Thoughts On Aging

DailyPrompt: Mind Reader

Who’s the last person you saw before reading this prompt? Whether it’s a family member, a coworker, or a total stranger, write a post about what that person is thinking right now.

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 Well, it likely defeats the purpose of the whole mind reading assignment, but it’s easy enough.

The last person I saw was me.

Yep…looked in the mirror about 10 minutes ago and thought, “Man this aging business sucks.”

Things are starting to sag that never sagged before, and I used to pride myself on things being firmly packed into place in my 20’s. A push up bra? Pffft. I never even owned one.

Not to mention the occasional grey hair that I used to find that has now turned into 6 dozen or more. As I was gazing into the visor mirror busily plucking them in the car the other day, grumbling each time I’d find another, my husband and daughter told me to just quit while I was ahead. “You’re going to get 2 for every one you pull”, my husband advised. Yeah, right. It’s more of a 10 to 1 ratio these days. “But why are they all thick and wavy?” I asked. I don’t even have wavy hair! Are these someone else’s grey hairs and God just made a mistake by giving them to me?

My only saving grace now is that I don’t have crow’s feet…yet. I have a 25 year old face on a 40 year old body. Thank you, Mother Nature.

I swear my freckles have at least quadrupled over the years, too. Once upon a time, you could take a pen and play ‘connect the dots’ on my face, arms, and shoulders. Now, after half an hour in the sun, you can’t even find my face under the mass of orangey-brown freckles. At least I hope they’re freckles. Could just be liver spots.

My memory is slowly going. My husband can tell me something 50 times, and I won ‘t even remember it the next…wait…who are you again?

When I was a kid, I swear I had a cast iron stomach, too. People would dare me to eat things, and I, being the ever vigilant attention seeker that I was, would gladly oblige them. Tin cans, earthworms, failed math tests…you name it, I could ingest it as my peers looked on with open-mouthed fascination. The way to everyone’s heart seemed to be my stomach, and I could trot off down the road afterward without a care in the world.

Yesterday, people… I ate grapes. Nothing out of the ordinary, just some plump, sweet, juicy, burst-when-you-bite-them red seedless grapes. An hour later, as I was curled up in the fetal position wishing for death, wondering exactly what I did to bring the wrath of God down upon my intestines, I realized that those “eat anything and pay nothing” days were long gone.

Now, if I just get a whiff of pizza, I have raging heartburn for the next 3 days. I can’t even drink orange juice without a cherry tums chaser, and I absolutely love orange juice! And tacos? Tacos are like death wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. Even the mild ones are like a stroll through hell.

Why oh why does my body have to do this to me?

Oh, that’s right…because 40 is only 3 and a half months away, that’s why.

Welcome to adulthood, sweetheart.

Maybe you shouldn’t have been so eager to wish for it when you were a kid, hmm?

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Commitment to Crazy

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As I stood in the kitchen last week, watching my 12 year old son bawl his eyes out because, and I quote, “Jonathan says he rubbed his nuts all over my food when I wasn’t looking and now I’m too paranoid to eat it,” I thought to myself, “Self, why don’t you write anymore? It’s not like your life is any less entertaining and chaotic than it used to be. I mean…a houseful of teenagers, a husband that sometimes behaves like an overgrown teenager himself, world’s worst excuse for a pet rabbit, a half crazed lizard that thinks she’s a dog…it all screams blog fodder to me.” Besides, my one and a half adoring fans are probably wondering where I’ve gotten off to.

So, here it is. My commitment to try. To once again grace the world with my quick wit, humor, and wisdom. (It’s been a long week, just let me have that one, okay?) To boldly go where at least 85% of all other bloggers have probably gone before. To don my shiny red cape of awesomeness and fight the never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way. Oh. Wait. That’s Superman. Got a little ahead of myself there. Can’t help it, though, I’m excited.

Now, my posts won’t always be humorous. Sometimes my life can be downright sad. Keep tissues handy just in case.

Sometimes I’ll be in a thoughtful mood, or perhaps I’ll want to just hop up on my soapbox and rant and rave about the injustices of the world.

Whatever the topic may be, I’ll do my best to at least make it worth reading. That’s a promise. It may not be every day, but it will be more often than every 6 months. Deal?

So, on that note, lets all have a group hug. (ooof) Okay, not that hard. And don’t touch me there. Buncha animals.

It’s good to be back. Stay tuned for forthcoming insanity.

Disclaimer: no rabbits, lizards, husbands, or teenagers were harmed in the making of this post.

 

Tales From the Thrift Store: Chapter Closed

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A few weeks ago I made a tough decision, but it was one that needed to be made for the sake of my own sanity.

I asked a group of ladies at church if they would be willing to take over the thrift store for me.

They accepted the challenge, and I passed the torch off to them. This will now be the second week in a row that I am thrift store free.

The day I packed up my personal effects and took one last look around the place was a bittersweet day for me. I was relieved to get my weekends back and rid myself of some of the stress of taking on too much, but sad to see it go nonetheless. My daughter and I had set everything up and gotten it running ourselves. We built the clothing racks, moved in all the shelving systems, organized and priced it all, and maintained it for a little over a year and a half. I had a lot of hard work and time invested in it, and it was like a baby to me. I shed a few tears as I said goodbye.

You see, In addition to trying to keep my house in order (being a neat freak is hard when you’re already exhausted), and have a little extra time to write and, well…breathe, I was essentially working 3 jobs and it wasn’t working out well for me. I was painting apartments Monday through Thursday, teaching my art class on Tuesdays (which I needed time to pick up supplies and prepare a project for), and then running the store on Fridays and Saturdays. More often than not I was finding myself having to leave an apartment unfinished over the weekend to go off and run the store.

I was admittedly spreading myself too thin, so something had to change. I weighed my options and decided that the store would be the easiest job to let go of because it was the one that wasn’t bringing in any much needed income.

I had waived off any offers of a paycheck when I opened up shop for the church in February of 2012. I just couldn’t, in good conscience, take money from them when they were already struggling to make ends meet because we had to close our daycare in November the year prior. The daycare had been sustaining the church for many years, but with the economy being what it was, we had started losing money. So we closed the daycare doors and it was suggested that I start a thrift store, because I had already been doing bi-monthly rummage sales with a decent amount of success.

Running the store was basically volunteer work that I was doing for my church. I wasn’t being paid, but my kids were being kept in clothing that fit, so I considered it a fair trade.

I loved the work despite the lack of a paycheck. I loved to help the homeless with a fresh change of clothes and food during the busy summer months.

I had regular customers that I will miss a lot, too. Like deaf Dave, with his wild animations and loud noises. My daughter would lean over to me and whisper, “He scares me” every time Dave would come in. I’d say, “Who? Dave? I like him. He doesn’t know he’s being loud. He can’t hear himself. Why are you whispering, anyway?”

I’ll also miss that 85 year old guy that buzzes through the parking lot every single day with a shopping cart. He wears an Australian style hat with a feather in it. I like his hat. He moves pretty fast for 85, too. I knew he was that age because he stopped and talked to me once while I was sweeping out the entryway. “You want some wine?” he asked as he offered me a swig from his paper bag. “No thank you,” I replied. “Do you know Chico? He’s my son. He’s a chef. Do you know Chico?” he asked as he beamed with pride. “No, I’m afraid I don’t know Chico.” He then rambled on about his life, age, and of course, Chico for a few more minutes before making his departure. I would smile and wave from across the parking lot every time I saw him after that. I just love the elderly. They’re so entertaining.

I’ll also miss the crazy antics of those that inspired my “Tales from the Thrift Store” stories. They supplied me with some great writing material. I’ll miss writing the tales almost as much as I’ll miss the store.

As this chapter of my life and the tales that came with it close, though, another chapter is opening. There’s plenty of crazy stuff that goes on at the apartment complex that I paint for during the week to fill and entire book. Maybe I’ll write one someday. For now just stay tuned for the next dose of insanity inspired by a fresh batch of unhinged people:

Happenings in the Hood.

To the Single Girl From Mrs. ‘Been There, Done That’

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I have been a happily married woman for close to 11 years now. Okay, well, maybe not always happily. Sometimes I wish the man came with a remote control that I could use on him to oh…I don’t know…mute his snoring, make him stop using the top of the laundry hamper as a table, or get him to pay attention to me when I’m talking to him.

At any rate, I love the big lug, and had to endure the same process of luring him in, trapping him, and caging him that every other red blooded woman that doesn’t live in a country with arranged marriages has to go through. Sometimes I think arranged marriages might even be easier than this whole “looking for love” ordeal. At least then you know you’ll have a mate regardless, right?

I personally had to venture out into the big, wild world and repeat stage one of this process several times until I finally caught my keeper, though.

While those tales of high school sweethearts that have known no other and are now celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary are wonderful stories, they’re few and far between. For those women that aren’t living the ultimate fairy tale, well, there’s a process to go through to get from “How do you do,” to “I do”. A process that might make competing in a triathlon pale by comparison. A process that some have even given up on after several failed attempts. A process that strikes fear into the hearts of women and men alike all over the world.

The dating process.

Now, I have single friends. Several of them. Friends that I love dearly and wish nothing but the best for. I sit back and listen to their tales of dating woes time and time again, and, well, I admittedly grow weary of hearing them. Not because I already have my special someone, so I’ve now become selfish and incapable of being sympathetic to the lonely plight of the single girl, but because every fiber in my body wants to tell them exactly what they’re doing wrong.  That would make me a bad friend and a bad listener, though. Wouldn’t it?

Then I got to thinking. Maybe, just maybe, I’d be a better friend if I were to finally (wo)man up and lay it all out straight for them. I’d hate to lose anyone as a friend, but I can’t sit by and watch some of them ruin their chances at happiness time and time again anymore without saying something, even at the risk of angering them.

So, I’ve decided it’s time for an intervention. Not only for my dear single friends that I feel need a little schooling from someone who’s been there, done that, and emerged victorious, but for single girls everywhere.

Consider class to be in session. Feel free to take notes as we go.

Lesson #1: Keep Your Goodies to Yourself.

Being A Christian woman, I could go on and on about the biblical ramifications of sex before marriage, but you’ve likely heard it all before at some point in your life, so I won’t.

From the point of view of your average, reasoning being, here’s what’s wrong with jumping into bed with a guy on the first, second, or even fifth date.

Every relationship in the world is built on trust; man and woman, landlord and tenant, employer and employee, and so on.

When you almost immediately give up the one thing that seals the deal and finalizes an intimate relationship with a man, you’ve completely blown it in the trust department, and here’s why:

“Well if it was this easy to get her into bed, who else is she out there sleeping with? I don’t want a girl that gets around.”

Yep, your credibility as a trustworthy woman just went right out the window for 3 minutes of fun. You’ve now been demoted from filet mignon to about the level of a hot dog.

Now, while a lot of men may see nothing wrong with throwing themselves at anything that bats an eyelash or flirts a little, this isn’t generally a quality that they’re looking for in a woman. Seems like a double standard, I know, but it’s simply human nature. I can guarantee that “a girl that sleeps with me on the first date” isn’t anywhere on a guy’s list of what he wants in a wife

So, turning your first date into a booty call isn’t winning him over. While it may have “been awhile” for you, and those hormones and pheromones and any other sort of ‘mones’ may be so thick in the room that you can cut them with a knife, you need to keep your self-control in check if you genuinely want things to work out.

You’re an adult, you can do this. I can guarantee he’ll still respect you in the morning, and if he does walk away when you don’t give it up on the first date, well, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t serious about a relationship with you to begin with.

Then you can simply chalk it up to a ‘bullet dodged’ and move on.

Lesson #2: Find a New Body Wash.

Look, ladies, if I can smell it on you, I can pretty much guarantee that he can, too.

Desperation.

While most men suffer from selective hearing and vision problems, they have a sense of smell keener than a bloodhound on a raccoon trail when it comes to unwanted emotional female baggage. They can smell the stench of desperation from a hundred miles away, and this will almost always send them running in the opposite direction, because with desperation, comes clinginess.

Just ask any man if they’re looking to give up any and all sense of freedom that they currently enjoy to a clingy woman. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what his answer will be.

Here’s a great way to gauge your level of desperation:

How often does he text you first? Are you almost always the one sending the first text and then just sitting there, phone in hand, checking your screen every 10 seconds until you receive a text back?  Then, when he doesn’t send a text back after about 10 minutes, are you texting him again just to be sure he actually saw the first one?

If this sounds like you, girl, you need a hobby.

While he may be the hottest thing since fire and you genuinely hope a relationship with this guy is in your future, blocking out all other thoughts but him from your mind is not only unhealthy for so many reasons, it going to cause you to blow it in the end. You need to redirect your focus into other things and let nature take its course if you want this relationship to work.

Lesson #3: Slow Your Roll.

This still falls under that whole desperation category. If you’re mentally hearing wedding bells after the first phone conversation, you need to take a deep breath and go watch a movie on Lifetime or something. You’re getting attached too quickly, which will make for a huge let down and mental anguish on your part should things not work out the way you had anticipated. Don’t let your mind get ahead of the game. You haven’t even passed go and collected your first 200 yet, but you’ve already sent yourself to mental jail. Here’s your get out free card:

Knock it off.

Though waiting is one of those things that sucks to a generation that wants instant gratification, you don’t have much of a choice if you truly want things to work out. Patience is a virtue, and there’s no better time than when you’re dating someone new to be virtuous.

Also, it’s great that you had a wonderful first date and plan to see him again, but your second date or second lengthy phone conversation is a bad time to throw out the fact that you’ve had 30 failed attempts at relationships already and you’re just looking for lifelong commitment. There are challenges on Fear Factor that are likely less off-putting to a guy than this bit of information. Even if he asked you what you are looking for in a relationship, it’s still a bad idea. Why? Because he’s likely just gauging your answer to see what kind of mess he’d be stepping into should he choose to get involved with you.

This would be a good time to play it cool. “Well, I just figured I’d go with the flow and see what happens.” Is always an acceptable answer when faced with what your future relationship plans are. Stifle your need to divulge too much information too quickly.

Save your expressions of undying love for this guy and your constant text affirmations that he’s always on your mind for a couple of months down the road, too. Hook him with your personality first, before you start throwing the cutesy shmootsy hearts and flowers junk at him.

Just have fun for now. Enjoy the companionship. That’s what phase one in a relationship is all about.

Lesson #4: Don’t Be THAT Girl.

After a person has heard, “I think I’ve found the one” for the 12th time in a 3 month span, it tends to grow tiring. Then, like ‘the boy who cried wolf’, no one’s going to want to listen when you genuinely have found a lasting relationship.

I was happy for you the first time. And the second. I was even happy for you with the third guy that you fell head over heels in love with after two dates and a romp in the bedroom. We’re coming up on oh…I lost count how many now…occasions of this very same pattern repeating itself and I am becoming emotionally numb here.

I get it; I do, because I adore my man. You want to shout your joy from the rooftops and tell everyone how amazing this new guy is. Do yourself a favor, though, and keep it on the down low for a month or two until things actually do start to get more serious. Then, once there’s some indication that he’ll be sticking around for a while, by all means, share your good news with the rest of the world. I’d love to hear about how into him you are when you get to that point.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind hearing about how a date went. If you want to talk about how he’s a nice guy, and that you went out and shared a few laughs over some slices of pepperoni, by all means, tell me all about it and share some information about him. I don’t mind at all. It’s watching you go completely off the rails for each new guy that comes along that I’m having a hard time with. Hopefully you can understand.

For those of you that I know personally, and those that I’ve never met, I mean no offense. I’m just calling it as I see it. Don’t think I haven’t been right where you are now. I have. It just so happens that along the way, I learned some valuable lessons in playing my cards right. That’s why I can say with pride that I’ve enjoyed nearly 11 years of marital bliss now with a wonderful man.

It all boils down to one thing; limits. They’re put in place in many situations to keep us safe. Speed limits, drinking limits, dosage limits…dating limits.

Ladies; if you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, yet you find yourself changing love interests more often than you’re changing underwear, it may be that you need to set some tighter limits in this game called love.

If you’re only betting on the queen of hearts, don’t bet everything you’ve got. Wait until you have a full house to go all in.

That’s just my 2 cent anti.

Tales From The Thrift Store: Carnival of Chaos

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It was just your typical Saturday in Ghettoville, and things were rather slow at the store. So I was off elsewhere in the building doing what Super Heroes do; sweeping up dead cockroaches in the pantry while I microwaved a breakfast burrito.

I peeked around the corner and then did this ninja-flip, Chuck Norris style kick move across the kitchen. The remaining roaches scattered. “And don’t come back.” I said firmly with a nod, fully satisfied with myself for a job well done. I then slid slowly up to the window in the swinging kitchen door to spy on any potential crime going down in the cafeteria. All was quiet.

Until around 11:45 a.m., that is. That’s when all hell broke loose at your local neighborhood Baptist Church.

Now, before I get to this installment of crazy, I need to explain what went down last year around this time.

You see, I used to keep several chairs and a coffee table that I was trying to sell near the thrift shop door, and each day after I rolled the big door up, I would pull them into the entry area in an effort to get them noticed and potentially sold faster.

This became problematic when the local area homeless, who I, of course, didn’t mind coming in to see me for food and a change of clothes, started to view this as an invitation to hang out for most of the day; smoking, eating, drinking beer, cursing profusely, and fighting with one another. It was like an episode of ‘The 3 Stooges’ meets an episode of ‘Cops.’ For the first time ever, I had to throw people out on a regular basis. This didn’t always go well. I am not, after all, fit to be a bouncer. There are mosquitos that are tougher than I am.

So, to alleviate this problem, I planned to do some rearranging when I got the chance. Okay, fine; when I wasn’t feeling lazier than a blood gorged tick on a dog’s rear end. This rearranging was going to entail moving the chairs and tables to the back of the store. It was a big job. Might have taken me all of 5 minutes if I applied myself.

It was the day that the “Jacksonville Caribbean Parade and Festival” happened, that ultimately pushed me over the edge enough to finally put that decision into effect, though.

The day started like any other warm, humid Florida day. I had opened up shop and set my tables and chairs in the doorway.

As I straightened up around the place, 2 guys carrying huge tin foil trays came in and said they had a food delivery for some lady that I had never even heard of. I assured them that they had the wrong address. They argued that this was where they were told to bring their delivery.

We went back and forth in that manner for a couple more minutes. I finally did a little air karate move that made them nervous. They high-tailed it back out to their van as they made a confirmation call on their cell phone.  They then decided to just sit in their van in the parking lot for the next 20 minutes. I monitored the situation and wondered if they would eventually leave. They might be some of my crazed stalker fans. They could have just come right out and asked me for an autograph. No need to beat around the bush…

About 30 minutes later, a couple of young ladies came along with bags that they proceeded to plop down onto the coffee table in the doorway. They then settled themselves into the chairs that I had set up there. They pulled wigs, weave, and face paint out of the bags, and started doing each other’s hair and makeup like they were in the dressing room of some low budget Las Vegas Showgirl Review. I stared at them quizzically. They didn’t even glance in my direction. As far as they were concerned, I wasn’t there. They were joined a few minutes later by a couple more ladies that started doing the same.

It was then that I noticed all of the vehicles now parked down at the far end of the parking lot. I peeked around the corner. Much to my surprise, people were setting up a tent and chairs in front of the side entrance to our building. I, being a very non confrontation person… okay, chicken… a big, fat, hide under the coop like I just saw a fox, chicken… had to man up and go find out what was going on. So I slid past the women in the doorway who apparently thought ‘Thrift Store’ now meant ‘Salon’, and went down to try and find the person in charge.

Upon asking around a bit, I found out that they were setting up for a parade. Some Caribbean thing that would leave the parking lot at 1p.m, and travel down the street to a place where they were hosting activities and entertainment afterward.

Well then. I assumed at this point that they had maybe talked to our Pastor or Administrator, or someone that had given them the green light on using our property to set up for this event, and that person had just failed to let me know. Yep, that had to be it. So, I contacted my Pastor in an effort to clear things up.

He had no idea who they were or what was going on, either. They had never called for permission to use our property.

By this time, the parking lot was starting to fill up; a couple of large trucks with speakers on the back, some vehicles with bass thumping music that was so loud it drowned out the sound of the radio that I keep on in the store, and people with tailgates open passing out food. I went to try and find someone in charge again and was rerouted several times until I finally found someone that, while not the “head cheese” of this operation, was at least able to function as a liaison.

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I put her on the phone with Pastor. She assured him that this whole set up was merely a “children’s parade”, and that they would all be off the premises by 1 that afternoon. That, folks, was a big, fat, stinky, steaming pile of lie.

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Since they had convinced him that it was a children’s parade, however, and since they vowed to be gone within the next hour, my Pastor agreed to allow them use of the parking lot to set up. THE PARKING LOT.

Things went south pretty quickly. The handful of people loitering in the thrift-store-turned-salon doorway quickly doubled. They started asking to use the restroom. Seemed harmless enough, right? Plus, as you may already know, I have a problem saying no. I’m a floor mat to the point that there’s permanent footprints across my backside.

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Little did I know that the restroom had been converted into their own personal dressing room until I saw the first of the barely covered, glitter-coated females come back through the store. I did a double take and tried to process what I was seeing.  I reasoned that maybe they were making another Twilight movie and I had just warped onto the set. “Twilight VI: Bella’s Gone Wild” or some such nonsense.

They were in a church, but they obviously either didn’t realize it, or didn’t care.

Customers wouldn’t even pull into the crowded parking lot to shop, and the ONE that did, gave a disgusted huff and made a hasty exit when one of the stripper wanna be’s pranced through the store. Not to mention, they had starting pulling the store chairs that I was trying to sell all over the place. A couple of them had been drug halfway across the parking lot.

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They finally got their show on the road at about 1:30. The mess they left behind in the bathrooms was like the aftermath of an explosion at Hobby Lobby. There was glitter and feathers everywhere. The sinks were caked with makeup and stray weave.

These people that hadn’t even asked for permission to be here in the first place, just showed up and left me with a huge mess. Was I being punked? I peeked around the corner to see if Ashton Kutcher was standing there laughing.

To top it all off, “gone by one” apparently hadn’t included their vehicles. They took up all of my customer parking. I really had no choice but to just close up for the day at that point. So I did, and took the next hour afterward to clean up the mess that they had left behind.

Pastor wasn’t happy when he found out that they had lied to him, and when all of their vehicles were still sitting there in the parking lot that night, he got into contact with someone in charge and firmly requested that they be removed.

And that was it.

I had thought that whole mess was just a distant memory.

Until today.

When I saw the truck with big speakers pull into the parking lot and start setting up, and a young lady with a glittery bra in her hand came around the corner and asked if she could use the restroom, I froze.

Oh no. No no no no no. I’m not going through this again.

So I called my husband.

“Do you know anything about these people having permission to be here this year?” I asked.

“I highly doubt it. Call the cops.” He replied.

Now, revert back to the part where I said I’m a huge, non-confrontational chicken. I really didn’t want to call the cops. I honestly didn’t want to deal with the situation again at all this year. I mean seriously. Again? They were gonna pull this…this taking over the place without permission stunt again?!

So I went and talked to one of the ladies that was helping hook up speakers on the bed of one of the trucks.

“Setting up for the Caribbean Parade?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am.”

“You know, you don’t have permission to be here right?”

“We don’t? Let me call the facilitator and find out what’s going on.”

She played dumb after she got off the phone.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I’m from out of town.”

“There’s a vacant lot right across the street. Ya’ll can’t move over there?” I asked

“No, we need to be on this side of the street.”

I was clearly going to get nowhere so I went back inside. The situation wasn’t out of hand like last year… yet. There were only 4 vehicles in the lot so far. No tents were set up, and no half naked people were running around the store or flopped in various chairs playing beauty parlor.

My husband kept urging me to call the police, and I kept stalling and making excuses. Then, a cop car pulled into the parking lot with lights flashing. Good, I thought. Either my hubby or Pastor must have done the dirty deed for me.

I peered out the window behind the desk and waited for the police man or woman to step out of the vehicle and handle the situation. And I waited. And waited. Nothing was happening. Then, while that nothing was happening, more people were starting to arrive. A truck pulling a flatbed trailer with huge speakers on it had pulled in and parked across the middle of the lot. Barely clothed, glittered and feathered women were pouring out of vehicles. Bass was bumping and drowning out my store music once again.

So, I heaved a sigh and headed toward the police car. The officer rolled down his window as I approached.

“Let me guess. Escorting the parade?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am, I am,” was his reply.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that these people don’t have permission to be here again this year, and they hadn’t asked permission before just showing up and using our facilities last year, either.”

“Well, I haven’t heard anything about that,” was his reply. “You’ll either have to talk to their facilitator and clear it up, or talk to Officer Grant who will be arriving soon.”

I said, “Look. Last year, they came in and ran my customers off and created a huge mess for me in there. We really don’t want them here.”

He suggested that I just go close the store to keep them out while they set up. Seriously? Helpful much? Welcome to Jacksonville.

He then pointed out Officer Grant arriving on scene, and suggested once again that I go talk to her…and so I did. She was very understanding and even looked slightly horrified that they had never bothered to call and get permission first. Finally, I’m getting somewhere.

She assured me that the entire entourage would be moved out to the street right away, but as she started to herd them out, they started multiplying like rabbits. I don’t think she ever fully got them all out of the lot before the parade started.

I was grateful for the effort on her part, though, and grateful that I didn’t have to keep dealing with them wanting to come in and trash the bathrooms to get ready. Or so I thought.

After their glittery bodies, clad in less material then I usually see covering folks at the beach, shuffled off down the road to the beat of the island music thumping through several sets of enormous speakers, I heaved a sigh of relief and headed off to use the restroom. I had been holding it for so long at that point that my teeth were starting to float.

When I got there, I found that the decorative candles had been knocked off the shelves and were now laying on the floor, along with glitter, feathers, and an empty panty-hose package. There was makeup smeared all over the sink. Apparently, some of them had snuck in while I was out trying to get the police to handle the situation.

I huffed irritably and went to find the broom.

At least all was quiet until closing after that.

I closed 15 minutes early anyway, and went home to nurse my throbbing headache.

I hope that the Caribbean crew at least learned a lesson in asking permission first this year, but I doubt it.

Until next time, readers: stay clothed.

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Oxymorons and Such

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I have admittedly been suffering from writers block for the last two weeks. Well that’s not entirely true, because the words still seem to flow when I’m given a topic assignment that interests me, so maybe writers block isn’t exactly what I’d call it. It’s more or less been a lack of imagination. Creative Constipation. I’ve simply had an inability lately to think up good writing topics on my own.

So, I’ll go to the Daily Prompt each day and look it over. Lately they haven’t appealed to me much, but occasionally I’ll say, “Ooo, that’s a good one.” Then I’ll get sucked into some TV series on Netflix, and writing goes out the window for the day. Sad, I know, but it happens.

I used to try and write something daily, but I’ve been pretty unmotivated for whatever reason these past couple of weeks, so it’s been more like twice a week. I suppose I can blame my allergies. I’ve had an almost continuous sinus headache that has kept me feeling pretty crappy and has sapped my focus.

When I have written lately, it’s usually turned out to be something sad and depressing. When I wrote the previous post, my husband came home that evening and said, “Would you warn me before you’re gonna post stuff that makes me cry? I can’t be bawling like a baby at work.”

He’s right. I have been getting further and further away from the lighthearted humor that I used to try to fit into all of my posts. I’d rather be funny than depressing. I was just trying to keep it real. Didn’t mean to make anyone shed tears on my account. Don’t cry my adoring fans, don’t cry. There, there.

I mean sure, it’s all true stuff about my life and the emotions that past events have brought about, but all one and a half of you don’t want that sappy junk. You want the good stuff. You’re humor junkies, shaking in the ultraviolet glow of your electronic devices until you get your next fix. “Show me the funny,” I can hear you say. I’m telepathic like that. I’m watching you with my mind’s eye right now. You’re looking good. Have you lost a few pounds? I have to be honest, though, pink isn’t your color, and it’s about time you had a haircut.

Anyway, in the interest of lightening the mood for a change, I thought I’d grace you with a few of the crazy things that my kids have done or said that have made me chuckle over the years. Having offspring, while a full time, exhausting job most days, isn’t without its entertainment value, after all.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were discussing the fact that my son will walk around with sticky, gooey hands and a dirty face, and it doesn’t bother him in the least. So, in an effort to sound all motherly and intelligent, she turned to him and said, “You’d better wash your hands more often, or you’ll get Glaucoma.” I about died laughing. She of course knows what that is now, and I, being the compassionate, loving mom that I am, bring it up from time and time just to agitate her. It always works. She’s easy to rile up, though. It usually takes little to no effort to push her buttons. I think it’s a redhead thing. Or maybe a teenager thing. Probably both.

Then a few months back, my husband, who refused to cut his hair for whatever reason, decided to slick back his unruly mane with hair gel one day. I looked at him on the ride home and said, “Nice hair.” He said, “You think? I was going for a Bella Lugosi look.” I responded with, “Well, I think you more or less have Fonzie pegged.” My son vehemently disagreed from the back seat. I said, “Son, do you even know who  Fonzie is?” “Yeah. He’s that guy from the Muppets,” he replied.  My husband and I both laughed out loud.

This is also the same boy that was bored one day while we were running the thrift store, so he decided to go out and dance in the rain with a stuffed buffalo. I peeked around the corner out of the big roll up door at him spinning around with his buffalo, and said, “Son, should you have that buffalo out in the rain?” His response to me was, “Yeah, it’s fine. He’s a water buffalo.” I love my son.

Many years ago, when my oldest step daughter was about 11, her younger brother decided to shut the door in her face while we they were getting out of the minivan. A small argument ensued between the 2 once she made it out of the vehicle, which resulted in her eventually calling him a ‘stupid genius.’ I looked at her and said, “He can’t be stupid and a genius. That’s an oxymoron.” She put her little hand on her hip, gave me a cocky glare, and said, “I am NOT a moron.” I laughed until my sides ached.

Several years later, we all went to Krystal after church to get burgers; all 7 of us. On our way out, that same child thought that one of the large, sectioned windows next to the door actually was the door, and walked right smack into it. She stood there for a second and then said, “Oh. This one must be locked.” The whole family witnessed this display, and we all burst out laughing. This resulted in my quick witted self turning the situation into a joke. “How do you confuse a blond?” I asked. “You put a window where a door should be!” Everyone laughed, but I got a slug in the arm for that one from the blond in question. That whole scene still haunts her from time to time to this very day. Only because I bring it up, of course.

My kids.

They’re crazy, but I love them, all five of them; two that I gave birth to and three that I married into. When we’re all out and about people will say, “Are all of those your kids?!” I just smile and say, “Yep, never a dull moment in my house.”

And I mean it.

Luxury? What’s that?

Daily Prompt: Luxurious

What’s the one luxury you can’t live without?

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Disclaimer: Due to the pathetic nature of this post, tears of pity for the author may be shed. Please have tissues on hand.

Luxury? What is that?

We pretty much live at poverty level with 5 kids. My husband is paid a fraction of what he should be making after 15 years of property management service with the company he works for. So, my idea of luxury probably isn’t what everyone else’s idea of luxury may be. I don’t think of luxury as fancy cars and expensive jewelry and the finer things in life. No, I consider luxury to be what others may just think of as standard living. I can’t pinpoint any one specific thing that I’d put above any others, though, so I’ll just list a few items that I consider to be luxuries.

Personal space. Now there’s a luxury. We live in a small 3 bedroom condo, which doesn’t seem bad in theory because we at least have a roof over our heads while many others don’t. It’s a nice place, too, so I’m not complaining about my home. It isn’t falling apart or run down or anything and it’s in a fairly decent area of the crime infested city we live in. However, when 3 teenage girls are crammed into a bedroom that isn’t even large enough to park a car in, it does become…problematic. The oldest is moving out next month, though, because she’ll be 18, so the 2 remaining girls will have a bit more space.

Then there’s food. Food is a luxury. This saddens me deeply, because I love to ingest food. What would I do for a Klondike Bar? Start selling off children or body parts because that’s about what it would take for me to get one.

We’re often forced to have small portions to make meals stretch, which often leads to whines and complaints from the kids because they’re still hungry after a meal. Well, of course they’re still hungry, they’re teenagers. They’d eat the furniture if it were deep fried and covered in ketchup.

We can’t afford decent food, either, because we’d have to take out a loan and put our vital organs up as collateral to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. No, we can only afford the cheap, unhealthy junk. Our weekly meals consist of stuff like hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, ramen, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and French fries. I can’t recall the last time any name brand items crossed our threshold, either. I have fantasies about Kraft macaroni and cheese, because that generic stuff, while not only a lovely shade of florescent orange when you mix in the powder, is like chewing on a dirty shoe. I stopped wondering why my intestines light up like a glow worm a long time ago, and assumed it must just be the generic macaroni and cheese.

Our kids are so sick of eating ramen for lunch every day (that isn’t an exaggeration), that they’ve started experimenting with different ways to make it. My daughter will boil it, microwave it, or sometimes fry it. She’ll mix it with teriyaki sauce, sugar, frozen vegetables, butter, or anything else she can think of to try. They have learned not to whine to my husband about how sick of it they are, though, after hearing, “You’ll eat anything if you’re hungry enough” any time that they do.

New clothing is a luxury, too. I have to admit, though, that it’s been nice working at a thrift store because we haven’t really had to worry about how we were going to get clothes for the kids. I’ll usually just tell them to bring in their outgrown items and exchange them for clothing that fits. We’ll be lost when we don’t have the thrift store helping us out with clothing anymore.

Now underwear, that junk is definitely a luxury. I’ve worn my sports bras right down to the point that they look like Swiss cheese. The elastic will be shot in my “drawahs” (that’s southern for underpants) and those suckers will be hanging to my knees before I finally get some new ones. Then my eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning when I get that new pack of Fruit of the Looms.

Having a laptop and Internet to go with it is beyond luxury. It’s straight up extravagance. Lucy, my beloved laptop, is getting up there in years though. She’s an old girl as far as computers go. She’s like…5 or something. She’s a hand-me-down from my husband because he needed a new laptop for work. I’m happy to have her, though, she’s my baby. My husband has thought about cutting off the internet a few times to save money, but we don’t have cable, so if he did that we might actually be forced to…oh I don’t know…have conversations or spend time together and junk. How horrible would that be?

We do get to go on a cruise at least once a year compliments of my husband’s company. That’s a huge luxury for us. They take us every October, so that trip is coming up, too. I’m excited.

Through all the things I’m lacking, though, I’m content. Contentment is being satisfied with what you have and not longing for more. I don’t sit around in misery all day and say, “I wish I had this or that”. I like my home. I like the things in it. Sure, the kitchen table is in rough shape, but I found a nice table runner at the dollar store. Problem solved. Man, have I learned to solve some problems over the years with nothing but spare change, too…

I don’t look at what other people are driving and long for something better, either. I like Bessie, my minivan with the wired on bumper from getting rear ended by a texting taxi driver. She’s a sturdy old gal. Now if I could just get my kids to stop thinking she’s a trash can and laundry hamper on wheels…

Sure I get frustrated sometimes if there’s a need that can’t be met financially. I haven’t been able to visit a doctor in years due to lack of insurance, which is hard because I’m getting older and problems that I’ve had for awhile are becoming more prominent. We just can’t afford insurance, though, and I don’t qualify for Medicaid. So, I suck it up and cope when I have a medical issue. Ibuprofin is one of my closest friends.

I’m sad for the kids more than anything because they’ve had to miss field trips, birthday parties, and other events due to our financial situation over the years. They’ve gone without birthday presents for as long as I can remember and have pretty meager Christmases sometimes because we just can’t afford to buy them luxurious things.

For the most part, they understand, though, and they don’t complain as often as they have reason to. I think they know that we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

We get by, and that’s what matters.

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