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…be Closet Hoarders

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Yeah, yeah. I know it’s been ages since I’ve had any advice to give. But nearly everyone — even, or ESPECIALLY perceived ‘enemies’ — has been sharing opinions since the 2016 election cycle, and I couldn’t jump on that wagon, even if I’d wanted to. Honestly?

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS RANT AND RAVE ABOUT POLITICS AND POLITICAL CANDIDATES ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS.

(I’ve been wanting to say that for such a long time that I ended up shouting. oops)

Well, when it mattered most I managed to keep my fingers off the keyboard, proving this blog’s main contention: ‘friends don’t let friends… make utter asses out of themselves during an election cycle (or after). Glory be and pass the gravy, I must have friends!! Whew!!!!  I dodged so many Facebook and Twitter bullets, I’m smiling like a Cheshire cat with all her nine lives…

I’ve avoided confrontation socially. Big deal. On the domestic front, things have gotten a little dicey. My sometimes covert attempts to move us toward selling the current real estate for a downsized version have recently included some interior changes. We’ve acquired upgraded furniture, shopped for new flooring, tried a more neutral color palette. We’ve rearranged some cabinets, rifled through the closets, wandered around the storage unit masquerading as a basement, and, if I may borrow a phrase from the Southerners of yesteryear who managed to keep a genteel grasp on the Civil War by referring to it as “the recent unpleasantness,” I have uncovered some ‘unpleasantness’ of my own.

Friends, I am married to a hoarder.

He keeps EVERYTHING. He suggests that old check stubs or tax return statements from the 1980s might be ‘interesting’ to our kids some day. He hangs onto a stereo receiver that he had in college. A closet in the laundry room is filled with coats that he never wears, but can’t get rid of. “They’re great coats!” he declares. “It’s good to have a coat like that when it’s really cold,” he argues.

“Fine!” I retort. “Keep ONE! Not EIGHT.”

But no. He must keep them all. All the coats. All the papers. Even all the pens, for cryin’ out loud. He never gets rid of wood — partial 2x4s, half- or quarter- sheets of plywood, bits of 2x8s — gotta keep them all. You never know. Small pieces of drywall, the old island countertop from the kitchen remodel, old socks and t-shirts that make good rags, owners manuals for things we don’t even own anymore — you can find any of these treasures in our garage. In the basement you can find an old dresser or two. Leftover tables and chairs and dishes and light fixtures and a baby crib, circa 1986. The kids’ toys. Okay, I admit I’m good with hanging on to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle collection. And the Tonka trucks and Hotwheels and even the Beanie Babies (embarrassed sigh). I mean, grandkids! RIGHT?? But the guy can’t even let loose of an old digital camera that cannot compete with the quality of our current phones, for cryin’ out loud. And he played the ‘grandkids’ card to get me to let him keep it. Shameful.

He won’t even throw away these:

F1C8FAC0-F448-4573-A916-0F08193EB074

Now, to be fair, I did win on the boxes. I salvaged the ‘original equipment’ and threw the containers in the trash. The closet, though. No win there. AARGH.

To my kids, who will eventually deal with this mess, I can only whimper, “I’m so, so sorry.”

And to my friends — both the real ones I grapple close and the virtual ones who might stumble across this post, I can only implore you to remember that friends don’t let friends be closet hoarders. Or basement, cabinet, garage, shed or any other damn storage place hoarders!!!!

Please. In these cases, it really is ‘for the kids.’

Don’t let friends hoard. Their spouses, their kids, their eventual grandkids, their friends and relatives and neighbors will thank you.

I would thank you too, if only I had a friend who would keep my husband from hoarding…

Don’t let it happen to you.

 

…Jump on the Groupon Bandwagon

Before you dismiss this sound advice, hear me out. Groupon offers great deals. I get it. I know. Who doesn’t want to pay less for more stuff? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been clamoring for a new cable adapter for all of my iStuff. I fall into raptures over the chance to hone my rock climbing skills on an indoor, man-made rock-climbing wall. And I, for one, love good food. As far as stuff goes, I’m all in favor of stuffing my face with lobster, or steak, or heck, even cheap Italian. (Got a Bucca di Beppo offer earlier today) If I keep searching, I know I’ll find deals on artwork, unique gifts, travel excursions, massages, beauty treatments… Ah, more stuff for all of us. Who can resist?

But we must draw a line somewhere, mustn’t we? Maybe we draw it in the sand. (If we’re fortunate enough to live on the beach, that is.) Maybe we draw it more figuratively — in the air, right in front of our noses, whilst our voices take on that special shriek reserved for mothers: “NO, you will NOT stay out past midnight, young lady! THIS is where I draw the line!! One more word out of you and you’ll be home at 10!!!! Do you understand me???” (you know. Figurative.)

Or maybe, in the wild excesses of our youth, we decided to let a special artist draw the line in our actual skin.

We probably found the deal on Groupon, and 700 of our closest friends hurriedly ponied up the cash for the same amazing deal, and we became an instant ‘community,’ thanks to the interwebs.

And then, one morning we wake up and realize, “OMG! There’s a very colorful peacock tattooed on my ribcage!” And we don’t quite feel the same as we used to about it. His lovely tail feathers look a bit more like a dust mop these days, what with the inevitable stretch marks from multiple pregnancies, and the ravages of time and gravity (read: Our skin has sagged. Considerably.). We pull on that scruffy sweatshirt (and yoga pants!), trudge to the kitchen and pour a gigantic mug of coffee, marveling at what our lives have become. We seek the solace of social media. Lo!! and behold!!!!!! Groupon’s deal of the day sits in our inbox:

LASER TATOO REMOVAL

Not only did we find a Groupon to get the tattoo in the first place; now there’s a Groupon for getting the dang thing removed. And this is why friends don’t let friends jump on the Groupon bandwagon. Peacocks one day. Dust mops the next. And all because we couldn’t resist being part of the group. Come ON… (you see what I sort of did, there)

Don’t let it happen to you.

…Off the Hook

The other day, I remembered that I was a teacher. Er, university instructor. For awhile there, I was just going through the motions — showing up for class, saying a few things — okay, a LOT of things, because there is nothing I like quite so much as the sound of my own voice (pretty sure there’s another post about that waiting in the wings), and God knows the students are disinclined to participate much in the opening weeks of a required class. So there we all were, going though the required class motions when it hit me: TEACH them.

The thing is (there’s always a thing with me), classrooms these days are crowded, and the best teaching tends to happen one-on-one. The one-on-group method means someone — maybe everyone — can hide. Such behavior is generally contra-productive to actual learning.When the instructor meets the pupil face-to-face, by golly, something worthwhile has a great chance of making not just an appearance, but a lasting impression.

Picture it: One instructor. One student. There’s no prevaricating. There’s no sea of downcast faces (undoubtedly something fascinating daily transpires on classroom floor, am I right?). There’s no gaping silence as the ‘teacher’ waits longingly for a lucid, on-target answer to an open-ended question. And there’s no harping to the masses, no preaching to the choir, no reliance on exhausted adages that fail to hit the mark. There’s only dialogue. Questions. Answers. Discussion. You know. LEARNING.

But, the classroom filled with students is far more cost-effective than a day-long series of tutorials. What’s an instructor to do?

Well. Instruct! Adapt! Overcome! Send emails of extra instruction! Hold office hours! Stay after class! DO THE WORK!!!!!

Friends don’t let friends off the hook just because the environment isn’t ideal. Friends don’t let friends off the hook because they simply don’t want to do the harder task. Friends don’t let friends off the hook, even when they offer a list of excuses (and trust me, I have not just good, but STELLAR excuses for why I don’t want to do the hard thing, and I bet you do too) for why the thing just isn’t working.

Listen to me, now. Friends who have friends who are teachers:  Don’t let them off the hook. The future depends on those students presently in the classroom, you know. Somebody’s got to TEACH them.

I’m glad I remembered I’m a teacher. Friends? Don’t let me off the hook.

…Get Caught in the ‘Web of Deceit’

I don’t like spiders.

I’ve heard that some folks do. That they actually buy them, keep them in glass cages, provide them with food…  SPIDERS. Seriously. You can find websites filled with helpful instructions that include what to feed your spider, how often you should ‘play’ with it, how to water it and give it a ‘safe’ place. You can’t make this up, friends.

Since this is a PSA blog, I feel compelled to add this: Should you find yourself wanting to keep a spider as a pet (REALLY!?!?!?), just, just — well, you need help, first of all. But, in the spirit of giving, visit here for spider-care dos & don’ts. (EGAD! I just wrote ‘spider-care’ like it’s a thing worth thinking about.)

I’ve always been a tad creeped out (totally off my writer’s game with that poor excuse for descriptive prose) by spiders’ long hairy legs. I don’t know quite why hairy legs are so repulsive in spiders and women, now I think of it — but, they are. Think of all the creatures whose legs boast hair. Jack, (the family dog) has hairy legs. Lions and tigers and bears have hairy legs, and not a soul gasps in horror, ‘O, my!’ over it. Horses have their furry fetlocks. Heck, almost all of the men I know have hairy legs too. Oh, sure — some guys shave their legs for aerodynamic reasons (cycling fanatics come to mind), but most just let the hair go. We American women don’t so much ‘let the hair’ go, er — grow. Our cultural norm kicking in I suppose. The hair-covered arachnid with his very hairy legs clings with ease to smooth surfaces.(Ladies, your hairy legs won’t help you out in this endeavor.) Spiders wouldn’t shave if they could. There’s an image for you…

The overall hair factor probably contributes to our unease (okay, irrational FEAR) where spiders are concerned. Exactly why we’re afraid of creatures (albeit hairy ones with more legs than seem strictly necessary) that we can quite easily crush with one foot is a bit of a mystery, given our size, superior strength and ability to run, if not quite faster than a speeding bullet, at least fast enough to outpace a damn spider.

So maybe it’s the fact that they trap unsuspecting creatures in their sticky webs, inject said unsuspecting creatures with a neurotoxin, wrap them up in silk (ah, irony!) and then liquefy the dead remains for easier digestion. You can read all about it here. Fascinating stuff, really.

You have to be wondering why I’m bothering to write about spiders at this point.

It’s their webs.

No friend I know lets a friend get caught in the spider’s web. When heading to the porch for a morning cuppa joe, friends — the ones we simply can’t do without — will wipe away that deathtrap drenched in morning dew before we find it sticking to our faces.

Friends don’t let friends get trapped in the spider’s web. They watch out for us. They know that we sometimes forget to shave our legs. I mean, it’s winter time, I’m wearing pants, who CARES!?!?! Friends remind us that our husbands care. Friends remind us that smooth legs are beautiful legs. They say, ‘what are you, some sort of hairy spider?! Shave your legs, girl!’

Friends don’t let friends get trapped in the spider’s web. They know it’s a tricky, death-trap of a world out there. They know that sometimes we not only forget to shave our legs, but that we forget to use our heads! They know that we don’t always read the road signs clearly saying ‘STOP! BRIDGE OUT AHEAD.’ They know we sometimes forget to listen to the lyrics because we’re so caught up in the beat. They know that sometimes we’re just not paying attention…

Friends don’t let friends get trapped in the spider’s web of deceit.

I know, I know, you thought I was just writing about the eight-legged, hairy, fanged creatures that kill their supper with poison. But, bard-like (no, not that Bard. Another one – Sir Walter Scott), I practiced a bit of deception here (you know, ‘oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive’) to make a point.

There are spiders out there. Sure, they look like people. They walk, run, skip and dance – all on a measly two legs. They have bicuspids, molars, incisors – no fangs anywhere. They really enjoy just hangin’ out. But they’re poisonous. They masquerade as pals. They pretend to be friends. But they can’t quite manage it. Driven by, well, who knows what they’re driven by? Killer instinct? Survival of the fittest? Kill or be killed? Self-preservation? Superiority complex? Hunger for attention? Whatever it is, those ‘spiders’ are out there. Weaving a web sparkling in the morning light, designed to kill. And they’ll get us, every time. Because they don’t ‘really, really like us.’ Nope. They’re just hungry. And they’ll kill our spirit if we’re not careful. And this is why we need friends – the tried and true ones. The friends who know all about our struggles with spiders.

It's a beautiful death trap

It’s a beautiful death trap

 

…Dance Alone

Dance is a ‘fine art.’ To be fair, it’s a MINOR fine art (relegated to such status along with drama, which breaks my heart a little bit), but a fine art, nonetheless. Alas. Elaine Benes never got the ‘fine art’ part of the dance memo. Remember?

Now admittedly, Elaine Benes neither majored nor minored in dance. Those “little kicks and the thumbs,” awkward at best and subjecting her to endless mockery at worst, prove my point. See, friends don’t let friends commit horses’assery on the dance floor (or really, any other floor for that matter). Nope. They don’t leave them out on the dance floor all alone, herking & jerking and flailing about like a “full-body dry heave set to music.” That’s not what friends do. Real friends — the ones who stick by you no matter what — get out there and dance with you.

… Have Anything to Do with Wallpaper

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Full Disclosure: Our house needs some updating (I watch a bit too much HGTV, I suppose).

Now that the nest is empty (and has been, really, for awhile now) we see the sorry state of the carpet, lament the coming demise of the kitchen appliances, and probably the water heater, AC, and who knows what else, and generally note that some of the decor has passed its prime. WAY, Way, waaaaay passed. Yes, my friends, I am embarrassed to admit it, but admit it I must: My dining room walls are covered in striped wallpaper. Okay, only half-covered. I actually ran a border around the walls’ mid-point as a sort of faux chair rail, with the paper running ’round bottom half of each wall. As an added bonus, the border ALSO graces the space where walls and ceiling meet. In the late ’90s, this was perhaps fashionable. It’s hideous now. No one waved me off wallpaper in the decorating phase of buying a new house and decorating it back in ’97. NO ONE WAVED ME OFF!!!!

I hereby have a bone to pick with my friends of the time, who, mostly are my friends today. Why wasn’t I reminded of the pitfalls and miseries of wallpapering in general, and its removal in particular!??!

I suffer the humiliations anew. I remember, as I labor to remove it, what a bitch it was to hang in the first place. My long-suffering husband, who bore most of the brunt of the paper-hanging, agreed to my decorating scheme (what choice did he have, really?), and did his level best to make the room lovely. I say ‘level’-best, having re-discovered the chalk lines he snapped to assure some precision work. (He’s an engineer, which both helps and hinders home improvements. Helps, because he does great work. Hinders, because for cryin’ out loud, I can’t even hang a picture around here without stud finders, measuring tapes and small calculations to assure geometric precision on a given wall).

Frustration ruled the wall-paper hanging, of course. I know this, because in a recent request for marital advice  at a wedding shower (dear friends have a son about to be married), Jeff (engineer extraordinaire and husband of nearly 30 years) offered this sage bit: “If you can’t wallpaper together, don’t.” The wisdom of the ages, right there for all of you. Based on personal experience and a wealth of friends who testify similarly, husbands and wives are wholly incapable of wallpapering together. The process can be survived — we managed to do that — but why in the heck would anyone risk it!?!?!

Which brings me to my point. Friends don’t let friends wallpaper. Because we’ve all been there, and we know the drill, the cost, the fallout, the pain, the arguing and inevitable anger that accompanies it. Worse still, we all know that the cursed stuff has to come down eventually. Oh, sure, some of it sometimes falls on its own, due to faulty application (in itself grounds for a small war). More likely, though, it stays around until you just can’t bear the sight of it one more minute. Our own wallpaper was hung with the understanding that it must withstand nuclear holocaust, apparently, because for the past couple of days I’ve been working on its removal, with limited success I might add, which entitles me to say this: FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS WALLPAPER!!!!!!!!!

My walls are chipped. My fingernails are split. My patience is near its end. I’m scoring the paper (two and three times, for the love!) and slathering on the wallpaper removal solution. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude here, and, get this: I’M DOING IT ALL BY MYSELF! (I am nothing if not willing to play the martyr) I haven’t asked for a bit of help. I haven’t complained out loud where anyone can hear but the dog, who promises to keep my secrets. I’m not even half-way ’round the room. Do I lack skill?!?! I submit, no. What I lack, apparently, is friends who keep me from wallpapering.

And now, I have to finish what I’ve started, obviously. I can’t have a room that looks like this:Walls of Shame

So, for those of you out there with friends — do them a favor. NEVER, EVER let them wallpaper. Save a friend. Save a tree. Go out and buy the paint, offer to run the roller, lock them up if you have to — just remember this one thing. Friends don’t let friends wallpaper. And if they do, they at least come over and help take it down!

hint, hint, hint…