Friday, March 31, 2006
HGTV pulled a fast one on me and announced three finalists for the mountain home. I thought we had to wait until April 29th but apparently they wanted to squash my hopes early. Here are the fools who beat me out:
Deanna Baines of Fairport NY: Sure she seems sweet but don’t let her D-family (kids Denise, Danielle and David) fool you. She doesn’t care about my mountain home. In fact, when she heard the news she had to log on to take the virtual tour—a tour I’ve taken at least fifty times!
Donald P. Cook of Alum Creek, WV: At least he’s somewhat close to my mountain home, geographically speaking. But what do we really know about Don? "He spends a lot of time on that computer," says his wife Myrna. Ah-ha! Internet porn. I can’t believe they’re letting that pervert live in my mountain home.
Julie Free of Blackwell, OK: Here’s why I think we should pull for Jules:
--She’s the youngest so she could use my mountain home longer.
--She lives in Oklahoma which is our neighbor state.
--She’s stoked about the craft room and I didn’t even know what it was.
--She deserves it: She entered every day just like me but unlike me she prayed about it. I guess I was wrong in thinking God had better things to do than to help someone win my mountain home.
But most of all, I feel like I’ve got the best shot at becoming friends with her. She’s 29 and she’s a dietician consultant. I always need to talk to people like her for my articles. So I’ll call her up, ask for an interview and suggest we meet at my (I mean, “her”) mountain home to discuss it! This will be perfect; then I’ll have a bff with a mountain home. It’s like boats: you don’t really want your own; you just want a friend with one.
So go, Julie! And folks, it’s not too late to get those prayers in. Apparently the rest of us still have a shot at winning some cash. And if I win that, I may just build my own craft room.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
1990: GARTH BROOKS TICKETS
Garth Brooks was coming to the Houston rodeo and this cowgirl wanted a seat. My best friend Amber wanted one too. And so did her mom, cousin, sister and other family members. So Amber, her mother and I offered to camp out. Natch, Amber and I were giddy about the idea because we were seventh graders and her mom just had to come and chaperone. We brought sleeping bags, snacks and I’m sure our favorite Garth Brooks tunes. There are two depressing things I remember about that experience:
1. We camped out at FIESTA for some reason.
2. The tickets sold out in about two minutes so we had to settle for Clint Black. I’ve still never seen good old Garth in concert.
1995: TEXAS v. A&M FOOTBALL TICKETS
We were freshman in college and the only way to get the coveted tickets was to camp out at the stadium all night. My roommate Papasan was not for it. She preferred the sanctuary of her twin bed and Desperate Housewives’ comforter. Here’s how I sold her: “But it’s our crazy college days! We’ll always look back and remember how crazy it was that we camped out all night! We’ll laugh about it and tell our kids. And we’ll say, ‘Oh, those were our crazy college days!’” So we did it. And the two depressing things about that night are:
1. We didn’t get the tickets.
2. We never reminisce about it. Although I guess that means we got much crazier which is uplifting.
2003: BOBBY BONES DJ TRYOUTS
Frank and I had just moved to Austin and I didn’t have a job. I heard that the Bobby Bones morning show was having a contest to see who would be his co-host. Not only that, but the winner got a car and an apartment! I was so sure I was going to get it that I even called the radio station and discussed what we would do about the fact that I already had an apartment.
The first fifty people in line at this bar on 6th street would get a shot to try out at 5:00 on a Friday. Luckily, I drove by the bar at 10am and saw a few people camped out. I ran home, got my camping chair, some food and Frank dropped me off at the bar. It was August; the heat was brutal. And I was sitting on 6th street with ten random DJ wannabes. The ten of us really bonded for the next seven hours. We met a homeless guy, chatted with him for awhile and then he stole a girl’s wallet. So we called the police, chased down the homeless guy and all that kept us pretty busy.
When it came time to audition, I totally stuttered and stammered. But one of the ten, a girl from Colorado named Alison, really impressed them. She made it to the finals which were to be held the next week. We all agreed to go and support her and we did. The ten of us line-campers, all reunited the next weekend. Alison made it all the way to the on-air tryouts. She ended up getting runner-up. But we became really good friends and I loved telling people that we met on the street one day. So here are the two depressing things about that line:
1. The whole thing about me not becoming a morning DJ which is like my life-long dream. It’s like a live blog!
2. Where the hell is Alison? I totally lost touch with her. Hello? Has anyone seen her? Let me know! I hate to lose a friend with such a great meeting story.
So you’d think since all my waiting in line experiences have failed, I would give up. No, not me. One day I’ll get the prize—whether it’s an iPod, a scooter, a POÄNG chair, or a job. Hey, I bet if I camped out for Garth Brooks tickets now I could get ‘em! Now that’s depressing.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I thought we had made progress. About six years ago, before Frank and I were married, I gave him a little mini-workshop on a subject I like to call “Different Types of Trash.” Sure, I let his sloth-like habits slide when he was at his own apartment—the laundry pile on his bathroom floor (“boxer short graveyard”), the filthy tub (“No, Frank, a tub is not ‘clean by definition’”) and the overflowing, Niagra-fall-ish trash can.
But when he was at MY apartment I expected a certain level of civilized behavior. And it was a plastic foil cinnamon roll tray in my bedroom trash can—complete with thumb-sized crumbs and speckles of icing—that led to my first lecture:
Me: Frank, look at this! Why would you eat the last cinnamon roll and then throw all the packaging in a BEDROOM trashcan?
Frank: What’s the difference? A trash can is a trash can.
Me: Yes, trash cans are the same but trash isn’t!
And that’s when I launched into my “different types of trash” explanation. The main rule? Food trash doesn’t belong in the bedroom. In fact, it doesn’t belong anywhere but in its original location which was the kitchen. Plus, I lived in a tiny apartment. The kitchen was practically in the bedroom anyway!
So ever since then I haven’t seen Frank commit this crime. In fact, in general he’s much cleaner. Why just the other day, as he looked at our clean bathroom floor he said, “Can you believe I used to just throw my boxer shorts on the bathroom floor?” I smiled with pride.
But then, a major setback:
A beer bottle in the bedroom trashcan? Not only was he breaking the “different types of trash” rule but he was hurting the environment by not recycling! And it also falls under the “half a chore” violation because while he did dispose of his beer bottle, he was too lazy to put it in the right trash can.
I didn’t tell Frank I saw it. I just snapped this picture and then removed the evidence. This blog is the first he’s hearing about it. But I’m sure we’ll discuss it when he gets home. What should his punishment be? I think it will be to wash the tub cause as he will see, it is NOT clean by definition.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Lately, whenever I go out to eat I like to ruin the experience by looking online at the nutritional information first. But here’s why I’m glad I do it:
You know how sometimes you try to make “better bad choices” (a tip from fitness guru Larry North)? You might think, “Well, I guess I’ll be somewhat healthy and get the spinach and mushroom quesadillas even though I’d prefer the combo beef and chicken.” OR “If I get the veggie fajitas I could make four fajitas instead of three—you know, since I’m being all healthy and eating veggies.”
These thoughts went through my head prior to a double date with Frank & Me and Courtney and John Loyd. We had chosen On the Border because: a). We love it and b). They were having the Fiesta Trio—a salad, fajitas and Brownie Border Sundae for $9.99. It’s as good as my birthday meal at TGI Friday’s! And Frank got us all fired up in our e-mail exchanges when he cheered, “Long live the Fiesta Trio!”
But I had learned from my TGI Friday’s experience that it’s best not to get too excited. Over-excitement leads to over eating. And over eating would be fine if those Loyds didn’t always split something and make us Simciks look like savages. Which we kinda are when it comes to the Fiesta Trio.
So anyway, before we went I checked out the stats and if you don’t want to be shocked and subsequently sad, you better look away:
If you choose GRILLED veggie fajitas over chicken you’re only saving 50 calories and you’re adding on TEN grams of fat.
If you think, “Hey, maybe I’ll go with shrimp instead of chicken. I always hear seafood’s good for me.” Bad move: Better add on 300 calories and 45 grams of fat for those measly shrimp.
If you’re a quesadilla-lover, I’ve got downright depressing news: One order of the seemingly harmless triangles is almost as many calories as you need for the day and as many fat grams as you need for two days. And as I foreshadowed, it’s no better getting the spinach and mushroom kind. Might as well go all out. The good news? You probably won’t eat a whole order. The bad news? Even half an order is pretty destructive.
So how did our Fiesta Trio go? Well I tried to do damage control by preparing to take one dessert home, or not eat all the fajitas or maybe only have two instead of three. The result?
The only thing I didn’t completely terrorize was the salad. And doggy-bagging the dessert? Not possible when ice cream’s involved.
Worse news: The Loyds split their meal, barely finished it and watched us Simciks devour ours like we were leaving the next day to be on Survivor.
The good news? Courtney ate some of my Brownie Bottom Sundae! Saved me about 150 calories.
The lesson here? On the Border is not your friend. Only an enemy would try to give you a heart attack. But with enemies who make homemade flour tortillas, creamy queso and tasty margaritas, who needs friends?
Monday, March 27, 2006
I first heard about Hungry Girl from Tricia. I was intrigued by her name. I thought, “Hey, I’m hungry all the time; I like to talk about food; Who is this hungry girl and why didn’t I think of this first?”
HG sends out a daily newsletter with all sorts of useful food tips. In fact, a lot of what I eat is based on Hungry Girl advice: La Tortilla Factory tortillas, Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers, 100% Whole Grain Chips Ahoy (fiber cookies), and my latest addiction—VitaTops (which HG even invented)! *Writinggal Confession: I recently purchased some sort of Vitalicious sampler pack and now I'm also addicted to the VitaMuffins, VitaHearts and (bow your heads for a moment), the VitaBrownies. *
Now I know I usually feature real friends on this “Have you Met…” segment but this time I’ve got plenty of reasons to focus on HG:
1. She IS my real friend, sort of. I interviewed her for an article in Women’s Health and Fitness’ April edition (on newsstands now)! Okay, so I was just plugging my article there.
2. I really want a Hungry Girl t-shirt. And today, if we get friends to sign up for her newsletter (and those friends put my email address as the referral: firstname.lastname@example.org),
I’ll be entered into a drawing to win that or perhaps a floaty pen. I don’t really know what a floaty pen is but I’m sure I could use one.
Okay, do two reasons qualify as “plenty?” Speaking of plenty, HG can also help you to know what to order at restaurants which can be helpful when you go to On the Border for the Fiesta Trio and try to be healthy by getting veggie fajitas but learn you’re better off getting steak. Stay tuned for more on that tomorrow.
Right now, we both have things to do: You’ve gotta sign up for the Hungry Girl newsletter and I’ve gotta go satisfy my VitaBrownie craving. Hey, it's never too early in the morning for chocolate and vitamins!
Friday, March 24, 2006
I hardly ever look through those circulars that come in the mail with all the grocery store coupons. I don’t understand if I’m supposed to bring it to the grocery store or if those are just the specials to lure me into the store. So out of confusion, I usually just throw them away. But the other day I opened it and sort of hidden there was a flyer for the "99 Cent Only" store. I HATE the 99 Cent Only store. No, I don’t prefer to pay more than 99 cents for most things; I just can’t stand how they sell everything: wrapping paper, toys, random figurines, muffin mix. The fact that they sell food just grosses me out. It’s like selling food at Spencer’s Gifts (another one of my least favorite stores).
But anyway, this flyer caught my eye because it said that on Friday, 3/24, they were celebrating 99 days (or maybe it was 999 days) in DFW. Well that’s not what caught my eye; it was the picture of the iPod Nano and the words “The First 9 People get a Nano for 99 cents.” It wasn’t really that prominent on the page so I had to read it again and again to believe it.
I showed it to Frank and we devised a plan:
I was going to teach spin at 6am on Friday. The store opened at 9am. After spin, I would go over and get in line and wait until 9am and collect our Nano. Frank was even going to let me take one of his Oatmeal To Go poops with me.
Curious if others had a similar plan, I scoured the internet to see if the word was out. All I could find were articles about how they had done this in other cities and people had camped out for days before. What was this, a Star Wars premiere? No, it’s better! It’s a $200 value for 99 cents! But if you’re the tenth through 99th person, you get a scooter and all sorts of other crap like three pounds of muffin mix. That means ya gotta be the first nine or it’s just not worth it!
Frantic, I drove by the store at about 4pm on Thursday. No tents set up, score! I asked the employees, “Do you think people will camp out?” A guy hanging a banner said, “I would think they’d be here by now.” I asked if he thought people knew about it. He said, “I don’t think that many people do.” I said, “I Do!” and then I laughed maniacally and drove off.
Later that night I was talking to my sister and she assured me that people would camp out. “But it’s cold! It’s gonna get below freezing!” I said. “It doesn’t matter," she said, "Never underestimate what people are willing to do for a good deal.”
Knowing that she is always right, I drove by the 99 Cent Only store again. And there they were—the campers. They were bundled, layered and prepared to stay the whole night. It looked like there were about eight of them. Should I run home, grab my flannel pajamas, a sleeping bag and go back up there? I considered it but then I thought, “What if I have to go the bathroom? What if the other 99 cent customers are weird?” Wait a second. Of course they’re weird. They’re camping out all night in 30 degree weather in front of a 99 Cent Only store!
So in the end I didn’t go (which is obvious because I’m writing this blog). But as soon as I’m done, I’m walking up to that 99 Cent Only store. Yep, I’m gonna pick up my new scooter and ride it home. And then later, you’re all invited over for 99 cent muffins!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My prediction? This ain’t gonna work. Now I’ll preface this with saying I’m usually wrong about these things: I saw the trailer for the movie The Matrix and thought, “Oh, I’m so embarrassed for Keanu Reeves. I bet not ONE person will go see that movie.”
But hear me out:
You Can’t Please Everyone: Make up your mind, Wal-Mart. Who’s your target (no pun intended)? The poor? White trash? Gun-toting Texans? Or is it selective suburanites? If you really want to go after the affluent, lose your name at these upscale stores. Go with the HEB strategy: Open a Central Market.
Plano people are faux-posh: Sure, the average household income in my neighboring community (we’re outcasts on the outskirts) is three times the national average but they still like a good bargain. Their mall, the Shops at Willow Bend, may have a Saks but the real crowds are in the Sonic in the food court. As Frank says, “People in Plano just like to know that their mall has a Saks and a Neiman’s, but they don’t really want to shop there.” Aside: Frank may not have actually said the names of these stores because he gets those two mixed up with Nordstrom. He also gets Selma Blair and Amanda Peet mixed up but that’s another blog.
Wal-Mart Can’t Keep up: I don’t mean they can’t continue to stock their shelves with organic food and sell semi-designer clothing. They’re just not gonna have the customer service of my Target. Cause when it comes down to it, no matter how upscale the store is, their employees still know that they work at Wal-Mart and they are not happy about it. So they’re not gonna know where anything is, they’re not gonna offer to help me and there’s no way those bathrooms are ever gonna look as shiny as they did on the Today Show this morning.
So Target friends, don’t think this gal is gonna abandon you. No way. But if you’re wondering where I am this weekend, I might be across the street at your competitor. What? Even I gotta sample the sushi!
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
For some reason in Ikea the other day the subject of a dumb waiter came up. (No, not a stupid server but an elevator-like apparatus for bringing up food and drinks in big houses). Thea and I exclaimed at the same time, “Like in Webster!” Jinx. She owes me a Coke.
That got me thinking about the hit TV Show and how I left old Emmanuel Lewis out of my new series. I guess now he deserves his own blog. Here’s what I remember about Webster:
How Webster always came down for breakfast in the dumb waiter
How he called him adopted parents “Ma’am and George.”
That awesome theme song: “Then Came You” with still shots of the three of them
How Webster ran a marathon but it took him a really long time so by the end it was dark and nobody was left cheering except Ma’am and George.
Ben Vereen? What was he doing there?
I mainly remember enjoying the show and including it as one of my appointment programs along with The Dukes of Hazzard, Different Strokes, The Love Boat (which my parents vetoed after about three seasons—too late) and Punky Brewster.
But still, I have some questions for Webster:
You looked like a kid but you weren’t really a kid, were you? By the time the show ended you were 18! How did that make you feel?
Was there a rivalry with Gary Coleman?
Why did you and Michael Jackson wear matching outfits?
Would you have any objections to playing a kid now and if so, would you want to be in my new TV series as Lisa Turtle’s son?
You know what, Webster? Don’t worry about it. You can be in my show no matter what age you wanna play. Oh, but just one requirement: you have to be able to fit into the dumb waiter.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
X? Well this time he had stumped me. We still don’t know what this girl’s name is so I just call her Ixtapa. I know that starts with an “I” but that’s what I always think of when I think of this girl. And, really, I didn’t know it started with an “I” until I looked it up right now. Anyway, now I just say, “So how’s Ixtapa doing?” or “Did you ask Ixtapa if she could help you with the project?” or “Is Ixtapa hot? Do you have a work crush on her?”
No offense to Ixtapa but X is the silliest letter in the English alphabet. (Q is a close second since it’s so dependent on U.) In school, when we’d learn our letters with flash cards, the example of X was always “xylophone.” Xylophone? How often do I use that word? I’m gonna go with never. It’s like by that point in the alphabet they’ve really run out of ideas. And if the kid is smart he/she will say:
“Okay, I get it. If xylophone starts with X than X must make a zzzz sound.”
Then two cards later the kid will see Z (with a zebra, of course) and the kid will say, “Wait a second. That’s the same sound that X made. Are they the same? And if not, why do we even have the letter X?”
Naturally, the teacher will throw out the old “X-ray” card (which is the only other example ever used for X). What are we doing to these kids?
It’s a ridiculous letter and I say we just get rid of it. Then we could have a 25-letter alphabet. It won’t really affect our language except that darn song. So here’s what we’ll do: When we get to that part in the song we could go “T, U, V, W (hooh), Y, Z.” On the “hooh” you make like this thrusting gesture with your fist. It’s gonna sound really urban chic. I think Ixtapa will totally dig it.
Monday, March 20, 2006
When the IKEA opened in Frisco last August they said that the first 100 people would get a POÄNG chair. I didn’t know what a POÄNG chair was but I knew I needed one. I thought, “Since I’m a freelance writer and don’t have to report to a cube at 8:30 a.m., I can be there when it opens and be one of the first 100 people.” It opened at 9 so I thought I could get there at, oh, 8:15 or so just to be safe.
Luckily, I checked the news the night before. Apparently, if you were the very first person you received some amount of money to spend in the store so this woman had abandoned her family for several days in order to camp out there. And she wasn't even the biggest loser in this ordeal. The people behind her were even stupider—they camped out just for the POÄNG chair which, turns out, looks like this:
It’s okay but I guess I expected something that included an umlaut to be, I don’t know, more exotic.
So I didn’t go to IKEA that day or the day after that or the day after that. Actually, I had no plans to ever go until Tips from Thea invited me to come along with her yesterday. Motivated by a need for patio chair cushions, I tagged along.
When we stepped into the Swedish super store our eyes widened. I got that euphoric Costco feeling but unlike Costco, the feeling never faded. You see at IKEA, they force you to go on a “tour” of the store so you can’t just run in and say “Where are the patio cushions?” and grab ‘em and go. You have to savor each section which was not a problem for TfT and me. In fact, she was in tip heaven:
“Oh, I’ve always wanted one of these,” TfT would say, holding up a square red plastic thing-a-ma-bob.
Intrigued, I would ask, “What is it?”
“It’s an ice cube tray that makes your ice into different shapes. It’s also good for making jello.”
“Oh,” I would respond, “I need one of those.”
And that’s basically how we spent the next couple of hours: oohing, awing, and saying things like, “I don’t know what that is but I need that.” OR “I never knew I needed that until I saw this great price.” OR “Trash cans for $1.99? I need five. $.50 hot dogs? Wasn’t really hungry but now I need them.”
As we moved to each new section TfT said, “I’m excited when we get to new stuff but then I’m sad because it’s almost over.” I know how she felt; we had to find ways to circumvent the tour and revisit our fave sections. Sure we had to go against traffic but the $4.99 patio chair cushions were worth it.
And so were the six juice glasses and pack of 100 straws. Oh, did I mention they were bendy straws? I totally needed them.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Then that got me thinking—I think a lot when it comes to shallow things like TV and pseudo-celebrities—about how I really like it when new shows use old TV actors. I mean, why not? They’ve got experience. They’re hungry to work again. They’ve proven that they can make a show successful. And they probably won’t ask you to take all the yellow M&Ms out of the candy bowl in their trailer. They probably won’t even want a trailer. They’ll take a port-o-potty.
That’s why I was excited to see Pat back on the tube. And same goes for Mark Paul Gosselaar of Saved by the Bell fame and Rick Schroeder and Jason Bateman (BOTH Silver Spoons alums). And how ‘bout Doogie on one of my fave shows How I Met your Mother?
If I created a TV show this would be my cast:
Staci Keanan (cutie from My Two Dads and Step by Step)
Fred Savage (Duh. Plus, his show Crumbs didn’t last)
Lark Voorhies (The sassy Lisa Turtle on Saved by the Bell)
Lisa Dean Ryan (Wanda on Doogie. Hey, if he can get a hit show, why can’t she?)
Douglas Emerson (He was Scott on 90210, David Silver’s cowboy friend who was killed off in the second season. I just want to give him another chance because I bet he was so bummed to get the boot like that.)
Mayim Bialik (Blossom!) And while we’re at it, she should go ahead and bring along Jenna Von Oy (Six) for some comic relief. Okay, okay, she can bring Joey Lawrence too because really, what’s a TV show without a Lawrence brother?
They could all play thirty-somethings who hang out together in apartments they could never afford. I know; it’s been done but we’ll make it original. Hey, we’ve got the perfect cast!
And if we can somehow squeeze in a part for Keisha Knight Pulliam (a.k.a. Rudy Huxtable who's a hottie now) like a sexy neighbor or wise bar tender, that would be good.
Yep, I think it's gonna be a hit and we've got this guy to thank for it.
No, Patrick. I'm not gonna share my profits with you. Although there will be a lot considering these guys come cheap!
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Speaking of places I used to work for minimum wage, I once helped out on the Smoothie King pitch at my ad agency. If any of you have ever worked at an agency you know that you do a lot more work when you’re pitching an account than when you actually get it. So anyway, for the pitch we sent this guy all around Texas and Louisiana, drinking smoothies and checking out the stores. He would fax his notes back to me in Austin and I wrote this diary of his journey--“Smoothie King of the Road” we called it. Here’s an excerpt of a diary entry from Houston:
Day two of my excursion. Arrived at the
Smoothie King on Memorial Drive. Ooh la la.
A fancy part of town with a fancy Smoothie
King to match. Much like the patrons, all the
products are set up in a neat and orderly
fashion. Track lighting made all the upscale,
beautiful customers look even better. Crystal,
the SK employee, knew how to treat her elite
clientele, even knew all the regulars. Not by name,
but by drink: “Hey, Mr. Pep Upper!” she called
out to one businessman. “Look, it’s Power Punch Plus!”
to a stay-at-home mom post-workout. Got myself
some breakfast and a new nickname:
"Cinnamon Oatmeal Raison HeaterZ."
The guy who did this trip complained that I made him sound effeminate. I can't imagine why.
So after writing this diary and downing approximately 117 smoothies over the course of the pitch, I know a thing or two-hundred about smoothies. And Smoothie King, I hate to do this to you, but I’ve created a rival refreshment. Here it is:
Smoothiegal’s Super Banana Blueberry Kashi Surprise
Okay, I’m still working on the name but I love to have the word “surprise” in all my inventions. I make this everyday at about 11 a.m. It keeps me going until about 2 p.m when I eat again. That’s right; I get TWO lunches. If you want to try my Smoothiegal’s Super Banana, etc. etc. here’s the recipe:
First, it’s good to have a Smoothie Maker but I’m sure a blender would work:
One cup of ice
One cup of skim milk
Three tablespoons of blueberries
Four-five clumps of Kashi GoLean Crunch
Pour it all into the blender/smoothie maker (I like to break up the banana a little) and go! I blend for about one minute. I do “smoothie squats” while I’m waiting. I keep my hands on top of the smoothie maker and just do squats until it’s done. So that wipes out about five calories right there and tones up your legs!
Nut Facts (that’s what we called them in the food biz):
I don’t have all the particulars but it’s easy to figure out since all the ingredients are pretty simple. I know it’s about 250 calories (245 if you do your smoothie squats).
I think it tastes great as is but you could put a little Splenda in it if you like. Oh, and it’s convenient if you have this tall beer glass like mine because it makes a lot of smoothie! (Frank is going to wonder why his beers have a blueberry aftertaste.)
So Smoothie King, it was fun but I just don’t need you and your complicated, pricey smoothies anymore. And I’m patenting this so you better not steal it. Although it’s okay with me if you want your employees to do some smoothie squats.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Writing about Sonic caused me to dig up some other memories from my minimum-wage past. Well that and I bought some Eucalyptus the other day. You see my very first job was at Michael’s Arts and Crafts (and that smell you associate with it is, in fact, Eucalyptus).
I have plenty of horror stories about the place: the crazy craft ladies who bought beads by the hundreds, perverted men who wanted to find feathers and more crazy craft ladies who just wanted to load their carts with a bunch of crap. Oh, and I’ll also add that back in my day we didn’t have those UPC scanner things. We had to punch in the price and then punch in the department it came from. Half the time the price wasn’t on there so I would just make it up. It can take a long time to invent prices on a cart full of different-sized beads.
But anyway, I’m not going to tell you my horror stories. I’m going to tell you someone else’s. One day I was making up prices on beads and a woman of about 25 came through my line. She looked shaken and scared. I didn’t think anything was wrong until she only bought ONE pack of beads. This was unprecedented. “Is everything okay?” I asked. She then told me her story. Here it is in her words:
I used to work here and I haven’t been back in six years. This is the first time I could bring myself to walk into the store. I’ve tried to walk in before but that damn Eucalyptus smell just brought back too many memories. (By this time a crowd of other smock-wearing Michael’s employees has started to gather to listen to her story.)
You see, I used to work in wearable art (the t-shirt section). It was back when splatter painting was all the rage. We had this splatter painting wheel and I was the only one who knew how to work it. I would splatter paint t-shirts all day long. The line would go from my splatter paint wheel all along the side of the store and out the door! I splatter painted so much that I had nightmares about it—about the wheel breaking and the splatter paint just flying and splattering the whole store and all the customers.
Every day they’d get more and more impatient and take it out on me: “Hurry!! Can’t you splatter any faster?” they’d yell. So one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. The line was especially long and the people especially frustrated. Finally, when one woman approached me with a dozen shirts to splatter I just freaked out. I couldn’t splatter one more shirt. I looked at the splatter paint wheel and I started to panic. I couldn’t breathe. I started to hyperventilate.
And then I ran—ran to the back, the “employees only” section. I was scared they would chase me! I was crying hysterically and another employee had to give me a paper bag to breathe into. He called my mom and she came to pick me up. She put her arm around me and walked me out of the store and the whole time I was still breathing into the paper bag.
We had to walk past the line of angry splatter-paint purchasing customers. I tried not to make eye contact and just kept breathing into my bag. But just as we were walking out the door one of them yelled, “Hey, before you go, could you just splatter paint ONE MORE t-shirt for me?”
Now every time I smell the Eucalyptus I think of that poor girl. And I’m sure if I ever ran across someone wearing a splatter paint shirt, I would think of her too. Or I would just think they were really out of style.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I will say that the Plano Super Target is exceptional and not all Targets have demonstrated this type of stellar service but check it out:
I’ll just be walking around and someone in a red shirt will ALWAYS stop me and ask if I need help finding something. So the other day I took him up on it. I said, “Yes, I’m looking for the photo albums.” He said, “Well, you’re close but they’re down here on E17. Let me show you. A lot of them are on sale now.”
I said, “Oh, good!” And he said, “Well it’s good because they’re cheaper and bad because they’re picked over.” How nice! HE personally walked me over there and then gave me a Target-insider tip!
And it’s like that every time. I ask where the light bulbs are: “They’re in the Home Improvement section. Let me show you.”
Blank CDs? “Those are on B17, all the way down on the left-hand side.”
In my letter I told them it was like their employees work on commission or something! They’re so ultra-helpful I’m inclined to not make eye contact with anyone in a red shirt.
Oh, and I know what you’re thinking (at least I hope this is what you’re thinking): They’re just helping me because I’m totally hot, right? No, they help Frank too!
Here’s what Target wrote back to me (within 24 hours):
Great products. Great value. And great guest service - every time you visit our stores. That's what shopping at Target is all about, so I'm really happy to learn that team members was so helpful during your recent visit to our Plano Target store.
We count on friendly, energetic team members to make Target such a fun place to shop. I shared your comments with the Store Team Leader so that our team member can be recognized for providing outstanding service. You may also share your compliment about our team member with our Guest Service Team Lead by calling at the store. You may reach the store by calling (972) 424-9575.
We're always glad to hear from you, so if you have any questions or comments, give us a call at (800) 440-0680. You can also check with a Guest Services Team Lead at your store, or visit us on Target.com. Either way, we're here to help!
Thanks for shopping with us. We'll see you again soon at Target.
Target Guest Relations
It’s cute how Benny’s email was almost personal but since I complimented several “team members” it sort of threw him off: “I'm really happy to learn that team members was so helpful…”
But still, they called me a “guest” which is a real honor.
And did I mention that their employees are funny too? When I went to check out the other day there were two cashiers (I mean team members) standing in front of their lines, chatting. I walked up and said, “I’m ready to check out” and the guy looked at me all rudely and said, “Um, we’re talking!” We all started laughing and I said, “Hey, this isn’t Wal-Mart!” I think we’re all gonna go have mochas later. There’s an SB right in the Super Target!
Oh, and I also buy all my clothes at Target. Last time I got a shirt there Frank was so impressed he said, “I don’t know why you would ever shop anywhere else.”
He’s right. Good service. Good products. And now…good friends! What more could a guest want?
Monday, March 13, 2006
Hello. It’s Monday the 13th and you know what that means…time for more Frankosophies! Okay, Monday the 13th has nothing to do with it; I just came up with some more to share with you:
Frank on Public Restrooms: Jacquie was telling me the other day that the festival on Greenville for St. Patrick’s Day can get kinda crazy and yucky: loud, drunk people plus port-o-potties. I said, “Port-o-potties? Frank’ll love that.” She said, “What? He LOVES port-o-potties? I feel the exact opposite way about them.”
Hmmm…she had a point. I, too, detest port-o-potties (and not just because I once walked out of one sipping a beer I hadn’t gone in there with). Why am I married to someone who enjoys these portable poopers?
I still don’t have a clear answer but his jubilation was apparent when we did visit the St. Patrick’s Day party and as soon as we paid our $6 to get in I said, “I hate it! Let’s leave!” Frank said, “But can we at least get a beer and use the bathroom first?” I looked at the long lines in front of the p-o-p’s and suggested that we just go back to the house we came from and use his non-portable restroom that maybe only 30 people had used versus 300. And then Frank said the words that no one has ever uttered:
“But the port-o-potties are my favorite part!”
On Video Stores:
“With the way video stores are these days you’ve got two extremes: your Blockbusters with your Barney and your Square Pants or your Triple X, hard-core porn warehouses on the interstate. There’s no in between! Back in my day we had the mom-and-pop video stores which had the family stuff plus a little room in the back with the soft-core porn. Now I ask you, where is my son supposed to go to get soft porn?”
It’s kinda sweet how he worries about the fate of our children.
“It’s only a good deal if you can stay for two meals!”
On Reading Material in the Bathroom (I told you they were mostly potty-related):
Frank will not go into the restroom without something to read. He’ll take anything: a brochure, a Glamour magazine, a grocery list…he prefers to use our guest bathroom upstairs because then he can take his laptop. But what do I mean “take” his laptop? It just stays in there! Right now there’s a laptop and lots of reading material in there. I call it his “multi-media center.”
You should have seen the St. Patty’s Day crowds go crazy when he took a Dallas Observer into the port-o-potty.
Friday, March 10, 2006
This is my very good friend Kristin Clark. Some people (well Frank and me) like to call her Papasan. Allow me to describe her to you and then you’ll understand.
I’ve known Kristin since high school Well, junior high, really, but she was too cool to talk to me then. You see, Kristin was a rarity: she was in the smart classes AND she was a cheerleader. But don’t worry, that’s where the similarities between Kristin and a Tori Spelling Lifetime movie end.
When it was time to go to UT, Kristin and I decided to buy matching comforters and room together in a tiny little space. When we bought the blue plaid comforters I remember Kristin said, “We look like boys.” But hey, Kristin, have you noticed that Lynette and Tom on Desperate Housewives have the same one? It’s from 1995. Boy, are their set decorators cheap.
But back to KC: After sleeping five feet away from Kristin for almost a year, I learned something very important about her: She is extremely, extremely (I would go on but I hate it when people repeat words unnecessarily) LAID-BACK.
Being laid-back can be good: she rarely gets mad, she never gets annoyed, she doesn’t mind if you borrow her clothes, etc. She’s just, in general, a very cool person. In fact, it’s this attitude that led Frank and me to come up with the phrase, “Kristin don’t care!”
Being laid-back can be not so good: Kristin hated going to class. She could find any excuse to skip: a pretty day, a riveting story-line on One Life to Live, difficulty getting out from under the comfy blue plaid comforter. Oh, and if you decide you want to ask her out on a date cause you liked her pic on my blog (and hey, she’s a good catch), she may call you back, she may not. It’s not that she doesn’t like you. She’s just, like I said, really laid-back.
Okay, so why do we call her Papasan? Well, I’ve lived with Kristin in various times in my life (actually, five different places if you count the sorority house!) and one of those times I was working at the newspaper in Austin. I worked with this guy Gerard and I would always tell him about my roommates, Kristin and Kim. I guess I must have mentioned that Kristin was really “laid-back” and I would always find her relaxing in our Papasan chair. He couldn’t remember their names so he just referred to her as Papasan. He also called Kim “The Matrix” but that’s another blog. He’d say, “How’s Papasan?” So the name stuck.
When I moved and took the Papasan chair with me, Kristin had no choice but to get out of it and get to class. So now I’m happy to report that our little Papasan is in nursing school, studying (and regularly attending classes) to help save lives. I think she’s just in it for the scrubs, though. Hello? Could you get a more laid-back uniform?
Notice how Kristin's trying to squeeze Kimmy and me off of her beloved Papasan.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
You know how much I love Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal, right? Well I do. I love it so much that at night before I go to bed I think, “I can’t wait to get up in the morning and eat my Kashi.” And then when I wake up it’s like the first thing I think about. It’s Writinggal crack.
I’m not the only one. Tips from Thea is addicted too and she even eats it for other meals sometimes—lunch, dinner, an Oprah snack. Well, TfT has a real job so she doesn’t have an Oprah snack but I bet if she did it would be Kashi. Tips from Tricia loves it too and she’s the one who started it all. She’s sort of our Kashi crack dealer.
And you also know that when I love something and consume it a lot I like to buy it in bulk. That’s true of salmon in a can, black beans, jalapeños, blueberries, toilet paper, q-tips, wine, beer and graham crackers. You know, the basics. Well I also buy my Kashi in these giant boxes and usually when I go to Costco I go ahead and get two giant boxes. The sad thing is I can go through those two boxes in about a month.
The other day I was out of Kashi crack so I decided that warranted a trip to Costco (even though I wasn’t out of anything else). Frank even came along (which means we also have to get enormous amounts of jalapeño sausage). I go to pick up my two boxes of Kashi and I notice it’s a little bit cheaper. Score!
When we get home I take out my two giant boxes of Kashi and to my despair I see that one says “Kashi GoLean Crunch” and the other says “Kellogg’s Smart Start.” AH!! Kellogg’s Smart Start? That’s not the crack! I might as well have bought Total or Lucky Charms or POOP TARTS!! And the worst part? Frank KNEW I bought the wrong stuff. He said, “Oh, I saw that in the cart and just thought you were trying something new.” Something new? Why on earth would I do that?
“We have to take it back!” I scream, as I frantically search in the trash can for the receipt. “No, we’re not gonna take it back. Let’s just try it,” Frank says, trying to calm me down.
What’s an addict to do? I didn’t see how this could be as good as my Kashi but I didn’t want to drive in the traffic and I didn’t want to go through the grueling Costco process (showing them my card, walking to the back where the cereal is, trying to avoid the samples of smoothies and raviolis and turkey spiral thingies, making an exchange, having to pay cash…)
So I didn’t go back. Instead, I cheated on my Kashi. I ate the Smart Start. Frank ate the Smart Start too. And you know what? It’s pretty good. Actually, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. Frank now likes to alternate it with his new Oatmeal To Go poops.
BUT the Kashi company needn’t go out of business (and they’re owned by Kellogg’s anyway although they’ll never admit it). I WILL be returning to my crack. You see, Smart Start is lacking the main benefit of Kashi—FIBER! Sure, it says it has 5 grams but that’s only if you eat 1 and ¼ of a cup of it. With my beloved Kashi I get 8 grams in one cup. You can’t beat it. And you certainly can’t cheat it. I’ll be back, baby. Back to the crack.
"We love you, Kashi Crack!" Okay, maybe on this particular evening we loved wine. But it's the same sentiment.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I told them that the mayo bottles weren’t labeled so how was I to know if the artist was really giving me "light" mayo? They said:
All of the bottles of any type of dressing are to be labeled to avoid any confusion to the customer as well as the employee. There shouldn't be any reason why you would have to question what an employee is preparing on your sandwich.
On my next two visits to Subway (in different locations), I still witnessed unlabeled bottles. As 969171 I emailed them again. This time I told them the exact locations where I experienced this outrage. Do you know what they said?
Since then I’ve become obsessed. I’ve tried a couple of tactics:
BYOM: As promised, I took several light mayo packets from Chick-Fil-a and put them in my purse. When I would go to Subway I wouldn’t get mayo; instead I would just pull out my handy dandy light mayo packets from CF.
But then one day I was making artichoke dip for a Golden Globes-watching party and I ran out of mayo. I was freaking out until Frank said, “Wait. Don’t you have all those mayo packets in your purse?” YES! Frank and CF to the rescue!
My delight died down on my next visit to Subway when I didn’t have my safe mayo. Instead, I had to try a new tactic:
Psycho-behavior: When the artist asked me what kind of dressing I wanted, I said, “THE light mayonnaise.” (You see, I have to say it like that because if I say “light mayonnaise” then they think I mean I just want a little bit of mayo. But I can’t say fat free because I don’t think it’s technically fat free).
He picks up one of the upside-down bottles and before he squirts I scream, “WAIT!! How do you know that’s THE light mayo? There’s no label on it!” He asks his co-artist and who says, “No, it’s the other one.”
AHHHHHH!!! They just confirmed all my fears about Subway. They DON’T care what mayonnaise they give you. They probably play eenie-meenie-miney-moe or maybe they call it, “Who should we make fat today?”
He then put down the original bottle, picked up the other (which was also unlabeled) and began slathering my sandwich with it. But why should I trust this other artist who said it was this bottle? He didn’t sound confident and I’m pretty sure you don’t have to have a Master’s to work there. Not that I have a Master’s. But if I worked there I would definitely know which mayo was which. As I walked out I said to Frank (loud enough so they could hear me), “I’m wiping off all this mayo when I get home!” And I did.
Hey, I told you this was my psycho tactic, didn’t I?
You think I would just forget Subway but I love it too much. And on Sundays they have the roasted chicken special and that’s my fave. So now I’m just done with their mayonnaise and with dining in. I always eat it at home and I put on my own mayonnaise.
But I'm not giving up forever. I, 969171, will continue to pave the way for other light-mayo-lovers and their children and grandchildren. I will march on, complaining, yelling and checking labels along the way. This fight isn't over. And as God (and blog readers) as my witness, I will NEVER eat fattening mayo again!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Oh, you’re confused? Where exactly did I lose you? Was it the description of the intersection? The random hand gesturing? Or when I said there never really was an actual wreck?
People, nobody wants to hear your ALMOST-car-wreck stories. If there’s metal-on-metal action, feel free to tell it. If there are injuries, have at it. If the airbags inflate, by all means, share your story. But if it’s a false alarm and you just drove on your merry way, we don’t care! Once you start using your hands to represent the cars that didn’t actually make contact, that’s where I get bored. No, I don’t know what intersection you’re talking about. No, I don’t understand which car is which. I don’t even know the difference between north and east. And I’m not doin’ the “never eat soggy watermelons” trick for your accident-that-never-was story.
And as long as I’m being honest, I’m not all that interested in your fender-bender story either. It really needs to be a major collision to garner my curiosity. Or maybe if there was some verbal argument that ensued after the minor wreck, then I would care. Like the time I backed out of the H.E.B. parking lot and hit a lady’s grocery cart. She went so crazy on me that I thought I hit her. But she didn’t speak English so I wasn’t really sure. She just started yelling in Spanish and waving her arms about. I tried to listen and gather some context clues but then she started using her hands to represent my car and her cart and I just had to get outta there. Yawn. BORING.
Me and the Civ. We almost got in a lot of wrecks together. But don't worry, I won't tell you about them.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Last night I attended an Oscar-watching party in which we discussed the important issues: dresses, lop-sided boobs, hair, who’s hiding his or her homosexuality, the weak list of dead people and what famous people do when they run into each other at Starbucks. Wow, are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s a lot of potential blog topics. But I’m gonna go with the last one:
Let’s say I’m a semi-famous actress like Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m well-known because of that whole Buffy thing and cause my one-day-ex-husband is kinda cute and had a famous dad but I’m not like stalked by the Paparazzi or anything. I (SMG) go into a Starbucks to get a White Chocolate Mocha. (Well, that’s what I, Writinggal, would get but I’m gonna guess that Buffy would get that too because it’s awesome. Oh, but with nonfat milk and no whip, natch.)
So I’m in the Starbucks and I see Sandra Bullock. Now I know her just as everyone else does—from her movies. I’ve never met her. I have a few options:
“Hi, Sandy. How are you?” or “Hi, I loved you in Crash.” or “Congratulations on your recent marriage to that guy with all the tattoos.” And then is it necessary for me to introduce myself or would she know me? I mean, when I’m out and about I don’t usually look like a movie star. I was just running to the 'Bucks so I’ve got on sweats and no make-up. So what if she doesn’t know me and she just thinks I’m annoying? Or what if she thinks I'm Jennifer Love Hewitt? (which, by the way, happens all the time even though we don't look alike. Freddie thinks it's because of the whole triple name thing.) Or worse, what if she DOES know me and can’t believe I’m bothering her when I should know how it feels? Or double worse, what if there’s some famous-person code and we’re supposed to all talk to each other because we’re in the “industry" and plus, I was in Cruel Intentions with Ryan Phillippe and she was in Crash with him?
Back to me, WG: All of these puzzling questions were discussed at the party last night but we didn’t come up with any answers. It’s just another reason I’m grateful that I’m a poor, non-famous, non-presenter-basket-getting, entourage-less writer. Plus, it’s not likely a room-full of women will talk about MY lop-sided boobs.
"Hi, Sandra. I don't know if you know me but I'm a big fan of your work."
"Oh, sure, sweetie. I know you. You were so cute in Party of Five. Um, would you like me to autograph your White Chocolate Mocha?"
Friday, March 03, 2006
The sounds of Air Supply are like the anthem to my 5th year. Who knew a kindergartner could have an anthem? I guess that means the five-year-olds of today will later reflect on “I ain’t saying she’s a Gold Digger…”
It’s not that lyrics like “Making Love out of Nothing at All” rang true with me, it’s just that I remember hearing all those beautiful ballads on the radio during that time. Let’s say AS was more like the soundtrack to my post-toddler/pre-tween years.
And no matter what age you are you gotta love some “Lost in Love and I Don’t Know Much” or how ‘bout a little “You’re Every Woman in the World to Me?” And you have to have a cold soul to not pump up the volume on “Here I am, the One that you Love, Asking for Another Chance…”
I know the name “Air Supply” is a little lame but that doesn’t mean they don’t totally rock. Really, I’m surprised that Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell couldn’t come up with a better name. Sometimes I like to just call them “Russell H” and “G Russell.”
But to be honest I wouldn’t recognize those Aussies if they knocked on my front door. But then again, I probably wouldn't answer it. But if they showed up and I happened to answer the door then I would probably say, “Dammit, you’re not Girl Scouts. You’re not the Publisher’s Clearinghouse people. You look like aging rock stars.” And then Russell H would probably say, “That’s right. We’re Air Supply.” I totally wouldn’t believe him because in my head, Air Supply looks just like Hall and Oates.
But that doesn’t mean I’m less of a fan. You gotta admire these two. They had a string of top ten hits in the late 70’s, early 80’s and were has-beens by ’84. But they didn’t stop. They’ve been putting out albums ever since. Who knew? Obviously nobody and that’s why they haven’t sold. But Russell H and G Russell are like little engines that could. They think they can, they think they can and recently, they really could. Their tours have been selling out and their website boasts that they “smashed attendance records in Cuba, playing to 175,000 people.” Really, Cuba? There must be a ton of kindergartners there.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Frank never gets into Lent but he says this year he’s going to follow this “No meat on Friday” policy. This will be hard because every Friday he gets this huge, beefy taco salad at work. It must be big because he says he can’t even eat it all AND he’s never hungry for dinner when he gets home. This is going to be the ultimate sacrifice.
So what am I giving up for Lent? Well, nothing really. I’m tired of giving up things I put into my mouth. It’s like I say I’m doing it for Jesus but really I just want a toned tummy. My past sacrifices:
One year I gave up soda and I haven’t been a soda drinker since.
One year I gave up meat and now I finally eat vegetables.
Last year I gave up alcohol and well, that one didn’t really stick after Easter.
I feel I’ve already given up the tough stuff. The only thing I haven’t conquered is TV and you already know where that discussion ended up. So I guess we’ll stick to the “No TV on Wednesday" rule for Lent. But that will have to start next week because last night we did watch a Curb. We had to; we’re so behind! God will understand. I hear he's very forgiving.
Oh, and I also haven’t conquered chocolate but again, that’s something I put into my mouth. Plus, I have a freezer full of Vitatops, Thin Mints and fiber cookies—what could I do?
But just because we’re not giving up anything for Lent doesn’t mean we can’t participate in all the other fun Catholic activities: we’ll do the Stations of the Cross, go to confession (better jot down that Wednesday night TV slip-up), feed some homeless people and we may even do one of those Friday fish fries at church. Yep, being Catholic during Lent is fun. Only downside? They still like you to take baths on Fridays.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Thank you for your cooperation,