Working on myself

Every year starts out the same.

I get this burr in my bonnet to be better or learn something or find some new thing to master.

One year, it was brewing beer.

kozmodemyansk_museum_13Of course, once I had done it and realized I wasn’t going to be immediately able to play with ingredients like I do cooking, it lost its appeal. Not that that was a bad thing, cause my husband took over the brewing supplies and magic was born.

Another year, I decided to learn Italian. I am killer at asking where Marco is, but after that, things get a little shaky. Scusi, moi!

This year was no different. I decided tonight to not only restart my social marketing specialization class, but, quel suprise! restart learning Italian. Ciao Bella!

It made me think about all the other things I would like to learn too.

Like baking.

I would like to learn how to bake.

tumblr_my9mo9XUsV1t0gs1do1_1280I can make a mean potato leek soup, and my soufflés are pretty good, but I can’t bake. Really. My cakes turn out flat, my biscuits turn out like hockey pucks and let’s not even start on my breads.

I think it has something to do with needing to really follow a recipe.

My mom used to tease me that I only knew two temperatures to cook with – high and off. I’m thinking I also only know two ways to cook – wing it or order out.

Following a detailed recipe precisely aside, I think I’m also pretty tough on doughs when you get right down to it. I mean… I don’t think something is mixed properly until it no longer resembles a group of ingredients, but rather one big mass of other stuff. Like, when I make eggnog, I don’t necessarily FOLD the egg whites into the rest of the mixture… I keep stirring it in until the whole thing looks like yellow fluffiness. It just makes sense to me to do it that way.

But apparently, you’re not supposed to do that with all doughs. Who knew? And then there’s this whole “let your dough rest” thing… what a crock! It’s just sitting there as it is while I do all the hard work of kneading and rolling and cutting and mixing – heck, I’M the one that needs the rest!

Speaking of resting, I think I also want to learn how to workout without actually working out.

I know that sounds stupid, but since I have to have my hip replaced sometime this, I need to figure out a way not to balloon up to a million pounds while recuperating without starving myself to death.

844b145108ea4aa566cb5478a1efe3a3Surely there is a way to do something resembling exercise while lying in bed. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, I won’t even be allowed to reach down and grab blankets from the end of my bed, let alone cross my legs, so I’m just wondering what I’m going to be able to do that is going to burn off any appreciable amount of calories. Other than eating celery all day, I’m stumped.

I think I would also like to learn how to make my own cheese and sausage. These two have been goals of mine for some time, but I never really got the chance for one reason or another.

For one, I haven’t been able to find unpasteurized cow’s milk to make cheese with.

10.Mixing2.jpgMy husband got me a meat grinder/sausage making thingy to go on my mixer, but the only clues I can find to make sausage are kits from Academy sports – and honestly, it just seems like this whole sausage making thingy shouldn’t be so complicated it needs to be dumbed down and in kit form.

Of course, I haven’t really looked that hard either.

I mean, how difficult can it be to insert meat and spices into a blender and come out with yummy goodness?

The impetus for all this cheese and sausage making came from a dream where I was stranded in the wilds of North Dakota trying to make my way back home from Vegas after a terrorist invasion of the U.S.

It was a very vivid dream and the sausage and cheese making came in handy when the troop of stragglers I was with landed at an abandoned farm.

In hindsight, I hardly think that cheese and sausage making would have helped me and my little posse of survivors flourish. Instead, I am thinking it would have led to heart disease and high cholesterol, resulting in our untimely deaths, meaning, of course, the terrorists would win.

But, if I recall the dream correctly, it did engender me in the eyes of the rest of the merry band of troopers, making me the important one that must be kept for their culinary prowess.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

I still want to learn how to make them though. How cool would it be to serve an anti pasta platter and say “Oh, DO try the mozzarella – I just made it last week. I’m working on perfecting the capicola, but you MUST try this summer sausage I put up last year. It’s simply divine with little hints of wood mushroom and arugula…”

I used to put up a list of some 734 impossible things I’d like to accomplish each year like write a novel, or get more involved in your community.

I’ll write regardless. And I’ll find ways to get involved and make a difference, so putting that on a list of accomplishments is like putting “write to do list” on your “to do list” just so you have something to cross off.

Italian-Popular-Gestures-277x300So… let’s limit it to things I can learn. Italian. Baking. Exercises that aren’t exercises. Making cheese and sausage.

Seems easy enough. Right?

Lo capisco! Arrivederci e buona gianata!

 

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

All images remain the property of their owners.

If you say you’re going to do something, do it

If it’s true that “what you do on the first of the year is what you’re going to do for the rest of the year,” I think I may be in trouble.

wpid-confusedSo far today, January 1, I’ve managed to clean, nap, cook and walk into another room four times, forgetting what I was there for and then working on something else, until I walked back into the kitchen and remembered what it was I intended to do originally.

This does not bode well.

In fact, it took me looking at the stove four times this afternoon before I realized that it wasn’t 4 p.m., but that the oven was on and cooking at 400°.

Does that mean for the rest of the year I’ll be dazed and confused, or that it will just take me longer to realize what I’ve actually been accomplishing?

I feel like I’m getting old and forgetful.

In my defense though, it’s been a long couple of weeks.

Really. Long.

There have been numerous holidays, lots of stuff going on, one huge party, a few set backs and disappointments and a ton of work commitments to get thru. It didn’t feel much like a vacation, even if I was “technically” off work.

Come to think of it, with 70° weather and rain, it didn’t feel much like Christmas either.

o-UNWINDING-facebookAt one point last week, I was given the opportunity, several actually, to walk away from a commitment. It would have been the easier thing to do. I would have disappointed others, but it would probably have been easier for me to just walk away from what I had said I was going to do.

Then, I thought about what my friend Steve has said to me before. “If you say you’re going to do something, do it.”

And that’s what I did. I kept my word. I, along with several others, threw a huge party and while it wasn’t the overwhelming success we thought it would be earlier this year, it was still a success.

Which got me thinking.

Maybe if I said that I was going to do something today, and then did it, it would be a better indication of what the rest of my year would be like.

As such, I’ve decided to start the year off right writing.

refashionistaInspired by my blogger girl crush, the Refashionista, I have started a challenge for myself. While she will do a post a day for 366 days (leap year, you know), I will do a post a week. That’s a big leap for someone who has not really posted anything since before Halloween.

I think I will do them on Mondays. I always hate Mondays, so maybe writing for myself on a Monday will make it easier for me to face them.

And I’m going to work on other things too.

I’m going to finish my cookbook for my sons – all of our family recipes, interspersed with some of my old columns, and a few of our old family stories. I want to have it ready to give to my oldest son if and when he moves out.

I’m going to seriously work on getting my children’s books published – starting with “My Little Zombie” for which I found an illustrator recently.

I’m going to focus on finishing my novels and getting down to the editing process.

I’m going to write about the Children of Clay – a project I’ve wanted to work on for almost a year now.

I’m going to write a history book about Anderson.

There’s also a lot to look forward to this year.

200020892-003

I’ll get my hip replaced in April or May. Little Mason will graduate in June. Max will start working  – if all goes well and the Hot Topic angels are smiling on him. And in October, Pints for the People will enter its fifth year of giving away money to charities.

That’s a lot of good stuff.

And I’ll write about it all.

One week at a time.

If I can remember what I’m supposed to be writing about when I go into my office, that is….

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2016

All images remain the property of their respective owners.

 

Scream Queen – My Halloween Advent Calendar

I’ll admit it, I’m not like most girls.I-love-weird-quirky-girls-300x245

Wanna take me to a movie? Make sure it has some good car chases and things that blow up. Wanna curl up on the couch with me and watch some Netflix? Better tune into the thriller/suspense/psychologically-messes-with-you-from-the-first-scene section. Wanna make me swoon? Bring over a zip drive loaded with your favorite slasher flicks, some popcorn, lemonade and maybe some JuJuBees.

Wanna go see a Rom Com?

Ask your sister.

No, instead of wanting to watch some dork sweep a girl off of her feet by somehow deciding not to date her best friend, I want to see something that really moves me.

I want to see a good horror flick. Or a good thriller. Or a good adventure flick. Heck, there are even a few Tom Cruise movies that I almost don’t hate with a passion.

If it's good, my fingernails will be chewed down to the nubs.

If it’s good, my fingernails will be chewed down to the nubs.

But my favorite, my absolute favorite, is a good scary movie.

If I’m cringing under my blanket, barely peeking out between my fingers, I’m in heaven. It’s kinda like riding a roller coaster – you know you’re safe, but it scares the crap out of you anyway and gets your adrenaline pumping and your heart thumping. There’s nothing like it.

Periodically, Max and I will curl up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and experiment with some new scary movie we’ve heard of, or one he’s never watched. With some popcorn and a blanket, it’s an afternoon made for this Mama.

batesMotelThis all started last year when we got this light-up sign for Halloween that said “Bates Motel – No Vacancy,” but the “No” part wouldn’t light up. Max insisted it was broken.

So, of course, you know, in true Uber Weird Mom fashion, I had him sit down with me on the couch and watch the original “Psycho.”

I’m sure it didn’t result in any permanent psychological scarring.

It was in black and white after all, which is about as scary to them as Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Still, since then, we’ve watched “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Babadook,” “Scream,” “Children of the Corn,” and “The Sixth Sense.”

Dinocroc_vs._Supergator_DVDI did the same thing with his older brother Mason too. Of course, those were more B-movies that we watched and laughed at, late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. We got through at least three of the Godzilla franchise movies, “Lake Placid” (1 and 2), “Piranha” (in 3D), “Jaws” and any number of really awful creature vs. creature flicks.

Think Dinocroc vs. Supergator… yeah… we made our own little Mystery Science Theater:3000 in the living room on those.

I consider this doing my part to enhance their cultural education.

This year, however, I’m doing something different. Instead of just binge watching scary movies from October 23 to Halloween, I think I’m going to count down the days to Trick or Treat with a movie or five a day. I’m thinking it will be my own personal Halloween Advent Calendar.

With the help of some trusted friends, and a few online lists, I’ve compiled a list of scary movies to watch everyday this month.

Overweight Woman Relaxing On SofaHopefully, on November 1, my hair won’t be white, and my waistline won’t look like I’ve swallowed a pumpkin whole.

Because there are so many good ones to watch, I’ve added a few theme days on Sundays so I can fit them all in. And I’ve tried to avoid the ones I’ve either already seen.

See one or two you like? Let me know when you watch them what you think, and I’ll try to do the same.

I think it’s going to be a killer month… Get it? “Killer” month???

Jeez. Some days I just slay me…

  1. Halloween
  2. Oculus
  3. Human Centipede
  4. tumblr_mga07o7N6O1riz051o1_500Classic Movie Weekend – Nosferatu, Cat People, Ghost Story (Fred Astaire), Creature from the Black Lagoon, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
  5. You’re Next
  6. Eyes without a Face
  7. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
  8. Creep
  9. Monkey Shines
  10. The Uninvited
  11. House movie weekend – House, House on Haunted Hill, Haunting of Hill House, House of the Devil, House with laughing windows
  12. The Strangers
  13. Sleepaway Camp
  14. Maniac
  15. Madman
  16. Event Horizon
  17. tumblr_n00r3mVljv1t0demio1_500American Psycho
  18. Surreal weekend – Jacob’s Ladder, Inception, Angel Heart, the Changling, A Tale of two Sisters
  19. Repulsion
  20. The Innocents
  21. Suspiria
  22. The Haunting (1969)
  23. The Sentinal
  24. Halloween-rob-zombie-209651_1280_1024Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  25. Modern Classics – Exorcist, The Omen, Alien, Chucky, Salem’s Lot
  26. The Host (Korean version)
  27. Severance
  28. Black Death
  29. Starry Eyes
  30. Scarecrows
  31. Halloween H20

sinfulcinemahalloweenh20_2Stay Creepy!!

Copyright 2015 (c) Liz Carey

Pancakes for lunch, anyone?

Okay, so my son's not Iron Man, but still...

Okay, so my son’s not Iron Man, but still…

For the first time since he was in fourth grade, I’m making lunches for my youngest son.

Did I mention he’s a sophomore now?

Yeah.

He’s 16.

And I pack him a lunch every morning.

Because he’s 16, I cannot make all those cute little things that other mommies try to make you feel guilty for not making, like lunches that look like Legos, or Star Wars themed sandwich sets, complete with Yoda shaped homemade potato chips.

Seriously, who has that kind of time? It would take me 20 minutes just to find a straw, let

yes, you're seeing that right... the circles on the legos are glued on with ranch dressing... someone has WAY too much time on their hands.

yes, you’re seeing that right… the circles on the legos are glued on with ranch dressing… someone has WAY too much time on their hands.

alone cut out cute little circles on a square of bread to make it look like a building block…

He’s too old for that anyway – too old for cute shaped cheese slices or ants on a log (peanut butter filled celery) or packets of fruit snacks stapled to little “I love you” notes.

But I’m still packing his lunch.

The reason for lunch packing mania is simple – it’s cheaper.

And since I’m working from home now, it is just easier to make lunch for him instead of buying something from school that he won’t eat.

On the flip side, whatever I make for him, I make for everyone else, as well, so, really, lunch for all four of us is typically done by 7:30 a.m. SCORE! That means I can go back to sleep and work through lunch, right?

(Uhm, no, but it’s a nice thought)

I’ll not say it’s been easy – we’ve had our ups and downs with the menu over the past three weeks.

At first, it was chicken quesadillas, with a container of tortilla chips and fire-smoked salsa (no, not homemade), some grapes and a small bag of cookies.

Pretty cool, huh?

He was ecstatic.

I mean, who in high school gets quesadillas in their lunch box?

I’ve done yogurt with mini M&Ms, paired with veggies and dip, cheese squares and apples… oh, yeah… and a brownie. That was a hit too.

One day, it was ramen noodles with chicken and green onions. Another it was hummus and pretzel chips, tuna in a pita pocket and a Nutty Buddy bar.

Ramen noodles? He was in love. Tuna fish and hummus? Not so much.

Pancakes for lunch

Pancakes for lunch

Then there was the day he asked for pancakes and bacon.

Usually, when I make pancakes, it’s after I get up around the crack of 10 on a Saturday, to make it for the boys and whoever of their friends has stayed over the night before.

Now, he was asking me to get up at 6:45 to make pancakes and bacon, stuff it into little Tupperware containers and make a healthy lunch out of it.

Instead of rolling my eyes, I did it. And I’m not talking pop a few hockey pucks of dough out of the yellow box in the freezer and throw them in the toaster. I’m talking mixing the batter from scratch, and plop in a few fresh fruits just for good measure. All before my morning coffee…

He was thrilled.

I worried a bit about what everyone else at the lunch table would say – you know, kids can be mean at that age. Okay, at any age.

But what I found though was that everyone was jealous. He says everyone wants to see what he gets to eat for lunch. One girl even tries to steal his lunch every day and trade him her school bought lunch. He won’t have it.

_I_ liked it, but the boy? Not so much.

_I_ liked it, but the boy? Not so much.

There have been some slip-ups… the chicken schwarma salad with lemon basil vinegarette? Not a hit. The homemade pimento cheese? Good the first time, not so much the second. Pitas and pita chips are not a favorite. Peanut butter and jelly on honey wheat with potato chips, always still a go-to selection.

For him, packed lunches are great. He gets what he wants to eat, every day is a surprise and he gets something to look forward to at lunch.

For me, it’s good too. I know he’s eating, instead of throwing away what someone else puts on his plate. I know he enjoys being a little different and having everyone want what he’s got for a change. I know he knows I care – which can be pretty important to let kids know when they get to high school sometimes.

And it’s good for the two of us, as well. We spend time talking about food and about what we’re going make for future lunches, what is healthy to eat, as well as about what he really likes and doesn’t like.

For instance, he really likes grapes. He’s a little ticked at me right now, because I haven’t had the time to go to the store to get more grapes. He ate an entire 3-pound bag of grapes in a week, and that was WITH me telling him to cool it so he’d have some for lunches.

A teenager… eating grapes… like they were candy… Who knew?

We decided that this weekend that we’re going to make homemade pretzels together, so

  1. He will know how to make them, and
  2. We can experiment a little with them for lunch. We were thinking maybe we’d try making some with pepperoni and parmesan, and add to it a container with some marinara sauce for dipping.

And I found a few recipes using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls that I think I can turn into some fun stuff, so we may make something with them too. Heck, just flattening out biscuits and turning them into pizzas is an option. Won’t THAT make him the hit of the lunch table?

Notice how none of them have packed lunches? And yet, every parent of a teenager I know complains about the quality of school lunches.... there's a weird correlation there, I'm sure.

Notice how none of them have packed lunches? And yet, every parent of a teenager I know complains about the quality of school lunches…. there’s a weird correlation there, I’m sure.

For now, packing lunches works. He’s eating. He’s eating relatively healthily, for a teenager. He’s being looked up to, instead of looked down on. And he’s happy.

If any of that changes, I suppose I’ll change too and figure out another way.

But for now, I’ll go on packing his lunch with a little creativity and a lot of love.

Tomorrow – peanut butter and jelly. And on Friday? It looks like I’m making pancakes – for lunch.

Copyright © Liz Carey 2015

Summer time and my toes are freezing

How is it that it’s 487 degrees out there and I’m wearing socks and covered up in a sweatshirt?

heatSeriously, how is this even possible?

Last night, when it cooled down to 87 degrees, I went out on the porch to read. Within minutes I was drenched. I stayed out there though and read some more. “It’ll acclimate you,” I said to myself. “There’ll be a breeze along any second,” I said. “It can’t stay this hot forever,” I said.

I was wrong.

In the words of my family, “It’s hotter then 10,000 poopie tails.”

Today will mark the fourth day of 90+ degree heat since we returned to South Carolina, uhmmmm… four days ago. Our weeklong trip to Kentucky was blessed with 70 and 80 degree days where we lounged comfortably in the sun, or took shelter in comic book stores during the rain. Our return home was met by a wet blanket of heat and humidity that no one in their right mind could get comfortable sleeping under.

In fact, as I write this, it is 95 in Anderson, SC, presumably on its way to 147 Kelvin, while it’s a balmy 82 in Versailles, Kentucky (my hometown) and 78 in Cincinnati (where we lived before moving here). How is THAT fair?

I know the heat is the pay off for the definite lack of snow during the winter months, but still… give me a few days of a polar vortex in February over 90+ degree heat for three months any time.

cold-indoorsStill, here I am, wearing multi-colored polka dot ankle socks and a red sweat shirt. Why? Because I’m freezing!!! Go figure!

This year, in order to save a little money, we raised the thermostat to 74 degrees for the air conditioner. When you get a $250 electric bill, you tend to do things like that.

And, in deed, it is a balmy 74 in here – up from 72 from last year, and 70 the year before. But since I get cold when it gets to 70, I’m still in trouble. Because it’s hot outside, I have on shorts and a tank top. But given that I’m no more than six feet from any air vent in this entire house at any given minute, I need the sweatshirt and socks to keep my extremities from turning to icicles and falling off of my body due to the air conditioning keeping the temps low.

My guys are all walking around without shirts or shoes. Well, when they change out of their pajamas anyway. And here I am barely able to stop shivering long enough to fix myself a glass of sweet tea.

Is this a sign of aging? I remember when my grandmother was older, she’d turn the thermostat up to 90 on a summer day because she was cold. I’m beginning to feel a little like that. Am I really that old?

woman cooling herself

woman cooling herself

It’s not like I’m cold all the time though. Everyone once in a while, I’ll get so hot I’ll feel like stepping into the freezer and living there, but after a few minutes the feeling goes away and I turn over and go back to sleep.

Surely, this doesn’t have something to do with the fact I got an AAPR membership application in the mail today, does it?

To solve it, I know I’ll venture outside here in a minute. I know that I’ll be sweltering before I can turn on the car’s air conditioning while my make up runs off my face and my body gains that healthy glow that one can only get from producing a gallon of sweat every five minutes.

At least I won’t be freezing anymore…

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2015

So Bruce wants to be Caitlyn… So what?

This morning, like practically everyone else on the planet, I awoke to the news that Bruce Jenner now wanted to be called Caitlyn and was gorgeous.

The only thing I could think to myself was … So?

I remember Bruce Jenner as the athlete of my youth. And I vaguely connected him to the Kardashians about a year after they squirmed out from whatever ooze they had been living in and thought “Surely, that can’t be the same guy.” And I read something one day in the grocery check-out line about him wanting to become a woman.

I thought then, as I do now, so what?

Honestly, it’s a pretty good name, Caitlyn… I guess if I wanted to be a guy, I’d go with something totally unlike my name, like Jackson or James or Todd. And she is really attractive, as any woman photographed by Annie Leibowitz with enough make-up on likely would be.

But I still don’t think any of that is news.

Whether a person identifies themselves as a man, a woman, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual or whatever, just really isn’t news. It’s not something anyone chooses to be, it’s who they are. Since when is being who one really is newsworthy?

Maybe it’s because of the way I grew up, or the people I was around, or the beliefs I’ve come to hold dear, but I just don’t think that a person’s sexuality, sexual orientation or sexual preference is worthy of a cover spread on an international magazine.

When I was in my 20s, I spent a good deal of time at a pretty out there bar in Cincinnati called The Warehouse. My then boyfriend, and now husband, was a bouncer; the owner was a good friend and frankly, it was among the coolest places to be in the Tri-state area. Mummies hung from the ceilings. Girls danced in cages. Sofas lined the back wall. The bar from “A Rage in Harlem” ran the length of one part of the dance floor. It was loud with technopop blaring from 9 at night until 3 in the morning, and as the crowd surged with the pulsing beats, everyone got to know each other well.

There were hipsters, and emos, and preppies. There were gay men, lesbians and drag queens. And there were girls like me – non-descript blondes with a tendency toward shyness and a few wild hairs up her sleeve now and then.

So when I went in one night in a fitted black dress with a big skirt and a fake white lace collar, it wasn’t really that much of a shock to me that the person who said I looked like Lara Ingels was a drag queen.

Shirocco was a 6-foot tall, black drag queen with legs like Tina Turner and a face like Diana Ross. She was beautiful. She danced in cages with reckless abandon. She wore short skirts and figure hugging tops. She had a quick wit and even quicker tongue. She had men buying her drinks and women asking for beauty tips. She was your typical drag queen in the middle of 1990s Cincinnati.

And she nailed it. I looked like someone had picked me up out of my Little Home in the Prairie and deposited me in the Land of Oz. She just happened to point it out to me.

Did it bother me that she was prettier than me? Heck no. I hated make up back then. Did it bother me that she was built better than me? Not so much. I knew mine were real. Was it any of my business that she was anatomically a he? No. None at all.

And more to the point, was the fact that she was a drag queen newsworthy? Was it something that as a young reporter I felt compelled to share with the world? “Drag queen seduces young men in local bar – film at 11!”

No. It wasn’t.

It was her choice to be who she wanted to be. It was her choice how far she wanted to go to be a woman. And it was her choice how far she could go and still be a man. It wasn’t up to me to tell anyone who didn’t need to know. It’s just who she was.

The same is true of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. It’s his, now her, life. It has nothing to do with us. And it’s nothing that should be blasted all over the headlines – unless, of course, that’s what she wants to happen.

I watched as some of the comments about the Vogue magazine spread riddled across the Internet this morning. It really made me stop and think. What business is it of ours?

If Bruce Jenner had stayed a man and decided to finally smack the stupid out of his daughters and tell them all to grow up and get real jobs, would that be newsworthy? No, that would be his choice… and a damn good one too. And that certainly wouldn’t keep the tabloids from making a buck off of it. If he decided to put on lime and orange colored pants and challenge John Daly to a game of golf, would that be news? Not really. Might be a bad life decision if he put money on it, but still…

And this is no different. A person’s LGBT status shouldn’t be any more important to anyone than my hetero status. It’s just who I am.

One little twit – a washed up, has-been teen star who never really made it off Nickelodeon fandom – decided to make a name for himself by saying he’d still call her Bruce. Really? How disrespectful and rude. As if a celebrity like Jenner would ever come calling on him for anything… and as if any of the rest of us cared. Granted, a few thousand people did care enough to give him crap about it on Twitter, but still…. Jenner’s decision has nothing to do with any of us and none of us have any right to say diddly poop about any of it.

In today’s news, Lindsey Graham dubbed social security an “entitlement program,” while saying it supported him and his sister when they needed it; researchers believe they may have found a way to unlock the body’s immune system to fight cancer; reports surfaced that the TSA missed 95% of the explosives they were supposed to find in a drill and in my hometown, a bear was spotted roaming around an elementary school…

Do we not have more important things to worry about than whether Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a man or a woman? Do we really have so little going on in our lives that we need to voice our opinions about someone else’s life, especially someone we don’t even know?

One thing I do have an opinion on though is about Vogue – they certainly got a few million people to do their advertising for them today, didn’t they?

And for that privilege, the choice was all ours.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2015

Car repair for girls

Woman-Broken-Car-1969081There’s nothing more frustrating than being a girl and trying to fix your car.

This past month, my 2007 Jeep Commander had a bumper that needed to be fixed… and by fixed I mean, reattached to the rest of the car with anything that does not resemble Duct Tape.

In complete girl logic, I just assumed that if I put off fixing it, it would stay the same until I got around to it.

Wrong! What happens to you, when you’re a girl trying to keep things together with fingernail polish and bobby pins, is that men look at you and laugh.

If you don’t take the time to put in that rear wheel well (which actually fell off last year during a traumatic tire explosion on the way home from the beach with a car full of teenagers), what happens is that bumper/fender assembly pulls away from the rest of the car and decides to flap dangerously in the wind, like a really stiff champagne-colored shirt in a 40-mile an hour gale ready to come undone and blow onto someone else’s car at any second.

And when that happens, many men would rather do it for you instead of watching you do it on your own.

This, of course, is what happened to me when I was driving back from Greenville and was traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour. That bumper looked like it was going to break off like a piece of the Apollo 13 space craft.

Houston, we have a problem.

duct tape carWhen I looked into my rearview mirror and saw what was going on, I stopped at an auto parts store for help.

That’s where I met Mr. Johnson, whose initial solution was to take some Gorilla tape and attach the bumper to the rest of the car.

(Okay, not to be too picky, but let’s review here – champagne SUV, black gorilla tape, wildly swinging back bumper… can you say redneck?).

After several minutes of back and forth between a plastic parts aisle and my car, Mr. Johnson determined they didn’t have the part I needed and that I should go to Low Ray’s, an auto parts store down the street, to ask for the right rivets.

I asked him what part I should ask for. He just looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, honey, if you tell them where it needs to go, they’ll know what it is.”

So I went to Low Ray’s two days later and found, much to my surprise, that the auto parts of was filled with enough toy pedal cars and hobby horse airplanes to start a toy museum, which, you know, seemed odd to me as it was an auto parts place.

But that’s where Mr. Johnson said to go, right? As I walked in, I saw a fence behind all the toys and asked if they had the part I was looking for. I told them Mr. Johnson sent me.

car parts storeThe guy I was talking to abruptly disappeared into this auto parts cave for a few minutes. He never really looked at the car, never asked what I actually needed outside of my vague “I need the things that hold my rear bumper on to my car.”

Believe it or not, they didn’t have my part. He recommended the Internet.

So, I went home and got online. For more than an hour I searched for the parts I needed. I even chatted for help.

HC-chat-rep-620x344Auto parts website chatbot: Hello, my name is Brett. What can I help you with?

Me: (not answering because being on chat hold for 18 minutes tends to make me diddle around on Facebook)

Auto parts website chatbot: Hello? Is there anyone there? I haven’t heard from you in a while.

Me: Yes, I’m here. I was on hold for so long I went to another website.

Auto parts website chatbot: Great! We’re glad you’re back. My name is Brett. What can I help you with.

Me: Hi, Brett. I’m looking for a part for my 2007 Jeep Commander. I need the things that hold the bumper into the frame and the wheel well into the body of the car. Do you have a those?

Brett: Great. Let me check on that for you. Do you have the part number?

Me: No. I looked on your website, but I couldn’t find anything that looked anything like the little plastic doohickies I need.

Brett: That’s okay, I can look them up for you. While we’re waiting, Liz, would you like for me to sign you up for our email list?

Me: Well, honestly, Brett, since I was on chatbot death hold for 18 minutes, I’d really just like to get the part I was looking for.

Brett: I understand. To speed up the process, why don’t I just use the email address you entered when we started this chat, Liz?

Me: Brett, why don’t you just look up the part for me so I can order it and \ will no longer be driving around with duct tape holding my car together?

Brett: I can do that. Do you know what the part is called?

Me: If I knew what it was called, I probably wouldn’t have watched “All of our representatives are currently helping other customers. Someone will be with you shortly” repeat on my screen for nearly 20 minutes.

Brett: Okay, let’s see. We have the rear passenger-side bumper assembly package here for just $137.11. Can I place that order for you, Liz?

Me: Brett, I have the bumper. I just don’t have what I need to attach the bumper to the car. Don’t you just have those little thingamabobs that you stick up into the car to hold it on to the metal part?

Brett: That’s what the rear bumper assembly will do.

Mfrustrated on computere: That’s crazy. Why do I need to buy the whole kit, when all I need is those little spindly thingies? Whatever. Will it fit my 2007 Jeep Commander?

Brett: Uhm, no. We don’t really carry a lot of parts for the Commander.

Me: Seriously? Couldn’t you have just told me that to begin with?

Brett suggested I go to a dealer.

Which, of course, I did.

I dressed up in my best “Yes, I’m a girl but I can use a screwdriver” look and hoped they would take pity on me and help me find the right parts for my car for less than $50.

They didn’t.

In fact, they nearly smirked when I drove the car to the dealership and they showed me the drawing of what it was supposed to look like and how difficult it would be to install.

But I would not be daunted. I ordered the parts, picked them up a day later and took them to a friend’s garage to work on the car. My friend said “You know, I can do this for you, so you don’t have to lay down on the ground and get dirty.”

Sigh.

I’m not that kind of a girl.

When we figured out the parts guys hadn’t given me the right rivets, it wasn’t until I went back and dropped my friend’s name that the parts guys took me seriously. When they came back with the wrong part three times in as many days, it wasn’t until I started to cry in frustration that they found the right part. When I asked them how much it would cost to fix a shorting fuse in the lift gate, it wasn’t until I told them I had already done my research that they came down from their $600 estimate to a $200 part.

mechanic girl_car repairAnd it wasn’t until the female parts assistant came in to help me that I got treated like an actual person without being talked down to. She was the one who told me I needed a rivet gun and she was the one who helped me get the right pieces to use.

And after that, I did it. I fixed the bumper. I reattached the wheel well. I put the flair back on. I learned how to use a rivet gun. I laid down in the dirt and didn’t even get upset when mud and oil from under the car fell into my face and hair.

I didn’t cry when I broke a nail.

Sure, I didn’t do it ALL by myself – I had help from my husband and my friend, who showed me what to do and how things went together. But I did the work.

And for that, you gotta give a girl credit. Even if I don’t know all the parts’ names, or how to use all the tools, I can still do it.

I am not helpless.

I’m just a girl who likes fixing her own car.

That, gentlemen, is nothing to laugh at.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2015