Author Archives: lizzwitt

Flying high: Don’t be a menace in the skies

After yet another work trip, I’m reminded again of all the things people do that drive me crazy on a flight.

I don’t mind the crying babies. I usually don’t mind being delayed. I don’t mind the people who “spill over” their airline seat. I don’t battle for an armrest. I don’t start a fight with the person in front of me when they crush my legs by “reclining,” if that’s what you call it. I don’t mind the people who don’t have the security measures memorized.

Instead, I’d like to share a few pet peeves that, if followed, will make everyone’s trip more enjoyable, even yours.

First, airline flying has ceased to become a vacation. Unless you travel first class all the time, it’s not going to be fun and relaxing. Is a car trip fun? Well, neither is flying. And those people you see in first class – most of the time they’re not rich. They just fly a lot. Pity them. So, don’t complain about the leg room, the poor quality of the wine list, or the lines you have to wait in. I’m still surprised they offer free beverages and snacks at this point.

Flying is a lot of waiting. You wait in security. You wait to board the plane. And once you get your ticket checked, you stand in line to actually get to your seat. You wait to get off the plane. You wait to get your luggage from baggage claim. Once you mastered the virtue of patience, that’s really the biggest hurdle.

  1. You will probably have to wait in a security line. With that said, you will probably not miss your flight if you’re waiting in security. I’ve never missed a flight because I’m stuck in security. If by chance, you think you’re going to miss your flight, inform the ticket counter or a TSA officer. They may let you go through a priority line. If you just hate waiting in line, do NOT ask the people at the front of the line if you can cut in front because you may miss your flight. This happened to me once, and being the good person I was, I let a woman go ahead of me (and about 10 other people did the same who were in front of me). Let me tell you that that good deed feeling withered away when I saw the same woman drinking her coffee and reading a newspaper at my gate. Yes, we were on the same flight.
  2. If you’re at the gate, they’re probably not going to leave you. You will have a seat. Standing by the ticket counter when they’re calling first class passengers and you’re in Group 5, just means that people will either think you’re standing in line for first class (which means they’ll miss their boarding group) or they will have to step around you because you’re too eager to board the plane. Grab a chair in the terminal and enjoy your latte. You probably have another 10 minutes to wait.
  3. Again – you’re going to get off the plane. Promise. When the plane docks, there is no need for you to unbuckle your seatbelt, jump up, grab your overhead luggage … and then wait in the aisle for 20 minutes.
  4. These people who stand in the aisle for 20 minutes, you’ll see them rush off the plane. I’ve had people crawl over my luggage at this point. I’ve also had people crawl under my luggage as I’m in the process of taking it down from the overhead bins. It takes 10 seconds, but they just can’t wait that long. Maybe they have another flight to catch? Probably not. Just wait your turn to get off the plane. Again, if you’re worried about missing a connecting flight, inform the airline attendant. Don’t be one of those yahoos who trample over people because they have to get off the plane immediately. These are the same people you’ll see at baggage claim waiting for their luggage.
  5. Now that we’re at baggage claim, let’s all hover over the belt. You know, because it’s going so fast, you might miss that your luggage comes out of the window and whooshes right past you. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. If everyone would just take a few steps back, everyone would have a chance to grab their luggage without falling over people or hopping on the belt to avoid losing your bag on the first go-round. When you see your bag, you could simply step forward, grab it and then pull it back. I’ve seen people fall on the belt or race over people to grab their bags. Guess what? If you miss it, it’s coming back again in about 60 seconds. Patience.

In addition to patience, let’s examine common sense. We are going to back up and examine the security line. No lie, this past week, I followed a woman through the security gate who had metal studs on the shoulders of her shirt and all down her blue jeans. Seriously? Yes, you’re going to get a pat down. I’ve heard of a woman who had half a gun fused to her purse. Did she just “randomly selected” for further screening. Yes, ma’am.

Are you going to put your entire life in the overhead compartment when you board the plane? Did you not hear the flight attendant explicitly say how to load your luggage … like, five times? Large bag on top, smaller bag under the seat. If I board the plane and you have crammed your bag, purse, coat, shopping bag in the overhead compartment, I will rearrange your stuff. I may even be nice enough to ask whose it is and then hand it to you so you don’t have to get up. Don’t be an overhead compartment hog. If anything, wait until everyone has boarded the plane, then add your items overhead.

It may seem as if I have a lot of gripes, but flying can be so much more enjoyable if you have patience and common sense, and just a touch of courtesy and self-awareness.

You’re welcome,

CattyLiz

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The first step to failure is setting a goal

Are we afraid to fail or are we afraid of everyone knowing we failed? With the age of social media, it’s so easy to shout from the rooftop that you’re motivated about accomplishing a new goal. But the admission of defeat is equally as public. 

New Year’s resolutions. Going back to school. Quitting smoking. Writing a book. Committing yourself to running a 5K when you’re the proverbial couch potato.

thanks-not-laughing-absurdly-new-years-ecard-someecards

Why is that when we need support the most, we’re afraid to reach out? We’re hesitant to put it on the line and let the world that we have set a goal and we’re fired up.

I’ll tell you why. It’s not because we’re afraid to fail so much. It’s because we’re afraid of other people seeing our failure. We’re worried that our friends, family, coworkers, those close to us are going to be witness to our failure, shake their finger, roll their eyes, laugh and remind us again of our other failed goals.

What’s worse is that those concerns are usually coming from our own inner  catty voice.

Trying Is The First Step Towards Failure Homer

I had a friend who publicly announced they were giving up tobacco for their 2014 resolution. We all know that quitting smoking is hard. I’ve heard it takes a typical person an average of seven tries before they’re able to quit for good. After dozens of supportive messages on Facebook and in person, the cold turkey attempt hasn’t quite worked for her. While the initial announcement received a lot of fanfare, I was disappointed that my friend didn’t ask for support around the time of relapse, when she needed it the most. Was she worried what people would think or say to her? Or worse, behind her back?

Personally, I feel like I’ve become the family joke lately. My head is going in so many directions of things I want to accomplish, do and learn, that many of my so-called “projects” remain unfinished. I’m like a squirrel in the middle of a metal sculpture park. And because of my recent history, I’ve been hesitant to admit my new goals.

Can you imagine the look on my husband’s face when I mention that I’m interested in organizing a charity event? Presumably working on it between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m.? This project may fail before it even gets started. But I’m going slow, organizing a plan before I reveal my next “big idea,” and counting on the support of people who love me.

I am in the mindset that attempting to do great things often leads to great failures. But every now and then, you may actually accomplish something great.

What do you do, share your goals immediately or do you wait until you know you can accomplish them before letting everyone know?

CattyLiz

#fearoffailure
#fearofboredom

My life is not on my phone

I live on my phone.

I do not need a 12-step program. I do not need to have a cell phone-free zone. I do not need to ban phones from the dinner table or the bedroom. I do not need to “unplug” when I go on vacation.

I am a grown woman and just like everything else in my life, I know when to use moderation. I know when it’s appropriate and inappropriate to use my phone.

The backlash against technology lately is a little overexuberant in my opinion.

I need to use my cell phone for more than texting my girlfriends and playing Candy Crush. For that reason, I will tell you that I get irritated when people imply that I’m missing out on life because my face is glued to an electronic device.

We’ve all seen those HuffPost blogs telling us that our kids are growing up motherless because we’re all on Facebook at the park. Let’s be honest. You took your kids outside to play in the park. You should be patting yourself on the back at this point. If you’re like me and grew up in the 80s, we all ate frozen dinners on TV trays staring at the boob tube in silence. Let’s put this age of smart devices in a little perspective.

Mark-Paul-Gosselaar-Saved-By-The-Bell

Am I right, Zach? Am I right??

For that, I have a little bit of an open letter to the all the people who think I’m a lesser person if I’m using my cell phone in a public place:

To my optometrist who has signs all over his office informing his clients that there are “no cell phones allowed”: If you have me wait for more than 10 minutes, your six-month-old “Parents” magazines are not going to hold my attention. Please tell me again how checking work emails in your waiting room is bothersome to you or the other patients?

cell phone

To the guy who tells me to get off my phone at the grocery store because I’m standing in his way: I keep my grocery list, which is synced with my husband’s phone, on my cell phone. If you wouldn’t embarrass me for looking at a grocery list scratched on a piece of paper, don’t call me out for looking at my phone while I figure out what type of bread crumbs I need.

To the mom who rolls her eyes because I’m on my phone at the park: I’m not ignoring my kid. I’m letting his dad know that he’s having a great time and sending him a photo.

To the patron at the restaurant who’s annoyed that I’m Facetiming with my kids at the next table over: I’ve been traveling and haven’t seen my family for a week. And no, I don’t want to wait until I’m back at my hotel room after their bed time before I tell them how much I miss them.

To the doctor who requests no electronics in the office: I understand if it interferes with your equipment, but I may request to access my notes of my symptoms and questions for you. I may also want to record the conversation because when you tell me that I may need surgery, I won’t remember anything after that.

I understand there are times when the no cell phone rule are totally appropriate. I typically have a signature on my email that says “Sent from iPhone, but not while I’m driving” to remind myself not to use it when I’m behind the wheel. I end conversations when I’m at the checkout or drive through. I typically don’t use my phone at dinner.

cell phone courtesy

What I’m trying to say is, give people the benefit of the doubt. Because society’s social graces swings like a pendulum, it’s hard in this day and age to imagine that people aren’t intentionally being rude and inconsiderate if they’re on their phone around you. It may be that they are actually just living their life the best they can – not missing it while they play Candy Crush.

#canyouhearmenow
#TGIWiFi

What You to Need to Know Before Returning That Gift

I have a dilemma. A friend gave me a great pair of rain boots this Christmas. They’re beautiful. The only problem is that I already have an awesome pair of rain boots. And I don’t live in Seattle. There is really no need for me to have two pairs of rain boots.

Now, when I opened this gift up, she thought I wouldn’t like them because they’re rain boots. She offered the gift receipt and even mentioned just giving them away. Absolutely not! If anything, I’d like to return them for some other type of shoe, but do I risk offending her by asking for the receipt?

These types of situations give me anxiety attacks.

When my husband bought me a beautiful leather messenger bag several years ago, I declared it was almost perfect. I really needed a large commuter bag, so I asked if I could return it for a different style. I thought we had the type of relationship that I could return his gifts. Uhh, apparently not.  I had no idea how upset he would get! Now I know  he’s a little sensitive about me returning gifts.

Thinking on these two situations, I’ve come up with a few tips on the “when, how, why and ifs” on returning gifts. Being the day after Christmas, I thought this very appropriate.

1. If you’re thinking about returning a gift, make a decision soon. Don’t wait  three months and then decide to return it. You’ll likely need the receipt that the gifter has long thrown away. Asking at this point would be highly tacky. It also shows that you haven’t thought about the gift for quite some time, which has probably sat in a box in your guest closet gathering dust.

2. If it’s just not your cup of tea and returning the gift is not an option, refer to “Regifting Dos and Don’ts.”

3. Every gift is unique, just like every occasion and every gifter. Take these into account when deciding on whether to return a gift. I try to always leave a gift receipt in the bag and make sure that the recipient knows that it’s perfectly OK to return it. If someone purchased you a handmade scarf from Guatemala and points out that it’s a combination of your two favorite colors … and reminds that person of the time you two sat outside a book store for four hours waiting for your favorite author and shared a scarf because they were so cold and ill prepared … it’s not returnable.

beer gift

4. If it’s from a department store and could have been a gift for a coworker,  their Aunt Mary or whoever, I think it’s OK to return.

5. If it’s from Bath and Body Works, it’s OK to return.

6. If it’s an appliance, something to clean your house with, or helps you to lose weight, it’s OK to return. (If that’s your thing, though – rejoice! They know  you well!)

aria wi-fi

Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale … cool, yes, but it’s still a scale.

7. If it’s a donation to their favorite charity, you can’t return it, but you can let them know that you’ll be making a donation to your favorite charity for their birthday — be it your alma mater or a non-profit they may not be familiar with (or even one that doesn’t quite align with their social beliefs).

8. If it’s clothing and it doesn’t fit, ask the gifter if you can return it for a different size. I think they would be delighted to know that you loved their gift so much, you want it to fit perfectly.

9. If it’s clothing and it’s not quite to your taste, refer to #3. If they picked your favorite store, but you’d rather have something else, I would try to exchange it for something different. If it’s a store you’re not a huge fan of … maybe you’re more of a Coldwater Creek gal that Hot Topic, refer to #2. (Or better yet, exchange for store credit and regift the “gift card”!)

exchange-gift

10. Always tell them thank you, no matter what the gift.

Hope this helps! Being the day after Christmas, let the exchanging and returns begin!

Etiquette as a weapon? Tsk Tsk

When I took an etiquette class in college, I was coming from zero knowledge. Nothing broke me out into hives more than too many forks and a bowl of water on my plate.

etiquette-table-setting

Luckily a few well-meaning friends and that etiquette class helped me to be more confident at fancy dinners, cocktail parties and professional events. One lesson was to leave enough room on your plate to balance your glass in case you need a free hand. Let’s just say this was a practiced skill for me. It was definitely not my forte.

etiquette

Another important lesson, ladies: Don’t sit like a bored man.

Another lesson I learned was if you didn’t know what to do, follow everyone else’s lead. This is also good advice at a hoe-down, a cultural event you’re not familiar with, or at Comic-Con.

And when that doesn’t work, just shrug and ask, “What do you want me to do with this hot cloth? Wipe off the honey glaze I just dipped my sleeve in?” An ignorance-claiming question along with a sly smile and Southern drawl will get you far in life.

Something else that resonated with me in class was the fact that etiquette is not meant to make one feel uncomfortable. This was definitely news to me, but I quickly learned it’s not meant to be used as a weapon of cattiness or snobbery. The purpose of having shared etiquette is not to make someone’s meal less enjoyable or make them feel inadequate. If you use etiquette this way, shame on you.

You get an F, and I will not be joining your Christmas holiday fete a la tacky sweater awkwardness.

Lesson One: The host should make their guest feel comfortable and at ease regardless.

Remember that scene in Pretty Woman? The one where they meet for a business dinner and she’s being beautiful and charming—then she looks down, sees escargot and completely does a mind blank? She attempts to follow her host’s lead and ends up almost taking someone’s eye out.

It’s only after the older man across from her makes a comment about not knowing what to do with the forks that she is put instantly at ease and they enjoy their meal – until Richard Gere states he’s about to dismantle the other guys’ family business like a suburban garage sale, but whatever.  Point made.

And when you’re hosting that fancy dinner or holiday party: Expect things to go wrong.

Things will get spilled. Things will break. Things will burn. Guests will be late. Your house will not be clean enough. Your hidden junk drawer will be discovered. Your husband will get a little too tipsy on the holiday egg nog and decide it’s too hot to wear his reindeer sweater…but not too hot to don the decorative Santa hat all night. It’s OK.

The key to remember is to enjoy each other’s company. Even if you accidently eat off the charger plate or your guest requests that her red wine be chilled, graciously smile and wish each other a merry Christmas. Besides, after the third glass of wine, the shoes come off and etiquette takes a holiday anyway.

With the utmost respect and sincerity,

Catty Liz

#fakeittilyoumakeit
#etiquettewar
#prettywomendonteatsnailsanyway

Regifting Dos and Don’ts

As the holidays approach, let’s have a discussion in “regifting.”

We’ve all been guilty of buying thoughtless or obligatory gifts. And I would say that many of us have regifted those thoughtless or obligatory gifts. I can say with certainty that I’ve been given those gifts over the years.

I’m not saying that regifting is bad. It’s OK to regift if it’s done with style, thoughtfulness and consideration.

Be green. Regift.

Be green. Regift.

Regifting a good bottle of wine you’ll never drink is acceptable. Hell, regifting a good bottle of wine you would drink and feel confident the recipient will share with you is an even better plan… and quite deviously brilliant.

My mother regifting me her wedding china that has been housed in the garage for more than a decade after a broken marriage is quite thrifty and beneficial for both of us!

Embroidered napkins are also nice, although I may find it highly convenient that our last names start with the same letter.

Anything that involves alcohol, hunting gear and footwear … not a good regift unless they already have a collection of oddball wine racks.

7709-18420

One holiday season, my dad offered me a nice jacket. It was a little big, but it was made by a reputable company I was familiar with, was comfortable and warm. I said “Thanks, Dad!”

He fessed up and said that his dad, my grandfather, had given it to him and he didn’t really want it. “Oh, well, that’s OK.” Except that his brother had given my grandfather the coat. I was the fourth owner in his coat shuffle and now it seemed that I had a coat no one wanted. Granted, I was an awkward 14-year-old girl who probably shouldn’t have been wearing an oversized coat that was purchased for an 80-year-old man, but what did I know? I have no idea where that coat is now, but I treasure the story… even more so that my dad admitted to everything while regifting.

Here are a few re-gifting rules that may help ease you into the holiday season:

  1. Do not regift the gift to the original gifter. If you must, at least use new wrapping paper. If you’re not a huge fan of the original gifter, feel free to present the gift while standing on a chair … tap your spoon to your wine glass first and make sure you have everyone’s attention.
  2. Do not regift the gift to another person in front of the original gifter. If you must, again, at least use new wrapping paper. And if you’re still busted, exclaim that you loved your purple burlap polka-dotted door ornament so much, you decided to make it your go-to gift, too.
  3. If it’s a personalized gift, it’s best to come clean. Although you may think your motives are inconspicuous,  gifting etched glass beer steins to your fifteen-year-old cousin who just happens to share your monogram is a red flag to other family members.
  4. If your grandmother finds out you regifted her homemade peach jelly, you’re on your own. Same goes for the crocheted socks.
  5. Make sure the regift matches the occasion and/or the recipient. I’ve been given Halloween dish towels at Christmas. Yes, they were special. Yes, I knew they had been regifted. And yes, I couldn’t wait 10 months to use them. Perfect regift.
  6. Let’s be honest: Halloween candy is OK to regift in Christmas holiday “goody bags” as long as there are no black cats, jack-o-lanterns or candy corn on the wrapper. Don’t laugh – what else are we suppose to do with that stash?
  7. When all else fails, ask for a gift receipt. Take it back to the store. Get a gift card. Gift the gift card. Voila! Who doesn’t love a $13.46 gift card to Target or the Pickled Pineapple Boutique?

Let’s face it. Some gifts are purchased with no thought of the receiver. We all do it. It’s easy to do in a pinch. Those are the best gifts to regift, especially to people you don’t know well enough to buy a thoughtful gift or you just don’t have time. Other times, it’s just not a right fit.

If you find yourself receiving a thoughtless gift, go ahead and plan a fun get-together to openly regift those thoughtless presents you’ve received and encourage your guests to do the same. Those white elephant gift parties are hilarious fun, especially when someone opens that “redneck wind chime” you received for your birthday as a legitimate gift… just be sure not to invite the original gifter.

 

Still not sure if you can re-gift that sweater or not?  Try using this handy infographic from Visual.ly.

Jennifer Lawrence slams the Fashion Police

There is no denying my love for Jennifer Lawrence. I think she is humble and self-deprecating and has the perfect amount of geeky-realness that all of us women can relate to.

I mean, who hasn’t fallen up the stairs on the way to get a huge award … and taken a shot of liquor because you’re a little nervous.

I love her even with this crazy “What About Mary?” haircut she has going on.

Who knew, but Mary had it going on... what a trend setter.

Who knew, but Mary had it going on… what a trend setter.

I love her even more that she called out Joan Rivers for her catty Red Carpet show. I mean, how many times have we made fun of celebrities for wearing something that isn’t “classic” or perfect for their body type or just plain too “out there” for us to get?

OK, this was an unfortunate wardrobe decision for Miley. That or I'm just too old  to understand fashion...

OK, this was an unfortunate wardrobe decision for Miley. That or I’m just too old to understand certain fashion…

In a recent interview, Jennifer responded to a Yahoo! townhall-style question about how she feels about  “those who judge others based on appearances.”

“Well, screw those people… there are shows like the ‘Fashion Police‘ and things like that, are just showing generations of young people to judge people based on things that, you know… they put values on all the things that are wrong and that it’s OK to just point at people and call them ugly and call them fat, and they call it fun.”

It took Joan a few days to address the comments … on Twitter, course.

Joan Rivers twitter

And then she moved on to other celebrity issues, like how her dog is adjusting to the move to New York.

I can’t blame Joan Rivers, right? I mean she’s made her living by being catty. We, as plebes, love to see celebrities make fashion mistakes because we think “Yes, they have bad days, too, just like when I dropped off little Chloe at school wearing hubby’s sweatshirt and my slippers and no make up and wet hair …”

But you can’t discount what Jennifer said. And yes, when you have money and a job that depends on your appearance, you do pay for a fit body, great hair and makeup, and yes, even a Red Carpet-worthy wardrobe, so said the “fashion icon.”

“I really would not call myself a fashion icon,” Jennifer told Marc Malkin on E! Online. “I would call myself somebody who gets dressed by professionals. [It’s like], ‘Dance, monkey, dance’ right on the red carpet.’ I would call me more of a monkey.” 

Now, what’s crazy is how much press this little back and forth of barbs has received, but this comment from Joan Rivers has received no publicity:

“This outfit is so young and fresh and sexy. It just screams, ‘date rape.'”

Um no. Where’s “Jezebel” when you need her…