Become An Experiment [on Two Artists Tuesday]

Because we walk the streets of our neighborhood almost everyday we’ve inadvertently made a study of holiday decoration practices. “It’s too soon for Halloween!” we declare. “Look at that wreath! The colors are all wrong!” We are snotty decoration critics.

Among Kerri’s greatest holiday-decoration-pet-peeves is over-extended-Christmas decorations. “Don’t they know that Christmas is over!” she raves at the colored lights adorning the eaves. “Why do they still have a tree! It’s February! Santa is gone!” she howls to (almost) no one listening. We laugh at our mock-decoration-disdain. “We’re regular killjoys!”

This year we’ve had to check our derision. We’ve somehow joined the ranks of the eternally decorated. “Look at those people,” Kerri says of our house as we pull into the driveway, “don’t they know that they should take down their lights!”

It’s hard to know exactly how it started. A fall. Two broken wrists. The year began with disruption. One day we realized that the happy lights festooning the garland on the front rail had been burning for months. In an effort to evade our obvious hypocrisy, we agreed it was no longer a decoration but had become an experiment. How long will the happy lights last if we keep them plugged in 24/7? We took bets as hard proof just in case our neighbors looked at us with decoration-scorn.

“They’re still going,” we said throughout the spring, looking up and down the street to see if anyone was listening. “Who would have thought our experiment would last this long!” I’d loudly declare. Amazement set in sometime in July. “I’m going to write a letter to the company,” Kerri said. “They should know that their lights are really good!”

In the eighth month of our experiment, coming home after dark, we saw that half the strand was burned out. The next night the strand was completely dark. We stood on our front stoop and applauded the hardy happy lights before ceremonially taking them down.

“I suspect that the snotty couple that judges everyone’s decorations will be relieved,” I said. “The holiday is finally over.”

“I think they’ll miss them,” Kerri opined. “They made our house happy and, especially this year, who doesn’t need a happy house in their neighborhood.”

read Kerri’s blog post about HAPPY LIGHTS

Know The Pet Peeve [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

marked license plate stickers copy

Kerri has a pet peeve and because she is from New York she expresses her annoyance with all of the out-sized force and bluster that comes with her east coast roots. “OH MY GOD! DO YOU SEE THAT?!!!” She gales as we drive down the road, gesturing wildly, letting go of the steering wheel. I close my eyes because I do not want to see the fiery crash that we are most certainly about to experience.

“DID YOU SEE IT?!!!” she repeats, demanding an answer. I open one eye to see if she’s regained control of the car or if she is still gesticulating with gusto. She looks at me with disdain, “YOU DIDN’T SEE IT?” I shake my head. “HOW CAN THAT NOT DRIVE YOU CRAZY?!!!” I shrug my shoulders and secretly look for a way to safely exit the car.

The offense? The horrid transgression that causes such wild arm flinging, finger pointing, and loud outdoor-voice-exclamations? A license plate renewal sticker placed on the wrong part of the plate. “DO YOU THINK THEY CAN’T READ?!!! she bellows. “DO YOU THINK IT’S TOO HARD TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THE STICKER GOES?!!! She snarls. I slide down in my seat. I practice my cloak-of-invisibility act.

Once, early in our history, before I realized this peeve was her pet, I said, “Maybe they are being creative, like trying to color out of the lines.” My perky suggestion was not welcome. It was as if I whispered the magic words that unleashed all the demons from hell. Smoke came from her nostrils. Lightning from her eyes. My perky backpedaled and disappeared leaving me all alone with no place to hide. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!! she growled. “IT’S A STICKER!!!!!!!! IT’S SUPPOSED TO GO IN THE RIGHT SPOT!!!!!! THERE’S A SPOT AND THE STICKER IS SUPPOSED TO GO THERE!!! WHAT’S SO HARD?!!!!!!”

I had no answer. Or, more to the point, I dared not have an answer. I had better run away from anything that looked remotely like an answer. Pet peeves are best left alone!

In that moment I knew only one thing for certain: the path to a happy life was predicated on one small action – I simply need to place the sticker in the right spot when it was time for the license plate renewal.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on OH MY GOD!!!

 

 

turkey on the roof website box copy

 

Know Your Pet

my pet peeve

my pet peeve

This morning I heard one of my favorite phrases: pet peeve.

As a visual person, someone regularly accused of having too much imagination (a topic for another post!), phrases like pet peeve conjure images from the ridiculous to the sublime. Feeding a peeve so it grows healthy and strong, protecting it from traffic and other peeve-hazards, is a field of imagery ripe for the picking. Had I been thinking, Tripper-Dog-Dog-Dog might gone through life as my pet Peeve.

In order to have a pet peeve there must exist multiple standard peeves, the everyday garden variety of common peeves. For instance, I spill coffee on my shirt every single day. Because I try not to spill my coffee I always do. It is a rule of the universe that attempting to NOT do something guarantees the doing of it. Try NOT hitting your thumb with the hammer or not dripping paint on your good pants (I now own exclusively no-good pants so dripping paint is no longer a peeve). Cyclists assure me that focusing on the pot hole to avoid the pot hole guarantees hitting the pot hole. This rule-of-the-universe is, for me, a common peeve.

Pet peeve status is usually granted to seemingly small things. I just asked Kerri about her pet peeve and she said, without hesitation, hair-on-soap. I suspect she means finding a single hair on the bar of soap but hair-on-soap is open to multiple peeve possibilities, for instance, soap toupees. Soap with goatees. I’ll get clarification when she’s not busy.

I love pet peeves because they are generally harmless but also generally revealing about how people think/operate (and, therefore, what they see). Richard Bach famously wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” I’ve yet to meet a human (myself included) that is not in one way or another arguing for their limitations. Recently, at a party, I talked with a woman who told me exactly what she needed to change in her life to be happy. “Why don’t you do it?” I asked. “Oh, I couldn’t!” she exclaimed. “I’m afraid to do it,” she admitted.

Another way of stating my common peeve rule-of-the-universe: where you place your focus grows. The obvious question, approximating my wear-only-no-good-pants solution to spilling, is this: If fear  or doubt rules the day, why not focus on something else? Or, perhaps, imagine doing what you want, walking toward what you want, focusing intently on what you want to create instead of the opposite? AHHH!!! A COMMON PEEVE! A COMMON PEEVE!