Tag Archives: 365 Project

4 Notes on Better Gift Card Giving

26 Dec

I’m going to go ahead and venture into uncharted waters here.  I’m going to explore the unexplored – to encroach upon indecency.  I want to talk about gift card etiquette.

Let me start by saying that gift cards are a lovely thing.  They’re the perfect gift, if well-employed.  Being given a well-considered and well-delivered gift card for a special celebration can provoke a grown man to pee himself with glee (also known as Glee Pee or #gleepee).  In return for their generosity, the buyer typically receives discounts or a free gift card of a smaller amount at their favorite stores.  Thus, when properly employed, the gift card is the gift that keeps on giving.  When not properly employed, it’s a last-minute, lazy gift.  While still appreciated, it struggles to leave an impact.

So here are some of what I believe are useful gift card etiquette tips.  Somewhere out there, I’m sure there’s an incredibly official and highly lauded version of this already that the world has agreed on. If such a thing exists, I hereby declare my willful ignorance.  I am the original and only source for final consultation on these matters.

Be Sure to Notate the Amount on the Card. There are several ways to do this. You can simply write in a card what the amount is,

This is the look of grateful confusion.

along with a personal message.  You can write it in Sharpie on the back of the gift card itself.  Most stores have made this easy on you by setting up the world’s easiest Ad Lib so you can stop scratching your head on how to approach the issue.  “Happy Shopping from __________.  The amount on your card is _______________ and can be used in store or online.”  Or if you’re being totally awesome and shopping small business, you’re dealing in paper gift certificates and this is already handled for you (one more reason to shop small).  No matter which way you prefer, please don’t overlook this detail.  Though we’re thankful for any gift of any size, the difference between the way you thank someone for a $5 gift card and a $500 gift card are significantly different.   It’s like a piece of candy and a car, folks.  Give us a little guidance.

Do Your Homework. Now, I may be a little old school in this thinking, but I’m a firm believer that any gift that is given should be given with great thought.  There are some occasions which call for gifts of light and casual measure; hostess gifts, for example, are the kind that show appreciation for someone without making a personal commentary.  But when you’re buying birthday, anniversary, or holiday gifts, the occasion calls for some forethought.  You can say just as much with a gift card as with a hand-selected gift if you just put the same amount of thought into it.  Consider the stores your recipient likes to shop at.  Extra points if you pick a place the person would like to shop at, but doesn’t do so frequently because of the price points of that store.  If you give me a $50 gift card to a shop I usually can’t justify spending money in, you’ve just given me the best guilt-free shopping trip ever.  More bonus points if you check out the store’s price levels beforehand to gauge an appropriate amount.  a $10 gift card to a store that carries $250 shirts probably isn’t the best choice for a personal and impactful gift.

Get Creative. Consider grouping cards together or selecting a gift certificate for a  particularly great location.  For example, by purchasing a gift certificate for the movie theater and a gift certificate for a restaurant nearby, you’re giving someone the gift of an evening out.  Or if you give someone a voucher to a location near where they vacation or have always wanted to, you’ve just reminded them that you know what they love and given them a reason to go visit it.  Or even just coming up with clever labels for the way you give the gift (e.g. give them a gift card to a liquor store and a bake shop and label them “naughty” and “nice”).  Anything you can do to show that you didn’t just pick a gift card lazily off the kiosk is one step closer to a meaningful gift.

Be a Better Recipient. This is by no means required, but it sure does go a long way to show appreciation by sending the giver a text, call, or casual note mentioning a second thank you for the gift and what it was you just purchased with it.  I bought my brother and sister-in-law a gift certificate to an upscale restaurant for Christmas.  Ten months later, I got a text from him thanking me for a great anniversary dinner.  It’s a fantastic feeling to be thought of and to see how the person chose to use it.

So there you have it: four things I think everyone should bear in mind with gift cards.  I’d even go so far as to say that if you don’t want to consider the above when you’re giving a gift card or certificate, you might as well just stuff money in the card and scribble your name.

It will leave the same impact, but require less of you. 

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Oatmeal and a Dream

25 Dec

My Christmas present this year came in the form of a dream.

Bear with me: I’ll be relatively brief.

I had been hired as an intern for an incredibly rude and demanding woman.  It was supposed to be an elite position – one that people fight to get.  So all the new hires were in her apartment, all dressed exactly the same, and all hanging on her every word.  After she dished out the first task, I was feeling pretty angsty and decided to go for a run in the hallway.

Please note: running has invaded my dreams.

But even running made me feel nervous inside, so instead I decided to prop myself up against a wall in the hallway and play with some sticky finger frogs.  Not sure where those came from – I think the kids toy fish pond at my family reunion when I was 8 years old.   I say outside the door and watched intern after intern rush out her apartment door all haggard and hurried, hoping for their lives that they wouldn’t make a mistake.

After I’d had enough of my finger frog fun, I ventured back into her apartment and slipped in unnoticed.  She whipped her head around, thinking of her next task and demanded that I carry it out.  I took a nice big breath, grabbed my stuff, and told her I’d rather not. She was confused and asked what exactly I thought I was doing.  I told her I decided this wasn’t for me and I was going to split.

And so I did.

It was epic.  It was like the end of The Devil Wears Prada, when Anne Hathaway decides that she wants to get back on track with her life and away from the pressure and stress from Meryl Streep.  Glorious indeed. 

I woke up feeling fantastic.  Today begins the first true day of vacation.  I have quit my job in my dreams and I have been liberated by my imagination.  Here’s to one full week of no stress, no angst, no pressure.

Merry Christmas, all.  May you find a way to escape your everyday stress and simply enjoy the day. 

Today’s chuckle shall be brought to you by The Oatmeal.  If you don’t follow The Oatmeal, or you think I’m talking about a food and not a web comic, you should consider changing your ways and forever brightening your life by paying it a visit.   So here’s a little Christmas cheer for one and all: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/christmas
 

Please Stop the Holiday Commercials. Please.

24 Dec

It's not Christmas until you get your kid a toy that makes them wet their pants

I’ve been away from television for quite some time.  But as it’s the holidays and most folks just sit around in front of the television until it’s time to carry out an obligatory tradition or two, I have no choice but be subjected to the doom tube.

Today I was introduced to the Wuggle Pets commercial.  Then some stupid dance Skechers that used ballerinas to sell what looks like a running shoe.  Then I saw a woman purposefully knock all her spices out of her cabinet so that the narrator could show me the solution to her intentional hand spasms. And then I gouged out my eyeballs with a dinner fork.

After you’ve been disconnected from the world of flashing lights and blaring voices, it’s a little shocking to be around it again.  There are all sorts of pop culture whosits and whatsists that I don’t understand and advertisements that are so incredibly stupid it makes me want to write a letter to corporate headquarters all over the nation.  Of course, this is really what I always wanted and the very reason I got rid of cable. For a while there, seeing a commercial for Wuggle Pets would have been ordinary to me.

Now it looks like certain death.

So I’m glad I’ve made that transition successfully.  The only unfortunate consequence is that now when I have to sit in other people’s living rooms for a significant amount of time, I get incredibly annoyed and upset by the yelling and screaming to buy products, the stupid reality shows that have people hooked (they’re scripted, people.  scripted.), and I mourn for the fact that I’m not doing anything constructive with my time. We could be playing board games or talking about life or going on an adventure together or volunteering in a soup kitchen or wrapping presents for kids in need or anything, really, except staring at a group of overexcited child actors freak out about a machine that lets them stuff their own stuffed animals. 

I know this is not a typical reaction.  I know.  I need to accept that Wuggle Pets are part of my reality and that turning a blind eye to them doesn’t mean they stop existing.  If I can just hold out for two more days, Christmas-oriented advertising will be off the playlist until next fall.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Try not to gouge out eyes with silverware. 

‘Tis the Season for Bad Decorations

23 Dec

‘Tis the season for white trash decorating!

One thing I love about Dave’s hometown is that  it’s almost exactly like my hometown except his is in New York and mine is in Pennsylvania.  It’s quite a bit more prosperous than mine was as well.  It’s kind of like his hometown is what mine would be if mine hadn’t shriveled up and died of weary old age years ago. It at least feels like home in a way, even when it’s not really home.  So on the way to his parents’ house for Christmas, I got a real dose of my own hometown loveliness: white trash decorating.

You know what I’m talking about.  Little random crap figures in the yard, Christmas lights that look like someone had a seizure in the middle of throwing them on the bush, and (Lord help us all), those huge, plastic, inflatable snow globe things.  Half of them have been there all year.   The other half are thrown in for good measure at Christmastime. 

Every time i see them, they’re only half-inflated and drowning in a sea of 10 others scattered about the sad, sad lawn.  

This is best case scenario here. Take half those bush lights and toss them to the wind, suck half the air out of the inflatables, and knock a few things over. Then we're in business.

Christmas spirit, indeed.

I’m not really sure why they bother.  Who looks out on a lawn of half blown up life-size snow globes, a few crooked cardboard stands, and a weathered sign that says “North Pole” and thinks they’re doing their part to spread Christmas spirit?   Of course, maybe it’s self-serving.  Maybe it’s a matter of tradition and they don’t think it looks  nice either but it’s what they grew up with so they keep doing it.  

Can you help me understand this?  Are you perhaps one of these people? Why do you do it?  Why do you lug all of that stuff out of your attic, basement, of what-else-have-you only to blow them up halfway with no semblance of order or preconceived strategy?  

I’ve thought about knocking on the door of one of these homes/shacks/trailers and asking why.  I’d be all sly about it and compliment them on the lovely job they’ve done. I’m sure they’re super happy with it and will be glad to tell me all about it.  Or maybe it will just be some guy in his underwear who complains about how his wife told him to do it so he just threw them all out there willy nilly like.  Maybe half-inflated snow globes are just a sign of struggling matrimony in small towns.

I think I probably cracked the code right there. 

The Home Stretch

22 Dec

This would be a lot more satisfying if I had the other months shown too. Pretend there are 11 more of these.

I was going to write a post today about how I was away from my computer until now, driving toward the northerly patches of New York.  I was going to talk about how I checked my email with great excitement only to find Groupon, Barack Obama, and Living Social.  They aren’t even interested in me.  They just want me to be interested in them.  And so on and so forth until I whine about how I expected to be more important and am constantly let down, like when you turn your phone off all day and when you turn it back on, you’re somehow still kind of disappointed that you don’t have a lot of badgering to reply to.

But I already wrote about all that before.

Isn’t that crazy? I genuinely forgot all about it.  Oh.  Maybe that’s because this is my 356th daily post in a row and that’s the official number of topics I can write before I loop back again.   Now we know.

Oh yeah – hey! I only have, like, nine posts left.  NINE.  I’m getting a lot of “hey how do you feel”, etc.  And with the holidays coming up, I’m sure that my frequent obligations to have human contact will result in that happening more often.  So because I’m already socially awkward enough without people approaching me, allow me to squelch as much of it as possible right now by saying it feels like pressure.  Not pressure to write, exactly.  I felt that for the first three months but after I realized that I had to write whether it was crap or not, I just kind of let it go and wrote whatever I could squeeze out.  Some people call that giving up.  I call it stream-of-consciousness.  I like my term better.  

When I say it feels like pressure, I mean pressure, like, not to die.  Or get terribly ill.  Or break my hands. Or do anything that would make me miss a day and thus require me to start all over again. If I’m repeating post ideas at number 356, can you imagine what a load of fantastical junk 2012 would bring?  Honestly, how many more times can I write about my cats before you unsubscribe?   Maybe twice.  And I’m probably going to cash in on those two this week.

There is perhaps a slight bit of pressure in the area of writing quality, just because I started my official holiday vacation yesterday at 8pm and won’t return to reality until January 3rd: a full two days after my daily posting is shut down.  Every day until then is going to be filled with food, family, sleeping, shenanigans, and fantasizing about never having to return to work again.  

It’s unlikely that my posts will be any good. 

But let’s be honest: you’re not going to read.  Some of you are going to read because you’ve got this whole I-haven’t-missed-a-Jackie-post-yet thing going.  And that’s super flattering and I’d really like to send you a warm puppy in the mail so you can understand how that makes me feel inside.  But aside from you few, the majority of my readers will disappear into the land of egg nog and Auld Lang Syne, never to even see me cross the finish line.

So maybe we can strike a mutually beneficial deal here.  I’ll try not to feel pressured to write anything of substance these next 9 days, and you, in turn, can feel no pressure to tune in to read what is bound to be pretty terrible. 

Deal.

Wow – seriously though.  Nine days.

Good thing – I feel carpal tunnel coming on. 

Dear Post Office: This Is Why You’re Failing

21 Dec

Ah, graffiti. The fronds of malcontent.

Okay, to be fair, I’m sure you’re failing for lots of reasons.  A lot of them don’t have anything to do with you.  Online banking, email, and a general love and desire for more trees in the world among them.  Maybe something to do with the economy.  Maybe.  But I don’t know anything about economics.   All I know is you manage to complicate the shipping process beyond all human comprehension, and there is not one single post office in my area that doesn’t have a hell demon working the front desk when I visit.

Ever.

You see, I’m the kind of person that accepts that certain branches might just have a sour staff.  Perhaps they’re overworked or understaffed or generally malcontent.  Maybe everyone in the office is really quite lovely but the person who works the shift that I always chance to visit during is just a grumplepuss.  There are lots of things that could align themselves on any particular day that lead to an unsatisfactory visit. I accept these as challenges in the business place for which I cannot possible hold you accountable.  Sometimes there’s a bad egg that gets through the production process.  I understand. Really.  But I have visited no less than three offices in and around my neighborhood and not a single one has a pleasant person at the front desk.

Ever.  Do you hear me? Ever.

Listen: my mom works at the post office.  She’s been a loyal worker bee for well over a decade.  Because of this, I am wont to go easy on the post office folk. They have a rough gig.   That’s why I know the answers to their questions in advance (no, I’m not shipping a ferret, a bottle of  arsenic, or a box of anthrax, yes I do want delivery confirmation but not insurance), do my very best to be well-prepared before I make it to the counter, and when there’s a line, I remind myself that the post office has a lot of business to tend to during the day – most of which happens far behind the front counter.

I even try to be an advocate for the post office, and when I have a poor experience I go to usps.com and let you know.  But you don’t really want to improve.  I know this because when I go online and detailed my experience earlier this year when there were three people at the front desk, only one of whom was doing any work, the other two who were laughing and discussing procedures for Passports, and the one woman who was working was loudly complaining about her work conditions while a line containing half my neighborhood was bending out the door, you wrote back some garbledy gook about how the post office is busy and has peak hours and you’re doing your best.

That’s a bit defensive, post office, don’t you think?  You see, I want to be constructive.  I want to help you solve your problems.  I want to help you understand that when people can make the choice to go online to do all their business (or UPS, or FedEx, who you yourself do business with), they expect you to treat them well when they pay you a visit.   But I can’t help you if you’re in denial.

So let’s get real: ya’ll need to get some better customer service.

I still have to call my mother to figure out what ships where for how much and how big it can be.  Or what kind of paper it has to be wrapped in.  Or what happens if I answer the hazardous/liquid/fragile question with a yes.   You’ve got a very complicated system going on.

Now, I know you recognized this for a moment and attempted to put in self-service package centers in some of your lobbies, and I really appreciate that.  You also did the “if it fits, it ships” campaign with the flat rate boxes.  But let’s be honest: while that’s a good deal if I’m going to send a shoebox full of heavy metals from East Coast to West, it’s not the most cost-effective option if I want to send, say, a stuffed animal.

So why don’t you just have a person in the lobby to assist with these sorts of things? Why can’t I just put a banana on the counter and ask you to ship it for me? I don’t care if I have to pay a service fee.  I don’t care if I have to answer questions about the origin of my banana and my intent in shipping it.  I’d be so thrilled to talk to someone who is pleasant and wants to help me figure out how to get my banana from one place to the next in the most cost-effective, logical manner possible that I’d happily stand in line if you were understaffed, overworked, or – say – going bankrupt.

You know what? Not even a week ago I had a friend tweet about how she stood in line for a very long time just to get a book of stamps.  She didn’t know she could go online to order, get them from a brochure, or have them delivered to her by her postal carrier.

Hey: you know what you have to do.  You know what the problems are.  We’re confused, you’re over-complicated.  We’re busy and you don’t have the time for us.  We want to give you our money and keep you going, but not if you’re going to give us attitude and tell us how much you hate your situation while we do it.  So just put some smiling, patient faces at that counter, give us a shipping specialist with a heart of gold, and start spending your time educating people about how easy it is to order stamps from home so they get the heck out of line.

I’ve got stuff to mail. 

Code Monkey Like You

20 Dec

Wow, we only have two Lollipop Tuesdays left together. 

Are you sad? I’m not sad.   Tell ya what – I won’t miss scrambling around the Sunday and Monday before, trying to consider whether or not I can assemble a tub of Jell-O in time or whether this is the week I take a shifty looking stranger out to dinner  or whether I finally let one of my readers pepper spray me in the face. 

Yes, that’s real.

So, I figure that with only two left (and now, only one), I kind of owe you something epic.  And while skydiving crossed my mind, I can’t imagine that’s affordable, able to be done in the winter, or in the best interest of my well-being. So instead, I directed a movie.

Now, I didn’t direct this in a weekend.  In fact, I’ve been working on this for over a year and finally got it finished.  It started out as a small summer project that my friend asked me direct.  It kind of snowballed into this…thing.  We decided to film it so we could throw it on YouTube, and at some point thought that maybe we could raise some money for a charity while we did it.  

There’s a lot of other fun stuff in there, like 3 different editors, a producer moving halfway through the process, a budget of only $300, so on and so forth – but this isn’t a post about the trials and tribulations of low budget film-making.  It’s post about how I directed my first film project.  In true nerdy nerd fashion, it’s a script based on the music and ideas of Jonathan Coulton, who has a sort of cult following among the geek world.  The script is weaved around concepts from his songs.  The name of the production company is Vs. the Universe.  It’s slogan: Geeks Making Art.  And along with showing our 20-minute venture on YouTube, we’re also running a 30-day campaign for Child’s Play Charity, which works to put video game consoles in the hospital rooms of sick kids so that when they’re hooked up to machines and tubes and contraptions of all kinds, they can get lost in the idea of racing a go-kart instead of focusing on the pain and the confines of their hospital bed.

Oh, and Dave’s in it.

Yeah, that’s right: if you watch this sucker, you get to see Dave.  My Dave.  Dave from the story books of The Jackie Blog.  He plays Mr. Kenesaw.

So thanks for reading all year long.  I can’t believe I’m almost at the end.  One more Lollipop Tuesday to go – and an announcement of the winner of the Best Macaroni and Cheese in the World Contest, who will be the proud owner of a $25 Visa Gift Card.

While I work on that, check out my first attempt at film directing.  And if you feel so inclined this holiday season, consider a donation to Child’s Play Charities. We offer fun incentives like writing a song or a puppet show just for you.

That’s right: just for you.

So here’s my first attempt at directing, my first attempt at a fundraiser, and my first attempt at a musical.  Oh.  Did I mention it’s a musical?  Also, there’s a naked butt in it.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, ya’ll.  Enjoy. 

 
Head over to thisguyandi.com if you’d like to see the incentive levels and make a tax-deductible donation.  We’ve already met 10% of our goal! 

World, Meet My Butt

19 Dec

the hot new exercise trend

I am now the proud owner of a pair of super skin-tight, inappropriate workout pants.

I’m a little scared of them, actually.

Dave did this adorable thing yesterday when we were running errands in the afternoon where he would try to gauge my interest in the things I got distracted by to see if they would be appropriate Christmas gifts.  There’s a new athletic store that just came in right across from my favorite ice cream store (I know – rude) that I wanted to check out.  Inside were lots of super awesome looking, incredibly effective bits of workout gear.  I wouldn’t normally be excited for such a store, but I ran in the snow the other night and was a lot colder throughout the experience than I would have preferred – so I was up for anything that could solve my problems, especially if it was actually somewhat attractive.

Right now I’m wearing so many frumpy, misshapen layers that I look like the Junk Lady from Labyrinth. 

The Junk Lady: In case you're lost on my obscure cult classic references.

Dave encouraged me to try on a few things in spite of their jaw-dropping price tags and I instantly fell in love with two pieces. One was a fleece-lined sweatshirt with thumbholes and a built in neck scarf that was so simultaneously cozy and badass I could have fallen asleep in it and then woke up to run in it.  The other was the most serious pair of pants I’ve ever donned.  Fleece-lined, padded with some sort of magic wonder fibers, and lined with little hidden zippers and pockets for things I might need to tuck away while I run.

They were also super form-fitting.  Tight.  Like, hey-I-painted-my-buttocks-with-black-paint-and-went-for-a-run tight.

I would never in a million years imagine myself going out in public in them.  I considered not even opening the fitting room door to show Dave.  The second I did, the sales associate working the fitting counter perked up like she’d just come off a Bikram yoga high and shouted about how awesome they looked on me.  It took a lot for me to hold back from saying something snarky.  I’m surprised the pants even came in my size, as I had to sort through to the very back of the rack to acquire them.   I made a comment about how they were a little too form-fitting for me and that I didn’t know if I could leave the house in them.  She responded that everyone says that and that they don’t really make anything that isn’t form fitting.

Something related to their hiring requirements, I suppose.

At any rate, there I was in what felt like my underoos, staring at a size negative 2 and thinking about the ice cream I ate before I came in to try on these spray-painted-on leggings.  And even though I should have felt like a fatty fat and told myself to rip them off quickly before anyone else saw me and suffered a stroke from the shock, I had to admit that they were incredibly comfortable.  And warm.  And the answer to all of my winter-running problems.

I told myself I run in the early morning or late at night and no one would be able to see me in them anyway.  I also told myself that maybe the fact that people can clearly see the location of my butt crack would inspire me to run faster, as to blur the details of my rearend in a flash of speed.

I looked at every mirror angle possible and agreed that the pants were not flattering in any of them, but I was shopping for function and not form and would do as I pleased.  There was a small part of me that mentioned I’d be running for another 6 weeks yet and somewhere in there, I’d eventually start to look better in them.  So I stared at the super comfy sweater that looked great on me and made me want to sleep and run at the same time and then again back at my super tight, super inappropriate pants.

And I chose the pants.

Dave managed to pick up the tab on what was a perfect Christmas gift because it inspired me to do better, supported my current goal, and would stop my legs from being beet red when I return from a chilly run.  The pants were an all-encompassing gift of love and henceforth they shall be painted on to my buttocks to enhance the appearance of jiggliness while I run.  Maybe after I make it to week 7, I can go back for the sweatshirt as a reward.

I’ll just have to make it a size long enough to pull down over my butt cheeks. ♣

Free Lola

18 Dec

This morning I woke up to my cat leaping over my face like Free Willy.

I was nestling in the arms of sweet, warm slumber when I heard the jingle of a small bell and felt the woosh of air over my face (along with the slight brush of fur from her floppy feline stomach).  By the time I fully came to, the tinkle of her bell was across the room and she was casually poised by the doorway as if just entering the room.

Lies.

Ever wake up to a cat looming over you? I have. It's terrifying.

I think sometimes of how I’d like to set up a small camera over my bed so that I can see what my cats do while I’m sleeping.  I’m sure they exhibit a variety of unacceptable behaviors that would just further enrage me.  I read somewhere that people who let their pets sleep with them have their sleep disturbed a lot more throughout the evening than those who do not.  I thought it made a lot of sense and decided to close my bedroom door from that day forward so as to drinking the nectar of slumber in peace.  But Lola pawed the door to bump it and make this ever so slight thudding sound that I would hear just as I was drifting to sleep.  I would try to wait her out, convinced that if I just ignored it she would give up and go away.  But she’s stubborn and when I didn’t open to door in response to her pawing, she scratched.

It’s hard to sleep when you’re envisioning your security deposit burning up in hellfire.

So of course I let her in, knowing full well that all I did was validate her actions.  From then on she knew that even if it took a full fifteen minutes to get me to do so, she would get in.

And now she Free Willys over my face at night.  So there’s that.

I think this will be the beginning of a lengthy experiment.  How can I get my cats to leave me alone when I’m sleeping without waking me up from desperate pawing, scratching, meowing, or other enraging behaviors?  I predict it will involve a lot of cat nip.  I’m not above drugging them.

Let’s hope this isn’t indicative of my future parenting methods.

All Hail the Master

17 Dec

Today, my dad graduated with his masters degree.

Isn’t that epic?  The man is over 50 years old.  When he made the decision to school and get his undergrad, I was getting mine and I’m his youngest kid.  We even had a class together, because I wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity. I also almost convinced him to come audition with me for the school play.  I still maintain that he could have made a stellar Oberon.

It’s taken something like ten years from start to finish, but he now has a terminal degree in his field.  It’s been a long journey for us all – but particularly me because I proofread his papers.  His thesis damn near killed me.  And today marked the official day that it is truly all over.  

I don’t know what I expected of myself from attending.  I knew I’d be proud – who wouldn’t be? I knew that I was excited, of course.  But I didn’t expect that when he came through the door to the auditorium, I would instantly weep. 

My dad’s not the kind of guy to really go outside his comfort zone.  If I wanted to get on a plush, awkwardly shaped half-couch and talk about the roots of things, I’d say my inclination to stay inside, not call people I know, and generally write off the rest of mankind is a direct result of following the pattern he set for me.  He didn’t go to the ceremony for his undergrad.  Partially because he didn’t think anything was worth celebrating until he got all the way through, and partially because it was probably uncomfortable to imagine going through all the pomp and circumstance alongside a bunch of 20-somethings.  

So since this was his first (and last) chance to celebrate, I was inclined to do all the stereotypical congratulatory acts.  I wanted to get him stupid mugs and balloons and books and magnets with inspiring quotes on them.  I wanted to ask him what he thought he would do when he grows up and tell him that he had his whole life ahead of him.  But since I was pretty sure that would provoke him to cause me physical harm, I resolved to just scream at the top of my lungs when they called his name to walk.  

Ah yes - the obligatory graduate bear. One never knows what to do with him, but stores keep selling him, people keep buying him, and graduates keep stuffing them in memento boxes.

 

The older lady in a fashion blazer and too-hairsprayed hair in front of me really didn’t appreciate my contribution.

But I didn’t really care about Blazer, because when her daughter walked, she did a little half-yelp.  She looked like she wanted to do more but she just couldn’t pull herself out of social formalities for even just a moment.  I’m sure her half-yelp gave her a thrill, but I needed more.  It was all I could do to hold back shouting “GO DADDY!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – but I thought that might embarrass him so I cut off the “go daddy” portion and delivered the rest right into Blazer’s ear.

Turns out, I could have yelled anything I darn well pleased because dad didn’t hear any of it.  He was the first in line for the MFA degrees and had to set the precedent for where to walk and how to get hooded.  He was following arrows on the floor and being shepherded to the appropriate locations for pictures, handshakes, and degree-conferring.  Everything after his name announcement was a blackout.

I think that’s adorable.

I absolutely could not contain my joy to see him all suited up in a cap, gown, and draping hood behind.  The fact that this man saw his goal through all the way to the end and finished as grandfather to the two little babies who were in the back row is amazing to me. And the fact that someday soon he’ll have his own office on a campus and touch the lives of a myriad of students who will learn and talk about how totally cool my dad is? Well, there are just no words that can express my excitement and pride.

So congratulations to my fantastic and amazing father, who on this 17th day of December in the 2011th year of our Lord was hooded in an official ceremony to indicate how badass he is. 

That’s one heck of a Lollipop Tuesday. ◊

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