Southern Inhospitality

The struggle of being a former New Yorker/Washingtonian/Arizonan in an excessively friendly southern state is all too real.

One of the hardest things about being a transplant in the south is the challenging adjustment of having to talk to people.

Especially extraordinarily friendly people, because they make me feel like a sorry excuse of an ill-mannered human being.

For someone naturally reserved, such unexpected conversations with enthusiastic random strangers can be grounds for a full-blown anxiety attack.

On an exceptionally good day, I can plaster on my most natural fake smile.

Then I cross my fingers, in hopes that my face won’t actually freeze that way.

Especially if I am unintentionally bearing teeth.

When I’m out walking around my neighborhood and people go beyond the perfunctory wave and vocalize their greeting, or worse, initiate a conversation?

What am I supposed to do then?

The obvious answer, of course, is to make a run for it.

I go outside to throw away the trash in my pjs in broad daylight and the neighbor twelve houses down to the left with the terrifying horse-sized Scottish Deerhound smiles and starts waving a little too enthusiastically.

My typical instinct is to discreetly crouch down and scuttle away like the stealthy ninja that I am.

Suddenly, my brain is rapidly firing off panic signals.

Crap! You made eye contact! What were you thinking?

“How ya doing? Nice day out, don’t ya think?”

Great. Now the neighbor wants to make conversation while you’re standing outside like a fool in your Hello Kitty pajamas!

“A shame about that field being plowed down for another housing development, ain’t it? Where all them cows gonna go now?”

Might as well be standing outside naked. Maybe that’d be less awkward.

Must. Get. Out.

Quick! Excuse yourself! Get out of there NOW!

The last time I had been caught off guard by a neighbor, I managed to back out of there after a record time of 1 minute and 28 seconds.

By pleading a bathroom emergency.

Classy, I know.

But it was the best I could do after my overactive brain presented the pitiful excuse on a silver platter.

Yet once again, my brain is tasked with conjuring up “logical” excuses while my neighbor continues on with his riveting monologue about cows.

I’ve narrowed down my choices.

I have to go because:

a) Dinner is almost ready, and I need to go turn the oven off

b) The house is now on fire because dinner has been in the oven 5 minutes too long

c) The kids are beating each other within inches of their lives with Nerf swords

d) All of the above

While all of these seem like perfectly rational justifications, I naturally go with the most plausible one.

The house is on fire.

Not seeing the thick gray smoke?

Really?

Well, gotta go! See ya later!

~Happy Friday, friends! I’m sure all my fellow introverts out there can relate to this one all too well. Have a fantastic weekend!~

I made eye contact, and now it's all over. This must be the end.

I made eye contact, and now it’s all over. This must be the end.

(Southern Inhospitality originally appeared on Comically Quirky on 8/6/15)

Beep Beep Bo Bleep

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Well, one thing’s for certain:

There’s no escaping reality.

Fire! Fire! Carbon monoxide warning! Get out! Get out!

No.

Not this crap again.

But this time around, it wasn’t merely the obnoxious chirping signifying a dead battery.

Or the smoke detector getting triggered by my disastrous attempts at cooking.

No.

This was a full-scale notification of distress, with every single alarm throughout the house screeching in synchronized cacophony.

At a ridiculously ungodly hour of the night.

Which is obviously when I do my clearest, most rational thinking.

I’m normally the world’s lightest sleeper.

Yet I jolted from a deep sleep in a state of utter confusion.

What was going on?

Was this seriously real?

The Bigly Bestest Doggie would probably know.

For surely, if anything were truly wrong, he’d alert us and then heroically save us the way Lassie saved Timmy.

Right?

Or not.

Loud noises terrify The Bigly Bestest Doggie.

And so he just laid there in his bed, looking for a cue of what to do next.

And then it hit me:

We had absolutely no concrete plan of action in place.

No clear-cut escape routes.

What the hell was wrong with us?

What kind of parents would wait for a moment like this to start planning?

I mean, we did have a plan.

Once upon a time.

In our old house.

But apparently we hadn’t given it any thought since moving several years ago.

Did I mention my husband was out of town for the evening on a business trip?

I briefly bemoaned my myriad of failures as a mother, figuring I’d probably drop dead from a panic attack anyway before my senses finally kicked in.

Only one kid stirred with all the commotion of the alarms.

The other zombie either somehow managed to sleep through it or simply didn’t want to be bothered to get out of bed.

My oldest demonstrated impressive priorities as he sleepily muttered that he couldn’t afford to spend $200 on another phone.

I forced both kids to move their butts and get out before rapidly searching for a potential source of fire.

After examining every single room, closet, and the garage, I dashed outside to check the perimeter.

The alarms were shockingly audible outside, too, their ear-splitting decibel enough to wake up the entire neighborhood.

Speaking of neighborhoods…

We just so happen to have a rather passive aggressive Facebook page for our development.

And while occasionally helpful, the discussions can get downright ugly sometimes.

I could almost picture it…

The audacity!

The nerve of those rude neighbors allowing their fire alarm to go off and disrupt our sleep!

The next time that happens there’d better be real flames bursting through the roof!

And why is that dog of theirs running frantically down the street?

Hello, animal control?

Fortunately, the alarm stopped on its own several minutes later.

Upon discovering it had been a false alarm, I got the boys settled back into bed for whatever was left of the evening,

I warily laid back in my own bed, unable and unwilling to sleep.

I could’ve sworn I felt a surge of heat as I thrashed around in bed.

Adrenaline?

Or was something really on fire?

I bolted out of bed to do another thorough check.

Then I noticed the flashing red light on a detector above my bed.

Something in my bedroom must’ve triggered the alarm.

But what?

A sadistic insect?

Unusually high humidity?

A defective smoke detector?

(Because that’d be incredibly comforting.)

Or was it my domestic ineptitude?

God knows I hadn’t dusted all that recently…

So I suppose that could’ve been it.

I’m far from coordinated when woken from a zombie-like state of sleep.

And you know what the best thing to do when you’re exhausted and can’t see straight?

That’s right!

Haul a gazillion-ton expandable ladder out of the garage!

And then attempt to drag  that ladder through the house without taking out a wall or knocking yourself out.

Obviously.

Isn’t that what any normal person would do?

That beast of a ladder could’ve reached the top of the Empire State Building.

Hell, that thing could’ve reached the top of Mount Everest.

But I couldn’t figure out how to open the monstrous thing.

And once I finally got it open, I didn’t pay any attention to the orientation of the battery when I yanked that sucker out of the alarm.

So I fumbled around with that for several more minutes.

Thank goodness it was only a false alarm.

But it was still downright scary.

And it showed just how ill prepared we were.

Which is even scarier.

The next day, the boys and I discussed fire safety and evacuation plans.

I think it’s safe to say that while we now have an effective plan in place, I also effectively scared the living crap out of them.

Now I’m worried if there’s ever another false alarm, they’re going to bolt out of bed and jump out their second-story windows without being 100 percent certain there’s actually an emergency.

I can picture it now.

Oh well.

Better safe than sorry.

Oh, and that ginormous ladder?

It’s still sitting in the middle of my bedroom, two weeks later.

But good news!

It’s being repurposed!

The ladder works surprisingly well as a clothes hanging rack.

The Industrial Look is fashionable, right?

Repurposing is awesome!

Beep beep bo bleep!

~Happy Friday, friends! Anyone here a fan of irony? Well, guess what? As I sat here typing this, my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the wail of tornado sirens and hail slamming vigorously against the windows. Fortunately, everyone is safe. But I think we’ve had enough fun for a while…~

Could this be the future of bedroom design? If so, I want due credit for starting this trend!

Could this be the future of bedroom design? If so, I want due credit for starting this trend!

Southern Inhospitality

The struggle of being a former New Yorker/Washingtonian/Arizonan in an excessively friendly southern state is all too real for this girl.

One of the hardest things about being a transplant in the south is the challenging adjustment of having to talk to people. Especially extraordinarily friendly people, because they make me feel like a sorry excuse of an ill-mannered human being.

For someone naturally reserved, such unexpected conversations with enthusiastic random strangers can be grounds for a full-blown anxiety attack.

On an exceptionally good day, I can plaster on my most natural fake smile.

Then I cross my fingers, in hopes that my face won’t actually freeze that way. Especially if I am unintentionally bearing teeth.

When I’m out bicycling around my neighborhood and people go beyond the perfunctory wave and vocalize their greeting, or worse, initiate a conversation? What am I supposed to do?

The obvious answer, of course, is to make a run for it.

I go outside to throw away the trash in my pjs in broad daylight and the neighbor twelve houses down to the left with the terrifying horse-sized Scottish Deerhound smiles and starts waving a little too enthusiastically.

My typical instinct is to discreetly crouch down and scuttle away like the stealthy ninja that I am.

Suddenly, my brain is rapidly firing off panic signals.

Crap! You made eye contact! What were you thinking?

“How ya doing? Nice day out, don’t ya think?”

Great. Now the neighbor wants to make conversation while you’re standing outside like a fool in your Hello Kitty pajamas!

“A shame about that field being plowed down for another housing development, ain’t it? Where all them cows gonna go now?”

Might as well be standing outside naked. Maybe that’d be less awkward.

Must. Get. Out.

Quick! Excuse yourself! Get out of there NOW!

The last time I had been caught off guard by a neighbor, I managed to back out of there after a record time of 1 minute and 28 seconds…by pleading a bathroom emergency.

Classy, I know. But it was the best I could do after my overactive brain presented the pitiful excuse on a silver platter.

Yet once again, my brain is tasked with conjuring up “logical” excuses while my neighbor continues on with his riveting monologue about cows.

I’ve narrowed down my choices.

I have to go because:

a) Dinner is almost ready, and I need to go turn the oven off

b) The house is now on fire because dinner has been in the oven 5 minutes too long

c) The kids are beating each other within inches of their lives with Nerf swords

d) All of the above

While all of these seem like perfectly rational justifications, I naturally go with the most plausible one.

The house is on fire.

Not seeing the thick gray smoke?

Really?

Well, gotta go! See ya later!

I made eye contact, and now it's all over. This must be the end.

I made eye contact, and now it’s all over. This must be the end.

The Cows Next Door

My neighbors are a bunch of cows.

I’m not even kidding. They truly are cows. There’s no beating around the bush. There’s no other way to describe them. They’re cows, plain and simple.

Brown cows, white cows, black cows. Brahman cows, Angus cows, Fighting Bull cows.

Cows with spots and a cow with… humps?

Maybe that one is some weird breed of horse. Or donkey.

Almost one year after arriving in No Man’s Land, I still know next to nothing about animals. Or farms. Or anything remotely country-related in general, for that matter.

Except for hay barrels. Those things are fairly self-explanatory. I mean, it’s barrel-shaped hay. Even I can figure that out.

Sadly, the only reason I even know for certain that those animals two blocks down the road from me are actually cows is because I asked my friend Michelle for confirmation.

To add insult to injury, I’m a vegetarian. So not only do I have cows for neighbors, I am also frequently forced to think about these poor cows’ sad existence.

Suffice it to say, I would highly prefer to not think about the fact that I’m driving past a field of somebody’s dinner tonight.

But I always console myself with the knowledge that most people have only “hunted” for their beef in the meat department of their local grocery store.

That makes it a bit easier for me to look these cows in the eyes.

And when I do gaze at the cows, I can’t help but wonder how in the world the notion of milking cows ever came about.

Did some drunken dude wander over to a random cow in the field during the middle of the night, thinking to himself, Hey, I wonder what this here fine animal got in his bladder? Well, don’t matter, ‘cause I’m thirsty, and whatever comes out of it, I’m gonna drink!

Yikes.

I don’t want to think about cows anymore. And after that line of thinking, I’ll never be able to look at them the same way.

Oh, and for the record, I do have real neighbors. They’re very nice, but I think they’re getting tired of being pelted by our stray baseballs while they’re out on their patio relaxing and drinking iced tea.

The cows, for their part, don’t seems to have any complaints.

Evidently, this is a cow.

Evidently, this is a cow.