Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grammar Queen

Today is my birthday.

And in typical adult/kid fashion, I wanted to know what else I share this important day with. My husband was born on the day they fired on Ft. Sumter in history. OK, it’s not real positive, but it is weighty. I already knew Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were born on this day, but not being a big Hollywood fan, this didn’t impress me.

So I fired up Google and here’s what I discovered: It’s National Punctuation Day. Get outta here – that is definitely a cosmic joke on the gal who spent 20+ years in journalism. Now I have to share my birthday honoring commas, parentheses, and colons?

Blech, and you can quote me on that. Period.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pretzel Logic

I quit.

It’s not because I suck at Pilates, mind you. I knew I had no flexibility when I signed up for the class at the Y. I knew I would find muscles in places that shouldn’t have muscles and then proceed to pull them all like a bundle of electronic wires. What I didn’t anticipate was an animosity toward my instructor.

This little bald guy sits in front of the class and taunts us. “You think this hurts? Wait until I get out the next exercise.” “Are you ready for crazy hard? Who isn’t ready for crazy hard? Where are my veterans – I know they can do this.” “Everyone assume the Book of Love position. Don’t tell me you don’t know what that is.”

Actually I don’t but I’m hoping when I get clued in that it’s twice as big as Gone with the Wind and available in hardback so it really smarts when I hurl it at him. (That is, I’ll throw it at him after I see a massage therapist to work the kinks out of my neck.) Get outta here – isn’t watching me fall on my face, fail to touch my toes, and struggle to straighten my leg up in the air a clue I’m a newbie here? What part of this pitiful display suggests that sarcasm and insults would be inspiring?

Most importantly, why am I showing up every Monday night and devoting an hour to listening to it? Sometimes you just have to question your own sanity.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I finally understand sleep dentistry.

I’m not especially afraid of the dentist’s chair. When every molar in your head is crowned, when you’ve had root canals and gum grafts and braces, sensitive teeth, canker sores and wisdom teeth extractions so complicated they take pictures as teaching aids in dental schools, you get over it very quickly. So when I walked in to Dr. Pete’s this week for a little old filling to help desensitize a spot where my gum has receded, my blood pressure was low.

But apparently my blood and my brain aren’t in sync. Because once the anesthetic deadened the nerve endings around that tooth, the control center upstairs went into hyper mode. “Ought oh, no data coming from the top right gum. Send in the reinforcements.”

So when Dr. Pete fired up the drill, my hearing immediately reported in with an “intense pain” message, and the brain frantically started looking for confirmation. Rushing up and down and pacing, it finally sent out a request for information to my nose. “Smells awful. Is most likely burning a searing path of pain along the gum line by our calculations,” said the nose. Well my brain had a fit with this report, and started sending rapid-fire signals to those dead nerve endings.

“Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt?Doesn’t that hurt? Doesn’t that hurt?”

Get outta here – 30 minutes of this and I’m exhausted. Dr. Pete would stop every few minutes, pat my shoulder, and ask if I was OK. Well, yah, but it would be better if someone could find a way to make my brain shut the heck up.

So next time perhaps I should consider letting the staff knock me out. Either that, or work on my trust issues.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

Sunday afternoon, it was obvious to anyone breathing that Hurricane Ike was blowing through the Midwest. You could hear the wind over the Colts game now and then, this loud whooshing sound that resembled the air conditioner. Only it was too cold to have the HVAC system running, so, being a brilliant sort, I knew it had to be the wind.

The next morning we looked out our back window, and there was the neighbor’s tree, snapped in half and with the bigger chunk lying all over the place. Apparently I can’t sleep through my husband’s snoring, but a frickin' tree lands behind my head and I don’t notice.

My husband, however, is ecstatic. “Hey, that’s the tree that was interfering with our dish feed! Now we really don’t have to worry about the weather cutting us out of our favorite shows.” Funny, Sunday afternoon that was the farthest thing from my mind.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Name Games

I know what you're secretly wondering but are too polite to ask: How did I dream up a company name like Curing Cold Feet?

The truth is, I couldn’t stand to lose an argument.

It was a 3 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning epiphany. I’m not a patient person, and I knew when I signed the contract papers with Montrose Travel the following Monday, I would be officially valuable good time if I didn’t have a name and website registration for my agency at that second.

My original idea was A New View, which prompted Ron to suggest I Google that to make sure it was available. Good grief, of course it was available – I thought of it, didn’t I? He just gave me that male, “I know details, so don’t even try to suggest I’m wrong” stare. Off I ran to my keyboard to prove him wrong.

By 1 a.m., I knew I had some serious spin to work out. Not only was A New View taken, but other obvious travel words like paradise, beach, and sunset combinations were gone. Even desperation searches like “luggage tag” drug up travel agency names in this country.

To add more frustration to my crankiness, I needed a logo. My brother-in-law Larry is a top-notch graphic artist, but unfortunately he’s family. He won’t let us pay for marketing requests, but you go to the back of the pack behind the customers at this price. I was looking at a month, easy, before I could get that part pulled together.

Did I mention I’m not a patient person?

Being backed into two corners makes you consider options you didn’t know were options. My desk is usually a mess, and that night’s collection included one of Larry’s logos lying around that we used for my husband’s now-retired Toastmaster theme for our state. A big blue foot that accompanied the slogan “Curing Cold Feet.” Hmmm, that sounded like vacations … walking along a beach, getting out of your current environment, overcoming inhibitions. (OK, I don’t know what that has to do with travel unless you’re afraid to fly or you go on vacation just to bungee jump.)

Best of all, because this package was Ron’s baby, I could float the notion that I wanted to immortalize his year as the state president in this more permanent way, and he’d never suspect my first idea wasn't a slam dunk.

Worked like a charm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sometimes Life Isn't Funny

And this is one of those get outta here moments that won’t make you laugh, frankly.

This story starts with an essay. I’ll wait three minutes while you read it.

Beautiful, wasn't it? But keep that Kleenex box close. Because shortly after penning that piece about never leaving her boy, Lori, who is a single mom and self-employed, started feeling numb. The problem progressed until today she is paralyzed in a hospital bed, unable to move or speak, thanks to the Bi-Pap breathing machine that she owes her life to at the moment. She’s the victim of either Lyme Disease or ALS (Lou Gerig’s) – even the esteemed doctors at Mayo Clinic can’t pinpoint the cause.

It may not matter. Lori is dying.

To add insult to injury, her house is in foreclosure and the medical bills are ugly. Some of us (raising my hand!) aren’t counting out God’s miracles. We firmly believe He will heal Lori if it’s His will. But meanwhile, her journalist friends (raising my hand again) are raising what funds we can to take a few worries off the Steele family’s shoulders. We have all sent personal checks – as much as we can – to save this house if we can't save her. But we need a little kindness from strangers, too.

If you’d like to donate even a $1 to Lori, in addition to your prayers, you have my heartfelt thanks. We’ve set up a Paypal account to make it as private and convenient as possible.

And tomorrow we'll all go back to poking fun of our lives and thanking God we have them.

For more information and a button to click to donate:

Friday, September 5, 2008

You Can't Hear Me Now

My phone rang at 10:30 last night. That’s not completely unheard of around here, between Ron’s Toastmaster leadership and friends knowing I’m a night owl. It was who was calling that triggers this blog post.

It was a source I was supposed to interview earlier in the day. This guy had been told in advance what the article was about and how his expertise fit. I followed that up with an email containing questions, to which he replied, proving that he received it.

So I can say with complete confidence that this man is stupid. Because when I called for our interview, he said he was under the impression I’d set this appointment to prep him for his role in the article, not --gasp! -- dive in and ask a prearranged question. Even though I was completely caught off guard, I did a decent job of explaining how journalism works in the next five minutes, and thought we were finally ready to start tackling his opinion on how outdoor living trends are impacting indoor floor plans.

Oh, sorry … he couldn’t talk just then. He said his iPhone wasn’t working and he couldn’t tell me why he was able to converse with me on it at that moment. He’d have to call me back after he had it repaired.

This doesn’t even rate a “get outta here.” It’s more like two slow blinks.

I’d like to know what shop handed it back to him at 10:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. But I guess I’ll never know since I exercised another technology wonder known as caller i.d. and voice mail.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Birthday to Who?

I needed to mail a birthday gift today. I knew it would cost money. That’s why I took my credit card to Pack n Ship All (if I were in charge, that would be known as Pack n Ship Y’all) during lunch.

I handed the man my basket with the XXXX (hey, she might be reading this post and I don’t want to give away the surprise. Especially after you see what I paid for this thing), little decorated flowers strewn around, and a card with her name on it. Very low-keyed, homemade looking if I do say so myself.

Naturally, it’s great when birthday gifts arrive on your actual birthday, so I said I’d like to ship it quickly but at a reasonable price. He hit a few buttons, peered at a screen, and announced, “That will be $84.53.”

Get outta here – it’s more like “That will be more calculator buttons in your future, bucko.” I wanted to mail it, not fly it there myself. His next offer was $36, to which I sarcastically asked, “Look at that basket and tell me if you think I spent that much on the actual present.”

Sigh. Final offer: $19.99. Plus the box and he’d throw in the packing peanuts as a gift, but it won’t get there until Friday.

So happy birthday, two days late, Pat. Hope you like the XXXX and the packing peanuts. I couldn't resist a sale.