Tag Archives: musings

Why You Should Stay for the Credits

20 Nov

I remember the Facebook post that changed it all for me.

It wasn’t a cat or a picture of someone’s dinner or an inspirational quote, life-altering as those can be. It was a miniature rant from a friend who had worked crew on a film and wrote how it was insulting to him that as text rolled after the movie giving credit to him and to his fellow coworkers who pulled long hours for months to make it happen, folks just gathered their coats, left their messes behind, and filtered out of the theater without paying them any mind. His bottom line? If you liked the movie, show respect for what and who it took to make it.

I’ll admit I wasn’t always a stay-for-the-credits kinda gal. I liked to get out the door and get to the next thing. I wanted to go get food (I always want to go get food) or talk about the movie, but I didn’t  want to sit there and read a bunch of nonsense about who did what when I didn’t know any of the people. And what the hell was a “Best Boy”, anyway?

After I read my friend’s Facebook comment, though, I started to feel kind of guilty. He had a point. If I liked the movie, I should show appreciation and look at what it took to get it made. So I forced myself to sit through them out of respect. And then, as often happens during the strange transition from being wholly against something to wholly for it, I found myself learning and taking interest in new aspects of the credits. I was starting to take note of actors who did their own stunts, and who required several personal assistants, hairstylists, and body guards. I could note how much of a movie required special effects and what locations it was shot in and how many people it employed. I noticed thank yous to local governments and organizations, information about underscoring, which actors also produced, and all sorts of tidbits that made my nerd cells shiver with excitement.

It’s actually kind of interesting when you know what you’re looking at.

Hey, I get it. It’s just words scrolling on a screen and you’re pretty sure you’re never going to care. Movie makers are pretty sure you’re never going to care, too, because they went from putting the titles at the beginning to mixing them in with establishing shots, to cutting them entirely and throwing them at the end. If you see a movie on television, they’ll shrink the screen the moments the credits roll, speed it up to four times its rate, and stick it up in a corner on the side of the screen so you can be entertained by commercials or get on to the next thing. They know you don’t care.

But I’m going to suggest you give it a try. Seriously. Sometimes it even pays off with a nice little cut scene at the end as a reward for your commitment. Sometimes you’ll learn that Industrial Light & Magic does the visual effects for basically everything always. Sometimes you’ll learn that someone who performs all the major dance moves for an Academy Award winning performer can be credited as a “stunt double” and “hand model”.

Sometimes you’ll realize how many jobs each movie brings to an area and that it’s important to pay attention to those details when you’re at the polls voting on whether or not to pass a film tax credit law in your state.

It helps, of course, to know what you’re looking at. If you’re using ignorance as a shield, please click here to acquaint yourself with some of the terms you face in the slow scroll.

Give it a try. Not just once, but a few times. You might like it. You might even get to see an extra scene. And in the event that someone in the audience worked on the film, you might even get to make someone proud. 

image

This post was written for and reposted from my  recent contribution to a geekier, more collaborative blog, VStheUniverse. You can find all sorts of nerdy bits there, from theories on time travel to weekly nerd moments to nerdical musings both great and small. If that gets you all hot and bothered, follow us on Facebook and on tumblr. 

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. 

I Beat the Blerch

1 Oct

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, ladies and gentlemen.

I hope that by my classic opening sentence for a Lollipop Tuesday post, you’ll recognize that I’m alive and well after attempting my first 10K this past weekend, but I suppose that the first thing a ghost writer would do is study my recurring themes and voice and copy it for the sake of consistency so I guess you’ll just never really know if the person blogging from now on is the real Jackie or not. I can’t make that decision for you.

I can, however, tell you that on Sunday morning at approximately 10:30am, my butt cheeks coordinated in perfect and opposing harmony to power me across the finish line of my very first 10K race.

In retrospect, there are a few things wrong with that sentence. Particularly the part about it being a race. I’m sure it was for some people, but the only person I was competing with that morning was the fat girl inside me, telling me to just stop and take a bus to the end. I was prepared for that, which is why I had two shortbread cookies in a tiny plastic baggie in the cup holder of the car, which was parked back at the start line. And since I knew fat Jackie was going to kick in around mile 3, I outsmarted her. She could either walk more than three miles back to the car in shame, or she could finish the less than three miles ahead of her, and then take a complimentary shuttle back to her well-deserved bag of cookies.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being an adult is all about properly leveraging your motivators.

That would be me, pre-race. And Dave. And the friend who challenged me in January to make my 5K resolution into a 10K instead. Let's call him Lord Pickles.

That would be me, pre-race. And Dave. And the friend who challenged me in January to make my 5K resolution into a 10K instead. Let’s call him Skeeter.

 

Let’s move on to the second inaccuracy in my former sentence: the use of the word “first”. While it’s true that it was my first 10K, I feel uncomfortable about calling it out like that because seriously, I doubt that there will be another. Let’s face it guys: I suck at running. I bitch and I moan and I’m uncomfortable and the only way to get me to do it, really, is to either bully myself into it with embarrassment and fear tactics, or to promise myself some pastries I squirreled away for myself.  There’s a chance that I’ll revisit a 5K now so that I can work on having a less embarrassing pace, but it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to endure this particular kind of pain and suffering again.

What pain and suffering, you say?

At the beginning of a race, I scan the thousands of participants for whom I anticipate will be the weakest in the pack.  These include but are not limited to the old and feeble, the fat and frumpy, and (of course) the children. I then proceed to watch every single person I pegged out for losers pass me as I huff and puff and consider blowing the whole thing off. I spent the entire race alternating between trying to pass a father-son team who ran ahead and then walked until I passed them and then ran ahead again, and an old lady with a fanny pack and a serious hunch who did the same. I very keenly remember trying to chug up a hill in the very first mile and reminding myself to breathe and relax because it was just the beginning as a woman with enormous haunches harnessed her ass power and soared uphill without effort.

They all beat me. Every single one. And in case that wasn’t bad enough, at mile 2.5, I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked to see my boss smiling and leaping ahead. I could have tried to keep pace to rescue what remained of my dignity, but let’s be honest: there was no guaranteeing I was going to make it to the end and it wasn’t a time to get cocky.

So that. That pain and suffering.

The third and final issue I take with the sentence I was too lazy to delete is that it contained the term “opposing harmony”, which I’m pretty sure can’t be a thing. I’ve tried to justify it many times and I suppose there can be an opposing harmony that exists, perhaps, among counterweights, for example, and Paula Abdul and the cartoon cat in Opposites Attract, but there is a better way to describe the way one’s butt cheeks work together than “opposing harmony”.  I’ll blame the ghost writer for that lack of inventiveness…and basically everything terrible written from now until this blog dies a hard and humiliating death, just like the real Jackie did at the 10K on Sunday.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

Seriously though, thanks to everyone who has followed me from the couch to the 5K to the 10K. If you’ve been reading, you know this transition has been far from natural for me but I’m 30 pounds lighter than when some of you first started reading, I’m not out of breath when I walk to the bus stop, and sometimes I’ll even walk to get groceries instead of taking the car. When I was having a really hard time pounding the pavement to a decent pace around the 4.5 mile mark, I thought lovingly of you all and how incredibly humiliated I’d be if I went so public with this and failed horribly.

Which is why the real Jackie couldn’t bear to tell you the truth and instead hired someone to carry the torch of her blog in a sort of veiled semi-serious voice regarding her passing.

Regardless, whatever Jackie is left may have completed her New Year’s Resolution but still has three months left in her Project Fat Ass 365. That’s 90 more days of huffing and puffing and seeing if I can really realize my true goal for the year: to be in the best shape of my life before the late 20’s swallows me in its beefy jowls of doom.

Hey: if I pop in Jillian Michaels now, I might have enough time to burn off all the motivation cookies it took me to train for the 10K. 

By the way, if you’re wondering where the title came from, please go here and read everything on the site. Or maybe don’t because then you’ll never come back to me. It’s okay. I’ll understand.

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.

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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. 

It’s Time for Me to Start Smoking

28 Aug

There are a lot of situations that make me uncomfortable. Partly because I am innately sensitive to social discomforts and partly because I was raised by a light-hating dungeon hermit and grew up hating everything before I learned to like it. Thus, when I’m out and about in the world, it’s safe to assume I’d rather be home and when people are talking to me, it’s safe to assume I’d rather be on a laptop on my couch, wrestling with my cat as she tries to lie across my keyboard.

Last night for example,  I went to one of Dave’s open mics (with laptop in tow), only to find a private party of fifty people crowding the room and I had to *wince* move through the crowd of people to get to the other side of the bar and some of their arms and shoulders brushed me a little bit and had to have a beer just to come down.

Then I got to the bar, I shit you not, the only available seat was directly beside a grown man in a vampire cape. 

And that’s why I struggle. Because in addition to experiencing regular social inconveniences and anxieties at a more intense level than your average Jane, I also tend to attract grown men in vampire capes.

As it turned out, he was there for the open mic and plays the keyboard. With a house funk beat. With the cape on.

I often get stuck in situations like these. I struggle to maintain casual conversation with the averagest of bears without my stomach squirting high octane nerve juice into my bloodstream. Trapped at the bar where my choices are intimate conversation with an adult Dracula impressionist or a room of fifty tight-collared strangers? Just tranquilize me.

I opted for the vampire, obviously. He was actually pretty nice. When the other side of the bar cleared of the private party, I holed up at my favorite spot in the back where I could hook up my laptop and listen to the open mic. It works out perfectly because no one bothers me but I can also claim that I’m out in the world being social. It’s kind of perfect. 

Except for last night. Last night I attracted a talker.

This is about right.

This is about right.

Usually I’m pretty good at spotting them when they don’t easily identify themselves with capes. At first I thought the table beside my was being used as a gig bag spot; there were backpacks and plastic bags and totes of all shapes and sizes. But then there was a helmet. And a person walking toward it all with a sense of territory. I’d made a terrible mistake. 

But my laptop was already on, my fries and drink already settled; to pack up and move to the other side of the room would perhaps have been even worse than sticking it out.  So I stayed. 

Sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me. I kept my head down, knowing what would happen if I dared to make eye contact for even a moment, but the pull was just too strong and for a second my eyelids flitted up and then it happened: he talked.

I’m actually able to endure a talker for quite a while. I can throw a few general responses in there to keep them going, and I’m pretty good at making up something that sounds fitting in the unexpected lulls where they’re anticipating a genuine response. But I can only do it for about ten minutes before I fear I’ve become visibly uncomfortable. I know I’m like a ticking time bomb in those moments; I can either exit the situation or make it incredibly obvious that I’m overwhelmingly rude and live like Gollum in a cave of carpet and cheese curls at home with my cats and can’t endure human contact for significant periods of time.

Babies have it so easy. I should have taken advantage of this more as a youngin.

Babies have it so easy. I should have taken advantage of this more as a youngin.

Just when I was considering sending Dave the emergency signal (“David, get me out of here or I’ll lose my shit in front of God and all these people”…it’s something like an ear tug or a nose wiggle or scooping my eye out with a soup spoon; I can never remember when I’m all angsty), I was sent an angel in the form of a friend.  Let’s call him Petey.  Petey is a friend with warm, inviting eyes, a hearty handshake and a face that makes you feel comfortable talking if you’re a talker.

So I left him there to rot.

I almost felt bad for a second, but the feeling of release was too euphoric to sense the guilt. I thought long and hard like Pooh Bear about every time I endured a talker as an act of martyrdom for my friends or for blog fodder or because I simply felt bad for the poor bastard.  I figured I’d paid my dues and it was high time I bow out and soak up the win. So I stared at my screen and pretended to be working on something very, very important.

Actually, in the time I observed I learned some new tactics. 

Petey’s survival rate is about six minutes, to my ten. So after five he does this really great thing that I’m going to start giving a go: he responds to everything with a clever exit line until one works. For every new topic the talker introduced, Petey had a line straight from a sitcom. The talker could have been in the middle of detailing his great aunt’s battle with cancer and Petey would boldly attempt, “Well, sometimes cancer gets ya!” as he inches a little closer to the door. 

It’s really impressive.

Ultimately, however, the talker won. Never sensing the “goodbye moment” attached to Petey’s one-liners, he droned on and on, never sticking to one subject, never really eliciting a response – just…talking. And that’s when Petey simply pulled out his pipe, stuffed it with tobacco, mumbled something or other about a smoke, and unapologetic acquainted himself with the exit.

That’s when it hit me: I should take up smoking. 

Honestly, I’ve considered high-tailing it a number of times to the local convenience store to snag myself a pack of all-around-excusers. But there’s no way to guarantee that the talker isn’t also a smoker, in which case all I’ll do is double down and take my situation from being trapped in a bar to being trapped in a somewhat-intimate smoke break wherein I don’t smoke.

Talk about awkward.

So I’m taking suggestions. What are your favorite ways to escape a talker? I know you do it. And you’re going to fork over your secrets or I’m going to take up smoking. You don’t want me to die of cancer, do you?

…Well, then again, sometimes cancer gets ya. 

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.

The Great Filth Festering

10 Jul

My apartment turned on me yesterday like milk: all at once and gag-reflex levels of sour.

You see, for the past several weeks I’ve been trying to work on that switch in my brain that goes off without warning and sends me into a frenzy of I CAN’T LIVE IN THIS MESS IT’S DISGUSTING I’M DISGUSTING I HAVE TO FIX IT ALL RIGHT NOW.

Sometimes this will happen when the house is truly messy. Sometimes it will happen because there is a sock on the floor in the kitchen and I can’t explain how or why. The attacks come from nowhere and there’s been little that has proven helpful in confronting it.

Lately, I’ve been working on it by trying to ease into the filth. Not nasty filth, but a general lived-in filth. It’s been difficult, but it’s all part of the trying task of not being a crazy person. The plan was to get comfortable with a shelf undusted, cat litter unscooped, a dish unrinsed. You know, like a well-adjusted human being might do. So as part of training over the course of a week, I had been letting a few things accumulate to which I’m typically quite attentive. Like the garbage. And the dishes. And, well, lots of things.

Remember: there’s no judging on The Jackie Blog.

Anyway, I had decided my training session was over and that I would clean the house thoroughly this past Monday evening after work. Unfortunately, we were faced with a bit of a family emergency that needed tending to and left at 6pm for a five hour drive to address it and then turned around at 4am for a five hour drive back. Which was fine. It was good. The problem was that while we were gone, the house turned.

It appears I had come up right to the brink of disgust. At the time I’d committed to cleaning the place, I had a 24 hour clock counting down to the moment when milk gone undrunk would turn sour, vegetables uneaten would transform from overly ripe to rotten, and all hell would break loose. Dave and I returned from our overnight voyage and went straight to work without returning to the house. All day, my house was left to fester. By the time I got home, I was almost certain I’d need a priest to exorcise the unholy demon of nasty.

There was a plague of fruit flies in my kitchen, feeding off what appeared to be several thick pockets of stench and grossness.

The most obvious culprit was the trash, which had swelled past its max capacity and as I recalled, was a glorious feast for flies since it had scraps of last week’s corn on the cob, watermelon rind, and other epic bits of festery awful. I tended to it and moved to the next cluster, which was gathered around my banana keeper.

Yes, we have a banana keeper. We eat a lot of bananas. We also apparently don’t bother to throw away the top of the bunch from which the bananas hang sometimes. So there, in the awkward half-pieces that were torn from the dislodged fruit, lay nesting several fruit flies. But that still wasn’t the worst part.flies

I realized the dishes needed to be done so I cleaned out the sink and washed the basin thoroughly and remembered that the last time I did that, I promised myself I would rinse my dishes so I would never again have to stare curdled milk in the face. It was chunky. And smelly. But that, too, was not the worst part.

I continued to move about the kitchen, darting from one pocket of air to another, eyes alert for any resettling of tiny black dots outside of my wine glass trap and incense sacrifice. Suddenly, I spotted it.

There, below the banana keeper, I followed a cloud of little black specks to something I tucked away in the far recesses of my brain several months ago: a brand new bag of potatoes.

I remembered it vaguely, the day Dave proudly  told me he was going to “do some rearranging in the kitchen”. For the most part, his changes were upgrades. I was left with more counter space and more room at the bar and was quite pleased.  In the process, however, the potatoes I usually house right on the counter so I remember to use them (a bag of potatoes for 2 people is just unreasonable) were moved to the bottom rack of the bar beside the cookie jar I’ve never once used.

Cookies don’t need jars. They need bellies.

There, beside my unloved bastard of a pastry basin, was a bag of what …used to be potatoes. It had grown and shrank and oozed and leaked its putrid juices into the cracks and crevices of the bar and into the drawer below it, where my once-peaceful collection of teas dwelt.

Apparently I don’t have tea very often either.

Needless to say, I spent last evening whipping the house back into shape. I’m still trying not be crazy about it though  so my bedroom and the living room and the kitchen are squeaky clean, but the 6 square feet that is the bathroom closet leaves something to be desired.

If I clean everything, I won’t learn anything, now will I?

Seriously though. Those potatoes had eyes. *Shudder*

So here I am, staring down the barrel of 27 years old (Friday, to be specific) and still finding myself in situations where things are so absolutely disgusting in my living situation that I can’t recognize a bag of root crops even when a fly swarm leads me to it.

I won’t post again until I’m an entire year older than I am today so I should take this moment to reflect. But I do a lot of reflecting around here so do me a birthday solid instead and join me in finishing these statements at whatever point you find yourself in life. I’d be tickled to read the answers. Also, there are four and it’s fill in the blank and what kind of strangers are we if you can’t write four words for my birthday?

Probably the kind of stranger who stopped reading once they realized the whole post was about the depth of my filth. So a tip of my hat to both those who bowed out early (mad respect) and those who made it this far (troopers, all).

May you all always find the bag of potatoes while it still holds actual potatoes. 

 

Please leave a comment with whatever answer is appropriate for this time and juncture in your life or for your mood on this particular day. Try to forget about the flies and potatoes. And thanks. Happy Birthday to you too.

Right now I’m trying to be at ease with imperfections

I find myself eating a lot of buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar

I’m kind of hoping to win the lottery for my birthday

I’m feeling pretty good about my mostly clean home

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