Sunday, October 24, 2010

Are the grocery store chains conspiring together to ruin my life?

I live in a rather remote suburb of Birmingham. I also appreciate good, fresh food. The combination of these two facts should not, one would think, present THAT much of a problem. Wrong.

When my husband and I married, I moved from the Trussville area (read: seconds from a Publix and a Winn-Dixie...minutes from a Food World and a Target) to Moody (read: Grocery Store Hell). The city of Moody itself boasted only a Food World (meager, but acceptable...also very convenient to home). Nearby Leeds had a Food Giant and a Wal-mart. My grocery store situation has been the bane of my existence for the past 3 and a half years.

Food World was fine. It served my needs. While it sometimes lacked the specific brand name I was looking for or the bizarre, uncommon ingredient for which my recipe was generally okay. It was also less than half a mile from my house. Alas, this relationship could not last. When the Bruno's/Food World conglomerate began to dissolve and store closings were rumored, I remember commenting to my husband, "They can't close ours! There's no way! It will NEVER shut down! It's ALL WE HAVE!"


Food World's closing left me with only two options...Food Giant and Wal-mart. That is to say, those are the only grocery stores within a reasonable driving distance from my house. I would also like it noted that the closing of my Food World corresponded with the closing of the Bruno's next to my only other source of acceptable grocery shopping that didn't require me to veer off my normal course on my drive home from work. Hello, insult!

Since the onset of my plight, I've given my two remaining establishments equal opportunity to prove me wrong. Fail. Let's begin with Wal-mart. It's too crowded. The brands are too limited. The meat is awful...and expensive. The people are just weird...did I mention I'm positive that 99% of the "People of Wal-mart" were photographed in my very own Wal-mart?! Its redeeming qualities? Wal-mart is often cheaper on most packaged products. Also their Great Value brand has really stepped up its game here lately.

Now on to Food Giant...oh, my, my, my...where to begin. How about a list of some of this store's more major offenses that I've encountered over the course of several months...?

*gnats swarming the red onions
*fresh salmon is gray in color?
*no couscous whatsoever
*zucchini sold only in cellophane-wrapped packs of three
*every single half-gallon of skim milk expires tomorrow
*only TWO...count ', two...different varieties of frozen pizzas
*no fresh snow peas...not even in a bag
*lady fingers?!?!?!...what are THOSE?!

Food Giant's perks? Pretty much all I can say is that I have gotten some decent meat for a reasonable price (excluding the above-mentioned salmon). Each time I patronize this store, I come home with high blood pressure and swearing that I'll never return. Then again, what choice do I have?

We're currently getting ready to put our house on the market. So we've been visiting open houses and scoping out homes online. We're fairly educated buyers. Which means we know the three important characteristics for good real estate: Location, Location, Location (read: Near a Publix, Near a Publix, Near a Publix)! Because honestly that is all I care about on this next go-around. Forget the hideousness of the seafoam green tile in the bathroom, the outdated paisley dining room wallpaper, or even the shag carpet in the half-finished basement...JUST GIVE ME A DECENT GROCERY STORE!!!!

Q: Are the grocery store chains conspiring together to ruin my life?!
A: Yes, in their own unique ways. Food World, by closing. Wal-mart, by constantly attracting hordes of freaks. Food Giant, by consistently managing to suck. Publix, by continuing to elude me...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

get-up (noun), informal: a costume or outfit, especially one that is striking or bizarre

"I fear that I'm sporting a 'get-up'," I typed to two of my co-workers this morning, in response to an email requesting my participation in a trip downstairs to the cafe for coffee. This is a term with which we're all very familiar. We frequently use it to refer to an outfit that we're sporting that seems a little bit thrown together.
The term was first introduced to me as a child. Since we lived so far from "town," my mother often didn't come home on Wednesday nights to get me ready for church when my father was working a shift that allowed him to be home with me and bring me himself. Dad, or in later years even I myself, would be responsible for getting me dressed and presentable for church.
As it were, my father has never been accused of being on the cutting edge of fashion. I, on the other hand, was quite the creative dresser. I loved mixing up a variety of combinations of garments, accessories, shoes, etc. Some personal favorites were suspenders, BIG earrings, and layers of scrunch socks. So, much to my mother's dismay, I often arrived for church wearing God only knows what kind of crazy combination of my (and sometimes even HER) clothing. I vividly remember a telephone conversation with her on one particular Wednesday, where she was giving me instructions for what to do before church, and she said, "Oh, and wear an actual outfit...not some get-up of yours."
Her criticism didn't stop with me either. I laugh when I think of the first time my mother met a co-worker of mine (one who was involved in today's "get-up" or "no get-up" verdict). We were in a store, when suddenly I heard my mother whisper, "Well, my goodness...that girl has jeans on under her dress..." I turned to see who/what she was talking about, and then shocked my mother by catching the fashion offender's attention by yelling, "Harmony...HEY!" My mother stared, bewildered, through the introductions.
I should interject here than I'm NO fashionista, by any stretch of the imagination. I'm generally more comfortable in jeans, a T-shirt, and flip-flops and have little interest in sporting the latest trends. That being said, I do love to shop, love a bargain, and from time-to-time..inspired by my childhood creativity or maybe even peer pressure...I will occasionally go out on a limb. Today was one such day.
Dressed in a short, beige, ruffled baby-doll dress, jeggings (the more modern and acceptable cousin of the jort), and cognac-colored flats...I was definitely the proud wearer of a "get-up," in my opinion. My friends, however, affirmed me as we headed downstairs. They told me my outfit was fine, it looked cute, blah-blah-blah...and then came the true test.
I was making my cup of coffee, and a lady older than my mother came up alongside me. I noticed that she was giving me the infamous up-and-down look. Here we go, I thought. She acknowledge me, smiled, and then said, "Well, you've got the idea haven't you?" I stared back blankly. "That's cute," she said, motioning at my outfit. "Thanks," I said. "I told my friends it's what my mother would call a 'get-up'." She thought on that for a second and then laughed. "Yes. I guess it is," she said. She laughed again. She was still laughing as I walked away.
The lesson here? A get-up will always be...a get-up. There's no changing that. The trick comes in making the right get-up work in the right era and for the right audience. That last party is key. If someone doesn't approve of your get-up, maybe it's not you. It could be them!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do I suffer from A.D.D.?

Yesterday I had one big thing I needed to get done. One. That's all. I didn't. Get it done, that is. Here's a list of what I DID get done, along with the corresponding photos:

-5 loads of laundry washed

-dishwasher full of dishes loaded/unloaded

-counters wiped down spotlessly clean

-pathetic attempt at a run


-sorted giant mound of crap that's been hanging in our laundry room

It appears I regressed back to a similar state that I used to experience in college. Perhaps some of you know it. It's the phenomenon where you have something for which you need to prepare. Maybe a test, a big project, or even a final. You need to study. You know you do. But you just don't.
I would surmise that the days leading up to my most complex college finals/projects were also the times that my dorm room or house was the cleanest, most orderly, and free of any and all dirty laundry. I would literally do ANYTHING to avoid studying. Some of the more random things I remember doing as an alternative: playing tennis with my roommate until we both almost died (a.k.a. 20 minutes), spending every waking minute for days putting together a 1000 piece puzzle, watching back-to-back recorded episodes (VHS!) of Dawson's Creek. Ahhhh, those were the days!
I would also like to submit that, in joking about having A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder), I am not making light of those who actually suffer from this condition. I am not mocking them. I am identifying with them. I, like I assume many others do, always mistakenly thought that people who deal with A.D.D. have trouble focusing. I pictured them to be hyper, spastic, and just all over the place. THAT, I'm not. But then I read an article. (I can't remember where. I rarely do. Another symptom, perhaps? I can't be sure.) While I can't remember when or where, I do remember one quote that really brought everything into perspective for me. Allow me to paraphrase loosely. The gist of the statement was that "people who suffer from A.D.D. don't have a problem with their ability to focus. They're extremely focused. They're just extremely focused...on something else."
That was a defining moment for me. After reading that description, I became convinced. I definitely suffer from some sort of manageable level of A.D.D. I say "manageable" because it doesn't seem to affect, to any noticeable degree, my day-to-day life. I mean, there's the occasional situation where I suddenly realize I've been out of touch for the past 10 minutes of my conference call because I've been intensely studying a hangnail. And then there's the seemingly routine shower where I step out to realize I've been in there 20 minutes and I have NO IDEA where all that time went! Please tell me someone else can identify!
I hate to enable or justify my behavior (because clearly I don't intend to seek any treatment), almost seems like the shoe fits. I'm easily distracted and, once side-tracked, have a hard time refocusing. I can spend ungodly amounts of time focusing on something so unbelievably mundane that it should have bored me after a few minutes. And I complete the most undesirable tasks imaginable, just to avoid the things I really need to be doing. Yep, I'd say the diagnosis is clear.

Q: Do I suffer from A.D.D.?
A: Ohhh, look at the pretty butterfly!