Monday, August 31, 2009

One Man's Trash... Is Probably Trash

Up to my elbows in chipped coffee mugs at the church hall a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that the words “Rummage Sale Donations Needed” are actually perceived as code for “Bring Us All Your Crap” in the minds of so many.

I found myself digging through box after box and bag after bag of donated items trying to decide what would be sold and what would be landfill.

But after sorting through the 24th box that had clearly been extracted from someone’s moldy attic and, rather than just being hauled out to the curb for the trash pick-up as it should have, had been transported to the church for resale, only to have me make the judgement call that, even by Third World standards, these items were long overdue for a trip to the city dump, I realized not everyone knew the Rummage Sale Rules According to Jules.

In light of this revelation, I am dedicating this week’s space to laying out a few helpful guidelines for those trying to decide what items may (or may not) be appreciated at the next local rummage sale fundraiser.

Rule #1

Please do not donate items that carry an aroma reminiscent of any of the following: basement, litter-box, ashtray, bar floor, old people. This is not only to increase the likelihood of said items selling, but also to decrease the likelihood of vomiting by the poor person charged with opening the sealed, warm boxes and garbage bags filled with said items when such odors come pouring out.

Rule #2

Neither baby powder nor Old Spice are capable of removing the odors mentioned in Rule #1.

Rule #3

Used clothing is fine. Even your acid-washed jeans. Even your Peaches-N-Herb concert t-shirt. Even your box full of enough shoulder pads to send Alexis Carrington into a fit of jealously.

If you are going to donate underwear, however, please do not leave any evidence that the underwear has ever been worn. This same rule applies to jock straps, even monogrammed ones.

Rule #4

When attending a rummage sale of any kind, you should know that if you choose to try on the above-mentioned acid washed jeans in the church hall and strip down to your underwear to do so, we will all be able to see you.

Rule #5

Certainly, there could be a select market for people looking for just one beat-up shoe in a women’s size 5 Narrow, but that is not very probable.

Rule #6

Please be sure to thoroughly clean out the training potty chair before you donate it. Ideally, you would thoroughly clean it out after each use. But that could just be me and my high suburban standards. I dunno.

Rule #7

That is awesome of you to think of us when you are trying to decide what to do with the mattress you have obviously been using since well before the Summer of Love, but I would have even more appreciated it even more if you had taken the spring-loaded petrie dish to a biohazard drop-off facility before your lured me into touching it by leaving it at the donation drop site after-hours.

Rule #8

Clothing, sheets, towels, blankets, and curtains that are covered in what appears to be hair from any part of your body or your pet’s body will be classified as “Contaminated” and immediately discarded.

The person discarding the item will simultaneously gag and curse your name once you are out of earshot.

Rule #9

If the item has ever been inside any part of your body that is typically covered by undergarments, please do not donate it to be sold to someone else. I do not care how much luck that basal thermometer brought you in conceiving your six children over the years, allowing another woman to use it is just gross.

On the plus side... Rule #10

If you donate a purse with the Prada label still attached, I will absolutely buy it the night before the sale officially begins, carry it for the next six months, and not feel weird about it at all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Open Up and Say "Aaahhh"

While Congress battles over fixing the healthcare crisis (something I have every confidence can actually be fixed by a simple common-sense meeting of the 535 minds who create our laws - with absolutely no ties to corporate powers that might impede progress, or with agendas other than those that would create the best America possible - and then flawlessly executed, so well, in fact, that we citizens will find ourselves all but laughing, “Now why didn’t we just do it this earlier?”) I would like to offer my own solutions.

And I will do it in less than 1000 pages. Less than 1000 words, in fact.

So, Congress? Take note…

Some will tell you the problem is the greedy doctors who really don’t need much compensation for the 7-14 years of training they received after college just to be able to do stuff like diagnose and cure diseases, or perform your run-of-the-mill open-heart surgery.

Others might say it’s the greedy insurance companies who absolutely deserve every one of the billions of dollars in profit they make to (hopefully) pay for said surgery, assuming we weren’t pre-disposed for it and have met our deductible and have been paying the premium all along and the data entry clerk in charge of the case concurs with the surgeon that, yes, you did have blockage in your aorta and would have died without intervention and you (fortunately) chose a surgeon who was on the list of People Your Insurance Company Will Pay To Cut You Open And Fix You.

But, truthfully, it is we, the greedy citizens, hell-bent on having our cake, supersizing it, taking fries with that, and, of course, eating it too. In the drive-thru. On our way to WalMart. To pick up the new Madden game. And our cholesterol meds.

Now, before we go feeling bad about ourselves, just remember that it is not our fault.

I mean, who can resist a (box of) Twinkie(s)? And a big, sexy Chipotle burrito? And playing football via remote control instead of outside?

We’ve been played. Like an Xbox on a bright and sunny day. We may have spent over $100 billion on diet and fitness last year, but, much like getting healthcare advice from Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore, $100 billion per year clearly is not going to cut it.

Madonna, on the other hand, just turned 51 and is in perfect shape, which is why I will appoint her to chair the Committee on How To Look Freaking Awesome As We Age. Tina Turner will be her deputy. Her first client will be Rosie O’Donnell.

But calorie restriction and Kabala alone won’t cure America. We need exercise too. So I have decided that the part of the Stimulus Plan that puts Americans back to work will fund our Captain of the Drill Team, Billy Blanks, who will provide Americans with much-needed cardio.

Old Richard Simmons videos may still be turned in for a sleek, new P90X DVD as part of the “Cash for Clunkers” program extension.

(Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. I’m putting Dr. McDreamy in charge of that, fyi.)

With Americans leaner and meaner as a result of my plan, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, acid reflux, sleep apnea, arthritic knees, hardened arteries, and depression (which, apparently, can be caused by single-handedly downing a bag of Lay’s and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching “Project Runway” and “Bachelor” re-runs, a night I hope to never repeat) will no longer assault our well-being.

And, with all American women now rocking their hot bods and American men in prime shape too, erectile dysfunction drugs, which currently account for more than 60% of all prescription dollars (I’m totally making that up), will all but disappear.

But the new prescription plan will include guacamole, dark chocolate, and red wine.

This pretty much just leaves us with cancer and herpes, which I’m going to put Sarah Palin in charge of curing in her new-found free time.

A lofty agenda with some pretty high-profile names, I know. How will we fund it, you ask??

A “Sin Tax” that will encompass tobacco, Pop Tarts, pork rinds, those big cinnamon rolls you get at the mall, Yoo-hoo, mayonnaise, Crisco, Peeps, corn dogs, funnel cakes, drive-thru windows, Miley Cyrus, the cast of “The OC,” and running shoes (running causes pain and suffering we cannot afford to fix).

But not bacon. Bacon is exempt. So are nachos.

And Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, and Oprah will bankroll anything not covered by my plan.

Alternatively, we let Glenn Beck and Bill Maher continue to cage fight on cable TV while the people we actually elected try to find a solution.

But I like my plan better.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know ALL About You

I love my little brothers, identical twins who are now 30. I love them so much, that I will not use their real names in the following story, a story I was recently reminded of by fellow blogger, Tova Darling during her Totally Awkward Tuesdays last week.

As all awkward date stories begin, I was 17 years old…

It was the middle of a hot summer in Midwest Large City, and my boyfriend, Dean, and I had decided to take in a live production at a local theater in a park. “The King and I,” I think. But that is not important.

What is important, is that Dean was (and probably still is) about six feet, six inches tall and has very large hands and feet --- but this is not important for the reason some of you dirty-minded people may think it is.

Dean and I decided to take my darling twin brothers, whom I will call Amos and Otis (because that is what my dad considered naming them---until a nurse at the hospital begged him not to), to the show with us. They were 10 at the time, a great age to bring along on a date, really.

As the sun set behind the stage, Dean, Otis, Amos, and I settled into our lawn chairs for the show. Amos sat somewhere, I do not know where, but I know he kept his hands to himself. Dean sat to my right, his (very long) left arm stretched out around my shoulders, touching Otis’s chair, and Otis sat to my left, his (very mischievous) hands wrapped around a bucket of popcorn. I sat in the middle and watched the cold-hearted king fall for the charms of his British nanny, blissfully unaware of what transpired next to me while Anna was busy whistling her happy tune.

We all drove home in relative silence, which I thought was because Amos, Dean and Otis were as taken by the love story as I was.

Dean brought us home, Amos and Otis went to bed, and Dean surprised me with the following question:

“Did you know your brother stuck my finger up his nose during the play?”

“WHAT?!?!” I exclaimed. “Are you sure?”

Dean chuckled. “He held onto my finger and stuck it up his nose during the second act. I felt it. It was my finger.”

He washed his hands and went on home.

The next morning, as soon as Otis woke up, I confronted him.

“Did you like the show last night?” I buttered him up.

“Yeah,” he smiled.

“Did you have fun with Dean?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he smiled.

“Why did you stick his finger up your nose?” I sprang on him.

“That was DEAN’S finger? I thought it was yours!” he began to crumble.

“Otis!” I said, holding my hand up for him to examine. “Look at my fingers! Do any of these look like the one you grabbed last night?”

“I wondered why you didn’t flinch…” he was still puzzled.

“Dean can palm a basketball,” I went on, “I can hardly palm a grapefruit!”

“Was he mad?” Otis asked.

No, in fact, Dean was not mad. Being a younger brother himself, Dean thought it was hilarious, and we dated for many months after that.

But, I can assure you, that was the last time I ever went on a date with Otis.

(Update: Otis has grown into a bright, responsible, and handsome man, and, to the best of my knowledge, no longer sticks foreign objects up his nose. Amos, as far as I know, has never even tried.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Eat. My. Shorts.

My poor Ellie is starting her first year of Junior High this week, and, aside from trying to figure out how my firstborn could possibly be so old while I am not, I am concerned about her welfare as she leaps into pre-adulthood.

Not because she is starting out Junior High in braces and glasses like I did (big props to Drs. B & G, respectively, for helping her avoid that).

(Don’t worry Mom, I’m over it now.)

(Can’t you tell?)

No, the problem is much deeper than that. Ellie, and all of her friends, will go through their formative years without the benefit of John Hughes.

Everyone who came of age in the 1980’s knows exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the man who made weekend detention look as cool as taking a day off from school. The man who raised the bar for every girl’s 16th Birthday to include a Jake and a cake and inspired them to make their own pink prom dresses. (Mine was a strapless, tea-length pink lace number, but, I confess, was completely store-bought.)

The man who unmasked Eric Stoltz as not only a brilliant actor, but a hot one too. (Amanda was an IDIOT!)

What does the PG-13 group have now?

Zac Efron alone cannot sing and dance them all the way to college. I have seen “Camp Rock” more times than I care to admit, and I still can’t figure out which one is the “cute” Jonas Brother. And the stuff in theaters, like the stuff on the radio, is mostly the imagination of producers, leaving little up to that of the audience.

Maybe it’s just the times.

I mean, nowadays, Cameron’s parents would never own a Ferrari – and a teenager – without owning GPS. There’s no way Ferris could have taken it joy-riding in Downtown Chicago without getting caught. And today’s helicopter parents, along with the ACLU, have done away with weekend detention, putting it in the same class as waterboarding, only an even bigger pain-in-the-ass, thereby eliminating any hope of a Breakfast Club hook-up. And Anthony Michael-Hall and that other guy would never let a hottie like Kelly LeBrock shut down without pre-programming her to seal the deal in today’s world.

Everything seems to have changed since then. Kids conjugate “google” and “text” as if they were verbs. They don’t use “hairspray” anymore, they use “product.” And they have never looked anything up in an encyclopedia.

It would almost seem as if they don’t even need him. Maybe John Hughes and his genius that took an entire generation on vacation (both to Wally World and abroad, on planes, trains, AND automobiles) would only be wasted on the rising teens so clouded by political correctness that “No more wankie my yankie” would more likely stir a petition than a chuckle at Long Duk Dong’s expense.

It would seem that way, yes, but deep down I believe a few universal truths from the ‘80’s have not changed, which is why I would like to see a John Hughes film study added to the curriculum of every junior high and high school in America. (Mauger, can you take care of that, please?) Because…

Rest in peace, John Hughes. I have already forgiven you for “Home Alone 3.” And I can’t wait to see what you’ve got waiting for us on the other side.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Awards Season!

(Click here or scroll down for this week's regularly scheduled Jule.)

Since I've already broken a number of rules this week by sleeping in a tent and posting on a Wednesday, I have decided to make today my own, personal Awards Show. I am calling it, "Share the Love Sunday." (Because I am tired and can think of nothing more clever at this time.)

First up, Chrissy from "I Shoula Been a Stripper," bestowed this Major Award upon me:

Beautiful, right? I have the perfect spot for it and cannot wait for the neighbors to drive by and see it!
I would like to pass this one along to three of my blogger friends I hope you will take the time to check out:
Chris at Maugeritaville (Outstanding Principal and Person We All Would Have Been BFF's With In High School)
Sassy Britches (Outstanding Ascender of High Ladders and Best Dressed)
Cathy C's Hall of Fame (Outstanding Mentor and Scribe)
Which brings me to...

This award is as labor-intensive to bestow as it was to earn. And I have Cathy C. Hall to thank! (Check her out, folks, especially all you writers out there!!)

Here are the rules:

1. Each Superior Scribbler, must in turn, pass the Award on to 5 most-deserving bloggy buds.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the Award.
4. Each blogger who wins the Award must visit this post and add his or her name to the Mr. Linky List at the Scholastic-Scribe's blog. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who wins this prestigious Award!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Labor-intensive! (for a Sunday, anyway...)

And the winners (chosen from a pool of my faves, people I do not think have received this one yet) are:

Rachel at and if it's a hero that you want I can save you (funny, interesting, and giving away a FREE STARBUCKS CUP![which, I swear, I did not know until after I had nominated her in my mind])

Mrs. EyeCanSee at The juice is worth the squeeze... (I have a friend who is only 25! That's 3 - um, 8 - uh, 10 - er, 12 years younger than me!)

Candy at Candy's Daily Dandy (fun, Fun, FUN and I hope to be her 2nd blog meet, though I'm not sure how to lure her to Midwest College Town from MA.)

Skyler's Dad at Some Days It's Not Worth Chewing Through the Leather Straps (Bad Tat Tuesday is my personal favorite of his, though his videos are hilarious. A fantastic dad and a great scribe, to boot!)

kk at Will Work For Shoes (true stories, truly fun)

Best of luck to all my winners! I'm off to rest now. Whew!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This One Time? At Scout Camp? (Letters from the Edge)

Dear Sassy Britches,

You were 100% right. A pStyle would have come in very handy.

Sisters in the Bonds,

Dear Miscellaneous Dad Next To Me In The Dinner Line,

I am sorry you never grew any hair on your legs, but I still haven’t figured out why you thought I needed to know that about you.

Isaac’s Mom,

I am guessing this was the first time you had been out in daylight. Clearly the first time you have been around other adults. How you managed to find someone with whom you could reproduce is beyond me. I’m just saying that if you were my mom, chasing me around the entire camp yelling “ISAAAAAAC!!!!!” at the top of your lungs every 15 minutes and NEVER ONCE praising me for anything I attempted all weekend, I would have smeared the play-do too. Only, it wouldn’t have been on the floor of the Medieval Castle.

Get Help,
Dear Albert,

What can I say? You taught the kids to make rope, you taught the adults to braid plastic, and you gave me an evening I will never forget. I only hope I was able to return the favor. And I hope you find your dentures.

And Finally…

Dear Man (or Woman) Who Snored Like A Lawnmower At Scout Camp:

You suck.

Really, until we shared our night together, Boy Scout Camp had not been nearly as torturous as I had imagined.

Oh, sure, it was hot and humid, and I smelled like a locker room floor by the time the sun set. And they only had 8 toilets for 258 campers (95% of whom could pee standing up).

But all in all, the first day of camp had gone much better than expected. I had avoided both touching poison ivy and putting on my swimsuit, and nature and I were getting along fabulously.

Until taps.

Per camp rules, I securely velcro’d the tent doors shut and turned off the flashlight. I curled up in the sleeping bag I borrowed from my daughter (that was about 6 inches too short). I laid my Tempur-Pedic pillow carefully upon the standard-issue cot that had almost as much give as concrete and closed my eyes for some well-earned sleep.

And then, about 15 minutes later, you must have done the same.

Your “kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” penetrated my securely fastened tent doors, shaking the wood floor below and causing every hair on my fetal-positioned body to stand on end.

I began to cry. Memories of childhood camping trips spent sleeping in our car flashed through my head, and I considered waking the camp leader to request a different tent. Preferably, the kind that rhymes with “SchMarriott.” But instead, I curled deeper into my sleeping bag.

Your “kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” continued to pierce my ears.

As I turned to my side to muffle the sound with my pinkies in my ears nearly touching each other in the middle of my skull, I crowned you “Most Irritating” in my own personal Boy Scout Camp Pageant going on in my head all weekend.

Your “kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” reached beyond my air-tight ear canal seal.

I fumbled through my duffle bag in the dark for the moldable silicone ear plugs Dave had sent with me and shoved them in as far as they would go, cursing his name for having the audacity to sleep soundly in our bed while I suffered in the woods.

Your “kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” blasted right through the ear plugs.

I reached back into the bag and pulled out the rest of the moldable silicone ear plugs in the package, wrapping and molding them around each ear both inside and out. I may not be an Eagle Scout, but I’ve had two semesters of college physics and I know how sound travels.

It was then, when I had completed forming my vibration-proof, sound-absorbing, Princess-Leia-like silicone earmuffs stuck to my head, that I forgave you for leaving your C-PAP at home.

The steady stream of chainsaw buzzing ceased. My eyes gently shut. My pulse slowed. My muscles relaxed. And I drifted off to sleep.

No thanks to you, of course.

And so, the next time you decide to grace a 35-tent campsite with your gnarly, ear-stinging presence, I would highly recommend, in the spirit of friendship, consulting with your ENT about getting your air passage roto-rootered before you come.

Because next time, I’m bringing more than silicone earmuffs to silence you.

Very Truly Yours,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Running with the Pack


“You see, Jane,” I said to the woman at the regional Boy Scouts office, “my husband and I have already made arrangements. I will take my son to Scout Camp and stay until my husband gets off work, at which point he will hustle his butt to camp and relieve me of all overnight duties.”

Jane wasn’t budging. “We really don’t give a crap. The parent that starts Scout Camp stays at Scout Camp,” she said.

“So I have to spend the night there?” I asked.


“In a tent?” I continued.

“Unless you prefer to sleep outside, then yes.”

“But, I don’t camp. I like my mattress. I like my pillow. I like my climate-controlled home,” I pleaded.

“You can bring your pillow,” Jane said.

“But I have flat feet and glasses. And I’m terribly allergic to poison ivy.”

“It’s camp,” she said, “not the military.”

“But, I married my husband because he promised to never take me camping.”



“Is there anything else I can do for you, ma’am?” Jane was relentless.

“Do the Boy Scouts have Wi-Fi?”


Friends, I am not fully available this week. Due to unforeseen circumstances - and the Boy Scouts’ strict emphasis on following rules – I will be camping with my 8-year-old son, acres of dads, and their mini-me’s.

Assuming I’m not covered in poison ivy from scalp to sole, I will return sooner than Monday with all sorts of fun.

In the meantime, please check out Chrissy at I Shoulda Been a Stripper, who bestowed this major award upon me, and to whom I am most grateful!

I ask all my fellow bloggers to please nominate your blog in the “comments” section and for all readers to feel free to check them out… I’ve got some VERY talented blogger friends.

Be Back Soon!