Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Annoyances: Updated 10/11/11

I realized the other day while I was attempting to kill the last 6 hours of the work day be productive that I haven’t written down all the things that are annoying me in life lately.  And since I’m just positive this omission has been annoying YOU, I’m putting it out there again.  Stuff that bugs me.  And at least one item I’m questioning. 
Stuff that Annoys Me:
1.  Beer savers.  I saw a link for
these a while back and thought to myself, “Who has a bunch of open beer just sitting around not being consumed?”  I’ll tell you who.  Morons.  It’s 12 ounces, people.  I’m not asking you to shotgun a yard of beer at your next backyard BBQ.  Man up and drink the rest of your beverage.  If you can’t finish it, find someone who hasn’t been castrated and ask nicely if they will finish it for you. 
2.  People who just stop in the road when they get pulled over by the police.  There’s a reason it’s called “getting pulled over.”  And that’s because you’re supposed to pull over and not simply stop in your lane.  Now what you’ve done is do something illegal to get pulled over initially AND you’ve brought down your fellow travelers with you by making them navigate your stupidity in the middle of lunch rush.  I wasn’t the one texting while driving, but now I can because traffic is at a standstill due to Nolensville Road being reduced to 75% of a lane while Officer Friendly writes you a ticket that you probably can’t read.  Parking lots are named that for a reason – you can park in them.  Turn on your flashers, slow down, and pull out of oncoming traffic.  I’m sure the officer will thank you when he can get out of his vehicle without being run down by meth-fueled guy in a tractor trailer.
3.  People who look like they live in a beer commercial on Facebook.  We get it.  You’re young.  You’re hip.  You actually have that elusive “disposable income” I’ve been in search of for the past few years.  It’s not that I don’t want you to have fun – I just don’t want to see it.  When I see beer commercials while sitting in a pair of pants that has more holes than fabric while cradling a glass of $4.99-a-bottle red wine, I can sometimes comfort myself into thinking, “Pffft.  No one actually lives like that.”  And fancy people showing off on Facebook by having fun with well-dressed, semi-attractive people every weekend makes me think the worst:  that people actually DO live like that.  I then proceed to try to find reruns of Intervention so I can at least console myself that I’m not addicted to huffing keyboard cleaner while simultaneously trying to remember the last time actually I wore high heels to go to a bar (hint?  It’s been a while.  This one learned her lesson from one too many barefoot stumbles down Broadway.)  So keep you fun activities to yourself while I go create a photo album called, “A Weekend with the Cats: Friday and Saturday Nights with Old Age.”
4.  Self-righteous Facebook status updates.  I understand that some jobs are very important.  We need people like Officer Friendly patrolling the streets for dumb asses who don’t know how to pull over.  We need doctors and nurses to tend to our hot-tub-induced head wounds.  And we need teachers to make sure that not all of our kids turn out to be idiots who don’t know how to properly pull over for a traffic stop.  But can we stop the whole, “I get to work at 6am.  I clean up the elephant poop.  I light stuff on fire and force tigers to jump through it.  Repost if you’re proud to be a circus animal hygienist!” updates?  Everyone’s job sucks.  If it didn’t, it would be called fun.  So let’s just unsaddle that high horse of yours and come back down here to the rest of the minions with non-important jobs such as a radio sales assistant. 
Okay.  Enough of the bad – let’s move on to the good!  Stuff that makes me happy:
1.  Dresses with pockets.  Normally I don’t actually use the pockets – I just like to walk around with my hands in my pockets so other ladies say, “Ooh!  Your dress has pockets?  So jealous!”  When I do get a chance to utilize my pockets, it’s usually when I’m hiding my switchblade while sneaking up on an unsuspecting hooker.  They really are a win-win for me, and I would raise a glass in their honor if I could bring myself to take my hands out of my awesome dress pockets. 
2.  The fact that Dairy Queen serves its chicken strips with GRAVY.  Gravy, people.  Fat, flour, and milk combined to make a fattening topping of awesome!  I know they’ve done this for years, as the DQ at exit 287 off I-40 was a frequent stop during my trips to and from Knoxville.  It’s been ages since I’ve actually indulged in the chicken and gravy, but I saw the commercial the other day and I had to give props to the ‘Q for taking chicken to a whole ‘nother level.  Honey mustard?  Ranch?  Screw you.  Pass that gravy.  That tasty, tasty gravy. 
On-the-Fence Items:
1.  I really only have one of these and it has to do with trial run of a tinted facial moisturizer.  I got selected to try a new moisturizer from Loreal.  “Free face lotion?  Sign me up!” I thought to myself as I hurriedly signed up to be a lab rat for a giant cosmetics corporation.  Little did I know that this stuff was to arrive in a generic white tube labeled, “Face makeup” and that the instructions told me to put it on with MY EYES CLOSED.  While I attempted to think of a girl in her right mind who applies anything to her face without the aid of a mirror, lo and behold, the second day’s instructions told me to put it on without the help of a mirror.  When I wasn’t pondering, “What exactly is the difference?” I was trying to think of a good reason to put this stuff on without the aid of sight.   So, the on-the-fence portion of this discussion inherently comes with the age old argument of “Free Moisturizer v/s Danger of Looking like Snooki and Not Knowing It Because You Aren’t Allowed to Use a Mirror.”  The week is still young, but I guarantee you’ll know the results by the next “things that annoy me and things that don’t” blog.  Aren’t you excited?? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's a Poor Pop Quiz. It's a Porp Quiz!

I do believe it kind of snuck up on me but, as the realization of this never-ending recession is slowly dawning on our rapidly-deteriorating checkbook, I’ve discovered that I’m a bit light in the wallet lately.  I blame a lot of things, including the rising price of gasoline, the decline of the American dollar, and the fact that hipsters have invaded Goodwill stores nationwide totally willing to pay $8 for a used dress.  (Thanks for that.  Really.)  Anyway, it hit me that I never really defined the moment I became poor, it just sort of…happened.  So, with that in mind, I have come up with a foolproof way of determining if you’re sitting pretty at the top of a heap of money, or suffocating mercilessly amid empty Natty Light cans and several pairs of moth-ridden socks.
1.  Go to the kitchen.  Look in your fridge.  You see:         
     a.  A gallon of milk, some lunch meat, and a three bottles of wine
     b.  Some leftovers in an aluminum swan (probably steak.  Or shrimp.  Or steak made out of shrimp.)
     c.  A bottle of mustard, some olives, and…um…yeah.  That’s about it  
     d.  I sold my fridge to buy food.  Then had no place to put the leftovers 
2.  Have you done any of these activities?  Circle all that apply:      
       a.  Used coupons
       b.  Murdered a store clerk because she didn’t double your coupons
       c.  Stolen someone’s shoes.  Not for the label
       d.  “Broken” into your neighbor’s house to use their microwave.  (What?  Ours was broken)
       e.  Re-chewed gum (yours)
       f.  Re-chewed gum (someone else’s)
       g.  Tied your children to a tree in lieu of childcare
3.  You’re walking in the park and spot a $5 bill on the ground.  You:       
        a.  Look around, see no one’s looking, bend over to pretend to tie your shoe, and bam.  Snatch that shiz
        b.  Pick it up.  Buy a Contributor.  Tell the guy to keep the change
        c.  Immediately chastise yourself for not checking the hooker’s pockets before you dragged her through the park.  
         d.  Stop taking this quiz because you realize there might be $5 in a park somewhere
4.  Pick the celebrity best suited to play you in a movie:         
         a.  Seth Rogen  
         b.  Donald Trump
         c.  Owen Wilson
         d.  That crazy guy with the stick that hangs out under the 4th Ave. bridge 
5.  How many pieces of furniture in your house came from a thrift store or yard sale?     
     a.  None.  Unless you count IKEA as a yard sale with meatballs
     b.  2.  My sister gave me first pick of her stuff a coupla years back
     c.  4-6.  I’ve supplemented my basics with some funky thrift store finds
     d.  Yard sale?  My couch is an abandoned mattress and our end tables are upside down trash cans.  Who has money for yard sales?
6.  Describe your last vacation:    
    a.  We took a nice trip to Percy Priest lake.  We floated on a Styrofoam cooler and drank the leftovers out of abandoned 40’s on the shore
    b.  We got a DUI in Florida so we could be on the beach.  Picking up trash.
    c.  We built skis out of some old pallets, waited for a snowfall, and raced down mountains of trash at the dump
   d.  Our last vacation involved a game we call “I-40 Bingo.”  Hop on a truck and see where it takes you!  I wound up in Poughkeepsie, but Travis got dumped off at a truck stop in Cousin Love, Mississippi  
   e.  We screamed at each other in French while eating cheese in front of the Batman Building.  Who needs the Eiffel Tower?
7.  What electronics do you own?  Circle all the apply:     
      a.  Plasma TV
      b.  Plasma TV you didn’t donate plasma to buy
      c.  Potato masher
      d.  Flip camera
      e.  Shoe horn
      g.  A portable notepad computer
      h.  A portable notepad (college-ruled)
Question #1:
  If you answered (a) or (b) go away.  You have money for actual food and I can’t hear what you’re saying over the rumbling of my stomach.  If you answered (c) or (d) then good job at the whole being broke thing we’ve got going on. 
Question #2:  If you circled more than 2, welcome to the poor club!  If you murdered a clerk, then welcome to the poor club on Death Row.  The only thing separating the two clubs is a rap sheet and a very thin, very gray moral line. 
Question #3:  If you picked (b) then good for you.  You’re an idiot.  If you answered (c) you’re also an idiot, as the first rule of “Hooker Club” is always check the pockets of the hooker you just killed.  Especially in a park.  You know she just made some money in those public restrooms by the monkey bars. 
Question #4:  Wow, still reading, huh?  Congratulations.  If you picked any of the answers, then you shouldn’t be poor because some is actually making a movie about your life.  So just stop reading.  You incite both disgust and innate jealousy in me. 
Question #5:  If you answered (a) – good.  I don’t need any more competition.  Answer (b) more your speed?  Good job.  A long-term strategy of mine has been quietly insulting my sister’s things until she convinces herself to get rid of them.  Right into the arms of her greedy yet thrifty younger sister.  
Question #6:  You probably turned up your nose at all of these vacation alternatives.  And to that I say, “Pass the safety vest.  Big Mama’s taking a chance on a Tyson truck.  I-40 Bingo FTW!” 
Question #7:  I would give you a quarter for sticking around to the end of this thing, but really?  I need that quarter to ward off Mr. Crazy Eyes at 4th Avenue.  I think his stick’s getting longer. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Jamiepolitan Advice Column

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I recently discovered that my husband likes to dress up as a monkey and clean the house while I am gone. Should I leave him?
Second Banana

Dear Banana,
Your husband is weird. I can’t believe he actually likes to clean the house. Keep him around until he starts flinging his own poo at you. But even if he does, it sounds like he'll be more than willing to clean it up.  With that in mind, I amend my statement to say, "keep him until he eats your face." 

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I’m afraid my boyfriend is cheating on me. He is constantly “working late” or “helping a buddy move.” Last week I found lipstick on his collar. What do I do?
Feeling Cheated

Dear Cheated,
Of course your boyfriend is cheating on you. Men are scum and the reason Van Damme movies exist.  My advice for you is to plot revenge. Check out my new book, “101 Ways to Use Plum Jelly and Driveway Gravel as Retaliatory Devices” for some great ideas to teach him that no one cheats on “Cheated.”

Dear Jamiepolitan,
We have a group of people at work who are constantly asking me to chip in to buy a birthday cake, anniversary card, or get well gift for another co-worker. How can I tell them politely that I don’t want to participate?
Broke as a Joke

Dear Broke,
Look, in this economy no one wants to buy anyone else anything, but you do it because one day you're going to be the subject of a baby shower, a birthday party, or a going away get together before you leave to serve that pesky jail sentence from the unfortunate "raccoon incident" from 2 years ago.  Point being that you do it so you can hold it over others heads when it's your turn.  So stop being such a cheap skate and throw in whatever cash you haven't used on lawyer fees or rabies shots and wait for your turn to roll around.  Your cell mate, Big Steve, will be glad for the girlie magazines you got when you traded that potted plant your co-workers got you as a farewell gift. 

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I have an aunt who shamelessly “re-gifts” everything. Last year for our anniversary, we got a used bar of soap and a tire iron. What should we do?

Dear Ungifted,
Maybe your aunt is trying to tell you something. That “something” may be that you stink and have a flat tire. Instead of being ungrateful, perhaps you should take the hints of your elders and be appreciative that someone remembers the day you married that ingrate of a husband. If this doesn’t work, might I suggest a half-eaten Mars bar and a slightly-gray athletic sock under Auntie's tree next year?

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I recently gave up eating anything with the letter “m” in the name of the food. How do I politely respond to comments I receive at dinner parties about my new diet?

Dear _oron,
You should be happy that people still actually want to hang out with you, given your proclivity towards idiocy.  When people ask about your extremely stupid new diet, don't give them the satisfaction of winning the bet they made with their friend that they know someone who actually adheres to this stupid line of thinking.  Just shut your mouth and pass the hummus you can't eat.

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I consider myself an attractive, put-together woman and I carry myself with confidence. What can I do when I overhear other girls making catty remarks at my expense?
20/20 Hearing

Dear 20/20,
I’m sorry it took me a while to answer your letter. I had to wait for your note to waft down from your high horse and float down here to reality. Now, I would suggest that you take a moment and have a talk with those girls. They’re probably making fun of you because it makes them feel better about themselves. This is a great tactic to raise your self-esteem! My advice is to go sit on a park bench outside of your local psychiatrist’s office and make fun of those much crazier and uglier than you.  You'll feel like a million bucks in no time and you can thank me later. 

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I have an extremely rude co-worker. This individual plays his music at a loud volume, eats tuna for lunch everyday, and is constantly carrying on personal conversations with his girlfriend. Do I confront him? What are your tips on handling this situation?
Fed Up

Dear Fed,
This is a tricky situation that should be handled with the utmost aplomb. And by aplomb, I mean you should order a pair of my specially trained Guatemalan fighting frogs to put an end to the matter.

Dear Jamiepolitan,
I have a friend who constantly gossips about me!  For instance, when I got my new promotion, she spread the rumor that I had to sleep with my boss to get it.  And when I moved into my awesome new house, she ruined my house-warming party by telling everyone that the house used to be a dominatrix dungeon and some of the people were still tied up in the basement.  I'm getting married next year and I'm afraid of what she'll do next.  What do I do? 
Talked About

Dear Talked About,
First things first:  Begin by grabbing a science book.  Secondly, you need to realize that the world doesn't actually revolve around you.  Now that we have that out of the way, I can't blame her for being annoyed with you because, judging from your letter, you're kind of a tool.  All you talked about was your great new job and fabulous new house.  In fact, I actually plan on talking about you at the next party I attend.  I mean, I totally just heard that the only reason your fiance proposed was so you would stop making death threats against his mother.  And you really used to be a dude?  I suppose that would clear up the confusion from your hairy Sasquatch hands...

Dear Jamiepolitan,
My boss is about to buy her fourth miniature Dachshund puppy. I thought it would be nice if those of us in the office pitched in to throw her a “Puppy Shower.” How should I word the invitations?
Puppy Love

Dear Dog,
Word them however you can in between the bits of poo that will inevitably be flung at you by your co-workers.  You should get together with Sasquatch hands.  I hear has an army of small dogs that she uses to serve cocktails at her dominatrix parties.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Poor People Deserve Fun, Too

It’s Labor Day weekend and for most folks, this end of summer celebration includes trips on boats, backyard BBQ’s, and other activities that begin with the letter “b.”  For some of us, however, it’s really just another weekend of not doing a whole lot due to the large amount of zeroes in our checking account (the ones before the comma.  Not after.)  This sucks, but one thing that being poor will do is leave you with a lot of time to think about the things you could be doing if you had any money and then figure out how to do those same things for free.  So, in the spirit of thriftiness, my list of things to do when you’re broke and tired of writing snarky blogs about being poor:
1.  Spy on your neighbors.  You would be amazed at what the McGuillicuttys are doing next door if you would just stop being such a prude and peek out your blinds once in a while.  Whether you’re watching your neighbor’s car get repossessed, taking a gawk at the police stand-off going on in your parking lot (true story) or postulating as to the possible marijuana growing operation next door (those people are NEVER there…but the lights are ALWAYS on!) this activity is totally free!  Plus, you’re really doing the community a favor by keeping an eye on the older couple across the street because I’m fairly certain they’re operating a brothel in their basement. 
2.  Another fun, free activity is people-watching.  Since you’re not going to the mall to actually buy anything, you might as well grab a bench and watch the human fishbowl that is humanity.  Pick out someone and make up his back story.  Try to figure out why the couple window-shopping at Kirkland’s is fighting (my guess? The girl has terrible taste.  A zebra lamp?  Oh honey, no.) And of course, finding someone who could stand a few more minutes in the mirror is always fun because you can make fun of THAT person while feeling better about YOUR person.  Turn it into an afternoon scavenger hunt – first person to find a mullet, a fanny-pack, a NASCAR shirt, and something with fringe wins whatever change you can scoop out of the wishing fountain in front of Claire’s. 
3.  Perhaps one of my favorite “being poor” activities is camping.  I like to say that I’m “outdoorsy” but really, I’m just “outdoorsy” because the only hotel room I can afford is a tent.  Camping is the ultimate poor person’s vacation, as it’s pretty much life as usual, it’s just happening outside.  Sleeping on the ground by the interstate?  Not cool.  Sleeping on the ground on top of an apparent rock farm?  Camping, my friend.  Pooping behind a McDonald’s?  Not okay.  Pooping in a hole you had to dig yourself far away (you hope) from any poison ivy and/or venomous bugs?  Camping. 
4.  Drive down Dickerson Road at night and play, “Spot that Felony.”  Different points will be awarded for different crimes – prostitutes are one point, unless they’re wearing an animal print, then you get double points.  A witnessed drug deal nets 2 points, and the crown jewel of them all, armed robbery?  5 points!  Combinations of any of these crimes may be awarded appropriate points based on input from all players.  If, for some reason, all of these crimes are happening at once, a total of up to 10 points may be awarded based on gun caliber, height of the hooker’s heels, and the controlled substance in question. 
5.  Finally, my favorite free activity is sarcasm.  Sarcasm is totally free and since it can have the ability to alienate people, it can actually make it cheaper to host a party.  Make fun of those around you, mock them, prey on their weaknesses!  Once you’ve insulted almost everyone you know, Christmas is a breeze because you don’t have to buy those pesky gifts everyone gets excited about.  And birthday dinner celebrations?  Invitations to those go out the window the minute you start in on your friend, Katie, and that horrible lisp of hers.   So whip out those smartass remarks the next time a friend of yours says something dumb.  You’ll thank me later when you don’t get invited to their next dog-painting party. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walgreens: A Torrid, Steamy Love Affair

It’s rare that I encounter a retail store that’s not Goodwill that will inspire an actual blog as most retail stores (Melrose Kroger, ahem) bring out my “I will smack you in the face with a hand mixer if you don’t back away from me quickly” attitude that’s not so hidden beneath my easily-angered surface.  While I’ve certainly had several, “Um, what the hell just happened?” moments at Walgreens, they are quickly eclipsed by the “I just bought a camping chair and a pair of underwear for $8.97” feeling of bliss.  And so, the reasons I adore Walgreens. 
They’re everywhere.  In college, there was one exactly one block from my house.  While I’m sure they tired of me dragging myself into their establishment in what would barely pass as pajamas, this store, within stumbling distance to my house, started the love affair.  I quickly found out Walgreens provided the basics to get you through college:  aspirin, Powerade, and the occasional Lunchable.  While the older lady at the counter cast disparaging looks in my direction, I would peruse the aisles in search of Band-aids and cherry Coke, the cornerstones of any good party.  And occasionally they would have knock-off tote bags that were perfect for carrying a change of clothes, extra shoes, and a toothbrush in your car.  Just in case. 
After graduation, Walgreens and I did not part ways.  In fact, our relationship only grew stronger as I discovered that Walgreens is not only a great place for mixers at night and hangover cures in the morning, but for EVERYTHING ELSE.  In need of a laser level and picture wire?  Check.  In search of a composition notebook to send to a friend going back to school?  Yep.  Want to stumble across a roll of caution tape to toss into a care package for a friend with a broken arm?  You bet your non-broken arm Walgreens has it.  Whether it’s a Glee coloring book or a ladybug-shaped Pillow Pet, this little oasis of randomness is like a thrift store with better lighting and worse music.  You just never know WHAT you’re going to find! 
Let’s just take a moment to reflect on not only the selection, but the fantastic deals you can get in this store de wonder.  Last week a co-worker and I got Sharpie markers for $.40 each.  Forty f’ing cents apiece.  These things are usually in the $1.00 range, making this a 60% savings on markers which will be decorating meeting notes and greeting cards with fanciful colors for days and days to come.  And the fact that I got free moisturizer the other day thanks to the clearance aisle and coupons?  That makes me a non-ashy, protected-by-the-sun-by-all-15-SPF’s beacon of happiness. 
Go in some time and see for yourself the glories that Walgreens has to behold.  Get your passport picture taken.  Grab “Gettin’ Tipsy in Nashville” shot glass.  Peruse the rack of sundresses.  Just take in all the wonderment while closing your eyes and letting the generic overhead music take you to a better place.  If one existed, that is.  If only one existed. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Look into the Life of Sam and Sharon

My parents are not normal.  Now, I’m sure all three of you reading this are thinking, “Everyone’s parents are weird.  It’s like, a thing” but I can assure you – mine can take the cake.  They will probably take the cake, anyway, because they hate to waste food and my father really likes to eat.  So, I present to you, reasons my parents are delightfully…odd.
1.  Each and every time I talk to my mother on the phone, the answer to the “So, what are you doing?” question results in an answer that no one in his right mind would expect.  I’ve gotten the following responses:
“We just dressed a deer in the front yard.”
“I’m waiting on a shipment of nematodes* for your dad.”
“I just found some apple trees in the hallway!”
“I’m grinding flour and your father is attending a conference about goats in Springfield.” 
“Trying to get a permit to move a chicken hutch from Mt. Juliet.”
Now, you may have guessed by now that my parents are farmers.  You may not have, but they are.  This fact accounts for *some* of their odd activities, but the point is, these are not normal responses.  And they never will be when I call them.  I will continually be flabbergasted at the shenanigans my Robertson County parents have gotten themselves into, and subsequently be flabbergasted that I’m still flabbergasted by their answers. 
2.  My father rarely goes anywhere without a hard hat.  Exceptions include church and church functions, going to “town” (the “town” being Nashville.  A trip to Springfield rarely merits the removal of the infamous blue hard hat) and my wedding.  Picking me up in elementary school?  Hard hat.  Taking me to piano lessons?  Hard hat in C minor.  Softball practice?  Hard hat, albeit a bit merited given my batting abilities.  The point is, when I described my dad to someone, it usually ended with, “Oh yeah!  He’s the guy in the blue hard hat, isn’t he?” and an affirmative sigh from yours truly.  When an occasion calls for a bit more of class, he dons his Vigortone (livestock mineral) hat and goes gallivanting all over Nashville attempting to get a ¾ monkey screw wrench (galvanized, preferably.)
3.  My mother was once part of a group called “The Moo Shine Runners.”  You might know that unpasteurized, or raw, milk is totally illegal in this country, as the FDA desperately wants its e Coli carrying fingers all over everything we eat, ever.  Not one to take this lightly, my parents starting going to Kentucky ever so often to buy a share of a cow.  This little loophole, allowing them to not actually purchase the milk, but a percentage of a cow, allowed Sam and Sharon raw milk.  After getting a group of people together, they would often carpool to get the black market white milk and my little church-going mother officially began running shine.  Of the Moo variety. 
4.  I once went out to my parents’ house to help my mother can green beans.  I wound up chasing cows from one field into another after my father got us with the sob story of the bull, Hank, in a danger of overheating if we didn’t help him get to the field with the actual water.  I’ve seen Hank.  I do not want to have to move an immobilized-due-to-dehydration Hank.  Chasing him around a soybean field was plenty excitement. 
5.  My father steals people’s yard waste.  Not one to go the conventional route for anything, Sam makes his own compost.  Compost is made up of biodegradable materials that are thrown together in a huge pile until they start to get hot (some kind of chemical reaction makes this possible.  I do not know what this chemical reaction actually is.  But it produces heat!)  Finding himself with a lack of biodegradable materials, Sam decided to go another route.  A route that included going around to every neighborhood in Eastern Robertson County the night before trash pick-up to steal people’s yard trash.  Leaves in the fall, grass clippings in the summer, the fun never stopped.  This wouldn’t have been completely humiliating if my father (playfully tagged “The Leaf Thief”) didn’t drive a truck that looked like it had been through the worst part of the third world war.  Homemade metal racks in the back provided “walls”, which provided more leaf storage.  We would troll around until we saw a pile of promising black bags on the street, stop as inconspicuously as is possible in a rather rusted out truck with metal racks on the back, and relieve folks of what they didn’t want anyway.  It was horrifying to a 14-year-old, but I do admit to sliding down the mountains of plastic bags on the back part of the farm after a snow storm.  I figured I might as well rid myself of shame while happily bouncing down a mountain of snow-laden grass clippings and the occasional, rather painful pine cone.
6.  Finally (not that I’ve completely listed all the things that are a bit off about them…I just have to stop typing or my fingers will, in fact, fall off.  And then my dad would probably compost them) their “vacations” consist of seminars about organic farming, livestock, or large machinery.  An annual trip to Louisville is mandatory in their house, as each year brings a bigger and better Farm Machinery Show.  The Southern SAWG (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) Convention is a bit more of a luxury, as it requires a bit more travel, and often, an accompanying ham in a cooler so they can munch on it during their trip (true story.) But when the Small Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is in town?  Hoo hoo dilly, get out the Vigortone hat boys!  It’s time to par-tay. 
Don’t get me wrong – I love my parents and their (decidedly numerous) quirks.  But when my father drops off two bags of green beans and okra, a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner, and two deep fryers in exchange for the empty egg cartons I’ve collected for them, I just smile and tell him to get out to Mom, who is sitting in the car baby-sitting the chickens they’ve just picked up from a show-and-tell at an elementary school.
*I have no idea what a nematode is, but I DO know that it’s used as an organic alternative to pest control.  And that they arrive on dry ice, since they have to be refrigerated.
Their one vacation that didn't involve farm machinery - my wedding.  Note Sam's hat. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Signs I’m Getting Old: A Narrative

A pop here, an ache there.  Let’s face it.  We’re all getting older and the days of making fun of my sister for being part of the dreaded 30's are quickly catching up to my 29-year-old ass.  While this fact sucks, I figured it’s time I take some of my own medicine and make fun of myself for once.  If I can remember to complete the task, that is. 
1.  My entire life revolves around chores:  “When am I going to do laundry” “What’s for dinner tonight,” and, “Can you clean up the cat vomit in the kitchen?” are questions asked in my household on the daily.  When I was 18?  The answers were, “I’ll borrow something from my roommate,” “Beer followed by a 2am run to Krystal” and “That’s not CAT vomit in the kitchen.”  When these changes took place, I have no idea, but one day I looked around and exclaimed, “Holy gravy train.  I think I’m an adult.”  While my chore list is now happily devoid of the dreaded, “Get the random guy off the couch and help him figure out where he lives” task, I realize my life is slowly becoming the stuff out of which the most boring stories ever are born. 
2.  I plan everything.  A trip to the grocery store requires around 30 minutes prep time to review the specials for the week, mentally come up with a semi-menu for the next few meals, and sort through a stack of possibly-usable coupons.  When I was 18?  The grocery store?  The only thing I ever got from my sporadic trips to Bi-Lo were cereal bars, canned soup, and those awesome Pasta Side things whose directions awesomely stated, “Just add water.”  My idea of meal-planning was putting on a bra before I ran to Taco Bell in case the drive-through was backed up and I actually had to go IN to get my Mexican pizza.  Balanced meals consisted of Hamburger Helper, given we actually had milk in our fridge, and a can of peas if I was feeling frisky (a fairly big “if” most of the time as I could usually only locate either the peas or the can opener at one time.  Never together.  Looking back, I wonder if we even owned a can opener…if we did I think it was lost during the great “Light-Up Penguin Abduction” of ’03.)   
3.  I recently got incredibly excited about a vacuum cleaner commercial.  While the sound you’re probably hearing is 4 pairs of eyes collectively rolling at once, hear me out.  This thing had an attachment that opens up to a 90-degree angle to clean your stairs!  If you’ve ever lugged a full-sized vacuum cleaner up a set of stairs, delicately balanced it with your foot on the stair below you, and then run the crappy “curtain” attachment up and down the risers AND the treads, you too will want this vacuum cleaner that’s clearly sent from above.  Another sign I’m getting older?  Never in my life have I EVER worried about the cleanliness of my staircase. 
4.  Describing a recent visit to the Green Hills Mall (more on that in another blog.  It’s another vortex of awful) I believe the words, “But the girl’s shorts!  They were so short!  She looked like a…(well, you probably get the picture.  Insert a derogatory term aimed at a scantily-dressed teenager of your choosing here”) actually came out of my mouth.  This was after I muttered that a guy should “pull up his pants and stop looking like an idiot who just robbed a convenience store” on my way home.  These occurrences almost made me pine for the days when I was that derogatory term, but then I realized that I had to cook dinner and dammit, the cat vomited on the floor again. 
5.  In my backpack in 2002:  An extra toothbrush (for “those” mornings,) Chapstick, aspirin, extra pens, bottle opener, and a stick of gum.  Oh, and on a good day?  Quarters for a re-hydrating Powerade on my stumble to class. 
In my purse in 2011:  Tide stick, two packs of gum, three versions of lip gloss, a re-usable Target bag, coupon caddy, Swiss army knife, and a bottle opener (old habits die hard, what can I say?) 
6.  I heard a Pearl Jam song on a classic rock station the other day.  Sigh.
7.  I woke up at 5:15 this morning.  At the age of 18 the only time I saw those numbers on a clock was when I finally went to sleep for the night.  Birds chirping at that hour now make me smile, but just a few years ago and those songbirds were two tweets away from a stiletto to the head for ruining my ability to fall asleep while reminding me that I had to get up in 2 hours for a lab I was going to sleep through anyway. 
Many other examples exist of my impending geriatric status but I’m guessing if you’re anything like me, it’s getting close to your bedtime.  Besides, I gotta leave you time to dust off that copy of “Ten” and rock out to “Even Flow” before you hear it on the oldies station. 
I also hope my sister is laughing heartily at these…although you’re still older than me. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Brentwood Target Parking Lot: A Story of Hatred

If you were my friend on MySpace, you’ve already read the decidedly more risqué version of this little rant.  However, in an effort to both share my hatred of the Brentwood Target parking lot and make my blog a bit more palatable for, well, everyone, I’ve spruced it up, taken out some decidedly non-lady-like verbiage, and bingo!  The things I hate about this cursed piece of concrete conveniently located in a vortex of stupidity: 
1.  There’s usually at least one person blissfully walking off the curb in front of Panera, either on his/her cell phone, or chatting with the large group of similarly-dressed teenagers with whom he/she is clearly associated (they get a lot of volleyball teams in there, it seems.)  Regardless, perhaps you should actually look before you walk in front of what is about to become a Honda Murder Weapon and also realize that maybe you should wait for oncoming traffic to ease before it becomes “breaking both of my legs in an unfortunate hit-and-run” traffic. 
2.  Let’s have a discussion about the “going to wait for someone to get in their car, reverse (complete with a 3-point turn – more on that in a minute) and then finally drive off” people so that they can have a parking spot that’s 3.67 feet closer to the entrance.  These people, and their inability to walk another 3.67 feet, annoy the sheer crap out of me.  In the time it took this person to wait on a parking spot, I’ve already driven to the Longhorn Steakhouse end of the parking lot, rocked the two-spot pull-through (no need to back in when you can pull through, eh?) and am now in the dollar section perusing Superman popcorn cups and Disney princess memo pads.  So, while you waste 2 gallons of gas and contribute to the obesity rate of America, I’m happily scoring Chuck Taylors and awesome sunglasses at discounted rates. 
3.  And now let’s talk about the lovely 3-point turn.  I’m not saying some situations don’t call for one.  I’m saying that if it takes you 2 days and a traffic director to help you get out of your parking spot, the gigantic amount of money you spent on your Mercedes D-Class (I’ll give you three guesses as to what the “D” stands for in that line…and the first two don’t count) SUV has obviously been wasted.  The ability to get out of your parking spot quickly is advantageous on 2 counts.  1.  Less gas is wasted from the moron waiting those two days so he/she can have your moronic parking spot.  2.  It will leave me less time to curse your name at increasing volume while I make fun of the sticker family you have plastered on the back windshield.  And you don’t want your children to grow up to talk like me.  I promise. 
4.  To the lady who walks in the middle of the road, completely unaware of anyone.  Anywhere.  At any point in time:  I HATE YOU.  Get out of my way, or I will run over you and your overflowing shopping cart full of granola and half-priced paper towels. 
That is all. 
5.  And to the “hippie” guy that just walked into Panera for their free wi-fi?  You’re going to lose your hippie card, along with that back bumper filled with obscure band stickers if you cut me off again.  No one needs a bagel that badly. 
6.  Finally, a general, “Screw you” to the people that annoy me, but I can’t really think of anything funny to say about them: 
The lady with the soccer ball, the basketball, and the tennis ball magnets on her minivan with her child’s name “Stevyn” on them:  Stevyn just ran in front of me.  Should this happen again, I will not be responsible for little Stevyn’s fate.  This will be less painful in the long-run, given his name is Stevyn. 
The oranged hooker-esque types walking out of Sun Tan City, happily texting on their cell phone and oblivious to all things, you know, not them:  I will flatten you before you can remove your oversized sunglasses, pick your “Pink” shorts out of your ass crack, and flail your Coach bag in defense. 
The people who sit in the fire lane waiting on others to come out of the Sprint store:  There’s a reason it’s called a fire lane.  Mainly, because I hope you catch on fire for sitting in it. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Classifieds of the Game Show World

I enjoy game shows.  There.  I said it.  Whether this puts me in the geriatric demographic or not, the flashing lights and glitter will suck me in time after time.  I remember wiling away many a summer day in our kitchen growing up, yelling out what I thought was the price of Tide detergent to the obviously oblivious contestants on The Price is Right while putting up peach jam, blueberry jam, or some other form of fruit in the form of jam.  Highlights included seeing the outfits the girls chose to wear that day, the glorious days someone on contestant row got the price EXACTLY RIGHT and got to fish a $100 bill out of Bob Barker’s pocket, or, heaven forbid, someone got a double showcase.  Whew, dilly.  Those were the days.  Regardless, this youthful attempt to dodge work that required me to be in a field somewhere eventually cultivated a love for all things game show.  This being said, I’ve also wiled away many a day wondering just how a game show works – who makes the sets?  Who decides the puzzles?  And for the love of all things holy, who gets to set up the Plinko board?  These postulations lead me to wonder, “What would the classifieds look like for the world of game showing?  Here are the conclusions I concocted, based on no actual facts other than the three thoughts battling for squatter’s rights in my head:
Wanted:  Pretty lady to turn letters.  Must have a working knowledge of the entire alphabet, as well as a thorough understanding of the argument Vowel vs. Consonant.  Must be able to walk and touch blocks of light at the same time.  Small instances of idle chitchat required every day, as well as the ability to clap and smile politely, even if someone is clearly an idiot.  Wheel-spinning abilities a plus, but not required.  No uggos, please.    
Attention Creative People!  Do flashing lights make you giddy and not prone to seizures?  Were you voted “Most Likely to Design a Set for a Cher Concert” and never quite made it?  This job’s for you!  Put those gluing skills to use as you fashion a giant mountain with a little guy who yodels until he sadly falls off.  Lighting more your game?  Help us design sets that won’t change until our host’s microphone does!  Experience with velvet, sequins, and bells always welcome.  Come join a team comprised of several hot women and one questionable host.  Apply today! 
Position Open:  Family Mediator.  If you like to ask questions to opposing “families” this may be the position for you.  If you can say, “Survey says” with enthusiasm, successfully count to three*, and pause long enough for your audience to repeat the answer that’s so clearly displayed above you on the game board, then send us your resume.  Searching for someone able to ask five questions in 25 seconds or less.  Also desired, not required, the ability not to kill yourself. 
*Our lawyers require us to say that at least 3 strikes are involved with this position on a daily basis. 
Wanted:  Host who can pronounce words that aren’t even words, one Daily Double at a time.  If you seem to never age, make incredibly lame jokes, and yet can still pronounce “ichthyomis” without the slightest trace of irony, send your resume to our HR department.  Other duties involve turning answers into absolutely asinine questions, crushing dreams of intellectuals by not allowing them in to Final Jeopardy, and telling people how far behind the champion they are currently.  Excellent math skills, along with a large collection of pocket squares, required. 
Attention Applicants:  We need someone to build a pyramid, preferably within a $10,000 budget.
Match-Makers – we want YOU!  If you are constantly setting up your friends in soon-to-be-failed relationships, we want you for our hosting position.  Duties involve asking questions with double entendres, not giggling childishly at the answers, and sending off helpless women with men who appear to be rapists.  Ability to count to three required. 
Needed Immediately:  a set consisting of a tic-tac-toe board and C-list celebrities.  Must be able to differentiate between an “x” and an “o.” 
Writers Wanted:  Position available to write semi-innocuous partial sentences to be completed by semi-wacked out celebrities.  Bonus points if the sentences can be completed to make slightly sexual statements.  Double bonus points if you can write material suitable for our completely racist and anti-feminist host.  Other than that, no abilities required, other than to play to the needs of aforementioned “celebrities.” 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Benjamins and Other Banes

It’s that time again, folks.  After my last post’s sob story about being poor, I’ve decided to whine and complain about something ELSE that’s probably within my control if I weren’t too busy whining and complaining about it to fix said problem.  Whatever.  People that try to sell me that line of crap about “controlling your own destiny” and “put on your big girl panties and deal with it” also annoy me.  So, in the spirit of small underpants, here are more annoyances that exist currently in my life.
1.  $100 bills.  Really, America?  First off, no one uses cash anymore.  This shortage of cash in people’s pockets also results in a shortage of cash in store registers across the good ole U-S-of-A, making the act of making change a pain in my not-worth-a-hundred-bucks booty.  Secondly, when have you ever pulled out a Benjamin and NOT heard the receiver sigh in frustration?  Whether you’re trying to grab a taco from one of the many, truck-driving vendors around our fair city or procuring some crack from one of the many, crack-dealing vendors around our fair city, NO ONE HAS CHANGE.  I believe this hatred stems from an incident when I was serving tables one day.  A lady paid for a $13 check with a $100 bill.  As our register notoriously had only $1 and $5 bills (that still didn’t add up to $87) I told her that I would need to run (it was August.  In Tennessee.  Just a note.) to a totally different restaurant to get change and that I would be right back (this so she wouldn’t think that I was pulling the complete opposite of a dine-n-dash entitled, “Take all of my table’s money.”)  I run.  I almost twist my knee in an unfortunate run-in with a dent on the sidewalk.  I get her change.  And this woman?  The only woman from the entire table to pay with cash?  Left. No. Tip.  That day started my hatred of the $100 bill, and while I don’t mind that they exist, just put them in the bank and pay with your check card.  And the $50?  Don’t get me started.  Try counting a stack of twenties and then come up on a $50.  I dare you to keep count.  DARE YOU! 
2.  Super-strong paper towels.  I’m using a paper towel for one reason – I need a paper towel.  If I need to scrub hard water stains, eradicate the unfortunate blood splatters on my shoes, or wax my car, I’m going to use the appropriate cleaning device.  The reason I’m using a paper towel is because I probably made a mess too big for a napkin and too small for a beach towel.  They’re paper towels.  Not Sham-Wows.  The world does not need Sham-Wows on a roll. 
3.  The new trend of putting your offspring into your TV commercial.  It’s not okay.  Your children are going to grow up constantly being known as the, “Hurt bad?  Call my dad!” girl or the poor kids of the Hickory Hollow Kia guy that I’m convinced only do the commercials because they’re afraid dad will go on another, “ride the Ferris wheel until you throw up and THEN decide to do my commercial” bender.  And girls forced into the slavery of their dad’s television advertising grow up to be afflicted with a condition I like to call, “Daddy didn’t love me, but I bet this large man holding money out of his car window will.” 
4.  East Nashville bumper stickers.  I get it.  You live in the hip on one block/completely ghetto on the next block part of town and you’re proud to still be kickin’ it in your Chuck Taylors.  I appreciate the architecture, the culture, and most of the people.  But the bumper stickers?  Flat-out make me shake my head.  They also make the folks that live in other, less-hip parts of town gloat when we can get out of our driveway during a Titans game. 
5.  The fact that White Castle has chicken rings.  While I’m well aware of the fact that chickens also don’t have nuggets, I would really like for someone to show me where the hell the ring comes from on a chicken.  Things that are supposed to come in rings:  Onions.  Circuses.  Dances around rosies.  NOT CHICKEN.  And how am I supposed to dip a chicken ring in a little vat of honey mustard?  It can’t be done, my friends.  It can’t. Be. Done.
6.  YouTube videos of babies.  Actually, YouTube videos in general, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of “Have you seen the video of the baby 'saying something funny that will probably be Auto-Tuned and put on iTunes in order to add to the baby’s college fund' video?"  Odds are, the baby is doing something most babies do – laughing, drooling, or pooping on something.  Also, odds are that since I find YouTube to be an absolute monstrosity of party-killing evil, I will probably hate whatever you’re about to show me.  It’s not the babies I hate – it’s the fact that I’m about to lose 3 minutes of my life to watch something that I have probably already seen over the course of my baby-sitting career (which consists of the past 7-odd years since my nephew was born.  And then only when my sister, Marian, catches me off-guard with a “So, what are you doing this weekend?  Nothing?  Watch my children!” conversation.*)
Wow.  Reading the last few paragraphs made me realize how much I hate the things I hate.  To renew my faith in all things not-stupid, allow me to list some things that make me stupidly happy.
1.  Canadians.  I fancy the people from “Fake America” frolicking through the streets with their Canadian “bacon” (it’s ham, folks.  Canadians obviously have their parts of the porcine variety confused.) on a stick shouting, “Let’s play some hockey, eh?” while the mounted policemen look at them with smiles from atop their gallant horsey.  I found out recently that a co-worker on another floor briefly lived in Canada when he was growing up, and so now I can say that I (sort-of) know an actual Canadian!  Now, if I could forgive them for Celine Dion, we would be ready to rock n roll with the hosers up North. 
2.  The fact that you can make ANY dish sound fancy just by listing all of the ingredients.  I figured this out the other day when I gave an ostentatiously -long description of what amounted to a quesadilla.  I’ve also figured out this is why the people on Top Chef sound so fancy – they’re just naming every single freakin’ part of their dish!  For example, a PB&J?  “Well, Chef, tonight we have a lovely jam made of farm-fresh strawberries paired with a homemade almond butter on a lovely wheatberry bread.  We (they always talk in “we” speak) serve this with a side of fried potatoes paired with a twist on the traditional ketchup (that means you added garlic.  Or truffles.)   See?  Fancy.  Told ya. 
Unfortunately, per usual, the “happy” list isn’t nearly as long as the “annoying as hell” list, but such is life.  Now I’m going to go figure out how to make chicken rings sound gourmet when they’re made of things like “riboflavin-injected triglyceride modules.” 
*  Remember – if I mention you by name in my blog, it means I love you.  Or that you really, really annoy me.  So, um, just kidding?  Hehe. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jamiepolitan: A Guide to Being a Recessionista with an Attitude. (Or, a Poor Bee-Yotch)

I don’t know if you’re anything like me (you’re not, if you’re lucky) but I’m quite tired of the suffix “-ista” being applied to everything.  Fashionista, recessionista, barista.  Stop the insanity.  Why can’t we just say I’m a well-dressed, yet thrifty, person who makes coffee?  However, I really hate the term “recessionista” because it sounds too…nice.  I wasn’t exactly a bundle of sunshine before the low-tide of the economy forced starfish and real estate moguls alike to flounder on the sand, and being poor has done absolutely nothing to improve my attitude on life.  Therefore, I’m not a recessionista.  I am just a poor person.  So, here’s a guide to rolling around in the mountains of poor with me.
You must learn to cleverly accessorize, as a lot of the clothes you buy from Goodwill and “borrow” from people’s clothes lines are going to have holes in them.  Used clothing is often given away for reasons other than it’s out of style.  It might be too small, it might remind someone of an old flame, and it might have a very small hole right over your nipple.  A blazer will sometimes fix the latter problem, as will that used “Miss Pig Fair Teen Princess 1987” banner you just found in the $1 bin at the Salvation Army.  The possibilities are endless as long as you’re creative! Being creative lets you announce your personal style to the world without letting them know that you don’t actually have the money to buy a shirt without holes!
Speaking of creativity, you’re going to get really good at inventing reasons not to go out with people.  My favorite excuse is, “We can’t go because we’re freakin’ broke.”  Sometimes this works.  Other times it invites the response of, “But come OOOONNN.  My ferret only has one birthday a year and you simply CANNOT miss Miss Glitter McGlitterton’s 3rd birthday!”  If you sense the inviter inhabits a money-filled bubble of reality-repellant plastic, you must bring out the (stolen) big guns (that’s right.  I just implied that we don’t have the money to buy hypothetical guns.)  Sometimes it’s the mundane “my aunt died again” excuse.  Other times the excuse involves a large hippopotamus and several circus midgets with blow torches.  Again, let your imagination run wild (which is totally free!) while you come up with something to get that bubble-dwelling friend off of your monkey-laden back. 
You are going to curse yourself, endlessly, for buying a house at the very apex of the housing bubble.  You may attempt to sell your house to take advantage of lowered interest rates (or, you know, take advantage of the fact that you’re no longer single and would like to move out of your single pad now that you’re married.)  This  is an absolutely moronic idea because no matter how well your house is staged, no matter the rock star you’ve enlisted to aid in the sale, it’s still real estate and “selling your house with ease” is not very en vogue at the moment (at least not in my neighborhood.  I’m sure the Bellevue elite have fewer problems, but their idea of a problem is which seersucker suit to wear to Steeplechase.)  What IS en vogue is deflated property values and shattered dreams of actually moving out of the cramped shoebox of a townhouse that’s slowly driving you, and your husband with a lot of knick-knacks, several guitars, and a full drum kit, to the brink of perfectly-staged insanity.   The upside of this is that you don’t have to join a gym (costly!) because all the self-inflicted butt-kicking is going to give you an ass to rival Beyonce. 
People who have much more of everything are going to abound.  Everywhere.  Nicer cars, nicer homes, nicer iPods, people with ANY iPod, etc.  Seeing the ease with which these people breeze through life is not only saddening, it’s disheartening and induces an innate hatred for everyone.  Just learn to let the hatred burn a pit into your stomach.  Then, focus this hatred into something positive.  Like a blog detailing your hatred for those with more money than you.  You will make no money at this, but you also might not shoot the next 17-year-old you see driving a Land Rover (legal fees are astroNOMical.)  Let the words of anger flow while you stare longingly at the Groupon for a manicure you still can’t afford.  Your financial situation will not improve, but you’ll save yourself some medical bills by not getting an ulcer!
We’ve now come to the end of this article and I’ve offered no advice on repurposing old furniture, growing your own vegetables, or using cloth diapers.  I realize I’ve done nothing but bitch about what a bitch it is to be poor.  Hmmm.  Well, I have a solution.  If you don’t like it, pay me to write something else.  Problem solved! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Do I Loathe Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.

I’m fairly certain that the Melrose Kroger – the one right there at the corner of Franklin Pike and the road to hell – will force me to stab someone some day.  Why I continue to go in there is a mystery to even me, as I have never left without muttering, in various volumes, highly-critical words about its parking lot, the service, the selection, or the customers.  Why do I hate this place so much?  Let me explain.
1.  The parking lot sucks.  It’s tiny, it serves as a parking lot for many other businesses other than the stab-worthy Kroger, and I believe that it sucks out people’s brain cells as soon as they enter the property.  I don’t mind walking a little bit, but I DO mind when some idiotic woman on her cell phone attempts to back out her Chevrolet Landslide and almost runs over me AND $75 worth of groceries.  If you’re asking yourself if I showed more concern over my own well-being or my half-price frozen pizzas, you should know better.  Insurance pays for broken appendages, and I didn’t get the DiGiorno add-on to my policy (the deductible is outrageous) and I’ll be run over in a Kroger parking lot before I give up those expensive bad boys to anyone not holding a shotgun.  And the bystander that commented, “That woman bout just run over you” only made the situation that much better.  
2.  The selection is less-than-stellar, to say the least.  I ask you – who doesn’t have pita chips??  I searched for a good 5 minutes yesterday, in uncomfortable shoes no less, and no chips.  Of course, searching for these bits of tastiness would be a lot easier if they didn’t have people stocking things in every.single.aisle.  It’s like they see that a lunch rush might be coming and they think to themselves, “Hmmm.  Better go restock those tomatoes.  And the milk.  And anything else that stupid girl who comes in here and talks to herself constantly might need to get.  Ooh – she’s heading towards the salad bar.  Let’s restock THAT!”  I’m fairly sure it’s a conspiracy.  A yet-unfounded conspiracy, but it exists. 
3.  Through no fault of the establishment, the customers are nauseating.  Oh my, the customers.  Today’s example:  A rather “round” lady (I’m not judging!  I’m not perfect.  But I also don’t wear skintight, pink sweat pants with “Playmate” emblazoned on my ass.) screaming into her cell phone, “Do you want Coke?  I said COKE!  Oh, you want Sprite?  I can’t hear you.  NO.  I’M IN KROGERS!” (and yes, she said KrogerS.  Plural.)  How can I relive this so vividly?  Because I could hear every word from the cake mix aisle while she was in the beverage aisle  - five aisles down.  Then there was the “You can tell I haven’t showered in 3 weeks because simply walking by the celery makes it turn brown” dude who apparently wanted to buy everything that was on my list (how can someone who smells that bad need peanut butter, milk, AND olive oil at the same time I do?)  And who on earth could forget entire family blocking the cereal aisle who apparently couldn’t move for anyone because they couldn’t decide between Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops (a hint?  They’re both crap.  Go get some wilted celery.)  I can even tolerate the hipsters that flock to this pit of despair because in comparison, they are actually the less annoying evil.  Maybe the parking lot sucks up people’s manners along with their intelligence, but whatever it is, the Melrose Kroger either attracts society’s detritus or it turns people that way.  Either way, I’m steering clear. 

4.  Finally, let’s talk about the checkout process.  This piece of the headache-inducing puzzle is the icing on the crap cake.  I tend to utilize the self-checkout because 1.  I’m probably going back to work.  Since it’s 114 degrees outside, I put my cold products in one bag and stuff that can stay in the car in another.  2.  No matter how many of my handy-dandy reusable bags I bring with me, I somehow manage to bring home one of those stupid, brown plastic bags that will get stuck in my little dispenser on the wall until the day that a Twinkie grows mold.  So, to alleviate the blinding pain these encounters bring, I just bag the groceries myself.  But the self-checkout at the Melrose Kroger has a brand-new kind of blinding pain.  Because it NEVER WORKS.  Ever.  Almost every time I hit “pay now” the stupid Colleen (that’s the name I’ve given the voice at the self-checkout.  I don’t know any Colleens, but I don’t like the name, so that’s the moniker I’m sticking with) says, “Cashier has been notified to assist you.”  Why I need the cashier’s assistance is beyond me, as I’m fairly certain I can swipe a credit card and sign a stupid electronic pad, but the fact that the cashier never acknowledges the fact that I “need assistance” is the nail in the Grocery Store from Hell coffin.  I always have to track her down (yes, it’s the same woman every time) and the reason she’s not paying any attention?  Because she’s busy talking to co-workers.  Or standing there with a blank stare on her face.  Or doing anything other than her actual job.  If this was a one-time occurrence, I could stomach it.  Since it’s happened twice this week alone, it’s quite the un-stomachable dilemma as I’ve determined that she hates her job, hates interacting with anyone who doesn’t work with her, and apparently hates me.  Whatever.  I don’t give a flying rat’s dirty parts if you like me – I just need you to punch whatever button it is that will enable me to actually pay for my groceries.  And when I have to track you down, pull you out of what seemed to be a very interesting conversation about garden hoses, and then watch you give me a disdainful look for politely asking you to do your job, that’s when I get a wee bit pissed off.  I’m not asking for a ticker tape parade – I just want to be able to check out in less than 45 minutes. 
Whew!  I don’t know about you, but I feel much better.  So much better in fact that next week I’ll need a couple of items, think to myself, “I could just go grab those on my lunch break,” and tell myself that going to the Melrose Kroger can’t be THAT bad again.  But then I’m going to read this.  And I’ll drive to Brentwood if I have to – the Melrose Kroger can suck it.  They can suck it long.  And they can suck it hard.