You Know What Really Grinds My Gears? Or My List of First World Problems

-When two people stand on opposite sides of the hallway and carry on a conversation that I have to walk through. If I walk through your conversation more than once, saying “excuse me” each time, how about you get it together and convene somewhere else? Or at least stand on the same side of the hallway.

-When people misuse the following words/phrases:

  • Error on the side of caution = Err on the side of caution
  • It would behoove of you = It would behoove you
  • Irregardless = not a word
  • Due to = due should be only used in matters of finance; use “because of”
  • In regards to = in regard to; regards are only given
  • Intensive purposes = intents and purposes

-When I receive an email that tells me I have successfully unsubscribed from emails

-When people “apologize” by saying “I’m sorry you feel that way.” No, be sorry for what you did.

-When my kid dumps his shoes full of sand onto my freshly vacuumed carpet. *shakes fist at sky*

-Littering. It’s just lazy.

-People who smoke. Just because you do it outside doesn’t mean you don’t reek of it. I can appreciate a good drag maybe once every few years when I’m blitzed, but smokers are notorious for taking more breaks at work than non-smokers.

-How terrible American chocolate tastes. Hershey’s tastes like wax.

-How many passwords I have to remember. I wrote them all down once; I have over sixty-five, not including social media. Yup.

-That I can never remember how to spell:

  • lieutenant
  • rendezvous
  • guarantee

-That the Pun of the Day app stopped being compatible with Apple software

-Acronyms that don’t make sense. This includes acronyms within acronyms. Stop trying to acronymize a thesis statement, United States Navy!

-That I wasn’t allowed to own a car in Japan, but my husband was. This is because he was the sponsor for the Status of Armed Forces that allows Americans to own cars in Japan. I understand why, but that really ground my gears.

-When people make lists of what grinds their gears.

-Embedded links on people’s pages that give them money if you click on them. Ads on people’s pages. That certain websites won’t let you access them if you have on ad blocker (which I know you can solve by disabling JavaScript but should I REALLY have to do this?!). Pop-ups. LITERALLY ANYTHING THAT IS TRYING TO MAKE MONEY FROM MY VIEWING. Don’t try to show me what you think I want to see based upon my cookies. If I need something, I’ll find it. I will never put ads on my blog. Jesus, this really irritates me. I don’t even care if you are upfront about your affiliate links. You look like a douchebag (“Hey guys, I’ll get paid if you click on certain links in my blog!” Fantastic. I’ll just Google the item instead of clicking on your link. Yes, I’m that petty. You made me read your life story when I just wanted a brownie recipe.). Give me the old-school subliminal messaging to change my purchasing habits.

-That algorithms give people what they think they want to hear and see, which ends up allows like-minded people to congregate. This develops pockets of like-minded people who dutch rudder each other with their points of view instead of exposing them to different points of views that might allow them to grow in their understanding and compassion of others. I would vent on this one awhile too.

-When songs or commercials or TV shows aren’t the same volume as the other things I’m watching/listening to. Stop making me mess with my volume. It isn’t that hard to change the decibels on a recording (first hand knowledge here; stay tuned for my sex tape).

Alright. I think I’m done for now.

Punching the Clown

It started in the usual way when he was about twelve: with his hand. It felt okay, amazing even, but it never quite compared to the warm wet pocket of a woman, which, of course, he wouldn’t know until two years later, when he would lose his virginity to the trailer trash girl down the street. She tasted like Smirnoff ice and cheap cigarettes that she bought from the corner store. No one carded the sixteen year old; no one thought they needed to validate her age when her breasts hung like a thirty year old used up hooker. Her teeth were already stained from years of tobacco use, but he wasn’t focused on her teeth as he discovered the greatest feeling known to man.

That’s when his addiction began. Once he knew what the warm and gooey inside of a woman felt like, he spent every waking moment trying to recreate that sensation. He tried going back to his hand when the slut dropped him and went onto her next pimply-faced project but it just wasn’t the same. He tried to add in lotion, but the bottle on his mom’s bedside table smelled like the inside of a nursing home and nothing killed his desire faster than images of wrinkles, denture cream, and long-forgotten hard candies floating through his mind.

So he had to get creative. Foods were simple enough to experiment with; he was a growing boy so no one in the house blinked an eye if an entire jar of peanut butter went missing. But he found that peanut butter in a jar was too stiff compared to the slippery shelter that haunted his dreams.

Pineapple was next. He didn’t know why he wanted to try it, with its prickly outside. His mother had bought two at the farmers market on Saturday. When everyone sat down at the dinner table to partake in cottage cheese and slices of the first pineapple, he imagined filling the hole where the core had existed. So he waited for everyone else to go to church the next day (he was excused from attending as a surly teenager), and he snuck down to the kitchen to core the second pineapple to the right size.

There’s an enzyme in pineapple that disintegrates flesh. 1/10

So he kept it safe with non-organic materials for a bit.

The end of a trumpet was difficult and cold, and left his brother confused at what leaked out of his instrument during “Turn the Beat Around”. 3/10 would recommend.

Silly putty molded nicely, and heated up really well. Unfortunately, it became too smooth and caught his skin roughly. 7/10

Soon, it became a game. As he eased into his twenties, nothing was off limits. The occasional girl would enter his bed for a few months and the desire to explore would abate. But the moment she inevitably left him, he was at it again, with a tube full of the Orbeez balls. Those were perfectly slippery and slightly gooey but didn’t grasp him the right way. 8/10

There was a nice pipe that provided just the right amount of pressure if he pressed downwards while he worked it, but his roommate became too suspicious. The pipe next to his bed stand could easily be explained away as a security defense but the roommate was uncomfortable. 7/10

Jello was nice but broke apart easily. The red jello in particular would dye his skin into a rod of fury. Orange made him jaundiced and scared the ladies. 6/10

But one day…one day he found the best…fit, so to speak.

He was twenty-five and visiting his parents during Christmas break. The whole family was there to exchange presents and light the tree and participate in other ordinary traditions expected of a Midwestern family. His parents had purchased a new couch.

He noticed it the moment he walked into the decorated living room. Its texture was so soft and its structure was so firm. There were multiple pillows that could easily be arranged in the most pleasurable position, from his past experiences. It was gray.

He waited until everyone else went to the Christmas Eve Service before he approached the couch. He was considerate enough of his parent’s purchase and placed a towel between the cushions to prevent…spillage. He fashioned a hole and filled it with lube from his last girl. She liked the strawberry kind.

As he stripped down in his parent’s living room, he gazed upon his latest object of desire and knew that this was going to be good.

And it was. Oh, it was. It was the first 10/10 he had ever felt, and he let out a tiny moan as he desecrated the main focal point of the living room.

There was a sound behind him of a quick gasp, and he whipped his head around to see his entire family standing in shock just inside the doorway.

“Elizabeth forgot her gloves.”


Some Administrative Stuff

I’m sure you’re wondering what happened to me writing The Breaking of the “Innocent”. As it turns out, publishers don’t take too kindly to “previously published” works, even if the publishing occurred on a personal blog. Therefore, I have locked down all chapters and haven’t published any others that I have written.

I found an editor, who is actually pretty awesome, and possibly have a lead in for a huge agent. Let’s cross our fingers, shall we? I have completely edited the entire manuscript, and I have about ten percent left to write before an introduction to two international publishers. If you wish to stay up to date on the book, which is now called Breaking “Innocence”, please follow me on my Facebook page, Bamboo and Bananas.

Thanks for following!

A Blue-Eyed Beginning

His eyes were a piercing blue. I know that sounds cliche, and well, it is cliche. But I would be lying if I identified them in any other way. From the moment we locked eyes, it seemed like that blue cracked open my soul and tossed it into the air for further dissection. His eyes were piercing and deep, and I still shudder to remember how he looked through me.

He was dangling over the edge of the security barrier at the concert we were both working with his back to the band. I had been yanked from the main stage, where Prince was performing, to conduct security at one of the side stages. Prince said I made him uncomfortable so I was removed from his security team in a rapid display of star appeasement. I was placed about six feet to the right of this man’s position. The blue-eyed man studied me with those eyes and said nothing. Of course he couldn’t say anything from that far away; the music was too loud.

He remained standing with his foot up on the barrier and with his arms resting on the ledge. He made the gaudy bright-yellow “Security” tee-shirt look good. His arms were tan and muscled, but his physical prowess wasn’t what drew me to him. It was his presence. A crowd of over 100,000 drunk and screaming fans were laid out in front of him and he looked like he was hanging over the fence at his ranch at sunset to see his cattle home. The crowd, the noise, the pulsing vibrations of the multiple stages seemed a million miles away from him. He studied me hard before returning his attention to the crowd.

The night went on in a blur of light and noise. One particularly rowdy concert-goer began to yell obscenities in my direction. I had been forewarned by the security lead to ignore the comments that were sure to be yelled at me. They don’t get many small females to volunteer for the security teams for a reason. I acted as though I couldn’t hear the comments containing phrases such as “slut-fucking” but my face turned red and my eyes began to well up with hot and unwelcome tears. Unwilling to let the man see how his words affected me, I turned to watch the stage briefly to try and regain my composure.

I felt the beer hit my back in a slosh of sticky liquid. My overly large yellow “Security” shirt clung to me as I whipped around to face the offending party. My fellow security guard was already standing between me and the beer welder. His voice was calm as he told the man to step back. The drunk was so inebriated that he wasn’t able to see how strong my defender was as he continued to try and grab at me from over the barrier. The guard calmly lifted the drunk up into the air by the front of his shirt with both of his fists…and threw him. A group of other guards, who were motioned to the area by the man who protected me, picked up the guy and carried him out of the concert.

Kurt stayed by my side for the rest of the night, calming scanning the area continuously. We carried on a conversation out of the sides of our mouths as we watched the crowd for more trouble. He would bend down and speak into my ear. His breath was hot in the cool desert night air.

By the end of the concert, amid the piles of trash and drug paraphernalia, we were both dangling from the barrier, laughing and exchanging life stories. We were so engrossed in each other that we missed the bands packing up around us. When people asked us to move from the barrier so they could pack it up, we glanced up to an empty venue, and people from our respective sections were looking for us.

It was four in the morning before we had to part ways onto separate buses. He asked for my phone number, and I gladly gave it.

Minutiae of the Day

There are dishes to be done and beds to be made,

Clean laundry to fold and educational games to be played,

Pointless emails to answer and dripping noses to wipe,

And of course, now we have a busted pipe.


“Just fill out this form,” the bank teller will say,

“Welcome to the minutiae of the day”.


There are shoelaces to be bought and dry cleaning to pick up,

Pets to be fed and kid, please empty your cup.

There’s milk to be bought and bills to be paid.

And look, the dog’s collar is a little too frayed.


“It is what it is,” the old and broken people say,

“Welcome to the minutiae of the day”.


You look around at your mess of a life

That never seems bad but is somehow always full of strife

And remember that it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

We wished for this time during one we didn’t know we would miss.


Remember when we experienced a time

That we could play and not worry about the rate of local crime?

When dinner would be made and there were books to be read?

When our worries were small, like what had Ashley said?!


Now there are reading logs to fill out and calories to count

Your marriage is suffering, because of you, no doubt.

You think of everything that STILL needs to be done

And realize your life isn’t much fun.


But there is a toilet that needs cleaning and ten missing socks

You need a new key for that pesky third lock

That is only installed because of the neighborhood crime

Which would you surely help fight if you only had the time.


But the minutiae of the day that bears on our heads,

Seems to tear our mental sanity to shreds

It is pointless and irritating and seemingly for naught.

Are we just doing what we’ve always been taught


To keep everything so and not let anything slide?

What if we let go and just went along for the ride?

Fuck all the dishes and laundry and bills.

Isn’t this better than eventually abusing the pills?


But then dinner isn’t made and the kids’ faces are dirty

You need to check the mail and crap, your sister is turning 30.

There’s vomit on the carpet and you need new shampoo

There’s so much you can’t ignore, so much you have to do.


“I guess this is life,” you inevitably say,

“Welcome to the minutiae of the day”

To Those Of Us Who Find It Hard To Remove Bad People From Our Lives

I’m sure we have all read about how we should discard the people in our lives who are emotionally draining, who don’t deposit into the “friendship” bank enough to balance out the incessant withdrawals they make, who are verbally and emotionally abusive, and who generally suck the life out of us. We should dispose of the rotting remains of something that was quite possibly beautiful at one point but has turned rancid because of grudges or mistakes or general life changes. We are told again and again to cut the dead weight…But when it comes to our personal situations, we seem to make a dozen excuses as to why we must keep a particular happy-suck in our life.


Technology has made it really easy to maintain relationships these days…even the ones that would have naturally evaporated away in a simpler time. This means that it takes a few seconds to reach out and connect with someone who you probably should have left in 2009. Casual connections via social media allow us to remain attached to people we have outgrown. This is bad. We allow people to become dementors who suck everything good out of the world and leave us grumpy, shaken, uncomfortable, and desperately craving chocolate.

Here is a bit of advice for you, and for me to reiterate to myself: just cut them out. Slice off that diseased lump of rotting flesh and cauterize the wound. Make yourself your own patronus and scare off the dementors.

But what about second chances? We are supposed to give second chances!

He-hem, I am the queen of second chances. I give second chances so quickly that I’m usually on the forth or fifth one before I realize that I fell for the bullshit again. I have found that once someone shows me that they will be exiting my life (because they cheated or lied or stole or hit me or insulted me or wouldn’t stop texting me Mariah Carey lyrics at 4 am), I am probably going to give them a give them an undeserved second chance because people change, right? 


Okay, maybe that’s harsh. Some people may change. I’ve seen it twice. But generally, people aren’t too emotionally intelligent to understand why their actions are harmful and they will continue to treat you poorly. They will probably not change, because they don’t want to change.

So if you’re going to give a singular second chance, hold them at a distance. Study their actions and if you see that behavior resurface, let them go and don’t look back.

But we need to be tolerant of others’ opinions! I can’t cut someone out because they disagree with me.

I wouldn’t suggest that you cut someone off because they like Nickleback, but some opinions are actually intolerable and should be eradicated from society. “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”  I will not tolerate racism, sexism, or any -ism that proves someone is choosing to be close-minded. If I try to inform them of why their comment is hateful and I get bullied, I know that person is a piece of shit who is unwilling to hear why they might be wrong. 


Okay, but what if I need this person for something later?

Oh boy, this is a big one for me, and it is a little tough for me to admit that I have tended to keep people in my life who treat me badly “just in case” I need something later. The world is a series of networks and people and social connections. When we burn bridges, we can seriously affect our chances to get that job or make that deal. Right?


If I have to subject myself to being treated poorly, you can take that job/beach house/knowledge about programming and shove it. No one deserves to endure horrible treatment on the premise that the perpetrator might be useful later on. You don’t need that treatment now and you can guarantee the bad treatment won’t stop once you cash in that favor. In fact, it will be even worse.

But isn’t it rude?

If you’re a total asshole about cutting them out, then yeah, probably. Sometimes that rudeness might be necessary to get your message across to your ex-friend/acquaintance/lover/family member/stranger from the Internet who is rude to you. But if you have repeatedly tried “Hey, man, I feel like shit when you ______. Perhaps you can _______ and we can work together to maintain this relationship. I sure would appreciate it.” and they continue their shitty behavior? Then it’s time to cut the cord. If you are upfront about your emotions and how you feel, then you shouldn’t feed like it was rude.


But if you just choose to end contact swiftly without an explanation and it helps you not wince every time you see your phone light up wondering, “What on earth it is now?”:


I have removed contact from five different people who have been total jerks to me this week. It is only Wednesday. Two of them I have known and maintained a semblance of a friendship with for ten years. They are out. Another one? Two years. The last two? A few months. All of them were on their 5+ chance to become decent people and friends and they failed miserably. No one is irreplaceable.


And you deserve better. There are 7.6 billion people on this planet. Go find the good ones.

Financial Advice From Someone Who Has No Official Education On The Subject But Seems To Be Doing Okay

No, there are no affiliate links. I just want to help people.

Let’s talk finances. For some reason, speaking of money makes people uncomfortable. Perhaps it is the idea that a person’s value is based upon their net worth and everyone is afraid to look like “less of a person” when they aren’t the richest in the room. However, it is only through discussion that we learn and grow! Don’t be selfish with your money knowledge! Let’s talk about some of the ways I have found to save money/grow money. No, it is not all inclusive but it is a start. Not all of these may be applicable to you, but check it out anyway:


-Check to see if you are owed any money by companies by searching your name in every state you have ever lived for “unclaimed property”. Companies have to report funds that they owe their customers to the state comptroller and when it isn’t claimed, the money goes…? No idea, but this is legit and safe. Check for your family members (even deceased!). Quite a few people I know received a windfall from this tip. Personally, I was owed $60 and I am expecting the check within the week. Some work may be required to claim your money, like proving who you are, but duh…this is money that is literally yours. Go get it. And check once a year for newer accounts. Companies are shady. Don’t let them not pay you.

-Ask for lower APRs on your credit cards once a year. This will save you money if you do have debt that you are paying off.

-Ask your credit card company to increase your credit limit once a year. This helps your credit score. This doesn’t mean use that extra credit; just lower your credit to debt ratio by increasing how much money you COULD spend.

-Link all of your accounts together to be viewed in one place. USAA does this easily. I have 23 accounts that I manage; I separate them into “Banking”, “Debt”, “Savings”, “Investments”, and “Insurance”. This allows me to see everything at the same time with no guessing about accounts at other banks. Link everything: loans, savings, credit cards, checking, TSP, 401k, IRAs, etc.!

– Look at the statements of every account religiously. Challenge anything that looks out of place. Make sure you cancel any automatic charges that you see that you aren’t using anymore. When I walked one friend through this step of financial welfare, he found that he had been paying Sirius XM for a car he had sold over a year ago. WHAT?!

-Automate all of your bills. It’s 2018. Come on. Besides saving money on stamps and saving the trees, this prevents any bills from being paid late.

-Because accidents happen, set up backup accounts for every account that pays your bills. This prevents overdraft fees because your bank will automatically dip into your backup overdraft account when your original account can’t keep up with your expensive coffee habit. Some banks (like Navy Federal Credit Union) actually allow you to open a small line of credit as an overdraft account. Other banks may ask you to use your savings account. Either way, you have a good buffer in case some asshole company accidentally charges you twice and sends you into overdraft fee area. (Beware, that line of credit will cost you interest if you don’t pay it off immediately, but that won’t happen to you, right? You know to check your accounts religiously.)

-This bullet is going to be huge. Everyone says to write out a budget. Oh yeah, that’s a great idea. Of course it is. Pull up Microsoft Excel and write out a line item list of your budget. Identify every source of income and every expense. I suggest making each tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet its own month. Here is what mine looks like:


There are a few equations I’ve built into the spreadsheet to calculate totals. When a source of income comes in, I mark it green; when a bill is paid, I mark it green. I have identified every due date (automatic payments, my friend) as comments on the bills. “Other Deductions” and some of the investments are automatically withdrawn from paychecks so I don’t give them a color.

Separating into 1-15 and 16-31 columns allows me to see how evenly my bills hit my accounts. You can call up companies to move your bills to another date within the month to spread the pain over the month a bit.

The BIGGEST game changer for me was creating a new line in the budget for “Yearly Expenses.” I don’t know about you but every huge annual bill seemed to hit at the exact same time for us (probably because we tend to make huge life decisions at the same time every year when the military moves us.) During this month, I would see savings accounts drain to cover bills like vehicle registration, ball tickets, insurance, and Amazon Prime. So I took every yearly fee and listed it on a separate tab. I identified its due date and how much it costed yearly. I added up every yearly charge, and then divided it by 12 (for months in the year, doofus). This was my new line item in the budget. As time went on, I expanded this line item to include $2000 a year in vehicle maintenance (think oil changes, paying for parking, and new windshield wipers). So when I needed new tires, I didn’t even flinch. It was already covered in this “Yearly Expenses” account.

I also identified every outstanding issue for finances (don’t we all have those?) to keep an eye on. For example, I have been fighting the VA for a ton of money since 2016. That is on my list and will be until they GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY. Other things on the list include known financial variables such as guaranteed raises and when they will happen, getting multiple vehicle discounts on your insurance when the vehicles are insured in the same state, etc. Think of that tab as a financial forecast for you to know what is coming (good and bad).

Let me know if you want me to send you a copy of my full budget spreadsheet. I have been doing this for five years and it has given me serious peace of mind.

-There are free National Parks Days. Use them!

-Everyone should aim for these financial milestones:

-Three to six months’ worth of savings that will cover EVERY bill in case something goes wrong.

– No debt

– 15% of your income into retirement. Some companies match up to 5%, which is FREE MONEY!

– Everyone should also have the following:

-Life insurance

-Medical insurance

-Dental insurance

-A will

-Possibly a power of attorney if you think you can handle someone else making financial decisions when you are in a coma. Haha!

-Other good tips:

-Housing shouldn’t cost more than 28% of your income.

-If you lend money to friends and family, don’t expect it back. I’m not saying not to give it to them, but understand that once it leaves you, it is gone. If they surprise you and give it back, hey, it’s a nice windfall.


-Sign up for active duty checking through Navy Federal Credit Union. You can get this while you are active duty and continue to receive the benefits, such as $20 back a month in ATM fees from any ATM in the world, for the rest of the time your account is open, even if you are no longer active duty. When ATMs charge you ridiculous fees to access your own money, I see this as a win.

-Sign up for the Navy General Library Program and download Overdrive onto your phone. With your military email account, you can access millions of audiobooks and e-books FOR FREE. Don’t pay for Audible; if the Navy Library doesn’t have the book, you can request it. This is an amazing resource.

-Realize that you get free access to National Parks and Monuments for free while you are active duty.

-Notary services are free at all legal offices.


-Get rated by Veteran’s Affairs (VA), EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO INJURIES. California allows any child of a United States veteran to attend any state college or university TUITION FREE with a disability rating of 0%. Do you realize how huge this is??! That alone is worth my entire enlistment.

-Veterans with a verified disability can receive a pass for free access to all National Parks and Monuments. America is beautiful, guys. Go see it for free.

Let me know if you have any questions or want that spreadsheet: