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Much Ado About Nothing – Cold

Much Ado About Nothing January 18, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean CiampiTexans are good at a lot of things, and, as a result, we have an impressive ego about how universally awesome we are, especially around Houston. However, we as Texans do have one weakness: the cold. We don’t do cold or ice or sleet well at all. A few hours of fluffy snow that melts within a few hours so we can go back to our shorts and sandals is okay every nine years, but not the hard core stuff.  Cold is our kryptonite.

During this recent freeze, all Texans were like stunned sea turtles. Even the sea turtles were stunned sea turtles. Poor things had to be thawed out in warm water which probably gave them turtle soup nightmares. My nightmares, however, were caused by all the weather warnings and frenzied news channel weather people triggering off my Post Traumatic Storm Disorder. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

I noticed at least two of my neighbors had their windows open, which I thought unusual considering the sub-freezing temperatures. Then I realized they were airing out the wood smoke that had filled their houses. Don’t judge, we don’t use our fireplaces much around here, so I suppose it’s easy to forget to open the flue.

Personally, I spent the Ice-pocolypse binge watching Netflix. It was that show ‘The Crown’ about Queen Elizabeth so I rationalized that it was sort of educational and therefore not a complete waste of a day. And a night. And maybe part of the next day but whatever. It’s too cold to do anything else so, again, don’t judge.

To people living in colder climes, we just ask that you don’t laugh at us when we try to make sleet angels or google the difference between sleet and snow. Yes, we used the Whataburger gift card we got for Christmas to scrape our windows. What else do we have? Besides, Whataburger is Texas. They understand and will still accept it. And there’s no reason to smirk behind your mittens because we took three boredom naps, stress baked all the frozen fundraiser cookie dough, and cycled through all five stages of grief and loss during our one day at home for weather.

Face it, we don’t do cold, but, thankfully, winter is now probably over since it’s now 70 degrees outside again..

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Space Trash

Much Ado About Nothing January 11, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Attention People of Earth! It’s like this: remember that 9.4-ton unmanned space station that China launched, oh, way back when? No? Well, it’s going to be crashing into Earth sometime in the next couple of months. While nothing can ruin your day quite like being obliterated by space debris with a “Made in China” tag on it, the chances that you’ll take a direct hit from the Tiangong-1 are about “a million times less than your odds for winning the Powerball jackpot,” according to experts. And let’s face it, your odds on that one are less than NONE ever, so maybe hold off on panicking.

However, Aerospace Corporation reports that “It’s hard to pinpoint where the station or its parts will fall, but it’s anticipated to land” along a line that includes multiple states in the U.S. from northern California to Pennsylvania. Texas is out of the line of fire, so the important national treasures — Whataburger and the 2017 World Champion Astros — are all safe.

Now, I’m just going to throw this out there, but maybe the Chinese should have Googled “Skylab” before they got all giddy over this whole launch-things-into-space business. They would have discovered that in 1979 we were all watching the skies for America’s monster manned orbiter to drop on us like Dorothy’s house in “The Wizard of Oz.” Not since a wayward meteor knocked out all the dinosaurs had so many been terrorized by the possibility of a close encounter with space junk. Yet, here we go again and, wouldn’t you know, all our insurance policies for unplanned injuries, death, or dismemberment caused by projectiles re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere have expired.

While maybe we don’t need to run around like Henny Penny worrying that the sky is falling, scientists are still warning that “highly” toxic hydrazine from the 34-foot long space station could survive re-entry. Yeah, so don’t touch unknown substances on the ground and avoid inhaling fumes. Which is pretty much just good advice regardless and should go without saying.

In other space news, a man in France is raising money to erect a statue to memorialize the first and only cat in space. And we wonder why they cancelled funding for the space program.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Crabbiness

Much Ado About Nothing January 4, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

If you have a verifiable emergency, call 9-1-1. Indicators that you might have an emergency are the presence of more blood than can be contained in an average sized Band-aide; firearms being used inside a building that isn’t a gun range; and fire where fire shouldn’t be. All those things constitute a call to 9-1-1. Problems with your dinner do not make that list unless your dinner is obstructing your airway. Otherwise, talk to the restaurant manager. Don’t call the police Nelson Agosto, age 51 of Stuart, Florida.

It seems Mr. Agosto didn’t understand this and called 9-1-1 TWICE from Crabby’s Seafood Shack to complain about the size of his clams. He told the dispatcher that he had “ordered something and it was extremely so small.”

I’m in no way affiliated with any law enforcement organization, but I’ve watched lots of real-crime TV shows and on none of them did SWAT stand for Seafood Weight Assessment Team. So calling 9-1-1 and expecting the SWAT team to rush out in full riot gear and throw gas canisters into the kitchen at Crabby’s Seafood Shack to smoke out larger clams was misguided for sure. I’m going to also step out on a limb here and wager that the even the Navy SEALS, who by the very name of the organization may seem like reasonable allies, are also going to register a big, fat negatory on their scale of concern over Mr. Agosto’s clam size.

The sad thing is that the waiter told the guy before he ordered that the clams were small. When they actually showed up small and he complained, the restaurant gave him an additional free order. He still called 9-1-1. Well, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because the Stuart, Florida PD rolled a cruiser and responded to the call. And arrested Mr. Agosto. He’ll do the perp walk for misuse of 9-1-1. Maybe he’ll get charged for being an idiot in a No Idiot Zone. If that’s not a thing, it should be.

A couple of lessons to take away from this: Don’t go getting crabby at Crabby’s. If you do, don’t be shellfish with emergency public services. And if you’ve got problems with undersized clams, just cross your legs, shut your mouth and keep this problem to yourself.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Resolutions

Much Ado About Nothing December 28, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

If you’re scrambling at the last minute to get your New Year’s resolution lined up and are considering just falling back on a trusted standard like kicking that two 12-pack a day Mountain Dew habit, just stop. It’s a new year, it’s time for new resolutions. Forget the “lose weight,” “eat vegetables,” and “be a better human” choices. We all know no one is going to do any of those and, if they do, no one wants to hear about it. Let’s be more creative.

This year give up using plastic bags you don’t need. Shocking, I know, but it’s time to eliminate the urban tumbleweeds already. I honestly believe you can muscle two bananas and a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the car without a plastic bag. Give it a try. If you need additional assistance, get someone to help you out to your car, but skip the bag.

If you want a real challenge this year, something that will push you beyond where you think you can go, resolve to use your turn signal. Not just when there’s a state trooper behind you, but all the time. Changing lanes? Use your signal. Turning left? Use your signal. Right turn? You got it: signal. This is an advanced resolution, so keep the plastic bag thing as an option if you think this is too much. Most people do.

You can resolve to return your shopping cart to the cart corral. Don’t just leave it in a parking space or on the stripes next to the handicapped spot. Putting it in front of another parked car is not cool. Neither is hooking the wheels over the curb of the grass around the light poles. You pushed the cart all over the store, surely you can push it another 30 feet and put it in the corral. You can do it. I believe in you.

If these are overly daunting, go for the guaranteed win. Resolve to not talk on your phone in public bathrooms. Don’t wear pajama pants outside the house. Stand up against unnecessary use of cilantro (by the way, all cilantro is unnecessary). Smile more than you snarl. And what the heck, eat more vegetables and be a better human.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Blood Donor

Much Ado About Nothing December 21, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Christmas shopping recently quickly reminded me that this is truly the season to be bled dry. From your MasterCard, checking, savings, 401K, and your children’s college funds should all be liquidated, right? But until you’ve really opened a vein, you haven’t been bled for Christmas. This Christmas give the real gift: The Gift of Life. This is the time of year to resolve to stop being a baby and be a blood donor!

Trust me, there’s no bigger needle-phobic than me. I’d rather be dipped in honey and rolled in fire ants than be stuck with a needle for any reason. But when you consider that surviving a tiny stick in the arm may be the difference in someone just surviving, it’s kind of hard to be a conscientious objector to donating blood. So suck it up, Sunshine, and roll up your sleeve already.

Sure, there are those who have the “Get Out of Donating Free” card. If you take certain medications, have Mad Cow disease, recently tattooed the name of your favorite elementary school teacher anywhere on your body and punctuated it with random piercings, or partaken in a short list of activities that don’t need to be discussed here, then you’re off the hook. The rest of you need to be the next in line at the donor coach.

If just doing the right thing to save the life of someone in need of blood isn’t enough, consider this: they give you free stuff in exchange for a bag o’ blood. A significant portion of my weekend wardrobe is made up of free donor t-shirts. Plus, you get cookies! And I’m almost sure but don’t Google it or anything, I think that all the calories in the cookies you eat after donating blood are null and void. Calories consumed while performing any type of life-saving activity just don’t count. It’s only fair and reasonable, right?

The holidays are a tough time for the Red Cross to keep the blood available for those who need it. People get caught up in finding just the right Chia Pet for the office gift exchange and forget to donate or they’re sick or out of town or whatever. So this season we all have to do our part. What better gift can you give than the gift of life?

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Holiday Tips

Much Ado About Nothing December 14, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Yes, the holiday season is here. Stop looking so surprised, overwhelmed and freaked out. It shows up same time every year, and the stores have been throwing up warning signs since mid-August. Yet here we are with panic rising in our throats. Not to worry, oh festive elf! I’ve got some fool-proof pointers that will make this year as smooth as eggnog (as long as the eggnog is 85% bourbon and fool-proof actually means 90-proof).

Tip #1: Do all your holiday shopping online late at night. Everything looks better and affordable online late at night. Sure, blurry-eyed exhaustion may cloud your better financial judgement, but you can cut back other places later. Think of what you’ll save in heating costs by burning your unopened credit card statements in the fireplace!

Tip #2: Go gift cards! Invited to the wedding of an old boyfriend once, I took a nice Macy’s gift card. Just the gift card. I didn’t actually put any money on it. Which I hope made for a horribly awkward situation for the lucky bride and groom later, but he didn’t invite me to his subsequent weddings. See how that’s a win? So stuff those stockings with empty gift cards. You come off looking like Santa himself and there’s zero guilt when they get lost later.

Tip #3: Don’t overthink your holiday dinner. Make a Chef Boyardee pizza kit crust into the shape of a Christmas tree and “decorate” it with pepperonis, post it on Pinterest, and look forlorn if anyone mentions turkey. If your family still insists on squelching your inner creative diva, lock yourself in your room – at least until the dishes are done.

Tip #4: Know now that anyone who tells you Christmas cookies aren’t breakfast food is not your friend. Those people are toxic and you don’t need them in your life. You need Christmas cookies in your life. Freeze a few. You’ll need them in February, too.

Last Tip: Remember the Holiday Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the presents I cannot exchange, the courage to exchange the things I can, and the wisdom to save the receipts. From my family to yours, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas season and year to come!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Starving Student

Much Ado About Nothing December 7, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

College. It’s the place where you pay big bucks to learn big things. My youngest son is currently close to finishing up his first semester at college and is learning some really big things. Like how not to starve to death. Last August, we settled him into his new dorm room with clean sheets, a manageable class schedule, and an ample meal plan. By Thanksgiving break, his checking account was dry, his gas tank empty, and he had $1.19 left on his meal plan until the end of the semester. Desperation is the mother of invention.

He reports that he’s started hanging around with sorority girls and his scrawny friends. Obviously, these are people who are not utilizing their meal plans and are happy to let him mooch a lunch now and then. I’m hoping the parents of those kids are all socialists or at least voted Democrat in the last election.

It seems that since the days when my dad let me starve in college, they’ve upped the age that you can sell plasma. So that option is out for him, at least for another year. But, by then, I’m hoping he’ll have wrestled his budget to the ground.

He “rented” his car so an international student in his dorm could take his test for his US driver’s license. He convinced drunk fraternity boys that he was cheaper than Uber (he wasn’t). He found a $5 bill in the dryer. He’ll be fine.

Discovering a new, hunger-fueled resourcefulness, he used his last nickels to buy a four pound jar of discount peanut butter at the Dollar Store. He can’t afford bread, but, no worries, the plastic spoons at Chick-fil-A are free. Coffee creamer and ketchup packets are yours for the taking just about everywhere. And if he tags along with someone going out for Mexican food, there’s that big bowl of free chips. I hardly worry that he’ll waste away to nothing.

I know, though, that college is making him smarter because he hasn’t asked me for money. Eating crow and swallowing your pride just aren’t that filling. On a positive note, I bet he’ll never run out of money again. Of course, he may also never be able to face another box of no-name mac-n-cheese ever again either. So college really is making him a better, healthier, smarter person!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Harvey Lessons

Much Ado About Nothing November 30, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

It’s been just over three months since Harvey, the Zombie Hurricane that Wouldn’t Die, showed up like an infected poison ivy rash to make my life a miserable mess. While it has been an incredibly challenging experience, it has also been a remarkable opportunity to discover new skills and new uses for old swear words.

To be honest, I’m not sure the English language actually has enough salty expletives to get through something like this. I’ve sent inquiries into the furthest back alleys of Detroit and really bad parts of New York City to see if maybe there are cuss words I’ve missed. I do try to hide my crazy as much as possible (which isn’t much), but there are certain times, certain contractors, certain managers at big hardware stores that won’t be named for legal reasons that just need to have their ears ring a little (a lot).

Through this, I’ve developed a deep, passionate appreciation for modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and solid walls. Not to mention, I completely get prehistoric man falling on his face to worship the discovery of fire. I was exactly the same way when I finally got my stove back in my kitchen. Three months is a long time to have to leave your cave to go forage for food every time you want to eat.  I think I was about one more Egg McMuffin away from punching someone in the throat. By the way, if you’ve never celebrated a major holiday at Whataburger, you’re sheltered.

I now know that if you clench your jaw, dig your fingernails into the palms of your hands and try to name every US president in your head while someone tells you how the flood waters came oh so frighteningly close to almost nearly but not quite coming into their house, then you’re less likely to access your vocabulary of foul language or administer throat punches. You’re better off finding other members of your water-logged tribe. They’re the ones staring at the 28 different shades of “ceiling white” paint, too overwhelmed and exhausted to pick one. Or they may be having a meltdown in the flooring department. In both incidences, approach slowly, no sudden movements, while offering soft words of encouragement and shots of whiskey.

And just think, only six more months until hurricane season.

Snail Slime

Much Ado About Nothing November 23, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I’m all about putting my best face forward, wearing my sunscreen, and avoiding crossing my eyes while sticking out my tongue for the sheer threat that it’ll get stuck like that. I’m even to the age of worrying about finding a good moisturizer. While I don’t need one formulated in space by technology developed on Mars by Hubble Telescope engineers, I still want a moisturizer that hides the fact I’ve been tired since 2009. What I don’t want is snail slime.

Oh yes, snail slime is becoming all the rage in skin care, hadn’t you heard? Seems those wacky Koreans, when not busy trying to nuke each other, have been smearing snail mucin – that’s the technical term for that weird snail trail – onto their faces for years. And now snail cream is as close as your local Target store. No really, go in and ask an associate to help you find that. I double dare you.

I’m not afraid to try new things (remember, I’m the one who signed up to do goat yoga), but I think I’m going to draw a shimmery silver line on this one. There are just way too many questions – like how exactly do you harvest snail slime? How do animal rights activists feel about this? How do the snails feel about this? Is it an option to commune with the snails and just let small herds of the shelled slugs worm their way across your face? … Nah, probably better to buy snail cream with an easy to use applicator.

The biggest question of all has to be “Why?” Although, snail farmers in South America swear their hands are baby butt soft and any wounds heal twice as fast, I’m going to call foul. First of all, you’re a South American snail farmer. You can’t be trusted. Of course your hands are soft, because duh, you’re not exactly a brick layer. Wounds heal twice as fast as what? Faster than wounded lady bug farmers? May I just point out that Lubriderm and Band-Aids give me the same results without the “Ewww” factor.

Natural beauty comes with a high price, I get that. I’m just not sure I’m willing to hand over that last small sliver that’s left of my better judgement and common sense for a jar of snail snot. I think I’d rather be wrinkled.

Goat Yoga

Much Ado About Nothing November 16, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

In a time fraught with heartache, destruction and chaos, I had finally found the source of all goodness and light in the universe: Goat Yoga! What could do more to heal the wounds of the world than relaxing, restorative yoga alongside joyful baby goats? No, I’m serious. Goat yoga! It’s really a thing. Google it if you don’t believe me, I’ll wait.

I didn’t even bother looking to see if there was a Groupon before I typed my credit card number into their website to sign up for the next Sunday morning class and my chance to Down Dog with a fuzzy bundle of bounding happiness. To be honest, I don’t even like yoga. But goat yoga?! I’m all about that. I’d probably consider repeat root canals if I got to hold baby goats at the end!

Ninety minutes, 20 baby goats, and you can even rent a mat from them if you don’t want to do your next class covered in goat berries. Short of having a free wine bar as part of the class, just tell me how it could possibly ever get better?! All I had to do was contain my excitement for three days before it would be class time!

Then it happened. I should have seen it coming. My children grow up and go away to college. Harvey floods my house. My dog dies. And goat yoga gets cancelled. Even now I can’t type those words without wanting to cry out in despair. Cancelled. Why?! I just can’t fathom a why.
Yes, the email said I’d receive a full refund to my credit card. But did it offer any kind of recourse? Any consolation for the disappointment? I hold the yoga instructor completely responsible. The baby goats were surely still on board, ready to prance and frolic regardless of whether or not I showed up in stretchy pants and carrying a bottle of lime infused water. It had to have been a failure of the instructor. And that is exactly why I don’t like yoga. But I do still like baby goats.

I wonder, though, while I’m waiting to sign up for another class time, I could find something better, more in line with things I like. Do you think they have goat beach vacations? No? Well isn’t that just too baaaaaaad.

Food Trucks

Much Ado About Nothing November 9, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Food trucks are all the rage these days. Amsterdam has The Kitchen of The Unwanted Animal, a food truck cooking up pigeon, parakeet and “my little pony burgers,” and here in America, we have the Spamobile… Spam®? Yup. Google it because I can’t make that stuff up. While I’m more likely to eat deep fried dung beetles than stand in line at the Spamerican Tour truck for “Sunny’s Coconut Spam Spears with Spicy Pineapple Chutney” or even a spicy Spam breakfast burrito, I’m hipster enough to go for waffles or cupcakes or even investigate an authentic taco truck. Or so I thought.

I’m probably not a reputable authority on this matter (or really on any matter, if we’re going to be honest about things) because I have a deep, burning hatred for all things cilantro which is all too often found in tacos, but I thought the taco spectrum started with chicken and ended with beef. That was before I found myself at Chico Chuck’s Taco Truck. I think Chico Chuck’s super power is the ability to take anything that even closely resembles a meat source and put it on a tortilla.

At some point during the discovery process, I made the mistake of asking what exactly is barbacoa. Let’s just establish right now that one should never ask a question unless you’re prepared for the answer. I shouldn’t have asked. I wasn’t prepared.

According to Chico Chuck, barbacoa is the cooked head of a cow. Think Heloise the Heifer meets Marie Antoinette. Everything from the cowbell on up gets tossed into what I’m guessing is a cow head shaped crock pot — brains, eyeballs, tongue, teeth. In my overworked imagination, you can hear one last, tragic, disembodied “mooooo” as the lid is slammed onto the pot. If there was ever a more convincing argument to “Eat More Chikn,” I’m not sure it would beat out barbacoa.

The take-away from all this is to seriously consider consuming anything from a place that is, by its very nature, a flight risk or one that can be impounded for health code violations. Remember, too, that antacids can overcome a lot of things, but not your long- or short-term memories. And really, peanut butter sandwiches are not a bad thing!

 

Girl Boy Scouts

Much Ado About Nothing November 2, 2017

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Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Men in dresses who aren’t even Scottish. Women in the men’s bathroom and not because the line is too long next door in the girl’s room. Boys want to be girls who want to be boys, and it all just gets so confusing. Now Boy Scouts are girl scouts but not Girl Scouts. Just girls being scouts ala Boys, although boys can’t be Girl Scouts so how is that fair? Because it has to be fair. And everyone needs a trophy.

Starting next year, Boy Scouts of America are allowing girls to join their ranks. Because how else can you earn your merit badge for Utter Absurdity? What exactly is wrong with girls being Girl Scouts and boys being Boy Scouts? Wouldn’t it just be easier to let the boys in on the cookie sales thing and let the girls do… I don’t even know what it is that Girl Scouts can’t do that the boys do, except pee against the trees when they go camping.

Honestly, I don’t think everyone has thought through this whole thing or considered the doors that will be blown open that can’t be closed again. How long will it be before a Siamese cat wins the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show because Fluffy the Persian identifies as a German shepherd. Will Lassie and Toto get cast as the leads in the Broadway musical “Cats”? And will crazy cat ladies be obligated to have dogs, too, on the basis of canine equality?

So if you ask me – and quite frankly, no one does – girls in Girl Scouts and boys in Boy Scouts or stop all the silliness already, lump them all together and call them “Scouts.” Whoever shows up, pays their dues, and builds a soapbox derby car is in.

Because, guess what!? Both sides are already charged to “Be Prepared” and “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Who knew, but both sides of the Scout debate have the same motto and slogan. We should probably now realize that what they’ve both been saying since the 1940’s is “Be prepared to do a good turn daily, because the world is going to get crazy and people will be weird, but someone still has to step up and sell cookies, salute the flag, deliver mulch, and help old ladies across the street. Scouts, it’s on you.

Just My Luck

Much Ado About Nothing October 19, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I have a friend who is a force for all goodness, and, in return, constantly receives back happiness and light from the Universe. I, however, must be sending out the cosmic equivalent of chain letters, head lice, and invitations to join pyramid marketing schemes, because I seem to suck in dumb bad luck with the magnetic force of an unmeasurable black hole. Why else would I end up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting in Home Depot?

Honestly, I walked into the paint department with the intention of picking out a shade of currently fashionable gray to paint my soon-to-be textured brand new sheetrock. I walked out stained, soggy and emotionally scarred. It took maybe 12 minutes.

It starts when the ding-a-ling paint counter girl puts a blop of wet paint on the lid of the miniature sample can of the first color I’d picked out. Except she didn’t dry it or tell me it was wet, and I immediately get paint all over my hand. Then, she’s giving me a paper towel and sloshes the open container of the second color onto the front of my black t-shirt. In the ensuing melee, I smear the third color up my other arm. It’s like I’ve been dropped into a really bad Three Stooges movie.

As she’s trying to salvage the counter and floor, I’m in the ladies room trying to replicate the deep cleaning action of a Maytag front loader to save my shirt. Of course, some mom walks in with her baby while I’m half naked in front of the hand dryer trying to blow dry to a point of wear-ability and she’s snickering at me. Okay, from a woman who has probably been burped up on no fewer than six times that day, I can probably take that.

So I couldn’t get all the paint out. I couldn’t get the shirt dry. I couldn’t remember where my dignity had gone. I couldn’t help but think I was developing an allergic rash from the hardware store bathroom hand soap. And I couldn’t stop wondering what exactly I’d done to make Karma hate me so intensely.

Of course, my eternally sunny friend reminded me that, in the end, I did get 10% off my paint samples to make up for the mess. Honestly, I think I might hate her.

Jean Ciampi for Commissioner Major League Baseball

Much Ado About Nothing October 12, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I love baseball, from t-ball to Little League to college ball to the pros. Of course, with the Houston Astros in the post-season play-offs, lots of people are loving baseball. But I even love baseball when the Astros can’t buy a win against the Iowa School for the Blind’s practice team. It is only as a result of this deep abiding love that I point out that there are some glaring, fundamental problems going on in the sport, problems I will straighten out when I become the next Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Okay, blah blah that there’s not an opening right now, but I fully expect to get the call to the bullpen to take over when word of my sweeping reforms and improvements gets out.

First order of business will be making the pitchers in the American League bat. No more of this silly designated hitter ho-haw. There is no reason why the pitcher can’t step up to the plate and hack away like the rest of the team. If you don’t want to be embarrassed that you can’t hit, take lessons or look for another job. This is, after all, BASEball where the objective is to run the bases. It’s not PITCHball. I’m sorry, Carlos Beltran, it’s not that we don’t love you, Sweetie. Remember, you’ve got a fine career ahead of you in coaching

Next up to bat will be a dress code. I’m not going to nit-pick the small things like whether the pants are worn down to the cleats or pulled up to the knees, but I think it’s important the players look professional on the field at all times. That means no more of that long hair everywhere. Cameron Maybin, this means you. You’re a great addition to the team, and we’d like to keep you. But there’s only a spot there for you because we got rid of Colby Rasmus this year, most likely because he wouldn’t get a good clarifying shampoo and a haircut. As commissioner, I say get a cut or get cut! If they aren’t going to let girls play, then the boys who do play can’t look like girls.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be here with my peanuts and cold beer waiting for the next first pitch and my call up to top of the big leagues! Let’s play ball!

Bless Your Heart

Much Ado About Nothing October 5, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

It’s only my opinion, but the world seems to be just one bad hair day away from a complete meltdown. Mix together the pack of rabid hurricanes, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in the Northwest, volcanos in Bali with stupid, senseless shootings and bickering over religion (which includes football because that kind of is a religion) and we’re a hot mess. Maybe if we all agree to quit saying, “It could be worse,” then the universe would quit saying “Hold my beer.” It’s a small step, but it could be a start.

Besides, telling someone it could be worse is really just another way of saying “stop your belly aching.” Not that this isn’t a valid directive. In the Whiner Olympics, we’ve got real gold medal promise in the individual and team events. But, too, it is a bit insensitive and not very nice to invalidate whatever challenges someone is facing. Since we’re a society of no one having their feelings hurt, let’s not say that anymore.

Try saying “Bless your heart” instead. A solid southern principle which is basically the same idea, but it sounds better. And nobody can add hurt feelings to their mound of problems if you’ve blessed their heart.

To be honest, suffering is actually not a competitive sport despite how a lot of people seem to approach it. Yes, there are people who are worse off and there are those in much better shape. It’s not about the glass being half full or half empty; it’s about what’s actually in the glass. A glass completely full to running over with contaminated storm water is not better than a glass barely half full of spendable cash, Jamaican rum, or Godiva dark chocolate chips.

I think, too, we’d have a much better world if we could all collectively agree to stop praying for patience. Maybe then God will stop answering that prayer with opportunities to learn patience. Honestly, I don’t have to pray for those lessons, because they just keep presenting themselves completely unbidden. Despite the fact that prayers for patience, tolerance and diplomacy never leave my lips, I am overrun with chances to practice them and most often fail miserably – especially on the diplomacy part. Which is why I’m the first one to say “It could be worse” to someone so they’ll stop their belly aching, bless their heart.

Clean College Sheets

Much Ado About Nothing September 28, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

After nearly two months of living in his college dorm room, my youngest son proudly sent me a text message (because you know college kids can’t actually dial a phone and talk on it, they text), and he proudly declared that he had actually washed his sheets … for the first time. As a mother with at least a marginal sense of parental responsibility, I wasn’t sure if I should be overwhelmed with a sense of “Where oh where did I go wrong” or actually proud that I got this text in September and not March.

I try to place it on a scale of what are normal ranges for college freshman. On one end of the spectrum, I know his roommate is still living out of the suitcase he showed up with. At least my kid has his clothes on hangars. Okay, they were on hangars when I left him at the beginning of the semester, so in my mind, they’re on hangars. Just give me this delusion, will you? On the other end, there are the dorm dwellers with beds that would make a military drill sergeant misty-eyed. Of course, those are the kids who also have mothers driving to campus regularly to pick up laundry and drop off lunch. (I can’t even type that idea without cringing.) I guess that makes him pretty normal.

I’m reasonably certain that he has done laundry since he’s been gone despite the failure to include the bed sheets… reasonably certain, but not wholly positive. Which is why, a few weeks in, I sent a care package with socks and underwear, just in case. He’s probably too old for CPS to take him into custody for parental neglect, but, at the same time, I try to keep up appearances of being a good mother.

So I sent a reply to his text asking if he’d also gotten the sheets back onto the bed. And he had. I mean, to clarify, they were piled up on the bed with the rest of the laundry, so that sort of counts. I’m not sure if the bed was ever actually made again, and, honestly, I didn’t pursue it past there. As a parent, you have to chalk the wins when you can and let go of the rest. He has clean sheets – I’m a happy mom.

Goodbye Buster

Much Ado About Nothing September 21, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

“Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, didn’t have a dog.” I’m terribly sad to say that, after over 14 years, my best friend has gone to roll in greener grass. Buster, the rare African Spotted Yard Wolf, who has, on occasion, been the guest columnist here, trotted across the Rainbow Bridge this week. (Don’t bother Googling African Spotted Yard Wolves. He was so rare, he was the only one. Actually, he was some kind of polka dotted mixed breed, but we never wanted to hurt his self-esteem by calling him a mutt.)

Buster joined our family the summer before my youngest son started Kindergarten, the same son who left just a few weeks ago to start college. Back then, I had boldly taken old towels and rugs to donate to the Brazoria County SPCA. But instead of coming back home with a nice tax receipt, I came back with the same old towels and rugs plus a puppy. You seriously have to wonder if they don’t teach those SPCA volunteers some kind of subliminal mind control techniques that convince you that you need a pet, a spay/neuter package, and a bag of Puppy Chow. More likely, I’m just a sucker for a fuzzy face and a waggley tail.

He taught my young sons important lessons about care-giving, unconditional love, responsibility, respect, and the importance of picking up dog poop before you push the mower. Lessons they will carry with them always.

Buster lead a full life, more so after he recovered from his squirrel mania. For a period, he was so neurotic over the squirrels in our yard, we couldn’t even say the word. Unfortunately, the dyslexic son couldn’t spell it, so they just became S-Q-U-earls. He traveled internationally, lived in Saudi Arabia, and regularly got more fan mail for this column than I have in the entire 8 years I’ve written it. To be honest, I think if we had a funeral service for him, he’d have more people show up than would turn out for mine. He will be sorely missed.

Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”  My goal now is to try to be the person Buster always thought I was, so that maybe they’ll let me in there, too.

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