Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: foibles (Page 1 of 2)

As The Grocery Turns

This is week 2 with a grocery store story. Last week, a woman walked up while I was unloading my cart and inappropriately squeezed the 10-lb. tube of hamburger I’d purchased, commenting, “Nice package!” I was a bit dumbfounded, but I cheerfully informed her it was on sale, and wondered how on earth I attract crazy, interesting people. I assume it’s because I also am a boundary pusher/crosser and I will easily talk to strangers myself.

So now we’re on to this week’s shopping adventure. I have taken to meal planning out the week, including Crock Pot Mondays, since I detest cooking on Monday nights, and coming home to a meal that’s made itself all day? Magical! The weather today is bleary, dreary and blah (the rejected dwarves of Disney) and as I exited my car, sleet came down in droves. I had even paused before leaving, thinking I should wear my Kangol hat, but -I actually thought these very words- ah, nah, I’m not going to run into anyone I know, so it doesn’t matter what I look like. OMINOUS FORESHADOWING!

When I got in the first set of doors & went for my cart, I realized my hair was full of these tiny ice pellets, so as I’m brushing all this stuff off my head, I feel someone approaching me and by god, if it’s not my client. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE? We chit-chatted briefly, and off we went, he with his son, me with my list and completely no-makeup face not even lipstick what the HELLLLL and then continued to “bump” into each other as I got a bit discombobulated and just sailed by several aisles, eventually having to circle back to finish my shopping. While not as funny as the previous week’s meat-pinching incident, it certainly has me wondering what in the hell will happen next week!

Be Here Now.

Someone posted one of those pictures everyone likes and shares – a stack of cell phones, sitting on a restaurant table. The type over the picture said something to the effect of, “First one to check their phone picks up the tab.” A funny, if not completely enforceable, reminder that the whole point of connecting, staying connected, and building connections has everything to do with being present, in the moment.

I first encountered the Horrid SmartPhone User in a former boss, who would look away from every conversation to check his phone whenever it beeped or buzzed. Not an actual incoming phone call, mind you, but an email notification or a text message alert. Entire meetings could pass while he kept his nose pointed at his phone’s screen, and while one can argue in every meeting there are times your contributions aren’t required, it’s different when you’re in a one-on-one meeting, and you continually send the unspoken message, “Something else might be more important than you, right now, and I’m going to disrupt what we’re saying by allowing this device to interrupt us.”

So in those days, and because I have a tendency to wander forward in my brain, anticipating the next steps, or the next 20 steps, or what might happen, I would mentally stop myself and say aloud, “Be here now.” It doesn’t mean I don’t also fall victim to my phone’s siren song of buzzing and chirps, but I try to be acutely aware of the fact that if I’m sitting at lunch, or dinner, or in a meeting, or having a one-on-one conversation with someone, I want to put them first. Just as I want them to put me first. Just the act of glancing at one’s phone’s screen is an interruption, a distraction, it is the equivalent of the pause button. Don’t even get me started on the people who are talking or texting at the movies, good grief. Seriously? Rent a movie and stay home. Nobody wants your inability to sit still, your need to multi-task encroaching on their enjoyment of being completely engrossed in the sights and sounds of a good story.

I’ve chided people who give their attention to their phone in my presence. “Are there three of us here right now? You, me, and all the people in your phone?” Because I just want to make sure it’s clear that our time is being shared by an inanimate object. If it is, maybe I’ll get out my phone, start giving semi-distracted responses, too. It’s fine, if the stage is set beforehand (I’m waiting to hear from the client, I am waiting for their response to an email, I need to make sure they got XYZ.) I suppose it’s technically fine if everyone’s on their phone, though I fail to see the point of being together if you’re going to all be absorbed by your 3″ screens. And again – I’m guilty of it myself, but I’m working on reviving that mantra, Be Here Now, because if we’re not Here? We’re slowly forgetting how to converse, how to engage, how to be polite and respectful, how to immerse ourselves in the world around us.

Be
Here
Now.

Your friends will thank you. Your employees will appreciate you. Your brain, which doesn’t need to do 20 things at once, might actually breathe a sigh of relief. And you will not miss anything. You might actually get even more than you expected.

Shopping…Like Childbirth?

Because apparently if you don’t go out during the crazy for a few years, the mind blurs and the memories fade and you think, “It can’t be that bad!” I hear this phenomena applies to childbirth, so why not post-Thanksgiving shopping?

I didn’t go out on Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. I mean, sure, I’d love a set of $35 king-size, 600-threadcount sheets, but if that’s the only thing that appeals to me, I don’t see getting trampled, shoved or waiting for an hour worth the savings. I did, however, venture out on Saturday, primarily to go to The Olive Tree, to celebrate Small Business Saturday, and then… because it’s been months and months and months…. Joann’s.  My BFF Beth even screeched at me on the phone when I said I was headed there. “Don’t you remember your blog post?! That’s crazy!” Yes, I remembered it… vaguely. But I needed a few crafty things, and Joann’s was the destination, what with three coupons, one for 25% off my entire purchase. WHY NOT?! WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!

Well, I’m surprised I made it into the store, because the fun started in the parking lot. If a car has stopped, with its turn signal on, and is waiting for the oncoming car to pass so they can turn? Should the oncoming car just pull right in, turning in front of them? NOT IN MY WORLD, MOTHERFUCKERS.  So that set the tone.

Once I got in, I knew that there would be no fabric purchasing. Not that I’d planned on it, but fabric purchasing at Joann’s is certainly one of the inner rings of hell. They’ve rearranged to make a central place (outsmarting my old trick of “go to the home dec fabric department!”) but everyone stands around with their tickets and their 8 million fucking bolts of polar fleece, and the clerks announce the numbers…repeatedly, because some people just wander off because the universe, apparently, revolves around them. So no fabric. I needed some ribbon, thread, crafty things, beads, and a glue gun. I impulse-purchased some silicone molds because they’ll be useful for jello shots AND my upcoming cookie exchange, and found myself wandering the bead section for most of my time there. I almost (ALMOST) cut a bitch who thought she’d hang out in the notions aisle (by the thread) (and by the fabric cutting area, already jammed) and TEXT MESSAGE.  BITCH YOU IS IN THE WAY! She was also one of the passengers in the aforementioned car, so residual rage was at work. I ended up helping a lady in jewelry supplies, because she didn’t realize there was more than one aisle (good luck to her and her journey in life), and then I got in line. Fortunately, they were heavily-staffed, and the line moved quickly, so I got out of there with only a fraction of the surly I expected to have by the time I’d paid.

As for The Olive Tree, I would encourage anyone with a foodie in their life to give them a visit – they’re in Hawthorne Plaza (parking there is always entertaining, I got a great spot but when I was leaving, some old man almost took out my back end because even though I was halfway backed out, by god, he had to GIT SOMEWHERE NAO). They’ve got amazing flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars  (I got Rosemary-Lavender Olive Oil and Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar), smoked & flavored salts, lots of other local food purveyors sell their goods (I nabbed a bag of some of THE best toffee I’ve ever had), and they even do bonuses, like if you spend $50, you get to pick from a basket of small-size oils/vinegars to sample. (Persian Lime olive oil!)  We know the owners of the store through the ever-burgeoning foodie/gardener scene here in Kansas City, and they do great corporate gifts, gift boxes for the chef in your life, and are a font of knowledge on using all of their products. I can also safely say that I’ve NEVER wanted to cut a bitch while shopping there, which is like, the greatest ringing endorsement I can give during this crazy holiday season! (Seriously, though, they’re awesome. They need to stick around and be here 10 years from now. Go! Online order if you’re not local!)

 

Stove Shopping

As duck season approaches, the need to furnish the “Duck Club” becomes more necessary. One of the agreements we had when we got this little house in S. Missouri was that the appliances in our house here would move down there, and I would get to pick out a new stove and refrigerator.  (Ice Maker! Power Burner! The foodie and cook in me has been studying all the Consumer Reports reviews and making lists and perusing sales.)  Now is the time for the stove…. (the fridge will come later, the ones I want are not cheapo.) So I went out to Lowe’s last night, having identified the top CR pick lined up with the one I wanted – and it was on sale.

The Appliances section was empty, except for one worker, we’ll call him Bill. Names have been changed to protect the…guilty? In this day and age when you put something on the internet, it has so many ways of biting you in the ass… Anyway, Bill asks if I need help and remains glued to his computer while I wander around – note to Lowe’s, it would be sensible if you arranged all the stoves by electric and gas; I don’t know that many people walk in the door waffling between the two. Bottom line, I can’t find the model I want, even though it was listed as in-stock online. I finally circle back to Bill, and he agrees to look it up on the computer.

Now, because of where the monitor is, and complicated by what appears to be an extremely lazy eye, I suddenly become acutely aware that Bill may just be looking at the far right side of his screen, but instead, is actually ogling my boobs. Sigh. After I edge around to view his screen and change where I’m standing, that question gets answered pretty quickly.

Apparently, my tits are the primary shopper in the room.

So, on it goes, it would seem that Lowe’s does this little thing where they stock shit in a distribution center, and they can deliver within 7-10 days, which is not going to fit my schedule, as I can not imagine going without a stove for that long, not during Soup Weather! There’s only so much you can do with a crockpot. Bill discovers that there is one single location in the metro that has this stove in-stock (after I mention that Nebraska Furniture Mart has the same make/model at the same price point.) He tries to call them, gets caught in a circular loop, and throughout the entire fifteen minutes I’m waiting, all of this information is being conveyed to my general midsection , just below the neck. He does notice that I look at my watch somewhat impatiently (then I realized, duh, when you pull your arm up to see your watch, where does it stop? Right in line with the boobs.) and finally sent me off with his notes of the model & the phone number for the other store.  I walked away feeling like I needed a shower, and wondered if I could call Customer Service to get an additional “I’ve-Been-Somewhat-Violated” discount as part of my negotiations.

Instead, I got home, chatted with James during a break in his parent-teacher conferences, called the other store, got a very nice sales person who got it all taken care of over the phone, had numerous delivery options, and this weekend, I’ll have my new Frigidaire stove, with five burners and three oven racks and burners that will light themselves when you turn the knob and boil water in less than fifteen minutes.

James got home around 7:30, and as I was filling him in further, I noticed partway through my story that he was….staring at my boobs. Damned smartass. (He already knew that part of the story.) What is it with staring? I don’t get it. I think it would be so funny if women just started staring at men’s crotches. Like, blatantly, like this guy had done. Of course, I say that, and knowing some of the guys I’ve worked with, they’d see you staring and they’d take it further, gyrating and thrusting about like wild chimpanzees. WOOHOO SHE’S CHECKIN’ OUT MAH JUNK!  I once threatened, at a previous job, to really violate the employee handbook over boob-staring. The head of PR could not stop staring at all the women’s bewbs, and I got the notion that I would just come up behind him at the weekly agency Monday morning status, and essentially manually motorboat him from behind while shouting, “THERE BUDDY! HOW’S THAT? GOT IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM YET?” I’m not sure which was funnier, me shouting it to my audience of co-workers when we were out drinking or the fact I was grabbing my own boobs to emphasize my point. He was such a swarthy little pig. Unfortunately, he would have enjoyed it too much. Maybe that maneuver would have gotten me an extra discount on my stove? I didn’t feel like trying.

As my dad used to say, commenting on America’s over-obsession with the breast….”It’s just a gland, fer chrissakes!”

View from the Tripper

Tripper: Hullo. Hullllooooo, we came right back this morning, yes, did you notice?

Me: Good dogs! Very good. Sit.

Tripper: We were so good. Now let me show you with my nose where the real treats are, ok, lady? OK?

(Tripper counter-cruises the stove, snuffling like a truffle pig. I see the pork shoulder that was in the smoker overnight is wrapped in foil and parked squarely – safely – on the back left burner, which also happens to be the furthest accessible point from either direction.)

Me: Laughs.

Tripper: Oh my god, so, like, can I have that? I’d really like that. That smells AMAZEBALLS, and you know, you did take my balls away from me. I’d really like that meat. (SNUFFLES DEEPLY) I mean, ok, I sound selfish. I’ll share. With her. (looks at Polly) Like, so, can WE have that? We’d really like that. We’ll be super good. Swear.

Later, I discover Mr. Tripper paid Polly with false promises of future treats to go in his kennel last night (in the dark hallway, after they came in from their nightly constitution) instead of him, so he could have free-range of the house for just one night. James got up at 2 am and realized the mistake, as a waggly happy Tripper was ready to go go GO outside (I smells meat!) and poor Polly was in the crate. Guess I need to turn the light on tonight to make sure this sort of mischief doesn’t continue! And no. No meat treats for breakfast. They got plenty of bones yesterday, and a rib bone tonight, so no matter how pathetic they try to act, we are ON to them.

Off The Chain

Yesterday was such a lovely day, I decided to spend part of my lunch break taking a little walk in the neighborhood. I thought it would also be nice to take one of the dogs along, namely, Tripper, as he is always looking for mischief and could use a little more discipline in his life.

Well. Polly and I did a fair amount of leash work with her when she was a  pup, but we never did the same work with Tripper. So I picked up one of those “gentle leader” gizmos at PetSmart, thinking that would magically transform this brutish boy dog into a model walking companion.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

First, just the experience IN THE HOUSE should have indicated how things would go. Battle Royale getting it on him, and then several SIT SIT SIT matches where I was extracting his paw from being trapped as he maniacally tried to remove the straps around his face. (I even stopped and consulted the guide to make sure it was on correctly. It was.) Out the door we went, and every four steps, it was like I had a swordfish caught on the end of my line – wild head whipping, pawing, general mayhem. I thought, fine, we’ll just keep going and he’ll get used to it. I held the leash high and short, ala Cesar Milan (Proud, like in dog show!) but there was nothing prideful to be found. Gentle leader, my ass. Even my sharp “TSST!” was useless, and all I could think of was the South Park episode, when Cartman goes apeshit on the end of the leash while Cesar counsels his mother to not pay any attention to him.  This concept is great in theory, but when your arm and patience are both being taxed to maximum capacity, while you’re walking in a no-sidewalk neighborhood, watching for cars? Not so much.  We made it as far as the neighbor’s driveway, and I decided my notion of a bucolic midday walk was seriously flawed. Back in the house he went, and I continued to stroll by myself, returning home sweaty, still covered in dog hair.  Quite the sight. I may try Polly next time, maybe. Or exchange the “gentle leader” for “bad motherfucker collar”.

Edited to give you the South Park snippet (only there was no calming down):

Classic Me.

Tell husband the movie we received on Netflix (Takers) was one he picked.

He reminds you he hasn’t been to the queue in several months.

Tell him it’s about poker/cards. Still convinced he put it in the queue.

Finish bottle of wine from dinner, clean up kitchen.

Put in movie.

Discover it stars Idris Elba, Michael Ealy and Matt Dillon. Read more from the tiny Tyvek sleeve and see it’s about an armed heist.

Yeah, yeah, honey, I’m sure you picked it! You just don’t REMEMBER it. Yeah.

~whistle innocently~

Them’s the Pits….

I had a day on Friday where I rolled from one thing to the next: coffee in the a.m. with a salesperson, then the rest of the day unfolded at my feet. Off to Costco, then to Indigo Wild, one of my favorite local businesses, to get some Xmas shopping wrapped up. Their factory has a little storefront and the employees are always cheerful, dogs can be seen roaming around,  and the smells are to die for.  I fell in love with the Mazel Tov soap (a heady mix of almond and orange) but stuck to my list…except for one little “for me” treat. I was looking at their Zum Mist, which comes in 10+ scents, and had a little note that said something about “the perfect mist for rooms, lockers, cars, anyplace that needs a little freshening, even your body.” I think, “Self, that is nifty! Let us select one of these!” I sprayed about four different ones, and settled on Clove-Mint. Nice and spicy, with the uplifting mint notes. Paid for my purchases and headed off to meet friends for lunch.

Now this part is unheard of: I’m more than an hour early. So I decide to hang out in my car, maybe do some knitting. Keep in mind, the weather was unseasonably warm, and the sun beating in on me through the car windows had me feeling a bit steamed. A smidge sweaty. Not so fresh, you might even say. I think to myself, “Hey! I just got that spray!” and I proceed to snake the spray can into a sleeve and give my armpits a refreshing little mist.

Then I decide I should call my insurance company, to make sure that my prescription refills were sent in properly, and handle any problems before the weekend comes and offices are closed.

Suddenly, my armpits begin to burn. As in, BURN. CALAMITY. A NEST OF FIRE ANTS UNDER EACH ARM.  EN FUEGO. CUIDADO. And I’m shouting my choices at the automatic operator, writhing about in my seat, trying to reach behind me to see if I can grapple successfully for some handi-wipes I keep in the car, apparently for emergencies like this one. No luck. So I continue with my phone call, while keeping my arms in the air, trying to prevent skin from touching skin, as that seems to exacerbate the problem. Every so often I do have to clutch them in pain, while the service representative keeps putting me on hold to check things. I think to myself, ok, essential oils, probably best not sprayed directly on skin, and especially skin that doesn’t really see daylight and has only seen  gentle Dove products for the past decade.  It feels like the fire of a thousand suns is pouring out from each armpit, and a gingerly attempt to touch the skin makes me imagine a rash the size of Kentucky. I revert to arms-in-the-air. This phone call with the insurance dude takes 23 minutes. By this point, I am ready to run into traffic and make the pain stop, but it also begins to subside, albeit at a much slower rate than its onset.

By the time everything is wrapped up, and I decide I can go into the restaurant and wait without tying up a table for an obnoxious amount of time, the pain is nearly gone. I was prepared to go to the washroom and have a mini-shower right there in the sink, if it came to that.

BUT.

My pal Teri did point out that at least it was just my armpits. That not-so-fresh-feeling-let’s-try-this-OMG could have been a helluva lot worse.

Stay Tuned!

I’m currently in a battle with the Water Department.

For some unknown reason, my account has been locked. I tried to log in and pay our bill, and surprise! No go. I figured it was because I had signed up ages ago and they just did an overhaul on the payment site. So I called the Action Line today, and after sitting on hold for 15 minutes (being reminded every five that if I indeed had a life-threatening emergency, to hang up and call 9-1-1), I was able to get through. Only to learn “oh, the water department? They all screwed up today, their phones ain’t workin’ and their computers are screwed up.”

Great.

The woman on the Action Line took my information, and -I am not shitting you – five hours later, I got a call back. I was told to just plug in my user name and the reset-password they gave me and it should work.

No.

Still locked out. I was informed that “Well, she can get right into your account.” WHO IS SHE. “She’s the lady who worked on this whole new website.”

Gee, you think maybe she’s got some fucking admin privileges I don’t? Because I’m betting she does. Nonetheless, we keep trying. I’m told to wait ten minutes and try again, and someone from the Action Line will call me in fifteen minutes.

I waited twenty minutes, no luck, account still locked. I even went into (gag) Internet Explorer to try it, thinking perhaps our new website is only as strong as its weakest platform. Nope. Still locked out. And it’s been an hour and fifteen minutes since I was supposed to get a follow-up call. Oh sure, I have other options, but I get like a terrier about shit like this, because it’s so STUPID, and should not take 8 hours to fix, or if it does, just say so. And if you think I’m letting go of this? mmmm. Nope. I have a case number.

Gosh. I wonder how they’d feel if I just took such a laid-back approach on payin’ ’em. Something tells me it’s not a two-way street.

File Under: “Couldn’t Make This Up If I Tried.”

It’s been a pretty stressful week here at Chez PlazaJen. I’ve got a ton of work going on, and I’ve been burning the midnight oil to get it all done. Yesterday I was just plain stupid by the time I got home! So, my perspective on things is a little skewed, as I’ve had some tunnel vision and whack-a-mole days of late.

Today I got an email. From someone I didn’t know, and it didn’t appear to be spam. (I even checked, afterward, and the sender and send-ee both have LinkedIn pages that match city/state, plus the signature contained a phone number and address.) A little background first: I use my full name for one of my gmail addies and sometimes I get invitations to family reunions that aren’t mine, I’ve been asked to weigh in on Christmas plans (by family that isn’t mine), so on and so forth.  I usually, gently, try to steer the person back to their address book so the other Jennifer out there doesn’t miss out.

Given my state of mind, it might explain why I found this so goddamned funny when I opened an email that had every appearance of being intended for me, as it did actually come from a real person, who was sending to his wife and me. (but not me.)

The email subject? “Wedding Pics You Requested.”
The copy? “Enjoy”

Now, I’m sure it’s a joke between them, but I really was still a little surprised by the last one….not what I expected. At all.

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