My Smart TV Outsmarted Me

I’m recovering from a personal journey that tested me in ways I’ve never been tested before. There were times when I was scared, bewildered, angry and tear stained. I ranted at the world and shouted curses. Fortunately I made it out and I’m here now to share a story of grit, survival, the power of prayer and sheer tenacity.

My pilgrimage of self-discovery started out with me attempting to lower our cable bill. My goal was to get our cable bill down enough to match what we would have to pay if we cut the cord and had to pony up for additional streaming services.

I marched into the cable company ready to battle. The woman helping me was very matter-of-fact, like she had heard this all before, and pointed out that a significant chunk of our bill was for super high speed Internet.

She knew she had me. Once you have high speed Internet you’re not going back – ever. There’s a lot of things I’ll give up in the name of making smarter spending choices but two things – turbo Internet and getting my hair highlighted will never make that list.

The customer service rep did discover that we could save money just by getting an updated digital video recorder. I was enthusiastically all in on that transaction and left with a new DVR and TV remote.

Fortunately I didn’t have to install the new equipment because I live with digital natives who need to earn their keep by riding herd on any and all tech endeavors. All was well in advanced DVR land until I was home alone and had to use the new remote to interface with the television.

At first I was mildly frustrated that I couldn’t even get the TV turned on. That quickly morphed into anger because come on, how hard can it to be turn on a TV? Adding to my now boiling cauldron of rage and disbelief was that I couldn’t even figure out how to manually turn on the TV.  Apparently, our “smart” television doesn’t have a physical on/off button. How does this happen? Why are televisions being manufactured like this?

It took almost 20 minutes for me to get the blasted TV turned on because that’s how long it took for me to try almost every button and sequence to get it to come to life. By this time I was sweating, swearing, and cursing the idiots who thought not having an on/off button made a TV “smart.”

Next up, I had to negotiate how get the DVR and TV to play together. It didn’t matter what buttons I hit on the remote the DVR wouldn’t take me to the TV channels. I was positive Satan must possess these electronics.

By this time I was too deep in my misery to give up. I was going to have to do an exorcism. I fervently prayed to the cable gods to give me guidance and finally the remote now saturated with tears did its job and I was able to see HGTV on the screen in all its glory.

I had won but as I collapsed on the couch the victor my butt hit the remote and the television turned off. Nooooo!

It took a patronizing “DVR and TV remote interfacing” lesson from my son to get me proficient in the new setup. And just for the record I still valiantly stand by my statement that a “smart” TV isn’t very smart if it doesn’t have an on/off button.

Dear Snarky – We’ve Got Issues

Aah, summer where the living is easy except if you’re in the middle of an August heat wave BUT the heat did give me a good excuse to expediently tackle three summer hot topics. Ready, set, go!

Dear Snarky,

 My daughter has a friend who is allegedly gluten and lactose intolerant and her mom makes a big deal about it at school parties and play dates and yet yesterday I saw the kid and her mom eating  cheeseburgers and drinking milk shakes at McDonalds. Should I call her out on her hypocrisy?

 Signed, Oh No You Didn’t

Dear Oh No,

Mind you own freaking business. You’re not the food police. I know it’s going to be hard but resist the urge to stir up drama. 

 Dear Snarky,

I know my friend’s kids are peeing in my pool because they never ask to go inside and use the restroom. When I shared my suspicions my friend got angry and told her kids to get out of the pool and left.

 How does she feel that she has the right to be angry it’s my pool getting peed in?

 Signed, Upset

Dear Upset,

 What did you want your friend to do offer up her kids for a CSI level urine forensics? Here’s a pro tip- quit inviting people over for a swim and then lobbying accusations at them.

 Dear Snarky,

 Every time we vacation with my husband’s family we always get stuck paying more than our fair share. You name it from groceries for the condo to eating out it’s like we are subsidizing the vacation. How can we stop this?

 Signed, Going Broke

Dear Broke,

The solution is simple. Quit vacationing with family that repeatedly takes advantage of you. The fact that you let this happen multiple times is beyond ridiculous. Close your wallet now and practice saying “We’ve made other vacation plans.”

Dear Snarky – I’m Conflicted About Attending My High School Reunion

Dear Snarky,

 I keep changing my mind about going to my high school reunion. I wasn’t exactly the popular type and the people I want to keep up with I do so through social media. But, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to go and I’m afraid if I don’t go I’ll experience a bad case of FOMO. But I’m afraid if I do I’ll regret it and all those old feelings of not belonging and being judged will come rushing back.

 I had almost convinced myself to do it until I got a group email from our class president, who was a huge jerk to me all through high school, and just seeing his name made me nauseous.

 My friends and co-workers say I should go because I have nothing to lose and could have a great time. What do you think?

 Signed, Hesitant

Dear Hesitant,

 High school reunions can be a mental minefield. The key is to not put so much pressure on the experience. In its simplest terms it’s a get together from back-in-the day.

 Basically, if you want to reconnect with your high school buddies – go. If you want to strut your awesome self in everyone’s face – go. If you want to do a contrast and compare of your former classmates to see how their social media personas stacks up to real life – go. If you want to post a bunch of photos on Instagram of you at the reunion with the #BestTimeEver – go. If your fear of missing out is so great it’s causing you anxiety – go.

 But trust me it’s not going to be like in a movie where you show up and through a series of twist and turns discover the balm that soothes your old high school wounds. You might ending having a ho hum time, a bad time or even the time of your life. You just have to weigh how much you want to see your former classmates and factor in the possibility that it could be not so awesome and than ask yourself is it worth it?

If you do decide to go I suggest the buddy method. Team up with a friend and even if the reunion is a bust think about all the fun you’ll have gossiping about your classmates.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

What Watching Three Episodes of “The Bachelorette” Taught Me

I’ve been educated by watching “The Bachelorette.” Yes, I know that sounds strange especially coming from someone who is a prude and is this close to identifying as a Duggar because wearing a loose fitting frock that grazes my ankles sounds sort of appealing.

My daughter introduced me to the TV show and at first I resisted. Basically, I thought it was beneath me. Now I realize with my love of several “Real Housewives” series that I have no room to cling to any moral high horse but I will admit I did feel just a wee bit superior to folks who got all excited about new episodes of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”

Heck, I even took pride in the fact that I could read/scan an US magazine and not know anyone in it because it’s basically just hot young adults that have been or are currently partaking of a smidgen of fame from being on that “dating” show.

I started watching “The Bachelorette” as a way to spend time with my daughter while making fun of the show. To date I’ve only watched three episodes but, oh my, it’s enough to make me blush. But more importantly it has shined a spotlight on how men are finally getting some grooming parity. Just the sheer amount of male hair depilatory on the show is amazing.

There’s these things called “fantasy dates” which is code for just what you think it is and includes a whole lot of near nakedness. What catches my attention every time is how hairless the men are. They all frolic shirtless and there’s not a hair on them. Not one single follicle. And thanks to high definition television you can tell that they’ve been subjected to some first rate waxing.

I enjoy pointing this out to my daughter who wails that I’m “ruining the show for her” and I take that as a compliment. But it also opens up the conversation about how in just the last several years there’s been monumental advances in beauty equality for men and I’m all for it. When a dude participates in the torturous ritual of getting large swaths of their skin assaulted by scorching hot wax it’s a large step for womankind.

I’m actually taking pleasure in males suffering for beauty and let me tell you these bachelors have suffered. From their exquisitely groomed facial hair to their Ken doll physiques that look shiner than my dining room table after I’ve soaked it in Lemon Pledge these guys are living the depilatory dream (or nightmare). I’m certain that at least an hour a day is spent just on body hair maintenance. To this I say yahoo!

Even more exciting is that guys (and not just the ones on TV) are wearing make up. Yes, please enjoy the Lancôme gift with purchase as you start wearing concealer and experience the true indignation of someday being out in public without make up and having multiple people tell you that you “seem tired” which is the polite way to saying, “You look like hell today.”

I’m all in on every guy ditching their 10-minute getting dressed ritual that involves a shower, a shave, toothbrush and maybe a comb. Yes, I welcome all men to the dark side where due to society’s expectations you’re pressured to blow dry and straighten your locks, contour your face with six different foundations and curl your eyelashes.

For too long men have had a grooming hall pass. All the pressure was on women to enhance their natural beauty in a very unnatural way. The fact that guys are now finally feeling the same pressure works for me. It’s time to finally share the insecurities and the Nair.

Dear Snarky – My Future In-Laws Won’t Pay for My Second Bridal Gown

Dear Snarky,

I’m getting some bad vibes from my future mother-in-law. I don’t think she likes me and she’s being super cheap about the wedding. When I went dress shopping with my mom and sisters I found a beautiful gown but I also wanted something more fun and flirty to wear for the reception so I thought that my finance’s family would buy me the reception dress as a gift since they haven’t gotten me a big ticket item yet.

 When I asked my finance’s mom if she would be up for treating me to the reception dress she acted confused about what a reception dress was and then said that she “didn’t see the sense” in having two dresses. So, I guess she didn’t give me a “no” so I’m wondering if I should ask her again?

 I’m not being a bridezilla I’m just letting the groom’s parents know that this is something I think they should do for me. After all, I’m about to be their daughter.

 Signed, Bride Problems

 Dear Bride,

 Here’s something you can get for your wedding – a clue. Your fiancé’s mom was attempting to be tactful by telling you “no way in hell” in a very diffused manner and I have to say that I agree with the woman. I also don’t “see the sense” in having two dresses.

 Do the math. A wedding ceremony last, at most, an hour. The average bridal gown costs $2,000. So, if you wear the dress for 60 minutes you’re paying almost $34 a minute for the dress. That’s just crazy. Now, if you have buckets of money do whatever you want but don’t expect your fiancé’s family to pick up the tab on another dress. It’s not a good look in more ways than one.

 If I were you I would apologize to your fiancé’s mom for even asking and tell her you had momentarily gotten a case of bride brain with all the wedding planning. Also, moving forward suppress your greed. A wedding isn’t about who’s picking up the tab on your “big ticket items.” 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Memory Lane Slapped Me in the Face

Sometimes memories gently lull you and sometimes they slap you in the face in the most unlikely places. I never would have thought a trip to Nashville, a city I have zero emotional connection to, would prove to be a catalyst for reliving my young adulthood.

This trip down memory lane started at a barbecue restaurant. As we got in line for what was heralded as legendary Tennessee “cue” my husband noticed that CNN and PBS news goddess Christiane Amanpour was directly in front of us.

We introduced ourselves and ended up eating dinner with the erudite journalist and some other colleagues. After Amanpour departed, I mentioned that both of us were reporters at CNN at the same time. I then laughed at our career trajectories.

One person went into the stratosphere covering everything from the Persian Gulf and Bosnia wars and hosting multiple network. The other person’s trajectory was, how should I say it, not as awesome.

My sweet husband tried to cajole me by complimenting my, ahem, “slower paced” career. Truthfully I just didn’t have what it takes to make it. I’m the reporter who once hid in a bathroom to avoid messing up my holiday plans.

In December 1989 when CNN was assigning reporters to cover Manuel Noriega, who was holed up in the Vatican embassy in Panama, I literally sequestered myself in the ladies room – out of sight, out of mind – so my Christmas wouldn’t be spent in that quagmire.

I’m 100 percent certain Amanpour has and would never ensconce herself in a bathroom stall to avoid an assignment. Me, not so much.

My next young adult flashbacks happened in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Walking through the museum I had forgotten how many country stars I had interviewed back in the day. Being a Texas girl working for CNN in Los Angeles, I was the closest thing to a country music aficionado they had in the newsroom.

I tried to explain to my bosses that growing up watching “Hee Haw” at my meemaw’s house while shucking corn didn’t make me an expert on that genre of music. But pretty much once I put “Hee Haw,” “meemaw” and “shucking corn” in the same sentence, I was the de facto country music reporter.

I also had a PTSD moment in the Willie Nelson exhibit. His 1986 Farm Aid concert was where I had severe lower intestinal distress while on the air doing a live shot. It was a do-si-do of embarrassment and humiliation. To this day I can’t hear “On the Road Again” without feeling an urgent need to use the facilities.

By the end of the museum tour I was feeling a little down. Was my news career summed up by hiding in a bathroom and desperately needing one? But then I saw some George Strait memorabilia and it gave me a boost.

When I was 23 and covering the Texas legislature, I was way out of my depth in making sense of the political machinations. But something happened one day to let me know that no matter how dumb I think I am, there’s probably always someone a little dumber.

As I was at the Texas capitol waiting for my turn to do a live shot, I was watching a reporter from Houston giving her report. This poor woman thought that George Strait, the country crooner, was the speaker of the Texas house. From that point on there’s always been two levels of dumb for me – normal dumb and speaker of the house dumb.

So as far as life goals go at least I can say I haven’t hit speaker of the house dumb – yet.

 

Dear Snarky – Pool Pirrarah

Dear Snarky,

 I need your help getting back at a friend who pulled what I consider a pretty mean stunt. Last week I had 4 girlfriends and their kids come over for a low-key pool party. Before anyone got in the pool one of these friends pulled out something called a water quality meter put it in the water and then announced that my pool flunked.

Of course, everyone freaked out and wouldn’t get in my pool. I got out my own pool testing kit and everything was fine. I also told everyone that we had a pool company that maintained the pool and they always do a great job. Our pool is beautiful. But the damage was already done and no one would go swimming. It was so embarrassing.

 I’m hurt and confused as to why a friend would do this to me and I want to get back at her. Any suggestions?

 Signed, Perfect Pool

Dear Pool,

 My suggestion is simple. Dump this human – because she for sure is not your friend – from your zone of contact. Don’t waste a second “getting back at her.”  She’s not worth the effort and quite frankly she sounds disturbed. What kind of “friend” brings a water quality meter to another friend’s house and then stages a dramatic scene of “your pool is contaminated.”

 Just for a second let’s give this person the benefit of the doubt that your pool is gross – well if that’s the case she just should have declined your invitation and not descended on your home like a CDC inspector searching for the Ebola virus.

 I also take exception to the other women at the pool party that didn’t stand up for you especially after you performed our own pool test and it came out fine. Someone should have had your back. Do yourself a HUGE favor and make some new friends and throw another pool party that is free of water logged drama.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

Busted – Do I Love My Family Enough to Live With Them on a Bus?

I love my family very much. But, true confession time here; I don’t love them enough to spend a year in a school bus with them. And by spending a year I mean actually living in a bus that has been converted into a family domicile.

My bus epiphany began in the Target parking lot where I saw a tricked out bus and wondered what its story was. Later that day, a friend (whose level of inquisitiveness is a standard I’m currently striving for) shared on Facebook that upon seeing the bus she actually did some low key peeping. This led her to discover that a family of five (“Simply Us and a Bus”) are living in the school bus and traveling the United States while posting about it on social media.

I was equal parts aghast and impressed. How could a family sequestered on a bus for a year emotionally survive? This lead to some deep thoughts about my family and I concluded that we would last, best case scenario, three weeks and then there would be an insurrection and the wheels on that bus would go round and round to a long-term mental health facility.

I could see the first two weeks feeling like a vacation adventure, of sorts, but after the glow of living in a bus that is eight feet wide and less than 30 feet long I fear we would all start to lose it.

It doesn’t matter how “cute” the bus is or how you can shiplap the entire interior and then add  “adorable” touches like a sisal runner and butcher block kitchen countertop my family would quickly get stabby over sharing a bathroom that is just a tad larger than a lavatory on a Southwest plane. (Just the fact that there might not be enough water pressure to thoroughly rinse out your hair conditioner makes me anxious.)

My daughter, without question, would bail first. She is by far the least patient member of the family. She’s also the baby of the family and with that comes certain expectations – the main one being good cell phone reception.

When I did research about living in a bus full time people shared that one of the downsides was bad or no cell service. I’d rather be trapped in a bus with a rabid, 600-pound, hybrid Grizzly/Sasquatch that was foaming at the mouth than with my daughter going into week three of no cell phone service. At least with the “Grizquatch” I’d have, maybe, a one percent chance of survival.

I have to admit that I’d probably be swiftly following my daughter right out of that bus (or elbowing her to make it out first). I’d blame it on claustrophobia but the real reason would be that I couldn’t handle the trifecta of iffy air conditioning, no washer/dryer, (Can you even begin to imagine the volume of wet towels?) and everyone blaming me for the bus “adventure.”

I can hear the condemnation, “OMG, the only reason we’re stuck in this bus is because you wanted something to write about!”

My husband would use his wife and daughter escaping the bus as an excuse to also exit because he would need to make sure “we were safe.”

This would leave my son as on the only one who would solider on. And by that I mean he would sell the bus, pocket the money and probably spend a couple of weeks at a luxury resort mocking his sister by texting her pictures of his four star accommodations.

Upon reflection maybe it’s not that I don’t love my family enough to live with them on a bus maybe it’s that I love them too much or at least that’s how I’m spinning it.

Reach me at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at@snarkynsuburbs on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs, and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.

Dear Snarky – Say Hello to the Prize Police

Dear Snarky,

 I’m in charge of our neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade and I’m getting some serious attitude from other people on my committee. In the past we have given out ribbons for best bike decoration, best patriotic stroller etc. and I want to change that.

 This year I would like to limit the number of ribbons and only recognize a few parade entries. By doing this we can spend money on better prizes and more importantly not keep rewarding kids for just showing up.

Last year, we handed out ribbons to kids who didn’t even decorate their bikes. It was a joke. I think the families who actually take the parade seriously should be rewarded.

 My fellow committee members think I’m being mean but I think I’m teaching kids and parents a lesson.

 Do I listen to my committee or just know that I’m doing the right thing and not worry about what they think?

 Signed, Integrity Matters

Dear Crazy Lady (because I not going to use the word “integrity” in addressing you),

Are you freaking kidding me? You’re choosing your neighborhood Fourth of July bike parade to get all high horsey? You need to calm down and release your death grip on those ribbons. Your sanctimonious “kids shouldn’t be rewarded for just showing up” B.S. is totally out of place at a neighborhood parade. It’s not like the kid that wins “most red, white, and blue bike” is going to use the award to get into Stanford.

If you’re seriously on a mission to stop the practice of “everyone gets a trophy” than I suggest you chose another venue to proselytize at than the Fourth of July bike parade. These are your neighbors. Families are showing up to have fun not to face your judgmental wrath. Give everybody a ribbon that probably costs 10 cents and get over yourself.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Snakes in Pool Noodles – Are You Kidding Me?!!

Summer is fraught with peril. Around every sunshiny corner danger lurks. Nothing is safe – not even something as innocuous and innocent as a rainbow-hued pool noodle.

Yes, a pool noodle is officially an instrument of death thanks to snakes. Recently, poisonous, slithery snakes have decided to make the shady, moist interior of pool noodles their summer vacation abode.

The noodle is also seen as a primo place to start a family for snakes, so there have been multiple reports of snakes laying their eggs in pool noodles.

I’m hyperventilating just thinking about hoisting my girth upon a foam noodle to discover I’ve jostled out a mama snake and her kin. That definitely makes my list of top 10 nightmare scenarios and phobias.

What would you even do? Sure, you can swim away but a snake is the Michael Phelps of the pool. Some can move as fast as 14 miles per hour in the water. I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to out-swim a snake. Plus, I would be wearing a swim skirt so that adds a drag co-efficient that would be slowing me way down.

This whole snake thing upped my pool fear factor and I don’t need any help in that arena. Every summer I have to conquer my abject trepidation of wearing a bathing suit.

You would think that aging would make parading around the pool in a swimsuit easier because you’re old, so who cares that your body resembles a jumbo marshmallow shish kabob that appears to be melting. But, no, now there are 65-year-olds wearing bikinis – not a one piece or even a L.L.Bean tankini – but the real deal “I got this at Victoria Secret” bikini. And they look fabulous.

I have one word – respect – but it still sucks. At what point in my life journey am I allowed to go to the pool and not worry that my thighs appear to be decoupaged in road maps torn from a vintage Rand McNally Atlas purchased at a garage sale?

That’s right, road maps, because the collection of spider veins on my legs look amazingly similar to Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Sadly, and yet fascinating: My cellulite appears to resemble the Meteor Crater you can stop and visit in Winslow, Arizona.

Finally, it got hot enough that I had to conquer both of these horrors. I needed to get into the pool. I convinced myself that the whole snakes in the noodle thing were probably a couple of isolated cases.

As for the swimsuit shame that required an impressive “you can do it” pep talk and I invested in a longer swim skirt. (If this keeps up, by next year summer I’ll be swimming in a maxi dress.)

When I bravely breached the entryway to the city pool I told myself to stay strong. I found a deck chair, took off the beach towel that had been acting as my chub shield, grabbed my goggles and jumped in.

Praise be to the water god Atlantis I had made it into the pool. For about 60 seconds all was right with my summer world until I heard a mother yell at her kids to “check their swim noodles for snakes” and then she bellowed that the pool noodles had been left under their deck since last summer and there “could be critters in them.”

I Michael Phelps-ed it to the pool ladder and got out of the water so fast my swim skirt almost went airborne. To date I’m still working on the courage to get back in. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

*You can find me at – snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs.