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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Truck Meat Revisited: Am I Too Trusting?

Have you ever bought truck meat? How about had your dent undented by a parking lot dude? Have you ever been accused of being too trusting, or are you the kind of person who frisks your own family when they come to the dinner table?

I admit it, I may be too trusting. (Note: I first wrote about this on Facebook 4 years ago, but something happened yesterday that made me realize I’m still trying to figure it out. Plus, it’s just fun to say truck meat. Go ahead, it’s fun, say it. Truck meat. Ha!)

While treating a fellow Stand Up for Mental Health comedian to lunch yesterday for sharing her morning with my co-author and I for our upcoming book, I was hollered at in the restaurant parking lot. “Did I hit someone? Did I park stupid? Do I know that guy?” Questions ran through my head (not that I have a habit of hitting people. Parking stupidly, eh, maybe) as a friendly gentleman in a pickup truck waved me over.

“I am sorry to yell at you like that,” he said, “but I couldn’t help notice you have some damage to your bumper, and I have a machine that will pop that right out, I can come to you, maybe I could jump out and take a look and do a free estimate for you right now?”

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure my husband, a handsome but introverted and danger/inconvenience/getting-ripped-off-averse guy, would have already said “no thanks, not interested….” and walked away at this point.

Which is WHY, dear readers, I haven’t told him about it yet, because I want your feedback first! So stick with me, and tell me what you’d do, ok? Help a blogger out?

I, being me, said sure, he could give me an estimate if he wanted to come find me in the restaurant, because I didn’t want to make my lunch partner wait. AND HE DID. About 5 minutes later he walked right into Shari’s – Denney’s of the Pacific Northwest – and came over to give me his estimate. $160 to pop out the big ol’dent in the front corner of my front bumper, which would allow him to reattach it to the surrounding bumper-adjacent parts. He gave me a note (OK, I had to give him a piece of paper and a pen to write the note) with his name and number and the estimate and said to give him a call.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened. He actually said he could go get the machine RIGHT THEN and have my bumper fixed by the time I was done with my tasty BLT, and I wouldn’t have to pay unless I was satisfied.  When I played the “oh, I’d definitely need to talk that over with the husband first”, THEN he said I could call him, and if I said nice things to my friends he’d even touch up the other paint-scratched areas for free. (There may be a few, I don’t think that’s relevant here. Though I do think it makes me extra pious and noble to not care that my Honda Odyssey is showing signs of its journey with me…..)

And you know what? That’s the world I wish I lived in.

I wish I lived in a world where I could say “Sure, that would be great! Please do go fetch your undenting machine, I’ll see you in the parking lot after my lunch!” without knowing that grumpy untrusting folk like my handsome husband would metaphorically strangle me for doing such a crazy thing. Grumpy McGrumpypants. Why can’t I give this earnest man a chance to fix my bumper?

Said husband would point to my history, I’m guessing. For instance, I wrote a personal check a couple of years ago to a rough-looking young woman with a really good spiel at my door. She was selling magazines and kids books, and she said she was a teen runaway hooked up with a charitable organization helping her learn skills to stay off the streets. My husband, quite sure the depths of the identity theft would become clear right before the home burglaries and murders began, was somewhat annoyed. We were both relieved when we actually got the books and the magazines.

And you can imagine his resigned bemusement when I bought truck meat. Yup. Meat off a truck. Meat off a truck from a guy who “happened” to be going on vacation that day who needed to unload it instead of taking it back to the “office.” I thought at the time I was pretty clever, even going so far as to whip out local store ads and make him prove that his prices were comparable. In the end, I bought truck meat. A lot of it. For a lot of money.

Not long after, while frying up some truck meat, I had to admit to myself I’d been taken. The hamburgers were just not great. The steaks were fine, and the chicken merely average. Don’t even ask about the seafood, I’m not sure we were ever brave enough to eat it. (I TOLD YOU, it was a LOT of truck meat.) Sweet husband asked for months afterward, as a matter of course when he saw me cooking, “Is that truck meat?” And now, in this public forum, I admit it to my dear husband. I got taken. The truck meat was fine, but I shouldn’t have done it.

It didn’t help that I once neglected and burned some truck meat because I left the kitchen to show a sweet-faced landscaper seeking work a stump in our yard that needed removed so he could do an estimate. But…..

I like working with the little guy, supporting the underdog, keeping it local. How do I do it without being a trusting idiot? Or should I worry so much about it?

How else to be a part of a community without allowing yourself to occasionally be vulnerable to your fellow man?

Or is that just a glorified excuse for truck meat and parking lot undenters?

What do you think? Have you ever used a parking lot undenter dude? What would you do?

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 4

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 4

Wow. This week’s exercise of posting the trouble spots in my house (ok, posting a small fraction of the trouble spots) and then posting “after” shots has been really encouraging. I’ve had a few insights I hope to hold onto, and I’ve made some real progress. I feel really good about my work on yesterday’s spot, but first let me share a couple things I’ve learned.

  • I need to pick small spots to redo one at a time. My whole house is pretty disorganized and cluttered, and frequently I try to get everything perfect all at once. Well, not frequently, clearly, or I’d be blogging right now on deep theological issues or world peace instead of a messy counter top. But my all-or-nothing approach is exhausting and unsustainable. Even with the self-imposed pressure to post each day this week, I’ve been able to make great progress on a defined space.
  • I’m not just a messy housekeeper. I am that, but there are other systemic issues at play. Our house is short on storage, and I need better space and better systems for my stuff – bills, kid papers, writing/blogging/speaking/comedy stuff. Those are both issues I can address, and there’s definitely an IKEA trip in my near future.
  • I have three little boys and a husband whose eyes truly do not register either messy or cluttered. He. Does. Not. Care.  A degree of chaos will always be present in our home. Since we’ve already established that I’m not a great housekeeper and I’d much rather read magazines than dust them, this ain’t never going to look like any of the houses IN those magazines. Life is too short for my house to be perfectly clean.
  • ON THE OTHER HAND, Mama deserves a little pretty, too. So I need to find the balance between chaos and perfection that allows me a few peacefully clean surfaces, a few beautiful sparkly things and a cozy spot to read those magazines, cause I’m worth it, baby! And speaking of magazines…….

Remember yesterday?

The Magazine Pile

So, there’s good news, and there’s bad news…..

I love my magazines, and I’m not ready to quit. I mean, I’m totally in control, I COULD quit anytime, just not now, you know? I mean, if I haven’t read them I could miss something awesome. So I did eliminate a stack nearly as big as the stack I kept, but that’s still a lot. But look, it’s a LOT better, now. Check it out:

magazines after

Oh, and those weird Sunday school sculptures? Let us never speak of them again….

Now it’s your turn, I’d definitely love input and advice from you, wise readers. What are your best tips for staying on top of clutter, or staying on top of messy, or staying on top of your magazine reading?

Did you miss the earlier posts? They are here, here, and here.

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

So……day 3 is actually happening on day 4. But you know what? That’s ok. This week is supposed to be about getting real on the Internet, and real is that life happened yesterday. Then I realized there were technical difficulties with day 2’s post which needed is now fixed, so I didn’t get my spot done til today. It’s as done as I can get it for now, but completion will require shopping! Yay shopping! A trip to IKEA may even be in order……oh, the excitement.  Here’s my clean and uncluttered, if not attractive, entryway:

Entry way after

Ready to see yet another photo that will make you feel FABULOUS about your house? Whoo, boy, my next spot to tackle is a doozy! This shelf SHOULD be beautifully decorated, really, because it is very centrally located on our open plan main floor, between the dining area and the living room, and it’s even visible somewhat from the front door. This spot, I’m ashamed to say, looked like this straight through Christmas. (On a side note, I think I have realized why I love decorating for Christmas – it seems so much more achievable than decorating my house without a festive theme and fun sparkly things. Perhaps I need more “regular” fun sparkly things to motivate me, and LESS un-fun clutter that overwhelms me. Hmmmmm…..)

Now, remember, this is about getting real, so try not to judge? Because this has clearly become a sad, sad testament to my addiction to magazines.

The Magazine Pile

I know, it’s out of control. But it’s largely my mother’s fault (and possibly the Mafia). First, my mom has always had a ton of magazine subscriptions, so I was exposed and then addicted at an early age. Second, about 6 months ago my parents started receiving about 15 MORE magazine subscriptions to their exact address, including apartment number, but addressed to “Sheepshead Bay Primary Care Clinic.”

As far as I can Google, such a clinic does not currently exist. There was such a clinic in Brooklyn, NY which was slated to close in 2009. I don’t know if the clinic and the magazine orders are some complicated Mafia money laundering scheme, the result of a rift in the time-space continuum, or just a boring error by a 3rd party supplier of magazine subscription packages to doctor’s offices. Either way, my sweet mother here in Oregon has tried to cancel each magazine individually and the magazines tell her they don’t have records of the order. Whattya gonna do? Fuh-geddabout-it!

It would be WASTEFUL not to try and read the magazines, right? I mean, it’s not like we read the baby magazines, that would be silly. (Because MY baby turns 8 this weekend. WHO LET THAT HAPPEN?) (Apparently, baby magazines are delivered in bulk to doctors, so it caused quite a stir the first few months my folks received 25 copies of the current issue delivered to their senior living community.) But there are some primo magazines too, and I can’t let them go unread. Add in all of the magazines I already get, and it’s out of control. Not sure the fix, but tomorrow I vow ACTION.

That’s right, even if I have to read magazines straight through the weekend, I will persevere!

Here are the links to day 1 and day 2 if you missed them!

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 2

Today’s post is the second installment of my “Getting Real on the Internet Week”, which isn’t really a thing except according to Real Simple magazine, which made it up. But I’ve adopted hijacked it for my purposes. Instead of overly shiny “fakebooking”, or posting inauthentic but pretty things online, I’m forcing myself to go to my awesome blog readers for some down and dirty accountability in helping me Get It Together, Already. Today is going to be short and sweet:

Awwww, pretty!

Awwww, pretty!

I did it! Look how pretty my “launching pad” looks now! The one remaining item out of place is the rolled-up print in the back corner. I am embarrassed to say that according to the receipt still attached, I had it printed – gulp – three years ago. I don’t think it’s been here the whole time, but seriously, how hard is it to go buy a 16×20 frame and hang the thing? Pretty hard, apparently. But this week?

IT SHALL BE FRAMED. Watch, I won’t even like the picture anymore.

I promised to post before and after pics every day this week, so here’s the next one. This spot should be pretty easy, but tomorrow is a pretty booked day and I’m being realistic.

Entry Way Before

This is actually the corner next to my front door. This (?!) is the part of my house I WANT to say “Hi, welcome to our home and our family, come in and let’s have a peaceful fun visit.” But instead, right now, it says “What’s this? Look at me! Why is that plastic box there? Why would they leave broken hanging hooks on those mirrors? Why has that bottle of spray paint been there since before Christmas? Why is that weird cat toy staring at me?” (Let’s pretend you can’t see me in my jammies, ok?) 

I am finding that the problem is once I leave clutter – or allow someone else’s clutter – in a spot for very long, it gains magical properties of invisibility, and we stop seeing it. It’s still there, looking awful, subconsciously making me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t really see it anymore.

Parallel to real life, anyone? Anyone? I am definitely feeling like it is time to move things out of my life which aren’t helping me, or are passively making me unhappy. Anyone else feel that way?

I have also realized that I need to establish my own personal office space, stat. Much of my clutter comes from truly not having a spot designated for my stuff – comedy stuff, the book project, speaking engagements, etc. So that is a bigger issue, but one I am committing to tackle starting this weekend.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I’ve done here, and where I go next!

Did you miss Day One? Find it here.

Getting Real on the Internet

If we are friends on Facebook, I owe you an apology of sorts. A few weeks ago, the night of Christmas Eve, I posted the following on Facebook. Accept my apology now, I’ll make my excuses in a bit. So along with this picture of my three boys dressed in matching blue Oxford shirts and suit jackets, all smiling adorably in front of the tree, this is what I posted:

3 Boys Xmas

“We’ve had our Christmas miracle! Managed to get the boys to do a video to mail Grandma in Arizona that included trumpet, violin and harmonica solos, the first EVER recording of the Rolstad boys SINGING, and they even got dressed up! Alleluia!”

It was probably three days before I reflected on that post and realized how COMPLETELY over-the-top nauseating it may have read to some. Trumpet solos? Seriously? It could easily be interpreted as just another polished-for-the-interwebs overly shiny and somewhat fake post that we find ourselves hating when done by others.

Social media posts like that can make us feel bad about ourselves, make us hate our lame vacations to the Sock Museum, hate our spouses for not buying us diamond-encrusted cars for Christmas, and even tempt us into embellishing our own posts to compete with the virtual Jones’.

But here’s the deal. We also need to remember to give each other grace, because I truly didn’t realize how overly precious that post could sound when I wrote it because here’s what my Facebook friends didn’t know:

1. on the other side of the camera? I was getting over the flu, generally cranky and phlegmy. I was gross.

2. My boys had been wearing their footie pajamas until I made them do this video. Even though it was like 3 in the afternoon. OK, it was later than that.

3. They were all wearing jeans with those suit jackets. Two of them were wearing visibly dirty jeans.

4. They were all barefoot.

5. None of them were initially too excited about being pulled away from TV shows and computer games. (I had the flu, ok? Mama has to do what mama has to do when mama has the flu and there are three of you.* We had a very electronically intensive Christmas break. Oh, well.) The oldest visibly pouted through much of the video.

6. All of those instrumental solos? Well. Said eldest somehow managed to look grumpy while playing his trumpet, the violin solo was a simple scale, and the harmonica solos were two songs completely made up by the 7-year-old, who does not know how to play the harmonica. (They did sound the same every time he played his “songs”, amazingly.)

7. Video of them singing was a big deal. I have not had the glorious experiences of friends who put their precious wee ones in the church kids’ choir, and beamed with pride as they performed for their church family. My youngest two flatly refused to participate after absorbing the misery caused to their oldest brother. He wouldn’t sing in choir practices because he “didn’t know the songs” (hey, perfectionist introvert child I do not get – hello? that’s how you LEARN the song???) He finished one of his only performances sitting on the floor in silent protest, as everyone around him stood and sang. He had begun the performance with a full minute of shooting death rays at my head from his eyes and making violent chopping motions at me with his hands. In front of everyone. He was 5. The three have not ever sang together, really, until this Christmas Eve afternoon.

See? It really was a miracle. A messy, imperfect, disorganized miracle. But in my virally induced state, I didn’t think to make the context clear, so it could have been perceived like a pretentious braggy mama post. Well, anyone who knows my family very well probably assumed at least 4 of the 7  points above, so they knew, but if you didn’t know me well…..I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes.

So while I don’t normally jump on a bandwagon created by a corporate entity, I thought it was perfect timing to do this post today. One of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, has declared this week to be Get Real on the Internet Week. It’s all about “down with fakebooking”, and up with sharing more of who we really, authentically are with each other. Those who want to sign up get fun challenges all week, including today’s challenge: “Meals can’t always be gourmet. Show off your botched dinner, junk food, or sad sandwich.”

I’m taking a different tack, however. Partly as penance for my potentially pretentious post (nothing more fun than some good ol’ alliteration), and partly because I need to GET ON TOP OF THE CLUTTER ALREADY, I’m going to post one “before” photo of a different horrible and horribly true spot in my house every day this week. The following day I will have hopefully cleaned it up and can show you the “after” picture. Before and after pictures are fun, right? Hopefully, the public pressure of sharing my mess will help motivate me to clean it up, one trouble spot at a time.

If not, it will at least give you the chance to feel better about yourself, looking at what a bad housekeeper I am. (Warning – if you are a true neatnik, you should probably avert your eyes. My disorganized mess may give you hives or something.)

Ready for picture one? In the interest of  getting real, being authentic and motivating myself, here it comes………………I call this:

The Dumping Spot Next to the Sink

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

OK, Interwebs, we’re getting real. Tomorrow, the “after” version of this spot, and a new spot to make you shake your  head and wonder how I can be such a mess. See you tomorrow!

Oh, and want to join me in my quest? Go for it! Share your spots in the comments, or tell me how you’re being real on the Internet!

*Ha! I wrote a funny poem! If I was artsy, I would design a cute word graphic out of this and post it on Facebook, or maybe needlepoint it onto a pillow and then Pin it on Pinterest…..oh, wait.

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