Friday, April 29, 2011

Come on baby, light my fire.

There was a time in my life where I attempted to smoke. And the occasions in which these attempts arose were primarily liquor- laced. I was not an actual smoker but let's face it, alcohol has been helping us make poor decisions for centuries. 

And then I tried something new. A spicy, sweet, tasty treat. The clove cigarette.  My best girlfriends in college, Muppet, KitKat, KariO and Smack and I would go in our rooms and put towels beneath the door (as if that flimsy cotton would stop that super strong stench from seeping out in the hall. Why not smoke the ganja? Or cat shat. Those two things smell just as mysterious and secretive.) But oh how we loved to feel like superstars, after all, to us the clove cigarette was the smoking choice of the classy lassy.  The good thing about clove cigarettes is you really could not smoke many of them. Three in a row and your mouth, throat and lungs would bleed. 

Ironically, I detested the smell and taste of regular cigarettes but the potpourri cigarette? Slide me a that sorority cup full of Keystone and apparently, I am Puff the Magic Dragon. 

But this bad habit stuck with me off and on post-undergrad, post-grad school AND my move to Atlanta.  One night my girlfriend and I are out at a fab restaurant / bar (this was years ago and before the sweeping smoking ban across America). As we were all dolled up and smoking our clove cigarettes, one of the surly bartenders actually yells: WHO THE F___ IS SMOKING THAT _____ CLOVE ______ CIGARETTE?  Well, several eyes turn towards us. Our feeble smiles are met with  GET THE ________ OUT OF THIS  BAR!  Ouch. Apparently, we did not need to offer him one. 

And yes, when he said Get the F out he really and truly meant it. Excuse me, according to the quality show Cops, you only get thrown out of bars if you 1. start a fight 2. wear cut off jean shorts 3. remove your shirt 4. Say things like "F the Po-Po" 5. are a man because women who do nothing OR do ALL of those things simultaneously get asked to stand up on TOP of the bar and dance.

Fast forward to the next year and at yet another sultry lounge with guys and dolls, I am all glammed up (in my opinion) and feeling sassy. I light up my fancy Turkish imported clove cigarette and smoke it up like an episode of Mad Men. A fabulous girl in a smashing dress turns toward me and asks, "Oh, is that a clove cigarette?"

I answer, "oui" with a smile.  She says, "I used to love those! I smoked them in 8th grade!"

The thing is, she wasn't being mean. But here was my sickly sweet smoky parade and her "8th grade" comment was the rain all upon it.  Did it deter me? Not quite yet. 

Later that year, I noticed that I was getting headaches, wretched and frequent. A friend said one night after I inhaled some Advil that perhaps the disgusting clove cigarette, albeit occasional, was the culprit.  Why yes, I believe you are right.  And I never touched another one. 

Now the simple smell of cigarette smoke ails me. And the smokers are banned from virtually every restaurant and bar in the U.S. The rule doesn't make it any easier for true smokers but it certainly makes me appreciate I am over my clove cigarette phase.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Perhaps you should have asked, "What Would Jesus Do?"

What Would Jesus Do? Many of us have heard this catchphrase made popular in the 1990's. I have seen it printed on t-shirts, cups and bracelets. You know who is NOT familiar with this expression? The person behind this photo.

I came across this is a newspaper. Colorful holy figurine? Why yes. Pure and sacred? Not exactly. While this homage to Jesus Christ certainly appears lovely, the carefully painted 6 lb statue is actually made of cocaine which was seized during transport across the border into the US.

A man was arrested for this artistry. Now, this might have been an ideal time Mr. Cocaine Statue Maker to ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do?"  Because I am pretty sure even the the non-believer might think a cocaine Jesus isn't winning any prizes at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art OR even the most liberal houses of worship but instead, will get you a special invite to the Pokey. Or the Playboy Mansion. Or Charlie Sheen's House. Or Hell  (that is if Hell and Charlie Sheen's house are not synonymous.)

However, from a purely aesthetic vantage point, WOW, Mr. Cocaine Statue Maker, you have some skills.

And while I thought I was quite a kick-ass Mommy when I spent several hours baking these sugar cookies, frosting them with a Raspberry Lemonade frosting, and assembling dozens of bunny faces for MiniMac's class Easter party, perhaps you can come over next April and show me how to craft a 3D Easter Bunny!

Actually, maybe we can Skype, that might be safer. Or better yet, start an art blog and post the instructions for me.

For all of you celebrating Easter, enjoy every minute. Have a gorgeous weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to suck at using Craig’s List

I am sure many of you have utilized Craig’s List, the centralized network of online communities where you can buy, sell, borrow, hire and until recently, even find some nookie.

The FOR SALE section of Craig's List is the community of which I am most familiar. And it is set up to be a very simple process. Person A posts some information, Person B responds to that information. All very straightforward especially when you want to sell something and someone wants to buy it.  A few emails may be exchanged. We have sold dozens of things from furniture to baby items; moost of these items have sold the same day we have posted. We must be batting 1000 percent because all of our previous email exchanges and transactions have been straight-forward and easy.

Until last weekend. 

When we met Ann. What an interesting experience. Or what I like to call “How to suck at using Craig’s List."

We are selling something on Craig’s list. I posted pics, gave a clear description and the asking price. We have three identical items and the first one sold the same day I posted it. The second one garnered many emails including one from Ann. She wanted to know if we would sell it for HALF the listed price. No, I did not list “This price or best offer” but good for you, Ann, driving a bargain. I didn’t respond. She sent me another email a day later inquiring if I would take 55% of the asking price but also wrote “one way or another the least you can do is reply to my email.”

No Ann, the least I can do is NOT reply to your email because technically that is LESS THAN actually replying to your email. NOT replying is the option I chose the first time. And incidentally, it was VERY easy. And my lack of response is your answer which you should interpret as NO I will not take half the asking price.  I have to say I didn’t love Ann’s email but listen, I am trying to sell something she has potential interest in buying. But Ann was giving me a headache so I opted not to respond.

Ann then sends me an email basically asking if I will take 50 dollars less than asking price “if she pays in cash.” Well, you won’t get a prize for being a good reader Ann because the posting clearly said CASH ONLY but let’s wrap this party up which will benefit us by 1. Selling the item and 2. exchanging no further emails with Ann.  I reply yes and ask her when she would like to come and pick it up.

She replies, “Well, I live in Athens (80 miles East of Atlanta) and could we PLEASE BRING IT TO HER THE NEXT TIME WE ARE IN ATHENS?

1.       We never even mentioned going to Athens. EVER.
2.      We never mentioned delivery. EVER
3.      I might have called Ann a name after reading this email.

I replied that we were not able to deliver it and it would need to be picked up. She replied “Send me your number and I will pick it up in the next couple of weeks.” Really Ann? This might have involved more name-calling on my part. I let her know in a nice way, we are selling it to the first person who pays for it.

Ann then asks me for my cell number which I send and ask her to coordinate with me ahead of time since we had a jam packed weekend. No response. No call.

Saturday afternoon I receive a call from Ann. She is in Atlanta she “thinks” Well, Ann, I am at the grandparents house with MiniMac having EasterEggapalooza. Thanks for “coordinating with me ahead of time" like I *$#&#$^@)!@) politely requested. Oh, and how come I wrote she is in Atlanta, she “thinks” because of this:

Me: This is JennyMac
Ann: Hello. This is Ann X. I am in Atlanta. I think.
Me: OH, I am so sorry I am not home.
Ann: Oh, I told you I was going to call you.
Me: Right. Where exactly are you?
Ann: I am not sure. On an interstate.
Me (WOW) Are you on 75? 85? 
Ann: 75..maybe.
Me: Where on 75?
Ann: I am heading North on 75. 
Me: Are you coming from Athens?
Ann: Yes. 
Me: Well, North on 75 would mean you are south of Atlanta. Not East.
Ann: OH. 
Me: Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Macarena!

So we finally get coordinated and Ann comes to our house. I like Ann VERY LITTLE I have a feeling. She looks at the item which is in almost perfect condition and looks exactly like the photographs she saw but she is confused and doesn’t think it is the same item. REALLY?  And then she wanted to debate it with me. And ask 2000 questions. You know what question I wanted to ask How quickly are you going to leave? which can be interpreted as Get the _____ out of my house. 

Listen, if you suck at being a buyer on Craig's list, it might be fair to say you suck at many other things like:

1. opening cereal boxes
2. getting yourself dressed
3. reading and interpreting your mail
4. Most of the rest of life

My  husband's final comment was "I hope the car seat is not for her." AMEN.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to make people smile

Our son's school has a big spring event every year and one component of the event is a big bake sale. How much did I LOVE being asked by multiple teachers to bake some goods for the event? VERY much.

I made my favorite Sea Salt Caramel Brownie by request. And I wanted to mix it up a bit. I used my Mom's Oatmeal Cookie recipe and added Sea Salt Caramel to those as well. YUM. And I also made perhaps my new favorite cookie: Orange Kissed Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese. YUM. 

So I spend hours last night baking, bagging, ribboning, tagging all the treats and box them up for the trip to school this am. I also decide to bring in a dozen or more of each to the office this morning.

One easy way to make people smile? Pass out homemade baked goods first thing Friday morning at your office instead of working. Especially when you work with great people who LOVE baked goods!

I was already having a great morning because 1. great sleep. 2. awesome AM workout. 3. super cute and giggling boy in my house this am. 4. handsome (albeit sleepy) husband but still made my tea for me just the way I like it. 5. We allowed MiniMac to bring his guitar to school for "Toy Share Day" even though it is clearly not a toy (and you, Bonkers McNewKid better NOT even touch it!) During the commute to school, MiniMac and I were at a stoplight, listening (and rocking out) to Joe Walsh sing Rocky Mountain Way. Windows slightly down to feel the awesome morning breeze and both of us belting out the lyrics at top volume, and MiniMac strumming away on his guitar which is bigger than him and his booster seat combined. A truck next to us caught the corner of my eye and the driver motioned me to put down the passenger window. I did and the driver told me, "That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. That tiny kid playing that big guitar!" I replied, "I think so too!"

Another way to make people smile? Take a minute to acknowledge something important to them.

I hope you have a smile-filled Friday (and maybe a cookie or two makes its way on your agenda as well.)

Have a fabulous weekend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old cows can learn new tricks...

I know you might not believe what you are seeing. Or maybe you do. This is 15-year- old Regina Mayer and her cow, Luna. Regina initially asked her parents for a horse. They said, “No.” Regina literally looked in her own back yard and opted to train Luna to become her riding (and jumping) mate.

There are so many things I like about this situation.

1.   Instead of being a pissy pants pouty-face teenage girl (those exist, right?) she decided to be resourceful.
2.   Instead of lamenting that “all of the OTHER teenage girls in Laufen, Germany have a horse, why don’t I?!?!?!?!”, she chose to be creative.
3.   She spent hours and hours of training to teach Luna (and apparently, she also utilized “tons of treats” and of course, lots of love.
4.  I just discovered an old cow CAN learn new tricks.
5.  And most importantly, MY WORD, teenage girls are crafty. You have to be completely explicit with them when telling them NO!

Bravo Regina. I like your moxie and your style. And you remind me of another spunky girl (or two, or three, or dozens) who don't simply take "No" for an answer.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Praying for colons

I have never written about religion or my religious beliefs on my blog. I am not starting today but I will tell you I pray every day. I don’t pray for things like handbags, promotions or please God let us sell these houses one day (although, that would be a good one, too bad thousands of others are already doing that so we would be way down the line.) But, my prayers are focused on safety for my family, patience (not quite fulfilled yet) and primarily special measures for people I know who need it.

As I wrapped up my night on Wednesday, I was praying for several people. Afterward I realized, that was a first: praying for colons. Well, not really colons plural but a colon, singular.

My older brother had a health scare. There were appointments. There were discussions. And there were additional health scares including a hospitalization while he was on vacation in Hawaii. He is very private about this situation but I realized that you would not know him if he was sitting next to you and those of his friends who read my blog already know this situation.

My brother has taken a multi-month leave of absence and flown home to have medical attention in Seattle. Many appointments, many discussions, and many unknowns. The situation took a recent turn. Procedures were mentioned as solutions but those procedures seemed a little overwhelming. And words like “colon cancer” were also used which scared me and made me wish we could simply and immediately return to talking about the procedures. I would take the procedures over the other and it isn’t even my colon.

When he had a conversation with a doctor and the word ‘cancer’ was used, I can’t fathom how he must have felt. When he relayed the conversation to me, he was completely composed. But I know him well enough to detect his voice sounded like it bounced over gravel a few times before finally reaching my ear.  When I hung up, I called my Mom because I knew she would be filled with angst incomparable to mother angst when your child breaks a leg or falls off a bicycle.

And when we are relayed information full of dark gaps of unknowns, we all react differently. Some are pragmatic, some are aloof, and some are scared silly. Sometimes a combination of all of those elements. My initial response was a feeling of illness. My secondary resposne was he isn't going anywhere. Seriously. Even though he tells some terrible jokes (admit it) and is a fairly bad dancer (stop it, you know its true) he is one of the most generous, heartfelt, capable and giving people I know. Plus he must continue to instill his musical genius and talent in my child.

My brother is in his early 40’s. And having a health scare is hard enough but ‘cancer’ is not a welcome word in any house, in any heart, at any age. And having multiple conversations with him about it, I realized that humor can help but no amount of joking actually builds a ladder to pull someone out of the situation. The only thing he needed was information and support. (And listen, it is pretty easy to make jokes about colons..I mean come ON, it is practically a gimme. )

And men, while I don't envy you in getting your colon checked, you must do it. A dear friend of my Mom's has colon cancer and it could have been addressed much earlier but he never had it checked until it was well past the initial discovery. I know, it isn't a tickle party. But get the screening. It could save your life.

Good news this week: It is NOT cancer. Yesterday included a variety of tests that will hopefully lead to an answer in the very near-term. In the interim, I will continue praying for the colon.