Toilet Seat Secrets

No one wants to sit on someone else’s toilet seat, particularly if it’s one of those soft padded seats. Doesn’t make a difference how much bleach or Mr. Clean with Febreeze is used, the warm little squish it makes as you settle your buttocks down is a constant reminder that someone else’s behind has come before you. My recent move came complete with a padded toilet seat. I added a new toilet seat to the Wal-Mart list and, though it was a DEFCON 3 priority, I didn’t change it out until a few days ago.

DEFCON explanation

Now, I understood that long, plastic screws fasten down through the seat and into the actual porcelain of the bowl. I’ve always considered it an inferior design as there’s no purchase for the screws, they sort of drop through the holes and hope for the best. At least that’s what I thought.

A few years ago, one of my husband’s friendshits (see previous post on the difference between friendship and friendshit) renovated our bathroom. As befits the motto I bestowed upon him after enduring many years of his repairs and hearing the horror stories of others who hired him, “crappy work doesn’t come cheap,” he made a mess of the bathroom renovation. A corner shower, the identical model that I’d had installed in another house, was obviously not plumb and a gap of 3-4 inches between the walls and base was liberally plugged with caulk. He lost ambition after installing 3 out of 4 shelves in the medicine cabinet. The sink stopper was never installed and never found in the wreckage. Couldn’t hazard a guess as to whether he didn’t know how to install it or thought we didn’t mind losing toothpaste tubes down the drain on a regular basis. All of these mistakes paled, though, next to the toilet seat.

Though he is a contractor, wiki how has this helpful post on installing a new toilet seat to avoid unpleasantness. Basically, in addition to what I believed were useless plastic screws, toilet seats come with plastic nuts. If our fearless, friendshit carpenter had installed the toilet seat properly, it wouldn’t have come loose on one side. Not loose enough to slide off, but loose enough to jump if you sat on it wrong.

Nothing more unpleasant than a loose toilet seat.

My husband, good friend that he is, cautioned us all not to jump on the toilet seat or make hasty movements. Like somehow we were responsible for the problem. And then I changed my first toilet seat.

Imagine my surprise when I unscrewed the plastic screws and couldn’t pull the seat off. I tugged, and swore, and tugged some more. Then I felt underneath.

OMG! You don't have to settle for a moving toilet seat.

OMG! You don’t have to settle for a moving toilet seat.

At first I thought perhaps the nuts on the bottom were new to toilet seats, the result of class action lawsuits from people falling off them. See, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, I knew I was once again the victim of 21st Century Roofing‘s shoddy practices. Strangely enough, when I googled the name to ensure I had it right, they had a Better Business Bureau Rating  of F. Wait, that’s not strange at all. This man has left a trail of incompetence and screwed up jobs in his wake. He works damn hard for that F.

Anyhow, I installed my new wood toilet seat correctly. Bye-bye former tenant germs and no fear of knocking the seat loose if I come in for a hard landing. As far as my former toilet seat, that’s now someone else’s business.

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Birthdays, Love Them or Hate Them?

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If my cake isn’t vanilla, don’t be surprised by my bitter disappointment.

I think my birthday is pretty special.  So special, in fact, that during my working career there has only been one year that I worked on the day of my birth. Every other year I have indulged in a minimum of my birthday off, though most of the time I extend it into a long weekend. (How, you ask.  A Monday birthday requires the previous Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off as well as the subsequent Tuesday. A Tuesday birthday requires the weekend, Monday and Tuesday off. A Wednesday birthday rolls into a premature weekend starting on that day. Get it? Good.)

On particularly significant years I like to spend my birthday on vacation. One milestone birthday was spent in Key West, last year’s festivities included a trip to Ireland. My birthday is probably the one time of year I indulge myself without guilt. It’s like I’m two years old again and the world revolves around me.  Makes me think of my nephew, Jack, who, on being told he was loved one day, said “Everyone loves Jack,” as if I was stupid for not knowing that fact. That’s how my birthdays feel. Everyone loves me and I can do whatever I want.

But, much as I love to pamper myself, I hate any sort of celebration initiated by others. I’ll tolerate a small family birthday party with a cake (but please make it vanilla) and a few presents (but, trust me, I have myself covered birthday-wise, there’s no need for anyone else to even try). I’ll smile and make nice if someone slips and tells the waiter or waitress it’s a birthday celebration, but don’t expect a tip if I get the birthday song or a lone candle on my desert and the attention of other diners.  It makes me uncomfortable.

If you check my Facebook page,you won’t find my birthday listed. I love the option of wishing my friends a happy day, but not so sure how to respond when I’m the one getting well wishes. Do I thank everyone individually? Post a group thank you to my timeline? Graciously accept like the Queen, but make no mention of the fuss? With so many questions tormenting me, it’s easier to let it slip by unnoticed.  Those of you who know when it is, your use of private messages rather than wall will prevent me from having to decide any of the above questions. Thank you.

I  make no judgement on those of you who like a big fuss on your birthday. I know people who do the slightly embarrassed, yet grateful “you shouldn’t have” when entering a surprise party. I’ve worked with those who are genuinely surprised and pleased when a birthday cake appears at the monthly staff meeting. I’ve watched fellow diners react with delight when the entire restaurant staff appears table-side to sing birthday greetings. None of those people are me.

I think of birthdays the same way I think of births. I prefer a quiet, private affair with attendance limited to those few who are directly affected. Though I admire those people who love the public hoopla of birthdays, I’m not one of them, and at this stage of the game, that isn’t going to change.

Choosing to Dye

I don’t want to grow old or look old. Yes, I have a birthday coming up. No, I’m not seeking a vampire’s bite to make me immortal (immortality is wasted on the middle-aged). Truthfully I’m going to grow old no matter what I do, so my only power lies in not looking old. But holding onto youth is a tricky business.

 

When the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch publicly identified their market as the cool kids and capped their female pant sizes at a 10,  the idea of excluding full-bodied kids rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But Abercrombie’s disrespect didn’t just extend to the uncool kids. In the same interview, when CEO Mike Jeffries (61 years old at the time) was asked why he dyes his hair blond, he answered, “Dude, I’m not an old fart who wears his jeans up at his shoulders.”

mike jeffries

 

The dude is 68 now. Instead of gracefully growing old, Mike looks like one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills who’s spent a little too much time under the knife. In fact, Paul Nassif, former husband of Real Housewife Adrienne Maloof, is quoted here with his opinion on Mike’s surgically sculpted looks.

 

But, I digress. Most of us don’t opt for plastic surgery for fear we’ll end up looking like plasticized versions of ourselves. Either that, or we shudder at the thought of spending thousands of dollars for elective surgery or, my own personal fear, don’t want our eulogy to include how we died on the operating room table in our quest to look young. We depend on sunscreen and skin care and hope that our genes keep the crow’s eyes and laugh lines at bay until late in the game. The one easy thing we can do to keep looking young is to dye our hair.

 

Now, there’s nothing worse than a too dark dye job on a woman with pancake foundation and ruby-red lips, but an expertly tinted, flattering hair color can take ten years off a man or woman’s age. I’m not quoting statistics or studies, just my own personal experience. In working at a doctor’s office, the last thing I look at is someone’s age (and since I don’t do math in my head, verifying their date of birth doesn’t help me at all). When I started to think about why there were some people I always identified as 5-20 years younger than their age, and others I always thought were older, I realized that people who dyed their hair looked younger than those who let their hair go gray or silver. This phenomenon even extended into people in their 70’s and 80’s.

 

Now, I’ve worked with many people, men and women, who have opted to choose the ease and low maintenance of naturally gray or salt and pepper hair. A few of them even rock the look. But, for the most part, their lack of hair color guarantees they will no longer be welcome in Abercrombie and Fitch stores and will be defined as “appears older than their stated age. ”

 

If I'd had a guarantee my hair would look like this as it grayed, I wouldn't have picked up that first box of hair dye.

If I’d had a guarantee my hair would look like this as it grayed, I wouldn’t have picked up that first box of hair dye.

 

Early gray, always sexy.

Early gray, always sexy.

Are there downsides to dying? Of course. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and a never-ending job to keep ahead of unsightly gray roots. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Still, it’s the cheapest and easiest way to disguise your age and, let’s be honest, don’t we all want to look a little younger?

 

Things to Worry About

The other night I lay in bed worrying about all of the out-of-control aspects of my life. My recent move to South Carolina, current unemployment, houseboat in need of repairs, and car problems have pushed my shoulders to a permanent position slightly below my ears and caused the left side of my jaw to clench. As a nurse, I know that stress can cause stomach problems, insomnia, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain. Lately, I’ve had them all.

My daughter restricts me to only worrying about three problems each day, but even the process of choosing three problems to focus on leads to palpitations and emotional paralysis. Is it any wonder I find it hard to sit down and write? Any surprise that after three weeks my clothes remain in a suitcase rather than hung up in my closet? I think not.

I’m embarrassed to admit (but some of you won’t be surprised to hear) that some of my anxiety is irrational. It’s one thing to be stressed about finding a plumber to replace a hot water heater on a houseboat, another to worry that poisonous insects will squirm up through the air conditioning vents and crawl into your ears while you sleep. Right? It’s normal to worry you’ll encounter a loose dog while walking your dogs and have to break up a dog fight, slightly crazy to think a black snake (googling a picture will haunt my dreams so I imagine an eight foot long snake as thick as my arm) will be lying in wait on the side of the road and attack me. My daughter tells me it must be hard to live in a world where I’m always waiting for the worst to happen. It is.

Pharmaceuticals aren’t helping nor is alcohol. I could try meditation, but worry some creature will scurry over me while I’m lying prone. In my mind, my South Carolina lakeside home is as dangerous as the Florida Everglades at night. That sums up my skewed thought processes.

In desperation, I’m trying a new strategy to deal with my stress. Instead of agonizing over it, I write it down on a white board titled “things to worry about.”  My list covers everything from a caterer to fire ants. It’s a grand conglomeration of every single thing I can think to worry about, no matter how insignificant or psycho it seems. It guarantees, unless someone sneaks into my house and erases it, that I don’t have to keep all of my worries at the forefront of my thoughts. Instead they are readily available and easily added on to.

Things to worry about. Must add snakes.

Things to worry about. Must add snakes.

Silly? Perhaps. Effective? Hell, yes. Since I’ve started the list, my muscles have untightened, my sleep improved, and I’ve even managed to pump out a blog post. Now if only I could make money off my brilliant idea…

I Miss My Things

I miss my things.

Missing: My Things

Missing: My Things

It’s been 2 weeks and 2 days since the moving company arrived at my house and ushered all of my most prized personal possessions into their big truck. When they were done, I received a copy of the packing list and they drove off, promising to reunite me and my things within a week.

It didn’t happen.

I’ve called my relocation specialist several times and received vague promises of a delivery soon. “I’ll call you back in a few days to firm it up,” he assures me. But no call comes.

It’s amazing how empty a house is with only two beds, a dining room set, and two folding tables. It echoes.

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden claims “The things you own end up owning you,” and I wish I could be more zen-like and unattached about not having my things, but that would be a lie. I miss my things. My desk, mostly, and my comfortable desk chair. The asthma medication I ran out of several days ago that I can’t refill because there’s a three-month supply on the truck. A cookie sheet. My spice collection. Extra vacuum cleaner bags. The whiteboard for my refrigerator. Even though it seems like a random collection of stuff, it’s the stuff that makes a house a home and grounds me. I need it.

Okay. I don’t need it. I want it.

The things I need are already here. The love of my family. My dogs. Good health. A creative mind. A sense of peace and rightness in my world. The truck didn’t take any of that, I did.

Having a desk to put it on doesn’t seem that big a deal after all.

Sarah Collins, Will You Please Go Home!

I moved into a cul-de-sac recently and discovered that one of my neighbors has no sense of boundaries. Not only does she think the entire cul-de-sac is her property, but everyone finds her wandering ways endearing and sweet. “That’s Sarah Collins,” they say with soft drawls and smiles. “She just does whatever she wants.”

What the blond bitch wants, as far as I can figure out,  is to prowl around my yard, follow me when I take my dogs for a walk, and crap on my lawn.  I’ve always wanted an incontinent stalker.

Sarah Collins stopping by to drop off a little something something.

Sarah Collins stopping by to drop off a little something something.

Now, I’m trying to be a good neighbor. I want to get along.  But can’t I walk out the front door without Sarah Collins strolling by to check on me? And isn’t it enough I have two dogs to clean up after already? Must I add Sarah Collins to the mix? When I walk by her owner’s house,  I notice his lawn is pristine and green. Mine is marked by urine spots. Coincidence? I think not.

I don’t have any options at this point either. Sarah Collins has been ruling the neighborhood for the last ten years. As I speak, she has entered my yard for the tenth time tonight. No longer happy with the view from the ground, she’s walked up the steps to my second story deck and is standing at the gate, waiting to be let in.

I refrain from yelling at her. I want to be neighborly. Still, I previously lived in the land of leash laws and picking up your own dog’s poop. Down here, that’s not the way things work. In fact, my neighbor’s are entertained by the sight of me parading my leashed dogs around the circle,  leaning down occasionally with one baggie covered hand. “Oh, we just leave it,” they say. “It’s what dogs do.”

Perhaps, with time, I will become as mellow as the people I live among. For now, though, I wish Sarah Collins would go home, and stay there.

Ever had a neighbor’s dog drive you insane? How did you deal with it? Suggestions wanted in the comments.