Lost It

You should start writing again they say.

Well, “They” say a lot, and I generally shrug off what “They” say with my usual degree of self- absorbed laziness and a plethora of not-so-well thought out excuses, but maybe “They” have a point.

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There’s an age old saying that probably dates back to Old Testament times when God granted Moses the power to do some stuff, and he responded with “Nuh uh. I can’t do that stuff…” To which God replied, “I gave you the ability to do stuff, Moses, now go forth and do some stuff….’cuz if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”

Or something like that.

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If you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

There they are. Those ancient, dusty words…

And maybe I have lost it.

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Oops. Wrong kind of “lost it”.

Anyhow, at times I can almost physically feel it slipping away…that passion I once had for weaving random verbiage into something mildly entertaining, the way that a kindergartner might weave some fuzzy strips of overstuffed, booger-laden yarn into a pot holder for Mother’s Day. It’s at those times that I give in to the self doubt, and then mentally beat myself up with the assurance that it’s most certainly gone by now…

But then, here we are, and just like that rambunctious little monster that hasn’t been quite right in the head since he was old enough to talk simply has to stick his tongue on the electric fence just to see what happens, I, of course, have to find out.

Who knows? Maybe I do still harbor a glimmer of that former key-stroking glory that once had my adoring one and a half fans so enraptured by my oozing charm and insatiable wit…

Or maybe it’s just a slow night for prime-time programming.

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At any rate, let’s consider this a little “stick my toe in the water” test to see if it’s warm enough to dive back into this vast blog ocean once again.

I’ll either sink or swim.

Or get eaten by something really big with sharp teeth.

So check in occasionally for random (and probably highly infrequent because the crazy lady now has a full time job) installments of really inane babbling that will probably leave you having “lost it” yourself.

Until next time…

Here’s a napkin.

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Sop up that drool.

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Happenings in the Hood: Weave Got a Problem

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If you’ve been following along at all with the insanity that is my life, you’ll have read about the antics of one very umm…”special” woman in this story:

Happenings in the Hood: Entitled Much?

In a nutshell; I was still painting after regular work hours to finish a job one night when this woman that I had never met before saw me through the open window, and decided to make a very rude and ridiculous request…no…demand of me. She expected me to drop what I was doing; a job that needed to be finished yesterday, and paint her bedroom door because it was a beautiful natural wood color and she wanted it white. After arguing with me for several minutes, (actually, she argued. I responded very politely) I didn’t meet her demand and she stomped off cursing at me and calling me things colorful enough to make a street thug blush.

She proceeded to cause such a big stink over such a silly little thing, that the next day found her hurling obscenities across the parking lot at the Assistant Manager. Over a door. She was in and out of the office after that, still yelling and carrying on. My husband, (the Manager) told her that it was not an emergency and we would get to it as soon as we could. That wasn’t good enough, though, and she was still being so obnoxious about the whole thing, outside screaming in the parking lot, trying to attract attention and get other residents involved, that I was finally told to just go paint her door to shut her up. I haven’t wanted to do a job less in my life.

All was quiet after that, though. Painting her door seemed to have appeased her.

For about 2 weeks.

Now, I had already known that after that whole door fiasco we hadn’t heard the last of her. Call it a gut feeling. She just seemed rather…no…extremely unhinged and if she could get that wound up over a door, I could only imagine what would happen the next time something ruffled her entitled feathers.

Believe me, she didn’t disappoint either.

This past Tuesday, as I was engrossed in a new painting assignment, I heard such loud yelling outside that I assumed the closed windows in the apartment had suddenly turned into paper.

So I, being nosier than the cat that curiosity killed, went outside to investigate. I dialed my husband in the office as I went to let him know that a fight was ensuing somewhere on property. He assured me that he already knew and was about to come handle the situation.

The source of the yelling was coming from 2 buildings away. Miss Entitled was yelling obscenities at another woman in the breezeway and repeatedly screaming, “I want my money, I want my money.” So, naturally, I had assumed that this whole argument started over borrowed cash that hadn’t been paid back yet.

Wrong.

Apparently her very loud demand was aimed at my husband, who had still not come out of the office, but she was screaming these words at her neighbor across the hall.

You see, her mother had paid her rent several months in advance and Miss Entitled now wanted a refund so that she could move out. She wanted to leave because her neighbor had ticked her off. Given her recent history of unreasonable anger though, I wasn’t surprised that she was on the outs with her neighbor.

To get the full impact of the ridiculousness of the situation, though, I’ll need to backtrack to the previous Sunday when the fight had originally started. The following information was given to me by my husband as he received it from witnesses in the building and the innocent party that was involved:

Her neighbor went to start her car that day only to find that her battery was dead. So, she knocked on Miss Entitled’s door and asked if she would be willing to give her a jump start. Miss Entitled proceeded to launch herself into a fit of rage over the request. Her neighbor slowly backed away and said, “Nevermind. It’s fine. I can ask someone else to do it.”

It didn’t end there, though. Miss Entitled was relentless and started waging a half-crazed war against her neighbor that resulted in her wielding a knife and threatening to kill her, her kids, and her boyfriend. Her neighbor naturally called the police and was holed up in her apartment out of fear until they arrived, which was just in time to find Miss Entitled out in the parking lot attempting to slash her neighbor’s car tires with the knife that she was brandishing.

Miss entitled was arrested, and spent the next 24 hours in county lock-up. I had heard that her mother had paid her bond, which must have been true because here she was again, right back at it.

I couldn’t make out every word that she was screaming at her neighbor because a lot of it just didn’t make sense, but I’m pretty sure more death threats were wedged in among the stream of continuous profanity.

All of the sudden, I saw her neighbor come flying across the hallway with catlike swiftness and arms flailing so wildly that it looked like she had stumbled into a swarm of bees.

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For the next 3 minutes or so, all I saw was a blur of weave and 3 inch nails. I have to admit, I was highly entertained. If I were a betting woman, my money would have been on the neighbor.

I called my husband back and said, “You’d better get a move on. Things just turned physical.”

He came rushing out the door and yelled to his maintenance man across the parking lot to call the cops and come help him break it up.

His maintenance man was already one step ahead of him, though, and the cops were on their way.

When the 2 were finally separated, Miss Entitled came crawling out of the breezeway, most of her weave dangling off her head by the few strands that didn’t get pulled out, yowling like a cat in heat and screaming “Owwww! Ouch! Owwww!” at the top of her lungs to try and elicit sympathy from the parking lot full of onlookers that were now gathered to witness the event.

I have never seen such a pathetic display of drama in my life. It was clear that she was nowhere near injured except for maybe her pride, but she carried on as if every bone in her body had been broken.

It was about that time that it was made known that the police were on their way, which resulted in Miss Entitled switching gears and now walking around the parking lot yelling, “I ain’t goin’ back to jail. I just got out. I ain’t goin’ back!” I remained the innocent bystander, of course, but I wanted to yell back at her, “Then stop doing stupid stuff!”

I half expected her to take off knowing that the police were now en-route, but she stuck around and stood her ground on the false assumption that her neighbor would be the one being hauled away this time because she had thrown the first punch.

She spent the remainder of her time in my husband’s face screaming, “I want my money!” again until the cops came.

When the police finally showed up and got the story from the parties involved and several witnesses, they cuffed Miss Entitled and loaded her up in the cruiser again to the tune of her admonitions that it should be her adversary in the cuffs instead of her.

They booked her again on harassment charges though, and deemed that her neighbor was merely exhibiting self-defense because she, her children, and her family were once again being threatened by Miss Entitled.

She was released on bond paid yet again by her mother, (I’m seeing a pattern emerge with this entitled behavior here) and my husband received a call that night from the after-hours emergency service, informing him that she didn’t have her keys to get into her apartment. After asking the service to let her know that it was a $20 charge to go unlock her door, (as stated in the lease) he never heard back from her again that night.

The next day I showed up to work to find her back at it a third time. She was stomping back and forth between the office and her neighbor’s apartment, beating on her neighbor’s windows, screaming obscenities and calling her colorful names. I even shot some video on my phone of her carrying on. Fortunately, her neighbor wasn’t even home this time, though.

Come to find out, the night before, her apartment door had been kicked in and her TV was stolen.

This somehow became my husband’s fault, too, as she stood out on the sidewalk cursing his name at the top of her lungs, and screeching the accusation that he worked together with her neighbor to break in and steal her TV. Somehow the price of the TV went up with each accusation she hurled, too, until she decided that $2000 dollars was a reasonable price that my husband owed her for the 50 inch flat screen Wal-Mart special that everyone already knew her boyfriend broke in and took the night before.

We’re all fairly certain that she herself even orchestrated the theft. She was just trying to cause another scene now for whatever reason. Maybe somewhere in her delusional mind she actually though that she’d receive some sort of settlement cash from the office for her missing TV.

She was more or less told to take her complaints elsewhere by the Assistant Manager, though. She then busted out a window of a different neighboring apartment in her anger, and that’s when the police were called. Again.

They didn’t book her this time, though, probably because they were just as sick of listening to her as we all were, so they told my husband to just hand her walking papers right then and there.

The usual procedure is that he gives problem residents like this is a 7 day notice “without opportunity to cure”. This basically means they have 7 days to pack up their crap and be gone and there’s nothing that they can say or do about it, or else he starts eviction proceedings that will go on their permanent rental history. They’ll then be lucky to have anyone rent to them again if it goes to eviction.

However given the recent antics of this off-the-rails ghetto princess, the police told him to make an exception. He gave her written notice that she had until the end of the business day to get a U-haul and go.

So she did; relatively quietly, too, much to our shock. We all stood and waved goodbye with smiles on our faces as she and her U-haul drove off that afternoon. I did a little happy dance and went back to work.

My husband had 5 different residents come in and thank him for her removal that afternoon.

She hadn’t made any friends during her less than 2 month stay in the hood it seems.

I still wish her best of luck, though, and some much needed medication wherever she goes.

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.

The Rubber Band Effect Has Snapped

Well, here we are again.

Willie Nelson sang a hit song back in his glory days that pretty much sums up this situation. ‘On the Road Again’ is what we are, although I’m not entirely sure that I agree with the ‘just can’t wait to get’ part. The Hubster and I, 3 kids, and Ray Darr, the rabbit that even Elmer Fudd wouldn’t bother to chase, all stuck in a vehicle for 19 hours. No, this is definitely not ranking high on my list of formulas for fun and excitement. I put the experience on par with…oh…stapling my eyelids to my bottom lip. I have my feet comfortably propped up on the dashboard, though. My hubby absolutely loves it when I do that.

Ray smells like onions and armpit, as usual, therefore, the aroma wafting toward me from the back of the minivan is about the equivalent of a Saturday night Rave party at a Taco Bell. There has to be something wrong with this rabbit.  I’ve raised rabbits before. The cute little, fluffy, cuddly dwarf ones, though. I suppose the fact that Ray is a massive, hulking beast might explain the reason for his enormous stench. He’s so large, that my mom and dad’s 5 full grown Collies ran in fear when we first let him out of his cage. We’re thinking of investing in a saddle and riding him, since gas prices are so high.

Needless to say, Ray did have a big-time bunny blast on this trip, being a general nuisance and doing what rabbits do. See for yourself:

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Rotten Ray strikes again.

Good ol’ Ray Darr. My dad will likely be filling in yard holes for the next week or two. The local gopher population is probably scratching their fuzzy little heads right now and thinking, “What in the world? This is not our handy work.”

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The aftermath. Well, some of it, anyway.

So…

My husband swears by what he calls “The Rubber Band Effect.” That’s where it supposedly always takes less time getting back to point A from point B than it originally took to get to point B to begin with, like a rubber band snapping back into place after it’s been stretched out. I think it might just be wishful thinking on his part. We won’t be proving his theory correct this time, anyway, thanks mostly in part to yours truly.

Here’s a tip for you future travelers out there: Don’t eat greasy carnival food the night before you have to embark on an excruciatingly long road trip. We’ve had to stop every 45 minutes since we left 8 hours ago, and I’ve left a wake of destruction behind in several McDonald’s restrooms along the way. I’ll just leave it at that. I’m sure your imagination can fill in the rest. You can thank me later for imparting this helpful information.

I have to admit, though, that the Pronto Pups might just have been worth the pain.

What is a Pronto Pup, you ask? Well, let me show you:

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Hellloooo Gorgeous x 3!

Now then. Let me explain the awesomeness that can only be summed up as local legend and Yankee tradition in the town where I was born and raised. Don’t you dare say that it’s ‘just a corn dog’, either.

The quaint little waterfront stand that sells these delicacies hasn’t changed a bit in the 66 years since the amazing Chuck Nelson sold his first secret recipe serving of awesome on a stick. The stand is still family owned and operated today by Chuck’s son, Carl, and Carl’s wife and kids.

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The Famous Pronto Pup Stand

In the summertime, people flock in droves from miles around, even from the neighboring towns, to partake of the yumminess that is the Pronto Pup. The line usually spans at least a city block or more. If you mention the name of this tasty treat to anyone within a 50 mile radius, they immediately know what you’re talking about and have likely eaten one…or one hundred… in their lifetime.

They’re made with top of the line frankfurters flown in in huge quantities. When the stand first started, Chuck had searched the world over to find the perfect frank. Many years ago, the brand that he used was discontinued, so, once again, he searched high and low to find a match to his traditional dog. He finally found one that came pretty close, and, because his little stand was so popular with the locals, he sold SO many of them that the owners of the frankfurter company flew in to see exactly who was purchasing such a massive amount of weenies. They took one look at the itty bitty waterfront hovel and said, “are you serious?!”

Now, years later, this little seasonal stand is still so insanely popular, that they open up for one week during the winter so that their thousands of demanding fans can get their Pronto Pup fix. You can get them naked, with ketchup, with mustard, or both. I opted for just ketchup. I’m such a rebel, what can I say…

In other, not so amazing news, I did realize on this trip that my teenage girls believe that they are supermodels, and any and every new location that they set foot upon instantly becomes the setting for an impromptu photo shoot:

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Amazing Amber

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Glorious Grace

Oh em gee, mom…Instagram…helllooo!

Apparently, to the under 18 crowd, I’m what you’d call “lame”. This point was proven true when the girls were floating around on rafts in front of the dock, and I said, “Come on, ya’ll. Get out of my fishin’ hole,” to which my daughter responded with, “Geez mom, give us a sec.” Without really thinking it through, I said, “I’ve given you lots of secs.” This resulted in 4 sets of jaws hanging agape for a second or two. I say 4 sets because those within ear shot not only included the girls, but also my son, and Matt; the teenage neighbor boy that followed the girls around ceaselessly, and that I now apparently looked like an idiot in front of. Their shocked expressions were immediately followed by peals of uncontrollable laughter from them, and a really red face from me. Rotten kids. They know what I meant!

Well then. I have to admit that I slightly dread walking in the door when I get home. The bugs probably realized that we were gone after the first 24 hours and threw a wild party. The spiders likely tipped off the cockroaches, and then things got completely out of hand I’m sure.

I can’t wait to crawl into my big, comfy, king sized 4 poster bed, though. I’ve missed my mattress. Well, my back has missed my mattress, anyway. I think that through a sleep induced haze I vaguely recall a caveman standing over my parents’ guest bed demanding his boulder back.

As far as I’m concerned, aside from unpacking Ray Darr and his rabbit paraphernalia, the rest can wait until my bed and I get reacquainted for a while. That could take at least a day or 2.

Don’t wait up!

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?

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.

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.