A Letter to My New Vacuum

Hey there, bagless buddy!

Welcome to the family! Before you get too comfortable in the front hallway closet, I think I should let you know what you’re getting into and just who you’re dealing with here so we start out on the same page.

For a little background, I should let you know that I’m actually pretty excited about having you here. I’m a little OCD and I have to admit that there’s an odd, slightly-sick sense of satisfaction when you’re running the vacuum and hear it actually sucking up crap from the floor.While this means there was crap on the floor, this also means that the vacuum is doing its job and the floor will be clean again.

vacuumletter

 (You know this, as you are a vacuum yourself and familiar with job satisfaction.)

Anyway, then there comes a day when you’re going about vacuuming and note that there is no sound of things being sucked up—presumably because you live in an immaculate abode and never accidentally knock a measuring cup of uncooked rice on the floor, hypothetically speaking—and blissfully continue on your cleaning journey.

But then you remember that you’re me, and that last night you knocked a measuring cup of uncooked rice on the floor. And despite your best efforts with the dustbuster, you know you were bound to miss a few grains of spilled rice because there were about a million grains of spilled rice and your rage was slightly blinding.

So you snap out of your delusional state of flawless floors and start to pay a bit of attention.

One pass over the couple stray grains and no satisfying sounds…hmmm. Maybe it’s because they’re so tiny. After the second pass without any sounds, you realize that this vacuum sucks—and not in the way it’s supposed to—and that it’s starting to smell like burned rubber.

In the blink of an eye, it’s like the vacuum is suddenly offended that you asked it to do what it was bought to do and starts sending off odorous smoke signals that roughly translate to, “Oh, you wanted ME to pick that up? Well, I never….”

If you’re me, you’ll keep trying for a couple more minutes, yelling instructions and possibly profanity at the vacuum as it passive-aggressively pushes the rice over the floor before realizing you are now the proud owner of a large noisy thing with a light on the front that in its own special way, has requested an early retirement.

That brings us back to today.

When I sufficiently recovered from the vacuum betrayal above, I set out on a mission to fill that hole in my appliance arsenal, headed to Target and returned home with you—as you know—and half a dozen other things I more than likely didn’t need.

After a quick assembly and a trial run, I’m happy to report that so far, so good. You seem more than up to the task, and I have no doubt that together we can embark on a mutually beneficial relationship of sucking crap off of the floor, from in between the couch cushions and possibly the front of my shirt.

 Don’t judge. You don’t know my life.

And while I’m happy to have you aboard, I would also like to remind you that if at any time you decide to get a bit lazy yourself, I always keep the receipt.

Abby

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Letting Go

I hesitate to even write about my unemployment situation again because above everything else, I like to keep things light here. It’s a blog, not a diary.

But it’s also impossible to ignore the stress, the panic attacks and the uncertainty that I deal with every day and that some of you might relate to. Plus, people have asked, so funny next time but an update today.

lettinggo

Imagine being stuck at the bottom of a deep, dark hole with no idea how you’re going to make your way out. There are times you can see the sun up above and feel the rays on your face, but yet you are still down in that hole, surrounded by nothing but darkness on every side.

Friends and family walk by and offer heartfelt advice and encouragement, sometimes throwing a rope down to try and pull you back up. Grateful, you eagerly grab a hold of both the literal and figurative lifeline, only to find that it’s not strong enough and eventually you crash back down.

You try and remember that the next rope that gets thrown your way could be the one that saves you, but not knowing when that might be—or if it will ever show up, for that matter—makes looking up pretty hard.

It’s exhausting.

It’s disheartening.

It’s unemployment.

The thing is, I’m someone who functions best when I’m productive and creative. When I get on a roll—whether it’s just tweets, a blog post or something professionally—I feel great. I feel useful. I feel productive.

One of the biggest frustrations with unemployment—aside from not making money, of course—is that I don’t have anywhere to really focus all of that creative energy. Granted, hours of my day are often spent sending out emails, researching job boards and trying to find something new, but I’m a big fan of instant gratification. Work hard—see results.

Well, it’s been two months and yeah…not so much.

Every time I open my email or see a new posting, my heart lifts before dropping down. There have been several occasions when I was certain that I would be a perfect fit for the job, only to be greeted with a rejection, or even worse, nothing at all. 

This uncertainty is new for me.

I don’t like it.

Even though I know things could be so much worse, I’ll be honest and say there have been some pretty dark days. And as much as I appreciate the support, I find myself uncharacteristically envious of people with jobs or spouses to financially help them out, and I hate that. I find myself wondering if I’m doing something—or everything—wrong, and why just one thing can’t go my way, and I feel selfish.

I feel like I’m fighting a battle on every side. Much like a Saturday afternoon in Walmart, it’s not very attractive. It’s also not very much fun, and a pretty big creativity buzzkill.

And so this is where I add in the “hopeful” part and say there are two ways that all this can go—I can cling to how I want things to be or I can adjust to how things are now. When we cling to things—whatever those things are— we struggle. When we grasp at what we want or think we want, we suffocate it. When we identify with a list of “should,” we always fall short in the end.

So, I’m trying to let go—to some of the doubt, expectations, guilt, attachment to results and the idea that my next path needs to be a straight line.

Some days it’s really hard, but I know the next rope that gets thrown my way could be the one that saves me. Or it could conk me in the head because I was distracted by something shiny down in that hole. But for the most part, I’m more than ready to grab on.

And it starts with letting go.

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on  Twitter.

Valentines I’ll Never Send

To the cliché box of assorted chocolates:

I’m have mixed feelings about you, to be honest. I’m not big on sweets to begin with, and unless there’s a map of your assortment on the lid, it’s always a gamble with you. There are really only three or four really good flavors which means that my anticipation of biting into a caramel or a chocolate cream could be met with the disappointment of sinking my teeth into the one filled with what I assume is neon pink Play-Doh.

If you so choose to continue to hide your best work, I will so choose to continue sticking a toothpick in the bottom of each piece to try and determine the flavor. All’s fair in love and chocolate.

To people who don’t say thank you when I hold the door open for them:

I will yell “You’re welcome!” as loud as I can because it’s important to lead by example. At least give a courtesy head nod. It’s really not that hard. I only bring this up because it could be an indication or a repeated behavior—not thanking people for letting you merge, walking by when people bless you after you sneeze, or as we’re talking about today, relationships.

 valentines

In other words, I’m a helper. YOU’RE WELCOME.

To the person who invented lasagna, pizza and basically any Italian food:

I hope at some point a very important person sat you down and told you, “You are a great human being.” True, I’ve been scorned by a lover a time or two by eating it too soon and burning the roof of my mouth, but love hurts. However, I can’t hold both a grudge and my fork, so today–I salute you.

To employment:

Okay. I know we’ve been taking a break, but I’m totally ready to hook back up again. I don’t want it to be boring, unhealthy and mundane like it was before, but I also don’t need fireworks every night. Something steady, something dependable, something that challenges me and uses my skills in a creative and constructive way. You have my number, so please, feel free to use it.

To the guy at the Dollar Store buying a felt rose, condoms and potted meat:

I’m not sure if I should be disgusted at this unique combination of purchases or admire you for your effort and optimism. The fake rose is admirable, but if you are in fact planning for a romantic evening with someone other than yourself—as your purchase of condoms instead of lotion and Kleenex would suggest—the addition of potted meat is quite troubling.

Putting aside the fact I only eat plants and would rather eat the metal pot than the “meat” your potted meat contains, the Dollar Store does offer a variety of other edible creations that might help to set a more “romantic” mood—canned oysters (aphrodisiac!) crackers or even a cupcake mix (chocolate!) might be a better solution.

And condoms from the Dollar Store? Remember that you get what you pay for, and take note of the woman behind me the other day who filled her cart with at-home pregnancy tests, ovulation kits and Cheetos. Sometimes you should spring for the upgraded model, my friend.

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Food Marketing 101

As the commercials during the Super Bowl prove, success is pretty much just all about marketing and how you present a certain product.

bathrobe

Fashion aside, this is especially true with food.

Would you prefer to eat “soup” or “food-flavored tea”? Drink “coffee” or “bean water”? In other words, some items have greatly benefitted from clever categorization, while others could use a little bit of help in the PR department.

GOOD

Salads–Salad has become synonymous with “healthy,” due in part to the fact that they adopted “salad dressing” as an accompaniment instead of the phrase, “lettuce gravy.” Things like a traditional salad with greens and veggies helped ensure the “healthy” illusion of salad that things like taco salad and potato salad have benefited from. You know, a burrito dumped into a fried shell and slathered with sour cream and three shreds of lettuce and a bowl of mayonnaise with specks of potato. Vegetables for the win!

Head Cheese—Lies! NOT CHEESE!

Tofu–While I’m a vegan, I can’t tolerate soy so tofu is out. However, I used to be able to eat it and know that tofu is basically just a codependent block of coagulated bean curd. It has no flavor and takes on whatever it’s cooked with, but I guess “tofu” sounds better than “codependent coagulated curd,” although whether it tastes better or not is up for debate. 

Sweet Breads—Lies! NOT BREAD!

English Muffins–Muffins are generally thought of as a breakfast food, which we’ll get to in a minute, but English muffins are not really a “muffin.” They’re more like a butter sponge one has to extract from the (unplugged) toaster with a knife, putting to use the hours you played Operation as a kid. However, I guess “butter sponge” sounds a little less fancy (but honestly, still kind of delicious.)

Fortune Cookies–Cookie Monster would lose his shit if presented with this as a “cookie.” The fortune cookie is to cookies as Kim Kardashian is to acting. You can label it whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any good.  Every fortune should just read, “This is a stale imitation of food and you could eat this piece of paper and not know the difference.” 

QUESTIONABLE

Radish--This gets the award for the most tasteless vegetable that also has that capacity to burn your mouth with each bite. It’s a polarizing food, which is why I see this as being how it was named:

Person 1: I love this vegetable! It’s so rad!

Person 2: Meh. It’s not that great. It’s more like rad-ish. Hey! Let’s go with that!

BAD 

Now let’s take a look at the names of foods that could use a little more help.

Milk Duds–While many people enjoy spending three hours trying to chew three small chocolate caramel confections, they are essentially named after a dairy product that has failed. I can just imagine how that meeting went:

“Hey! What should we call these? Chewy Chocolate Caramels?  Lactose Losers? I know! Let’s go with Milk Duds!”

Muffins–Let’s be honest here. While English muffins benefit from the reputation of muffins, muffins could greatly up their cred by going with what they essentially are—naked cupcakes. For most versions, adding frosting is the only distinction between the two, but I guess I understand the hesitation.

It’s acceptable to eat a 500-calorie muffin for breakfast under the guise of “healthy” whereas eating something with “cake” in the name wouldn’t work. Unless it’s a pancake smothered in syrup, of course, because that just makes logical sense.

Ugli Fruit–This is technically a form of tangelo and while a bit unsightly, was the term “ugli” really necessary? Were these people trying to make them sound unappealing so that they could hoard them all for themselves? I would go with “unique” fruit or “has a great personality” fruit. “Ugli” just seems a bit cruel.

Leftovers–Finally, people complain about leftovers all the time, most likely due in part to the fact that they’re considered scraps that are just “left over.” True, sometimes they’re not as stellar when performing in the second act, but if you think of them as “edible encores” it might spice things up a bit.

Speaking of spice, how did Allspice corner the market on that one? Talk about a confident condiment.

At any rate, bon appetite, my friends.

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wanted: Professional Chair Model

I won’t get into the depressing part of unemployment at this point—that can be a different post—because today I’m feeling pretty optimistic after finding this ad on our local Craig’s List page.

Yes, I know that I was burned the last time I found the “perfect” job for me—the naked sushi model gig—because I never heard back, but this time around I think I stand a much better chance.

WANTED- PROFESSIONALCHAIR MODEL

 Actual chair picture from the ad. So fancy!

Even though the editor in me was twitchy with the grammatical errors, I’m reprinting it below as it appears to maintain authenticity.

Wanted: Professional or amateur chair model. Successful candidate should be comfortable remaining seated for extended periods of time, while exuding the confidence of one who could handle a store well if need, run a place, give meetings, answer phones, help guests, be a personal assistant, and so on. Would prefer someone who is a verity a place, and has a long job history. Please be one who both does not do bad, and desires to learn a lot. 

Sound like you? Ready to sit down and start a new career today? Contact us right away.*

*Successful candidate should not be allergic to gluten, other allergens, or wasp stings.

While the chair didn’t look quite as comfortable as a chair that I might have picked out, I still decided to throw my hat into the ring. Or rather, my ass into the seat.

Hello!

I came across your ad on Craig’s List while sitting on my couch, which I believe demonstrates my ability to multi-task in that I was both sitting and using a computer simultaneously. While I’m technically still waiting to achieve “professional” chair model status, I do have more than 33 years of experience sitting on couches and chairs.

And not to brag, but I was recently named Couch CEO at Casa de Abby (business cards are in the works.)

At any rate, I exude not just the aroma of garlic, but also the confidence of one who could handle any situation—running a store, answering phones, helping guests—all while sitting in a chair. Seriously. Put me in a chair and prepare to be amazed. In fact, if the position required it I would be willing to also venture into consuming food and beverages while remaining dedicated to the professional posterior positioning.

Speaking of food, I am not allergic to gluten–as you mentioned in the ad–so that shouldn’t be an issue. However, even though I’m not allergic to wasp stings, I don’t particularly enjoy them. Should this be a concern for me in that you’re planning on placing said chair in the middle of wasp-infested environments?

I’m not saying that’s a deal-breaker, but I would require a beekeepers outfit for that. I’m sure that you understand why.

Anyway, I don’t know what “verity a job place is,” but as you request in the end of your ad, I’m someone who “both does not do bad, and desires to learn a lot.” In other words, you’re sitting on a goldmine with me here, my friends! Let’s pull up a chair—ha! See what I did there?—and talk about when we can start.

Thank you so much for your time,

Abby

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Meghan of “Clean Eats, Fast Feets” Has Issues

Today is the last Friday in my Blogger Issues series, and before I present today’s blogger, I want to thank everyone who has participated. This doesn’t mean I’ll never do these things again, but I’m going to take a break for a bit. Sorry, but you’re going to be stuck with only my rambles for at least the next few months.

But today I’m so excited to introduce you to one of my favorite food bloggers. You might not know this about me, but a majority of the blogs that I read are vegan/veggie/food/health related.

Go figure. 

However,  I also think that a lot of health blogs are full of crap and promote restrictive, fad lifestyles that are ridiculous and, well, full of crap. That’s why I enjoy Meghan, as she loves veggies but also loves cheese. She loves exercise but also loves rest. On top of all that, she’s funny, so you know that we get along well.

So without further ado, here she is!

Meg_&_the_Pretzel

That’s a pretzel. Carbs are my soul mate. 

Name: Meghan McCarthy

Blog: Clean Eats, Fast Feets

Give us a little bit of background about yourself in three sentences or less.

Yeah, about those three sentences…

Meghan is a number cruncher by day and a Blogging Ninjress by night. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her two felines and occasional Hubby. Her favorite activities include cooking, exercising, and farmers marketing. In her spare time, she enjoys making a mockery of sentence structure and twisting words and phrases to better meet her devilish needs and more closely align with her nefarious ways.

Meghan’s blog posts are virtual kitchen parties, music included, veggies always welcome. She’s been known to swear a holy crapton, and just recently saved the life of a budding young chipmunk. She’s a modern day Joan of Arc without the martyr part. Or the Saint part. Or the French part. Or perhaps the Joan of Arc part.      

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

For the love of all that is good and holy, Snooze!

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

My inability to crack the space-time continuum. As much as I try to squeeze this research into my days, I always seem to run out of yep, you guessed it, time. I blame the snooze button. 

Three websites you visit every day.

AOL because I’m retro or as I prefer to be known, The Original Hipster. Facebook, where I’ll be the first to admit I have a problem, and Weather.Com because windows are so ’90s.

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

I’m hypermobile, which means I can bend my body like a pretzel. I make Gumby look stiff.   

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

Inappropriate shenanigans make me happy. Therefore, I would deem all bananas should be consumed publicly. Bonus points for making and maintaining eye contact. 

You can only eat three foods for a week. What are they?

I’m a freaking food blogger. There’s no way I could limit myself to three foods for a week. Three types maybe: vegetables, cheese, fruit, potatoes, eggs…oh crap, I’ve blown it already.

The last thing you Googled? 

Swass, which Urban Dictionary defines as “a non gender-specific term used to describe the sweat found in and around a person’s ass crack.” You’re welcome. 

Given your blog name, I have to ask: What’s your favorite recipe post and your favorite fitness post and why?

Stuffed Artichoke Soup with Brown Rice & Asiago in part because it’s the bomb diggety, but really because I talk an awful lot about flatulence. To give you a little perspective, my opening sentence is “I ingest enough fiber on a weekly basis to keep a small horse in the bathroom for days.”   

 Vanilla Gorilla also known as the time my itty-bitty ass did a Tough Mudder. This post is the perfect combination of brute physical strength and raw mental determination, coupled with a side of story telling. I also inadvertently mooned the crowd, so there’s that.

What has been your most memorable recipe disaster?

Oh wow, where to begin, there’s been so many. I made homemade ravioli which resembled hockey pucks, zucchini fritters that tasted like blobs of flour, egg rolls that went right into the trash and brownies my brother’s dog wouldn’t touch, and he licks his own ass.  

(Editor’s note: She means the dog, not her brother. I think.)

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

You probably should have asked, “Why are you incapable of following instructions?” To which I would respond, “That’s a great question.”  

There you go! Whether you want to find a workout, a recipe, a laugh or a cute cat picture, I suggest you go visit her blog and Facebook page and show her some love.

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Parking Lot

No matter what your opinion is on shopping, there’s one thing we can all agree on — the parking lot is a paved hell. It should be simple. Park the car, get out of the car, go about your business. But there are always a few who go to the dark side and ruin it for everyone else.

Lust

Lusting after a closer parking spot turns many people into Parking Spot Stalkers so overcome with desire for your spot that they dedicate themselves to claiming it for their own. 

While the logic employed by the Parking Spot Stalker makes sense—a closer spot is often more desirable than one farther away— there can be a troubling gray area when it comes to their actions. If it’s dark out and you’re a woman being followed by a car creeping up behind you like Charles Manson in a Volvo, it’s safe to assume they’re not sightseeing and it’s hard not to feel as if you’re about to become a special on Dateline.   

And God forbid if you forget where you park and have to cut through across the lane to find your car, as they’ll think it was an intentional move on your part, speed past you with a look of disgust and be forced to park in a spot that’s a full 10 feet farther away.

Envy

When lust gets overtaken by blinding envy, you are presented with the Parking Spot Rusher. This driver is so envious of your spot that they don’t patiently keep a safe distance back, turn on their blinker and wait. No, along with blocking other people from passing, they keep creeping up closer and closer while rolling their eyes and sighing so loudly you can hear it through two layers of car window glass.

parking

This just in: The person in the parking spot cares more about trying to load a week’s worth of groceries into the trunk of their car before trying to strap a tired and cranky kid into a car seat than you finding a suitable spot at that second. Unless you’re going to get out and help them load up the car, just keep a safe distance back.

Gluttony

There are certain people who feel themselves to be above the laws of parking space lines and take up two or three spots. They presumably feel their vehicle is so pristine and important that the thought of the unwashed masses coming near it can’t even be entertained. You’re not a special snowflake. Color inside the lines.

Greed

While envy and lust can cause people to act out in pursuit of a prime parking location, it’s also up to the person who parked there not to let that position of power go to their head. When walking in a parking lot, it’s important to make your intentions clear. If you’re leaving and sense the parking lot stalker, a simple nod at your car will suffice to alert them that yes, you will be leaving.

If you’re going back into the store, shake your head so they can journey down the lot and continue to stalk someone else.

Sloth

The grocery carts have a home. The carts like to go to their home, which is clearly marked and not hidden in some cart corral cave accessible only through a series of security measures and secret handshakes. Moms who have to do their shopping with youngsters in tow get a pass—as long as they make an effort to put the cart where it won’t obstruct someone else’s ability to park—but for everyone else, laziness is no excuse.

A shopping cart left to run amok could possibly cause a great deal of damage and injury, not to mention those abandoned in empty spots will inevitably cause someone to pull halfway in before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. Nobody wins.

Wrath

How many times have you been driving through a parking lot when out of nowhere some lunatic comes speeding at you from the opposite direction—ignoring the yellow lines and arrows painted on the ground— and nearly causes a head-on collision?

News flash: Just because you’re pissed your wife sent you back to the store for tampons doesn’t mean the rules of the road don’t exist when a trip to Costco is involved. Follow the yellow brick road, so to speak. The arrows are there for a reason.

Pride

They say pride comes before the fall, and this applies to pedestrians walking down the middle of the lane as if they have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around them. Pick a side—any side—and no one gets hurt.

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P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.