saying, “Maybe we made a mistake?” Not my darling Nicky! We all grew to love Nick quickly, though, even as obnoxious as he was. He developed into a huge ball of fur with the shortest, stumpiest legs that I’ve ever seen on a collie. Nick, our Christmas dog. That’s how he got his name. Saint Nick. I miss him so much.

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Me and my Nicky

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Nicky and Dad.

My parents refer to their current herd of hairballs as “The Bears”. There’s Malibu, a.k.a “Boo”. We say that she ‘can’t hold her licker’, and your toes are fair game. There’s Bella, or “Bells” as my father calls her, and she, like my beloved Jaica, is afraid of her own shadow. Then there’s Savannah. She’s deaf and blind, has seizures, and her hind legs don’t work the best, but she’s my mom’s favorite so they do all that they can to make her comfortable in her old age. There’s Wyatt, or “Erpster” as my dad has dubbed him, (he happens to have a nickname for almost every dog that’s ever passed through their home, if you haven’t noticed by now.) Wyatt is a grumpy old man, and king of his domain. Then let’s not forget Gus, the skinny escape artist that’s a favorite among all of the grandkids, and the reason that the chain link fence surrounding the yard is now lined with an electric wire on the top. There’s nothing that can contain Gus, he’s pushed his way out of a screen window before in his efforts to be free.

These days, as my parents have grown older and softer, the collies have gotten considerably more spoiled than the ones they had when I was growing up. Most of them are fat enough to feed a starving family of 7 for a month. I call them couches with legs. They weren’t allowed on the beds without special dog blankets when I was young, and that rule went out the window years ago. My dad feeds them from his plate, too, so “no people food” is a foreign concept to this batch of furballs.

There isn’t anything that my parents wouldn’t do for their dogs. They spend top dollar on the best food, frequent vet trips, treats, toys, and medications to keep the whole herd happier and healthier than your average wet-nosed companions.

I could be jealous of my 4 legged siblings, getting all that special love and attention, but nah. I have a life of my own now, and the thundering herd not only keeps my parents busy in their senior years, but they’re all just too cute for animosity. To each their own, I suppose, and for mom and dad, with the wall to wall canine carpet, ‘Crazy in Colliewood’ is just the story of their lives.

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How do my parents even sleep at night?!

Road Trippin’: This Isn’t The High You Were Looking For

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A few hours ago, we set out on our grand adventure toward Grandma and Grandpa’s house; one hubby, 2 out of 5 kids, one stupid rabbit, and…yours truly. We’ll pick up the red-headed child that flew up a month ago to spend some quality summer time with the grandparents, and bring her back with us. So, that’s 3 hours down, 16 to go. Twelve hundred and something total miles to cover. All the more time for writing, I suppose.

Our trip didn’t get off to a great start. I was admittedly in a terrible mood when we left. As I was cleaning up the house before we embarked on this little 10 day excursion, I discovered that at some point this past week, my son had spilled cherry lime-aid on his bedroom carpet and didn’t bother to tell anyone…or clean it up. Hello…OCD here. When I saw the stain, my anxiety level shot up somewhere around an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. I did the best I could with a can of carpet cleaner, wash cloths, and my own salty tears, but the stain had just had too much time to set in and will now forever be a blaring pink reminder not to let an 11 year old take anything more colorful than water into a room with light beige carpets.

I’ve calmed down quite a bit over the course of the few hours since we’ve left home, though. I can’t change it, and there’s nothing I can do but except it, so on with the show I must go.

The smell of feet starts wafting up from the back seat. One of the “youngins” has likely taken their shoes off in an effort to get comfortable. Or maybe it’s armpit that I smell. Or maybe it’s Ray. Ray Darr. The rabbit that Satan would choose if Satan decided to own a pet rabbit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE bunnies; those cute little balls of fluff with their smooshy little whiskered faces, floppy ears, and cotton tails. As a matter of fact, my husband has called me “Bunny” now for the past 10 and a half years that we’ve been married, because of my extreme love for those cute little critters. The ones that make you say, “Awwww” out loud and kick in some internal desire to pick them up and hug them, no matter who you are, or how hard hearted you claim to be.

Ray, however, is what happens to those cute, fluffy little balls of fur if you get them wet or feed them after midnight. He’s isn’t just enormous in size, he’s an enormous menace. He never stops eating, and he leaves a wake of destruction behind him wherever he goes; along with clumps of fur and a continuous trail of food-fueled rabbit ‘gifts’.

We’ve only had Ray for about 6 weeks now; 6 excruciatingly long weeks.

My husband walked into a vacant apartment at the property that he manages a few days after he had evicted the former tenant, and there sat a very hungry, very thirsty, very lonely Ray. My daughter happened to be at the office with my hubby that day, and as soon as he made the mistake of showing her what he had found, we were officially doomed to a life that now included the world’s worst excuse for a pet.

The very second Ray’s teeth touch anything, that item has officially become useless trash. In his first few days with us, he managed to destroy a phone charger, 3 sets of headphones, a TV remote, half a book cover, and my magazine basket. He likes to pull movies off the shelf and extract them from their cases, too. He inflicts this damage faster that the speed of light. He’s like a hairy hurricane. I shut him in one of the bathrooms to try and keep him out of trouble while I cleaned his cage before our journey, and when I went in to get him, he had the contents of the garbage can spilled all over the floor and was just finishing off the last of a tampon wrapper. Yeah, you can say it…gross. Good ol’ Ray. Well he might be good…with a side of roasted potatoes and baby carrots. I glare at him. He twitches an ear and tries to look innocent. I heave a sigh.

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Ray being a nuisance as usual

I have two choices at this point. I can either grin and bear the stench assaulting my nostrils from the back of the minivan, or I can roll down my window and breathe in the fresh Georgia air. If I roll down my window, though, I’ll end up eating my own hair; that wispy stuff along the sides of my face that absolutely refuses to stay caught up in my hair clip along with the rest of my greying mane. I opt to silently suffer and maintain my current position as the Mayor of Stinkyville.

The Hubster would like me to converse with him more, to keep him entertained. He isn’t the best conversationalist, though, often responding with no more than the occasional, “yep” or “uh huh”. Now, as adept as I am at running my mouth until I run out of breath, I’m just not skilled enough to hold up both ends of a conversation for 19 hours straight. So, he’s opted for the second best choice to keep himself functional enough to drive…sunflower seeds. He claims that having to work his jaws to get them out of their salty shells keeps him awake while driving. He tries to throw his shells out the window after he’s extracted the nutty goodness inside. This somewhat alleviates the odor problem created by the 4 legged nuisance behind me, but half of those shells fly back into the vehicle and land in my lap. Thank you, honey. I love you, too.

We just made a stop at a gas station to fill the tank in the minivan and empty our own personal tanks. One of the gas station employees was walking out of the restroom as I was walking in. Once inside, I noticed all of the used paper towels lying all over the floor. Really? You couldn’t have taken 20 seconds to pick those up while you were in there? There was human excrement on the floor behind the toilet in one of bathroom stalls. It looked to have been there for a day or 2. Just another reminder that I live in the land of the free and the home of the lazy. My obsequiously friendly hubby was snubbed by the rude, grumpy cashier as he paid for our gas, too. Does no one in this country have work ethic anymore?

We’ll be on the road again all of 5 minutes before someone in the back seat will say, “When are we gonna stop somewhere? I’ve gotta pee.” The Hubster and I will glance at each other, roll our eyes, and vow to stop letting the offspring drink so much on long trips. It’ll never stick though. We’re just a couple of softies.

At one point, we spent some time stuck behind a tractor moving at a slow crawl down a 2 lane stretch of country road. I refrained from rolling down my window and reminding the well-tanned gent behind the wheel with the dirty ball cap and wad of chew packed tightly into his cheek like a gathering chipmunk, that the speed limit is 45, not 4 or 5. Road rage really just isn’t my style. I opted to exhibit saintly patience and just counted corn fields as we waited to pass. I lost track before we were finally able to extract ourselves from John Deere’s convoy and be on our way again.

I should probably quit rambling and get in a couple hours of sleep so that I can take my turn behind the wheel later.  In case I forgot to mention it, we plan to travel straight on through the night. This runaway circus train won’t stop until we’ve reached our final destination.

So, I’ll end with that eternal question that must be asked at least two dozen times per hour while on a road trip to anywhere…

Are we there yet?

Dorkday

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Several years ago, the kids and I decided that for lack of a major holiday in the month of August, we would create our own holiday to celebrate every year; a holiday that’s strange and unusual, and that best represents who we are as a family.

Thus, Dorkday was born on August 14th, 2009…and is now fast approaching once again.

Others have tried to bring Dorkday into existence before us, on different days, and in different ways, but I doubt that they do this glorious holiday the same justice that we do.

What is Dorkday, you ask? Well, Dorkday is a tribute to doing things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but are lots of fun to do anyway. It’s a tribute to saying nonsensical stuff that makes other people facepalm . It’s a tribute to the things that make you go hmmmm. Best of all, though, it’s a tribute to good ol’ sheer stupidity.

To kick off our Dorkday festivities, we make our own really crazy and imaginative hats. My stepdaughter Grace made one for me a couple of years ago that had Red Bull and bacon on it. It was spectacular.

Periodically, over the course of the day and throughout our activities, we’ll ingest massive amounts of sugar in the form of soda, candy, and other sticky tooth rotting substances.

We then find the weirdest activities that we can come up with to engage in, such as turtle races, opposite handed bowling, playing leap frog in the pool, covering our faces with lunchmeat, or any other plethora of things that might make people look at us with awkward expressions on their faces.

Then comes the cake. Now, I could always just bake one, but it’s worth the price of a store-bought cake to see the puzzled expression on the bakery worker’s face when we ask her to write out “Happy Dorkday” in icing on our selected confection.

Before we converge upon our cake like a pack of unrefined hyenas, though, we sing our Dorkday Anthem. It goes a little something like this:

*Cue off key harmonica note*

Ohh…

You toot and bite the bubbles in the bathtub,
Cuz that’s what dorky people do…
And that’s why we’re gathered here,
With lots of dorky cheer,
To celebrate people like you!
So have a dork day, a happy dork day,
And don’t stop doin’ what you do…
Because it’s dork day, a happy dork day,
And the world needs dorky people, too!

We then call it another successful Dorkday and go sleep off our sugar buzzes while we dream of dorky things.

Here are some pictures from our Dorkday festivities back in 2010. This is how you do it Dorky Style:

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Daily Prompt: You, the Sandwich

Daily Prompt: You, the Sandwich

If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it. (Bonus points if you give us a recipe!)

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Why, it would be a sandwich, of course, because putting the effort into cooking something just seems like…work.

A sandwich is something quick and easy to just throw together, that would best represent my low maintenance lifestyle. I’ve never had a mani-pedi *gasp*, and as a matter of fact, my toenails are long enough right now to stab somebody and do serious damage. I don’t get my hair ‘did’, my eyebrows haven’t been plucked in so long that the space in between eyelids and forehead somewhat resembles mating caterpillars, and my legs are lucky to get shaved before I start attracting lustful porcupines. You’ll also rarely see me in anything other than shorts and a tie-dyed t-shirt.

This sandwich would be called “The Lazy American”, made with the cheapest Bologna and Spam that money could buy, piled high atop one of those rock hard deli rolls that you get in the big bulk bags with the reduced price just before they start to turn. It would be cheesy, of course, just like me. It wouldn’t be the good cheese, either. It would be like…government cheese…you know the stuff that they used to hand out in huge, squishy blocks back in the 70’s. I’ll add some unwashed, non-organic veggies, of course…some thinly sliced tomato, and those thick, hard pieces of bitter lettuce that you get when you’re right down next to the core. I call those the lettuce bones. It will also have mayo, lots and lots of mayo, at least 2 tablespoons per square inch. The real appeal, though, will be the 2 dozen or so pieces of undercooked bacon with the grease still dripping off of each floppy slice.

It might come with a flimsy pickle and soggy chips on the side…you know, after they’ve been plopped in the pickle juice and left to turn into a greasy, sodden mess that you have to scrape up and eat with a spoon.

Let’s not forget the Mountain Dew to wash it all down with, because we might as well go with the healthiest drink choice to top it all off.

Mmm…mmm…mmm

Don’t worry, we’ll make sure the defibrillator is fired up and ready in case of emergency.

So relax, and enjoy.

Tales From The Thrift Store: Full Moon Rising.

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When we last left our heroine (not the drug, people, the Superhero Thrift Store Manager, otherwise known as me) it was a thousand and fifty degrees in the shade and yours truly had come the closest I’ve ever been to melting into a big, fleshy puddle on the ancient cracked tile. I think maybe I actually did melt a little; one leg seems to be slightly shorter than the other and my face feels somewhat…droopier.

Needless to say I’ve been finding ways to keep cool in the store now, like keeping the air conditioner running despite the fact that most of it escapes out the huge roll up door, or setting a box fan under the desk. Sometimes I’ll go back into the kitchen for a few minutes when there’s a break in customer traffic, and sprawl across the packages of frozen English muffins, Italian sausages, and lunch meat in the large chest freezer. Global warming, folks; a girls gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Not all days at the store are completely off the charts when it comes to the heat…or the level of crazy in the customers brought about by the heat.  This Friday happened to be rainy off and on, and the slightly cool rain and breeze that would roll in with it brought a welcome respite from the sweltering temperatures that I had suffered through the past few weekends. There was no relief from the insanity, though. There seemed to be an abundance of that.

Now, I never actually did any research into the matter, but I have it on pretty good authority that we can expect to see a full moon within the next day or so. Due to the fact that it wasn’t as hot as usual, I can only surmise that the promise of this lunar delight right around the corner is what led to one of those weekends…you know, the kind that leaves you sitting there wondering if the level of erratic behavior that you just witnessed really happened, or was it merely a figment of your imagination?

Let’s start out with a small level of nuttiness, such as my first customer of the day on Friday. Then we’ll work our way into the grand finale of madness as my Twilight Zone of a day wore on.

I sat at my desk in the corner as usual, laptop open in front of me, fervently typing up the next dose of whatever babbling drivel I deemed worthy of serving up to my adoring fans (yes, this means you, the ones basking in the glow of your ultraviolet monitor lights as you read the newest installment of my raving absurdity), when in walks a fairly normal looking woman of about 60. She pokes around a bit and comments on how clean and well organized the store is. I have OCD, silly, of course it’s clean and well organized. I omit this fact, though, and simply say, “Thank you. It keeps me busy.”

She suddenly spies my impeccably displayed rack of die cast collectibles, complete with sign above it explaining that they are, in fact, limited edition collector’s items and are priced accordingly, and sign on the front of the display that reads, “pricing available upon request.” There was some question on my part as to whether or not grams could actually read, though. She plops a mint condish 2001 limited edition #5 Terry Labonte Monsters Inc. car still in its unmarked, unbent original packing down on the desk in front of me, and proceeds to pull a couple of wadded up dollar bills out of her change purse.  I give her a quick raised eyebrow glance and say, “Alright, give me just a moment to pull up my pricing guide,” to which she replies, “Pricing guide?  Aren’t these a couple of bucks in Walmart?” Friends, Amazon lists this very car for $24.99. “Well you see, ma’am, this is a collector’s edition. It’s already 12 years old, and if kept in its original packaging, the value will keep increasing.”   “Oh I don’t care about all that,” she says “it’s just for my grandson to play with.” She plans to tear it open. Rip it right out of the pristinely preserved packaging… along with my heart. I die just a little on the inside. After a few more minutes of haggling, I wearily concede and let granny walk out the door with the deal of the day for 2 bucks.  Meh, I have another one in the stock closet anyway. I replace the doomed collectible and go back to my blogging.

An hour or so later, enter the stocky young gent with the fiery red “Flock of Seagulls” hairdo. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I found myself hoping that my jaw hadn’t visibly dropped when I saw it, it was that strikingly sculpted.  Had a unicorn walked by in front of me at that very same moment, I don’t think that it would have struck me as even half as amazing as this guy’s hair. He and his cohort, a thin, muscular, manly woman with closely cropped hair and glazed over eyes, start perusing the belt rack. From where I’m sitting at least 15 feet away, I can smell the reason for G.I Jane’s glassy eyed stare. I was getting a contact high just from their closeness in proximity. Seagull man selects a studded leather belt from among the 30 or so prominently displayed on the hooks in front of him, wraps it around his hand several times, points to the 10 or so inches on the end without studs, and says, “Now if we cut off this section here,” …he gives me a quick sideways glance… “It’ll be perfect for what we need.” Whoa there. Okay. I discreetly grab hold of my phone placed several inches away on the top of the desk , pull it closer, and load the numbers 9-1-1 up on the display screen…just in case.

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After a few more minutes of wandering around the store picking up and commenting on random items, they head to the desk to make their 50 cent belt purchase. Seagull man hands me a dollar, and waits for his change, as his partner in crime points to an old patch of dried up paint splatter on the floor and says, “Hey look, its Lady Gaga.” I give her a puzzled and slightly nervous look as Seagull man says, “Hey, yeah, wow. Look at that, that’s way cool.” He then looks at me and says, “Come here, you gotta see this.” Ummm…I do? Not in the least bit out of curiosity but for the sake of my own safety, I grip my phone just a little tighter, get up, and walk around the desk to see just what the daft duo is going on about. They point to the paint spot in unison and say, “See, look. It’s a flaming high heeled shoe just like Lady Gaga’s.” I’m completely lost. All I see is faded paint splatter, but I feign enthusiasm and exclaim, “Oh yeah! Look at that! I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before!” They both smile and nod, and after a few more moments of staring mesmerized at the paint spot and paying silent, reverent homage to the floor tile, they decide to make their departure. Phew. I relax a bit and go back to typing.

I could not make this stuff up, folks. I’m neither imaginative nor mentally unstable enough to think up madness of this magnitude on my own.

Sometime shortly after lunch, a woman and a girl of about 7 or 8 walk in, exchange pleasantries with me, and proceed toward the housewares section in the far back corner of the store. Fifteen minutes pass…then 20. They finally emerge with armloads of random dishes, plop them down on the desk, and smile as I proceed to ring up the pile of discount goodies.

We interrupt this purchase to issue a public service announcement.  Having OCD while managing a store comes with a nice mental rolodex feature, in which you’re able to store every little detail of all merchandise incoming and outgoing, what price you put on that merchandise, when it came in, where it came from, and even whether or not the price tag is in your own writing.    

We now return you to your regularly scheduled purchase…

As I start to add up the items, I immediately notice that something is off. Take the nice, unscratched Teflon pot with the glass lid for example. Just that morning I had priced that pot at 3 dollars. A little on the cheap side for the condition it was in, but hey, every dollar made is a dollar more than we had before. It now had a sticker on it for $1.25, a sticker that I recognized as being from a half missing set of Rubbermaid storage containers. I dig a little deeper and notice a few other gently peeled and reapplied price tags that were cheaper than the original prices on some other items, too. I have to admit, she did a good swapping job. No wonder she was back there so long.

I try to explain to her that these aren’t the right prices for some of the things that she’s handed me, to which she responds by pretending she doesn’t speak a word of English, even though she seemed to speak it pretty well when she greeted me as she came in. Crafty, this one. But even the most linguistically lacking folks when it comes to the English language know the word, ‘no’, and fortunately, I know enough words in Spanish to communicate on the level of a Kindergartener. So, I would point at a wrongly marked item, say something along the lines of, “No. Tres”, and shove it aside to ring up something that still sported the right price tag. She would respond with, “Oh” and then quietly say something to her daughter in Spanish. In the end, I was not willing to fall for her trick, and she seemed to want the items badly enough, so she pulled out her wallet and reluctantly paid the original prices for the items in question. Now, I’m more than willing to negotiate prices, if you just ask, but don’t try to play dirty pool with me. I don’t enjoy that game.

The cherry on top of my lunacy Sundae came about 20 minutes before closing time, when in walks a woman trailing 2 young offspring behind her. She heads straight for the desk, all the while stuffing handfuls of potato chips into her mouth from the Ruffles bag in her left hand, occasionally dropping one or 2 on the floor as she walks. Maybe she’s leaving a trail so she can find her way back out? I’m no psychic, but I sense a broom and dustpan in my future. She looks at me, sitting behind the desk all by my lonesome, without another person in sight, and says, “You the manager?” Oh boy. I’d better buckle my seatbelt.  This promises to be a bumpy ride.

Now, had my 11 year old son been at the store with me that day as he usually is, it might have crossed my mind to point at him and say, “No. He is.” No such luck today, however. I was flying solo on this trip. “Yes ma’am, what can I do for you?” I ask. She says, “Well, I’m fixin’ to have a yard sale this weekend and I was wondering if I could have it right outside your store in the parking lot.” I quickly stifled the urge to laugh out loud. I’ve been down this road before, and the idea was vetoed fairly quickly. If we open up that world of possibility to one person, we’d have to do it for everyone, and before you know it, our parking lot will have turned into a circus sideshow.  No. Thank you for the offer, but I think I’ll have to pass.

She didn’t appreciate hearing ‘no’ as an answer, though, and after the words, “I’m sorry ma’am, we can’t do that” came out of my mouth, a barrage of distasteful dialogue came out of hers. I was called a few choice names and told that I was stupid for not wanting to make the extra money that her extraordinary event would have brought into the store, before she finally gathered up her offspring and made a hasty retreat.

I ran my hand over my exhausted face and looked at the clock. It was 10 minutes before closing time. I closed anyway as a reward for surviving this deranged day…and to sweep the crushed potato chips up off the floor, too.

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Until next time, readers…stay sane.

50 Wishes

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Everyone has been asked that eternal question by now, “What would you do with 3 wishes?”

Well, I started thinking…why 3? Where did we get 3 from? Is it some standard that we’ve set based on childhood tales of genies popping out of lamps and fairies rescued from unspeakable dangers? Is 3 some magic number that, if we were to surpass it, would cause us to burst into flame, or worse; be imprisoned for life only to suffer endless torment at the hands of some unseen wish warden?

Maybe we’ve just trained our brains not to think past this miniscule number, or maybe, just maybe, most of us feel that we wouldn’t be deserving of any more wishes than that based on a history of past transgressions?

Whatever the case, I’ve decided to think outside of the 3 sided box. How many wishes would I really limit myself to?  I think I’d shoot for 50…that seems like a good, solid number to me, how about you? What would you do with 50 wishes? Here’s my list:

Wish List

If I had 3 wishes…but wait, why stop there?
To limit my wishes just seems so unfair.

I do believe fifty would be much more just,
‘Cause too many things are a definite must.

Before I give in to my personal greed,
I’d like to help out all the people in need.

I’d wish food for the hungry, homes for the poor,
Clean water on every impoverished shore.

Some shoes for the orphans, and widows alike;
That weary man walking, well, he needs a bike.

Love for the lonely; a partner, a mate,
Love for each other; abolish all hate.

A world without stealing, or murder, or crime,
And people that care more than some of the time.

Now me, I would like my own laundry fairy,
Then I’d want legs that would never grow hairy.

I’ll need a few dollars; ten mill would be nice,
Then maybe some diamonds, ‘cause girls love their ice.

I’d want a fit body, and then beyond that,
I’d wish for some thighs that would never get fat.

I’d like to be crowned Miss America, please,
And have a new bladder that withstands a sneeze.

Strumming songs on the guitar might be quite grand,
While singing lead vocals in some famous band.

I wouldn’t mind being a big movie star,
But please wax my brows or I won’t make it far.

My own Private Island would suit me just fine,
And then, some new sports cars, at least eight or nine.

I would like a tiger, no; how ‘bout a zoo?
To staff it, please send me the finest zoo crew.

I’d wish for a mansion with twelve maids to clean;
A garden out back full of plants lush and green.

A whole room of nothing but bath tissue rolls;
Make them all thick so there’s no chance of holes.

A twelve seater hot tub would be pretty cool,
For after a dip in my new swimming pool.

And create a soda that never goes flat,
To sip by that pool in my new floppy hat.

I’d like a masseuse on call at any time;
And a waiter to serve me spritzers with lime.

My own chef to cook me the tastiest food,
Please join me for lunch; wouldn’t want to be rude.

I’ll take a tiara that sparkles and shines,
To wear while I’m drinking the priciest wines.

A thousand new shoes, and then without a doubt;
The finest silk stockings that never wear out.

Please send me an eighty foot yacht, on the double,
along with a Captain or I’ll be in trouble.

A pilot to chauffer my own private jet,
And take me to places I haven’t seen yet.

A vacay to Candy Land’s shores would be swell,
For chocolates as big as the liberty bell.

An opal in silver, an emerald in gold,
A ruby in platinum would never get old.

I’d wish for some sapphires, the deepest of blue,
Then if the mood strikes me, I might wish for YOU!

The Friendship Pill in the Hate-Proof Bottle

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Gather around, folks, and let me tell you a story…

It’s a story of love. It’s a story of heartbreak. It’s a story of healing. Best of all, though; it’s a story of how the cosmos aligned to bring 2 people together in a way that would ultimately form a bond that should, with any luck, last for a lifetime.

Once upon a time…

There it is. Trite, I know, but in retrospect, the strange turn of events that created the dynamic duo that would come to be known as… us…we…partners in crime…’S squared’… seems so far in the past that life before then is a hazy memory at best and impossible to recall at worst.

I was merely trying to get through each day without breaking back then. I was recently divorced, and it had hit me hard. When I say hard, I mean sledgehammered heart in so many jagged shards that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would not dare attempt to reassemble it hard. I mean soggy puddle of continuously sobbing mess that was just trying to do what seemed impossible at the time; scrape myself up off the ground and move in a forward direction hard.

He and I had a child together that we traded parenting time with week to week, and she was ALL that kept my head above water as I bobbed along in my lake of despair. It was hard enough to trudge through my hurt even with her there, but the weeks that she spent with her father made it all the more difficult to bear because I was left hopelessly and stiflingly alone. Sure, I tried “dating”, which often meant jumping into bed with men I barely even knew, because in my grief, I saw physical contact as a salve to rub into my emotional wounds. In truth, though, I was more alone while tangled in some forgettable set of masculine limbs than I would have been if left to curl up and cry myself to sleep with nothing but my pillow to wrap my arms around. Try not to judge; I was a different person back then.

The worst part of it all, the part that made it impossible to move past the pain and misery of the whole ordeal and actually start the restoration process, was the fact that we worked in the same building. In fact, that’s how we’d met. I now had to punch a time clock every day just to see his smugly handsome face wearing its cold, hard expression of extreme…indifference. Okay, in all honesty maybe that wasn’t quite the worst part. The real punch in the face, kick in the teeth, knife to the kidneys came when he got a new girlfriend, and insisted upon parading her around the lunch room at our place of employ for everyone to see. Everyone that knew our history. Everyone that watched me gradually fall apart every day between the hours of 7am and 3pm. Everyone that looked at me with pitying eyes as I hunched over whatever vending machine fodder I had been trying to nonchalantly choke down.

She was a cute little thing, I have to admit; prancing around the cafeteria in her miniskirts and talking in her ‘straight off the boat from England’ accent, which he, of course, raved about and made sure to play up in front of everyone present, including…me.

I can scarcely recall my hatred for this woman now, but I do know that I did indeed hate her. She had everything that I didn’t, everything that I had lost… his devotion, his attention, his desire, his embrace…his heart. I didn’t even truly know her, but I wanted to be her, and for that, I despised her.

They eventually moved into a quaint little upstairs apartment a few streets over from my own humble abode, and even though I was in a relationship of my own by that time, I found myself always looking over my shoulder in public places, hoping that I wouldn’t bump into them …at the bank…at the grocery store… at a stoplight. The time I spent away from work where they couldn’t flaunt their cutesy, giggly, sickening bliss was MINE, and the thought that my glorious oblivion could be ripped out from under me at any given moment seemed so… unfair. I was unreasonably and unrealistically angry for this egregious affront to my fragile state of mind.

So angry, in fact, that I remember storming over to their apartment one day and confronting her with hackles and voice raised because I had found out that she had taken my child to her parent teacher conference, since he was out of town on a hunting trip. I was livid. How dare she? That wasn’t her child. Why didn’t someone tell me about this conference? I would have happily done my parental duty and taken her myself. Oh no, no, no, no …no. I was going over there, and I was giving this woman, this usurper, this replacement for me… a rage-fueled and not so well thought out piece of my mind. In hindsight, I looked like an idiot. It wasn’t her fault; she was just doing what he had asked of her. You couldn’t have convinced me at the time, though. She had become my arch nemesis in my pain distorted mind, and I had declared war.

Eventually, he was let go from our place of employ, and without his ever-existing presence around to remind me that I now had a failed marriage complete with child under my belt, I started to do an amazing thing; I started to heal. After a few weeks without his larger than life shadow looming over me, sucking away my emotional stability like a vampiric cloud, I could get through my days without breaking down. After a few months, the bitterness started to melt away like an ice cube on blacktop. After a few years, well…enter the man that currently holds my now fully restored heart in the palm of his loving, giving, and slightly callused hand.

It was a short courtship for my beloved and I, but as I’ve mentioned before, when you just know, you know. You know? I fell head over heels, hook, line, and sinker almost immediately. He whisked me away like a knight in blue jean and cotton blend armor; 1,200 miles from the place I was born and raised, to be exact. We said ‘I do’ in a small, intimate ceremony on a Florida beach in the freezing cold month of January. We said ‘I do’ surrounded by close friends and loved ones. Sadly, though, we said ‘I do’…without the presence of my child.

I had tried. Lord help me, I had really tried. In the end, though, a judge ruled that my little red haired ray of sunshine was best left in familiar surroundings, with familiar people, and the measure of stability that she had come to know… right where she was. At that point, I had to make quite possibly the hardest decision I have ever faced in my entire life; follow my heart vs. motherly duty. I opted for the purely selfish, but what I knew would be a better life for me, and for the son that I had given birth to between divorce and recourse. I left my old life behind me to the tune of  ‘how could you?’ … ‘what kind of mother are you?’…’what kind of person are you?’ It was hard, of course….so very hard to walk away, especially with a mind full of ‘what ifs’. What if she thinks I don’t love her because I made this decision? What if she grows to resent me? What if we lose touch completely? In my mind, though, I knew that even amid the hurt of walking away from her, she’d be in good hands with her father. He was a good daddy, and he loved her. Time heals all wounds, and it would heal hers.

I went off to my new life, and the world still turned. It turned for me…it turned for him…and it turned for my baby girl. We kept in contact as often as possible. We’d webcam, draw pictures together on our favorite online chat program, and I’d sometimes read her bedtime stories over the phone. She’d come to see me for several weeks every summer, and I’d go back to see her at Christmas time.

My relationship with my arch nemesis had turned to civility in the time that followed my departure. Actually, truth be told, she had become the biggest supporter of my relationship with my child. She’d email me pictures, encourage my daughter to write me letters and create cards and pictures for me which she would send along with some really lovely scrapbook pages that they’d put together with photos of my growing baby girl…and her life without mom. She would make sure my daughter called me regularly, and she would even allow her to use her own computer when we wanted to spend our virtual time together. She had become a Godsend, and I found myself truly thankful that she was part of my daughter’s life in my absence.

Let’s fast forward a few years, to a fateful day set in motion by a distressed phone call. On the other end of the line was a very upset little girl that I would do anything in the world for if it if it was within my power, and if it meant that I could take away her hurt. I wished that I could comfort her in her grief, wrap my arms around her and hold her tight, but the distance between us made it impossible to do anything but listen, and assure her that everything would be alright.

Cue tragic breakup scene. The scene that I had found myself wishing for years earlier but now felt guilty for willing into existence, considering our newfound respect for one another on the common ground that was the role we both played as mother to a sassy little ball of freckles and French braids. I felt bad for her, I really did. I had been her , once, and I thought back to the time when I had walked in her shoes through a world of emotional turmoil with nothing and no one to lean on except my own  convoluted thoughts.

I decided to make a move that would change both of our lives from that moment forward…I reached out to her. It was online that I reached out, but it was probably easier for both of us not to have to speak in person at that point. That way she could feel me out and make sure that I didn’t have ulterior motives other than sheer concern, and I could gauge whether or not she even wanted my help. I asked her if she was alright, to which she admitted that no, she in fact, wasn’t. She had devoted seven years to a relationship that was seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. “Alright” was the farthest thing from what she was.

She moved out of their home and in with the first in a long string of bad attempts at friendship with women that would do her wrong and further beat her down emotionally. Our online chats turned into frequent phone calls. I was giving her what no one was able to give me when I needed it most; a shoulder to cry on from someone that had been exactly where she was now. I was getting to know the woman that she really was without jealousy clouding my vision, and I found that we had a lot in common.  A scary amount in common, in fact.

Things quickly went south for her in her new living situation and I received a call one day from a very upset ex enemy whose psychotic roommate was having what could only be surmised as a bipolar meltdown aimed in her direction. I told her I was on my way without even having to think twice. I gathered my resources, packed a bag, and began the 1,200 mile pilgrimage to retrieve my broken new friend.

I arrived just in time the next day as the frenzied she-devil that she had previously shared a dwelling with was pitching the remainder of her personal, and in some cases extremely breakable belongings out the door and down the long flight of unforgiving cement steps.  I hugged her, gathered up what was salvageable, loaded it into the van, and off into the sunset we went toward home…my home, and toward a new life that included each other.

I’d like to say that the rest is just history, but it’s been a pretty rich history. She stayed with us for a few months and in that time we grew as close as any sisters could ever be. We talked together, cried together… had a few too many one night and fell out of our desk chairs laughing together. With me by her side, she started the long trek down that same path that I had to walk many years before her…the road to restoration.

She eventually got a job offer through an acquaintance of hers in Minnesota, loaded up her car and left a very sad me behind missing her, but we always stayed in touch. That adventure ended in another crazy roommate, and another trip back to Florida, this time to live with her father a few hours south of where I reside. She still lives in Florida today. We find a way to visit each other as often as possible, and we talk almost every night.

She admitted to me when we were reminiscing several weeks ago that she wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for me “saving” her. I never realized how far down the rabbit hole she had actually fallen back then, but to me, the decision that I had made was a no-brainer, especially now. Being an only child, she’s the closest thing to a sister I have, and even though she likes to give me undue credit for picking her up and dusting her off, her friendship has saved me from time to time over the years, too.

Our ex doesn’t come up much anymore in conversation except in a random, “haha, remember when?” moment. I know that they haven’t spoken since, and they really have no reason too. There’s nothing tying them together, they can lead separate lives. She gets to see the child that she helped raise for seven years and remain a part of her life, and my daughter enjoys that fact tremendously.  I think that we’re all doing just fine.

As for my relationship with him, I can now call him friend, and completely mean it. I love him in a healthy way. The way that we should all love our friends and neighbors. As a matter of fact, our relationship is the best it’s ever been. He’s found someone that he cares about, and I have my special someone, and though we may not talk often, we can talk, and it’s always good. He supports me in decisions I make regarding our daughter, who has lived with me now for the past 4 years after he fell prey to economic crisis for a short time.

As a fitting ending to this story, I’m taking my ‘bestie’ on a cruise in 90 days. Call it a tribute to sisterhood. Call it a reward for being survivors of heartache. Call it whatever you like, just don’t call us. We’ll be living it up ocean style, and loving life…together.

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Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

When you spend each waking moment caught in the grip of a stressful, debilitating anxiety disorder that alters what others would think of as normal everyday life, it can cause you to feel like a prisoner in your own body, or in my case, your own home. When my little corner of the world becomes stifling, and the familiar walls that I see every day threaten to close in on me, getting away to a new place is nothing less than priceless. I’ve found that there’s really only one thing that I can truly look forward to, my favorite part of being someplace else, someplace new…

Freedom!!!

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To me, the sweet smell of freedom is the best part of a new place, and anywhere that happens to NOT be home smells just as sweet. Call it that “new place smell.” Getting away is often the only way that I can manage to escape my reality, my own private torture chamber that lies within my mind; anxiety.

If I just can’t get out and steal away to someplace else as often as I’d like, or even need to, I manage to virtually escape every now and then and explore a new place in an online game. Then, not only can I be somewhere else, but I can be someone else as well. It can be just as exciting to escape from being me entirely.

My family will tell you that I’m a different person when I’m not at home. I’m relaxed. I’m fun. Even though home is where the OCD is, I’m able to leave it behind and not pack it up and bring it along when I manage to get out and away. I wish I could be the person that they enjoy being around even when we’re surrounded by daily routine, but I just can’t seem to get to a place where I can be as happy on the inside as I am when I get outside.

I have high hopes for breaking free….someday. Until then, I’ll make the most of the time that I get in different, new, and exciting places. That could be just about anywhere. Anywhere that isn’t…here.

This caged little bird chirps to be free, and freedom, my friends, has many forms.

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How Can I Embarrass Thee?

Let me count the ways…

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I’ve made it my life’s work to embarrass my children any time the opportunity presents itself, as is my right as a parent. The job is quite fulfilling. It keeps them on their toes, because they’ll never know when one of my maniacal mom moments will present itself, and I like to keep them guessing.

After a total of 41 hours of grunting, sweating labor, 8,760 dirty diapers, and having to walk out of a restaurant, miss part of a movie, or cut a trip to the grocery store short 324 times due to screeching temper tantrums (those still happen even now in the teen years), I figure I’m entitled to some sort of emotional compensation. The thrill of watching them squirm for a change pretty much covers that cost. One might argue that parenthood itself is its own reward. I’ll agree, of course. I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world, but the added bonus of having the ability to turn their faces 50 shades of red at any given moment is quite lovely.

This venture has gotten even more joyous as they’ve gotten older, considering the fact that just having the parental units in close proximity or, Heaven forbid, addressing them with real live words in a public setting is borderline traumatizing to your average teenager.

You, too, have the power to be a general nuisance in the eyes of your overly dramatic offspring. It’s quite simple, and can provide hours of free entertainment. You’ll also have a few fun stories to file away for your grandchildren someday.

Here I offer up several teen stressing recipes, some of which I’ve already tried, and with great success. They all require one teenager (or more for flavor) a dash of drama, a spoonful of sass, and an eye roll or 2. The ones that I haven’t attempted yet are on my bucket list, of course. They’ll happen eventually, all in good time.

1. When you’re out with your teenager and spouse at a crowded restaurant, point to something on your spouse’s plate and say, “Hey, can I have a bite of that?” Then, as your spouse makes a motion to shovel the bite of food into your mouth, bounce up and down in your seat a little and exclaim very loudly, “Ooo! Ooo! Do the airplane!” Watch teenager’s eyes widen in horror as your spouse makes buzzing noises and twirls the bite of food into your gaping maw.

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2. Take your teenager with you into a public restroom to use the facilities. After spending a quiet moment or 2 sitting alone in a stall reflecting the meaning of life or reading about who’s vowed to love whom forever written on the stall door, stand up and excitedly say, “Hey, you’ve gotta see this one! It looks like a weiner dog!” Listen as the footfalls scramble to make their way out of the restroom with Cheetah-like swiftness.

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3. Wear very colorful socks with flip flops in public. Your teenager, especially the female budding fashionista types like mine, will make it a point to walk at least 5 paces ahead of you in an effort to make it look like you couldn’t possibly be together. Who’s the crazy person behind me? I have no idea. I’ll just shrug, screw my face into a highly disgusted expression, and pretend I don’t know why they’re addressing me as “honey”.

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4. While out driving around with your teenager, don some cheap aviator sunglasses and a backward baseball cap. Roll down the windows in the minivan, and blast the latest Justin Bieber song as loudly as possible without blowing out the speaker system. When you’re stopped at a red light, slowly turn to the vehicle next to you, stick your arm out the window and with a completely serious face, whip them a peace sign with your left hand. Look puzzled as mortified teenager hunkers down in the passenger seat in an effort to disappear.

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5. Take your teenager grocery shopping, and kindly request that they push the cart for you. Now, if you’re feeling particularly daring and energetic, climb into the main basket, or, if you’re just not feeling athletic enough to attempt such a feat, simply hop up onto the end of the cart and excitedly request, “Push me! Push me!” with a large cheeky grin on your face. Sadly wave good-bye as exasperated teen flees for the electronics section.

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6. While also out grocery shopping with your teenager, as you’re in the check-out lane loading your mac and cheese, ramen, and hot dogs (5 kids, remember?) onto the conveyor belt, burst into a stirring (and loud enough for people 3 or 4 lanes over to hear) rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Look around you at the other people in the lane and urge, “Everybody now!” Once impromptu sing along is finished, ask for assistance scraping flattened teenager up off the floor because they’ve dropped dead from embarrassment.

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7. Arrive an hour earlier than the originally agreed upon time to pick up your teenager from the mall. Locate teenager amidst the gaggle of verbally challenged, hygienically questionable, sagging pantsed youth. (Head for Hot Topic, you’ll likely find them there.) Approach teenager and loudly proclaim, “I thought I should take you home early. If you keep skipping your antibiotics, that THING will never go away.” Watch as teenager tries to save face by pretending that you don’t exist. Notice remaining youth trying to puzzle out the meaning of ‘antibiotics.’ Such a big word…

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8. Bring your teenager along on one of your frequent pain reliever runs to the local pharmacy. Hey, the fact that you even have a teenager means that you go often for those economy sized bottles of Tylenol and you know it. While there, look for an employee, preferably a youthful one not much older than the teenager in tow. Drag and position said employee in front of the gleaming wall of adult diapers. Point at the packages of spongy undergarments and very loudly ask, “Do these come in super absorbency? I tend to sneeze ALOT.” After the youthful lad points out what you’re looking for while stifling a chuckle, apologize for needing the assistance because, well…”with age, your eyesight just isn’t what it used to be.” Locate agitated teenager that managed to scoot a distance of 5 isles over within 2 tenths of a second and is currently trying to act nonchalant while thumbing through a magazine.

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9. While your teenager has a friend over, enter their room with panic in your voice, and exclaim, “I think I just found a grey nose hair!” Then tilt your head slightly back, flare your nostrils, point to your nose, and say, “Look! It’s right there! Can you see it?! Tell me if you think that’s grey.” Listen to teenager heave an irritated sigh and try to calmly explain to their friend that they are actually adopted, and that their birth parents are really wealthy movie stars that will return to claim them some day.

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10. Take your teenager to Wal Mart in the middle of the afternoon wearing pajamas, slippers, curlers, and some type of beauty facial mask. While you will likely blend in with the rest of the Walmartian community, your teenager still won’t want to be seen with you. Then again, you could dress in your Sunday best, and they still won’t want to be seen with you…

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I hope that this study guide helps get you started on the road to A+ embarrassment. Feel free to grace me with your own personal stories of creative situations in which you’ve made your teenager want to slink away and bury their head in shame. You know, like… speaking to them out loud instead of attempting to communicate telepathically…or …blinking…breathing… existing…

Until next time, readers… stay dramatic.