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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Dear Neighbors,

Y’all be out here WILDIN’ (as the kids say). That is, if the Next Door app is any indication.

I live a quiet life. I mind my own business. I’m not out trying to be the stereotype of Angry White Woman (i.e., Karen or BBQ Becky).

Some of you are LIVING for the drama. And bringing it.

For example, Laurie and Claralyn woke up and chose violence.

And then there are posts like the following that have me shaking my head, for a variety of reasons.

My guilty pleasure is following the Best of Next Door on Twitter.

I mean, LOOK:

How could I resist?

But in the words of the late, great Rodney King, “Can’t we all get along?”

Despite the inauspicious start, I get along with both my next-door neighbors, and I’m close with about a dozen of you in our neighborhood. And some of you must like me a little as you voted me into a leadership role. I also took on the task of editing the neighborhood newspaper. Because of course I did.

As I have free rein with the paper, I want to start an advice column to help resolve minor conflicts. Like alley clippings. Neighbor friends Kathy and Marlane have agreed to help.

I think it could be fun. Also, it may raise everyone’s self awareness and tolerance.

But probably not. 😬😉

Anyway, I’m just trying to help. No need to get knickers in a twist over Christmas lights and weeds, when there is the VERY REAL problem of holiday creep.

My friend Jude sent me evidence of Valentine’s Day merch in a store on Dec. 27.

THAT’S a problem.

Your neighbor,
Beth

*RIP Bob McGrath.

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Dear Friends and Family,

This is it: the last part of this origin story.

It’s been quite a journey (Here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.)

Here are the takeaways:

  1. Genetics are cool. Over the course of about two years, I have met more than 30 new people to whom I am blood related. Seeing myself in people other than the two I made is incredible. I see my eyes in my sister, my dimples in my brother, my laugh in my father, my inability to sit still in my mother, etc.
  2. Love isn’t like pie. More for some doesn’t mean less for others. I can love my adopted parents and extended family with my whole heart (and do) and also love my found family.
  3. Love is love is love. No boundaries. Some of the most wonderful messages I’ve received are from adopted cousins. Add to those messages all the heartfelt ones from friends and relations by marriage and new people tangential to the story, and you see that this has been a moving experience for more people than just myself.
  4. The human capacity for love, understanding and acceptance is astounding. Everyone in this story (except one**) has seemed to be so happy about this late-in-life connection. I have been amazed at how excited people seem to be to add me to the family. I’m still on my best behavior of course. I don’t want anyone to regret the welcome. 😉
  5. I am fortunate. Not every adoptee has a positive experience. And I have had it on both sides. One of my friends found her birth mother, and mom turned out to be … not a good person. Another friend found his, who said she didn’t want a relationship: “I gave you up for a reason.” Kathy is fond of saying that this could have been a Lifetime movie, but it turned out to be a Hallmark one.

Me: That’s why I was careful to explain in my letter that I’m a normal, stable person.

Alaina (my niece): That’s exactly what a crazy person would say.

Another takeaway? I can expel water from my face holes. (Thanks for the term, Heather!)

This kid had no idea what would happen in a few decades.

So many of you have contacted me with your own stories and messages of encouragement. Thank you. My goal in writing this series was twofold:

  1. It’s a great story. Come on: You have to give me that!
  2. I wanted to recognize and applaud all the people who opened their hearts to me.

If my story helps any other adoptees or adoptive families navigate these strange waters, then I will have done some good.

With any luck, they will get a message from a birth parent that’s as welcome and touching as this one:

Thanks for reading.

XO,
Beth

*Mission Impossible. Of course.

**I think that person just needs a little more time to process. I’m certainly not going to force it.

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Dear Detroit Marriott at The Renaissance Center,

I attended my annual research conference in you this week. I am NOT a fan, and I will not be back (unless I have absolutely no choice).

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Your staff is not prepared for guests. The line was 10 deep for check-in, and you had one person actually working. Three other employees — one of whom looked like a manager — were at the other end of the counter chatting. Do their eyes work? Couldn’t they see the line?
  2. Your building is not prepared for guests. There are six elevators “servicing” floors 40-70. Only two appeared to be working. A gang of fellow conferencers and I waited 10 minutes Thursday night for an elevator to take us down.
  3. Your events staff is not prepared for guests. Two thousand people attended the last in-person AEJMC conference (Toronto, 2019). That is standard for this conference. Yet nothing was set up to handle this influx of people. Your staff selected large rooms for small events (e.g., the University of South Carolina alumni breakfast featured three tables for eight in a cavernous room) and wee rooms for major events. For example, the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism group awards ceremony and reception was in the tiniest conference room I’ve ever seen. No tables. For an event that featured food and drinks. Group leaders who got to the event early drug in tables and chairs for the 50 or so attendees. Way to go, Marriott!
  4. Your technology support is not prepared for guests. This conference is primarily for journalism/mass communications professors. You know: People who communicate. They have devices that need to be charged. Outlets were few and far between.
This is the ONLY OUTLET in the room!

The various other problems fellow attendees and I experienced had to do with The Renaissance Center in general. It is, generously, an atrium-focused maze of wasted space.

Circulation Ring = CIRCLES OF HELL
Trust me: You can’t get there from here
No, you don’t really want to sit and meet/eat/work do you?

There is a shocking lack of open restaurants. Again, conference of 2,000+ people (and AEJMC was one of at least three going on at once). Hotel with 70 floors of rooms. Yet, it was hard to find a place to eat. Literally (see maze above) and because so many were closed. Note: There was a VERY bougie seafood restaurant open, but who wants to pay $75 for shrimp?

Desperation signage
Starbucks: closed
Another Starbucks: closed
Food court: mostly closed
Oh look! The open Burger King that I thought was only the stuff of legend.

Then there is the location. You are on the Detroit River. So a riverwalk with shops and restaurants would make sense. Apparently, it only makes sense to me. I would not say the United States side has ample commerce. The Canada side (Windsor) looks promising.

The Renaissance Center provides a great view of our northern neighbor.

But once again, you can’t get there from here if you don’t have a car.

I realize that the pandemic took a toll on the hospitality industry. That said, people are traveling again. Conferences are back in person. Do better, or you won’t have guests to piss off anymore.

Sincerely,
Bonvoy Member on Floor 47

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Dear Musically Inclined Readers:

Last week’s trip to the karaoke bar made me really want a go-to karaoke song.

To be fair, it hasn’t been an urgent need. I’ve only participated in karaoke twice in my entire life.

The first time was at McDonough’s in Savannah. Some friends and I laughed our way through “Summer Nights.

The second time was in Japan at a neighborhood bar (aka some lady’s living room). The song was “American Pie.” You think you know that song until you try to sing it. (Go on. Give it a try.)

There’s a sweet spot for good karaoke songs.

It needs to be something like “Sweet Caroline” where there always will be audience participation.

But because I’m a very special snowflake, it can’t be something everyone sings (i.e., “Don’t Stop Believin’” or “Livin’ on a Prayer“).

And I cannot abide sad-sackery on a night out. No slow songs!

So what’s it going to be? “Ice Ice Baby” or “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)?” Should I channel Dee Snider or Cher?

What is your favorite song to sing or to hear in a karaoke bar? Tell me in the comments.

Thanks!
Beth

*In a metaphorical sense. I do not actually want to sing the blues. Shudder. Thanks, Billie!

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Dear Mean Girl,

You actively sabotaged me.

You lied about me to ruin my reputation and stall my career.

You friended me on Facebook to gather information then defriended me when your nasty work was done.

But I guess I should thank you.

In the words of Christina Aguilera (whom I never thought I’d quote):

After all you put me through
You’d think I’d despise you
But in the end, I wanna thank you
‘Cause you made me that much stronger.

I met up with someone recently who knew you when you were just starting out. You did the same thing to that person that you did to me.

So I know it wasn’t personal: You’ve got a history. A pattern. A way. It’s like that parable (and song) about the snake: “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

It’s sad, really.

It’s hard enough for women to succeed without other women dragging them down.

Being in a leadership role is not like having pie: Some for me doesn’t mean less for you.

Anyway. Our circles no longer intersect, and now I’m better off.

If you hadn’t made my life miserable, I wouldn’t have focused on finding new opportunities. And I now love my job.

So thank you.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Best wishes and warmest regards,
Beth

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Dear Missouri Drivers,

I’m so glad I learned to drive in Atlanta where Nascar has nothing on I-285. If I hadn’t, there’s no way I would have been prepared for you.

Perhaps you didn’t get any drivers education. Let me help.

Pro Tip 1
People getting onto the highway need to be able to merge. Let them in, for crying out loud!

Pro Tip 2
When someone has his/her/their turn signal on, that means the person wants to get over. Oh but wait, none of you seems to know what that is.

Pro Tip 3
The turn signal is a lever on your steering wheel that, when activated, lets other drivers know you want to make a turn or get into a different lane. You are in the Show Me state, so show me your freakin’ turn signal.

Pro Tip 4
It’s helpful to other drivers for you to pick a lane and STAY IN IT. Weaving in and out is annoying and dangerous.

Pro Tip 5
The posted speed limit is not a suggestion. It’s the max. It’s right there on the sign!

Maybe y’all drive this way to avoid all the potholes and road damage.

Seriously, these roads are about as bad as the ones I had the misfortune of driving in Antigua. That’s saying something.

Please, for the love of God, think of your fellow drivers.

I thank you from the bottom of my wheel wells.

Beth

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Dear People with “Just a Cold,”

Maybe you do have a cold. But also, you might have COVID. Let’s recap the Omicron symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Congestion and runny nose

That’s right: Also symptoms of a cold.

So before you get around anyone, TAKE A COVID TEST. They are available in stores (you can use your FSA/HSA), and there are free testing sites all over the place.

If it’s positive, ISOLATE, FFS.

And let’s be clear: You shouldn’t be around anyone if you have a cold either.

It’s because of one of you that my son and sister in law had a lonely Christmas.

Gideon hung out with some friends. Two days later, he didn’t feel well. Typical cold symptoms. We sent him to his room. Tested him: positive. Then Eddie, Dominic and I tested ourselves: negative. We waited a day. Tested again. Negative. Waited. Tested. Negative.

Only then did we feel like we were safe to be around other people.

Even though we didn’t have any symptoms.

See how that works? Protecting others?

We just tested again to be safe.

Waiting for results
Still negative

But Christmas 2021 is the one Gideon will remember as the one where we made him wear what amounted to a HazMat suit to open his gifts.

Poor Positive Gideon

I haven’t ever gotten Coronavirus [knocks wood], and I don’t plan to get it. I’m not taking chances.

The bottom line: If you think you have a cold, get tested anyway. Don’t be a Typhoid Mary.

Somehow this manages to sum up this Christmas.

Kthxbyeeee,
Beth

* To the tune of this classic.

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Dear Mike,

In my last post, I noted some, um, issues with my move — issues beyond those caused by the seller, my neighbor. Your moving company caused additional agita.

Let’s start with the fact that you were supposed to send three guys between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.

I was there waiting at the storage unit by 10. I left just before noon to go sign the closing papers. My saintly realtor took my place while I was closing.

We had no way of knowing that you meant 10:30-11:30 Hawaii Time.

Your guys showed up just after 3. And there were only two of them. And these two had been on two other jobs previously. So they were tired. Moving SO SLOWLY. Great for you as you charge by the hour.

🙄

For THREE HOURS, you promised me that two more guys were coming. When they finally showed up, one left immediately. Again, third job of the day. The other stayed, but complained the whole time, talked to his baby mama on the phone, and barely did anything. And he was wearing slides. SLIDES!

Night fell.

I was DYING.

I couldn’t stand it. I started helping.

Yes, you read that right: I was paying your company to move my stuff, but I put myself to work.

My bruises are proof.

You sent two more sloths workers. Around 8 (8!), the storage unit was finally empty.

Let me remind you that one man, one woman and four teenage boys loaded the same size truck in less time than your “professionals.” And for the price of Zaxby’s.

Then it was time to unload at my house. Angry man left. The others stayed. Actually stepped up the pace. They wanted to be done as much as I wanted them to be done.

Everything was in a bit after midnight. MIDNIGHT, MIKE!

But then I overheard the two original guys talking about how they were going to get home. They don’t have cars. Their buses weren’t running. You — their boss who had scheduled them for three jobs in one day — told them to figure it out themselves. An Uber would be very expensive.

Sigh.

I drove your employees home, Mike.

Josh was going to walk back to just outside the Central West End. He apparently walked to work — a three-hour journey.

I don’t know how Jeff was going to get back to Washington Park, ILLINOIS.

I got back home around 3 a.m.

I think you should have given me a massive discount, but you didn’t.

I think the money I spent should go to your employees, but it won’t.

You thrive because you pay them $14 an hour, no benefits.

I told Josh and Jeff that Target pays $15 an hour with benefits.

I hope they take my advice.

More advice to anyone who will listen: Don’t use your company.

Sincerely,
Beth, a former customer

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Dear People Who Like Speaker Phone:

You have to stop. Seriously. You live in this world with other people who do NOT need or want to hear your conversations.

I’ve mentioned this before.

Why are you still doing it?

All loud. On speaker. In a grocery store.

And you people who like to watch videos with the sound up and no headphones? That goes for you too.

Don’t be loud in public. The world is not your living room. Have some dang manners.

Kthxbye,
Auntie Beth (I’m no Miss Manners, but I’ll do.)

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Dear Readers,

You KNOW I love a guest post. Today’s comes from a friend from my performing arts days. I know you are going to love it. And ladies, I know many of you will commiserate.

I’ll be back Sunday with a rage post. 🙂

Love,
Beth

Image stolen from this site. It has loads of tightening tips!

Dear Makeup Guru Friends:

Do any of you have advice for hooded eyelids? I’m not talking about what makeup influencers consider hooded eyelids.

I’m talking about 40-year-old, wrinkly, swamp witch eyelids on a solid decline to medically necessary blepharoplasty.

Even when I cake the eye makeup on, it just disappears as soon as I open my eyes.

Is there a special tape for this?

Do I just Gorilla Glue these suckers open?

Will false eyelashes help, or will my lids just move them around until I have a unibrow?

Do I just need to Botox my eyebrows two inches higher to stretch everything out?

And don’t go giving me the “Don’t rub your eyes when cleaning; just tap, tap, tap the eye cream on” advice either. That advice is for 20 year olds and gals with eyelids like SharonSaysSo. These droopy dogs are 100 percent genetic. No amount of gentle touching is going to save these turkey gizzards.

Asking mostly for my right eye, but ol’ lefty isn’t too far behind.

What I’m really asking is this: When I’m 45 and am using binder clips glued to my glasses to keep these monstrosities in place, will you guys still love me?

I hope so.

Your friend,
Afton “The Eyes Have It” V.N.

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