It’s a mad, mad world

January 16, 2016 - 17 Responses

Why are people so weird?  I mean seriously… for a long time I’ve thought it was me.  I’m the weird one, and everyone else is normal.  The trouble is… people keep doing things that cause me to question that philosophy.  Is it me, or is it them?

For example, I got a call this afternoon from a strange number.  My first inclination was to screen the person on the other end, but then I thought… what the heck!  I’ll go out on a limb and answer.  Maybe it’s someone who legitimately needs me.  Much to my surprise, it was the lady at the Estee Lauder counter.  How did this person even get my number?  Anyway, I figured she was probably calling to tell me about some big sale or gift giveaway, either way… it’s a good thing that I answered, right?  Nope!  She just wanted to remind me that it had been 2 months since I had bought facial lotion, and she wanted to remind me of that, so I don’t run out.

Let’s think this through.  If I were running out of lotion, wouldn’t I be the first to know about it?  I don’t wait for the grocery store to call me when I need toilet paper.  I’m not sitting there one day, without a single square to spare, thinking… darn, I wish Kroger would have reminded me of this impending disaster.  When I start to run out, I make a mental note, and I GO BUY SOME!

To be clear, I’m not picking on the girl at the Estee Lauder counter.  I feel sure someone told her to do it, but it still makes no sense whatsoever; and the thing is, this kind of thing happens on a fairly regular basis.

Last week, I spent a half-hour on the phone with an insurance agent who was giving me quotes on everything from my home to a piece of rental property that I own.  Right before we hung up, he said, “Can I be honest?”  Ummm, yeah!  I was kind of under the impression that honesty was implied during a conversation that involves every major asset I own!  I didn’t realize honesty was the kind of thing one had to get special permission for.

My daughter and I were at Panera Bread not long ago.  (Please know… I LOVE Panera Bread.  This is not an assault on Panera Bread or the quality of their employees).  Anyway… it’s like we were placing our order in a foreign language.  The man on the other end of the speaker could make no rhyme or reason out of what I was trying to order, which was not super complicated.  Once we finally managed to overcome the language barrier, things only spiraled further out of control.

I asked for the Big Kids grilled cheese/tomato basil combo.  I’ve ordered this no fewer than a hundred times.  He delivers, what I consider to be, a crushing blow.  Apparently, the Big Kids grilled cheese has been taken off the menu.  Sorry.  I don’t handle change well.  Fortunately, he redeems himself by asking if we want the regular grilled cheese instead.  Sure!  Why not?  How different can they possibly be?  He then comes BACK on the intercom to tell us they’re out of white bread.  Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what to do with this information, since the last time I checked, bread was mandatory for a grilled cheese sandwich of ANY kind.  My silence must have been deafening because about 15 seconds later, he came back to ask if we wanted it on Ciabatta bread.  Again… we agreed this was fine.  Let’s move on!

THIS is where things ramped up to a whole different stage of weird.  He asks me what kind of soup I want.  I feel like we’ve already covered this, but whatever, I tell him we STILL want the tomato basil.  He says, “We don’t have tomato basil.  We have CREAMY tomato basil!”  At this point, I’m looking around for Ashton Kutcher.  Surely, his show is back in the production stage, and we’re being Punk’d.

I wish I could exclude myself, and say I’m the only “normal” person on the planet, but who am I kidding?  We all know that’s a lie!  I like to believe this blog is a “safe place” where I can be honest, without having to ask your permission.  I’m as crazy as everyone else.  My daughter reminds me of this often!

For the love of all that’s good, I put up a 12 inch Christmas tree this year JUST so I could tell people I had my tree up!

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Is this normal behavior?  I think not!

My point is… we’re all a little weird.  That’s what makes life interesting.  If it weren’t for these little idiosyncrasies, the world would be a pretty boring, not to mention unamusing, place to live.

“Power Struggle”

December 29, 2015 - 19 Responses

Since the day my daughter was BORN… scratch that.  Since the day I started TELLING people I was pregnant, they have seemingly taken great pleasure in dishing out unsolicited parenting advice and dire warnings about “what’s coming”.  It’s really kind of weird, when you think about it. One minute, you’re all teary eyed over the magical blue line that signifies you’re about to bring a human being into the world.  The next… people are dropping bombs on you right and left, light a member of ISIS.  It’s enough to cause any sane human being to be slightly terrified by the train they’ve just stepped in front of!

It’s like there are some “unwritten rules” that young couples aren’t privy to until they conceive a child.

Rule 1:  Pretend marriage is perfect, and if yours isn’t… you should seek counseling immediately.

Rule 2:  Post Norman Rockwell-like photos and updates on social media, solidifying this preposterous notion.

Rule 3:  Don’t utter a WORD about the often debilitating challenges of parenting to couples who don’t have children.

Rule 4:  As soon as “said” couple announces they’re pregnant… let er’ rip! All bets are off. You can unload every horror story (real or imagined) that you’ve ever heard about or experienced on the unsuspecting targets.

I mean, now that I know “the rules”… I’m fine with them. I even indulge myself in these shenanigans on occasion, though mostly only with people I dislike.

First, comes the taunting about sleep deprivation.  As soon as your kid starts getting a little shut-eye, they shift gears into the trials and tribulations of teething, then potty training.  Since my daughter is now 14, I’ve forgotten all of the other stages, but the one I now recall vividly is “the teenage years”.  One day, you wake up and don’t recognize the child you’ve loved and nurtured since birth.

Frankly, I’ve never been terribly worried about this stage.  By the time I hit the teenage years, I was so brain-washed into my submission by my parents that I don’t remember ever getting into trouble for anything. What I did NOT anticipate is what a “game-changer” technology would be, by the time my own daughter reached this relentless threshold.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Ah… her daughter has posted some nudes on snap chat.”  NO!!!!  What I mean is, she understands technology, and I DON’T.  I’m out-witted at every turn!  I can’t even get my phone out of airplane mode without her.  If she mutes my ringer and heads off to her dad’s… I’m relying on voice-mail, until she comes back home!

It’s the little things that annoy me, like the fact that she logs onto my Spotify account and changes the password so only SHE can listen!  I also can’t stand the fact that she steals my ITunes gift cards and downloads them onto her own phone before I can even remember how to log in!  Last Christmas, I spent a half-hour ranting and raving to the customer service agent before she finally came clean and admitted… “Oh, I thought that was for me!”  Really?!  You thought an ITunes card from your father in a gift bag with MY NAME on it was YOURS?  We both know this is a lie, but we’re also both acutely aware that I can’t load the ITunes card onto my account, without her!

While I sometimes want to choke her until she turns blue, I also can’t deny the fact that she is MY CHILD!  Not once have either of us walked out of the house with a fully charged phone!  Why? Who knows!  We have 15 charging cords at home that should easily prevent such natural disasters, but we’re both either too lazy or too irresponsible to actually plug our phones into them.

Unfortunately, only one of those cords lives in my car… which means we’re perpetually in some kind of bizarre power struggle over “the cord”.  You probably think I’m exaggerating about this, but I can assure you… I am not.  This is a real conversation we had in the car just this week.

Me:  “Hey, can you plug in my phone? It’s dying.”

Her:  “I’m using it to listen to Spotify.”

Me:  “I don’t care!  You can listen to the radio.”

Her: “But it’s charging my phone, while we listen.”

(Note:  Did you notice how he used the term “we” when it’s only “her” music we’re listening to?)

Me:  “What part of, I don’t care, do you not understand?  My battery is almost dead!”

Her:  “What percentage are you at?”

Me:  “What language are you speaking?  Give me the cord!”

Her:  “Ok… but I’m at 11 percent. If yours is higher, this is really unfair!”

… And so it goes. What I’ve deduced from all of this is very simple. Our parents really had it easy!  These days, the power struggle between a parent and a teen… is more real than I ever imagined!

“Confessions from a news car”

November 13, 2015 - 18 Responses

Even though I’ve been doing this for more than 2 decades, it’s still sometimes a little mind-blowing how much time we spend in the car.  I mean… for the 2 minutes of television magic each reporter delivers at the end of every day, you’d think we might spent an hour, maybe an hour and a half a day in the car, tops!  The truth is… it’s more like 2½ to 4 hours a day!

Some parts of it aren’t so bad!  For example, I can tell you where every meat and 3 is within a 12 county radius.  I know where all the cheap gas is!  But there ARE some days when the drive really starts to wear thin.  Think back to the movie “Castaway”, starring Tom Hanks.  I always wondered how he became delirious enough to name and befriend a soccer ball, but I think I’m starting to get the picture!

I don’t like to name names, but for the purpose of this blog… I will!  Earlier this week, me and a photographer, who we’ll call “Jason Clouse”, had to drive all the way to LaFayette, TN to knock on 2 doors.  We killed the first hour taking jabs at the callers on sports talk radio.  To be clear… I know almost NOTHING about sports, but I do have opinions about a lot of things, so listening to these shows is sort of a guilty pleasure for me.

Hour 2, we ate a sack full of Krystal burgers out of our lap, and lamented about the scenery.  It was hour 3 when things became gravely silent, and suddenly took a bizarre turn.

We had basically run out of things to talk about when Tim McGraw’s song, “Live Like You were Dying” started playing on the radio.  Here’s a little snippet of the conversation that went down.

Me:  “I love this song, but it always makes me sad.”

Jason:  Hmmph!

Me:  “What?!  You don’t think it’s kind of sad?

Jason:  “Yeah… I guess.”

Me:  “I mean, he’s obviously talking about his dad, who died of cancer.”

(I love how I say this like I’m a close personal friend of late baseball great, Tug McGraw!)

Jason:  “Yeah, I get it! I mean I think we all agree with the general principle, we’re just too busy LIVING!”

Me:  “What do you mean?”

Jason:  “I mean, it’s just a little impractical, isn’t it?  Most of the things I would do if I were dying, I can’t do because I’m not!”

Me:  “You’re not what?”

Jason:  “DYING!”

Me:  “Wow.  I guess you’re right!  Most of the things I’d do would probably either get me fired or killed.”

Jason:  “Exactly!”

Me:  “I mean, Tim makes it sound so adventurous to ride a bull named ‘Fu Man Chu’, but realistically… I’d probably wind up on some kind of disability, unable to take care of my 14 year-old daughter.”

Jason:  “That’s what I’m talking about!  Plus, I thought you were afraid of heights?”

Me:  “Yeah, so what?”

Jason:  “So… you’re saying that “IF” you were dying, you would somehow muster up the courage to jump out of a plane?”

Me:  “No! I wouldn’t do that if someone put a gun to my head!”

Jason:  “Ok, so now the bull riding and the skydiving are out!  What about fishing?  Are you into that?”

Me:  “Well, I like to EAT fish… preferably fried catfish!”

Jason:  “Tim says nothing about EATING fish!  He references GOING fishing!”

Me:  “Gosh, I’m batting a thousand here, so far.”

Jason:  “So let’s cut to the chase.  What WOULD you do if you were dying?”

Me:  “I don’t know!  Geez!  Now I feel pressured.  I guess I’d travel, spend more time with my daughter, volunteer.”

Jason:  “So why don’t you do those things now?”

Me:  “Ummm… because I have a JOB, bills to pay.  What am I supposed to do, just go play around all day long and be altruistic?”

Jason:  “That’s my point!  The only way to ‘live like you’re dying’ is to receive some death sentence from a doctor.  No thanks!”

Me:  “I guess I never thought about it like that.  Good talk!”

Hour 4… silence.

News people– we’re a jaded bunch!

“Insanity Redefined”

October 31, 2014 - 2 Responses

A lot of people define insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  I like to think of it as, “Buying things ‘As seen on T.V.’ and expecting them to actually work like they did in the commercial.”  I learned this very tough lesson again this week, and for some reason, I feel compelled to enlighten everyone on this Friday.

For months, my daughter and I have been subjected to the “Purrfect Arch” commercial, and unless, you’ve been living in an Amish community or subjected to a television ban… my guess is that you’ve seen it too.  It’s the one featuring a Siamese show cat, circling what looks to be a gigantic toilet bowl cleaner in a state of complete nirvana!  I would love to say that I watched this commercial, with only the happiness of my two cats in mind, but the truth is… it was the contraption’s dual purpose feature as a “hair removal system” that had me reaching for the phone.

You see… until recently, I’ve been under some false impression that my SHORT HAIRED cats don’t shed, but reality came crashing down on me a couple of weeks ago, when my mother popped by with a housewarming gift: AKA a Shark vacuum cleaner!  Though this product is also “seen on T.V.” it actually works.  In fact, it may work TOO well, because after my first pass of the downstairs, it became clear to me that the cats DO shed.  They shed a lot!

Realizing that no amount of denial on my part was going to solve the problem, I have become obsessed with trying to figure out how to fix this problem.  If I’m honest… it’s not so much the hair itself that bothers me.  It’s the fear that if I don’t get this resolved quickly, my family may wind up the victims of some embarrasing reality show intervention, where our friends and family come forward to set the record straight, once and for all!  This… is how the “Purrfect Arch” crept back onto my radar.

As I was getting ready for work on Wednesday, with CNN blaring through the house, I heard it!  That ridiculous woman’s voice was droning on and on about the magical cat grooming toy.  I nearly poked myself in the eye with my mascara, before rushing into the bedroom to jot down the 1-800 number.  Of course… I missed it again!  At that point, I was too discombobulated and late for work, to remember that I pay good money for a DVR designed to prevent such tragedies.  On the bright side, I DID manage to get in there in time to catch the name of the product.  I made a mental “note to self” that I should get on-line later and look it up.  After all… who could forget a name like Purrfect Arch?  As it turns out… me!

Instead of beating myself up, as usual, I convinced myself that it was a sign from God that neither I, nor my cats, truly needed this thing.  There was just ONE nagging thought!  The lady on the commercial said they were now offering TWO perfect arches for the price of one!  At $10/arch… I’d be INSANE not to get one… right?  I quickly dismissed the whole idea.  I mean, let’s be honest, if the arch was THAT great, they wouldn’t be discounting it!  Whew!  I had rationalized my way out of this purchase, yet again… until last night!

Right there in the middle of a late night Walgreen’s run, there it was… the arch!  Ok… so I didn’t actually stumble over it walking through the front door.  I had to walk down the “As Seen on TV” aisle, but nevertheless… it was there!  My daughter and I couldn’t get home and get the thing set up fast enough.  Imagine how happy these guys are going to be!

It’s a good thing we both have vivid imaginations because, in reality… NOTHING happened!  Initially, the two of them just stared at it from a distance, with disdain.  Eventually, the curious one (Who we’ll call Chang) discovered the “catnip-infused carpet” base, and started digging his way to China… before darting off like a meth addict.  Of course, he was very cautious not to let any of the toilet bowl bristles muss up his thick coat of fur!

Right about the time I began thinking… “I could have just gone out back, set fire to a 20 dollar-bill, and saved myself a lot of trouble”… I looked over at my daughter, and we both burst into laughter at the absurdity of it all.  Maybe buying the “Purrfect Arch” wasn’t so insane, after all!  Maybe this was just one of those reminders that so few things in life ever turn out the way you think… and sometimes, it’s ok to laugh about it!  Happy Halloween!

“As seen on TV”

 

“As seen in my Dining Room”

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“As Seen on after my cats found it”

 

 

“Grocery Store Diaries”

July 11, 2014 - 2 Responses

     There are things in life that I dislike, and then there are things that I despise. Going to the grocery would have to rank right up there near the top of category number two. I would rather do almost ANYTHING than pull into the parking lot of a grocery… clean the toilet, empty the cat’s litter box, hand wax our floors, you name it! Part of it has to be the procrastination factor. I’ve usually put it off for so long that no standard size grocery cart could ever possibly accommodate my needs. Even a master grocery stacker would need a minimum of two carts, especially when you factor in the broken wheels that are always pulling you in the opposite direction of where you’re trying to go.

      I’ve tried to be more proactive, but let’s face it… there’s nothing simple about a grocery run. You can easily blow a half hour compiling “the list” before you’ve even set foot out of the house. Even after I’ve made out “the list” AND gone to the trouble of arranging it IN ORDER, to match the store layout… I, invariably, find myself at the end, missing 2 to 3 random items that we probably won’t need for another 3 months. While this may sound like a minor inconvenience, let me assure you… it is not.

     I now have so many groceries that I can barely push them anywhere, or stop them, for that matter. Then there’s the added pressure of knowing that I have roughly five minutes to locate these items before 30 dollars-worth of ice cream and pop cycles start to melt. A wise person might just write those items off and head to the check-out. Not me! I’m in the zone. They’re on “the list”. Walking out of the store without them would be a crushing defeat, so this is when I begin frantically zig-zagging the aisles, in search of a box of light bulbs and a bottle of ketchup that USED to be on aisle 2, but has mysteriously been moved to another part of the store.

     In fact, can I just get something off my chest? It’s a TIP, if you will, to the Grocers of America: STOP MOVING CRAP AROUND! Why do you torment us with your incessant rearranging? I mean, let’s think about this rationally. Is the ketchup REALLY going to sell better near the freezer section than it did over by the bread and produce? I mean, I know there are some items in the store that no one is going to buy without a little arm twisting. In those isolated situations, I can understand that management might have to “trick” consumers into buying those items with an end cap or some other kind of creative merchandizing, but I’m going to go out on limb and say that CONDIMENTS ARE NOT AMONG THEM! They’re staples. If I need ketchup, I need ketchup… and I don’t want to have to work for it! Fair enough?

            Probably the only thing I DO like about the grocery is the magazine aisle. In my heart, I know that it’s wrong (if not illegal) to stand in the store for 20 minutes reading an issue of Cosmo cover to cover without paying for it, BUT… I do it anyway. It’s a sickness! I’m a literature thief. Cuff me!

What’s perhaps MOST disturbing about all this, is that I feel no guilt or remorse whatsoever about my behavior. One of my girlfriends says I have an “entitlement issue”. She says I hate the grocery so much that I feel like they owe me, in some small way, for picking them over, say… Whole Foods.

Her logic is sound unless you consider the fact that I could never shop at Whole Foods on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure their uber-wealthy/celebrity clientele would frown upon my idiosyncrasies. Plus, I almost never whip up anything in the kitchen that calls for crushed, organic coriander fresh from India. Pretty much any herb you can’t find nestled alongside the rest of the McCormick’s spices is something I’m probably never going to need.

Anyway, the secret to pulling off the whole magazine thing is to get in a really long check-out line. I’ve discovered that the employees are a lot more forgiving, and/or lenient, when it seems like a customer is being inconvenienced in some way. When you’re in a long line, the employees either overlook your indiscretion out of pity, or they’re too busy to even notice what’s going on.   

In the rare event that someone DOES muster up the courage to confront you or shoot you a look of shame… you can simply throw up your hands in a frustrated gesture, and say something to the effect of– “What? I’m standing in line! What do you expect me to do?” The more indignant you can sound with your delivery, the better. It works every time!

Let me rephrase that. It works ALMOST every time. Occasionally, a store manager or conscientious employee will recognize me from the news and break out in a sweat. It’s like they think I’m working on some undercover investigation on stores with poor customer service. The thought of being CAUGHT by our hidden camera and winding up in a 15 second promo that airs 75 times a day is SO terrifying that they’ll do the unthinkable, and open up another lane!

Fortunately, this ain’t my first rodeo. I never move. Instead, I’ll usually pretend to be selfless, like I have ALL the time in the world, and let the other overwhelmed customers divert to the open lane. I may not get to finish the magazine, but this maneuver usually buys me enough time to at least finish an article. I’m pretty sure it drives the cashiers insane. I can always see them glance nervously at their co-workers with a look that says, “I don’t know what to do! The TV lady won’t budge!” I use the term “TV lady” because 99% of the time no one has a clue who I am or where I work. My face is just vaguely familiar enough to know that I’m on the news SOMEWHERE.

While I’m offering up advice, I might as well just pass this along too. Do NOT under any circumstances, spend an excessive amount of time reading magazines IN the magazine aisle. While that may be fine to do at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million, it is completely inappropriate to do it at the grocery. People don’t go to the grocery to browse. They go there to buy and leave, as quickly as possible.

In fact, whenever I see a “lingerer”, I have to resist the insatiable urge to wheel by them and whisper “They’re watching you!” under my breath. I mean, let’s just be honest, anyone who spends more than 15 minutes in a grocery aisle, is immediately going to be flagged by a security as a potential shoplifter, or at the very least… someone with severe food allergies– neither of which are favorable.

I could go on and on, but we’re out of everything. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you at the grocery!

“The Truth Serum of the Car Ride”

October 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

        Being a parent for the past 12 years has given me a whole new perspective on just about everything I ever believed or thought about life in general.  All the things I said I’d never do or be when I had kids… I’ve already done or said a dozen times over.  It’s as if, once you give birth, some great mystery slowly begins to reveal itself.  Things that once made no sense whatsoever, now seem crystal clear… like the kind of wisdom King Solomon should have written about in the Bible. 

      Let’s take my grandmother for example.  I remember riding in the car with her as a teenager with the radio blaring.  It never failed!  At some point during the drive, she would shout out of frustration, “Turn that thing down!  I can’t see!”  To which, my girlfriends and I would laugh heartily from the back seat, and whisper behind her back about the early on-set case of dementia she was obviously suffering from.  After all, what could the volume of the radio have to do with her incapacity to see?  Now… I get it! 

      One of the things that fascinates me most about the car is how much information is shared there, specifically on the way to school and the way home!  If I’m honest, nearly everything I know about my daughter’s friends, her fears, her dreams, her favorite books, her likes and dislikes… have all been shared from the passenger seat of my car.  I feel certain that, if she killed someone on the soccer field today, she’d tell me where the body was buried… on the way home.     

     I can’t figure out if it’s because she has no access to the internet in the car yet, or maybe she feels like it’s a hostage situation, and she’s being forced to talk.  Who knows?  I guess, now that I think about it, this is where I confess or inadvertently tell her all of my dirty little secrets.  Santa… yep.  Tooth Fairy… yep.  Easter Bunny… you know the answer.  Somehow everything comes out easier in the confines of a car, when you can drop a bomb of information on someone without making eye contact if you don’t want to.  Whatever it is… these are the moments I’ve come to cherish. 

   Believe me though… it didn’t start out this way!  I know this will make me sound like Joan Crawford from the movie “Mommie Dearest”, but I used to despise driving my daughter anywhere!  I hate to admit something so horrible, but it’s true.  When she was too young to ride facing forward, all she did was scream and cry incessantly from the time I put her in her car seat until we reached at our destination.  She was FINE as long as someone was sitting back there with her, but God help me if I had to fly solo for some reason and had no one to throw in the back seat with her.

     True story… one morning she actually cried so hard that she began projectile vomiting into the back window of the car.  As if that weren’t disgusting enough, she then started CHOKING on it!  In a flash, I put on my “supermom” cape, swerved into the turn lane, and saved the day.  People were whizzing by me on both sides of Dickerson Road while I stand there pounding my 3 month-old infant on the back.  “Don’t mind us!”

     I couldn’t wait for her to get big enough to talk!  I had these visions of sipping my Starbucks, while looking at her in the rearview mirror and conversing about the events of our day.  Sadly, that’s not exactly the way things went down.  When she finally DID learn to talk, that’s ALL she did.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise!  As a neophyte, no one bothered to tell me that the “listening” comes much later!  Sometimes it was so obnoxious I couldn’t even think. 

     When my daughter was younger, I took a break from news to be the Spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  EVERY SINGLE TIME we had a major crime or statewide crisis that required my attention, I would be driving down the road unable to hear over her incessant chatter from the back seat.  No matter how much I begged and pleaded with her to be quiet for just five minutes while mommy takes an IMPORTANT call, she couldn’t do it. 

     We’d be in the middle of activating a statewide AMBER Alert, and I couldn’t even get an accurate description of the missing kid because mine wouldn’t shut up!  This is no joke.  One night, I was doing a phone interview with Nancy Grace on the drive home.  I had to pull the car over, get out, and lock the doors to prevent the viewers of CNN from hearing whatever Dalton had to say that night.  It was maddening!    

     I finally got over it all one day, when we were driving to school in a blinding snow storm.  Don’t even ask me why school wasn’t cancelled, but it wasn’t.  Traffic was so bad on the main roads that I decided to take a “long cut” through the country, where it wasn’t so congested.  Turns out, there’s a REASON that road was empty.  It was a solid sheet of ice.       

        The few other cars that dared to go back there were creeping along at about two miles an hour.  Finally, we reached this line of cars just sitting still.  As we inched towards the front of the line, I finally realized what was going on.  There was a hairpin turn on a 45 degree slope that drivers were trying to navigate their way down one by one.  About 1 out of every 3 wound up making it down without flying off into a ditch.  It was sheer lunacy to even attempt it, but there was no other choice.  There was no way to turn around, and we were in the middle of nowhere. 

     Basically, drivers would just wait their turn, and when you reached the front of the line… it was your responsibility to wait and see if the car in front of you wrecked or made it to the bottom.  Despite being on the verge of what felt like a disaster, my daughter was just chatting away in the back seat as if nothing in the world was going on.  I humored her until it was my turn at bat, and then I remember screaming, “Dalton!  I need you to say absolutely nothing.  In fact, if you need to say something… PRAY.”  She paused for about two seconds, probably in shock because I had just lost it.  Then she said with the sweetest little voice ever, “Which one, mama?  The eating prayer or the sleeping prayer?”  That’s the moment I finally realize that all that nothing we talk about every day… means a lot.

Skeptics R Us

June 20, 2012 - 9 Responses

When did the world become so jaded?  I know, as a newscaster, I’m at least partially responsible for this.  Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t talking about some new scam, but last week I was stupefied by just how skeptical we’ve become as a society.

A couple of weeks ago, Purity dairy was trying to help raise money for Rocketown.  (For those of you who have been living under a rock, this is a downtown ministry that caters to teens and young adults.)  Anyway, Purity has a fundraiser they offer non-profits where they GIVE the charity about fifteen gallon drums of Moose Tracks ice cream.  Purity will then pay the charity one dollar on top of that for every scoop they hand out in a three-hour period, up to 10-thousand dollars.  Are you following me?  Purity is giving the ice cream away, AND paying the charity a dollar on top of that for every scoop they hand out to people on the street… FOR FREE!

A couple of weeks ago, Rocketown was the beneficiary of this good fortune, and they asked a couple of us here at the station to come down and be “celebrity scoopers”.  I was quite flattered by this, being that I’m only a “D” level celebrity at best, and all of the real celebrities were already in town for CMA week. 

So I’m standing next to Scott Hamilton (yes… the Gold medalist) scooping out ice cream like Lindsay Waggoner on an episode of the bionic woman, when I realize… no one’s biting.  People were literally walking by the tent, REFUSING, to take a free scoop of ice cream.  This should be punishable by a fine in my opinion. 

You would have thought we were luring them to some seedy time share off Nolensville road in exchange for a scoop.  These people looked at us like we were a bunch of carneys trying to steal their money.  No matter how many times we said, “It’s free… take it,” they simply couldn’t process the fact that  we were GIVING them something… FOR ZERO DOLLARS. 

At one point, Scott “the gold medalist” Hamilton had to physically walk out into the street and start begging tourists to take a scoop.  This guy could be busting out a triple toe loop on any ice skating rink in the country, but instead, he’s standing out on lower Broad in 90 degree heat, with moose tracks running down his elbow.  Talk about taking one for the team!  Eventually, people started recognizing him and asking for a photo ops… but still wouldn’t take the free ice cream!      

Finally, I decided… time was money, and we were losing the battle.  I went out to the street corner to work my magic, but I wasn’t nearly as courteous as Scott.  My pitch went something like this, “Do you want some free ice cream?  Ok great!  Thanks for nothing.  You just cost a kid a dollar.  I hope you’re happy with yourself!”  This got their attention!

Unfortunately, it also got the attention of the big wigs at Purity who were less than thrilled about my strong-arm tactics.  I was quickly ushered back to the ice cream scooping chain gang… far out of sight (or earshot) of any potential clients.    

Anyway, the whole ugly episode just made me wonder when and how we became so jaded.  When did we lose all faith in our fellow-man.  Not EVERYTHING that seems to good to be true is.  The next time someone tries to give you a free ice cream cone, just shut up and take it!

If you are what you eat… I’m a Funyun

June 6, 2012 - 9 Responses

While many of you are probably spending your day thinking about how to stop hunger in Africa or promote world peace, I’m sitting at my cubicle trying to figure out what it is about the Funyun that’s so ridiculously addictive.  If you don’t know what this is… stop reading now.  We have nothing in common!

Every day for the past week (ok, month) I’ve found myself drawn to the break room, where I proceed to mindlessly exchange a dollar for a bag of funyuns… knowing full-well that they probably have the nutritional content of a ziplock bag.  Why… why do I do it?????

It’s not like I don’t know any better.  We do stories every single day about what a bind the country is in, when it comes to obesity.  The feds have repeatedly called Tennessee one of the fattest states in the nation.  I can’t get through a newscast without reading something about healthier living, yet here I sit… scarfing down a bag of onion flavored air, and washing it down with a diet coke.  What is my problem?

Last week, we did a story about how the way to eat healthier is to shop around the perimeter of the grocery.  Apparently, that’s where all the healthy food lives.  All of the fat and msg laden items are sandwiched between the aisles.  I actually tried this on my trip to the grocery last week.  Unfortunately, all of it is still neatly stacked in my fridge, untouched.

Speaking of which… I need to vent here for a second.  Did you guys know that there are some supermarkets that have no cashiers working at night?  After a certain hour, there is literally no other option, but to use the self check-out and bag your own groceries.  This would have worked out fine, had I been picking up a pack of Wrigley’s spearmint on the fly.  Unfortunately, I spent the better part of an hour, on Sunday night, looking up PLU codes for all of this healthy food I bought on the outside perimeter… that I’ll probably never eat!

Anyway, I digress.  My point is, why do we continue doing those things we do not wish to do?  This Funyun thing is becoming compulsive, along with my desire to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru every day, between shows, for a soft serve ice cream cone.  I realized yesterday, this had become a full-blown obsession for me, when the lady at the window said, “Hey girl!  Where have you been?  I ain’t seen you in a minute!”  By minute… she means, since yesterday.  Am I being tracked?  Do people, besides me, know that I have a problem?  It looks like I’m going to have to start going to Bobbie’s Dairy dip, every other day, to mix things up.

When I dropped my daughter off at summer camp last week, a fresh-faced college student proudly told us that they provide a vegan diet for children who don’t eat meat.  Instinctively I said, “Oh we’re on an all junk-food diet our house.  I hope you can accommodate that!”  The counselor (who was all of 22) was not amused.  He looked at me like I had just kicked a Golden Retriever and laughed about it.  After all, what kind of barbaric mother feeds their child JUNK FOOD?!

The other thing I can’t get enough of are those Arctic Blasters from Kroger.  It’s a good thing these are only a buck fifty a box, or I’d be bankrupt.  My body refuses to shut down, at the end of a day, without one.  Forget the Ambien and Lunesta!  Just grab a box of Arctic Blasters, and call it a day.  It’s a lot cheaper, and you don’t need a prescription.  Plus, they only have 100 calories per blaster.  I accidentally stumbled across that little factoid one day while throwing the box away.  I was so relieved.  They’re practically health food!

Why is it that I can’t develop an unhealthy obsession with something like house work or weeding or building houses in Uganda?  Like Paul said in the Bible, it’s always the things I do not wish to do… that manage to capture my attention.

I should be writing a blog about how to get rid of the ants that are taking over my kitchen, but I’m starting to wonder if annihilating them with a can of Raid is the right thing to do.  We obviously have a lot in common!  What other creature on the planet, outside maybe the raccoon, is as obsessed with a good snack as the ant?  Are we really that different… me and the ants?  Apparently not.  I just saved myself a trip to the grocery, which we all know is a good thing!

Birds of a Feather

April 17, 2012 - 5 Responses

It’s always interesting to me to see who people surround themselves with.  You can tell a lot about a person by who they hang out with.  The law of attraction knows no boundaries.  Whoever you are… you will attract.  For me, it’s neurotics.

Karl Jung defines this as, “those people who are successfully adjusted by normal societal standards, but who nevertheless, have issues with the meaning of life.”  To me… that seems a little harsh.  I like to think of it as more of “a tendency to fixate on things that have no real significance or bearing on life.”

We’re obsessive-compulsive, but not in the way that makes our homes look immaculate or requires medication.  Instead, we go over the deep-end quickly, over just about everything.  Such was the case, a couple of weeks ago, when my best friend texted me on a Sunday night.

Friend:     “Clear the deck tomorrow night.  We’re taking a field trip.”
Me:           “Ooohh!  I love field trips.  Where are we going?”
Friend:     “Lewisburg”
Me:           (Not what I had envisioned.)  “What’s in Lewisburg?”
Friend:     “Whiter teeth!”
Me:           (Silence)
Friend:     “I sold a BMW to a dentist today, and he offered to  whiten our teeth!”
Me:           “Interesting… what kind of dentist is in the office at 9:30 at
night, whitening people’s teeth?  Is he even licensed?
Friend:     “Don’t be ridiculous.  We’re going to his house.  You’ll love him!”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I still have a set of whitening trays from the year 2000, that I haven’t seen, or even cared to look for, in at least five years.  When you consume the volume of coffee and Diet Coke that I do on a daily basis, it’s all pretty much a moot point anyway.

My teeth are yellow… so be it!  I’ve got bigger fish to fry, like these sagging eye lids.  I’d Rollerblade to a barn in Kentucky at midnight if someone could help me out in that arena.  They don’t even necessarily have to have a degree, but my teeth… not that worried about them.

Nevertheless, his enthusiasm was infectious, and I ended up agreeing to go.  It’s not like I had anything better to do on a Monday night.  Plus, if I’m honest, the idea of meeting a dentist who’s even WILLING to whiten our teeth in his kitchen was intriguing enough to justify the trip.  I’m such a hypochondriac… most of the doctors and dentists I know have started screening my calls.

Monday night, as promised, we pulled up to a home in the middle of nowhere, that was fit for an episode of MTV cribs.  The next thing I knew… I was sitting on an expensive bar stool, holding a Papillon in my lap with a wad of that rubbery gel gagging me.

While waiting for the gel to “cure”, the dentist and his lovely wife proceeded to tell us how their son got married in the back yard, last summer, on a reality t.v. show.  Instantly, I knew we were going to be great friends.  This is precisely the kind of “off- kilter” nuance about someone’s life that I can relate to.  Normal people don’t agree to such things.  They’re obviously one of “US”.

On the way out the door, the good dentist offered us a weekend in his lake house on Tim’s Ford, and promised to teach me how to get up on a ski chair, something that… until now, I had assumed was an urban legend.  Apparently, these contraptions do exist, and this summer… I’ll likely be mastering the art of the “air” chair.

Fast forward five days, and this is when things got really interesting.  My friend popped by after work.  We hadn’t really spoken much of the whole whitening episode in days, but when he smiled… I gasped!  His teeth were borderline translucent.

Me:             “What happened to you?!”

Friend:       “What do you mean…at happened?  Do they look good,or what?

All I could think was, how… outside the extreme photo-shopping done by People magazine… is this kind of whiteness even possible?  I had ‘ve never seen such a
bizarre transformation.

Friend:        “I went for the triple play baby!”

Me:               “I’m afraid to ask.”

Friend:        “Well, I used the ten minute whitening gel and didn’t  notice a difference, so
then I followed up with the daytime gel, and slept in  the night-time gel.
Pretty cool huh?”

Me:              “Pretty… scary!  Have you examined them closely?   Is there any enamel left?”

After much skepticism on my part, he finally admitted that, in addition to the “triple play”, he had upped the ante by purchasing some device at the tanning bed that holds your mouth open for an even fuller glow!  The last time we talked about it, he was considering 6-thousand dollars worth of porcelain veneers.  See how quickly things can spiral out of control.  I’m just hoping this week he sells a BMW to a plastic surgeon.

I’m a Cheapskate, and I Know It

February 15, 2012 - 2 Responses

      Ask any of my close friends, and they will tell you… I’m cheap; not just a little cheap, but a borderline tight wad.  I’ve gotten slightly better over the years.  There was a time and a day when I wouldn’t set foot in a grocery store without a wad of coupons in hand and a detailed strategy.  I couldn’t fathom the idea of splitting a dinner check with someone, for fear that they might have ordered something slightly more expensive, and I’d be out two extra dollars.  I refused to buy individually wrapped bags of anything because I was convinced this was some ploy by the big shots at the food manufacturing company to get me to spend more for less.

     I no longer have time to do many of the things my former cheap self would like.  At 7:30 in the morning, with the dog barking, my child screaming and the all-important clock ticking… I will sometimes throw a bag of pre-packed Lays into the lunch box instead of buying a 40 lb. bag of Doritos and transferring them into a reusable ziplock, but I don’t like it.  Each time this happens, I feel like I’m giving up a little piece of my soul.    

     I think it must be hereditary.  My parents were both cheapskates.  In fact, I have to keep an eye on my mother, or she’ll pull a money exchange on me like those professionals who go into a store and rip off the clerk.  One day I picked up something for her at a shop near my house.  When we met for dinner that night, she offered to buy, as a way of saying thank you, and gave me a twenty-dollar bill.  It wasn’t until the drive home that I realized I hadn’t even broken even!

     I can barely contain my excitement right now because today, my boss has given me a dream assignment.  He wants me to start doing a segment during our four o’clock show helping people find ways to save money.  If you think about it, I’ll be getting paid to look for ways to cut corners and then share them with you.  I know you’ll think I’m overstating here, but this is like hitting the Powerball jackpot for me.  I will now be afforded the time necessary to let than inner cheapskate thrive again, but I need your help.       

      I’m afraid I’ve become rusty.  The other day I bought Valentine’s candy at a DRUG STORE, of all places, without doing any kind of recon whatsoever of the major discount stores to see what kind of deals were out there.  This is a true sign of weakness.  People who are good at this could never just mindlessly swipe their debit card without knowing, beyond a shadow of the doubt, that it couldn’t be bought somewhere else cheaper.  It’s a complete violation of the code.

     I’m prepared to do battle again, but I desperately need you guys to help me get started.  To make this possible, I’m going to need to enlist an army of the biggest tightwads this city has ever seen.  I want to make Ms. Cheap (who I love by the way) look like a flagrant money spender.  My e-mail is jennifer.johnson@wsmv.com.  Fill up my “IN” box!  This economy is robbing us all blind.  Let’s stick it to the man on this one!

     If there’s a free event for our kids, a way to get access to healthcare without paying, an unprecedented deal being offered around town by a particular business, or just something original you’re doing at home to pinch pennies… I want to know about it.  At the end of each week, the person who gives me the best idea will get… a heaping load of self-satisfaction.  What did you think I was going to give you?  Money  I already told you I’m cheap! 🙂

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