Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ghost Hunting at Hill View Manor: A Haunted Nursing Home

Hey Guys! Guess what time it is?? It’s time for the recap of Bill and Danielle’s annual Halloween ghost hunting adventure.

If you’re a regular reader you remember our visit to Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville PA in 2011 and our visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia in 2012. Last year we stayed at the Omni Shoreham, which is supposedly the most haunted hotel in Washington, DC but I didn’t write about it because the only thing that happened was that the bathroom door in our room had a tendency to open by itself, which could just be attributed to the sloping floor in an old hotel room. Booorrrrring! This year our visit was to Hill View Manor in New Castle. Hill View is an abandoned nursing home that is reportedly a hotbed of paranormal activity.

Before I get into the details of Hill view, let me tell you that the reason we do this stuff each year is to celebrate Halloween. I mean, what better way to get into the Halloween spirit than with a real ghost hunt! I've never had a problem ghost hunting because I'm such a skeptic. I do believe our loved ones who have passed on watch over us and maybe occasionally visit. But when it comes to actually seeing, hearing, feeling or otherwise sensing a ghost or spirit, I've always been on the fence. Sure it's possible but I haven't really seen any proof.

Even after touring Nemacolin and the Lunatic Asylum my skepticism remained unchanged. The nursery at Nemacolin definitely had a creep vibe and at the Lunatic Asylum there was a point when I thought something touched my butt, but in the back of my mind I've always thought it could have been my imagination playing tricks on me. When I walked out of both of those buildings, I was still a non-believer.

And then there was Hill View Manor…

First, a little background: Hill View opened in 1926 as a home for the poor, the aged and the mentally ill. Although the building was intended for adults, a few children reportedly lived there through the years. In the 1960s the building was converted to a nursing home and an addition in the 1970s turned it into a state-of-the-art facility. Due to financial constraints, Hill View closed in 2004. Today it sits empty except for an odd assortment of medical equipment, miscellaneous furniture and a basement room full of personal items which were left behind by patients (or "inmates" as they were called in the 1920s.)

On the outside Hill View resembles an old elementary school and doesn't appear scary.

Hill View's haunted status is possibly linked to the numerous natural deaths and suicides that took place on the property over the years. At least three residents are known to have committed suicide. Two of them were people who either jumped or fell to their death from the roof and one person either hung -- or was hung -- inside one of the bathrooms. It is estimated that about 10,000 people died in Hill View with many being buried in the cemetery behind the building. Because exact records weren't kept during the early years and because most patients who passed on were indigents, exact figures aren't available and most graves aren't marked.

Inside, the halls of Hill View are supposedly haunted by several colorful characters who died at the home. There’s Jeffrey, a young boy who has a room full of toys. Rumor is, anyone who sees Jeffrey dies soon afterwards. There’s also Mary Virginia, an elderly woman with a fondness for dolls and jewelry; and Jimmy Snaps, an elderly man who would charge a dollar to take your photo even though his camera had no film and several others.

On the day we visited, we were allowed a three hour tour of Hill View. The first 90 minutes consisted of our guides showing us around the building, helping us become familiar with the layout and giving us background info. We were told that reported activity includes voices, footsteps, doors slamming and miscellaneous items moving on their own. Dark images have been witnessed and photographed lurking in the halls and rooms. Shadows are seen throughout the building, sometimes peeking out of rooms and paranormal activity has been detected in the graveyard behind the building.

For the second 90 minutes they turned us loose on our own and allowed us to go wherever we wanted. The only places that were off limits were the roof and the old boiler room, with both being deemed too dangerous. We were allowed to explore the basement, which consisted of a pitch black hallway dotted with pitch black rooms. It was spooky as you would expect a pitch black basement in an old abandoned nursing home to be and we did have something happen down there that I'll tell you about later.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the basement that gave me the creeps. That distinction goes to the third floor, which once was home to men who were mentally ill or had recently been released from prison or were otherwise considered "bad."  While Bill and I were exploring there after our guides left, my first thought was, “Get me off this floor. NOW!” Maybe it was just the shock of suddenly being alone, maybe it was my mind replaying the ghost stories we had just been told or maybe it was the fact that the third floor just flat out had an ominous vibe. It's hard to describe unless you actually feel it but it really did make the hair on my arms stand up.

For fun, Bill and I brought some ghost hunting equipment. It was cheap stuff I bought that consisted of an EMF meter, a sensor sweep and an EVP detector.

An EMF meter is the tool that real ghost hunters swear by. It reads fluctuations in magnetic fields since ghosts supposedly cause an increase in magnetic fields. It looks like this:

When the needle is to the left on zero, it means No Ghosts. When it's to the right on 100 it means THERE'S A GHOST CLOSE! 

Our second tool was a Sensor Sweep. A Sensor Sweep "sweeps" the room. If it detects a ghost, a dot appears on the screen and the little gadget beeps. It looks like this:

An EVP detector is a device that supposedly allows ghosts to communicate with you. When a spirit chooses to talk, a word appears on the screen and a computer sounding voices says it for you. When I was trying out the EVP detector at home I'd turn it on and it would chatter at me all day but never with anything that made any sense. For example, at home I tested it when I was drinking iced tea. I said, "What am I drinking?" and it said, "Sergio." At that point I labeled it a Random Word Generator because it didn't seem to do much of anything else. Here's a picture:

Many people have debated whether or not this stuff actually works and I'm not going to delve into that because I honestly don't know if any of it is legitimate or not. Instead, I'll just tell you about our experiences using it.

Back at Hill View, there were about 10 people in our group. The average age was about 50 and there was an equal mix of men and women. There was one little boy who was at least 12. Besides him, there were no other children. The first part of our tour with our guides was pretty uneventful. We walked around the first floor, saw the chapel, the community room and the basement.

Things got a little livelier on the second floor when we were in the cafeteria getting lowdown on where the food lines where and where the tables were and I don't know what else. I stopped listening because something pulled my hair. At first, I thought my hair got caught in my jacket. Except that my wasn't in my jacket. And then it got pulled again. This wasn't a typical hair-pulling tug. It felt like something was picking out one or two hairs on the top of my head and then giving them a yank. This went on for about 5 minutes. While everyone else was standing in a group talking to the guide, I was in the back swatting at my head whispering "Stop it!" (I know. I know. It sounds ridiculous.) Finally Bill said, "What are you doing?"and I had to tell him, "Something is pulling my hair!"

The hair pulling wasn't scary. It was just...different and kind of playful. Fortunately, it stopped when we moved on to the third floor and the guides left. Once they were gone, everyone split up and went exploring on their own. Bill and I wandered into the old surgery room, which was an extremely small room with marble walls and a drain on the floor. (Yuck!) I said out loud, "Is anyone here? Do you want to talk to us?" and the EVP detector/random word generator said, "Obama." Seriously??!! That's our first communication from a ghost?

We explored the third floor hallways and rooms. Bill felt nothing. I felt completely and totally creeped out, like we were being followed or watched. I didn't know if it was my imagination or not. At one point, when I REALLY felt as if something was right behind me I stopped and said to Bill, "Something is behind me. Stand behind me with the EMF meter." He did and guess what? The needle swung the whole way to the right. A GHOST WAS CLOSE!!

Jeffrey's Room

After we explored nearly every room and hallway we went down to the second floor. There we went first to Jeffrey's room. Jeffrey is said to be a young boy who lived and died in Hill View. People who have toured Hill View have left toys and pictures in his room for him to play with.

I picked up Jeffrey's teddy bear and said, "Jeffrey, I like your bear. What's his name?" and the EVP meter immediately said, "Matthew." Finally, an answer that made sense -- even if it was a coincidence. (Still the skeptic!)

When we took this picture we invited Jeffrey to show up in it too. As you can see, we got nothing but me, a bear and some toys.
I also asked if Jeffrey wanted us to stay in the room and talk to him and the EVP meter said, "Babysitter" although I'm not sure what that meant. Bill tried to talk to him about baseball (big surprise!) and he got nothing. Jeffery didn't seem to want to talk to him. I did get two more EVPs. They were "Sheldon" and "Hawaii", making me think we were back to random word generation and this EVP/ghost stuff was a bunch of BS.

We continued to move around the second floor playing a game with the EMF meter. I'd say, "I feel something behind me" when I actually did and Bill would run his meter by me and every single time the needle swung to the right. Once I tried to trick him. I lied and said, "Something is behind me" and when he checked, the needle didn't budge. Hmmmmmmm. Maybe there really is something to this ghost stuff.

Room 138

Down on the first floor things got a little more exciting. In a bright room that looked into the parking lot in the front of the building, the needle on the EMF meter when off the chart when Bill stood in a corner of the room. Don't ask me why. Neither of us knows enough about this stuff to say. I will tell you this, it was the strangest thing. Like something was hiding in the corner watching us. It didn't feel scary. It just felt like we were being watched.

Next we went into Room 138. It was a small room with a closet and a bathroom that connected it to the next room. Bill walked in first. At the time he had his EMF meter on and I had the Sensor Sweep on. As I walked into the room past the closet, something grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the closet


At the same time, the needle on Bill's EMF meter swung to the right and my Sensor Sweep STARTED BEEPING LIKE CRAZY while showing a dot on the screen right in a position that would mean something was right beside me.


And I sounded like this: HOLY FUCKING SHIT!! 

For a few seconds, things seemed chaotic. I didn't scream but I did suck in a large amount of air and -- I'm almost ashamed to admit this -- started crying. The hair on my arms, the hair on my head, the hair all over my body was standing straight up.

Bill said, "What's happening?" and I said, "SOMETHING JUST GRABBED MY ARM!" and then I yelled, "DON'T TOUCH ME!" to whatever -- or whoever -- it was. Instantly all the beeping stopped, everything went completely silent and it felt like we were alone in the room.


We stayed in Room 138 for about 5 or 10 more minutes. Bill walked into the room next door and I stayed there alone to prove to myself that I will not let this stuff scare me. That I am brave! That I can do this! Off to the basement!

The Basement

Let me tell you this, things in the basement got REALLY, REALLY weird, and it wasn't just nerves making it feel that way -- even though the walk to the basement was scary enough to give even the bravest person a heart attack. There's a yucky, dark, old staircase to go down, there's a long dark hallway, there are dozens of dark doorways and there are NO lights down there. As we were walking down that hallway with only a tiny flashlight lighting the way, this is what my mind pictured lurking ahead of us:

Ha ha! Anyone remember that from Scooby Doo?

The room we were heading to was the furnace room. According to our guides, an old man named George once worked there. In life, George was a gruff former military man who loved the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was said his ghost still hung around the furnace room where he worked for so many years. People on previous tours left Steelers mementos for George and there is a little Steelers shrine in the boiler room for him to enjoy.


It's also been said that George dislikes Browns fans and on one occasion, smacked a Cleveland fan in the head. If you know me, you know I am not a Steeler fan (although not necessarily a Browns fan either). I did not, however, confess that while I was in the boiler room. I had already been dragged to a closet, I wasn't up for a smack in the head too.

Anyway, there were about six people from the group in the boiler room and they decided to do a test test to see if George was present. The lights were out and the room was completely black except for a flashlight that one of the other people on our tour placed on the floor. As a group, we asked George to make himself known and shut off the flashlight. Nothing happened. We asked again. Nothing happened. We asked a third time. Nothing happened. The forth time we asked a little more firmly, adding, "If you're a true Steeler fan, shut off that flashlight." Guess what? The flashlight got dimmer. And dimmer. And dimmer. And dimmer. It kept getting dimmer until it was almost out and we were all sitting in nearly complete darkness -- until it switched back on. FOR REAL! 

It was another "Oh my fucking God!" moment. One of the people in our group captured it all on video. Does this mean the ghost of George was there or does it mean someone had a wonky flashlight with batteries that just happened to grow weak at that exact moment -- and then turn back on? 

We put the lights on in the room and explored a little more. For a few seconds, was a very cold spot in the room and everyone who had EMF devices picked up the same readings at the same time.

Bill checking things out in the furnace room.
Although we tried to talk more with George, there was no other contact other than a hand on my thigh that made it tingle. This didn't scare me because I wasn't actually moved anywhere and because once a ghost supposedly touches you, you're all "Oh, here we go with that again" the next time it happens. Okay, no. Not really. It's creepy every time it happens. And it happened again. After we left the furnace room and walked down that creepy-ass hall to the creepy-ass steps, my sensor sweep started beeping and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Of course no one was there -- no one we could see, anyway. This time I said in a very firm voice, "Stop touching me!!" and it did. The beeping stopped and whatever it was just went away.

Mary Virginia and Angelo

Back upstairs we checked out Mary Virginia's room. Mary Virginia was a older woman who lived in Hill View for several years. She had a fondness for trinkets, makeup, stuffed animals and jewelry. We found nothing happening in her room but here's a picture:

We also investigated a bathroom where a man name Angelo either hung himself or was hung by someone else. Either way, Angelo died in that bathroom, but he wasn't there on the day we visited.

Angelo's Bathroom

The Chapel and Community Room

We spent some time in the chapel where the sensor sweep beeped repeatedly and the EMF told us there were GHOSTS IN THE ROOM! but at that point we needed a little rest and just sat there in the chairs and let them swirl around us. (If that is what they were doing. We don't know for sure.) Nothing showed up in any pictures we took of the chapel. 

There was no activity in the community room. An old organ was said to play by itself but it was silent when we were there. The room itself reminded me of the church basement where I had Brownie meetings in the early 1970s! Check it out:

Lastly, we had a little ghostly session in this room on the second floor:

We called this room The Black Shadow Room because there was some freaky-ass black shadow/mist hanging out in that doorway you see in the back of the room. Let me add that there was no reason for this particular shadow/black mist thing to be there. It wasn't actually a shadow of anything because the room was empty.

Bill and I were walking around in there keeping our distance from the shadow/mist when the one kid in the group came bounding in saying "Guys! Watch what happens when I walk to the back of this room." This kid was basically fearless because he was walking towards the big black shadow. The further back he walked the further right the needle on his EMF detector moved.

Not to be outdone by a 12 year old, Bill got into the action, walking to the back of the room with his EMF detector. When both he and Little Mr. Fearless walked to the back of the room, their meters went up. When they walked to the front of the room their meters went down to the normal level. And then that black thing moved to a corner of the room. OF COURSE Bill and that kid rushed over there and trapped it in the corner. I waited in the hall with that kid's mother until those two were done messing around with that thing because I wanted no parts of that.

The Embalming Room

Other interesting things we noticed on our exploration of Hill View was gray hair clippings still in one of the sinks in the beauty salon along with bottles of old shampoo, a container of old perm rods and other old beauty supplies still sitting on the counter. Looking at those was being in a time warp. Very eerie indeed!

We also visited the embalming room where one of the men in our group layed down on the embalming table and then jumped up, saying something pinched his finger!

The embalming table in the Embalming Room. The stain on the floor to the right of the table was the. drain, which has since been sealed.
That's right, there was an arm and a leg sticking out of the ground...
After our three hours were over, everyone on the tour met in the lobby of the building and discuss what they had seen, heard and felt and compared pictures and videos. One guy, who was filming in the furnace room, played his video back and at one point, something clearly walked in front of his camera on film -- something that no one saw when we were in the room. BOO!

Overall, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It definitely got us in the Halloween spirit and definitely makes you wonder if and why some people remain Earthbound after they die. Despite the hair pulling, the arm grabbing, the hand on my leg and the funky black mist, I'm still skeptical. Or maybe I just don't want to believe. I don't know.

To end this post, I'lI show you a picture of a door I took. It was a door that sat at the end of a super spooky hallway that NO ONE had the guts to walk down. It just felt weird and scary and wrong. I'll leave it to you decide what you see in the window on the left side. Is it a reflection? A face? A tall man with his right arm outstretched? Or nothing at all?

Bye Bye Hill View! It was fun!


We Spent the Weekend at the Haunted Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Nemacolin Castle: Our Trip to a Real Haunted House

Movies That Supposedly Have Real Ghosts In Them

Haunted Bookstore in Ohio: Owners Discover a Ghost Who Loves Toys

Three Real Life Spine Tingling Ghost Stories

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Tricks That Take The Stress Out of Online Shopping

Okay, I’m not saying online shopping is stressful – except that I kind of am.

Know this: I am not a shopper. I do not enjoy trudging around a department stores looking for a certain item nor am I a girly girl who goes to the mall just to go to the mall. Honestly, I can think of about 3,000 other things I’d rather do with my time.

That’s why I’m a HUGE fan of online shopping. Sitting on my couch searching the web beats a trip to any department store. Online shopping can shave hours of wasted time off my day and offers a bigger selection than any mall could possibly provide.

That said, online shopping can be stressful. With thousands of options, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. And once you start, how to you know if you’re dealing with a reputable retailer? Or getting the best price? Or the best quality?

Fret not, favorite readers! Here are five tips to help make online shopping less stressful and more fun.

Identify your favorite sites. Knowing where to look for a certain item is half the battle. Chances are you have your go-to stores at the mall, but what about your favorite stores on the web? Making a list of your preferred sites can help streamline the process.

Take advantage of online search engines. Shopzilla.com, Shopstyle.com and PriceGrabber.com are awesome search engines designed specifically for online shopping. Use them to find exactly what you’re looking for as you browse by color, brand, size and price.

Search for promo and coupon codes. Coupon codes are a set of letters and numbers that you can enter before paying for an online shopping order. Coupon codes work the same as paper coupons and give you a percentage off your purchase, free shipping or another type of discount. Sites like http://www.frugaa.com/ make it easy to find the code you need regardless of whether you’re shopping for electronics, clothing, home d├ęcor or even food and beverages.

Read reviews. Don’t even consider buying a product online without taking a look at its customer feedback. Not only can reviewers give you more insight about the quality of an item, they can also help you determine which size to order.

Use social networking, email and “savings” sites. “Like” your favorite retailer on Facebook. Many merchants post special coupons or announce sales first on their Facebook pages. Join email lists of your favorite retailers so you can have coupons and other special offers delivered straight to your inbox.

There you have it, five easy ways to take the stress out of your online shopping! Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Four Days Home Alone and Husband-Free: Fantasy vs. Reality

A few months ago I was counting down the days until...heaven. AKA four nights on my own while Bill was out of town.

Oh the joy! Thinking of everything I could get done without all the constant distractions of a husband would be blissful. Let’s not forget the much-needed time alone and the ability to go wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted!

So why was it that less than an hour after he left, I found myself talking back to the television? Not because I lost my mind but because it was the only thing in the damn house making NOISE?

I can tell you there were definitely some enjoyable moments during my time alone. The laundry wasn’t overflowing out of the hamper minutes after put the last load away. I didn’t have to empty the dishwasher and I didn’t even have to run it because I didn’t have to cook for anyone. Initially I marveled at how I settled into bed without bickering over who was going to shut out the light and then trying to tune out his cacophony of nose noises. (Okay, that one came back to haunt me later. You’ll see.)

After Bill came home our life resumed its normal chaotic, somewhat annoying pace. Overall, those four days didn’t turn out like I thought they would. Here’s my vision of spending time home alone compared to how things really went down:

My plan: To catch up on my reading.

The truth:  I read absolutely nothing except for the local paper on my phone one morning when I was lying in bed. Instead, I turned into someone so desperate for human contact that I lingered in the grocery store, striking up a conversation with anyone who strolled through the produce section.

My plan: To thoroughly enjoy the peace and quiet. The ability to focus doesn’t come easy in our home. There’s slamming doors, stomping up and down steps and ridiculously loud TV volume. Usually I have that Grinch monologue running in my head: And then...all the noise! All the noise, noise, noise, noise. If there's one thing I hate...all the noise, noise, noise, noise!

The truth: It felt like I was living in a tomb. The house was oppressively silent and empty. It felt like the quietness was smothering me. Seriously. I kept every television on 20 hours a day just so voices would fill the gaping absence of noise.

My plan: To enjoy not being constantly interrupted. One of my biggest gripes about being married is the interruptions and the way I can never ever EVER start a task and finish it without stopping a frillion times to help somebody microwave macaroni and cheese or find scissors.

The truth: I was lonely and scattered. So lonely and scattered I mostly ended up staring at my computer, when I wasn’t distracting myself with laundry, or running errands or attempting to become BFFs with the mailman or people who just wanted to buy lettuce.

My plan: To not do any of the boring, middle-age wife stuff I normally do.

The truth: I did all the boring, middle-age wife stuff I normally do. I went to the grocery store, to the post office, stopped off at the gym, put gas in my car and cleaned the house. It was a snooze-fest.

My plan: A relaxing bedtime. Going to bed is always a production. If Bill and and I aren't arguing about who shuts out the light, there's the way he sprawls across the bed to watch television and doesn't budge even though he knows I'm trying to get in the bed to sleep. Before he sprawls the bed, there's the way he does The Robot on his way to the bed. You know, this:

If you want to know why he does that, you’re going to have to ask him. I cannot explain it one bit.

The truth: Bedtime was boring… and scary. There was no laughing and no playful bickering. I even missed the way Bill gets comfortable each night by flopping around in the bed like a fish that’s just been pulled out of water.

Being home alone at night sucked. One night I stayed awake until 2 am, rigid with tension over every creak of the house settling. At one point, I almost squeaked out, “Who’s there??” after having convinced myself there was a GHOST in the hallway.

My plan: I’d miss Bill. Like in a healthy absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder way.

The truth: I wandered around the house like I was in mourning. I’d stop now and then to wash his work clothes or vacuum, thinking about how sad it all seemed. Going into the garage, where all his tools are, only magnified the disproportionate sense of loss. At one point, when I was in our closet, I sniffed his clothes.

My plan: To appreciate Bill more. Being apart from him would give me a wonderful sense of perspective. When he returned, I’d be more patient, more loving and stop bitching about little things, like the way he leaves his dirty coffee mug on the counter three inches from the dishwasher.

The truth: Ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA HA. HAAAAAAAA.

Monday, October 13, 2014

8 Ways to Spice Up Your Marriage

Suppose you love cheese, so every day you eat cheese. One day you eat mozzarella cheese. One day you eat cheddar cheese and one day you eat blue cheese. Sometimes you eat Colby cheese. Sometimes you eat American cheese and sometimes you eat Munster cheese.
After 25 years you still love cheese but even though you’ve tried different cheeses, you’re starting to get a little tired of cheese. Every week, it’s always more cheese. You’re even starting to think of ways to “spice up” your cheese because lately, eating cheese is getting kind of Meh. You know what I mean?
Without venturing too far into TMI territory, I can fully endorse the fact that by middle age, a certain amount of “spark” goes out of your marriage and sex with your spouse becomes routine and even a little dull.
If it sounds like I’m describing my life, it’s because I am. Now I have to qualify this by saying that Bill and I both still…uh…enjoy eating cheese, but it’s not like we’re eating cheese every day. Every few weeks or once a month is more like it as we’re both crazy exhausted from work and taking care of our money pit home. When you’re spending your evenings overhauling the landscaping and replacing the furnace, the hot water heater, the roof and whatever the hell breaks next, you’re so exhausted by 7 pm that you’re not in the mood for cheese.  Instead, all you want to do is watch Netflix on your laptop with one eye open and then go to sleep.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve thrown in the towel. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to get in the cheese-eating mood, but it’s well worth it.

Here's some tips:

Cherish the small things. Bill works long hours. Many days, he leaves at 6 am and isn’t home until after 8 pm. When he is home, one of my favorite things is laying the couch together and watching TV before bed. It’s the small things that keep you connected.

Be romantic. True story: About ten years into our marriage, I bitched about Bill not being romantic. He tried to prove he was by writing me a poem about my beautiful blue eyes. It was touching, except that my eyes are green and you kind of expect your husband of a decade to know that. I do, however, give him an A+ for his effort.

Never stop courting. There’s no reason to stop trying to impress your partner no matter how long you’ve been together. While there’s something to be said for being comfortable in your relationship, flirting like you did when before you were married can put that little spark back into your marriage.

Compliment his appearance. This might make you gag a little, but I appreciate the fact that Bill always tells me I’m cute every single day. He tells me enough and I start to believe him. I make a point to return the favor. Cheesy, but true.

Make a date to shower together. Not only does it provide a great connection where no electronics are allowed, it’s also the perfect way to cultivate intimacy.

Adjust your perspective. Sometimes I totally focus on everything Bill does wrong. What’s important is that you’re also able to remind your heart of your partner's good and focus on the things he does right.

Try new things. This summer, we built our back porch together. I learned how to use a power saw and Bill learned how to cut fabric and helped sew pillows for the new porch furniture. I know doesn’t sound romantic but there’s something sexy about working hard together and building something beautiful you both love (besides children.)

Get dressed. When we were dating, I gave my appearance all I had. Flash forward 25 years and three day old sweats are the norm. Lately though, I’ve been taking a little time to peel off the yoga pants, style my hair and put a little more effort into my appearance. The payoffs: I feel sexier and more confident. 

Related Posts

Black Leggings, the Frumpy Club and an Uphill Battle on a Downhill Slope

Seven Tips That Kept Our Marriage From Becoming a Total Crap Show

8 Reasons Why Pizza is Better Than My Husband

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dumb Jokes and Retirement

Last night Bill and I had a serious conversation about what we want to do when he retires and where we want to live. By serious, I mean as serious as Bill can be.
Here’s how it went: One sentence. Dumb joke. Another sentence. Dumb joke.

If you know Bill, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't know him, getting him to stay on topic is impossible because any attempt at conversation means you will be pummeled with dumb jokes. I’m not saying I mind that…except that sometimes I do. I’ll say, “Can you stop talking like a 10 year old and answer the question?!” and then he…you know…makes another dumb joke.

Speaking of dumb jokes, did you ever notice that there are people who can get away with telling raunchy, stupid, sexual jokes and manage to not offend anyone. I cannot do that and sometimes it sucks. Like when someone makes jokes that are no different than the ones I make and I get reprimanded told that kind of behavior is expected from them and therefore okay, but is not expected from me.

It’s not right. I mean, if a joke is wrong, it’s wrong regardless of who it comes from, right?

I try to be nice and I try to treat people the way I want to be treated and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I say dumb things that hurt people’s feelings. I usually feel very bad about it for a long time and waste too many days mentally beating myself up instead of defending myself when an issue arises. Isn’t that stupid? My internal pep talk should sound like this: “Hey, you’re human! You make mistakes. Quit being such an overly sensitive baby. Get over it AND STICK UP FOR YOURSELF when someone attacks you with petty irrational bullshit!!”

You're probably wondering what that's all about but just never mind. Let's get back to retirement. We’ve narrowed our options down to North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. As of now, we have no opinion on which of those states we would prefer live in or which would be our number one choice. Nor do we know where we’d like to live in any of those states. Destin, FL? Winter Park, FL? Outside of Raleigh, NC? Geez, how do you decide this stuff? All we know now is that one day we’re moving someplace warm and out of Pennsylvania, which is a hellhole of extreme weather. (If Bill has his way, we will be near Disney World so he can work as the Magic Kingdom train engineer.)

And by the way, when did WE get to the age where we’re planning our retirement? Us?! Bill and Danielle?! In our group of friends, we were the second to last to get married and one of the last to have a baby. Justin is about 7 or 8 years younger than our friend’s kids. Our friends who have grandchildren.

In my head, I still think of myself as 35. I still wear my hair like I did when I was 35, still dress like I did when I was 35 and still act like I did when I was 35 (although I am now slightly more knowledgeable about some things but still suck at sticking up for myself). Sometimes I think I should cut my hair or wear more age appropriate clothes but then I think, Oh why bother! I like my clothes and I don’t mind my long hair even though it probably looks ridiculous and even though my hairdresser has been begging to cut off 5 inches. I’m not changing anything yet because I don’t want to. At least I don’t think I want to. Maybe I’ll cut my hair soon. I don’t know.

Another thing I don’t know is the point of this blog. Typically I try to stay focused on a topic that relates to being middle aged. Today, I was all over the place and that was probably boring for you to read. I’m going to blame it on being out of blogging practice. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

More and better stuff coming soon. Like Bill and Danielle's annual ghost hunting trip to a (supposedly) REAL haunted house on October 25th!!!  We have a good one lined up this year. I bet you can't wait!