Whenever you are having a particularly frustrating day, and need to vent, look no further than the following website. Trust me, if you give it a try, you’ll know why I felt compelled to share it with my readers.
I know there must be a whole slew of you who have jumped aboard the plant-obsessed bandwagon, and who treasure your new jungles as much as if they were your children. Trust me, I can relate, though this isn’t the first time in my life that I have gone plant crazy and filled my home with living green things.
The first time I went overboard with buying and maintaining plants was back in 2000, when I amassed a collection of over 70 indoor plants in a 2 bedroom cottage-style apartment, and I loved it. The idea of being surrounded by lush greenery was incredibly appealing, and I was swept off my feet until I went through a divorce which shifted my priorities and pulled me away from my plant hobby.
I took such a sharp about-face that I only had six indoor plants for many, many years, leading into the spring of 2020. Then shortly after lockdown hit, I found myself at a plant nursery in May and purchased three lovely plants. Little did I know that I was about to fall deep into plant obsession. By July, I had over 40 indoor plants, and now, I have about 60 indoor plants. Some were purchased through Etsy, many were purchased from a local supplier (@Brandontheplantguy on IG), and I even bought some from eBay and Amazon.
Though I feel a certain amount of embarrassment over the fact that my home now declares to everyone that I am a crazy plant lady, I take great comfort in knowing that such an obsession is almost trendy these days. The truth is, houseplants are more popular than ever, especially in millennials who are pushing against the idea of having children, and who are instead opting for a collection of Hoya or Senecio plants which will never demand that the plant parent pony up for a college education. That being said, having a plant habit can set one back quite a bit, not only in the cost of the plants, but also the planters, spring water, plant food, insecticides, etc.
Those of you who aren’t captured by the idea of collecting a bunch of potted living things might be scratching your heads and wondering why people have suddenly gone plant crazy. The COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns forced us all to stay at home, which meant that suddenly, our home environments took on a greater significance. This is why there was a surge in home improvement projects which kept the big box home improvement stores packed during a time when many other businesses were floundering. Plants certainly can beautify a home, and they also clean the air, but probably the most compelling feature about houseplants which appeals to most folks is the fact that they are living things, and with a bit of nurturing, they will grow and thrive.
That being said, plants don’t always thrive, and when they start to droop or otherwise show that they aren’t happy, plant owners may find themselves dealing with a lot of frustration. Another thing I have noticed about now being responsible for a brood of 60 indoor plants is that I often get pissy when a plant decides to become finicky. It can make a plant parent downright neurotic to try to determine what a failing plant needs. Maybe there’s too much sunlight and the leaves are getting scorched. Or maybe there isn’t enough sunlight. Could it be that the plant needs more/less humidity? Is the plant getting too much/not enough water? Are there pests on the plant which need to be eradicated? What, what, WHAT does this plant want or need?
Even the task of taking care of the plants which are doing well (thankfully, 99% of my plants are doing extremely well) is a daunting one. The one day per week when I look at all my plants and determine which need to be watered is a day I have begun to dread, because it takes a full hour or more for me to complete the task, all the while lugging jugs of spring water, plant fertilizer, orchid plant food spray, neem oil, my watering can, my plant log, and a stepladder all throughout the second and third floors of my home. It’s exhausting.
I know that plant people can relate to what I am about to say regarding plants which stubbornly refuse to do well despite everything, especially popular plants which are supposedly “easy care” plants. When a plant begins to show that it isn’t happy, I honestly feel like I have failed the plant. I get frustrated and want to figure out the solution to the plant’s woes. If the plant refuses to rebound, and is close to its demise, I adopt a very “fed up” attitude, and will very abruptly dump a plant in the trash or banish it outside. It’s the best way for me to disconnect from that irksome creature and get on with my life.
I now have a trusted list of plants I gravitate towards so that I don’t tear my hair out in frustration. Here are the plants which I truly do enjoy, because they are all doing well in my home:
- all my Zamioculcas zamiifolias (including zenzi, raven)
- all but one of my Hoyas (incuding shepherdii, pubicalyx, retusa, australis, multiflora, tricolor, carnosa compacta, lacunosa, and obovata)
- my Monstera adansoniis
- my Philodendron brasils
- the one Scindapsus pictus which didn’t die
- my Sansevieria starfish
- my Pachira aquatica
- my Beaucarnea recurvata
- my large Senecio rowleyanus, my Senecio herrianus, and my Senecio radicans
In stark contrast, there are plants which I have had little to no success with despite all my efforts. The plants which have stirred up a great deal of frustration include ALL peperomias, n’joy pothos, Tradescantia multiflora (quite possibly the messiest plant ever), Othonna capensis (tried two of these plants and finally gave up), and Begonia maculata. I now avoid those plants in the same way I would avoid a person I didn’t like, and certainly would never welcome them into my home again.
In conclusion, the healthiest way to approach plant ownership is to educate yourself on the particular needs of the plants you have, and if a plant begins to falter, just let it go instead of beating yourself up for not being able to save it. I actually found out that many nurseries will keep stocking certain plants because they know that the plants will be fussy. Since many people are stubborn about trying to succeed in nurturing a plant, they will often purchase the same type of plant repeatedly in hopes of somehow figuring out its needs. I know I did this with Scindapsus, Begonia maculata, Pilea peperomioides, Hoya wayettii, and every time one of these plants would die, I would take the loss personally, as if I was totally responsible. I’ve learned that it is not worth the heartache, not to mention the financial expense, to keep buying those plants.
On March 5th, when I was waiting to board the plane which would take me from LAX to Haneda, Tokyo, I walked by a Michael Kors store and saw a nice ivory puffer jacket on display. I took it off the hanger and tried it on, and instantly loved it. My reasoning was that since it was a puffer jacket, it would be incredibly warm and would keep me snuggly and comfortable while I was in Sapporo. I promptly decided to purchase it, and decided to wear it out of the store. The sales associate asked me to take it off so that she could scan the tag, whereupon another associate cut the tags off before I could stop her. Though I was upset, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to return the item.
About 30 minutes after I purchased the jacket, I placed it in my carry on bag, deciding that I should wait until I arrived in Japan to wear my new jacket. Then I put the jacket to the test, not in chilly and snowy Sapporo, but in Sendai, which was far more moderate in temperature, with highs in the mid-40’s. Well, I ended up freezing in that darling jacket, and because I purchased the jacket for warmth and not to make a fashion statement, I tucked the jacket away in my luggage and vowed to return it once I was back home in the states.
I returned to Los Angeles on March 19th, and learned that the area was on full lockdown, with retail stores closed. So began the ongoing contact with MichaelKors.com, engaging the chat function, calling local stores, and emailing them regularly, each time inquiring when they thought stores might reopen. This was a major headache for me to deal with, but since I was in possession of a $213 jacket which conferred almost no protection against the cold, I persisted. I was told that return windows were being extended as a result of the lockdown, and I didn’t need to worry about the return window closing on me.
Then on June 29th, I called a local MK store, and not only did someone answer the phone, but she also stated that the store was indeed open to the public. I rushed over to the store the next day, but as I was walking towards the store, I got a funny feeling in my gut that something was about to go very wrong. I walked into the store, explained my situation, and as soon as I mentioned that I had purchased the jacket at the Michael Kors store at LAX, the salesperson grimaced and said, “Oh, I don’t think we can process the return here. You see, the store you went to isn’t owned by Michael Kors, it’s owned by Hudson Group”.
The salesperson tried to enter the SKU, but the number was not accepted by the register, and he told me that I had to contact the phone number on the purchase receipt. By this time, I was fuming, frantically dialing the numbers as I exited the store, cursing under my breath the entire time. I called the number, only to be told that wasn’t the proper number, and that I had to call yet another number.
Little did I know that the second phone call would connect me to the bossiest, bitchiest, rudest woman I have encountered in years. She was VERY nasty to me and kept interrupting me as I told her the situation. It took everything in me to remain calm as I spoke with this witch. She explained that Michael Kors was franchised, yadda yadda yadda…but all I cared about was, would they allow me to return the item? Finally, she stated that the Hudson Group would issue a return, provided I sent numerous specific images of the jacket, a pic of the receipt, and proof that I had been in Japan from March 5th through March 19th.
I sent all the information over, then heard absolutely nothing. So I re-sent the emails from a different email address, thinking maybe there was an issue with the email server. Still nothing. I called her once again, and she got nasty with me, stating that she hadn’t received my emails, and why was I wasting her time? Then she provided a different email address when I implored her to do so, and I re-sent all emails from two different email servers once more.
Once again, I heard nothing. So I sent the Hudson representative another email yesterday, marked urgent, which asked her to please get in contact with me if she received that particular email. She called me today, stating that she had only received the one email, then started yelling at me, stating that I hadn’t followed directions, that I was wasting her time, and that she didn’t have to help me at all. When I tried asking her to check her spam folder, she interrupted me, started yelling again, and HUNG UP ON ME.
I re-sent all the emails yet again, from both email servers, this time with hands shaking in rage. Imagine my surprise when she responded and said that she received all my emails, FINALLY!
This battle isn’t over yet, though. Tomorrow I will mail the jacket to her office, at my expense, and wait to see if a refund is actually granted. This woman should NOT be in customer service.
UPDATE 8/10/2020: I finally received a refund several days ago!
People often ask me what it is like to be up on stage, very scantily clad and fully cognizant of the fact that I am being scrutinized by a panel of judges. There is so much about competing that is appealing, fascinating and inspiring that I can’t imagine my life without this constant pressure I place on myself to pursue IFBB pro status. However, there are many strange and frustrating elements which competitors deal with and which can challenge their determination in the sport.
The thrill of strutting out onstage and showing off a hard-earned physique is incredibly empowering, especially when a competitor gets first call-out. The obvious physical transformation is invariably accompanied by an emotional and spiritual overhaul. The audience sees the best of this since they are attending a show. But the backstage world which they don’t see is incredibly colorful and revealing.
Before the competition, we all look like hoodlums, bums or like we just crawled out of bed, clad in baggy, dark clothing. We are all sporting dark skin hues which are more reminiscent of mahogany furniture than human skin. Our food coolers are packed with chicken, nut butter, rice cakes, and possibly booze for the celebration afterwards.
Every show starts out with a mad scramble after the morning meeting for a prime spot backstage to prep. The ladies cluster around the few full-length mirrors that have been placed around the perimeter of the room. The men cluster around the weights.
It can be maddening and stressful to be in the company of competitors who are so carb-depleted that they are cranky, forgetful and unable to focus on basic streams of conversation. Some are so weak and dehydrated that they are on the verge of passing out. A competitor may have a meltdown because his music cd was misplaced. The overpowering odor of spray tanner admixed with the telltale gaseous emissions of very high protein diets is commonplace. Some abdominals are grossly distended by a whole host of things which can cause bloat. A competitor may be freaking out because of a broken suit strap, or makeup being spilled onto a suit, now ruining it…with no backup suit on hand.
There are meltdowns with makeup and hair. There are lost earrings and shoes. The fear of water exposure is at an all-time high.
Then once everyone is prepped, there is the interminable wait. When a division and class are announced, there is a mad scramble to get in line. Individuals who bring Bikini Bite suddenly become the most popular people backstage.
Then suddenly a competitor is onstage. Somehow all the stress from being backstage, from dieting and training for months all melts away as that person now has a chance to do turns and show off a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. Those few moments make it all worthwhile.