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.

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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!

Dear readers, you may or may not have checked out the comments to my Random Words post, but that day a challenge was thrown down by one Miss Feisty (which we won’t be abbreviating in acronym form, thank you). She picked up on my quiet confidence in my guacamole and, totally for fun, suggested we do a guacamole taste-off for our co-workers. Miss Feisty is the best sort of competitor – thoroughly hyped about the competition, a quality smack-talker, and 100% sportsmanlike. Honestly I was totally freaked out about the whole thing as I’ve only ever made guacamole for myself before and, though I happen to love it, it wasn’t really enough to inspire my belief that it would impress anyone in the office at all.

Not meaning to make this post an ode to Miss Feisty, I must say at least one more thing to her credit. When I encountered a solidly unripe avocado in my guacamole preparations this morning, Miss Feisty was more than willing to come to my rescue with a fresh (and nicely ripe)  replacement upon her arrival at work. She’s a real sport, and made the experience much more relaxed for me.

We were squared off to compete at noon with a blind taste-test, the results of which were so ridiculously close it isn’t even worth mentioning that after twenty-six votes cast, we needed a tie breaker. I think it goes to show that food is super subjective…you can’t please everybody and everybody has an opinion. What this close match tells me is that we both make damn good guacamole.

But what I’m really writing about is how awesome it was to see everyone around the office get so excited about something so silly and seemingly frivolous. But the mood was exciting! People gathered! People tasted! People ate more than a little guacamole! They debated the merits of each! They participated in the event with gusto, and I was very gratified that they appreciated Miss Feisty’s idea, effort and excellent recipe as much as my quiet participation. Good folks brought together by good food, the appearance of which at work is the universal signal for a good time.

So, many thanks to Miss Feisty and all who participated in the 2010 Guac-Star Challenge*. I have a call in to the Food Network about filming our next taste-off, tentatively scheduled for ‘sometime soon’ and centering around ‘something delicious.’ Think I’m going to let Miss Feisty handle the details (as she is such a diligent promoter) and I’ll just taste. That’s what I’m really looking forward to!

*With credit to Splin-Ter-Rific, who handled the print advertising for this event like a true pro. Thanks STR!

Yep, you guessed it! I’m reading self-help again. Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is one of those perennial books that I’ve read once before in the adult format, and at least once in my adolescence in the Highly Effective Teen version, written by Covey’s son, Sean. One really can’t argue with the logic behind Covey’s principle based tenets for living effectively – there’s just too much that screams inside of me when I’m reading, “well, duh!” – only I’m stuck in patterns and habits that are essentially diametrically opposed to those Covey proposes.

For example, instead of being proactive, as Covey recommends, I’m reactive. Instead of beginning with the end in mind, Honey, I don’t have time to think about the end, just get me through the beginning! I’ll think about the end when I get there.

And of course given my humorous world-view, I can’t read anything without considering the possibility of writing some sort of parody. So here goes, folks: these are my recommendations for leading the Ineffective Life I know we all strive for.

  1. First, foremost, and always, do nothing. This is the best way to be ineffective in every aspect of one’s life, from home-life to work-life, doing nothing is key to avoiding success.
  2. Succumb to your fears. That overwhelming fear you feel when picking up the telephone to call a client or account is totally justifiable. Your fears are legitimate. Live in them – nay, wallow in those fears.
  3. Consider only your own feelings, desires and needs. The world may not revolve around you (sadly, this is a cosmic impossibility), but your own world should! Looking out for number one is the most efficient means of getting what number one wants. Selfishness is next to Ineffectiveness!
  4. Party! The end is near, it says so in the Bible.
  5. Be rude. People are stupid, and they deserve it. And honestly, being nice would sort of fly in the face of Habit 3, so we don’t want that.
  6. Don’t be concerned with the future. Goals are generally unattainable anyway, so what’s the point? Now don’t start thinking that you have to “reach for the stars to get to the Moon” or some other such nonsense. What are you going to do with Moon, anyway?
  7. Forget everything you’ve ever been told about success. There’s no need to work when you’re looking to be ineffective, so there’s definitely no need to constantly return to Habit 1 over and over again. Coast on through life, my Ineffective Peeps!

Seriously, though, you should probably ignore me and read Covey – his habits are probably more useful than the ones I suggest, though you might have to admit, mine seem like more fun!

*Note to Dad: Laugh. I know you are about to cry, but stifle it and laugh instead. ‘Cause that was the intention of this post, not to say that I’m on the path toward an ineffective lifestyle! Love!

I have always been a fan of wordle.net and recently discovered its ability to take a blog and create this amazing word cloud out of all of the words used on the site. And it emphasizes words that are used most frequently by increasing the font size of those words. This is one of the neatest things ever, so of course I had to create one for my blog:

Words from the Blog - via wordle.net

Words from the Blog - via wordle.net

I find it interesting that one of my favorite words to use is “time.” I know I wrote an entire post all about my perception of time, but that was just one post! Is “it’s about time for something good to happen to me,” a phrase I often use here? What about, “time for a change”? Or perhaps, “I enjoy being on time.” I’m sure I’ve said once or twice, “it’s going to take me some time to…”

Closely following time in prominence is “minutes” which is apparently a running theme. Also note that there are several food/eating phrases featured in the wordle. And really? Do I really use “really” that much? Bad LizHarrell! Such a pathetic adverb. (I’m not going to lie, it’s late at night and I had to check to make sure really wasn’t an adjective… So sorry, 8th grade English teacher! So sorry, those who joined me in graduating with a BA in English…)

Part of me is really tempted to write a blog post using all (and only) these words. Wordle automatically removes words like “I” and “the” and “a” so this would be quite an interesting challenge! In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible to write an entire post without using those words. Now I’m interested! Look for this in the future. I won’t say the near future, because this could take quite a lot of time to work out.

I’m sure I could go into further analysis of my word choices on the blog, but really I’d probably just say “time” one more time, then I’d have to go eat some food to calm down. Right?

 

Please note: in this post I used the following words:

  • time: 10x (not including this usage)
  • really: 6x
  • just: 2x
  • like: 1x
  • food: 2x
  • think: none! (probably because my brain wasn’t doing much of that when I wrote this post!)
  • going: 2x
  • point: surprisingly none (surprising because I feel that a running theme on the blog is: “What’s the point?”)

I have recently discovered that there is no job in the world totally devoid of some sort of political scheming. Considering I’ve held almost every imaginable sort of job (except retail, per se), I consider myself an up and coming expert in the field of work related/office politics. I feel like I’ve seen and combated it all, though perhaps I only feel that way because of how deeply I abhor all forms of underhanded competition.

One might consider a swimming pool a place of calm and peace in a world of political nonsense, but you would be quite wrong. At the pool where I spent the majority of my lifeguarding career, there was an elected group of board members who met on a regular basis and in general basked in the glory of this absolutely meaningless power they felt they’d attained through this position. The self-importance displayed by these board members was, at times, absurd. The majority of pool members couldn’t care less who was the president of the board, so they’d vote for whomever displayed the most enthusiasm for the job. Let me tell you from experience: these are the types of people who ruin any enjoyment a lifeguard could have gleaned from their job. NOTHING is simple for a board president who delights in demonstrating the power they’ve attained.

They make it a point to have at least one lifeguard fired every summer, constantly nit-picking until they find their intended victim. They over-involve themselves with the day-to-day running of the pool, even though they’ve hired a perfectly capable manager to run things. They make sure they are seen at the pool at least three times a week, showing up at random times to make sure no one is slacking on the job, even when there is not one single swimmer. They NEVER swim. You will absolutely never see this person in a swimsuit, even though they are often present at the pool. They usually lack power in their families and/or at their jobs. They overcompensate for this lack of power by taking what should be a chill and relaxing environment and turning it into an absolute prison.

These sorts of folks make me appreciate even more the Pool Board Presidents who are so cool and relaxed that you hardly even remember their names. These types show up once a week, make sure the manager has everything she needs, and delegate well. They have managed to snag a position of authority and realize how empty that authority really is. They are a joy to work with.

I’ve found that pool politics are very much personality driven and are not necessarily limited to the position of the president. There is a hierarchy among the guards as well, but hey, we’re talking about teenagers who are only just learning to play the game. Not to mention we’re also talking about lifeguards. Seriously, these are the sort of people who want an easy job where they can get a tan and flirt with each other. They aren’t typically interested in moving up the hierarchy.

But every once in awhile, an adult will become a lifeguard. This is typical for teachers who have summers off but want to supplement their income. I totally understand this and will likely be one of these sorts of people one day, when my kids are old enough, because, if I’m being honest, I loved lifeguarding. I hated the politics, but I was pretty passionate about my whistle, if you remember, so I obviously relished the power of the job. Anyway, when you are a teenager, there is nothing worse than having an adult lifeguard on staff. They truly ruin what might be a relaxing job. They do work. They clean. They don’t friggin’ stop. And they automatically head the hierarchy. It is lame. And they can’t help but get involved in the politics, because somehow or other, they are best friends with the board president. And trust me, if the board president is over-enthusiastic, the first thing he does is hire an adult lifeguard and an adult manager. This guarantees that there is no fun had by anyone. And so, this explains their position within the ranks of pool politics. It is an intrinsic part of their association with the pool. They can’t help it.

For the record, I’m a pool anarchist. Sort of. I think there should be a treasurer, a party planner, a grounds keeper, and a pool manager, but other than that, I think the politics are pretty useless, and they definitely kill the buzz of lounging in the sun and getting paid for it. So if I do become an adult lifeguard, there’s no need to worry, my teenage friends. I’m cool. I’ll work (since I worked pretty hard when I was a teenager), but I won’t be crazy. I promise.

{A note to my sister, who happens to be a 22 year old lifeguard: I understand that you are the head lifeguard and you are super cool, but I don’t consider you an adult lifeguard since you started in the biz as a teenager and haven’t taken a summer off. You are of the in-between variety, which I respect most. You don’t take it for granted that you can do whatever you want and keep your job; you work hard. But you know what it’s like to be a teenager with a summer job at the local pool. Therefore, you are not completely obtuse and ridiculous in your demands. Good job, Sista!}

I’ve been a busy girl the past few weeks, which is always good. Lots of appointments last week, more than half of which did not result in any on-the-spot sales, but I think interest was high and they’ll get back to me with orders in the next couple of weeks.

So far today, I’ve been following up on several such meetings that took place over the past few months. I’m not in love with this concept. Following up usually involves getting on the phone. As my blog followers will know, I hate the phone.

However, I’ve been listening to this audio book called Goals by Brian Tracy and it’s got me thinking about how self defeating it is to worry about phone calls. Apparently, worrying is a form of negative visualization that gets your super-consciousness (or some other such nonsensical word) preparing to fail. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophesy. I think I’ve said something to this effect before, but basically as long as you think you’re going to fail, you probably will. If you think you will succeed, you have a better chance of doing so. So I’m working on changing my mindset. We’ll see how it goes – I’ll keep you updated on that!

This past weekend Hubby and I spent with our families, with is always very nice. As I’m not always home to cook meals, it’s actually really quite nice to have a “home cooked meal.” We’ve had several so far this weekend! Shout out to our Moms! Love you, ladies!

And last night I had dessert with Dear, Funky and Fabulous Friends – Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Fun! I am feeling fairly sickly today and was last night as well, so I was probably not nearly as hysterically funny as usual. However, there were a few moments of funny:

  • A bug flew down the back of my shirt (as we were outside) and I basically flipped out.
  • Dear Friend is contemplating naming some future/as yet unconceived daughter Lucy. Completelyunintentionally, I used the phrase “I Love Lucy.” And then I laughed, in a rather goofy manner, which was probably funnier than the original Freudian slip.
  • I think that’s it, but 2 bullet points just look lonesome. 🙂

And now, I’m going to go kick some follow-up’s butts. Au revoir!