Tag Archives: adulthood

Prepare the Goat Altar

3 May

It’s May.

The entire first quarter of the year is over, folks. Eddie Izzard ran 27 marathons in 27 days, Franky Zapata flew a Marty McFlyish hoverboard for over a mile, and Donald Trump has risen to become the harbinger of the Apocalypse.  How’s it going for you?

I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing: sucking. Just sucking really hard.

Last we left off, I set out to make this year count by incorporating a variety of daily habits into my life until magically, by the end of the year, I would rise to the status of casual superhuman. Thus, I embarked on my annual self throwdown: this time to see whether it was possible to develop a host of superpowered daily habits like getting a good night’s sleep, waking up early, reading the news, drinking something hot, and thinking about my day.

Basically, my 2016 challenge is to become the dad in a nuclear family Sunday comic strip.

I’m not entirely sure those people actually exist – the ones who plan their slumbers, rise early like Ben Franklin, make themselves breakfast, plan out their day, send up a prayer of gratitude, and sacrifice a baby goat all before lunch. Maybe Michelle Obama or Beyoncé, but they probably have a staff aide for the baby goat thing.

All that bleating.

As for me, at this point I’ve picked up a good breakfast habit and everything else is a bit shaky. At one point I’d worked up to four habits simultaneously but I had to think and plan and work to incorporate them, and once I got truly busy they got packed right back into my knapsack of good intentions.

I don’t like to fail at things.

So it’s quarter two and I’m running this ship like a business; it’s time to change strategies and dive in.

Now this next part is going to sound like I’m selling something. You know, like when you’re cruising through your news feed and a friend posts a picture of themselves looking fabulous and you go to click that new, awkward “heart” reaction until you take a closer look at the tags and realize it’s a plug for a body sculpting system that ships green goop to your door for a low monthly fee.

You know what I’m talking about, yes? If not, all you really need to know is that one of the names of such hawked product is called Soylent. It markets itself as an affordable, complete nutrition meal replacement. SOYLENT.

 

I would tag the product here so you could know I wasn’t kidding, but I’d rather plug Heston’s public service announcement about it.

 

Anyway this isn’t one of those. That was the point before I got all Charlton Heston on you.

My quarter two challenge is going to be something called the Whole Life Challenge (note to self: such a better title than One Good Thing). It’s basically everything I set out to do this year with my white boards and my tracking systems and my gamification of challenge attempts, but it costs fifty American dollars to do.

“But why would you do it if it’s basically the same, Jackie? Why would you give away your hard-earned nonprofit admin dollars? 

Because I failed quarter one. And it looks like this whole “add a habit at a time and mark it on your white board before bed” thing isn’t working. I have the undereye bags of a woman twice my age. I’m starting to google neck exercises. I’ve even done some of them. It’s time.

Every day I’ll try to earn points by performing basic human functions. I will do this for 56 days. I’m not really sure what happens on Day 56. I’ll probably write a blog post because that seems to be in line with my 2016 consistency.

Sucking. Just sucking so hard.

I could also tend to these daily habits by joining the Amish (#backtothehomeland), but I’m probably going to need somewhere for this to go in quarter three and it’s been some time since I busted out a Lollipop Tuesday.

But let’s focus on the positives, shall we? I’ve begun to regularly eat a healthy breakfast. I’ll have eggs or cereal or toast instead of, you know, whatever strangely-shaped, dusty M&Ms I can find on the bottom of my purse on the way to work.

Four months to remember how to regularly eat breakfast. I had that down at age 6.

Of course back then it was a bowl of regular Cheerios with a mountain of white sugar I spooned on top.

So maybe I didn’t have that down at 6.

Twenty-nine years to get the breakfast thing down. Okay. That’s fine.

I’m going to go get my badass back. It all goes down on Saturday. I’m gonna throw down five Alexander Hamiltons, and maybe one more to snag myself a new set of aviators so I can feel like a boss while I’m drinking water and reading the daily news.

Quarter two. Let’s roll.

Please Don’t Make Me, It Hurts

31 Aug

It has been one great rotation of the earth since I have posted.  Where in the holy hellballs did I go?

No, really. The last time I posted was last September,  wherein I said I was “back,” whatever that meant. Apparently it meant that I had sincere plans to dive nose-deep into the pale, sweaty armpits of the Internether and perhaps never return.

I’ve come ever so briefly out of my little dark whole with the cockroaches and video games – out from the muck and the mire and all off the rolls of fat and shame that have accumulated since my last post. I’ve brought new toons as penance. Once, many moons ago, I asked Sir John Michnya to draw some for me hoping that by the time they were finished, the desire to update would stick my finger into the part of my brain that publicizes my thoughts and pull something gooey out.  Four months later, here it is.

The reality, my friends, is that life has been hard. Like, real hard. Like, “hey, I heard 2014 was pretty nice for you and got you a nice job and appreciation for family and stuff so HEY LET’S THROW DEATH AND CANCER AND HEARTACHE AND AWFUL IN YOUR FACE TO MAKE UP FOR THOSE GLORIOUS GIFTS ISN’T LIFE SO FUNNY!”

It’s all about balance. Seems fair.

All is well enough in Jackieland, have no fear. As well as it can be, given that I haven’t yet been transported to live my real, true life as a night elf in Azeroth. Someday, ducklings. …Someday. In the meantime I need something to make me feel like I don’t suck as much.  So I picked a half marathon.

You may recall that in 2013, my 365 challenge was to work out every day and culminated in a 10K. You may also recall my near-death in that experience, the amount of increase in my tendency to cuss, and a beneficial thinning of my thighs coupled with a promise that I would never, ever put my genetically underdeveloped body in that position again.

But I have a good friend who did the 10K with me and was happy to shame me into running an ungodly amount of miles, despite it being over twice what nearly killed me. The texts he sent me thereafter helped me to envision a dull, dark world where I had walked away from a challenge. They were almost Shakespearean.

This talk of half marathon is not an empty promise, friends. I’m in week nineteen of half marathon training. I can slowly jog more than eight miles in an ugly and haggard fashion.  I have my motivation board up and active, I have enlisted a personal shamer, a personal coach, and a personal cheerleader. The trifecta is in place.

The truth is I don’t really know what else to do. I don’t want to stop trying new things, I don’t want to have a tumbleweed blog, and I don’t want to have space in my brain for all the awful that this year has brought so far. So a really long and painful run is all I’ve got.

I sucked. Life is ebbs and flows of suck.  But what else can be done with it but to put it out there and look it in the face. It just gets bigger and fatter the longer I wait.

The older I get, the more I think that we’re all just flailing in suckery. The good eggs try to correct course. The bad eggs, for some reason that will forever dog them, don’t try. The glory is in the trying, I think.

Here’s to the good eggs. 

Shout out to a fan from the nether who greased up the ol’ contact form and told me to get back at it so that she could have a brief respite from her soul-sucking state job. I’d tell you her name but then the government would assign her a drone. Thanks for turning on the skillet.

I’m Failing the Digital Revolution

29 Jan

 

frus1

I’m failing the digital revolution.

I tried; I really did. But I just can’t adjust to a world without paper.

When I entered boldly into this, the 2014th year of our Lord, I realized that for the first year since I’ve been paying my own bills, I was not gifted a planner or calendar of any kind for the holidays. I don’t need much – just a thin booklet sort of job that gives me a 2-page spread of each month, with room to write notes. Every four weeks the spread becomes a snapshot of madness, with post its and inserts and appointment blocks color coded according to my area of life focus *pushes up nerd glasses.*  But since I was already without, and because some of the hippies at work have been giving me a hard time about my physical files, I figured I’d save myself the twenty bucks and the earth a tree and finally utilize the built-in calendar on my phone.

I began to store notes and appointments and reminders on the unassuming digital square and to ignore concerns about trusting my life over to something I could not touch or feel. All along, there was a disconcerting voice in the back of my head that asked me how it was that I couldn’t manage to maintain a steady supply of clean underwear but would manage to keep my phone fully charged, defended from tragic demise, and available at all hours of the day for reference. Nonetheless, I stayed the course.

It was January 25th when I first felt the heart-seizing effects of my paperless existence. I had spent the last month carefully selecting and preparing a monologue for my first audition of the year, which I scheduled online. I had a choice of Saturday or Sunday and carefully chose the time 4:15pm on Sunday based on what I knew would best set me up for success. With such a packed schedule laid down for January, I was careful to do what I could each day and to then portion off the entire Saturday evening before the audition to drill and workshop my piece to completion. The plan was simple: Dave had a radio gig in the afternoon that I would accompany him to, we would have a celebratory lunch, and then we would go home and put the final and necessary touches on my audition. Then on Sunday: magic sparkle dust.

We radio-ed, we lunched, we went home. Dave took a cat nap and I sat on the couch working. It was 3:15pm and I was getting the nagging feeling one gets when one  is at the checkout at the grocery store and doesn’t have the item they came for in their basket. It was so distracting I couldn’t work so I logged into my email and ran down my to-dos. That’s when I laid eyes on the confirmation email for my audition that I’d flagged and highlighted and left there to nag me to get ‘er done ever since I scheduled it: and it was a confirmation for Saturday – that day – at 4:15pm.

I had to be there in one hour.

To date, there has not been an act of losing one’s shit quite so monumental as how I lost my shit in that moment.

I sprinted to Dave, yelled him out of a dead slumber, grabbed my monologue, whipped the paper at him, rattled off the situation with a  mix of disbelief and terror, and told him to drill me on the piece until we had to go, which was in twenty minutes. My hair undone, my makeup a snowball’s chance in hell, and my hopes of a callback shriveling before me, all I could aspire to was to not go up on my lines, to sound somewhat British, and to get out of the room without going into cardiac arrest from stress and humiliation.

I went. I was uninspiring. I was grateful to avoid a hospital stay.

There was no magic sparkle dust.

It was the very next day when my heart experienced the glorious rapture of a second full stop. It was 8:00am and my subconscious began to stir at the sound of footsteps throughout the apartment. As my groggy, grumpy morning self lay in half-sleep, I realized that Dave was up and getting ready for work and that I, on the contrary, was in bed. Sleeping. Through everything.

I shot up with a start, checked my phone (read: alarm/clock/terrible excuse for a planner), cursed myself for forgetting that I had an uncharacteristically early work meeting that morning, swore in ways that shamed my Baptist rearing, and launched my pajama-clad self into the bathroom. As my electric toothbrush knocked around my mouth (the result of a brain woken with shock and appendages late to the party), I yelled through a foam of toothpaste to Dave that I couldn’t believe that I forgot about my meeting, that I needed to leave right away, and could he take me somehow on his way to work. My mind spun with reminders that I still needed to check my email for any last-minute additions to the agenda so that I could adjust the materials, and hopes for a long-fought promotion began to fade as a cog in my brain suddenly clicked into place.

I stopped cold, my toothbrush no longer rotating. With my face remaining toward the mirror, my right eyeball slowly pulled to my peripheral to see a bewildered Dave standing, staring, waiting.

There was a long pause as I realized my self-spun tragedy. Foaming at the mouth, I lowered my toothbrush and uttered,

“It’s…

it’s Sunday. Isn’t it.”

Dave tried to hold back a sympathetic chuckle to spare me what little embarrassment was left to be spared. He made a conscious effort to close his gaping mouth (It’s rare to see me move so quickly in the morning – like a sloth snorting a coke line):

“Yeah. Yes. It is.”

He gave me a hug goodbye as he left for his regular Sunday shift, and when his mouth was next to my ear he told me to get a planner. A real one made out of real paper.

And so I did. I can’t go on like this. I can’t operate in a world of intangibles. There comes a time when we must accept our limitations, and I now know mine. I made a living as a receptionist, office manager, and executive assistant for several years. Managing calendars, goals, and strategies is what I do. I like my ducks in a row. I paid my bills by putting other people’s ducks in rows. But alas, I now know that there are no ducks and no rows when there is no planner.

It shipped today. Only a few days to go.

Speaking of which…note to self: when new 2014 planner arrives in the mail, immediately open to December 1st and write “buy new planner.”

Psst! Hey! You! I’m about to finish my first 30 Day Challenge of the year and in February it’s on to the next. So here’s your chance to tell me what to do. Whichever has the most cheerleaders by February 1st is full speed ahead; I’ll even mark it in my new planner. You can read more about my penchant for 365s here, about my challenge for 2014 here, and you can boss me around in the poll below. If you’re new, you should know: I’m a hermit; I adore meat and dairy; a brief canvassing stint has been the extent of my political involvement; and I’ve only finished one book in the last five years. Enjoy.
 
                                                               

 

All I Want for Christmas Is Fewer Office Parties

5 Dec

We’re less than one week into December and my calendar is already chock full of miserable holiday parties.

I don’t mean regular holiday parties. Those can be kind of nice when I’m able to kick the hermit in me and focus on good ol’ holiday cheer wine. I mean work parties. 

I’m sorry: work “parties”.

I’m quite certain that I have more interaction with other humans per diem in December than the rest of the other months combined. Unfortunately, most of those interactions are the result of mandatory work fun. 

As many of you know, I harbor a deep disdain for a variety of workplace traditions. Maybe all of them, actually. I hate the obligatory signing of a non-descript birthday card that some poor, abused office worker had to spend their lunch hurriedly retrieving and wondering if they would be able to be reimbursed for it. I hate the staff meetings where we act like the stale chips we found in the office closet will make our review of redundant agenda items more palatable. And above all, my beautiful butterflies, I hate mandatory work fun.

You know: mandatory work fun. It’s when your boss thinks it will help with “teambuilding” if you can all go do something fun outside the office together. Or worse: when your boss thinks it will help if you can do something fun inside the office together.

I have found this to be absolutely never true. Not once in my entire work experience have I been willing to pitch in more to lend Steve a hand with any of his tasks because I learned to respect and understand him more fully as a result of the way he handles himself after three tequila shots. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s just never happened for Steve and me that way.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

That’s, of course, if Steve can even bring himself to drink in the first place. Mandatory work fun, in my experience, has meant happy hours where no one can actually drink because your boss is right there. And they’re usually talking about something horrible. Last Christmas, for example, my boss was actually doling out task items from the head of the table after pretending we were there for festivities; people had to get out notebooks or write on cocktail napkins. The Christmas before I distinctly recall a very vivid regaling by my boss of a stomach bug they got while traveling and the flurry of details that followed their plane ride back to the States.

I believe it wrapped up at about the same time our food arrived.

To add insult to injury, your boss won’t go where the office wants to go. In fact, they won’t even ask. They’ll just pick a place that matches their sentiments, which, as a rule, are almost never on par with everyone else’s sentiments. It will be a place where you can’t quite get comfortable with anything on the menu and even if you just do drinks you’ll be dishing out twice as much per beer as you would at your favorite joint down the street. Deep down, you’ll wonder if your boss will let the light of holiday joy infect their heart with the gift of giving by picking up the tab for the group or doing a round on them.

They won’t.

I’m barely a week into December and my planner is so rampant with mandatory work fun that even a frugal selection and a free parking spot each time will munch away a decent portion of my paycheck. Heck, my calendar is so rampant with required fake festivities that I can’t even get the time off I need for real festivities. Honest to all holy things the other day I was denied a day off the week of Christmas because I was told I have to be at work celebrating it with work folk.

For now, at least, I’m trying to find solace in the fact that there have not yet been plans announced for secret Santa-ing: my least favorite Christmas workplace experience. Perhaps this year I can be spared the terrible task of pretending to know someone well enough to purchase something they won’t regift while also not spending so much they think I make more than them or so little that they think I’m a cheapskate.

Why can’t we all just agree to keep the good parts about December in the office (the time off) and get rid of the bad parts about December in the office (everything else)?

Maybe unions should focus on these sorts of things. After all, these are the items that make a big difference in my daily life. Do you have any idea how much I would pay for a membership to a group that protects me from awkward office Secret Santas, terrible mandatory happy hours and required work festivities that override actual real non-work festivities? A lot. I would pay a lot. At least as much as the tab for my cheap beer and appetizers at mandatory work fun outings.

Unfortunately I’m not sure anti-work-festivities unions exist. At least, not yet.

It’s Christmastime, after all, and I do have a list to write.

Adventures in Backsliding

6 Nov

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted, my Jillian Michaels and running-infused workout plan has deteriorated into frequent light walking and lifting (cereal boxes), and as I write this, I’m stuffing my face with fifteen American dollars worth of beef fried rice. There is also an egg roll. And some Scotch, because I like to marry my trash with class.

In short, this:

Image

I ran a 10K about a month ago and in the time that’s passed it appears I’ve become a bit of a loser. Perhaps loser is a strong term. I can be hard on myself when I’m shame-slamming takeout.

This happens. I’m trying to find a way to get it to stop, but it is a pattern I can’t deny. Sometimes I like to project my own personal trends onto the general human population, and I think that’s actually kind of a fair thing to do because I do represent a small percentage of the human population – the people who avoid laundering underwear until they’ve exhausted their emergency underwear and swimsuit bottoms – the people who find it difficult to stay in little boxes in big towers, jabbering about minutia that determines whether an enormous corporation gives money to another enormous corporation – the people who sometimes want to look at their student loan debt and then look at their empty cupboards and make the former feel better by ordering beef fried rice so that they can immediately alleviate at least one of their issues at hand. Deliciously. While simultaneously rocking a huge hole in the crotch of their jeans.

So that’s me. I’m America. A fraction of America, anyway, and I’m a pretty serious backslider.

I frequently, on occasion, find myself in quite a schlump after quite a bit of gained ground. It’s a bummer. One likes to think that one has learned a lesson and is forever freed from it, but the fact of the matter is that after I go crazy for months at a time trying to conquer everything at hand, I will reward myself the best way I know how: sitting on my couch in unclean clothes and eating food that probably isn’t what it was marketed to me as. And then I will feel so ashamed by this that I will continue to self-soothe in a similar regressive pattern until I rebel against myself and go back into months on conquistador setting.  

It’s frustrating. Mostly because I spit my brains into a public forum where it appears the subjects are cats, food, discomfort in a variety of social situations, gaining ground, and losing ground. After a while of writing about these things, you start to notice yourself.

But it’s okay. I’ve got moxie. And I’m still a young whippersnapper but I’ve been around long enough to realize that there are two  Jackies on the spectrum of Jackiedom – the one that’s a pile of cheesy poof eating, unshowered slop that plays Warcraft all day and has literally no human interaction, and the one that’s in magazines and giving speeches and leading a very happy group of folks in doing whatever they all happily want to do, and that every day is a choice to continue the struggle against the former and to get closer to the latter. If I ever get to the latter and am asked how I got there by young hopefuls, I hope I have the courage to admit that it was a series of backsliding and pounding theater-style boxes of Milk Duds.

 I did achieve some things, though, in my time away from general live achievements. For example, while I was lounging in my pajamas using my sickness as an excuse to drink Scotch and split-screen watch Netflix and browse useless Internet musings, I learned that Chinese takeout containers are designed to conveniently unfold into a sort of semi-normal plate, and that has really served me well in the 30 minutes. So that’s nice. Payoff is nice.

I guess it’s that time again. That time where I look at every single thing in my life and scrutinize it relentlessly until I’m so disgusted that I spit shine my entire house, go for a 3 mile run, register for a race, organize my to-do list in terms of 1-week, 3-month, and 1-year goals, and thoroughly groom my cats for good measure.

I suppose that as long as I backslide only a little less than the amount of ground that I cover in my motivated periods, I’ll always be moving forward. So there’s that. I’m on the move. I’m getting things done, one overhauling/backsliding segment at a time.

Resolution reevaluation time is approaching quickly, however, so I really have to get my sloth gremlins at bay. I’m supposed to be in the best shape of my life by the end of December and I was doing pretty well there until I convinced myself that 20 minutes of light walking per day still met my exercise quota. Which, technically, it does – but light walking isn’t going to burn off this Chinese. Or yesterday’s. Or last week’s. My vagina doctor said so.

That, and I told myself I’d travel outside the country this year for a resolution. Last year I got a passport, and this year I’m supposed to use it. So far, the closest I’ve gotten to international travel is ordering contacts from the United Kingdom.

Time to get on the ball. And since I’m pretty broke, I guess that means I’m going to have to just make it work. Looks like I’m hopping a Megabus to Canada.

Conquistador setting, commence. 

Save the Panda

25 Sep

It started the day I ran out of eyeliner.

Not the first time. The first time I scrounged together five dollars that I didn’t really have to spend and I went to Rite Aid on my lunch break and I bought eyeliner and applied it with my iPhone in between the set of doors that pretend to let you in and the set of doors that actually do.

This happened the second time. When I seriously couldn’t afford any more because the only five dollars I could have gathered was laundry money and without the ability to purchase more underwear when others need laundering, I had to face the music: I needed clean underwear more than I needed eyeliner.

For some reason I convinced myself a long time ago that my eyes were best viewed when outlined with a thick black crayon. It might be because when I was 16 there was a girl who worked the register beside me at Kmart who showed me that in the world of eye makeup, too much can never be enough. It could also be that I’m hyperaware that my right eye is smaller than my left and I think that somehow I’m fooling everyone by distracting them with panda eyes. Probably, though, I’m a creature of habit since I’m used to seeing myself like this:

 panda

It’s kind of jarring to look in the mirror and instead see this:

 naked panda

And then I realized: this is beginning of a slow and steady decline into poverty-induced unattractiveness.

This has been going on for quite some time. The eyeliner was really the last thing to go. A few weeks ago I ran out of new contacts and found myself without funds to replace them. That means I’m back in geek glasses. That’s right: geek glasses. The glasses I left on my desk at recess because I would have rather been half-blind for kickball than have to wear them in front of people.

Let’s be honest: I was terrible at kickball regardless.

Anyway, as those of you following for any extended period of time know, I’ve descended the stairs from full-time corporate America to part-time nonprofit land and have had to adjust accordingly.

This has led me on all sorts of adventures. Last week, for example, my fridge was completely naked of offerings. It also happened to be the 60th birthday of a dear friend who thought that if 100 people RSVP on Facebook for a party, they should buy 100 hot dogs and 100 hamburgers. That worked out really well for me because they’re supremely generous and lovely and now my freezer and fridge are full of everything I could possibly need to celebrate Labor Day every single day from now until Christmas.

And I have.

Please note that this means I’m on a diet comprised almost entirely of hot dogs and hamburgers. While without contacts. And eyeliner. And other various first-world comforts.  I have a hole in the crotch of one of my pairs of jeans that I’ve become very strategic about keeping hidden while I walk or sit so that I can still pass them off as one of my two pairs of jeans.

I’m going downhill, guys. Way downhill.

There are some things that naturally work out to balance these inconveniences I suppose. Like the fact that I’m walking to work now because I can’t afford to reload my bus card so I’ll stay fit. Or that my hair is down to my butt because paying for someone to cut my hair seems like an absurd waste of fistfuls of cash. Perhaps these required inconveniences that will keep me fit and long-haired will help balance out the required inconveniences that keep be dangerously close to no clean laundry and no shaving.

The good news is that this Sunday I conquer the beast that’s been chasing me since January: the 10K. Longtime readers will recall that 2011 was the year I wrote a post every day for my 365, 2012 was the year I missed having a 365, and 2013 is the year of a fitness 365 culminating in a 10K at the end of September. We’ve arrived. On Sunday, it’s do or die. If it’s the latter, I’ve already appointed a ghost writer to finish up the blog. If it’s the former, I can ride out fitness through the rest of 2013 and look long and hard down the barrel of 2014’s 365.

From the look of my fridge and eyes, I’m leaning toward a financial one. I could make it a campaign. Something like Save $10,000 in a Year or I Have to Donate an Egg.

Or maybe just Save the Panda. 

naked panda

Wherein I Pass On My Legacy

17 Sep

Holy crap it’s a Lollipop Tuesday.

I know this might strike you as stroke-worthy, given my more-than-brief leave of absence, but here I am on a Tuesday, regaling you with adventures of the once-hermity Jackie.

Still hermity, but forced into new and often social situations, thus making me less hermity over time. That’s the goal anyway. You can read all about it up top where it says “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” I like appropriately-labeled headers.

Onward!

This week I responded to a posting searching for mentors. It was a 90-minute workshop after which I would supposedly be qualified to influence the young and malleable minds of the next generation with my half-baked understanding of adulthood (struggle, cry, call home, struggle, find distraction, struggle, cry, call home). I didn’t really want to sit in a workshop on an otherwise perfect Thursday evening and I didn’t really want to be forced to be nice to children who aren’t somehow related to me, but my feelings don’t get a seat at the table for Lollipop Tuesdays so I strapped on my big girl boots and told myself it’d all be okay in two hours.

I brought Dave, as I tend to do from time to time. He thought beer would make things better so we stopped off for a pint before the workshop. I just happened to have some points to redeem for free beer from rocking the National Bike Challenge at a local bike-themed café (real thing, sweartojeebus), and though I don’t typically care for beer, I care for it more than I care for children.

After swishing the last of my pumpkin-themed-something-or-other down the gullet, it occurred to me that showing up to a mentoring workshop with alcohol on my breath probably wasn’t the best choice. But I’m not really me when I’m doing these adventures. If folks want the real Jackie, she’s at home playing video games with a belly full of Swedish Fish and food-induced regret. They’re getting blog Jackie. Blog Jackie has balls. And drinks beer before working with children.

Actually there were no children to be found. Well, there was one but it was still a fetus and sleeping in the womb of the instructor. She was a perfectly friendly looking woman but she looked young and fragile – perhaps younger than I. There was a lot of judging going on internally for me.

Image

This is how I hoped my future would look post-mentor workshop. This is not an accurate representation of my experience.

Perhaps I’m getting closer to a true understanding of old and crotchety (as has been my hunch for several years). Now that I’m old enough to enter into situations where people younger than I are trying to teach me things, I have a lot of feedback. Mostly negative. And mostly centering on confusion as to what these young whippersnappers could possibly have to teach me if I’m older and wiser and even I don’t know what the hell is going on.

I’m ready for retirement, a porch, and a big pitcher of ice tea.

So there I was, squashed up against a bunch of other folks who want to invest in the future of the world and grumpily analyzing a poor pregnant woman on her presentation skills.

Seriously though, she was pretty bad. She started off by reviewing the plan for the evening (here’s what public schools require to graduate, here are resources, here’s how to navigate conversations, etc) and then swiftly noted that she was by no means an expert. At which point everyone in the room proceeded to treat her like an expert.

It was painful to watch, mostly because her discomfort and degree of BSing her way through an answer was made obvious by the fine upstanding citizen sitting in front of me who happened to be on some sort of education committee. We walked through an enormous book that was outlined like a football play-by-play on how to graduate high school, we role played some mentor/mentee scenarios, and then everyone got a t-shirt and a pin.

You might think I’m skipping the part where we were assigned a mentee but I’m not. That didn’t happen. In fact, when I signed in, the sheet asked me for the name and age of my mentee and I left it blank. Was I supposed to have found a child? Because I hadn’t. I could go attain one, I suppose, but I don’t think last-moment desperation kidnapping would have helped the beer on the breath thing.

We got feedback forms afterward asking if we had any comments. I had a lot. I tried to ignore the things that make my eye twitch, like the images not being aligned for each PowerPoint slide, revealing that they were copying and pasting their template instead of actually creating one, or even the fact that the person training us didn’t really know anything about her subject. I even overlooked that they emphasized kids dropping out of school due to low grades too much and didn’t talk about them getting pregnant, being abused, not being able to eat, being bullied, or a host of other real issues that plague students who slip through the cracks. My feedback was simply that if you’re going to train people to be mentors, you should follow the training up with providing them with a list of organizations that can assign them a mentee.

Crazy, I know.

Of course, if I’d gotten the t-shirt before I filled out the form and not after, I’d also ask them why it is that everyone who orders crappy t-shirts only orders them in XL and larger, but I missed the boat on that one.

So here I am, a fully qualified coach. I have a pin and everything. It confirms that I read a book and then sat in a workshop where I had a PowerPoint explained to me that summarized key points from said book. Now I need to go find myself some children to influence. If you know of any, feel free to send them my way so that I can mold their minds. I’m hoping to connect mostly via email so I don’t actually have to go anywhere or do anything. That would be ideal.

Hey, you know what’s crazy? The next time you read a Lollipop Tuesday, it will be because I’ve completed a 10K. That’s right: it’s September and way back in the beginning of the year I committed to doing running a 10K this month. In two weeks, I’ll meet my fate and I’ll either live to tell you about it or Dave will ghost write the experience for me. “Jackie’s Death by 10K” it will be titled and appropriately also be the last Lollipop Tuesday in the books. Forever.

Just promise me something: if I don’t live to pass on my story, promise me you’ll tell the next generation about proper use of PowerPoint templates, how to effectively run a workshop, and how to anticipate appropriate sizing choices for bulk clothing orders.

These are areas of impact that I feel my presence will be truly felt in the next generation.

The Great Filth Festering, Part Deux

11 Sep

Guys, remember that time I told you all about how I’m usually a clean freak but my life shifted priorities somehow and I instead gave up on everything and found a bag of rotten mutant potatoes hiding under my bar?

Oh, some of you are new. Hello ducklings. Catch up here: (linky link)

Well anyway, I’ve deteriorated again.

I don’t know that I ever truly recovered, actually. I kind of have gotten into the habit of building a domicile of stench and humiliation until a wire shorts in my head and I remember that I don’t like to be dirty and I clean everything that I touch or touches me until it’s all sparkling and glorious. Even Dave. I guess that’s just how I operate lately. I’m busy and I’ve determined that one of the first things that can go is my sense of cleanliness and dignity.

I think it started when I took on yet another gig a few weeks ago in spite of already having two part time jobs, two side projects, and two blogs (Don’t worry I’m just a contributor there (linky link)). I love you. Don’t leave me.

Apparently I tend to overwork myself in twos. I also have two cats. I’m putting them on the list. They can be little time suckers. Did you know you have to feed them?

At the time I thought I was at max capacity, I was running low on money and high on junk in my house so I decided to have a yard sale. However, not having a yard, I had to call a friend who had one and ask to borrow theirs. I then proceeded to pack up my life belonging’s, sticker them for an embarrassingly low price, drive 20 minutes away from my house, and set them up in someone else’s yard. Afterward I had every intention of taking the unsold items to Goodwill but instead was beat from battling fannypacked hagglers all day and left it all in the car. So in addition to an apartment that was accumulating filth in the midst of my demanding schedule, I now owned a vehicle stuffed to the brim with crap I didn’t even want.

So it naturally follows that I was swimming in my stench pool of an apartment this past weekend when I reached a new low in the land of Jackie: I invested in my first roll of fly tape.

I’m going there. And you’re coming with me. Remember: there’s no judging on The Jackie Blog.

For those of you who’ve never let yourselves get this low, fly tape is a roll of paper with sappy sugary goo all over it that you slowly spiral down and out of the small cardboard prison that contains it and then hang from various places where flies accumulate so that they fly toward it with high hopes and instead are stuck to the glorious goo that feeds them.

I’m not really sure how the fly thing happened, honestly. Though I hunted high and low for the source that fed them, the fact of the matter is that they were there because a film of filth had descended upon my domicile. No crumb sweeping or dish doing would oust the beast I bore into the world. I didn’t have the time to figure out what would, so I bought fly tape and dangled it precariously above my living room sofa.

I almost felt bad about dooming the fools to a sticky, static death by goo tape but I was trying to take a nap between shifts the other day and they proceeded to swirl and flit and then procreate on me. flies

You heard me correctly. I was attempting to nap on my couch and was frequently woken by the slight itch that accompanies two flies landing on your kneecap and fornicating. If you ever need a confirmation that your life is spiraling out of control and you need to get your act together, let flies bumping uglies on you in the festering filth of your stench cocoon seal the deal. For me it didn’t; my parents did.

Yes, it was a bright and shiny Saturday morning when I woke to realize that my parents were a mere 45 minutes outside the city and they were about to confirm that their youngest child was indeed their weakest combination of genes. In case their gut feelings hadn’t yet confirmed it, the fly tape harboring 8 dead flies above her sofa surely would.

I was outside putting the finishing touches on brushing my cat when they casually approached bearing gifts of groceries because of the sense of disarray my voice had in a phone call a few days prior. There were oodles of food bags containing everything from steaks on ice to my favorite home town chips, homemade ice tea, and a bag of baby potatoes.

I told her I couldn’t be trusted with potatoes after what happened last time but she said she had faith in me. She’s a good mom.

Of course if I hadn’t just descended upon my apartment like a hurricane to get rid of surface dirt, immediately noticeable neglect, and the long spiral of fly tape above my couch, she might have reconsidered. Perhaps I ought to schedule a visit with my parents on some sort of regular basis so that my apartment can only dive so deep into the cesspool before I’m forced to remedy it or be shamed out of the family unit. Since their visit, I’ve been fly-free. But my dishes need to be done. And there’s still that car full of yard sale items that have to be put somewhere…

Hey, the good news is the fly tape is gone. And I’m headed out for a Lollipop Tuesday adventure tomorrow night. I’m going to a mentoring workshop. Yeah: this well-adjusted adult is going to influence ripe, young minds.

Maybe if I stick with it long enough, I can talk them into a little light cleaning. 

Milton Waddams Is My Spirit Animal

7 Aug

I’m starting to really resent my student loans.

Well, I guess I’ve kind of resented them for a while. Since about the time they started being, you know, due. 

In my slightly older and barely wiser years, I’m now starting to recall all those conversations I blacked out for when I was younger. Those ones about how I was going to pay for college and how banks will just give you money and that everyone was doing it and it was the only way to get an education. Kids all across America were being told that they could go to college if only they filled out the FAFSA and clicked their mouses a few times. 

Well, I’m sure not all kids were having that conversation. In many homes across America, the conversation was whether they should pursue the scholarship for dressage or for water polo. But in my town, horses were for the Amish and swimming was only in a river, so my conversation was pretty average: I took out a lot of money on the understanding that everyone was doing it, and that it was the only way to make sure I got a job.

What a bunch of malarkey.

I had grown ass adults selling 5- and 6-digit loans to me like crack dealers. No interest while in school they said. You’ll make more money when you graduate they said. It’s good debt because they can’t take your education from you they said.

High honor roll, folks. I was clearly undeserving. How did I listen to that bunch of horse manure? They can’t take my education but they sure as hell can take my life post-college. And they have. They haaaave.

As many followers of the Jackie saga know, I was once a visiting member of the corporate jungle as an executive assistant for a nice chunk of my life. I indulged in their expense reports, their endless office supply closets, their galas and lunch meetings. I had to eventually quit because it was going to give me a freaking stroke but man was it nice to have that paycheck.

Of course when your job pushes you to the teetering edge of major stroke risk, you’re inclined to spend your money on things that help you forget about said impending stroke. Like great food and shopping and online orders and drapes and anything else you can stare at while you’re not at work so you can feel like you’re not at work. But after a while you realize that you’re spending over 40 hours a week with a knot in your stomach and if you add the hours you stay awake at night because you get woken up by texts and emails from your boss that remind you to do something you already did two weeks ago, you realize that your entire life blows, excellent food and furniture or not. And you can either continue on the path to unhappiness and strokedom or try to get a job you enjoy.

So that’s what I did. I left my big, beautiful wood desk in a private suite, threw all my business professional clothes in the closet, and sailed into the ocean of non-profits and jobs in my field to see if I could piece together enough money each month to pay my bills. At the moment, that consists of three part-time jobs: one non-profit, one for-profit, and one constantly rotating theater thing. With those powers combined, I’m Captain Jackie: almost content citizen who can almost pay her bills…if we don’t count those enormous piles of cash she owes to the banks who gave her an education all those years ago. You know, the ones big enough to have bought a house or a new car or fund a wedding, or do all three meagerly. 

The peculiar thing about such a move is that when you switch concentrations of work (unless you’re a lucky bastard), you go from climbing the ladder in the field you were working in and somewhat respected for to having to go to the bottom of the climb again. It’s like being in the 80’s on chutes and ladders just when some jackass of a snake bites you and sends you to the first row again. And so the majority of the last several months of my time at work have been attempting to demonstrate that I am indeed a fully functioning human being, capable of great feats when equipped with tasks, a computer and organizational goals.

Of course, being equipped at all is a bit of a task in the nonprofit world. In fact, I went into work just this past week to find an email stating that someone else was being hired and that it would be great if I could pack up my files and move to the back corner of the office, where I started when I got hired, and used the company-shared laptop instead of the beautiful, large-screen Mac that comprised the sole perk of my working environment. 

Well that and the chips at staff meetings are pretty good.

milton

Milton, my spirit animal.

So I’m feeling a little more Milton Waddams-y than usual and while I’m juggling these three gloriously half-baked bill payers, my resentment grows toward that enormous wad of cash I borrowed for a few years that could have been a mortgage or a backpacking trip throughout, well, the entire freaking world really.

I don’t like to be discontent, and discontent I am. So August is the month of shaking things up. I’m sucking at a lot right now (by the by, I didn’t work out at all for two days in a row. TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I fell off the trolley. Please don’t leave me). My first plan of attack is to download Final Fantasy 8, fashion a blanket fort in my living room, and live in a pile of cheese curl powder and my own body oils until I complete it. Then once I’m done mourning the Jackie of Suckage Past, I’m going to dive directly into the bowels of Jackie of Amazeballs Future. I don’t know what she’s like yet, or how uncomfortable her bowels may or not be as a dwelling space, but I’m excited to find out.

Unfortunately I’m quite certain that every version of Jackie comes with student loan debt and not a backpack full of world-traveling possibilities.

But that’s okay. I’m going to cope. I’ve gathered the blankets and simply have to acquire the cheese curls and I’m all set.

See? This adulthood thing is easy. 

See you on the flip side. Jackie of Suckage Past, out. 

The Pros and Cons of Half-Jackies

17 Jul

I spent a large portion of last evening weighing the pros and cons of donating my eggs.

I just turned 27. There’s a lot to do.

By “a lot to do”, I mean “shit’s expensive and sometimes I think about donating my eggs”.

Sometimes isn’t a lot. It’s like, three times. Once, when I saw an ad at a bus stop saying I could snag 10 grand for a little potential half-Jackie, once more the other day when I made a joke to Dave about it, and for the third time last night when an excellent friend said she’d been considering it.

Some friends get coffee, some donate eggs together.

We’re both logical beings. Kind of. And after we measured each other’s level of sincerity (mine was at 15%, hers was at 45%), we began to look up everything we could possibly find on the magical interwebz about the pros and cons of donating our eggs.

In case you’re curious, it’s not as easy as just looking good on paper. Sure, it’s pretty standard that people want babies from degree-carrying, attractive egg donors, but there’s a whole lot that goes into the slushie that is my body that I can’t really control. Suddenly, I found myself poring over pages of desirable egg donor qualities, measuring how I stacked up next to what was one of the highest rated potential donors: genius Asians.

If you’re reading this and you’re an genius Asian, get thee to a hospital. They’ll suck your eggs right out of you and slap a check in your hand in no time. I, however, don’t get in so easily. I’m the kind of gal who has done what I can with what was given to me. And what was given to me was a big pile of recessive, sickly, or otherwise degenerative DNA. I got my mother’s creaky knees and migraines, my father’s asthma and allergies, and more teeth than my mouth got the memo for. I’m blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and so pale you can map the blood flow through my veins to most of my major organs. My family is chock full of brown haired, hazel eyed natural tanners so I’m either adopted, or I’m a great underdog story about a mess of genes that lost every war they fought but turned into a fully-functional person in spite of it.

I’m thinking there won’t be a big rush to my egg donor application.

eggs

I like to think my eggs look like this. Close, right?

I’m thinking they wouldn’t be too supportive of exchanging a half-Jackie for a cool ten grand, in spite of the fact that it could fix my car, get me a nice deposit on a new place, and get me out of credit card debt. I mean, when you look at it that way, kids are really great.

Of course, the magical interwebz also had a host of horror stories to share, which brought my 15% down to a 5%. I have to admit that it was mostly the part about how you have to inject yourself with hormones and how after you do all that if you’re unable to have the eggs extracted even if it’s through no fault of your own, you only get a couple hundred dollars. You also sometimes have to wait for over a year or two to get matched with someone, even in the event that there really is a mother out there who wants a gawky, toothy, snarky half-Jackie for her own… which is unlikely.

So all that got me thinking… what would I rather do for 10 grand than wait two years, pump myself full of hormones, bring a human being into this world that I can never see, and have someone stab my ovary with a transvaginal needle, resulting in possible complications for which I have no medical insurance coverage?

Lots of things. But mostly probably a 365. After all, I’m half way through mine and it’s about time I start kicking around some ideas for next year. It is possible that I could raise $10,000 in a year by extreme couponing, gigging on the side, and hoarding spare change like Gollum? Maybe I should raise the stakes on myself and if I don’t have $10,000 in my account by the end of the year, I have to apply to be an egg donor.

That’s a fun game. ..all I need is a good name for the journey.

Now taking submissions.

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