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…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:


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.

…Ride Alone on the Struggle Bus

Remember John Mayer’s ‘quarter-life crisis‘? Derisive snort, right? Who has a crisis at 25? Get to 40 — heck, go for gold and get to 50, and then talk to me. I’ll give you crisis. It’s called ‘middle-age spread.’ It’s called ‘will my IRA last through retirement?’. It’s called ‘osteoarthritis.’ It’s called bifocals. “A rose by any other name”? Hardly. Still…

Newsflash: We’re all getting older. It’s how life works, friends. Since the only alternative is the one we get a bit nervous about, we need to shut up and deal with our advancing age. And to do that, we’re going to need a “little help from our friends.”

Ever find yourself realizing you’re the only one who ‘didn’t get the memo’? No one told you it was casual Friday… no one mentioned the dinner out was dutch treat…no one felt compelled to discuss latest fashion trends…no one stopped you from buying the last remaining ticket for a ride on the struggle bus…

As a frequent driver and lone passenger on that most miserable of vehicles, I submit the following ‘aging gracefully’ memo. Consider it a ‘little help,’ friends.

1. No one is fooled by the ‘subtle alterations’ also known as excessive plastic surgery. Seriously. NO one.

does this look like the natural aging process to you?

does this look like the natural aging process to you?













2. Separate, outdoor, claw-footed bathtubs remain wholly ineffective for, you know — that special moment. Key word: separate. Hello????? Plus, no one really wants to know about your struggles and/or successes in achieving the ‘special moment.’ Seriously. NO one.

All it takes is a little pill?

All it takes is a little pill?









3. Hair color should probably stay realistic. No one believes that the raven tresses of your youth magically grow into goldilocks. Seriously. NO one.

Her hairdresser knows for sure...

Her hairdresser knows for sure.













4. Regarding fashion for the ages, 50 may be the new 30 (which I suppose means 60 is the new 40). But put your quarter-, mid-, or full-life crisis aside, because no one believes that you’re 20 anymore. Seriously. NO one.















Whether it’s Botox®, Cialis®, Clairol®; whether it’s plastic surgery or dentistry gone awry, friends don’t let friends buy a ticket to ride alone on the struggle bus (which is headed straight for Fantasyland, by the way.) Nope. Friends do one of two things. They haul their friends’ sorry-ass backsides off that bus, or they get on and ride with them. It’s as simple as that, really.

That's the Spirit!

That’s the Spirit!

…Do DIY Alone

We have a wedding soon. And by soon I do mean next week. Of course, the final two weeks before a wedding are the perfect time to accomplish all those DIY projects that could have been done earlier in the calendar year. But we wait, and let other things, like watching 4.5 seasons of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix rule our lives. Then one day we wake up and realize, holy hell! — the wedding! People are coming! They’ll need a place to sleep!! The floors! The wallpaper! The stuff!!!!!  And so, it goes. A mad flurry of ‘getting the house ready’ means husbands and wives get to practice their ‘can’t we just get along?’ skills. News flash. They can’t. Tempers flare. Each accuses the other of ‘not doing it right’ — and the ‘it’ is widely variable, ranging from taping the woodwork to running the paint roller, to hanging a picture, or even putting fresh sheets on a bed — nobody does anything right during the crunch. At least, that’s the story in this household. Maybe yours is different? Suuuurrre it is…

And when the crunch is nearly unbearable, who do you call? The lifelong friends who can’t say ‘no’ when the SOS goes out. The lifelong friends who send out their own SOS occasionally, and you go running. Because friends don’t let friends really do a ‘do-it-yourself’ by yourself. EVER. Nope. They work the problem, people. They stalk, they measure, they sweat, they laugh, they keep the nervous nelly wife out of the way and do what they do. Friends. They never let you do DIY alone.

And aren’t you glad? I sure am…

DIY with Friends

DIY with Friends



… 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…