Tag Archives: family

The Anatomy of a Garage Sale

Since we’re officially into summer now, I figured it was a good time to revisit my thoughts on the garage sale. I don’t know how it is where you live, but it seems I can’t drive 100 feet without seeing a cardboard sign with an arrow pointing me towards the sale of the century each weekend.

If you’ve never actually put on a garage sale yourself and tried to convince people they need to buy the crap you just don’t want, allow me to clue you in as to just how much fun they can be. I conducted a yard sale myself a couple years ago and feel I’ve recovered enough to talk about my experience.

The Night Before: You stay up late making tiny price tag stickers for all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. You’re naively psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your “inventory” at slightly over $5,000, give or take what you can get for those old curtains that came with the house you found stored in the attic.

6:30 a.m. The garage sale is scheduled to begin at 8 am, but a woman pounds on your door and tell you she “likes to get an early start.”  When you walk outside to let her “window shop,” you notice that there are five other cars in your driveway.

6:35 a.m. One of those cars is your crazy uncle—a black belt in flea markets, weekend auctions and roaming the beach with a metal detector—who is there to help manage the situation. He immediately lays claim to a yard tool he forgot he gave you last week.

9:30 a.m. You’ve sold a few things but are already annoyed with the fact that everything isn’t sold and you’re not counting your riches. A shopper offers you a dollar for your lawnmower that is brand new and not for sale.

You ask him to leave.

10 a.m. You look for your uncle and find him drinking Busch Light in a can and offering extras to shoppers for $1 a piece. He tells you he has sold three beers. At 10 a.m.

Noon: You leave the operation in the hands of your uncle/concession seller and go inside to get some lunch. A stranger knocks on your back door and asks to try on some T-shirts for sale, and another wants to know if you have “weenies to go with the beer.”

You ask them to leave.

12:30 p.m. When you return to the sale, you find your uncle slightly manic because he has sold a shovel, a set of garden tools and a hose for 50 cents each. You tell him that they weren’t for sale in the first place. He replies that he wondered why there were no price tags.

You ask him to leave. Of course, he won’t.

2 p.m. A group of college boys will stop by and start trying on some of your clothes in the driveway, conducting their own drag queen fashion show. Your mom will attempt to stuff dollar bills into their bejeweled belts (priced at 50 cents) and your uncle will offer them beer.

They are cute. You will not ask them to leave. In fact, you will give them the clothes, a few other items and several pathetic come-hither stares.

2:30 p.m. You decide things are taking entirely too long and start drastically slashing prices like an overzealous mattress salesman who does his own commercials. In fact, you just start giving stuff away and find that’s entirely more fun, especially because it pisses off your crazy neighbor lady who is trying to sell a holographic palm tree for $50.

4 p.m. You’re done. It’s hard to know what your take is for the day because at some point your uncle apparently sold the cash box. However, you find a dollar your mom dropped during the impromptu frat boy fashion show and seek out your uncle, who is digging through your “junk I’m throwing away” pile.

4:05 p.m. You buy a beer.

4:06 p.m. You vow never to do this again.

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When You Don’t Know What to Say

“The friend that holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” –Barbara Kingsolver

This quote has always spoken to me, and I was reminded of it recently when a friend going through a rough time said I “always know the right thing to say.”

I laughed to myself, as that sounded ridiculous to me. While I might be good at offering a perspective I fail to absorb in my own daily life—denial is truly a gift, my friends—most of the time I just ramble and hope that something might stick, that I might be able to help ease just a smidgen of pain.

My problem is that I’m a “fixer.”

Unfortunately, there seems to be a string of pretty crappy things happening lately that proves we all have “something” that we’re dealing with that’s out of our control.

There’s no greater feeling of helplessness than to know that someone you care about is sick, financially strapped, in pain—physically or emotionally—or, let’s be honest, dealing with death—the reality of their own or that of a parent, a friend, or the horror of the loss of a child.

There are no “right” words, and at some point you realize that things happen to you and happen around you that can’t be fixed.

And it’s not your job to fix them.

I think a lot of people unintentionally ignore these things at times, not because they don’t care, but simply because they can’t “fix” them and have no clue how to react. Those who are sick or aging aren’t necessarily the same people we’ve known them to be, and selfishly, we want them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so… mortal.

The realization that things will never be the same—and that you can’t fix it as such—is enough to make you stress yourself out in an attempt to save the world or conversely stay at home curled up in a ball, not dealing with it at all.

But just as much as you don’t want to deal with it, I can guarantee that the person who is sick or struggling doesn’t want to deal with it a million times more—but they do, often with courage and grace.

I think that in and of itself can be intimidating, the fact that you are lucky enough to be in a comparatively better position. The strength of those who aren’t can be inspiring beyond belief, but it can also make us question how we would be if faced with such a challenge.

It takes courage to face the unknown, but it’s much easier to do so when you’re on the right side of the coin, to be the one who has a choice.

But the fact is that as strong as they are or appear to be, they’re probably still scared. So we put the guilt aside for wanting them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so…mortal. Because at their core, they are the same people.

And you know what?

They know that you can’t fix things, and most don’t expect you to. They have no choice but to deal the hand they were dealt, and sometimes they just want you to hold that hand.

They don’t want to do it alone.

That’s one thing I—and you—can fix.

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I’m a Fixer


I’m a fixer.

Home improvements aside, if I see something that’s off in any way I have the urge to try and make it better. But there are certain things I just can’t fix, and it frustrates me to no end.

When I was little, the fact that my mom was in a full body cast or gone for weeks at a time for surgery was completely normal to me. I thought the X-rays showing all the hardware in her back and neck were neat, and we had a kick-ass collection of braces and medical stuff to use when my friends and I played around.

But as I got older, I realized that despite the fact that she tried to keep everything normalized, my mom was in pain. All the time. She still is. The realization that there was nothing I could do to make it go away left me feeling helpless. All the time. I still do.

At some point you realize that things happen to you and happen around you that can’t be fixed.

And it’s not your job to fix them.

I bring this up because there seems to be a string of pretty crappy things happening to those around me lately, and it feels like every day I’m confronted with another story that proves we all have “something” that we’re dealing with that’s out of our control.

There’s no greater feeling of helplessness than to know that someone you care about is sick, financially strapped, in pain—physically or emotionally—or let’s be honest, dying.

I think a lot of people unintentionally ignore these things at times, not because they don’t care, but simply because they can’t “fix” them and have no clue how to react. Those who are sick or aging aren’t necessarily the same people we’ve known them to be, and selfishly, we want them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so… mortal.

The realization that things will never be the same—and that you can’t fix it as such—is enough to make you stress yourself out in an attempt to save the world or conversely stay at home curled up in a ball, not dealing with it at all.

But just as much as you don’t want to deal with it, I can guarantee that the person who is sick or struggling doesn’t want to deal with it a million times more—but they do, often with courage and grace.

I think that in and of itself can be intimidating, the fact that you are lucky enough to be in a comparatively better position. The strength of those who aren’t can be inspiring beyond belief, but it can also make us question how we would be if faced with such a challenge.

It takes courage to face the unknown, but it’s much easier to do so when you’re on the right side of the coin, to be the one who has a choice.

But the fact is that as strong as they are or appear to be, they’re probably still scared. So we put the guilt aside for wanting them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so…mortal—because at their core, they are the same people.

And you know what?

They know that you can’t fix things, and most don’t expect you to. They have no choice but to deal the hand they were dealt, and sometimes they just want you to hold that hand.

They don’t want to do it alone.

That’s one thing I—and you—can fix.

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zazzle.jpg

Ba Ha-Ha-Humbug

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

While I would debate that fact for several reasons—that is neither here nor there—as the holiday season is here and there, and with it comes a variety of expectations. You see, we are often presented with “ideal” situations that in reality, fall a bit short.

But have no festive fear! No holiday season is perfect, and as long as you don’t hold things to the ridiculous standard often presented to us, your expectations will surely be met.

The Meals

Expectation: Martha Stewart is truly a genius in that she makes her beautiful soirees look elegant and effortless—and calls them “soirees” and not “dysfunctional family functions.” The food is perfect, the conversation is jovial and no one’s career choice, sexual preference or bodily functions are discussed.

And no one ends up drunk under the tree.

Reality: There will not be enough chairs. Someone will pronounce “hors d’oeuvres” as “whores de-vores” (that would be me). The food will be good, but conversation will cover someone’s career choice, sexual preference or bodily functions. There will be a debate over whether the plastic silverware can be reused for Easter and whether it’s pronounced “PEE-cons” or “pick-ONS,” which will lead to an inappropriate joke about nuts from that one creepy uncle.

Romantic Gifts (as presented in jewelry ads)

Expectation: Cue cheesy background music and a setting that involves a fireplace and gently falling snow. Two people are casually huddled around the tree with hot cocoa as he pulls out a small box to surprise her with a rock of some sort. They kiss and live happily ever after.

Reality: What they don’t show you is that later he poses under the mistletoe wearing nothing but a well-placed Santa hat, thinking that small little box with the bow has earned him at least a few nights of appreciation. She will be too busy tweeting a picture of the ring to show off to her friends to notice him—or care when she does—meaning the ornaments on the tree won’t be the only blue balls in the room.

Exterior Illumination

Expectation: That your house can be perfectly decorated with thousands of twinkling lights and décor in no time at all, with your handiwork serving as a beacon of light for all other holidays revelers.

You will never have to launch an investigation over this carnage. But on a positive note, Frosty has been fixed. A Festivus miracle!

Reality: Despite trying to put the light strings away “neatly” last year, they will come out of the storage container in an arrangement that looks suspiciously like a Noel noose made of tangled up wires. The ordeal will begin with a joke to make sure to call 911 if you fall off the ladder—ha, ha, ha!—and end with a simple wreath on the door after the discovery that half of the bulbs just don’t work, despite testing each one and hanging them up.

But even though most will experience a less-than perfect meal, sub-par gifts (make donations, not debts people) and defunct decorations, remember what’s truly important—family, friends and your holiday spirit(s).

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Take a Load Off

Are you sitting down for this one?

If you are, you’re probably doing it wrong, at least according to this ad I found in the back of a magazine last month.

squattypotty

According to the website—yes, I went to the website to see if this was a real thing—“It is Squatty Potty’s goal to change the way we poop, one ‘stool’ at a time.”

Doctors have deduced that “The ideal posture for defecation is the squatting position. In this way the capacity of the abdominal cavity is greatly diminished and intra-abdominal pressure increased thus encouraging expulsion.”

Enter Squatty Potty—and someone wearing white pants who looks really happy about encouraged expulsion.

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But that’s not all!

“This sturdy, custom-designed stool allows for full squatting and semi-squat seated positions on your existing toilets. And, when it’s not in use, it slides conveniently out of the way under the toilet.”

Now I’ve had my fair share of “elimination issues” throughout the years as a result of IBS and the abuse I put my poor body through, so I’m not poo-pooing this invention at all. I say do whatever you need to do (safely) to literally get your crap done.

But because I’m currently feeling about as mature as a 12-year-old boy, I got a kick out of reading these testimonials:

“I now always have a complete elimination every time—something I rarely had before. I dropped a few pounds as well and my stomach isn’t bloated. (LOL – guess I was full of shit.) My Asian friend also told me that short people (and children) are more affected by the damage caused by not squatting. Makes sense because I’m a petite woman—only 5’3″.

Perfect testimony combining racial references, a groan-worthy pun and the overuse of “text” speak.

“Now with my knees up, I’m knockin’ poops outta the ball park! The only fiber I need now is already in this sturdy pressed wood stool.”

For some reason I picture the person who said this to be a someone like Cousin Eddie who would slap his knee and say, “Shitter was full!”

“I lived for a year in India with a hybrid squatter/sitter toilet in my home and got used to the ultra-natural elimination that comes with hunkering down. Ever since then, it’s been an effort (often comical) to get my feet up on walls, tubs, chairs, shelves–you name it. Finally, I can get comfortable in my own bathroom here in the U.S., and my poop time has reduced by minutes. No more waiting!

They were apparently the Spider-Man of shitting.

“My mother-in-law was convinced that it works and she bought us one for a Christmas gift. I was very stubborn and didn’t even want to try it out. It sat in my bathroom for about 2 weeks before I tried it! So I sat down put my feet on the SQUATTY POTTY and before I knew it I had already had a bowel movement. It was amazing! I sent a text to my mother-in-law praising her for such a great gift!”

Interesting talk at family gatherings, I image.

Anyway, this is just in time for the holiday season, people. You’re welcome.

Now go take a load off.

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Hitting the Target

I was in Target the other afternoon for one thing, meaning the second I walked in I suddenly felt like I needed to buy ALL the things.

As I was walking down an aisle silently praising myself for not grabbing a shopping basket—if I only grab what I can carry, it cuts down on the damages—I saw a little girl with sun-bleached blonde hair and a deep summer tan by the toys.

She looked to be about four or five, but then again I’m a horrible judge of age when it comes to kids. She could be 12 with a criminal record for all I know, but she was little.

Anyway, a second later a boy who looked to be her slightly older, tanned blonde brother came and told her that their mom was waiting. She put down the toy and flip-flopped her way through the store.

I ran into the kids again a few minutes later with a woman who was unmistakably their mother. An older daughter and a baby added to the mix, all of them chatting and shopping — mom telling the boy that they had chips at home and the baby babbling happily from her perch in the cart.

For some weird reason I couldn’t stop looking, which wasn’t hard to do considering they ended up being those people that I kept running into every single aisle.

But I was struck.

This will sound weird coming from me, but the beauty of that seemingly average family scene really touched me in some way. Maybe it was the tans and identical blonde hair or the fact that the mom seemed like one of those moms that the neighborhood kids would all like. Maybe it was the way the kids seemed so fun or the fact that they were well-behaved.

I don’t know what it was, but something just drew me back in. So the next time that our paths crossed and we did that polite, “Yes, we’ve just run into each other again and I’ll give that fake smile once more” thing, I let her know.

“I’m not a weirdo or anything,” I said as we passed once again, which is always a good way to start. “But you have a beautiful family—and they’re all so polite, as well!”

With the baby moved to her hip, she looked stunned, as if I’d just told her the little blonde midget walking through all the toys did have a criminal record.

“Oh my gosh,” she said as she smiled a bit shyly. “You don’t know just how much that means. We have our moments, but yes, we truly are blessed. Thank you so much for that. Really, thank you.”

At that the baby began shrieking, the mom made a joke about how we had cursed things and we went our separate ways, the older kids politely not making any comments about the crazy lady with her arms full of ALL THE THINGS who refused to just grab a cart.

But along with unnecessary items, I also had a strong sense of peace. I know I will never walk into Target as a mom, and will probably never walk in as a wife. Those are experiences that will elude me, experiences I’ll never have, but those are the choices I make.

And while I have not one iota of doubt, regret or envy, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of what I don’t want or extend my admiration for those who chose paths that I’ll never walk down.

My path is mine. Her path is hers.

And that is a beautiful thing.

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Senior Moments: Hail Mary

June 21 is not only the first full day of summer, but also my grandma’s 90th birthday.

gramtiger1

This is how we party—batting helmets and bibs.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that she’s quite a gem, to say the least. I’ve written many posts about our “Senior Moments” at the home — everything from Bingo etiquette to dating advice — but I haven’t had many to share lately simply because there aren’t as many funny moments as there were in the past.

Heck, she’s 90.

You can’t expect her to tap dance and sing, although she often requests that my mom and I do a little of both. But she did call an old lady a cocksucker yesterday, so there’s that. Considering she’s 90, I suppose she gets a free pass on that one only because the woman referenced wasn’t a nun.

It could always be worse.

Anyway, the Tigers serendipitously had a day game today, so we spent the afternoon watching the game and treating her like the Polish queen that she is.

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There was a hot dog bar—which meant I had to explain once again to her that tube meat is not vegetarian so she could call me a spinster hippie—Cracker Jacks, decorations and cake.

It was also 352 degrees in that room, yet she still insisted on bundling up and telling us that she was cold.

gramtiger2

That’s her friend Evy that I named a doll after when I was little. I also had a doll named Gert and obviously no young friends. 

Anyway, as a mini-tribute I’m doing that annoying thing where I link back to some of the funnier old posts that you might have missed the first time around. (I promise my next post will be “new” and probably not improved.)

If you have a few minutes, I invite you to get to know the woman who inspired me to complete my first full phrase as a fat little baby — “goddamn dog.” She claims that she doesn’t know where I picked it up from, as it surely wasn’t from the 203 times a day she would yell at their old poodle Pokie to get off of the couch.

From that point on she only swore in Polish, which meant I only swore in Polish. At least at that point no one knew what the fat little baby was saying.

Again, it could always be worse.

So Happy 90th Birthday Gram.

I’m not sure I could love you much more.

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Senior Moments

Senior Moments Bingo

Senior Moments Opening Day

Senior Moments Dating

Senior Moments Fork Fight

It Was a Drive-By Beaching

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