Saturday, March 30, 2013

924. How I Got Roped into A to Z

So Haley Wolfe, my favorite illustrator-blogger of the universe, recently illustrated our newly released children’s book, Herman the Cat Goes to Outerspace (Number 1 new children's book on Amazon*).  I was brainstorming ways that she and I could get tons more exposure and positive publicity for our book, short of nudity, bribing public officials, or sleeping with a major Hollywood star.  That pretty much just leaves the A to Z Blogging Challenge. 

this is what Haley looks like, well, if she were a cartoon version of herself (drawing by Haley)

I immediately emailed Haley: 
“Hey, Haley!  You should totally do the A to Z Challenge because then you will get tons more exposure and positive publicity for our book.” 

Even though it was only an email and not an actual phone conversation, I could tell she was thinking long and hard about what I had written.  Finally, she emailed me back a response.  I will paraphrase it for you:     
“Thanks, MOV!  Great advice.  Since you are doing the A to Z Challenge, I will do it, too.  I mean, how hard can it be, to write something witty and entertaining every single day?  And in my case, even add a clever illustration?  Can’t be that difficult, right?!  Thanks so much for the motivation!” 

Whoa.  Whoa, there, cowgirl.  How could she have so completely and grossly misinterpreted an innocent one line email from me?  I never mentioned anything about me participating!  Did I?  I went back to my “Sent” email to re-read what I had written.  Was I participating?  Nope.  Never mentioned it.  And what was with the “How hard can it be?” thing?  Damn hard, that’s what.  There was no way I was going to do A to Z!  I had done it last year, and once was clearly enough. 
Then something happened.  My evil fingers commandeered the keyboard of my computer and typed the following: 

“Right, Haley!  Awesome!  Of course I will be participating!  Yep, you bet!” 
Now I was stuck.  I hate to be one of those people who says they will do something and then they flake out and don’t do it after all, and then everyone’s expectations are dashed.  So you know what? 

I’m doing it.  See you Monday.  Get ready. 
*Totally made that up about our ranking on Amazon ... but we could be Number 1 if you all buy our book!  Only $10.99. 

blatant commercialization attempt

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

923. How I Met the Hottest Guy in the Universe

I am taking a real estate class.  Not sure what I am going to do with the license, but I figure I would like to have the general knowledge.  Anyway, I got this random thing in the mail about a real estate investing seminar (No! Money! Down!), not sure how they got my address, but actually come to think of it, it was addressed to The Husband.  So, the point is, I called the number and the next thing you know, I was registered for a Saturday morning seminar on Unlocking Real Estate’s Potential for Your Positive Cash Flow for Life!* 

The seminar was free, although the time conflicted with my regular real estate class (giving me an acute case of mental anguish that the professor might notice that I was not there sitting in the front row asking a million questions—the class would be … eerily quiet without me).  Anyway, what cinched it for me (and I should have probably told you in the first place) is that the real reason I was going to ditch my class to go to the real estate seminar was: 

(photo removed due to excessive sweat on keyboard)
Yep.  Scott McGillivray.  You know him from HGTV’s show Income Property.  Just the name of the show makes you think that he must own lots of property and that he must somehow make an income from doing this.  Not sure how the details work, that part is fuzzy.  But I would get to see Scott Live! And!  In!  Person! and possibly ask him a question or three. 
The people running the seminar must’ve really wanted to make sure I attended, as indicated by their two confirmation phone calls the day before plus a text advising me that the venue had changed from Hotel XYZ to Hotel ABC, which was actually closer to my house.  Then the girl on the phone hastily added that there was a chance (“A slim chance, I don’t want to alarm you or anything”) that Scott would not be there live-and-in-person after all, he might be there via Skype. 

Skype?  I was supposed to give up my entire morning, drive 5 minutes away to a nice hotel with a free catered breakfast, and pay no money for the wisp of a chance that the real Scott would be there but more likely just a video version?!  I was supposed to miss my actual, true, state-certified class for this? 
You betcha. 

I got there early, because that is what we trained Virgos do.  I asked the usher (who turned out later to be one of the speakers) if I could sit in the front row, but due to the overwhelming response and people who apparently cut in front of me in the parking lot so they could run into the room ahead of me, I was forced to sit way back in the second row. 
I looked at my watch:  8:35.  At 9:06, some random guy (the usher, I thought) took to the stage and started babbling on about real estate and about Scott and if he was going to really be there or not. 

Turns out, he was.  Next thing you know, Scott himself entered the room in all his chiseled handsomeness and movie-star good-looks splendor.  He was wearing a navy linen jacket even though it had snowed the night before, and his hair looked like something out of a shampoo commercial.  Expensive shampoo.  Then he took to the stage, and after the type of applause normally reserved for kings and presidents, the audience went silent.  Scott began to talk in a friendly way, as if he was your next-door neighbor and you just invited him over for a beer. 
He told the story of how he got into real estate back when he was a broke, 21-year-old college student.  He (illegally) used his student loan money as a down payment on a house that he and a bunch of roommates were going to live in.  He made enough from the roommates to pay the mortgage, and his portion was free.  He bought another house the next year, and the following year, 10 more.  He ended up living in the basement of one of these multi-unit homes for 7 years so he could make his dreams come true.  In the meantime, he kept pulling money out of houses and using it to buy the next house and the next.  He told us to always maintain positive cash flow, never buy anything where you do not make money from the first day.  His investment strategy, he told us, was to “Buy and hold.”    

When his speech was over, and he started to leave the giant auditorium, I bolted down the back aisle, out the door, and back into the door where I had last seen him.  There he was, chatting with some lady.  I needed her to disappear so I could ask him all my important questions. 
Finally, after what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably only one minute, she left. 

“Scott?  Excuse me,” I whispered, “I have a quick question for you.” 
He had given three pieces of crucial real estate advice during his speech.  He had said to buy these types of properties for the best long-term investment potential: 

*Student housing
*Vacation or corporate rentals

So, my profound question was: 

“Scott, should I only invest locally?  Or is it okay to invest long-distance?” 
I did not have the heart to tell him in that exact specific moment that my personal investment budget was approximately $100, and that was only after I got my tax refund back.  Or I might owe $100 in taxes.  I can’t quite remember what my accountant said. 

“MOV,” he said, slyly looking at my nametag, “When I first started, say the first seven or eight years, I just did local.  Then I branched out.” 
I nodded enthusiastically, making a mental note that in seven or eight years I might even have $125 back from my tax refund to invest. 

“Okay, great,” I said.  “How much should I put down on these properties in the beginning?” 
I was hoping he would say “$100” or perhaps “$125,” but he surprised me by saying,

“Twenty percent.” 
Now, my math is not that good, but I know that 20% of a half million dollar vacation home is going to be slightly more than $100.  Bummer.  But it was totally worth it to have Scott standing that close to me.  I could smell his hair products. 

He smiled at me and, as if reading my mind, said, “PMI.”
At first, I thought he was telling me the name of his hair styling products, but then I realized he meant “Private Mortgage Insurance” or “Property Management Investments” or something non-hair related. 

“You don’t want to hafta pay PMI,” he continued in that sexy Canadian accent, “so make sure you always put 20% down.” 
“Of course,” I replied.  In the next moment, a moment that can only be described as “short-sighted” or perhaps “stupid,” it popped into my head that Scott had zero idea of my zero bank balance.  I was wearing a really nice silk blouse and fake pearl earrings, so for all he knew, I might have 50 bazillion dollars in the bank.  Here was my chance to lie and impress him:  

“My husband and I usually just pay cash for all our investments.” 

“Oh … wow,” he said, obviously impressed at my previous investing savvy and know-how.  I did not need this silly seminar for beginners.  I could be teaching this seminar!    
I didn’t feel the need to clarify to Scott that our cash investments consisted entirely of 289 complete Lego sets built by two elementary-aged boys.    

He shook my hand and politely explained that he had to go now.  I was not used to people leaving after I approached them—remember, I used to be a flight attendant.  If I would accost some poor unsuspecting celebrity passenger after he used the lavatory so that I could get his autograph or ask him about his next movie, he could not exactly jump out the door at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. 
“Thanks!” I squeaked as Scott rushed past me. 

Right then, I got a text from my accountant:  “You owe taxes, plz write ck TODAY.”  
I guess my real estate investment career might have to wait another week to get started. 

*Not the exact name of the seminar, but I am too lazy right now or go find the flyer.  Just go back and stare at the nice photo of Scott and then you will forget all about not knowing the exact name. 
Link to Scott's website:  click

Monday, March 25, 2013

922. Quote of the Day

“Music is vitamins for the brain,” observed Tall.   

Ahh, to be 9-years-old and so wise already! 


Friday, March 22, 2013

921. Anti-Bucket List

Since my mom died of cancer a few months ago, I have been thinking a lot about life and death.  I wonder if she accomplished everything she wanted to.  She flew to Paris and climbed the Eiffel Tower.  She went on a much-anticipated cruise to Mexico.  She went parasailing in Hawaii.       

But what things did she not get to do?  What items were left unfinished on her list?    
I started contemplating my own personal bucket list of items to do before I die.  As much as I would like to be the type of person who says “Photograph cheetahs in their natural habitat in Africa” or the slightly less attainable “Bake the perfect soufflĂ©,” I am learning there are actually more things I would rather not do—the anti-bucket list, if you will. 

MOV’s List of Things to NOT Do (Even Though It Would Impress Lots of People):
*Run a marathon
*Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
*Eat a bug (intentionally)
*Hike the Appalachian Trail
*Ski a triple black diamond slope
*Skydive (people are supposed to stay in planes, not out of them)
*Swim with sharks
*Bungee jump
*Wrestle an alligator
*Rock climb

So, as you can see, I am actually the most boring person in the world. 
My list has more, ahem, achievable goals on it.  Things like: 

*Remember how to spell “recommend” or “vacuum” without having to use spellcheck or auto-correct
*Put gas in the car before the orange “Empty” light blinks on
*Remember to switch the laundry to the dryer on the same day it was originally washed (or at bare minimum the same week)
*Use my high school Spanish for something more exciting than ordering tacos
*Find the perfect couch (oops, I mean affordable perfect couch)
*Finish the stack of half-read books I have, or if not, then donate them to the Goodwill
*Buy new printer ink before I need it at 11 pm on a Sunday
*Teach my children not to punch each other (who am I kidding—I said achievable goals)
*Take my Target coupons with me instead of leaving them on the kitchen counter
You might not run into me on that flight to Brazil to climb Sugarloaf, but I am confident that I will one day remember to put the Target coupons in my purse.  It’s all a matter of priorities.      


Monday, March 18, 2013

920. Big News: MOV Wrote a New Children's Book!

I have been waiting to tell you about my latest project until it is a done deal, and now it is.  I am very proud to announce that I have collaborated with fellow blogger extraordinaire, Haley Wolfe (of Haley’s Comic), to produce our first children’s book.  The book is called Herman the Cat Goes to Outerspace and it is available on Amazon.  (Click here for LINK to purchase or just look at it.)  

I came up with the story of Herman years ago, before I even had kids.  Last summer, I contacted Haley to see if she would be interested in illustrating it.  She said yes, and the rest is history.  I should let you know that Haley also wrote the last several pages of the book, too. 
A brief synopsis: 
Destined to become a classic, like Good Night Moon, Madeline, or anything else by Shakespeare, this is the story of Herman, an unlikely hero who overcomes obstacles to build his own spaceship to travel to outerspace.  The plot focuses on hard work, perseverance, and friendship. Newcomer graphic artist, Haley Wolfe, impresses with her outstanding retro-fun illustrations with fabulous details.  Any child, ages 3-10, will love this book.  

Giraffe with a sweater = awesomeness

The book sells for $10.99.  It is a glossy cover, paperback, full-color, 32-page book.  Today Amazon is offering the book at a promotional rate of $7.01.  The sale could end soon, so buy your copy now.  At that price, buy a few for gifts, or maybe 50 for all the children you know or might meet someday.   
Thank you to all of my loyal readers for your support and encouragement in all my writing endeavors.  Your positive words and comments really inspire me and keep me going.  One last thing:  please tell your friends about this book!  You can email them the link to my blog, or announce it to the world via Facebook. 

p.s. You can search for the book later under my real name, Julie R. Harrison, or under Haley Wolfe, or you can simply enter the first words in the title--
Herman the cat goes

Sunday, March 17, 2013

919. Don't Hate Me Because I'm Amish

Forgive me for turning nostalgic here.  I grew up in coastal California, 1970's Pennsylvania, and rural Alabama.  But the most significant part of my childhood was spent in We-Will-Not-Own-Video-Games Land.  That’s right:  my strict mother ruined my youth by not allowing Pac-Man. 

While my friends were Velcro-ed to their Nintendos, I was out climbing trees.  While my buddies were getting good at Frogger, I was catching real frogs.  While my pals were perfecting their serve on Pong, I played ball with my cousins in the backyard.   
Yeah, my mom totally knew how to kill my fun.    

She resisted buying any kind of gaming system, telling my siblings and me that there were better uses for our time and money. 
And you know what?  She was right. 

Now that I am a mom, I am following in her wise footsteps.  We do not own a wii.  We do not have computer games.  We do not even have an iPad.  (And my iPhone is surprisingly free from Angry Birds or any other kind of app.)   
How do my sons spend their free time?  They read, draw, kick the ball around, and argue with each other … just like I used to do with my sister and brother.  They are actually getting really good at reading, drawing, and kicking the ball around (and arguing about whose turn it is to kick the ball around).  The problem is that other families we know are much more tech-accepting than I, which presents a delicate conundrum:  my sons constantly want to go to their classmates' houses to play video games.   

Who can blame them?  Video games are clearly designed for elementary-aged boys, so my sons are right in that target demographic.  The lure of flashing lights, cutting edge graphics, and realistic sound effects is too sweet to ignore.  I do not 100% forbid video games, I just prefer other activities.  However, I don't want to be "that" mom who is forever imposing her obsessively rigid guidelines and stomping on all the harmless fun.   

I don’t want my sons playing video games on a playdate.  Why should they?  The whole point of going to a friend’s house (I thought) was to engage with the other child and develop social skills, not to hide behind a plastic joystick.  I want my kids outside!  I want my kids to invent their own games!  I want my kids to build a fort out of pillows and blankets and couch cushions!  I want them to bicker and argue and have to decide who is right and who is wrong, and not be forever looking at technology to distract them. 
So I will be printing up t-shirts this week with my special message: 

Save the No-Tech Playdate.  

Let me know if you want to order a few.  I will be silk-screening them in my garage. 

P.S. Even if you never comment on my blog, I would LOVE your comments on this topic!  Seriously, both sides of the issue.  If you are a gaming junkie, step forward and tell me about that.  Good things?  Drawbacks?  Are you happy you have spent time in front of a computer game?  Has it improved your life somehow?  Or would you turn back the clock if you could and spend those hours differently?  I want to know. 
(And yes, the irony is not lost on me that I am sitting in front of a computer right now-- but I am WRITING.  I applaud other writers, and also readers.  I like the creative process and support anyone who tries to be creative and pursue an outlet like that.  I know gaming can be an outlet, but is it a useful one?)

Friday, March 15, 2013

918. Big Surprise on Monday!

I can’t tell you what yet.  I can tell you it is about a book.  That is all I am allowed to say.  You will just have to pop back over here on Monday morning to find out.  See you then! 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

917. That Time I Was Recognized

The other day I was at Trader Joe’s looking at grapes.  Well, I mean, I wasn’t exactly looking at grapes like you look at shoes, shoes can cost $90, whereas grapes are practically free.  I picked up the clear box of grapes, flipped it upside down, and examined them, trying to ascertain that the ones on the bottom were not all brown and squished.  I hate it when I spend $2.99 on grapes, and then it turns out several of them are bad.  This of course could all be prevented if I just slow down, take my time, and look carefully at the grapes in advance, before they even—

“Excuse me?  Aren’t you—”
Startled, I turned toward the voice, and I almost dropped the grapes.  Then I was embarrassed about obsessing over the grapes so I tossed them cavalierly into my cart, inadvertently bruising all the grapes in the bottom of the box. 

“Do I know you?” I asked this 30-something women in khakis and a green blouse.   
“No, no, we have never met, but I do know of you.”  She smiled sincerely.  “I’m Brenda.  Brenda Jones.” 

How did Brenda, Brenda Jones, know of me?  Had the PTA put out some sort of notice (“MOV joined the PTA, paid her dues, but never came to any meetings”)?  Or perhaps Brenda’s kids knew my kids?  Or maybe Brenda was friends with my former boss at the high-end kitchen store? 
“I’ve read your book.” 

I started hyperventilating in the grape aisle, and quickly wished I was in the liquid grape aisle, as in wine. 

“Oh,” I said intelligently.  “Ummm.  Oh.” 
“You were funny!” she offered enthusiastically.  “I ended up buying a few extra copies for my friends, it was a great book.” 

I did not know how to react to this.  On one level, obviously I should have said, “Wow, thank you!  That is so nice!  What was your favorite part of the book?  And how old are your kids?”  But instead, I could feel my brain cells bubbling then fizzing out, like three-day-old champagne that is not even good to make a sauce with. 
“Book,” I heard myself squeak.  “Yep.” 

Brenda, Brenda Jones, stared at me.  I could tell she wanted to help me.  “Have you always been a writer?” she asked kindly. 
“No.  No.  I used to work.”  I forced a smile, and I could feel my eyes not smiling, so I knew the smile looked fake even though I was desperately trying to be real and happy and authentic.  “I used to work … somewhere."  I could not for the life of me remember where.  

Brenda looked at her watch.  She looked at my grapes.  She finally looked me in the eyes and asked, “You worked at the high-end kitchen store?”            
“YES!” I squealed, as if instead of her knowing this tidbit from reading my book she was actually psychic.  “That’s right!” 

My cell phone chose this moment to ring, and I was simultaneously cursing it and rejoicing.  I knew it was incredibly rude of me to cut off Brenda and our stimulating conversation, but somehow my poor beleaguered brain was having a tough time, so a phone call proved a good way to end things. 
“Excuse me, Brenda,” I said politely, “I have been waiting for this call.” 

I answered the phone and it was some sort of automated survey, which I thought was illegal on cell phones.  At first, I was going to pretend it was The Husband, but then I decided to pretend it was my publisher. 
“Hello, Amazon!” I said to no one.  “Good, good, and how are you?” 

Brenda gave a polite little wave in my direction and then drifted away. 
For the first time, I really listened to what the automated survey was saying.  “Do you suffer from social anxiety on occasion?” 

“No,” I replied.  “Never.” 
P.S. Buy my book!  Here is the link on Amazon.  Go check it out!  And I promise if I run into you at Trader Joe’s, I will behave better than I did with Brenda.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

916. The Day I Joined Facebook (hint: today)

After much pressure from the co-author of my new book, Epic Mom (available on Amazon, thanks for asking), I finally gave in and joined Facebook.  Let me start off by saying I have no idea what I am doing.  Giving me a Facebook account is equivalent to giving an 8-year-old the keys to your car and saying, “And please try to drive the speed limit.”
Yeah, baby, I crashed and burned on the freeway of Facebook. 

First, I could not for the life of me figure out how to load my profile picture.  And normally I am pretty good with that stuff.  I ended up having to email my co-author and beg her to put the photo up, which she did because she felt sorry for me (or so I would stop pestering her every five minutes). 
Next, Facebook courteously informed me that I already had 27 people who wanted to be my friend.  I was really surprised, seeing as how most of these people lived in Peru.  But Peru seems like a country I would want to visit (you never know), so I clicked “Yes” on all their requests. 

After that, Facebook realized that I was actually a Facebook Pro and not the mere novice that FB had first assumed.  Facebook kicked it into high gear and said, “Would you like to be friends with everyone you have ever met in your entire life?” 
Ack!  No, no, no-no-no-no-no-no.  I started hyperventilating.  That would be really bad. 

Facebook laughed and said, “Kidding!  How about we start easy and just be friends with everyone in your personal email address book?” 
Now that didn’t seem so scary.  I didn’t want to be rude to Facebook, seeing as how we were in this new relationship and all (speaking of which, why did FB say I got married today when I was trying to say that my status was "Married"?  I was not trying to say that there was a wedding today, just that I was already married!  Suddenly, many Peruvians were sending me “Likes” and sweet little congratulations messages).  I decided that if someone as knowledgeable and informed as FB was wanted to suggest that I be friends with everyone in my virtual address book, well, then that must be a good idea. 

I forgot that my dentist was on my email list. 
And my chiropractor’s secretary. 

American Express. 
The lady I bought handmade Christmas ornaments from at that craft fair three years ago. 

My plumber. 
The vice-principal of my sons’ preschool from five years ago. 

A priest from a church that we don’t even go to. 
Apparently, my email list is pretty darn social. 

So yes, I crashed my new Facebook car. 
Someone please take away my keys. 

P.S. If you want to “friend” me on Facebook, then my name over there is MOV Harrison.  Oh, and I am 23 years old (Facebook didn’t ask for my driver’s license).

NEWS UPDATE:  Facebook just sent me a nasty email saying that I must stop sending Friend requests to people I don't know or I will be blocked!  Ha!  Facebook is pretty fickle, eh? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

915. The Day I Moved Into Target (Part II)

Please read Part I if you have not done so already.  Part II will make more sense then. 

“Do you need me to call Security?” offered Richard protectively.  “Is this man bothering you?” 

This man was my husband, and he was bothering me by following me to Target when I was trying to escape him and the kids. 
“Richard, it’s okay,” I replied.  “I know him.”   

Richard hovered around anyway, eavesdropping and pretending to dust something.  Instead of being annoyed, I was oddly comforted.     
“MOV, I can see why you like this place,” said The Husband.  “It’s much cleaner than our house.” 

How could I be insulted when that is exactly why I liked Target, too? 
“Sweetie, whaddya say you take the boys to look at the Lego displays, and then I will meet you back home in a few weeks?” 

“Weeks?!  Did you say weeks, MOV?” 
He knew I wasn’t kidding around.  Target was my happy place, the place that made my heart rhythm smooth out somewhere between stroke victim and coma.  I normally wanted to come here for a few hours, but I could hardly see the harm a slight upgrade in time might cause.  In fact, after I returned home from some serious “Me” time, I might be able to tolerate my family for up to a whole year.

“Mom, we miss you!  No one is at home to boss us around when you’re not there,” said Short. 
Tall, always thinking, whispered to his brother, “Maybe that is a good thing?”

They looked at each other, then were overcome by a cascade of giggles, building on each other like bubbles, expanding and popping. 
“We’re free!  We’re free!” cried the older one. 

“We’re trees!  We’re trees!” copied the younger one, making me realize I really need to get his hearing checked.
A small crowd of Target employees was gathering to see what the commotion was near the furniture aisle.  You’d think they had never had any customers move in before. 

“You are all ruining this for me,” I hissed through clenched teeth, “go home and I will come back eventually!” 
The Husband leaned into to give me a quick kiss, but I turned away.  Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out what I thought might be a love note. 

It wasn’t.  It was something better. 
“Here, MOV,” he said as he handed me a coupon for $2 off Häagen Daz ice-cream.  “You might need this.” 

And just like that, I fell back in love with him. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

914. The Day I Moved Into Target

The Husband and I had been arguing, and the kids were driving me crazy.  In some ways, it was inevitable that I would seek solace elsewhere. 

I didn’t pack a suitcase, because the place I was going would provide everything I needed:  pajamas, mascara, chocolate, and free psychological advice.  That’s right:  I moved into Target. 
When I showed up, the pretty manager met me at the door, her lipstick-red polo shirt wrinkled, but her regulation khaki pants mysteriously crisp after a long day of tagging merchandise. 

“I’m Terry,” she said, extending her hand for me to shake, “and we’d like to welcome you to your new home.”  She did a Vanna White sweeping gesture with her toned arms to indicate who she meant by “we.”  “We” apparently was everyone who worked in the store, because they all stood behind her lined up like they might perform a Broadway dance number at any moment.  What would be appropriate here?  Rent?  Phantom?  Les Miz? 
Frazzled, I did a respectful “Queen of England” wave to the group, and to my astonishment, they broke into applause.  I felt myself blush. 

“So, Team,” announced Terry pivoting to address the employees instead of me, “let’s do everything we can to make Ms. MOV comfortable, shall we?”
“Sure!”  “Yes!”  “You got it!” I heard them yell.  I hadn’t felt this good about myself since I was in kindergarten and the tooth fairy accidentally left me two new dollar bills that were stuck together instead of only one. 

“I’m Richard,” said a gray-haired gentleman who probably used to be a lawyer but just worked here for fun in his retirement.  “I can show you around.” 
I followed Richard obediently, like a puppy fresh out of training school.  I didn’t have the nerve to tell Richard that I did not need anyone to “show me around” as I could draw a floorplan of Target in my sleep (complete with the correct locations of Fast Foto, Pharmacy, and the Dollar Section). 

“Here are any toiletries you might need, MOV.  Can I call you MOV?”  He handed me a new tube of toothpaste and an electric toothbrush.  I nodded and smiled at him, then silently questioned the quality of my breath—why was the toothpaste aisle the very first place he was taking me on our tour? 
“Here is the cookie aisle, Terry mentioned you might want to see that,” he chuckled, not in a mean way, but more of conspiratorial manner.  “Help yourself to anything you want.” 

I grabbed two bags of Mint Milanos to be polite. 
Next he brought me to the furniture aisle. 

“MOV, why don’t you tell me what you like here, and I can get a few guys to help us set up a living room and bedroom arrangement for you?” 
I didn’t really like any of Target’s furniture.  It all looked cheap.  I was afraid if I sat on it, it might fall apart. 

“Don’t worry, dear, our furniture will not fall apart,” Richard whispered, as if reading my mind.  “It is much sturdier than it looks.” 
Within 10 minutes, the employees that Richard had contacted on his concealed headset rearranged the entire northeast quadrant of the store to make a lovely room for me.  I reached in my purse to get my smart phone to take a few pictures, but then I remembered that I had not recharged it in over 48 hours and the battery had gone dead.  Someone on Richard’s team appeared at my side with a Nikon D-3X super-shot professional camera with wide-angle lens. 

“This might do the trick,” he said, while removing the lens cap with a flourish.  “Would you like to pose over there next to your new end table?” 
Before I could say yes or no, Richard handed me a hairbrush.  He was starting to get on my nerves.  He was either incredibly helpful, or like your mom when you were in junior high and you thought you looked great but she wouldn’t let you out the door until she fixed your hair. 

“Richard, I’m fine,” I squeaked, but he set the hairbrush on the coffee table anyway. 
“MOV, darling, let me get you some coordinating throw pillows!” volunteered Richard enthusiastically, as I began to reassess if he had been a lawyer or perhaps an interior decorator in his pre-Target career.  “We’ll find something to match those beautiful sapphire blue eyes of yours!” 

Sapphire blue eyes?  Richard was instantly back on my good list. 
Right as I started to snuggle into my new faux leather chair with a cozy acrylic throw blanket and the latest issue of US Weekly with the “Bachelor” on the cover, I caught a glimpse of The Husband and our two sons walking toward me from behind a towering display of laundry detergent.

“Sweetie, what are you doing here?” I asked, flabbergasted that they had found me so fast.  “You know I am not coming home.” 
He sat down in a chair next to me and plucked the magazine out of my palms. 

“That’s okay, MOV,” he replied cheerfully while flipping to a page with Princess Kate on a tropical beach, “we’ve decided we’re all moving in with you.”