Moral indignity at the Kwik-E-Mart

So the only time I usually go to the 7-Eleven is to buy things I shouldn’t eat. Not unlike interactions with a doctor or priest, I’ve always considered the relationship between myself and the person behind the convenience store counter to be at least somewhat sacred. It’s an encounter based on necessity, and I’m not usually looking my best at that particular time of night, or in that craving-induced state of being, so we have an understanding. You stay on your side of the counter, don’t judge, keep your mouth shut and I’ll do my best to get in and get out. No one gets hurt, and I might even leave my pennies in that weird little tray.

Friday night was one of those times when I was really counting on that special relationship. It had been a long day at work, I was out a little later than normal, and there was a situation that only Doritos and Ben & Jerry’s could resolve. I strode through the store with my mission firmly in my mind. I grabbed my loot (stealthily adding a slice of pre-wrapped pound cake to the stash…I’m sure no one saw it) and headed to the front of the store, the finish line in sight.

I didn’t recognize the 20-something guy behind the counter, but I assumed that he had been properly trained in the ‘Way of the Convenience Store’, so my guard was down. I wasn’t at all prepared when he just stood there and looked at my haul, spread across the counter like so much bar-coded illicit treasure. He moved his gaze to my face and left it there.

“How OLD?” he snapped.

“Huh…” I stammered, trying to figure out when the state of Oregon might have started an age restriction on salted caramel OR nacho cheese, “…how old…am I???”

“Yes…50…” he spat, “…51?!?”

It sounded like he was accusing me of something, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I recoiled a bit, groping in my purse for my debit card. I just really, really wanted to get my groceries (how’s that for rationale?) and get home!

I handed the bank card to my accuser, and looking into his face it occurred to me that his tone was…familiar? I had a flash back to my first night in Morocco quite a few years ago, when I was overwhelmed by the forceful admiration of a man who almost knocked me to the ground while shouting about my ‘beauty’. I could almost hear the droning of a call to prayer in the background as I realized that my critic was from a part of the world where blondes of any age, size or shape were considered to be a prize.

“Almost 57,” I whispered, “but you’re supposed to guess 40!” (My vanity wasn’t going to take that high of a number lying down!)

“Too much makeup,” he shrugged, handing me back my debit card and receipt.

I grabbed my bag and my bruised ego and made a run for it.

Note to self: next time, stick with a drive-thru. Taco Bell really isn’t so terrible…right?






Back on the right (wrong) coast

I’ve lived in Oregon for 22 years now. When I first moved across country from South Carolina to the west coast with #1, I was so busy learning to be an Oregonian (and trying to forget the life that we ran away from) that it was seven years before I finally came back east to see my family. These days, I’m a better daughter/sister/aunt, and I travel the 2320 miles (as the crow flies) once or twice a year.

Currently, I’m on my second trip this year back to S.C. and, so far, it’s been a doozy…

  • I had boiled peanuts for the first time in about 25 years (it may have been that they came from a gas station, but I think I can go another 25 without them and be just fine)
  • I had the worst Starbucks of my life (Portland does ruin you for some things)
  • I ran into childhood TV host Mr. Knozit (Joe Pinner) while out at dinner (and forced him to talk to me)
  • I tried on eye glasses at Walmart and had to explain to the nice lady that yes, I do in fact have a head so enormous that I have to wear men’s glasses (she didn’t believe me until I tried on the lady glasses just to show her how strangely tiny they looked. Thanks, Walmart lady…thanks a lot.)
  • I went to the movies with the entire family (Mama, Lynnie AND the niece and nephew) for the first time EVER (and no seat arms were harmed)
  • I arrived and it was 80 degrees – two days later we woke up to heavy snow (the earliest snow they’ve EVER had here). Thanks, Al Gore Roker.
  • I listened to my sister Lynnie yelling at the Gamecocks (that actually has happened this early in the year) and
  • I discovered the true beauty of Adult Swim TV (thank you, Nephew! Oh Rick and Morty…where have you been all my life?)

The best is yet to come though…today my sissy is going to make her famous fried pork chops for dinner, along with rice with (real) gravy, roasted Brussel sprouts and Sweetie Pie’s macaroni and cheese. I may need an extra seat for the trip back to the other coast…but it’ll be worth it!


Oh Mr. Knozit…you haven’t changed a bit!

Write something, DUMMY!

I remember sitting on the beach in Morocco thinking that I needed to write a book. I had no idea what it would be about, but I already had the title: Funny…Peculiar. It was just sitting there in my head…waiting for me to do something with it. I decided to ignore it, but a year or so later I ran across my journal from the Morocco trip, and I reread my book title notes. For a brief minute I considered the book idea again, but it turns out that, in order to write a book, you need to have something to write about.

“Now what?” I thought to myself.

I ended up just ignoring the whole thing for a few more years. No way did I have anything to really say to anyone! Every once in a while though, I’d get a little twinge in my gut (“WRITE SOMETHING, DUMMY!”), but I’m really good at ignoring those twinges…it’s one of my many super powers.

Just under a year ago I went to a birthday party for a friend and struck up a conversation with a gal I’d just met. We talked about our careers for a bit, but eventually ended up with me sharing a bit of my story. I talked about how I ended up in Oregon after moving from South Carolina (without having a clue as to where we’d end up), my crazy ex-husbands, selling comic books and my perspectives on the Northwest after growing up in Hooterville (aka Columbia, S.C.) We chuckled and she pushed for more and more, eventually asking if I’d written any of it down. She seemed stunned when I answered that I hadn’t.

“Well damn it….DO IT!” she prompted. “You HAVE TO!”

“Sure, um…I know I need to…I um, just haven’t gotten around to it. I’ll really try…” I mumbled, not meaning a word of what I was saying.

Over the next few days though, I started feeling that twinge-y feeling in my gut again. This time, however, it gradually morphed into a burning feeling that I couldn’t ignore away, and no amount of Tums or Pepcid helped. I tossed in my sleep, not quite sure what was keeping me awake, and I listlessly wandered around my house, sort of poking stuff…looking for something to read or watch or paint…or DO. Nothing satisfied me, and I felt as though I’d lost something…but what?

In that synchronistic way that the universe has of ganging up on you when you’re missing a road sign you really should have followed, within a few days a friend sent me a link to “a funny writer you’d like”….and I was introduced to the bizarro world of Jenny Lawson. I listened a bit and was stopped in my tracks (even though I was sitting) with the realization that this woman was freaking hilarious…and that she mostly wrote stories about her crazy childhood and the things that happen in her everyday life! (You can DO THAT??? Who knew!)

I looked my new idol up online and found that she was a NY Times bestselling author and that her blog (The Bloggess) is one of the most successful out there. My (achingly slow) brain finally finished percolating and spit out the notion that maybe I, Tammy the non-blogger, could actually write small snippets from MY life and become (wait for it)… TammyInPDX…the blogger! (Yeah, let’s just say that I’m not exactly a rocket scientist…)

Now, while Jenny certainly has nothing to worry about, since last August I’ve managed to write 85 posts (including this one), I’ve had around 4500 post views, and I’ve gotten some really positive feedback. Most importantly, I’ve learned more about myself, the world, and my place in it with every post. At some point I will definitely be pulling all of this together into a book, even if I have to move a cot into Kinko’s to get it printed!

Thanks Jenny…you’re my hero. Thanks Rich for sharing Jenny with me, and thanks to Sarah for telling me to not listen to anyone else…to let my natural voice out and just WRITE.

And mostly, thanks to those of you who’ve read and, even better, have followed me or let me know that you enjoy my writing. To those of you who haven’t…don’t make me come over there!


Check out Doug Savage’s amazing post-it cartoons!


Just hanging at the airport

I’m sitting in the Chicago airport, waiting for a connecting flight. Airports are usually not the most fun places, but they do seem to hold a world of possibility with so many people crossing each other’s paths. I always figure that if I fly enough, I might just see a celebrity in a big airport like this one. I’m guessing that they don’t usually hang out at the Chili’s bar though, so I might be out of luck. I’ll bet if Nick Nolte or David Hassellhoff were passing through, they might end up next to me ordering the Skillet Queso and a cold one, but I was hoping for someone more like Oprah. Not likely.

Unfortunately, of my two most interesting airport sightings, one was a pigeon just wandering through the Newark airport, and the other was when I saw Willie Nelson’s butt in an airport in Hawaii (it was in jeans, and he wouldn’t turn around). To be honest, I was so mortified by my travel companion on that trip that I’m glad that Willie didn’t know we were stalking following him.

My travel partner was a boyfriend who wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and he had a way of doing exactly what would mortify me the most at any given point in time. He blamed his lack of quick thinking on a past with wayyyy too many drugs, but I don’t think he ever really had that many brain cells to spare. Luckily, what he lacked in brain function he made up for with sweetness, and he tried to smarten up for me, taking ginkgo biloba by the handful…”Baby, I gotta stay SHARP for you!”

My guy was so excited to be going to Hawaii that the minute we boarded our plane he started flashing the shaka ‘hang loose’ hand sign at everyone. Yeah…that one. Note that Elvis looks pretty cool doing it…my friend did not.

My BF didn't look this cool doing this, but he certainly thought he did!

The King…no ginkgo required

I smiled and figured that a little of the touristy thing is ok once or twice…but he kept it up, and every single human being who crossed our path for the next WEEK was greeted with a goofy smile and the wagging hand gesture. Sometimes they got BOTH HANDS.

It wasn’t his only infraction…there was a long list. Among them, he called the hotel front desk to ask them if they were charging us for that call, stood on live coral after being shooed off several times, frequently walked away from his bags in the airport (in spite of the taped “Do NOT leave your bags unattended!” mantra), asked a lot of strange questions and generally just gawked at the world. I guess the only saving grace was that Willie didn’t turn around in the airport to be shaka-d to death!

I don’t fault my friend for not being worldly, but I did say ‘Aloha’ to him soon after we returned from our trip. It just wasn’t a good match, and it turns out that I was okay hanging loose all by myself.

I imagine, though, that ginkgo biloba sales in the Portland area dropped significantly…sorry, GNC.

To my sister from another mister

My dear friend’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s day. In years past we’ve celebrated it in a few exotic locations, but this year we’re both in town and going to an Irish bar for a traditional St. Patty’s party. We’ll have fun. I can say this in confidence because no matter WHAT we do we always have fun. We’ve traveled around the world and laughed at strange customs, settings and situations, and at even stranger people…but we always had fun and were able to laugh mostly at ourselves. Sabrina, this is for you.

I’ve learned so much from you, my friend. You’ve shared times with me that I never would have had and, more importantly, you’ve helped me understand how to really enjoy those times in a way I never would have, had you not been in my life. Without you, I never would have learned from the drunk Japanese tourists in Munich to always, “…have the maximum experience!” I would never have been able to marvel at ‘Berber Logic’ (“Pay me half now, and you can come back tomorrow to pay me the other half…Berber Credit! Oh, I promise I’ll be here…no worries!”)

T&S on the wall

Sorry that your eyes are closed in one of the only photos of us together! Wall-sitting in Morocco.

We’ve spent some amazing days together, exploring the markets of Marrakesh, dancing after hours in Kehei while (unbeknownst to us) the drummer from Soundgarden checked you out (“I don’t know the question, but the answer is yes!”…Creepy much?) We’ve partied the night away in many different time zones, ridden camels together (remind me again why I thought that mumu was a good idea?) and dodged a few unsavory sorts (some of whom I wasn’t even dating!)

My favorite day together was the one we spent in the hospital, waiting for your daughter to arrive. Being there when she came into the world was a precious gift indeed, and one that I’m so grateful for.

You’ve done much to help me gain the confidence to really live this life I’ve been blessed with. Your feedback and advice has been so important to me, and even when it didn’t seem like I was listening…I was. You’ve believed in me and have been a positive, clear voice in my life. Thank you for all of the wisdom you’ve shared…you truly are a wise woman.

I hope this year is the best one yet for you, my friend. Your presence in my life is a gift, and you deserve everything that life has to offer. I look forward to many more years of friendship and adventures!

Happy birthday, sister girl.

Don’t send me to a damn desert island without mascara

desertThis post is in response to a prompt for the five items I couldn’t live without on a deserted island. Like many of the other posts I read, my first thoughts included things relating to food (a fishing rod or pile of freeze-dried meals), protection or tools (machete, Swiss army knife), companionship (mate or pet), protection from the elements (tarp or tent), and the other things you would need to physically survive. Then there were those who said cell phone…really? What would you do with it, cause you can’t take a signal with you? I can only imagine the selfies….no thanks.

So then I got to thinking…what would really make my life tolerable? Not to just keep me alive, but make it ok to BE alive? Here’s what I came up with:

1. A crate of Pilot G2 gel pens. A BIG crate…black…medium point. (Don’t even think about sending me with those cheap-ass BIC things!)

2. I’m taking my OCD with me, so I’ll need a stockpile of gridded paper. You know, those pads of 8.5×11″ paper filled with light blue gridlines…the ones that you can use to make anything look tidyI’ll need to keep a journal, draw cartoons, write letters that will never be sent, and make an infinite number of lists, so the pile need to be a BIG one.


They should sell this at REI in the ‘survival tools’

3. A case of mascara with an attached mirror…yes it exists! (See what I did there…it’s only ONE THING.) I figure I won’t need to use it every day, but there will be times when a girl just needs to feel pretty. And what if someone else lucks out and ends up on the island with me? If they’re male, well, I need all the help I can get. If they’re not, then the odds are in their favor that they’ll have eyelashes that can be seen (unlike my super blonde, almost clear ones). If there’s an island beauty contest I refuse to be the loser without at least putting up a fight!

4. An amazingly huge pile of crossword puzzle books. NOTE: I will need the pile of aforementioned gridded paper to be larger than the pile of puzzle books, so that when these run out I can make my own crosswords. (I figure multiple uses for items is important on this excursion.)

5. A few oil drums filled with OLIVE OIL. I’m going to assume that I can make fire (I mean, I’ve only watched about a million of those survival reality TV shows), and any fish that I do happen to have will taste much better cooked with a little grease on em. I could also use it for hair conditioner, and to keep my skin soft. I’m sure that there are other uses that will occur to me…ahem.

I guess the takeaways from this exercise are that yes, I really am as shallow as I was afraid I was, and I seem to be quite easily entertained. Since being stuck on an island with tons of paper and pens is probably the only way I’m really going to write that book I’ve been threatening, maybe it would actually be a good thing. And then I could read it….more multi-purposing!

Poolish behavior

I’ve never been much of a swimmer. What I am good at is sitting by the pool…in the shade…with a beverage. That’s what I’m doing right now, but using the laptop is requiring even more shade than normal (which my pasty white legs are pretty happy about).

We are staying at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, and it’s pretty damn swanky…people wait on you hand and foot and act like they actually like you (that’s part of the reason it costs so much). Most of the guests are fairly snooty…and then there’s me and my gal pal S. We’re pretty down home and I like talking to people…it’s just my way. The young woman serving us drinks by the pool and I just discussed that her teeth are beautiful, and that she should (based on my personal experience) wear her retainer at night…even though she doesn’t like to. She helped us pull up a second sun umbrella to guard my whiteness, and is taking very good care of us. (Hubby #1 commented…on our first real dinner date…that he was surprised that I talked to ‘the help’ so much. Like I said…I’m friendly.)

2013-10-31 13.16.42

This really doesn’t suck

Working vacations are interesting. You have a foot in both worlds, and you just hope that the fun world wins (it rarely does). I figure that at least I have an excuse to start drinking during the day while finishing up my work, (I mean, come on…they bring it to you at the pool!) and the food is really good.

I’m finishing this post several hours later in the hotel room, after a bunch of amazing (but way overpriced) room service food. When I left the pool for the day, the same server with the beautiful smile told me that she’d miss me, and that she wished that I was going to be here tomorrow. I told her that we have to move to a different hotel, but that I really appreciated the service. Then I told her that she needs to tell her boyfriend that maybe she’s just not ready to be a mom to his two kids…yeah, so what if I am the Dr. Phil of talking to the help!?