Category Archives: Uncategorized

Birthdays are Weird

My birthday is in August, but don’t worry, I’m not going to write a post about everything I’ve learned or done in the past year. This is because a) I don’t remember what I did 10 minutes ago b) I write about enough crap on here c) I forgot the third reason.

See? I think I just proved my first point.

Anyway, even though I like celebrating everyone else’s birthday, I don’t like my birthday. It’s not because I hate getting older as much as I just don’t really like the hype or expectations.

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But when you overthink about it, birthdays are weird. People celebrate you for doing nothing more than pushing your way out of your mom’s lady parts after causing her heartburn and morning sickness for nine months.

That’s it.

You took a trip down the ol’ birth canal and voila! Every year from that point on, instead of honoring the woman whose loins you were ripped from, people buy you gifts and stand around baked goods covered in flames and sing to you awkwardly off key.

But with that said, my mom has always been awesome about making me feel special on my birthday.

Because it fell in the summer, my birthday served as an excuse to throw many large parties with copious amounts of friends, my large family and food. The crowds and hoopla gradually stopped as everyone grew up and away—or got tired of me—but the bits and pieces of birthdays gone by will always remain in my mind.

However, there were a few that were a little less than stellar.

Strike One

There was a Fiesta themed party complete with stereotypical sombreros and music, Mexican food and a piñata. While a piñata was good in theory, that theory flew out the window right about the time the piñata stick accidentally flew through the air and directly towards an inattentive neighbor lady.

Smarties and plastic jewelry did not fall out of the cut on her head. Our disappointment was profound.

Strike Two

Nothing fell out of the cut on my head a few years later when my presents were hid throughout our large backyard and I was blindfolded and forced to hunt for them on my hands and knees. A Frisbee was thrown from a great distance and managed to hit me square in the head. Being blindfolded and covered in grass burns, this was literally a blow to what dignity I had left.

We had cake. I forgave.

Strike Three

Then there was a year that the stars aligned and the Tigers were playing the California Angels at home on my birthday. I was convinced I was going to marry their first baseman—JT Snow. This was obviously a sign of our destined eternal bliss.

We drove the three hours to the game, where after a couple innings he came up to bat and hit a foul ball directly towards my dad. A great ending to this story would be that he made an effort, caught the ball and concluded the perfect birthday of his 10-year-old daughter.

Didn’t happen. We had cake. I had resentment.

But despite the few (literal) hits and misses, I have to say that I’ve had it pretty good. I don’t expect a marriage proposal or physical and emotional scarring this year, but I do expect applause when I enter the room and a tiara to wear.

In other words, treat it just like any other day.

What have been some of your birthday hits and misses?

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Kim from “Let Me Start By Saying” Has Issues

It’s Friday, so that means another blogger is spilling their issues.

Considering she has a massively popular Facebook page and writes everywhere from NickMom to The Huffington Post, you’ve probably seen her before. However, you’ve never seen her HERE, promising fruit, so buckle up and get to know Kim.

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Name: Kim Bongiorno

Blog: Let Me Start By Saying

Where, what and why do you write?

I write in a hermetically-sealed Lady Cave I created in my home. It is basically a cube of notebooks, old books, writing books, one zillion pens and pencils and scraps of paper I jot ideas on and toss in there whenever I pass by.

Unlike some organized people (what an adorable concept!), I don’t have a rhyme or reason to my writing. I’ve written a complete Young Adult novel and a partial Women’s fiction one. My normal schtick is humor–mostly parenting–but I kind of just do whatever comes to mind. It’s fun listening to all the voices in my head. Luckily I have a very calm-looking face, or else I’d have been locked up a long time ago. I don’t think I have any other choice than to be a writer.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

Cripes on a cracker someone get me coffee RIGHT NOW.

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

The lack of soundproof walls in my home. I really need to work on that. Or for school to start sooner than later. Once of those things.

Three websites you visit every day.

1. Facebook, to see what’s going on in the world and hopefully read a new dirty joke that will make me laugh first thing in the morning.

2. IMDB, for my goal in life is to have as much useless Real Life information as possible stored in this little golden head of mine.

3. PicMonkey, where I make useful graphics for my blog or social media, as well as stupid memes I only share with friends because wasting time is why the Internet was created.

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I can wiggle my eyes and do the splits. At the same time.

Favorite place to be?

At home on the couch in my office reading a real, physical book in the middle of the day during a quiet moment when my kids are out of earshot and hopefully not bleeding from the head.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

Free weekly massages and monthly pedicures for everyone, always. And capes would totally come back in fashion (I would wear a sparkly silver one–like, really bedazzled).

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I have a 3-way tie for SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers–but mostly because I want to hang out in the writer’s room. I’d do whatever they told me to do on the show, itself, to make this happen. Seriously, anything.

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

Best is cookie dough. I can make magic if I have ready-made sugar cookie dough on hand. Worst is the petrified once-was-foodstuffs that are rolling around in the three drawers. It scares me too much to actually clean it. Please stop making me think about it.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

What will you do when you’re a multi-millionaire author of a slew of best-selling novels? I’ll buy a compound somewhere really quiet with a book store on one end and massive spa on the other end where all my friends can come and write, relax and laugh together whenever they need a break. Oh! And we’d have stand-up comics appear every night to keep us entertained. And the menu would be the same as The Cheesecake Factory’s. That is a MUST.

And yes, there will be lots of fresh avocados to entice you to join me.


She knows me so well! Now go click her links and get to know her better, but not in that creepy “wiggle the eyebrows while you say that”-type way. She is a married woman. But regardless, there will be cookies.

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Girls Gone Mild

I shared this story in my first book, but I was recently reminded of this situation and thought I would share it on here in case you missed it because you’re waiting for your book to arrive.

Right? Right.

It’s a story about the time me and my best friend B went on Spring Break. This could conjure up expectations of a “Girls Gone Wild” type post if I failed to omit one important detail—we were 8th grade girls and we went to Florida to stay with my grandparents at their condo.

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Every morning we would throw on our suits and flip-flops, hop on 3-wheeled bicycles and spend our days in the sun by the community pool. The afternoons and evenings, however, weren’t always quite as smooth.

As you might remember, my grandma was someone who believed that once meat was cooked, it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could be left out on the hot countertop until it was either consumed or it disintegrated. What did need to be refrigerated—or more specifically, kept in large Ziploc bags in the freezer—were ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments.”

Because of a desire to avoid food poisoning, we often suggested frequenting various chain restaurants for dinner. This suggestion was often well-received, not only because my grandpa loved to eat anything anywhere, but because Happy Hour drinks were 2-for-1 at most of these restaurants—as long as you ordered both drinks at the same time.

That meant that when you walked into any Applebees, Outback, etc. between the hours of 4-6, you would be greeted with tables full of senior citizens pushing their oxygen tanks off to the side of their booths to make room for their two Rum and Cokes, Screwdrivers or Vodka Tonics.

The waitresses were thrilled with their tips, I’m sure.

One day my grandparents presented us with an exciting proposition—going to the beach about an hour away where the “real” action was. We eagerly packed our beach bags and hopped into the back seat the Cadillac, windows down, Neil Diamond warbling from the speakers.

As we got closer, B and I exchanged excited glances and gathered up our bags, waiting for the car to slow down and park so we could join in the whole beach experience.

The car never stopped.

“This is the beach,” said my grandpa, proudly pointing it out as we kept driving by. Confused, I asked where we were going to park.

“What? Why would we?” asked my grandma, looking at me as if I had just suggested only playing 12 Bingo cards at once or actually refrigerating leftover chicken. “It’s too busy, too hot. Do you girls want some ice cream?”

Now mortified, I looked at B and saw panic in her eyes. The only way we wanted ice cream was if it could be eaten on the beach, which meant the car would have to stop at some point soon.

But despite my protests, the next time the car stopped was at McDonalds just off the highway. Grandpa placed the order of sundaes and cones while we sat in shock in the back. No basking in the sun on the sand, no dipping our toes in the ocean—just a drive-by in the Caddy and “Sweet Caroline” on repeat.

As we pulled up to the pick-up window, my grandma leaned over the driver’s seat and gave strict orders to the window worker to include the condiments, which I naively assumed to be the optional nuts for her sundae.

In retrospect, I should have been prepared to hear her demand not the nuts, but the free packets of ketchup and mustard to add to her collection back home.

“Free condiments means free condiments,” she said with a chortle, turning around to face us in the backseat. “When you’re paying (.99 cents) for each ice cream, you better make sure you get your money’s worth.”

Because after all, nothing completes a day at the beach like free ketchup and mustard to hoard with your ice cream.

“Now who’s ready for happy hour?” she asked, tucking the packets into her oversized purse, no doubt to make room for the sugar sure to be swiped from the restaurant.

I looked at B and saw resignation in her eyes.

We were ready.

Make it a double.

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I’m a Weather Wimp

We’ve been lucky lately in that aside from a rare tornado, the weather has been pretty pleasant this summer. However, we’ve still had days when if I get any closer to my window air conditioning unit I’m going to have to change my status to “in a relationship.”

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I know.

The me that made it through the harshest most brutal winter in my history just slapped the me complaining about summer weather, but this just goes to solidify my declaration that I hate weather.*

*Excluding days between 60-80 degrees with no rain and a gentle breeze lightly tinged with the scent of cut grass.

I hate sweating or driving on three inches of ice, and while I know I won’t melt if I get rained on, I will be wet and uncomfortable which is pretty much just as bad.

Living in Michigan, this is an unfortunate situation seeing as everyone loves to say, “If you hate the weather, wait five minutes! It will change!” and then laugh and laugh while I shoot daggers with my eyes.

Why?

Because with any severe weather situation, there is the chance that I will lose power, and ergo, lose my shit.

I’m not high maintenance, but when the power goes out, all rationality and Zen-like tendencies go right along with it not to be restored until Consumer’s Energy plugs things back in.

And you can be sure I obsessively call Consumer’s Energy to get a restoration estimate, usually being told it will happen at some point hours or days after the time I totally freak out (which is, of course, the second that I lose power.)

So when the semi-creepy weather rolls in, I get on high alert, assuming that rumbles in the distance are an impending weather-related disaster headed directly for my house.

If I’m at home, everything not related to obsessively watching the weather channel and lighting candles ceases while I play out various scenarios in my head that will necessitate a reenactment of events on the news.

If I’m at work, all productivity ceases while check radar online and take into account exactly what I have in my fridge/freezer at home, as food waste is my main concern with possible loss of power. If it’s winter, I figure I can throw things outside and warm up some food on the stove. If it’s summer, I freak out and pack that bitch up like an igloo.

In part, I blame the meteorologist.

Yes, we’re blaming him now, as he delights entirely too much in delivering potentially catastrophic (see food situation above) news.

Plus, he makes me feel like a social reject with absolutely no life (on this he’s only halfway right—as usual.) Every forecast is prefaced with something along the lines of, “If you’re getting ready to go out to dinner tonight” or “If you’re planning a picnic followed by a long walk on the beach tomorrow” etc.

Never does he say, “If you’re planning on sitting on your couch in your yoga pants watching the ball game and writing a blog post while trying to find that piece of food you just dropped down your shirt,” plan on partly sunny skies.

I’m fully aware that a) it’s not his fault and b) there’s nothing we can do about weather anyway, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Mini-blinds will be shut and the TV will be turned up loud to drown out the sound of the thunder.

I will perfectly situate my flashlights under my blankie fort and wait, making promises to unseen higher powers that as long as I don’t lose power, I will be fine and work on saving the world in the morning (a task that would conceivably require electricity, therefore eliminating me from the impending power outage.)

Then again, maybe I just have to wait five more minutes. There’s always the chance it will change.

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Lynn from “Nomad Mom Diaries” Has Issues

It’s Friday, so another blogger is sharing their issues!

Today we’re going international to visit Lynn from “Nomad Mom Diaries, a self-proclaimed “smart-ass American raising two prim princesses with her obnoxiously skinny Italian husband in Oxford, England.”

Oh yeah. And she’s also an, “I Just Want to be Alone”co-author with yours truly. But considering this is long distance, I’ll cut the chit-chat and just present Lynn!

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Name: Lynn Morrison

Blog: The Nomad Mom Diary

Where, what and why do you write?

I write about my life and when that gets really boring and predictable, I write about fake lives that are having much more interesting adventures. I try and not disparage the husband too much, so when he does something particularly noteworthy I change a few names and slap a fiction label on it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not fooling anyone.

I write on my blog and over at BLUNTmoms and on HuffPo and Mamapedia. And, let’s be honest, also most anywhere else that will take me. As to the why, well that’s simple: I write to keep my head from exploding.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

Where’s my phone? I’d like to say that this is because I use it as my alarm clock, but I think we both know that the real reason is because I am on Facebook before my eyes are even open.

What’s the one “issueor frustration annoying you the most right now?

I’m currently trying to understand why my husband decided to steal the toilet paper out of one bathroom to replenish the other, rather than getting a new roll out of the cupboard. He claims he didn’t want to wake up the dog, but I suspect it was really because he knew I’d be the next one to go in there. I’m not ashamed to say that I used a diaper wipe. No wait, I am ashamed to say that. Ugh, can I start over and we can pretend that all of this is fiction?

Three websites you visit every day.

Oh man, there is no way to answer this without admitting I have a problem. Facebook. Facebook. and Facebook. But listen, if I go down for this, I want you to know that you are partially to blame. If you could just be a little bit less ridiculously clever with your Facebook posts, I just might look at another website.

(Editor’s note: I promise I didn’t pay her to say that. You know that I’m too cheap for that.)

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I once had, um, “relations” in a former vice president’s house. But not with the vice president because that would be icky.

Favorite place to be?

In my bed with my laptop in my lap. Oh look at that! That’s exactly where I am right now. Squeee!

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

Is it wrong if I say that the only thing I want is for my stuff to be MINE and for others to keep their grubby hands off of it? My side of the bed, my time in the potty, my dinner, my glass of wine, my chocolate chip cookies, my computer, my ipad, the list goes on and on. No, I don’t want to share dammit!

(Editor’s note: No, no it’s not wrong. Especially if we’re talking snacks.)

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I’d like to be on Dora the Explorer so I could smack her upside the head and say, “Listen up you little hussy, the m*&*f*&*ing map just told you where to go 2 minutes ago. It’s two measly stops from any A to any B in your world. Write it on your hand if you have so much trouble.” (Jesus, where did that come from? I clearly have some anger issues to work out.)

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

A half-eaten chocolate bar and most of a stick of butter. Don’t judge; tomorrow is grocery day.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

I wish you’d asked me why everything is better with Nutella. I don’t know, but I’d like someone to ask so that I could have an excuse to go and eat a jug of it and see if I could find some food item that isn’t improved by a 1-inch layer of that hazelnut spreadable goodness.


See? She’s like an international delight for your cyber coffee. Be sure to check out her blog and her links. Who will be featured next week? You’ll just have to wait and see. (Amy Poehler, have your people call my people…that would be me.)

Like the blog? Buy the books!

P.S.  I created a new “Illustrated Issues” tab to the top of my blog where I added some of the most popular images from Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Enjoy!

Ice Cream Trucks and Wino Wheels

Ahh…summer.

The sound of birds chirping, lawnmowers buzzing and music like “The Entertainer” coming from a janky 1980s model white van driven by a creepy older male trying to lure children to his vehicle in order to sell them sugar-laden treats.

Oh yes, the ice cream truck.

As a kid I can remember the siren song of summer and how we would run outside and try to chase after a moving vehicle in order to procure many of the same frozen treats found in our freezers.

But when you think about it, ice cream trucks were  “trendy” ahead of their time. It’s like some marketing genius thought, “Hey! Just thinking out loud here, but how about a food truck marketed only towards kids! Instead of food, it sells nothing but ice cream!”

Running with the idea, they decided to play kid-friendly music on repeat—including completely nonsensical songs like “La Cucaracha”—and drive by the houses right about the time harried parents are trying to convince their kids that eating the spinach on their plate will make them strong like Popeye.

(Popeye. Another theme song they used. Well-played, Ice Cream Man. Well-played.)

Because kids love anything related to sugar and instant gratification, the ice cream men decided to see just how much they could charge before the BBB got wind of their sleek operation.

A menu of carefully arranged the choices was painted on the side of the truck so that there are the plain popsicles or ice cream sandwiches that cost $2—known as “boring and stupid” by most children—and then, right next to them there are the ones shaped like Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse with candy eyes and sprinkles for $5.

In other words, the price parents would pay for a whole box of the things. Frozen food truck or wizard on wheels? You be the judge.

But I think they’re really missing another gold opportunity with this one. Apparently when you reach a certain age, it’s “inappropriate” to go running out of the house with a five-spot, pushing small children out of your way in an attempt to flag down the ice cream man for a Bomb Pop.

Who makes up these rules?

Anyway, what they need to do is have a second truck creep about 100 yards behind the ice cream truck. Only this time instead of serving ice cream and blasting “The Entertainer,” this truck serves iced adult beverages and streams Bon Jovi through speakers.

Think about it. Parents will LOVE to hear the ice cream man come down the street and happily let their kids spend $4 for a sherbet push-up if they are secure in the knowledge that a drive-by wine tasting is only a few minutes away.

These Wino Wheels could easily expand their reach by parking down the street from ice cream trucks at youth sporting events, making those outdoor soccer tournaments and softball games a little more tolerable after a swig of chardonnay or a beer.

Everyone can enjoy a cold one of choice.

Happy kids. Happy parents.

Cheers to that!

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You Don’t Have To

There’s a lot of guilt and obligation floating around both online and off. And while you don’t have to believe a word that I say—trust me, I don’t always believe these myself—just for today, try.

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You don’t have to hide your quirks. They make you unique.

You don’t have to drink coffee, and if you do, it doesn’t have to be designer Arabica beans or a $6 latte from Starbucks.

You don’t have to love a certain food because everyone else seems to love it. You can if you want, but do it for you. Not for any other reasons.

You don’t have to check your phone right this minute. Remember how life was a decade ago? Whatever it is can wait.

You don’t have to be the best parent, spouse or friend, but you do have to be there when those people need you.

You don’t have to love yoga or CrossFit or running. Try to be healthy, but be healthy for you. We all need to find out what works.

You don’t have to like everyone and everyone doesn’t have to like you.

You don’t have to cook complicated meals with a lot of ingredients. Microwaves were made for a reason.

You don’t have to make Pinterest-worthy desserts. Bakeries are there for a reason, as are Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines mixes.

You don’t have to pin a damn thing.

You don’t have to hide your successes, but it’s far more impressive when others discover your charm without you having to tell them.

You don’t have to tweet a damn thing.

You don’t have to be mean to be funny. In fact, you don’t have to be mean at all.

You don’t have to love your job. You don’t have to hate your job. But you should do a good job when your name and your rep are attached.

You don’t have to tell everything you know because you have a spare minute.

You don’t have to undervalue your strengths or overvalue your mistakes.

You don’t have to hide your scars. They show that you have survived.

You don’t have to take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

You don’t have to write a book. You don’t have to read a book, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.

You do not have to complain each time you’re annoyed, but silent gratitude feels rather wasted.

You don’t have to love being a parent all the time. You don’t have to feel guilty for that.

You don’t have to complain about being a parent all the time. Nobody likes a martyr.

You don’t have to write if you really don’t want to, and when you do, write for yourself.

You don’t have to compare yourself to others. You are you. That is enough.

You don’t have to be inspirational—life isn’t unicorns and glitter—but everyone has their own junk. Try and provide some relief.

You don’t have to click on the link and read through. In fact, you can log off.

You don’t have to make the bed, fold the laundry or clean every day. A house is meant to be lived in.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. Nobody does, and you don’t have to believe them if they tell you they do.

You don’t have to take the road others have taken. Just make sure the path is your own.

And most of all, you don’t have to be the exception.

You are worthy of happiness in your life.

You are worthy of laughter, good food and good friends.

You are worthy of love and support.

You don’t have to do it alone.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

P.S.  I created a new “Illustrated Issues” tab to the top of my blog where I added some of the most popular images from Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy!

Kelley from ‘Kelley’s Break Room’ Has Issues

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to showcase another fabulous blogger’s issues. I’ve even added a tab up at the top so you can catch up because I’m super fancy like that.

But today, it’s all about Twitter queen Kelley.

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Name: Kelley Nettles

Blog: Kelley’s Break Room

Where, what and why do you write?

Where: Many times I write my posts out using the app on my iPhone. It’s sort of a pain, but it allows me to write things out while I’m in the car at a baseball practice or having my 6-year-old shine my shoes or something. If I’m not writing on that, I use my laptop and write while I’m watching The First 48 or The Bachelorette. That means that I stop and start a gazillion times and then fall asleep with my laptop charring my thighs.

What: I write about random things that happen to me or random observations, everything from Chinese foot massages to being stuck in The Home Depot forever.

Why: It’s part of my Witness Protection Program Agreement. If I can write things up to lead people to believe that I actually live this life, they’re less likely to recognize me as the Russian lady who shoplifted over 1,429,302 KitKats by hiding them in MC Hammer pants in a period of one month back in 1991.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

“I hope my 6-year-old found something to eat for breakfast.” My 9-year-old is a pro at getting a bowl of cereal made or heating up a Toaster Strudel, but he sometimes leaves his brother hanging. This is probably because my 6-year-old is a little high maintenance. “I WANT EGGS ON TOAST” (a fried egg over buttered toast.) He thinks he’s a pharaoh.

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

That it is the middle of the summer and I still haven’t done half of the things on my “summer to do list”. It’s all cleaning and organizing and decorating related. This is the ugly side of life.

Three websites you visit every day.

Get ready to fall asleep. I visit Facebook, Gmail and chron.com (the Houston Chronicle website) every day. I have to visit that last one so that I can stay on the up and up about which convenience stores have been robbed. The Dollar General really got it handed to them recently. (Pretty sure The Dollar General needs to go back to boot camp and learn how to protect himself from thugs.)

Favorite place to be?

This one is a tough one. On the one hand, I want to say my favorite place to be is at my grandmother’s house while all the family is around and we are laughing or reminiscing or at a table playing Scrabble with my dad or floating down a river with my husband and boys, but the truth is that I really like being in front of a fully stocked refrigerator and freezer with a bib around my neck.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

I would totally make it illegal to steal things out of people’s cars and I would also make it illegal to break into their houses. That mess has got to stop.

Hold on minute. That’s already illegal? Well, I’ll be…

Okay, um, I would make it illegal for people to lightly tap me on the shoulder. Ohhhhhhh, I can’t stand that. I need a firm pressing of the shoulder or I need you to take a few steps back while I get in my Kung Fu stance.

What TV show would you want to appear on?

SNL, SNL, SNL. The freedom to act the fool and make crazy faces all night while getting paid THE BUCKS is almost intoxicating.

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?

You should’ve asked me this yesterday when I cleaned out my refrigerator after being gone a week. If I had cleaned it before we left, I wouldn’t have found some really old broccoli gettin’ his stank on. The best thing you can find is Noosa yogurt. I am so in love with it. It is the best yogurt ever. We may elope.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

I was hoping you’d ask me what I was thinking of RIGHT AT THIS VERY MINUTE. I would have told you that I was thinking about my brick mailbox. It leans slightly to the left. I was having visions of it being programmed to sing “Come on, Eileen” any time someone got near it. It would be on a motion sensor. The little door that you lift up and down to put mail in the mailbox would be the mailbox’s mouth. This would then result in mail people throwing our mail into our front yard in disgust day after day.

See? She’s hilarious. Be sure to check out her blog and her links. Who will be featured next week? You’ll just have to wait and see. (Jimmy Fallon, have your people call my people…that would be me.)

Like the blog? Buy the books!

The Tao of Abby

I recently read “The Tao of Martha” by Jen Lancaster in which she attempts to live her life according to the advice of Martha Stewart with everything from closet organization to party planning. It was an okay read, but that’s not the point.

The point is that as evidenced by my issues with sheets and vacuums, I’m no Martha Stewart.

In fact, the only thing me and M-dawg have in common is that she’s an ex-felon and I commit crimes on a daily basis that would keep the Fashion Police busy if they had any actual authority.

But I would like to think that most people tend to lean a little bit more towards “drawer of shame” instead of “bedazzled closet hangers” on a daily basis. As such, I have decided to do a “modified Martha” version of some of her tips for those other domestically disabled divas out there.

They might not exactly be helpful in a “Watch out, Martha!” sort of way, but at least they’ll help you feel less alone.

Cleaning a Mini-Blind

Martha: If blinds are very dirty, remove them from the window and lay them flat on a drop cloth outside. Scrub closed blinds with a soft brush and warm soapy water. Repeat on the other side; rinse. Open and hang outside to dry.

Me: miniblind

Cleaning a Shower Curtain Liner

Martha: A homemade curtain of ripstop nylon works well. Curtains and plastic liners can be cleaned with laundry detergent in the washing machine, on the gentle cycle.

shower

Me: We’ve been over this before. Cut down the $5 liner from Target and replace it with a new $5 liner from Target. Much like the mini-blind situation, don’t be a hero.

Making a Cup of Tea

Martha: Gather leaves from a Darjeeling bush. Warm your pot first with steaming water, dump it out, refill it and let it boil. Warm your cups, strain your tea and add a lychee nut to the cup before you sip.

tea

Me: Fill Hot Shot with water, get impatient before realizing you forgot to hit “start.” Hit start, dispense water and tea bag into cup 1 minute later. Use all available methods for not burning your mouth with the exception of actually waiting for the tea to cool.

Readying Clothes for the Laundry

Martha: Empty pockets and turn them inside out, unfurl socks, and unroll cuffs. Tie sashes and strings to prevent tangling. Place delicate items like lingerie and fine knitwear in zippered mesh bags. Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out to prevent pilling.

laundry

Me: Throw dirty clothes in the vicinity of the laundry basket and congratulate myself if it goes in. Eventually notice that I’m out of socks, gather laundry surrounding the basket and shove it all in the washer. Forget about it, wash it again and then eventually throw in the dryer.

Making a Cake

Martha: Fancy flourishes and pretty piping really are the icing on the cupcakes. Faux bois, or imitation wood grain, is a favorite motif of Martha’s; it can be applied to chocolate using a wood-graining rocker, found at paint-supply stores.

baking

Me: Go to the bakery. If you ask really nice, they’ll even decorate it for you.

I think her empire is safe.

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That Sinking Feeling

Despite what this post might suggest, I’m not high-maintenance. I just have severe OCD and like my routine, not to mention a house that functions as it should and remains rather clean.

With that said, any disruption to my basic necessities — water, food, Internet, baseball, power, mostly food again — are classified as mini-catastrophes in my world, a world where I’m not proficient in plumbing or electrical work where hummus flows freely like water.

hungry

So when I walked into the kitchen the other night and noticed my previously functional faucet releasing a small but steady stream of water, I started to lose my crap.

After taking a deep breath, I called an old handyman friend of my uncle that sometimes helps me with things and found out he could stop by the next day. I knew this was good, but I also knew this meant tons of more stress for my dysfunctional mind.

If I don’t have a sink, how can I make my tea? Use my steamer? Would he take so long that my normal dinner routine would be shattered? And what about my semi-clean floors? How am I supposed to survive?!?

Part of my frustration with these things comes from not being able to fix them myself, but 99.9 percent of my frustration comes from the series of events that follow after someone comes over to fix them.*

*Yes, I am most appreciative, but I am also OCD with no patience for putzing or lack of respect for the Lysol.

So without further putzing, let’s take a look at how this went (all times are approximate, as I’m still recovering from the trauma.)


9 pm—Enter kitchen and notice sink is running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

9:01—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

9:05—Call old handyman guy and learn a) he really wants to engage in a “to make a short story long” type of discussion and b) he can come by the next afternoon around 3.

9:25—Call mom and ask her to meet him at my house until I can get home from work.

9:26—Ignore problem for the rest of the night.

Next Day

5:30 am—Enter kitchen and notice sink is still running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

5:31—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

5:35—Leave for work and stress about sink.

4 pm—Arrive home, find mom in my garden and give her a 6-pack as a thank you.

4:05—Full of dread, enter the house and notice he didn’t heed the “Please take shoes off. Thanks!” post-it note I so carefully placed on the door. And that he moved the blanket I had down over the kitchen rug. And that he was using my favorite coffee cup and dish towel to catch the dripping water OH MY GOD!

4:05:10—Remind myself he’s helping me out. Deep breaths are taken and possibly exhaled as a loud sigh—this part is sketchy.

4:10—Make small talk and pretend to care what plumbing parts are called while discreetly moving the blanket over the rug and his tools onto paper towel.

4:15—Learn he’ll be done in about half an hour and decide I’m pretty much a revolutionary for my survival skills in times of such stress.

4:16 to 4:45—Distract myself in the form of preparing soon-to-be used cleaning products and plan how I can clean and get dinner ready on OCD time.

4:46—He’s still putzing. Start freaking out and immediately change my mind on revolutionary status.

4:55—While searching for Xanax salt lick, I’m informed it’s fixed. Pleasantries and payment are exchanged, as is the information that his wife read my first book after my uncle gave him a copy.

4:56—Feelings of annoyance wane as I gently lead him outside my house.

5:00—Begin manic Lysol/Swiffer sweeps of the counters and floors while prepping dinner at the same time, once again applauding my survival skills.

5:05—Enter bathroom. Notice the toilet seat is up, meaning his dirty shoes and everything attached to them paraded throughout my house and used my toilet.

5:06—Manic feelings return. Cleaning commences.

5:15—Smoke detector goes off, signaling that dinner is done.

5:20—Revolutionary status restored, but my sanity? Still MIA.

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