1978: A Love Story

In the summer of 1978, my dad was a skinny sixteen-year old farm boy in rural Illinois. He was tall and wide-shouldered like his father, who once threw him through a screen door at the mere mention of an ear-piercing; he was willowy and wiry like his mother, who set him on a motorcycle at the robust age of three—he couldn’t reach the brakes, so he’d honk the horn until she ran out, jumped on the back of the bike and slowed him down. That day, he and a buddy (Billy or Bobby) had been baling hay or feeding pigs or some equally sweaty, stoic agrarian activity. He was probably wearing overalls and work boots, the sun striping his shoulders in a farmer’s tan, his summer-bronze hair flipping out  from beneath his corn-seed trucker hat. At some point, Billy (full of piss, vinegar and teenage testosterone) suggested that they go catch a movie that night. Dad threw on some jeans and a shirt, jumped in the truck and only began to panic when they turned away from the nearest town.

“Where are we going?”
“To pick up the girls, duh.”
“What girls?”
Billy laughed. Dad swore.

Two towns over, the truck burped over the railroad tracks and stopped in front of a two-story house. My dad took inventory of his unshowered, dusty appearance, the dirt under his fingernails, the smell of dried sweat and humid cigarette hanging on his hair and rolled down the window.

In the summer of 1978, my mom was a curvy fifteen-year old in small-town Illinois. She was tall and full-cheeked and smiled with her whole face; she once concussed herself standing in the bed of a truck in the Homecoming parade with the cheerleaders wearing a gigantic papier-mâché bulldog head and laughed, the effervescent, magnetic sound bouncing around behind the mascot’s bully sneer. Her yearbook was full of friends jealous of her perfectly feathered blonde hair, her notebook was full of creative writing, poems, stories and when she met my dad, she’d been sitting on a lifeguard stand all summer, fluffy-blonde and oil-and-iodine tanned.

Nobody ever told me exactly how it happened, or what she was wearing or even if that mattered. Nobody told me how he covered for the fact that he was unwashed and  completely disgusting and she somehow still found him charming. They saw Grease and ate popcorn; she saved the ticket stubs and clipped the movie review out of the local newspaper, carefully securing them into her scrapbook with tape that would have yellowed and lost its stickiness by the time I laid eyes on the page twenty years later. They’d go back twice more that summer and watch John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John fall in and out of love, “those suh-huh-mer/niiiiiiiiights!”

The pages of her scrapbook over the next eight years are filled with faded ticket stubs, crumbly pressed roses and dry-rotted corsages, drawings of trucks that my dad meticulously drew and filled in with colored pencils, poems that she wrote in her flowy, slanted cursive on tea-stained paper and burned around the edges (which she’s never let me read), a list of “things to do” from my dad that goes into ridiculous detail (“Play Monopoly, Play Scrabble, Play Dodgeball, Make Dale cookies, Make Dale a German chocolate cake, Rub Dale’s feet), cards from Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, Christmas (annotated inside with who gifted what to whom). There are grainy pictures of my scarecrow dad wearing bell-bottoms and a polo shirt he owned in five other colors standing next to my mom, in Keds and a tank top and her disappearing-eyes smile; photos of high school dances (first his, then hers—they went to different schools). There’s a shot of them standing in front of a cardboard palm tree prop at someone’s winter formal—her face is flushed totally red, and you can see all of her molars, she’s laughing so hard; he’s standing up straight in a ruffly dress shirt, his mouth kinked up on one side, a true shit-eating grin. One of dad’s friends had insisted on posing them near the palm tree, because, as my dad says “somebody had ripped ass over there and that’s why we’re laughing so hard.”

There are photos from my dad’s senior  year of  high school; he was homecoming king and prom king and years later I would parade around my grandmother’s attic in the silly felt crowns she’d never gotten rid of. There are photos of my mom’s senior year of high school; wearing her blue cheerleading uniform doing the splits, as Senior Class President, visiting my dad at his college in Nashville, TN. There are a few short stories she wrote for community college writing classes, all vibrant, original narratives from unexpected viewpoints.

In 1985, my mom was standing at the sink at the farm where my dad still lived, washing dishes. My dad was outside, doing something rural and agrarian, wearing overalls, getting dirty. He came inside and my mom had already made him a cold drink of some kind, a gesture I’ve watched her repeat over 26 summers of my life. Her hands were covered in suds; he took a deep drink and began rummaging in his hay-filled pockets.

“Hey,” he said, pulling something out of his pocket, barely getting her attention, “what are you doing for the rest of your life?” I can almost envision the look on her face as she sifted through the stalks of hay in his hand to find her engagement ring.

 

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Nicolas Cage: more range than we think?

Kaylee and I sit right next to each other at work and at least 50% of what we say to each other consists of funny things from the internet strung together into some semblance of a conversation. A favorite go-to is “Don’t sass me haircut.” This line is from one of Andy Samberg’s hilarious impersonations of Nicolas Cage on Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t seen this gem, find it immediately. Sandburg is on point as Cage. Probably a better version of Cage. He has it all. The frightening gaze. The whispering growl. A forehead that just doesn’t quit.

I said this to her the other day and after some laughter she said, “You know he’s the head writer at SNL?” To which I replied, “Are you referring to Nick Cage?” We both giggled. Then at the same moment, we were clearly going down the same road in our minds. Nicolas Cage as head writer. Oh the hilarity. Our laughter grew.

Now, if you’re not following, “Don’t sass me haircut” is from a Weekend Update skit where Samberg-as-Cage is talking to Colin Jost, who is in fact the head writer at SNL. But let’s imagine Cage at the helm for a moment instead. Weekend Update would definitely include explosions. Of course only Cage would know when and where they would go off. The hosts would be terrified, but he would find this same joke hysterical every week. And no more musical act nonsense – only Nick Cage movie trailers. And at the end of episode, Cage will run out on stage dodging the other actors as he jumps into the audience, lifts a middle-age woman out of her chair, knifes through her seat cushion to find a box wrapped in chains. It’s a ticking time bomb. He will yell out “Who knows the code???”

Murmurs start to fill the room. But Nick will not break character. He grabs the man sitting in the next chair by the collar. “We need the codes! We are all going to blow up! Do you understand that??”  People are chuckling uncomfortably now. “This isn’t a joke! People are going to die!” Nick rubs his forehead, pacing up and down the aisle. The room is silent save for his heavy breathing. “I’ve got it!!” He screams much louder than necessary in the face of a girl, so startled, she falls out of her chair. He grabs the box and presses some numbers on the device. The ticking stops. Cage smiles. “You all are safe. Go home and hug your children. My work is done here.” Then he just walks out.

Most of the cast will likely find this entertaining at first, but soon they will realize that the timing and sets may change, it’s really just the same thing over and over and over…

The male cast members will stick around the longest, only because they can’t help themselves. “Awesome! Shit blowing up!” “Dammit, I’ve been tricked again. This is the same thing that happened last week.”

Cage will be oblivious to the fact that he has three cast members left because he’s not only head writer, he’s the star of the show. And he will take those three cast members, bring this thing full circle and create a digital short. Justin Timberlake and Nick Cage shooting guns and looking for treasure. And every time JT tries to sing or say something funny, Cage will punch him in the face.

Until Cage is the last man standing.

And then he’ll end the short with a beautifully heartbreaking ballad he’s been working on for the past five years.

Keep Your Coins, Because Change Makes Me Uncomfortable

I am nine years old and my parents are betraying me. It is three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, and I am sitting in an uncomfortable chair tracking my blood pumping through my body, eyes trained on the blue-green highways in my wrists, straining to see the muscular rhythm of my pulse that tells me I am real and this will all be okay.

I am twenty-three years old and somehow I have betrayed myself. It is ten o’clock on a Monday morning, and I am sitting in an uncomfortable chair, my composure unraveling, eyes trained on the poof-blonde HR thing in front of me, straining to catch a look from my creative director out of the corner of my eye to assure me this will all be okay. 

The morning was peering into tinted glass and holding salespeople at arms’ length and finding all of the cool buttons in a bunch of cars that aren’t ours. This is a normal weekend activity for us, along with looking at new-construction display homes, and it’s fun–until I realize that this time, it’s not just for fun. Dad’s mouth falls into a concrete line, his jaw tensing and mom starts throwing her head back laughing at stuff that isn’t really funny and yes, I end up sitting in a room that smells like disinfectant and old Cheetos for four hours while adults talk about the cost of acquiring a car.

The morning was frantically filling out time sheets for the month of April and racking my brain thinking of what the actual fuck I’d been doing for three weeks and why the work had suddenly dried up, almost exclusively where I was concerned. This is not normal. This is not fun, because somehow everyone else is getting new work. And then I realize that the creative director’s face kind of caved in on itself when handing over that self-evaluation last week and a lot of writing help has been available lately, and yes, I end up sitting for an hour in the only windowless room in the agency that smells like chalky exposed brick and the white-floral perfume of the HR-poof in front of me while adults talk about the cost of removing me from their employ. 

This is the worst part. Try not to throw up, I whisper in my head, you are nine years old and this is not a big deal. I get into the old car one more time, and inhale the smell that doesn’t even register because it’s so familiar and run my fingers over the cloth seats that I know will not make me sneeze. I goodbye the familiar radio dials and the scuffed cup holder, I farewell the rear-view mirror at the perfect height to make faces, I bid the entire almost-all-mine backseat adieu. Praying I am not forgetting anything, not even a rogue fry under the seat, I emerge from the car like a Kennedy: slowly, sadly, with grave respect for the situation. The new midnight-blue minivan is shaped like an egg and I instantly hate it.

This is the worst part. Try not to throw up, I whisper in my head, you are twenty-three fucking years old and this is not the end of it. I walk to my desk one more time, inhaling ink and concrete to keep from exploding, tracking my blood through my veins to keep from scream-crying my misfortune. It is Monday. People are busy. I goodbye my laptop, already locked down from my prying eyes. I farewell each thumbtacked memento as I load it carefully into a cardboard box (what a cliché! what a bad movie scene!), I empty the box of a thousand newly-printed business cards onto my desk uncarefully, like confetti and bid the place adieu. Knowing there are so many things I am forgetting, I emerge from the elevator like a Kardashian: ugly-crying, hysterical, totally focused on only myself in the moment. My new red sedan is in a slant of rare gray sunlight and I instantly hate it.  

I am sitting in the back of my family’s new minivan, guts churning with carbonated discomfort. Hatred will simmer this way every time I am forced into this foreign vehicle. Finding the new van in a parking lot takes about a month. The seat is too firm, the A/C too cold. I like to kick the back of the seat because I am an asshole, and slam the sliding side door. I learn exactly how forcefully I can do this without catching a raised eyebrow from my parents. I fight with my sister about who gets to sit near the window, near the ‘climate control panel,’ because it is also a way to control the radio. Eventually, my eyes find the blue egg in the parking lot or in front of my school without issue; the seat softens under me from dozens of sulky plop-downs. The new-car smell fades when I spill a 24 oz. cappuccino between the bucketed front seats that runs thickly all the way to the hatchback. On warm days, the smell of French Vanilla rises from the carpet like a familiar ghost, and does so without fail for the next 300,000 miles.

I am sitting in the front of my month-old apartment in my two-month-old car, numb to my marrow. Soon, I will be overcome with a bitter flood of fresh anger. Hatred will simmer on the back burner of my consciousness this way for the better part of a year, directed at the agency, directed at the HR department, directed at the U-Haul truck that moves my belongings back into my parents’ house, directed at myself, myself, my own stupid unemployed self. Finding a new venture takes five months, and it lasts exactly one contracted week. My experience is too thin, my qualifications too great. I like to lash out at the people who love me because I am an asshole, and cry behind the shower curtain. I learn exactly how little I can do in a week without catching a raised eyebrow from my parents, and then I throw myself into domesticity, a deranged, homeless housewife with no husband. I fight with my sister about everything, because it is a way to have some control. Eventually, my routine adjusts to taskless days and endless versions of my resume; the edge of my rage softens into a blunt, paralyzing depression. I watch Food Network for hours and plan elaborate, nutritious meals that energize me. When I finally land a gig writing for a company that makes office products, a sense of purpose rises from somewhere in my chest like a ghost. I do not look to anyone to tell me this will all be okay. 
 
I know. It will.
 

 

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Thanks IT guy.

It’s mid morning and your steaming cup of coffee has turned lukewarm. A mostly-eaten bowl of instant oatmeal has been pushed just far enough from your keyboard to say, “I’ve given up on you, but I’m still not ready to throw you in the trash.”

And then it happens.

Your normal routine is punched in the face. You have a computer problem.

And after exhausting your troubleshooting skills that include, but are not limited to trying to complete the exact same action over and over with no success, wiggling your mouse around, turning your computer off and on, and asking other non-computer-knowing co-workers what the problem might be, you realize you have no other choice.

You have to call IT.

That’s right, you don’t even have IT in your office. You can’t walk a few cubicles over to the guy who has earned the right to wear jeans by sitting at his desk and then sitting at other desks when “troubleshooting.” You don’t get to try and open a program 23 times only to have the IT guy essentially breath in the vicinity of your computer and it automatically opens right up.

Nope, you have to enter a ticket on some kind of convoluted online system that’s a mix between 1993 and hieroglyphics. And once you feel that you’ve provided guidance on a problem you know nothing about, you wait. Then you get a phone call from India.

This IT guy is perfectly friendly and helpful, albeit difficult to understand. So this quickly turns to emails back and forth that involve cryptic instructions and screenshots that seem to solve a completely different problem than yours. You aren’t trying to write HTML, you just can’t get a word document to open. Alright, there is clearly a disconnect here, so you are passed on to the next person who is somewhere in the United States, but seems to understand your problem even less. He recommends looping in “your designated IT guy” who is three hours away in an unknown city. Now, you could’ve just reached out to him in the first place, but you have to fill out this damn help ticket which leads you down this twisted candy land path to hell. Okay, that was a little dramatic. But only a little.

So you email your IT guy and explain the situation. He seems annoyed like you are taking him away from his work, which is confusing because isn’t this his work? You ask your question and make the mistake of adding your two cents as to what you think the problem might be. Big mistake.

The IT guy doesn’t want to be told by a writer what she thinks the problem might be. Just like the writer doesn’t want “a great idea for a story” from Francis in accounting. Be we all just can’t help ourselves.

You are quickly put in your place with an email that states in all caps that your little “diagnosis” is definitely not the problem. He then throws around names of other IT guys who you don’t know and terminology that you’ve never heard. Who is Larry and why is he the only one who can help with a website’s security certificate? But before you can answer your own question, Larry has responded to the email with a list of instructions. You try to follow along the best you can, but it feels like putting an IKEA dresser together without directions.

But then…

It works! And you are so happy! Yesss!!! Thank you IT! THANK YOU!!!!!!

And so it goes, this little adventure unless you go get your damn degree in computer science.

The Struggle is Real

Minivans
What is the deal with literally every single person on the road driving a minivan? Are you purposefully testing the minimum speed limit because the backseat of your vehicle is crawling with children and/or dogs or are you on a quest in a Quest to elevate my blood pressure? Do you creep into my lane merely to say “Hello” or is it that your eyes don’t register my bright red Focus occupying the space into which you’re currently edging? These are rhetorical questions, of course. I’ll give you a moment to Google rhetorical since processing the most basic information seems to be difficult for you. Between that and your limited spacial awareness, I assume some kind of synapse delay is at play here.

I wish you’d take as much time brushing up on basic rules of the road (proper blinker use or rudimentary passing techniques, for example) as you did assembling the highly specific decal representation of your family on the back window of your Astro. Seriously. If I were one to speculate (and, dear readers, I think you know by now that I am one to do so, and it’s a soft synonym for the word judge) I’d say that you need to add an extra thirty pounds to your husband along with an unhappy diagonal-line mouth. Your eldest son’s shirt should probably NOT read “Soccer Star” in favor of a more accurate “Future Benchwarmer.” Your own oversized tee-shirt should be smeared with the defecation overflow of your youngest offspring’s bulging diaper. Your daughter in the tutu? I’m sure you tell people that Ava is a ballerina, but I’m betting  that she stood onstage during the recital with her index finger planted firmly up her nose, not doing a damn step of the pre-determined choreography, wearing that $150 costume you were obligated to buy. If you had one of those Zombie-decal families, I might cut you some slack, assuming that the rigor mortis was the cause of your swerving and loose interpretation of speed limits.

But hey, this is all based exclusively on your horrifying driving ability. I’m sure honing the young lives of six tiny humans is way more your strong suit.

 

ItWorks!
First off, I Googled this company, because I wanted to properly include the registered trademark or the commonlaw TM and wouldn’t you know it–even ItWorks! is confused about which is correct. I see more of this shit blowing up my Facebook newsfeed everyday. This is an Avon-lady type business promoting healthy lifestyle products within a ‘network marketing’ format. Look, I’m all for a healthier lifestyle, people. I’m all for entrepreneurship and making extra money. What I am NOT for is seeing my feed blow up with basically illiterate morons touting the benefits of a product that THEY WANT ME TO BUY using sentences like:

This is my arms before and after one wrap…
What is your goals?
I know your somewhat curious about what I keep posting about
Message me if your interested…
This is a lifestyle change, not a instance weigh loss treatment…
This crazy wrap thing sure is crazy!!

Thanks, gal, for clarifying your statement with the exact same adjective you just used and a double exclamation point because it’s soooooo exciting and cray cray. I don’t believe that you’re trying to pay off your college debt because I don’t know how you passed a basic English course with the mistakes (verb disagreement, misspellings, blatant omission of words) I’ve seen in some of your posts.

And I understand that we’re human and imperfect and all that jazz, but let’s be honest here, you guys–messaging is important. Words are important and these people are losing credibility and, therefore, business because they can’t properly articulate themselves in writing. If Nike’s website was all jacked up with misspellings and crappy grammar, I don’t think I’d buy their products, no matter how wonderful they claimed to be. I’m not criticizing the company, since whatever they’re doing seems to be working and helping people. Read. Re-read your post. Read it out loud. If you’re brave enough to post pictures of your stretch-marks in a ‘before’ shot, you should be brave enough to spell check the damn post as well. C’mon. Straighten up your shit, people. ItWorks! better when you don’t sound like a bunch of demented hobos trying to sell magic beans out of your trench coat Facebook page.

 DISCLAIMER: I am not frustrated with the distributors of this product for whom English does not pose a monumental struggle. It’s not about the product, lest you think I am a grade-five ass-nugget for criticizing. Or you dub me as ‘jealous.’ Misuse of that word is another post entirely. I’m not kidding.

The Customer Service Voice

You know what I’m talking about right? The totally fake voice people in the service industry use when explaining the specials or breaking down interest rates or asking what type of bread you want with your damn soup? I’m not a psychologist, but I theorise that it’s a coping mechanism, developed to deflect and distance oneself from an onslaught of uppity assholes. I remember working retail. My eyeball starts twitching the moment someone pronounces the word coupon kyou-pahn, a direct side effect of one-too-many bitchy soccer moms on a mission to save money on cleats that would fall apart before the season ended.

Face-to-face, this is pretty unsettling, but it completely unhinges me on the phone. It’s bad enough that we can barely hear each other without some Johnny Headset’s cartoon phone voice complicating the matter. Normally, this involves ‘ma’am-ing’ me in drippy condescension, combined with a voice generally reserved for puppies, geriatrics and babies (also, why are we screaming with dramatic inflection at these poor souls?), with the roller coaster uptick “MMMMKAAAAYYYYY?” at the end of each phrase.

So why the fuckery of the Customer Service Voice? In girls, it’s usually a higher pitched, whiny nasal thing, a ‘Think yew sooooh muh-chhh!’ mix of Duluth cheerleader and that Valley Girl from the beginning of ‘Baby Got Back.’ I have also heard a flowing, almost Trans-Atlantic, almost super villain, lower-pitched voice from a chick at a restaurant I frequent for lunch. She sounds like a game show host. A really fucking cheesy game show host and I always feel talked down to when interacting with her. Can’t you just speak to me like a person? Can’t you just drop the bullshit? I’m not acting like some doe-eyed idiot, so you don’t have to present my lunch to me like it’s a new car on the Price is Right. Because it isn’t. It’s goddamn lentil soup.

 

Long-Distance Relationships

These were invented by the Devil, did you know that? Nah, that’s a joke. They were invented by masochists who love to drive and talk on the phone. Your entire existence revolves around the weekend. You’re either cleaning up your own place for a guest or packing a bag to be a guest. You never get anything of any substance done on the weekends. That shelf you want to paint? Hope you get off work in time to do it Monday through Thursday, because if not, you’re fucked. That show you like to watch right after work? Uh, turn it off, pal, because your significant other wants to talk to you about boring shit like ‘her day,’ ‘her life,’ and ‘missing you.’ Also, guess who’s great at cooking for one? Nobody. The answer is nobody. If I ever get a chance to be on Food Network (which will never happen) that would be my angle–Cooking for One–and it would be depressing as shit. Tears would be an ingredient in every dish. “Try to repress all that resentment while we deglaze this pan with some white wine.”

Meanwhile, every single couple in existence will come out of the woodwork like a bunch of PDA-starved cockroaches and walk right through your path. There will be couples at the laundromat, canoodling on a dryer. There will be couples holding hands while they cross the street (IMPORTANT: do not hit them with your car; then you’re no better than the fucking minivan people). There will be couples at the gym, spotting each other and high fiving after they lift. They might even kiss while you pedal furiously on your stationary bike. You will drink red wine, turning it into a game when another high school classmate gets engaged. Old people holding hands will cause you to throw up in your mouth at the grocery store. You will go home to drop off some stuff at your parents’ house and find them with wine glasses in front of the chiminea on their back deck. Commercials will reduce you to tears. You will laugh, high-pitched and hollow and fake when someone at your weekly volleyball game asks you out on a date because “You’re always here alone.” You will become irritated at the smallest things, like minivan people and internet illiteracy and the mere inflected sound of human voices because you are walking through your life with this invisible leash that allows a certain wide circle of freedom, but that could, at any moment, yank you back into the cruel reality of being alone.

And that, folks, is the struggle. And it’s fucking real.

 

 

 

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Brainstorming and pie.

Many readers (alright, reader, singular) ask me how I come up with blog ideas. I’m never really sure how to answer that. I suppose it starts like many ideas – through brainstorming. The beginning stages of brainstorming for me are concepts that spring to life in my brain (hello, captain obvious) and usually die before ever making the jump to paper. I’ll have a random thought like: “If you really think about it, isn’t it strange that women wear make-up and paint their nails? I mean, who was the first woman to paint some kind of substance on the folds of skin over her eyes, look in the mirror (or I don’t know, her reflection in a lake), and say, “That’s better.”

Then I think for another minute. Yep, that’s pretty strange.

Crickets.

Alright, I guess that’s not an idea with legs. Next.

This progresses to writing down idea after idea and the same game where I think it through and if I get to “crickets” too soon, I move onto the next idea. If I do stumble upon an idea that seems like it might go somewhere, it’s time to write without stopping. Yep, I’m sure this is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have writers block, try to write for a few minutes straight without stopping. I promise the words will flow like water. Now, I can’t promise you the words will be “good” or “coherent”, but they will be out of your head.  And then you can read fun things like, “I’m still writing because I’m not allowed to stop because I’m being punished apparently and I have to keep writing and I have nothing to actually write.” I mean if that’s not gold…

Okay, I’ve done my forced writing. Now it might be time to mind map. I usually use mind-mapping when I’m trying to come up with the right word for a headline or product name at work, but it doesn’t just have to be for word association. What the hell is mind-mapping, you ask? People use this tool in different ways for different purposes, but I like to start with a word or an idea and without thinking, write down the next word or idea the previous word triggers. Notice I really don’t do much thinking in any of these brainstorming activities? The only downside to mind-mapping is that you might figure out that you’re screwed up in the head. It’s like a self-prescribed ink blot test. Apple makes me think of pie makes me think of whipped cream makes me think of pie makes me think of pumpkin makes me think of pie. Or you might determine you just want a damn piece of pie. I mean it really could go either way.

Now, it’s probably time for a little break. Maybe a nap. I like to get away from what I’ve written, even if just for a little bit.

Then it’s time for re-writing and editing. Taking all the clay and sculpting it into something. And hopefully it’s more of a beautiful statue than a misshapen bowl, which is all I ever made in high school ceramics. And this stupid thing called a rain stick.

Of course if all this fails, it’s just straight plagiarism.

You may be thinking, “this doesn’t sound very fun,” and you would be right. At least some of the time, anyway. There is a great quote by a writer named Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I think there is some truth to that. It’s like working out, which isn’t exactly a rip-roaring good time, but it feels pretty great when it’s finished.

So, there you have it. Now I should probably go work out since all I think about it pie.

Imaginary Awards for Surviving Everyday Adulthood

Identified That Weird Smell in Apartment

Eliminated Source of That Weird Smell in Apartment

Went to the Mailbox Daily This Week

Paid Rent on Time

Emptied Dishwasher Upon Completion of Wash Cycle, Instead of Grabbing Forks at Random and Filling Sink with Dirty Dishes

Drank an Entire Gallon of Milk Before Expiration Date

Actually Used my Useless French Minor

Actually Used my Useless Communications Major

Did Math in my Head

Found my Way Home When Lost Without Referring to Google Maps

Didn’t Punch Anyone in the Face Today

Didn’t Explode on Barnes and Noble Employee When Sold Out of Book I Needed THISVERYMOMENT

It Has Been 100 Days Since My Last Work Wardrobe Malfunction

Bought Actual Groceries Instead of Just Cereal, Spinach and Beer

Only Cried at the Miserable, Soul-Crushing Mediocrity That Is My Life for Like, an Hour Tops This Week

Didn’t Tase the Asshole Following Me Around the Circle K Whispering “Lemme put it in yo’ butt.”

Refrained from Screaming “Fuck you!” at Inanimate Objects, e.g. the corner I stubbed my toe on, my car, the oven, etc.

Did Laundry to Avoid Massive Pile of Dirty Clothes That Even Mrs. Cleaver Would Hate Tackling

Prevented Early-Onset FUPA with Crunches and Cardio

Consumed Mass Quantities of Hummus in Living Room, Not in Bed

Listened to That Voicemail Right Away, Instead of Next February Along with Fifty-Eight Other Voicemails

Pretended to Care About Coworker’s Weekend

Didn’t Feign Headache to Avoid Plans and Read on the Couch

 

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Tweets that never were…

Let’s play a little game called “What if Twitter had been around since always?”

@chriscolumbus

@QueenIsabella is a sugar mama. Let the adventure to the new world begin #nina #pinta #santa maria #1492 #bestyearever

@bobdylan

The wind blows but does no one hear it? #thinkaboutit

@georgewashington

My little cherry tree pic.twitter.com/1xn8Hx4 #nofilter #noliterallynofilter

@franksinatra

#vegasbound with @dean @sammy #TGIF pic.twitter.com/584h3hY0

@napoleon

I think I have a complex #fail

@thomasedison

Amazing dinner of calves head, boiled mutton & cured meats & I invented the light bulb today #humblebrag #awesome #lettherebelight

@marilynmonroe

Soooo excited to sing for @JFK tonight! #blessed

@abelincoln

Doing a little speechwriting in my favorite hat & can’t help but wonder why it’s just as hot indoors as it is outdoors? #mybeardissweating

@baberuth

M3][\pfaf8934-q hm4c;lkeaxrj;2p0382u3zzzzzzzzzzzz

@pocahontas

New perfume line is finally out! Hint of maize and river reeds #willowfantasy #chic #lovinlife

@lewisandclark

Just want to send out a little PSA while we’re out on the trail #dysentarysucks #thatsallwereallyknow #oregontrailproblems

@einstein

Feeling #bored so here’s a pic of the day I discovered the theory of relativity #tbt #genius #takethatkanye #e=mc2  pic.twitter.com/4Fi379gS

@elvis

Come on ladies. Quit throwing your braziers at me onstage. #notreallyahounddog #justkiddingiam #findmeontinder

People Who Have Looked at my LinkedIn Profile This Month

LinkedIn now sends me a list of all the weirdos creepin’ on my page. It’s usually not very many people, but the cast of characters frequently makes me scratch my head, laugh or curl into the fetal position and scream-cry for the better part of an hour.

I’m dramatic. It’s endearing, I promise.

A few items to keep in mind: my LinkedIn profile image features me making an adorably awkward surprised face à la Zooey Deschanel with a duo-horned viking helmet perched askew atop my noggin; I work in a creative field wherein this is not a poor choice; the rest of my profile is pretty vanilla.

Behold, the players in my sexual nightmares:

Executive Who Actually Works for My Company

This seems normal. We’ve spoken on the phone and never met in person so it would make sense to match my voice to a face. And maybe see what other people have to say about me. And y’know, my actual work experience. Which, I mean, not to cramp your style or anything, but I’ve worked here for almost three years now. Get your shit together, woman.

This might be the only person who has a legitimate reason to peruse my profile.

Obese Graphic Designer at Highly Prestigious Ad Agency

You have obviously only clicked on my picture for two reasons: one, your agency is vaguely looking for a copywriter and B) the stunning combination of high cheekbones and whimsical Nordic headpiece. Your name is Daniel or Christopher but you definitely go by ‘Dan’ or ‘Wayne’ or something equally bland that makes zero sense—and you felt the need to express that parenthetically on your LinkedIn profile. And you are sweaty. Even from the thumbnail in this eblast I can see that you are a sweater wearing a sweater, Daniel ‘Wayne’ VanBuren. You are glazed with perspiration even in the most Game-of-Thrones-y winter weather. You glisten in meetings exerting no physical energy. Oh, hey, look—you’ve ‘liked’ every single one of my recent account updates. Sweet. Feel like we’re really bonding, Danny-Wayne.

Old Executive

Hello there, ancient one. Let me speak in the tongue of your people, in a soft, soothing way you’ll understand. You look quite vintage, with your navy pinstripe suit and your daguerreotype expression. If it weren’t for the color photo and the obvious digital format, I would SO think you had a son who fought in the Civil War. Did YOU fight in the Civil War? How are you the CEO of a major company somewhere in Phoenix if you are also a post-antebellum zombie? And how did you conquer rigor mortis to click on my delightful photo and peruse my page with your undead eyes? I have so many questions, Yankee Wraith!

Oh hey, you want to connect with me because we dated in a previous life when I was a blushing debutante killed by the errant and tragically inaccurate gunfire of an adjacent street duel? Sounds about right, based on the week I’ve had.

PR Associate with Obviously Outdated Picture:

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. You graduated college the year I graduated sixth grade (Vitamin C was all the rage that year, I’m sure you remember). I can’t do math in my head because I’m a writer, but damn your picture looks like you’re still in college. Not in a ‘wow-you’re-ageless’ way—more like a ‘what-the-fuck’s-goin’-on-with-that-haircut’ way. At least you sent me an actual message with an actual call-to-action, but oh, Kevin. I think you are confused about the use of this site. You see, this is where you go to find your next coworker, or stalk people from your alma mater, or cry on a random Thursday in your parents’ basement because you are unemployed. It is not, Kevin, the place you go to throw around words like ‘bro out,’ ‘hella sweet,’ and, most revoltingly ‘totes awesome to meet you.’

You’re a disgrace to your profession, sir. And not immortal. You’re not fooling anyone.

Annoyingly Perky Rival Copywriter 

‘OMG what have you been up to lately it’s been so crazy with work how have you been i’m in NEW YORK working at CHIAT DAY it’s pretty intense your looking so gooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!’

These are real words, written by a real person with a REAL good job. I can’t even contain the murderous rage coursing through my body as I read this sham of a Humblebrag. You were thrown every bone in college (ha, no pun intended, but hey, if the lucite stripper-heel fits…), you delivered little jabby insults and undercuts in the squeakiest, nicest package, you cannot even effectively punctuate a sentence and you’re putting your slutty, rich eyes on my little LinkedIn profile? You deign to look at my mediocre resume with your worldly experience? I’ve seen your Instagram account; go back to South Africa and leave my page and my sanity alone.

You successful, blissful harpy, you.

Recruiters:

Looking earnestly into the camera of your profile pictures, I will have no less than three messages from you Becky/Tiffany/Ashley. You are always attractive, well-spoken and friendly as hell until you blow up my inbox like Hiroshima. I hate you and I hate that I hate you. I hate that you always have some cakewalk job that I can never seem to obtain. I hate that I went to college with you and you couldn’t find me a damn thing when I needed you. Feast or famine, eh Becky/Tiffany/Ashley?

Quick note here: next time I get laid off, please feel free to blow up my inbox. Until then, while I am gainfully employed, kindly email the shit out of someone else. Kthxbye.

Obvious Sociopath:

Your picture screams ‘I Will Murder You.’ Underbite, milky complexion, comb-over, pleated khakis. Pleated khakis are the uniform of choice for murderers. What were you thinking, dude? You’re literally holding a shovel and your eyes are closed. This is the absolute worst photo imaginable. Oh, that’s comforting, you went ahead and  liked my marital status and my birthday. Because I’m almost positive you’re working on a complementary date that will look amazing next to the day I was born! I’m sure you’ve got some complex number code so it’s symmetrical or spells out ‘LOVE ME’ or some creepy shit. I will connect with you out of fear. None of your jobs  have a common thread! A construction site, an oil rig, a diner, a bar, a fireworks stand in Houston, TX for eight years. Must be slang for prison. You are terrifying, sir. Well done.

 

Love. Don’t Love.

You can look at the life in two ways: the glass is half full and the glass is half empty. Neither is completely accurate, but I try to look at mostly full glasses with a few empties. Therefore I’ve decided to share some things I love coupled with some things I don’t love so much. It’s complaining, but with a positive spin!

Love.

The smell of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen. This coconut scent can seat me right back in my lifeguard chair. I spent so much of my teens outside and the smell of that sunblock brings up waves of happy memories. Let’s be honest. When you put on sunscreen, you’re about to do something fun. It’s never “time to study with flashcards, better put on my sunscreen” or “need to sit down and do my taxes, pass the Coppertone” or “about to give a boardroom presentation, where’s my sunscreen?”

A movie at the theater. I love that moment when the lights dim in the theater and voices turn to whispers. The glow from the screen casts light and shadows on faces in the audience. Everyone stares up in anticipation while a soundtrack of soda slurping, popcorn crunching, and candy package crinkling ripples throughout the theater. And then the best part: the previews begin.

The first bite of a good hamburger. I love a good burger. In-n-Out, Umami, Five Guys, the Habit, the list goes on. Regardless the burger of choice, there is nothing better than that first bite. Everything is in perfect proportion. The softness of the bun marries the juiciness of the burger. And it’s only made more exquisite by the crisp lettuce and fresh tomatoes. You finish the bite with just the right crunch from where buttered bun met the grill and that flavorful sauce that holds it all together. Hashtag hunger pangs. That’s right, I spelled out hashtag.

Laughing so hard you cry. This is good laughter. This is great laughter. I laugh everyday, but every now and then something is just so damn funny my laughter has to also come out of my eyeballs. It’s the best. Just don’t laugh so hard you pee. Unless you’re looking to make someone else laugh so hard they cry.

Cold, hard cash. I mean who doesn’t, right?

Alright, time for a half empty glass…

When you buy something and apparently the price tag is affixed with super glue. Why? I don’t want a red clearance sticker as part of my bathroom decor, so why is it still stuck to my soap dish? You know you try to lift those corners ever so carefully. You’re so close. You might be able to get this thing off! Nope. The middle clings on for dear life. You scratch at it with your nails which only ends with sticky gunk under your nails.

Magazine How-To’s. How to create the messy, yet effortless ponytail. Simply find a hairstylist. Preferably with clients like Beyonce, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lopez. Have this stylist wash and condition your hair with products that cost more than your rent. Now, have said stylist give you a blow out while you sip champagne. She’ll follow this up with giant hot rollers and a spritz of texturizing spray. You know, for volume. Now she will section your hair off into different pieces and swoop, swoop, swoop, like a magic trick, your hair is in a messy, effortless ponytail.

Cold sliced bread and butter at restaurants. Come on. Dry, spongy sliced bread sitting in a basket. Or on a plate. Then there are those flat cubes of butter wrapped in gold paper. You take your knife through it and it’s definitely met with resistance. You then attempt to apply this glob of butter to the bread only to create a hole in the middle. Why the hell can’t everyone just serve biscuits? Or beignets…

Just wanted to point out I described more things I love than things I don’t love. Glass. Half. Full.