Wheye

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This is my 16 year old daughter’s latest creation that I thought I’d share. It amazes me what she can do already at 16, and I can only imagine what jaw dropping stuff she’ll bust out with another 5 years down the road.

She named her creation “Wheye”, because as she so aptly put it, “I have a lot of questions for this crazy world and it inspired me.”

Good job, Amber. Eye love it!

I’m very proud of you.

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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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Tales From The Thrift Store: A Member in the Hand is Worth a Guy in the Bush

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As I, Superhero Thrift Store Manager, arrived in Ghettoville Friday morning at 10 a.m. to open up as usual, I happened to glance off to my right and see something curious in the bushes. This was just after I finished cutting through the front door lock with my laser heat vision. Okay, okay, fine. You got me. I only turned the key. I did notice something off to the right that caught my attention, though.

Back in the corner, behind a series of bushes, I saw what appeared to be…a human head. It’s okay to freak out at this point. I did. Screamed like a girl and peed myself a little. Upon further investigation, though, the head happened to be attached to a body, and this body happened to be passed out across the top of a sleeping bag.

Yes, it was what it looked like. A squatter was camped out in our church shrubbery, clearly loitering, trespassing, and well…judging by the mess of trash that lay around him, littering, too.

So, I did what any red-blooded American would have done when faced with such a situation. I called the local law enforc…

Oh, come on. No I didn’t. I run a charity here. I went inside, grabbed a couple of bottled waters, a pop top can of ravioli, 3 Slim Jims, a Nutri Grain Bar, and went back out to rouse sleeping beauty. No kisses were doled out in this version of the story, though. I’m not THAT charitable.

He was a skinny Mexican gentleman. Or maybe Puerto Rican, I don’t know. I’m bad with nationalities. I once thought Michael Jackson was black. All I know is that this guy was maybe 5’7, dark haired, brown skinned, mustachioed, and weighed about 95 pounds soaking wet. He had his shirt and shoes off and was lying on his back across the top of his navy blue sleep sack, with his hand crammed firmly down the front of his pants and a death grip on his manhood.

I puzzled at his chosen slumber position for a moment before waking him. Was that for protection against any knife wielding maniacs that might happen upon him asleep there in the bushes, or was he merely having a pleasant dream? I gave a whistle to try and rouse him. He didn’t stir. Heavy sleeper, this guy. I yelled, “Good morning. Hey. Hello.” Loud enough that his bloodshot eyes finally started to open at a pace slow enough that one would have thought they were stuffed with peanut butter.

Now, you can call me stupid for approaching a sleeping homeless man all alone, but I think we’ve already established previously that I’m not always in the habit of thinking things through. Where others see danger, I simply see opportunities for charity. Yes, it may get me killed one day, but no one lives forever. If I’m going to go, I may as well go out giving.

Anyway, imagine his surprise when he opened his eyes to find a short, fat, white woman hovering over him. He quickly released his member, yanked his hand out of his pants, and proceeded to rub it across his sleep palsied face. Yeah. Eww. I caught the hint of panic in his suddenly fully awake and animated movements, so I said, “Whoa, whoa. It’s okay. I’m not about to call the police. We already knew you were back here.” Which was the truth, we did. Well, not him specifically, of course. One of our Deacons had discovered his belongings in the bushes a couple of weeks prior, and was going to speak with whomever the items belonged to about the litter around the little hidden campsite.  He never showed up that day, though, so that conversation was never had.

I handed him the food that I had brought him and said, “Here’s something for you to eat and some bottled water. You’re alright. Please, just clean up your litter, okay? If you want, you can come see me in the thrift store and help yourself to a change of clothes.” He responded with, “Okay. Thank you.”

He never came in to see me, and made himself scarce for the rest of the day.

So I went about my business parked lazily behind the thrift store desk, laptop open in front of me. Hey, I have no internet at the store, so writing is what I do to wile away the hours.

An hour or so after opening, a woman of about 70 came into the store to peruse the discount fodder. She was about my height, 5’2, with a chunky build, shoulder length white hair pulled back by a headband, stretchy black yoga pants, a grey t-shirt with the name of some charity foundation on it, a Rasta colored bracelet, funky beaded necklace, and tennis shoes. I looked down at my own stretchy black yoga pants, t-shirt, and tennis shoes, and back up at the lady who smiled at me from the back of the store. It was like I was looking into some crazy time lapse mirror. When she turned away, I elbowed my daughter and said, “I think I just caught a glimpse of my future.” She agreed that she had been thinking something along those lines, too. I gave a nervous laugh.

I went back to pecking at the keyboard with all the swiftness of a dying tortoise.

Then, later that afternoon, Queen Sneezy came in. I have never in my life heard a person sneeze that many times in a row. I stopped saying, “bless you” after about the 15th one. My daughter swears she lost count after 40. I was wondering if I was going to have to call the paramedics. If I did have to, what would I tell them? “Yeah. I have this lady here sneezing herself to death. Mouth to mouth? I don’t think so.”

I think the whole thing was Ray’s fault. Ray Darr. The world’s worst excuse for a pet rabbit. Now he’s trying to kill people with his dirty rabbit dander. We recently found out that he’s just a baby bunny because his little…okay enormous rabbit jewels finally dropped. We’re all still puzzling over that one. How could he be a baby when he’s bigger than some of the Great Danes in the neighborhood? Seriously. The earth shakes when this guy hops.

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See? This is what happens when we bring Ray to the store. He tries to kill people.

Anyway, that about sums up my Friday in the land of crazy.

Stay tuned for Saturday’s tales of Insanity.

Until next time, readers…stay out of the bushes.

Reflections of a Life Wasted

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I’m coming up on my 39th birthday here in…umm…

*Cue awkward silence as I count on my fingers and mumble under my breath, “Let’s see. Multiply by 5, subtract 96, carry the one and…*

5 days.

Now, there’s no big fuss made over a 39th birthday. It isn’t even a milestone event in one’s life. Next year, however, the big 4-0 will hop up and bite me in the backside like a snake that’s been hiding in the tall, overgrown grass of my life. I look toward this event with trepidation.

I guess the approach of what society has deemed to be the “over-the-hill” mark, rendering my last official year of youth as methodically ticking away, has caused me to really start reflecting back on my life. Replaying the mistakes that I’ve made. Weeding through the “what ifs”. Gritting my teeth against the “could-have-done-betters”.

I’m a dweller. I try not to be, and the Christian crowd will tell me that I shouldn’t be, but I’m just so very human. I think that mulling things over again and again and reworking them in my mind is probably in my blood. I can agree, though, that without God in my life now, I would have completely reverted back into my head and might otherwise be found drooling in a corner somewhere rocking and mumbling to myself. Clinging to faith and hope keeps me upright.

I didn’t always, though.

Fresh out of high school, I viewed the world as my playground and had very little determination to seize any kind of future for myself. I entered one scholarship contest to an art school that I was mildly interested in, but when I showed up with portfolio in hand, I took a look around at the other 300 applicants and their work, and was instantly discouraged. I packed up and left that day thinking much less of myself than I had when I woke up that morning. Afraid and unsure of my abilities from that point forward, the portfolio found its way into the back of my closet, thus closing the doors on any further attempts to try to be somebody and make a career stem from my talents. I never looked back again.

Instead I gave in to the calling of my social life, got a little apartment above a house lived in by the woman renting the place, and held killer parties. I figured maybe the parties were getting out of hand when people were vomiting out the windows onto her car below. She was understanding enough, though, and gave me the opportunity to stay as long as I toned it down.  Soon after, the roommate moved out, the boyfriend moved in, and I did behave; as much as a young single girl shacked up with her boyfriend possibly could, and for a while, at least.

I traded one boyfriend in for another when that one enlisted in the military. He was a good guy, but I was wild, free, and simply didn’t want to wait for him.  So out went the old, and in came the new. With the new, I fell instantly head over heels. Or so I thought. Reflecting on it now, I had no concept of what love really was back then.

Then the bad break-up happened and I ran from my hurt. I packed up my apartment, quit my job, stuffed anything that wouldn’t fit in my car into my parents’ basement, and took off to a place 8 hours north of home to escape seeing him. I had met some people there the summer before, and my grandpa had a cabin there that I broke into once I arrived. It was quickly discovered that I was staying there, though, and I was tossed out on my bad decision making backside.

After a month of living in my car because I had no other place to go, and a job that quickly went south because I either didn’t show up for my 12 hour shifts or came in hung over, I threw in the towel, pawned my entire CD collection for gas money, and went home.

I got my old job back. The boyfriend and I got back together. I became pregnant at 21, and we got married to the urgings of family members to “do the right thing.”

Well, the right thing essentially turned out to be the wrong thing.

At the ripe old age of 23 I was a divorcée that was looking for love in all the wrong places to try and ease my pain. I traveled in all the wrong circles and spent nights with forgettable men. Some of them so forgettable, in fact, that I couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names to begin with.

I had become your average barfly because I just couldn’t bear to sit home alone with my thoughts, wallowing in my self-pity, so I had sought out ways to drown them. Cheap alcohol and the attentions of the opposite sex became my crutch.

Until a long island iced tea bought for me by a dark haired stranger, and a one night stand, turned into ‘a regular thing’.

Age 26 then saw me stuck in a loveless relationship with an alcoholic compliments of my bar hopping habit, (and that long island) that thought nothing of disappearing on a drinking binge for an entire weekend, while I sat home wondering where he was with a 4 year old and another baby on the way. Well, what did I expect from a guy that I picked up in a bar?

I also had 2 abortions under my belt by this time. I wasn’t a Christian then, and in my panicked worldly ways and unwillingness to change, I did then what is now the unthinkable to me. Those uncaring and heartless murders have slowly gnawed away at me like a flesh eating disease for all of the years since. Anytime that word is even mentioned around me, it becomes a knife stabbing at my heart all over again.

So, age 27 found me deeply wounded by my own choices, with 2 different children by 2 different fathers, desperately trying to find a way out of the nightmare relationship that I was in. I tried the direct “get out” approach to no avail. He used the fact that I now had his child as an excuse to drag out the misery for both of us.

Once again I sought ways to drown my sorrows, this time settling on church and video games. I found God to the tune of the alcoholic’s snide, ridiculing comments, and I also found a virtual reality world where, for a while every night, I didn’t have to be me. I could forget how low my life had sunk.

It was through those online games that I finally found my current husband and rescuing hero, and how I coincidently was able to finally end the relationship I was in. He didn’t stick around long once I was finally able to profess my love for another. He then decided to deny our son out of his anger toward me. My husband has since stepped into the role as daddy, though, so my son’s biological father denying him hasn’t really affected him much. Yet.

My husband is one of the few things that I’ve done right in my life.

At 28 I married him on a cold January day to the joyous melody of everyone telling us that we were wrong. “It’s too soon. You barely even know each other,” they would say. The courtship started with his first pixelated words to me across my computer screen in September, ( ‘happy birthday’, coincidentally) and spanned over 4 months of nightly phone calls, webcam chats, and 2 visits in person. By the beginning of December, I was shopping for a wedding dress. Maybe we didn’t know each other completely yet, but we had the rest of our lives to get to that point. We knew it was right, and that’s all that mattered.

That marriage brought with it 3 young step-children. I admittedly haven’t always been the nicest person as far as they’ve been concerned. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, though. Likely petty jealousy over the attentions of my husband. I saw him as this treasure that I wanted to keep all to myself, and I didn’t realize for the first half of our marriage that I couldn’t. His youngest is very needy, too, when it comes to her father, so I’ve had to really struggle to work through my sharing issues.

I’ve tried to mend my relationships with them, with some success. They essentially tolerate me now, and the youngest one is even loving toward me, though she’ll argue with me ceaselessly over anything that I ask her to do. I think sometimes that it’s her way of showing animosity toward me brought about by past hurts, but then I realize that it just comes with the territory when you have teenagers.

Regardless, though, my husband was a package deal and it took me awhile to figure that out.

At age 35, I almost lost him. We were so heavy into our online gaming addiction that we had fallen away from church, and each other. In our emotional separation due to distraction, I regrettably strayed. He gave me a choice to leave or stay. I stayed, and it took hard work on both of our parts to make our marriage fully functional again. Counseling. Church. New friends that were good for us. Turning away from our addiction and turning to God.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my lifetime thus far. Lord knows I have. They weigh on me like chains draped across my shoulders at times.

Sometimes I think to myself, “You never went far. You never made a name for yourself. You really have nothing to show for your life but a barrage of bad choices. That’s your legacy.

Then I look at my daughter, who’s about to turn 17, and my son who’s about to turn 12, and it seems like only yesterday, but in another dimension entirely, that I spent 19 and 22 hours respectively in sweating, screeching labor to bring them into this world…

And now my daughter will sit and talk to me and confide in me like I’m her friend…

And my son will hug my waist and hang there like a boy-sized belt…

And my husband will wraps his arms around me and kiss my forehead…

And my step daughter will call me beautiful…

And I’m assured that they all love me in spite of me…

And I feel safe from not only the world, but my own tendencies toward destructive behavior…

And I’m reminded that I’ve made it this far…

And I know I did something right in the midst of my messes…

And everything is okay…

So that brings us to the here and now. Time isn’t stopping, and it certainly isn’t slowing down. I am older and I am wiser, but my life will likely never be mistake free. I’ll keep on making them, but they’ve at least been getting noticeably smaller over the years.

I’ll wish me a happy birthday this year, and my biggest gift will be the knowledge that I’m a survivor.

Of myself.

Opinions Are Like…

Businessman with Taped Mouth

In today’s world, with all of the different social media and just plain social platforms available, there’s all of these wonderful opportunities for the people that we know and love (some by default because they’re family) to annoy us.

I have one. You have one. That friend, relative, acquaintance, person that we exchange pleasantries with in a hallway or share a crowded elevator with on a daily basis, that feels the need to chime in on every single subject. Their voice simply must be heard, and they view every word that comes from your mouth or keyboard as their own personal debate forum.

I, in fact, know several of those people. The ones that you silently wish came with a mute button or that you’d like to block from interacting with you at all about 95% of the time, but can’t for whatever reason.

Or maybe you ARE one of those people. Society’s Know-it-alls.

Well, folks, you know what they say about opinions.

It just so happens that I have a few points to make on the subject. An opinion on opinions. Friendly advice for those people that couldn’t keep a thought to themselves even if they had their lips stapled shut and their hands tied behind their backs. They would still find a way to add their 5 cents to everyone else’s statement , because 2 cents is just never enough.

Point #1: Did I ask?

So, Heywood U. Hush posted this statement as his Facebook status:

Boy, it sure was a hot one today.”

Anita B. Heard then chimes in with something along the lines of:

“Well, hot is actually no longer the politically correct term to use while discussing thermogenic atmospheric climate conditions. Due to a 3.4 percent increase in global warming temperatures over the past 2.4 years, scientific studies that pertain to planetary heating increases have found that…”

Whoa. Slow your roll there, Einstein. No one asked for you to deliver an entire dissertation on heat waves. Seriously.

I stopped reading that reply after the first 4 words. There wasn’t even a question mark at the end of the original status, so what made you think that such a simple little statement was even open to some lengthy opinion in the first place?

That’s one of those statuses that you simply like, or if you’re absolutely bursting at the seams with your non-stop need to interject, make it something short, sweet, and to the point:

“I agree. My sweat was sweating today,” or, “I disagree. I found it to be quite pleasant.”

Then leave it at that.

Now, had the original poster actually wanted a lengthy opinion that opened the floor to some major debate on global warming and political correctness, they might have written something more along the lines of:

Boy, it sure is a hot one today. What do you all think?”

Instead, you added your opinion where it wasn’t even needed or asked for.

There’s a time and place to give in to your incessant need for debate, learn it.

Point #2: Gauge Intellect.

Heywood U. Hush: “Boy it sure was a hot one today.”

Anita B. Heard: “Actually, as stated in the popular publication, “Theories of Relativity in Direct Relation To Recalescent Climate Conditions”, the heat index connected with a substantial zephyric density of the atmospheric stimulation within the tidal pull caused by the oceanic pressures created by a solar anomaly is simply just a matter of human perception pertaining to the overall ventillatory limitations created when the planetary temperatures rise above and or exceed those within certain levels of anthropomorphic comfort.”

What.

Is there a translator somewhere that I can download for junk like this?

A reply like this may be perfectly acceptable amid the group of uptight brainiacs that you meet with for coffee every other Tuesday, but you just lost everyone else.

When you deliver a response like that to a person that functions on about the level of “I can haz words” you’re just making yourself look like an idiot, rather than impressing them with what you are so certain is your superior intellect.

It’s great that you have an I.Q of one million, but by all means, feel free to dumb down your frequent little impromptu lessons for those of us that don’t care to waste our precious time trying to decipher what you just said.

Point #3: Don’t be That Guy.

Heywood U. Hush: “Boy it sure was a hot one today.”

I. M. Happy: “It sure was, but summer is just the best. I love to spend time at the beach and in the pool, don’t you?”

Heywood U. Hush: “I’m still on the fence about beach trips. Last time I was there, I think a seagull took off with my beach towel! LOL!”

Anita B. Heard: “Actually, due to the disproportionate size of a seagull’s beak in relation to the overall mass of the rest of its body, it is theoretically impossible for a seagull to carry anything larger than a small fish or item weighing more than 25 grams.”

Well thank you, Professor Killjoy. You just went and ruined a perfectly good conversation that 2 other people were enjoying because you just couldn’t refrain from adding your 2 literal cents.

Learn when not to jump in, or at the very least, learn when someone is simply trying to make a joke and doesn’t require the use of your automatic humor correct.

Life can be fun, Opinionheads. Learn to have some.

The bottom line here is this: Your opinion isn’t always wanted, nor does it always matter, especially when you’re constantly forcing it upon everyone that dares to make a statement in your presence. Take a step back and see the big picture. Do you tend to shoot down more conversations than a band of plaid-clad mountaineers at a quail hunt?

If you’ve been feeling socially isolated, there may be good reason for everyone’s withdrawal from your opinionated presence.

Kenny Roger’s once said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to speak, and know when to shut up.”

Okay, well maybe he didn’t use those exact words, but you get the point.

Until next time, readers…

Stay Unopinionated.

Oh Stop. On Second Thought…Don’t.

award-pic-e1367140951374

So it happened again today.

This award winning thing is practically an epidemic. We keep passing it around in certain circles like a bad case of measles.

I’m flattered, though…and so shocked that I was nominated for not one but 2…count them…2 shiny virtual honors today that I almost choked on my cherry limeade.

I’m going to try to roll both acceptance speeches into one here, because well…I’m lazy. So lazy, in fact, that my pet rock has more ambition than I do. He’s way cuter, too. Now if I could just housebreak him…

Anyway, from my newfound penning pal Alienora over at alienorajt, I received this snazzy new ego booster:

liebster

And from my long lost sist…blogger type person that I just met but find to be pretty awesome, Margaret over at Along Life’s Road, I received… a brand new car! Or not. Dare to dream. This little pride promoter isn’t bad, though. I’ll take it!:

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Many thanks for the awards, ladies! I didn’t realize that I was paying you enough to read my ramblings and promote them, too!(Your checks are in the mail, by the way.)

So as far as acceptance speeches go, I guess I should start out by thanking the little people: smurfs, fairies, gnomes, Lilliputians…though I really don’t know what they ever have to do with anyone’s success. Why does everyone thank them again?

I’d also like to thank everyone that keeps liking and following my mindless musings, thus making my ego so big that it can no longer fit through my front door. I have to blog on the lawn in a tent now. Thanks guys.

I’d also like to thank that really big bug that lives in my shower. He’s been a huge help in getting me to this point in my virtual success. I couldn’t have done it without him.

Now then, let’s get down to business.

For this Liebster thingy, the rules are as follows:

You must link back the person that nominated you.
You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers.
You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

The other award doesn’t seem to come with a set of guidelines to follow other than nominating 10 people that you feel are deserving of the honor.

So, I’m just going to kill 2 birds with one stone, here, (again with the lazy. Look it up in the dictionary, my picture is there) and pick 10 bloggers out of the infinite number that I follow to give both awards to. It’s going to be tough. There will be tears. Mostly mine because I can’t just nominate them all, but still…I may have to just put all of you in a boxing ring and make a death match out of this. Last 10 standing get chosen!

I won’t, though. I’m a nice enough nutcase that I can think stuff like that with no follow through.

Anyway, here goes:

Cue Miley Cyrus…no, wait, she’s off somewhere making an idiot of herself…cue Chris Evans to center stage with the envelope of award nominees. After getting down on one knee and publically proposing marriage to my best friend, which she joyfully accepts (she’ll appreciate this, trust me), and after a lengthy kiss in front of millions of viewers, (sorry, ladies!) Chris rips open the envelope, turns to the camera and in a deep sultry voice says,

“And the nominees are:”

1. Artsy Susie. She’s my bestie, and blogger extraordinaire.

2. Freak of Fandom. A take on life through a fangirl’s eyes.

3. It’s a Wonderful F’N Life. She weaves amazing stories with pictures.

4. katzrambles. All kinds of fun rambles.

5. beautify inside and out. A fabulous new blogger. Let’s show her some love!

6. Oldest daughter & Redheaded Sister. A little of everything and a wonderful read!

7. I Left My DNA There. Passionate about travel? Let’s bring this site some followers!

8. Quarter Life Lauren. She’ll make you chuckle AND make you think.

9. Let There be Peace on Earth. Peace, poems, and passion.

10. Walk the Self-Talk. Well written short stories and positive thinking!

A big round of clap for these amazing writers!

Okay now, for these 10 questions. Ya’ll are gluttons for punishment, aren’t ya? Alright, you asked for it:

1. What was your first memory?

Choking on a gumball at the Laundromat. My mom and the attendant lady each took a leg, turned me upside down, and proceeded to beat me senseless until it came out. Heimlich who?

2. What is your favorite color?

Green. Not that terrible florescent junk that goth people put in their hair, though. I Like a deep, sexy forest green. A lime green isn’t bad when paired with purple, either.

3. What kind of music do you like best?

The kind with words. Hey, I’m easy.

4. What musical instrument/s do you play?

A finely tuned, cherry red, black and gold accented, autographed by the great Gene Simmons of Kiss, Fender Electric…nothing. I play nothing. Unless a fork counts as an instrument. I took clarinet for like 2 weeks in 8th grade but dropped out because practice started too early in the morning and I wanted to sleep in. Hey, I never said my laziness was a new development.

5. What is your all-time favorite film?

Frequency. The idea of being able to get in touch with one’s dad in the past is intriguing to me. If I could do that, I’d say something along the lines of. “By the way, don’t use your toothbrush. The dog had bad breath.”

6. Who is your favorite fairy tale character?

The Swedish Chef. Okay, maybe Muppets weren’t fairy tales, but still…you can’t deny his awesomeness!

7. Who do you love most in the world?

Okay, I gotta get serious for just a sec and say that God always comes first. After that, it’s a tossup between my hubby and myself. Let’s go with him, he’s cuter and cooks better.  

8. Read or watch television?

TV, of course. What is this “read” business you speak of? Never heard of it.

9. What is the very best thing about you?

I have this funky brown stripe that goes down my thumbnail. It’s actually embedded in it. I don’t know where it comes from or why it’s there, but it’s pretty cool and my kids are fascinated by it.

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10. What made you become a blogger?

This goes back to the bug in my shower. He threatened me. Said he would move all 1,586,970,584 members of his family into my house if I didn’t do it.

Well then. Without further ado, my questions for the nominees are as follows:

1. If you were the last person on earth, which food would you wish to have an endless supply of?

2. Which of the following celebrities would you like to grab hold of, shake, and scream, “You’re ruining your life!” at?
a)Lindsay Lohan  b)Amanda Bynes  c)Miley Cyrus  d)All of the above

3. How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

4. If you could be any animal, which would it be and why?

5. Will Ferrell, or Will Smith?

6. Do public restrooms creep you out?

7. What’s the first thing you’d do if you had a million dollars?

8. French toast, French fries, or French bread?

9. You’re running late for an appointment and you come upon a turtle that’s trying to make its way across a busy street. Do you:
a) Pull over, run out into the street when it’s clear, snatch up the turtle and bring him safely across;
b) Keep on truckin’ along. You’re not one to be late…for anything;
c) Decide that he’d make a great stew and toss him in the trunk of your car.

10. You rub your hands against your starbucks cup to warm them, and a genie pops out. She declares that you’ve been granted 3 wishes, and that your macchiato is a little bland today. What do you wish for?

 There you have it, folks. Now please excuse me while I go squirt acid into my eyes because I just witnessed another Miley VMA video.

Ta ta!