Tag Archives: postaweek2017

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.

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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

 

Love Letter from a Type A Millenial

5 Apr
No Para Innita

This image that I adore is by No Para Innita. If you like it too, check out their Flickr and MySpace

As I was poring over my blog drafts of Jacklyn Past to support my post-a-week throwdown, I unearthed a few old emails that I wrote long ago and inexplicably saved on my hard drive. ..Sometimes I write drafts of emails in Word before copying and pasting to Gmail because I’m a deeply awkward and burdened person in a variety of constantly shifting and exciting ways. While working my way through this thick brush of unnecessary digital recordkeeping, I found an old love letter to The Dave.  

Sometimes living as a Type A – that is, one type in a personality theory that is characterized by drive, competition, and a predisposition for stress and heart disease – is burdensome. I would very much like to go to restaurants and not notice the plague of spelling errors that descends upon their menus instead of focusing on the detailed descriptions of food. I would like to, sometimes, be able to just shut the hell up instead of coaching myself to breathe and stay calm when someone asks a question to a group that I know the answer to. I would like to, from time to time, not express my deep and unabashed love for my partner in strange and seemingly robotic ways: by compiling organized and tabbed binders of his important papers, by completing detailed agendas and itineraries in advance of our travel dates, or by writing love notes like this one:

Dear love,

When I opened Chrome and went to Gmail on my computer today, your inbox automatically loaded – supposedly you forgot to log out before your last session. I noticed that it was full of unread messages from the same several companies – urban outfitters, banana republic, and a variety of other stores who have captured your email as you’ve shopped – all newsletters that you clearly don’t read which just pile up in your inbox. Meanwhile, notices from the light company that I remember you were hunting last month were buried unread among them.

I imagine it must be daunting. So I went ahead and opened one of each of the generic emails from spammy companies and unsubscribed. I did not unsubscribe to anything that was not a big box store or that was from a group that only emailed you occasionally just in case you wanted to keep getting updates from those.

I then did a filtered search for all the items from those places from which I unsubscribed, and marked all of them as “read” so that your inbox doesn’t look full all the time with things you’ll never read and which aren’t truly tasks. I didn’t delete them; I just marked them as read.

I then reconfigured your inbox into three separate sections, so that the top is reserved solely for unread messages, the second portion is flagged messages, and the third is everything else. Now you can read an email, move on if you don’t care, respond if you do, or flag it if you don’t have time but want to keep it visible. 

I also enabled a coded flagging system so that you can mark a message with two different color stars (which can mean whatever you want), with an exclamation point (I demonstrated this by marking a few with it) or with a green check mark in case you want assurances that you completed something.

Anyway, I hope that you don’t find this invasive and that you’re relieved and this helps your workflow. You’ll see some old messages have moved to the top of your inbox now because once I got rid of all the spam or unread newsletters and marked it as read, it turned out you had very few emails of substance. 

It might be easier to stay on top of things now. If not, I’m truly sorry. Please let me know how you honestly feel about this. I closed out and logged into my email to send this message so my fiddling session is complete.

I love you.

Jackie

For reasons I cannot fully explain, The Dave and I just reached nine years together and are going strong in spite of moments like the one you just beheld. If you, like me, are a Type A, you can take comfort in this artifact and my recent anniversary celebration, knowing there is probably love for you somewhere. Someone out there will translate your sorting of their email inbox into what you intend (butterflies, romance, sparklemagic). Somewhere out there is a partner who will smile lovingly at your madness and try really hard to be grateful for the systems that you constantly force on them through your oddly-formed love language.

And if you’re not one of the burdened in our society and can’t find it in yourself to see the romance in their gestures, I urge you to at least exercise compassion for their painful existences. You’ll only have to do it for a short time; with the stress and heart disease and all, you’re almost certain to outlive us. ♣

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