Tag Archives: advice

You Get What You Give

I’ve been given a lot of advice over my 30 years on this planet, and there’s no way I could ever single out what I would consider to be the “best” sentiment.

From my grandma’s endless wisdom and constant reminders not to park next to a white van with no windows to the nurse who told me to do one thing every day that scares me, I would say it’s all been valuable (and taken with a grain of salt—wise advice in and of itself.)

But I am always brought back to:

“You get what you give.”

And while most of the time it has nothing to do with materialistic things but rather a giving of yourself to the universe, the giving of gifts is brought to the front as the holiday season rolls around.

The gift of pets being terrorized by holiday garb.

Along with my aversion to gluttony when it comes to the food—I checked, and green bean casserole is still not on the endangered species list since my post—I have an even greater aversion to the gluttony of consumerism that happens each holiday season, a time often filled with overspending and underestimation of what kind of gift would matter the most.

Before you apply the Scrooge label on my, let me explain.

My line of thinking is that something from the heart trumps superficial items that no one really needs and/or no one really wants but receives out of obligation and convenience.

In other words, you won’t find me camped out at Best Buy for three days to buy some video game/phone that will be available for sale a week later, going into debt at the mall to show someone how much I care or knocking down old women in Walmart on Black Friday.

To each their own, but the obsession with things bothers me.

Unless those things are cats in hats. (Old picture, RIP Wendell.)

My family agrees, so we pick and choose a few special things to get each other and try and do something nice for those who can’t afford the “needs”—usually the local Humane Society—instead of buying things we want. It’s much more satisfying.

But with that said, I love finding a few special things for someone.

I love the second I see or decide to make it, and because I’m me, I want to give it to them that second. I have never been given the gift of patience, and when I have something special up my sleeve, it’s hard not to pull it out like the fabric softener sheets I usually find up there halfway through the day.

And when I get a gift like that, it isn’t the present itself, but the fact that someone randomly thought of me and took the time to let me know. I want to give that feeling out to someone else, and even though it might feel like a waste at times—does anyone even care?—I have to believe that they do.

After all, if frustration stopped everyone from giving a piece of themselves, then no one would get to enjoy the simple, thoughtful gestures that make the holidays—and every day—a little bit brighter.

You get what you give.

Although I consider this my one and only rambling holiday consumerism rant of the year,  this post was also in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:

The Best Advice

P.S.  I truly am horrible at holding on to things I could give away—another reason I will never have kids—so I have to say that there will be something you can both get and give on this blog in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned.

Carry on.

Farmers Mark-etiquette

This past weekend I went to the Farmer’s Market for what will probably be the last time this year, as Michigan tends to get cold and nasty in the blink of an eye.

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It’s not as fancy as other Farmers Markets, but I love it.

Since I’m still in the “denial” stage of the temporary end of this relationship, I figured I would write a post about our courtship before I progress to the anger and mourning stages of this transition.

Actually, this post was sparked by a few things I observed and overheard the last time I went, so thank you to the douche canoes that neglected to use what I consider Farmer’s Mark-etiquette.

Let’s begin.

Most markets bring in an eclectic mix of people—everything from yuppies with their soy half-calf sugar-free oxygen enriched lattes and hippie types with their messy ponytails and fair trade sandals made of bamboo bark to  families and people like me—most often clad in yoga pants with my reusable tote, ready to knock over the elderly and small children for the perfect loaf of mini pumpkin bread.

In other words, it’s a bit of a market melting pot.

There are a couple of rules that are spelled out on signs, one of them being “no dogs” in the actual market area due to the close quarters.

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This doesn’t stop people from stuffing the little ones in bags and sneaking them in, a sight that continues to amuse me on an almost publically unacceptable level.

There are also rules that aren’t spelled out, perhaps assumed as common sense. However, if you’ve ever talked to another human anywhere, you know there should be no assumptions when it comes to common sense.

So if I were deemed the Market Queen for a Day—a position I anoint myself with in my head every time that I go—here are the rules I would post:

  • They are samples people, this is not a buffet. Take one or two and move on.
  • Dogs might not be allowed, but children are. With that said, strollers that are three-wide and plow through like a semi need to be banned. Also, it is not cute when your child who is just learning to walk is staggering down the center of a busy aisle at the pace of a turtle, causing people to run into each other, possibly smashing delicate produce and toes.
  • Bring your own bags, if possible, as carrying around 12 plastic bags while touting your earth-friendly awesomeness paints a picture of confusion.

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Now that, Alanis, is irony. Rain on your wedding day is just shitty luck.

May I suggest you do not say the following things:

  • These carrots/radishes/etc. have dirt on them!
  • Do you have change for $100 bill?
  • If I buy two pounds at $2/lb, can I get a discount?
  • Were these parsnips humanely killed?
  • It’s cheaper at Wal-Mart.
  • How come you never have fries or creamed corn?
  • Do you use the good pesticides?
  • How much for just one?

While breaking any of these Farmers Mark-etiquette rules is not a punishable crime, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that other market goers might harbor inclinations to beat you senseless with a preservative-free baguette or sharpen their aim with a fresh arsenal of golf ball-sized (dirty) radishes.

And as Market Queen for a day—at least in my own head—I can’t promise I won’t join them.

What crimes against carrots and common sense have you observed at the market ?

Senior Moments: Dating

It’s time for another installment of Senior Moments and the genius that is my 90-year-old grandma. We’re back in the dining room again, but this time the meal is not the center of attention, but rather the lack of a beefcake in my life—a subject that has been brought up on more than two (or 202) occasions.

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Seeing as my grandma was married when she was 18, the fact that I’m 30 and single still baffles her mind. However, at 90 years old, people who refrigerate their perishable items still baffle her mind.

At any rate, I’ll set the scene.

It was me, Gram, a resident we’ll call J and her (single, middle-aged) daughter, B at the table—the usual crew. The nurse doing meds in the dining room was not a crowd favorite, and Gram loudly proclaimed her to be a pain in the ass multiple times throughout the meal. I didn’t tell her to be nice. The nurse is a pain in the ass.

The pain in the ass walked by our table and in a fake smile on her face and told J she was looking nice. Gram looked at her with disgust, picked up her fork and pointed it at J before saying, “That woman can eat shit.”

I grabbed Gram’s arm and did the, “Gram, shush” thing before she dared me to “shush” her again with her death stare usually reserved for ballgames and people trying to take away her mashed potatoes.

“She can eat shit,” Gram continued, keeping her eyes on me before looking back at J, “because J knows she looks nice every day. She doesn’t need that pain in the ass to tell her that.” 

I was glad I didn’t shush her. 

With that she winked at J, set down her fork and proceeded to go on dispensing advice like a Polish Dr. Laura. Apparently two of the young aids were talking to Gram about dating that week, something she felt the need to tell me and B about over her pistachio pudding pie and coffee.

We were told the following things:

  • When I was younger, it was about finding a good Polish man. If you were bored, it was because you were too picky or not trying hard enough. If he’s boring, go bowling with him. There’s nothing boring about bowling. Just remember to let him win once or twice.
  • Don’t be so stubborn. He doesn’t have to look like a movie star or make a lot of money. You don’t want ugly kids, but if you wait too long, you won’t have any kids at all.

B and I met eyes at this, and it’s possible I rolled mine, prompting Gram to say, “Did I mention you by name? Did I say that you’re too old and too picky?” before moving on with a shrug.

  • You have to spice things up. I remember your grandpa would come downstairs while I was doing the washing and bend me over the washing machine. Sometimes I was annoyed, but it never lasted long enough for me to care.
  • If you’re in a car with a man and he starts to get fresh with his hands, tell him to knock it off. If he doesn’t listen, open the door and kick his ass out of the car. Tell him to go find a floosy on the avenue and then take yourself out for ice cream.

With that she returned her focus back to finishing her coffee before leaning over and conspiratorially whispering, “Abby, come here.  You see that woman at the table across from us?”

I looked and saw the same 85-year-old woman that always sat across from us gumming at a cookie.

“Look at how her bra strap is showing and her shirt is falling down,” Gram said with disgust, wiping her hand on her John Deere “clothing protector” before continuing. “Men don’t find that attractive. It’s sloppy. Take note of that.”

“I don’t think she even knows it’s showing Gram, as her oxygen tube probably moves her shirt around,” I said, not adding that an 85-year-old woman was probably not trying to snag a man when she couldn’t even snag a pea with a fork.

“That’s no excuse,” Gram said with a scoff. “She looks cheap.”

A male aid walked up and wheeled the senior slut away, providing an opportunity for Gram to tell me that when she was my age, “Well, I would have been married for 12 years at that point, but if I wasn’t, I would sink my clamps into that beefcake.”

Drained of the will to argue much more or explain that the definition of “beefcake” for  a 30-year-old woman in 2011 wasn’t a homosexual male nurse with bigger boobs than my own,  I simply looked at her and felt a wave of affection wash over me.

“Gram, come here,” I whispered conspiratorially. “I love you.”

She turned to me and with said with a sigh, “Abbuchucka, I love you so much that it hurts.”

She was quiet for a moment before adding, “Then again, that might just be gas from the crap that I ate.”

With that I gave her a kiss, smoothed back her hair and told her I had to head home. She gave me the standard warning to be careful and not pick up any strange men.

“Then again,” she said with a wink, “maybe you should just take what you can get.”

Well played, old woman, well played.

Beware the Mall

Today I will use this blog to educate the dozens of you that flock here on a monthly basis to skim my posts.

Why? Because the mall can be a dangerous place.

The fact that I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for clothes is not a secret. While I enjoy walking around the mall on occasion, the general premise of immersing myself in an environment of consumerism and hormonal teenagers is not exactly my idea of enjoyment—minus the bookstore, of course.

And while I realize that shopping in Michigan pales in comparison to shopping in big cities like L.A. and New York, I thought I would pass along a few of my tips for surviving the mall—a mall PSA of sorts—for those of you who share my sentiments.

  • First of all, if you don’t have money to spend on anything “extra,” you will come across 1,001 things that you actually like and want to buy. If you have a gift card or money to spend, you will find nothing. With that in mind, proceed. 

Scent of a Woman—or Man

  • The perfume counter is a trap. I try and rush through this maze of pink packaging, celebrity endorsement posters and overpowering scents  without making eye contact with anyone wearing the minimum 3 lbs of facial makeup, a nametag and a fake smile. They will corner you and spray you with things that you will not be able to scrub off for days.
  • The cologne counter holds it’s own danger, at least for me. I’m not proud, but I pick up the bottle, a sample strip and spray—brought right back to the one that got away (insert semi-happy sigh.)

*However, other colognes remind me of the one that stayed too long. I don’t stop to smell those. In fact, I might just give the evil eye to anyone who walks by wearing that particular scent.

Gangs

  • Beware the teenage girls! They travel in packs and although their behavior is predictable, it can still be a cause of concern. You can spot them by their clothing—either they try entirely too hard or not at all. For example, they will be overdressed in an outfit more appropriate for a dance club than the mall,  despite the fact they have never paid for a piece of clothing themselves (minus the thongs and lacy bras they bought without their parents knowing.)

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  • On the other hand, some will feel it’s socially acceptable to wear pajama pants—occasionally rolling down the waist to reveal aforementioned thong—and flip-flops. While I’m not fashionista, I would think that if you took the time to put on makeup and the Bump-It in your hair in an effort to impress the dude working in GNC, you could find a pair of pants that you haven’t slept in. 

* Their male counterparts do not pose such a risk, despite their Bieber-esque façade. They are simply there for the food and the girls, in that order.

Germ Gym

  • Filled with things for them to climb on, slide down and fall off of, the children’s play area is a breeding ground for everything that will cause you to feel miserable. This can be the result of the loud screaming, both by parents and children, or the fact that every germ from every disease will be crawling around said play area and soon transferred to other shoppers walking by. Avoid this area at all costs.

* However, if you are a parent of the teenage girls above, make them sit there for an hour and observe—best birth control ever. 

Technical Difficulties

  • Just walking through the mall can be dangerous, not because you might be inclined to trip over your own feet or going up stairs like some people who blog, but because of technology. People will be walking in groups and texting other people in groups, meaning there are numerous groups of people walking around with their heads looking down or stuck up their ass.
  • They will not appreciate it when your stubbornness does not allow you to yield to their rudeness, they run directly  into you and you snarkily excuse them when they fail to do so themselves. They will scoff, glare and most likely text about what an asshole this person at the mall was.

*You can do the same.

Book It

  • The bookstore is pretty much a safe environment, although you do have to watch out for paper cuts and falling subscription cards from the magazines you stand there and read for free instead of actually buying. Plus, there is always the danger of spending too much money, but if you have to spend it on something at the mall, you can’t go wrong with books.

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So I hope you at least learned something from this post so that your time has not been wasted.

If you haven’t yet, I will leave you with the fact that a Komodo dragon uses it’s long tongue to pick up smells in the air, zeroing in on rotting meat from more than a mile away.

If you knew that, I got nothing, which is how I came home from my last trip to the mall-except for that paper cut.

Do you have any mall dangers you care to share with the class? The more educated we are about these things, the safer we will be.  

Snowpocalypse

People who actually use the word “snowpocalpyse” should be dragged out back and beaten with a wet noodle. It’s not clever, and in fact, it’s quite annoying.

These same people most likely shorten the name of things that are already shortened or combine the two names of a couple. I repeat—it’s not clever, and in fact, it’s quite annoying.

Pardon me if I sound a bit cold—emotionally, not physically—but I am in Michigan and they are once again predicting the biggest storm of the season to hit later this week, with around 10-16 inches predicted for the area.

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snow2

This was last year’s storm of the season.

If you live in a state that actually has winter—and 50 degrees does not count as winter to all you California dreamers that complain about rain—you expect that snow will be part of the forecast. But whether it’s because we’re all stuck inside for these cold winter months or because CSI: NY is in reruns and we’re bored, people tend to go crazy and get obsessed with the weather (and use words like “snowpocalypse.”)

Here are several things that will happen:

  • Manic meteorologists will spend more time telling you that their station has been tracking the storm longer than anyone else than they will actually spend talking about the storm itself. This is their Super Bowl.
  • Even if no snow has fallen yet and it has been discovered that there is a recall on oxygen for the entire planet, the news will still lead off with a “breaking news” bulletin to tell you about the impending snowy doom of the area. And remember, you heard it there first.
  • Facebook will become the repository for complaints about it being snowy and having to shovel or about the meteorologists being wrong if the storm does in fact pass by without declaring war against our four-wheel drive.

shovel

  • There will be multiple jokes about the lack of global warming. None of them will be funny.
  • Kids everywhere will be making silent deals with the devil in order to have a snow day, while parents everywhere will be making silent deals with the devil in order to send them off to school.

snowday

  • People who have lived through multiple winters will still neglect to brush the snow off their car and turn on their lights before proceeding to forget how to drive.
  • A majority of people will decide that they have to stock up on toilet paper, bread and shovels and talk about nothing except the snow. In Michigan. In winter.

I’m not saying I like the snow— I don’t—but it’s expected and inevitable. I am exponentially less pleasant to be around when we lose power, so as long as that doesn’t happen, I can survive.

(And for all of you who tell me to move to a warmer climate, thank you for the suggestion. That will be feasible as soon as I am discovered as the next “Dear Abby” and given a column and condo in California or swept off my feet by a tropical Romeo. The likelihood of either being less than that of a “snowpacalypse” in hell.) 

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Anyway, here’s my advice:

  • Make sure that your car has a full tank of gas and emergency provisions in case you get stuck—boots, gloves, blanket, flask of Vodka—the basics.
  • Don’t rent a new release from the video store, as you will be required to leave your snow shelter to return it the next day under the threat of a possible late fee.
  • Stock up on the essentials you will need to get your through not one, but possibly two (gasp) weekdays without going to the store.
  • Be prepared to shovel and listen to everyone else complain about having to shovel—usually the same people that complain it’s too hot in the summer.
  • Remember that despite the current snowy situation, Opening Day for baseball season is just two months away.

That, my friends, warms even my cold little heart.

Well, That’s Awkward

I find it appropriate that even the word “awkward” is awkward to spell and to say. The more you look at it, the weirder it gets.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but for me there are some situations that are awkward. They’re not embarrassing or anything, just uncomfortable.

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I have a few examples of my own that I’ve noticed lately.

Bathroom Break

Of course bodily functions are going to make an appearance on this list, but don’t worry—nothing gross. The thing is that at work, we have a bathroom for both sexes right next to each other. While there are two stalls each, it’s basically a one-person-lock-the-door-and-do-whatever deal.

Because of where they’re located though, you are constantly passing people as they’re going into the bathroom. This doesn’t sound awkward, but it kind of is. You smile and say “hi”—even though you’ve seen that person  a dozen times already that day—just as they’re walking in to do their thing. We all know what they’re doing, we all do it, but it’s still just kind of weird.

* It’s also awkward when you pass that person going into the bathroom, get up 20 mins later to go find them and discover they’re still in there. However, they will come out at the exact second you are walking by the bathroom to go back. Avoid eye contact and shoot them an e-mail instead. 

Run the Water

There is also the “run the water” moment. This happens when a woman is in the bathroom (not on the toilet) and another walks in to pee. Do you keep doing what you’re doing or run the water so you don’t both have to listen to the stream? Do you make conversation while she’s peeing?

Let’s move on.

Graceful Exit

This is going to sound ridiculous, but part of the reason I don’t always enjoy going to social things is that I never know how to leave. I’m usually one of the first people to leave a party—either because I’m old, bored or not drinking—and I never really know how to make a graceful exit.  No matter what I do, it’s weird to leave. I usually wait for someone else to head out and just join in the good-byes with them—group support.

Random Run-Ins

It seems that whenever I run into someone randomly—at the grocery store, book store, etc.—I will continue to run into that person multiple times in the following minutes. The first time around, chit chat is fine and expected, but what about subsequent run-ins? If I just talked to you in produce, do I have to talk to you again in dairy and then again in the cereal aisle?

Even though they probably don’t expect me to acknowledge them every time, it still feels weird  to see them and not say anything. However, it doesn’t really feel as weird as seeing them for the fifth time in five minutes and pretending to have something new to say.

Avoidance

It sounds rude, but don’t tell me you’ve never seen someone you know in public (see above situation) and purposely avoided them. Sometimes you don’t want to get stuck talking, sometimes you look like you fell off the white trash train—whatever the reason—you’ve done this. I’ve even done this with people that I like.

What stinks is when you let down your guard for one minute—maybe you sneeze, both blacking you out for a second and drawing attention to yourself—and they make their way over. They mention they saw you earlier but you must have missed their wave.

Nod. Yes, that’s exactly what happened.

Stick with that.

Miscellaneous Awkwardness

When you’re walking somewhere—a hallway, an aisle, etc.—and someone you know is really far away, but you don’t want to make eye contact too soon. However,  you don’t want to miss it, so you look at them then quickly look away, then look up again a second later.

Watching a movie rated anything above PG with people you’re not that familiar with and having a steamy scene last a little too long. 

Recognizing sexual innuendo (and perhaps giggling) when no one else does.

Giving an automatic reply, such as “You too,” “Love ya, “ etc. in situations where it absolutely makes no sense.

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Saying goodbye to someone and then continuing to walk the same way as that person.           

Like I said, these are just a couple that I’ve come across lately. They’re not embarrassing, just uncomfortable—much like typing the work “awkward” entirely too much. But I’ll do it two more times…

To avoid that awkward blog silence, tell me I’m not alone in this. Do you have any reoccurring slightly awkward moments to share?                       

New Year, new round of FYIs

It’s been awhile since I’ve done FYIs, so I thought the new year would be a good excuse to scrounge up another round. They’re not really seasonal in nature, but whenever I write something serious I doubt posting, I always feel like I have to hurry up and write something else right away.

So without further ado, FYI:

While they say a watched pot never boils, the second you turn your back and start doing something else, it will completely spill over.

You have to let down your guard to let someone in.

It’s easier to just buy new mini-blinds than it is to try and clean them. (The same goes for shower curtain liners, but to a lesser extent.)

No one should own a pair of Pajama Jeans.

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If you find yourself saying “but I was only trying to help” a lot, you’re not helping (especially if helping involves gifting a pair of Pajama Jeans.)

Be better, not bitter.

Sundays are for washing floors and clothes, not for washing hair.

When you don’t have money to buy something, you will find a bunch of things you want to buy. As soon as you are given gift cards, you will be unable to find anything at all.

“Anonymous” is blog speak for “Chicken Shit.”

You can’t be in a bad mood if you’re dancing.

When you get a flat tire, you fix it. You don’t slash the other three. My point? Even if you take a step back with resolutions, you can always take the next step forward.

We always hear about the “good old days.” If that’s the case, then 10 years from now we’ll look back at these times as the “good old days,” so enjoy each day right now.

Then again, I much preferred Gilad’s “Bodies In Motion,” Denise Austin and Jack La Lanne to Jillian and Jackie Warner, so maybe I’m full of crap.

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Don’t fill silence with assumptions.

In life, it seems the group of people who are easily offended and the group of people who are easily confused tend to be the same group.

Since Joel McHale still hasn’t called, I’m moving on to Daniel Tosh (but Joel still had a standing invitation.)

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Say what you mean, mean what you say. Never say sorry for feeling that way.

There are two kinds of people—those that eat the skin on baked potatoes and those that don’t. The cool people eat the skin. (This logic does not apply to bananas.)

You can—and will—always be humbled by something or someone. This is a good thing.

People with the least amount of responsibility will continually complain about being too busy.

Adding Brussel sprouts to a Whopper does not negate the fact that it’s still a freaking Whopper.

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Contestants on cooking shows—Iron Chef or not—sweat entirely too much for any of the food to look appetizing.

Every minute of the day is not an emergency or something to urgently be filled with something, anything. Busyness does not equate with productivity, so breathe, prioritize and make time for yourself.

I constantly have a “writer’s voice” running dialogue through my head—observations, poems, ideas—and it’s exhausting.

Because of this, I would love to give my brain a break and read your FYIs. (OK, the two are completely unrelated, but I love your FYI comments.)

So, if one of your resolutions was to comment more on random rambling blogs, I am presenting you the chance to succeed. Why wait until tomorrow?