Tag Archives: postaweek

I Need Your Dog Real Quick

10 Jun

I’ve been in Portland for a few days for a work thing and I’m wondering if I’ll bother to jump the plane back home. Portland, Oregon – not Portland, Maine – just in case you were wondering. I’ve been told no one but me ever does, but hey: just in case.

I think the hotel I’m staying at is built specifically to keep me here. There’s a button on my phone that I can push that says “get it now” and if I push it, I can have them deliver a pint of locally made ice cream to my door. On-demand ice cream. The new world is a marvel.

They also have something called a dog spiritual menu. At first I thought this meant that I could steal a random dog from the street and pamper him with a hot stone massage or get its chakras balanced, but it turns out it’s just a library of books available to me on pet psychology and whatnot. However, the front desk is also happy to help refer me to a pet psychic if it will make my stay more memorable, so I’m currently on the hunt for a dog with an owner who isn’t paying much attention to them. 

pet psychic

I know, pup. I have a lot of questions too. (photo cred: Joseph Morris)

There’s also a pillow menu. In case I’m not content with the 6 pillows on my bed already, I can call someone and custom order the type of pillow I would prefer. I’m not sure how to do that without sounding like a total and complete A-hole, but the curiosity is killing me. Do they bring sample pillows for me to choose from? Do they wheel a cart into my room with little fancy placards labeling their firmness? Why aren’t the pillows they bring up already represented among the several pillows already on my bed? WHY ARE THEY WITHHOLDING SECRET PILLOWS. WHY DO I HAVE TO CALL TO UNLOCK THEM?

In spite of these luxuries, this boutique hotel is lacking the only amenity worth booking for: the good old fashioned continental breakfast. I gotta say, I’m getting pretty tired of classy-claiming hotels that don’t give me free breakfast. In what world do I shell out more money than it takes to stay at a Holiday Inn to have my morning made-to-order omelet replaced with nothing but a pitcher of fresh cucumber water? Why can I rent a book from a dog wellness library and not get some free morning toast?

Maybe I’d feel differently if the amenities were geared toward cats instead of dogs. I’d swap out my free daily breakfast in exchange for someone getting inside Monk’s head. That cat is in dire need of some psychoanalysis. Really. I should have put him on a leash and stowed him in the plane. I could distract him with a damp sponge bath at the hotel while I have someone get to the bottom of what makes him punch me in the eyeball with his furpaw at 4am.

Even if they offered a cat spiritual menu, I’d still need to work up the chutzpah to pick up the phone and request it. I have yet to work up enough to request the pillow menu and ice cream. I don’t mean that from a lazy perspective (although – yes.), but just from a phone-hating perspective. I don’t even like to talk to my friends on the phone. I have a longstanding friend (15 years now?) with whom I have only exclusively chatted online. I credit it as the reason we’ve been able to hang in there so long. Still – the curiosity is killing me. I should call.

I really have to continually work at to getting over these sorts of little hangups in my quest to not become a bitter old shut-in. So, it’s decided: tomorrow is the big day: I’m going to pick up the phone, dammit. I want a firmer pillow. And a body pillow. All of the secret pillows. I should also grab a dog real quick just to get my full money’s worth from my stay. If I can just work up the courage to commit a tiny bit of random dog theft and pick up the phone, I can celebrate my wins in a pile of pillow with a $12 pint of hand-delivered ice cream.

Maybe I can even manage to save half of it for breakfast.

Thank You Lord, for the Death of My Phone

31 May
phone RIP

photo: Judit Kline on flickr

Wow, last week’s post was an emotional knapsack that was unpacked every time a new wave of friends and family read it. Which was kind of the point, I suppose– that’s a lot fewer people who will be upset when I go to the court house or Costa Rica or nowhere at all. It’s also exactly what I had the most anxiety about. (See how I feel when people I know read my blog).

That was a nice fast-track to figuring out how to have those conversations on the daily.

Just kidding; I was terrible at the conversations.

After the last post, my phone had at least three texts each and every day from brand new people with ideas for how they thought I could have a wedding in a way that was low key and palatable for my perpetually anxious and awkward self. I also had phone calls. Someone even took it upon themselves to start asking around about arrangements with the most excellent but terribly executed intentions (Iknowyou’rereadingthis, it’stotallyfindon’tworryaboutit, Iloveyoupleasedon’tcallmeandtalkaboutitmorexoxoxo). And the sweet whisper of elopement echoed ever louder in the chambers of my brain.

I was beginning to groan every time my phone received a new text because it was inevitably about the post – a post about how I wanted the attention surrounding the subject of the post to go away. I realize, now, my naivete and that there is humor somewhere in it all. Regardless, the joke never translated well for me. Or rather it did – but into more of a firey hell rage than schoolgirl laughter.

Admist all the personal backlash, following a particularly serious big-girl-pants day at work, I came home to realize I’m getting too lax about the definition of a week when I say I’ll post “weekly” and that it was time to throw up a post about whatever dried up bits were in the corners of my brain. Just as I was about to settle in to a nice evening celebrating my work wins and anticipating a high five by the end of the night for posting to the blog, I checked my phone for yet another wedding-related text and found instead a sleek, solid black bar where my phone used to be. Dead.

No warning, no reason, no sense. Just gave up the ghost.

I immediately thought of all the many ways this was going to cause me pain in the coming days. I couldn’t take a work call going from one place to another, I couldn’t use my phone to ignore the men hassling me downtown using various pastry references for my body parts, I can’t text my mom in the morning to make sure she doesn’t go postal and burn down the post office where she works. This could get serious.

I immediately made myself a plate of bacon for dinner to come up with a game plan.

Alas, I had none. But as I chewed on the skins of dead swine, it occurred to me that for as long as it takes me to figure out the phone situation, I wouldn’t have to endure the nagging from anyone about wedding-related hootenanny. I could just keep the thing shut down and avoid it all. Hell, I could double down and get off all social media, put whatever I want on my blog, and force people to have to interact with me virtually to tell me how they feel. Perhaps this is the answer I’ve been looking for since I first set out to find a blogland Jackie / real Jackie life balance.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a plan for the in-person conversations yet (which truly are the worst of them all) grey gardens 2except to perhaps fashion a disguise for myself. Some sort of Grey Gardens-esque getup that no one will venture a guess that I’m hiding beneath. Disguised by day, unapproachable at work, and absent on social media: it’s the way to revert to the life I wanted – to have an open space to regale internet-based strangers with the hyperbolic inner monologue of my brain, to sometimes push myself to do something terrifying with the safety net of sharing that humility with people I would never have to worry about meeting or talking to, and to have a healthy online social life in lieu of a real one so as to prevent myself from shriveling up like hermity little raisin.

If properly leveraged, my brick of a phone could open the door to the next big chapter in my life: complete absence from reality. Let us take a moment to thank the Good Lord above for this unexpected blessing – both for the phone’s sudden passing and for the ability to see the silver lining in what would, at first glance, simply be a modern-day mediocre tragedy:

An iPhone Prayer

Thank you, Dear Lord, for the death of my phone

Though at first I cursed this wretched life

For the people who speak to me

For those who recognize me at parties

For those who traversed the space between virtual and true realities

Verily, Thou hast opened mine eyes

To a bright, new world where I can be my truest, most absent self

To the lack of damns I can give to those opinions for which I once deeply felt

To finding the beauty in the hand I have herein been dealt

Thank you, Dearest Lord

For opening my eyes to this unexpected boon

For its coinciding with Season 5 of House of Cards

…And for Dave’s iPad being left at my home so I can binge-watch it all in my room

Amen. 

A Bride’s Guide for the Anxious, Awkward, and Broke

22 May

 

photo wedding

This bride probably can’t focus because her mind is heavy with the burden of debt, social acceptance, and the to-the-minute schedule for the reception. Illustration by janwillemsen on flickr.

I want to talk about weddings for a minute. 

 

Mostly, I think I want to put my stance on weddings in one place so that when people continually ask me about my and Dave’s future, I can hand them a business card that sends them to it. Something like theJackieblog.com/whyarentyoumarriedwhatsgoingonthereitstotallymybusiness 

#passiveaggressiveweblinks

The Dave and I have been together for a long time. A very long time. Friends have had several full relationships within the cycle of our forever love – some have even gotten married and had children. There are a variety of factors that have contributed to this that really aren’t anyone’s business, but a large part of it has been both of our desires to do what we want in our own time. Stunning concept, I know.

But we’re coming up against that natural desire to send carbon copies of ourselves out into the earth, and when I combine my that with the need to simplify health insurance, income taxes, and a variety of other administrative hassles, it appears it’s time to throw in the towel and get married. So now we have to deal with all of that malarkey.

I’ve never really been the kind of girl to sit around and dream up what my future wedding will be. I’ve dabbled from time to time – had a private Pinterest board or two – but mid-pinning I’m reminded of everything that comes with a wedding and I’m overcome with a sense of dread.  So let’s talk about those things, shall we? Because nowhere, in the piles and aisles of ‘how-tos’ for brides, have I found a single book on “how to get married when you’re anxious, awkward, and broke.”

Some Crappy Things that Come With a Wedding

Thing 1 – The Attention: This has always been an issue, but with more social media apps than I can keep up with, it’s reached new woeful heights. There’s the engagement announcement, the wedding announcement, the constant questions about both. We can post it on Facebook casually or come up with some clever picture. Then do we roll it out across several platforms for the folks who are only on one? What about the people who aren’t on social media at all? Should we call them first or after? What if I need to do breathing exercises to talk on the phone? Then, I have to deal with people actually responding. Imagine how many clever jokes there are for a couple who has waited as long as us.

Work announced I got a promotion and six weeks later people are still exclaiming excitedly to me in person about it, which makes me want to tear off my skin and run away every time. If that’s a miniature test, the backlash from wedding-related announcements is going to make me self-implode. I’m already tired. People are already mad; I can feel it. Which is a shame, because we haven’t even gotten to:

Thing 2: The Invitation List: This is where it all goes way downhill. Even if I’ve done a proper job of announcing it and people were generally cool and I didn’t spontaneously combust from stress and anxiety, I still have to figure out this part: who gets to come? Are they the people who should come or the people who I want to come? Do Dave and I just figure out how much money we have (none) and how many people it can feed (none), divide that in half (zero) and then invite that many people (yes)? I guess I’m supposed to make rules for how guests get filtered through the decision-making and then extend the rules consistently and fairly throughout the process, but the rule I want to make is that they get to come if we want them in the room. That’s never actually how it happens. Even if we would be lucky enough to be the first couple in the history of all weddings to only invite the people we actually want to come, it means there will absolutely be more of:

Thing 3: The Drama: Even if a parallel Disney universe porthole opens up and sends me tiny magical mice to help me deep-breathe through the spotlight that comes with announcing, and even if some of those magical mice are deployed throughout the earth to explain to some people why they weren’t invited and others why they were, and even if no one has anything negative to say about that process (hilarious), there’s still going to be drama. Beyond the topic of who is supposed to come, people are going to have feelings about where it is, when it is, how long it is, what it’s like, where they sit, what the music is, if the favors are good enough, whether the food was good, and whether we chose the appropriate types and number of socially awkward wedding traditions. I have to say, I’m not really a traditional kind of gal. That part where single women scramble for the flowers publicly? That part where men go after the garter that’s been up the bride’s thigh? That part where a random man puts his hands up a random gal’s thigh in celebration of them being the two lucky catches? Has totally grossed me out forever. The dollar dance? Super weird. The part where the audience has to watch a bunch of different traditional dances take place? The cake in the face or maybe not in the face? The speeches, the toasts, the terror. The bachelorette and bachelor parties, the wedding shower. I have a lot of not awesome feelings about these sometimes requirements. Don’t get me wrong: folks should do what they want at their own weddings; it’s just that people seem to think I should also have to do what they want at mine. The only one I’ve been a fan of to date is a cookie table. I feel like a lot of people can really get behind that. Though I have to admit that’s a bit at odds with my issues surrounding:

Thing 4: The Work: Man, that’s a lot of work already and I haven’t event organized the event yet. I have to find a venue, probably think about making sure it looks all right, invite the people I argued about coming, track which ones will come and which ones won’t and guess on the rest, book and confirm and coordinate, make sure people know what to do and where to go, find some food and drink for them, probably get a cake and some entertainment or something… and then there’s all the worrying. That will probably be the most work of all. The amount of worrying that I will do and the time I will spend talking about all that worrying instead of doing something much more productive: that’s the heavy load right there. Speaking of heavy loads, it’s about time we address the elephant in the post:

Thing 5: The Money: This is the core of it, isn’t it? How insane is the money situation with weddings? Sure, someone will say something about how I can make it as expensive as I want or something. Or someone will offer to pay or help. Or I’ll be encouraged to put more work in to save more money – as if there isn’t enough work already. Yeah – I could try to figure out how to get a free or near-free venue. I could force a pot luck on everyone and tell them that because of our near-free venue, I probably won’t have a way to keep anything hot or cold so good luck. I could throw a pig in the ground with fire and say vegetarians be damned because I don’t have the money for pasta salads on the side (sorry gluten free folk). I could borrow everything possible and I’ll still end up paying a nice sum of money to make all of this happen or to at least make it happen in a way that’s worth all the work. And remember, people are going to have opinions on spending their money, taking off work, and driving some place to eat lukewarm food in the middle of the woods while a bunch of people just hang out.

As many times as I run through everything in my head, sometimes I still get to the place where I wonder if I just have to do it anyway because that’s what people do. What if I can get the money together? Then should I just do it?

But every time I come back to these three things that are definitely better than a wedding.

Three Things that Are Better than a Wedding

Thing 1: Starting a Foundation

I’m not even kidding. You can start a foundation with 5-10K – which, let’s be honest, is what we’re talking about. And that’s optimistic. Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when Dave and I got married, we celebrated by starting a philanthropic fund? Instead of all that money going into a one-time event, it can go toward something constant and sustainable that lets us fondly reflect on the spirit of giving every time we gift it.

Thing 2: Getting a House

So I recognize that this is something that I aspire to mostly because I’ve waited long enough in life to actually think it’s more practical to have a house than to have a party. But really. If I have to have a ceremony, I should just have it in whatever is my house-to-be. Anyone who wants to help pay can go in on that down payment with us. We can get celebrate in the back yard, have a proper potluck, and sleep for the first evening in our home together. If folks feel hellbent on wedding gifts, they can be focused on the housewarming celebration, which also takes the pressure off to have traditional wedding events and dances. 

Thing 3: Other people take us out to celebrate

I think this is in the realm of my million dollar idea series (along with Puppy Amusement Parks). We send invitations out to people to let them know we’re getting married. To celebrate, we welcome them to give us a call or email us to set up a date to go out together and celebrate. If that’s too intimate for them, then I guess we aren’t close enough to warrant a special celebration. And if they don’t want to or can’t pay for it – then I’m sure they can empathize with the fact that I feel the same way.

 

So there you have it: I’m adding to the bridal guide canon with this completely free how-to thinkguide support piece thing. No need to thank me, anxious dwellers of the earth. …Just don’t hold it against me if I fall privy to the trap of weddings and have to eat my blog post soon in shame. Don’t worry, if I change my mind you’ll know – I’ll feel pressured to make sure you get an invitation. 

 

Cats and KonMari

11 May

I just want you to know that after my last blog post, Monk was really lovely for about three straight days. I started to feel a little bad for publicly shaming him. Then one day I was washing my face and as I bent over to rinse, all soapy-eyed and disoriented, suddenly he launched from the back of the bathroom toilet to the back of my body. I stood up and yelped and he got so scared that he dragged his claws down my back to hang on for dear life.

So. I have to get a second cat now.

cat face

Illustration by The Gross Uncle. Check him out on Twitter!

I can’t do this anymore. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’m starting to look older than I feel, and while a portion of that is just the reality of aging, a serious part of it is that I wake up at least 3 times that I can remember the next morning from Monk just pushing shit off of shelves and onto the floor. All night long. I can play with him, feed him, let him sleep on my face, open windows for him, let him push through all the blinds and break every single set in the house – doesn’t matter. He thrives in chaos. He wants to watch the world burn.

I feel bad for whichever future cat has to put up with him. I’m just hoping it helps him chill out. Probably best if it’s a really fat one with a strong batting arm. And maybe an unnerving stare. It’ll be super weird and change the vibe of my apartment, but I’ll probably be able to do something about these bags under my eyes.

Partially because of Monk’s inability to allow things to be on open, horizontal surfaces, and partially because I recently read Spark Joy: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve developed a sort of obsessive habit of organization and systemization in my house.

One would think that with all my office jobs, I would have employed approaches to organization in my own home, but it really hasn’t worked that way for me. You might recall this from my frequent posts about the disgusting filth that is my apartment. If you need to get caught up, I think this shining diamond where I admit to hanging fly tape around my apartment and lived in filth until two flies mated on me will do the trick.

Apparently that’s the final straw for me: flies fornicating and turning my limbs into their love den.

Anyway I read this book on the life changing magic of cleaning up your crap, and it really flipped a switch for me. And like anything good in my life, I’ll just way overdo it until it’s actually kind of harmful.

If you’re not familiar, Spark Joy is a book about the KonMari method. You might be familiar with some jokes about it. They boil down the KonMari philosophy to hugging all of your possessions to feel whether or not they bring you joy and then ditching them if they don’t. It’s quite a bit more complex than that, but I have to admit: she does tell you to hug things. I skipped that part. I can get a sense of my level of joy from just looking at something. It comes along with my knack for being distant and judgy.

The more complex elements of the book involve proper use of containers, assigning everything a place, and giving everything you own enough room to breathe. Clutter is actively sought out and destroyed. Boxes begin to form systems that then run the regular functions of your life almost automatically.

This might not be true for everyone, but it’s true for me.

I took a note from the KonMari method that I needed to arrange my life in a way that best suited the things I do every day. Why, oh why do I get my makeup out of the bag every day, use it, and put it back in the bag? I should just keep it out and find a way to  present it so that looks all right while it’s out so and I won’t feel like the place is a mess. Also: why do I put the things I often need in hard-to-reach, ridiculous places? Why do I let a cupboard in my house be continually overflowing so that every time I open the door I get upset?

Of course, this sort of life-changing magic is what I probably need on my quest for super humanism, so I’ve basically gone section by section through my house and eliminated these occurrences. I know where almost everything is, I have implemented quick and easy systems, and my whole apartment is almost entirely customized to me.  

I think it’s beginning to be a problem.

I have a lot of systems now, and I really don’t like things to be out in the open. If I have clutter in an area because I’m working on a project, the materials all need to be in a basket or a bowl. All the cheese in my fridge goes in its own basket. Things I have to do are organized by section and type. I now have a To Do List template that breaks up my to-dos into correspondences, errands, tasks, and notes. Yesterday I asked our graphic designer at work if she could make me a desktop screen for my computer that was separated into labeled sections for my desktop icons to be visually filed.

I started to really wonder if I was having an issue when I insisted that my dirty silverware sit in a bowl in the sink because the look of them scattered all over the bottom of the sink made me kind of crazy.

At least I’m not hugging them all?

Admittedly, I think things are getting a bit out of hand. I was meal prepping for the week (putting lunches together for work) and decided to overhaul my kitchen cupboard with boxes for each type of lunch item: grains, bars, spreads…I just think it’s gone too far.

Of course I can’t just go back to letting things go; I have a monster cat on the prowl and if I leave my craft supplies out mid-project he will knock them to the ground. I can’t leave a ponytail holder out without him putting it in his teeth and carrying it to a hidden nest he’s made somewhere in the underbelly of my living room couch (THAT’S WHERE THEY ALL GO).  He has some strange obsession with seltzer water that means I can’t even put my drink on a table and walk way. If I do, he’ll knock the entire thing over and act like it was that way when he found it. Like I said: he just wants to watch the world burn.

So I guess I need to start searching the cat adoption sites again. Actually, a cat café just opened up near me (this is real. This is not a test). It’s a place where you can get coffee and hang out on the bottom floor or go play with adoptable cats on the second floor. Maybe I’ll just go take a look real quick – you know, just to see what’s there.

If I find a 20 pound one with a real mean stare, I’ve got a winner. 

foot eater

Illustration by The Gross Uncle. Check him out on Twitter!

My Cat is the Spawn of Satan

1 May

I need to book an exorcism for my cat.

No, not my beloved Lola. This is a new one.

Unfortunately, my near and dear Lola Bear recently got very ill and slowly passed away. It hurt so very badly and my parents tried to help make it better by bringing me a seemingly innocent-looking spawn of Satan to help with the pain. Meet the hellchild with which they’ve cursed my life:

IMG_8974

Now, I know that your first impression of Monk (The Monkfish, Monkey, Monk) might be to trust him. Or to assume his innocence. It’s okay, I understand: he does look so cute that you just want to squeeze all the life juice out of him – but it’s just a tool to lure you in so that he can badger-jab you in the face.

As Monk grew up, I tried to remember that things he does as a tiny kitten may be charming, but when he does them as a cat, they will hurt. So I tried to remain vigilant in his training: no table tops, no eating out of the garbage or from my leftover food, no flying from all dimensions of space toward my head, etc. Basically, the things I never had to worry about with Lola – but I was at least twelve years out of practice in my cat training, and honestly guys I don’t think I did a very good job. Because though I did try to back off the number of times I would let him play with my hands instead of a toy, I did also simultaneously encourage regular Ninja Training Courses with Dave.

Dave is a forest child and in his heart, he can speak to animals. (He frequently scolds me for talking down to cats or talking about them where they can hear me.) Because of this hypersensitivity, when it comes to animal training, Dave’s skills really shine and I wanted Monk to benefit from it. And has he.

Monk can do flips in the air, scale the most difficult of mountains (fire places), and is generally a badass. He can lurk in the tiniest of corner spaces, hunt down even the best hidden cat toy, and keep up with a laser pointer with no sweat. When he was little, these skills were pretty darn exciting. Now that he’s older, they’re terrifying.

Three separate times during this post, I looked at him and thought: what a cute kitty! and pet him. And then he full-body hooked around my arm and rabbit kicked the bejeezus out of me. Three separate times.

Oh, and he’s bigger now:

IMG_2571

He’s up there at the top. See him? And yeah, I know – he still looks pretty cute. But then ask yourself: …how did he even get up there? I do love this cat, but he is no Lola. He was born straight from Satan’s fire.  How did he get up there, you ask? With the power of Lucifer.

Now, I understand that lots of cats are assholes and that’s just the way it is. But you have to believe me: this is something unnatural. The list of grievances is quite large, and means that when someone is catsitting for me, I have to prepare ample notes in advance. They include:

  • Sometimes he’ll climb up your legs or back and begin to eat your hair
  • Sometimes he’ll hop on your face in bed and…eat your hair.
  • He is a master ninja and it won’t take long for him to learn how to dart out your door the moment it opens. Be prepared with some sort of Monkblocker when you enter. 
  • He’ll frequently weave in and out of your legs as you walk. Stopping and letting him go first won’t make a difference – he walks when you walk. You’re going to hit him in the face; it’s okay – it’s just a fact.
  • He doesn’t like to be left out, so he meows when you close a door on him. Even the bathroom.
  • If you don’t play with him enough during the day, he’ll be batshit crazy while you try to sleep. 
  • He eats plants and climbs on things and does every other imaginable terrible cat thing.
  • He’ll attack your hands if you let him.
  • He love, love, loves a good laser pointer session. Be careful – he’ll run directly into things if you let him. He already suffers from a few minor concussions.
  • He’s obsessed with seltzer water. If you leave a container of unfinished seltzer water out, he will immediately come knock it over. Please don’t leave it unattended.

It goes on. Just like this. For a long time.

Now, I have read at least the first forty available articles on what to do about a hypercrazy cat, but they haven’t worked. I’ve talked to the vet, who suggested scaring the bejeezus out of him when he’s doing something wrong by crashing something loud near him (Monk couldn’t care less). I’ve played directly before dinner (nope), played at least two hours a day (nope), moved eating times around (nope), ignored him (nope), paid too much attention to him (nope), yelled at him (nope), took things away from him (nope), moved my entire apartment around to accommodate for him (nope)– I’m simply out of ideas. I think he’s possessed.

I’ve been cranking down my social calendar in the hopes that spending even more time with him will help his issues. So I’m officially moving into a deeply unhealthy relationship. I’ve thought about getting another cat to help him cope with whatever his internal struggle is, but I’m worried he’ll take it out on me that I show affection for another. Or worse: that the demon in him will move from being to being, and I will double the horror of my plight. So there may be only one option left: an exorcism.

I think I read somewhere in those forty articles I googled that it takes a level 35 cat lady mage to conduct a proper exorcism – but that’s a pretty high level cat lady and no doubt the path I must go on to seek her out is dark and full of terrors. Still – this is no way to live and I have no real choice. I must go into the unknown – to trace the untraceable. 

Wish me luck. 

cat lady

 

A Prison of My Own Device

20 Apr
hamster

Jess Bradley – Hamster Prison (check out her flickr for some great little cartoons)

Let me just bring you up to date real quick here on how my last few weeks have gone since I started to post again.

Week 1: Jackie announces that she hasn’t posted for a long time because there’s been this difficulty in reconciling cartoon-like Jackie from blogland with real-life Jackie from actual-job-I-like land now that her personal and digital circles have intertwined. She declares it a challenge and commits to post every single week in spite of it to see if it kicks it back up.

Week 2: Jackie posts a recent and deeply embarrassing chronicle of how her inability to find the bathroom in a local restaurant lead her on a journey of the spirit (she edited out the part where she shame cried). The same day, her workplace announces on social media that she has been promoted. A surprising amount of people read it and are supportive. They come to her personal page. They see her blog. They wonder how someone who cannot find a public restroom is responsible for running an organization. They make this joke to her in person. She is deeply uncomfortable.

Week 3:

That’s where we are. We’re on week three: deeply uncomfortable. As in, I announced why this was weird now, I wrote a post to follow that up anyway, and it immediately became extra weird.

awkward giraffe

This is how I feel inside when someone mentions the blog. If you look closely, you can really see the struggle. (photo: Thomas Hawk on flickr)

But I mean, it would be SUPER awkward if I stopped writing now because a few posts ago I was all “Challenge Jackie to the charge!” and three weeks later I’d be like “nah, jk it’s hard and stuff.”

I wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t make those sections on Lollipop Tuesdays and 365 and 30 Day Challenges all over the page.

Dammit.

So here we are, friends. I’m stuck in a prison of my own device, and you’re watching it because Netflix and HBO have taught you that you can actually watch a lot of truly disturbing things and still be kind of okay on the inside. So, welcome to whatever panic train this is all about to be. Thank you for your fascination. ♣ 

This post was brought to you by Halo Top Ice Cream. Perhaps I’ll begin to allow the foods that drive my posts to publish phase to underwrite my blog. Is that how I can get free snacks? Snack sponsors. Yes. For my sorrows. Halo Top Ice Cream: more expensive than Ben & Jerry’s for half the creamy taste and one fifth the post-pint guilt.

I’ll probably have to give a better endorsement than that if I want free snacks, huh?

The Restroom Chronicles, Part 1

13 Apr

 

I got lost looking for the bathroom in Mad Mex in a recent voyage out into the tundra of humankind.

Dave and I decided to have a date at a local favorite of ours – a Mexican-Southeast-Asian-Spanish-American foodstuffs joint. One of its claims to fame is the Gobblerito – each Thanksgiving season they’ll stuff a burrito with an entire Thanksgiving dinner for the citizens of Pittsburgh. It’s an act of patriotism if you ask me. Anyway, this place has a few locations around the city and we ventured out to a new one.

You should know somewhere, here, at the beginning of this long, humiliating story that I have a sort of disconnect in my brain with navigation. From time to time, I will exit a store and go the opposite of the way I intend because my brain throws away important notes too soon. This difficulty getting from here to there has some funny side effects. For example, on occasion,  I have a great deal of anxiety in a public place trying to find a restroom that is not clearly marked.

Dave, however, has no problem at all with tedious unknowns such as these. He’s bold – an adventurer at heart – and when we’re out in the forest of humanity, he’s happy to blaze a trail. He’ll launch down a dark hallway in a gas station in the middle of nowhere because he can sense a public restroom emanating from the corner of the establishment. He’ll get up from the dinner table at a restaurant and just follow his instinctual juices to magically locate one. He’ll boldly go in a direction until he gets what he needs, and if he can’t find it, he simply grabs a random person and asks them.

I, however, do not operate in this fashion. Over time, Dave has begun to locate bathrooms for me in advance when we appear to be in a place where they are not clearly marked. This is because he is an enchanted creature and is somehow charmed by and happy to care for my severe slights. I’m a lucky dame.

So we’re at Mad Mex. We head in, talk to the hostess, have a seat near the door. I have to pee. We do the initial sit-down things, get comfy and whatnot and I head toward what I believe to be the bathroom location – a long, dark hallway that is within my line of sight.

As I approach the long, beaded curtain that’s hanging at the front of the hall, separating it from the main restaurant area, I start to have doubts.

 

bathroom sign

image: liakapelke

Man, why is that hallway so dark? You’d think they would illuminate it really well so folks have an easier time getting to the bathroom.

 

I notice a couple right by the hall.

Oh – maybe it’s because the hall is so close to these people eating and they’re trying to keep the light low.

I arrive at the curtain and hold out my arm to swipe the curtain aside when my hand is met with a solid metal, black door.

OH! It’s dark because it’s a door, not a hallway, Jackie.

I begin to push on the door but it won’t open because there’s a long, silver crash bar running its length that has to be pushed to open it instead. I wonder for a moment why they seat people next to this door – I’m practically in their laps just trying to get to the bathroom and I’m interrupting their dinner by accessing this back hall.

It’s then that my eyes notice the Emergency Exit sign in front of me for the first time– and the gaze of the couple who, indeed, I was virtually in the laps of.  They spent the 2 minutes prior watching a restaurant patron get up from her seat, walk toward them, and proceed to paw at the emergency exit for no perceivable reason.

I’m mortified, and they know that I know they know what’s going on.

I quickly give up my endeavor and backtrack to safety by David where we were sat. I figure he’ll help me sort it out later. (Enchantment, et cetera.) But on my way back, I can’t spot him. I know I only went one straight direction to the supposed restroom hallway, but I’m searching every single face along the windows of the restaurant and none of them look even remotely like him. Given my circumstances, I did not want to make another close proximity visual mistake, so I kept walking. I walked down the length of the restaurant and arrived back at the hostess station. I stopped to think..

May I help you, Miss?

The hostess was talking to me. Tiny butterflies flapped up my stomach and fluttered in my mouth. I couldn’t ask her if she remembered where she sat us – I’d look like a moron. So I tried to think of something clever to say to explain my standing there dumbfounded, but just as I began to speak, I felt the hot hellgaze of the couple by the curtain who I just played sidedish to. They could still see me. And they knew I knew.

Desperate to release the steadily building pressure, I assured the hostess I was fine, and walked directly out of the restaurant.

I distinctly recall having a moment here where I was a little in awe at the depths I will go to in order to handle a social awkwardness that perhaps only I sense. And nonetheless, I’m passing the hostess, leaving Dave in the restaurant, and headed to God-knows-where. I’m not really in control at this point. The story has been written and I have to stay on the path to completion.

I’m hyper aware of the low patron base in the restaurant at this time and the clear view through the large windows that the hostess still has of me as she wonders why I’m already leaving when we haven’t yet been served. It occurs to me that I should just pretend to get something out of the van that I need, so I decide to do that and move toward the van with intention. Once there, I realize that I don’t have the keys. Convincing myself that the hostess is still watching my every move, I play the narrative through and pretend to just look through the windows and into the van for what I need, then gesture to myself that I don’t know where it is with a hearty shrug, and head back to the restaurant in the hopes that I can locate Dave if I have a nice, fresh start.

I head back in after my own personal Mr. Bean impression in the parking lot and see Dave sitting just a few tables in on my right. I glance to see if the Hellgazers are still at the end of the row. They are.

Dave’s mouth is ajar as I return to our table and he asks me where I went. He was sitting there, I got up, pawed at a door, and walked directly past him and out of the restaurant. I got him all caught up on the vast narrative that was building inside my head.

You still haven’t peed?!

Mr Bean

Image: Jeff

It had been about 10 minutes at this point. And no, I hadn’t. I tried to find the restroom but I failed in public and the hot breeze of Hellgazers were preventing me from exploring again. I had resolved to hold it.

Dave, incredulous, assured me that if I turned left at the end of the row, the bathrooms were clearly marked ahead. I told him I was going to wait until the couple cleared. He encouraged me, and I took off toward the second supposed restroom.

Mad Mex does this thing with their bathroom doors that some companies like to do where they indicate the sex assignment of the restroom with an artistic mural. Worried about adding to Hellgazers’ comedic narrative of their evening, I decided to make a quick decision – one of the bathroom doors was clearly ajar and I gravitated toward it. Relieved to see bathroom tile and stalls, I stepped inside and looked up to see the shining white butt cheeks of a gentleman who was relieving himself at the urinals. I went to the wrong restroom.

I excused  and ejected myself into the hallway to return to the gaze of the couple and quickly pawed at the women’s restroom door. After fumbling for and failing to find a knob or handle, I gave it a heavy push. I jolted inside the empty ladies room and breathed a sigh of relief. I had escaped the gazers, and if I stayed in the restroom long enough, I was pretty sure they would leave before I had to go back out.

I did my business and washed my hands and suddenly considered how long Dave had been sitting, reading the menu, waiting, and wondering whether I ended up wandering on the highway outside somehow. I resolved to go back to my seat, Hellgazers or no. I wasn’t going to be a bad date, dammit.

I made it back to Dave without trouble this time, though he lets out a little yip as I approach to make sure I don’t mess up again and spontaneously combust from the insufferable pain of humiliation.

As I was in the midst of regaling Dave with the various narratives inside my head from my journey, the server approached to take our order. I caught us back up to speed by just ordering my usual fare. Dave places his order and when the server asks if there’s anything else, he inquires as to where the restrooms were. She instructs him toward the location of my near self-immolation – down the row and to the left until you see the painted doors. I shoot him a confused look.

Oh. He says. You know it kind of looks like that door there is a hallway and the bathrooms are down there. Maybe there should be better signs to help with that.

She smiles. Yeah. Actually that happens a lot – but no, they’re to the left.

He thanks her and takes a sip of his water, all casual like, and shoots me a half-grin. I look to my left to check the status of the Hellgazers only to find that they’ve left during the time I’ve been in the radius of Dave’s safety. He truly is enchanted. ♣

This is just one such story of my adventures in society trying perform this basic, human task while in public. And so I shall declare and dub my lost-while-bathrooming saga The Restroom Chronicles. This is Part One. Long may the Chronicles reign, lest the day come that I do finally light myself on fire. 

 

This is Fine

 

Before the Cylons Come

26 Sep

I think Dave is a Cylon.

I’m sorry; I shouldn’t come out and just say it like that.  I don’t want to start a witch hunt or anything.  But I do have some pretty serious concerns and I’m not sure where else I can safely entertain them except for the  protected confines of the magical Interwebz.   So don’t freak out or anything but I might be living with an intergalactic death robot.

Well that sounds racist.  He’s not necessarily a death robot.  He could be one of the human-liking ones.  But he could also be preprogrammed to carry out a set of orders related to someone’s (perhaps even my) death. And, well, I just can’t take that kind of risk.

Now, I’ll admit that while inundated with these concerns, I am concurrently rewatching the entire Battlestar Galactica series.  In fact, not even a week ago, I dreamt I was being chased by a murderous cylon.

Unfortunately for me, I rarely have positive dreams.  I’m not entirely sure why that is.  The only exceptions are one very strange piece of creation where I was underground playing Space Monopoly with my grandmother and a few grizzly bears, and one time that I was Mario in Mario 64.

But I digress; I need proof.  My first piece of evidence is the fact that he operates at superhuman levels of labor.  He wakes up at 6 in the morning, works a solid 9 hour day with little break, immediately commutes an hour to arrive at his first 3-hour rehearsal, after which he promptly commutes another hour to arrive to his second rehearsal, which lasts well over two.

Now, I’m accustomed to a portion of that schedule. Particularly at some points last year during postaday deathmatch 2011, I felt like I might die from exhaustion after working all day, going to rehearsal all night, and coming home to polish off a piece of junk from the recesses of my mind to offer up to the Interwebz gods.  But that was an office job, kids.  This robot in front of me is a letter carrier.  A letter carrier.  And if you think that “sounds like a great job”, you are mistaken.  Twenty years ago, being a letter carrier “sounded like a great job” but today, letter carriers are the marines of the service field.  They rarely get real breaks, they’re speedwalking for several hours straight with 80 pounds on their backs, dogs attack them, they have to endure ridiculous attacks of extreme hot and cold temperatures, and every single American citizen thinks that new mailmen should just “know” where their mailbox is as if there’s some sort of government list somewhere that says “42 Wallaby Way’s mailbox is on the back porch beside the terra cotta pig”.   

I know I get upset about the post office a lot.  But you don’t understand; it’s like The Postman out there and attention must be paid.

Do you know what it’s like to work at a place that is open during the entire span of regular business hours, 6 days a week?   I’ll tell you what it’s like.  It’s bloody frustrating.  Getting your hair cut or going to the bank or having a professional appointment is like a unicorn crossing your path and farting a rainbow cloud directly on your face: it’s rare.  Real rare.

Anyway my point is that he is fully functional on very little sleep and maintains this schedule with an alarmingly high rate of frequency; over and over again. Like a robot.

Also, sometimes he makes this super creepy face in the mirror while I’m brushing my teeth and I swear to you no real human could possibly look like that ever.

I suppose that’s really all the evidence I have but it’s also really all I need.  If I uploaded a picture of the face, you probably wouldn’t even need that little bit about the post office being the place where decent, America-loving people go to kill each other as Exhibit A.   So the question now that I’ve ascertained his cylon-ness is what to do about it.  I mean, I can’t go on living like this.  

As of now, my plan is to hold steady until mid-October, at which time my next Lollipop Tuesday will appear in the form of a UFO Convention.  A UFO CONVENTION.  If anyone can understand my predicament, it’s the UFO Convention demographic.   Maybe I can get some answers.

Here’s hoping I survive long enough to attend. 

Dear Boomerang Kids Everywhere:

5 Sep

Today, I met an interesting woman at a bus stop.  Let’s call her Margie.

Normally, I don’t talk to Margies.  I don’t talk to anyone, really, especially not people at bus stops.  But Margie didn’t really care who I was or how I felt.  She was a jolly lass and it didn’t occur to her that I could be introverted so she just blabbered on and on about her day.  And since I was having a particularly poopy one myself, I kind of didn’t mind the break from my inner monologue.

Margie is a social worker who has been laid off three times due to budget cuts.  She spends her day dealing with women in crisis and juveniles in court.  She makes about 25K a year and though her daughter makes more than twice that, her daughter is living at home.  And not paying any bills.  And using Margie’s car, which was why Margie was at the bus stop at that particular moment.

So this is a post for Margie.  In fact, it’s for all the Margies out there who find themselves so blinded by their love for their children that they just can’t bear to tell them to get the hell out of the house.  If you’re  a Margie, have no fear.  Just copy the web address in your browser right now, paste it into an email or text, and shoot it off to your lovable little mooch.  Of course, there are some kids who are experiencing some technical difficulties in their lives and have extenuating circumstances.  This isn’t for those.  This is for the kids who are fully capable of formulating a plan for adulthood and are putting it off in exchange for the convenience of feeding off their parents.  Those kids.  So look around your house.  Do you have any of those lingering around?  If so, send them this web address, tell them you like my blog, that they should follow it, and that you’ve been doing some thinking and maybe they should also get the hell out of the house.  Follow it with “lol jk” and then “but seriously, read this”.

Dear Margie’s Daughter and Boomerang Kids Everywhere:
Look at your parental figure/s.  Don’t they look tired?  That’s because they are.  They’re old and tired because for the last two and a half decades or so, they’ve weaned you from a squealing, helpless piglet into a walking, talking, thinking human being.  They paid taxes so you could go to school and gave you rides when you needed to go see your stupid significant other or when you wanted to go to a dance or do some other waste of an adolescent pastime.   They went to work every day so that they could go to the store after work, fight off hordes of other parents just like them, buy dinner, come home, and cook it for you so that you could just gobble it up in 5 minutes, not leave any leftovers, and then leave the table without offering to help clean up so that you could return to some stupid aforementioned adolescent pastime.  They’re tired because once you learned to drive, you’d borrow the car and leave it on empty so that they had to wake up extra early to put gas in it before they went to work, where they got more money to afford the gas they put in the car for you to run out.
So listen: they did their part.  You can walk on two feet instead of four, you can poop in a toilet instead of your pants, and you can (God willing) at least sustain yourself with boxed meals from the supermarket instead of skinning small vermin in the wilderness for daily sustenance.  Now it’s your turn.  You’re a big kid now.  And it’s time to move out.
It is.  It really is.  You were really only supposed to be an eighteen-year commitment.  Then you were supposed to get a job and/or go to college, never to return again.  But you did return.  And you aren’t using any of your life skills to better the household.  You’re using your money to participate in your stupid mid-20’s pastimes instead of donating it to the greater good of the unit.  You shower, you plug things in, you put things in your mouth, and you flush things down the toilet.  That all costs money, and it’s time to pay up.  Don’t have a job?  Get one.  Even a terrible one.  
Hey, sometimes you have to work sucky jobs.  Lots of people have sucky jobs.  You know what really sucks, though? Having a sucky job and not even having any money to show for it because your kid won’t move out of the damn house.  So get a job and get out.
While you’re writing a big fat check to your parents for all the years they’ve sheltered and fed you past the eighteen-year contract, remember to clean up after yourself.  For the love of all that is holy, take a shower.  Do some dishes.  Inspire your parents to soil their pants by offering to make dinner or take them out.  Ask if you can go pick up some groceries for them or go fill up the gas tank, or do some laundry.   
And once you’ve gotten a job, given your parents some money to offset the cost of your existence, cleaned up the room where you wove your cocoon, and landed an apartment, begin your mass exodus with a hug and a thank you to your old, tired, parent/s.  Because  every year you spent in their home past the eighteen-year-contract was a year of their life they can’t get back.  And the Bible tells us that there’s no greater gift than to lay down your life for another.
Look at that: no greater gift.  Jesus says so.  You can’t ever repay your parental unit/s for this time you’ve taken from them.  So just be a good little lamb and hit the road.  Now.  Hey- look at that: you’re already online.  Just click here.  
Good job.  Now print out three options, show them to your parental unit/s and take a shower while they celebrate with a bottle of wine that you purchase for them.  Trust me: you’re doing the right thing.  And in a few decades, you can return to this page, send it to your own little lovable mooches and get your own free bottle of wine and a ticket to your golden years.
You’re welcome.
Puppies and Sprinkles,
Jackie 

I’m *Not* the Next Contestant on The Price Is Right

29 Aug

I promised you a Lollipop Tuesday and my darling ducklings, I have delivered.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday y’all.

For those of you unfamiliar, well, I don’t blame you. I haven’t been diligent and its been quite some time since my last installment. I’ve been holed up in my apartment, not seeking out the unfamiliar but instead drinking and yelling at my cats. It’s comfortable. I like it here.

But there is a whole world of strange activity just waiting to be explored and darnit, I promised you I would explore it. So to check out what this is all about and hear tales of everything from infiltrating Scottish Country Dance meetings to competing in the World Pinball Championship, click here. To continue the saga, read on. Because this week I have a treat for you; I wandered over to audition open call for the contestant search for The Price Is Right.

Did you know these existed? Silly me; all my life I thought the college kids and military members and seemingly ordinary folks who run down that aisle were genuinely surprised to have been selected. But they’re not. They’re the result of nationwide open calls in major cities like the one at which I found myself. One day I’m thumbing through huge local paper looking for mischief and the next, I’m standing in a long, tired line at a casino with America’s finest, hoping to win a trip to sunny California and a chance at a Showcase Showdown.

I’m using the term “America’s Finest” quite loosely. I’m pretty sure I was one of a handful of folks who showed up as a result of advertising. Everyone else appeared to have wandered up from the casino after reading the welcome sign. Makes sense. Gamblers make excellent game  show hopefuls.  Well played, casino manager. Well played.

I have to admit that I think I’d make a stellar Price Is Right contestant.  No one knows prices on everyday products like a born and

The Welcome Sign

bred poor kid.  I’ve been blessed with the superhuman power of totaling grocery orders within three dollars just by watching the items roll down the conveyor belt.  Once, when attempting to split the cost of groceries perfectly in half with David, I put half the order in front of the little bar separator and half behind it.  The result was only 15 cents apart.  FIFTEEN CENTS.  That’s game show worthy, friends.  I’m a Showcase Showdown champion just waiting to be discovered.

In case you’re wondering how this sort of thing works, here’s the rundown.  I arrived at the casino, followed the signs to the upper lobby, and found a room with a bunch of ropes that helped to herd the cattle.  At the entrance was a gentleman who greeted me with a form to complete and wished me luck.  At the front of the room were two cameras and folks being recorded.  In the middle was a cross section of the human race that I have not yet encountered in my lifetime.  

There were cat totes.

There were beer cans.

 

There were helping hands.

 

And there was me.

It was a smorgasboard of America and it was a beautiful thing to behold.  

While in line filling out the form that waived any and all rights, I overheard folks in line saying that at the cameras up front, we had to talk for thirty seconds on why we should be on The Price Is Right.  

Crap.  

I do auditions all the time.  I can give them a two minute monologue, dramatic or comedic, classical or modern… but thirty seconds of me talking about something real?  I don’t know about that.  

Luckily there was about an hour’s worth of cattle ahead of me so I had time to put something together.  But in all the time I stood there, I couldn’t think of one good reason I should be picked over anyone else.  I could make something up, but I didn’t want the Price Is Right police coming after me for falsification of Price Is Right records. I have no way of knowing how serious this is.  So I went with what was true: I’m a hermit, I have a blog, I have a Lollipop Tuesday series where I try new things, and flying out to CA to be on a game show would make an excellent story.

I thought it sounded good, but since I didn’t have a script and I’m easily excited and I’m awkward, I accidentally threw in something about pole dancing. 

Where it all fell apart.

I didn’t mean to.  I’m still not really sure how it happened.  I think I was giving examples of some of the things that I’d already tried and written about and while I meant to say family-friendly things like the Civil War Reenactment and ice skating, I actually said pole dancing.   I tried to come across as so normal and television-worthy that I overcompensated. With how overly excited I was and how big my eyes were, I sincerely doubt they’ll ever believe I have trouble getting out of my apartment.  I went from hermit Jackie who wants a challenging adventure to slutty mcslut pole-dancing Jackie who is overly excitable and might attack Drew Carey with her violently chipper demeanor. 

Dammit.   That will never hold up next to all the parents who said they wanted to get on the show to get a new car for their kid.  Well played, parents.  Well played.

Hey: lesson learned.  When auditioning for a family friendly show, make no mention of stripper-related activities.  I’ll get it right next time.  

Pat Sajak, I’m lookin’ at you. 

%d bloggers like this: