Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Talk about a sweet tooth!

Article by Sarah Kelly, staff writer for the Nashville Scene.

Bon appetit

A shopper who indulged her sweet tooth at the Kroger on Thompson Lane was arrested when she attempted to leave without paying for her midday snack. Two officers on duty at the supermarket observed Holly Brady pick up “a bag of assorted candies” from the shelf and begin “eating from the bag” as she wandered up and down the aisles. The 42-year-old then opened a box of “California Girl” press-on nails, inspected the product and “placed the item back on the rack.” According to a police affidavit, Chambliss ditched the candy and headed for the exit, but officers intervened and she was charged with theft and vandalism. The value of the candy consumed was $2.97, and the package of fake nails that was damaged cost $4.99.

My thoughts??

"Mam, I'm gonna have to ask you to step away from the gummy bears and put both hands in the air. Put 'em down! No, no...not your hands...the gummy bears. Put the gummy bears down. Oh for Heaven's sake...just give me the gummy bears. Oh, these are good! Try the red one? Oh, yeah that one's the best..."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Buckets O' Beer

Buckets O’ Beer

Talking on the phone to my friend, Abi:

-So, I am going to knock on your door and you’re going to answer it. I am going to judge by your reaction if my outfit looks stupid or not. I’ll take a change of clothes…if you think I look stupid – I’m changing.

-Well, don’t take offense when I laugh! Now I am going to laugh…but it won’t be because your outfit looks stupid…well, at least not initially. It’s just that now I am expecting this…and now it’s just funny.

-Okay, promise me you’ll tell me honestly if I look stupid. I don’t want to look stupid!

-I promise. I promise! Remember, though, I am going to laugh.

-It’s noted. Thanks.

I get to Abi’s (without that change of clothes), she answers the door…and doesn’t laugh. She’s training her dog, Lina, to not jump on people. She won’t even look at me. Oh GOD! She hates my outfit so much so she can’t even look at me! When she finally does, she nods her head in approval and says:

-It’s cute…why are you always so much more dressed up than me?

-I’m not! You’re wearing those cute Rock in Republic jeans I love…and you know how they make your ass look…not to mention that sparkly top you’re wearing is totally cute. I just happen to have on a dress…but we all know that denim is the new wear with all.

We head out to SatCo (San Antonio Taco Company). If you are not from Nashville, or are from Nashville but have never been to SatCo, let me give you a glimpse into what this place is like. It get’s bad ratings all the time – not customer service bad ratings (though this is nothing stellar), not bad reviews from the locals (I’m telling you, it’s a favorite), it gets bad sanitary reviews. But it is so good…it’s worth the potential gastric distress that will happen the next day. And trust me…it is not so much of a “potential” as it is a “promise.”

Two tacos each, cheese dip (sooo good), and a bucket of beer. I can hear my diet blowing past me…but you know what? I ran. Like three miles. I deserve this. Okay, so I would have had to run like 80 miles to even remotely cover what I ate last night…but everyone needs a night off.

We’re sitting there…talking about life, work, friends and guys for probably two hours. Just relaxing, drinking some beer and consuming massive amounts of saturated fat. Our bucket has diminished quite significantly and we are working on our last beer each. This worker comes over. While holding out a bucket of beer he says:

-I was told to deliver this to you ladies.

Our faces must have read so many things; humor, confusion, embarrassment…

-Who sent it over?

-I was told not to say.

-Umm okay, well thanks then.

Abi and I look at each other and laugh…how bizarre. We look around for someone to make his way over but no one comes. We look for any sign from anyone that would say… “Hey! I sent those beers over to you!” But we could find no facial expression that would signify such thoughts. I feel weird opening the first beer, not because I thought it was contaminated or poisoned with the date rape drug…but because it was just awkward…no one had come over yet to claim his good deed.

And no one did come over.

Finally, Abi in utter defiance says:

-Oh what the Hell.

Grabs the bottle opener and cracks open a cold one. The table behind her starts to snicker. There are four guys there are two girls. I figure they were the ones that bought the bucket or they heard the guy come over and present it to us and just thought the situation was funny. I leaned more towards them having purchased, though it was weird since they were in mixed company.

Let’s just be honest, the whole situation was weird.

So, Abi and I start drinking our free beer and the table gets up to leave. One of the guys walks past our table, brushing up against me (when there was plenty of room) and says:

-Enjoy your beer ladies.

Just like that. Very nonchalant.

Then this other guy walks up to me from the side, gets down into my ear and whispers:

-You’re everything that I’ve dreamed of. You’re perfect. (Loosely translated…can’t remember the exact wording)

Then they left. Without another word, they were gone. That was it. They spent $11 on a bucket of beer for two ladies that they couldn’t even get the guts to say “Hi” to. What idiots. Good luck in the future guys. You’ll really go far with that plan of action…or rather…no action.

Abi and I put the remaining four into my purse and headed for the Stage.

PS – I feel gross that I had six beers. GROSS.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dude, I got a Dell!

Seriously, she's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!

On Ode to My Dell:

Oh new little computer,
How I love you!
Sorta like Mr. Darcy, but without the fur...
You're going to make my life simpler,
This I can see.
I won't be so isolated,
Maybe someone will IM me.
You've got a DVD burner,
And this rocks!
I'll be the life of the party,
Instead of sorting their socks.
I've protected you with anti-virus software,
So the hackers beware!
Don't mess with my new little Dell
Or you'll go straight to Alabama...(AKA Hell)

Thanks for you time and attention. Hope you like my new toy!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Reason for Standing Still

I am always looking for something, anything. Something that piques my interest. Anything that sparks my curiosity.

I have discovered that I have a disease.

This disease, which particularly attacks one or both parties in a relationship, can also be seen in the collegiate setting and is exhibited by such symptoms as transferring colleges and changing majors. Research shows that this “Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side” disease can be cured. Wanderlusts can be tamed. Wild hearts can be broken. However, because of this disease’s frequent and persistent mutation upon entering the host, researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact treatment method that would be successful for all patients.

What are my symptoms?

I’ve got the college thing well behind me...though, according to my calendar, grad school is quickly approaching. This isn’t to say that I didn’t switch majors five times. You think I’m kidding? I started off Music Business, switched to Nursing, then to Psychology, back to Music Business and then settled on Marketing. I also transferred colleges twice. Belmont to UTK and then back to Belmont.

My relationships are not a pretty picture of health either. If I am not in a relationship, I want to be. I want safety, security, good times and bad, sickness and health. You know, the whole shebang. If I am in said “relationship,” I can’t breathe. I find myself attracted to others, craving the freedom I once had and threw away without even a look back. What was I thinking?!

Granted, I have not been in a “relationship” in a long time...we’re talking ‘02, people, ’02! But I have dated, currently date, will date. I’m not in a lack of POIs (Potentials of Interest).

I am just looking for someone or something to give me a reason for standing still.

Is it really possible, standing still? Doesn’t life seem like it’s just one thing after the other after the other? When you were in Elementary school, you couldn’t wait to be in Middle school. Those kids were so cool. When you were in Middle school, you could almost taste how cool you would be…if only you were in High school. When you were in High school, college kids knew it all. They’d been there…and they’d lived to tell about it. Then it’s making the Dean’s list. And graduating. And getting that first “real” job. And then there’s that promotion you’ve been wanting...don’t forget about that. And grad school. And “when I meet the one.” And “when we get married.” And “when we buy our house.” And “when we start a family.” And “when the kids leave.” And “when we retire.”

And then you die.

There’s always something keeping us moving. Something pushing us forward. So is it really possible for someone or something to give me a reason for standing still? Maybe this reason is only supposed to keep me sane for a brief moment. Maybe this reason has been placed in my life to remind me to stand still.

To stop.

To stop chattering about the “what if’s” and “when’s” and just live.

And just breathe.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I know him! I know him!

I get a feed from New York Times everyday with the most popular articles in various subjects. This was the one from Arts:

If You're Looking at Eric Church, You're Looking at New Country

Okay, so I don't know Eric Church...but I do know the guy playing lead next to him!! Driver Williams (he's the one with the shaved head and all the tats) and I went to high school together. I'm not claiming that we were close friends or anything, but I would say that he would know my name. That's right. He would know my name...should it be inserted cleverly into conversation.

Anyway, I guess I should get used to this - seeing people I know make it big. I am from Nashville and all...and there are so many talented people here. It's just crazy. The bad thing about hailing from this city and going to a school that is known for pouring out musical talent and those with a shrewd music business mind is the, sort of, well apathy that comes with it. There is an obligatory congratulations that comes with hearing that someone has "gotten a deal" with a label...but really, I know that means nothing. So many in Nashville have "deals" and they never see the light of day on a store shelf. They don't get the tours. They don't get the fame.

All this to say - go Driver! You're really doing it! So far, so good man. Keep up the good work.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dumpster Diving

(The dumpster at my place is like this one...but it has a door...that locks. This will be important later in the story.)


Wednesday night, I drove home from playing sand volleyball with some friends – friends like Abi (see Abi…here’s a mention) and DP.

I decided that it was time that I clean up around my condo. Take out some trash. Wash some clothes. I put a load of dirties in the washing machine and began gathering trash.

I can’t tell you how very much I hate the advertisements that come in the mail. These envelopes marked “URGENT!” and “You’ve been pre-approved!” fill up my tiny mailbox and then my trash can. I have no intentions to send off for any of these things. Does anyone? The sales brochures bother me too. I refuse to go to sale. I’ve never been to your store. And no, I have not seen the people on this postcard. Why must I wade through all this crap?!

I rid my place of trash, lock the door, head down the multiple flights of stairs and over to the dumpster. We have two places to deposit our trash now…I know…we’re upscale. I decided to go to the one closer but up a hill. The other one is further away but neither up hill nor down.

The fence around the dumpster has two ways of entry and from my last dumping experience I remembered to use the side door. I unlock the latch and realize that the dumpster has been turned around so that I have to actually walk in to get my trash into the bin.


There’s crap everywhere. Literally…crap. Does everyone around here have animals? Ewww! And someone definitely through away rotten meat! Ugh! It smells like something died in there!

It’s then that it happens. The door shuts behind me – and locks. I turn around slowly…delaying the inevitable. Praying to Lord Jesus that what I think just happened…didn’t actually happen.

Ohh…it did.

Oh MY GOSH!!! I’m locked in the dumpster!!! With crap everywhere!! If I scream, who will hear my cries of terror…the dumpster is in the middle of nowhere! (Really safe and convenient).

I panic…Who wouldn’t?!

I start banging on the walls – screaming though I know it is futile. I think about climbing the walls and jumping over the fence…but the walls have no where to put my feet. The only option would be to climb in the dumpster, stand on the ledge and jump over. I guess in the face of the alternative…being stuck in the dumpster overnight…wading around in stinky excrement wasn’t that bad of a choice.

I scream again…one last-ditch effort.


All in all, about 7 minutes passed.

It’s then that I see it.

An internal release button. It says “Press.” So I do. I press the button.

The lock releases and I am free.

Free from excrement, free from rotten meat, free from foraging animals during the night that plan on eating fresh meat (me) in lieu of the spoiled.

I walk out, pushing the door aside, smiling at my luck. I look up and over and realize that there is a man cooking out on his porch. He’s been witness to the entire affair. The screaming, the kicking, the panic. Oh damn my luck!

He smiles down…I wincingly smile back. We don’t say anything. I just walk back to my place, praying I don’t smell.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Independence Day 2006

I took a video with my Kodak EasyShare camera on the 4th. Personally, I think it rocks! I hope you do too.

My friend and I got tickets to this, well...kind of...dirty bar downtown Nashville to watch the fireworks. The bar is just skanky. Not somewhere I would go if it weren't in prime firework watching territory...and if the tickets weren't free. Humm...

This being said, when I went to answer the call of nature there was a lady in the bathroom. She was ready and willing to help me with my every bodily need. This is something I expect to see in a nice restaurant, country club, etc...but not here. It's loud in this bathroom, chaos is all around. Girls redoing their hair with the hair spray provided. Gargling with the mouth wash provided. Eating candy out of the bowl provided (gross!!!).

The door to my particular stall wouldn't close all the way but this bathroom attendant (whom I cannot understand) persists to usher me inside and block my door with a stool. So, now I can't get out.

When I finished answering the call I knocked on the stall door, but it was still so loud in there she couldn't hear me! So I push on the door. Push again. The stool doesn't move, but it does go crashing to the ground. Fabulous.

When I make my way to the sink she squirts soap into my hands before I even have a chance to turn on the water. So now I have a handfuls of soap and no water. My soapy fists turn on the faucet...but no water comes out. But I can hear the pipes straining in the walls. Attendant lady dives for the faucet and turns it off. I hear her mutter "this one" as she points to another sink. Okay...

I notice a fish bowl filled with pocket change and it is then that I realize she is doing this for tips. At this crappy place...on the Fourth of July...she is trying to earn a living collecting a bathroom.

I just didn't feel right celebrating all night.

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage

I found this article by Amy Sutherland from the NY Times (June 25, 2006) very interesting. Can we be trained like exotic animals? Do we continually act out in relationships in order to be rewarded with attention? If I reward positive behavior and ignore negative behavior, will this indeed cure said actions? Are we really this simple, this basic?

Maybe we are. Open discussion if you will, I'd love to read thoughts about this. Is there a semblance of truth? Is this totally bogus? I want to know!

As a side note: I would have simply linked to the article but it is member-only content.

Modern Love What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
Amy Sutherland

As I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset.

In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.

Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer.

I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.

We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right — our union was better than most — and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.

Then something magical happened. For a book I was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, I started commuting from Maine to California, where I spent my days watching students do the seemingly impossible: teaching hyenas to pirouette on command, cougars to offer their paws for a nail clipping, and baboons to skateboard.

I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same techniques might work on that stubborn but lovable species, the American husband.

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller. [Why oh why can't some people, girls included, just pick up their dirty laundry?? I have my moments. I am not above hamper mishaps but I try valiantly to keep laundry in its appropriate place.]

I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.

I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

The exotic animal known as Scott is a loner, but an alpha male. So hierarchy matters, but being in a group doesn't so much. He has the balance of a gymnast, but moves slowly, especially when getting dressed. Skiing comes naturally, but being on time does not. He's an omnivore, and what a trainer would call food-driven.

Once I started thinking this way, I couldn't stop. At the school in California, I'd be scribbling notes on how to walk an emu or have a wolf accept you as a pack member, but I'd be thinking, "I can't wait to try this on Scott."

On a field trip with the students, I listened to a professional trainer describe how he had taught African crested cranes to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did this by training the leggy birds to land on mats on the ground. This, he explained, is what is called an "incompatible behavior," a simple but brilliant concept.

Rather than teach the cranes to stop landing on him, the trainer taught the birds something else, a behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. The birds couldn't alight on the mats and his head simultaneously.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked. [This is a fabulous solution to the crowding problem - though I am not sure if I consider this training]

I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

In the margins of my notes I wrote, "Try on Scott!"

It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a mackerel.

Now he's at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, "Found them."

Without turning, I call out, "Great, see you later."

Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.

After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault." When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.

Professionals talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn't resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn't offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.

Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.

One morning, as I launched into yet another tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn't say a word or acknowledge my rant in any way, not even with a nod.

I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, "Are you giving me an L. R. S.?" Silence. "You are, aren't you?"

He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He'd begun to train me, the American wife.