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I am really worked up about shampoo right now.

You might call me a Shampoo Loyalist. I used Pantene for pretty much my entire life (I mean, except for the portion during which my mother, presumably, washed my hair. I have no memory of this.) but then in the early aughts my hair stylist went on some rant about how Pantene was the WORST thing you could put on your hair and said some things about animal testing and I did zero research or fact checking but immediately stopped using it. (I loved him. Loved. Him. I miss him to this day.)

But then I went through a Dark Time during which no shampoo seemed to really cut it for me. I don’t have too many requirements of a shampoo: I want it to clean my hair, smell pleasant, and make me look like Kate Middleton, which doesn’t seem like I’m asking too much. The Herbal Essences and Garnier Fructises of the world all ticked the “pleasant smell” box, but I think over time I’d get bored with them, or my hair would seem flat, or whatever, I sense you inching closer to the edge of your seat, in anticipation of what juicy detail I might share next, certainly not to leave the room. But I was sick of dating around. What I wanted was shampoo marriage material.

At some point, my mother-in-law left some of her fancy shampoo in the guest bathroom, and around the same time, my new hair stylist started trying to upsell me (in a non-annoying way, I swear) to a keratin treatment, which sounds MAGICAL and yet is way too expensive for my taste. And I discovered that lo! my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down shampoo leavings had the word “keratin” on the bottle. So I tried it out.

It was OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy. And it had a pleasant suntan-lotiony smell and it did seem to make my hair less frizzy. And while it was more expensive than my previous dalliances, Target seemed to have good Buy-One-Get-One deals that made it less so.

OGX keratin

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

And THEN one magical day Target was out of the keratin therapy flavor? scent? type? of OGX, so I started looking at the other OGX offerings for an understudy. I read each bottle carefully, to determine whether I needed something for color-treated hair or dry hair or whatever and then – do you do this? – I sort of unobtrusively started unscrewing the caps and then sniffing each different color? blend? mixture? and trying not to get any wayward shampoo on my nose.

The one I fell in love with was Bamboo Fiber-Full (huh, I have been using this for possibly years and only just now realized it was FULL and not FILL). I love the way it smells. It leaves my hair feeling clean and light and fresh. Less Kate Middletonny than I would like, but no shampoo is perfect.

OGX bamboo

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

We had a happy relationship for a long time, Internet. And then Target stopped carrying it. Why, Target? WHY? Instead, my Target is all about this orchid varietal. Bah.

I started the shampoo search anew. The one shampoo I liked best was Garnier Fructis Full & Plush. But literally every time I used it – or even if I wasn’t washing my hair, and I just saw it, or glimpsed it from the corner of my eye – I would get so annoyed by the word “plush” that I would mutter and stew for… at least minutes. I mean, PLUSH? I feel like plush is a word that should apply only to velvet. Or maybe lips. Or, and I feel like this is a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous, a nice thick lawn. NOT HAIR. I don’t want to be reminded of a tufted velvet davenport every time I lather up. I just don’t.

Garnier Plush

Photo from garnierusa.com

At one point, I figured that the fixation I had on the word plush was probably a waste of time and energy and brain cells (why didn’t you figure this out a paragraph ago, you ask), so I cut it off at the source and went back to the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Which I like. It’s fine. I could see us moving in together, buying a car, maybe getting a dog. But I’m not passionate about it, you know? Like, when I picture us together in our old age, I feel sort of resigned, rather than excited about all the trips we’ll take to Europe.

What I really want is the Bamboo Fiber-Full. Why are you keeping us apart, Target? WHY?

This story is not over!

I got the big, “value size” bottles of the Keratin shampoo some months ago. And at a certain point, the conditioner was really giving me trouble. The bottles are shaped in such a way that you can really only squeeze them from the middle, and the squeezed area was staying squeezed and I could not un-squeeze it. It was forming a tight little girdle in the middle of the bottle, which improved its Marilyn Monroe curves, but prevented me from getting all the conditioner from the bottom of the bottle into the top and out of the bottle. AND, because the OGX packaging people have never used shampoo in their lives, the tops of the bottles are ROUND, so you can’t stand them on their heads to use gravity as your buddy. (And you can’t remove the tops anyway; at least, I can’t. They are affixed to the bottles with superglue and manic rage.)

I can’t tell you what an ORDEAL it became, to shampoo my hair. I tried to force the bottle to stand on its head by surrounding it with other things – a bottle of body wash, the shampoo bottle, my husband’s shampoo – but that was only occasionally successful, and more often than not resulted in all of the aforementioned toiletries collapsing onto the floor and all over my stunned toesies.

So I would bang the bottle on my hand and bang it on the shower bench, then bend the entire bottle in half, trying to lever the conditioner to the exit point (I was surprised it didn’t split in half, but that would have made the conditioner too easily accessible). At the end, I had to do all of the above and then ALSO use both my hands to squeeze out a meager amount of conditioner onto my thigh, and then transfer the conditioner to my hair.

One should not have to endure such humiliations!

The shampoo held up much better, but as I reached the “value” section of the bottle, it too transformed into a torture device.

So, fine, when I had finally extracted as much shampoo and conditioner as was humanly possible from the bottles, I vowed never again to fall prey to the siren song of “value size” and I replenished my shower with regular-size bottles of Keratin shampoo.

Alas! I am halfway through those bottles and the conditioner is already doing the waist-cinch thing!

My husband, bless him, forcibly un-cinched the conditioner by using his body weight to press the bottle short-side against the granite counter (he tried the wall first and the bottle dented the wall).

But!

I was at the supermarket the other day – one I don’t normally shop – and I happened across the shampoo aisle, and lo and behold! My beloved Bamboo Fiber-Full was there on the shelf! I scooped it right up, for $6.29 a bottle (Target, you are costing me money and losing yourself money!) and brought it home and made a Discovery.

Both bottles contain 385 ml of shampoo/conditioner. But the Bamboo bottle is slightly thinner, but deeper while the Keratin bottle is slightly wider but shallower. Does that make ANY sense? The Keratin takes up less space back-to-front and more space side-to-side; the Bamboo takes up less space side-to-side and more space back-to-front.

Because the Keratin bottle is less deep (from front to back, not top to bottom, I am doing such a terrific job of explaining this, good thing you bailed back up at “this is about shampoo”), it’s harder to squeeze. And the cinching thing happens more easily. And showering becomes an episode of MacGuyver.

Worst of all? It looks like OGX is moving toward this style of bottle. Because alllllll the other bottles seem to be the impossible to use terrible flatter/shallower version.

In my shampoo cynicism, I am certain that OGX is going to transition to this type of bottle and then start putting less of the product inside. As in, it may be 385 ml now, but next thing you know it will be 300 ml.

I think I need to start scooping up all the Bamboo Fiber-Full I can find in the old bottle shape.

Or – whimper – I need to begin a new search for my next great shampoo.

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You would think that Target would be a little more lenient, considering that I cannot walk out of it without spending $100. I once spent $75, and felt TRIUMPHANT.

Anyway, I am annoyed. And it is such a LITTLE annoyance that I feel annoyed that I am annoyed. It’s like the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” of annoyances. Does that even make sense? Possibly not; chardonnay.

We had a coupon – FROM Target, which helpfully sends out little booklets of all the things you need and don’t with 25% off here, 15% off there – that was something off bananas. It was something like 20% off bananas. Which already is nothing, because Target bananas are something like $0.18 per. But we eat a lot of bananas around here, and by “we” I mean my daughter and husband because I will not touch a banana with a ten-foot pole. Unless I’m buying one at Target, apparently.

But we had the coupon; we needed bananas. Why not save a few cents, right? The coupon, if I remember correctly, said something like “20% off bananas.”

Wouldn’t you think that means ALL the bananas you choose to buy? If you buy ten bananas, that would be 20% off all ten. This was my assumption.

But no.

The computer – it wasn’t the checker; he rang up all my items and then fed my coupons into the system in a big batch at the end – chose ONE banana – a $0.19 banana – and took $0.04 off that banana. Resulting in a savings of – yes, math fans! — $0.04. Four. Cents.

Okay! So the FULL batch of bananas I purchased was $0.38. Total. For three bananas. I am aware that the math in this post may not be “accurate” per se. But! If the coupon had applied to ALL the bananas, as it should have, we would have saved EIGHT CENTS. That is double the amount we actually saved!

I recognize that I am annoyed by four cents! It is stupid! But it is NONETHELESS ALSO STUPID for Target to have prevented me from saving those four cents!

I think what’s really chapping my lips is that my LAST trip to Target was so awful. It was one of those afternoons where Carla was Losing It and yet I had a bunch of Must Haves on my list (toilet paper, for one; and half-n-half, which may not strike you as a staple but IS). And I was already irritated because Target has stopped carrying my favorite shampoo. And because the layout of the toiletries is so weird that I had to walk sixteen aisles with an older woman who was SCOURING the shampoo and soap aisles for body wash and Could Not Find It because the body wash section is sixteen aisles away. And because, as usual, my Target didn’t have enough cashiers to handle the number of shoppers ready to check out.

At the holidays, my Target was a CHAMP at dealing with this. They know how to do it. They had a point person sending shoppers to the appropriate checkout station. They had billions of checkers ready to check out the shoppers. They were On Top Of It.

But on a normal Wednesday afternoon? They had two checkers and the shoppers were backed up ten to fifteen deep I AM NOT EXAGGERATING and so Carla and I had to wait in a line forever. So by the time we got to the actual checker, Carla was dee oh enn ee DONE and I was right there with her.

Of course, I’d brought a pile of coupons with me, in the ever hopeful quest to spend under $100. And of course, I was super self-conscious of my coupons, because of the ninety people (okay, THAT is an exaggeration; it was maybe five) lined up behind me. And the coupons were being finicky. Like, even though the Target coupons usually say “one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per customer,” only the one was ringing up per item. And the checker was doing them in the order of the pile, not in order of amount saved. So if I had a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.50 off body wash, plus a $0.75 Target coupon, and she rang up the Target coupon first, I would miss out on the biggest savings. Oh GOURD this is the boringest post ever. I think I corrected her the one time I noticed it, but she could have done it more times because did I mention I was trying to prevent a WILD RACCOON from leaping out of the shopping cart? It’s difficult to keep an eye on the raccoon AND on the register simultaneously. Then there was a Target coupon for $1.00 off “three packs of Trident.” Well, I grabbed the very same three-pack of Trident pictured on the coupon, and the coupon didn’t ring up, and the checker said, “You needed to buy THREE” and threw the Trident that I bought ONLY BECAUSE I HAD THE COUPON into my bag. And I didn’t argue (raccoon).

This is where things went fuzzy. The raccoon went into overdrive on the Flinging Herself From the Cart activity. And the checker had to call someone else over to consult with her on one of my coupons — a coupon, if I am not misremembering, for contact lens solution that was so good it (the coupon) was the sole reason I was buying the contact lens solution, and would NOT buy it if the coupon didn’t work. (It was something like $8 off.) It wasn’t ringing up for some reason, and instead of just saying “SCRAP THE SOLUTION!” I said something that made the checker call for coupon reinforcements.

So there I was, sweaty from preventing my child’s self-inflicted diving-to-the-Target-floor death, and feeling more and more frantic as the line behind me piled up, the other shoppers doing that blank-faced weight-shifting that shows barely-concealed impatience and rage. And the checkers needed to for some reason give me a Target gift card (which seemed reasonable; they always have these promotions where if you buy three of something you get a $5 gift card), but then they were taking it back, and then giving it back, and the whole ordeal was taking SO LONG that I wanted to shove my cart into the rack of US Weeklys as a diversion and get the hell out of there.

And when I got home, my husband reviewed the receipt and found out that the checker had CHARGED ME for the $5 gift card.

So. Target. You are on my list.

Barney Stinson

Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com

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Let’s say that you are a scheduler type person. Perhaps for a doctor’s office.

Let’s say that your primary responsibility – or at least ONE of your primary responsibilities, I don’t know your life – is to help patients schedule appointments with the doctors in your office.

Let’s say, then, that you are FULL – just BRIMMING – with all sorts of useful information about the doctors in your office. You know exactly which days they are in various locations and which days they only work mornings and which days they are off and which days they are on vacation. Like I said – you are PLUM PACKED with all these valuable details.

So is it REALLY TOO MUCH to ask that you NOT assume that the patients you are duty bound – or, if not duty bound, at least paycheck bound – to assist ALSO know all these details?

If, for instance, your patient wants an appointment with a doctor at Close Location A – i.e., the location that is NOT a minimum 30-minute drive from her home – and you say, “Sure, the doctor has an opening at 10:00 am on X date” and the patient says, “Oh, that won’t work for me. Can I do it in the afternoon?” is it too much to ask that you explain, straight up, “Oh I’m sorry. This doctor only has appointments at Close Location A between 8:00 am and noon on X day of the week”?

And if, when you DON’T explain that key little detail, and instead say, “No, she can’t do it in the afternoons.” and then the patient says, “Mornings are fine, I just can’t do it in the morning on that day.” Is it too much to ask that you then say, in a voice free of judgment or irritation, “I’m really sorry about that, because this doctor is only at Close Location A on X day of the week, and only in the mornings. Would you like to see her at a different location?” or, at the very least, “This doctor has another opening at Close Location A on X day of the week two weeks later” which would have given the patient a clue that the day of the week was key to the scheduling issue?

And if, when you still don’t explain that key detail, and instead say, with increasing and very blatant exasperation, “Well, do you want to see her at a different location?” And then the patient says, looking at the website, which says that this doctor has office hours at Location B, “How about Location B?” is it too much to ask that you refrain from responding with the slow, clearly enunciated phrasing of someone who is dealing with a person who not only has a hearing difficulty but also an IQ difficulty, “No, this doctor no longer has office hours at Location B. She has office hours at Far Away Location C and Farther Away Location D”?

And if, when your condescension is so thick it nearly clogs the patient’s ear canal, you still withhold the critically important day-of-the-week detail from the patient, and the patient – without calling to attention the fact that your website has misinformation on it, because she knows that is probably not your fault or your job – says, “I’d really prefer Close Location A. I just can’t do it in the mornings of that specific day of the week because of a recurring work obligation,” is it too much to ask that you finally reveal that the doctor is only at Close Location A on the problematic day of the week?

And if, when instead you say, “I don’t know what you want me to do then” punctuated by the poignant sound of throwing your hands dramatically in the air, and the patient, coming – perhaps belatedly – to the realization that the day of the week must be the rate limiting factor, asks, “Oh – does this doctor ONLY have office hours at Close Location A on X day of the week?” is it too much to ask that you not imbue the single word “yes” with the disdain of 10,000,000 teenagers shouting the word “duh!” in their most withering voices all in unison, all with simultaneous eye rolls?

Yes, is the answer. Yes, apparently it IS too much to ask.

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You know when someone says brightly, a la Office Space, in the most annoyingly high-pitched version of cheer possible, “Looks like you have a case of the Mondays!” and your only response is an icy stare designed to induce a disfiguring series of frostbite blisters all across her stupid cheerful mouth?

Yes. That.

I am crabby for several reasons, Internet. Please proceed only if you want to:

a)      Work yourself into a froth on my behalf

b)      Enjoy a case of Other-Person’s-Grouchiness-Induced Poor Temper

c)       Commiserate

d)      Roll your eyes at my CLEARLY first world and therefore RIDICULOUS “problems.”

 

Firstly, I am on Day 1.5 of a stomach bug. And I’m grouchy because, well, obviously, it SUCKS but also because I’m not sure if it’s a bug sort of stomach bug or if I brought it on myself by eating raw cookie dough or sour cream that had been out of the fridge too long. (Perhaps I need to re-evaluate my eating habits.) I have been lying in bed all day – after NOT lying in bed until about three in the morning (you do not need more details than that) – but I have of course had my computer with me, and have been working because when you work from home there is no excuse NOT to work.  Ever. Especially when you have wireless. I mean, you can take your computer INTO THE BATHROOM if necessary. (Please lord do not make it necessary.)

 

Secondly, it is the third anniversary of my marriage, which should be a lovely happy occasion complete with flowers and wine, but, this year, is NOT. (See Item #1 for the reason behind the No Wine.) I cannot begrudge my husband the flowers, because – although he has sent me lovely reminiscent-of-my-wedding-bouquet flowers for the past two years – well, he is busy and he doesn’t think NEARLY as highly of fresh flowers as I do. And I am trying very hard not to pout and tear up at Lack of Flowers because that is stupid.

Plus, I keep feeling this (SILLY, I KNOW) fretfulness about how we are ONLY three years into this thing and yet we are ALREADY chucking the Anniversary Is Special hoopla? That makes me sad. Not that we really are Big Hoopla Type People, or anything. But we’ve had, you know, flowers and a night out in years past. Which was SOMETHING. Has The Magic died in our marriage Internet? Are we Failing At Anniversary Celebration?

We ARE going out to dinner tomorrow night, which, as it turns out stomach-bug-wise, is lucky. And it’s not as if we NORMALLY exchange gifts or anything, so there’s really nothing to be crabby/panicked about. And yet…

 

Thirdly, I have barely made a dent in my Christmas shopping (what in the universe am I going to get for my husband?) (We are destined to fail at Christmas, TOO, aren’t we?). Of course, I can only blame MYSELF for this. But it’s still making me crabby and mildly panicked.  I had planned to rush to the mall after work today. But now… I may SKIP THAT.

 

Fourthly, I am still dithering about Christmas cards. They are important to me, and yet EVERY YEAR I have a hard time justifying the cost to my husband. Plus, I feel enormous pressure to send out a photo card this year, since I did so LAST year and it seems like a step BACKWARDS to send a non-photo card. My mother informs me this is silly, as does MY BRAIN, and yet I still feel OBLIGATED somehow to send out a photo card. Do we actually HAVE a photo appropriate for a card? No, no we do not.

What I should really do is haul ass to Target and buy a bunch of cards and start filling them out, since we are nearing the point where I will be sending them out in February instead. But I keep DITHERING and my husband keeps saying things like, “I thought we were sending out photo cards?” and “Oh, it will be EASY to do a quick photo!” and “Why are we sending out holiday cards again?” whenever I bring up the non-photo-card option.

The WHOLE THING is making me crabby slash panicky.

 

Fifthly (Good Wife complaint), I am not sure whether Will Gardner is now going to be a Bad Guy. Nor am I sure whether Peter Florek is going to be a Bad Guy (Worse Guy?) going forward either. And I don’t want EITHER of them to be Bad Guys, so it’s stressing me out.

 

Sixthly, I just finished The Gift of Fear. It was a good read and had some good tips about preventing/anticipating violence. It also really helped me think through some of my anxieties. For instance, I learned that being on High Alert in a parking garage and suspecting Every Man in the Vicinity of imminent rape/kidnapping/murder may actually INHIBIT my brain’s natural ability to recognize actual danger.

However, SOME is the operative word (in that sentence a few lines back), seeing as I’ve been EXTRA anxious and jumpy in MY OWN HOUSE.  It makes lots of noises that I am STILL not used to. And for some reason, I am just SURE that something bad is going to happen – that someone’s watching me or hiding in the basement or lurking the garage or creeping through the back yard or WHATEVER. Needless to say, I am extremely uncomfortable when I’m here by myself. (Which is a LOT.)

(If I am being honest with myself, I think that this House Fear is rooted in some unbloggable issues I’m dealing with lately. And my brain can’t solve those issues, so it’s painting the rest of my life a nice rosy shade of Panic About Everything. AWESOME.)

Anyway, I spend a good part of my days feeling panicky… and then being crabby about my idiocy because THERE IS NOTHING TO PANIC ABOUT. (Unless, of course, some horrible creep HAS planted tiny video cameras in the air vents and is watching my every move, biding his time until he drops soundlessly from the crawl space in the attic into the guest room closet and disembowels me in my sleep.)

 

Seventhly, I STILL feel unsettled in the new house. We have two tables and only one set of chairs. And actually, we have two ADDITIONAL tables that have no purpose. And we have EIGHT DECK CHAIRS on our teeny deck and no table for THOSE. And there are still boxes of stuff to unpack and/or donate. And we have a total of TWO pictures on walls and we still have several rooms to paint and I haven’t gotten into a cleaning schedule and we STILL haven’t done ANYTHING to the lawn (Laura – I KNOW) and the beautiful couch in our living room is DOWN FILLED so I spend most of my time in that room feeling awful and allergy-ridden and there’s a TV in the basement but the speakers don’t work and the piano is beautiful but the keys stick and I am afraid to contact a tuner for fear it will cost ridiculous amounts of money and there’s a whole list of little non-urgent items leftover from our inspection that need to be taken care of and I have no idea how to keep stainless clean and there’s still the irritating matter of where to best store the recycling/trash containers for easy access without gross trash clutter and I have no idea how to find and engage a snow plower which – according to my husband – is a necessity and I keep hearing about how important it is to “know one’s neighbors” but I don’t know how to DO THAT and and and. CRABBY SLASH PANICKY.

 

Eighthly, I HATE THE NEW GMAIL. I am in gmail all day long and I need it to be easy and intuitive and not like I’m inside an IKEA project. It is DRIVING ME NUTS.

 

Ninthly, my in laws left a baby gift here for friends when they were here for Thanksgiving. And it is (STILL) just SITTING on my table as the baby gets older and less in NEED of the gift, but there have been so many Little Things that need to happen before I can deliver the gift: buying packaging for the gift (I sent my husband to Target to complete this errand. I managed to specify “large gift bag” because the gift will not fit in a small gift bag, but the bag is HUGE and also I forgot to specify that I needed tissue paper); calling the friends to set up a time to go over; HAVING a time to drop it off, a time that includes my husband – because I don’t want to go alone – and some buffer time during which we’ll be offered a drink; figuring out the friends’ address;  ETC. It is such a small, simple task. And yet the days pass, and it does not get done and the panic level is rising with every minute, as is the crabbiness at having to COMPLETE the task in the first place.

 

Tenthly, I have to return a shawl and necklace to the store. I took your advice, Internet, and wore an old dress to the holiday party last weekend. I simply bought a sparkly belt and a sparkly bracelet to go with it and I thought it looked just fine. But I ALSO bought a shawl and a necklace. A shawl and a necklace that I wasn’t crazy about, but I allowed the salesperson to talk me into them (“No way, there’s no such thing as too much sparkle!”) and so now they are in my possession, even though I didn’t even take them out of the shopping bag. But returning them is a HASSLE and there’s no time and whine whine whine.

 

Eleventhly, I really wish I had more to blog about than WHINING. I am annoying MYSELF. But I am grouchy and at least I’m posting something. (Perhaps you are wishing for a kind way to remind me that “silence is golden.”)

 

I am stopping there, Internet. YOU ARE WELCOME.

Please let me know your biggest complaint/panic today, because I need some PERSPECTIVE.  And also some good old fashioned tangential crabbiness.

In the meantime, I am feeling the stirrings of hunger. Since there is no soup or crackers to speak of in our house, I think I may go drown my sorrows in the Cookie Dough of Death.

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Today is the first day it hasn’t rained pretty much ALL April. (Although as I type these words, the clouds seem to be gathering, so the sun may not LAST.)

And yet it has jumped straight from 40-degree-thunderstorm to 78-degree-mugginess which is not FAIR. I would much prefer a scattering of 60-degree days that inch up the temperature scale, sort of gathering momentum, before leaping into summer weather.

Not that the weather CARES that it is being unfair, mind you. The weather NEVER CARES.

But the weather – not to mention a lot of busy-ness at work that I have probably whined about enough – and yet will likely whine about AGAIN, just to warn you – is making me quite crabby.

Usually when I sent a venting-type email to my mother, I feel much better about things. There is a lot to be said for getting things off one’s chest. So today I am going to do a Spring Cleaning of My Current Grievances. You are welcome to join in, if you are so inclined.

(Do not confusing this with ACTUAL Spring Cleaning. Which I DESPERATELY need to do, and yet will likely avoid until September or so. I HAVE done quite a bit of Spring Laundry, though. And approximately zero Spring Folding of the Laundry. )

Grievance 1:  First on my list is the guy at our grocery store deli. He is just horrific. He has no sense of urgency whatsoever, and I swear it takes about 15 minutes for him to slice one pound of meat for you. Probably it is more like five minutes, but it FEELS like 15, because he is so languid about every. single. movement.

But that’s not the worst part. No, the worst part is that he doesn’t LISTEN. I have had multiple experiences with him (he seems to be the ONLY person who works in that deli!), so I know now to speak very loudly and clearly when giving him my order. But it doesn’t do much good. I have to repeat myself several times throughout the process, because he will inevitably turn to me once he’s painstakingly removed the turkey from the case… and slipped the plastic wrapper off… and walked it over to the slicing machine… all as though he is moving through glue… Only then he will ask, “Was it a half a pound?”

“No, a pound,” I will call.

“Two pounds?”

“NO. ONE pound!”

He also has seemingly no concept of slicing varieties. My husband likes his turkey shaved. And – on the rare occasion that I get deli meat, which is usually salami – I like my deli meat very thin sliced.

So I tell him this when I tell him what I want and how much. “One pound of low-salt turkey. Shaved, please.”

When he asks (again) about how much I want, I usually also tack on how I want it sliced as well. In hopes that it will get through to him. “NO. ONE pound! Shaved please!” Because I KNOW that if he’s forgotten the amount, he’s likely forgotten the shaved part as well.

But it doesn’t matter. We always end up with thick slabs of meat.

Once I asked him to re-slice it. “I asked for thinly sliced,” I told him, as politely as possible. (Although I’m SURE my face was bright red with frustration.) So he did. But you know what he did with one pound’s worth of thick slabs of salami? He THREW IT AWAY.

So I feel horrible about THAT. I mean, I don’t want to be responsible for perfectly good food going to waste, you know? So since then, when he’s inevitably cut it wrong, I bite my tongue and complain loudly about it to my husband. For DAYS.

And then, also inevitably, he will weigh the turkey and there will be one-and-a-third pound instead of the one pound I’ve asked – repeatedly – for. But by then I am so exasperated, I just take it and pay for a third more meat than I asked for or can eat before it goes bad. I mean, it’s just going to go in the trash ANYWAY, if I tell him it’s too much, right?

Okay, I lied. The worst thing about him is not that he doesn’t listen. The worst thing is that he doesn’t CARE.

It is very clear by his demeanor, his tone of voice, and his actions that he is completely indifferent to his job and the people he’s serving.

And that INFURIATES me. Because if you are getting paid to do something, at the VERY LEAST have the decency to feel bad… or even just a little GUILTY… when you royally screw it up.  Or at least APOLOGIZE instead of rolling your eyes or staring at me incredulously, like this is the first rather than tenth time I’ve told you something.

Yes, I know. Everyone has a bad day now and then. But this guy is like this EVERY TIME.

I remind myself every time I go to the deli that I MUST remember to get this guy’s name so I can make a formal complaint. And yet every time, I am so thoroughly MADDENED by dealing with him, that I either forget to look or, if I have looked at his name tag, his name is driven completely out of my brain by the RAGE.

I ALSO know that if I’m not going to complain about the guy, that I don’t really have anyone to blame for my irritation but myself.

And usually – I’d say 98 percent of the time – my husband and I shop at a different grocery store so we don’t have to deal with this dude. A grocery store that is 15 minutes away rather than 5 minutes away. But sometimes, when we’re in a hurry or when the closer store just makes more time and economical sense, we go there anyway.  And I get irate all over again.

That’s what happened to inspire this particular grievance. I went to the grocery store last night to buy food for the weekend, and I thought to myself, “While I’m here, I should get some turkey for my husband!” (He eats turkey sandwiches every day for lunch.)  But then I caught a glimpse of the deli guy as I approached the deli… And I got so pre-emptively upset that I just scrapped the whole getting-turkey idea. We have peanut butter and jelly at home. My husband can eat THAT.

Grievance 2 (do not worry, this is a MUCH shorter grievance): I very much dislike when people give me unsolicited work advice when they really don’t understand my work. (And I’m not talking about YOU Internet. If I ask your advice on things, it’s because I WANT that advice.)

Grievance 3: When I am stressed out and busy and working late into the night, my body responds by making the limited sleep I AM getting very fitful and interrupted.

You’d think that I could stay up until 3:00 am one morning, wake up at 7:00 am the next morning… Work until midnight the next night… And then get a good solid eight hours of sleep until my alarm buzzes at 8:00 to put me back on track for normal non-sleep zombie life.

But you would be wrong. Because my mind is so overloaded by Stuff to Do that it prevents me from actually FALLING asleep until 1:30 or so… And then I wake up after a work nightmare at 3:30… And then again at 5:00 because my husband rolls over… And then again at 6:00 when my husband’s alarm goes off… And then I can’t actually fall back asleep until 7:00, only to wake up again at 7:30 and give up and go to work.

This has been going on – with slight variations – ALL WEEK. The fatigue and the accompanying brain fartiness just keep compounding until I am next to worthless. I have such a hefty sleep debt that, even though I FINALLY slept well last night – from midnight until 11:00 am – I am STILL TIRED. Blargh.

Okay, I’m sure that I could dream up MORE grievances, but I will resist. And I will force myself to come up with three things that are positive in an attempt to counteract the irritation and over-tiredness.

Positive 1: My mother sent me a BEAUTIFUL vase of spring flowers, totally by surprise, and sent with them a little box of chocolate truffles for my husband. (He thinks flowers are stupid and also LOVES chocolate.)

Positive 2: My husband is DONE with fellowship interviews!!!!!! I am so excited about this and also just… tired. It was so exhausting for ME, I can only imagine how arduous it was for my husband, who actually had to do the interviews.

Also, he only had to work until 1:00 today, and when he is finished with writing his sign-out, we will get to spend the rest of the day and ALL DAY tomorrow together!

(By the way, in case you are curious at ALL about the fellowship application process, I plan to write a nice long post all about it.  But not until after my husband has [hopefully] matched in June to a fellowship program.)

Positive 3: Even though it was gross outside, I did do a brisk mile or so of walking today. And I was charmed to see that some enthusiastic daffodils have said “to hell with the rain!” and decided to bloom anyway.

Happy weekend, Internet! May it be full of positives and free of grievances.

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You want to know something that annoys me?

Okay, that seems a bad way to begin.

How about this…

You want to know something that will make your life easier and more organized?

Make your email subject lines specific.

Say I have a question for you about, hmm, buying a kangaroo.

I would email you with the subject line “Buying a Kangaroo.”

And you would email me back under that same subject line. And any time we discussed the intricacies of kangaroo buying, we would do so under the “Buying a Kangaroo” subject line.

Then, at any time in the future, I would easily be able to search for and find the emails on that subject. You know, to forward to my other kangaroo-fanatic friends. Or whatever.

By the way… It totally doesn’t bug me if your email subject line says “hi” or “It’s Friday!!!!1!!1!11” or “OMG guess what?!?” or whatever. I send those emails all the time. But they are generally a) to my mom and b) not really about anything specific other than a little note to say, hi, the weather is snowy, I am making spaghetti for dinner or whatever.

But when there is Something Specific at Stake, I think the specific subject line is pretty much a necessity.

Yet so many people refuse to use them! They often completely IGNORE the subject line field, when it can be SO VERY USEFUL!

I also firmly believe that email conversations are excellent (in gmail, one conversation under the umbrella of a single subject line takes up one line in your inbox; I’m not sure what happens in other email services, but I think you’d have 20 lines in the inbox, all with the same subject line)… BUT if anyone involved in the conversation switches the subject, it is critical to begin a new email with a new subject line.

I mean, say we have been going back and forth about kangaroo buying, and then all of a sudden you want to know if we are still on for dinner next Tuesday and where exactly should we go?

Well, I think that requires a new subject line – something like, “Dinner Next Tuesday.”

Here’s why…

  1. If I see YET ANOTHER email from you about kangaroo buying, I may not open it right away because I am sick of talking about the stupid kangaroo… thus missing your important question about dinner and inadvertently snubbing you and completely ruining the friendship.
  2. If I forget, between now and Tuesday, whether we agreed to go to the new Thai restaurant or Olive Garden, it will be difficult for me to find the answer without bothering you again. Because why would I possibly open an email about buying kangaroos to find out about our dinner plans?

Along these lines, please, for the love of god, don’t just randomly pick out an old email and click reply because it’s easier than remembering my email address. That is what “Contacts” lists are for. Or, if you MUST do that because the old email has the exact right list of people in the CC field or whatever… please take the extra five seconds to delete the old email and replace the old subject line with something new.

Because there is nothing weirder than getting an old email that says RE: That One Scrubs Episode that doesn’t reference Scrubs at all and is, instead, about the best place to rent skis or something.

Oh! That reminds me of another way to make emails easier and better!

Try to stick to one subject per email.

Maybe this is more of a work-type issue (although I’ve certainly run into it with personal emails), but it happens All the Time.

A few years ago, a gal I supervised would send me emails with a bunch of different things in them at once. Like… She’d ask me a complicated question about how I wanted her to complete a project… And then in the same email, she’d ask who was the best person to contact about an HR issue… And which three people I wanted her to include on a weekly report she sent out… And then she’d ask me how my weekend was… And then a question about how to perform a certain function in Word.

So what I would do was break them apart. I’d respond to her project question – in an email with the subject line “Response to Your ABC Question about XYZ Project” – in one email.

Then I’d respond to her Word question in a separate email – with the subject line  “How to Do Footnotes in Word.”

Then I’d break her other three – smaller – questions into numbered bullets and answer them all in corresponding numbered bullets.

Then I would encourage her to ask questions like that in the future – giving big, complicated questions their own email, and asking multiple small questions in numbered bulleted lists.

She didn’t like me very much, if I remember correctly.

But! In any event! That is what I do when I write emails. A boss showed me how to do it a billion years ago. And it enhances clarity immensely.

And along the same lines…

Please don’t respond to just one or two of the 5 questions I asked you. I promise that I broke them out in a very clear, numbered list and I need answers to ALL of them, it’s not a “pick and choose” type of thing.

Maybe you don’t have an answer to one… Or you don’t have an answer YET… But please, for the love of lobster, just SAY THAT. It’s better than answering two of the questions and leaving me to fret over whether I should take your lack of response as “no” or “I don’t know” or whether I should email you back and risk getting an annoyed “I’m working on it” response.

Wow. I cannot believe that I just wrote 950 words about how to write emails. Clearly I need to get out more.

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Guess what happens next week, Internet?

That’s right!

Thanksgiving Day of Football and Feasting!

I am ready. I am pumped. I am psyched.

I am totally going to kick some Thanksgiving ass, Internet.

But my poor mother-in-law… I think she is worried.

Now, she would never say it to my face that she is concerned, Internet. But she has been doing a lot of asking if she can help.

I believe this comes from a genuine desire to help me out. She is a very nice, helpful person, after all. Plus, she is an experienced Thanksgiving Hoster.

But I am guessing – and keep in mind that this guess is coming from a bona fide control freak – that she is feeling a little anxious about not having any influence on the Thanksgiving proceedings.

“So,” you say, “let her help! Help is awesome!”

To you I say, “Wow. You don’t know me at all.”

Allow me to stress a few things about me, the Resident Control Freak:

1. I have a tiny, nay MINUSCULE kitchen. It is seriously only big enough for ONE PERSON. Believe me, I know this from experience. My husband and I have cooked/unloaded dishes/unpacked groceries in that kitchen together many times. And he is a person I don’t feel bad about yelling at/bumping into/accidentally stabbing. (KIDDING.) (Sort of.)

2. I am very, very particular about many things. I have serious, specific ideas about washing dishes, washing vegetables, and handling meat. I care about where you put a dirty dish (on the right side of the sink) and where you set a vegetable (on the left side of the sink, preferably on a cutting board) and what you put IN the sink (ONLY dirty dishes and things you intend to put down the drain). I care about which dish towel you use to dry your hands or dry your dishes. I have very strong feelings about cleaning as you go. I even have TWO scrub brushes – one for dishes that go in the dishwasher; one for dishes that are to be handwashed. Are you getting the picture? CONTROL FAH-REAK.

3. I would so much rather be stressed about Making Food than be stressed about Whether You Are Following My Thousands of Weird Rules.

In an ideal world, I want my in-laws to come over, sit in front of a football game, eat the appetizers I will have thoughtfully prepared ahead of time, and WATCH THE GAME. Or snooze. Or chat. Or read a book. Until I announce that dinner is ready.

Oh my god, Internet. Do you not feel intense sympathy for my in-laws?

In response to past episodes of my whining about this holiday, you have thoughtfully recommended that I hand over a certain side dish to my mother-in-law to make… Or that I ask her set the table… Or any number of very smart and thoughtful and practical suggestions that will make her feel needed.

And to all of them, I pooch out my lower lip and say, “NUH UH. I don’t wanna.”

This is where you roll your eyes and think, “Holy cats, lady. I would give my left kidney for a mother-in-law who is helpful/someone to help me with Thanksgiving/an excuse to boss my relatives around.”

This is where you sigh loudly at me and say, “Just LET GO a little, weirdo. It’s not going to kill you if someone else makes the mashed potatoes.”

But Internet! I want it my way. Pout, pout, foot stomp.

I want to be a good hostess. Being a good hostess means making your guests comfortable. In order to make my guests comfortable, I need to be in control. But one of my guests also wants to be in control. So I can’t make her comfortable without relinquishing control which means I won’t be able to make her (or my father-in-law) comfortable.

And then my brain explodes.

Just to see if I can sway you in my favor just a little, let me add this:

My in-laws are flying here. So any food item they contribute to Thanksgiving would have to be [a] brought on the plane (is that even possible? I mean, can you put a tray of stuffing through the security x-ray?) or [b] bought here (and seriously, HOW is something store-bought going to be as good as something homemade?) or [c] made in my kitchen, which we have previously established as Not Possible Without My Being Dead or Unconscious.

And lastly, a tiny (or not-so-tiny) part of me wants to prove to everyone – to myself, to my mother-in-law, to whomever else who remotely cares about this ridiculous drama I’ve built up for myself – that I can do it. That I CAN make Thanksgiving dinner – from scratch, start to finish, by myself – without burning down the apartment or poisoning anyone.

What is it that they say about pride goeth before the fall and whatnot?

I don’t even know if I want advice or commiseration or if I just need some assurance that we will all get through this without hating each other or throwing a pot of yams at the wall or dealing with the horror of setting a peeled potato on the right side of the sink.

But I would like your thoughts. Even if your thoughts have nothing to do with Thanksgiving at all.

(Although fair warning: I reserve the right to respond to “Sheesh, girl, just give your MIL something to do” comments with a big ol’ pout face.)

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