July 2010

So there you are, sleeping soundly when some little bit of your semi-conscious mind says, “hmm…it’s a little brighter outside of my eyelids than it normally is before my alarm goes off.”

But you ignore that. You have no reason to doubt the accuracy of your cell phone alarm. It’s not yet failed you. You sleep.

When you realize it really has to be brighter out than normal, you pull yourself into full waking consciousness and reach out for the phone on the tabletop beside you. Flip it open. Force open the lids.

Oh. Crap.



What time are you supposed to be sitting at your desk answering the endlessly ringing phone? Oh yeah. That would be 7:45 AM.

First step: Call Work.

Still too early for anyone else to be answering YOUR phone so when that fails, you call one of the only other numbers you know. Finally reach a person, explain that you had actually originally planned to be late that morning and had already told your boss you would be but then plans changed and you took your scheduled lateness off the calendar so you needed to let someone know you might be as much as an hour late. Considering you had overslept by an hour and a half.

Two minutes later you’re in the shower, bathing quicker than you’ve bathed in your life. Thank heavens it’s Friday and jeans day. No leg shaving required. Another three minutes later, you’re shoving yourself into your clothes. Thirty seconds later you’ve got the hair dryer going because you can’t even let your hair dry naturally before making it into the office at this point (and wet hair just really doesn’t work in retail). Barest bits of makeup and jewelry, glance in the mirror, and you’re out the door.

Gracious, that was only took fifteen minutes. Unbelievable.

And then of course you get behind the slowest driver in the world. Well, okay they are actually speeding, just not enough for your particular needs. You use the extra time to call work one more time to make SURE everyone knows you are in fact on your way and you’re SO sorry. Fifteen more loooooooong minutes later, you find yourself in the parking lot. You practically run the five jillion miles to the bookstore. Because you are in fabulous shape, you make the trek at about a jillion miles a minute (takes about five minutes) and you’re clocked in, a mere thirty-five minutes after opening your eyes. This is a miracle.

So, to sum up, survival of this situation requires doing everything in your morning routine faster than you’ve ever done it before, a lot of cursing (yes, I actually left this out of the description above, but trust me it was a large part of my particular morning), and several apologies to your coworkers and boss. Oh yeah, and working your butt off every minute of the day you are there. And skipping lunch.

Which reminds me… I guess I’d better eat some dinner!


Well, the obvious answer here is, roll down the windows. But let’s throw in a few complications just for fun.

  • It is July.
  • You are in Alabama.
  • Your car has been baking in the sun all day long.
  • It’s 5:00 and just as hot as any other part of the day.
  • Your hair is pulled up in a complicated and un-duplicatable manner.
  • You are wearing a pencil skirt that constrains lower limb movement.
  • You are wearing a blouse with a tank top underneath.
  • One of your four windows doesn’t function.
  • You are driving for an hour in the blazing heat to meet your family for dinner at a lakefront restaurant.
  • You are running late.
  • You have to pump gas.
  • Your GPS is taking you around the world and down roads that have been closed for months.
  • Your vehicle starts to shake wildly upon hitting 60 mph, so wind speed is less than ideal (especially with the windows only open a couple of inches so your hair stays in tact).
  • Your sun glasses are causing your cheeks to sweat.
  • Even in the OFF position, your air conditioning vents blow HOT air.

I think that’s enough complication to make the whole scenario entirely unique and therefore rendering a post on how to survive said scenario completely useless. However, I will describe my various attempts to decrease the ambient temperature in my car from 115 degrees to 100.

  • Obviously, my windows were down about two or three inches. Well, all of my windows that function were, anyway.
  • Heels were kicked off. Smell be damned, my feet needed to breathe.
  • Skirt was  hitched up to almost inappropriate heights, left leg was propped on the door frame, promoting some vague sense of ventilation.
  • One elbow rested on the center console, the other on the window sill.
  • I leaned as far forward as I could manage so my back wouldn’t be soaking by the time I arrived at my destination.
  • Also the leaning forward let me roll the windows down a fraction more, as my hair was no longer being blown about.
  • Sun glasses were quickly abandoned, sun visor rendered absolutely essential.
  • I closed the air vents, hoping that my car wouldn’t overheat, because I was certainly on the verge of doing so myself.
  • Music turned up to ear-splitting levels, I bellowed along to many bad pop songs to distract myself.
  • Speeding helps make things go faster. Obviously. Turning off the GPS and throwing it out the window might have helped things along too, but I was unwilling to part with the poor thing. We’ve been through so much together…

Basically, I made it. I looked a little disgusting upon arrival at the restaurant, but what is family for, if not to tell you that you look classy and thinner regardless of your slightly-stinky-wrinkled-clothing-windblown-mop-of-hair-more-damp-than-dry true appearance?

Bring an umbrella to work and leave it there. That’s my first rule.

Fortunately I abide by this rule and had an available umbrella when a rainstorm came up out of nowhere this afternoon. Rule number two: barefoot is okay if you’re wearing closed-toe flat shoes. Who wants to walk through a puddle that will basically squish around in your shoe for the entirety of your five jillion mile trek to the car? No one.

Rule three is to roll up your pants legs. Fellas, please don’t do this. I mean, you can. But I think it’s probably a better idea to just let the ladies save their pants from the rainwater and you suck it up and let your pants get wet. But you can totally secretly wish you could roll your pants legs up. That’s cool.

Anyway. It might also be questionable to carry around an umbrella in a lightning storm. Avoid this if you are the tallest person in the vicinity. Or something.

If you’ve gone off the deep end like me and are actually walking across a college campus without shoes, watch where you step. Fortunately this is the deep south and people keep their needle drugs hidden in their apartments under their Bible, so the likelihood of accidentally stepping on a syringe is fairly slim. But tiny pebbles can REALLY hurt. Especially if you’re just splashing along minding your own business and come down pretty hard on one. This is the sort of accident that would generally end with me slipping and falling down in a lake of rushing rainwater. Fortunately, today I managed to avoid such an eventuality. Barely.

While I made it to my vehicle surprisingly dry, considering the deluge, the splashing, and my general clumsiness, things changed quickly once I was inside the car. Yeah. I know. That doesn’t sound right.

Rule number…oh whatever. If you drive a small car, have a game plan for closing and disposing of your umbrella BEFORE you shake it around in the door way and then end up with it dripping in your lap. This defeats the purpose of carrying an umbrella at all.

And finally, even when it’s raining, it’s freakin’ hot in Alabama in July. If your small car has no air conditioning, you’re going to want to roll down the windows. At this point I would say all previous rules are moot and everyone should just walk proudly through the rain in soggy shoes and pants and deal with the fact that one’s car seat is going to be a little damp in the morning.

Oh wow I’m so glad I thought of that now… one towel for driver’s seat officially waiting to be forgotten at 7:15 tomorrow morning. Check!

Similar to what I did last summer with ‘The Lifeguard Chronicles,’ I have decided to share some survival guides for the next several posts. Today, we discuss how LizHarrell survives talking on the phone all day long.

LizHarrell does not like the phone, and does not feel that she is alone. Many people have no love lost for this piece of technology, and, despite its many conveniences, would rather Alex G Bell had spent his time creating the text message so that today I would be texting via direct thought instead of on an ancient Motorola that won’t even allow cuss words in its predictive text. Anyway, I would rather carry on any variety of personal conversation through text and email than over the phone any day of the week, and wish it did not make me appear anti-social and unpleasant that I feel this way.

But, folks, this is a modern world and the phone is a large part of it. I can avoid 85% of all personal phone calls if I’m willing to really put effort into it. But at work, I’m stuck with the business standard way of communication: the phone. Email is fab, but I find that most people feel their problems are more effectively resolved with voice-to-voice communication. I get it. I really do. Especially in my customer-oriented field of work. You want a person to help you.

Problem is, you probably also want a person to help you who has some basic phone skills. Shy as I am, I learned these business phone skills easily while working as a lifeguard and even came to relish the phone answering chore. I honed my talents at the chain bookstore I rather infrequently mention these day for which I served as an assistant buyer in the corporate office. I was so good at it  that the receptionist and back-up receptionist thought it would be cool to go to lunch together most days and leave me to pick up the phone. I ask you, what’s the point in a back-up receptionist if that person is gone at the same time the regular receptionist is gone? Quite right. None.

My phone skills suffered as a sales rep, mainly because I was no longer fielding phone calls; I was making them. Or rather, coming up with every reason ever NOT to make them. Once I had my spiel down it got easier. But I am convinced it would have taken years of intensive therapy to overcome my hatred of the phone had I continued down that path.

Now I’m back on track and answering the phone like a(n almost) pro. I almost never know what problem is going to be thrown my way, but that’s sort of part of the adventure. Until I get fifteen LONG phone calls of an identical nature. In a row. Before lunch. But you know what, even if it isn’t much of an adventure, I still get a kick out of whipping out my secret weapon: Super Professional Smiling LizHarrell. SPSLH is the best phone answerer in the world. She smiles when she picks up the phone, even though no one but her co-workers (who may or may not believe her to be insane at this point) see her. She has a bright, clear tone that people love to listen to. She is the friendliest person on the face of the earth. She is helpful. She knows almost every answer, and if she doesn’t, gosh darnit, she’ll figure it out for you. She is never irritated that you are calling with the same question fourteen other people have already asked her that morning. She enunciates. She oozes charm. She is amazing.

She is obviously NOT me. But I have gotten quite good at pretending to be SPSLH. Not only do I have people thanking me on bended knee when they end the conversation, I’ve actually pulled off a major con at the same time. I am diabolical! I am fooling the world. Little do they know how much I spent the fraction of a second between phone ringing and my answering dreading every moment of the conversation I was sure to have. No, they believe I love it.

And you know what? I sort of do. SPSLH makes me better. And she can make you better too. But I recommend coming up with a new name. And potentially tweaking the gender. Or perhaps her goals in life. Maybe she should be a vegan, or something. You know, whatever works.

Have you ever been so bored that the only thing you can think to do is take a shower? Yeah, I know. I’m probably the only one.

Here’s basically how that goes:

  1. You think to yourself…”The dishwasher needs emptying, so what I think I’ll do is take a shower.”
  2. You have to replace your towel with a fresh one because you’ve already showered today and it’s still damp.
  3. You briefly consider taking a bath instead so you can read at the same time but realize you’d really need to clean the tub first and that isn’t happening.
  4. You have a strange memory of how you used to brush your teeth in the shower at college and how refreshing that had been. You wish you had a shower basket again so it wouldn’t be so weird to do that these days. Then you remember this is your house and you can do what you want. But at this point you’re already in the shower and it’s too late.
  5. At which time it is clear there is absolutely nothing to do in the shower that hasn’t already been done. At least while not in the shower, you had something you could be doing (dishes, ‘member?).
  6. You bathe. Again.
  7. And wash your hair.
  8. You turn the water hotter because really maybe you’ve been in the shower for all of five minutes at this point and that’s not a significant enough time to have avoided any boredom at all, and hotter water is something different, at least.
  9. You lean up against the wall and sigh. Gosh, this is boring, too.
  10. You wash your hair again. Why not? It says ‘rinse and repeat’…
  11. As you towel off, you wonder if 7:30 is too early to go to sleep. It’s not like the dishes won’t stick around ’til tomorrow…
  12. Now your hair is wet and so is your pillow. Great.

Good night.

I’m watching the Bachelorette. I watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette for two reasons:

  1. These people are so stupid and naive that I can’t help but laugh at their drama and exaggerations and in-fighting and occasional psychoses.
  2. Observing romance is like crack for a girl. Why else would soap operas exist? Or, for that matter, shows like the Bachelor?

But this week’s episodes were heartbreaking. I don’t want to feel SORRY for this insanely lucky woman! I want to laugh at her idiotic choices!

Especially when my usually eventful and amusing life seems to have turned the corner into particularly unfunny and emotional in the past few weeks. There really isn’t a lot I’m ready to talk about publicly regarding this turn of events, so I’m not really going to get into it. But I will say, it ain’t funny. And that’s yet another reason not to talk about it much here. Because what else is this little blog but an attempt to entertain through laughter?

And what else is the Bachelorette but a cheese-fest of romantic nonsense? Heartbreak as a result of an emotional idiot (me, in my case, in case you were wondering) making poor decisions? Puh-lease. I don’t wanna see it, and I’m pretty sure you guys don’t want to read about it either.

  • I would become obsessed with shoes. I adore heels and would own a pair for every outfit in my wardrobe. It would be amazing.
  • Every wall in my house would be lined with bookshelves full of the most delightful first edition books ever. People would travel from all over the world t0 see my collection.
  • I would own a Kitchen Aid mixer. I have not, in seven years of domesticity, encountered a recipe that could only be prepared with this kitchen gadget, but I want one anyway. In buffed silver. Also, I’d have a special cabinet that popped up to counter height with the mixer already on it so I’d never have to lift that darned thing.
  • I would eat at places like Hot & Hot Fish Club once a week.
  • I would give money to my high school and college Alma Maters. And I would feel compelled to write letters to the administrative boards of each letting them know how I expect my donations to be used.
  • I would own a house at the beach and one in the mountains. And I’d pay people to see after the upkeep of each.
  • OMG I would have a gardener. He or she would prevent things like weeds that turn into trees and trees that become infested with beetles and fall on power lines. And my roses wouldn’t be choked out by weeds. Basically, this person’s so goal in life would be to assure that  I’d have no weeds.
  • I would get my PhD in English and a Masters in Mathematics and probably another undergrad degree in Interior Design. And then I’d get a Masters or PhD in Architecture. After that I’d go for another undergraduate degree in Visual Arts. And then maybe Drama, just for fun.
  • I would own a Wii and I would have Rock Band, and I would play the drums a lot so that one day I look less spastic doing it and maybe be able to throw down a challenge to The Boss without embarrassing myself too badly.
  • I’d have already had three children. But if oodles just fell into my lap today, I’d adopt three. And promptly explode.
  • I would have the time to make a quilt. Side Note on the Personality of Liz: I don’t like to follow directions. It doesn’t matter to me that I’ve never made a quilt before nor have anything but the vaguest idea of how one would go about doing that, and in fact that makes it even BETTER because then when the quilt I make turns out to be AWESOME it’s like I’ve invented the quilt all over again.
  • I’m sure I’d save some and invest some. And tithe the appropriate amount.
  • I’d have a lap pool in my back yard. I’d be svelte.
  • I would buy a major publishing house. There should be no question what my first order of business would be.
  • I’d start a foundation to benefit research for the cure of sleep. I am far too addicted to this and it is a waste of precious life. Though every now and then it’s awesome.
  • I would surely have more worldly and fascinating things to blog about than what I’d do if I had oodles of cash.

The End.

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