What I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

September 4, 2013

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a ridiculously long time and I kind of feel bad about it. I feel particularly silly because it seems counterintuitive for a professional writer’s blog to be devoid of words. I’ll blame it on Shoemaker’s Children syndrome and just being really, really busy. After all, it’s the truth.

So, here I am. The list of things I could write about is as long as my arm. It ranges from my thoughts on current events to sharing fun little stories about work, married and family life, or remodeling a house (ugh!). None of that is on my mind today.

People often write up postmortems about life-changing events and I’ve got a litany of my own lately that range from a new marriage and moving, to a health issue, a couple of major projects I’ve undertaken, and so on. However, the learning experiences I’ve taken away from all of these events seem to boil down to one thing — and it predates the events themselves.

When you’re in the midst of The Very Important Things, it’s difficult to see what kind of person you’ll be when the dust settles. While I’ve learned a lot about myself in recent years, I’ve learned even more about the world around me and, specifically, the people in it.

It took me a long time to realize that for every poisonous person in this world there are double the genuinely good souls. I noticed a while back that I was spending too much time dealing with the former at the expense of the latter. I also noticed that poisonous people tend to pool together and I began making it a point to avoid those swamps. My life has been infinitely better for it.

Those of you who know me are aware that I have an exceptionally low tolerance for bullying that dates back to early childhood. As an adult, I was disappointed to discover that bullies still exist in the grown-up world, often slathered with a greasy sheen of manipulation to soften the edges.

I railed against such behavior in adults for a long time before I finally realized the answer was to simply cut off their food supply and not engage at all. It doesn’t stop the behavior, but it certainly removes the impact it has on my life. Bullies are a festering bacteria, but they can’t invade your ecosystem if you wash your hands.

I realized that the wonderful life-changing events I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy are a direct result of my refusal to wallow, rail, fight against, or challenge people who make it their life’s work to be assholes. Instead, I spend my time enjoying the opportunities that find people when they’re happy to the core.

Have you ever taken a hard look at people who try to force others to bend to their will? They look old, ravaged, and miserable (hint: they are). Contrast that with people who are happy, ambitious, and enrich the lives of those around them. They look peaceful (another hint: they are).

This was driven home to me recently when someone I haven’t seen in quite a long time came to visit. The last time he’d seen me, I was struggling with a situation brought on by someone who wanted their happiness to come at the expense of mine. The visitor remarked to Michael that I looked “radiant and serene,” and that the last time he’d seen me, well…not so much. That’s all the evidence I needed to know that I’ve made the right decisions.

So what does this have to do with lessons I’ve learned from life-changing events? Simply this. You only get one go-around on this planet. You can choose to spend it challenging desperate people with agendas but no life, or you can choose to spend it with people who have delightful lives and no agenda.

When you do, you’ll find that the life-altering events that come your way are enriching instead of draining. When you encounter a road block, you’ll have people to support you instead of people so wrapped up in their version of the world that all they bring to the table is anger at the “unfairness of it all.” Oh, please.

It seems to me that people are reluctant to walk away from poisonous situations because they’ll lose something important to them in the process. While that may happen temporarily, I’ve never seen it last. I’ve found that whatever precious-to-you tendrils have coiled themselves around a bad situation eventually lose their grip and head for a sunnier environment. Every single time.

Experience has taught me that not all bullies give up, especially when they refuse to realize that it’s their very actions that created the consequences they dislike so much. Let them tilt at windmills and just walk away. Toxic people create and thrive in toxic environments and I prefer to breathe clean air.

If you’re stuck wondering why things just don’t seem to go your way, take a look at what — or whom — is gaining from holding you back. If you’re spending all your energy pushing back against people who want it their way or no way at all, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Instead spend that energy on people who light up your life, be patient, and watch the things you thought you’d lost gravitate back to you.


You Don’t Scare Me

April 26, 2013

I posted this on Facebook this morning and I’m going to leave it here as well. It concerns the avalanche of factually-inaccurate memes that circulate around social media and why I’m sick of it.

I’ve tried to stay far, far away from this gun control debate but there’s one point that I can’t stay quiet about any longer (and it’s not about the gun laws themselves).

 

Many memes and “shares” claim we’re one step away from the days of Hitler if we change our laws. Here’s an article CITING HISTORIANS about why that is utter crap.

 

The reason this particular false meme bugs me is because I’m sick to death of the fear-mongering and hysteria surrounding so many of the things we’re debating as a society. It’s hard to have civilized discourse and, y’know, solve problems, when a group’s first line of defense is to play the fear card or, in some cases, bully people (“If you don’t share this, you don’t have a heart.”)

 

I see it in everything from public safety or policy debates to animal welfare concerns to attempts to raise awareness about health issues, and I’m tired of it. If you want me to hear your side of things or listen to your elevator pitch about what concerns you, stick with facts. I’m more than willing to have my mind changed or be enlightened about things I misunderstand, but don’t come at me waving fear flags or insinuating there’s something wrong with me if I don’t capitulate. I simply won’t listen.

 

We are in a technologically wonderful age. We have the ability to reach people in ways we never could before and in numbers that go far beyond what we could in the past. Facebook is an excellent medium for sharing ideas but it’s easy to click, share, and like without giving it any real thought. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that gal.

 

If you want to sway me, talk to me. Tell me what YOU think. Throwing things at me designed to scare or intimidate won’t make me hear you and it certainly won’t make me take up the torch for your cause.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t be bullied, coerced, intimidated, or made to feel bad about not reacting the way someone wants me to. I’ve faced too much legitimately odious behavior from people in recent years to have a scare tactic on Facebook even get on my to-do list of Things I Should Consider.

I’m perfectly happy to have a civil conversation about nearly anything and am always open to the possibility of having my mind changed. But when the conversation begins at DEFCON 4, I’m out. I simply don’t respond to manipulation, threats, or anger. If that’s your approach, I’m sorry to disappoint you but, Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.


Thank You: The Prologue

March 25, 2013

We’re more or less off the grid for the next few days, but I wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all the well wishes we’ve received after I tweeted this yesterday. It means so much, honestly it does.

We’ll tell you more about it and answer a lot of the questions people are asking once the dust settles. In the meantime, pictures are trickling onto Facebook so if you want to see them, feel free to connect with me there.

It was the perfect day. Everything went off without a hitch and included a few wonderful surprises. The day was unusual, quirky, and a little eccentric, but then, so are we. It embraced the things that matter most to us and was the most beautiful, meaningful, batch of hours I could have ever imagined.

That’s a great way to begin my future with the most amazing man I have ever known. The overwhelming amount of messages we got on Twitter, Facebook, email, etc has humbled me and I want to thank you all for the kind words that made our day that much more special.

And now, typing this for the first time as a newlywed, I sign off…

Lisa McGreevy

 


How To Choose Images For Professional Blog Posts

March 21, 2013

I don’t mention work on here for a variety of reasons (though that’s probably going to change soon as I change some things around on this site). Today, I’m going to put on my professional hat for a few minutes because I want to talk about the impact of images on professional blog posts from both the reader and the writer point of view.

Some of you may find the topic ironic because I don’t include pictures with posts on this blog (again, that may change). I don’t bother adding images right now mainly because I don’t have the time to add as much fresh content here as I’d like. To spend any of that time searching for images just to pretty up a post isn’t really on my todo list at the moment. Anyway, I’m not referring to personal blog posts right now, I’m talking about the type of content that professional bloggers and writers are paid by their clients to provide.

I spend a ton of time finding pictures to accompany the professional blog posts I write for clients. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job but it’s not always easy, so I get why some businesses have absolutely lousy images alongside their blog posts. Let’s discuss.

The first rule of choosing an image (and I can’t believe I have to spell this out) is: don’t insult anyone. Most companies are smart enough to avoid overtly sexual, racist, misogynistic, etc pictures, but forget there are additional sub-groups to keep in mind. Here’s one really ill-advised picture making the rounds right now on the social network pages of several businesses.

grandma

Suggesting your older customers are too stupid to understand technology that clearly a toddler can grasp? That’s not a good plan. Here’s what you can poke fun at in a professional blog post: Animals doing silly things, oddly juxtapositioned inanimate objects, everyday exasperations we all encounter (endless waits at the airport baggage carousel), and whatever other things that tickle your fancy without potentially insulting an actual person.

While we’re on the topic of offending people, be sure to check the humor in your images. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and the Hangover movies may be popular as far as cultural references go but, for the love of Mike, don’t assume everyone in your reading audience finds humor like that amusing. Trust me when I tell you that you can be hysterically funny without ever going near the line of what some may consider offensive. Don’t believe me? Go take a look at the Facebook pages of Oreo, 7-Eleven, or the Tampa-area restaurant, Bowled.

Next, remember there’s a very high likelihood your image will only be seen for one or two seconds as people scan their Facebook timeline or RSS feed. The image of a large crowd of people with one hand raised in a cheer may look entirely different (ahem) when it’s displayed as a thumbnail pic in a feed aggregator. Before you publish a post, view the accompanying image in various sizes to make sure it doesn’t imply a different meaning that what you intend. The picture you choose represents your client. Don’t take a chance, no matter how small, on embarrassing them.

Finally, use images you find on the internet ethically. There is no excuse — none — for stealing copyrighted work, or altering work when its license doesn’t specifically allow it. Then again, if you’re a writer reading this I shouldn’t have to tell you that, right? Unfortunately, I still see images being heisted, altered, or used without proper credit. You don’t need a fancy, expensive account with a stock image service. Just head to Flikr, click on Advanced Search, tick the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” box, and go nuts.

I understand it’s hard to stand out in the overcrowded chaos that is blogging. I know that between finding a good topic, figuring out the SEO, shopping a finished post around social networks, monitoring comments, watching stats, and getting eyes on what you’ve written, the last thing you want to worry about is a picture that people will only glance at for a millisecond. It’s the cost of doing business, though. Anyway, you want your work noticed for its quality, not because of a mistake over an image that could have been avoided with a little attention, right? Right.


Cruising: Not Your Typical Bundle of Insanity

February 20, 2013

As many of you know (because I didn’t shut up about it for days), Michael took me on a surprise cruise last weekend. The surprise was partly that he sprung it on me about 48 hours before departure, but the real surprise was that I went through with it in the first place. People who’ve known me a while have to be scratching their heads because I approach the idea of riding around in a pile of creaky metal out in the open water with only slightly less trepidation than this bundle of insanity.

Now, by the time this trip was arranged, Michael knew I’d go because despite my carping from the minute we met that I’d do no such thing ever, the reality is that I’d agreed to go on a cruise a couple of months ago on a date to be named later.

I didn’t agree grudgingly, either. I actually willingly said I’d go with no coercion or hesitation whatsoever. You see, I’ve come to the realization that after facing some truly heinous situations recently that I’ve never spoken publicly about, the possibility of a rouge wave or sub-tropical glacier no longer gave me the slightest pause. I’ve been through worse than I was ever likely to encounter on a cruise ship and come out so far ahead that being afraid of open water seemed absolutely ridiculous. I’m pretty sure there’s one thing I’ll never come to terms with, though.

Much of what happened next will surprise exactly no one who’s known me longer than a day. Send your cards and letters of condolences to Michael for everything he had to put up with because I was a loon and I know it.

Once I knew the day of departure and name of the ship, I flew into research mode and spent hours reading reviews, tips, hints, tricks, and studying the background of every person involved with the ship since the day it was commissioned. By the time we arrived I knew:

  1. When and where the ship was built (in case there was a trivia contest).
  2. It’s tonnage and capacity both with and without the crew (so I’d know how much luggage to bring without causing us to sink).
  3. How many nautical miles we would travel and the precise weather outlook for the surrounding 10 days (in case we got delayed by an exo-season hurricane).
  4. How many restaurants, nightclubs, and cabins the ship had (not because I wanted to explore them but because I needed to know every means of egress and how many people were likely to be in my way).
  5. How many lifeboats were available (18).
  6. The GPA of the Captain since 1st grade (was he mentally fit to take command of my life for the next few days).
  7. How fast it could go at top speed (in case we needed to de-ship via helicopter).
  8. How many rivets were used to weld it all together, and what size (so I could bring extra).

I’m kidding about one of these.

A little backstory: Michael and I are a little spoiled working from home all the time so when we get up in the morning and sit together for about an hour, drinking coffee, and leisurely catching up on what happened overnight around the world. Friday morning — the morning we were supposed to leave — I tried valiantly to adhere to our morning routine but I lasted about four minutes.

After half a cup of coffee I announced I “couldn’t spend all day sitting around” and we needed to go. Poor guy. We were in the car 20 minutes later, speeding toward Miami.

Have you ever been trapped in a car with an overcaffeinated chihuahua for three hours? That’s pretty much what it was like for Michael as we headed to the port. I doubt I shut up for more than a couple minutes until I finally ran out of things to say. Then I just read random crap to him off the internet so I wouldn’t jump out the window and start running alongside the car.

Things were going great until we got near the port. Wait…let me tell you something I’ve forgotten to mention. I’ve never seen a cruise ship up close. I’ve only seen them in pictures and from a great distance as I drive over the Skyway Bridge. So, yeah…

We were tooling along the street, driving past American Airline Arena when all of a sudden the top of the ship — the biggest damn thing I’ve ever seen in my life — popped into view behind it. Being the sensible, pulled-together person that I am, I immediately screamed, “BOAT!!!” right at Michael. Captain Obvious, reporting for duty.

I didn’t say anything as we rounded the corner because I was too busy hyperventilating. As we pulled into the terminal area and I saw the enormity of the vessel — and I do mean enormity — I promptly burst into tears.

Panic.

I didn’t really have time to think after that because suddenly there were Things to Do. Find the terminal, find the porter, find check-in, find paperwork, find a stiff drink. The only thing I didn’t need to find was the ship because IT WAS FREAKIN’ HUGE and kinda hard to miss.

The second I got on the ship I was sure I could feel it swaying from side to side like a bouy during Hurricane Hugo. Of course that was untrue since we were docked and tied to the 4,340-ton concrete port. But I felt it anyway — as I told Michael about 300 times in the first two hours. In fact all I kept telling Michael during that first two hours was, “I feel it moving” and “This is so weird.” Over and over and over and over and over and over and over. It’s a wonder he didn’t strangle me with the arms of my jacket before we even left.

We killed a lot of time until it was time to disembark just wandering around watching things and people. Michael had cruised before so this wasn’t a strange and freaky experience for him. I, on the other hand, ran from side to side, railing to railing, end to end, deck to deck like my pants were on fire. For hours. He just sort of followed along patiently answering the most inane questions I’ve ever heard come out of my mouth. Well, for a Friday, anyway.

I knew it was almost time to leave and I was dying to hear the horn. I knew it would be loud but I wanted it anyway. Little did I know, that wasn’t going to happen. *weep* Apparently, ships leaving Port of Miami aren’t allowed to sound the horn (I don’t know that as fact, it’s what I’ve been able to piece together). It seems all the rich people in the $24 million mansions around the Port would be perturbed if they had to hear a dozen ship horns a day. Fair enough.

So I’m standing out on one of the open decks with a plate in one hand and a sandwich in the other. I look out a window and my brain completely seized up at what I saw — buildings were moving. All of them. No, wait. WE were moving. Holy crap! This was happening.

I ran from railing to railing again, not really comprehending what my brain was seeing for the first time in all my 44 years. Now, for all intents and purposes, as we headed for the open water, I should have been utterly and completely terrified. I should have been curled up under a deck chair weeping into a towel. I should have been anything but what I was, which was completely enthralled. Entranced. Blown completely the hell away.

I’ve been so, so fortunate in my life to have been exposed to some truly unique, wonderful, and special experiences that I’m well aware many have never experienced. Therefore, something as relatively common as pulling away from a port on a cruise ship shouldn’t have left me so completely speechless but it did. It was less about the physical surroundings and more about what it represented.

Generally speaking, I’m not afraid of much. Public speaking, crowds, strangers, rough neighborhoods, being suddenly thrust onstage in front of many hundreds of people for two hours (that’s a whole other post), dogs, parties where I don’t know anyone — none of these things bother me in the slightest. Even though I can swim, open water has terrified me since I was a little kid (thank you, Poseidon Adventure). To conquer one of the only fears I have left is exhilarating beyond compare. I was already talking about our next cruise before breakfast the next morning.

The remainder of the trip passed in a blur of laughter, amazement, bliss, and some of the most unbridled joy I have ever known. That’s not to say there weren’t moments of complete crazy. For instance:

  • I was riding the elevator when an American girl of about 14 got on (I note she’s American because I can’t fathom anyone reaches their teens in the U.S. without encountering an elevator). She asked what floor we were going to and sighed loudly when I told her because she wanted to go to five, not three. Evidently, she was unaware you could push one of those numbered buttons on the panel to get off where you wanted so we sailed right past her floor. For all I know, she stayed trapped in there until we got back to Miami.
  • Speaking of elevators, we got in one at one point that seemed to not want to respond to repeated button-pushing. We got back out and told a crew member the elevator wasn’t working. His ernest response? “Maybe it’s unplugged.”
  • Yes, as I mentioned earlier on Twitter, someone (possibly two someones) fell overboard. I don’t know the details but it happened as we arrived in the Bahamas. I was in the room at the time fetching something but Michael got to see the whole situation unfold. I missed all of it, therefore I followed him everywhere the whole rest of the time. The guys in the public men’s room were kind of annoyed with me after a while.
  • As we left Nassau, the Captain (an amazing guy who I actually got to meet) was trying to tell us we’d have to deal with some wind until we got turned around so it was at our backs. English is not his first language, which I found impossibly adorable until he said, “It will be windy until we turn over, then it will be more calm.” That’s the only time I almost fainted.
  • The Captain gets a free pass, however, because he was proactive with a small but crucial piece of information. Our cabin was at the very front of the ship, near the tie lines and anchor. As we left Miami, he mentioned that at some point early the next morning we’d hear him drop anchor and it was likely to be loud. That turned out to be the understatement of the millennium. At about 5:00 the next morning, I was snoozing in the aquatic hammock of the Atlantic when there was this horrific crunching of metal approximately seven feet from my head. It sounded like the entire Bahamian Navy was entering the ship via our porthole. I didn’t mind being woken up, but I would have panicked had he not warned me. (Us. No, me. I know his message was for me and me alone.) I would have probably run screaming down the hall that we’d hit an iceberg and someone needed to find Leonardo and my necklace. Christ on a unicycle, it was unnerving.
  • No one really explained to me that I’d have to learn to walk again — both on the ship and when I got off. I’ve been disoriented for two days.
  • You don’t want to mess with me during muster. If you’ve never been on a cruise, muster is when they teach you all about lifeboats and lifejackets. They line you up 40 to a group and tell you everything you need to know about getting off the ship in the event of an emergency. Naturally, I hung on their every word but some of my fellow ship mates were too cool for school and wanted to instead exchange stories about how to smuggle four ounces of booze on board inside a bottle of mouthwash. I was not amused. By the way, if anyone asks, I was with you on Friday night, okay?
  • The entire crew is endearing and they work their ever-loving asses off every minute of the day. If you go on a cruise, please tip well.
  • The rooms are so tiny I had to step into the hall to change my mind. It was like living in a doll house, and I loved it.
  • You meet some phenomenal people on a cruise. You also meet the absolute dregs of society and it’s amazing I didn’t shank some of the shitbags on that boat.
  • Never once during the day did I see those giant air blowers designed to dry carpeting but they were out all over the place in the common areas every morning. Makes me contemplate (but not for too long) how much puke they have to clean up every night from the overdrinkers.
  • I was very aware of other vessels around us all the time, every minute. Early on, I think the first night, I told Michael I needed to speak to the Captain right away because we were heading right toward another ship and he needed to know. Of course, your depth perception is way off on the ocean so things are much closer than they appear. It took about 20 minute for Michael to convince me that A) the Captain really had this under control and, B) we were at the back of the ship and the boat was behind us.
  • I got lost a lot. Big surprise.
  • I have an inordinate fascination with the helper boats (as I call them) that take you in and out of port. Tug Captains have been brass ones the way they zip up to a 880-foot (true fact) vessel that weighs 74,000 TONS (also true fact) and nudge it around the way a mother lion nudges her kittens. Those guys take no shit. I could see that all the way up on Deck 14.

We already know we’re going back out again and almost have the where and when nailed down, too. Living on or near the beach in a tropical paradise for ten years has probably taken away some of the mystique of ocean travel for me. The heat and beaches are something I see all the time. That’s not what this was about.

It was about overcoming fear and then stomping it into dust. It was about being disconnected and unreachable for days. It was about spending huge amounts time with the most amazing person I’ve ever known. It was about learning everything I can about new environments. It was about setting foot on foreign soil for the first time in my entire life. It was about the best experience I’ve ever had.

Until next time.


Monday Morning Quarterbacking: Reactions to the Super Bowl Frenzy

February 4, 2013

I’ve been watching people for months complain about how tired they are of all the bickering about politics, gun control, gay rights, women’s rights, and all the other topics that divide people like the Hatfields and McCoys. I’m right there with you, I’m sick of watching people tear each other apart on Facebook and Twitter over current events, though I consider it the cost of doing business on social media. Generally, I look the other way and ignore the barrage of complaints about complainers. Now I’m about to complain and, trust me, I get how meta that is.

Anyway.

Let’s talk for a minute about the truckload comments I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter in the last few days carrying on about the “stupid” Super Bowl and why won’t people just shut up about it already? Let me get this straight. For 6 or 7 hours once a year, people all across the nation get together and communally view a sporting event during which they laugh, joke, and have fun picking over plays, calls, and ads — and this is a problem? Millions of people having a good time interacting with each other in person and online (sometimes simultaneously), bonding over mushy commercials or a great touchdown, and this is something to be irritated about?

Explain to me as if I were five why this is an issue, because I just don’t get it.

We are a highly divided nation right now and there is a lot of shouting about some very serious issues confronting our country. Last night was a chance for people to come together over a shared experience whose outcome has no lasting effects on our lives. It was a chance to collectively banter about frivolous entertainment and set aside the differences that cause so much consternation the other 364 days of the year. It was a chance to have large-scale, harmless fun — something I daresay is in short supply these days. Incredibly, I saw numerous sanctimonious comments from people yesterday (and in the days leading up to the Super Bowl) essentially suggesting that game viewers were ruining their social media and weekend experience. You have got to be kidding me.

There are plenty of TV or movie events throughout the year during which my Twitter feed blows up with all kinds of references and excitement. Most of the time, I don’t know or even much care what the context is, but I can’t imagine deriding a whole group of people for having fun together. If it gets too noisy, I simply shut off Twitter or Facebook because, guess what, it really is that easy.

If you spend time kvetchng on social media about how sick and tired you are of watching people duke it out over current events and then turn around and complain when they come together over one, I really have to wonder what your exact problem is. I have a few theories, but that’s probably a topic for another time. For now, I’d just like to point out the irony of complaining when people bicker, and then complaining when they stop for a few hours to have some harmless fun.

I’m going to end this now and go watch some of the ads and plays I missed last night while I was hanging out with friends — some of whom can’t agree on the color of the sky on most days — and having a blast. I may or may not tweet about my observations. If musing about such silliness is too much for you to deal with (would you prefer I start screeching about LGBT rights? Didn’t think so.), let me suggest this or this.

As you were.


Color My World

January 10, 2013

Based on the horror stories I’ve heard from friends, I approached our recent home renovations with the abject terror I normally reserve for palmetto bugs or Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Given the scope of what Michael and I were about to do (interior and exterior work) and the timeframe in which to do it (begin a just before Thanksgiving with a deadline of Christmas Eve), I was pretty sure we were completely insane. It turns out there was really only one thing we lost a lot of sleep over. 

Color choices. 

During the Renovation Extravaganza of 2012, we had to chose colors for the roof, the exterior, a bedroom, some interior doors, and a ceiling. It was like being stuck in the Thunderdome with Sherwin Williams. We’d peer at color swatches for hours before finally slam-dunking a choice out of sheer exhaustion, then pick ourselves up off the ground only to get a right-hook from another contractor who wanted to know what shade of ecru to paint a 2″x2″ section of the back inside corner of the shed. 

Take, for instance, what color shingles to put over the new roof. Prior to this undertaking, I thought there were only three roof colors to choose from in Florida: Brown, Black, and Someone-Threw-Up-Mangos orange. Wrong. There are approximately 76,082 different choices, each with a fractional difference in hue that’s apparently visible to everyone by me. 

The roofer was kind enough to supply us with a color chart and actual shingles so we could make our selection. We tried to give the process the full gravity it deserved and approach it with seriousness. Us being us, however, it quickly devolved into choking fits of laughter over the color names.

“Look! Here’s ‘Acorn Leaf Green.’ We’ll paint the exterior dark brown with a ‘leaf green’ roof. Everyone will think it’s a tree and we’ll have an invisible house! No, wait, then the pizza delivery guy won’t be able to find it. Damn. That won’t work.”

“Here’s something called ‘Sovereign Cedar.’ Skip that, I’d feel like I’d have to curtsey to HRH House every time I came home.” 

We eventually settled on Sand Drift because, frankly, we were tired and trying to conserve our strength for the other roofing decisions like, peel and stick vs felt backing, 25- vs 30-year warranty, added termite protection, and whether we wanted to cover it with glow in the dark sealant. Okay, I made that last one up but, seriously, how cool would that be?

We’d barely made it through that process when we were confronted with another major decision: What color to paint the exterior. This was way harder than the roof challenge because the options are, quite literally, limitless. Once you think you’ve figured out what you want the wall color to be, then you have to figure out trim color and everything goes downhill from there.

Exterior paint color is a huge commitment. Not only is it really expensive to change if you decide you don’t like it, there’s also a corner of your mind that knows your neighbors will judge you as a person once they see the finished product. Guess right and they bring you pie. Guess wrong and they walk their dogs on your lawn in the middle of the night.

By far, my “favorite” part of this whole ordeal was when, out of sheer desperation, I called the painter to ask for advice. I told him we’d narrowed it down to a possible choice but wanted to get his thoughts on how it would look with our landscaping and new roof. He said he’d love to help but, well, you see, he’s color blind.

Color blind?!

Leave it to me to find the only color blind painter in North America. Shouldn’t he disclose that on his business cards? Include it on his Angie’s List page? I suppose this explains why he suggested during his proposal visit (I am not making this up) that we should “paint the house a nice shade of pumpkin.” Do I look like Cinderella?

I didn’t realize what an impact all the color-choosing had on us until last night when I told Michael that our lawn guy offered to paint our driveway for us. At first he looked happy, but then a shadow passed over his face as if I’d told him Daleks were being retired as a Doctor Who trope. About thirty seconds later I realized the same thing he had: We’d have to pick a freakin’ color. 

No. For the love of all things holy. No more color choices. Ever.

Michael looked down at his feet and quietly said, “Please tell me they make concrete paint that’s just called, ‘Driveway.’”

Man, I hope so. 


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