Thursday, April 29, 2021

Guilt Sucks

 “There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure.”

---Douglas Wilson

A few days ago, I was running errands with lots of stops to pick up this or that and drop off that or this. When I got hungry, I thought I’d just duck into Mickey Ds, grab some fries, and get on with it. Well, it was more hangry, than just hungry, and the drive up line was kind of long so when I got to the order screen it must have been the starvation mode that made me order a Happy Meal.

Happy Meals were a staple in our family when the kids were growing up. I could get them to do just about anything by dangling a Happy Meal for motivation. The promise of fries, a soda and a toy, was currency when my kids were little. Happy Meals became rewards for going above and beyond, they were reserved only for special treats, and when you’re a 6 year-old, that’s a big deal. So, imagine me, a grown woman, well into middle age, sitting in the car chomping on fries and racing a little plastic cartoon car along the dashboard. Oh, and bonus day, they now have chocolate milk in Happy Meals. Is there anything better, as a busy adult, to get to take 10 minutes out of your day to get chocky milk and nuggs?

Yes, I realize this makes me sound like some unbalanced snack sneaker, with food issues, and while that’s not completely incorrect, it’s also not unique to me. I asked around and almost all of my friends have what are sometimes called “guilty pleasures.” Guilty? Guilty of what? It’s not a crime to love French fries; it’s not a crime to want a little play time, right? I think what the term is supposed to imply is that some treats are taboo. You’re not supposed to like horking down three brownies, you shouldn’t enjoy watching some mindless reality show about overdressed housewives getting drunk and arguing. Those are bad habits; you should be eating salads and watching PBS. 

Guess what? Nothing fun happens over a salad. Yes, they’re healthy, and some of them have feta cheese and olives and are wicked good, it’s just that no one savors them. No one says, “OMG, just one more bite of the baby spinach, it’s so good.” No one telling a really funny story about the time they crashed a wedding wants to crunch on some carrots, they need a big fat steak fry to wave around. Think about all the good times you’ve had with friends over the years. Birthday parties, girls’ nights out, Spring Break etc. I’m betting none of those gut busting stories and adventures included a quinoa protein bowl with shoepeg corn and a side of kale. The good times we remember, the laughs, the driving aimlessly with friends on a hot summer night, mostly all included roast beef sandwiches on the beach, ice cream cones that dripped on your shoes, and at least one 3 AM stop at IHOP. 

I think many of us are coming out of a long year of lockdowns, social distancing, and in some cases, isolation. With vaccination rates going up and active cases going down, we’re a little like Amish kids on rumpshpringa, just losing our minds over being able to sit at a bar again or see a movie or go to a gathering. Staying home, working at home, going to school at home makes for a lot of togetherness. Day after day after day…I’m betting someone in every family has grabbed the car keys and bolted out of the house, maybe to mail a letter or pick up a gallon of milk and took the long way home. The long way that goes past Dairy Witch, or Five Guys. The long way that maybe involves a stop at a convenience store to buy a few scratch tickets and a slushie and sit in the car slurping and scratching and listening to the 80s station on the radio. 

We tend to look around at others, at where they go and how they behave, and compare ourselves to them. All I got during the pandemic were twenty extra pounds and a new office chair. One of my friends started a new business, lost 40 pounds, won an award for her work with a non-profit, and I’m pretty sure she’s in the running to be an astronaut too. She's a perfectly nice person, but I kind of hate her. We might believe that these uber successful people never find themselves in the parking lot of a 7-11, snarfing down pecan rolls and scrolling through YouTube cat videos on their phone just for a few minutes of privacy, but we’d be wrong. I don’t care who you are, you’ve been there. If you got a little pleasure out of a late-night taco run, that isn’t a crime and you’ve no reason to be guilty over it. Life can be hard, so have the fries, or the ice cream, or the taco once in a while. 

No guilt.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

I Like Big Trucks, I cannot lie...

 "There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."

---Walt Streightiff

My children aren't children anymore, they are young adults, but back in the days of Matchbox cars, training wheels, and playdates, my oldest had to have a daily matinee of a video called, "Road Construction Ahead." Some genius filmmaker made an entire 45-minute video of the construction of a new highway, from blasting the ledge, to steamrolling the tar and painting the lines. There were almost no words in the film, just some catchy stock music that, at least for a little while, was burned into my brain. Andy loved to watch the dynamite blow up, the dump trucks roll and the jackhammers pound away and no matter how many times he watched it, he never got tired of it. Also, it bought me 45 minutes to cook dinner or at least find a takeout menu and dial.

He's a grown man now, living on his own, gainfully employed and completely independent, but I'm betting that now and then if he's sitting in traffic near a construction zone, he looks over at all the trucks, and the equipment and remembers the movie that has to be burned into his memory as well. My middle boy and my daughter were not much different. George loved to tinker with cars, and he'd watch the factory show, "How It's Made" in long binges to see how jet engines were built and furnaces were welded. My daughter loved to watch the trash truck come and smash up all the bags of garbage while the workers hung on to the handles and waved at her. It seems that children just love to watch big machines at work.

So, imagine my surprise the other day when I was sitting at my dining room table, tucking into some work, and a nice blueberry muffin, when I heard the air brakes of a very large truck just a few feet from my window. I have neighbors that are remodeling the home they just purchased, so there's often a crew over there. They've cleared the brush away, put in new windows, a roof, and some other work, but like any construction site, they have a dumpster, and it needs to be emptied regularly. The truck that comes and hauls it away has these pneumatic pumps that slide up, with a system of cables and pulleys that I would probably understand if I hadn't slept through physics class.

 I thought back to when my kids were little and how much they would have loved to watch the dumpster get hooked on and hauled up at a 45-degree angle and then set down, flat, without one single piece of trash falling out of it. Then I realized that I'd been gawking at this truck and dumpster for ten minutes and hadn't gotten a bit of work done. There was a deadline looming (when isn't there?) but honestly, the truck and the dumpster were way more interesting.

See, the yard is kind of narrow, and dumpsters are big. This hauler thing had to back into a very small space, precisely in the correct spot to line up the tracks of the dumpster with the bed of the truck. My nose was practically smooshed up against the glass of my kitchen window where I had moved to get a better look. 

Yes, it sounds very Gladys Kravitz of me to be noseballing into my neighbor's yard, but it's kind of hard to miss a ginormous truck hauling a dumpster on a wire. Who wouldn't stop to watch that? It went off without a hitch (ha, hitch, see what I did there?) and it was back to work for me, but what a nice break it was. Close order maneuvers with big vehicles always impress me since my parking skills are nearly nonexistent. I couldn't parallel park one of those little kid Cozy Cars; there is no way backing up a 25-foot truck and latching onto a half-ton of dumpster debris would happen for me. A good friend lives in Vermont and has a very long driveway with a lovely lawn on both sides, and it bends a bit towards the end as you get to the street. In the 20 or so years she has lived there, I have never managed to back my little car down the drive without running over the grass on at least one side, usually both. My car has a back-up camera, a rearview mirror, two side mirrors, and a bunch of crash sensors and my tires are still tearing up the grass.

Maybe that's why little kids like to watch big trucks and construction machines? Because it's something they can't do, so it seems magical to them? Who knows, but it kind of makes me want to look for more opportunities to slow down for a few minutes and watch something happen, just for the sake of watching it. Not to fix it, or change it, but just watch something like a boat docking and unloading lobsters at The Landing, or someone flying a drone over Seaside Park. No goal, no task, just sit and look at a cool truck, or a nice boat, or even just the blue jays that dart around my yard and try to dive-bomb the bunnies. I think taking a break and staring at something other than a screen can be a way to wind down and de-stress, so that's going to be my goal. Oh, and if anyone is having a dumpster hauled away anytime soon, call me!

Labels And Fables

 “Don’t rely too much on labels, for too often they are fables.”

--- Charles Spurgeon

We've all heard it, from parenting experts, teachers, grandparents, etc., that you cannot label people. Labels are for wine, they're for cans (but not canned wine, please never that) and they're sticky and hard to remove once applied. Ok, fair enough, we shouldn't sort each other into neat little categories, but then again, how do we define who we are? We all have names, isn't that a label? Of course, that's just for organization, we have to have our family names, and our given names, because otherwise, the registry of motor vehicles would be even more unpleasant than it already is. Once we get past the name though, then what? Are we defined by our jobs and roles? Mom, Dad, husband, wife, student, doctor, person, woman, man, camera are all labels, right? Also, since I just rattled off all that, does that mean I’ve passed some kind of cognitive memory test and I can now tell people to stop calling me Dory?

Labels are problematic, no question. They are needed on cans, bottles, and food containers, of course, because if not, it would just be “Chef’s Surprise” every night for dinner. No one would know until a can is opened whether it’s black beans or evaporated milk, and even I know that makes a difference when making chili. On the other hand, if you had symptoms of constant thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and unexplained weight loss, you’d be pretty happy if a medical professional worked that up and was able to correctly identify it as diabetes. Sure, that’s a label, “diabetic,” but if it means you won’t keep falling over in the street, that’s a good thing, yes?

Lately, there is a lot of talk about identity. Who do we believe we are? Who are we really? Now, I’m not going to go all Zen master here, but a big part of the problem with labels is that the ones we sometimes apply to ourselves don’t match the ones others apply to us. Essentially almost everyone out there is mislabeling each other, and it’s a fine mess in some cases. Whom should I believe? A person who says to me, “Hi I am Anakin, my pronouns are she, her, and hers” or another person who tells me, “Watch out for that one, a real headcase for sure.” Now what? Anakin is just someone I met, maybe we'll be working together or whatever, and it's good that now I know who they feel they are. Does it matter what someone else thinks about Anakin's identity? Not so much, and that's exactly the point. While a knee-jerk response to labels is that they're bad and unhelpful, it's only the wrong labels that truly hurt us. 

There’s an expression that says when someone shows you who they are, believe them. This is good advice; most people know themselves better than anyone, why wouldn’t I take a person at their word on who they are? I don’t need someone to pull out an ID unless I’m cashing their check or notarizing their passport documents. 

Also, yes, of course, I get it. It's a gross oversimplification to say we just need to take people at their word on who they are; clearly, there are hundreds of situations like medical care and some legal decisions where the details might matter a bit more than they do among family, friends, and coworkers. Honestly though, for the most part, the people we know and care about aren't looking to us for medical or legal needs. They simply want to be known and accepted as who they genuinely are, and here’s a pro tip: no one gets to say who you are but you. My good friend Cindy summed it up when she talked about how it takes a while sometimes to figure it out. She said, "Pearls are beautiful, but at first they are a few grains of silt and sand, and after a period of prolonged irritation, they are suddenly pearls, completely different from how they began." The necklace I was given for college graduation started as a handful of sand. Now it's a treasured family heirloom to be passed on for generations. Isn't that a nice way to think of something that starts one way, but when the course changes a little, there's so much more? That’s what I’m going with, anyway.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Then and Now

“The simple fact is that each day you have a choice. You can be a germ and infect people with your negative energy, or you can be a big dose of vitamin C and infuse them with your positive energy.”

---Jon Gordon, author “The Positive Dog”

This is the quote I used just about a year ago when our nationwide nightmare of COVID-19 began. When we all thought it would be two weeks of no school, and then it would be resolved. Well, turns out it wasn't like that at all. Here's what I thought then, and now.

Then: As I'm writing this, I half expect to look out my window and see Negan walking by with his barbed wire bat because it seems like we're all trapped in a bad episode of "The Walking Dead." Now, full disclosure, I am not a scientist or a medical professional. I barely passed high school chemistry, and I have no idea what RNA, cell apoptosis, and virology have to do with the price of toilet paper at Market Basket. 

Now: Honestly, some days I still expect Negan to stroll by, but it’s not toilet paper anymore. Or hand sanitizer, or puzzles, or baking supplies. It’s vaccinations. Yes, that is progress, no one is happier than me about it, but now there’s more of a way forward, we can see it, and it makes it that much more difficult to be calm and relaxed, we are so close. Let’s not screw this up now is essentially what I’m hoping, we’ve made it this far, just a little more.

Then: “Wash your hands. It’s basic hygiene, and there shouldn’t have to be a global pandemic to get people to do it. Weren’t we already washing our hands regularly? Please tell me we haven’t all been wandering around dragging our snoogery boogery fingers all over every available surface? The stakes are a little higher now, so we need the reminders. However, there is no need to go to the store and buy 5 cases of water, 400 rolls of toilet paper, and every jug of Purell on the shelf, so you can stack it up in your garage. You’re not making yourself any safer, you just look silly. Cut it out.”

Now: Same goes! I heard a statistic the other day that said flu cases were down, and that many doctors believe it's not just from lockdowns and working at home. The masks, the handwashing, the cautiousness of not getting too close to people, not picking at your nose and face, and yes, wearing the damn mask, seem to have had a bonus benefit of keeping other bugs away too. 

Then: Check on your neighbors. Not everyone can run to BJ’s or Costco and bring home a Suburban full of granola bars and canned soup. COVID-19 is especially dangerous for the elderly or those with chronic illnesses like asthma and COPD. Look around; there is likely someone nearby that needs a pot of stew or a pan of lasagna on their doorstep. Call your friends that live alone, chat them up. You know that big square electronic thing most of us have shoved in a pocket? It can make phone calls, so reach out and touch someone, just not with your germy hands. 

Now: Yes, you still need to check in on neighbors, again, like handwashing, this shouldn't take a pandemic to be the norm. Taking care of each isn't a "new normal" (hate that expression) it's what should have been happening all along. Snowstorms, power outages, and just regular life can be tough for some of us. Lend a hand, but wash it first, OK?

Then: “Calm the heck down. About everything. Freaking out never solves anything, so chill, if you can. There’s no need to get all bent out of shape unless Netflix goes offline, or we lose power. If that happens, I’m reaching for my bat. In the meantime, try to be as positive as you can. Be well, be nice and be safe.” 

Now: Well….I was overreaching on this. figured that by saying calm down to everyone else, I would calm down too. Nope. Didn’t happen, I’m still walking around all stressed up and no one to choke. I’m getting there though, I’ve stopped doom scrolling for hours on CDC guidelines, COVID rates, and testing sites so that’s good. I’ve also stopped telling other people how to feel or what to do…well, in theory anyway. It still kind of happens a lot. Working on it!

So much can change in a year; that has never been more true. There remain some challenges, for sure, but while no one thought last year that this is where we’d be now, if we had been told what it would be like, many would have said, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly get through that, no way.” Well, if you’re reading this, you made it. So many didn’t, more than could have been imagined. Stand in gratitude that you got through it, and remember everything you learned. Your kids and grandkids will love the stories someday.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Buying Nothing

"The propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another is common to all men and to be found in no other race of animals." --- Adam Smith 

 I am 100% Irish, going back at least 4 generations, so the concept of bartering, working out exchanges, and making a good deal comes naturally to me. We Irish have the "Gift of Gab" or, as my father always put it, "Brenda, you could talk a dog off a meat wagon." It's been a helpful skill at times, to be able to negotiate and talk to people and come to an agreement. When anyone in our house needs to buy a new car, I am the closer. When that moment comes and the dealer slides a piece of paper over the desk with the price for a car? That's when I come off the bench. Ask anyone who's ever sold me a car, I'm ruthless. 

 However, my friends will tell you that if they need something, I will not hesitate to help them. It's never a negotiation when someone I care about needs something. That's when I show up, requested or not, and say, "What do you need?" That doesn't make me special, not even a little. It's just what people do. I've been on the receiving end of it and helping someone is never something that I view as an earning opportunity. Still, I have benefitted from being given help, whether it's an item I need or a recommendation, and I hope that I have always been willing to help others when they need something. 

 Recently, the concept of bartering and helping others came up. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a more than minor addiction to online shopping. Whether it's eBay late at night or the local garage and closet pages on Facebook, I'm there, on the daily, scoping out the deals. The clothing pages aren't a big deal, because, apparently everyone except me is a size triple zero, so items that would cover my big Irish butt don't come up that often. If you need any Lululemon pants in a size 2, however, check out Marblehead Closet. The local Buy Nothing page is another matter altogether, however. I love the rules. It's not about being number one in line to say you want something. It's not about first dibs. It's about someone having something they don't want to just toss away. It's about trying to reduce, reuse and recycle. 

Back in the day, when my kids were little, I refused to buy the Little Tykes climbing structures, the Cozy Coupe cars, and other outdoor toys, because I just knew I could find them at yard sales. Why buy all that new plastic, if I can buy something someone else isn't using anymore? I'm not Sustainable Susie, but I try to reduce my consumption when I can. This week, however, I had something to give away. I purchased a great blanket on a local yard sale page. It was precisely what I needed for my "writing nook" in my living room and I was thrilled to get it for a low price. I didn't realize right away that it had fringe, and fringe bugs me, so I was looking for someone else who might want it. I listed it on a local free page and the interaction I got was amazing! Not everyone wanted it, but that wasn't the point. The point was, I had an item that I didn't need, and maybe there was someone else who could use it. 

The Buy Nothing pages are a national trend, set up as local outlets for people to offer what they have, to someone who might need it. It's been referred to as the old scenario of going to a neighbor and asking to borrow a cup of sugar. Of course, when you do that, you are nice, and you ask politely, and if you have extra sugar, you happily give it to your neighbor because that is what decent people do. So, I offered this blanket, and it now has a new home, and I'm thrilled. I think sometimes we place too much value on the "stuff" we own. We remember what we paid for it when it was new, so when we consider getting rid of it, we think it must be valuable. Not always. Not everyone would appreciate the gold-painted pottery pug dog I got or my martini shaker that looks like a penguin, but they are both on a shelf I can see when I'm working in my writing nook. They were items someone else didn't need, and now I have them, and they make me happy. That's a win in my book. 

 Are there items in your home that you just don't need or want? Maybe someone else would give them a home? Maybe if you offered something to the community, in a karmic sense that would come back to you? That's what I think anyway. The thrill of looking for items you need, finding just that special something, and having someone gift it to you is quite something. Try it sometime. Oh, and items are not sold on Buy Nothing pages, so please don't say sold. Tell your story, explain what you need, or what you are offering. It's a way to connect, and I promise you won't be sorry you did. Cheers, and happy gifting!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Kids Are Not OK

"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted." ----Garrison Keillor 

 It's good to know that even on my worst parenting days, what I do for my children isn't a waste. The days of toddler tantrums, middle school mood swings, and high school hijinks are behind me, and all three of mine seem to be doing well, so I guess that means I can put my feet up, and chill, since the hard work is all done? Nope. Not even close. While right now my children are all young adults, and they do most of what they need to do on their own, they do sometimes still need me, just in different ways. 

Recently, the big issue in town has been about children and the school system, but just because none of my children are still in public school here, doesn't mean the decisions being made don't impact me. A good educational system benefits all of us, and not just here in town. The children we educate will go out into the wider world and make their way. As a town, it's important that we do whatever we can to avoid releasing a generation of young people into the world who haven't had a decent education. Lately, the issue we've all heard the most about doesn't concern the nuts and bolts of funding our schools, hiring teachers, purchasing the right equipment and books, but rather it's about naming the newest school in town. It's to be expected that there are a gazillion opinions, and it's to their credit that the School Committee narrowed it down to just a few choices. Then the debates began. On social media and websites set up for information, the thoughts were flying around. Comments, concerns, and more than a few arguments over this, that, or the other thing. Finally, the decision was made, and the new school will be named the Lucretia and Joseph Brown Elementary School. Naming it that was my first choice, so I'm happy they picked it, and now that debate can end, and we can continue swinging at each other on social media on other topics.

 At the Zoom meeting of the School Committee, there were other items on the agenda that were being considered, the main one being a plan to get schools reopened, safely, but soon. There are a ton of moving parts involved in a decision like this, and once again, kudos to the parents, educators, volunteers, and staff that have been trying to make it work. During the portion of the meeting that invited public comment, I was trying to cook dinner, while finishing up some research on an article about vintage kitchen appliances, and annoying my daughter with TikTok videos. I glanced over and noticed a student was speaking, and he wasn't mentioning infection rates, or six-foot distancing, or union contracts. He was speaking about his friends, about himself, and the very real mental health struggles that are happening with high school students. He was firm in his conviction that there is a crisis happening and it's about more than budgets, masks, and disinfectants. 

He spoke eloquently about missing his friends, about having to hear over and over how miserable many of them are, how hopeless some of them feel, and he wanted the adults to know, that, well, the kids are not okay. All of the back and forth about the name of the school, hybrid or remote learning, cohorts, vaccinations, pool testing, and the rest have taken up endless hours of debate and yet, guess what many of us, the adults that are supposed to be looking out for them, didn't know? We didn't know how many kids are really up against it, mentally. We didn't know how hard this has been, how lost some of these kids have become, and how desperate they are to be heard. They're sad, they're scared, and many of them don't know where to go with it all. Thank goodness this young man spoke up. Now it's our job to listen, and to act. The school has been named, and I'm hopeful that means that there will be more education about the Browns, their contributions, who they were, and what they meant to our community. Since that is now settled, what's next? 

I think it has to be our kids, our students, our future. They're it; they will be running this world before too long, how can we not prioritize their issues, and get them the support and help they need? As adults charged with running a school system and as parents and caregivers who are raising children, we kind of have one job: don't screw up the kids. I believe most of us are doing the best we can, but now that we know there is more that is needed? Let's do it and do it fast. Yes, it's easier to say that here, than it is to jump in and do the work, but at least now we have heard, from the real stakeholders in our public education system, the students. Thank you Niall Kearney, for speaking up. I hope we can help. The video below is the School Committee meeting from 2/4/21. If you'd like to hear Niall for yourself, fast forward to about the 24:00 minute mark. Also, please note, the video settings do not allow for the video to play here. When it comes up unavailable, please click where it says "Watch on YouTube" Here is the direct link for anyone who wants it.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Home Repair or Kitchen Fail?

“I watch HGTV like a maniac, and when it’s bad it’s like some crazy college guy watching a football game.” 
--- Melissa McCarthy 

 HGTV is like some kind of alternate universe, where everyone is thin, rich, and knows how to swing a hammer without winding up in an ambulance with a gaping head wound. Even so, it’s on a lot at my house. Mostly, it’s my innate nosiness. I want to see everyone’s living room and kitchen, I want to check out their pantry shelves, and see what they have and how they put it away. Most people watch these shows to get ideas on what they might want to do with a renovation or a redecorating project. Somehow that piece is missing with me. 

Sure, there’s a ton of inspiration, and some of the ideas would really help me fix up my own space, but let’s face it: that’s never happening. We’re still in this pandemic and while it’s not a full lockdown, it’s winter and wicked cold, so regardless of the ‘Rona, this is my season to cocoon inside and wait for the Spring thaw. One would think that means there is time for little DIY projects, and home improvements. Not so much. I know my limits, and nothing in my skillset would get me through a renovation or remodel with all my fingers still attached.

 I mopped a floor once and wound up with a concussion. Candles and open flames are not allowed near me, because you accidentally start one small fire and your family is all, “Something is wrong with you, you’re gonna kill us all someday.” To be fair, they say the same thing every time I try to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which is why we wound up with Chinese takeout this year, since we couldn’t gather with friends and family who can cook without needing a fire extinguisher. 

 Nails and hammers and drills, oh my! Not everyone is talented with tools; at least I know that about myself and act accordingly. So imagine the dilemma at our house this past week, when, all of a sudden, the oven door was stuck shut. It wouldn’t budge, honestly, the nuclear codes could have been safe in there. Now, I know that oven doors lock when the self-clean feature is turned on, but that’s the only time. One look inside the oven and it was clear that the cleaning cycle had not been run recently, if ever. Sure, I’ve wiped out the odd pizza cheese spill or burnt cookie dough, but clean an oven? That’s a hospital trip for me, and this is no time to be in an ER. 

So how did the door get locked? It’s not like anything you put in an oven needs to be secured. That turkey or roast beast is long past it’s running days. I started to get worried that somewhere in the hinges or the door assembly, some scary little cheese-eating rodent was stuck. We had an unwelcome visitor last fall, and the little beast was quickly dispatched with a nice piece of cheese and a loaded spring mechanism. Hopefully none of his little friends were back to exact their revenge. 

 After a day of peering behind it with a flashlight and taking the pans out of the bottom drawer, I could tell nothing was dead or dying, but the door remained stuck fast. There are probably stove people you can call, that come out and fix things, but they probably charge an arm and a leg just to pull into your driveway, so that’s when I turned to my old faithful Internet, specifically, YouTube. 

There are videos on there about every kind of home repair you could imagine, from leaky sinks to fixing a broken window. Everything I watched about oven doors pointed to the self-clean feature and that’s where I got stuck. There are about twenty-seven buttons, knobs and dials on my stove, and that’s about twenty-five too many. Was there some random oven cleaning karmic ghost in my kitchen, just messing with me, holding my oven hostage until I Easy-Offed it? Well, sort of. After about the 10th video, one of the home repair experts said that if there had been a recent power outage or even just a blown fuse, the electronic panel of the oven could kick it into lock mode, as a safety feature. 

Safety? Sorry Samsung, you’re late to the game, if you wanted me to be safe around an oven, you’d have sent me a helmet and a hazmat suit. Since it seemed the problem might be tech-related vs. structural, I decided to use the “Tech support two-step” method. Unplug it and then plug it back in. Honest to Dog, you’d think I was Moses and had parted the Red Sea when it sprang back on with a couple of beeps and the door opened like magic. I had fixed a home appliance. In a kitchen no less! No ambulance, no hammer-bashed thumbs, no broken glass or stitches, just success. I still won’t be turning out gourmet meals, and certainly HGTV isn’t going to come along and offer me my own show, but for one brief moment, I had conquered a home repair. It feels good to do something you thought you couldn’t so that’s the lesson I’m taking from this: try it, what’s the worst that could happen? Stay tuned, the washer has been making a funny noise, maybe I’ll look that up next.