Watching the Parade Go By

I’ve been a dedicated parade attendee for more than four decades. I’m not sure why. It’s not like watching a local parade is the same as enjoying the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with its bloated, floating cartoon characters. It’s more like watching paint dry.

FWI 2014 (13)(When the librarians stroll by, pushing book carts, you  know you’re watching a small-town parade.)

Each year, the beauty queens float by on their crepe-paper concoctions, with themes like “Honoring the Past” or “Striving for the Future.” I’ve never seen a float with the slogan, “Kicking Back and Enjoying Today” where, instead of standing and waving, Miss City could recline in a hammock, drinking spiked lemonade.

And too many cities have asked parade participants to STOP THROWING CANDY! This is insane. Next to Halloween, parades are the very best, free candy events in the universe!!  I leave with my pockets stuffed with salt water taffy, Smarties, smashed suckers and Tootsie Rolls. I understand city leaders are concerned about residents’ safety, but really? I could understand the candy ban if people are throwing baseball-sized jawbreakers into the crowd, or those pointy rocket suckers. But taffy? I can’t imagine that doing any serious damage. I’d like to see the number of Tootsie Roll emergency room incidents that caused city leaders to outlaw candy throwing. Boo.

FWI 2014 (12)

(I’ve trained my grandchildren to run into the street to get me candy.)

Here’s a parade idea: what if marching bands actually played music?!?! Call me crazy, but watching overheated, sweaty band members march by without musical accompaniment seems a leeeetle paradoxical. But, then again, having heard some of these bands “play” “music,” maybe it’s best to let them  pass by in silence. (Disclaimer: I marched in my share of parades as a flute player–not good enough to be a flautist–and I have “Let’s Go Band” scarred into my psyche. Permanently.)

Why are clowns still a thing in parades? I had hoped climate change would force them into other lines of work–like not scaring the s*** out of kids.

FWI 2014 (20)

(And don’t forget the random snow plow. In August.)

And why must there be cars, cars and more cars? Especially if the passengers aren’t throwing candy. You can only look at so many VW Bugs before you want to punch the family next to you.

Finally, there’s always that one random dude walking the parade route, handing out candy–and you’re not quite sure if he’s a politician or a pedophile. (But I still take the candy.)

Fun Days 2014 (2)

(And I still can’t explain this creepy dude.)

Now that parade season is over, cities have an entire year to do it right next time. Either way, I’ll be there cheering the local librarians and snatching candy from babies.

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Best Signs in New England

Hubbie and I traveled to the East Coast to get away from it all–and wound up lost for several days. Driving around Massachusetts is equivalent to walking through a busy mall blindfolded, finding Nordstrom and selecting the EXACTLY right color of beige socks. Impossible.

boston

As we drove aimlessly through what looked like cannibal country, we saw several signs that made us chuckle. Which was good, because when we weren’t chuckling, we were cursing the Massachusetts cartographers and road engineers. To save you from an unnecessary drive through the Live Free or Die state, here are my favorite signs:

Cape Cod (1)

Yeah. Me, too. But I don’t want a sign in front of my house advertising the size of my a**.

DSC_1230

By the time we’d driven MILES in the wrong direction, a bowl full of soup sounded perfect.

DSC_1258

For people afraid of heights, this sign should have been comforting–if it hadn’t been posted on the rickety Charlestown Bridge. The bridge crosses the Charles River, and looks like it would crumble if people stomped across it.

Salem (1)

This town must have a problem with senior citizens darting out of shrubbery, jumping into traffic and dashing across the road. At least I didn’t see any elderly roadkill.

Portsmouth--NH (56)

How many New Englanders had to suffer a head injury before the city erected this warning sign?

Fenway (33)

Yeah. How often do you see THIS sign?

There. Now you never have to drive across Massachusetts.

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Top 5 Steps for Handling an Awkward Conversation

We’ve covered the fact that I’m socially-disabled.

I went into a sandwich shop for a turkey sub and the professional sandwich maker said she’d gone to high school with me. I’m terrible at remembering faces, so I asked her name. She said, “Remember? I’m so-and-so, from over by the junior high?” The name jiggled my memory slightly, but I had no recollection of ever interacting with this person.

MHS

(Graduating quality folk for several years.)

Because I suck at small talk, there followed an uncomfortable silence while she waited for me to regale her with tales of our past friendship, and I struggled to subtract 30 years from her face. The silence grew longer. I whispered, “No mayo, please,” hoping she’d drop the staring contest. She obviously wasn’t going to construct my sandwich until we’d had a meaningful reunion, so I turned to my handy-dandy list of ways to handle an awkward conversation.

Step 1: Fake recognition. “Oh, didn’t you live near the whatchamacallit by the whosamawhatsit? Right! That’s where you lived!”

Step 2: Find common ground. “What have you been doing since high school?” (The answer is, obviously, attending culinary school.) “Do you have children? Grandkids? Pets? Allergies? Aversion to strange conversations? Me too!”

Step 3: Inane smiling and head nodding. Once I got her talking, I could just smile and nod as she regaled me with everything from her recent hysterectomy to her jail time and divorce from her third husband. Not necessarily in that order. Smile. Nod. Smile. Nod. (After a while, my smile faltered and I could feel my cheeks trembling.) That’s when it’s time to move on to Step 4.

Sideshow Bob

(Once I stop smiling, your life is in danger.)

Step 4: Back away–slowly. By this time my sandwich had been assembled, paid for and was sitting on the counter waiting to be devoured. Unfortunately, she was still reliving our tenuously-existing relationship. I’m smiling and nodding like a mental patient but slowly retreating to a far corner.  We’d covered Obamacare, the price of gas, climate change and the renovation of a local school. I’m trying to be polite, but I’m also hungry and out of general topics.

Step 5: Bring in the closer. “Wow, it was great seeing you after so many years. I hope your parole hearing goes well! I sure am looking forward to eating this delicious sandwich you made for me. You are great at your job. Wow, just wow. So good to see you.”

Because I’d already made the mistake of getting my lunch to stay, I had to do a follow-up (and optional) Step 6. After finishing my lunch, I stood up, waved to (insert name here) and told her again how great it was to see her.

Mission accomplished. But now I can never return to that sandwich shop. At least not until I’ve studied my high school yearbook to relearn everyone’s name.

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Things Driving Me Crazy Today

tuesday

Dear Tuesday,

I hope you crack your shins on the coffee table of life.

Here are the things driving me crazy today:

  • Feeling like an uneducated redneck at the farmer’s market. Do vendors take classes in snobbishness?
  • Trying on swimming suits. Tip to merchants: light dressing rooms with candles–not flickering fluorescent bulbs.
  • Getting stuck in a swimming suit and standing in the horribly lit cubicle with my arms extended overhead with no way to remove the bathing suit top from my body.
  • Hockey. Thank God the season is over–at least for a few weeks.
  • Basketball. Thank God the season is over–at least for a few weeks.
  • World Cup Soccer. Well, almost.

quidditch

(When is the Quidditch World Cup?)

  • Diets that suggest you cut out EVERYTHING except whey protein, almond milk, blueberries and eggs.
  • Cutting out EVERYTHING except whey protein, almond milk, blueberries and eggs.
  • Making a(n) hilarious, witty comment, and realizing (because people are looking at you weird) that you just said one of the Top 10 stupidest things of all time.
  • Driving in the rain, and having no idea where the lines are in the road.
  • When road crews re-paint the lines in the freeway, three feet away from the original lines–so now there dashed lines everywhere and you have no idea where to drive.
  • Make-up companies messing around with mascara wands.

avon mascara

(Just waiting for Tom Sawyer to paint my eyelashes.)

  • People who break beer bottles at parks, leaving shards of glass for dogs and kids to step on. These glass litterbugs should be punched in the liver.
  • When I realize I’m humming along to my iPod at the gym.
  • Grass growing in my flower beds.
  • You think you’re alone in a public bathroom, and start talking to yourself. The lady who walks out of the far stall avoids looking directly at you as she washes her hands, and quickly leaves the restroom. Not that I did that. Nope.

Maybe next Tuesday will be great!!

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Land of The Free

freedom

America is a land of contradictions. We have some of the most brilliant scientists in the world, but on the other hand we have . . . well . . . Arkansas. The same country that brought you Cosmos and Planet Earth also presents you with Swamp People and The Bachelor. But that’s what makes America great. And extremely dysfunctional.

For example, each year we celebrate The Fourth of July to remind us that we are free from overbearing governments, excessive taxes, British humor and . . . wait a second. Okay, we really celebrate July 4 to recognize our acceptance and love for diversity in race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and . . . wait. Hmmm.

Well, we celebrate it for some reason. Probably because ‘mericans love their gunpowder and explosives. And all-you-can-eat hot dogs.

bald eagle

(Bald Eagles shouldn’t use Rogaine.)

We know America isn’t perfect. We tend to prove that on a global scale every day. But, hopefully, everyday Americans believe that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I didn’t notice any footnotes in the Declaration of Independence.

And while a person’s right to kick ends where my crotch begins, maybe I could take a step back so they have more room to kick. Maybe we should all take a step back and remember that tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing. Because, who wants to be tolerated?

eagle

Clarence Darrow said, “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land, more than anywhere else.”

I don’t care if you’re a democrat, a republican, a Whig, a Kardashian or an iced-tea party chairperson. We love this country where you can wear Uncle Sam underwear/bra sets, purchase fireworks 24 hours a day, wave small Chinese-made American flags, sing the national anthem at the top of your lungs and push small children down to get the free taffy during 4th of July parades.

This great democratic experiment continues to evolve. Just because our government is mired in inefficiency and anger doesn’t mean America’s populace has to be just as messed up. As Mitt Romney said so eloquently, “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” (Actual quote.)

Ditto. I think.

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Confessions of an Introvert

For readers of my blog, it should come as no surprise that I’m an introvert. With posts  like Top 5 Reasons to Become a Hermit, Stores That Overwhelm Me,  The Holiday Party Survival Guide or Reasons to Stay in Bed Today, you really should have guessed.

But being an introvert does not mean I’m mousy, shy or a little touched in the brain. Okay, it might mean those things, but introverts are a misunderstood group of people, probably because we just don’t care enough about your opinion to set the record straight. So I’m here to set the record straight.introverts

We’ve been called “people haters” or “brooding wallflowers.” Those names are correct. Just kidding. Kind of. Here’s an explanation about what makes introverts tick (and it’s not the vest-bomb strapped to our chests).

We Hate Small Talk. I can easily teach a crowded yoga class or speak in front of dozens of people. But I’d rather eat Black Widow spiders than make small talk with a stranger. I usually end up saying something stupid, then run off to hide in the bathroom.

  • Instead–I love authentic interaction. While “networking” feels forced and disingenuous, if you get an introvert talking about something they love–you’ll never get them to shut the hell up.

We don’t hate people. As a species, I have nothing against humans. But put me in a social situation like a party, a wedding or standing in line at the grocery store, and it takes all my strength to not run out the door screaming.

  • Instead–Forgive me if I decline invitations or don’t call you back immediately. Just like your computer needs to power down, so do introverts. Give us time to recharge, and instead of wishing you dead, we’ll gladly enjoy lunch with you. Usually.

hiding

(My default position in most social situations.)

We’re not stupid. Just because we’re not the loudest voice in the room, doesn’t mean we’re mute. Sometimes you need to shut up long enough for us to voice an opinion. Rarely will we interrupt your never-ending monologue. Silence does not equal dumb.

  • InsteadWe’re quiet because we’re thinking and/or listening. (You should try it.) Introverts ponder what has been said to find the best response. We don’t often blurt out the first thing we think. If that were the case, many of our conversations would end with us saying, “If another sound comes out of your mouth, I will poison your coffee.”

Don’t single us out. Extroverts think they can “cure” introverts by putting them on the spot, or placing them on a group project. We’re not sick. We’re not “less than.” We don’t need your help to save us. We’re actually very creative thinkers that include people like Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.

  • InsteadLet us work alone, without noisy distractions (like your voice). We’re writers, creators, artists and innovators. Let us do our thing, going quietly into the world, making big changes.

Buick - Copy

(The person who owned this car shouldn’t have put me in charge of planning the company party.)

So if you work with, are married to or have ever encountered an introvert, there is nothing to fear. Unless you don’t give us space. Then you might end up with a nice stab wound in the thigh.

 

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Much More Than a Bathroom

I read that women spend 1.5 years in the bathroom, over the course of a lifetime. That can’t be true. It has to be much longer.

For women (especially moms), a bathroom is a refuge, reading room, mini-spa, hiding place for chocolate (behind the unused bottles of dry shampoo) and crying lounge. So 18 months seems highly underestimated. Not to mention the years spent cleaning the damn room.

shower curtain

(Best. Shower. Curtain. Ever.)

Here’s a rundown of ways women utilize the most underrated room in the house:

  • It’s the weighing room, where the number on the scale determines your mood for the next 24 hours.
  • As an anti-aging cream testing lab. Once cream is applied to face, look closely in the mirror to monitor the results. If nothing changes immediately, the jar goes into the wrinkle cream graveyard under the sink.
  • The place where all the lost hair huddles around the baseboards, eventually forming an evolutionary new creature.
  • A gathering place for half-used bottles of hotel shampoos and conditioners. shampoo

(All that hotel stealing for nothing.)

  • A library where you can finally finish the last ten pages of a novel, without being continually interrupted by grubby-handed children, or husbands.
  • A studio for trying new make-up techniques found on Pinterest–usually with horrific results. There’s no such thing as an “easy” smoky eye. And don’t get me started on those intricate steps to eradicate lip lines. Pinterest lies.
  • The black hole where lip gloss, tampons, eye shadow, razors and deodorant go missing–especially if there’s a teenage daughter living in the house.
  • A place to agonize over/celebrate pregnancy tests.
  • A selfie photo studio. Obviously, way too many women spend loads of time in the bathroom with their cameras.
  • A grown-up fort where you end up yelling at your 3-year-old through the door, screeching you just need a few minutes to use the bathroom or you will strangle her Tickle Me Elmo.

bathroom

(You know they’ll find you.)

  • The location for “stress-relieving” baths that include your kids methodically kicking the door every 15-30 seconds.
  • A stop for pregnancy bathroom breaks. Every 15 minutes.
  • During summer months only: Shaving legs, waxing,  applying fake tanning cream.
  • The place to make phone calls without your child interrupting you. This only works in theory. Your child will still stand outside the door and talk to you.
  • The room for applying face masks without the risk of scaring small children and husbands.

Head Shot - Copy

(I warned you not to open the door!!)

  • A place for looking in the mirror, checking for panty lines or underarm sweat (or underarm lines and panty sweat).
  • A place for looking in the mirror checking for pimples, wrinkles, food in teeth, gray hair, lip fuzz, nose boogers, dry skin, eye boogers, errant eyebrows and pore size. Just for starters.
  • A room to ponder the path of your life, wondering how in the hell you ended up in a bathroom hiding from your family.

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