I have had Don’t Fear the Reaper stuck in my head today. Maybe it’s because it is almost Halloween, that spooky darkness and death time of the year, or maybe it’s because I see a graveyard whenever I look out my back window. Seriously, my house backs up to a graveyard. This is actually what made me want to buy our house. Graveyards and Halloween (except for the trick-or-treaters) do not scare me. I fear something far worse than ghosts and goblins — the doorbell.
I work from home. I’m not sitting here eating bon bons and waiting for someone to visit me. I have deadlines and I already battle constant interruptions from my four animals. The last thing I need is another obstacle, whether it involves talking about Jehovah, or saying no to lawn care ( I have a teenager for that). This is why I have a No Soliciting sign. I’ve learned that lots of folks need to look up “soliciting” in the dictionary.
I’m an introvert. I can barely handle scheduled socializing. Dropping in on me is super annoying. You might as well just parachute down my chimney. It would have the same effect on my frazzled nerves.
Again, I WORK FROM HOME. I’m in my pajamas at least half the day. I’m not dressed for company. Don’t hate me because I’m comfortable.
I have dogs. The dogs go NUTS when the doorbell rings. They also tend to run out and jump on the person standing on the porch when I open the door. They give kisses, too. Remember, the big one eats poop. This is why I need notice before someone shows up. I need to crate these beasts.
A lot of home invasion robberies begin with a doorbell ring. Here is one example. I’m not opening the door.
So, long story short, text first. Don’t call; just text. I need at least 24 hours notice for all visits. Thanks. Happy Halloween. There will be a bucket of candy on the porch. Feel free to take a piece.
As I clutched the steering wheel with sweaty palms, I glanced over at the speed limit sign on the side of the highway and wondered two things. Why don’t they have a separate highway for huge trucks? And why had I agreed to leave my nice, safe house and travel to the Erma Bombeck conference?
I had been excited to attend the Erma conference for the entire four months between the time I bought the ticket and the day it was time to make the big drive to the University of Dayton, Erma’s alma mater. On the actual day I had to leave my cozy warm home, family, dogs and cats, I got a little anxious. Sure, I would get to spend time with writers that I know and love while learning new and fascinating things, but I was also going to HAVE to spend time with people for four days straight. As an introvert, I lose energy from peopling. So, I eased myself into socializing.
My shoulders were knotted throughout my entire NINETY-minute drive along side huge trucks. Yes, people who flew or drove for days, I drove a whole hour and a half to be there. Don’t hate me because I live in the middle of corn fields. As soon as I got to my room at the illustrious Dayton Marriott, I decided there was no way I was going to the awards event at the library that night. I imagined a crowded library full of people I did not know, a standing room only event. Nope. So, instead, I unpacked and hung up my clothes. Then, I ordered room service and ate in silence as nature intended. I was slightly disappointed by the WAY TOO MUCH guac on my turkey burger and the fact that this was a Pepsi establishment (I’m a Diet Coke purist), but overall I enjoyed eating without having to feed animals first or do dishes after. I’m lying. My husband usually does the dishes.
At around 8, I received a Facebook message from one of my favorite writers, Her Royal Thighness. She summoned to the bar as only someone royal can. I had a good couple of hours hanging out with the crew. Then, the little light in my head turned off and I knew I was done with people for the night. I got up and told everyone that I had to go read. Some of them understood what I meant.
I tried my best to appear extroverted throughout the conference. I was super social for me but probably not really social compared to others. I did things to help myself survive the conference and get the most out of it. I had room service four times during the five days I was there, once was during dinner the last night because I wanted to go to the stand-up comedy show later. I knew that I would not be able to do both. I cancelled housekeeping so I could go back to my room as needed and not have people in there cleaning. I sat on aisles during presentations because I hate being smooshed between people. I feel claustrophobic really easily.
I’m glad I was a little on the anti-social side. I avoided the Erma flu. Well, some people caught the flu. Others caught a stomach virus, which is NOT the flu. I don’t know why, but people saying “stomach flu” irritates the piss out of me. At any rate, I’m glad I avoided both of the viruses that were going around. I did so with a combination of not shaking a lot of hands and using hand sanitizer like I was being paid to do so.
I really enjoyed most of the workshops I attended. My favorite by far was “How to Uncover Your Voice and Get It Down on Paper.” The speakers, Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, taught us how to set a kitchen timer and just write without editing or judging ourselves. As a writing professor, I have known about free writing for years, but I had never really allowed myself the pleasure. During the last five minutes of the workshop, someone told me that Kathy Kinney was Mimi on the Drew Carey Show. I had not realized that. I just thought that she and Cindy were awesome workshop leaders. I immediately followed them on Facebook and liked their page Queen of Your Own Life.
Kathy wasn’t the only famous person at the conference. A lot of people were taking pictures with Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, Alan Zweibel (one of the original SNL writers), author Amy Ephron, and writer, actor, and producer Cathryn Michon. Honestly, I’m just not a fan girl. I didn’t get pictures or autographs. I haven’t been star struck since I met Michael J. Fox when I was 19. They are just people with cool jobs. They eat, sleep, and crap like the rest of us. I was impressed with knowledge they were willing to share with us, not the fact that they had been on TV.
The Erma conference is the best writer’s conference I have been to. I am looking forward to the next one in 2018. I know that I will probably have a mini panic attack while I am driving there along side semis, just like I did this year. I know I will bathe in hand sanitizer and fight the urge to wear a surgical mask. My husband suggested that I should buy a bunch of hand sanitizer, don fairy wings and a tiara, and just go as the hand sanitizer fairy. I think I might do it. So, if you are at Erma in 2018, look for the short, chubby, awkward girl with fairy wings and claim your free bottle of hand sanitizer. It could keep you from catching the plague.
A Facebook friend of mine recently posted about HOW TIRED she was of hearing about introverts. I guess I can understand that as articles and memes about introverts are very popular right now, with good reason. Being a member of the exhausted by people clan, I can tell you why we are writing and making funny pictures about being introverted. It’s because we are TIRED of being told that we need to “come out of our shells” or “get out more.” I’ve been told this by friends and family my whole life. Strangers join in with the unwanted advice, too. Some random dude on Twitter just put me in a list called “Introvert Problems.” This guy claims to be “Exploring introversion, shyness, and social anxiety to break free from the pain of being in our shells and succeed in life and business.” Screw off and go read a book. Introverts are not shy; we just need more time to ourselves. So, if you want to be friends with one, you need to follow some simple rules to avoid frustration.
No last minute invites. This throws me into a tizzy. I plan out my weekly schedule on the calendar in my head. Same day invites are not on that calendar and I can’t just up and change my schedule. I have all of my tasks planned at least 24 hours in advance, if not longer. If you want to make plans, give me a few days notice.
Don’t invite me to anything loud or crowded. I’m not the kind of girl who wants to go clubbing or to a super crowded festival. Not only do I just not like being smashed between bunches of people, I really can’t HEAR in situations like that. I wear hearing aids. They make EVERYTHING louder, not just your voice. So, thumping club music and carnies on cheap microphones are both nos for me.
Please don’t require me to make small talk. I hate small talk. So, I have a tendency to listen for a few minutes and then stare into space and think about all of the other shit I have to do, like actually work on that novel I’ve been writing for four years, and how listening to this person, who I can’t really hear, is taking time away from that. This is a lose lose situation. If people I don’t know will be there, please have a dog or cat for me to hang out with, preferably a cat.
Understand that I WORK FROM HOME. By “work from home” I don’t mean that I have a fabulous business opportunity for you at Jamberry, or that I am counting my Scentsy inventory. I mean that I have a big girl job with an online university. I’m not hanging out waiting for a social invitation, and I can’t babysit or pick you up from the airport. I’m expected to be online during business hours. After that, I have a part-time job, also online. AND then, I try to find time to cook dinner, do laundry, and WRITE. I never have enough time to write. If a writer doesn’t get time to write it’s like being constipated in the brain.
DON’T call me!Don’t take it personally, but I hate the phone. I probably won’t answer. Just text as nature intended. And text before coming over. If you just show up at my door, I will let my big dog jump on you and lick you. She eats her own shit.
I know it seems like a lot to ask, but that was only five rules. If you can just follow those, we can be friends. Well, we can be friends who get together like once a week or month or so. Just like world travelers need a day for each hour they travelled outside of their time zone to get back on a normal schedule, introverts need days without any social plans to recover from the last social occasion. So, give me my down time and I will be somewhat energetic the next time I see you.
Well, it’s the “most wonderful” time of the year again. By “most wonderful” I mean stressful as hell. It’s time for shopping and decorating and cooking and baking and gaining at least ten pounds and dealing with oodles of people. Yes, the holidays are here. I say holidays because there are a few of them at the same time; so don’t get all political/religious on me. I hate all of the winter holidays equally because they involve going out in public and shopping with others. If you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t since I am pretty weird, you hate Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza shopping, too. So, I have prepared a list of holiday shopping coping mechanisms.
Try like fuck to find it on Amazon and avoid the whole shopping trip. I know. I know. There are certain things you CAN’T buy online. With my tree trunk legs, I have to buy boots in person because most of them don’t fit my sturdy calves.
If you just can’t avoid shopping amongst other humans, eat hard-boiled eggs and Brussels sprouts for breakfast. Once you start dropping flammable farts, everyone will steer clear.
If you loathe salespeople like I do, avoid eye contact when entering store. Just keep your chin on your chest and stare at the floor.
“He shouldn’t hit me. You shouldn’t hit me about God, Mamma. You should never hit anybody about God—”
The Conversion of the Jews
I was in my classroom at Bonita Springs Middle School. I taught drama, or at least I tried to. I was horrible at classroom management. School started at 9:35, and it was before my first period class. A kid, Tyler, ran in and said, “Miss Petty, I know it’s the JAPS!!” I was so confused. Tyler was a good kid, and I did not suspect drugs. I thought he was just, you know, acting for me. Then, he turned on the TV in my class, and my jaw dropped. We kept that TV on all day. All I wanted to do was leave and get my son from preschool, but we did not dismiss early. It was the day after my 30th birthday. Suddenly, being 30, wearing a size 8 (which was “fat” for me at the time), and having too many bills for my salary did not matter.
When I could leave for the day, I picked up my son, who was 4 and very much unaware of what had happened. He wanted to have dinner at McDonald’s. After all, they had a playground, toys, and fries. What more do you need in life? I didn’t take him to McDonald’s. We drove through, instead. I was afraid to sit with my son in a public place. I was afraid that some crazy person would walk in with a bomb, or Anthrax (the poison, not the band), or a gun, or something. So, we drove through and ate our fries at home, where I felt safe, but still wondered how far I was from a military base, a power plant, or any possible target for terrorism. I still think like this whenever I go to an amusement park.
I did not show my son that I was afraid. I did not cry. This morning, twelve years later, I finally cried about 9/11. I was watching the Moment of Silence on the Today Show. The screen was split, with people in New York on the left and Mr. and Mrs. Obama, Mr. and Mrs. Biden, and a lot of other people in Washington, D.C. on the right. There was a woman in New York, with brown curly hair; maybe you saw her. She started crying so hard that she had to lean on someone. I thought, “She probably lost someone that day. Maybe it was her husband, or a sibling, or a cousin, or a friend. She lost SOMEONE.” That is when I cried. That is what it is all about really. People are getting killed over differences of opinion. Seriously. People are real. They bleed. They die. We should not “hit” anyone about God or Politics, or anything else.
My blog stats interest me more than gluten and calorie free Twinkies. (Does such a slice of heaven exist?) They tell me what countries readers are from, what entries they are reading, and what search terms lead them to me. I’ve seen some amusing search terms, but this one really inspired me: shitty at sales job introvert.
I immediately felt sorry for the person who entered that into Google. I imagined a young guy with bills to pay. He’s obviously worried about his crappy sales job, so he can’t sleep. He decides to go looking for real information on why he just can’t sell those cars, newspaper subscriptions, Life Alert systems, or whatever. He is looking for some kind of expert advice. Instead, he finds me. Poor guy.
Well, Mr. Shitty at Sales Job Introvert, today is your lucky day. I’m going to share one of my own “shitty at sales job introvert” stories with you. It probably won’t help, but at least you will know you are not alone.
Let’s go back to Miami in 1990. I had just moved back from FSU to go to FIU, live at home, and be able to see my boyfriend almost daily. Read more about my first year of college at FSU (insert tomahawk chop) here. I needed a job, and Macy’s actually hired me. Back then Macy’s was still fancy. Now, it’s like what J.C. Penney used to be before they became Sears, and Sears became K-Mart. So, I was kind of excited to work at Macy’s because I would have an EMPLOYEE DISCOUNT. I could buy Guess Jeans and Liz Claiborne everything at 20% off. Woo Hoo!
I had been a cashier at the two jobs I had in high school – Publix and Woolworth. I had no idea what it meant to be a SALES person. I learned quickly. At Macy’s, at least back then, sales associates had to EARN their salary in commission. So, my commission rate was 6% and my hourly salary was 5 something, and I worked about 30 hours a week. So, basically, I had to sell enough merchandise so that 6% of my total sales equaled my base salary. I would do the math for you, but math makes my head hurt. I rarely even met my quota, which means I really never earned anything above my base salary. In short, I sucked.
Anyway, I was totally shitty at my sales job because not only was I an undiagnosed introvert, but I was way too honest. Seriously, when people asked me how something looked on them, I would tell them the truth. If someone asked, “Does this dress make me look fat?” I would answer, “Well, it’s not really flattering on you.” And I worked in the JUNIORS department, people. You don’t make teen girls cry AND make good commission.
As an introvert, I also sucked, and still suck, at being competitive. I just don’t care about winning, no matter what it is. I worked with two FT sales women. One was trying to look like a Barbie even though she was short and stubby like me. She constantly told me of her need to pay rent through her plump, glossy red lips. The other one was a shark from Brazil who spoke Spanish, Portuguese, and English. So, there I was only speaking English, still living with my parents, and not giving a crap about selling stuff. I lasted about nine months. The highlight of my time at Macy’s was meeting Pia Zadora. She used to shop there. I doubt she does now because, as I mentioned, Macy’s is not what it used to be.
So, Sir Shitty at Sales Job Introvert, I have some advice for you. Get out! Run! You are not meant to be in sales. Go get a nice office job somewhere, or a bank job — something where you don’t have to push anything on anyone. You know you don’t have the energy for it. Trust me, you will be able to sleep better.
Sundays tend to be my domestic goddess days. I’m usually busy for hours with vacuuming, laundry, and even ironing. While I was ironing my son’s work pants, khaki Chinos, I thought that he could probably use a couple more pairs. Then, I thought about going to Kohl’s, where we got the pair he presently owns. I didn’t want to think about how they are going to insist I use my Kohl’s card so I can save whatever percent, and ask me if I have my Kohl’s cash or Kohl’s coupon from the circular that is mailed to my house every 25 seconds. As your friendly neighborhood work from home ENGLISH professor, shopping that requires all of these numbers and extra accessories makes my head hurt. Then, I remembered that I don’t have to go to Kohl’s, or anywhere, to get my son’s Chinos. There is that glowing safe haven for all of my shopping needs – Amazon.
You don’t get pestered to join a rewards program every time you check out. If one more cashier asks me to add a plastic card to my key ring I may end up on the evening news for flying over the counter and stomping on the cash register while screaming, “I JUST WANT TO PAY AND LEAVE!!” On Amazon, you get asked to join the Prime program once a year, and it actually has real benefits like free shipping and cheap movie rentals.
You can choose not to apply for the store credit card without some human in your face trying to reiterate how much money you will save because obviously your are not understanding this. I don’t want the damn store card and I’m not stupid.
Two words—other people. You don’t have to walk through a maze of people who either enjoy shopping or don’t know what the hell they want to get to your item of choice. You just click and pay. It’s a slice of hermit heaven.
Most things are actually in stock. I hate to name names here, but Best Buy, I’m talking to you. Most of the time that I go into actual stores, other than the grocery store, I am unable to locate the item I need. This happens ALL THE TIME in Best Buy. It almost NEVER happens on Amazon. They stock EVERYTHING.
No parking lot. Parking lots always seem full whenever I want to shop. Also, they’re usually not covered, so you need to walk in the snow, rain, wind or whatever unpleasant weather to get to the nice climate-controlled store. And, there’s usually that one idiot who leaves their dog in the car, which causes me to have to dig out the phone number to report them to the sheriff’s office. In addition to everything else, there are creepy people who stalk you so they can take your parking spot, and sometimes, according to a recent 20/20 episode, they get violent.
I’m not taking any chances. I will just stay right here at my cozy dining room table with a cat on my lap, and log in to Amazon. See you never, people-filled stores.
Note: “Where Shopping is a Pleasure” is Publix’s slogan. Publix is the world’s best grocery store, and I miss it dearly now that I live in Yankee land.
A couple of weeks ago, I left the comfort zone and went on a scary trip to Bath and Body Works during one of their sales. It was terrifying and I blogged about it here. A kind soul named Olivia saw my Tweet about the blog and reached out to me for my mailing address. Now, I don’t normally just give my address to strangers, but she was offering beauty product samples, DELIVERED to my home. I would not have to pay for them or leave the house to get them. Win-win.
Olivia sent Perfectly Posh samples, along with detailed instructions on how to use them. Before trying them, I read more about the products, and I was thrilled to learn that they are all cruelty-free and as hypoallergenic as you can get. While people can be allergic to just about anything, Perfectly Posh really tries to use gentle ingredients. So, since is a Sunday, a typical shower and put on different pajamas day for me, I decided to try everything.
Here’s what I thought of the products I tried:
Best Friend Forever Face Wash (BFF): I usually shy away from scrubs, as they tend to irritate my Irish girl pasty skin. This one did not. It left my skin feeling super clean, and better than when I paid $95 for a facial at the spa. Yes, I was dumb enough to do that.
The Stripper D-Tox Body Mud Mask: My skin tends to be sensitive, as you may have gathered from my pasty Irish skin comment. Olivia told me The Stripper would “tingle” and feel “slightly warm.” She also told me “Don’t panic.” It’s like she knows me. I’m glad she prepared me because the first 10 seconds were more HOLY MOTHER OF GOD than tingle. After that, I was fine. I even painted my toenails while waiting for the mask to dry. This mask can be used on your entire body, but I would only put it on my face. I can’t imagine having my whole body “tingle” for 10 seconds.
Sweet Young Thing: This is a creamy serum. It’s light; I didn’t feel like my face was suffocating, like I do when I use the carrot oil stuff I paid $35 for at the spa. Since a little goes a long way, I still have enough serum to use for at least 4 days.
Moisturizer 911: This is a great face moisturizer. It’s light enough to use morning and night. It can be used alone, or with Sweet Young Thing.
Sugar Fix: I’m not really a body scrub kind of girl due to that whole sensitive skin thing I have going on. Sugar Fix is really gentle, though. I used it in the shower, and I even washed my face with it.
You Can Call My Candy: This is a body lotion. Posh calls it a Slather. I only had a little sample, so I just did my legs. It was light, and natural. It didn’t make my legs itch like some other products.
Hey Honey Hand Creme: This is by far my favorite Perfectly Posh product. Hey Honey Hand Creme instantly takes away that winter, skin splitting, dry feeling. It even made my hands look smoother, and therefore younger. It lasts through a few hand washings, too. So, I wasn’t constantly reapplying it like with Bath and Body Works products.
Back in the late 70’s, I was a latch key kid who had a list of chores and a healthy fear of her fierce single mom. I was given strict orders to do my chores and homework (they didn’t kill elementary kids with homework in the 70’s), and stay in the apartment and not answer the door, which was easy for a young hermit. At the time, we lived in a duplex on Taylor Street in Hollywood, FL. Since I was not supposed to go outside or have friends over, I did a half-assed job on my chores and then turned on the TV. This was before cable. So, I had to find a station with cartoons, and then move the antenna around on the TV until the static cleared enough for me to see Hercules or Deputy Dog. Young people: antennas were skinny metal rods that used to be on top of TV’s – the fat, heavy TV’s – never mind.
At some point, usually during a Publix commercial, I made a snack. I didn’t reach for fruit, even though we usually had apples and bananas on hand – not bad for a single parent household, eh statistic people? Nope. I would eat things that are gross to me now. Once, I grabbed a cold hot dog out of the fridge and sat on the floor in front of the TV, just munching away. Most of the time, I ate a serving bowl full of some sort of Captain Crunch type cereal. A bowl is a serving, right?
Once I got into middle school, AKA the most miserable time in my life, my snacking got weirder. One afternoon, after learning about protein, or “muscle meat” as my sixth-grade health teacher called it, I grabbed a leftover cooked chicken breast and ate it cold, with my hands, over the sink. It was like I was in a zombie trance. Must eat muscle meat. That same year, I tried to make cornmeal mush afterschool. No, I’m not sure why. Since we didn’t have Google or live in the Deep South, I just dumped corn meal, flour, salt, and milk in a frying pan with melted butter. Boy, was that a nasty snack. I ate it right over the frying pan; it was salty and carby. I started eating cookie dough about that time, too, sometimes homemade, but mostly the Pillsbury kind in the roll. I still do this and it scares my husband. He’s worried about raw eggs, or something. Carbs are like drugs to me.
My downfall is pasta. It’s a gateway drug for me, or a trigger food, or whatever the cool kids call it. It makes me eat like a killer whale. Once I start eating pasta, especially with pesto, it’s like I can’t even see. I think this is called disassociating, but I didn’t end up majoring in psychology. Carb-induced disassociating is probably the cause of many restaurant and grocery store thefts. People eventually run out of pasta, so they must go out and steal more. It’s only logical.
I wish I could say that all of this is behind me, but it’s not, not totally. I have found that if I eat mostly low carb things, I do better. Every so often, I have a weird craving. Today, it was salt. It started out innocently enough; I was having an apple with peanut butter, and I sprinkled a little salt on the apple. Then, when the apple was gone, I wanted more salt. So, I just ate like a quarter of a teaspoon of pure table salt. I’m glad there are no cameras in my house to witness things like this. Actually, I could probably make a lot of money if I had my own reality show. TLC, are you reading?
When the whole Mary Kay Letourneau story originally broke in March of 1997, I had literally JUST given birth to my baby boy. I sat there holding him and watching the news, and shaking my head. Only one thought crossed my mind, “If a creepy almost middle-aged teacher ever has sex with my son when he is 13, or any age less than like 30, I will cut her. She would not even make it to court, or jail, or out of the back seat of her mom minivan, because I would stab her.” Those were my exact thoughts, folks, because I am a mama lion.
Seeing as how I sit home in my jammies and talk to cats a lot, it can be assumed that I spend a LITTLE time on Facebook. It’s where my friends “are” and it is where I get most of my news. Earlier today, in my newsfeed, I saw that Mary Kay was arrested again. It was for something dumb like driving without a current license, but you know where my mind went. I immediately wondered whose innocent little boy she was trying to get to impregnate her now. Why can she not get run over by the Polar Vortex or something?
I know that was mean, and very not yuppie Buddhist, but Mary Kay just never stops being icky to me. She had babies with a middle schooler, you guys! Think about that. I used to be a middle school teacher. I never found my students to be possible, um, partners. Not only is it sick and morally wrong, but also middle schoolers are just not sexy.
First of all, have you SMELLED a middle-schooler lately? They either smell like rotting lumberjacks or cheap car wash deodorizer. It’s the age when parents have to force them to shower! You have to hold them down or roofie them to get them to put on deodorant. When they do take an interest in their own scent, they fumigate with Axe. Really, Mary Kay? That is what you found irresistible, lumberjack armpits and greasy hair behind a fog of aerosol?
If the odor doesn’t get you, the attitude will. I would rather sit outside in the negative whatever temperatures we have had here in Ohio than hang out with middle schoolers ever again. Ever. They are the most obnoxious individuals. I know this because I was one. Back in the day, before caller ID, cell phones, and helicopter moms, my BFF and I used to torment dorky kids and old folks with prank calls. Seriously. Mary Kay, did you sit there and laugh when Vili called your elderly neighbor to see if his refrigerator was running. So hot.
The barely teens are also big betters and darers, especially the boys. They dare each other to drink hot sauce and eat bugs. I hope Mary Kay drew the line when her lover wanted to make her son eat a jar of horseradish. Things get weird when your almost pseudo step-dad is in your class.
Mary Kay, I get that Vili is 30 now, and supposedly it’s no longer icky, but he became your, I’m going to vomit just saying this, LOVER, when he was 13. Why and how did you ever find him sexy? Was it because there was no Match.com back then? Please stay out of trouble, girl. I get the barfy chills when I see your name in my newsfeed.