Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lost In Translation

I popped into the post office the other day to mail off a few packages and got behind a Hispanic couple that wanted to rent a post office box.

This is the following conversation that took place:

Clerk: "Hi, may I help you?"

Hispanic male: "Ola'! We want rent box?"

Clerk:" I'm sorry. You want to send a box?"

Hisp male: "Si. We want to box."

Clerk in a slightly louder voice: "I'm sorry. Where do you want to send the box? Do you have the box packaged already?"

With that, the slightly confused couple looked at each other, grinned widely and the female said, "Box."

The clerk, obviously already having a bad day said in a still LOUDER voice: "Where do you want to send the box?"

Couple:" Si." (smiling and nodding their heads)

Clerk absolutely screaming at this point: "WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEND THE BOX? DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? WHERE IS THE BOX GOING?"

Hisp male: "Ooooh. Here." (And with that he handed over the P.O. box rental application.)

The clerk now understood that he didn't want to send a box, he wanted to rent a box and walked away in a snit to get the process started. The couple began having a conversation in Spanish and I didn't understand any of what they were saying until the man turned around and caught my eye. He looked at me thoughtfully for a second and said, "Why was that lady yelling at me? I no hard of hearing? I just want box."

I just shrugged my shoulders because I have been guilty of that, too. Has that ever happened to you? Have you tried to communicate with someone that speaks another language and found yourself almost yelling at them because they just don't get what you're saying?

Language barriers can be funny and frustrating at the same time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Are You Stopping To Smell The Roses?

The following was sent to me in an email from my friend, Stella. After reading it, I thought it was worth sharing. Enjoy!

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because
they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't
know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who
passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut
back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't
suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed?
Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while
you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about
going to lunch in a half hour?'

She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes to fold. My
hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast,
It looks like rain' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died
a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because we cram so much into our lives, we tend to schedule our
headaches.. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves
when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve
toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room
carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out
of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older.

The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets
longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives
is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things
are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to
adventure and available for trips.

She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is
contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to
trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator
for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's
just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a
spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped
the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on
the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to...not
something on your SHOULD DO list.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Different Kind Of Fundraiser

The local high school band where I live is having a fundraiser. For one day only, you can get name-brand mattresses for 30%-50% off regular retail prices.

Don't you find this ironic?

As a member of the high school band, I have always known that I definitely beat to the sound of my own drum but mattresses, c'mon, man?

Isn't it the goal to keep teenage kids off mattresses--there is this whole thing about "no sex before marriage" and "abstinence is the best policy" and "okay, we know you're going to do it, anyway, but please don't tell us about it?"

Don't you think that some of these mattresses might be used--and by used I mean for something other than just jumping up and down on them? And you know there has to be that one kid like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High that is walking around going, "Dude, this is killer; they're bringing the beds to us. Are you gonna pass that thing or what?"

And another thing: Do you think the community has been putting off its desire to purchase a new mattress set  in anticipation of this event. "Oh, honey, we can sleep on the box springs for a few more weeks. You know the band is having their fall fundraiser when the kids go back to school."

I'm not being judgmental or anything because God knows I sold my fair share of Wisconsin cheese in a crock and summer sausage that wasn't quite ready for human consumption to everyone on Cherry Fork Road and at my mother's workplace with moderate success.

I don't think I would have had the same success with mattresses. I really think that delivery would really pose a problem. I can hear me explaining this to my mom: "Mom, the mattresses are in--I think we'll only need two semis to get them delivered."

What do you think the prize will be for the band member that sells the most mattresses? His or her own new mattress set?

I can just hear the Spicoli kid saying: "Dude, you scored. Is that a nice mattress or what?"

And speaking to his favorite teacher: "Yo, Mr. Hand--the band is selling mattresses; isn't that righteous? I might get one for the van..."

Needless to say, I recently purchased a new mattress set and I won't be able to participate in this fundraiser.

Now, I do need a new refrigerator and if I ever see a fundraising sign for that I'll be the first in line and marching right along.

Monday, September 21, 2015

New England In The Fall

It's time for vacation! Yep, my mother and I are travelling up the East Coast in a big bus where our final destination will be Boothbay Harbor, Maine. You remember last year, right, when we travelled all the way to the Grand Canyon--I almost made it to California (a place that always seems just out of my reach) and we had a fabulous time. This time we'll be super close to Mom's dream destination which is Nova Scotia (she's been all around the world but can't seem to have a layover in Nova Scotia) but maybe it will be clear enough to see as we're taking a cruise through the harbor.

We're travelling with the some of the same folks that we went to Germany and Nevada with in previous years.

I'm very excited because I haven't been to New York since 1985. I wonder if it has changed much? Probably not--bright lights, tourists everywhere and an energy that can only be found in the city that never sleeps. It's always been one of my favorite places!

We are supposed to visit the 9/11 Memorial but the Pope (I wrote about this last week) wants to visit at the same time so I'm not sure if we'll get to or not.

We're making stops along the way in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Cape Cod, Boston and multiple places in between. I'll be posting updates along the way on my Facebook page so you can check that out if you want.

We are staying two nights at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. Mom has been practicing her poker face because she wants to play Texas Hold'em and I've been brushing up on my dice throwing for the Craps table. I LOVE Craps!

Chocolate! I almost forgot to mention that we are capping off the trip with a visit to Hershey, Pennsylvania on the way back. Won't that be fun. And delicious.

If you have the time, please send out positive thoughts to Brother and Sister, they've been feeling a bit under the weather. And don't worry, you guys are definitely getting the biggest and best souvenirs.

See you on the road!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trumped By The Pope

Do you want to know what stinks? My luck when it comes to New York. The last time I was there, in 1985, I suffered an extreme case of intestinal distress so bad that it caused me to jump from my seat and race to the nearest exit. Just short of the 16th floor--the floor my room was on--my guts erupted.  I don't know if it was the hotdog from the cart across the street or the slice of pizza I had for dessert--and that was just for breakfast--but I wanted everything the city had to offer and I didn't care about the consequences, but obviously, my digestive system did.

I was travelling with the All American Musical Ambassadors Band from Purdue University in Indiana. We were a hodgepodge of teenagers from all over the country representing the US as we played our instruments throughout Europe. We were in town for three short days and our time was filled with 14-hour rehearsals, brief and harried introductions to those sitting nearby and overwhelming anxiety as many prepared for their first flight out of the country.  We had little time to spare but one afternoon a group of us set out to see the sights.

We rode a cab through Times Square, glanced down into the subway too frightened by the unfamiliar to chance a ride. We viewed the Statue of Liberty sheltered under a massive curtain of scaffolding as crews worked to repair the wounds from years left exposed to the elements. We were astonished as the mass of humanity gathered at every crossing awaiting the light and startled by the bleeping honk of a yellow taxi if we ventured too close to the curb. We walked into the lobby of the Empire State Building--no time to scale its length--and gawked at the homeless and bums that settled on every bench and stoop as nightfall beckoned. Our senses were shocked and energized just like the third rail that runs beneath--the vein pulsing through the heart of the city connecting the chaos and us together in a lifelong embrace.

Nothing struck us more though than the magnificence of the twin towers. Most of us were from small farms, villages and towns where the tallest structure was a three-story bank building or a silo filled with grain. We stood at the base, mouths agape and looked skyward--how was it possible to build something so large we wondered. We hadn't seen anything that resembled nor imagined anything quite like them. The three days went quicker than a Babe Ruth home run leaving Yankee Stadium, but the visit, for me, will always be marred by the unpleasant occurrence just short of my hotel door.

Thirty years have passed and I'm planning my return to an all too familiar beat: something stinks and once again it's my luck. The Pope and I are headed to town on the same day. We both want to see Freedom Tower but I worry that the Holy Father will call trump and hinder my plans.

Ever since I saw the twin towers disintegrate like a too short fuse blowing off the finger that clutched it I knew the singe of the blast would be forever emblazoned across my soul every time I saw the charred, vacant land at Ground Zero. The void was as cavernous in our hearts as a Wednesday afternoon football game at Giants Stadium. I watched the progress--the rise from the ashes as your metamorphosis took place--just like a phoenix--reborn and released from its death sentence and able to begin anew.

I can't do anything about the day. The trip is planned, the checks are written and the route lined out. I could pray to the Holy Father or even send him a tweet but I know he wants to go, too, so wouldn't that just be a wasted prayer? Is it a sin to ask for something like that? "Excuse me, Father, but I haven't been to New York in 30 years and my last trip didn't turn out so well. Actually, it stunk. Could you help a gal out and reschedule?"

Or better yet, maybe we could hang together--they say your Papacy is trending now and although I'm not Catholic, I'll take your blessing, along with the rest of the city, anyway I can.

Even if it doesn't happen to be on the same day.

And one last thing: let's skip the pizza.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Signs You're Going On Vacation Very Soon

It's time for another trip of a lifetime. And, yep, I'm going too. Mom and I are going on a bus ride all the way up the East Coast to Maine with stops in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York City, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Kennebunkport and Hershey, PA.

We're very excited!

So here are the top ten signs that you are going on vacation very soon:

10. Your Facebook page is full of the places you are going to visit.

9. You're worrying because you haven't counted to see if you have enough underwear.

8. All work related emergencies are not your top priority.

7. You're broke!

6. You're the only happy person in the room when the boss says everyone has to work overtime the day you go on vacation.

5. No one likes you because they've already used up all of their vacation time.

4. The cats won't get out of the suitcase so you can pack.

3. Every piece of clothing you own has been tried on repeatedly and you are now convinced that the bright purple shirt goes with the too tight red pants and lime green flip flops.

2. You've concluded that there isn't enough time to lose that last ten pounds, said screw it and have just eaten a box of donuts.

1. The car breaks down and you are presented with an estimate that costs twice the price of your vacation.

Be sure and check back again, I'll be doing updates from the road.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Silent Reminder

In memory of those who lost their lives on that tragic day and for the family and friends that continue to grieve for you, I silence my laughter on this day and fill my heart and soul instead with the prayers and songs of those who remember.

You will never be forgotten and we will never forget.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why Don't You Speak Proper American?

This doesn't really have anything to do with Sarah Palin. I'm glad she's still up north keeping an eye on the Russians and I'm happy that she checks in periodically just to make sure that we know that she still hasn't made the team. She and Tim Tebow (who I like very much) are pretty much the same: as hard as they try they aren't good enough to be the leader of the third string (according to some people) or even worse,  actually make the third string team. Ouch.

It's been fun watching Trump and his disciples irritate about 60% of the registered voters across the country while the brain surgeon just looks around and wonders "Where do they find these idiots?" At least if Palin was thrown into the mix it would give us something else to look at other than the pinched expression on Ted Cruz's face or the ferret that crowns the Donald's head and tries to keep his ego in check. I discovered after doing a two-second Google search that Trump has the same answer for any possible question that he could be asked.


1. How will you fix the immigration problem? Donald Trump can fix anything.

2. How will you bring back the economy? Donald Trump will sell off everything.

3. How will you defeat IS? Donald Trump can defeat anyone.

4. How will you beat the other Republicans? Donald Trump will give everyone a cabinet position.

5. How will you defeat the Democrats? Donald Trump can buy anyone and the Donald is really like most of them.

See what I mean? I think I've heard those answers before but the ferret must be working because he hardly ever uses his name in the third person anymore.

I think that's because he, like a lot of other Americans have spoken proper American for so long that it actually now makes sense.

And that's my problem too: I  speak proper American and it has done nothing lately but get me into trouble.

Proper American is not the same as proper English. I use too much slang in my everyday vocabulary and after years of too many "had beens", "fixin' too's" and "ain't gonna's" my language (or lack thereof) has spilled over into my writing causing me and the people (Niamh!) (Gina!) around me needless amounts of headaches.

I think I can do better, but honestly I think I need a complete overhaul. I need to strip everything apart and start with the basic person, place or thing.

I've been advised to read several different books and that's what I'm going to do. My pal, Gina Barreca, says that writing is serious business and until you treat it as such you're just wasting everybody's time, including your own and that's doing a disservice to everyone.

I was going to use the combination of improper words listed above in one last dramatic incorrect sentence but my new habits are already beginning to take over.


Just wait 'til all y'all get a looky-loo at my new book. Gianetta says it might just be the best thing she's ever written...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Come See Me At The Decatur Book Festival

The Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country. My first visit was in 2012 and I had a really good time. I had just released Reflections On A Middle-Aged Fat Woman and it was my first opportunity to present the book to the public.

This time around things will be a little different. I will be in the Atlanta Writer's Club tent which is booths 112-113 on Saturday, September 5, 2015 from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm.

You might see me floating around but that will be the only opportunity to pick up one of my books.

Here is the link to the Decatur Book Festival so you can get all the specifics.

See you there!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top Ten Things I Never Run Out Of

I was visiting at my mother's house recently when she started looking for something. She looked in every cabinet, every drawer and even went into the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and still came back empty-handed. "What are you looking for?" I asked.

"I can't remember," she said.

"Oh. Is it food related?"

"I think so," she said.

"Well, why did you go in the medicine cabinet, if it's related to food?"

"Good, question. I think I went in there seeing if it would trigger what I was looking for in here. They say it's supposed to help."

"I don't think it's working," I said with a chuckle.

"Watch it, young lady! I hate it when I can't remember something." She glanced down at the cookbook that she had laid out and started skimming down the page. "Aha! That's what it was," she said and went back over to the spice cabinet.

"What is it?" I asked

"Mace!" she said. "I'm looking for mace."

"Don't you keep that in your purse?"

"Funny. Mace is a spice similar to nutmeg and this recipe calls for it. I know I had a can of that when we moved  down here," she said.

"Mom, that was 1985--surely you're not looking for a spice that old?"

"It'll be all right," she said, "spices don't go bad and mace is one of those thing that you never run out of..."

That got me to thinking about other things that you buy once and never run out of.

Here's my list:

1. Toothpicks - I think I have millions of them all scattered over the bottom of one drawer.

2. Baking powder - I've had the same can for at least ten years and I used it last week.

3. Marshmallows - I do admit to discarding five bags last week with various amounts left in each bag. (I blame this on the fact that I buy a new bag when I go camping because I can't remember if I have any or not.)

4. Celery seed - Can't remember the last time I used this; the box has colored from age.

5. Band-Aids - Maybe two or three used in any given year. I've got an industrial size box that I bought at the flea market several years back.

6. Vinegar - Still got at least half a gallon; don't remember when I bought it.

7. Instant cocoa - Boxes and boxes of it. I might have to check the expiration dates on some of them.

8. Windex - Obviously, I don't do windows.

9. Furniture polish - I use a feather duster most of the time. I only bring out the good stuff when company is coming over.

10. Batteries - I went a tad overboard when Y2K was rolling around. Remember? Who knew if anything was going to work after the clocks all flipped. They all did fine; I was the one that flipped out. I'm still using some of those batteries, although the expiration dates are approaching fast. No worries, though, because I buy a new pack every time I go to the store.

What about you? What's the one thing you'll never run out of?


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