Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Freak Out

Life advice from Abby:

sweat

I would like to think I never overreact.

It’s not true, but I would like to think that about myself. The truth is that sometimes something like my spoon falling into my oatmeal can garner the same reaction from me as having to go to the hospital again or call a guy to remove a raccoon from my chimney–all three things that have happened entirely too much these past couple months. 

SPOON INTO THE OATMEAL, PEOPLE. 

Anyway, because I’m a helper, I decided to create a guide of sorts with a few questions you can ask yourself the next time you feel like flying off the handle.

Are you in the pasta aisle of the grocery store?

Good call. Pasta is delicious, but this is a maniacal maze of shapes, sizes, and sometimes even colors that if considered for too long, will drive even the most sane person to madness.

Do you want long or short? Small, medium, or large shells? Ziti? Rotini? Penne? Elbow? Bow tie? I DON’T KNOW I JUST WANT TO SMOTHER IT IN PESTO!

What to do:

Keep your eye on the prize–pasta, pesto, and other edible things that may or may not start with “p.”

Consider 1) the damage-to-clothes-while-consuming ratio–what affords you the least chance of spillage, 2) how much fork work you want to do –longer means more twirling while short means more stabbing and 3) why no one has invented macaroni made out of cheese in the first place.

Are you running?

Are you attempting to move at a rapid pace while wearing neon spandex? Are your muscles burning, along with your lungs and calories you just consumed from inhaling the eight pounds of pasta you just made because you can never figure out the right serving size? 

What to do:

Unless you are being chased by a wild animal, just stop. While physical exercise is vital, jarring your body up and down on hard pavement is not. No one should have to endure that. Cease and desist immediately. Take off your Nikes, post on social media about how you just went for a run, and nama-stay on the couch in corpse pose to recover. Power yoga for the win!

Are you dealing with Comcast?

Have you been on hold for 45 minutes? Are you refreshing your browser every .03 seconds and restarting your router only to get the same browser error? THIS IS A LEGIT REASON TO PANIC!!!

What to do:

Unfortunately, there are some things out of your immediate control, and you will probably find yourself going through the five stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance–while on hold for the third hour. This is natural. Let it happen.

When you’re finally connected to a person who assures you that they’re working on the problem, let them know you’ll be “working” on paying your bill whenever you get around to it. Once your connection is restored, be sure to make at least four jokes about “Comcrap” on social media. This appeases the gods.

Are you reading an inspirational quote?

Are there uncomfortable words like, “success” and “motivate” or reference to “Keeping Calm and Doing Something Completely Random” shared by someone you thought as a “friend?”  You might be reading an inspirational quote.  

What to do: 

Distance yourself from that person immediately. Block. Unfriend. Do what you have to do to remove yourself from that situation. You don’t need that kind of pressure in your life, especially if you’re shopping for pasta that night. . 

Are you driving?

Are you behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, minding your own business and putting down an awesome version of Uptown Funk to the zero passengers in your car? Are you the only effing person on the planet who knows how to slightly lift one finger to use a turn signal or go the speed limit in the left lane OH MY GOD YOU DON’T HAVE TO BRAKE WHEN YOU’RE MERGING ONTO THE HIGHWAY!

What to do: 

Actually, if you’re already yelling that at a high volume and using selective hand gestures as you pass the idiot driving with their head up their ass, you’re already doing okay. Gold star. Keep those roads safe. 

Were you eating and now you’re not eating? 

Scene: You were eating. You reached for what you thought was the last bite of food, only to realize you had already eaten the last bite of food and now you’re so emotionally unprepared that you don’t know what you can do. Now you’re not eating. Now you’re sad. 

What to do: 

Wipe the tears and the crumbs from your face, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation. Is there possibly a piece of pita you dropped on the couch? Maybe under your napkin? If not, I suggest you go towards the light, and by that I mean the light in your fridge.

Remember, hummus is the spackle that can fill a hole in your heart.

If after asking these questions you still feel like freaking out, just make sure to do it loudly and in a public setting so we can enjoy the show. I’ve found sometimes people will even throw you some tips. I’ve made $24 this year alone which is enough for a cart full of pasta…

BUT OH MY GOD WHAT KIND?!? Here we go again.  

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

This Is a Cry for Yelp

I’ve never used Yelp, the site dedicated to “connecting people and businesses” based on user reviews. This is mostly because I rarely go places that would require a review to convince me to visit them and also because most people who write online reviews sound like the kind of people I would find in Walmart wearing pajama pants, a paper tiara, and Crocs. 

But with that said, I thought it would be interesting to find out just how I would be viewed Yelp-wise from the perspective of those who are forced to spend the most time with me–the things in my house. 

FRIDGE

User: Fridge

The ambiance is a bit like a disco–light goes on, light goes off, light goes on, light goes off. I don’t really know what goes on out there, but she always dances around when she sees me. As for the food, it’s good and vegan so you can always throw that into conversation when you want people to leave you alone. And she keeps things nice and clean, often bringing home new additions to my shelves like a lion proudly bringing home prey. 

Given the amount of time she spends with me, she could probably learn to cook like an Iron Chef instead of someone who uses the smoke detector as her kitchen timer. All in all though, 3/4 stars.  

User: Vacuum

Now I realize that I was brought here to do a job, but honestly, being told I “suck” all the time is NOT helpful. I mean, yes, it’s my job to suck, but that string on the ground that she forces me to run over and over again could be picked up in two seconds if she would bend over and do it herself? Do I have to do everything here? 

Anyway, I have to admit that when she puts on Eminem and raps while we go through the living room, it’s kind of fun. If you don’t mind the manual labor, about 3/4 stars.  

User: Couch

When I first came here eight years ago, I had really high hopes given the description of “nice house, nice neighborhood, single woman occupant in her mid-20s” blah blah blah. It had potential for a rocking social scene, you know?  I soon came to realize that the environment was much less “Sex and the City” and more “Sister Wife to Her Ass.”

But with that said, I’ve come to enjoy it quite a bit. The food she drops on my cushions has variety and nuance, and watching her invent new yoga poses while fishing a chickpea from under me is always worth a good chuckle. Good food, good entertainment, job security. I have to go with 4/4 stars. 

User: One “Real” Bra That I Have

It’s so dark in this drawer. So, so very dark. I’ve lost count of how long it’s been since I’ve seen the light of day. We  used to go on adventures, like dinners and that night in college when she woke up hung-over in a frat house and found me stuck in a fan. We were close, dare I say bosom buddies. But now it’s all “sports bra” this and “sports bra” that.

Victoria’s Secret was apparently that I would fall as flat as her chest after just a few years in service. Needless to say this neglect relegates me to assigning 0/4 stars. DO NOT RECOMMEND. Go! Save yourself! 

User: Toaster

Normally I enjoy my time here and give it high marks. We have an understanding. Bread goes in, handle goes down, bread pops up. Clean transaction. But lately I’m just tired and will “occasionally” refuse to keep the handle down, therefore negating the actual toasting I’m pressed into service to do.

I mean, can’t I get a day off? Obviously not, as she came back at me with, “Well, aren’t WE the defiant little bastard today,” so I made her bread come out unevenly browned and bitter at the forced interaction.

The next time she decided to try a different approach with, “Yes, take your time. I’ll just hold the handle down while you decide what you’d like to do with this bread.” That worked a bit better—sometimes you just have to ask nicely. The moral of the story is that if you’re an appliance looking for a place to hang out, it could be worse, so I’ll go with 3/4 stars.

At least she cleans the crumb tray. 

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle.jpg

It Can Always Get Better

“How often do you have to come for chemo?” The woman hooked up in the chair next to me–a grandmother with a kind, yet tired face –asked me about two hours into my transfusion.

I looked up at the tubes attached to my arm, blood slowly and mechanically dripping down into the IV.

“No chemo for me,” I said, nodding my head up at the machine. “Blood transfusion because my hemoglobin was dangerously low.”

I was almost embarrassed, humbled by not only that woman, but the other people in the room who were also getting their chemo. I was lucky. I was sick, but I didn’t have cancer.

It could always be worse.


At this time last year I didn’t have a job.

Even though I dreaded returning to one I had gone to every day for seven years, that loss of security seemed like the end of the world. Every day was spent frustratingly looking for work, dealing with the unemployment agency, and trying not to let what was already a years-long deep depression completely sweep me up in the current.

I would lie in bed those unemployed months and make bargains with myself and some unknown higher power. “If I can get this job, I promise I’ll get the help I need for my (insert depression, exercise addiction, OCD here) and really make those big changes.”

“OK. That one didn’t work out. If I can get this job, I promise I’ll stop (insert maladaptive behavior), finally gain those needed 30 lbs, and dig myself out of this hole.”

Then eventually I landed a job I couldn’t have written up more perfectly for myself, one that’s the complete opposite of everything that made my last job so miserable. On even my worst work day, I always tell myself, “Remember how things were. Remember how grateful you are that this happened.”

Things could always be worse.

Yet many days are still a struggle. All those promises I made to myself, all those changes I no longer had an excuse to make are still there. For awhile, the newness and excitement of the job did distract me a bit. Then the OCD got worse, the fog got a little bit thicker. I made up new excuses to distract myself from the problems and continued to literally run myself to the ground, my body taking the brunt of my mind.

I conveniently ignored the signs, but I couldn’t ignore my mom crying about how sick I looked, the nights in my bed when my heart felt like it would either flutter out of my chest or stop, and then the phone call that I had to go in for two blood transfusions as soon as I could.

Sitting in that hospital chair, I had time to do nothing but think.

Everything I had been given could be taken away–the job, the freedom, even my life–because I refused to admit that I couldn’t outthink my physical and mental illness, that doing the same things wouldn’t land me in the same exact place.

Where it landed me was in the hospital with an IV running blood through my arm for eight hours, making small talk with a woman who had been dealt a deadly illness she was valiantly fighting. I again made all those same promises to myself that this time things would be different, that this is what it would take to finally get myself healthy.

And then when I was feeling better a couple of days later, I went back to the gym and all my old habits.

After all, it could be worse, right?


“Well yeah, it’s not cancer and it could be worse,” said my doctor a week later when I gave her my tired excuses. “But not much.”

There it was in black in white in the form of my lab results. There it was coming out of the mouth of a professional who I couldn’t negotiate with like I could–and do–with myself, which is why I’m rambling here.

Because the fact is you can’t negotiate yourself out of physical or mental illness–the latter of which is often suggested to be a choice. After all, if we know what we can do to “get out of it” but still engage in behaviors, that means we’re weak, right? I mean, we have so many good things in our lives that it’s ridiculous there are days that taking a shower is a major accomplishment.

Well, it’s not a choice.

Sickness is sickness, and I’m pretty sure that if we could get hooked up to a machine and have an IV drip some cocktail cure-all for mental illness into our arms, most of us would sign up in a second, no questions asked. It’s not that easy–nothing about it is easy. Wishful and willful thinking alone can’t cure cancer, low hemoglobin, depression, addiction, etc. or the guilt that sometimes accompanies these.

So for me–and for you–here’s a reminder.

It’s not a choice to be sick, but it’s a choice to admit that you are.

It’s a choice to do what you need to do to be healthy, even if it’s really painful in so many ways.

It’s a choice to reach out for support.

It’s a choice not to feel guilty.

I don’t know if I believe that myself most of the time, but I don’t want to know just how much worse things can be.

Because while it’s a choice to believe that “it could be worse,” it’s also a choice to believe that it could always be better.

better

It can always get better.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle.jpg

Even the Grinch Has Issues

The holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year” for a lot of people, but what about the post-holiday season when all the hype has died down? While many settle back into normal routines, there are a few people that find this time of year to be even more difficult.

Why?

They're demanding figgy pudding. They won't go until they get some. What do I do- Call the cops- I'm calling the cops.

After weeks of being in the spotlight, they’re suddenly erased from the minds of the public for another 11 long months. Needless to say, a round of therapy is in order.

Patient Name: Little Drummer Boy

Session Notes: Possible abandonment issues coupled with concern over money has manifested itself into OCD, as LDB sat on the couch “pa rum pum pum pum-ing” on the table with a pencil throughout the entire session.

Talked of his willingness to follow three “wise” men without parental guidance. Expressed concern over lack of money and having no gifts to bring and asked to put his name on the card of the wise man who brought gold because he “had no idea what Frankincense or Myrrh are.”

Interested in starting a boy band like One Direction and naming it North Star. We’re working through this one.


Patient Name: Rudolph

Session Notes: Self-esteem issues evident by eagerness to guide the sleigh of seasonal employer (who was initially freaked out by his “abnormal” nose) after being told he would never join the flying reindeer team (a team that teased him mercilessly and refused to let him join in any reindeer games.)

This, combined with the fact his own father forced him to cover his nose in black dirt, has also led to a slight alcohol dependence evidenced by a bright red nose in clear weather and a strong smell of Jack Daniels.

Suggested finding a new crowd to hang out with — Blitzen and Vixen are no help—and perhaps seeking employment with Hermey to open a thriving dental practice on the Island of Misfit Toys.


Patient Name: Frosty the Snowman

Session Notes: A bit bipolar, no pun intended. Wavers between overconfidence—“I’ll be back again some day!” with a tendency to hit on married women, “I can do the job while I’m in town!”— and anxiety over the threat of global warming, not to mention the fact that he basically lets children dress him in produce and trash.

Feels people forget about him once it gets warm, which is a valid concern, and tends to overcompensate with streaks of merry mania. Suggested moving to a permanently colder climate and finding a job as an ice cream truck driver. Given his appeal to children, it seems like a natural fit.


Patient Name: Grinch

Session Notes: Physician-ordered session after patient’s heart “grew three sizes” and raised cardiac concerns. Also had a brief charge of theft by police. Seems anxiety has been plaguing patient since whole town has taken to ostracizing him for bad behavior.

Cited a song created about him in which various parts are likened to “a greasy black peel, a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich,” that his heart’s “a dead tomato splotched” and that he has “garlic in his soul.”

To be honest, I tuned him out after “garlic in your soul,” as that sounds delicious. And living on top of a mountain away from the town with only his dog? Seems like a good plan to me. I don’t really see much of an issue.

And now I’m hungry.

I think that my work here is done.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

A Holiday Guide for the Domestically Disabled

The holidays can be stressful, what with families to visit, jingle bells ringing and those domestically disabled divas expected to deck the halls with cheer. But even if you’re not Martha Stewart, there are ways to make sure the only “F” words muttered are “Fa la la” and “fruitcake.”

So put on your ugly sweater and pour yourself a cup of alcoholic pancake batter—also known as eggnog—and let’s begin.

mistletoe

When it comes to the inside décor, I suggest it’s done in stages:

1) Binge clean, knowing you won’t want to move the crap off the mantle to dust for at least the next month.

2) Find the fragile decorations in the box labeled “Don’t Set Anything On Top Of” at the bottom of a stack of boxes, along with a dozen pulverized candy canes. Sit on the couch with your beverage of choice and stare at the boxes in hopes for a holiday miracle.

3) Hang old socks by the fireplace and then tie foliage—a.k.a. the mistletoe — above a doorway to encourage awkward displays of affection between people who accidentally stop there to ask where you keep the good wine.

4) Procrastibake: Make a batch of cookies instead of doing something else you should be doing, like stashing away the good wine.

5) If you’re not into baking, do not despair. Simply throw flour on your clothes, spend hours scouring Pinterest for desserts you “might” make, light a sugar cookie candle and call it good.

6) Run out of tinsel for the tree? Thread aluminum foil through a shredder. Need a few quick ornaments? Cut coffee filters into snowflakes, put hooks in wine corks and throw some pine cones from the yard on O Tannenbaum.

7) If the tree is fake, consider leaving it up all year to avoid having to haul it back out and decorate it for various holidays. Use the branches to dry out your socks and bras.

8) Have those cheap foam pool noodles still hanging around waiting to be stored for the winter? Grab a red one, twist in the shape of a candy cane and tie a piece of fishing line around the two parts of the bend to keep it in place. Wrap white ribbon or electric tape around it to create stripes. There you go—fun and functional décor!

9) When it comes to wrapping gifts, it’s lovely to have sparkling seasonal paper, but sometimes you get stuck in a pinch. In those instances, I suggest using “Happy Birthday” paper and writing “Jesus” after it.*

*If you’re not religious, write “Rudolph.” After being ostracized for the whole year, let the poor little guy catch a break.

10) No paper at all? Grab an empty bag of chips, and search around the house for something you think could work as a gift — things like shampoos, hand wipes, coffee packets and jelly you swiped from a hotel room, for example. Clean the chip bag and turn it inside out to reveal the silver, carefully place your gift inside, twist the bag at the top, find a ribbon and you’re set.

Much like you will most likely be when visiting the in-laws, Christmas spirit will be in the bag.

Take that, Martha Stewart.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

I’m Pretty Much a Motivational Speaker

There’s no shortage of inspirational accounts on the Internet, and unless you’re new here, I am not one of those accounts.

OK. Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. I decided to take a look at some of my tweets and updates and see if maybe I’m mistaken, if maybe I am actually some sort of motivational speaker and I don’t even realize it!

After two minutes of careful evaluation, it turns out I can be inspirational in several different aspects of life. Sure, it’s not “conventional,” but one can not be picky when one spends more time picking out a head of broccoli at the store than she does picking out her clothes in the morning. 

First of all, there is my prowess in the kitchen and around food:

boxdirections

The only time I’ve ever cut carbs is when I was slicing a bagel.

7:30: Eats breakfast. 7:35: Checks clock and mentally calculates how long until I can eat lunch.

I successfully opened a plastic produce bag at the store in under 2 minutes and the manager gave me my own reserved parking spot in the lot.

I react to the smell of fresh bread the way a cat reacts to the sound of a can opener.

The most unrealistic thing about commercials is when it shows people actually sharing a frozen pizza.

It turns out the answer to my problems wasn’t at the bottom of a jar of cashew butter, but the important thing is that I tried.

And my extraordinary social skills: 

BOND

On second thought, maybe faking my death was a slight overreaction to being stuck in a group text.

The woman who cut in front of me at the store had a box of tampons, ice cream, and wine in her cart. I wasn’t about to mess with that situation.

Home is where the people aren’t.

My friend just got her Ph. D, and I’m just over here wondering why they don’t make the macaroni out of cheese in the first place.

Them: Good morning!
Me: This feels like a personal attack.

Saw a guy throw a fit and then walk into an automatic door, so it’s been a pretty solid day over here.

I can be socially awkward, but not “Interview portion of Jeopardy” socially awkward.

Not to mention my domestic disability dominance: 

cupboard

“My lavish lifestyle affords me certain luxuries,” – I say as I place a new Kleenex box that perfectly matches my bathroom on the toilet.

Welcome home, new body wash. Meet your family: a half-full bottle of conditioner and 983 almost empty bottles of shampoo turned upside down.

I like to do laundry in stages. For example, right now I’m in denial that I should be doing laundry.

Nothing travels faster than a roll of toilet paper you drop while sitting on the toilet.

The cashier at the dollar store told me to have a good day like my purchase of shelf liner suggested any other plan.

Unfortunately, “weather stripping” isn’t what I thought it was, and the employees at Home Depot didn’t care for my little dance.

I establish my dominance as the alpha neighbor by putting my trash out on the curb before everyone else.

Not to mention just living my life to the fullest: 

DESERVETARGET

Monday through Friday: Hits the snooze three times in the morning.
Saturday: Wakes up before the alarm would go off during the week and can’t get back to sleep.

My personality is 30 percent genetic, 10 percent environmental, and 60 percent whether or not I’m hungry and slightly inconvenienced.

I tripped but then I found an almond on the floor, so it’s true what they say about one door closing and another one opening.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lump it all together with the big and medium things so you can have a major breakdown instead.

I just stapled the hem of my workout pants like some kind of white trash fashion MacGyver.

It took me five minutes to realize why the unplugged toaster wasn’t working, so I just went ahead and used my college degree as a napkin.

I just used a real trash bag in my bathroom instead of a plastic grocery bag like I’m some kind of Rockefeller or something.

So, as you can see, I basically have inspiration coming out of my pores. No, wait, that’s garlic. Oh well. At least  I tried. 

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

Why Halloween Is Just Really Weird

It’s just about Halloween, that time of year when tricks and treats and spooks and scares dominate stores and social media. It’s a fun fall tradition—mostly if you’re a kid, of course—but have you ever really thought about how weird most of this stuff is?

Of course you haven’t, so I’m here to do it for you.

hauntedhouse

Haunted Houses

Let’s start here because the fact of the matter is that people are paying a minimum of $20 to wander through a darkened establishment in which aspiring actors dressed as creepy clowns and ghouls jump out and attempt to scare them. Any other time of year this would most likely result in attempted assault/harassment charges and a stint in a much scarier house—the big house.

But in October? Fun! Let’s pay strangers to freak us out! I don’t need to do that. You know what scares me in equal measure for no cost at all? The psychotic level of excitement parents have in eating their kids’ Halloween candy, Facebook notifications that I’m tagged in a picture, sneezing while driving, or losing the Internet for more than five minutes.

In other words, if I want candy, costumes and creepiness, I can go to WalMart and wander among the shoppers any day of the week.

Apple Bobbing

Let’s fill a giant basin with water, throw in fruit, tie peoples’ hands behind their backs, and shove their face into the water in an attempt to force them to grab the apples with only their teeth.

In other words, it’s waterboarding for fruit. Let’s move on.

Decorating

I covered Halloween décor last year, but in October those cobwebs in your house normally considered something to be removed are now festive and fun. And while hanging a skeleton or ghost from a tree in August would put you on the Neighborhood Watch list, it’s now a sign that you’re a house that probably passes out candy come Oct. 31 instead of turning off the light and hiding behind the couch to ignore the doorbell (hypothetically speaking.)

That’s right. You can dress up as a sexy nurse and hand out candy to children and not wind up on “To Catch a Predator.” Just put a wreath on your door and leave your porch light on for the little beggars.

Corn Mazes

My internal GPS is MIA and I get lost in a walk-in closet. In other words, the idea of wandering through a maze of maize with strangers bumping into me while we all try and find our way out before desperately gnawing on a corn cob in desperation for our survival isn’t at the top of my list. I’ve done it before, and the only way I’ll pay money to do it again is if at the end I’m awarded with an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and luxury spa.

Pumpkin Carving

The fact that they sell pre-cut apples and butternut squash, pre-hardboiled eggs, and “Uncrustables” at the store proves that people have become ridiculously lazy when it comes to prepping food.

However, when it comes to Halloween, people round up the troops and often trek through pumpkin patches—pumpkin spice latte in hand— to pick out a giant fruit they will festively disembowel over the span of several hours, bent scooping spoons, and broken carving knives.

They will then shove a candle inside and leave it neglected on the porch until it looks like a toothless meth addict before throwing it behind the fence for the squirrels to enjoy.

But with all that said, tradition is important and Halloween kicks of the holiday season—for better or worse with that whole statement—and gets you prepared to fist a bird carcass for Thanksgiving and hang old socks on the fireplace for Christmas (or whatever it is that you celebrate.)

For now, Happy Haunting!

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle