Breaking News…

Did you hear? First lady Michelle Obama was spotted shopping at a Target in Virginia this week. Thank goodness for vigilant journalists for catching this breaking news. Unfortunately, what she purchased remains top secret.

I hope and expect there will be endless political commentary on the Target trip from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and all the rest of the media outlets that we all depend upon to tell us what to think.

My thoughts on the Michelle Obama Target trip?

1. I’m jealous that she has a Target 15 minutes away from the White House, while I have to travel 40 minutes to find one.

2. The first lady is clearly a much stronger person than I. If the press followed me and reported on all my little errands, it would make me crazy: “Writer/blogger Lisa Clark was spotted at a NC Walmart this morning, purchasing deodorant and 7 different kinds of lactose-free milk…”

3. Whatever she bought will look trendy, classy and fashionable on her. On me, not so much.

I’m sure the first lady was simply doing her part to help the economy, not to mention that pushing a shopping cart is great for keeping those arms nice and toned. Regardless of your political persuasion, let’s all follow Mrs. Obama’s lead and get out there today and help the economy. That’s right – consider it your patriotic duty to go buy stuff.

Meet My New Nemesis

Here’s how it is with me and technology. I appreciate technology on many levels. I’m deeply grateful to the inventor of central air conditioning, the dishwasher, the TV remote control and, of course, to Al Gore for inventing the internet. On the other hand, I’m not one to chase after brand new shiny objects. I learn new technologies only when necessity requires that I do.

I have all the standard household technologies that most people have. I have and use a computer (and that fancy world wide web thing) and a cell phone. Here are a few things I don’t have (no laughing): a laptop, an e-reader, an iPad, a cell phone with a real keyboard.

As you probably know, my friend Paulette and I have just launched a new website.  Of the two of us, I’m the more technologically-inclined, which is either frightening or hysterical, depending on your point of view. The journey towards launching was a big challenge for me and the fun hasn’t stopped since.

This morning, I was excited to upload the content for this week’s edition of  The Ripe Report. I scheduled it to publish at 11:30 a.m. only to find that it had published right away. What did I learn? I learned that I have to relearn how to tell time using something called the Universal Time Code (UTC). Personally, I prefer the old fashioned method of “when the big hand is on the 6 and the little hand is on 11,” but I no longer have a choice. With any luck, next week’s edition will publish when I tell it to.

Alrighty. Moving on, I checked to see if I had received an email to tell me that there was fresh content to read. Nope, no email. You may recall that our very first glitch last week was that the “subscribe via email,” let’s call her SVEM for short, wasn’t working because I had given the web guy the wrong code (code: a long string of meaningless gibberish that must be placed somewhere within the guts of the website). After much googling, I discovered that the email doesn’t go out the moment the site is updated. It waits until an appointed 2-hour window (kind of like the cable TV guy who is invariably scheduled to come to your house sometime between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.) and we were not yet within the window.

I have a funny feeling that SVEM is my new nemesis and the odds of her cooperating are about 1 in 10. So, if you SVEMed to The Ripe Report, I thank you for subscribing and apologize in advance if you don’t get your email today. In the meantime, don’t be alarmed if you hear screaming – it’s just me, making friends with technology.

Sooo Popular…

You know those people who treat every aspect of life as a do-or-die, must-win competition?  If you get promoted, they get an even bigger promotion; if your kid is smart, theirs is a genius; if your car gets good fuel mileage, theirs can circle the globe twice on one tank of gas; and if your life has been touched by tragedy, their tragedy is far more calamitous.

I am not one of those people. Competition in any form makes me uncomfortable. I hate the idea of winners and losers. Certainly it feels good to be acknowledged for being good at something, though I squirm under any hint of a spotlight and feel bad about the countless other people out there who are good at something but who may never get any recognition for it.  I know, I know, I probably need some therapy.

So, it is with profound gratitude, tremendous unease, and just a smidge of angst that I must thank the four bloggers who, during the past two weeks, have bestowed the Versatile Blogger Award upon my humble blog. Notquiteold, georgettesullins, ifiwerebrave and workingmomadventures, you guys are the best.

I imagine this is what it must feel like to be the popular girl in high school or to win the Miss Ultimate Grand Supreme Queenette of the Universe award at a Toddlers & Tiaras pageant. I am donning my imaginary Versatile Blogger crown and robe and sashaying across my office, one perfect tear escaping from my eye (but not ruining my mascara because I’m not wearing any). I’m gazing lovingly out at the blogosphere, smiling a shaky omg-I-can’t-believe-I-won smile and waving my gloved hand (you may think those gloves are for glamour, but really they’re just hiding the atrocious state of my nails – ssshh, don’t tell).

In accepting this honor, I pledge to continue to use my blog to call out the absurd, the ridiculous, the annoying, and occasionally, the good. I pledge to continue to blog in lieu of therapy because it’s cheaper and way more fun.

Nancy, Georgette, Dory and Nancy, thank you.

Ripe Report Technical Update

The Ripe Report email subscription is now working.  I’ve learned that the reason it was not working was because I sent the web guy the wrong code. I have no idea how I sent him the wrong code, why I even needed a code, where the code was supposed to go, or what the correct code looks like, which is why I am not a web guy. So, my apologies for the glitch.  Please feel free to mosey on back to and subscribe.

It’s Time

The time has finally come and I’m excited, but nervous. So nervous, I’m a little nauseous. I want everyone to love what we’ve created, but what if you don’t love it? What if it’s like:

I spent hours making a gourmet meal, only to have my guests show up and say, “no thanks, we stopped at Burger King on the way over” OR

I’ve poured my heart and soul into what I think is a brave, gut wrenching essay about a personal experience, worked up the nerve to have someone important read it, and that person responds with, “oh, that’s cute” OR

I’m humbled and honored to be chosen as the first recipient of the Presidential Medal of Blogging Excellence and as I step up to receive my medal, I’m totally unaware that the back of my dress is tucked into my underpants.

I’m just going to rip the bandaid off fast. Here goes:

You are cordially invited to the Grand Opening of The Ripe Report.  Please stop by, have some virtual coffee and a cupcake, browse, read, comment, stay a while.  I hope you’ll love it enough to subscribe, like, follow and all that stuff.  If you don’t, feel free to tell me you hate it, but whatever you do, please don’t tell me it’s “nice” or “cute.”

Off you go – enjoy!

The Unbearable Wrongness of Mauve

When you live in an economically depressed rural community with a population of about 10,000, you learn to temper your expectations when you shop at the local mall. While there are a couple of well-know national retail chains, you know the selection will be limited, that the clothing will bear no resemblance to fashion, and that the mall’s appearance has not changed in at least two decades.

All that, however, is no excuse for having the world’s most depressing fitting rooms ever. Depressing fitting rooms will not help you achieve the goal of selling clothing. In the interest of economic growth, increased sales, and a less depressing shopping experience for all, JC Penney in the Colonial Mayberry Mall in Mount Airy, North Carolina, I am calling you out.

Let’s start with the dim fluorescent lighting, which causes patrons to look like they’re suffering from the bubonic plague or recovering from a serious bout of salmonella. Don’t you think that some brighter lighting that’s closer to natural light would improve people’s moods and make them look better, both of which are likely to result in purchasing more clothes?

Can we talk about the automatic air freshener dispenser? Someone on your management team must think this smells lovely, but to those of us with sensitive noses and lungs, those automated perfumed spritzes, dispensed in a small enclosed space, are nothing short of a sensory assault.

Further proof that mauve is nobody's friend.

It’s evident that you’re not interest in keeping up with the latest trends in interior design, but why mauve?  Dirty mauve carpeting, circa 1982, tattered textured mauve wallpaper, dark mauve doors on each fitting room stall – it’s an appalling backdrop for trying on clothes. (In fact, it’s the perfect backdrop for filming a commercial for the antidepressant that people are supposed to take when the antidepressant they’re already taking isn’t enough.)

What is mauve anyway? It’s like a train wreck of burgundy colliding with beige and it has no place in the fitting room. The only part of the fitting room that isn’t mauve is that gray line of encrusted dust where the mauve carpeting meets the mauve wallpaper. The least you could do is buy your cleaning crew a crevice attachment for the vacuum cleaner.

Please, I already hate to shop. Must you amplify the drudgery of the experience with your awful mauveness? In all fairness to JC Penney, the fitting rooms in the other “major” department store in the mall aren’t much better, but at least they’re not mauve.

The Family Talent Show

We all have individuals in our families who are “special” in one way or another.  Maybe your sister Bethany can wrap both her legs around the back of her neck while reciting the alphabet backwards. You might have an Uncle Murray who can belch the Star Spangled Banner, wearing nothing but red, white and blue boxers. Some of you may even have true celebrities in your family, after all, even the Lady Gagas of the world have families, right?

In the name of good family relationships, I cannot reveal the names of my “special” family members and their unique talents. However, if one of those family members were to receive some sort of public recognition for his or her talents, then I’d be off the hook and I could blab all I want to about it. That’s fair, right?

Andrew with his lovely wife, Dana Parish (about whom I have blog bragged before) , and their baby, Lucy (whose talent is being excruciatingly adorable)

Well, this year’s winners of the Creative Arts Emmys were just announced (these are Emmys that go to behind-the-scenes creators, like writers and cinematographers) and the Outstanding Children’s Program Emmy went to an HBO special called A Child’s Garden of Poetry. My extraordinarily talented baby brother, Andrew Hollander, scored the music for this special. Technically, he’s not a baby anymore and hasn’t been one for quite some time, but as a big sister, I reserve the right to refer to him as my baby brother in perpetuity. And, baby or not, he is a truly gifted composer and I am infinitely proud of him.

I’m at a loss as to how to appropriately commemorate this achievement. The best I can come up with is to get him a tee shirt that says, “I WON A FREAKIN’ EMMY!” but he’s kind of humble and probably wouldn’t wear it. As a back-up plan, I could get myself a tee shirt that says, “MY BROTHER WON A FREAKIN’ EMMY!” and wear it absolutely everywhere. Lame, I know – I’m open to suggestions.

The only downside of this whole glorious event is that I don’t have HBO and haven’t seen the special yet. But Andrew, rest assured that if I did have HBO, I’d totally watch the special even if a brand new episode of Millionaire Matchmaker were on at the same time. You’re just that awesome.