Posted by: Linda | July 2, 2008

Never Too Old (Part 1)

One of the perks of running a large thrift store is being able to attend the annual NARTS conference(National Association of Resale and Thrift Stores — could there be a worse acronym? Sounds like a disease!), held this year held in Indianapolis. The workshops themselves are always great learning experiences, and every year I return with more great ideas than my brain will hold. Being a closet introvert, I also come home every year with a little pang of regret that I didn’t use more of my downtime getting to know some of the other participants. This year, however was different.

For starters, I was thrust into the spotlight on the first day of the conference in what is now known as “The Nightmare in Indianapolis.” Those who know me well may say it was one of those things that could only happen to me.

I arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday evening, and after registering, went to my room for a relaxing night of reading, watching TV and sleeping without being sandwiched between two dogs. I set my clock for 7 a.m. – plenty of time to be ready for the 8 a.m. start of the conference. I slept well, and was awakened by what I first thought was the most obnoxious alarm clock I’d ever heard. It was not: It was, in fact an actual fire alarm accompanied by the directive to proceed to the nearest stairway and exit the building.

Believing this was a true emergency, I ran down the seven flights of steps in my (very modest) men’s PJs topped by the very stylish terry cloth hotel robe found in the closet. I had the presence of mind to grab my purse, but not to put on the pair of flip-flops I practically tripped over leaving my room. In my bleary-eyed, semi-awake state, I failed to notice until I got outside the hotel, that every one of the 300+ conference participants was bright-eyed, busy-tailed and FULLY DRESSED. Why you may ask? Please, let me tell you. It is because it was 8:45 and all of my peers had been at a workshop for a full 45 minutes. I later discovered that my alarm hadn’t gone off because I had inadvertantly set it for 7 p.m. instead of a.m. (I am currently writing what I hope will become law, that all alarm clock manufacturers must comply with having the “lightdot” correspond with p.m. and leave the a.m. dot-free as God and nature intended).

The next five minutes were garishly real and yet I hoped against hope that maybe I really was in some sort of wierd dream-state. I tried as best I could to hide my face and begged the people around me to look away, for my unedited morning state is not how I wanted to introduce myself to this NARTS group that would become my family for the next five days. When the all-clear was announced (someone apparently pulled the fire alarm as a prank), I took the elevator back to the 7th floor, head down the whole way, only to discover I had locked my room key in the room.

There was absolutely no way I was going back downstairs, and fortunately, the two women staying in the room next door let me use their phone to call the front desk. I use the word “fortunately” lightly; turns out these two women were two of the conference leaders who couldn’t even keep a straight face as they promised me this incident would not become NARTS legend. 

I had almost convinced myself I was blowing the incident out of proportion, and that everyone was too busy panicking themselves to notice the wild-haired woman in the men’s pajamas. Returning to my room, I dressed and made-up more carefully than normal, and slid into the meeting room as unobtrusively as possible. “Whew,” I thought. “It’s over. The nightmare is over.”

Finally relaxing, I took out my notebook and pen, anxious to get on with the learning. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the women on either side of me smiling, pointing and nodding their heads in my direction. Soon, people throughout the room were casting glances my way, not even trying to hide their smiles and — it seemed to me — looks of pity. In situations like this, a person can do one of two things: ignore it and let it die a natural death, or look the tiger in the eye.

I am a tiger-looker. Call it stupidity, call it bravery, call it experience: I usually choose to accentuate the obvious and put everything on the table. Raising myself slightly out of my chair (in case I was misreading the situation), I put my hand in the air and was acknowledged by a small groundswell of laughter, cheers and applause.

I am now part of the NARTS legacy, forever to be known as the woman in the pajamas. I also became incredibly popular: for the first time in my life, people were asking me to join them, to be part of their group, to be their friend. And what friends I made! Watch for Part II to see why you are never too old…to be young again. 

Posted by: Linda | June 12, 2008

The Tale of the Tanning Booth

After three years of paying a fairly hefty monthly fee to a local gym ( and only using it — at most –a dozen times) I decided to do what any rational, frugal person would do: quit the gym and join a cheaper one so that the cost of not working out wouldn’t be so expensive.  What lured me to this particular gym was not the equipment, the staff or the potential to get fit: I had all that at the other gym I never used. No, what drew me in to this particular gym was the one amenity I knew would change my life: unlimited use of the deluxe shiatsu massage chair. My theory was that if the promise of a free five-minute trip to paradise was a strong enough incentive, I just might actually work out while i was there. And it has worked, for the most part, although (lack of) time and a heavier than normal work schedule have gotten in the way the past couple of weeks. But I digress…

Anyway, one of the other perks of this gym was unlimited use of the tanning booths, something I never had any intention of using, until the first warm day of spring arrived and I looked down at my ghastly white, cellulite-occupied legs. Having always believed that anything dark is thinning, I decided to give the tanning booth a whirl.  Never having tanned in a booth that doesn’t close around you like a coffin, I asked the girl at the desk what I needed to know before going into the booth. “You will need to use goggles. If you don’t have any, we sell them here for three dollars,” she said. “And how do I use this thing?” I asked. “Is there a timer, or a button I have to push to start it? Will it go off automatically?” “It’s easy,” she assured me. ” You just go into the booth, change into whatever you’re wearing to tan, and push the start button. It’s on a timer, so it will go off in 12 minutes.”

Easy enough. When my turn came, I went into the booth, changed into shorts and a tank, put my goggles on and pushed the button. As I said, I have never been in a stand-up tanning booth, so I  didn’t know what to expect. As the room began to heat up, I was puzzled by the lack of direct light. Not sure how the tanning rays were reaching my body, I decided my best course of action was to expose as much skin as possible by assuming a straddle position with my hands on my hips in a sort of super-hero pose. At this point, I was beginning to think mayber the tanner was broken, but I assumed maybe it was new technology that used some sort of indirect rays. For 12 minutes, I stood facing the mirror — fists on hips, goggles in place — and sang all the words I could remember to the “Mighty Mouse” theme song: “Here I come to save the day! That means that Mighty Mouse is on his way!” I felt ridiculous, but was rewarded by Paige telling me when I came out that she thought I looked like I gotten some color, or at least that my face was really red. Fast forward to a week later.

I was driving Paige somewhere with one of her countless friends in the car, when I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t tan again since I didn’t see the slightest evidence of anything close to a tan.  “I really think the thing was broken,” I said to Paige. “There was no light in the room, except what was coming through the little slats on the back wall of the booth.” Paige paused before asking me this question: “Mom, was there a door in the tanning booth?” “There was a bench, and a mirror,” I said, “and I think maybe a door leading to a closet or something.” At this point, Paige and her friend began laughing so hard, it took several minutes for her spit out the following words.

“Mom, you were in the changing stall. You have to go through the door to get into the tanning booth.” My legs are still pale, and I’ve thought about using one of the new self-tanners, but then I remembered a time — several years ago — when I tried on the fool-proof versions of the tanning cream. Let’s just call that adventure “The Tale of the Rusty Legs.”

Posted by: Linda | June 5, 2008

The Public Speaks

I am honored. I am humbled. Oh, let’s face it: I am hooked. Really? Did it really only take four comments — from friends and family, no less — to turn me into a blogabishonist? Am I that shallow, that hungry for praise and accolades, that…vain? Yes! Yes! and Yes!

Perhaps there’s another way to look at this. Maybe blogging from time to time (okay, so this is my second post today, but it’s opening day, right?) will allow me to free my mind of my own frivolous blather, thereby leaving more room to listen to others. And I do sometimes make myself laugh with my own foolishness (aka idiocy), so maybe I can also bring a smile to somone who needs it. I am a firm believer that laughter really is the best medicine, even when you don’t know what needs to be cured.

On that note, let me just say to all my fans, “You like me! You really like me!” Also a shout-out from Paige, who will be mortified when I tell her I used the word “Shout-out.” Maybe my next post (if I can gather my courage, because this one, gentle readers, may well take the blue ribbon in a long history of prize winning stupid Linda stories) will tell the tale of the tanning booth, the goggles and the super hero pose. Stay tuned, and keep the love coming at me.



Posted by: Linda | June 4, 2008

And So It Starts

Okay, let’s set the record straight from the beginning. I am being thrust into blog world by my beloved daughter, Jodi, who — despite her very busy life as wife and mother of my three very beautiful granddaughters (all 3 years and under!) — has found that blogging greatly enriches her life.  I have no such expectations. In fact, were I not right now tied to a chair in Jodi’s dining room with my fingers superglued to the keyboard, this entry would never be taking place.

Lest you get the wrong impression, let me tell you that I am not against journaling, and understand why so many are drawn to putting their innermost thoughts and dreams to paper (er, screen). In fact, as a former newspaper reporter and writer, I have always loved the feeling of finding exactly the right words to say what you want to say. There is also frustration, as I just recalled vividly after erasing the last five l lines I wrote.

I can even imagine the fun it would be to have someone – a stranger to whom you’ve given a fleeting glimpse of your soul through something you’ve written — give feedback (hopefully, something positive) to what you’ve said.  As a writer, seeing my by-line was always a thrill, but the greater pleasure was having a reader drop me a note to comment on a story.

If I’m being honest (to quote my hero and secret crush, Simon Cowell), my problem with blogging is born of the fear that, like my beloved Jodi, I too will become obsessed (sorry Jodes), leaving me with an even greater time deficit than I have now.

So this, my maiden voyage into blogland, may also be my last for quite a while. In fact, I’m practically certain I may never blog again. Except that who else but me has my perspective on life. And mightn’t it even be considered selfish for me to keep all my quirky thoughts on life to myself? In fact, what kind of a human being would I be to leave so much unsaid.

Like I said at the beginning. I love to blog. I was born to blog. And God willing, this will be the first of many. Now Jodi, will you please untie me and pry my fingers loose?