Haint That Somethin’?

One day not so long ago, I attempted to take a selfie with my Mom and she said, “Oh no! Please don’t! I look like a haint!”

I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only one here who had to look that up.

Evidently, a haint is something people in the old South were particularly worried about. They’re described as “restless spirits of the dead who, for whatever reason, have not moved on from their physical world.” There is a color of paint called “Haint Blue” that was used to paint the ceilings of the porches back then in order to keep these spirits from taking or influencing the homeowners. The word haint is an alternative spelling of haunt, which was historically used in African-American vernacular to refer to a ghost or, in the Hoodoo belief, a witch-like creature seeking to chase victims to their death by exhaustion.

Mom was quite a bit older than her contemporaries when she had me. I thought having parents as old as mine was perfectly normal until the day a classmate asked, “Is that your Grandma?”

I’m taught something about the past every time I visit with them. More often than not, they recount to me how different a place the world was back then. They marvel at the simplicity of life before technology and get that faraway look in their eyes as if they’re back there once again remembering it all.

I bought my parents the Amazon Echo spot on Amazon Prime Day. I thought they’d get a kick out of being able to see me when we spoke on the phone. Dad, who is much more tech-savvy than Mom, couldn’t wait until I got home and set mine up. He was already FaceTiming me on my phone from his Spot while I was getting set up.

I set up their Spot in the kitchen because they spend a great deal of time there. However, because of the angle, I found that when we spoke, I would end up talking to a lot of shoulders and necks. One day I tried to explain where the little camera was and how they could see what was being transmitted to me.

I got this…

 

It was hard enough to help them make the switch from film to digital. Now Mom’s none too pleased that every phone has a built-in camera. She’s also baffled by the phenomenon of texting vs. calling.

I know I shouldn’t, but I sneak photos of her all the time, pretending to show her something on my phone. She even got a kick out of the Snapchat filters. The way I see it, I want to take as many photos of her and my Dad as possible because one day they won’t be with me any more. These digital memories will make me smile. They won’t be nearly enough, but they’re something.

And we’ve both learned something new today. I consider that a win.

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525,600 Minutes

A lot can happen in a year. It’s funny to think that I started off the year recovering from a relationship that made me feel like a prisoner. I took the necessary time to put it behind me, then made 2017 my Year Of Yes. I spent most of my time doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I went to a TON of concerts. I hired a contractor to transform my house into a place I could thrive in, instead of the place where I keep all my stuff. I spent time with so many friends, made new ones and caught up with old ones.

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I opened myself up to the thought of another actual romantic relationship, which was a terrible idea, but I’m only wiser as a result. I fielded crazy texts from crazy boys, but they were well outnumbered by the pleasant interactions. I graduated from the Citizen’s Police Academy. I said “YES” to a musical project that my guitarist from Cherry (a band I formed in 2008 that had a successful 4.5 year run before I went to esthetician school) put together for the purpose of playing a HUGE venue with Biz Markie the day after Thanksgiving. Now we’re playing again and have someone opening FOR US! For our second show ever, this is monumental. Especially since our opening act is the talented Chris Hendricks, currently of Castle Wild.

Sure, this year had a lot of ups and downs. Without them what would life be?

If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t have hired a matchmaker. When it comes down to it, no one knows you as well as you do. Expecting someone to be able to find a match for you based only on information you provide is illogical. We all put our “best selves” out there when we are trying to get selected for anything in life. The guys my matchmaker selected had done just that. She had found them in a database based on my criteria. They were the best in the bunch in her opinion. (Of course, it’s also possible that they were the only guys within a 50-mile radius of me as well.)

I could have done the same thing myself. There are plenty of apps bursting with people looking for “Mrs. Right,” but most are looking for enough “Miss Right Nows” to fill the gaps in their schedule. It takes time and effort to actually get to know someone. Eventually, they will show you everything. It’s just a matter of whether or not you choose to stick around for the whole show. Sometimes you see enough in the previews to know that the movie will be a complete flop.

“Show me your crazy, so I can avoid it”
– Me

I’m also learning a lot about the home renovation process. (I painted my cabinets TWICE before I saw that Lowe’s carries paint specifically for cabinet refinishing… Duh) I hired and fired some excellent (albeit overpriced) lawn people. I also purchased a lawnmower. (It’s still in the box because my shed is full of contractor tools) The whole process has made me feel more in control of my surroundings, even though there were certainly parts of the process that no one seemed to have control over. At least I’m ending the year on my own terms with a clear idea of how I want this project to be completed. Yes, it’s been ongoing since May. No, I haven’t killed anyone yet, but I’ve gotten more than a handful of people fired.

I choose to end this year on a high note. Looking back, was 2017 everything I wanted it to be? Yes, except for a few minor hiccups, it absolutely was. I’m a little older, a LOT wiser, and perhaps a little worse for the wear… but I made some amazing memories with the people I care most about in this world. That part, I’m going to keep. And to be honest, I think I’ll continue this “Year of Yes” thing (with discretion) right through 2018 as well. I did, in fact, get a late start this year after all.

Another Journey Around the Sun

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends old and new. Luckily, having so much going on, I had no time to think about myself actually growing older (and closer to my scary age… yes, everyone has one…)

Friday night I had a date. In an earlier post, I’d mentioned flinging myself back into the dating pool by way of matchmaker. It had been so long since I’d hired her, I’d begun to think she’d given up on finding anyone suitable in my area for me. Ironically, on the day she called to tell me she’d scheduled a date, I had just begun to look around online. It was mostly out of curiosity… and entertainment. But I also wanted to get a preview of what was out there. I found myself mostly swiping left, with very few exceptions.

The original matchmaker date never happened. She explained that as the time drew near, he began acting shady, so she canceled it. I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t take it too personally since he had no idea who I was.

In the meantime, I had this new app. And it was full off possibilities. (Yes, that was sarcasm) After a few conversations, I realized that the chances of meeting any of these guys in real life were slim. When one canceled our date almost immediately after scheduling it, I was beginning to get a complex. His excuse was that his father (who was 4 hours away) had an accident. I never heard from him again.

A few days later I opened the app to find several guys missing. One disappeared after I mentioned meeting in person. Another deleted his profile completely. One I’d spoken with the first day was gone. Lastly, one (who had been messaging constantly) told me that he was going to see things through with someone else. This honesty was refreshing.

One guy HAD to talk to me on the phone right away. He told me right off the bat that he preferred talking instead of text. I just figured he was old school. We met on Friday and had a great date. The next day he made a point of telling me that he had originally made a date with someone else for Sunday, but was going to cancel since he was so interested in me. The gravity of that gesture didn’t register right away.

He called me when he got home from our date. He called me the next morning when I was getting ready for goat yoga with my friends. He texted to see if I could talk when I was on my way home from brunch. I wasn’t sure I’d ever had a person want to talk to me this much. I was starting to feel panicked and claustrophobic.

Contractors were in and out of my house working the entire weekend, which meant that a nap or alone time wasn’t going to happen. A friend brought me lunch. A few other friends asked where I’d be that night since they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. There were people around or communicating with me most of the day and on into the evening. Was there time for multiple phone calls just to talk? No way! Yet I found myself talking to him at least 4 times before going out that evening. I even missed one of his calls.

Although all the red flags, bells and alerts were flashing in my head, I found myself taking calls and making apologies. There I was again, making myself miserable in order to make someone else happy. At least this time I recognized it.

Sunday, I tried with zero success to relax as my house full of contractors sawed and hammered. That evening, my friend JD came by and helped me automate my home with a gift of smart bulbs. It took a while to get everything set up and working, so I ran out and got dinner for us. While we were eating, “first date guy” sent a “Sleep Well” text that buzzed on my Apple watch. My phone was charging in the back room and I was having dinner with JD, so I didn’t respond. ONLY TEN MINUTES LATER I received the following:

Patrick

I’m not sure why this surprised me. He had spent the entire weekend showing me who he was. It was my birthday. I was busy and surrounded by people the entire weekend, yet this asshat felt that there was nothing and no one more important than him. After no response from me, the next day, he texted an apology. I have no plans to respond.

On the other hand, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while what you don’t want. But it’s way more awesome to be reminded each year how much the people in your life love you.

Saturday when I was out catching a friend’s band perform, my ex boyfriend from the late 1990’s dropped in to wish me a happy birthday. He makes a point of remembering me every year.

I spent the evening with Erika (who incidentally has the exact same birthday) and Kat, listening to music, being complete goofballs, and running into half the population of our city. We ended the night at a gay bar, where Kat promptly stole my phone and left me with these little gems.

We ran into Bill, who instantly became our bodyguard and bouncer. Then we found the prettiest and most fabulous drag queen in the cabaret show.

Told ya.

The next day I received a text from my friend whose band we’d seen the previous night. He told me he was writing a duet for us. He’s a BRILLIANT singer and songwriter, so I’m over the moon that he’s so psyched to work with me. A few minutes later, my friend Allison (who lives 3 hours away) called and sang me Happy Birthday. Ending the evening nerding out with JD was exactly what I needed. I’m not sure he realizes exactly how much I appreciated the visit.

All things considered, it was a good birthday. I was surrounded by people who love me, look after me, and let me be me.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Doris Day & The Secret Perils of Children’s Books

Last night my parents took me to dinner for my birthday. We do this every year and they always ask if it can be early since I usually have a lot of activities planned with my friends on the actual day. This year we’re planning to do Goat Yoga.

After dinner, we went back to my parents’ house and they began regaling me with stories from my childhood. My parents are some of the greatest people on the planet. Dad is one of those “salt of the earth” guys who can build a house from the ground up… and has. He’s a retired fireman who goes to lunch every week with his friends who call themselves the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out). He comes from a family of twelve in which he was the seventh and last son.

Mom is a retired government worker who spent a lot of time crunching numbers for the US Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture and various other government agencies. She’s one of those people who did exactly what she was told and never sought whatever lingered “outside the box.” She’ll fight you for a slice of cake or cream-filled doughnut and she’ll talk your ears off, sometimes repeating herself.

One day when Dad was picking Mom up from work, he took me to the mall beforehand. When we walked by K&K Toys, I saw a stuffed Saint Bernard complete with plastic brandy keg. I was a toddler, so he was GIGANTIC in relation to me, and is still the largest stuffed animal I’ve owned. I proceeded to wrap my arms around his neck and sit on the floor with him. When he saw that, Dad purchased him and on we went to pick up Mom with this “new pet” that dwarfed me. Mom didn’t quite know what to think.

Evidently, I had a habit of doing things like that. This is how my parents came to acquire Doris Day. Doris Day is a statue of a female Buddha. When my parents were out shopping for furniture to put in their new house, I wandered off and found this statue, wrapped my arms around it and exclaimed “DORIS DAY!” At the time, there was a TV show that starred Doris Day. In it she wore her hair on top of her head, much like the statue. Although the statue in no way actually resembled her, my parents thought that was so cute and funny that they purchased it. It is still in their formal dining room to this day.

Doris Day
Doris Day

Also in the formal dining room sits a doll that my Dad brought back from Korea. One of Mom’s co-workers had asked if he could bring back a doll for her child. Not truly comprehending that she wanted a toy baby doll, he came home with this…

The Scary Geisha Doll
The Scary Geisha Doll

For most of my childhood, this doll sat in my Mom’s sewing room. I didn’t think anything of it and hardly noticed it until…

As part of a program to encourage kids to read, we were given a catalog from which we could order books that we liked. Mom would give me the catalog and I would select a few books. For some reason, I chose a book that haunted me most of my formative years. It featured a Geisha who would grow long nails and kill people. The book was illustrated vibrantly and written for children (which is surprising given the whole death & killing thing). I have no idea what the name of the book was, but I clearly remember thinking after I’d read it that Mom’s doll was going to come to life, her fingernails would grow long and she’d kill us all. This “phase” in my life probably lasted a whole lot longer than it should.

Last night after seeing the doll again when I was checking out Doris Day, I told my parents. They were shocked. Mom thought she remembered the book, but had no idea the graphic content it contained. She also had no idea that I wasn’t fond of the doll and never wanted to be in the same room as it. Dad just chuckled.

MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro
When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤

I Am Ian Soap

In my house I have a few things that serve as I.Q. tests.

What do I mean by this?
Allow me to explain.

For instance, as long as I’ve owned my house, I’ve had a functioning doorbell. When someone coming to my house knocks without bothering to ring the bell, it occurs to me that our decision processes are not necessarily aligned.

If I’m faced with the decision of whether to ring or to knock, I always RING FIRST because the bell is there for a reason. If no one answers for an extended period of time and I don’t hear movement within the house (as if they’re attempting to get to the door because they heard the bell) I can then assume it’s broken and knock. But if it’s there, I have enough sense to ring it.

Said doorbell has been replaced a time or two, but I ended up replacing it most recently with a brightly lit doorbell so that there could be no question that it was in working order.

Don’t think I’m not taking note when a suitor doesn’t bother to ring it the first time he appears at my door.

Also the first time someone takes me out… I take note if they can’t find my house. I’m on a main road. It’s parallel to 2 other main roads. There’s a house number over my door and a house number on my mailbox. It’s 2017. Everyone has a cell phone or a GPS. If you’re too stupid to figure this out without calling me, you might be too stupid to date me.

I also noticed that ever since I purchased the fancy automatic hand soap dispenser, quite a few people went straight for the dish soap when washing their hands in my kitchen. Even though I placed the dispenser in what I’d thought was a conspicuous place, they STILL ALWAYS went straight for the dish soap. I found myself having to direct everyone… even multiple times. I was beginning to feel like a flight attendant.

So… I did what every annoying Type A girl does… I made signs… moreover labels (because who doesn’t own a fancy label maker these days?) and adhered them to the offending soaps. It’s been a few months since and the labels have worn off somewhat. Now the hand soap appears to have named itself. Meet Ian… Ian Soap.

I’m not sure exactly how that happened so strategically, but it made me laugh. (Who am I kidding… it makes me laugh every time I look at it.) And hopefully, after this batch of hand soap is done (and since that specific type of dispenser refill has become obsolete/too difficult to come by in normal shopping runs) I’m going to replace it with a dispenser that looks more like an actual hand soap dispenser. (Fingers crossed that the rest of the world will share my opinion on this.)

I’ll have to keep you posted to see if this alleviates the issue so that I don’t have to keep annoying my guests with signage. 🙂