On Air and Scared

Never say never.

In my wildest dream there’s one thing I thought I would absolutely not be doing again and that’s co-hosting an hour-long live TV show. Back in the day, like way back in the day, being on morning television was my gig. As my kids grew older I gently segued to print journalism.

Three of my favorite things about working in print are that it’s primarily a Spanx, contour concealor and wrinkle filler foundation with space age polymers free environment. In other words I’m not sucking in my stomach or worried about smoothing out my crows feet while I type. It’s a lifestyle one can get used to.

So, when I was asked to do a brief vacation fill on KCTV’s Better Kansas City with Bill Hurrelbrink, who is one of my favorite people, I said a very enthusiastic yes please! I love the thrill of live TV and add in the amiable camaraderie of a morning show and I’m all in.

The reason I was scared is that doing live television is not easy. The challenging part is making it look effortless and it’s not like I’ve had a lot practice in that arena lately. Television can be unforgiving. It’s like your mother – it sees everything from your posture to your sincerity.

My initial challenge was making sure I was high definition TV ready. I was working in TV when high def cameras first debut and we would play a game called connect the pores. It was brutal. Now, I have more than pores to worry about. Today, I’m “stylin” some prominent wrinkles and no amount of make-up is going to camo those bad boys.

I was also a tad panicked about what to wear. Most of the females on TV favor the sleeveless dress. I, not blessed with arms of steel, (they’re more like arms of cookie dough) prefer to keep my upper limbs swathed in fabric. So, I decided to kick it old school and wear the most forgiving of clothing items ever – a blazer.

After I got passed the appearance conundrums it was time to open the floodgates on worrying about the twin terrors of the teleprompter and the IFB. The teleprompter masquerades as a very helpful friend but it can turn on you in a millisecond. One minute you’re besties. The next it’s having a tantrum, you’ve lost you place and don’t even know what you’re reading.

The teleprompter is why I started wearing clinical strength deodorant. There’s no sweat worse than the “I’m on live TV and I think the teleprompter is trying to tank my career” sweat.

The IFB (Interruptible Feedback) is another helper that takes some getting used to. It’s an earpiece where someone can talk to you while you’re on TV. I was excited to dig out mine yet worried. My last IFB was made twenty years ago. Basically, you have a mold taken of your ear so it fits securely.

My concerns were two-fold. I was dreading to find out if my ear had fatten up like the rest of my body in the last two decades and it wouldn’t fit. I was also worried that it would no longer be up to date. Thankfully, my ear was still in shape (I know that’s not really a thing but I enjoy telling myself that I have very svelte ears so let’s just leave it at that.) and it still worked. Yippee!

When it came time for me to go on TV I was surprisingly not nervous. It felt almost normal and was very akin to being a mother. You’ve got someone talking in your ear while you ask someone else a question. Then there’s someone else in front of you that also wants your attention and all you can do is hope for the best and pray nothing goes rogue.

So, yeah pretty much exactly like motherhood.

Dear Snarky – My Boyfriend is WAY Jealous of My Fantasy Football Skills

Dear Snarky,

 I have a problem with my boyfriend and it’s making me worry about our future together. He’s always been super competitive and now he’s angry with me because my fantasy football team is doing much better than his.

 Right now, I’m at the top of our league. I think he thought that I would be drafting players I thought were cute but I know a lot about football and don’t mess around.

 Now, he’s pouting and making rude comments about me and to me. The thing that really made me think about our relationship is that his mother pulled me aside and told me that if I want to keep her son happy I need to quit playing fantasy football.

 Is this just a weird thing my boyfriend has about football or do you think it goes deeper?

 Signed, Confused

 Dear Confused,

Every person has that one thing they’re a freak about. For example, I’m a little OCD about how the dishwasher is loaded. That said, I don’t mock family members for not doing it right. I just re-do when they’re not looking.

So maybe your boyfriend is a fantasy football freak but I think it goes deeper than that and you’re right for having warning bells going ding, ding, ding in your head.

First, you use the word angry to describe his feelings toward you and then you say he’s making rude comments and  – whoa – he ran to his mommy to make him feel better and to have her fix his hurt feelings. Are You Kidding Me?!!!

This guy sounds like a Mama’s boy with anger issues and I would run like the wind to get as far away from him as fast as you can. He’s bad news and trust me when I tell you can’t fix him, you can’t love him out of it and you’re not going to get him to change. All you can do is leave and not look back. You have to focus on the fundamentals in football and in relationships and this guy’s fundamentals are weak.

 

 

Dear Snarky – My Mom and Mother-In-Law Have Turned Grandparenting Into a Competitive Sport

Dear Snarky,

 My mom and mother-in-law are driving me crazy. They’re both very competitive and my kids are always in the middle of their tug-of-wars as they try to one up each other.

 For example, they both just had to buy my daughters’ first day of school outfits when I had already told them that my girls had picked out their own clothes. I then had to send separate photos with my daughters in the outfits each grandma had bought pretending that it’s what they wore to school.

 I knew I finally had to do something when my oldest daughter told her little sister we had to take all these pictures because mommy lies to grandma and nana. How do I put a stop to each grandmother wanting to be my kids’ favorite because juggling all of this is setting a bad example for my girls?

 Signed, Exhausted

Dear Exhausted,

 You’re not going to like this answer because the problem isn’t just the grandmothers fault you also are too blame. Girl you should have shut this down a long time ago like when your firstborn was an infant. The fact that you’ve enabled them and let this continue and escalate for years is not cool and is going to make stopping it even harder.

 I would begin by having a frank talk with your mother and telling her that all this competitive nonsense has to stop and that it’s having an adverse effect on her granddaughters and stressing you the hell out because of all the subterfuge required to keep both grandmothers happy. I would also include the very important fact that your own daughter called you a liar.

 Next up, is your mother-in-law and I would include your husband in that conversation for back up. This is because the last thing you want is your mother-in-law telling your husband that you criticized her grandparenting skills or called her a “bad Nana.”  You need to emphasize how the competitiveness is hurting her precious granddaughters and has the potential for harming the wonderful relationship she has with them.

 Of course, for any real change to happen you are going to have to put your big girl britches on and stand up to your mother and mother-in-law by having a zero tolerance policy for their competitive foolishness. And if you feel yourself wavering just remember the four letter word your daughter called you.

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

California Dreaming

I feel like I’ve wrestled a Sasquatch. I’m not kidding every bone in my body is sore and as for my mental state well, it’s questionable. The culprit for my misery is driving to California to move my daughter (and her car) back to school. This is something they don’t tell you when you wait till your almost 40 to have your last child – by the time you’re moving that kid to college your knees are angry and your back is so over the schlepping.

Because this is our daughter’s sophomore year I thought I had the whole move in down to a science. In fact, I was very proud, boastful even, that we weren’t taking that much stuff to California. I mean why would we? It’s not like they don’t have Targets in So Cal.

Let me now share with you what a colossal mistake that was because here’s what happens when you “wait till you get there” to buy apartment swag – you spend way too much money and the trips to Target start to enter the double digits. Not to mention that the Southern California Targets are simply not up to snuff.

Okay maybe that’s not 100% accurate. The Target’s are fine. A better way to put it is that I missed my  home Target. Also, my home Target believes in providing you with bags for your purchases.

Sure, in California you can buy a bag but when you do when get major attitude from not only the cashier but also the person behind you. By our seventh Target trip I had gotten over the public shaming and would just announce to everyone within a ten feet radius that I was from Kansas and we’re a free bag state.

Aggravating our already frayed nerves and lower back pain was the fact that my daughter did all the California driving since she knew where everything was. It was like being on the Disneyland Matterhorn bobsleds – a lot of fast starts and stops with whiplash as your reward. Making the excursions even worse was my husband growling every couple of minutes, “Someone tell me again why we let Bella go to school in California?”

Adding to the “we’re idiots” tally was our decision to reward ourselves for all the heavy lifting we did by going to the aforementioned Disneyland because nothing says rest and relaxation like walking 15 miles through a theme park.

After Disney I decided I needed to go to my real happy place – Fashion Island. It’s a swanky outdoor mall in Newport Beach full of shops that I can’t afford but I still like to enjoy the ambience. At one store I decided to treat myself to a fancy skin cream.

As the make up counter guru started testing creams on me she began aggressively feeling my face and then called the other consultants over where they also began poking my cheeks and forehead. At first I thought this was some kind of California face massage thing but it turns out that I was the only woman they had seen in a while who didn’t have fillers or Botox.

I played the Kansas card again and told them this was how we rolled in the sunflower state. It was better than the truth – that I was broke because my daughter goes to school in California and that I was afraid of needles.

Finally, after six days either on the road, at Target or moving stuff into an apartment we made it to the beach and that’s how California gets you. You sit there basking in the low humidity and sunshine watching the waves break and the palm trees sway and suddenly you think, “This is the life” and that thought lasts until you get back in your car and hit traffic.

Straws I Just Can’t Quit You

I’ve seen the future and it’s straw free. Well, to be accurate plastic straw free. I had this epiphany when I was on the West Coast and discovered that plastic straws were verboten. I was okay with this because I was given a perky paper straw with my beverage so I was thinking, “Yay for non plastic straws!”

This enthusiasm lasted until I used the paper straw and after about 30 seconds it disintegrated into my $5.00 iced blueberry black tea lemonade. Sadly, a paper straw isn’t a flavor enhancer and the chunks of paper floating in my ice tea didn’t exactly bellow, “Drink me!” My next beverage outing included a straw made from wheat stems. It held up better than a paper straw but the sipping process was still lackluster.

These experiences embolden me to go totally straw free the remainder of my West Coast sojourn. That’s right, I actually sipped my beverages straight from their containers be it a glass or a cup and it wasn’t easy. Straws have made us lazy.

My mother, always a woman ahead of her time, was the first person I knew that was anti-straw. True story – she didn’t allow straws in the house. The reason wasn’t that she was a crusading environmentalist. No, her straw ban was predicated on the fact that using a straw was the number one cause of lip wrinkles.

This beloved southern mama, who used Pond’s cold cream every night of her life and whose favorite words of wisdom were “moisturizer will never let you down” was a zealot against wrinkles and saw the straw as the enemy. (She also thought that you could judge a person’s I.Q. by their neck. Her theory was people with neck wrinkles showed a lack of intelligence and commitment to a task because they didn’t have the wherewithal to continue the moisturizing process post chin.)

The day I knew I had finally reached adulthood was when I had the backbone to sip on a straw in my mother’s presence. All she said was a very curt “Well, maybe wrinkles will suit you.”

I admit to loving straws and perhaps it’s born out of the straw deprivation of my youth. You also can’t discount that straws make drinking easier most especially in a car where Americans now average an hour a day on the road. In fact, upon doing an online “straw lifestyle inventory” (Yes, there is such a thing.) I discovered that almost all of my straw usage was on beverages I purchased via a drive up window.

This makes perfect sense because very few mortals have the skill to drink from a lidless cup and drive. My daughter suggested the easiest way to solve my “strawless while driving” issue was to invest in some reusable straws. I could even be “extra” and get silver straws that come in a monogrammed holder.

I was intrigued by this idea. A silver straw would certainly class up my morning McDonald’s Diet Coke experience. Maybe I could even extend my pinkie as I daintily clutch my 32-ounce beverage.

If we want to end American’s obsession to plastic straws this is how to do it – just make something perceived as “classy” and slap a logo on it. For instance if you want teenage girls to quit using straws have Lululemon make reusable ones. And if Louis Vuitton comes out with a reusable straw collection every mom currently not obeying the rules of the school drop off line will suddenly become ardent reusable straw fanatics.

Now excuse me while I select the monogram for my straw case. Do I want interlocking or a diamond?

Dear Snarky – Help! The Bride Has Demanded All of Her Bridesmaids Go on the Keto Diet

Dear Snarky,

Is there a nice way to get out of being a bridesmaid in wedding without saying, “F off!”

 My cousin is getting married in December and she told all five of her bridesmaids that we have to go on the Keto diet or else. She’s even demanding that we put the Keto diet app on our phones and then every day send her our nutritional logs along with a weekly weigh in.

 She told us that for her wedding to be “Insta fabulous” there’s a strict no fatties allowed rule. None of the bridesmaids are even what I would call fat. So, I just think she’s being a hateful bitch who thinks she can control us because we’re in her wedding. I want to get out now because you know it’s going to get worse by December.

 What’s the classiest way to drop out?

 Signed, Ready to Go

Dear Go,

 I think I would forget about being classy and just tell this monster of a bride that if being a bridesmaid in her wedding means humiliating yourself and allowing her to interfere in your personal business up to and including your private health information than you are tendering your bridesmaid resignation effective immediately.

 If this shrew throws a fit so be it. Just walk away with your pride in tact and under no circumstances let other family members try to talk you back into being a bridesmaid. This cousin isn’t worthy of your presence.

 And mark my words once you defect other bridesmaids will follow your lead because being a bride doesn’t give you carte blanche to ride roughshod over anyone else’s life with outrageous demands. In my opinion this woman doesn’t need to get married she needs an extended stay at a mental health clinic because she be crazy.

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

My Appliances Hate Me

“They don’t make things like they used to.” Now, congratulate me for officially sounding old. Don’t worry it won’t hurt my feelings because my kids have been roasting me for a week about “channeling their grandpa.”

I can’t help it. I don’t care if I sound like an octogenarian because I’m ticked off. The focus of my wrath is my appliances. It’s been a summer of kitchen failures from the dishwasher to the refrigerator and spoiler alert – these appliances aren’t old and they aren’t some shady off brand. None of them have even celebrated their fifth birthday. This is why I’m flabbergasted that they would be breaking down.

Quick back-story – My parents owned a Kenmore washer and dryer in a not so very fetching shade of harvest gold. They purchased this duo when I was in kindergarten and both the washer dryer outlived my parents! Who makes appliances that last almost 50 years? I’m guessing the quick answer is no one.

Meanwhile, I have appliances that are basically still in their infancy going on life support. When I aggressively complained about this to my son he told me that it’s called “planned obsolescence” and I should get used to it.

Of course I know about the concept of planned obsolescence. (#iPhones) But seriously one would hope that appliances would last more than five years if only to keep the landfills free from French door refrigerators in fingerprint resistant stainless steel.

Last month, when our dishwasher started making a sound that made me think evil spirits possessed the Cascade pods I was using and were performing an exorcism on the rinse aid dispenser I immediately summoned by husband for help. When his diagnosis was to call a repair person I wasn’t having it. I went online to try to determine the problem and after two hours of my head in the dishwasher I gave up and, you guessed it, called for professional help.

The next week when the refrigerator started leaking water I entered the deluxe ticked off zone. My husband, apparently more comfortable with a drippy frig than a demonic dishwasher was confident he could fix it. This meant he went straight to YouTube for refrigerator tutorials. Lo and behold every tutorial said almost the same thing – Yes, you can temporarily fix the leak, but it’s going keep to coming back.

The assorted YouTube frig techs were unanimous that the refrigerator had an inherent design flaw and was doomed. This was a line in the sand for me. I wasn’t going to get a new refrigerator. I was going to subvert the leak. This means that once a week I have to do frig first aid.

The leak collects in the lower part of the refrigerator and for some reason freezes and then it melts which results in a leaky frig. My ER duties included soaking up the water with a beach towel and then getting a knife and chopping up the ice that has collected.

My husband believes I’m being a stubborn fool. But, I think I’m taking a stand. I will no longer be at the mercy of the planned obsolescence overlords. Plus, have you priced new refrigerators lately? Cha-ching. I will use a Coleman camping cooler before I pay four figures for a refrigerator.

This is why you will find me every week armed with towels, a butter knife and brute force going to battle with planned obsolescence. It’s a fight I plan to win. Some may call me crazy but I prefer the word warrior.

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. 😉