Just when you thought you were rid of me

What’s that? You feel like you haven’t heard from me enough today? You say one post’s worth of listening to me ramble on just isn’t enough for you to get through the day?

You want more, you say?

You don’t know who I’m listening to right now because you have heard plenty from me today?

Well, too bad. Because a former co-working has a blog where she features a wife every Monday, and GUESS who she’s featuring today?

Guess you’ll have to click here to know for sure, wontcha? WONTCHA.

Please don’t hate me.

(And if you’re interested in being a Meet A Wife Monday subject, let me know and I’ll send you the deets. It’s fun!)

Picture Perfect

Some of you may remember when I posted this little number on Twitter (and if you don’t follow me…well…it’s your own fault you were left out):

It was my first photo collage. I liked it, but there was something not quite right about it. Well…several things.

First, the cluster was a bit too tight. The wall above the back of my couch is spacious. And since I’m not allowed to paint it a soft grey (hrumph), the extra space around the frames seems especially barren. (At least to me. But remember, I’m the one who has to stare at it every time I come home.)

Secondly, the frames themselves are an issue. I’m not going to lie to you; they’re cheap. They came from Target in one of those insta-gallery sets. I just wanted to get stuff on the walls, and at the time making an investment didn’t seem that important.

My stylish friend Jessica actually inspired me to upgrade. She is doing something similar in her living room, and the last time I visited she had the frames in place. Nice frames. Pretty frames. And I knew it was time to join her in the grown-up world of grown-up picture frames.

Fortunately, I also had a Crate & Barrel coupon. And you know how I feel about coupons.

So I made the commitment to nicer frames. Next, I wanted to make sure I got the arrangement just right. I read a blog post (I can’t remember which blog, so I can’t find the link…this is bad blog karma) about how to measure without measuring, which, incidentally, is right up my alley.

First step: Measure your wall space. (D’oh…ok, there is some measuring. But this is easy, just measure one end to the other, width-wise.)

Second step: Unroll a large piece of wrapping paper to the same width of your wall.

Third step: Arrange your frames on the paper.

Fourth step: Using post-its, number the frames and label them. (This is important! The original how-to I read didn’t include this step, but I think it makes your life a lot easier. You’ll see why.)

Fifth step: Trace the frames onto the paper. Then mark in the traced boxes where the nail will go. (You may have to actually measure for this step, depending on the structure of your frames. Sorry.) Don’t forget to label each box with the number of its corresponding frame.

Sixth step: Hang the paper on the wall. (You may need a buddy for this…hubsters are especially helpful.)

Seventh step: Hammer in the nails into your pre-marked spots.

(See the number 2? That corresponds with the frame with the number 2 post-it. In case that wasn’t clear above.)

Eighth Step: Tear down the paper! (It’s like a giant present.) The nails will remain in the perfect spots. (You might not want to rip the paper up, though, so you can still see the numbers.)

Ninth step: Using the wrapping paper as a guide, hang the frames in their rightful spots.

And you’re done! (Well, I’m not done. Obviously I still have a few empty frames. But the point is, I’m done hammering.)

See the poster there in the middle? I’m totally smitten.

Anyone else have a gallery wall? What are your best tips for getting the arrangement right?

Like me…if you want to.

So…in lieu of ironic self-absorption, I have an announcement.

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One has it’s own Facebook page!

Yes, I created this after receiving that comment. No, the two were not really connected. It was something I had been planning to do for a while. Yes, I feel a little bit like a tool. But, no, I’m not taking it down.

I actually did hide it from the Facebook mini-feed for a few minutes. But a gchat convo with Susan made me buck up and share with the world. Enjoy:

Susan: YOUR BLOG HAS A FACEBOOK PAGE

Me: eeeee
yup
it’s about two hours old
I feel like a tool already
how did you see it?
(just curious)

Susan: it came up on my mini feed
i shall like it

Me: oh man haha
embarrassing
thanks though!
I was hoping I could create it secretly

Susan: haha
nope!
own it, girl!
you’re going to be famous one day
with a book deal and all
so you might as well get used to the exposure ๐Ÿ™‚

Me: haha makes me feel weird promoting myself. It’s the same reason I hate cover letters
I hid it from the feed
I’m a coward

Susan: justine!

Me: ok, un-hid
sorry
gah
you are a good stage mom

Susan: you are the girl that is always telling ME to be BRAVE

Me: I knoooow
I just got rattled by that comment, I think
like, am I really self obsessed?
I try not to be
I just want to someday work from home and have a puppy. Ok, and a book deal.
haha

Susan: Blogs are inherently self-obsessed, as you noted in your response.
It’s about YOU. And, you wouldn’t be writing a blog if you didn’t think you were an interesting, thoughtful person, worthy of attention. There’s nothing wrong with that, blog troll.
I will tell you a story. It was the summer of 08, and I was sitting in on a story-planning Newsweek meeting
and one of the reporters pitched a story that Obama had a big ego. And the editor replied, “The man thinks he should be the next leader of the free world. Of course he has a big ego. That is not a story.”

Me: haha
truth

Susan: I’m just saying; haters are gonna hate. But you’re going to write, people are going to read and enjoy it, and then you can reap the benefits of that.

Me: you’re right. I need to get a thicker skin.

Susan: It’s a very Midwestern trait, I think. We’re groomed to be modest. Especially as girls, I think we struggle with being like “Look at me! I’m awesome!” And, I think that sometimes holds us back.

Yet again, Susan makes excellent points. (She usually does.) I’m not good at out and out saying I’m good at something. I’ve gotten to the point where I can do it, but I always undercut the message with something self-deprecating.

Example: I am really good at Scrabble and Scattegories. But I usually say, “The only two games I’m good at are Scrabble and Scattegories.”

The message is, “Listen, I know I’m not good at much, but…”

Why do I do that?

Because, potential blog trolls of the world, I’m not self-obsessed. And I really don’t like portraying myself or being portrayed that way.

But the fact is, I’m proud of my little blog. I never would have guess that it would grow to what it has, and I guess I’m ready for some more exposure. (Eek!)

So, if you feel so inclined, like me on Facebook. And maybe tell your friends.

I’ll sure be awful grateful if you did.

My new favorite thing.

“Mary and I had been friends from the age of 3, and I had always had feelings for her. One night, as college friends, we went to dinner, and I told her, ‘I think there’s something here,’ to which she responded, ‘I think you need to think about that.’ I said, ‘Ok, I’ve thought about it for almost 20 years, but I can give it another week or two, I guess.’ She ended up staying with me that night, so I just went for it! I kissed her while we were about to fall asleep, and she was like a rock! Nothing! No response, no reaction, no reciprocation. So I thought, well, that was a great friendship that I just screwed up. Fast forward, a few weeks later we were on spring break together…yada yada yada…now we’re married.” — Austin, 29

Read this. Now.

Dear blog troll…

Well, well, WELL, well, well!

(I don’t know why, but starting a statement with a series of inflected “wells” is always funny to me. So…that’s why I’m repeating the joke.)

Here I was sitting in my ivory tower, brushing my flowing hair daily (no fewer than 1,000 strokes per side) and thinking only (only!) of myself and assuming you all were equally fascinated. I mean, come on, do you know anyone more interesting than me?? Be serious now.

And /sarcasm.

Although, it turns out, that is apparently the self-image I give off in this blog. Who knew?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (oops, there I go again talking about myself! On my own blog…) already know that earlier today I had the pleasure of experiencing my first hate comment from a stranger.

Irony of ironies, this actually did make me feel a little self-important. I mean, lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to comment more on other people’s blogs (it’s what makes the blog world go round, y’all), and I have to say, reaching out takes time! And effort! So you have to admit it’s a little funny that someone would go out of their way to acknowledge me as a way of proving to me that I don’t matter. (And with a username like “smarterthanyou.” One would think not, my friend.)

I should clarify that I have no problem with constructive criticism, but if you’re going to tell me I’m doing something wrong, it had better be something I can fix. Not talking about myself on my personal lifestyle blog? Not too much I can do there.

Sigh, I guess this is the life I asked for. Paris Hilton should be calling any minute so we can swap hater stories. We self-obsessed girls gotta stick together, ya know?

But just because I would prefer not to continue the negativity on my blog (which I consider to be a happy space), let’s turn this into something positive, shaaaaallll we?

Here’s my top 5 list of things that are about other people that I like:

1. My friend Heather is throwing a really cool dinner party that I’m super excited about. She is the ultimate hostess, and she even sent out some gorgeous invitations for the event. Don’t you love having creative friends?

2. My other friend Susan has started blogging again, after an almost year-long hiatus. I love Susan, and I love her blog almost as much. Today she wrote a really great post about overcoming the stigma of loving your significant other more than work. Definitely worth a read.

3. A former co-worker and friend’s dog was featured on BusinessInsider.com for his awesome Kanye West costume. Yes. A dog. Dressed as Kanye. Stop pretending like you didn’t click the link before I even finished this sentence.

4. Another former co-worker and friend now writes for Everyday Health, and she posted her first blog post here about how taking the pill changes how you pick your partner.

5. My husband made excellent use of our door clip again today by leaving me a note reminding me (oops! Used a selfish pronoun. Sorry!) to leave his debit card, which he had accidentally left in my car a couple of days ago. He’s so smart/thoughtful.

Of course, I’m sure that there are loads of other things going on in other people’s lives right this second, and many of them would probably be excellent blog posts. Alas, I’m me. (Sorry.) So, in general, I can only write about…well…me.

But you should feel better, random troll from Jersey. I spent the whole blog post talking about you. You’re welcome.

Repeat. And again.

I know this girl who is a terrible story teller. I don’t want to say how I know her, but suffice to say our relationship hasn’t been that long or, thankfully, storied. But the fact remains.

Terrible. TERRIBLE.

First of all, she speaks very, very slowly, and pauses at awkward places, presumably to build up suspense. The problem is, all of her stories are:

a) about nothing anyone cares about. Like, how she decided which yogurt to eat for lunch, or a conversation she had with her mom about carpet cleaner.

b) entirely devoid of punchlines. Every SINGLE time she finishes I story, I’m still leaning in like, “And then?” But there is no and then. There’s nothing more. But she’s sitting there preening and waiting for some big laugh. I. Don’t. Get. It.

I’ve been kind of spoiled because so many of my friends are GOOD story tellers. A lot of them are journalists, so if they can’t tell a story, they have bigger problems. But even my non-professional writer friends are good story tellers. Two great examples? Annie and Work Annie. (Not to be confused.) Both GREAT story tellers, in print and in spoken word. If they say they have a story, I settle in.

I don’t think it’s good for me to be around bad story tellers. What if it’s catching?

I already have enough insecurities about whether or not I’ve already told a story, let alone if it was any good. I mean, when I finally see someone in person I haven’t seen for a while, my first question is, “Do you read my blog?” And if they say yes, it’s followed up quickly with, “Are you caught up?” Because I really don’t want to bore them with stories they’ve already heard, and probably with better grammar and sentence structure.

Because when I have a story finalized, that’s how I tell it. Every time. Same jokes, same inflection. It has been elevated to an art form, and I’m not going to mess that up by “trying something new.”

Joey can validate this for me. Being married to me, he has to hear me tell the same stories and jokes multiple times. Bless him, he’ll usually laugh no matter how many times he’s heard it. But lately he’s taken to doing this thing that gets me every single time.

He’ll start telling me my own stories back like it’s something that happened to him.

For example, I guess I must have told him a couple of times how when the movie Beethoven came out, there’s this scene where the little blonde kid drives a car through a factory wall. For some reason, my brothers and I found this beyond hilarious and once rewound it about eight times and watched it over and over again. Good times. (Have no idea what I’m talking about? You HAVE to watch this before you continue reading. Still don’t get it? Well…forget you.)

Apparently I had told this story to my husband one too many times. One day we were walking somewhere, and I saw something that reminded me of that story. Unable to remember if I had already told him, I started to launch into the story. This happened:

Me: You know the scene in Beethoven where the kid drives through the factory?

Him: Yeah, I used to watch that scene over and over with my brothers.

For about half a second, I actually thought, “Oh my gosh, I did that too! We’re so similar! We’re totally soul mates.” And then I saw him grinning at me, remembered he had no brothers, and slugged him in the arm.

He’s started doing this a lot. It’s gotten to the point where when he tells me that he did something I’ve done, I’m 90% sure he’s teasing me.

Case in point, the last time we were in the city, we were on the train home when he tells me he used to name all his pets Bob.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, buddy. I used to name all my pets Bob.

I didn’t remember actually ever telling him this, but my skepticism took over.

Me: Are you only saying that because you know that I used to name ALL of my pets Bob?

Him: What? No, I really named him Bob. Did you do that?

Me: Never mind.

Him: No, really, all of them?

Me: I said never mind!

It’s really putting a strain on our marriage, as you can see.

The point is, bad stories hurt, and bad story tellers are even worse. And if you’re a bad story teller, you shouldn’t start a blog. Lord knows I’ve cornered the market on that one.