Where Have I Been?

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t posted much on my blog lately. You may or may not have been wondering what I’ve been up to instead. Well, I’ve been spending less time here:

Of course, this is not me. I have more hair and I never work topless.

Of course, this is not me. I have more hair and I never work topless.

And a whole lot of time here:

Sacred Space Yoga Studio, Mount Airy, NC

Sacred Space Yoga Studio, Mount Airy, NC

This past summer, a yoga studio opened here in Mayberry. You might not think that Mayberry is a likely place for yoga to take off and admittedly, Aunt Bea has not yet donned yoga pants and tried a class, but surprisingly, Mayberry has embraced yoga in a big way. Because the truth is that yoga is for just about everybody – all ages, sizes, shapes and abilities (or lack thereof).

I had never done yoga before, but I started taking some classes. Then I took more classes and now I can’t seem to stop.  In fact, I’ve become such a fan and spend so much time there that I’m now the Director of Communications for Sacred Space. It’s the perfect job for me – I can continue to freelance for other clients, I can set my own hours, perform my duties in the comfort of yoga pants (okay, I always write and work in yoga pants, but now I write and work in yoga pants that I’ve actually worn to yoga, so they’re sort of like an official uniform), and I get the remarkable perk of unlimited yoga classes.

If you’ve never tried yoga, you may think it’s only for young, thin, flexible women who look super annoyingly cute in yoga clothes.  I am none of those things and neither are most of the people who practice yoga. You simply show up and start from where you are and you’ll likely end up feeling calmer, more energized and, as one of our clients said, “we leave your studio feeling like a better version of ourselves.”

If you’re ever Mount Airy, NC, come on in and do some yoga with us – we’ll make y’all feel right at home!

Top 10 Ways to Inflict Holiday Torture Upon Yourself

‘Tis the season – the season for unrealistic expectations followed by the inevitable crash and burn of disappointment.  How many of these things are you planning to put yourself through this holiday season?

Oh Noooooo....

Oh Noooooo….

1. You expect that somehow, despite decades of evidence to the contrary, your family get-together will be a blissful affair, with angelic children sitting in rapt attention by the fireplace as grandpa reads “The Night Before Christmas;” adult siblings enjoying one another’s company with not a hint of competition or resentment; in-laws happily allowing you to do things your way; everyone eating and drinking in merry moderation; and you pulling it all off without breaking a sweat.

2. You believe a perfect gift exists for each person on your list and you are damn well going to find it, even if it’s Christmas Eve and the overnight shipping will cost more than the gift itself.

3. Similarly, you expect your significant other will pick out, purchase, and lovingly wrap the perfect gift for you, even though you have no idea what that might be.

4. You are determined to get the perfect family photo for the Christmas card, you know, the one that depicts the fictional family of your imagination, rather than your actual family.

5. You eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink, knowing how badly you’re going to feel, but thinking, “Hey, it’s Christmas, what’s Christmas without a little (fill in your family’s standard Christmas food/drink excesses)?

6. You veer way out of your normal routine, staying up way too late, foregoing meals to compensate for all the crap you’re eating, and deciding that skipping your regular exercise routine for a few days or weeks is no big deal.

7. You believe that the office Christmas party is one big competition and that, this year, you will finally out-cookie the office baking maven, whose Christmas cookies and cakes are legendary.

8. You conveniently forget the hell of holiday traveling and think you can arrive at your destination unscathed, with no airline delays or traffic nightmares, ready to embrace your family with holiday cheer.

9. You expect to accomplish all holiday related tasks by yourself and that people will notice, appreciate and thank you for all that you did.

10. You finish up the holidays by comparing the reality of your holiday to the unreality of everyone else’s newly posted holiday Facebook photos.

Once you’ve tortured yourself through Christmas, it will be time to look ahead and make some seriously unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Who wants to start?

Things One Should Not Do at Walmart

We’ve all been there. You’re shopping/schlepping through Walmart with a big list of stuff to buy. In the cart is your restless toddler. Distraction is key. Can you provide enough forms of distraction to keep the toddler below the tantrum ignition threshold until you’ve safely finished your shopping and are headed out of the parking lot?

By all means, break out the cheerios, hand the kid your keys, your iPhone, your lipstick, or grab a cute little stuffed animal or inexpensive toy off the shelf.

Yes.

Yes.

But whatever you do, DO NOT arm that child with a bicycle horn. Bicycle horns are for use outside, where you might have to warn pedestrians or other cyclists that you are coming up behind them. While your child might find the horn endlessly amusing, use of the horn deflects the tantrum potential onto all the other shoppers in the store.

Hell, no.

Hell, no.

It’s selfish, not to mention potentially dangerous. Harried unstable shoppers may well fly into fits of rage and ram their shopping carts into the premature Christmas displays, or track down the parent of said horn-tooting toddler so that they can helpfully suggest alternative uses for the bicycle horn, none of which involve a bicycle.

So, yeah, I just got home from a Sunday afternoon trip to Walmart. I think I’ll do all my shopping online for a while, you know, just until I regain my hearing.

The Secret Life of Blue Boy

Blue Boy

Yesterday I spent nearly an hour gazing at this famous painting, Blue Boy. Now, now, no need to be jealous. I was not at the Louvre, the Met or the National Gallery of Art.

Can you guess where I was? Never mind, you’ll never guess.

I was at a local tire shop, getting the oil in my car changed and there, hanging on the wall between the row of vending machines and Kelly Ripa blabbing away on the tv, hung what I will assume to be a reproduction of Blue Boy. He was gazing with bemusement at the small crowd gathered in the tire shop waiting area, juxtaposed with posters of the rolly polly Michelin Man.

I pondered. Is Blue Boy auditioning to be the next Michelin Man? Is the Michelin Man the secret love child of Blue Boy and an unknown marshmallow-woman? Is the owner of the tire shop trying to introduce classic art to the masses? Was this unassuming building formerly a secret art museum? Was the waiting area professionally decorated by the owner of the local flea market? Was I hallucinating from the powerful rubber smell of new tires?

See the family resemblance?

See the family resemblance?

We may never know. But at least I got the oil changed. 

Dude, Got Any Oreos?

Science fascinates me. Never mind that I could never make sense out of chemistry and physics, and that the mere mention of the periodic table causes flashbacks to my perpetually stoned high school chemistry teacher who made no sense. Science is cool.

I admit to being addicted to www.sciencedaily.com, which summarizes the latest in scientific research. It was where I learned about the study that tired people are perceived to look tired to others.

"What, no Double Stufs?"

“What, no Double Stufs?”

And now this … a new study has proven that Oreos are addictive. GASP! In fact, say researchers, Oreos activate significantly more neurons in the pleasure center of the brain than cocaine or morphine.   “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said one researcher. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

As further support for this theory, we need look no further than the mass hysteria caused by last year’s news that Twinkies were dead, though they have since been resurrected.  Statistics back this up as well, with 8.7 percent of the U.S. population abusing illicit drugs, compared to 79.2 percent who abuse Oreos.

This intriguing study revealed yet another startling fact. Using rats in a maze, researchers found that rats overwhelmingly preferred Oreos to rice cakes. I believe further research will find that this is because instead of lighting up the pleasure center of the brain, the rice cakes activate a little known portion of the brain called the why-am-I-eating-styrofoam lobe.

In case you were wondering, the study also found that rats prefer to open up their Oreos and eat the creamy filling first. Still unanswered, though, is whether the rats prefer their Oreos dry or dunked in a cold glass of milk. I’ll keep you posted.

The End is Near

No, no, not the end of civilization as we know it (although that might not be such a bad thing).

For my fellow Americans who are dismayed, disgusted, incredulous or [insert your favorite string of expletives here] outraged over the pointless and damaging shutdown of the federal government, I see a ray of hope.

Sure, the various factions seem to be holding firm to their positions, pointing fingers and laying blame, while the talking heads in the media proclaim there is no end in sight. They all blather on and on, as the ridiculous shutdown clock racks up more days and the equally ridiculous debt ceiling countdown clock edges us ever closer to doom.

John BoehnerBut wait. Have you noticed that in recent days, John Boehner’s normally carrot-tinged bronze complexion has begun to fade to a washed-out amber color? That must mean the unthinkable has happened — the Congressional spray tan booth has fallen victim to the shutdown—yet another obvious but inconvenient consequence of, ya know, shutting down the government.

One day soon, there will be a day of reckoning, a day when John Boehner will look in the mirror and a pasty old white guy will be looking back at him. As the realization dawns on him that he is looking at himself, rather than his colleagues, he’ll cave. A vote will be held and the government will be up and running.

The sun will shine, federal workers will work, terminally ill people will have access to clinical trials, the Statue of Liberty will reopen, and the CDC will get back to the business of spreading fear and panic about a flu epidemic that will never happen. Most importantly, Speaker Boehner will collect on his back spray tan sessions, restoring him to a robust shade of pumpkin just in time for Halloween.

Welcome. Your government is now open, just as soon as that Park Ranger gets here with the keys to the front gate.

Welcome. Your government is now open, just as soon as that Park Ranger gets here with the keys to the front gate.

How Did You Sleep Last Night?

... a dash of stupidity and 30 cc's of gullibility ...

… a dash of stupidity and 30 cc’s of gullibility …

In a ground-breaking new study, Swedish researchers have reached this startling conclusion:

“A new study finds that sleep deprivation affects facial features such as the eyes, mouth and skin, and these features function as cues of sleep loss to other people. Results show that the faces of sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes and darker circles under the eyes. Sleep deprivation also was associated with paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth. People also looked sadder when sleep-deprived than after normal sleep, and sadness was related to looking fatigued.”

I’m no scientist, but my layman’s understanding of this information is that tired people look tired and other people can see that they look tired.

Thank you, Swedish researchers. I anxiously await the results of your follow-up study, “To what extent can scientists dupe others into funding scientific studies designed to prove the painfully obvious?

 

 

How to Succeed in a Life of Crime

First, some disclaimers:

  • I am not a criminal nor do I aspire to become a criminal.
  • Committing a crime is, by definition, wrong and should be avoided.
  • I do not encourage, advocate or support anyone’s pursuit of a life of crime.

Last week there was a news story about 3 men who were arrested somewhere in North Carolina on various drug charges, including producing methamphetamines. This, in and of itself, is a frequent occurrence and rather unremarkable, but the devil is in the details.

It seems that late one night, one of the men, “Sonny,” called police from his cell phone because he was lost in the woods. Police located him using the signal from his cell phone. Sonny told police that he and 2 friends were out in the woods investigating paranormal activity. The friends made their way back to their apartment, but somehow Sonny had gotten lost.

The police were suspicious of Sonny’s explanation and upon further investigation they quickly learned that the 3 men had been in the woods producing meth, not ghost hunting. (Kudos to Sonny and his buddies for having the good sense not to be cooking up meth in their apartment.)

I’m hardly an expert on crime and criminals, but I think we can draw a few conclusions from this cautionary tale. If you wish to be a criminal, then:

  • Try not to be too stupid.
  • If you will be committing crimes in the woods in the dead of night, it helps if you are a former Boy Scout or Girl Scout who has earned merit badges for wilderness survival and compass skills.
  • If you will be committing crimes with others, choose people who will not leave you behind to fend for yourself. If you need help during the commission of your crime, try calling your crime buddies instead of the police.
  • Sometimes things don’t go as planned. When coming up with alibis and/or excuses, plausible explanations are generally best. For example, “Officer, I went into the woods to relieve myself because there were no restrooms available,” is a more plausible explanation for your whereabouts than “Yo, dude, Bigfoot chased me into the woods.”  (Politeness counts.)
  • If you believe that investigating paranormal activity is a plausible explanation for anything, consider the possibility that your judgment may be impaired by the meth you are producing.
One of the many exciting alternatives to a life of crime.

One of the many exciting alternatives to a life of crime.

Always remember that crime is a very stressful occupation with a high risk of negative consequences, including incarceration (few people look their best in orange jumpsuits), poor health, lack of stable income, limited opportunities for advancement, negative personal relationships, injury and death.

Finally, consider alternatives to crime — go back to school and learn a marketable skill; make unique craft items and sell them on Etsy; become a real paranormal investigator and get your own reality TV show; become a park ranger so you can enjoy the woods in a more positive manner – really, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the degree to which the meth has eaten away your brain.

Be good.

Mama’s Lost Her Mind (please pass the chocolate chips)

My friend, “M,” is a crafter, a serious crafter. A spare bedroom in her house serves as her craft room with an inventory that easily rivals any Michael’s craft store. As you might expect, M follows a lot of crafting websites and blogs.  While perusing one of these blogs recently, M came across something she just had to share with me.

Now, technically, this is not really a craft project. It’s more of a mama’s-lost-her-mind sort of project. What is it? It’s a special treat for the toddler who has successfully achieved the potty training milestone of pooping in the toilet. As I understand it, you simply slice a banana into a toilet shape and toss some chocolate chips in the middle. Yeah.

potty chairLet’s be honest. Your 2 year old will not give a crap (pun intended) if you sculpt a banana into a porcelain throne replica – he or she will simply grab the chocolate chips from the middle and be on his or her merry way.  Maybe the other mommies in the play group will be amused by your creativity, but there’s an equally good chance that they will ooh and ahh to your face, while tsk tsking about your emotional well-being behind your back.

As I recall potty training days (thankfully, they were long ago), I tried using M&M’s to reward successes. They were completely ineffective as a motivational tool, though I enjoyed making sure that they didn’t go to waste by consoling myself with a generous handful of M&M’s for each and every unsuccessful try with the potty. In any event, my children somehow managed to master the skill anyway.

Of course, if you find that this sort of special treat works for your kids, I’m happy for you, ecstatic! My fear, however, is that this will become just another opportunity for over-zealous parents to try and one-up the neighbors. Remember that years ago, kids’ birthday parties featured the basics — pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, balloons and a homemade cake. Now, it’s bouncy houses, pony rides, make-overs, custom cakes and blinged out party favors.

So while bananas and chocolate chips seem innocent enough, I will leave it to your imagination to worry about where this could lead. Suffice it to say that if my neighbors install a lemonade spouting fountain in their yard, I’m moving.

Many thanks to M for alerting me to this disturbing trend.

Pass the Sledgehammer

During the past 24 years, we’ve lived in 5 different houses in 4 different states. Cumulatively, I have probably painted several acres worth of rooms, including painting the master bathroom of our present home twice.

Cursed with an awkward layout, wildly floral wallpaper, an abundance of mirrors, and corroding faux brass fixtures, the bathroom/closet area has been screaming for a major renovation since the day we moved in more than 6 years ago.  Sadly, major renovations come with large price tags and considerable disruption, so we’ve opted for the bandaid approach for now.

The first line of attack involved prying off 3 large mirror panels, which had been glued directly to the wall above the bathtub. Along with the mirrors, off came large chunks of drywall. Likewise, the wallpaper had been applied directly to the drywall and it was not going to come off without a fight. (FYI: if you must wallpaper, please, never wallpaper directly over the drywall, unless you have some sort of vendetta against the future owners of your home.)

I’m not much of a fighter nor am I a perfectionist, so I went with the path of least resistance and chose to paint over the wallpaper. After 2 coats of primer, the floral profusion was still visible so I used a dark blue to cover it. Done. No longer would that wild floral pattern, reflected off a multitude of mirrors, make me feel that I was peeing in utter chaos.

Fast forward 5 years – the dark blue walls show every imperfection, are covered with a substantial layer of dust, and make the bathroom feel even smaller than it is. Time for painting bandaid, part 2.  I wanted a warmer, lighter color, but nothing too bright. After careful consideration, I went with a color called “bleached sand.”  Yes, it’s just another name for boring beige, but it seemed about right – not too muddy, not too yellow, not to pinkish.

Last Sunday was painting day. Right from the beginning, the process did not go well. Upon the advice of the helpful woman at the paint counter at our local home improvement store, I bought a brand of paint I had never used before. I had, in fact, bought the worst quality paint I’ve ever used in my life. Faced with crappy paint, I had 2 choices — clean up, put everything away, change my clothes and go back to the store to exchange it, or continue on. I continued on.

Eight hours and two coats of crappy paint later, I was done. I hate it.  The color has a peachy tone to it that I had not detected in the little 2 inch by 2 inch color sample. Coupled with the faux brass fixtures, the bathroom now has the distinct feel of a circa 1982 Florida senior citizen’s condo. It’s a bathroom in which The Golden Girls would feel right at home.  All it needs are aqua hand towels and pastel colored soaps shaped like seashells.

"Hey, who used the last seashell soap?"

“Hey, who used the last seashell soap?”

I’m afraid that one morning I’m going to open my closet and find nothing but an assortment of housecoats and metallic bedroom slippers, along with a set of dentures soaking in a glass full of Polident sitting by the sink; that I’ll run out and have my very brunette hair frosted with platinum highlights; and that I’ll begin teasing it into a poufy helmet of curls that I will cement in place with a cloud of Aqua Net hairspray.

On the plus side, the store gave me a full refund for the crappy paint and I’ve learned my lesson. Sometimes, a bandaid just isn’t enough. Next time, I’ll skip the paintbrush and go right for the sledgehammer.