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.