Posts from the Irritants Category

-by Erika “who threw up a bit in her mouth typing that title” Ray

I had a blissful existence with my period for almost two decades.  Really I did.  I was a late bloomer.  How late?  I drove myself home to get a tampon.  Yep, that late.  My period was always good to me.  Only lasted three days, never gave me cramps, no bloating, nothing.  If I was moody, I probably just blamed it on the period.  If we have to get messy once a month, I was going to blame a ton of shit on it.  I’ll pull that card.  For the most part, it was a nuisance.  I was never bed-ridden.  I never needed to go on birth control to regulate it.  I just existed with it because I was a woman and it’s part of our genetics.  I’m a woman and I have a period.

All that changed after Becks came along.  My period showed up and reared her ugly red-head and I fucking hate her.  Once a month, she makes me hate that I’m a woman.  So much that right now, I’m not sure why I’m giving her the female gender.  Because there’s no way a woman would ever be a period.  My period is an old, sexist, grouchy Man who doesn’t understand why I’m working.  Doesn’t understand why I’m not cranking out more kids.  He’s pissed that I didn’t bake my husband fresh bread this morning.  He’s mad that I’m not sexually satisfying my husband every single day.  And he’s pissed that I’d have to fake it (Everyday, people.  You’d have to fake it).  And to punish me, he shows up once a month.  My period is that kind of man.

Once a month, I have a period that is tricky and deceptive.  “Oh there he is…” I say in the morning.  But he’s only teasing with the actually start date.  This goes on for a week until he makes a grand entrance to stick around for another week.  And during that week, he isn’t lazy.  He’s hardcore.  He gives me cramps that make me consider ripping out my uterus.  Those cramps can get so bad that I talk to them in the car, “Please just stop.  Please just let me get to the hotel and I’ll silence you with a glass or two of wine.  Please cramps, please.”  But he does stop there.  Oh no, he’s just getting started.

He bloats the shit out of my stomach.  So much that I look six months pregnant.  Every month when my period shows up, I look down and think, “I need to stop drinking beer, eating regular lunches, do sit-ups, starve myself…”  It doesn’t help that the week prior, I could eat our house clean.  I contemplate eating the can of peaches that we brought into the house from our previous apartment ten years ago.  I eat like I’m about to die.  I never remember this fact.  Each month, I’m shocked by the amount of food I consume.  And then I’m shocked that I’ve started a period.  Why don’t I remember the cycle of destruction?!  But during my period, I spend the next week willing myself to eat.  Because like a sexist old man, my period doesn’t allow me to eat.  He wants me waif-ish and sick so he takes away my appetite.  “I’m doing you a favor,” he whispers as he taps my bloated tummy.

And then the mood swings…  No joke every other period, I will find myself on the floor crying.  The slow dramatic actress cry.  The kind that awards an Oscar to the actress, but they know how to do it while looking pretty.  I’ve never been able to master that trick.  I’m covering the floor with snot and tears.  Why am I crying?  It never matters.  I can make anything into a reason for a good bawl-fest.  Veggies in the crisper about to go bad?  Sure.  I’m bawling because there’s starving children walking to school for a free breakfast.  And here I’m letting the cilantro turn to brown mush.  Idiot.  New Taylor Swift comes on the radio and I’m sobbing because she found her power to never ever get back with the boy.  Oh yeah, that’s my life during my period.

I was complaining about it once and a woman said, “That’s what we get because Eve ate the apple.”  As women we would make this awful time into a martyr situation.  We get a period because we’re women and that’s what our genes demand of us.  In order to be a woman, we have to have this asshole show up once a month.  Not as a punishment for some potential made up story to keep women in line way back when.  I say “potential” because not everyone believes in that story, don’t get mad at me.  But believe me right now, if men had to have a period, they would have figured out a way to be a man and not have a period.  Because men can’t deal with this shit.  One little cold and their world is about to end.  But walk around in pain for a week, crying, bleeding, ruining perfectly good undies, scrounging around for the last hidden tampon?  No way.  They would have fixed this problem and still kept doing their gender thing.  But women suffer and deal with it.

Hey, lady doctors and scientists?  Hey female activists and humanitarians?  Do me a favor and find away for us to not have periods?  Don’t sensationalism them or make it a badge of womanhood.  I’m over it.

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 jess lewis


urban sprawl is one of my biggest dislikes, especially undeveloped urban sprawl. i’m surrounded by it. wooded areas razed to build new shopping centers that sit empty for years, often in poorly placed locations. low income housing demolished for shiny new developments of  mcmansions (that take years to get even 6 houses built). some of these locations are maintained. they are the ones that become safe places for inexperienced teen drivers to practice their skills and newbie bicyclists to test out their balancing acts on a level surface. others are left to return to their natural state, but with the addition of street lamps, useless parking places, and meaningless traffic signs. some of the older developments are slowly filling with dollar stores, nail salons, smoothie shops, and the occasionally successful local business (while half of the center remains empty). i can’t leave my house in any direction and not pass one of these locations within a mile or two of my house. i’d love to see at least one of these places put to good use for the benefit of the community (a kick ass park or maybe a recreation/art center?). sadly, i don’t see that happening any time soon.


Tiffani “with an ‘i’, not a ‘y’ on the end” Michele

I’m just going to come out and say it. My name irritates me.

I love that it’s what my parents chose. I love hearing the people that I care about say it to me. I love that I have a name rather than a number or a letter. But that’s about the extent of my appreciation for it.

My struggle with my name started way back in Kindergarten, when you have to learn to write your name. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that kids with the name “Adam” and “Jen” had a much easier time of it. When you only have 3 or 4 letters in your name, you learn it quicker, write it faster, and are done sooner. All the 3 letter named kids were off playing hopscotch and jumprope when I was still struggling to remember which letters were in my name in which order and goddamn it which way do the ‘f’s go again?! 7 motherfucking letters in my name, people. It’s hard to find someone with more letters than that, and I missed out on a lot of play time trying to learn how to write them all down properly.

It didn’t get any better, because by the time I learned how to spell my name, I then had to learn how to write it in cursive. Have you seen an uppercase T in cursive? It’s a beast. Look at it…it’s full of swirls and doodly doos and pen swipes and a bunch of different changes in pen directions. Uppercase cursive T was a bitch to learn, and I hated writing it, but for my entire 4th grade year I had to write it dozens of times a day. I couldn’t avoid it, it was right there in my name. My other friends without a name that started with T only had to write it when using “the” at the start of a sentence. They all agreed, uppercase T’s are a son of a bitch to write. Somehow mine always ended up looking like a sailboat that was taking on water and sinking into a sea of despair. A conscientious child, my dismal T’s concerned me greatly and so I spent hours trying to write them in a more beautiful manner so I could get on the “Star Student Handwriting Board” with all my other 3-letter-starts-with-an-A named friends.

Guess how many times I ended up on the perfect penmanship board? Go ahead, guess. That’s right, bitches. Exactly none. None times. That’s when I learned hard work doesn’t really pay off and so I spent my 5th grade year slacking off on homework so I could watch The Muppet Show.

In middle and high school it stayed just as bad. There are no cute little nicknames for Tiffani, no sweet rhyming words. I longed to be named Nicole or some variant, just so I could shorten it to Nikki and be totally badass. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “with an “i”, not a “y” at the end” after telling someone my name, I’d estimate that the stack would line up end to end and circle the universe. And then as soon as you say something like that, people lose their minds and write whatever stupid shit they want. Like, if you break one common rule then logic flies out the window for any of it. I’ve seen my name written “Tyffani”, “Tiffini”, “Tyffyni”, etc. This is only aggravated with my following name, Michele. One “l”. How obnoxious is this: “My name is Tiffani Michele with an I at the end not a Y and one L.”

This leads to my final irritant about my name. It’s really presumptuously snobby. I have a cousin in law who also has the name Tiffany. Or, she used to. At the end of law school they had exit interviews and the interviewer also reviewed name connotations. Apparently the connotation for “Tiffany” was so bad, she changed it to her middle name Marie before starting off on her career in law. It’s not like Nikki…thats the kind of name for a girl that will play a game of catch with you while picnicking at the park wearing jeans and a tank top. Tiffani is the kind of name for a girl that is too busy to have any fun because she’s at the salon getting her hair and nails done. Maybe if I really was named Nikki, I’d be better at sports in general. But no Tiffani has ever been or ever will be good at manual labor or dexterity. There are no Tiffani’s in the olympics. We’re only actresses, apparently. We get by on our well groomed looks and frosty personality.

So, to sum up…reasons why my name aggravates me:

*No one ever sings songs about Tiffani, except when The Eagles sang “her mind was Tiffany twisted…” in Hotel California and what the fuck does that mean? I’m snobby and crazy?

*It’s hard to write poems to me because of that whole non rhyming thing.

*It’s laborious to write my name because of the 7 motherfucking letters in it.

*It’s hard to write it and have it look pretty.

My sister hated her name and changed it in her 37th year. My 8 year old just asked me why I didn’t name her Eagle Nebula, so she might be changing her name at some point in the future, too. Me? I think I’ll stick with mine. Yeah it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s so much a part of me I think I’d miss it when no one said it anymore.

But I’ll still always have a part of me that wishes I was a Nikki.

i strive to be a positive person,  i do.   there is more than enough sadness, heartache and madness in this world. i think trying to put out a little positivity is a good thing.  i wholeheartedly believe in karma. i believe you get what you put out in the world, so i try to put out good.  that said, some things do rub me the wrong way. i am human.

so here’s a few  (feel free to chime in with yours in the comments)

  • the pink explosion that comes when you have a little girl.  WHY?  why does the little play kitchen have to be pink and lavender?  why do 89% of the clothes have to be pink, fuchsia and leopard or some variation of? can’t there be more primary colors?!   i just don’t see the need for all that pink.  can’t my girl love  green, or black, or red?    and while i am on this topic, the whole princess gig really rubs me wrong.  why is that most little girl clothes are A. PINK and B. say “sweet” “cute” or “princess” on them… in sequins no less, pink sequins! BARF.  i want my girls to be individuals. strong, feisty, kind, spunky & independent. those clothes, and all they stand for, are just not that message. can’t their clothes say smart, funny, and strong instead?  or better yet, “i am awesome.” in black.
  • the saying “love you to death.”  can’t really explain it, but it just makes my skin crawl…
  • when you walk past someone on the street and they will not look at you. BE KIND! LOOK UP! SMILE!  why not?
  • those election signs stuck in every green space imaginable.  it does not make me want to vote for your candidate.  quite the opposite actually.
  • butt crack. not just for plumbers anymore. everywhere you turn these days.  i don’t even particularly like my own, i don’t expect you to want to gaze at it, so cover yours.  please.
  • OB/GYN exam rooms.  seriously,  the fish mobiles?  the painted flower motifs? and the worst of worst,  fuzzy golf club covers on the stirrups.  (yes i have put my feet up in something that should be covering a 9 iron and a driver. ) when i am naked from the waist down and in the most vulnerable position possible, i do NOT want to put my feet up in golf club covers and imagine my doctor on the back nine…  no thank you.
  • weak handshakes.  you know the ones,  their hand feels like a limp dead fish in your hand.  what is that?!?!  grab my hand and shake it!  with feeling!!!!!
  • mean people.  they suck.

i can feel my blood pressure rising just letting my mind wander to the things that irk me,  so i think it’s a good time to stop.  maybe i need to go meditate on happy thoughts like apple pie, kid belly laughter, bubbles, and kittens.

but if we happen to pass one another on the street, please look up, say hi and shake my hand… firmly.

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?

-Erika Ray

I have one.  Lots of people do.  Do you love Oprah?  She’s got one.  “Like” it and get updates and words of wisdom from the Queen.  Do you like the show Supernatural?  I know you do.  “Like” it and get ready for the new season.  Facebook fanpages have quickly replaced my Google reader.  I wait for an update and I check the blog. It’s like a little community and a gateway to the blog’s author.  I use mine as a way to pimp my blog when I’m actually writing on it.  I upload more pictures to it since I rarely visit Flickr.  I type things I’d rather not on my personal Facebook page.  Me face down with some bourbon?  Yeah, that’s not going up on my personal page so Aunt four times removed can see it.  But it goes up on my Fanpage.

But I’ll be honest, sometimes I hate Facebook Fan Pages.  For a long time it felt weird.  Here I am asking people to “Like” me.  That’s a weird position to be in.  It’s like I’m standing in front of all my friends and family screaming this:

Hey everyone!!  I fancy myself as an artist, photographer, and writer.  Like me.  Do it!  Don’t you like me?  

I would never do that in real life.  Never.  But Facebook makes it so easy.  And here’s where it gets really weird.  When friends or family don’t like it.  In the beginning, this was hard to stomach.  And now FB makes it worse.  They actually point out your friends who haven’t liked your page.  It’s like Mark Zuckerberg is saying, “Hey Erika Ray Photography, isn’t it funny that your sister-in-law doesn’t like you?  You should make her by asking again?”  And then you start thinking:

Don’t they like me?  Maybe I think I’m way funnier than I actually am (so true).  Oh they’re still pissed from the time I said that uncomfortable drunk comment in 2004.  Shit, I thought I took good pictures.  How could they sit there at Thanksgiving dinner and not Like my page?  Are they not liking it because it will make their other family members uncomfortable?  Ok fine.  I sometimes say “Cunt.”  Maybe they don’t want that in their feed…  

I’m slightly exaggerating.  In the past, I would think one of these statements and move on.  But I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been hurt or offended if someone didn’t Like my page.  Deep down, I realize there are reasons why people don’t like a page.  It’s hard on your iPhone.  You get the email and your forgot.  You never use FB.  You really don’t like me.  But I’m over all that now.  I think.  My brother still hasn’t Liked it.  I’m not holding a grudge…

Here’s the other thing about Facebook Fanpages that drives me insane.  And this is a personal irritation.  If you do this, ok.  If I think you’re talented, I’ll get over it.  Please remember, I have weird hang-ups: toothpaste, wet hair in the tub, gum.  All that being said, I hate when people “Share the Love” only to get Likes.  Don’t know about this?  Let me fill you in.  I run around FB liking a bunch of Photogs pages on a particular day.  There’s Share the Love Tuesdays, Networking Monday, We Get Cra Cra Wednesday (I made that up, but it should be a day).  So I visit the page, Like it, say some nice words, drop my FB page.  Repeat a dozen times.  And all the while, other photogs are doing the same thing.  Driving up Page Likes.  This practice drives me mental.  What’s the point?  I’ve seen some pages that are from towns of 500 hundred people and the photog has 2000 Likes.  And the pictures are shit.  Why?  Look in the sidebar and read where the Likes are coming from.

Spreading the Love Sunday!  Go and like XYZ Photography!

Love your work.  You might like mine too.  Check it out.

Like your photos.  Like mine too.

All on the same day.  Within minutes of each one.  These aren’t people who will ever use her services because they aren’t from the same part of the country!  It’s just driving up the Likes.  I get being inspired.  That’s the reason I Like a page.  But this isn’t for inspiration, it’s for a big number that makes a person feel good.

Other things I hate about a FB fanpage:

  • I hate when people hold contests to get to a particular number of Likes.
  • I hate when people have a blog update on the FB fanpage and then repost from their personal FB page.  Yes, I’ve done this but try to only do it with birth session or extremely personal blog post.  And I hate that I’m doing it.
  • I hate that your FB fanpage shows you how many people viewed a post.  It’s only to get you to spend money to promote it.
  • I hate when people say, “Getting to emails really soon!”  Stop updating your FB page and send me the fucking email!!
  • I hate when people upload the same photos to FB and then use the exact same photos on the blog post they just added.  Why would I click over?  Show me one great photo and make me click over to the blog for the same greatness just more of it.

Sorry if you do any of these.  I’m sure you’ve only done one or two of them and probably not very often.  Maybe.

A big number of Likes doesn’t really reward you with business or mean that you’re a very Likeable person.  It’s just a big number.  And before you say, “Erika, you’re just jealous.  You want 2000 Likes too.”  Yes, 2000 people who like me is flattering.  But I want them to Like it because they actually enjoy me.  Not because I went on a spree of Liking.  I want a community of people on my Fanpage.  I won’t ever ask you to Like me to win something or just because I Liked your page.  Like me because you think I take a decent picture every now and then.  Like me because you enjoy that fact that I say Cunt and won’t apologize for it.  Like me only because you want to.

Am I insane with my Facebook fanpage gripes?  What irritates you about a Facebook fanpage?

And don’t leave a comment if you haven’t Liked my page…

psst…  You know what else irritates me?  Blog post with no photos.  And I’ve done it twice.  Sorry.  Take whatever I hate with a grain of salt.

But I really do hate this shit above and I’m not apologizing for it.

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?

Tiffani “chew with your mouth closed” Michele

I like to pretend nothing bothers me, so this month of annoyances is kind of a hard one for this girl. All the other O+U girls brainstormed an astounding number of things that piss them off, and it’s frankly one reason why I love them so much. These bitches are fierce, and while they each handle their anger/aggravation in different ways, each of them own that shit like bosses.

I do not own my shit like a boss. I pretend I don’t have shit that gets under my skin and carry on with a torturous smile plastered on my face until one day I find myself with an unbearable migraine level headache and an empty flask of whiskey before 9:30 am. Clearly, I need some help with accepting all emotions and not just “the good ones”.

So, I’ll own up to something that drives me completely psychotically nuts.

Loud chewers.

Don’t underestimate the intense feelings that loud chewers brings out of me.

I can filter out the high decibel temper tantrums of kids, annoying Kidz Bop songs, dudes yelling over the booming TV set during sports, and drunk people loud talking in my ear while I’m trying to enjoy a beer at the local bar. But heaven help you if I’m sitting in a movie theatre and you are smacking your way through a bag of popcorn. I don’t even know why they sell popcorn in movies…is there any louder more obnoxious food to eat while in a theatre?

I don’t know if this is nature or nuture…as a kid I heard “chew with your mouth closed” at least 23432 times a day, so I’m led to believe my mom had this particular sensitivity. Except I was young and misunderstood her directive. There was a long span of time when I attempted to eat my food with my mouth closed and without chewing. It was tough. In any case, I don’t know if my hyperawareness of my own chewing made me pay more attention to other people’s chewing or if I just have a genetic predisposition to want to bind and gag anyone who is eating food at an unnecessarily loud audible level.

Even if you are chewing with your mouth closed, you can be a loud chewer, and I can hear that shit too. I can hear if you are chewing with a jaw pop. I can hear you if you are chewing with a teeth grind or click. I can hear you if you are chewing softly but are breathing loudly after every masticated food particle is swallowed. I can hear every lip smack and grunt. I hear all, and I judge all.

Often I can’t focus on movies because everyone around me is destroying my experience through distracting popcorn/peanut M&M chewing. Sometimes at restaurants I have to change seats to get away from the noise of other people’s thoughtless chews. I’ll slide down the bar to distance myself from a loud eater. Always I look at the person/people with a glare until I have to look away in disgust.

I know, it’s not their problem, it’s mine.

But seriously, it’s like noise pollution.

So keep this in mind when eating:

take small bites!
chew with your mouth closed!
never eat popcorn unless it’s heavily softened with butter!
avoid loud chewing foods like nachos in favor of chew friendly foods like pasta.
if your breathing changes while eating, you’re eating too fast.
eat slower!

I, and all the other sensitively well meaning and yet possibly insane loud chewer haters will love you for it. If you can’t change your chewing behavior, then at least offer me a couple shots before dinner. That may take the edge off.

-Erika Ray

I feel like this entire month, I should start my posts off with “I’m sorry if this makes you angry.”  But let’s be adult here, people.  I love a lot of stuff you probably hate.  I hate a lot of stuff you probably love.  And for one month, I get to spew the stuff I hate.  If I hate on something you truly love, it is what it is.  I don’t think you’re awful or a demon, I just hate that one thing you love.  So this is my very last apology for possibly offending or hurting your feelings.  We can still be friends.  I hope anyways…

So I’m going to say it: I hate when people who use the term Furbabies.  That’s quite possibly the worst term ever.  Isn’t it?  Wanna see my furbabies?  Hell no I don’t.  Get that shit taken care of.  Oh you mean your dogs…  I guess.

When I first had Coop, our good friends didn’t have children.  I had lots of discussions about him and I’d hear, “Not that I’m comparing my dog to your kid.”  And I waved it off.  It wasn’t offensive to me in the least because for a short period, their dog was like my baby.  We had our dog, Charlie, for almost 2 years prior to having Coop.  She prepared us for parenting better than any book I pretended to read.  I’d nod agree and we’d compare parenting notes.  I believe it was Charlie Harper on Two and Half Men who said, “Having a kid is like raising a dog who slowly begins to talk.”  It’s true.  You praise the same way.  Gently steer out of trouble the same way.  Half laugh when you get pee’d on.  Fall hopelessly in love with those big goo-goo eyes.  But then my kid started to talk.  He started to interact.  He started to have opinions that I couldn’t gentle steer against.  We had to meet in our house as humans. And that’s when having a dog isn’t comparable to a kid.  My dog is my dog and my children are my children.  And it’s 110% different.  If you disagree, you don’t have human children.

When my kid destroys the couch, I can get angry and say some form of “Bad Kid.”  But I have to adjust my parenting because I can’t put him in the backyard to ignore him.  I have to forgive, move on, and teach respect.  And prepare for the next action that tests my patience.  My dog does it and I say some form of “Bad Dog.”  But loving her is easy because she’s a dog and probably didn’t know any better.  And let’s be honest, if we’re starving in my house.  All of us are hallucinating from starvation.  If I was watching my children twist in pain, I would cook up my dog and give us a couple more days.  I can’t cook up my kids.  We’d all die.  Hungry and alone.  I can say this because I doubt it would ever happen, but it could…  And I would.  I’ve watched people treat their pet horribly because they’re just animals.  That’s not right, they do deserve respect.  But I’ve also heard non-kid parents give their discipline advice to a kid-parent because they’ve had to correct Sparky.  That’s not right.  Until you’ve had to deal with a screaming four-year-old while reminding yourself that walking out the door isn’t an option, keep your discipline advice to yourself.  Telling Sparky to not jump on the couch is completely different from trying to stop an irrational kid’s need to throw books.  And you have to stick around.  You can’t bail.  I’ve never wanted to jump in the car and drive for hours because of something my dog did.  But I’ve had those moments with my children.  I’d probably take the dog with me.

I’m not saying that someone’s love for their pet isn’t strong.  I will cry like a baby when our dog goes.  She was our first “kid”.  But the minute Coop moved beyond his “Dog Phase”, she became an actual dog: a much-loved dog, but a dog.  When you’re pregnant, people always laugh and say “I can’t wait for the cat to become a cat.”  You tell them with all your heart, “That won’t happen.  I love her like a kid.”  I honestly believe you do.  But she becomes a cat.  Trust me.