Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Impressions

Every once in a while I'll meet people who only know me from my book, blog or social media.
I really try to portray myself accurately and authentically in everything I put out there.  However, there are confines.  I have kids I try desperately not to embarrass.  Not to mention, my husband.  And I try to preserve some sense of privacy and restraint in a world that thrives on TMI.  Luckily, my dogs don't give a crap about any of this and they love me unconditionally, provided that I feed, walk, pet and share my nightly popcorn with them.

The thing is, no matter how much you put out there for the world to see (or don't),  you can never be sure what impression people have of you.  Because ultimately you have no control over how someone perceives you.  And how someone sees you usually has more to do with them than with you anyway.

So, with people who only know me through my writing, I'm always a bit nervous to meet them.  First, because I'm socially anxious, so I always feel this way about any social interaction.  Second, because I don't want to be a big, gaping, letdown.  About a year ago, I was invited to a small, intimate get together by a woman who'd read my book.  At the end of a truly lovely evening, she told me she'd wondered if I'd be funny in person or not.  And then I had that "oh shit" moment and I had to mentally run through everything I said.  Please, tell me I said something funny tonight so I didn't disappoint her.  I can actually be funny in person.  But the truth is, I'm really quite serious too.  Most of all though, when I'm in a group of people, I don't want to be the center of attention.  I'm much more comfortable one on one.

Because I'm an introvert's introvert.

When I hear things like, but you don't seem like an introvert in your writing, I'm happy to hear it. But, please know, when I'm writing I'm completely alone.  I'm not standing in a kitchen trying to make conversation with someone I've never met before with cilantro stuck between my teeth while juggling a paper plate of food and a stemmed wine glass I have nowhere to put down.  I mean, I probably have cilantro in my teeth at home too, because I love it.  But, who cares?  I'm alone.  And I'm at my most comfortable when home alone.  Unless I have workmen in my house repairing the damage from my overflowing toilet going on two and a half months now.  Then, I'm at home, but completely uncomfortable.  The only thing worse than being at a party trying to make small talk is trying to make small talk in your own home with uninvited guests.  That or trying to pretend that my house is usually clean.  I admit right now, my house is never clean.  Ever.

Anyway, skip to yesterday, when I met someone I've followed on social media for the first time one on one.  And he turned out to be exactly the way I imagined him to be.  And he said the same of me.  Which is the highest compliment and best first impression to make with a new friend.  After all, we all just want to be seen for exactly who we are, only way better.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Beauty Marketing 101

There are lots of great things about being a woman.  Like being able to bring new life into the world and being the only one who can properly replace a roll of toilet paper.  Not to mention knowing how someone is feeling before they even feel it and then there's the constantly feeling like you're not enough.  I didn't ask for these gifts.   It's just that they come absolutely free with the price of estrogen. Like it's Clinique bonus time all the time, but everything in the bag isn't your color and makes you break out, so you just use the cute bag it came in to carry around your tampons.  

As women, we're all insecure about our looks.  All of us.  Lucky for us, we have the beauty industry to confirm just how hideous we are.  Not to mention Snapchat, which corroborates, you really are a dog.  And even at that, you need an industrial strength filter to pull that one off.  

We all have some basis for feeling less than.  Mine was acne. (There are more issues than that, but let's stick to the zits here or this is going to be a novel.)  Not only did it cover my face, I also had backne.  I was extremely self-conscious about it and never went anywhere without foundation to try to hide my blemishes.  And I envied everyone with clear skin.  I tried every over the counter product to make it go away, mixed with some prayer, cause god knows it couldn't hurt.  Finally, at the ripe old age of 40, my acne disappeared and was promptly replaced with fine lines, blotchiness and rogue chin hairs.  Yay!  How can you grow a 2 inch long straggly chin hair overnight?  Ugh.  Turns out, the only thing worse than estrogen for a woman, is testosterone.  

Even though I have clear skin now, I'm still self-conscious about it.  Not only that, almost two years ago when I went for a mole check, I had a dermatologist suggest I get laser treatment on my face to smooth out my skin tone.  And I was really offended, but only after I considered it because she's a skin professional confirming I'm not good enough.  She must be right.

It took me a while to realize, there's nothing wrong with me.  Or actually, there's lots of things wrong with me, but my skin wasn't actually one of them.  Is there no such thing as aging gracefully without an expressionless Botox filled, laser burnt face anymore?  It's not that I'm so secure in how I look, cause I'm not.  It's that I don't want to look like that celebrity cautionary tale.  You know the one.  Cause there are lots of "ones" out there.  

Anyway, let me get to the point of this whole tale already.  So, I found this completely great homemade face mask a couple years ago that I love and faithfully use twice a week.  It clears up blemishes (which I still get every now and again), plus it brightens and doesn't dry out my sensitive, combination skin.  And bonus: there is no marketing to make you feel inadequate or coax you into using it.  It just works.  Imagine that!

So, why when I'm perusing the beauty aisle in Target, would I buy an expensive mask when I have one I'm extremely happy with at home?  Also, why do I go down the cosmetic aisle every time I'm in Target?  Marketing.  And preying on my old, blotchy and wrinkled insecurities.

Want to know how to sell to me?

1.  Package your product in one of the most sublime shades of green.  
2.  Mention kale or any other vegetable that I can simply apply topically and don't have to eat.
3.  Tell me it's vegan and cruelty free so I feel absolved of any societal guilt.
4.  Make me feel completely and totally inadequate by using the word "overhaul". 
5.  Jack up the price, so it's kinda affordable, but still way too expensive so it feels luxurious.

The only thing that could've made the mask I was ogling over more appealing to me is if they mentioned that for every tube sold they planted a garden to feed starving children kale in Africa.  I probably would've paid double for that!  

I knew I was being manipulated by my insecurities and yet I bought it anyway.  Oh yes, I did!  And I know what you're thinking: does it work?  I might get some.  And I bet you already know the answer.  No.  Don't do it.  It's a total waste of money.  And now I'm back to my homemade, completely guilt-free mask.
Don't believe the bullshit.  
Not the beauty industry's.
And definitely, not your own.
Most stupid decisions in life begin with feeling insecure.

Matcha Green Tea Face Mask:

1 tsp matcha green tea powder
1/2 tsp honey
2 or 3 drops tea tree oil
1 or 2 drops water to make it into a paste

Leave on 10 minutes.  
CAUTION: it stains.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Almost OCD

Let me be clear, I do not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  But, you don't need to be diagnosable to have ritualistic things you do that don't make sense to anyone else, that you can't stop yourself from doing.   I call it Almost OCD and everyone's got it.  It's the equal opportunity mental illness.  The only prerequisite is being human.

It all starts for me with my morning rituals.  Coffee and twitter.  Compulsively scrolling and searching for content I can share by retweeting it.  Which is exactly where my compulsion meets my addiction.  After that it's time to get the kids up and off to school. Which requires at least three rounds of attempting to wake the dead before I get the teenagers out of their beds.  (Please note: this part is not voluntary.)  By this time, the coffee has kicked in and I'm really ready to start obsessing.

When the kids leave, the counter stools are all pulled out cockeyed.  Every single morning.  Why do they do this?  Why can't they push their chairs in?  My adrenaline starts.  And I have to push them all back in and line them up perfectly.  Which is how they'll remain until the kids return from school.

It's about this time that I have to decide what's for dinner.  I can't plan a week of meals ahead of time.  Because dinner depends on two important factors: the weather and my mood.   And how am I going to know these things ahead of time?  I'm not psychic.  Well, I am in that I know whatever I make my kids are going to hate it, so none of this even matters anyway.

By the time I get in the shower, I've figured out dinner and made a list of things I have to go get to make whatever comfort food for whatever emotion needs to be fed that day.  If I don't have it figured out by then, I start to get panicky.  Yes, at 7am, I'm stressing about what to make for dinner.  And that's when I'll forget to shave a leg, which will drive me insane for the rest of the day.

When I get out of the shower that's when I need to take all the laundry downstairs to the washing machine.  Because I do.  I'll tell myself not to go in the kids' rooms and check their floors or the floor in the bathroom.  But, I can't stop myself.  And I'll begrudgingly pick up their clothes they failed to put in the hamper, even though I told them I wouldn't.  I hate that! And take it all downstairs in one heaping pile I can't see the stairs over.   I don't know why it's so important that I make it in one trip because I will go upstairs and re-check the 2 hampers, 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms at least 3 more times, just to make sure I got everything before I start the load.  It's imperative every article of clothing that's dirty be in there.  Even though 5 minutes later there's more laundry.

Then, I'll stretch and work out on the pole where I'll either attempt to do something new and/or perfect something that's old.  And I will do the same move over and over.  Sometimes in excess of 50 times.  (Or until I've broken the capillaries in my knee pit, pull a muscle, get motion sickness or start to get a migraine because I tweaked my back again.)  And it still won't be good enough.  I'll tell myself that I'll only try it one more time.  But that's a lie.  So I bargain with myself.  I'll keep doing it until the end of the song.  Or, I'll stop at 9:30 or whatever arbitrary time I make up.  And when I do finally stop (well after I promised myself I would), that's when I start berating myself for not being better.

Now, it's time for errands.  I'll hop in the car and find a radio station I like.  But, only after searching from all the available choices.  And then constantly checking to see if there's a better song on another station.  And then volume needs to be on an even number.  Or a multiple of 5.

If I have an appointment, I'll plug the address into the GPS, even if I know how to get there.  It's just a little insurance policy.  When I arrive at my destination,  I'll check the address, to make sure I'm in the right place.  Then I'll re-check again.   And then again.   I'll still be at least 10 minutes early because I'm always habitually early for everything.  If I'm on time, in my mind that means, I'm late.  I've tried so hard to break myself of this habit because it sucks to be the first person at any social gathering.  Although, I reason that if I'm the first person there, I can leave first.  Which totally makes sense to me.

Shopping isn't any better.  Say after an exhaustive search, I finally find a denim shirt on-line to replace an old, dying denim shirt that I love and buy it.  Then it arrives and it's not denim at all, it's chambray.  And chambray isn't denim!  But, otherwise I love the shirt.  And even though I keep the shirt, I can't wear it.  Because I have to wear my old one out completely before I wear the new one.  But, I can't wear the old one out, because I don't like the new one as much because it's a lighter fabric and therefore not a good replacement for the old one.  So, now I have two shirts I love that I won't wear for fear that I'll never find an equivalent replacement for either of them.  It's the same with jeans.  And sneakers.  I know it's stupid...

but, I can't stop.
Maybe I have Overly Critical Disorder.

Monday, April 17, 2017

ID Check

My kids go to high school on the Air Force Academy. Which requires, that all of us have special ID cards to get us through the security checkpoint and onto the base.  I get it.  It's imperative that our military installations are secure.  I'm all for that.  


Not for vanity reasons.  For security reasons.  Maybe a little bit of vanity, but mostly the security thing. 

Exhibit A:  

My old ID to get on to base taken in 2014.  

I don't know if I was chewing gum, trying to get something dislodged from my teeth with my tongue or about to sneeze.  But what the hell was I doing with my mouth?  Also, why don't I have a neck?  I look like Beaker from the Muppets.  And why would anyone let me onto a military installation with this ID that: 1.  Doesn't look like me 1.5 Please tell me it doesn't look like me  2.  Makes me look like a terrorist.  Please note the sunglasses on top of my head.

So, I was so excited my ID expires this school year and I had to go get a new one.  Because really?  You can't get worse than this photo.  Or so I thought before I went in to get my new ID.  I asked the guy at the counter if he was going to take a new photo.  He said he could.  And it was settled.  I sat down and waited to be called back to the counter while contemplating if I should smile for the photo or not.  Then I remembered my last photo.  Smile.  I'll definitely smile, but I'm not showing teeth.  Because: 1.  It's unrealistic, I rarely if ever smile and show teeth 2.  It's too much pressure and it's bound to look forced and make me look even more like a terrorist.

Finally, it was my turn,  so I could stop staring at the official photo of Trump that hung on the wall.  No matter what happened, I wasn't going to look like an orange, smug asshole like he does in his pictures.  The guy asked me to take off my sunglasses that I'd pushed up on top of my head like a hairband.  So I did.  Ok, there's a set protocol for the ID photos, this is a good sign, like there is for a passport photo.  He snapped it, checked it and then printed up my ID card.

Then he handed it to me...

...and I look like a blurry, orange, smug asshole.  
Maybe it's the Trump filter. 
And just like Trump, this ID doesn't make me feel any more secure about anything.   

Thursday, April 13, 2017


It all started with a toilet that overflowed in the middle of the night and a subsequent call to the insurance company the next day when we discovered it was raining toilet water in our basement.  I admit, I didn't expect much.  But our insurance company had someone come out the same day with an estimate on the damage and a plan to fix it.  Including new wood floors on the main level and carpet in the basement, adding up to thousands of dollars of damage they'd cover.

I was floored!

Of course, we'd have to move out of our house and into a hotel while they were sanding, staining and polyurethaning the wood.   Then, the insurance company picked up the tab for 6 people and 2 dogs for 2 weeks.  Which was another few thousand dollars.  

Again, I was floored!  

When we finally were able to move back into the house, there were still baseboards that needed to be put back, drywall to replace, doors to be stained and polyurethaned, painting and a new toilet and vanity to be installed.  Adding up to two additional weeks of workmen in and out of my house.  And trying to schedule my workouts, writing, dog walks, carpooling and meals around them.  Because you know what's really weird when you have people in your house all day?  Eating.  Do I offer them some?  Are they judging me for what I'm eating?  Or that I'm eating again?  I mean, I did gain weight during the hotel stay and then again on spring break.  You can't really work out in an RV, you know?    

The thing is, when you get near the end of a project and then you get a cold and start slamming hot tea to hydrate and soothe your dry throat cause you're mouth breathing, you have to pee a lot.  And I mean a lot.  So, since I don't have a bathroom on the main floor, that means I'm running either upstairs or downstairs to pee.  While it's a fantastic StairMaster workout, by the time I get to the bathroom (any bathroom) there's either a kid showering or using the toilet.  Now, after running up the stairs, my nose is running like a faucet with snot headed due south, straight for my mouth.  Nooooooooooooooo!!!

I'm floored that this work isn't done yet! 

So yesterday (the day before yesterday by the time you read this), the plumber was supposed to come  and install the toilet and the sink in the vanity.  I waited during my designated window of 3 to 5pm for him to show.  Which he didn't.  Today, for round 2, his window to redeem himself is from 1-3pm.  Right now as I sit in my old, creaky office chair and finish writing this, it's exactly 1pm.  So I don't know how the story ends.  But, I sure hope it's with a flushing toilet.

Either way, I'll be pretty floored!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ladies Night Out

My delusion of what we look like on Ladies Night Out
The five of us have been friends for over a decade.  Four of us have birthdays in December and one in March.  So semi-annually, we have a ladies night out to celebrate, which at our age is actually more commiserating our birthdays together.   I'd say it's a big affair, but the biggest affair is trying to schedule it.

Seriously, why do I have so many Scorpio/Sagittarius friends?  November and December are already insanely busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not to mention Christmas vacation.  THIS IS A REALLY INCONVENIENT TIME FOR BIRTHDAYS!  I don't even like my own birthday for this very reason.  March is usually a tad easier.  But, there is spring break to contend with.  The e-mails to organize LNO started in February.  And yes, old people make arrangements on AOL.  Which is precisely why we're not old yet, because we have Gmail or yahoo accounts.  Duh.

After several proposed dates and a month of e-mails back and forth, finally we confirmed a date all five of us could commit to and we marked it on our paper calendars in ballpoint pen.  Ok, maybe I'm the only one who still has a old school calendar featuring beautiful vistas hanging next to my home phone. Yes, I still have a land line.  Although, my girlfriends are more tech savvy than me, making me the old bitty of the group, even though I'm actually the youngest.

The week of LNO, that was scheduled for April because no one could do March, one of us bails.  Three of us have kids who are seniors in high school and she's taking her daughter for one more look at a college before she makes her final choice and she's leaving the Friday night we're going out.  Ironically, she's the one with the March birthday we're going out to commiserate.  And we can't reschedule because do you know how long it took to schedule in the first place?  Plus, April and May,   are chock full of attending senior breakfasts with our kids, sending out graduation announcements, organizing parties and scheduling a session to go cry at our financial planner's office because how are we going to afford all this?  So, the birthday party will go on without the birthday girl.

And that's what we did.  In our mom jeans paired with breathable cotton tops and sensible flat shoes.  We all wore earrings though, which in middle age in casual Colorado basically constitutes evening wear.  When we arrived at Till, a hip new restaurant filled with millennials, just before 6 we ran to the bar to catch last call before Happy Hour ended.  Because we're practical like that.  And we're saving money so our kids can come home from college at Christmas.  Forget Thanksgiving, it's way too expensive to fly your kid home then. They'll have to find another student with a family that's local to take them in and be thankful with on that holiday.

That's when things really got wild.  I ordered a spicy, carb-loaded green chili gnocchi.  Spicy food often triggers my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  And after just coming back from vacation, the last thing my sluggish middle aged metabolism needed was carbs.  But, this was a special occasion.  My friend's birthday.  My friend who wasn't even there.  And since we're breaking the diet anyway, we need to get her a cake.  And then text her a picture of us eating it.  Happy Birthday Bailer!

We sat at the table for hours talking about our kids.  Because we're lame and had no plans to go out to a bar afterward.  Where would we even go?  Downtown?  Are you kidding me?  That's like 15 minutes in the other direction!  Then we'd have to find parking and shout at each other over the music. The waitress kept coming around.  "More water?"  Which everyone knows is server code for "Get the hell out of here already!"  So after a few rounds of water on a Friday night, at about 9 or maybe 9:30 we all headed home.

When did we go from Girls Gone Wild to Girls Gone Mild?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Baggage

I've done a lot of travelling.  And if there's one thing I'm pretty good at, it's packing a suitcase.  If there's one thing I'm terrible at, it's pretty much everything else.  I'm not good at timing a vacation, making the correct travel arrangements or having the right visa when I get there, among other things.  So, let's just focus on the luggage then, shall we?

I rarely take my massive orange suitcase anywhere anymore because it's just too big. Not to mention, the broken zippers and torn handles from being manhandled all over the world.  These days, I've replaced my cumbersome luggage with a brick colored backpack that's smaller and more portable.

But, every once in a while there's an opportunity to break out my old school rolly bag.  Like last month when we moved into a hotel for a couple weeks while my wood floors were being refinished after a toilet overflowed.  I didn't need anything easily maneuverable, because it was only going into my car and then driving it 3 miles down the street to the Staybridge Suites.

However, it was still too much suitcase for me as I travel light these days.  Mostly because these days I'll wear the same clothes for a couple of days.  This is the advantage of working from home.  No one knows I picked yesterday's outfit up off of the floor to re-wear it the next day.  So, no one cares.  Especially me.  This also works on vacation.  Because are you going to see anyone you know on vacation?  Ok, so I just ran into someone I knew at the Grand Canyon last week.  So, it happens, but she didn't know I was on day 2 or 3 in those clothes because I didn't wash clothes on the trip.  Unless she saw the food stains on my shirt.  But, they could've been fresh stains.  How would she know?

Anyway, back to my baggage in the hotel room where I washed clothes all the time because they had a free washer and dryer at the hotel.  And because I have 4 teenagers who are clothes whores.  

To solve the too-much-suitcase-dilemma, I decided to share it with my husband.  Which we have done many times before in our earlier, more bumbling travels.  So we know to share it exactly 50-50, just like our marriage.  Maybe 60-40.  Or 70-30.  Whatever.  It depends on the day or the year, really.  Either way, when we're packing up to leave, there are no suitcase squabbles.  Even when we get wherever we're going, there's no issue.  My husband prefers to take his clothes out of the luggage and put them in a dresser or on a shelf, depending on the space.  While I prefer to commit to the suitcase and sprawl out onto his side of the luggage.  It's like getting the whole bed to myself.

Packing back up to go home is when the argument starts.  The same recurrent argument we have every time we share a bag: fold or cram?  My stance is, everything is dirty and going into the laundry when we get home anyway so why bother folding?  And his take is that folding makes things fit into the bag better.  Even though I am a master crammer and I can get everything in that bag and still close the zipper and he's totally wrong.  Maybe the caveat is "better".  And better is always subjective.  To me the least work is better.  To him, not ruining the suitcase by breaking the zipper from cramming everything into the suitcase is better.

Six of one, half dozen of the other,  I suppose.
Even though I'm totally right.  
This is my baggage.

Monday, April 3, 2017

RV Road Trip Rules

For spring break I spent over a week in an RV travelling to the Grand Canyon with my family of four teens, my husband and his mother.  Here is some practical advice if you're considering a similar trip.


No one poops in the RV.  I think it goes without saying that 7 people should never share one bathroom.  Ever. But, put that toilet on wheels and contain the other 6 people with the noxious fumes of one and now we're just talking the preservation of humanity here.

Unless of course, you boondock at a free State Campground and the toilets are all closed.  


While it might be tempting to make a batch of down home chili for the road, DON'T DO IT!  Everyone knows, no one eats chili without farting.  Little known fact: Eating chili is the leading cause of homicide on RV trips.

Turns out, that black bean pasta with a queso-salsa sauce wasn't a good choice either.  Neither was hummus...


Remember to check that your kids packed a change of socks and underwear before you leave on the trip.  Don't wait until it becomes revoltingly apparent your kid who's old enough to know better didn't actually know better and only packed 1 pair of fresh socks.

Also, the same kid will probably be down one pair of underwear after he drops a pair on the ground on the way back from the shower.  Only to be discovered the next morning after a night of freezing rain.  


On days you can't shower because you're boondocking or you have to walk a mile through the cold to pay $2 for an 8 minute shower in a national park,  that's when you take a baby wipe shower.  Including all the crevices and feet before putting on fresh underwear and socks.  (Please refer back to #3)

I know you're thinking, but you have a shower in an RV.  But, the shower is used as a wet bar for beer and the storage of other beverages.  Duh.


After a whole day of listening to your teens fight over who gets to charge their phone in the one working outlet in the RV, you'll need some alcohol.  And yes, you can get alcohol while you're on the road. But... don't want to be in the bad part of town in Albuquerque buying your Colt 45 when the cashier is behind bulletproof glass and you're not.  Safety first.  

Sure, I could give you lots of other little tips.  But, I've got this bottomless pile of laundry to tackle and an empty fridge here at home to fill.  I'm sure you'll figure the rest out when you're on the road.  Safe travels!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...