Ants: A Triumph of the Soul

They say Albert Schweitzer fed the ants in his house because he had a reverence for life. I say he had Stockholm Syndrome. Still, as a graduate of Schweitzer Elementary, it’s always with a vague sense of guilt that I wipe away those first few ants of the rainy season.

For some reason, every year I think those first few will be the only ones. Then the next day I think, “No big deal, I can wipe up ten every morning. At least they’re not getting to the food.”

But this year, as with every year, soon there were fifty each morning. We bought traps for outside and pet safe orange peel spray* for inside. Our house smelled orangey fresh. It was almost a good thing we had ants. It smelled like we were riding Soarin’ Over California in Disneyland. Yes. Except for the time the spray ricocheted off a doorframe and into my eye, it was exactly like going to Disneyland.

Gradually everything we owned made its way to the refrigerator. Do ants like coffee beans? I don’t know, but the beans went into the fridge just in case. We started to have avalanches every time we tried to get something to eat, but at least the ants weren’t getting to the food.

One morning I took an open bag of Reese’s Pieces out of the fridge, shoved the avalanche back in (was that a baseball glove?) and set my candy on the counter to thaw while I got ready for work. Twenty minutes later I threw the bag on the passenger seat and munched on peanut buttery goodness all the way down Stony Point Road. Then, sitting at a red light, I saw it. One single ant crawling its way out of the bag and across the seat. Slowly, I brought the bag closer and peered in.

How to describe the feeling you get when you see movement among your Reese’s Pieces. Repulsion? Horror? Anger? When I got home eight hours later, the kitchen was as bad as I feared. They were everywhere.

And that’s when I lost it. “What if I build you a little fairy house outside and put sugar cubes in it? No, the neighbors would be mad if I invited every ant in town.” Yes, I was talking to the ants. Nothing was ever going to stop them. I was a captive in my own house.

No! Not a captive! A humanitarian. I was like Albert Schweitzer. “I suppose you may as well make yourselves comfortable,” I told them. I wasn’t crazy. It was a triumph of the soul.

* Still wipe this spray up as the bottle instructs. I didn’t and I think it gave my cat seizures.



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Physical Comedy Lesson One: How to Drop Groceries

Physical Comedy 

Lesson One: How to Drop Groceries

1. Buy one 4-pound bag dog food, one 14-ounce carton Haagen-Dazs chocolate chocolate chip ice cream (get the ice cream insurance plan if offered), and one small bag chips.

2. Leave checkstand.  Hold dog food bag in crook of left arm, ice cream in right hand, and balance chips on top of the dog food and the ice cream. Don’t balance them too well. Well-balanced groceries always look like they’re dropped on purpose.

3. Exit store.

4. Wait until a man walking toward the store is about 10 feet in front of you. (This part is crucial.)

5. Lower ice cream just enough for the chips to slide off.

6. Try to catch chips by taking a few of your fingers off the ice cream, lunging forward, and attempting to snatch chip bag between fingers and ice cream carton.

7. Fail. (See #8 for details.)

8. Throw ice cream at the approaching person. Make sure carton rolls off your fingers so that it continues its roll right up to the man’s feet.

9. Try to come up with zippy one-liner. It’s funnier if you fail and say something dumb, like “right to ya.”

10. Accept ice cream from laughing man who has picked it up for you. Here’s where having another person in your incident  scene is crucial. You’ll only know you’ve perfected your slapstick if he looks like he’s trying not to laugh but can’t keep it in.

I hope you’ve learned a lot from my first installment of physical comedy lessons learned from real life. If you’d like to know what I create when I’m actually TRYING to be funny, please find my fairy tale comedy Littlefoot Part One on Kindle.



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5 Reasons New Year’s is the Best Holiday

1. Obsessing about yourself

We obsess about ourselves all year long, of course, but suddenly our list of things we want to be and do becomes socially acceptable. Oh look! Tallulah wants to lose ten pounds and finish her novel! We hit “like” instead of rolling our eyes and scrolling our screen. Because New Year’s!

2. No religious obligation

With New Year’s, there’s no wondering if you’ve spent too much on gifts to still be able to say it’s about the baby Jesus. There’s no wondering whether someone’s going to bite your head off for saying “Happy Holidays.” It’s Happy Freaking New Year for people of all ages, genders, races, and religions.

3. Staying up until midnight

As adults, we stay up until midnight all the time, but don’t you remember the thrill of getting to stay up that late when you were a kid? And the great thing for us insomniacs is that we know our friends will be up until midnight tonight, too, so we don’t have to watch TV by ourselves wondering who else is up. We come alive at a New Year’s Eve party and our friends wonder if we’re on drugs, but no. This is our time. They’re on our turf now. The night turf.

4. Sparkly stuff

Outside of music videos, when else do grown men wear giant pink sparkly glasses with the year emblazoned on them? We should have this much freedom all year, I say. And what’s with all the friends on social media saying “call me if you are too drunk to drive” this one night of the year? Why can’t I have the freedom to get blasted on Valentine’s Day? Can’t I call you then?

5. End of the holiday season

The holidays were magical, weren’t they? And exhausting. Some people love New Year’s because 2016’s going to be EPIC. Some of us are just glad the holidays are over, and come to think of it, that a whole sucky year is over. It’s a holiday that works for optimists and pessimists alike!

Happy Freaking New Year Everybody!


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Bible Verses for Insomniacs

I have a favorite verse for when I can’t sleep, so today I was toying with the idea of writing another devotional, this one based on verses for insomniacs. However, at this point, I only have enough verses to get you through about week of sleepless nights, so I’m just going to make it one blog entry. Because there’s a chance (a small chance if you’re an insomniac) that you’ll fall asleep mid blog, I’m using my favorite insomniac verse first instead of saving it for last.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (Proverbs 19:23) 

If you fear the Lord, you will confess your sins and be forgiven, which will eliminate one reason for sleeplessness. Nagging guilt. You know the phrase “How can you sleep at night?” Well, no offense, but if you can’t sleep, you might want to take a moment before reading the rest of this and ask for forgiveness for a few things. I’ll wait.

(whistles Amazing Grace)

Okay. Another reason fearing the Lord might help you sleep is that if you understand how vastly powerful God is compared to men, you won’t be afraid of anything on earth. Fearing anything other than God is definitely NOT good for sleep. Trust me. Every night I pray for protection from fire, earthquakes, intruders, and war. This list was perfected over time by adding everything that’s ever kept me up at night. I add “accidents” to cover any other bases, like planes crashing into the house. If I recognize the fearsome power of God to protect me, I banish all other fear from my mind. Take THAT, bump in the night! Psalm 4:8 says In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

I mean, Jesus slept in a boat during a storm that covered the boat with waves. The disciples came and woke Him, all crybaby “We’re gonna die! Save us!” Then Jesus said “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” and, like a boss, He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm. (from Matthew 8:26) Who am I to fear an earthquake that may or may not happen, when these guys weren’t even supposed to fear a storm THAT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

Anyway, enough about fear.

Proverbs 3:19-26 is about keeping God’s wisdom close to you so that when you lie down, you will not be afraid, and your sleep will be sweet. (I would whistle “The Perfect Wisdom of Our God” while you thought about wisdom, but I don’t know it. I just found it when I Googled “songs about God’s wisdom.” The lyrics look good though. Check it out. It’s by Stuart Townend, a fave, and Keith Getty.)

Maybe you’re awake because you subconsciously think sleep to be a waste of time. After all, Proverbs 6:10 and 20:13 make it sound like we’re lazy if we sleep. But I’m sure these verses only refer to people who sleep when they should be working. Psalm 127:2 says It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. God doesn’t need sleep. Let him work for you while you take a nice little rest. He loves you!

Even Paul, sort of a demanding guy if you ask me, lists sleeplessness among such difficulties as beatings, imprisonments and hunger. (2 Corinthians 6:5) It is okay to need sleep. Let yourself sleep.

Really, almost any Bible verse could be recommended for insomniacs. 1. You might as well be learning about God since you can’t sleep, and 2. Reading the Word of God brings peace, which might bring sleep.

Well, if this unedited blog hastily written at 1 A.M. hasn’t already bored you into sleep (I’ll stop whistling now as not to keep you awake) I have one more passage to recommend. Joshua chapter 12. Good night!




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Top 10 Reasons You Should Hire Me

10. I only steal gluten free lunches.

9. Perfect face for phone and email communication.

8. Office party designated driver.

7. Internet IQ tests going around Facebook tell me I’m anywhere between “above average” and “genius.”

6. I taught 4th – 8th grade band for ten years. Could your job possibly throw anything more challenging at me?

5. (Your business name here) is my favorite business.

4. I need a new washing machine.

3. I hate travel, so I’m always around.

2. My faith dictates that I love you even if you’re a horrible boss.

1. I finish projects even if I think they’re stupid.*


*I finished this list, didn’t I?


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This Generation Missing Out on Poison Oak and Skin Cancer

Right as there’s a trending video (actually an advertisement) showing some perfectly happy kids who say their favorite thing to do is play video games (the horror), my husband comes home from a hiking trip with a tick bite and some very tenacious poison oak. The parents in the advertisement talk about the good old days climbing trees and then look devastated when they hear that their kids prefer video games. All I know is that our trips to the ER with our daughter have always begun with the good old outdoors and that we’ve had a blast playing safe and triumphant Mario Kart races.

I remember growing up outdoors. I remember bee stings and bullies. I remember stepping in dog poop with my bare feet and sun exposure that I’ll likely pay for soon.

So folks, I’m not advertising anything, unlike the video with the despondent parents of gamers. I’m just saying (as my husband reapplies his Calamine lotion) that this generation of kids might not have a childhood like we had, but new is not bad. My daughter and her friends are smart, social, generous, and for the most part, poison oak free. And they’re happy.

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Interview Tips for the Rest of Us

I had my first real interview the other day. I’d read the tips — dress well, research the company, have questions — but here are some extra tips I came up with after my interview.

1. Pretend you’re not crazy.

My interview took place on the third floor. When I walked in, I immediately looked for the stairs because I have this “fear of entrapment” thing. (Different than claustrophobia, I learned from my friend Lance after telling him about the time I tried to pry open some elevator doors after being “stuck” for about 12 seconds.) The place I had my interview wasn’t a large building, so I was perplexed when I couldn’t find the staircase. I decided to ask one of the ground floor people.

Me: Hi, where are the stairs?

Lady: Hmm, I don’t know. Joe, do you know where the stairs are?

Joe: I don’t know.

Me (Incredulous): What are you guys going to do in an earthquake?

Joe: I never go on the other floors.

Lady to a man behind me: Hey Aaron, do you know where the stairs are?

Aaron: No.

Me: Hey, are you the Aaron I’m meeting at eleven?

Aaron (Looking scared of the crazy lady who asked what everyone was going to do in the event of an earthquake): Yes.

I should have just sucked it up and taken the freaking elevator in the first place. Which leads me to my second tip.

2. Your interview starts the second you enter the building.

That was one awkward elevator ride with Aaron. I should have had my game face on the moment I entered the building. Plus, I didn’t get to do my Wonder Woman pose in the stairwell. (See the TED Talk on this subject.)

3. Pretend you like yourself.

Aaron and Abby interviewed me. At least let’s pretend those are their names. Let’s also pretend that they work for a local radio station.

Aaron: And your creative writing skills?

Me: I think they’re good.

Abby (Trying to help me out): Your resume says you’ve won two writing contests?

Me: Oh. Yeah.

Crickets: Chirp.

Really. I said “Oh. Yeah.” And then nothing else. Did I even want this job? Also, when they asked what I knew about their station, I actually said “Not much.” Not much?! I had read every word on every page of their website. I knew more about “radio stations” in general than probably 99% of the population. Do I hate myself? Well, maybe a little, but this was the day to pretend otherwise.

4. Pretend you like other people.

After many short answers like the above, which always came after five seconds of my searching my brain for an answer that wouldn’t make me look stupid, I was asked, “What’s your biggest pet peeve related to other people?” And this is the question I answer almost before she’s done asking it?


Smooth. Great time to come alive. All my talk about how easy I was to work with was negated by my pet peeve fervor. How were they to know that I have my pet peeves listed, and that’s why my answer came to me so quickly? I could have at least told them that this was only third on my pet peeve list, the first two being gory commercials during family friendly TV shows, and leaf blowers.


On the way out, I found the stairs. I took them down, and I came out an ugly little door not in the lobby, but outside. When the door closed, I tried to open it, just out of curiosity. It was locked. I guess the stairs are for emergencies only. No offense to those who work there, but I still think it’s kind of funny that I discovered all this about the stairwell my first time in the building and no one else had ever been curious about whether a building in California had stairs.

I didn’t get the job. I had a good resume and great references. I read the interview tips. I had my pants pressed. I had a question prepared. My only desire now is that my lameness could maybe benefit you when you have an interview. Hide the phobias, pretend you like yourself and others, and for heaven’s sake, be ready to meet your interviewer on the first floor — even in the parking lot. I’m not going to lie. It was kind of my dream job. But at least I won’t have to take an elevator every day.


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