May 28 Editorial

A few days ago, I received a text from our office manager that read, “A subscriber just called and wanted to speak with you”. It was accompanied by a name and number. My first thought after my rant about the crazy woman at Wal-Mart from last week was, “Oh geez! She’s recognized herself in the story and is wanting to address it.” After dreading making the call for a minute, my second thought was, “Good. Maybe she’s calling to apologize.” I knew I certainly was not about to do such a thing.
I psyched myself up for an ear chewing and armed myself with my sharp wit just in case she went for the jugular, and sat down to make the call.
The phone rang twice and a sweet sounding lady was on the other end. “Can I speak to Miss Mott,” I asked. “This is Miss Mott,” she replied. I could already tell that this gentle woman was not my Wal-Mart nemesis. I introduced myself and explained that I had received her message from the office that she wished to speak with me. “I didn’t think you would actually call me back,” she said excitedly. “I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your stories every week.”
She went on to tell me how my sarcasm and ‘no nonsense’ attitude reminded her of herself and how she always gets a chuckle from the way I like to “put things” as she said.
She went on about my work for a few minutes telling me which of my editorials were her favorite, and I felt like the Grinch because I could literally feel my heart swelling inside my chest. I have never had anyone speak so highly of my work (aka my crazy life in print) before, and I certainly have never had someone, let alone a stranger, go out of their way to track me down to tell me.
I felt incredibly flattered by her kindness, and wanted to know more about what made sweet Miss Ruth Mott tick. What I found was a glimpse into my future and a new friend.
Miss Mott said that, like me, she adores animals. As the owner of several pets, she told me stories of always loving having animals around and how as a young girl, she had made it her mission to find a stray kitten a home…..even though it may have cost her a day’s pay and a lot of explaining to do. I won’t get into specifics of her story, but let’s just say she needed a clean uniform and had me rolling with laughter. It was totally something I would do.
She went on to tell me that, although she had been happily married for years, she never really thought much of having children. “I read your stories about being childless by choice and how people ask you when you are going to have them. Don’t worry about that, honey. You’ll be just fine if you don’t,” she said. At 80, Miss Mott said that her life had been full of love and adventure, a fact that she makes no apologies for, and said that she could care less about people who didn’t agree with it.
Forty five minutes later, Miss Mott and I had talked about everything under the sun from family, friends, work, husbands, and living life to the fullest. I wanted to reach through the phone and give her a huge hug. Not only had she made my day by complimenting my work, she had given me a whole new perspective on what it means to live your life the way you want, even when you get older.
She told me that her husband had passed away and that as she had gotten older, many of her friends had passed as well, leaving her a little lonely at times. My heart ached at the news of this, so I offered to meet her every once in a while for coffee and a chat. I felt a lot better about her being lonely when she accepted my offer and added, “Well, you have my number. If you call and a man answers, that’s my boyfriend. He’ll give me the message.”
Boyfriend! That’s right. Miss Mott is 80 years old, and she’s still got it! I think she’s my new hero.
Miss Mott, if you’re reading this (and I know that you are), I can’t wait to meet you and hear more of your stories. You have no idea how much your call warmed my heart. You are a special lady, and I can’t wait to learn more about you. Oh, and I’ll take you for a boat ride anytime!

May 21 Editorial

In day to day life there are always things that, as Peter Griffin of Family Guy would say, “Really Grinds My Gears”, but this week I experienced an encounter with two people so ridiculously annoying that I nearly pulled my hair out.
Let me start this story by saying I was at Wal-Mart. I probably don’t really even need to go on because if you’ve been to Wal-Mart, you know that the trolls of the earth cruise its aisles, always making for an unbelievable entry to the website PeopleofWalmart.com. But in case you haven’t experienced a good Wal-Mart story, here you go.
I was sprucing up the back yard and planting flowers in planters that haven’t seen any vegetation other than weeds in about 30 years, when I broke my shovel on a root the size of my forearm. I reluctantly headed to Wal-Mart for a new shovel and a couple bags of red mulch to finish of the job with a little pizazz. I hurried in, not wanting to spend a minute more in this backwoods banjo dungeon than I had to, grabbed the shovel and quickly headed to the checkout station located in the garden center.
As I approached the checkout line, I nearly ran into an older woman who cut me off with her cart in order to jump in line in front of me. There I stood, with my one item in my hand (from the garden center I might add), as she unloaded a cart so full to the top that it looked like she had been on that old show where they let you loose for one minute to grab anything you could get your hands on to fill the cart.
I watched through angrily squinted eyes as she stared me down and unloaded every item in the store from shampoo to dog treats to pickles and granny panties. As she continued to stare me down in a “what are you going to do about it” way, I literally held my one item up and said, “Really?” in the most sarcastic tone I could muster.
I felt a little vindicated when the cashier, who was obviously annoyed at the volume of crap on the belt-less check out station, started to giggle and gave me that “I hear you bro” nod. The old woman, however, broke her stare and continued to unload her buggy of randomness, none of which came from the garden center.
Ten minutes later, I was still in line as the woman had now pulled out coupons for some of her items and needed a price check for another. I was outwardly huffing and puffing at this point, when another woman came up behind me to stand in line.
She had a water hose, a pool float, and some solar lights for the yard. She was legit. “How long have you been standing here”, she asked politely. I loudly answered, “Probably about fifteen minutes now. I guess some people don’t realize this is the garden center, not a full service check out station.” She shook her head and we both glared at the woman, who could’ve cared less that she was inconveniencing anyone.
When all her items were all scanned, the cashier gave her a total and the old woman dug through her purse to reveal a check book. A freaking check book! As if she couldn’t slow down the process anymore! At this point I was about to lose my mind, and I wasn’t shy about letting her know it.
When she finally disappeared through the doors and towards the parking lot, I handed my one item to the cashier who said, “Bless you for being so patient”, to which I replied, “Are you kidding me? I wanted to punch her!” She laughed again, and I knew she was feeling the same way.
I quickly paid for my purchase and zoomed out the back door to drive over to the outdoor area to retrieve my two bags of red mulch. As I turned the corner to the pick-up area, I nearly crashed when I saw the old woman in her giant SUV parked first in line to pick up, what else? That’s right….red mulch.
I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me”, and I talked myself down from the ledge of screaming obscenities at her from my car window. Instead, I took a deep breath and waited….patiently for another ten minutes as the less than happy Wal-Mart worker crammed 25 bags of red mulch into the back of her SUV. I thought for a moment that I might be on some kind of hidden camera show, but Ashton Kutcher never showed.
When she finally drove away, I pulled my car up to the line and got out with my receipt. “Hi sir! How are you today”, I asked. The man just looked at me, put his hand on his back as if to say “how dare you ask me to do my job after I just loaded 25 bags up for that nice lady”, and grunted. I carried on in a polite tone, “I just had two bags of that mulch”, to which he replied sarcastically and monotone, “Fantastic.”
He loaded the two bags for me as if he were giving me a kidney…..he was such a martyr. When he finished, I said, “Thank you so much sir. Have a good day.” Without acknowledging my hello or goodbye, he said, “I need your receipt.” I handed it to him and he verified that I had indeed paid for the two bags of mulch that he apparently thought I was clearly trying to steal. He marked the items off on my receipt with a highlighter, turned and walked away without another word. What a gentleman he was.
All in all, a trip that was supposed to take fifteen minutes tops, took over an hour. When I arrived home, the sun was setting and it was too late to spread the mulch before darkness set in.
Instead, I went inside, popped open a new bottle of wine and poured myself a glass that I’m sure wasn’t regulation size, but I didn’t care. I figured that with all of the rude morons I encountered today without going to jail, I earned it. As for Mrs. Pain-In-the-Rear and Mr. Personality, I hope they did the same while brushing up on their people skills. Oh Wal-Mart, how I love thee.

May 14 Editorial

As a woman who is childless by choice, people often ask me if I feel like I am missing out on certain things in life like Christmas morning with children, first days of school, dance recitals, etc. This week I was asked if Mother’s Day was hard for me, seeing as how I don’t have anyone that calls me “mom”.
At first, I was taken aback by this inquiry, thinking it was rude for a person who barely knew me to ask such a personal question, but then I answered as honestly as I could. No, Mother’s Day isn’t hard for me and neither are any of the other days, and here’s why.
I have known since I was a young child that I didn't plan to have kids. While most little girls were playing mommy with their dolls, pushing strollers, and changing imaginary diapers, I was repulsed by the idea. Instead, I was playing Dr. Kelly, Medicine Woman with my stuffed animals, making sure that even when a “stray” came in with a condition like a decapitated head, he’d leave good as new. I guess you could say I was an animal miracle worker.
By my teen years, I not only still knew that I didn’t want kids, I feared having them. Mostly because my parents threatened to murder me if I got pregnant in high school, or out of wedlock for that matter, but also because the thought of a human being ripped out of my (tiny at the time) body sent chills down my spine…..still does.
People always thought I would change my mind...some insisted...but I felt quite certain they were wrong.
When I married my husband at the apparent “tick tock” age of 29, the never ending streams of “so when are you two planning on having kids” questions came flying at me from every direction. I always had the same response, “Quarter to never,” and the person questioning me would reply with “We’ll see about that” or “You’re next”.
Over the next two or three years, the questioning of my loins continued from friends, family, grocery store clerks, strangers on the street….you name it. By year four and my subsequent 34
th birthday, the questions turned to pleading and wishes for a baby, usually by people who love their children but vent to me, their childless friend, about how exhausting and annoying it can be and how they miss the good old days of freedom and less responsibility. Yeah….not a good selling point to someone like myself.
The truth of the matter is, I have a full life even without kids of my own.
Almost all of my friends have kids, and I get to spend time with them, shower them with gifts, teach them (and learn from them), and then I get to return to my life. In addition, I have lots of little fur babies that even though they can’t speak, I know they call me Mom. Not to mention I have my own mom, who I love very much, and she…for me…is what Mother’s Day means.
This year, I celebrated Mother’s Day with my Mom and entire family on our boats with a day of fun in the sun. I even got to hang with my honorary nieces (aka my best friend’s kids) where I showed them how to “cannonball” just close enough to someone that you get their attention without ruining their drink. The whole day was amazing.
When I got home from a day of family fun, I noticed a bouquet of flowers with a pink card with dog paws on it that said, “Mommy”. That’s right…my fur babies wished me a Happy Mother’s Day with a dancing Snoopy card that read, “To the best Mommy a four-legged kid could ask for. We love you….and Daddy does too!”
Who needs to be sad on Mother’s Day when your heart is this full? Kids or no kids, I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have such amazing people in my life (especially you, Mom). So Happy Mother’s Day once again to all the ladies out there even if you’re not a mom, because you don’t have to be one to love one. And you definitely don’t have to be one to be happy.

May 7 Editorial

As a writer, I find that for the most part I am perpetually in pajamas, on my couch, tapping away at the keys while mindless chatter on the TV plays in the background. For years, I have found this to be an incredibly desirable way of life and never imagined that, in the blink of an eye, I could go from a totally productive member of society with pretty hair and clothes that aren’t made of Spandex, to a pig pen of a hermit.
It began as a slow process. In the beginning, I would wake up at a decent hour, shower, apply makeup and get dressed before facing my day. A couple of years in, I decided that makeup wasn’t always necessary to work from home, so I nixed it. This week, I awoke from what seemed to have been a three year coma and what I saw was scary.
It all started with this conversation between my husband and me.
“Get dressed,” he said, glaring at my pajama onesie like I was dressed in excrement. “Why? I’m working,” I replied, wondering what was wrong with his face. “Normal people get dressed for work,” he answered to which I replied with a smile, “Yes, but normal people don’t get to work from the comfort of this beautiful couch.”
He was not amused. “You’ve become a hermit,” he said. “A big, stinky hermit.”
At first I was blown away by his bluntness. Then I got mad that he called me “big”. Once the urge to punch him in the face subsided, I went to the mirror to check myself out. It was terrifying.
Not only do I look horrible without makeup, I look even worse when I haven’t worn it in days. I looked pale, except for the puffy circles under my eyes, and my eyebrows hadn’t been plucked in who knows how long. I was well on my way to looking like a female Ernest Borgnine.
The glistening of my usually elusive chin hair caught my eye, and I realized that it had grown so long that it had actually curled up into a spiral under my chin. Then I gave myself the official hermit shower test. This is something I had been following for some time now, and it goes something like this….
To help the hermit remember when shower day arrives, there is a simple four-part clinical procedure:
•Lift arm.
•Insert nose.
•If you faint, it's time to shower (when you regain consciousness).
•If you don't faint, schedule a shower -- as early as next week, if you have an opening.
I realize that this may have been working for me, but it definitely wasn’t working for my poor husband who has to look at me. His stern words were an intervention, and I clearly needed it.
While I love being able to write my articles from home, I acknowledge that there are times when I need a little more human interaction in my life. Like when the neighbors say to me upon seeing me in the driveway, “Oh, you are alive”, or when I can carry on an entire conversation with my dog just by looking into his eyes and reading his facial expressions (I’ve actually freaked my husband out with this….he thinks I’m a witch.)
I am happy to report that today I went for a run in the sunshine followed by a nice long shower. I did, however, put my onesie back on and I’m still wearing it as I write this. Baby steps people. Baby steps.
Tomorrow I’m planning on attending an event downtown, and then dinner with friends at a restaurant that doesn’t consider yoga pants proper attire. That is if I can pluck my brows and bush hog my chin in a timely manner. I’m expecting the cast and crew of ‘What Not To Wear’ to show up at my house at any moment.
Although I need to emerge from my cocoon and get back to the land of the living, being a hermit isn’t so bad. I love working from home in my pajamas, and I especially love casual Fridays. Don’t ask….just know it only involves underwear. (Friday is onesie washing day after all.) I always have comfortable bathroom facilities, bras are on an ‘as needed’ basis, and my co-workers may slobber, shed, and bark at the lizards on the back porch, but they’re actually pretty cool to be around.
And while I may look like a hot mess if a neighbor or Fed Ex guy knocks on the door, I am always easy to shop for when my birthday or Christmas rolls around. Can you say “onesie”?
So here’s to you, hermits of the world. Keep doing your thing…..just remember to shower.

April 30 Editorial

In the midst of yet another town gone wild, it was the Baltimore riot video seen around the world. Leaping through a mob of angry maniacs, a mother grabbed her violent little punk of a son by the neck after throwing bricks and dragged him away from the ever-growing hostility. “You want to be out here doing this dumb sh-?” she yelled.
Who among us didn’t want to leap off our couch or away from our desk to high five this mom who is obviously trying to do her job? Truth be told, we need more mothers and fathers out there in the streets and more importantly in the home guiding their children in the right direction.
You can blame police brutality, racial profiling, or my personal favorite, being born poor, black, and devoid of the same opportunities as everyone else, for the seemingly endless string of deaths in recent months, but the bottom line is this….these people have run ins with the law because they are breaking it.
Yep. It’s that simple.
I realize that some of you may disagree, and that’s your prerogative. But it has been my experience that when you don’t break the law or go somewhere you probably shouldn’t be in the first place, the police will leave you alone. So will everyone else.
I can recall being a freshman at Florida State and my roommate had her car towed the first week of class. She asked me to take her to pick it up, so I did…not knowing that the area we were going to was a well-known drug haven. Within two minutes of us circling around the same street looking for the tow company, my car was surrounded by blue lights, ordering us to get out of the car.
I was scared, but I did as I was told. That’s what you do when asked by authorities. The cops asked us why we were in this neighborhood, knowing that two little blonde girls wouldn’t or shouldn’t be in such a dangerous neighborhood unless they were looking for trouble. I explained that we were looking for the tow company. Just to be sure, they escorted us down the street to her waiting vehicle.
To this day I’m still not sure if it was because they didn’t believe us or they feared for our safety. Either way, I did what they said, and no one got hurt. (I also never went to that part of town again.)
You see, that’s how this whole police thing works. If they tell you to do something, do it. Don’t run. Don’t fight. Don’t pull a gun. Just stop what you are doing and cooperate.
Now, I don’t believe that what happened to Michael Brown, Daniel Levitt, or Freddie Gray was right. In fact, I think it is downright tragic when anyone loses their life in such a manner. But let’s be honest…all three men had extensive criminal pasts and were all engaging in criminal behavior when killed, whether it be resisting arrest, fleeing police, not responding to police orders, etc.
I’m not here to say whether the police were right or wrong in the excessiveness of their behavior, but I do believe that if these men had a) not been breaking some kind of law or b) followed police instructions immediately, they would still be alive today. They weren’t killed simply because they were black.
Which brings me back to the Baltimore riots.
Regardless of what race you are or which side you stand, on what planet is it okay to burn down and destroy your own community and call it seeking justice? ‘The Wire’ creator and Baltimore-resident David Simon said it best Tuesday when he wrote, “Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard. But if you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.”
There have been dozens of innocent police officers and bystanders injured. The town is in ruins with no sign of control being regained anytime soon. Liquor stores and wig shops looted….all in the name of justice.
I applaud that mother who jerked her son out of the violence. She didn’t care about being in the limelight. She cared about saving her son from the same fate as Brown, Levitt, and Gray. We need more parents who care because frankly, strong, intact families matter.
Whether you were born a poor black kid in an inner city or a rich white kid in the suburbs, we all need a strong family presence to guide us from day one. We as adults need to be better parents, better brothers and sisters, and better role models in general.
It’s true that not every kid is born with the best set of circumstances, but it is our responsibility as human beings to do what we can to step into their lives and make it better. It is our responsibility to hold our kids accountable, not just at home or in school, but in the real world as well.
In the end, we all have to stop blaming others for our situations and hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. If you have to sell drugs for a living because you didn’t get an education, go back to school. Otherwise, accept your fate. If you steal from others because they have the money to buy the things you don’t have, work harder. Otherwise, accept your fate.
When we lay our heads down on the pillow at night, we all have that inner voice that tells us if we are living our life the right way. Now it’s time we stop pointing fingers and blaming society and start listening to it. Today can be day 1 of the rest of your life, or it could be the last day of your life. You decide. Life is about choices, not chances. Choose to be a part of the change the world needs.