Welcome To The Masses, Jimmie – Part Deux

So want to guess what I’ve been doing the last month?  I mean, aside from Christmas shopping and eating cookies, of course. Here, I’ll give you some choices:

  1. Modeling underwear for Vicky’s Secret
  2. Reading romance novels which feature on the cover men with long flowing locks and pecs like ropes of steel
  3. Making out with Dwayne Johnson
  4. Looking for a job

If you were a lucky recipient of my Christmas letter, you already know the answer to this.  Ding, ding, ding, the answer is D!

My brand new shiny employment that I worked so hard to get last year is coming to an end.  I’m not happy about it because the people I’ve met at my current job have quite literally changed my life and also, I finally got to sit in an office with a closing door and not a cube farm with no door and barely a wall.   This loss was no fault of my own – our company was purchased by another company and that company already has a corporate department and so all of us corporate people will be without jobs soon.  It sucks.

However.  I have already secured other new shiny employment.  There will be no crying, no long, dramatic posts about how I’m mad and how my glitter eyeliner was ruined and how Boss left me behind.  I had one interview for which I slicked down my hair into a straight, boring, non-sexy bob and wore pearls and caked on acceptable makeup.  I repeated that process for a second interview and that fabulous company realized my fabulousness and offered me a position right away.  Evidently it was meant to be.

Now I want you to remember, it wasn’t that long ago that I was promoted to a recruiting position with my current company.  Recruiting, I learned, consists of a lot of phone calls and internet searching and background screenings so it would be safe to assume that I am familiar with the entire prescreen process.  And it wasn’t that long ago that I decided baking cookies on a Tuesday night was a great idea.  Baking cookies on a Tuesday night, I learned, can often result in a devastating paper cut from the non-stick aluminum foil, so bad that it requires some super glue to close the skin so that I don’t bleed to death in my kitchen.  These lessons are important.  Bear with me.

Before I can begin my shiny new job, I had to pass a criminal background screen and get fingerprinted.  I turned in all of my pertinent information to the appropriate parties and scheduled my appointment to get my fingerprints done, something that I regularly ask my potential candidates to do.  Having never had it done personally, however,  I was completely surprised to find that it is all done digitally now.  Technologically advanced is what I am.  Anyway, I showed up for my appointment with clean, super-glued hands and turned my fingertips over to the clerk.  She printed my whole left hand and my whole right hand and then every finger individually on both hands.  When she reached my paper cut finger, she seemed puzzled and kept smashing my finger over and over onto the scanner, which, you know, didn’t feel great.

Finally in exasperation she said, “Why does this look all white?!  Why is my scanner not working?!”

I looked at her screen and with a sudden and sheepish awakening said, “Oh.”

She whipped around to glare at me and said, “What?” in a rather aggressive manner.

“Heh,” I wheezed.  “Heh.  See, I got a paper cut last night and so that I wouldn’t bleed to death in my kitchen, I had to super glue my skin together.  Look, you can tell, right here.”   And I showed her my massive, massive cut that was all covered in a gob of glue.  She was void of a personality and was not amused.

Once the gob of glue was revealed, we both then made a concerted effort to really smash the very guts out of my finger onto that scanner in order to get a clear print and after some time and some pain, we did.  And I passed.  And I now have a new job which I will begin right after the first of the year.

Clearly the lesson we learned here has nothing to do with sexy vs. non-sexy hair nor does it have anything to do with pearls.  The true lesson is that you never bake cookies on a Tuesday night before a fingerprinting session.  Y’all remember that when you do any job searching.  No cookies.

P.S.  I will be taking a week off in between jobs to visit with some family and some friends.  I’m going to Woney’s house, and again, if you were a lucky recipient of my Christmas letter, you would know that I got cheated out of a recent visit to her so I have to make up for lost time.  I know I’ve been absent for a month so I wanted to update you all as to why.  If any of you need to have lunch with me in that week, though, to catch up, give me a holler.  I’m down for some lunch.

I Don’t Mean To Be Dramatic, But . . . .

Car 1


This is how my Wednesday started.  Again.  I’m sure you all remember last summer when my car had a come apart on four separate occasions and I and my savings account fell apart right along with it.  I got all of that fixed and we have been happily driving together for just over a year now.

Here’s the truth of it.  I owe $87 on my car.   We all know what that means.  I’m terrified to make that last payment because the precise moment that payment clears my bank, my transmission is going to fall out of the bottom of my car on I-40.   I thought that’s what happened on Tuesday night when I was stranded alone at work, yet I’m proud to say I didn’t cry even once.  Have I grown up? Am I callused?  Maybe.

What I did do was call roadside assistance (the program I’ve paid $2.99 a month for seven years for and only used once) and ask for a jump start.  After dissecting everything that happened when I turned the key, roadside assistance opted to have me towed instead.  It was late, dark and 27 degrees so rather than wait for an hour on a tow truck, I decided to let it sit overnight and called Pee-tah for a ride.  He’s such a gentleman.  He rescued me, offered me dinner and dropped me off at my door when I said no.  He knew better than to push too hard.  This is why we date so well.

Wednesday morning I cornered the maintenance guy I like so much, Daniel, and asked for his help.  I just wanted someone with more knowledge than how to crank a car to tell me what I should expect to hear from the repair shop when they give me the skinny and the cost.  Remember last year I paid far, far too much to get my brakes done (screw you, Firestone) because I am dumber than a box of hammers when it comes to cars.  To prove to Daniel that I do know something about a car, I ran down to the parking lot to open my hood in preparation for his ministrations and in doing so, saw something utterly disgusting.  Murphy (screw you, Murphy) had either barfed or had some sort of intestinal disturbance on the hood of my car, right between the hood and windshield, actually.  I hate that cat sometimes. Why does he do this to me? Why?!

I grabbed a wad of napkins from my car – I keep them to blot the shine from my nose and never thought I’d have to use them to clean unspeakable Murphy innards from my car – and cleaned it off, hoping that Daniel would never notice I’d been driving around with poop on my car.  Oh, hurk.  Oh, my stomach.  I threw it over into the grass, very far from my car, and threw the wad of napkins away. Lunch was not going to happen that day, I could already tell.  Blergh.

This gets worse.  I want you to guess who stepped in it. Just guess.

Poor Daniel who is so sweet and so sincere in checking my battery and banging around under my hood, that guy who is just the nicest man, doesn’t really stand still all that well.  I forgot about that when I threw Murphy’s guts.  I remembered it, though, once Daniel started pacing and then I got nervous.  I threw the innards very far away from every car, very far away from where everyone walks.  I made sure of that.  But Daniel in his pacing walked right in it and I was horrified.

It was a sudden realization for him.  His foot squished and he stopped and said, “What was that?”

I just stood there.

“Oh my God, what was that?!” he questioned as he looked at the bottom of his shoe.  “Oh, gross!  Is that mud?  That’s mud, right?” He began shuffling on the grass, making his way over to the sidewalk to scrape his shoe.

“Is that crap?  Did I walk in dog crap?” The look on his face was so disgusted.  I just stood there, and I could feel the laughter start bubbling from the very bottom of me.  I know it isn’t funny!  I know that!

“Oh, God,” he said as he scraped his shoe over and over, “it’s really sticking.  Man, this is sick.  I’m going to have to buy new shoes.  Damn.  I have to go to Bowling Green today too.  What is that?!”

Y’all, I felt horrible.  So, so bad.  And I looked right at him, watching him scrape his shoe in disgust and said, “I have no idea.  Gross.”


Daniel, one of the nicest men I know, felt really bad for me and said over and over, “Jimmie, I’m so sorry about your car. I wish I could fix it for you.”  And all I could do was nod and squeak out a thank you and try my damnedest to not let the laughter that was literally taking over my whole body not explode out of my mouth.  Why am I so bad?  I deserve to have my transmission fall out of the bottom of my car.

Turns out, however, it was just a bad battery.  The kind people at Firestone offered to install one for merely $144 plus tax and labor (screw you, Firestone) so I drove on down to Advanced Auto Parts and got one for $116, tax and labor included.  Got to get my savings back up for when the shocks rust and disintegrate into nothing, you know.  Once that last payment is made it will happen.  Perhaps I’ll buy Daniel a new pair of shoes, too.  I’ll take it out of Murphy’s cat food allowance.

In Which We Almost Don’t Make It To Dublin

I gotta be honest with you, Dublin was not my favorite city. However, I have loads of things to tell you before we ever get there and I plan on you being here for a while. Go get some coffee or some ice cream and settle in.


. . . . . After some time, Woney and I wandered off. We made our contributions and left little pieces of our hearts there to mingle with the other left-behind hearts.

We made it back to our hotel, collected our baggage and my pillow and hit the road for the airport. The concierge at our hotel insisted that the bus to Newark was the way to go, that it was only a few blocks away, and that a cab was not necessary. Off we trudged with our ridiculous suitcases and my ridiculous pillow, giving our cankles one last chance to really flourish before leaving the heat of New York, and as we arrived at the bus station, a man fully inebriated took it upon himself to escort us to the proper bus and then held out his hand for a tip. We stood in the bus line for a very long time after giving him a couple of bucks with which he promptly purchased a cheap bottle of something. The traffic was horrendous. The fumes on the road nearly killed us. Once we hit the road, I lost count of how many times we almost died in an interstate-shut-down type of accident caused by our bus. Eventually, after an eternity of horror and stomach heaving, we arrived at the Newark Airport.

Toys R Us Ferris Wheel

Toys R Us Ferris Wheel

Now Woney and I are good travelers. We checked in for our flight the night before but upon arriving at the airline desk, discovered that the flight on which were booked and for which we had already checked in no longer existed. It hadn’t for some time. Like days. Conveniently, we were booked on another flight but inconveniently, it was so badly delayed that we were going to miss our connection in Toronto for Dublin.

Want to know the attendant’s suggestion? “Grab a cab to LaGuardia for a different flight but haul ass because you have less than an hour to get there and still make your flight.”

Molesting a Pig, New York City

Molesting a Pig, New York City

As we were running down the hall I began to holler about my feelings for Air Canada. I gotta be honest with you. Not my favorite airline. I was still hollering about it as we clambered down the stairs and frantically looked for a cab when out of thin air, a man materialized. “You ladies need a cab?” he asked.

Oh, the Hallelujah Chorus rang out!

“Yes!” we gasped, and he grabbed our ridiculous suitcases and walked us to the parking lot. Hustled is more like it, especially after we explained our dilemma. The man was moving and we were saved. Except halfway through the parking lot, a police officer stopped the man and said, “Sir, you need to turn around and walk these ladies back to the airport and leave them safely at the cab stand.”

The man said, “But-“

The police officer said again, “Turn around and walk these ladies back to the airport and leave them safely at the cab stand.” So he turned us around and walked us back to the airport. Woney and I were agog. What just happened? Were we almost murdered? He was going to murder us and steal my glitter eyeliner, wasn’t he?

The cop followed us and then met us at the door and asked where we were going. We explained about our flight and the man volunteered, “They are going to miss it.” The cop looked at him for a long, long moment and then said, “Okay. You keep them safe.”

Woney and I were still agog. What just happened? The man hustled us back to the parking lot and escorted us into a swanky black Mercedes and hauled us quickly and effectively to LaGuardia. Let me say here – I’m so thrilled that Woney and I now have a case of black lung and some serious intestinal issues from the Newark bus ride that it turns out we didn’t even need to take. I’m so happy that we did all that hauling of suitcases and nurturing our cankles and sitting next to weird people only to be grandly escorted in style for an exorbitant fee in a Mercedes to our final destination.

Gettin' some culture, MoMA

Gettin’ some culture, MoMA

Are you wondering about The Man? His name was Tony “Kalifornia” and while we had a dubious introduction, I have to say that Tony “Kalifornia” is probably one of my most favorite people in the world. Not only did he not murder us and steal our glitter eyeliner, he hauled ass to the airport and was charming and polite and handsome and knew all the back roads. I will forever be grateful to him, and if you need his contact info because your crappy airline treated you crappily, I will give it to you. I have his card. He can give you a ride.

Sunburn! Trim

Sunburn! Trim

Obviously we made it to LaGuardia. We boarded the plane. I was ROTTEN to the flight attendant and despite her having every right to spit in my Diet Coke, she was lovely to me. But she tried to move my pillow, see, and I was already pretty huffed up about Air Canada and let’s just say that her asking me to give up my pillow space for someone whose suitcase was too large made me act like a real tool. I don’t know how Woney stands me.

Other than the flight being extra long and extra hot and despite the fact that taking a red eye, something we crowed about with pride before actually taking the red eye, was miserable, we did make it to Dublin. Our excitement far outweighed any bad experience we had. Every five minutes Woney would turn around and poke me and say, “We are going to Ireland.” And I would tug on her hair every ten minutes or so and say, “Guess what? We are going to Ireland.”

Hanging out at a castle, as you do.  Ballyseede

Hanging out at a castle, as you do. Ballyseede

As a special preview for our trip, I got to sit next to a lovely young woman from Belfast. She was flying home from an extended work trip, and we chatted endlessly about her country and mine. Honestly, I was delighted with her accent so the longer we talked, the less I minded not sleeping. Turns out she was delighted with my accent, too. After a long conversation she said, “Sigh. You sound just like Jessica Simpson. I love it.”

And that shut me up for the rest of the flight.

Everyday occurence.  Ireland.

Everyday occurence. Ireland.

Next stop: Dublin! (For real this time.)

I Will Never Be The Same Again

Dammit Todd and I went to the movies last week. I always have to go early so I can catch all the previews, the second best part of every movie.

During the previews there was a sudden flash of something on the screen. I couldn’t tell yet what it was but I knew it was huge because every estrogen-filled hormone in my body stood to rigid attention in an instant.

There was a second flash and with a thunderbolt it hit me. I sucked in a breath so hard that I ingested a piece of popcorn from the couple’s bucket in front of us. My ovaries flared into an explosion and then melted in a fiery blaze. I was irrevocably and helplessly disolved into a puddle of teenage longing.

I turned to Todd, my eyes huge, and stared beseechingly.

Already beaten and resigned to his fate, Dammit Todd sighed, “Fine, we’ll go.”

You guys, look what’s coming!


It’s going to a long, miserable, glorious wait!

How To Write A Book Proposal, By Jimmie

Step One – November 2012

Receive news that a publishing company is accepting full book proposals from women writers.  The deadline is midnight, March 15, 2013.  Get excited and yap about it to everyone you meet for three solid days.

Step Two – December 2012 thru February 2013

Push book proposal far from your mind.  You have plenty of time.

Step Three – February 28, 2013

Realize in a sudden panic at 3:00 a.m. that you only have two weeks to complete the book proposal.   Berate yourself mightily for an hour or two then phone all friends and family members (at a reasonable hour, of course) to explain why you will be unavailable to them for the next 15 days. Tell them you love them then turn off your phone.  It is also best if you shut all off social media sights like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, etc. but everyone knows you would never do that in a million years.

Step Four – March 1, 2013

Begin your research on what a full book proposal entails.  Understand with a slow, sickening realization that this is worse than any term paper you have ever written.  Understand that as much as you talk about yourself on your blog and to your friends, a book proposal is a more narcissistic and self-involved project than you have attempted to date.  Did you guys know you have to sell yourself?  I didn’t.  I do now.

Step Five – March 1 – 14, 2013

Write like mad.  Massage your fingers when they cramp from the typing.  Dream of your book.  Leave a notebook beside your bed so that when you have a revelation at 2:00 a.m. you have a place to write your thoughts.  Make arrangements to stay late after work every night so that you have two giant monitors and fantastic internet service at your disposal.  You also want no distractions. Save your proposal in no less than three locations.  Losing that work is something you don’t even want to think about. 

Step Six – March 1 – 14, 2013

Do research.  Focus on what others have done before you and how it can help you now.  Realize that everyone who has ever written a book before you is a genius and you are an idiot. Wonder how 50 Shades of Gray ever got published (Gray? Grey?  I have no idea. Didn’t read them).  Reread some of your work and laugh out loud and then continue on with the proposal because you know that most of what you have is very good and that if you never pursue this, you will never succeed at this.  Repeat this step a minimum of five times.  You must second-guess yourself and then take pride in your work alternately.  It’s how you keep your weight down during this process. 

Step Seven – March 15, 2013

Receive an early morning phone call from Martie that Poppa is gravely ill and in a helicopter on his way to Vanderbilt.  Begin to cry at the office and then work like a dog so that when he finally gets to Vanderbilt you can leave and drive 90 miles an hour to the hospital where you sit for hours in the CCU.  Rub Poppa’s head and talk nonsense, as he is, about anything you can think of, just to make him stop hurting, just to calm everyone down.  Mention that you wrote a book.  When Poppa shows the merest sign of lucidity, he will say, “You wrote a book?  What is it about?” Tell him then, and explain about the book proposal and say “Yes, sir” when he says, “Make sure you turn it in.”

When Brother Bear gets to the hospital, you hug him then leave.  You have 90 minutes to put the finishing touches on your proposal.  You thought you were going to have five hours.  You were wrong.  You italicize everything, add commas, write the query letter and send it off three minutes before the midnight deadline.  Then you go to sleep with acid in your stomach worrying about Poppa.  The next morning you check your email to see that the proposal was received.  Then you wait for two months before hearing who won the coveted prize of a publishing contract.

Monkey wrenches you might encounter:

  1. You will think that Twizzlers will aid in the writing process. They do not.  Do not be lulled into the false sense of security they give with their unique waxy strawberry flavor.
  2. You will feel that you have enough time to make healthy dinners during this process.  You do not.  Subway needs to become part of your dietary plan during this time.
  3. Never forget the ponytail holder.  Your hair will annoy the ever-loving shit out of you during this process.
  4. Do not answer the phone, even for a quick question!  This is bad!  The person on the other end of the line will have every interest in eventually ending the call and you will not.  You will drone on for as long as they let you until they finally just hang up while you are in mid-sentence.  For those of you not in the know, this is called Procrastination. 
  5. Give yourself a pat on the back for staying late every night at work to really focus on your project.  Then take it back when you find yourself alone in the office with the one person who also is working late, the person who sits right next to you, and the person who is so quiet during the day that you are surprised when everyone leaves at how she begins a running monologue for one and half hours.  She is talking to you, telling you the same story over and over again, only changing a word here and there so it sounds different. She does not take a breath between sentences.  She is relentless yet sweet so you can say nothing other than the occasional “mmm hmmm”.  Go to the bathroom and when you get back, you’ll find that she is still talking, loudly and with force, and that she didn’t even realize you were gone.  Go to Subway, get some dinner, eat it, and when you get back, she will still be nattering on as if you never left.  When she finally leaves for home and all is quiet at the office, weep a little for the lost time.
  6. That might be it.  That whole process is a bit fuzzy now as time has passed and I cried a lot. 

So that’s how it’s done, people.  A book proposal in seven easy steps.  Piece of cake.  

I got this, right? 

I Am On A Budget. And I Have Some Addictions. These Are First World Problems. (Part Two)

So money is tight. I’ve told you that before. It’s okay, I’m not complaining. I’m learning actually. I’m pretty good at budgeting and stretching a dollar and I’ve always been the queen of planning. I view this era of my life as a challenge and as a growing process, so it isn’t bad.

Now that I have written the “rah, rah” section I will now begin the “huh, this is . . . fun” section.

Due to lack of funds (see above: Budget) and lack of dates (see entire blog: Single) I now occasionally find myself in the enviable position of having a Saturday night with absolutely nothing to do. Nothing. Not a thing. No thing. At all. Enviable, right? When that happens I’m not sure what to do with myself. Usually. However, lately I seem to have overbooked myself professionally and socially and so when I understood that I was going to have a weekend that did not include people in any format at all, I began to rejoice. Honestly, I was getting rather emotional and snippy as I had had no alone time in weeks.

Also, remember when I hired Ernesto, my house cleaner, and I was jazzed that he came every two weeks and folded my toilet paper ends into points? Remember how I loved him and swooned over his work? Well, I miss him (see above: Budget). My house does too.

These were my plans when I went to bed Friday night: to sleep as late as possible (7:00 a.m., baby! I am a sloth!), and to clean my miserable (miserable) wreck of a house. Do you think it is sad? Do you feel a little sorry for me? Don’t! It was marvelous!

Following is a list of what I accomplished:

Two carloads full of stuff were taken to Goodwill, some mine and some Kasi Starr’s. (There is another story here – tune in later for that episode.) By full, I mean there was room for me and that’s it. I could see out the front driver’s side windows and that’s it. It, I tell you.

The areas where one of the kitties vomited unspeakable things onto the carpet were shaved off with a razorblade. Gross. I’m currently not speaking to Murphy or Miss Kitty.

My garage is completely organized according to girl code. Boys, you have no dog in this fight. My garage is perfect. I do not need your advice about how to arrange my storage space according to your strict and non-negotiable standards of tool/garden object/car/cleaner areas.

The interior of my car was vacuumed and scrubbed.

The trunk of my car was emptied and vacuumed. I hope you guys caught that. The trunk. Of my car. That I have not really touched since April when I was laid off. Was cleaned out. It was sad a little. I had a whole life at that company and that whole life was stuffed into my trunk where I did not have to face it. But after I threw a whole bunch of that life away, I felt lighter somehow. Also, look at it!



After.  Ain't it beauty-ful?

After. Ain’t it beauty-ful?

I cut my thumb open with a vegetable peeler. Not only was I not cooking anything, but I had been whipping about a razorblade all morning with no ill results, yet the moment I washed the dishes, I nearly bled to death in the kitchen. It was a scary time.

I lost my car keys. How I did that in this spotless, completely organized house is beyond me. I don’t know how you guys stand me. Really. I can barely stand myself.

I organized my closet. And here, my friends, is Addiction, Part Two.

Wall One

Wall One

Wall Two

Wall Two

You see all that? Those are hoodies. I love them. I can never have too many. I am on the never-ending quest for the perfect one and despite what you see here, I have not yet found it. One of those hoodies was stolen from an ex-boyfriend. It was literally the only thing I kept from that relationship of one whole year and my whole heart. Two of them I stole from a guy I went on two dates with. Four of them I stole from Coach (you see how I’m his fake wife?). Martie recently purchased one that I covet and the minute she gives even a whiff of letting me borrow it, it will be mine. That gray one there in the middle, it’s my favorite. That Titan’s one has a matching scarf Madre knitted for me. That pink one is for sleeping. Madre tried to borrow the purple one for just a week or two and initially I said yes, but as she was trying to put it on, I kept pulling it off and not letting go and eventually she just gave up and stuck it back in my closet. Some of them are specifically for use in the gym. Some of them are for house cleaning. Some of them are for dates (as if). Some of them are to be paired with jeans on casual Friday. Some of them have matching socks and t-shirts although all of them look good with a lacy camisole. That one up there with the bleach stains? You should know that the zipper is broken meaning I have to wrangle it closed with pliers, and it is two sizes too big, yet I cannot seem to part with it. You want me to go on? No? Really?

What were we talking about? I think I got ever so slightly sidetracked with the hoodies and now have forgotten the entire point I was trying to make. But, uh, I’m on a budget (perhaps it was how you can have a no-money fun weekend? By cleaning?) and I have addictions and these are first world problems.

The end.

P.S. I also have a wrapping paper addiction and am on my second year of a three year wrapping paper purchase ban. I also seem to have great affection for the long sleeved t-shirt. If any of you forgot to buy me a birthday present and feel pretty bad about it, I could give you a few suggestions.

P.P.S. Also, pajamas.

I Am On A Budget. And I Have Some Addictions. These Are First World Problems. (Part One)

I realized a few weeks ago that I have a Chap Stick addiction. I’m not even kidding. I never thought of it as an addiction, of course, because come on, flavored wax? An addiction? Anyway, I was in the airport heading back from Tampa and the TSA agents made us empty our purses of not only traditional liquids but also any lip goo or balm of any sort. I ignored them – always smart. When it was my turn to go through the feel-up-pat-down, they asked me to empty my handbag of all lip products (they were not joking) and go through again.


The contents of ONE bag in my purse. This does not include my emergency hidden stash, what is at my desk, and the lip stuff stored in the cabinets around the house.

This is a sad state of affairs.

I was laughing about this at work with one of my co-workers who I will call Daisy, and as I was rolling on a layer of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Treatment, she said, “You know that is addictive, right?”

“No, it isn’t,” I said, as I slathered on another layer.

“It is, look it up,” she says.

And so I did. Did you know there are websites devoted to this problem? I mean, pages and pages of testimony and quotes from Dr. Oz (who we all know is never to be questioned), and therapy centers. These websites give tips on how to quit the habit and explain why lip goo is bad for you. I was astounded. I felt so . . . . wrong. I had no idea it was such a problem! Right there I vowed to quit. No way would that be hard. Addictive, my foot.

Day One – I took my shower, brushed my teeth and instead of putting on Chap Stick after my face lotion, I left my lips alone. By the time I was done drying my hair, my lips felt tight and crinkly but I persevered. I drank some water to hydrate my skin and drove to work.

At work, my two favorite lip balms sat by my phone. I looked at them with longing, feeling like my mouth looked like the Sahara Desert, but I tucked them away into a drawer. I reasoned that if they were out of sight, I’d be alright.

“I’m giving up Chap Stick,” I announced to anyone who came to my desk. “That’s why I look like this.”

“Like what?” they’d ask.

“Like I’ve been sucking on a salt lick for days,” I’d say.

“You look fine. I can’t see any difference,” they’d say, and in my head I’d call them a liar.

Daisy checked on me throughout the morning. “You doing okay?” she’d ask. “This dry feeling will pass, I promise.”

Through dry, cracked, dead skin lips I’d croak, “Okay . . .” and she’d go off to get a Diet Coke.

After lunch, where I liberally used a dry, sandpaper napkin, I felt like I had taken a nail file and scrubbed the outline of my lips. I just knew I looked like my lip liner had done something very, very wrong, and I don’t even wear lip liner.

“I’m giving up Chap Stick,” I continued to announce throughout the afternoon, mournful and full of regret.

“Why?” my co-workers asked.

“It’s addictive. I’m an addict.” I’d show them the contents of my purse and they would nod knowingly.

I made it through the afternoon. I’m not sure how. I spent the better part of the hours between one and five in the bathroom, passing through all the water I drank trying to hydrate my cement-like lips. Daisy continued to check on me, offering support and cautioning me to have patience. “I promise, Jimmie. This will pass. You have to give your skin some time to adjust.” I said okay, all the while shooting daggers from my eyes at her. It was the longest afternoon of my life.

At bedtime, I flossed my teeth and drank another glass or two of water. I tucked away all my lip products in drawers so I wouldn’t accidentally use any of them in the middle of the night (I’ve been known to do that.) I went to sleep, dreaming of waxy-like substances in every flavor (except cherry because everyone knows that cherry-flavored Chap Stick is gross). Let me tell you, those were some fulfilling dreams.

Day Two – I awoke to lips that felt . . . .soft. Not crinkly. Not tight and not like cement. I showered and brushed my teeth and smeared on face lotion, drank some water and went to work . . . .

. . . . where I sneezed and split my lip because it was so dry and pulled so tight across my face that there was nowhere for the skin to go except to split during the sneeze. I opened my drawer and withdrew my two favorite lip balms. As I was smearing it across the general vicinity of the lower half of my face, Daisy walked in. “Jimmie . . . .” she breathed. “No . . . .”

I didn’t even feel guilty. Not even a little bit. I put the cap back on my Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Treatment, put it by the phone in its place of honor, and then opened the blue tube of Chap Stick and rubbed it all around my lips, too, defiant and uncaring. There they sit to this day, proud, ever-dwindling, my best friends.

Call me what you will. I love lip goo.

P.S. I know I didn’t really cover the Budget portion of my title. Hold, please. This is merely part one.

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