Tag Archives: dumb mistakes

Bitches Be Crazy

2015-10-20 20.49.40This is what it looks like when you make chocolate chip cookies on the Georgie. It would be a waste of energy (Washington Gas) to heat up the whole oven for just two cookies, and it’s too much energy (oh, my aching back) to climb up to the shelf and get the toaster oven, so I made cookies on the Georgie.

I swear my friend J told me she did this before with good results. But that was in the late nineties, when we got all “holistic,” ate quinoa, went off our meds, and did things like make cookies on the Georgie. “Bitches be crazy” comes to mind.

Last night I shared my cookies and some stories I wrote with my neighbor. I turned my head to look out the window while he read, but I could see the reflection of his face in the glass. He smiled some. He shook his head some. More shaking than smiling. When he finished the last story, he tapped the papers together and looked at me. “Is this true?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I change the names and sometimes add things here and there, but mostly it’s true.”

“No, I mean the way the women act. Don’t they have any self-esteem? They keep chasing after guys, well, pretty much the same guy – the one who is the least interested in them. They’re totally disconnected from reality. In every single one of these stories they have a chance to learn something, to change, but they don’t. They just blow it all off with some crap about true love and keep right on making themselves miserable. What the hell?”

I folded my hands in my lap, lifted my chin, and took a deep breath. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the curse of being a romantic.” My neighbor groaned. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” he said.

“Let’s say you’re right,” I replied. “Let’s say there is no such thing as true love. Can’t you pursue it anyway? There are plenty of people looking for the Loch Ness monster, Atlantis, buried Aztec treasure. What if dating is your hobby? What does it hurt if you keep playing the game? When the game involves phone calls, and dresses, and dinners and heartache? It’s exhilarating. It feels. It’s fun.”

“Did you say fun?” my neighbor asked.

“Yes, and entertaining, too. How else could Harlequin and Hollywood stay in business? Women love this stuff.”

“Women. Well that explains it. Bitches be crazy.”

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can’t move ‘er

My plan for tonight was to wow you with some insightful yet hilarious prose about waiters and cutoff shorts , but my cat has taken up residence on the upper quarter of my tablet and just typing these few sentences has incurred lacerations on both of my wrists and, somehow, the palm of my left hand.

Could you bear to disturb her 20150614_123603slumber? I cannot.

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.

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Writing Group Angst

Let’s say you’re in a hotel conference room, attending your very first meeting of the Low Country Writers’ Group (Mount Pleasant Chapter). It’s a panel talk on “Getting Closer to Getting Published.” While you wait for the guest speakers to arrive, you look back through the notebook you’ve brought with you – the one you always bring to things like this – and, becoming aware of wetness under your arms and realizing how appallingly ineffective your new deodorant is, you see that the two-word notes you’ve been leaving for yourself, snippets of story ideas jotted down in your almost illegible shorthand, meant to inspire future writing, are utterly worthless. “Cherry Pie = Pizza Pie”, “Baby, not Piano”, “Aqua Velva and Farts.” Seriously? You can’t even be sure if those are references to personal experiences or things you saw on late night comedy shows. Who knows.

The moderator cheerfully kicks off the opening ice breaker: “Tell us your name and what you’re working on,” she says. You take a quick look around the room. In so doing, you identify a group of thirty-two people, of which you are in a minority, the minority comprised of three attendees under the age of 50. As the introductions go around the table you meet a woman with three books published, another woman who is trying to decide which agent she wants to go with, and a man – one of the men in your under-50 group – who has a PhD and teaches creative writing at the College of Charleston. You think of what you will tell these people when it is your turn to speak. You have about twenty-five short stories in various stages of completion. Your mother says they’re really good, always adding, “… and I’m not just saying that because you’re my daughter.” Head down, you smell a funk waft up from your armpits as evidence of your deodorant’s epic fail. You look up to tally the people who will talk before you have to, and this glance reveals you to be in another minority, a minority of one: those who are grossly overdressed. And, although your mother has always said that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed, you begin to formulate the rebuttal you will give to any of the shorts and flip-flop clad strangers when they ask why you are wearing a floral wrap dress and heels – you will tell them you are on your way to a baby shower, a wedding, a bris… something important, something adult, anything that might lend credibility to you – the most uncomfortable person in the room.

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I’m an idiot.

Now, typically I shun such negative and demeaning self-talk.  But today, today I can’t find a better way to sum up my behavior.  I’m an idiot.  Why else would I sit for 97 minutes waiting to use the ATM?

Well, it seemed important at the time.  A friend had repaid me a huge amount of cash, and I knew if it went anywhere other than the bank it would never make it to the bank.  Not that I’d go out and buy something grand, like a leather coat or a 60″ flat screen TV, no, that chunk of cash would be whittled away slowly, imperceptibly, until it was gone.  A latte here, a “special treat” there.  A massage, an “I deserve it” new sundress.  I know better than to take a stack of Benjamins home with me.  Those bad boys needed to go straight to the bank.

Today as I pulled up to the building I could see “Insert Card To Begin Transaction” glowing green on the screen, a very positive sign.  As I walked up the steps and entered the vestibule, I heard clicking and beeping, very negative signs.  My hand was inches from the card reader, paused in some bizarre ATM foreplay when the message changed to “Temporarily Out of Service”.

I should have left then, but I had all that cash I couldn’t trust myself with, and I could hear the ATM workerbee on the other side of the wall, refilling the machine with twenties.  How long could it take?  I decided to wait.

As each minute went by I became more committed to staying.  I mean really, you can’t sit waiting for twenty minutes and then leave – that about guarantees that what you were waiting for will happen at minute twenty-one.  So I waited.  I filed my nails.  I checked my email.  I consulted my phone’s online user’s manual and learned how to work the voice recognition.  I stared out the window.  I stared at the ATM.  I eavesdropped on the ATM workerbee as he talked on his phone.  At one point the ATM went through several diagnostic tests, and when it clicked and clacked its deposit slot open, I caught a glimpse of the workerbee and gave him a friendly wave.

All told, I spent 97 minutes waiting 549for the ATM to come back online. Ultimately I deposited that pile of cash and went home.  What’s weird is that I had a really fun afternoon.  I’m an idiot.

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It Ain’t Pretty, and It Certainly Ain’t Good

Pretty. Good.

Two perfectly fine words, yes? Sure they are, if they’re hanging out at the same party or stuck beside each other in traffic. But should those two words hook up, or say, carpool, then those two words ain’t fine at all, no sir. Put those two words together and you have a harbinger of doom. Let me explain.

The phrase ‘pretty good’ has two meanings. Adjectival. One indicates that the thing being described is acceptable, admirable, close to good. The other indicates that the thing being described is unacceptable, subpar, and no good.

“Pretty good.” The cavernous dichotomy of meaning tied to this two-word phrase is highly problematic. The meaning of the received message depends greatly on the body language and intonation of the communicator.

For example: you are out with a friend and you want to tell her that you think Pizza Hut’s new Stuffed Pretzel Crust is to your liking. You’d smile, turn your face a few degrees to one side and nod. “It’s pretty good.” However, if you think the pizza tastes like rusty nails covered in ketchup but observe that your friend is loving every bite, your response to the question “What do you think?” would be to cock your head slightly to the one side while shrugging your shoulders and offering a politically correct half smile. “It’s pretty good.” See the difference? Same words. The entire message depends on body language. This is why talking to people face to face is ideal.

Another tool in relaying the intended meaning of ‘pretty good’ is tone. Intonation. The way words are pronounced is a powerful indicator of their meaning. “Pretty good”, with a short ‘pretty’ and a drawn out, warm ‘good’, tells your listener that the thing at hand is satisfactory, pleasing. “Pretty good”, said with ‘pretty’ and ‘good’ being of the same length but with a drop in tone that ends in flat-lined silence means that the thing could be, in a pinch, somewhat satisfactory. Try it. Go ahead. Say “pretty good,” and then say “pretty good.” Hear the difference? And that’s just the tone of your voice. This is why talking to people on the phone is only quasi-ideal.

But what if there is no opportunity for body language nor tone? Let’s say your communication is limited to the written word. Now what? You can write paragraphs of exposition, you can state your case clearly and cite examples, but at some point, you’re doomed to use the words “pretty good.” And then, how the reader interprets your meaning is entirely out of your control. Two perfectly innocuous words, put together, could imply only one of two things. It could be “it’s not too shabby” or it could be “it sucks.” This isn’t a big deal if you’re telling a friend about pizza, but it is utterly disastrous if you’re reporting third quarter performance to the board of directors. This is why email totally blows.  jenny phone

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good googily miss moogily

Just a quick “hi” to those of you who have been kind enough to pop over from that other blog I’ve been posting to when I meant to be posting here.  As mentioned, I thought I was clever having more than one blog but then I figured out I was spreading myself too thin, confusing myself, and possibly befuddling others.  Thank you for coming.

For those of you who have been here from the start, please ignore the preceding paragraph. Thank you for coming.

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