Posts by Jill

By Jill Greenwood

I’ll be honest with you (kinda a policy of mine); when I first got my first “proper” camera, I bought it because school got out for the summer. My sister and I had recently started blogging, and I was looking for a way to take better photos. So I bought a D40 and started snapping. I’d take a photo of a sock in progress and be mesmerized by the shot. And then spend the next two months trying to figure out what I’d done. When Jordan’s prom rolled around the next spring, I messed up half the photos when I forgot how to move the focus selection. Nothing like having great light with your beautiful daughter standing in front of you only to figure out later that she’s blurry as shit, but damn does that fence look stunningly focused.

But how to fix this problem. Why, I know! Just take photos. Take the damn camera out and depress the shutter. I’d take the camera to the back deck. Fool around with the settings. But the thought of taking a photo in public scared the living daylights out of me because I was afraid what people would say. Being painfully shy had a lot to do with it. Here’s where most people will laugh. “You? SHY?! What are you smoking?” most of my friends would say. “But you’ll talk to anybody . . . how do you figure you’re shy?” Because I am.

If you know me, then you probably won’t get me to shut up if we’re out in small groups. But put me in a group of five or more, and I’ll figure out how to make a quick and quiet exit. And if I can’t exit, I’ll either knit or drink. Sometimes both – again, that honesty policy. It can take me weeks or months – fine, years – for me to feel comfortable enough to let my guard down. Until that happens, I come off as bitchy. Evasive. Aloof. Pick an adjective that means vaguely douchey or slightly awkward and that’s probably been said about me. If I’m going to take a photo of something public, I’m much more likely to find a notebook or a coffee mug or my reflection in a window.

So, why then would I join the 100 Strangers project on Flickr*? Why would a person who took close to nine months to have a conversation with someone who worked a few doors down from her try to take photos of random strangers? Well, I don’t really know. Something about it made sense. Find someone out in public and begin a conversation with them. Thank god there’s no official time limit on this project because I’m taking my sweet time with it. But yesterday was a good day for me. I found a stranger, and I asked him if I could take his photo for a project I was working on. I engaged in semi-intelligent conversation about his job. And I think I did a decent job with it.

I’m not saying that photography has “cured” my shyness, but it’s certainly made it easier for me to make conversation with people. Granted, three-quarters of it is still awkward, but it’s conversation. Sometimes people will see what I’m focused on, and they’ll ask a question about it. Occasionally, they’ll tell me I can’t take photos of something. But usually it leads to some nice pleasantries exchanged. Or suggestions for the next place to explore.

Four strangers down . . . 96 more to go.

*Oh, Flickr, I miss you. I really, really, really do. Haven’t uploaded anything in almost three months. I need to change this soonish.

By Jill Greenwood

I’ve thought it was Tuesday all day. I lie . . . at 1:30 PM, I thought it was Friday. In my defense, I was wearing jeans and rushing to get my students, and that normally only occurs on a Friday. Cut me a break. Parent/Teacher Conferences are tomorrow, and I’m dreading them. Quite frankly, as much as parents dread them, feeling like they are in trouble meeting with a bunch of teachers, teacher dread them, too.

And this month is hard. I don’t know who suggested “Me” as a theme, but damn, it’s hard to talk about yourself. Couple that with the fact I couldn’t tell you what the day is, and you get a post with lame-ass shit and old photos. If that’s OK with you, read on. If not, come back when someone else has her ass in gear.

  • Whenever we stay over in Philadelphia, we always seem to wind up at the South Street Diner. I always get the eggs Benedict. South Street does a pretty mean dish; the best Benedict, however, is Eggspectations in Montreal.
  • Peanut butter is my Achilles heel. If there’s a jar of it in the house, I’ll dig in and eat it by the spoonful.
  • I’ve never played Angry Birds, but because my name is the one attached to our iTunes account, my scores are in the top 1%. Clearly, I’m destined for the big time.
  • I finally figured out what was wrong with my camera. Turns out I had the ISO locked at way too high a number, and everything has been grainy. Embarrassed? Sure. Real photographer? Fuck, no.
  • I bought collars for our cats this past weekend. Nothing has amused me more than watching them try to take them off. Nothing.

  • I suck at art. Like drawing a straight line is challenging to me. Playing Draw Something with my daughter is supremely challenging.
  • Music from commercials makes up a huge portion of my iTunes library. So do covers. I love covers. Except “When the Stars Go Blue.” The original is better.
  • My students thought that I was really going to audition for our school musical and were upset because a teacher might take a part they could have had. Granted, I did sing for the director and the assistant director, but that was simply because the words for the audition song were ingrained into my head.
  • Cheese. Highly underrated food. You should look into that.

So that’s it . . . it’s Monday. I’m using old photos. You get lame bits about me.

I could lie and tell you that I’m relaxing on my couch while I get this post ready. I could tell you that I’m sitting here, all chill and basking in the warmth and good vibes. But I’m not. It’s Election Night, and I’m nervous. Anxious. Picking at my hangnails. Because I just don’t know how things are going to go. So instead of lying, I’m just going to share some random facts about me because this month, it’s all about us. We’re a little selfish like that, and quite frankly, we’re okay with it.

The only type of toothpaste I like is the Arm and Hammer Baking Soda White toothpaste. My husband decided that he likes a different brand, so now we have two full tubes. It breaks my heart a little bit, not sharing the same toothpaste.

My parents gave us just about everything we needed or wanted; they asked for very little in return. It’s a model that I have tried with my girls.

I would love to get LASIK and get rid of the glasses that I’ve worn for the past 35 years. The only thing that stops me? I can see the crow’s feet deepening around my eyes and I’m just too damn vain to do it. Plus all the images that you see with the surgeries when the eye juice spurting up kinda scare me a little bit.

At night, I wind up sharing my pillow with our 17-year-old cat. She used to sleep around the top of my head like a halo. Now she takes the Mohawk position. Neither one means I sleep any better.

As stupid as it sounds, I’ll probably save the email from Twitter saying that John Heilemann replied to one of my tweets forever. Because I’m a political junkie and he’s pretty much the bee’s knees for me. You know what would make my decade? Having Mr. Heilmann speak to my classes about the excellence in writing (and if you can make that happen, there’s some quality hand knit socks in it for you . . . seriously, make this happen).

Knitting? Yes, I do.

I have a not-so-secret crush on Joe Bidden. I figure he has a thing for English teachers named Jill, so it could happen.

The word barrette bothers the living shit out of me. So do the phrases, “Let’s reach out to them,” and “I’d like to piggy back on the comment,” when you really wanted to say, “Let’s contact them about . . . ” and “I’d like to add . . . ” A co-worker said the “piggy back” comment at a parent/teacher conference once, and I nearly came across the desk at him. He absolutely did it on purpose. And I absolutely got him back for it.

Apparently I really need to clean my glasses (and fix that zit on my chin . . . what self-respecting 43-year-old gets a zit?!)

Reading = love. However, I rarely read books written for adults. Not a crime but kind of odd.

The soundtrack to Camelot holds a special place in my heart. Meaning, it’s a huge inside joke in our house.

Got any random facts about yourself you’d like to share?

– By Jill Greenwood

First off, I have no idea if this will publish on time because I’m writing it on Sunday morning. With all the hubbub about Hurricane Sandy, I figured I’d rather be safe than sorry and schedule this bitch in advance. Second, in a month of women, I’m coming up short with my final post. We’ve already covered all the topics that I care about, most of which were far more eloquent than I ever could hope to be. So I’m going with a topic that rattles around in my brain every once and a while when I’m thinking about the women who have gone before me. I’m playing make believe today and figuring out which women I would invite over for some wine and cheese and conversation.

Years ago, when my daughters and I were stranded in a train station in London (there are worst places to be stranded, for sure), I picked up a book on the sublime Eleanor of Aquitaine and was smitten within the first few pages. She was the original bad-ass. Duchess in her own right – no need for a husband. Queen of France until she tired of being the king’s arm candy . . . so she sought divorce and regained her lands and money and kept her kids legitimate, which was no small feat back in the day. Eleanor must have had a thing for kings (actually, her money and lands made her very desirable by men) because then she married Henry II of England. Eventually, she fell out of favor with him, so he locked her up in a nunnery for over a decade. Eleanor was smart, wily, and shrewd . . . plus she had a thing for red shoes. Is it any wonder that my girls once said, “If you were a time-traveling lesbian, you’d totally go back and marry Eleanor of Aquitaine.” Smart, my kids.

Anne Boleyn also gets an invite. Seriously, how could she not? I’m of the mindset that Anne gets a bad rap when you think about powerful women in history. She was used as a pawn by her family members who really only wanted to secure a spot in the English monarchy; at one point, it really didn’t matter who took one for the team – Anne or her sister, Mary – as long as her father got what he wanted: access to the king. People have long misrepresented Anne, claiming that she broke up the Catholic church in England. But the sad fact is, her boyfriend did that for her . . . all for the desire of a little tail (all hail the V, indeed). After it became apparent that Anne couldn’t produce a son (hello, science! It was all Henry’s fault), the palace began scheming for ways to get rid of its little problem, ahem Anne, and they decided that since she wouldn’t go quietly, they’d just restrict access to her mouth a la a French sword.  Since Anne is dropping by this little party, she’s more than welcome to bring along Lady Jane Grey, another woman used cruelly by her family for their own material gain, and Elizabeth I, who could tell them what it was like to have power on her own.

This one is a given, but Mary Dyer is coming around for a few cocktails. Growing up with a name that everyone butchered, it was a welcome surprise when all of a sudden people started asking about my “long lost cousin” in class. Here’s a woman who stands up for her convictions believing that all people – men and women – had the right to read the Bible. Who gave birth to a stillborn child and later had to listen to people say that its deformities were the result of its wicked mother. Who was banished from her home for refusing to give up her religious freedom. Who continued to preach against the wishes of her family. Who ultimately was hung for all of the above.

Elizabeth Zimmerman, please come to my dinner party. Bring your knitting. Bring your voice. Bring your wit. As a knitter, I owe you a debt that can never be repaid. But I have a ton of questions . . . like why can’t your directions be a little easier to follow and why must you go on and on and on about geese when I am just getting a pattern. Plus, I’d like to figure out the Greenwood connection.

On the invite list . . . any of the women who transported their families across the harsh realities of their lands in search of a better place. Any of the women who kept their families together during war and strife. Any of the women who started businesses to make their lives better.  Any of the women who scraped and scrounged and scrapped to make a difference. Wonder Woman is coming. So’s my mom. My mother-in-law. My grandmothers. My aunts. My daughters. My sisters. My nieces. My O + U compatriots.

And you. You’re invited, too . . . who is going to be your “plus one” to this epic party?

– by Jill Greenwood

When you were born, I wasn’t too sure how everything would play out. Things were looking pretty bleak in the world as they were on the home front. But then you came along, and things started to brighten day by day. The world was still a fairly shitty place, but I was 90% sure that things would be okay because if there was one thing that I knew it was how to be a girl.

Raising two girls was going to be a piece of cake. There would be no Barbies in our house. You could have a doll as long as there were trucks, too. Fairy tales were going to be nontraditional. You’d play soccer and enjoy it. In my revisionist history, this makes perfect sense. But let’s be honest. You had more Barbies than most toy stores. Your doll house was epic. And I couldn’t have made it through the week without at least two Disney fairy tales. Soccer? God, I hated those games. Besides, you both looked far cuter in a tutu than you did in cleats. Some strong, feminist mother I turned out to be, right?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: moms are fucked up. Go ahead. Let that percolate in your brains. Chat with each other. You done? I’ll say it again . . . we’re fucked up. Who was I kidding about not letting Barbies in the house? I yearned for the neon pink boxes before you were born. Hell, I think I had more fun with your doll house than you two might have. I even justified dance lessons with teaching you how to walk into a room with more confidence. All dance lessons ever did for you was have your asthma confirmed faster than it would have been without.

Last night, just for shits and giggles, I watched the video I put together for your 20th birthday even though I knew the outcome in advance. At some point during the course of the video – probably around the three minute mark – I’d start to tear up. And then, slowly slowly slowly, a tear would fall and then another and then another until I was a blithering idiot again. But last night was the first night I figured out why it happens at that point every time. That’s the time where you begin to resemble who you are today.

Independent. Beautiful. Opinionated. Smart. Funny. Stubborn. United. Bad ass . . . women.

The tears don’t actually flow until 5:38. That frame of one of you scowling sets it off because the next two are utter and complete joy. And in that joy, I see all the promise that your futures hold. Whatever you want out of life, seize it. Make it yours. Blaze your own trail and run with it. I can guarantee you this – there’s a family of women (genetic and adopted) who will share in your struggles and revel in your accomplishments. These are the women from far and wide who will back you up to the point of insanity. Who will take your side in a fight. Who will run to WaWa at 3 AM for an egg salad sandwich. Who will tell you what an asshole he was. Who will hold your hand waiting those three minutes to see if there is a plus sign or not. Who will laugh about your grade school crush and then stalk him on Facebook. Who will encourage you to be the best you can be.

How can I guarantee this? Because these women were there for me . . . they will be there for you, too.



Today’s guest blogger used to call me up every snow day and whisper the three little words most teachers love to hear: No school today. And for the longest time, I had no clue who she was since her Caller ID didn’t match the name on the weather tree. Turns out she was living in sin back in the day, and twelve years later, I’m happy to say that she is one of my best friends. She’s also child free, which means she brings something new to our month of women. But I’ll let Mary Burke explain why she made that choice.

I am super selfish . . . I always have been . . . and I don’t think it’s such a terrible character flaw when one is aware of their selfishness. And when it comes to recognizing that one is too selfish to have children, is that a bad thing to know your own limits? I think not! At this point in my life, I am absolutely confident I made the right choice not to have children. Actually I was pretty confident all along that this was the right choice for me. This is a very good thing because at this point my eggs have expired. Some people talk about a biological clock. I am convinced I wasn’t born with one. I never heard ticking, and the older I got, I found babies and small humans less and less appealing. Ironically, I am a teacher, and I choose to work with children everyday. I love my job and I love (for the most part) my daily interactions with kids. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Well, except being a stay at home dog mom . . . but that’s just not in the cards right now!

I grew up with a fairly large, close extended family. I’m the oldest of four children and the oldest of 22 grandchildren. There were always lots of babies around. I loved taking care of my younger cousins at family functions, and once I was old enough, I babysat. I have many wonderful female role models in my family with my mother leading the way. She was nothing short of amazing while we were growing up, and she still is tireless in her efforts to care for our family. It’s almost like she set the bar too high! Despite early positive experiences and being raised by supermom, sometime in my early 20s, I had a shift in my perspective. I don’t remember an actual defining moment, but thinking back I can easily remember the time in my life when this happened. I was in college when I realized I wanted to work with children, but I didn’t want to have children. I began to understand what an absolute CHORE it would be to have to care for another human being for the rest of my life. Also, I can’t do throw up or diapers. Don’t tell me I’d feel differently if it’s my kid; that’s just BS. I have nieces and nephews, and I always enjoyed holding them as babies, but as soon as a diaper change was needed, I passed that kid off as fast as I could! I recall a time holding my nephew and as he was throwing up, I almost dropped him trying to get rid of that little spewing alien. I think my tubes spontaneously tied themselves! I guess I just don’t really have any maternal instincts. I also find that I have an absolute lack of patience outside of the school setting. It’s like I have an off switch when I leave work. However, I am the kind of aunt that loves to sugar those kids up, spoil them rotten, whip them into a frenzy and send them home with my sisters. Remember . . . I am the oldest and I have a long history of sibling torture! I love family get-togethers, but I am always thankful that I get the fun part of spending time with the kids and not the daily hassles and never-ending work. I am simply in awe of the work that goes in to being a parent (if you’re doing it right, because believe me, I see way too many examples of poor parenting choices . . . but that’s another story for another day).

So, my choice to be childfree is not typical, and it’s especially not typical in my family (did I mention large? and Catholic? Breeders, those people are). My husband and I lived together (SINNERS!) for eight years before we got married. We had the “kids” conversation a couple of times, each time completely agreeing that no, kids just weren’t for us. Pretty serendipitous, huh? Of course, this is much to the dismay of my ever-growing family . . . there are now 19 great-grandchildren . . . breeders, I tell ya! My husband and I jokingly came up with reason # (insert any large number here) why we don’t want children. One funny, with a wee bit of truth, reason I have is not wanting to procreate with my husband: because when he was in school, he needed a custom made football helmet for his giant melon.

I have come across many people in my life who simply don’t understand my choice. And that’s OK. I love the life my husband and I have. We have independence, time to enjoy things together, and less of a financial burden than our friends with children have . . . kids are EXPENSIVE and not always the best investment. I’ve had people ask who will take care of my husband and me when we’re old . . . and I tell them I’m counting on other people’s children to go into the health care field to take care of us! I even have one friend who still holds out hope that I will come around. Honestly, that ship has sailed, and I’m pretty sure it sank!

I once had this conversation with my mom at an age when my eggs were not past the expiration date: ME: Mom, you know that feeling people get when they hold a baby, and they just need to have one and that’s all they can think about? MOM: (Holding her breath with anticipation) Yes! ME: I had that feeling today . . . I was holding a puppy and it had the sweetest puppy breath and my heart ached because I just knew . . . I need to get a puppy! MOM: Mary, that is NOT funny! True story, I think it’s the closest I’ve come to having ”that feeling,” and I really do love me some puppy breath! I have a soft spot for dogs. I don’t think my childfree life would be complete if it wasn’t for my dog. Dogs love you unconditionally, and they don’t ask for anything in return. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby, and I really am so happy for them, but I did tell my brother I would be way more excited if he was expecting a pile of puppies. (BAD SISTER!)

by Jill Greenwood

I grew up on Free To Be, You and Me. Pretty sure that it was on constant replay in our house. “Boy Meets Girl” was my all-time favorite track on the album (and yes, I’m old enough to call them albums, which is what I prefer), and I cracked up whenever the two babies figure out what their genders are. To me, it was funny because of course a boy could be afraid of mice. Silly boys. There was never really a distinction for me between boys and girls and the things that they could do. Climb a tree? Knock your socks off. Wanna bake cookies? Somebody’s house was probably free. Freeze tag? No problem. So the concept of girls being different than boys just didn’t compute for me. Around the time I was eight, though, things started to change a bit. All of a sudden, this divide started to occur between boys and girls. What do you mean you want to check out a book from the school library that dealt with combustible engines? Why not check out the book on embroidery instead? Mention that you wanted to be a doctor, but you were a girl, and someone nicely pointed out that it would take many, many years to get through medical school and didn’t you want to be a mommy and why not look at nursing instead because it’s just about as good.

Just about as good wasn’t good enough, and I doubt it would be good enough for you either. Words like “equal rights” and “Ms.” began to catch my attention. And who was this Gloria Steinem woman? My god, she made sense, and I knew damn well that just about as good would never work. Right around middle school – that wonderfully confusing and impressionable age – I figured out that the “F” word wasn’t “fuck” but “feminist,” and I was damn proud to be one. There I would sit in my little Catholic school girl uniform, dutifully learning all about math and science and English but knowing that the religion I was learning about thought that I was just about as good as the boys. Sitting up front in my science class because my pervy teacher sat all the girls with large breasts in the front two rows. Realizing that there would always be enough money for the football uniforms but maybe not for the volleyball team. Just about good enough sucked as much as losing did because that’s what it was: losing.

Things got better in high school (slightly – the Catholic school girl uniform takes away some of your credibility in the whole feminist arena). Even though the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated, women were starting to be treated as equals. My parents went to bat for me when I decided that I didn’t want to take the freshman science class because it was too easy. They pushed for calculus in our school. College was even better. My first year? We didn’t call it the freshman year because it was demeaning to women. Professors called on the men and the women alike. I don’t think I was ever called “honey” or “sweetie” by anyone in a college classroom. Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth sold out in record time. And yet . . . telling someone you were a feminist was like admitting that you liked sucking toes in public. Didn’t that mean you stopped shaving your armpits and legs? Did you hate men? Why are you so angry? Questions like these were asked all the time.

But still . . . things were getting better. Women were leading companies. They were making changes in the workforce and being elected to positions of authority in the government. Even the Supreme Court had not one but two women on board. Maybe that label wasn’t really necessary. Maybe I could let it go and just know that just about as good wasn’t something that I would settle for. Maybe I didn’t need the word “feminist” to define who I was. And so I stopped using it in conversation. I started thinking that my girls – those two little ones with building blocks and Barbies and dump trucks and dolls – wouldn’t have to worry about being feminists because just about as good wasn’t going to be a problem. Everyone would accept that it wasn’t good enough.

Turns out I was wrong. So wrong. Even though we’ve made strives, women still do more housework than their husbands or significant others (not me – I’m a shitty housekeeper). Get out in the workplace, and you’ll succeed if you are warm and nurturing, but god forbid you are firm and stand your ground . . . because then you’re a bitch and a cunt. Be prepared to make some sacrifices because you can’t have it all. Truly, it’s not humanly possible to have it all unless you invent some way to add hours to our days. And if my girls don’t like the label feminist, they need to embrace it. Because their madre is a huge feminist (so are their aunts and their grandmothers) . . . she might not shave her legs six months out of the year because of sheer laziness, but she certainly doesn’t hate men. She values them and knows that without the love and support of one of the best men she knows, those girls might have believed that just about as good was good enough. Because he certainly never would have loved a woman who believed that.

I’m embracing my “F” word. I’m relishing being a feminist. I’m wearing it as a badge of honor. I’m sweating during my walk with it emblazoned on my tits. I’m a feminist . . . and there’s nothing wrong with that.

by Jill Greenwood

I’m pretty sure that Julie Andrews never contemplated singing a song about the shit that annoyed her. Can’t you just picture it? Maria with all the Von Trapps nestled around her whilst she sings, “Heat in July and poison ivy on jeans, cat puke you step in and grown men who preen.” They would have called Mother Superior and begged for a new nanny. Of course she sang only of the beautiful things of life . . . kittens, warm apple strudel, bright copper kettles. Granted, there was some bad weather, but even that was a raindrop not a fucking deluge like I was caught in on Saturday night.

  • I’m 99% sure that I’m not alone when I say that I’m generally a positive person, but every once and a while, I get irritated over the little things. Like this:those little stick figured decals people put on their cars. I despise them. Irrational? Oh, god yes. But I nearly come unglued when I see them, especially if they are the uber-stylized ones like the mom shops, the dad digs NASCAR, the oldest daughter’s a ballerina, the middle child (could be a boy or a girl) really gets down to karate, but the baby is a future swimmer. And don’t forget the two dogs and three cats. Mickey ears on your stick figures? Be glad I didn’t key your car. And god forbid you have a person and then five cats after it. Yes, I’ve seen this (and I know who you are . . . you’re on notice).
  • people who tell me that they don’t have time for knitting. Or reading. Or walking. Or any other thing that requires you to set aside the time. Because basically what you are saying to me is, “Oh, my time is too important to sit down and do that. You must not have anything requires you to work this hard.” Turns out, I do . . . I’m just putting me first this year. If you think you don’t have time to knit (or do something that you enjoy), you probably do. It’s called watching television or looking at Facebook or chatting on the phone. You’ve got the time.
  • dogs and cats running free. Of course I see that tag on your pet’s collar. But I don’t see you any place close. Last week, Olive spent an enjoyable three hours running from room to room chattering at the cat outside our windows. Sure it kept her occupied, but then I had to sidestep the damn thing all day. Couple that with the busy street that runs in front of our house, and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s coming soon – that sickening sound and the aftermath – and all it will take is someone to keep their pets in the house.


  • political ads. You mean there’s an election coming up in a few months? Really? I hadn’t noticed. I just thought that every channel was airing the same thing over and over and over again. I yearn for the days when every Tom, Dick, and Harry didn’t have a Super PAC and couldn’t air ads 24/7. Notice that I’m not naming a party because they both have oversaturated the airways. I can’t even listen to Pandora or Spotify without hearing how douchey both sides are. If you can’t say anything nice, then shut the fuck up.
  • the replacement refs. Roger Goodell, end this shitty strike now. Pay the men their money. Pony up for the retirement package. End. It. Now.
  • parents who believe exactly what their kids tell them. Little clue for you . . . sometimes your kids lie or they tell you what they want you to know. I know, I know – shocking, right? I had a father complain that he’s tired of his son not coming home with any work. “But he’s had work twice this week,” we said. “But that’s not what he told me,” replied the father. What? A 12-year-old boy says he doesn’t have any homework? Color me surprised. And it’s not just school work. Kids don’t want to get in trouble, and they certainly don’t want to disappoint their parents. So the whole truth might not work its way out. A little caution before you call out the National Guard searching for Billie’s brand new cell phone. Chances are she cracked the screen and doesn’t know how to tell you.
  • food pictures on Instagram. I’m over the food, people. Occasionally, I’ll give in and snap one. But I can’t take one more photo of food. Possibly because I want to eat it. More likely because I just don’t get it (and my mother dutifully took a photo of every meal she had in Germany even though the vast majority of it looked like a doctoral dissertation of penis types . . . because they eat a lot of sausages in Germany).

There’s probably more, but I don’t want to sound like a bitter, crabby bitch. Anything that gets under your skin? Just a little bit?

by Jill Greenwood

Because it sure as hell sounds like you are asking a question, but I really don’t know what the answer might be.

Anyone else annoyed as shit by “upspeak,” that mind-boggling bat-shit crazy driving method of speaking where the speaker ends every statement with a rising inflection? So it sounds like everything is a question? Even when it isn’t? And they are probably just stating a fact? Like Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” might be the greatest song ever?

Really?! I surely can’t be the only person annoyed by this. I’ve listened to countless interviews in which a person isn’t asking anything, but I wanted to jump in and say, “Don’t bring that inflection up! I have no idea what you are asking!” This first drove me to the brink in the mid-90s. We lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the time, and you would encounter it in stores where there were a ton of college girls (and apparently college and teen-age girls are on the cutting edge of vocal manipulation). But now, it’s everywhere. My own girls did it for a while, but thankfully they didn’t keep it up for very long. Yesterday, I heard a story on NPR about arsenic in rice, and all I could do was focus on the reporter’s upspeak as she talked about the rising levels of a known poison in baby food. Nice! I’m focused on her voice (fingernails on chalkboards) while she’s talking about the safety of our food (click on the link to access the audio file).

And sadly, as with most irritants this month, this post lacks a photo . . . because how do I photograph someone’s voice? Turns out I can’t. But I can leave you with a little bit of Justin Bieber love. You’re welcome?

By Jill Greenwood

There reaches a point in everyone’s life when they decide that they need to “declutter” just a bit. Lord knows I’ve reached that point probably a thousand times in my life, and I’m usually successful for about nine months. In the span of time that it takes to bring a baby into this world, I backslide into my clutter loving ways and am contemplating taking a vow of poverty. Get disgusted by the clutter and shit, decide to make a change, and repeat the cycle. So far, all of the lovely ladies here on O + U have talked about things that irritate them when others do it . . . I’m talking about something that I do to irritate myself.

Take notebooks, for example. I love them. I loathe them. Two years ago, I took about 30 to school and vowed, just like Scarlet O’Hara, that as God as my witness, I would never, ever purchase a frivolous notebook unless I had a specific purpose. Ooooh, stone paper! I need that. Followed by But that Japanese inspired print is just so adorable. And then we had Seriously, those Hunger Gamescomposition books are the best. And before you know it, I was back up to 30 notebooks. Trust me, no one needs 30 notebooks. No one.

I could just list the shit that I’ve bought at Target because it was “reasonably priced” on clearance: beaded garland, socks, ironic t-shirts, cute plates, phone covers, travel lotions, rulers, cheap make-up, lip gloss, water bottles, toys. For the love of god and all that is holy, I have no reason to look at let alone own four boxes of the Shabby Chic beaded garland . . . no one does. Not a single person in this world.

I’m not sure when I’m due for another decluttering because I’m long past the decluttering date. Judging by the purses and blankets and shit in my attic, that ship sailed two years ago. A garage sale is a possibility, but then again calling 1-800-GOT-JUNK would work just as well for me. It’s time to come clean y’all. time to purge and get the attic clutter cleared away so I can see the carpet. But I’d feel a whole lot better if you let me know that I’m not alone. Got any clutter you need to get off your chest?