Tag Archives: shopping

Home Depot: You Can Do It. He Can Help.

Hi! I’m Jake—not from State Farm, ha ha—and would like to welcome you to Home Depot. I couldn’t help but notice you looked a little bit lost, so please allow me to show you around!

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First, I commend you for taking on this mission on a Saturday afternoon. That takes great courage in my book, as weekends can make for a rough climate around these here parts when all the home project “entre-manures” come out.

But remember, the “D” in “DIY” doesn’t have to stand for “Destruction!”

Just stick with me, kiddo. I’m trained and know the path that runs along the electrical aisles and merges into the lumber supplies. We can flow freely through baths and faucets and I can help with any of your organizational needs. The windows and doors? Merely entryways into the land of purchasing power and ease.

Heck, are you single and ready to shingle? I can be your personal stud finder—ha!

Anyway, I know the merits of preparation, so let’s grab a cart, devise a plan and get started. We’ll move swiftly, like a Swiffer on a linoleum floor—Aisle 5!—and we won’t wander off the path to sniff the Glade scented votives—Aisle 12!—or check out the area rugs—endcap on Aisle 7!—unless those are things on your list.

By the way, what is the first item there on your list? Weather stripping? If only that was as sexy as it sounds, am I right? Sorry. I’m very lonely. Let’s move on.

(Ahem.)

Though our impulse may say otherwise, we will not look directly at the 1,353 different paint sample cards or stop to ponder why there are also candy and beauty supplies mixed in with the screws and power tools. We will simply accept that this establishment is basically stocked with enough supplies to survive the zombie apocalypse.

You would never have to leave!

Now I realize this can be overwhelming and that the smell of lumber can be intoxicating, so it’s normal to panic at times. But instead of cowering down in the pre-assembled clubhouses or getting tangled in the hammocks on display in the outdoor furniture area, I suggest you accept failure to remember everything you need.

Don’t think of this as your only trip to the store. No, think of this as the first of many on a journey to not just home improvement, but PERSONAL improvement. We learn from our mistakes, and buying the wrong size furnace filter doesn’t just build up your bill—it builds knowledge and builds character.

And don’t forget that no matter what happens: You can do it. I can help.

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The 5 Stages of Shopping at Target

Listening to people talk today, Target seems to be the suburban equivalent of Las Vegas. There are no clocks on the wall, no windows to let you gaze outside and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pump oxygen throughout the store to keep you alert.

I’ve heard it suggested they might as well implement at $25 cover charge, as it seems to be impossible to walk out of the store without spending at least that amount. And as aware as I am of the hypnotizing logo and siren song of sales, I still find myself traveling through the five stages of shopping at Target every freaking time.

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Denial

I’ll only go in for one thing. In fact, just to ensure that I make it quick, I’m going to drink at least 24 ounces of tea and water—not Starbucks from the Target location, as that will simply caffeinate my craziness—and “forget” to use the bathroom before leaving. Given my aversion to hovering above public pissers, this is a fool proof plan.

Plus, if I go at a time in which the store is most likely to be full of screaming children who feel they need ALL THE THINGS when in fact they just need a nap, the constant soundtrack of shrieks will serve as a not-so-subliminal reminder that although the appeal of a discounted chevron towel in the SAME EXACT COLORS as my kitchen—only $4!—my greater desire will be to escape from the ear-splitting screams.

Anger

After finding the one thing I went in there for, I come across bright colored melamine plates that would look great stuck in my cupboard for months—only $2!—and a 3-pack of gel fresheners in a variety of seasonal scents—only $2.79!

What the hell, Target? This wasn’t in your ad and I didn’t bring my 75-cent off coupon! I haven’t planned for these additional purchases! Crap. I also have to pee.

Bargaining

Even though I only came in here for one thing, at least I didn’t grab a cart. I WILL NOT GRAB A CART—or as I prefer to call them, “enablers.” Better to carry what I “need” by hand so that I have a palpable feel as to my prospective purchases. If I can’t carry it, I don’t buy it.

Depression

Crap again. I can carry a lot in my arms.

Acceptance

Fine. You win. Where the hell is the wine aisle? I might as well go all-in. A full-bodied red would look lovely in the two new Room Essentials wine glasses I have perched precariously on top of the Nate Berkus towel I found over on clearance. Next time I’ll stick to the plan, but this is simply too good to miss.

Now where are the bathrooms again?

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Out With the Old

Remember that trip to Kohl’s in which I actually found shoes?  Well, you know where those shoes are now?

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Still in the box in my dining room—a month later.

Now do you see these shoes?

shoes2

These are the old janky ones I’ve had for around six months, and I can’t tell you how many miles I’ve logged in these suckers.

From going to the gym, for walks or to work, they’re basically my go-to footwear every single day. But as my stellar photography attempted to display, you can see that they’re not exactly in the best of condition.

I’m not blind. I can see that.

I can also see the box with the new shoes sitting right there on the floor.

I’ve walked by the box a million times, usually after taking off my worn-out shoes above, and the rational thought crossed my mind that I should just make the switch. I should demote the old pair to my “garden” shoes and lace up the new ones for every day use.

But yet…the old pair isn’t dead! There’s still some life in those laces!

I realized I do this with quite a few things, and perhaps this is simply a cry for help or an intervention that necessitates multiple snacks and a cocktail or two.

I start running out of something or fear I’m wearing things out, so I buy another new (insert anything here—vegetable steamer, pair of yoga pants, etc.) that will end up sitting around until whatever I’m replacing has simply just given up hope.

  • I will buy a new stick of deodorant, but use the old one until the container scrapes the inside of my armpits.
  • I will squeeze every last drop of a 99-cent tube of toothpaste like it cost me $20.
  • If the Kleenex box perfectly matches my bathroom, I will leave one tissue in there until I get tired of walking to the other bathroom to blow my nose.
  • I would use a tube of ChapStick until the plastic hurts my lips, but I still maintain that anyone who can keep a tube of ChapStick around until it’s gone without losing it is some sort of genius.

And while some of these practices are, well, practical—it’s good to use all of a product and makes financial sense not to waste things—some of it’s clearly insane.

What’s even more ridiculous is that sometimes I’ll notice that something like a bottle of body wash or dish soap is low and buy a new thing of the stuff. I want the backup—just in case—but then resent that I have to use up the old crap instead the “new scent” of said purchased product. I want my dishes to smell like a peaceful seaside escape!!!

Sigh.

I guess the conclusion is that even though more people see my footwear than smell my dishes and cups, I’m more excited to use a new scent of dish soap than I am to wear a new pair of shoes for some reason.

However, change is all about baby steps, and I did throw away my old bath towel the second I bought a new one. Now the next baby step that I take should probably be in that new pair of shoes…

But first, I have to do the dishes.

That soap isn’t going to use itself up.

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Thank You for Shopping at Kohl’s

On the list of things I like to do, shopping for clothes ranks somewhere just above listening to people loudly eat apples and poking myself in the eye with a dull butter knife.

In other words, I kind of hate it.

First of all, my wardrobe consists of gym clothes, “good” T-shirts and stuff I have to wear to work because evidently, “business casual” has a formal definition. Plus, I have no interest in fashion and would rather spend my money on food, so there’s that.

However, once in awhile I receive a gift card—as I did for my birthday last month —and that takes away my excuse that I can’t spend money. And seeing as it was for Kohl’s and they have things that aren’t clothes for sale—and the “biggest sale of the century” every weekend— the purchasing probability looked promising.

Then again, we are talking about me.

Whenever I don’t have a gift card or money, I find a bunch of stuff I would buy. But when I actually have a gift card—free money!—I can never find a damn thing.

But they say, “Expect great things,” in the Kohl’s ad, so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s how my last four Kohl’s attempts have gone:

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1) Walk in, lust after the vacuums and accidentally wander into the clothing department, confused as to where I belong. Clothes in the juniors department says “slutty schoolgirl” while those in the women’s department scream “stodgy schoolmarm.”

Considering I’m not going for either of those looks (at the given time, mind you) I was done looking at clothes two minutes and one “uncomfortable moment when eye contact was made with an employee while I attempted to re-fold a shirt and put it back” later.

2) Drive by Kohl’s, see a busy parking lot and continue to drive right back to Target next door, promising myself I’ll hit Kohl’s on some other day.

3) Dropping the pretense of even looking at clothes, I return with the mission to find running shoes and maybe a new bag. Spend .05 seconds looking at bags, five minutes smelling all the scented wax melts and two minutes testing the cushy bedding they have on display before getting “the eye” from an employee.

Wander through the aisle of running shoes and find three pairs that I like and want to try on before realizing those are the only three styles in the store or on the planet that they don’t have in my size.

4) This is it. The damn gift card is burning a hole in the purse that I need to replace. Head back over to shoes and  delight in finding a pair in my size that I like. Noting they’re marked down from roughly $1,350 to a mere $49—sometimes I get the feeling Kohl’s exaggerates a bit — I decide they’re meant to be mine.

Get up to the register and go through the cashier conversation—no, I’m not using my Kohl’s charge; sure, I would love to scratch off a coupon to see if I won extra savings; yes I’m aware that you’re angling to replace both the Euro and American dollar with Kohl’s cash by 2020.

After swiping the gift card I’m informed that I saved approximately $2,034 by purchasing the sale items and that I qualified for additional Kohl’s cash to be used next weekend on the next biggest sale of the century.

Even knowing that I did not in fact save approximately $2,034, I still leave feeling slightly triumphant—until I realize I still have $30 left on my gift card, no clothes, no purse and no energy to come back later.

Maybe I’ll wait until they have a sale. 

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Things That Are Better Than Shopping

This is the time of year when I get cynical and want to hibernate even more than usual. Why? Because after a week of people talking about how thankful they are, they trample each other in store lines to buy things that they don’t need.

But instead of focusing on the negative, I made a list of the simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing and are a million times better than standing in line at 4 o’clock in the morning.

Things That Are Better Than Shopping

Getting gas before the price jumps up.

Remembering my online passwords on the first try.

Finally being able to pee after having to hold it forever.

When people wave a “thank you” to me after I let them merge into my lane.

Baby goats. And sloths.

When everything I’m cooking gets done at the same exact time.

Being able to get a bunch of stupid little chores done while that food is cooking.

Heated car seats.

Having those stringy things on a banana come off with the banana peel.

Noticing the long lines at the grocery store but having a cashier open a new lane right when I get there.

Getting a card in the mail.

The smell of the bakery and the coffee aisle at the grocery store.

Having somebody else wash my hair.

Finishing a good book and knowing I have another book waiting that I can start next.

Seeing senior citizen couples holding hands.

Thinking the toilet is going to back up and then having everything flush down okay.

Sitting in a car that’s made really warm by only the sun.

Finding one more piece of (insert favorite food thing) in the cupboard when I thought it was already gone.

Hearing babies laugh.

Getting the Final Jeopardy question/Wheel of Fortune bonus round puzzle right when none of the contestants do.

Memorizing automated phone menu options so I can fly through the call.

Having an actual person answer the phone instead.

Pulling the crusts off my sandwich in one long complete piece without breaking before eating them first.

Sneaking through a public restroom door before it closes so I don’t have to touch the handle.

Starting a new piece of gum.

Having my arms full of something and picking the right pocket that my keys are actually in.

Carrying laundry in my arms from the basket without dropping even one sock.

The smell of toast.

Cleaning the lint trap of the dryer and pulling it off in one strip.

Noticing a beautiful flower growing in weeds or a barren plot of land.

Nodding to a stranger doing the same thing in silent understanding.

Finally sneezing after feeling the sneeze coming on for what felt like forever.

Getting to my destination exactly when my favorite song ends on the radio.

Drunk nuns (if you haven’t read it yet, click over here.)

Even if you are into shopping—no judgment, as I’ll assume you’re not one of the “tramples small children for TVs” people—what would you add to the list?

Need a holiday gift? Avoid the stores and buy the books!

How to Survive Shopping at Target

When I was little and the first Target store was built in my area, no one had heard of the company. Construction was going on and given the placement of the actual target in the logo—a target I’m now convinced is actually a hypnotic symbol that draws you in—I thought the name was “O Target.”

Listening to people talk today, Target seems to be the suburban equivalent of Las Vegas. There are no clocks on the wall, no windows to let you gaze outside and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pump oxygen throughout the store to keep you alert.

I’ve heard it suggested they might as well implement at $25 cover charge, as it seems to be impossible to walk out of the store without spending at least that amount.

I’m not a big shopper, but I swear to avocados that once I start roaming the aisles I find bright colored melamine plates that would look great stuck in my cupboard for months—only $2!—and at the very least, a 3-pack of gel fresheners in a variety of seasonal scents—only $2.79!

But being the frugal female that I am, I have also devised a few tips and tricks to outsmart the hypnotic trance and underhand Target tactics.

target

The first is obvious in that you should never venture to the superstore wearing khakis and a red polo—the Target uniform—unless you’re prepared to answer questions from shoppers about where to find moisturizer or Archer Farms cereal.

If you’re at Target a lot, this might not be a problem because you’ll know the store layout by heart. But if you’re not looking for an interruption during your retail rendezvous, ditch the khakis and polo.

With your outfit selected, be sure to drink at least 24 ounces of a beverage of your choice—not Starbucks from the Target location, as that will simply caffeinate your craziness—and “forget” to use the bathroom before leaving.

If you’re anything like me and don’t enjoy hovering over public toilet seats, the pressing needs of your bladder might just serve as a gentle reminder to get in and out of the store ASAP.

The day you choose to shop there can have a significant impact on both TSIS (time spent in store) and MDD (monetary damage done).

If you’re confident in your ability to shave time off your TSIS with no issues, go whenever you would like. But if you’re feeling weak and fear the possible MDD, choose a time in which the store is most likely to be full of screaming children who feel they need ALL THE THINGS when in fact they just need a nap.

This constant soundtrack of shrieks can serve as the soundtrack and not-so-subliminal reminder that although the appeal of a discounted chevron towel in the SAME EXACT COLORS as your kitchen—only $4!—your greater desire is to escape from the ear-splitting screams.

Finally, when you do enter the store, do not grab a cart—or as I prefer to call them, “enablers.” Unless the one item you need is too large to lug through the store, carts are simply vehicles for maximum MDD. Better to carry what you “need” by hand so that you have a palpable feel as to your prospective purchases.

If everything goes according to plan, your tired arms, full bladder and desire to escape the screams of Satan spawn should aid in your valiant effort to maximize the foolproof formula:

Less TSIS = Less MDD

Good luck staying on target.

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It’s the Little Things, Part 2

I wrote a post about those little things that simply make you want to freak out, so to speak. Big picture? They’re not a big deal. Small picture in that moment? THE BIGGEST DEAL EVER!

In the interest of appearing balanced in at least one facet of my life, I’ve decided to take the opposite approach and talk about a couple of those delightful surprises that can perk up your day. Big picture? They’re not a big deal. Small picture in that moment? THE BIGGEST DEAL EVER!

Let’s begin.

There have been a couple of times when I’ve spent almost a whole hour attempting to “shop,” AKA “buy nothing after destroying many piles of neatly folded shirts and vow to never shop for clothes again.”

On the rare occasion that I do find something that a) kind of fits b) I don’t hate or c) doesn’t qualify me for “What Not to Wear,” I usually end up not buying it anyway because I’m cheap and have a bigger budget for paper towel than I do for new clothes. But when I do take the purchasing plunge, there is no greater delight than getting up to the register and finding out that the item rang up on sale.

Well, I wouldn’t buy it if it wasn’t on sale, but I mean like, clearance sale prices! For me? On this shirt I spent 45 minutes pretending to try on over my clothes? It’s like the purchase was deemed acceptable by the universe and for that one brief moment in time, shopping isn’t pure hell.


The greatest lie I tell myself is that I don’t need to write something down, so when I actually remember the great idea I had either right before I fell asleep or stepped into the shower, it totally makes my day. (This is rare though, as evidenced by the content of this blog.)


Going back to clothes, how great is it to reach into your coat or pants pocket and find something like a $5 bill? I’ll tell you—pretty great.

In fact, sometimes when I put away my winter coats for the year, I will stick a small bill in the pocket as a little present for myself when the snow rolls around the next year…or when I remember it’s there during the summer and need $5 for the Farmer’s Market. Whatever.


What’s even better than finding $5 in the pocket of your coat? How about finding one more of whatever kind of food thing you’re craving you thought was gone forever — a piece of chocolate found in the cupboard, a container of frozen deliciousness shoved in the back of the freezer, one more piece of Shredded Wheat that fell out of your shirt when you stood up.

If you ask me, that’s like winning the lotto.


Because I’m a dinosaur, I do not have an iPod or anything similar to that. For that reason, it’s kind of awesome to get into my car and find my favorite song just started, meaning I get to listen to it in it’s entirety—singing at the top of my lungs like the car karaoke queen that I am—without driving around the block to hear the end or cursing the fact I missed the beginning.


Knowing people found my blog with “bedazzled squirrel life preservers,”  “it’s chickpeas, not dudepeas” and “Eminem wearing a babushka and shitkicker boots.”

 

Like I said, it’s the little things.

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Your turn. What are your good “little things?”

Lashing Out

I don’t mean to brag, but I think I can confidently say that I have perfected the role of a perpetual “Before” picture when it comes to day-to-day beauty.

While I will occasionally splurge and risk life, limb and sanity to get my eyebrows waxed, more often than not my attempts at beauty wind up with me at work with a forgotten Velcro roller in my hair, resentment over having to wear a real “big girl” bra (for social convention, not out of necessity) and chicken tracks under my eyes from sneezing while applying mascara.

I just have no interest, and we’re past the point of no return.

But I do wear a little foundation—handy to cover up bruises, hypothetically speaking—and a coat of mascara, which is what brings me to my point today. I had to buy new mascara.

maybelline

What. The. Hell. People.

I had a $2 coupon for Cover Girl, so I went to the store to find out how to be Easy, Breezy and Beautiful — which sounds a bit slutty, yet intriguing — and was bombarded with approximately 405 different options.

I could be a Lash Fanatic or engage in Lashperfection, Lashwrap, Lashblast Fusion, LashExact, Luxe, Mousse and an All-In-One professional option that I assume will also staple and collate any inner-office memos in a passive aggressive way.

I needed a coupon for liquor at that point — not something that promised Eye Brightening with an Elasta-Nylon formula.

So even though I didn’t have a coupon for Maybelline, I shifted my minimally mascara-ed gaze over to that section in a quest to answer the eternal question: “Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Maybelline?”

More like, “Maybe it’s a crap shoot?”

Here I was presented with 4,367 different options that specialized in curl, definition, length, long wearing, volume, washable, waterproof, Volum’Express, XXL curl, Lash Stiletto and Lash Discovery with promises that with a swipe of a (curved, flexible, stiff or extended) wand, I could have dramatically curled, extended, mega plush up to 85 or 300 percent visibly longer lashes amped up 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 times the normal volume.

All without clumps.

THIS IS WHY OTHER COUNTRIES HATE US, PEOPLE!

My head of limp and lifeless hair was spinning.

While L’Oreal promised to “millionize” my lashes, that sounded like entirely too many. As it is, my meager eyelashes often end up in my eyes—way to do your job of keeping crap out of my eyes, eyelashes!—and having a million around would just complicate things. So even though the packaging was screaming, “Because you’re worth it!” I really didn’t think it was worth jabbing my fingers in my eyes to retrieve a million voluptuous lashes — or $9.

But that’s not all!

It also turns out that when mascara just isn’t enough—I know, how could it not be with all of these options?—one can also invest in eyelash extensions and prescription eyelash enhancers. In other words, Rogaine and Viagra for eyelashes.

I can only imagine the product development team at these companies had a three martini lunch when this particular idea was tossed out there on the table.

Let’s just file it under “things that don’t need to be things.”

Anyway, after weighing my options I defaulted to the same $5 mascara I’ve been buying for years—the basic Maybelline in the pink tube—answering the question that yes, those chicken tracks under my eyes are Maybelline.

Because, after all, I’m worth it.

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Abby’s Ark

Considering I’m pretty much a minimalist when it comes to everything in my life—save for words, as my rambles demonstrate—it will come as no surprise that the chances of me appearing on “Hoarders” are about as likely as me appearing on “The Bachelorette.”

But with that said, I often feel the need to have at least two of the same things around. Not so I can use both of them at the same time, but so I know that if something happens to the first one, I won’t be left without.

Because of course, anything that could produce even a minor inconvenience should be avoided at all costs.

For example, I have two Hot Shots. If you don’t know what a Hot Shot is, then you haven’t really lived life to the fullest. When your “happy time” revolves around tea every day, this thing lets you heat up water in less than a minute.

hotshot1

I bought the first one at Target a couple of years ago and then they stopped carrying them. My mom realized the gravity of this situation and ordered one for me online as a surprise almost a year ago. I haven’t had to use it yet, but it’s waiting in my pantry.

My pantry also has a backup vegetable/rice steamer that I ordered six months ago when I feared mine was on the fritz (as I use mine at least twice a day), a backup toaster, an extra case of my tea, etc. And I don’t think I have to say that when it comes to food, you will never open up my fridge to find an absence of any of my staples.

But I do have only one fridge.

I will buy a new stick of deodorant, but use the old one until the container scrapes the inside of my armpits. I will squeeze every last drop of a $1.99-tube of toothpaste like it cost me $20. I would use a tube of chapstick until the plastic hurts my lips, but I still maintain that anyone who can keep a tube of chapstick around until it’s gone without losing it is some sort of genius.

Newsflash: I am not a genius, as evidenced by the fact that I read a to-do list note to “clean stove” as “clean Steve” the other day.

Anyway, when it comes to blogging, I continue this doubled-up pattern of neurosis. I like to have another post “waiting in the wings” before I publish one so that I can a) not stress that I have no new ideas or b) hurry up and publish something new if my last post sucked.

My brain doesn’t always let things work out that way—see “I am not a genius” above—but I work with what I have.

And what I have is a veritable Abby’s Ark of things I just can’t be without. Well, I don’t have an extra car or phone or computer, but I do have an extra Hot Shot and vegetable steamer, and sometimes that’s all that I need.

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Say What?

There are times I’ll hear a song I’ve heard a million times before and suddenly realize I’ve been singing the wrong lyrics every single time. 

It doesn’t bother me that much because my version usually makes more sense anyway, but this means that when I hear someone else say them  “correctly,” I’m just as confused as when I found out John Fogerty was singing “Put me in, Coach” and not “Put me in a coma” in his song, “Centerfield.”

At any rate, things always sound better in my head—including a bunch of regular words and phrases I assign a certain phonetic pronunciation to that no one else has a clue about.

In other words, I nail 90s rap songs and pronounce “Worcestershire sauce” perfectly in my head every single time.

But there are some words that I know how to say correctly—the “real” correct and not the “Abby” correct—that I still occasionally choose to say somewhat phonetically from time to time, simply because it’s more fun.

Most of them are foreign. This means I sound fancy AND well-traveled in my own head when, for example, I talk about:

Tar-jay (Target), burr-rettes (berets), Vide-ul Sass-in (Vidal Sassoon) shampoo,  tore-tillahs (tortillas), whores de-vores (hors d’oeuvres), a kayfe (café), par-fits (parfaits), Chee-waa-waa or Chee-wah (Chihuahua) or la-zag-na (lasagna.)

Why am I telling you about a bunch of words that I say wrong because I’m easily amused? Good question, and I probably wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for an experience I had recently while at Tar-jay.

Follow along now, but don’t throw anything in the cart that’s not on the list.

So I was checking out at Tar-jay and told the cashier—“Stacey,” according to her name tag— that yes, Stacey, I did find everything I was looking for along with three dozen other things I never knew I needed. 

Because I said this out loud and know how to read, I was confident that her name was actually Stacey. However, she quickly informed me that, “It’s pronounced ‘C’, like in ‘cantaloupe.’  The s, t, a and y are all kind of silent. It’s easier that way!”

For cripe’s sake.

To preserve my own sanity and what little faith I had left in the human race, I had to believe that she thought that sounded better in her head. And while I probably should have thanked her for giving me something to blog about, I think you know me better than that.

So instead I told her, “That’s so funny! If you replace the s, t, c and e in your name, but add in two b’s, you have my name! The a, b’s and y are all silent though. It’s easier that way.”

Was that mean? Possibly, but she gave me a giggle along with my receipt so I doubt that much damage was done.

And after all, you know what they say: “S’est lah vye!”

Or to get technical: “C’est la vie” with a “c,” like in “cantaloupe.”

Put me in a coma.

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