I love my cats. I really do. They are special animals with unique personalities and glorious BLAH BLAH BLAH. I hate them.

They need food all the time, and fresh water and their litter, OH their litter. And the hair is always everywhere- I probably have cat fur-lined lungs, not to mention my poor wardrobe. I have to carry a lint roller everywhere I go.  My house is disgusting. I can’t blame them for everything but I can blame them for a lot.

I’ve given up hope of ever convincing anyone to take one of them (much less all three) so I’m going to share a story that, if I had any hope, I would keep to myself. But since I don’t!

I work long days. At the very least, I’m out of the house for nine and a half hours. Many days, it’s closer to twelve. Recently, I had one of these over-long days and was greeted joyously by only two of my delightful dumpling kitties.

Not that Kiki (my slightly neurotic and anti-social cat) ever gets up to greet me at the door, but I became concerned for her safety when she was not perched on the back of my navy blue lounge chair as usual. Nor was did she dart into the bathroom to get water from the faucet when I went to wash my hands. Nor did she come running when I refilled their food bowl.

By this time I knew exactly where she was. A few times a week, Kiki is allowed to stay in my room overnight. This is a special treat for her as she detests the other cats and loves only me. I put her out when I get up in the morning, but this particular morning she’d obviously managed to sneak into my bedroom while I was getting ready and, because I leave my door shut to avoid as much cat fur in the air as possible, got shut in. For eleven and a half hours.

One cannot have the realization that one has locked a cat in their room for eleven and a half hours and not be fully aware that accidents may have occurred. I predicted that my laundry basket was probably her makeshift litterbox. And sure enough, when I walked into the bedroom, my dinner in hand, I noticed an odd smell. It smelled rather like the peach and pear cobbler dish I’d left sitting on my bedside table from the night before. But stronger.

Since the smell wasn’t overwhelmingly awful, I figured I’d go ahead and eat before I determined the home of Kiki’s new litterbox. Kiki, by the way, was curled up peacefully at the foot of the bed, looking perfectly pleased with her current state of affairs. Clearly starvation had not yet set in. Needless to say, that cat was out on her ass in no time flat. And by out on her ass, I mean I threw her out into the living room while cursing vehemently.

Anyway, I decided to sit on the bed and eat my food.

Mistake. RIGHT where I sit and eat and sleep and spend a vast majority of my time at home, Kiki had peed. I was up almost instantly, but that did not salvage my khaki pants from a pretty serious soaking. Being that I’d just worked for eleven hours, I was both tired and my usual lazy self. So I stripped off the pants, grabbed some towels, layered them over the pee puddle and sat at the other end of the bed while I ate my dinner. Y’all, I realize this is disgusting. But I hadn’t eaten in quite some time and I already knew I had a long night ahead of me in repairing this situation.

It wasn’t until after I’d eaten that I discovered the poop.

She’d kindly taken my blanket and burried the feces within it. And because part of me had sat in this region upon entering the room, it was nicely smushed into the fibers of the blanket. And it no longer smelled like peach and pear cobbler. FML.

You can only imagine the words that flew forth from my lips at this discovery. I was wildly furious and further disgusted.

But when one lives without a man, one must do things one would otherwise make her husband do. So I cleaned up the poop. Stripped the sheets and started them washing. Rolled up the eggcrate mattress and deposited it in the garbage can outside. Felt to see if the mattress was wet (thankfully, it was not). Sprayed febreeze on the mattress anyway. Washed the sheets a second time. Dried them. Put them back on the bed. Collapsed.

I’m sure it will surprise no one to hear that Kiki has not been allowed anywhere near my bedroom since, and my resolve is firm about continuing that trend.

As they say,  ‘A man who lies down with dogs will get up with fleas.’ Or in my case, a woman who lets her cat sleep in her bed will soon be sleeping in a makeshift litterbox.


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 going to shoot for under 200 words for this supplementary post. I promise. Already used 15…

  • I like to wear skirts. Have I mentioned that? Yeah. So today was a windy day. I walked a short distance to lunch and experienced a real Marilyn Monroe moment RIGHT in front of a wall of glass doors. I don’t know how much was visible but I sorta freaked out attempting to control the situation. Probably just drew more attention to myself.
  • I had a college student think I looked like a fellow college student this afternoon. What what! 
  • The Boss told me that he had a lot of respect for what I do. And then qualified with, “So far…” Yeah. I’m hoping I took that the right way by laughing heartily. That’s basically how I react to everything, and ‘so far,’ it’s worked for me 🙂
  • OKAY that was going to be it, but I just had a drop in from a neighbor!! Got the full history on my house (scandal alert! will have to post on this soon!) and a veiled suggestion that maybe I have too many weeds on my front steps, if not everywhere. She brought watermelon, too.

BAM! 199 words.

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