5 Things


And now I’ve been tagged by Gearhead Mama to write about five things you didn’t know about me. 

I am a rabid nail biter.  I’ve chewed my nails off since I can remember and have always been self conscious of this awful nervous habit.   I’ve managed to “grow them out” just a few times, but it only takes one quick bite to ruin it all.  Once one of ‘em is chewed down, ya gotta even ‘em all out.   For my wedding, my Mama offered to have my nails done and I got lovely, sport length acrylics.  They looked wonderful.  But two days later, on the transcontinental honeymoon plane ride to Italy, I was ripping them off with my teeth.  I couldn’t stand the fact that I had to perform all kinds of fine motor-skills tasks differently – I had to zip my jeans with my fingernails (how strange) and my fast-typing sounded annoyingly click-clack-click as I typed along.  Holding writing utensils felt foreign and I couldn’t pinch anything (picking up coins was a major undertaking).  But perhaps worst of all, the dirt and filth that collected under them made me sick.  So, they were gone.   I judge the amount of stress in my life by the length of my fingernails.  When I’m on vacation visiting my family, they always grow out wonderfully.  When Brooke came to visit for a few days, and I reveled in womoonly connections with my sista crew, my nails were happy and grown and you could see whites on the tips!  It only lasted about a week. 

I lied to acquire my current job.   At 19 years old, I had just moved to Phoenix 8 months prior and had quit my tiring, low-paying day care center job.  I applied for American Express and was excited about the prospect of a “real” office job.   After successfully answering most of the questions on the intake phone screening, the representative asked “How many years of customer service experience have you had?”  I stopped to think and naively answered with the truth:  “None”.  After a few more questions, the representative matter-of-factly explained “After reviewing your information, I show you not do have enough years of customer service experience to qualify for a position with us.  We will keep your information on hand for 6 months.   If at that time you’d like to apply again, please feel free to call us. Thank you”.  And that was that.  I hung up the phone and stared silently into the empty room.  I blinked slowly and shook my head.  “No way, they are not letting me off the hook that easily, they cannot shut me out like that! I am QUALIFIED!”  I thought for a moment and knew what I had to do.  I called them up again.   I acted like I’d never called before and they asked for my name, phone number, etc and the representative suddenly stopped and asked “Have you called before?”  “Well, actually, yes”, I said casually “I was in the middle of the application and I got a phone call.  I put the rep on hold for just a moment and when I came back she was gone! So, I never got to complete the application.”  The rep kindly apologized and continued the process.  When she got to the question “How many years of customer service experience have you had?” I confidently answered “Two years”.   The next thing I knew, she was setting me up for an interview in a week.  Nine years later, I’m still slaving away the “Company”.  See, I KNEW I was qualified.  It’s was their fault anyways for not having a thorough way of tracking applications (rationalization at work…). 

I totally flunked out of my first year of college at Ball State University.  This was definitely not one of my finest moments, but it’s part of who I am.   I partied too much, then fell in love, gave up partying, and became a recluse in my private dorm room.  I slept in.  I missed exams.  Basically, I wasted a bunch of my parent’s hard earned money and seriously disappointed them.  The dumbest part is I really didn’t realize I was flunking out until the very end.  I guess I thought I’d be able to barely pass with C’s and maybe a D.  Forget it; I got a few F’s and even failed Latin twice (though I still remember much from the class and cherish the bits of information I did learn).  I came back home that summer feeling like a failure, particularly when I applied to our hometown college, the one we always used to make fun of when we heard people were attending it because it was sorta the college for losers.  But even more embarrassing was when I was caught off guard with a letter stating even THEY wouldn’t accept me because of my grades.  I was dev-e-stated.  Then I got angry.  How can they deny someone who is willing to pay money (probably still my parent’s money at this point) a good education?  I wanted to go back to college; I wanted to prove I could do better.  So, I did what I do when I get mad.  I wrote a letter of appeal.  And, lo and behold, I was accepted on academic probation.  I did well and then moved to Phoenix after one semester.   After a couple more semesters at a community college out here, I decided to pay my own way finally.  I wanted to know that I had been the reason for my success in college, not because my folks were paying for it, or expecting it, etc.    It was also my safety net in the event I flunked out again…at least I could say it was on my own dime.  Five colleges later, and many years down the road, I finally graduated from Ottawa University, with my entire family in attendance.  I was the first Ritchie (my maiden name) to graduate college.  It felt damn good.   I was seriously in jeopardy of becoming a career student.  

I’ve made mention to this before, but I was a high school speech geek and loved it.  It was actually quite coerced into joining the team by my best friend at the time.  She had been involved in Speech during junior high and drug me kicking and screaming (seriously) to “try-outs” for the Speech Team during my freshman year.  I went in there with a bad attitude and a determination to suck.   All I knew about Speech is that they had this “stupid” category called Impromptu where they gave you a word and you had a couple of minutes to write a short oration about it.  There’s no way I was gonna get up and do that.  And of course, at try-outs, it was Impromptu that they had you practice.  I don’t remember my word, but I remember getting a slight rush as I jotted notes down and then got up to give my spiel.  After that, I think the Speech coach had me read an oration.   And next thing I knew, I was drafted to be part of the team.  I was still reluctant, but told my friend I’d “just try” it.   Next thing I knew, I was one of the top performers on the team and was even “double-entered” during the weekend meets (i.e. competing in two categories instead of one).  I hated having to go to Speech practice, where they videotaped you and reviewed it.  I hated getting up at the crack of dawn to attend meets on Saturday’s.  I hated having to dress up and do my hair and look modest and professional.  I hated that I was always too nervous to eat breakfast and that my legs ached from stress the day after meets.  But I loved the camaraderie, the individual competition portion, and they fact that I stumbled upon something I was actually really good at that didn’t require athletic ability or coordination (and that didn’t have cheerleaders – no offense).  My Mom was my greatest cheerleader and often accompanied me to my meets.  She coached me, encouraged me, edited my speeches, and gave me ways to improve.  Buying my yearly speech outfits became our tradition and I cherish those times with her.  As for me, I loved bringing life and passion to the Speeches and finding topics that really moved me (Mary Fisher’s speech on AIDS, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Walden…).  I always picked speeches and topics that were a little more controversial and off-beat.  It was my way to express myself.  I looked directly in judges (and competitors) eyes.  I learned the art of cadence, inflection, rhythm, and how a little lilt in the voice goes a long way.  I perfected each and every hand moment and body motion.  And, I really discovered my love of writing during these years in which I wrote and performed my own speeches (Original Oratory category) about topics that still resonate in me.  Speech in our area was highly competitive and our rival team was often reported to have partaken in ugly, cheating ways to win.   I qualified to compete at Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale, FL during my senior year but was cut out during the second or third round.  I loved Speech so much that I even coached a junior high team for a year and found great satisfaction in creating little speech geeks.  I hope Kaia is a speech geek too.  

I am compulsive about marketing and advertising.  My pet peeve is seriously stupid advertising or promos – either one that hasn’t been thought through and is cheap, or one that plays on the assumed naivety or gullibility of the public.  I read the backs of cereal boxes and product packaging (every single panel) and study ads, getting totally irritated at incorrect grammar and spelling.  I cannot stand the trend towards kitschy spelling of product/company names such as Kwik Kopy, E-Z Pass, Tastee Freez, Rite Aid, and Sav-On Drugs (some of these courtesy of this site).  They are robbing the English language and I don’t like that.   And, they totally pick on “K’s and S’s.  Many times, I will pick a company for my services based on their name and believe me, the Kwik Kopy’s are off the list.  I don’t care how cheap or good they are.  Kinko’s will do (although that’s a pretty dumb name too). I also despise dumb names for pharmaceuticals like Flomax, Lunestra, Nasonex, Flonase, Ambien (there’s worse ones out there that I’ve come across and just can’t recall at the moment).   And I just found this website name which really irks me:  INCONTENET. Yep, about incontinence.     

So, there ya go.  Some things you probably could have lived without knowing, but I’ve done my posting duty.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I love love love the AmEx story … you GO girl. Now here’s a question … how do you doula and have a day job at the same time?

    Good for you for finishing your long, hard road to a college degree. I never flunked out (although I can’t say my academic performance was always stellar … I did the wild partying thing, too), but I changed majors and schools too many times, so I’m familiar with the many schools and many years down the road part.

    The speech thing is really cool. Being able to speak in front of a crowd is a wonderful skill to possess. I didn’t acquire it until I taught at the university level for several years, and at that point it was trial by fire, lol. I’m still not what I would call great, but I manage to scrape by. I love to remember the look on my boss’ face when I made my first presentation at my first job in industry. He was shocked at how well I did … didn’t occur to him that teaching would have given me some practice at that, lol.

    Cracking up over the marketing and advertising. My husband gets all up in arms over that, too. Me? I’m a spelling geek (not claiming perfection, though, oh no).

  2. Megan says:

    Hey I knew 3 out of those 5 things!! I got to witness #3 as it was happening!! And to be fair, you only partied for a couple of months. I kept it going all year long unfortunately. 🙂

  3. Heather says:

    I love your five things. I am a reformed nail biter–had the worst nails I have ever seen until last January when I just…quit. Actually, I had a cold sore, and the doc scared the bejeebus out of me about eye herpes. And then by the time the cold sore was gone I was like, hm, I think I can do this. But I had to invest in a great many nail tools, and I would store up all of my OCD biting urges until I could sit down at the end of the day and thoroughly clean under them and file them and such. Just a new kind of OCD. The stuff under the nails really grosses me out too, so I have to mess with them every night. And, I still tear the cuticles up.

    I also flunked out of my first year of college, due to love and partying, then went back to community college and eventually got myself a 7 year 4 year degree.

    AND, I was not a speech geek in high school, because we didn’t have that as an option. But I have been sucked into judging policy debate as an adult. Which is arguably much more geeky.

    Loved your tidbits. Just started reading your blog and love it. Hope to run into you in the Phx area birthing world some time in the near future.

  4. Dad says:


    Can’t speak for your mom but…your dad and step-mom were never disappointed in you; even when you flunked out of Ball State.

    It was all part of finding out who you were and finding your place in life. Along the way you found a wonderful husband, father of our grandchild and son-in-law.

    We couldn’t be prouder of you. Merry Christmas. Can’t wait to share part of the season with you.

    Love you,


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