Confessions of a Childhood Thumbsucker

I have a confession to make: I used to be a thumbsucker. Not the kind that did it out in public everywhere that I was taken, but done at night in the safety of my bed to help me sleep when I was little.

I don’t remember the initial introduction to this habit, but my mom said I was a few months old and never used a pacifier. What I do remember is that I had a white blanket with fringe on the end, and I would wrap a clump of the fringe around my little finger before pulling it off and smelling it while I sucked my thumb.

We apparently called this “Nonny Nose,” although I’m sure I would have come up with something more clever had toddler me been given the option.

But here’s where it gets interesting, as after the blanket, there was Bun.

Instead of bringing the fringe up to my nose when I sucked my thumb, it was his left ear—almost always the left one. Why? Because I slept on my right side—always facing the door in my room—and so his left ear was closest to me.

bun1I can’t tell you exactly what it was about that first in a series of OCD rituals, but I remember thinking that his (snot and spit-covered) ear smelled different with my thumb in my mouth. Also, the left ear was superior to the right and if I didn’t suck my thumb and smell his ear, I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

When we traveled up north to our trailer in the summer, I would sleep on the top bunk of our triple bunk beds. After the second time I fell out—I guess we had to make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke— we put in a bed rail. Because Bun often fell out, we tied a shoestring around his neck noose-like and secured him to said bed rail.

A bit dark, yes, but it did the trick.

Bun’s little withered body eventually began to show the wear and tear of being loved a little bit too much. It was a sad day when I finally let go of his scrawny little neck, but my dates were getting uncomfortable with the fact I let him keep his side of the bed.

I kid, I kid. We all know I don’t have dates.

But I have to confess that this ritual went on a lot longer than it probably did for most kids. I never brought Bun to sleepovers or anything, but when I got anxious it was a comfort to pop that thumb in to help me sleep.

I rationalized sucking my thumb was no worse than other kids who bit their nails, which I thought was gross. And it’s not like I was a 9-year-old turning to a beer or a jumbo box of Marlboro Lights every time life got to be a little too much or anything. Plus, it’s been said that the tip of the thumb has a sensory receptor that triggers the body to release endorphins and cortisol that help the body relax and feel happy.

Whatever. I just thought his stupid ear smelled good.

So what made me finally break the habit? Did I suddenly realize it must be stopped in order to blossom into a functioning member of society?

Sure, we can go with that. Or we can go with the real reason, which was that I was getting adult teeth and everyone told me that people who sucked their thumbs would be cursed with crooked teeth. The Tooth Fairy didn’t exactly leave that on a note, but that was the rumor I heard.

Perhaps it was too little too late at that point because I had to get braces a couple of years later anyway. Now whether or not the thumb sucking contributed to that or not is still unknown, but once I got them, that thumb stayed out of my mouth and those tiny rubber bands of pain went in.

But for those early, formative years, there was no greater comfort than a raggly white blanket and spit-covered plush.

Thumbs up to you, faithful friends.

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Stepping On My Seasonal Soapbox

The music, the decorations, the sale ads—the holidays are already here. While I promise to get back to humor next time, today I have to step on my seasonal soapbox.

fall

Like a lot of people, I sometimes find this time of year to be hard. Between the loss of family gatherings due to time and distance, the rampant and unnecessary consumerism, no holiday break, a dash of deep depression and a partridge in a pear tree, I would much rather just skip to January 2.

There won’t be a big family meal, and come Christmas there won’t be many—if any—gifts. Times are tight and money is even tighter, regardless of the date on the calendar.

I’ve never been bitter because we don’t have money for things, but I do get annoyed that others are so obsessed with those things.

However, I get it. It’s easy to feel pressured to buy things, eat foods that don’t make you feel good and stress about spending time with people you might not enjoy all that much except in small doses.

When that’s no longer an option, you learn a valuable lesson—be better, not bitter, and be thankful for all that you have.

So this time of year I really have to distance myself from certain things online and on TV, as I can’t stand seeing people filmed on Black Friday – ravenous for deals on TVs, cameras, phones, etc., people in malls pushing others over, obsessed with getting things.

Then they show Christmas Day.

The mall is quiet. People are home with their families. The holiday is over. Until the next shot when it’s Dec. 26 and people are right back at the mall again, ravenous for after-Christmas sales and replacing the gifts they didn’t want. It’s like somehow Christmas didn’t happen for some people. It didn’t fill the hole. It wasn’t enough.

It’s different when you’re a kid, or at least it was for me, and so I understand that it’s different for parents.

The holidays were a magical time with no worries, only wonder. The fact that parents can take the time to create fun traditions and keep that magic alive is priceless, and something I keep with me now.

Growing up I was lucky enough that every holiday dozens of people in my big Polish family would be crammed around tables full of food and conversation. And while I might remember a few of the special gifts that I got, those “things” aren’t first on my mind.

What I remember much more are the things that we did and said, making the food that we ate and places we went every year.

So this year with every Black Friday ad, every person complaining about “surviving the holidays” like it’s a terminal illness, I’m going to try not roll my eyes.

Instead when they complain about feeling burdened to buy gifts, I might kindly remind them to connect to why the person they’re shopping for is special to them and how they want them to feel when they open the gifts.

Instead of overcommitting to events that just leave them drained, try to take a moment to stop and take in the sights and the smells of the season. Step back and ask, “What do I want to remember?” And if they have kids, “What do I want them to remember?”

Because even though some things are unavoidable—crazy uncles making “breast or leg man” jokes around a dead bird carcass stuffed with stale bread, awkward company parties, people freaking out over red cups at Starbucks—there are some things we can control.

We can be thankful for things that we have and make the memories that we want to keep–and that doesn’t cost a dime.

(Steps off soapbox, trips, has a piece of broccoli fall out of my shirt that fell in there sometime while I was eating dinner.)

Let the season begin.

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Sarah from “Est. 1975″ Has Issues

First of all, Happy Halloween! As we’ve discussed, I’m not exactly into this holiday that much. In fact, this year I think I’ll just go as either “Gluten” so people avoid me or “Life” and just hand out lemons.

But there is one brave blogger who agreed to spill her issues here on this day of tricks and treats. I’ve only recently “met” her, but she won me over a couple of months ago with this post (read it after this one, of course, as right now it’s all about me.)

Actually, it isn’t. It’s all about Sarah, so here she is, my friends!

Sarah2 Name: Sarah

Blog: est. 1975

Where, what and why do you write?

Where: I write 99.99 percent of my material in bed. I put a shit ton of pillows up against the headboard and then I lean back and just do it to it. The only downside is that I get laptop burns on my legs if I’m not wearing pants. Which is more often than I’d like to admit. And also right now.

What: Most of my writing is of the comic variety but I have been known to branch out into other genres, particularly when publishing work on websites other than my own blog. I stick to the funny stuff on est. 1975 though, because I’m pretty sure my fans would hunt me down with fiery Internet torches if I didn’t.

Why: I write because it’s the only thing I’m even remotely good at.

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

“Waking up is bullsh*t and I hate it.”

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

Funny answer: About six months ago I started to inexplicably sweat a lot. Like a LOT. Through the armpits of my T-shirts, my underwear, the bottoms of my socks, etc. And the deodorant? IT DOES NOTHING.

Serious answer: I have a massive issue with social media. I hate it. I really, really hate it. And yet I absolutely rely on it to market myself, my blog and my freelance writing/editing business. I feel like I spend more hours of the day on social media than I do participating in anything else, and that bums me out worse than stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Amen. I use it for fun, but I hate feeling like I “have” to use it so I will forever be a peon and continue to use it selfishly for fun. I tried the serious thing and I’M STILL NOT RICH AND FAMOUS. Anyway, I have to think stinkbugs might be a problem given your sweating profusion? )

Three websites you visit every day.

I mentioned how I rely on social media for marketing and promotion, right? So I bet you can guess that my sad answer is Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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

I can crack an egg with one hand, and I don’t even get any shell in the bowl. Well, maybe one tiny piece.

Favorite place to be?

My bedroom. Unless there are stinkbugs in it. In which case I want to be as far away from my bedroom as possible.

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

  1. Every time anyone looks at their cell phone while driving, they have to pay me $5.
  2. Delusions of grandeur are forbidden.
  3. No stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Not to be rude, but I’m noticing a preoccupation with stink bugs, which might be something to explore in your next therapy session.)

What TV show would you want to appear on?

BBC’s Sherlock because Benedict Cumberbatch.

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

Best? A million of those little flavored milks.

Worst? Everything else.

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

“What are the three things you hate to do the most?”

This is a tough one because I hate to do so very many things. But okay, I’ll give it a shot. I think I‘d have to start off with laundry. Laundry is the ultimate “f*** you” household chore – it requires an unappealing amount of physical labor, there are way too many different mechanisms by which things can go wrong and worst of all, it is a chore that never really ends.

I also hate making phone calls to people I don’t know. Like SO MUCH. I have to seriously consider questions like this on an almost daily basis: “Would I rather call the dentist and make an appointment? Or would I rather let all of my teeth rot out of my head just so I don’t have to talk to some strange woman on the phone? Hmm. What to do, what to do.”

(Me again: Holy heck, yes. Although I would say “making phone calls to people” and not just limit it to people that I don’t know.)

The third thing that I hate to do the most is let a holiday go by without some sort of acknowledgement. So because today is Halloween, I wrote a limerick for you all to enjoy:

There once was a Halloween witch,

Whose cackle would make your eye twitch,

She had warts on her nose,

And 17 toes,

So she turned into one cranky bi*ch.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

In the spirit of the holiday, spill it: Best and worst Halloween candy? Best and worst costume you’ve worn? 

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I Can Show Myself Out

I’m really not anti-social.

It’s just that I’m pro-doing things by myself.

plans

While I enjoy people to a certain extent, it’s simply that I enjoy them in small doses and preferably online where I can pick and choose my level of social interaction—and simply click away when they feel the need to tell the world their daily diet or post pictures of their feet.

But when I’m forced into a (seemingly fun) social situation such as a holiday party or drinks with friends, I can openly admit that I’m more charismatic and enjoyable than one may expect. It’s like a social spark is lit, and if encouraged I can shamelessly own the room until I leave.

There’s the catch—the exit.

You see, I never know how to properly leave a social situation, but I always want to go—quickly. There is about a maximum two hour window, at which point I’m like Cinderella running down the stairs towards her pumpkin carriage before the stroke of midnight.*

*Just sub in a pair of running shoes and a Chevy Equinox for the glass slipper and carriage. But when it comes to the cleaning and talking to small animals, me and Cindy are practically twins.

I don’t know how to tell people that I only want to stay for an hour or so, as I don’t think “most people” would understand. “Most people” look forward to going out for hours and socializing, whereas I tend to get a little too excited when I am relieved of any social obligation that might leave me held against my will for an undisclosed amount of time.

So I make excuses both as to why I’m not going or why I have to leave, simply because I think it’s easier than going and saying, “This hour has been fun, but now I would like to go home, wash off this coat of mascara, turn on the game and crash on the couch. I can show myself out.”

That just seems rude.

If it’s a large event with tons of people, I can usually say a polite goodbye to the host and slip out unnoticed at a time of my choice. If it’s a small event though, I have to plan my escape accordingly and have a contingency plan securely in place.

But it doesn’t even have to be an event. It can just be a normal visit to a friend or my grandma that requires some sort of half-truth about how I have laundry in the dryer or that I have to go to the store, simply because I always feel the need to bail at some point 10 minutes short of a socially acceptable amount of time.

In my defense, I do go to the store a lot, so that is a plausible reason.

While I know that making an appearance is often good enough—and I do usually enjoy myself for that hour or so—the stress of the exit execution often drives me to write posts about the stress of the exit execution.

See how exhausting this is?

I just thought you should know that if you ever invite me anywhere, you have about an hour of quality time before I’ll start looking like a claustrophobic cat. Depending on your tolerance for socializing with me, an hour might be just the right amount of time.

Anyway…well, this is a bit awkward.

I’ll just say this post has been fun, but now I would like to go home, wash off this coat of mascara, turn on the game and crash on the couch.

I can show myself out.

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Christine from “Keeper of the Fruit Loops” Has Issues & a Giveaway

At first glance, you might think that you hopped onto the wrong blog because it would appear that the blogger spilling her issues today and yours truly don’t have much in common.

After all, I’m the childless, snarky spinster and she’s a mom who blogs about her family and running the PTA. However, I also know that all my dear readers aren’t moms who drink and swear or childless, snarky spinsters, so I’m deviating from the norm and featuring someone a few of you might relate to.

Don’t worry. Sunday’s post will be my dysfunctional business as usual.

But along with being funny, she’s also a bulldog. We were in “I Just Want to Be Alone” together and this woman could sell ass implants to Kim Kardashian and is as dedicated to what she’s passionate about as I am to not reading anything about the Kardashians. And pesto. Now you know that I mean business.

So without further ado, I present to you the Keeper of the Fruit Loops.

Christine1

Name: Christine Burke

Blog: Keeper of The Fruit Loops

First thing you think of when you wake up?

That depends. My “during the week” answer is: “How can I get downstairs ninja-style to avoid waking the kids so I can have coffee for five minutes in peace?” My “weekend” answer is exactly the same, only I’m thinking it an hour later than I usually do during the week.

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

The Ebola crisis. I mean, more people died going to work this morning than any American currently infected with the disease. And please, I can’t be bothered with Ebola minutia when Amal Alamuddin took George Clooney’s last name. Priorities, people. Priorities. Now, if George Clooney came down with Ebola, THAT’D be something worthy of my attention.

Three websites you visit every day?

I am assuming this question excludes Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And also The Weather Channel. If we are referring to actual websites, I read every single word Foxy Wine Pocket writes.

Real Life Parenting is like reading the dialogue in my head and she’s writing the words I’m about to say. It’s actually a little creepy, but I still check her goings on every day because it’s fun to see what I’m thinking.

Finally, I’m embarrassed to say I check MSN’s celebrity coverage every day. It’s like brain candy. I skip all the Kardashian stories though, because…Kardashians.

(Editor’s note: If we could combine Ebola and Kardashians, we might be on to something.)

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

I have been to all 48 states by car, the majority of which were while riding the hump seat squished between my two brothers in an early ’80s Chevy Cavalier. Though I suppose I could put that on my resume if I ever applied to a travel agency.

I can write backwards fluently and am adept at reading things upside down. That’s especially helpful for magazine quizzes because I’m too lazy to turn the magazine around to confirm I got the answers correct.

(Another editor’s note: She said, “hump seat.” Tee-hee.)

Favorite place to be?

The beach. Preferably with no kids near me asking for Fritos, sand toys and ice cream. Also preferable: a cocktail, book and no one else’s kids asking me for Fritos, sand toys and ice cream.

(Editor’s note again: Give the kids a cocktail. Problem solved.)

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

Everyone would be forced encouraged to read my blog, Random House would be forced encouraged to give me a book deal and absolutely NO ONE would be allowed to eat candy corn or circus peanuts. And anyone caught judging me would be subject to listen to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” on continuous loop until my reign ended.

What TV show would you want to appear on?

I have always wanted to be on The Today Show, because…Matt Lauer. Well, the Matt Lauer before all the Ann Curry ugliness.

Best/Worst Thing in your refrigerator right now?

Best: A kickass, slap your grandma delicious, homemade by moi chicken noodle soup. I made it last night from scratch and I’m already craving the leftovers.

Worst: A forty of Old English 800 given to my Hubby as a joke from a friend. So ridiculous.

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

Q: How did you find my blog and what do you love about it?

A: I was delighted to find your blog after being accepted as a contributor to IJWTBA. I fell in love with your hysterical Facebook updates and your blog makes me giggle all the time. In fact, your Facebook page is one of the few that I have in my personal feed AND my fan page feed (that’s huge, FYI). And, also, I’m so totally doing an “Abby Has Issues” Christmas for my friends…your quotes on mugs bring me great joy.

(Last editor’s note: I SWEAR I didn’t pay her to say that as I’m not rich enough to bribe people and even if I was, I would probably spend the extra money on additional snacks. My point is that I’m embarrassed that’s what she chose to reply with because I don’t really handle compliments well—or rejections, which means I pretty much don’t handle anything well—but I humbly accept this response.)

And because she’s a giver, we’re giving away a copy of “I Just Want to Be Alone” to a random person who comments on this post answering the question below. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and a random winner will be drawn on Monday morning and notified via email.

Even if you have a copy of the book, play along and then go check out her blog. I’ll see you back here Sunday.

In the spirit of Fruit Loops, what was your favorite cereal as a kid?

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Things That Scare Me More Than Halloween

As the plethora of pumpkins and décor would indicate, we’re getting closer to Halloween. And while I’m not really a Scrooge, I’m also not that into the holiday anymore.

I write about Halloween five months out of the year for one of my magazines at work, and if I want candy, costumes and creepiness, I can go to WalMart and wander among the shoppers any day of the week.

Plus, a lot of the “scary” things associated with the day like skulls, witches and spiders—okay, I’ll give you that last one—don’t really scare me at all. Even the stray black cat that hangs out here crossing my path doesn’t spook me at all, (although mouthing “you’re screwed” and giving me the finger when it walked by just seemed rude.)

Anyway, I even did the haunted house thing a couple of years ago but decided that I would never again pay $20 for people to jump out and yell at me when there were things in my daily adult life that scare me even more—for free.

halloween

Getting a notification that I’ve been tagged in a Facebook picture without having any idea what picture it is.

Sneezing while driving.

Seeing a picture of myself as a toddler in a bathing suit and realizing my boobs are still the same size.

Getting my mortgage statement.

Touching the remote control at the gym, or worse, being stuck on a cardio machine near someone who evidently marinated in Axe cologne.

Being selected as either Dr. Oz’s assistant of the day or “going to Flavortown” with Guy Fieri.

People without a sense of humor.

Seeing a bug inside, running to get a paper towel to dispose of the bug, and coming back to find the bug has since departed to regions now unknown.

Losing the Internet for more than five minutes.

Using a toilet away from home and having it refuse to flush.

Eating the last bite of something without realizing I just ate the last bite of something. I am never more emotionally unprepared.

Going to feed the birds and having a mouse jump out of the birdseed bag.

Three words: Company Teambuilding Activity

Accidentally hitting the switch for the garbage disposal instead of the light above the sink.

Trying on a shirt in a dressing room—scary enough as it is—but then getting stuck in said shirt, providing the security cameras with a panic-filled performance of attempted removal.

Typos.

Having to touch a bathroom door handle, noticing it’s wet, and not knowing if it’s because someone washed their hands or if they didn’t. (Thank god for hand sanitizer.)

My grandma trying to hook me up with the new 90-year-old resident at the home because, “I can’t afford to be picky anymore.”

Realizing more people will read a Buzzfeed quiz in one day to find out what their “Spirit Vegetable” is than will read my whole blog/books in a year.

(For the record, I would be a Brussels sprout—often steamed and rather bitter.)

So as you can see, Halloween really has nothing on my general day-to-day neurosis. Bring it on, Freddy Krueger. Bring it on.

What would you add to your list?

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Annie from “Swirleytime” Has Issues

Today’s brave blogger sharing their issues won me over not only because she’s funny or because she bribed me with the promise of the spare change she found in her couch, but because she’s also a) close to her mom and b) familiar with the role of caretaker.

We’re keeping things light today, but it reinforces the theory that humor can be used to heal. Then again, so can copious amounts of carbs and it’s really a toss-up some days and quite frankly, a win either way.

Anyway, meet Annie (and her mom, who she describes as a “vigorous greeter”.)

Anna2

Name – Annie

Blog www.chicagonow.com/swirleytime

 Where, what and why do you write?

I work from my jacked up office/playroom in Chicago. I mostly write about things that annoy me like my mom, my kid, the 12,000 construction projects currently going on around my house and people who park in rush hour lanes. As far as I am concerned, if you block traffic due to pure asshattery, you deserve to get your car keyed.

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

“Who is this man sleeping next to me?” Then I slink out of bed, quietly open an overstuffed drawer and put on pants. Only after I am clothed do I whisper to myself. “That man sleeping in bed is named Lee-Roy. He is my husband. You are a total freak for all the wrong reasons.” This is 100 percent true 90 percent of the time.

(Editor’s note: I think the same thing, except it’s “Where did this almond on the pillow come from?” right before I shrug and just eat it. This is 100 percent true 100 percent of the time.)

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

Merge lanes. Specifically assholes who deem it acceptable to sit in your blind spot as you try to jump on the highway at speeds faster than 4 MPH. And just as you enter their lane, they move over to the right to exit. Dicks.

(Another note: Yup. We’ve been over this. It’s remarkable how we’re the only people on the planet who don’t drive like Helen Keller.)

Three websites you visit every day.

I want to say BBC (because I am international like that), Lumosity (I am too cheap to subscribe) and Epicurious because I am a fancy foodie. But that would be a lie. If I am being honest Bradsdeals (you’ve got to spend money to make money, fools), ChicagoNow and Slate.

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

I can recite pretty much the entire script of Overboard (1987) from memory. “Andrew, are you going to bring me my lemonade or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?”

Favorite place to be?

Movies. Phone off, kid hopefully with sitter, endless carbs, stealth consumption of booze and a break from the chaos inside my noggin.

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

Creation of season six The Wire would be federally mandated and funded.

People who:

  • text and drive,
  • stand on the left (walking) side of escalators,
  • turn off their lights on Halloween so kids don’t ring their bell, and
  • shame moms for doing this or that. They should be rounded up and systematically punched in the babymaker.

What TV show would you want to appear on?

Freaks and Geeks. Preferably as a geek, though I suppose they aren’t mutually exclusive categories.

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

Can of Ready Whip and 4-week-old Brussels sprouts. And some moss. A lot of moss.

(Editor’s note again: So…the Ready Whip is the best thing?)

What question do you wish I had asked you?

Does wearing a Lululemon sweatshirt I was given as a gift make me an a-hole because I don’t do yoga? I’m not one of those ridiculous people who spends $300 on yoga pants and gets them hemmed–HEMMED–like the Lululemonites. But if i take the zipper toggle off, it becomes less obvious. It’s just a black sweatshirt and I like the thumb hole thingies that keep your hands warm, but now i feel like a huge hypocrite.

(Last editor’s note: This is a dilemma. Normally I would say anyone who spends more than $50 on yoga/exercise pants is crazy, but considering it was a gift, wear it. Especially seeing as you’re in Chicago. You need to keep those fingers warm so that the middle one can be used to express your delight at people who don’t know how to merge. You’re excused. )

With that cleared up, go check her out after you play our game. SHARING IS CARING.

Speaking of “questionable” clothes, I have to admit that I have my “good T-shirts” and my “home T-shirts” (along with “good” yoga pants and “home” yoga pants.)

What is your “I probably shouldn’t wear this out in public” article of clothing? 

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