Reinventing Summer

Awwww, summer. It’s finally arrived. An image of me bikini clad—lounging on a wicker recliner next to an infinity pool sipping an umbrella drink—comes to mind. There’s a floppy hat. Large sunglasses are involved. I’m on an extended vacation from work. A small stack of light reading material wobbles on the edge of the cocktail table to my right. I’m alone. No screaming children. No husband asking me for an egg salad sandwich. My pale skin is starting to give way to something less offensive. Pink, I guess. Somewhere in the distance, I can hear the groundskeeper mowing the lawn. I can smell freshly cut grass dancing through the air as I doze in and out of lazy summer-induced sleep. Music notes swirl around like smoke inside my head, thanks to my recent iTunes play list. Life, summer style, is perfect.

Suddenly, I’m smacked into the present by an ice cold Super Soaker shot to the gut. There’s laughing, then little footsteps slapping against wet pavement as they soon disappear. I sit up stunned as I blink away water and blue and red spots from where the sun pressed into my eyelids as I slept.

As it turns out, there is no bikini or an infinity pool. There’s no music. No floppy hat. There’s only me in my XL house shirt, fat pants, and a garden hose. The neighbor’s dog is barking incessantly as he digs a hole under my fence. I’m sweaty and burnt. It seems I had dozed off during a break from pulling weeds. Today is Sunday and like many of you, tomorrow is the start of my work week. Unfortunately, I don’t get a summer vacation.

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? Those were the days when the only questions people asked you were related to your age, height or number of teeth missing from your mouth. When summer came, there was only one additional question, “What are your plans for summer?” I usually responded with one apathetic shrug and went back to picking my nose, which was permanently slick with SPF 50.

This got me thinking:  what if we reinvented summer? I’m not talking about fancy vacations or trips across the pond. I’m talking about a summer day camp for us girls. I’m talking about reviving our childhood summer goals, ladies. Reawakening our inner child! We’d drop off our munchkins at their summer camp, shove the husbands off to work, and have ourselves a grand ole time! *Throws confetti in the air*

Day Camp Pic

Before hitting send on your RSVP, check out further details below:

1 – We’ll lounge around like lazy house pets free of kids or husbands or significant others. No being shouted at from one room over, “Mom! I’m hungry! Mom! I’m bored! Mom, wipe me! Mom, there’s poop on my knee!”

2 – Our biggest challenge of the day will be entirely inconsequential: should we mix up another batch of peach bellinis or how about a blender full of watermelon and vodka? I say both.

3 – Bestie selfies all day long. You know how they say the camera adds ten pounds? Well, I hear there’s an app for that and smoothing out wrinkles! Photo editing apps for the win!

4 – Slink down the Slip ‘n Silde or run through the sprinklers. No one has to know.

5 – Arts and crafts, YouTube worm-holes and (insert yoga pose here).

6 – Lunch you ask? The Thai place down the street delivers. Done.

So, what do you say? Are you in? The answer is obvious: it’s like explaining Dewey Decimals to a math genius. I have to say, of all of the things I thought I’d be in life, Camp Director isn’t one of them. But this is just fabulous.

Man vs. Toddler – Why My Kid Wins Every Time

I’m certain that there isn’t a concept more categorically hated than that of children in restaurants. Since becoming a parent, dining out with my best little pal has become, well, an annoyance. The number of times I get stink-eye, side-eye, or a collective eye roll from patrons when we are seated next to them is uncanny. My kid hasn’t even had a chance to prove he’s well-behaved before the huffing and puffing begins. The interwebs are filled with angry rants from childless diners making a stance, and some restaurant owners have even thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to offering a kid-free dining experience.

It must be said that they aren’t all wrong: Sometimes, a lot of times, kids are jerks. It’s true. I see it. The shrieking little monster blowing snot bubbles out of his nose, the pint-sized villain descaling the bottom of his shoe into his sister’s pasta while singing That’s Amore, the flinging of wet straw wrappers into patrons’ ears, and the community bottle of ketchup that is now half saliva. In which case, get your shit together, parents.

Yes, kids at restaurants can be a nightmare, but sometimes adults are boneheads, too. I have witnessed some pretty nasty behavior recently proving once again that Adult Toddler Syndrome actually exists. At least kids have an excuse for acting like kids, what’s yours?

So, let me throw my toddler’s sippy cup into the ring and let you decide who should be banned. Read on for my list of top 6 obnoxious behaviors by (cough) grown-ups:

1 – “That’s not what I ordered,” spat the guy wearing the ‘I Heart Fried Beef’ t-shirt at the table near us. Pushing an already devoured entrée away from him in disgust he said, “Bring me a new one to go – for free!” Newsflash: Actually, you did order that – my toddler and I heard you from two tables over.

2 – The wasted college girls at the bar seating insisted on splitting the bills 7 ways. When the server explained he could only run a maximum of 4 cards, the mouthy brunette hollered after him, “There goes your tip!” Ladies, you’re right: Your server didn’t deserve a tip. He deserved your entire month’s salary. Basically, you’re a bunch of entitled jerks who overstayed your welcome with cheap drinks and free chips.

3 – Then there was the creepy, middle-aged trio of guys in the corner booth who clearly thought their adorable waitress was there to be sexually harassed, Bill Cosby style. Hey, creepy dudes, go home to your wives. You’re drunk.

4 – How about the woman at breakfast last weekend who demanded to see a manager when the “egg whites only” omelet she ordered and agreed to pay an extra buck for appeared on her bill? At first she seemed sweet but determined. But nope, she was just a big donkey who promised all within earshot she’d Yelp about her “horrible $1 experience.”

5 – Or there was the guy a few weeks back who yelled at me when my kid’s drink inadvertently spilled, flowing onto “his” side of the table. Five minutes later, he knocked his beer over into his pizza. Karma.

6 – And don’t you love the dudes who come in 8 minutes before closing, and stay for 2 hours? Boom. Done. Enough said.

Get it together, guys. Because what’s sexier than a man with BBQ sauce in his beard screaming about his baby back ribs? Everything, actually.

Stuffed Like Pillows

“Oh, wow!” I whispered, exaggerating the “ow” to show exactly how impressed I was. Brooke held up a knitted baby blanket in the palest pink I’d ever seen. All the girls went nuts, roaring and clapping in delight. Her soft, dainty hands were perfect with a porcelain finish. Her newly minted gel nails twirled and flipped like they were a commercial for a beauty salon. Brooke’s baby bump was smaller around than my actual thigh. I kinda wanted to borrow some of that shiny, gorgeous mermaid hair to cover my worsening hormonal bald spot – not even gonna lie. I sat holding a polystyrene plate of pasta, four deviled eggs, and something fried with a curly lemon rind on top. I wasn’t even done with my food yet, but I was already eyeballing seconds. My swollen feet were stuffed like pillows into brand new shoes; the soles of my feet were on fire. I was pretty sure my right pinky toe was gangrene. But at least the XXL tent dress I wore was comfortable and semi-adorable.

Brooke made 8 months of pregnancy look like a cake walk with frosting on top. I made 8 months of pregnancy look like a barnyard explosion. It’s like I woke up pregnant one day and the universe was like, “You got punked.”

Being pregnant was the worst. It sucked hard. I’ve only been pregnant once, but I swear to God, it was for like 2 years. Okay, relax Michelle Duggar, I’m not baby shaming, blah blah, I’m talking about the physical atrocity that happens to your body and mind when you’re preggers.

In no particular order, here is my list that should serve as birth control for the millennials:

1 – Everyone you know smells like chicken. And cheese. It’ll make you vomit. Don’t be fooled: morning sickness is a lie pregnant women made up so you don’t feel bad about yourself. Because seriously, you smell like chicken.

2 – The only three shirts that still fit have to be dry cleaned all. the. time. Dry cleaning is absurd. It’s like the clothes are charging you for wearing them.

3 – Epic meltdowns in the paint aisle at Home Depot are real. Get ready to ride high on the struggle bus of lady emotion.

4 – Welcome to a lifetime of previously unknown heartburn. It would feel better to swallow a ball of cat hair tossed with cinnamon.

5 – Forget about your engagement ring. Remember how when you first got engaged, you’d start all your conversations with a subtle touch to the face, a giggle, and flip of the hair as your hand caught the sunlight coming through the window? Just throw the ring away because it will never fit again.

6 – You’ll still go to bars with your friends, only you’ll order off the kids’ drink menu. Since being an adult sometimes includes alcoholic drinks, you’ll panic and order a virgin piña colada at 10am on a rainy day. You’ll have brain freeze for 9 months.

Except for Brooke, none of these things happened to her.

Anything But Dances with Wolves

“Is this your card?” I said holding out a tattered ace of spades.

“It is,” he nodded with one-hundred percent, absolute certainty. Actually, dad had no idea what his card was; he was a good fake. I could see the reflection of the bonfire on the surface of his moist eyes, his expression shadowed by a week’s worth of facial hair. Smoke from burning marshmallows clung to my sweatshirt; dried dirt caked under my nails made my fingertips feel tight – swollen, almost.

Our days at camp were filled with hikes through the woods, three-legged races, mud pie fights, corn hole matches, death by Cheese Puffs tournaments, and a tent vs. tent ultimate kick the stick championship. Also, get ready to be impressed: I hold the record for Twizzler jump rope in two categories – innovative connectedness and most jumps in under one minute. I owe this mostly to an unfair genetic advantage of nubby, strong fingers and stumpy yet extremely dexterous legs. Holler y’alls, but don’t hate.

At night, we usually sat circled around roaring camp fires, just us girls and our hero dads. I vividly remember shouting the lyrics to Tiffany’s version of I Think We’re Alone Now while Kimmy Keaner caked my eyes in black eyeliner and ratted my bangs into an impressive wall of hair spray and split ends. Our dads, who were merely children themselves at the time, drank beer out of cans, drawled on about sports, and shared amongst themselves booze laden stories that were wrapped in the collective nostalgia of their glory days. I was 12, and this was my third year at Camp Y Indian Princess Adventure. And as an honest broker of reality, I have to tell you I really hated it.

If you’re at all familiar with the now defunct Y Indian Princesses (apparently, they finally figured out the word “Indian” is less than apropos), you know it was a program for dads and their daughters to do all the cool stuff Girl Scouts got to do with their moms, except it was less cool. With my dad’s signature blend of “We’re NOT lost in the woods,” and providing cold hot dogs for dinner each night, this sausage-fest left me all but confident we would make it out of camp alive. It was like our dads were living proof that Adult Toddler Syndrome really existed. Is anyone as shocked as I am that our moms actually encouraged us to go? And let’s cut to the chase, I just wanted to wear that adorable green A-line Girl Scout smock, the matching sash, and a beret that would make a French man weep green tears of envy. It was so unfair.

While I slept under the stars on the cold, hard ground in a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag better suited for a six-year-old child, I thought about my Girl Scout counterparts. I thought about how they must be sitting in Chelsea’s living room at that very moment, braiding each others’ hair, eating cookie dough. I was sure they were also practicing their knitting skills, and learning how to remove debris from their eyeballs with one very skillful sweep of an eyelid. And I was positive they were wearing those adorable A-line smocks while I sat there in the wet, muddy jeans my mom got on sale at Miller’s Outpost. While they were painting pet rocks and coming up with charming names for them, I sat there shivering next to a poorly lit Coleman lantern and a dirty canteen, and Kimmy Keaner snored like a hibernating bear.

I wanted to be this:

Girl Scout Pic 2 blog

(Photo credit: Girls Scouts of America)

But instead I was this:

Y Indian Pic 1 Blog

(Photo credit: Google Images)

I finally decided to bid farewell to the Y Indian Princesses my fourth year when Kimmy Keaner’s dad proudly announced at camp breakfast he was changing his Indian name from Running Wolf to Dances with Wolves. The Kevin Costner reference… I just couldn’t. Still, to this day, I regret never being able to participate in the Girl Scouts. On the bright side, I found this really cute Halloween costume for this coming year. What do you think?

Katy My Lady

Girl Scout Pic 3 Blog

(Photo credit: MTV)

While You Were Sleeping

I was bitterly aware of the imaginary clock ticking above my head. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. While the world was sleeping under a velvety sheath of black sky, there I lay, my mind spinning and twirling until the minutes merged into morning. My eyes followed a splash of light making its way across the ceiling, no doubt from the headlights of my neighbor’s teenage son’s car. My husband’s relentless snoring seemed intentional, but that’s just crazy talk. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to sleep, too. I needed to sleep. It had been days, and I was this close to selling my soul to satan. From personal experience, going on insomnia benders can only result in two things. The first is a type of clarity where artistic ideas flow and ingenuity abounds. The second is my specialty: becoming more and more dreadful in appearance until one day you’re noticeably bats in the belfry.

insomnia pic 1(Photo credit: rottenecards.com)

Insomnia sucks. It’s like your brain disregards a most basic need with reckless abandon; it’s the ultimate betrayal of mind against body without a nudge of remorse. The ironic thing about insomnia is that the harder you fight it, the more futile the attempt. As I lay staring at the ceiling, all I could hear was the voice of the late MacDonald Carey, “Like sands through the hourglass…so are The Days of Our Lives.” It was driving me insane. And this is the story I’ve been living for the last five years of my life.

Due to my husband’s superhuman ability to tune me out and sleep through most anything, I have taken up all sorts of nocturnal interests he knows nothing about. In fact, my insomnia induced noise-making is so perpetual, I’ve become like human white noise from which he’ll never wake. Here are my two favorite insomnia-fueled nocturnal rituals:

Infomercials – I am certain that there is no TV commercial more cruel than the infomercial. However, I have discovered that they are both positively a late night entertainment staple and very enlightening. Some of my favorites include: The Magic Bullet, The Baby Bullet, Nutrisystem, Forever Lazy, Billy Bank’s Tae Bo, Proactive Solution Acne Treatment, Bowflex, and where would we be without the Flowbee? I’m always intrigued by the audience members in these commercials who seem fascinated by the stuff that the rest of us are just mocking. However, by the fourth time Pajama Jeans had aired last night, I was surely fascinated and convinced I needed a pair, and ordered them rushed shipping. Mom jeans anyone? Because they’ll be here Tuesday.

 Insomnia pic 4

(Photo credit: Pajama Jeans)

SkyMall – After I exhausted all other options via Huffington Post, CNN, Psychology Today, and TMZ, I turned to SkyMall where I read every product description out loud in the voice of Oprah’s Favorite Things Giveaway. SkyMall is your one-stop shop to everything first world: chocolate covered steak to organic cotton sheets for your pet rock. By the way, I’m pretty sure the only person who thinks SkyMall’s Dog Crate End Table is pure genius, is my mom. In any case, after perusing the pages of SkyMall at 4am, these happened:

I was lured in by the appeal of the Nose Aid,

 insomnia pic 2

(Photo Credit: SkyMall)

 and the Bacon Genie.

insomnia pic 3

(Photo Credit: SkyMall)

Last night I also painted a wall, read two articles on how to lose weight in your sleep (the irony just kills me), and vacuumed the stairs. And all while you were sleeping.

Every Other Wednesday Since

I dashed through the aisles, my eyes darting wildly under the fluorescent lighting. I was hoping to find at least one sample lady who was still serving up remnants of microscopic cubes of cheese or crumbs of sticky buns. Anything would do. Back then, the Costco in my area stopped serving free samples at five o’ clock sharp. It was five o’ eight, and I was heartbroken.

If I could sum up this tale like the opening of The Real World, it’d be like, “This is the true story of a group of strangers, picked to shop for groceries like scavengers in a food warehouse, and test the boundaries of society to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start grabbing tiny pieces of sausage over the plastic partition.”

Costco 6

(Photo credit: someecards.com)

My mom used to send me to Costco every other Wednesday night to buy groceries in bulk, and the occasional garden hose, or eighty-pound bag of dog food. I was armed with her member card, and usually the five, twenty-dollar bills she had given me. As a young and desperate college kid, I was determined to spend four of those twenties on groceries for the household, and pocket the rest to spend on booze and Lolita’s carne asada chips at 3 a.m. after friends’ parents had kicked us out of their living rooms and told us to go home. Some of my best and most varied meals were had in that food warehouse, where other college freshman also grappled and brawled for free samples. You see, if I didn’t fill up on samples at Costco, my only other option was to eat mom’s home cooked meals which typically consisted of a variety of eastern European dishes I liked to call her, “fresh off the boat” fare. And at 18, that just wasn’t acceptable.

Costco 4

(Photo credit: Google Images)

I perused the frozen foods section for deals as Grateful Dead’s Ripple played as background music in my head, my Doctor Martins squeaking with every step. The only evidence of free samples that remained was the lingering of turkey bacon in the air and a blob of risotto on the floor next to the case of ice-covered burger patties. I was starving.

Then I saw her. Like an angel straight out of the movie Bruce Almighty, she appeared at the end of the burger aisle with her sample cart all fired up. Wearing an impressive array of Velcro items, including a nylon wrist cuff, she carefully set out several sample items. Not impervious to my hunger pangs, I bolted to be the first in line. I was gonna get my chance! By the time I got there, a small group had already formed around the cart; they all stood there like washed up groupies at a rock concert from generations past. Hands were darting, grabbing, and snatching at scraps of food. I got stuck behind a girl who smelled like a bologna sandwich with extra mayo. I wanted to gag, but I stood my ground. Elbows began to push, and the crowd grew bigger and tighter as people nudged ahead of others to get theirs. One guy in dark sunglasses and a Padres hat recklessly took two. Dark sunglasses and a hat? Nice strategy, Man. I thought a fight would ensue. After all, he had taken two when the rest of us were just waiting to get one. A lady shoved her way to the front using her shopping cart as a weapon, mercilessly gouging ankles and calves, “Coming through! Move it or lose it!” She grabbed three: one for each kid who jumped up and down in the cart as they stuffed food into their grimy little faces. Next, an older lady in a wheelchair rolled up, “What’s wrong with you people!??! Move it! Don’t you have any respect for your elders?! Move it!” she squawked as she ran over my feet. It was total chaos.

Costco 1

(Photo credit: Google Images)

After the feeding frenzy ended, and the crowd dissipated like ink into water, I finally made my way to the sample cart where there was one left just for me. I approached in anticipation of that one savory bite. I could hardly wait. The sample lady, who was still a touch salty from the mutiny that just occurred, handed me a little paper cup, “Here ya go, Sweet’awt. Saved the best fa’ last.” I looked down, and to my complete disappointment, a fiber gummie?!?!

“Oh,” I said trying to hide my devastation. “Thanks,” I mumbled as I shuffled away.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been back every other Wednesday since. I just can’t help myself.

There comes a point in your life when you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed even, when it comes to pushing down an old lady to get a morsel of goat cheese. But I’m not at that fork in the road yet. In fact, I’m like, on a food truck, at a spoon in the road where it just goes in circles around an island of free samples.

Costco 5

(Photo credit: Google Images)

Costco 3

(Photo credit: Google Images)

 

 

 

Because Less is Always More

Girls, I know y’all hear me when I say we’ve all wanted to look AH-MAZ-ING for an event: a frenemy’s wedding, a holiday party, or your college Girls Gone Wild class reunion. I’m not sure who we think we’re kidding when we show up wearing Rapunzel-worthy hair extensions, and false eye lashes only Bambi himself could pull off better. Our dewy, golden, glowing skin couldn’t perhaps be the result of endless hours of costly tanning, but positively a gift made possible only by divine intervention and superhuman genetics. And by the way, we totally woke up looking like this, too. It’s like dazzling your friends with a two-carat cubic zirconia engagement ring – It sparkles, and it’s pretty, but it’s fake as hell and y’all know it. But we all do it, and we do it shamelessly. Or in my case, shamefully.

Last summer, Dave and I were invited to a gala, a fundraiser for under served children. Clearly, it was a noble cause, and we gladly agreed to attend. Since I’ve been to approximately zero galas in my life, I was fairly certain I was going to do what any rational 36-year-old, former legend-in-her-own-mind would do: try way too freaking hard. Little did I know it would all come crashing down into one epic disaster, with me of course at the epicenter. After all, you know my motto, “Go big or go home!”

Here is my story of hope, tenacity, humiliation, courage, and resurgence. Yes, all of that, and in that order. Stop rolling your eyes, Drama Queen, and keep reading…

Weeks before the gala, I poured over the pages of Seventeen In Style magazine for super cute dresses, pinned numerous hairstyles on Pinterest, and even found a picture of sultry eye makeup in deep purple that would make for perfect doe eyes set against a pale pink lip, and a dewy, rosy cheek (I know, adorable, right?). I splurged on a black fluted sheath dress from Forever 21 Bloomingdales, a pair of four-inch Michael Kors ankle booties, and some sparkly jewelry. Because this was going to be the best night ever, and I was determined to make this look good.

The morning of the gala, I got up early. I woke from that reoccurring nightmare you had about your prom night ending in disaster (oh wait, because my prom night actually did end in disaster, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I could tell it was going to be a hot and humid day solely based on my level of sweaty upper lip, and the fact that Dave’s blankets had already been kicked to the floor. The day was filled with a facial at the spa, a nail appointment, and a last minute run to the store for invisible deodorant. Then it was time to get ready.

I was filled with hope. I imagined that after weeks of preparation – finding the perfect dress, the perfect makeup, the perfect shoes, the perfect jewelry – the final outcome would be nothing short of marvelous. I would be a vision of loveliness enhanced only by my own confidence and idiosyncratic charm. I mean, right?

Silly me. Here’s what happened instead.

The hair. I suppose I should have attempted a run-through prior to the big day. But what could possibly go wrong? I mean, it was just a few hot rollers, bobby pins and a little product that would make for a fun and flirty look. In the end, the left side of my hair was fun (read frizzy and flat), while the right side toppled about my shoulders in an overly flirtatious way. Nailed it! Well, the right side anyway. The portion of hair that was supposed to be a braid that encircled the crown of my head, transforming me into the ultimate princess, had to be undone, and brushed out. Fantastic. A word to the wise – this hairstyle only looks good on Pinterest. It’s impossible to execute, and if Pinterest tells you different, they are lying to you.

The makeup. Have you ever gone all “MAC counter” on your eyes, and the result is like a giant mess of eye shadow all over your face? And when you try to wipe it off, the problem actually gets  worse because you actually rubbed it into your skin creating a permanent makeup shadow effect? Right. So, that totally happened to me. Awwww, but my lips. My lips were to die for.

The dress. It was much tighter than I remembered it being in the dressing room. I double checked the tag and realized I had inadvertently purchased a size too small. Lady lumps bulged under my sheath dress where the Spanx were cutting in. I felt like a can of busted biscuits. On a side note, Spanx are pretty much an elastic death case that makes your skin feel like its decomposing. Even my Spanx were all, “Dude, this is a really bad idea!” The heat and humidity were killing me, and soon enough I felt as though I was wearing a wet bathing suit under my dress. Can you see why this would be problematic?

The shoes. Here’s the only thing I have to say about my shoes. As fabulous as they are, how did no one tell me it was the worst idea ever formulated when I decided I was going to wear ankle booties with a dress? Stumpy Leg Syndrome. Done.

I emerged from the bedroom looking like a tulip with frizzy hair and harsh makeup. I was stuffed like a sausage into my dress. I guess you could say I looked like a $5 hooker with classy shoes. It was not good. When I asked Dave, “So… how do I look?” he arched one eyebrow, ever so slightly, like an evil character in a children’s storybook, and was like, “Um…. so…. you look… great.” He lied. In an attempt to save what little confidence I had left, I replied, “Well, since my hair is long, I think I might just leave the back slightly unzipped so it’s not so tight right around here,” gesturing up and down the bust area. I sorta trailed off at the end, because saying it out loud made my already shaky plan sound even shakier.

Since tenacity is a virtue, I decided to forge ahead. I was determined to attend the gala and have a great time. After all, we had paid a lot of cash money to attend and these shoes were worth showing off.

Somewhere between cocktail hour and the first round of appetizers, the wheels completely fell off the truck. I saw an old friend on my second trip to the spanakopita line, and she was like, “Oh hey!” all cool and casual. But then she said this: “You might just want to pop into the ladies room real quick to check things out, Girl.”

I didn’t understand. Now what? Did I happen to stumble into some bad lighting? Had she noticed my half frizzy hair? Or maybe she was concerned about my smudged makeup? I stood in front of the mirror wondering how I got to this point. How on earth could it all just look so bad? At this point, my Spanx were pretty much rolled into a wet rubber band around my waist. One fake eyelash was gone and the other one hung suspiciously from the corner of my left eye. Humiliated, I piled up all of my hair into a bun on the very top of my head and cried. Then I scrubbed my face free of all that nasty makeup – with hand soap. I ditched the Spanx into the waste basket, and took the deepest breath of my life before exiting that bathroom door. On my way to the dance floor, I kicked off my boots and I grabbed two glasses of champagne: one for me, and the other – oh, that was for me, too. When the DJ played, I Will Survive, I sang louder than I ever had, and I danced my behind off. In some ways, I kinda think that song was for me that night. And you know what? It was. It turned out to be a super fun night. And I have to say, I looked borderline adorable with a high bun and a red, scrubbed face.

The best part about all of this? A photo of me looking like a hot mess made it to the charity’s newsletter the following month. Awesome. But guys, it’s cool. I totally had fun.

Quarter Hoarder

I generally don’t like putting labels on things. I mean, there are circumstances in life when labels are totally a good thing. Like for example, you might want to know, “Is that a can of peas or pickled pig’s feet in my pantry?” Btw, this totally reminds me of that time when we were kids, Uncle Mike paid my brother exactly one dollar to remove the labels on every can in mom’s cupboards. As you might  imagine, this didn’t end well. For mom, that is.

But really, in terms of people, why do any of us have to be labeled only one thing in life? If you’re like a lot of people, sometimes you want to be a snob at Nordstrom pointing orders behind clunky, chunky gold bracelets and four-inch Louboutins, and sometimes you want to be rolling five deep at Dollar Tree with a teal Scrunchie in your hair and a broken flip flop. Know what I’m saying? We all have various roles we play – labels accepted and embraced by the limits of our own insecurities, or on the contrary, endless grandiosity. Or if you’re lucky, something in between.

My entire life I’ve been keenly aware of people’s perceptions of me (Paranoid much?). I think part of it just comes with being female, and the other part of it is, well yes – paranoia, plain and simple. Call me self-conscious, call me intuitive, heck, call me whatever you want. Bottom line is people fervently judge others, and it’s not cool.

But alas I got my wish, and this week I was more than just one thing in life; I was several. Here’s my list of notable labels that have been pasted, taped and stapled to me over the last three days:

“Grocery Store Aisle Stalker” At the grocery store yesterday, I, unfortunately, happened to start down the same aisle as these two giggly college girls. One was pushing the cart, and the other was loading in .25¢ packages of top ramen faster than the high sodium content in them could make me bloat up. At every turn, there they were. Everywhere I needed to be, they were right there. Their rusted out, squeaky-wheel cart was screeching at me all, “DUDE, GET YOUR OWN AISLE!” Dairy aisle? Check. Produce section? Hello again. I found myself getting annoyed at their physical presence, but I was ardently aware that they felt the exact same. I squared aisle 3 like five times because I needed mayonnaise, but of course, they did too. To bide some time, I perused the various ketchups, the fancy mustards, the light salad dressings, pausing dramatically though, each time I passed them. The girl in yoga pants rolled her eyes and sighed loudly. Obviously they were thinking I was some sort of mayonnaise fanatic. But seriously, I needed mayonnaise. Then I overheard the girl wearing the Napoleon Dynamite Velcro style boots say, “Why is she such a grocery store aisle stalker?!”

“Quarter Hoarder” – I have this thing about quarters. I like them. A lot. It might be because they are worth twenty-five pennies. It might be because they are one-fourth of a whole dollar. Or it might just be that they’re shiny, pretty, and smell metallic, and I love the smell of metal. On a side note, if I’m ever in your car, and there’s a quarter lying on the floorboard, I will steal it from you. I will pick up that one-fourth of a whole dollar and stick it right in my pocket. Yes, forreals – serious as a midnight phone call. Anyway, on Friday night, I was rifling through Dave’s In Box – that’s what we call the basket thingy he keeps on the kitchen counter that holds junk, like business cards he’s collected throughout the month, a paper clip or two, the occasional lost Rolaid, and lint. Oh, and quarters. From the living room, I heard him yell, “Stop being a quarter hoarder and come in here!” Just so you know, I’m 100% convinced he is also obsessed with quarters, and this is likely the reason he has so many of them in his In Box. Not that we’re keeping score over who has more quarters… Also, I’m winning.

“Opinionated” – Friday at work, I made a joke about the congress/government shut down thing. My coworker immediately spat back, “Aren’t YOU opinionated?!” Wow, tough crowd. It was a joke, lady, and even a bi-partisan one at that. Want to know why? Because I’m diplomatic, and a people pleaser. I generally don’t say things that I know may offend others (I said generally!). It was simply an attempt to make some meaningless small talk before our meeting got started. It was a futile attempt, I suppose. “Uh huh,” I replied, confused as to whether that was my answer or not. In reality, I’m not opinionated at all, ever. If you ask me if I like the pink shirt or the purple shirt, want to know what I’ll say? “Um, well, everything looks good on you…I love them both. You pick!” If you ask me if I’d prefer to eat at Applebee’s or T.G.I.Friday’s for dinner, guess what my response would be? “Ewww, you country bumpkin! You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who lives east of Denver, and enjoys eating microwavable cheese for dinner instead of a proper meal!!” Oh boy, after re-reading this last part, I have decided it was best to CTRL + A + Delete this entire paragraph. Forget I said anything. My bad.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is, why do we have to judge and be judged? Let’s just accept people for who they are and appreciate their differences. Okay, enough about that. I’m off to Chili’s with a freezer-size Ziploc baggie full of quarters.

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(Photo credit: My husband’s cell phone)

 

Not So Charming Charlie

The other day, as in yesterday, I decided it was absolutely, 100% necessary to own a pair of mint green earrings. I’m not sure why, but recently I’ve found myself dreaming of all things mint: eye shadow, nail polish, accessories, handbags, shoes, and iPhone cases. So, I went to the mall to see what I could find. Charming Charlie, my new favorite place to recklessly spend $100, seemed to feel right. You know, the one-stop-accessory-super-store where you can buy the same ‘Made in China’ plastic bracelet in fifty shades of grey, purple, and shale? It’s like the Forever 21 of fashion jewelry, except unlike Forever 21, one size fits all.

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(Photo credit: Google Images)

I breezed through the store’s fancy stone, granite, and glass entrance with the grace of a gazelle. There was an undeniable excitement pulsing through my veins. The idea of countless color coded accessories at dirt cheap prices nearly brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to my skin. I could only imagine the possibilities in my near future.

I was just shy of the rose gold section when I was approached by a sales guy; a super adorable hipster who must have been all of nineteen. He was, without a doubt, way too cool to be working here. “Hi Ma’am! Welcome to Charming Charlie. Today everything is BOGO. Do you need a basket?” MA’AM?!?! Who was he calling ma’am? He’d clearly mistaken me for the older, way less cool version of my current self. I looked over my shoulder to imply he couldn’t possibly have been talking to me. “Are you looking for something special today? Perhaps a gift for your teenage daughter or niece?” Suddenly, I became self-conscious. The self-doubt, insecurity, and loathing was starting to set in. “Yes, a gift,” I lied. “Um… I’m looking for maybe something mint… earrings, maybe…or…um…,” I trailed off. “Ah yes. Mint. It’s what all the young ones are wearing these days. For you, I’d recommend either black or navy. Those colors are very age-versatile.” I choked in shock. I took a sideways glance in the display’s vanity mirror just to make sure I wasn’t like, a hundred. Who the heck did this hipster think he was in his adorable ensemble of nerd-chic, black rimmed glasses, fitted T, trendy striped cardigan, expensive skinny jeans, and index finger Tungsten ring? He was like the mean, male version of Zooey Deschanel, but less cute, and yet for some reason, it mattered what he thought. I wanted to say something devastatingly witty, something that would cut like a knife. But all my vintage brain could rally was, “Okay.”

I decided to push on, and selected several earrings, necklaces, and those stretchy bracelet thingies that look like plastic, but aren’t. I also picked out a few clothing items to check out in the dressing room, a questionable decision at best. As I tugged on the first dress over my head, I heard a slight rip, and stopped. I soon realized that not only was this dress a few sizes too small, I couldn’t even get it over my rib cage. I began to sweat, arms raised above my head. Oh boy, I knew this would not end well. Next, I tried on this super cute, mini polka-dotted bib tank. The verdict? I looked 8 months pregnant. Great. Last, I tried on a light pink, cami jersey dress with a low slung waist. After I yanked it on, I realized that I didn’t even have a waist to sling. For my own self-preservation, I convinced myself that these things only looked good on hangers and 12-year-old, little girl bodies. The hipster sales guy shouted through the door, “Do you need different sizes?” “They’re perfect!” I yelled back, fighting tears.

Next up was the jewelry. What could possibly go wrong? I pulled a tangled mess of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from the mesh shopper bag. The mint earrings were no longer a pair; a single pathetic, pale green bow, hung from the backboard packaging. I looked all around. “Where is it?” I said too loudly for the audience of exactly no one. I flung open the door to the dressing room, and dashed to the cash register, my arms loaded with ill-fitting pretty things. “Ring me up,” I insisted. “It’s all perfect. Well, except these navy accessories. They’re hideous.” My hipster friend was all, “One of these is missing a… !” But before he could even finish his sentence, “RING. ME. UP!” I snapped.

As I signed the credit card receipt, and headed out the door, I calculated exactly how long it would take me to drive across town to the other Charming Charlie to return all this junk.

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(Photo credit: Google Images)

Date Night Interrupted

I always thought date night was for old people. At thirteen years old, back when my teased bangs were cemented into place with Aqua Net hairspray, and the only acceptable lip color was Frost Bite Pink by Wet ‘n Wild, I remember being asked to babysit by my neighbor so she and her husband could go on a date night. Date night? Really? It was like some term all old people everywhere agreed to use in order to sound young and exciting. Except they weren’t. It sounded desperate. Why would anyone have to plan to go out with their own husband –plan to go have an overpriced, mediocre meal while the babysitter measured her time in dollar bills? I pitied my neighbors, who must have been twenty-nine at the time, simply for being old. Date night sounded pathetic and boring. And no thanks, I’m good.

Now I’m thirty-six and a mom of a 2-year-old devil child. I can think of nothing more brilliant, really, than spending a kid-free-all-the-frills-fancy-overpriced-date-night out with my one and only. After an especially stressful work week for me, Dave and I decided Friday was going to be the night. We just needed a place to go, and someone to watch the tyrant, err, the kid. Only problem was, none of the six grandparents were available, and my neighbor’s teenage daughter was apparently too busy sending Snap Chats to bother. I was desperate. Anyone? Please?! Heck, I’d gladly pay double to anyone willing to do what grandparents do for free, so long as she didn’t have a prison record and promised not to steal my collection of fuzzy socks, Ryan Reynolds movies or my iPad. I needed out. Finally, I found someone who fit the bill, and we were out! Date night would ensue. We were victorious!

We headed downtown to one of our favorite restaurants; a place known for delectable market seafood and award-winning steakhouse fare. That, and outrageous prices, but I didn’t care. We were a bit early yet for our reservations, so we walked across the street to an upscale lounge to grab a drink. I ordered up my usual vodka tonic with not one, but two lemons, and all was good in the universe again. The leggy brunette behind the bar handed Dave the bill. No more than two seconds later, the pen in the bill fold came tumbling into Dave’s lap and EXPLODED, like forreals EXPLODED, on his pants; on the crotch of his pants if you want specifics. OMG!!! We scrubbed, rubbed, blotted, clotted, and wiped until it was…

…an even bigger, bluer, four-inch soggy ink stain on his crotch. Fan-freaking-tastic. Universe: 1, Date Night: 0

Defeated, we crossed the street to the restaurant hoping to make our 7:15pm reservation, Dave avoiding all eye contact as we hurried along. As we approached the hostess stand, I could sense all pairs of eyes being pulled like magnets to Dave’s soggy, blue crotch. Without missing a beat, the obviously inexperienced hostess asked, “Tough night, huh?” “Um… yeah. We have a 7:15 reservation for Dave?” “Oh sure. Just give us about twenty minutes, and we’ll get you seated as soon as we can.” TWENTY MINUTES!?!? I could slaughter a cow, cure the meat and braise a side of beef in twenty minutes! “Okay, thanks. We’ll just be over here…” Universe: 2, Date Night: 0

Finally, we were seated at this really fancy table. A crisp, white linen table cloth hung perfectly, angled points matching faultlessly. A single white orchid leaned delicately in a bud vase, while a little flame danced atop a candle. Now, this was totally a lifestyle I could get behind. Just as we were getting settled in, I heard booming voices from our table neighbors, “Yes, well then you’re a jerk!” she said. “I’M a jerk? YOU’RE a jerk!” he spat. Oh boy. Our table neighbors were neck-deep in some kind of intense and completely inappropriate lovers’ quarrel. This was about to be a loooong night, and I was beginning to wish we had stayed home. Universe: 3, Date Night: 0

In a very fortunate yet ironic turn of events, the food was incredible. Well, except for the Cretons de Chez-Nous. The best way I know how to describe it? Liquid meat. Seriously, liquid meat. Have you ever had this? You think about that, while I Google the term Cretons de Chez-Nous. Bleh! Universe: 3.5, Date Night: .5

We finally arrived home just before I owed the babysitter another twenty spot. The best part of the night was putting on my big pants and letting the air out of a bag of chips. Next time I’m staying home.