Door In Face not responsible for hurt feelings, cry babies or the intellectually challenged.

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Moving: The Worst Punishment to Endure

I can think of no better punishment for criminals and miscreants than to force them to move to a new home every six months. Moving is the worst punishment to endure.

My husband Brian and I are moving next week. Prayers are welcome.

Next week’s move will be our second in two years. The previous move took us from Augusta, Georgia to Greenville, South Carolina, our current home. Now, we are vacating the apartment we’ve rented since our arrival in SC and we are moving across town to a charming (read tiny) home in a historic district.

Our last move was major. We moved roughly three hours away, changed states and changed jobs. We sold our home in Augusta and I sold my pet sitting business. We rose early on a Saturday morning and with the help of family, loaded a truck, drove it to Greenville and unloaded it all on the same day. It was a Saturday that lasted ten years.

There is no language, dead or living, that sums up the exhaustion we felt at the end of that interminable day.

The experience taught us several things about moving.

First, not all of our belongings will fit into U-Haul’s largest truck. I’d always thought our possessions were modest until we moved from a charming three-bedroom house (read tiny) into a small, two-bedroom apartment (read microscopic).

Secondly, paper cuts are bad, but paper cuts from cardboard boxes make you cry like a four-year-old. To this day, Brian won’t handle them without work gloves. It makes receiving shipments from Amazon both a joy and a terror.

Finally, even in our thirties, we are too old to move. Ibuprofen, medicated muscle relief patches and sadistic massage therapists couldn’t relieve the back pain we felt. We limped and moaned for days, stretching to no avail.

After that hellacious experience, Brian and I have a few tricks to make the next move go more easily.

We scheduled two days instead of one for loading the truck, driving across town and unloading our furniture.

Brian has his trusty work gloves with which to confront scary cardboard boxes.

But most importantly, because my back is still in bad shape and Brian is forty-one now, we bribed several of his employees to help us.

They’re neither criminals nor miscreants but they are twenty-somethings. They won’t feel this pain for at least ten more years.


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Roald Dahl once said, “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.”

Dahl would know. He was a writer and is famous for such works as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and my mother’s favorite, Matilda.

It’s a poetic statement and in large part, I agree with Mr. Dahl on all points except one.

I agree that a person is a fool to become a writer. (Who would do this on purpose?) It’s hard work for little reward.

I also agree that the only compensation is absolute freedom. After I filed last year’s tax returns, several IRS agents called me to offer their condolences. They assured me that I’d needn’t bother with the forms this year if my earnings continued to be so low.

However, Mr. Dahl is wrong when he says that a writer has no master except his own soul. It is true that the soul is master, especially where writing is concerned. I often say to friends that I did not choose to be a writer. It chose me. As I must breathe so must I write. Yet there is one other master that is more demanding, more exacting than my own soul.

My cat.

While the rest of America spends their workday in a cubicle, I spend mine under a cat. People who say cats aren’t needy have never met Seti. As I sit before my computer, he sits on my lap, or my shoulder, or my head, or anywhere he can cram all eight pounds of his feline frame.

Other people have bosses who demand reports I have a “boss” who demands catnip. Other people have coworkers who want to chat over coffee. I have a “coworker” who chatters at the birds outside my office window. Other people have staff who try to get away with doing as little work as possible. I don’t have staff. Cats work for no one.

Seti shoulder

The little task master asleep on my shoulder. He won’t even let me watch TV without catering to his needs. Oh, yeah, and if you don’t follow me on Facebook (you should) then you don’t know that I’m blonde again.

It is plain to me that Mr. Dahl, though a brilliant and celebrated writer never lived with a cat. If he had, he would know that like writing, cats chose us, and once chosen by one or both, you are indeed a servant for the rest of your days.


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Tiny Rebellion

I have two nieces and both are gymnasts.

My oldest niece, Callie, is eight and quite advanced. Two Christmases ago, her parents bought her a balance beam and a set of uneven bars so she can practice gymnastics at home. She spends eight hours a week training at the gym and more practicing on her home equipment in the garage.

Her younger sister, Nicole, has learned a lot from watching her. Nicole is four and takes a fun one hour a week gymnastics class at the same gym where Callie practices.

It’s a class designed to get small kids moving and stretching. They practice important life lessons like paying attention, making friends and stretching their legs while they are still young enough to reach their toes.

Nicole is a spunky kid. She had the forward roll (what we called a somersault when I was a kid) mastered before she ever entered the class. Her older sister has even taught her how to use the balance beam and uneven bars in their garage. If the beginner’s gymnastic class was graded, Nicole would blow the curve.

One day in class, when Nicole should have been learning to pay attention, she decided she was bored. Like most small children, she’s dangerous when she’s bored.

Instead of stretching her legs and somersaulting, I mean, forward rolling, with her classmates, she abandoned the class and climbed onto the balance beam. She twirled with skill cultivated from practicing in the garage with her big sister.

Her classmates were mesmerized. Who knew this class could be so much fun?

In seconds, she fomented a rebellion of tiny people. Like a short Pied Piper, she led her classmates around the gym, over exercise balls, under the pommel horse and through the legs of a practicing cheerleading team.

Tots, too young to master the potty, teetered on balance beams designed for much longer legs. Short people, too diminutive to reach the uneven bars leaped and capered for them anyway. One small boy, being more adventurous than the others, climbed up one side and swung like a monkey from the bar.

Gymnastic coaches panicked. This was a full-blown, often cited but rarely seen, code blue.

And my niece was the orchestrator of the chaos.

“She cannot come back to this class,” a frazzled coach told my sister after the errant children had been corralled with animal crackers.

My niece was kicked out of toddler gymnastics.

However, she was invited back to try out for advanced placement with the larger kids. The coaches may not appreciate being undermined, but they know talent when they see it.


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Honest as a Four-Year-Old

If people in business were as honest as children are every day, it would so radicalize the marketplace that only the greatest ideas would survive.

Children aren’t afraid to tell the truth – unless they think they’re in trouble. Then they’re capable liars. (I once knew a used car salesman who filmed his nine-year-old son’s explanation of why his report card was so poor so he could use it as study prep for selling clunkers to an unsuspecting populace.)

When you ask a child for their opinion, they’ll give you the hard, honest truth.

Take my four-year-old niece for example. While visiting over the holidays, she asked me for a cup of hot chocolate. I don’t keep hot chocolate mix in my house for fear I’ll eat it straight from the package.

I can make hot chocolate from powdered cocoa, coconut milk, vanilla extract and honey. It’s low in sugar so naturally, I knew she wouldn’t like it. I quadrupled the amount of honey and hoped for the best.

“How is it,” I asked her.

“It’s a little bit,” she thought carefully.

What, I thought, too hot? Too sweet? Too chocolaty?

“Yucky,” she finished. “It’s a little bit yucky.”

I considered how I might make it less “yucky” and stared into the pantry for inspiration while briefly lamenting what commercialized hot chocolate has done to our youth – and my waistline.

Then, I spied my inspiration: confectioners’ sugar.

I loaded her chocolate down with powered sweetness and handed it back.

“That’s better, Aunt Nora.” She gave it her stamp of approval and chugged.

I considered the quantity of sugar she was bolting and was relieved that she wasn’t spending the night with me. Yep, I’m that aunt.

When I consider my niece’s brutal honesty, I wonder how many products would have never make it to market if they had been tested by kids first.

Kids will tell you that birthday cards for dogs are dumb. Dogs can’t read.

They know that while grandpa probably needs a nose hair trimmer, he isn’t going to use a nose hair trimmer. Grandpa stopped wearing a shirt and brushing the hair on his head four years ago. Why would he care about a little thing like two-inch nose hairs?

And I’m certain that children could have stopped the great New Coke Debacle of the 1980’s.

In a taste test between Coca-Cola Classic and New Coke, my niece would have deemed New Coke, “A little bit yucky,” and saved the company a lot of hassle.




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My Winter Jacket

Winter is nearing its end (we fervently pray) here in South Carolina. This is a challenging time of year for me. Spring fever rages in my blood and I yearn for warm weather like a rabid groundhog.

I loathe winter.

The longer the frigid season persists, the more irrational I get. I stock up on groceries so I don’t have to leave my apartment if the temperature falls below 50 degrees. I take the car out on warm, sunny afternoons and fill it with gas. There’s nothing I fear more than filling an empty gas tank in the cold, dark grip of a February morning.

I become angry at my coat.

Somehow, in my sun-deprived brain, I come to believe that it’s my coat’s fault that it’s cold and dreary out. What was charming outerwear in November suddenly has all the appeal of a straight jacket. The bother of wrestling myself into the purple wool monstrosity begins to be too much in late February and I glare at it as it hangs innocently on its hook by the door.

The coat is bad enough. Then, there are the jerks who make overzealous use of thermostats.

You bundle up in layer upon layer. Shuffle out to the ice-laden car and chisel the windows. It takes the entire drive to your destination to thaw your frozen fingers. Back into the cold you go, as you walk from the car to the building where, suddenly, you’re assaulted by a tropical blast from central heating.

The shocking shift in temperature is akin to strolling from the Arctic straight into the Sahara. You fear heat stroke.

You dutifully peel off the outer layers and sneak to the bathroom to remove one of the under layers as well. It’s an attempt to adjust to the withering indoor heat. For the rest of your time in the building, you carry your coat, scarf, hat, glove and undershirt under your arm and must do everything one-handed. It’s winter’s temporary physical handicap and they don’t hand out parking decals for it.

However, the older I get the less I feel the cold. When I was in my twenties, I considered anything below 70 “below freezing.” In my mid-thirties, I find I can tolerate the upper 60’s.

I’m terrified that I’m acclimating to colder weather. I don’t know who I am anymore! I’m sure it’s the fault of that sneaky coat of mine.

All I really want is to move to south Florida where I can plan on warm weather year round and I can trade in that suffocating coat for a hoodie.

After all, you can’t catch spring fever if there isn’t a spring.


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‘Pookey’ Gets a 1.2

“I think it’s rude to have a dry wedding,” my husband Brian announced.

We were in the car, bound for our hometown to witness one of my numerous cousin’s happy day. Because I have such an extensive family, thirteen cousins on one side, Brian and I have been to a lot of weddings. We’ve formed some opinions on how they should be hosted and like Olympic judges, we rate each event.

The wedding where my cousin who looks like a stand-in for Mr. Clean threatened to beat up a party crasher scored an 8.9. The wedding where a small group of us sat quietly (and bored) around a table in a church fellowship hall set a new low: 1.2. Our own wedding? A 10, naturally.

Sadly, many of the weddings we’ve attended have been dry, whether from a desire to be moral, a passionate hatred for the drink or as a way to save costs, I could not say.

Whatever the case, dry weddings rate very poorly on Brian’s scoring system. It’s earned him the title of “The Judge from the Tiki Bar.” Wedding hosts fear his score, or they would, if we told them that we rate weddings.

The best dry weddings can hope for from Brian is a two and that’s only if they “stick the landing,” which is Olympic/wedding speak for let Brian toss whole handfuls of birdseed at them.

Brian, like most of us, attends weddings mainly for the reception. He is a man after all. Women and immediate family may be the only wedding guests that enjoy the ceremony. I’m not usually a sentimental person, but I confess that weddings move me.

Brian on the other hand, isn’t teary eyed during the service. He’s ready to move forward to the reward: all you can eat buffets. Buffets that have been paid for by someone else. He not only considers his reward to be the buffet but a cold beer as well.

It’s perhaps not the best reason to attend a wedding but at least it’s an honest one.

“It won’t matter that it’s dry,” I tried to assured him.

Brian’s face said he disagreed. His mouth said, “You make these people come from all over the country to watch you and ‘Pookey’ get hitched. You should give them a drink if you’re going to make them sit through all that!”

The upcoming wedding looked to be a very low scorer.






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Cheesy Romance

You know you want them.

You know you want them.

It’s Valentine’s Day again.

It’s got me thinking about love. Not the sappy, over romanticized type of love that Hollywood and Hallmark sell, but the in the trenches sort of love that happens in a marriage.

It gets messy sometimes.

I’ve been married to my husband Brian for twelve years. We’re hardly eighty-year veterans of matrimony but neither are we unblooded in the art of marital warfare a.k.a. “discussions” either.

In our time together, we’ve faced numerous challenges to a happy relationship: negotiating monthly budgets, deciding who is going to drive the oldest, crappiest car and the great debate over how many cats is too many cats.

But one threat to marital bliss stands out as the greatest battle we’ve ever waged. Only true love could have seen us through The Great Cheez-It Wars of 2003.

It was in that year that we discovered Cheez-Its made with Tabasco’s green pepper sauce.

Ah, the joy of burn-your-tongue spicy cheese flavored crackers! In my early twenties, I could pack away a box of these suckers and lose weight. What I wouldn’t give to return to those halcyon days of gazelle-like metabolism!

The only impediment to my complete and utter enjoyment of these tasty treats was competition with my spouse. He too thrilled at cheese and spice rolled into one.

What began as a treat quickly developed into a box-a-day habit.

Like deranged squirrels, we began hiding the box, storing up the treat for our own selfish, rapid-weight-losing selves.

When I discovered the box on the topmost shelf of the pantry hidden behind a roll of paper towels and a box of stale pasta, I knew he’d drawn first blood.

No shrinking violet, I resolved to outflank him. I stashed the box in the couch.

Score one for me.

Next, I found a box hidden behind his computer monitor. “Nice try,” read the sticky note I left in its place. I munched down.

Several days passed. I knew he’d stashed a box but I could not find it even with the dog’s help. We sniffed for hours searching for the sweet smell of baked cheese but to no avail.

Finally, while cleaning house, I discovered a fresh batch hidden in the box springs.

I confronted him when he returned home from work.

“What is this,” I demanded, brandishing the box.

“Yummy,” he answered. He snatched the box gleefully from my grasp.

I smirked. “You didn’t think I’d left any did you?”

He shook the empty box and frowned.

Things escalated.

Finally, we faced reality. It was the Cheez-Its or our marriage.

We swore an oath to go cold turkey on the tasty little treats. It preserved both our waistlines and our wedded state.

Sometimes, the key to a good romance is knowing when to pick your battles.

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