Ok. It was Wednesday that I declared to my Facebook Friends that I would mow my grass at 4:30 that afternoon.

Confession: I didn’t do it.

BUT! I did do it this morning (and it’s only like 2 and a half days later!) and that has to count for something, right?

And to be honest, now it’s done, I’m not sure why I was stalling. It was…easy. I think Saturday mid-morning is the socially acceptable time to mow one’s lawn, so I guess it was a good time for me to debut into the world of concerned and involved homeowners.

Only problem with that is, I wasn’t the only person out cutting the grass. My next door neighbor (also a woman) was pulling out her mower at the same time I was dragging mine bodily from the garage.

[Side Note: Dad got me my new wheel key and we successfully engineered the riding lawn mower into full functionality again about two weeks ago. Yay Dad!! I love you!]

Anyway. My neighbor and I were about to be mowing our yards at the same time. I feel like there has to be some unwritten etiquette that I am unaware of in this situation. Whoever gets their mower turned on first goes first. Sort of like…bowling. You don’t bowl at the same time as the people next to you. It’s rude. Right?

Also I felt like an ass with my gigantic riding lawn mower, because the woman next door was using a push mower. An ELECTRIC push mower. I am a polluting, lazy jerk.

My front yard was in the most desperate need of attention, and their front yard is facing another direction entirely, so I made for the front yard first. Maybe like 20 minutes later, I was ready to move on to the back yard and it looked like the woman next door was just making her way around her back yard fully for the first time. She was mowing against the fence our back yards share. Crap.

Her poor little electric mower was being put to the test against a whole bunch of weeds and I was about to cruise along past and shoot my chewed up grass through the fence onto her. That felt rude. But I wanted to get the show on the road! I was hot! And sweaty. And uncomfortable.

But I’m nothing if not polite in awkward situations, so I hopped off the mower and went inside to cool off. I gave her fifteen minutes and then finished up the back yard with some serious ease.

Mowing the grass is actually a very satisfying activity. An hour of work and a dramatic result. Like doing laundry or vacuuming a cat-fur-lined rug. Heck, I may even retain this chore if I ever do get the opportunity to hand it over to a spouse again. He can just use the weed eater.

Because let’s be honest. If it took me 28 years to mow the grass on my own, it’s probably going to be another 28 before I figure out how to operate a weed eater! 😉

OR
Liz Attempts Yard Work As It Is Spring and Her Grass (read: WEEDS) Is Beginning To Grow

OR
A Wheel Pin and a Pin Wheel Are Two Entirely Different Things, No Matter What You Might Think

OR
My Dad Is Terrific But We’re Both Unobservant As Heck

OR
Yard Work Is Just as Crappy As I Thought It Would Be, and I Will Continue To Avoid It If At All Possible

Ok, I think that I’ve sufficiently titled this piece. It should be known from the start that I loathe yard work, despite rather enjoying being outdoors when it’s nice weather. It is entirely possible my loathing of yard work stems from only on the rarest of occasions being asked to participate in that activity during my formative years, and witnessing the sweaty, exhausted mess my dad always looked upon completion of these tasks.

In the last year, however, I’ve had to put in a little effort to make the outside of my house (halfway) presentable. I can now confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that yard work does indeed suck and I tend to look much like my father looks after spending much time at it.

It should also be known that my dad is an amazing man who is making up for his failure (just joshin’, Dad) to teach me about how to take care of one’s property as a youth by making the two-hour trip down from Birmingham to help me with the disaster the Ex and I created over the last three years in this home. He’s had a few month reprieve with the wintry weather, but spring has officially sprung and my weeds are again thriving and in need of a trim. So Dad drove down to teach me how to use my riding lawn mower on Saturday.

Some things you should know about this mower:

  • It is about nine years old.
  • the Ex was formerly jumping off the battery and pumping up two of the tires before each use.
  • Neither Dad nor I have any idea how to use it.
  • It has had nothing but the most basic maintenance paid to it since the Ex and I obtained it seven years ago.

Dad had excellent intentions at the outset: get the tires patched so we don’t have to pump them up before every use. Last time he was kind enough to replace the battery, a generally successful venture. Saturday, it was to be the tires. And they were! Oh, those poor tires were beautifully whole again, and the only expense was $30 and a couple of trips to the tire shop.

And the tires went back on the mower with a fair amount of ease. And we filled the gas tank. And we cranked it up. And we engaged the wheels. Aaaaaand… nothing. The mower did not move. Dad and I, not being small-engine savvy, were a bit stumped. But as I say, my father is something of a genius, and after we found the owner’s manual online, Dad did a little hunting and discovered that the problem was probably a missing Wheel Pin.

Ten minutes and removal of both back wheels proved that this theory was correct. When the back tire was removed, the wheel pin (a little rectangular metal pin that fits into a groove on the axle) had fallen out. Fine and dandy, just search the driveway and it shouldn’t be too hard to miss, right?

Wrong. I have a gravel driveway, if you recall. Once lost, one might as well be hunting one’s teenaged daughter at a Justin Bieber concert. Or perhaps an autographed copy of the Bible. It just isn’t likely to happen unless you are extremely, extremely lucky. And of course, Dad and I are not known for our abilities to find needles in haystacks (or even boxes of cereal in small pantries), so our efforts (long though they may have been) were for naught. No wheel pin was located. And sadly, it was really too late in the day to acquire a new one.

And so, my weeds live to grow another week. Or two. Or ya know, until someone complains, which in my neighborhood, isn’t likely to happen until August, if ever. Viva la Weeds!

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.

It has been TEN YEARS since I graduated from high school. TEN YEARS since I met my college roommate, Dear Friend and subsequently Funky and Fabulous friends. TEN YEARS since I first shook hands with the man I would eventually marry and, last year, divorce. Y’all, I still feel 18.

My ten-year high school reunion is happening this summer. Obviously, I will fool no one who is the occasional reader of this blog, but I have a plan for appearing to have accomplished what some might have thought I was capable of accomplishing in ten years but I haven’t even come close to yet:

I’m not going.

One of my loyal friends will spread the rumor that I’m happily unattached and busily touring the states promoting my YA novels that were published under a nom de plume. Stephenie Meyer perhaps. We are not dissimilarly featured, she and I; I might convince a few folks.

Of course most of Stephenie’s back story will have been fabricated. I live and work quietly in Auburn, am not a graduate of BYU or the mother of three boys with a handsome Hispanic man (ok I’ll admit none of this is probably actually true, I’ve read just enough about the real Ms. Meyer to sound foolish to those who really know what they’re talking about). Anyway, the point is, I’m ME but I’m also secretly wildly successful. And of course they’ve all heard of me and envied me from afar but didn’t realize they were envying ME. And after that night, they’ll say to themselves, “That Liz, I always knew she was going to have an amazing life. I sure do wish I’d kept up with her, I might could have met Taylor Lautner” OR “I bet she wrote Edward Cullen after me, I always knew she liked the quiet, pale, super-smart type” OR “Wow what a sell out. Why didn’t I think of that?”

Then at the 20 year reunion when I show up they’ll all probably have figured out it was all a dirty falsehood, but it won’t matter then because I really will be a successful author who read a bit of her novel to the Creative Writing department the Friday night before and had to take a special break from her book tour just to see them. And my utterly wonderful husband will be by my side, lovingly gazing down at me as I talk about our two great, smart kids who I’d have every intention of enrolling at ASFA if we didn’t love New York so much. And we’ll all laugh about the ten-year reunion that I skipped while pretending to be Stephenie Meyer, and they’ll all think to themselves, “She really didn’t have to do that, Liz is such a star, it just takes everyone different lengths of time to reach their full potential” OR “She’s just as hot as she was twenty years ago” (PLEASE?!?!?) OR “Her books are so much better than Stephenie Meyer’s, thank god…”

And for those of you who actually think I’d skip this reunion and pretend to be someone I’m not, you’d better rethink that. Of COURSE I’m going. I may have to find the bar before I feel like talking much, but I guarantee we’ll all laugh about the disaster of my life. And if I can make people laugh, I’ll feel pretty successful after all.

I just tried to hang up a blouse. Six separate times. On two different hangers. The thing was absolutely determined NOT to be hung. Tears were nearly shed.

This little interaction between me and the blouse is the perfect summation of my day.

Having closed the store (at midnight) last night, I planned to let myself sleep until 9 this morning. At nine, I pressed the tiny button on my phone to snooze. At 9:05, I did the same. By 9:30, I was pressing the button without even regaining consciousness. This went on until 10:30 this morning. Folks, please keep in mind I work in retail and am closing the store three nights in a row. I don’t want to sleep until 10:30, even keeping in mind that I get home around 12:45 (or 1:20 am, like this morning), but my body makes me. I can’t change this biological imperative. I must sleep. So my morning is totally shot.

Once I was finally up and going, I started a chore on my lengthy list and then got distracted and began another chore. As this happened multiple times, I accomplished almost nothing.

Then, off to work – and early, too, because the store was busy and an associate called in sick. Our District Manager, the slightly intimidating man that he is, was already there evaluating our store’s level of awesomeness. One bright spot was that I arrived at the store at the same exact moment as a former boss and rather-important-fellow at the corporate office and it had been ages since I last saw him. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to get to visit with him as we worked in the store. Apparently I have Cam Newton to thank for bringing Rather-Important-Fellow to visit the Auburn store. Thanks, Cam. If I could, I’d lift you on my shoulders, too.

There was nothing wrong with the next few hours. Nothing too frustrating. I was coping all right, considering the usual stresses of managing others.

Then someone just had to return an Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology that required multiple flaming hoops to be jumped through. By me. Before the store closed. And of course, concurrently, traffic at the store picked up due to a book signing. Never will I complain about a book signing that goes well. It’s a lovely thing.

I will, however, complain that I didn’t get a chance to do my hoop jumping until around 10:45pm. And because of a technical malfunction with some of our equipment, I had to literally climb walls in order to jump through more hoops to jump through the ORIGINAL flaming hoops. Honestly, I’m losing track of the hoops. There were a lot. Most of them burning. Acrobatics were required.

Okay so I had a male associate do most of the actual wall-climbing. But I had done a little climbing before I finally decided that was a danger to myself and my surroundings and called in some assistance.

Anyway, it took me an hour to wade through the paper-trail-CYA bureaucracy involved in returning said Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology, at which point it was half an hour before the store was to close and I had to cash out FIVE registers.

Five.

Usually by half an hour to close, I have three registers to cash out, count the deposit, and then all of the end-of-day paperwork involved in retail daily closings. If I’m really fast, I can get one register done before closing and the other two counted after close, count the deposit and do my paperwork and be done by about 45 minutes after we lock the doors.

It should come as no surprise that I started cashing out registers at 11:30 and we didn’t leave the parking lot until 1:15. A. M.

There were several moments where I had to remind myself to breathe. I had to stop to relieve myself when I thought my bladder was going to explode. I had to get some ice water when I felt a little woozy. I had to encourage my associates to greater heights while still getting these bothersome details sorted out.

But when I got home tonight, I just about fell apart when the damn shirt wouldn’t stay on the damn hanger. It’s like it all just hit me in that moment that my job can be really frustrating. And I work incredibly long hours. Just today, I worked 10 hours. On my feet, climbing walls, jumping through hoops, trekking from the front of the store to the office then back again, answering associate questions. Helping customers. Scheduling breaks. Cramming a sandwich down my throat. Chatting with an author. Bolstering the attitudes of my sometimes discouraged co-workers. Cleaning spills. Straightening shelves. Reading reports.

Who has the time to breathe with all that going on? Good thing it’s involuntary, or I’d be long dead.

About a month ago, I agreed to cat-sit my parents lovely, fluffy gray cat Willow while they were in Louisiana visiting my little sister. There were perks. A huge house all to myself for two days, plenty of bottles of wine in the basement, permission to ‘throw a party’ Saturday night, and for all this, I would get paid. All I had to do was let the cat in and out of the house during the day, make sure she was inside at night, and keep her fed and watered. Couldn’t ask for a better set-up!

The bad news was, I had to close the store the Friday night before, and Birmingham is a two-hour drive away. I made it to my house after midnight sometime. Read and wrote for too long, fell asleep around 2 am, woke up at 6:30, packed and headed out the door because, oh, there was one other draw back to the situation – I had to be in Birmingham by 9 to let the cat out because she’d spent the entire day before cooped up inside. For that, I got a cash bonus. Of course I would sacrifice sleep for cash. So I got in my pathetic little car at 7am, freezing my…umm…nose? off, feeling perhaps more physically uncomfortable than I’ve felt in some time, and drove for two hours.

My activities for the day consisted of boring things no one cares to hear about, letting the cat in and out of the house, watching a football game and taking a nap. That night, Dear and Funky friends came over to my parents’ house for pizza and beer, which actually started as pizza and a bottle and a half of wine, then beer, and for me, more beer, to top off the margarita wine cooler I’d had before the girls had even arrived. Knowing as you do from a previous post, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol and sometimes I get carried away.

Also, alcohol has this uncanny ability to make one need to pee. Obviously, I ended up on the toilet. With my phone. Drunk.

Anyone who knows me also knows I am highly ungraceful, and that’s when I’m sober. When I’ve had too much, I’m a walking disaster. Needless to say, my phone ended up in the toilet.

Have I mentioned that I just purchased this phone the day before? Right. I’d just purchased the phone the day before. And it was in the toilet. Effing hell.

Funky friend offered some sage advice. A bag of uncooked rice. Otherwise, she and Dear Friend just made fun of me. I, however, was inconsolable. My phone! My life-line! I do not do well without it. I had to have a replacement. Immediately. I was no longer a happy silly drunk, I was a belligerent and devastated drunk no one wanted to be around. Funky Friend excused herself shortly thereafter. As I was letting her out the door, out also went Willow. You know, the cat who wasn’t supposed to go outside after dark? Yeah. That one.

Gah.

Obviously the only solution was to run around the wet yard in my sock feet screaming after little Willow in the hopes that she would for some reason come back to me. The raving lunatic. Cats just love raving lunatics running around in wet socks. Of course, she ran.

As frustrated as I was by Willow getting away, I had more important things to deal with after Funky’s departure. I  needed another phone. Stat.

The continuing problem was that I was drunk and could not drive. The solution: Dear Friend is also Perfectly Responsible Friend and had consumed far, far less alcohol than I had, and nothing in the last hour of our gathering.

I didn’t have to do much begging before I was in her SUV’s passenger seat being chauffeured to the nearest Wal-Mart.

Which was closed.

Wal-Marts CLOSE?!?!? Who knew.

Anyway, there is another Wal-Mart not far down the road and Dear Friend is quite dear, so she drove me to that one. Where I drunkenly questioned the only electronics worker on duty after midnight on a  Saturday night. He was unhelpful. Apparently some Wal-Marts close and not all Wal-Marts carry the same product. I’d purchased my phone the day before at the Wal-Mart where I live.

Blast and bother.

Dear Friend drove a sullen LizHarrell back to her parents’ home, then left. LizHarrell stood out in the cold and called for Willow for two solid minutes on both the front and back porches. LizHarrell was ignored, or was else the cat was incapable of hearing from the gut of a coyote.

I then got on AIM with Dear Friend who volunteered her spare cell phone. By this time, I was so sober it wasn’t even funny, so I drove over to her house, got the spare phone, and drove back to my parents’.

Called for Willow again.

She ignored me, again.

Quietly, I made up a little bed on the sofa between the front and back doors. I had a cell phone again, and had high hopes for the bag of uncooked rice restoring my brand new phone to its brand new state. But I had failed at my only charge for the weekend. Willow was out in the freezing night, being pursued by large scary animals, and I was to blame.

I huddled into a ball on the sofa and waited with as much optimism as I could muster for Willow to return home. I fell asleep.

And at 7am, Willow came prancing up to the back door as if nothing at all was wrong. Apparently the rule about her staying inside at night was unnecessary. As was my night on the sofa.

As always (knock on wood), I avoided a hangover. My parents returned home to a clean home and were not too annoyed by the missing alcohol. I never told them about the phone… but it didn’t matter. The bag of rice actually worked!

As it turns out, not all mistakes are irreversible or disastrous. Cats come home and phones dry out. Knowing that certain mistakes can be undone is really very comforting. If only it were always so easy as a night on the sofa and a bag of uncooked rice!

Guess what?

I can make a delicious espresso drink to order! If you give me about five minutes and are willing to taste it in front of me and don’t mind if I take another five minutes to make you another one if it isn’t exactly delicious on the first try.

I work in a bookstore with a cafe. As a manager, I’m responsible for scheduling breaks for all of the associates on the clock, including the cafe workers. For the first few weeks, I was fortunately scheduled to work with bookstore associates who could run the cafe while the cafe associates went on break. This lovely scenario came crashing down around me last week when I was the only person with even the remotest of training in this area available to break out the cafe associate .

And when I say remote, I mean REMOTE. Up to that point, I’d spent half an hour in the cafe making two of the easiest drinks on the menu with another manager. Then all of a sudden last week I’m in the cafe making complicated drinks, the ingredients for which I am not even faintly familiar with, much less know where to find. I believe I held my own – I had customers taste their drink and let me know how it was, and no one asked me to make something else, so I’d consider that a success.

But after that half hour, I was absurdly flushed and jumpy. I thought for sure I was going to screw something up and I felt like I’d rushed around the cafe the whole time accomplishing very little. I looked every bit the Embarrassed Barista that I was.

Since then, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the cafe. I’ve made a little bit of everything, done a little up-selling (of delicious baked goods!), and generally feel less worried that what I’m making is going to disgust my customers. I still tend to exit my time behind the counter a little flushed, but I suppose that will subside as well.

Let’s just hope that I don’t get asked to make a Mint Bliss Frappe (or something to that effect) again. I’m fairly certain the recipe isn’t in the binder behind the counter and I actually had to talk a customer out of it the first night I was in the cafe. That was pretty embarrassing. But he seemed to be pleased with his super-duper easy Hot Apple Cider instead!