Blog

Dear John…

Warning to my readers: This blog post is not cut from my usual sarcastic, Italian redneck, cloth.  I almost didn’t post it because I thought it was too boring.  Then I said you know what… F that I’m posting it.  That said, I’ve got some typical-me posts coming so don’t worry. Just humor me with this one. You guys are the best.

Dear John…   McCain

If you know me personally, you’ll assume “Dear John” is going to lead to a discussion on the ridiculous way I’ve handled the majority of my romantic relationships.  Perhaps, with the permission of Not-Tom-Brady, I will actually write THAT blog at some point.  This, however, is not THAT blog…

John Sidney McCain III was born in the Panama City Canal Zone on August 29, 1936.

He was a wrestler in high school and his nickname was “McNasty”. I love this. I am going to refer to him as McNasty from now on. Miss Jackson if you’re McNasty. Don’t let my heartfelt blog photo fool you, I’m not 100% on board here, but I’m not 100% off-board here, so there’s something to be said for that.

He graduated almost last in his class, 790th out of 795 students, at the US Naval Academy and was often disciplined for bad behavior. Oh McNasty is at it again!

He volunteered to serve in Vietnam in 1967 and became a naval aviator. During a bombing mission he ejected from his plane when it was hit by a missile. His plane was hit by a fu*king missile and he LIVED.

jm i'm back

He got captured by the North Vietnamese. They treated his injuries upon learning that his father was a famous military commander. Because of his father’s position, they tried to release John early as leverage in their negotiations. John declined because there were others originally due to be released first. He refused to put his life before theirs. He was then transitioned into a full prisoner of war and was held in solitary confinement and tortured for 5 ½ years. Summary: He spent 5 1/2 years being f*cking tortured because it was the right thing to do. WTF! The rest of us are upset when the line at Starbucks is too long. I felt like I was going to lose my shit one time when I was stuck at the airport in Buffalo, NY for 7 hours in January. Yup, I’m a first class asshole for even beginning to whine about my 7 hour delay in a warm airport with Cinnabons.

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” –Donald J. Trump

Thank you John McCain for being a good person, a logical person, a war hero, and for actually doing what you think is right. Note that I say “what you think”. I may not always agree with you John, but you have integrity, and thoughtfulness. This makes you a true leader. Even when I think you’re being a dick, at least you discuss your intent and thought process, which is usually good. I hate that I can’t hate you… just saying.

Humble: When you found out that Shawn Hatosy was playing you in the film version of your autobiography, you joked that Danny DeVito should have been cast instead.

jm shawn

Bravery: 5 ½ years of torture to save the lives of other people you didn’t even know.

Integrity: 9/22/17 He announced that he would once again vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This, in itself, was a selfless act. The logic behind it shows the integrity of the decision: “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing… how many people will be helped or hurt by it”. – John McCain III

So what you’re telling us, John, is that you want to understand a law before it’s passed, and that you think it should hurt as few people as possible and help as many people as possible? Say what????!!!!!!! P.S. Hey executive branch, remember me, the one who got captured? I know you like people who didn’t get captured… how’s that working for you?

jm mid term

Stamina: The 9/22/17 stand was made at age 81, in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer. He’s also been in 2 plane crashes! He makes me feel like the biggest p*ssy on the planet, right? I was exhausted recently because it took me a long time to get home from a trip to South Carolina. I suck.

Loyalty/Patriotism: Regarding his cancer diagnosis and treatment: “I am more energetic and more engaged as a result of this because I know that I’ve got to do everything I can to serve this country while I can.” When asked if his actions were a way of getting back at Donald Trump for his war hero comments he said “If I took offense at everybody who has said something about me, or disparaged me or something like that- life is too short. You’ve gotta move on. And on an issue of this importance to the nation, for me to worry about a personal relationship, then I’m not doing my job”.

So you mean that you put your country before your ego?! How dare you! Oh wait no that’s right, that’s what patriotic Americans do. Hint to Executive Branch: Take Notes.

He refuses to comment on statements made by Donald Trump because he says he changes his statements so often there’s essentially nothing to analyze. See what he did there? Add “smart” to the list. I wonder why he didn’t tell us how high his IQ is? Oh, probably because it’s a sign of someone who’s a moron.

jm hawking 1

Some accuse JM of not going far enough. He spoke out against Donald Trump’s actions on DACA “Dreamers” by calling the decision “wrong”. Is that enough? I guess his actions will remain to be seen. It sounds like he’s kicking all engagement up a notch. Get some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. Kick ass and take names McNasty!

I’m looking forward to seeing what his daughter, Meghan McCain, does now that she’s joined ABC’s The View as their newest conservative co-host. I have a sneaking suspicion that his children are more respectful and empathetic than aghem… you know… the children of the corn… I mean white corn… I mean white house.

The dude has 2 separate cancer diagnoses, lives through 5 ½ years of solitary confinement and torture and 2 plane crashes. For the love of Christ somebody study this guy’s DNA! Are he and Chuck Norris related????

jm chuck 1

Again John, thank you for your service to this county, and your continued theme of doing the right thing… except that one time

jm drill

Shameless… when it comes to Bub

Shameless plug for my 15 year old daughter’s America’s Got Talent song.  Let me know what you think… and please subscribe if you like it!  The more subscribers the more seriously they take her.

As promised, no more than 2 shameless plugs per year.  She auditions on 12/17… wish this sweet soul good luck y’all.

Link to Bub’s AGT Audition Song

 

Thanks to my precious readers.  More comedy/reality to come. Peace to all.

Gold is From Aliens

yea

 

Quittin’ Time

 

*Disclaimer: “F Word” is used in this blog, only because it was necessary to tell the story* Disney will likely not be sponsoring my blog at any point anyway…

As an adult, I think one of the worst feelings is looking for work.  If you’re looking for work, this often means you’re suffering in silence at a terrible job. Conversely, one of the best feelings as an adult, is getting a new job offer, and being able to resign the position that has been giving you agita for the past 239872073 days. Yea, agita is spelled with a “t”, learn something new every day…

I have a decent amount of years in the workforce.  I’m a loyal employee when working for the right place.  I worked at one employer for 10 years and I’m about to celebrate my 8 year anniversary at my current employer.  These days that’s a pretty solid loyalty track record. I’ve also had some doozies and have been on the job-hunt-job-offer-resign roller coaster a few times. I actually have 4 really good quittin’ time stories, but the blogiverse doesn’t usually tolerate stories that long, so today I’ll tell you about 2 of my favorites.

There was this one time, at band camp… just kidding… sorry folks no one but Not-Tom-Brady gets to hear that story.

There was this one time in Jacksonville, NC…  Never heard of it?  Neither has anyone else, other than every single Marine Corp employee in the entire world. Semper Fi.  If you read my Redneck Police blog post, you’ll remember Morgan Freeman’s doppelganger telling me to leave Virginia and get the frig out of Morrison’s Cafeteria.  I listened, but the transition wasn’t quite as well executed as it could have been.

Remember life before the internet and smartphones?  I do.  Back in the old timey days you moved to a town, got an apartment, bought a newspaper and read the classified section.  By the end of my Jacksonville stint I had worked three different jobs.  The third was working as a paralegal, which eventually led me down a path into the insurance industry.  The two jobs before that, not so much.

Jacksonville Job #1: Check Cashing Place.  If you’ve never been to a check cashing place, you’re missing out on a truly magical experience.  These are high revenue generators set up to rip off people who can’t afford bank accounts.  Basically they found yet another vulnerability of impoverished people and exploited it.  #Murica. So… if you receive a check from a job or your grandma and you don’t have a bank account, you can bring it to a check cashing facility.  They will be so kind as to cash your check for a small fee of about 15%, depending on the reliability of the issuer.  For example, if it’s a tax return check from the US Treasury, the fee might be 5%.  If it’s from Sally-No-Name with a check from bank-of-nowhere-Alabama, the fee might be 30%.  Alas, I needed a “job” until I found a job.

quitting exploitation

It wasn’t terrible at first, although we did have a shotgun under the counter and bullet proof glass.  There were a jillion Marines so the majority of checks were military paychecks.  I got in trouble one time for explaining to a customer that he could afford a bank account and keep his entire check. Yea.  Then we would have wide range of crazies. Everything from people trying to pass off pretend checks as real (some of them were sooooooooooo bad it was a joke) and lots of people who would bring in bad checks one day then come in and try again over and over.  I once had to turn a fine gentleman away because I couldn’t read the routing number on his check since it was covered in too much vomit.  I was living the dream folks.

I read the classifieds daily, sent out paper resumes and waited.  I would go to my apartment at night and check my answering machine (yup!) and wait.  And wait.  Finally one day I walked into work and my boss was there.  He had just started a small chain of pizza places that eventually went national.  It never occurred to me that men get plastic surgery until I started seeing his commercials about 10 years ago.  He still looks the same, his face just has a puffy, stretched out shine too it.  Good pizza, horrible boss.  So if you want pizza built on the exploitation of impoverished youth, I’ve given you enough info to begin your search. I digress…

quitting quote 1

I asked Mr-Pizza-Slum-Lord if he felt that, sociologically speaking, this business was hurting people rather than helping.  I expected him to say something like “Hey it’s just business”… or “It helps them because they would have nowhere to go without it”. Instead he said “Fuck em” and laughed with his beady little pizza-slum-lord eyes.  So I said, “No, Fuck You” and left.  Oh to be young again…  Whenever I see his commercials I say “You SUCK” at the TV. It’s oddly satisfying.

quitting fu

Jacksonville Job #2: Sewing hems at a sewing factory.  I walk into the interview and the hiring manager laughs and says “You’re hired” after I say “Hello, great to meet you.”.  Shortest interview ever.  After I met my coworkers I realized I basically just needed a pulse and functioning eyes/hands to do the job so she was probably amused by the fact that I even had a resume to hand her.  Functioning eyes… CHECK.

I’m seated next to “Tanya” whose boyfriend was in the Marine Corp (shocker!) but she was from Jacksonville originally.  It takes me about 2 weeks to realize the following things:

  • Her boyfriend is stringing her along and will never marry her.
  • Canned Vienna sausages aren’t half bad.
  • If I hadn’t sat next Tanya, I would have walked out on my first day.
  • Tanya was eventually going to have a terrible, terrible life.
  • Sewing factories suck.
  • The allowed breaks were less than the legal requirement.
  • There were no visible sprinklers or marked fire exits.
  • The boss was a fat, bigot with an inflated sense of authority.
  • Almost everyone working around me was going to be doing this for life.
  • They were not paying overtime when they were supposed to.
  • The air conditioner was always broken, but was conveniently operational in Boss-Hog’s office.
  • Sarcasm was a foreign language and was usually taken literally.
  • The payroll lady had never had anyone question her before.
  • The boxes of flannel shirts I hemmed had tags from as many as 4 different retailers sewn into the exact same shirts.
  • It smelled like Boss-Hog’s trailer park’s dumpster in that place.
  • This was a temporary situation for me.
  • The level of acceptance of the conditions would not be a match for my Yankee upbringing or my Italian attitude.
  • Swearing in the factory was forbidden.  FORBIDDEN.  If you can’t swear in that shit-ville, where can you?
  • This was hourly work, not “piece work”, so if you were going to slow, Boss-Hog and his Douche-Hog-Brigade would tap a ruler on your sewing machine then wave it at you with “tisk tisk tisk”.

quitting vienna sausage

Hello old friend

I know what you’re thinking… what happened that made you leave?  Well one day, Boss-Hog was busy tisk-tisking the lady to my left. She was maybe early 60’s and had worked there for her entire life.  This lady sewed the shit out of every box of flannels she got.  She was a machine.  He was clearly just taunting her.  Gross.  I thought about tripping him when he walked by, but I refrained.  Then he tisk tisked me, which was deserved because I was barely sewing and was dying in the 5th circle of humidity-stench-hell and because F-That place.  As he walked behind me he took the ruler and ran it gently through my hair. 

I. LOST. MY. SHIT.

Those of you who know me know that I have a very long fuse.  The problem is that at the end of that fuse is decade’s worth of pent up Italian Rage with a deliberate sense of execution.  This did not end well…

I stood up and turned around and grabbed the ruler from Boss-Hog.  Since he is who he is he laughed and grabbed it back… because of course I will sit down and know my place.  The women around me stop sewing and wait to see what’s next.  I grab it back from him but he’s holding it really tightly so the metal edges cut my hand a bit. The fact that this doesn’t faze me has made an impression on him.  Oh now it’s about to get good!!!!!

quitting srsly

I stand up on my sewing chair and throw the ruler to the ground.  He takes a small step back. Now EVERYONE stops sewing and this is A LOT of people y’all.  I yell “ENOUGH!” Then I yell off a list of work violations that I believe are unacceptable.  I follow with a few humiliating statements about, what I assume to be, the smallest set of genitals any man has ever had, as evidenced by his need to make others feels powerless around him.  He was not laughing anymore.  I said that he would die fat, powerless and alone.  A stunned crowd was part entertained; part petrified and part wondering if they should keep sewing.  I said I know some of you love sewing and need this job, and that’s ok. But I know some of you have had enough.  I’m leaving now, you can leave with me and I will help you find work.  About 5 girls walked out with me, including Tanya.

We all went back to my apartment.  The girls went through phases of disbelief, shock, fear, exhilaration and anxiety.  We smoked, what seemed like, 15 packs of cigarettes. We talked until 2am while drinking Crazy Horse beer out of 40oz bottles.  Ironically we got slum-lord pizza and it was amazing. The next day we all started looking for work, and we all found it.  I assume that Boss-Hog’s story ended as I predicted, but I DO wish I could somehow confirm that… for the sake of all the women that he caused to suffer. Sadly, it’s likely that Tanya and the other girls never got out of Jacksonville, and probably had pretty hard lives.  Unfortunately, we lost touch so I’ll never know.

quitting pizza

Thanks for the Pizza P.J. … with your weird face and negative impact on humanity and good pizza and  whatnot…

Summary of what we’ve learned:

  • Your pizza could be tainted with the souls of the impoverished (wow that came out much more dramatic than it needed to).
  • If you’re going to make a scene you might as well go big.
  • Get a bank account, it’s not that expensive.
  • Men who get face lifts look weird to me.
  • Don’t vomit on paper checks, or allow them to be vomited on by others.
  • It’s really easy to get a job at a sewing factory if you have functioning eyes.
  • If you are a single woman and you need a date, go to Jacksonville, NC where the male/female ratio appeared to be about 250:1.
  • If you’re female and don’t like being hit on 24 hours 7 days a week, do NOT go to Jacksonville, NC… unless you’re enlisted in the Marine Corp and get orders to go… then totally go or you will be arrested and whatnot.
  • Rage against the machine.
  • If you see something, say something.
  • Inciting a one-woman protest without planning might work out but might not. You may want to actually have a plan.     
  • Slum-Lord pizza is delicious.
  • Complacency is a disease only cured by inspiration.

quitting complacency

Don’t be a deer in the sewing factory.  Be the lion.  

 

Permanent Record…

2 blog posts in one week?! It’s Christmas in August! Actually, my youngest daughter is away at 4H overnight camp. Let’s just say that there are very few things that create any emotion in the brain of Marie Christine, but Gigi is one of them. If I don’t stay completely occupied I drift off into thoughts of her lying in her cabin bed at night, cold, terrified and crying out for us. So, “lucky” you get a double blog week as I try to stay occupied.  Hooray!

Let’s talk about the fact that anything we say or do today is pretty much a permanent record.  Thanks to the internet, screen shots, texts, emails, Facebook, you name it. The internet always remembers. Your ex-girlfriend always remembers (ha). I can’t even imagine some of the things that I said when I was younger…. Heck even last week.  I do know two things.  1. I thank god every day that there was no internet when I was in my 20’s.  Thank you kind and merciful Jesus.  2. I’m deliberate about what I put out there now… mostly… except when I drink and blog when my daughter is crying in a dark theoretical cabin.

If you are easily offended (are the cool kids calling that a “snowflake” now? I’m confused…) you should stop reading here. Real talk… engage.

Tomi Lahren, TV personality and…? Not sure what else.  You all know I don’t like radicals.  Left radicals, right radicals… I don’t like you. Radicals start wars, not productive revolutions like they think they do.  Their egos are their driving forces, which is the opposite of revolutionaries, k?  Since Tomi’s so young I actually feel sorry for her. Her legacy is going to be embarrassing, at best, and isolating at least. As a mother I want to have a side bar like hun, we need to talk, this is the ghost of Christmas future and future you has some bad habits and some pretty major hair loss issues so…

After Jesse Williams’ speech at the BET awards she said:

“If the [black] victim ended up being unarmed, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.” Tomi Lahren

So… any black person who doesn’t have a gun has either tried, or thought about trying, to obtain one? Oh hellllllllllllll no. Tomi, a shit-ton of women out there are pretty, you need to come up with something else… tick tock goes your clock. Permanent Record.

When asked about Climate Change:

“I talk to a lot of Democrats about that. They’re like, ‘But it’s freezing, and then it’s hot!’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah it’s called weather. That’s what happens.”  Tomi Lahren

I feel sorry for her that in Douche-Town USA wherever she went to high school they didn’t teach them the difference between climate and weather, and that maybe her mother (guessing here) gets all of her news updates from her Sorority Newsletter. Second, you aren’t talking to a lot of democrats, and if you did none of them said that. That was from a dream you had where people thought you were smart.  You’re awake now hun.  Science 1, Tomi 0 on the Permanent Record.

permanent jk tomi

JK Rowling Slays Twitter. Follow her if you want to see magic comebacks.

 

permanent war on xmas

Tomi takes on the real issues…

Real Talk: Melania Trump… just kidding. That poor woman has been through enough.  Although Melania, if you’re reading this the scowl at the inauguration speech and the deplane hand-slap will live on forever.  I hope your husband doesn’t have you deported when you leave him, but you might want to start planning just in case. Deplane hand slap: Permanent Record… thank you.

Hillary Clinton: Oh Hillary… I believe HC is brilliant. I hope she continues to have a role in politics. She has devoted her life to public service.  I think a lot of politicians forget that they are public servants.  But public service goes out the mother fricken window when you’re a woman scorned. Regarding her husband’s infidelity…

“Who is going to find out? These women are trash. Nobody’s going to believe them.” Hillary Clinton

The old “she’s trash” argument is about as anti-feminist as you can get.  Get your shit together on this one HC. Remember the other women were also women scorned, and your response is on permanent record. Judge not lest ye be judged. Also just NO.

permanent nope

For Paul Ryan I’m not going to use a quote to express the permanency of the internet.  Rather a couple of photos. Remember these marketing photos from his run for VP with Mitt Romney? I do. They are still priceless.  He will have them to treasure when he retires and moves back to Fraggle Rock.

File this under: Things you can’t un-see

Jeff Sessions.  Tough to pick a favorite here.  When asked about the KKK in the 1980’s he said:

The KKK “…were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Jeff Sessions

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Jeff Sessions

Ok so I don’t smoke pot (although I have in the past a few times). Which is too bad since it’s legal to smoke, grow and sell where I live. I’m more of a booze person, as previously heavily referenced.  That said, he may not regret this statement but it’s just stupid. I also love it that pot is what turned him off from the KKK. He could let go the lynching, but at pot… the line was DRAWN. Permanent Record Kermit.

Let’s not leave out our celebrity friends (simmer down y’all I’ll get to Trump in a minute I swear… stay seated and do not panic).  Here are some fun ones:

“I definitely want Brooklyn to be christened, but I don’t know into what religion yet”. David Beckham

When asked which newspapers she reads “Most of em, All of ‘em, and any of ‘em that have been in front of me over all these years.” Sarah Palin

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” Brooke Shields

“Stretchmarks are my biggest fear of life”. Kim Kardashian

Now for our finale if you will. Imagine if presidential succession was a fireworks display, we would be so AMPED with this finale!  I’m assuming the world ends during this presidency, hence the finale.  Let us begin:

Photos from November 2020 during the election.

 

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body” Donald Trump

If you haven’t read the back story on this, you must.  About 30 years ago, the co-editor of Spy Magazine, Graydon Carter, called Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian”.  As per usual, Donald is unable to get past it (a key leadership quality). For years Carter states that he still gets envelopes from Trump with photos of him, circling his hands in comparison to others as proof that this insult is not true.  This story is fascinating.  The quote above is both confusing and entertaining.  PERMANENT RECORD, thankfully for us.

Trump believes exercise is bad for people. I can’t even… so feel free to read one of the many articles on it: Click Here to see the worst excuse anyone has ever given to avoid exercise

permanent grab

 

“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” Donald Trump

permanent take that

Oh yes, give me some of that Spanx restricted big belly. They were ALL into you, and everyone knows it.

“My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” Donald Trump

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe” Donald Trump

“Eventually we’re going to get something done and it’s going to be really, really good.” Donald Trump

permanent fox screen shot

Award for best Fox News Alert statement ever?

“Look at my African American over here!” Donald Trump at a campaign rally June 3, 2016.  

“There has to be some form of punishment…” Donald Trump on women who have abortions.

permanent trophy

Finally, an attack on the Pope… is anyone out of scope?

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian. If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which everyone knows is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you at the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been the President because this would not have happened.” Donald Trump in response to this quote from Pope Francis: “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian”.

Soooo much to say here.  First, Donald is saying that the Pope is wrong about interpreting who/what defines Christianity.  I’m not super knowledgeable here but isn’t that the Pope’s primary gig? Like for the entire planet?  Second, don’t you love people who refer to themselves in the third person? I know I do. Hey Not-Tom-Brady, Marie Christine would like grilled cheese for dinner tonight, ok?

I’ve also found out, according to about 10 minutes of research, that the following people/groups are Losers.  I can only imagine how enlightened I would be if I kept looking!  Please read so that you won’t accidently relate to, or worse yet become, a loser, especially one on permanent record…

Erick Erickson, Rosie O’Donnell, Sheen Monnin, People without egos, George Will, Online magazine “Salon”, Tim O’Brien, Roger Stone, Richard Belzer, Michael Forbes, Glenfiddish Scotch, Karl Rove, Lord Sugar, Gradydon Carter, Bill Maher, Angelo Carusone, Mark Cuban, Ana Navarro, Michelle Malkin, Danny Zuker, Elderly women who sue him, People who tweet he wears wigs, Alex Salmond, Seth Meyers, Paul Goldberger, Frank Luntz, Russell Brand, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, John McCain and  Chuck Todd are all Losers.

What’s the saddest thing about the fact that we are spiraling into a pre-apocalyptic nightmare?  Consensus is that this all happened because of One. Single. Dinner.  As evidenced here: For once it’s actually true THANKS OBAMA!

Click Here for New Yorker Article

Click Here for Video

permanent thanks obama

Straight Outta Woo-Town

 

If you read my last blog post, you know that I recently moved.  I’ve moved many, many, MANY times, but this time was the most drastic change and the hardest worked for.

After 10 years and about a hundred thousand dollars in expenses and mortgage payments, I was able to sell this June. YAY!  I was even able to make some money on the sale (Thanks Dave! Sorry I panicked and tried to convince you to lower the price.  You were right, I was wrong… you are smart and I’m stupid.)

We ended up having to replace the entire sewer line.  It was incredibly expensive and stressful… after our 2nd sewage back up in 2 weeks of purchase. Thanks to Dave we were able to use the proceeds to pay for it. I never realized how exhilarating flushing a toilet without fear could be. Who knew?

straight lawn 1

Nothing to see here.  This is all totally normal. 

We moved from Worcester to a country town about a half hour outside the city. I wouldn’t call it a suburb.  It’s a working class area that has been hard hit by the continuous loss of working class jobs.  I like to think we are doing our part for the community having immediately injected about 30K into the local economy through our many post-move catastrophes.  You’re welcome!

straight money

Makin’ it Rain!  Until the money is gone… so… now.

Worcester is the 2nd largest city in New England. It’s known for its booming restaurant and art scenes, and also for a lot of crime and deteriorating schools.  I always liked the city, and I will continue to visit often.

New-Town is different.  I told a friend before we left that we were moving with the hillbillies, but that’s ok because I’m a former hillbilly and still speak fluent hillbilly. He responded “It’s Massachusetts hillbillies, so…”.  True.  Massachusetts hillbillies are… different. I’ve also noticed that the distinction between a hillbilly and a redneck appears to have disappeared post-Trump Presidency.  Or maybe it was before and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention? At this point I’m unable to self-describe.  Am I a current or former hillbilly? Current or former redneck? I’m just going to check off all of the boxes and call it a day.  TBH that’s probably accurate.

straight thinking

Immediately I noticed that everyone here is wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Seriously, almost every single person. Other options appear to be gym shorts that basketball players wear and pajamas.  As people came to the house to help us with various service needs, I tried to wear the jeans and t-shirt uniform, so as not to be discovered as a city slicker who’s too big for my britches.    It seemed to work!  Mostly.

Things NOT to do if you want to go undetected:

  • Wear all black
  • Wear $400 Burberry Sunglasses (even if you bought them at a silent auction for charity. That actually makes it worse)
  • Take down the American flag the prior owner left on the house
  • Go for walks wearing matching fitness clothing
  • Carry Trader Joe’s Bags into the house during daylight hours
  • Resting Bitch Face
  • Mention politics, even in passing
  • Read a book in public (unless it’s to children)
  • Ask what kind of bourbon/wine a restaurant has, just order Makers’ Mark/House Merlot
  • Do not blare “Straight Outta Compton” because you love it or because it’s ironic
  • Tell the sewer line replacement guy “fine whatever it costs” after getting a $10,700 quote.
  • Complain about only having 25K in your 401k at age 45 (Hint: A lot of people have NONE, k miss fancy pants city slicker?!)

Things TO do if you want to go undetected:

  • Forget you have bed slippers on when you go to pick up Applebee’s take out and go in anyway
  • Be very clear that you have dogs and love all dogs
  • Ask people about their lives even if they are cleaning sewage from your basement
  • Smile when people walk by
  • Don’t cover up your tattoo(s)
  • Sigh really loudly when you say you left Worcester to point out how relieved you are
  • Mow the lawn with a push mower
  • Wait a year to buy a snow blower. Not just because you’re out of money but as further evidence that you aren’t a damn fat cat city slicker
  • Get supplies at Walmart.  It’s cheap. It’s 5 minutes away. Target is an hour away, get over it.
  • Hide your mosquito magnet, even though you want to tell everyone about it.
  • Eat all of your DQ fries before you even get back home (less than a 2 minute drive)
  • Stare at your garbage disposal in wonder every time you use it… this thing is magical!

straight mosquito

Dear mosquito magnet. I love you so…

There are awesome things here like tons of farms where you can buy fresh food.  We went grocery shopping last night and couldn’t bring ourselves to buy tomatoes and eggs at Big Y (no offense Big Y you’re awesome buddy!) because we knew we could get them fresh from a local farm.  We also found a farm that has milk and a bunch of pre-made stuff right from their place like shepards pie, pulled pork and chicken pot pie.  Take that Worcester!

I will admit that when I take my daughter into the city for her voice lessons we stock pile Chinese take-out to bring back to our hillbilly Shangri-La.

straight chinese

When the take out lady at Nancy Chang asks if you’re having a party because your order is for like 20 people and there are only 2 of you standing there…

So far we are happy here.  I feel most comfortable living in a working class community.  That’s not a huge surprise considering that’s how I grew up.  I feel like I can be myself… even with the Burberry Sunglasses.  I can adjust to wearing all black only SOME of the time and can definitely get used to DQ fries and fresh eggs. Resting bitch face may be harder to let go since it’s… well…. My face.

One thing though…. Is it me or is this landscaping at the local cemetery WAYYYY too creepy.  What the frig is happening with the corpses in that cemetery? What is happening to them that would make them cry out for help in this insanely disturbing way?

straight pray

Nothing creepier than all hell going on here. 

Dear readers… have I waited long enough to post about politics or are we ready for some real talk?

straight kermit

Dave’s Not Here, Man

If this title doesn’t mean anything to you, I suggest you hit up Google, YouTube or Siri then come back (although technically you can still follow along unaware).

You might be thinking to yourself, Marie Christine, where the heck have you been? OR you might be thinking… hey Marie Christine, I didn’t even notice you were gone so get over yourself.  Either way, here’s the story of the long strange trip that was the last 7-ish weeks.

A very intuitive person told me that this entire process would be a flume ride… with anxiety inducing moments weekly, sometimes daily.  He was right.   Here is the story of my flume ride.

I put my house up for sale. Not-Tom-Brady and I are very different people.  I handle moving by putting everything I haven’t touched in the last six months out on the sidewalk for anyone who wants it to take…. I’m surprised I moved with anything at all.  I even sold our living room furniture on Craigslist before we even sold our house. When they showed up to pick it up I just started handing them random items like a serving tray and an ottoman… everything must go!!!!

house 5

This is where most of my stuff went… gone within hours.

Not-Tom-Brady, on the other hand, sifted through what seemed like hundreds of boxes of odds and ends, cherishing the memory attached to each one.  The process took a long time.  Being the anti-clutter queen of the universe, the process almost drove me over the edge.  But for Not-Tom-Brady, I stayed strong. Number of my “boxes of memories” = 1.  Number of Not-Tom-Brady’s boxes of memories = I have no idea.. a LOT y’all… a lot.

 Ohhhh Not-Tom-Brady!

We also handle stress in very different ways.  Not-Tom-Brady is an optimist with an everything-will-work-out-like-it’s-supposed-to attitude. Not fair. With the knowledge that a flume ride could be imminent, I turned to my 2 saving graces in times of high-stress… productivity and booze.  Yes, these two options can happily co-exist.

house 6Jager Nips I packed for my business trip to San Diego.  This is about 20% of what I packed.  Airlines allow these in carry on AND checked bags, especially if you have TSA pre-check.  For those of you that were unaware of this, you’re welcome. 

Stay busy, stay productive, then drink…. and repeat.  My realtor, and friend, is Dave. During these 7-ish weeks Dave has been reassuring and always available. I, on the other hand, have been overwhelmed, busy and moderately drunk.

house 11

Me overwhelmed, busy and moderately drunk when Dave would stop by…

I have two jobs, so staying busy usually isn’t a problem.  Between the two I work anywhere from 40-70 hours a week.  BUT during this time I pretty much needed to be busy 24/7 to avoid having a complete nervous breakdown.  I was living in a difficult-to-sell home.  We had 13 showings and NO offers.  During the 14th showing we got bored and decided to go to an open house for a small ranch that didn’t appear to be a good fit for us.  We opened the door and saw a sprawling open floor plan with a SUNKEN LIVING ROOM.  I LOVE SUNKEN LIVING ROOMS!  Then there was a finished basement.  A partially fenced yard.  Privacy.  A two car garage and landscaping like I’ve never seen. We all knew… THIS IS OUR HOME.

As it would turn out, the 14th showing was the charm and an offer was made on our house the same day as we made an offer on the new home.  Let the joy (I mean flume ride) begin!

First, our buyers were first time home buyers.  No problem!  Except that their realtor was also a first time realtor.  Awesome!  She can’t fill out basic forms and asks ridiculous questions like.. Can the buyers come in and clean the week before they buy the house? Um no, it’s not their house so… no.

house 444

We decided on closing dates. My purchase the day before my sale.. easy peasy! NOPE.

I did a home inspection on the new house, the seller refused to make any of the updates I requested, basically stating that they didn’t need to be done.  One was replacing a cable leading into the circuit breaker box (I’m using the wrong lingo I’m sure)… I won’t spoil the surprise on how this turned out, we will get there.  Fine asshole.. have it your way… don’t make the repairs.

Then, I realize that we are only a week away from closing and the seller still hasn’t signed the P&S agreement.  It turns out he was on vacation and didn’t think it was a big deal.  Guess who DID think it was a big deal? My mortgage company.  He ended up going into the lawyer’s office on a Saturday and we got it signed within about 4 hours of the timeframe necessary to close on our closing date. Awesome!

As I’m reading the P&S, when it’s eventually sent to me, I notice that it’s missing an entire parcel of land attached to the property… yep… true story.  At least we have 3 whole hours to fix it… lucky us!

house 16

Thanks to a very cool cast of characters on my end (Dave, Mortgage-Guy and Lawyer-Lady) they got shit done.  Literally at the 11th hour.  High five team-Dave.

Finally my title is clear and the P&S is good.  Just call Fidelity to get the 401K loan right? NOPE, I need the money for the mortgage within 7 days and the best they can do is get it in 14 days in the form of a check, and it will take 7 days to clear.  Perfect!  I spent 7 hours on the phone with Fidelity.  Eventually they agreed to wire me the money.  I can’t even tell you how I did it. Let’s just say manipulation and negotiation skills are key in life, and I probably also owe the director there a kidney, but it was worth it. Jager.

house 7

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all is peachy keen with the buyer!  Oh wait no that’s the story of another person that I’ve never met.  Since the buyer is inexperienced, and their realtor is new, no one noticed that their mortgage broker went on vacation and forgot to process their paperwork.  The bank appraisal on my sale home was never ordered, and the closing was in 4 days.  But it’s all good right? Nope, it’s not all good.  Even with a rush appraisal the house would not sell/close as planned.  They order a rush appraisal.. I stay busy, and wait, and drink. Oh and I also attend Dead & Company’s show at Fenway Park with Not-Tom-Brady because I got him VIP Tickets for his birthday.

Yea that’s right. When you aren’t sure if you’re about to have a great year, or if you’re about to lose everything, you might as well go big right?

house 10

Dear John, I forgive you for what you did to Taylor Swift and/or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Thank you VIP heaven. 

My appraisal on my purchase comes back $3,800 under the asking price.  We all know that the bank home appraisers have some subjectivity here.  Probably in the 10K range. Mine, nope… she decides to prove some sort of point during my flume ride.  Let’s just say I don’t want her to have any sort of tragic event, but if she were to get the worst sunburn of her entire life this week I would be ok with that. So, I got to pay $3,800 to the buyer that I wasn’t expecting because some lady decided it was her day to shine in I-Have-Self-Declared-Power land.  Perfect!  Why not right?  p.s. My sale is now completely up in the air at this point.

My sale house finally gets appraised and I’m told we will close in about 10 days. Ok scary. I’m going to own 2 homes for at least 10 days and don’t have the resources to support it past that… deep breaths. The house will sell.  We will be ok… it’s all fine. Nothing to see here. Jager.

house 12

I finally close on my new home and move in. YES!  Sunken LIVING ROOM!  The movers are awesome.  Life is good.  Not-Tom-Brady and the kids are thrilled.  There is still drama with the sale but hey at least we are in Shangri-La right?   Waiiiit for it..  wait for it…. What is this water leaking into my finished basement?

I call a long list of plumbers in an unfamiliar town in a house I’ve lived in for just a few hours.  One finally comes over.  I can’t figure out where the water is coming from.  I assume a broken pipe is my worst case scenario.  Ya know what? A broken pipe is NOT a worst case scenario.  It turns out that a sewage drain back up IS.  And you guessed it… it was a sewage drain back up.  There  is a stand up shower in the finished basement, full of…. well full of shit… Literally.  I call a restoration company and a drain specialist.  The next thing I know I’m writing thousands of dollars in checks to get the drain unplugged at the street level and to have my finished basement sanitized.  Yay! Jager.

house 8

Two days later the sewage is removed from the house.  They tell me it was a single paper towel flushed down the toilet that caused the problem. I have no idea if that’s even a thing but it’s all very calming (hint: It’s not).

The very same day I get a call from lawyer-lady.  Great news!  The closing on your sale is going through.  OMG that’s great news wow!  So they pushed it ahead to the day after tomorrow instead of next week isn’t that great?  They will be coming tomorrow night for the walk through. Insert visual of me picturing my old house with a basement full of junk that needs to be hauled away and 11 years of grime in every crevice of the 100 year old house… Remember… at this moment I have sewage in my new home and men wearing masks working. I thought I had at least 7 more days.  No rest for the wicked.  Jager.

The next day Dave swoops in with the number of a cleaning lady that turns out to be some sort of magic sorceress.  I’m so exhausted from the past 7 weeks plus the sewage back up that my 45 year old body can barely manage.  The magical cleaning wizard asks if I want her to start in the downstairs.  I nod.. sure.  15 minutes later I walk downstairs and she has transformed the house of horrors into a beautiful home full of rainbows and glitter happiness.  Meanwhile, Unicus, the Junk Master General, shows up and hauls away every bit of junk from the entire house.  He makes all of the bad disappear. #Unicus The buyers are on their way for the walk through.  We finish with 23 minutes to spare.  They could probably see us driving away.

house 22

Now that things are “calm” I call an electrician. Remember that silly cable that the prior homeowner insisted didn’t need to be replaced? It wasn’t just susceptible to leaking into the circuit box, it has been leaking for a while.  So this Saturday I get to pay to have the entire thing replaced.  Isn’t that exciting? Who doesn’t love an unexpected 2K expense for something you thought you already had (working electricity)?  Side note: I knew this in advance but I also need to replace the furnace.. yea!  Do people still offer money for blood plasma donations?

Did anything go right?  Well, we love the house.  The fence guy showed up on time today to install a fence so that my dogs can run free, unsupervised, for the first time in their entire lives.  My teenager has her own hang-out area for her and her friends in the finished basement. I have a garage.  I don’t have a sidewalk to maintain. I can hear birds outside.  People here smile and say hello. My kids can walk to DQ from the new house. Did I mention the sunken living room?  I have a front porch and neighbors who wave to me.  I have a kitchen with enough counter space to prepare food on without using the stovetop.  My backyard has plants and flowers I’ve never even seen before.  There is a breeze in my back yard 24/7.  The people who bought my old house are over the moon happy to be there. I have EIGHT parking spaces, 2 in a garage.  At my old house I didn’t even have enough room to invite more than one person over at a time… and even with one person one of us would have to move our cars to a side street.  My family is HAPPY.  The redneck police did not show up, they are letting me have this one.  Stay tuned.

E X H A L E

house 17

Gigi dancing in the sunken living room the day we moved in. 

  • house 3

How to handle a flume ride.

 

 

 

Jesus Walks – Top 12 Marie Christine Game Changers

We are all many things.  I’m a strategist, a wife, an ex-wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a homeowner, a professor, a diplomat, a mentor, a humanitarian, a drummer, a blogger, a friend and a pessimist.  My list goes on, as does yours.  I’m having an extremely busy quarter.  Whenever I use the word “quarter” my friend Andrea makes fun of me.   Apparently it’s not a term normally used by the general population to describe time.  Alas, I’m having a busy quarter.

I sold my house!  I also bought a house.  Wow!  Blog posts to follow about city vs. non-city, moving, and the differences between my husband and I when it comes to how we approach(ed) the entire process.  I’m also leaving for a business trip to San Diego in two days (Poor me! I “have to” go to San Diego.  Feel sorry for me.).  I close on the houses in less than 4 weeks.  Not only am I going to San Diego, but I have my day job (strategy), my night job (teaching economics etc), 2 charity events, the Worcester Economic Club annual meeting and I’m taking Not-Tom-Brady to see Dead & Company at Fenway Park in Boston for his birthday.  I’m sure I’m missing something, but there’s a lot going on.

Every single day there is someone at my house.  The handyman fixing my windows.  The electrician covering up exposed wires.  My realtor collecting ANOTHER check (Hey Dave!) The myriads of people buying all of the furniture we’re selling on Craigslist.  Side note: If you have a busted snowblower, it doesn’t matter how bad of shape it’s in…. put it on Craigslist.  We had 48 emails in the first hour!

Looking for a home is awesome, and not awesome, at the same time.

What do I do to get me through busy and/or tough times?  Clarification: These are not tough times, these are awesome times… but still busy and a little overwhelming.  I look to music.  I’m here to share the songs that have meant the most to me in my life, and why.  I hope to hear what you think about these songs, and even better, if you can tell me what songs are meaningful to YOU and why. Side note: there are 27 songs that I struggled with NOT putting on this list. It’s very hard to get down to 10ish… so know that there are an additional 27 deserving songs such as “Hear My Train A Comin’: Jimi Hendrix” that I refuse to live without.  But I don’t think the general blog reading audience is up for a selfish extended blog of 39 songs… I digress…

Disclaimer: I’ve had a bit to drink.  Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I’ve had more than a bit to drink.  …. Note to self for future blog title: “Don’t drink and blog”. Damn you Jager and also bless you at the same time.   Forgive any typos, I blame the Jager. There is also a Jager related future blog post… you will enjoy the context but it’s difficult to explain in one sentence so enjoy the suspense lol.

Songs that have impacted my life the most… in reverse order.  Heads up… these aren’t the song’s you’d expect, I’m just being as honest as I can be:

12. The Chain: Fleetwood Mac.   I simply love this song.  It’s not only technically on point, but it gives me a sense of calm and meaning.  If you haven’t heard this song, you need to listen to it immediately. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love this song.  I’ve seen it performed live once.  It was awesome. My family is always very talkative on car rides.  I notice that we are all silent during this song.  That speaks volumes.

11. Daughter: Pearl Jam.  This song has multiple interpretations.  I recently asked my daughter to teach me to play this on acoustic guitar while she sings it.  Stay tuned for the youTube debut. #LABRocks

10. Beat It: Michael Jackson.  This was one of the first songs that made me feel optimistic and made me want to dance.  It’s also brilliantly written and musically just about perfect. In 2015 we saw a famous Michael Jackson impersonator perform this in Woonsocket, RI… and even the impersonator nailed it.  The song is THAT good.

9. Wanted Dead or Alive: Bon Jovi.  When this music video came out, it was the first glimpse into the life of a musician that may be less than glamorous.  The song is well written, has great hooks and is all around great.  I love playing it on drums.  It’s one of the few songs I can listen to over and over after years of hearing it.  This song was ahead of it’s time and still holds up today. I sometimes wonder if non-musicians love this song as much as musicians do… ?

8. Head Over Heels: The Go-Go’s.  The Go-Go’s changed my life.  As I was trying to figure out how I fit in to the world, Belinda Carlisle helped me get there.  This is one of their lesser known songs, but it’s the one I remember listening to over and over and saying ok… I can see myself in this person.  I have someone to relate to.  Thank you Belinda Carlisle!  She wasn’t all punk, she wasn’t all pop, she wasn’t any category she was all categories, and still is.  I aspired to be like that. I still want Belinda to be my best friend.

Belinda ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

7. Fight For Your Right To Party: The Beastie Boys.  You should know, the Beastie Boys are my favorite band of all time.  They don’t have my top slot in the countdown, but if asked to name my overall favorite band… it’s hands down these guys.  They changed the way I felt about music and felt about life.  They broke barriers. They still break barriers.  I would sit with a friend and memorize the words to Paul Revere and life was good. I couldn’t possibly name all of the songs I love by them, but this was the very first. Plus let’s be serious, before this I had no idea that I had the RIGHT to party 😉

6. Dream On: Aerosmith.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Aerosmith.  Too many to count.  This is partially due to the fact they they are from my home state.  I even settled 2 insurance claims for them in the 1990’s when I was a claims adjuster.  I originally wrote the details in this blog because Jager temporarily made me forget that was inappropriate.  Luckily I remembered before I hit “Publish”.  Let’s say we have a long history. My band did a cover of their cover of “Walking The Dog”.  That said, Dream On has always been an important song to me.  I’m in the process of convincing my daughter to perform this one with me because it’s such an emotional song and has so much meaning to me.  Whenever I hear this song, I feel like a 19 year old drummer at UMASS in a state of Zen once again.  Does it get any better than that?

5. I Know You Won’t: Carrie Underwood.  Best vocals of any song I’ve ever heard.  Also a great emotional message.  Lauren will learn this song when she’s ready.  I’ve heard this performed live twice, and have been speechless every time.  Not only are the vocals better than anything I’ve ever heard… even without production/mixing/blending… but the emotion and meaning is real.  When someone doesn’t keep their promises but you keep hoping they will, this is the song for you. Carrie Underwood can’t dance for $hit but I’ll tell you what, that woman can SING. She doesn’t need studio tricks… this song is the real thing.   Songs I couldn’t include in a short top 10ish list: Someday When I Stop Loving You, The Night Before Life Goes On & Wasted.

4. Ali In The Jungle: The Hours.  I learned about this song last year.  I asked, on social media, for inspiration.  Someone who knows me better than most suggested this song.  The music video is just as good as the song.  A senior leader at my day job recently asked me what I felt my best quality was.  I responded by saying “overcoming adversity”.  I believe that to be true.  When self-doubt creeps in I listen to this song and it tells the self doubt to F-Off and go back to where it came from. If you’ve overcome adversity and struggle with intermittent bouts of self-doubt, this song is a necessity. In my 40’s this song has been a critical reminder that I CAN and I WILL.  Thank you song writers and producers.

3. Ride The Lightening: Metallica.  When I was a Sophomore in high school I experienced a lapse.  I have always been extremely driven.  Focused.  Achieving.  Surviving.  Cutting through red tape with a machete.  In 1985 I experienced a lapse.  I gave up.  I decided the fight wasn’t worth it and almost gave into the dark side.  I started smoking cigarettes.  I stopped caring about my schooling.  I focused on survival but nothing else.  I determined there was no point.  A fellow student gave me a Metallica tape.  One day while mowing the lawn at my house I put the tape in and heard Ride the Lightening.  I have no explanation why, but this was a turning point for me.  It energized me and put me back on track.  I felt a kinship with the meaning of the song. I realized I wasn’t the only person going through something.  I realized I had the power to control my outcomes.  I could ride the lightening.  Thank you Metallica for this turning point. I regained control of my future because of a cassette tape and a lawn mower.

2. When Doves Cry: Prince.  This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  I loved this song at the same time that I loved Metallica.  I wasn’t a metal head. I wasn’t a pop culture buff.  I wasn’t into anything, I was just me and I loved parts of most things.  This song is almost perfect.  I regret that I never heard Prince perform it.  This is my go-to song when I need to forget about something.  I get in my car, I put this song on, and I sing every… single.. word.  I LOVE THIS SONG. Prince had a way of helping you to let go and become a part of the music.  You dance in your car, sitting down, and you don’t care who sees you. We will never hear a song like this again.  People in the next lane over in traffic stare at you like you’re crazy.  Instead of worrying about what they think, you feel sorry for them because they can’t experience the same sense of freedom.  I’m thankful it exists.

  1. Jesus Walks: Kanye West.  If there’s one thing in the world that I CANNOT STAND, it’s Kanye West.  I think he’s one of the biggest narcissistic assholes of our time.  He’s overconfident and often unintelligent.  He puts down others to make himself feel powerful. That’s my least favorite type of person.  That said, he has produced the song that has had the most impact on my life.  I listen to this song several times a week.  This song is my anthem.  This song is my reset. This song is for anyone that has come close to going to the dark side and come back.  This song is for those who have gone to the dark side and come back.  This song is for those who are still on the dark side and still have the opportunity to come back.  This song is brilliantly produced.  It’s motivational and meaningful.  I have listened to this song weekly since it came out over a decade ago.  This song keeps me on track.  This song reminds me to stay the course.  This song has had more of an impact on my life than any other song every has.  My only regret is that it wasn’t released earlier in my life when it would have helped me sooner.  This is the message we need in the struggle.  We are all equal.  We can all rise above evil and do what’s right, even without the resources or means to do so.  Even if we have already gone down the wrong path, there is always still time for course correction. YES WE CAN. We can always come back no matter how far off track we have gone.  #JesusWalks.

 

 

Test Drive Playlist: My Nearly-Victimless Con

Disclaimer: I do not advocate the disrespectful behavior I’m about to describe or the hobby I’m about to elaborate on. It’s not nice… not nice at all. Driving speeds are deliberately omitted from this blog post.

I’ve always loved driving. Every car I’ve ever purchased has had a manual transmission. I learned to drive on a manual transmission truck and have loved them ever since. Every decade that passes it gets harder and harder to find manual transmission vehicles without a special order. With driverless cars on the horizon my relationship with this driving style may be coming to an end.

In the early 1990’s I lived in Jacksonville, NC. I was hired at a law firm as a receptionist, but was quickly moved to a back room position as an insurance claim paralegal because I wasn’t “Southern enough”. I didn’t want to spend the first 2-3 minutes of every call discussing the weather or the blooming flowers. I was the receptionist. Wasn’t it simply my job to receive a call and transfer it to the proper party? Not in the Southern United States it wasn’t. I was too “abrupt” apparently.

Who they thought they hired

Who they actually hired…

One day, one of the partners asked me to take his car to the carwash for him. I wasn’t opposed to menial tasks, and let’s face it getting time out of the office was a bonus. He handed me the keys and I walked out to his spot. Back then it was common for offices to have labeled parking spaces as a sign of prestige, so it was easy for me to identify his car. It was a beautiful new Jaguar. It took me about 2 hours to get his car washed because “the line was busy”. I had never been in such a luxurious vehicle before. I basically melted into the seats. As a reference, I was driving a Dodge Shadow at the time, and proud of it, as my first new car. I had driven plenty of muscle cars in the past (Chevelle…. Favorite car to drive HANDS DOWN). I had never driven a luxury car. How could I NOT take it out on the empty highways of Jacksonville. Everything was awesome, except the music. He had no tape in the car and the radio was nothing but talk shows where churches asked listeners for money or people complained about the heat and general state of the economy.

What his car looked like

What my car looked like

After this experience, I decided that I was going to need to find a way to drive cars outside of my wheelhouse. Hence, a new hobby was born: the test drive hustle… and I’m not talking about a dance, I’m talking about a victimless con. Note my use of the word “victimless” as if any hustle or con could truly be victimless. Let’s say on a scale of 1 – 10 I perceived the negative impact to be a 1… we’ll call it “nearly victimless”.

When I get anxiety or stress, driving helps alleviate it. Driving fast helps even more. Driving fast in a car I’ve never driven is even better. Driving fast in a car I’ve never driven, in an area I’ve never driven in is the best.

I have my flaws, just like everyone does, but one of my better qualities is my credit score. Very sexy, no? I pay my bills ahead of time. When I can’t pay them, I find a way. I’ll rob Peter to pay Paul. I’ll work a second job, or third job. I’ll negotiate with the people billing me. I have never paid a bill late, and I never will. My thought process is that if I have a high credit score, I will always be ok. I set it as my top priority, and everything else falls into its own place beneath it.

One of the cool things about having perfect credit is that anyone will give you a loan, a credit card, anything you want… without collateral and without high interest. The mortgage broker says “I’ll let you know how much the bank approves” and you’re thinking “Whatever I want so…. We’re good”. What does my credit score have to do with my desire to drive fast cars that I’ve never driven? Everything.

Santa Land: Low Credit Score and Good Credit Score.

After my Jaguar experience I became a bit depressed (not in a clinical way, in more of a moping, bitching and complaining way) because I loved the experience so much but didn’t have the means to do it again. *Shrugs shoulders* oh well. Then, one day when driving from North Carolina to Massachusetts, I stopped at a diner to eat. As I was going back to the highway, I saw an Audi dealership. Thoughts of the Jaguar came back into my mind. “I wonder what their highest end Audi is like?”. I pulled in, got out and started looking at the cars. Then came the magical words that would jump start my new hobby “Care to take it for a test drive?”. Well…. Yes actually, yes I do.

They ran my credit… perfect… excited look in car salesman’s eyes. “Let’s go!”. I got into the blue, 1994 Audi A4. “Can we go on the highway?” “Sure, just watch your speed”. “Ok” (Not happening). We got on the highway and made some small talk. I accelerated slowly but steadily hoping he wouldn’t notice how fast we were going… until suddenly he did. He pleaded with me calmly to slow the vehicle down, I responded with short, confident phrases like “It’s ok”. “It’s fine”. “Don’t worry this is no problem”. We eventually drove back to the dealership. I wasn’t sure if he would scold me, or get a manager, etc. The car wasn’t damaged at all. There was no “problem” really. I sensed that, more than anything else, he was embarrassed that he hadn’t been able to control the situation. I told him I’d think about purchasing the car, took his business card, winked, and left… in my 1994 Dodge Shadow (my car should have been a bit of a red flag, no?).

You said it’s fine, but it doesn’t seem fine.

Over the course of the following decades I’ve probably test driven anywhere from 2-4 cars a year that I had no intention of buying. Having people check your credit DOES impact your credit a little, so I figured no more than 4x a year would be a nice boundary. (See, I DO have boundaries after all!) I picture someone at Experian looking at my credit report and thinking… what in the hell does this pattern even mean? Is this the most indecisive car buyer in the entire world? Ha!

Another thing I began to realize is that the radio stations in new cars on the lots are usually programmed to benign talk show stations or easy listening music stations… both of which have their purposes, but clearly don’t meet my particular test drive needs. In the late 1990’s I made a CD titled “Test Drive CD” that had some of my favorite songs to drive fast too. Once in the car with my chaperone, I would wait until we were at a stoplight far enough away from the dealership that turning back for mildly strange behavior was unlikely… and I’d casually say “mind if I pop in a CD?” The answer was always a go. Like any good con, the CD would start with something from Sade or Seal that was very calming. As we’d enter the highway (always against the original plan, they do NOT want you on the highway) my go to line is “Let’s see what this thing can do”. I think the salesman’s reaction to this statement often more fun than driving fast itself. It’s usually a chuckle or assumption that I’m kidding… then the realization that I’m actually getting ON the highway so perhaps I’m not kidding… and if I’m not kidding am I just going to abuse the car or am I going to kidnap them? I’d advance the CD to the next song (proper fast driving music) and proceed to drive at a very unreasonable speed. I would always approach the youngest salesperson and always a young man. I found them the least likely to rat me out, whether due to embarrassment, or wanting to keep their jobs, or wanting to seem cool and go-with-the-flow.

Of course, this doesn’t break any laws. They clearly have my information and have run a credit check. No harm no foul, right?

My Most Recent Test Drive Playlist:

The Prodigy: Smack My Bitch Up (Offensive title but great fast driving song)

Van Halen: Hot for Teacher (Do remember I am a drummer so…)

Motley Crue: Live Wire

Metallica: Shortest Straw

I generally only needed 4 songs because you’ll come close to the kidnapping/car theft perception it of you much longer than that.

Enter the iPod. The era of the iPod opened up an opportunity for me to create a Test Drive Playlist. How delightful!!!! This led to my favorite moment thus far in my unusual part-time hobby. Believe it or not, after years of driving luxury cars, muscle cars, everything under the sun… my all-time favorite has been a Camaro. In 2010 I had a field job that caused me to travel by car around New England almost daily. The 2010 Chevy Camaro was fricking AMAZING. It was beautiful. It was fast. It was a cross between a 1970’s muscle car and a luxury vehicle.

My Precious…

My first obstacle with this test drive is that no salesmen at this particular dealership were under 35 years old. I did the best I could and “Pat”, who appeared to be in his mid-50’s, helped me along. Thanks to my iPod technology, I just clicked on “easy listening playlist”, which Pat reluctantly allowed even though he tells me asking to play music is “unusual”. Oh thanks Pat that’s so sweet! Thank you Carly Simon for getting us to the highway ramp unnoticed.

“Pat, let’s see what this thing can do!” Wink. Pat, Ahhhh let’s take a right here, no right lane… right lane. Wait we…. Ok ok, let’s get off at the next exit. I reach down for the iPod. Pat’s eyes follow my hand. I click on “Test Drive Playlist”. Pat looks at the iPod, sees my playlist selection and says “What the FUC# is a test drive playlist” in a mean dad voice. Clearly he’s not the newbie 23 year old salesman, he knows exactly what test drive playlist means. It means that I test drive cars so often that I need a pre-planned playlist. It means that I didn’t accidentally get on the highway. It means he has no idea what’s going to happen next. Luckily for Pat, it’s just me driving fast, pretending I can’t hear him, and returning to the dealership with an undamaged vehicle. Pat, unlike the skittish young salesman of the past, opens my door and tells me to “Get the Fuc# off his lot”. I say thank you, bow politely, and leave. This was the first time a salesman knew what was coming, before it arrived… thanks to the tattle tale iPod screen.

That was actually the last time I test drove a car I wasn’t planning on buying. I’m honestly not sure why? Maybe I got it out of my system? I do still enjoy driving, and won’t rule out an unnecessary test drive in the future before driving becomes obsolete.

Now my question for my readers is:

 

Christmas in Hollis – Tales of an Italian Superhero

I’m not sure if my grandmother was born on a Sunday, but I know that was her name. Her name was Domenica, which translates to “Sunday” in Italian. Her friends knew her as “Maggie” or “Madge”. I never even thought to ask why. I knew her as “Gram”.

If you ask most people how they remember Maggie, the response is often negative. You’ll hear stories about her being irrational and demanding. You’ll hear about the time my father returned home from the Vietnam War and many of his possessions were missing/sold/gone. You’ll hear about her blind hatred for her step-mother and her apparent inability to relate to her own daughter. You’ll hear about an ungrateful woman full of bitterness and impatience. That is not my story… and most people know better than to argue with me on this subject.

hollis argue italian girls

I’m a worrier. I was born serious. I was a serious child. I’m a serious adult. I’ll be a serious elderly person. The world, if it remembers me, will remember me as… Serious. Maggie was also serious, precise and deliberate. I’ll save the details of the serious child-Marie discussion for a separate blog. Or, let’s face it, a series of blogs. Back to Gram…

Gram listened to me. In a world where people don’t often pay attention to unaffectionate children, she paid attention to me. She made it her mission to embrace my nature and to point me toward a life of self-sufficiency. For those who know me, mission totally accomplished. Probably to an extreme. I tend to be a bit… productive.

hollis productive woman

hollis productive cartoon

Gram would often take us to interesting, out of the way places. She took us to fish hatcheries to learn about fish farming and to learn about forestry. She also took us to “the brook”. I have no idea where this brook is. It’s in Berkshire County, MA, USA somewhere. It was a typical New England Brook. Rocky shore. Clear running water. Minnows. Trees. We ate egg salad sandwiches on the rocks and waded around in the brook.

If there were ever other people around, it was usually another family or a couple of teenagers drinking Genesee Cream Ale listening to the radio. This time, there were two men in their 30’s. No swimming gear. No fishing poles. No picnic baskets. They were staring at me as if they were waiting for something to happen. Gram came over to us and said, “Girls, everything is ok. We might have to leave. If I say something, you obey.” She had never used the word “Obey” before. I noticed she was side eye-ing Beauregard and Jimmy-John (Pretty sure these were totally their names). Something wasn’t right.

About 2 minutes later Gram (who was calm, beautiful and, of course, serious) started walking sideways toward us. She was walking calmly in a way that she could see us, and our unwelcome guests, at the same time. Calmly and deliberately, she stepped into the brook. She picked up Sissy in one arm and me in the other. B and JJ sprang into action.

They were probably 100ft away and started running toward us. “Girls, stay calm and do as I say”.

With two lanky primary school children in her arms, Gram ran at what felt like a gazelle’s pace. At first B and JJ were so close that I could smell them. I could see their calloused hands reaching forward as if they were trying to propel themselves faster. I looked down and saw Gram’s legs outstretched and strong. Huge strides on an uneven terrain of oddly sized rocks. Wet and dry land. Tree limbs and rusty pieces of metal. In her bare feet. “Don’t look back”. I didn’t. She didn’t. Sissy didn’t. I failed to mention that in order to get to the brook you had to walk down a very steep hill with a winding dirt path. So steep that it was hard not to fall forward on your way down, and hard to catch your breath on the way up. No time for the path now. No time to catch your breath now. Like an Italian Superhero she flew up the rocky slope. I could hear rocks falling down the hill behind us.

Hollis Italian Superwoman

We finally reached the road. “Almost there”. I see the blue Dodge Horizon in the distance. Tilted at a right angle half on the paved road and half on the dirt path. I hear her shoes fall from her fingers and hit the ground. I hear panting and footsteps of B & JJ but can’t tell how close they are. I obey and don’t look back. “I’m dropping you now. RUN”. We fall to the ground and run. These were the days of unalarmed, unlocked cars. Her right arm reaches out and grabs sissy by the back of the shirt, shoving her through the open driver side window. I open my door, jump in and curl into a ball. Driver door slammed. Key into the ignition and the car starts. Tires burn out leaving skid marks from the driver’s side tire. The acceleration slams my door shut. I sit up and look out the back window and see B & JJ bending down, hands on knees, exhausted.

Hollis Dodge Horizon

Gram, serious and calm. Her hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles looked like they would pop out of her skin. Her right leg pressing so hard on the gas pedal trying to make the piece of shit engine go faster. “It’s over girls.” Wet bathing suits. No shoes. Calm Gram. Life continues as usual.

I was confused, but not shaken. I wasn’t shaken because she wasn’t shaken. She behaved how I now behave. Behavior that is often mistaken for unemotional or cold. In reality, it’s just serious. We went to the Friendly’s take-out window for ice cream. None of us wearing shoes. Life went on.

hollis italians forgive

Gram in a nutshell:

She took me to see every breakdancing movie that came out. Ever. She was obsessed with gang wars being resolved by dance battles. This knowledge hasn’t come in handy in real life…. Yet… (I’ve got my cardboard slab ready to throw down)

Hollis breakdancing

She felt it was important that I could find my way around by myself. She would tell me our destination and I would have to tell her how to get there. I now have a keen sense of direction and no fear of getting lost.

She knew that I didn’t enjoy life. She knew I was capable but that I just had no desire to enjoy it. I felt it was unproductive. One of the ways she countered this tendency was to bribe me to enjoy myself. I would be allowed to stay up late, or to try on her clothes, or watch soap operas if I would enjoy myself for 30 minutes. She chose to do this by taping songs from the radio and playing them back on a small, portable tape player. She played the music loud. Very loud. No breaks. I had to dance the entire time. Not move my feet around. Not move my hands around. DANCE. I had to dance my ass off for 30 minutes. It was an order. It was also amazing.

I really dislike sports. I refused free Red Sox Tickets so many times when I worked in Boston that my boss asked me if I was crazy. I explained to him that sitting through a sporting event for me was akin to him having a crying baby held in front of his face, and asked if he wanted free tickets to that. No… no he didn’t. Gram was one of the most dedicated NY Yankees fans I’ve ever seen. She took me on a tour bus to the Bronx to see a game once. This was her happy place.

My grandfather was a stone mason by trade by a guitar player by heart. Gram played saxophone. In their basement was an oil tank covered in signatures from people having partied with them over the years. I loved that oil tank and wonder if the current residents have painted over the signatures.

Natale / Ned / Grampa (Added bonus, Natale means Christmas in Italian)

She complained about housework constantly. Her house was spotless. You could eat off the bathroom floor. Her complaints to me weren’t just annoyance or regrets over life choices, they were direction. Don’t be like me. Be something more. Do not do housework. Ask my husband, I don’t do housework. I should, but I don’t. Blame Gram????

Gram loved Bruce Springsteen. She would lecture me on his music with detailed explanations about why he was the best musician, and best human being, on the planet. “The Boss” really understood life, apparently. She was very interested in pop culture and fashion. I knew all about which dresses Nixon’s daughters were wearing and how Nancy Reagan was a fashion nightmare even though she meant well. Poor thing.

She taught me that health is our most important asset. She hiked every day. She also loved to eat (and loved forcing others to eat… a lot… and then eat again). She taught me about balance. Ok Marie you can eat a Jim Dandy for dinner but then the next day you’ll want to just have a salad. Don’t deprive yourself or life isn’t worth living.

Hollis Jim Dandy

For those not from New England, USA.  THIS is a Jim Dandy.  Hellll yea.

Hollis nonna food

She taught me which plants you can eat and which plants could heal you. She taught me how to survive in the woods to the extent that I always felt being stranded in the woods was something inevitable… I’m still basically waiting for it to happen.

Gram learned as much as she could about rap music. She loved Run DMC. She bought me the Christmas in Hollis 45 record. We played it constantly. To me this was all very normal. In hindsight I re-think the scene. Me in my black, leather jacket, red nails and Metallica T-Shirt. Eating piles of pasta with poppy seed rolls. My grandmother in her Madonna-esque, but very appropriate, black outfit and thick silver, short, modern hair. Listening to Christmas in Hollis over, and over and over and over. When RUN DMC and Aerosmith later decided to collaborate, this was basically a national holiday for us. All very normal…

Hollis Album Cover

hollis aerosmith

Yassssssss

She must have told me a THOUSAND times to “Work in Computers”. “Computers are the future”. “You’ll never make it if you don’t know computers”. Yup, she nailed it. In 1981, she knew.

She was a fierce democrat. This isn’t uncommon for Italian immigrants, especially during this time. I would post the photo of us at a Mondale/Ferraro rally but my sister would stop speaking to me. Let’s just say we didn’t look our best that day (or that decade if I’m being honest).

Waste NOTHING. I swear this woman’s garbage on the curb was the size of my fist. She would find a use for everything, and if someone was wasteful I had to assume they were basically going to hell. Quickly. And we would be judging them as the descended.

hollis italian tupperware

She drove fast. She told it like it is. She did not GAF. She really didn’t. Except when she did. And when she did GAF it was about me. So she gets her own blog post, and she gets me punching anyone in the face who tries to tell me she wasn’t amazing. My often irrational, demanding, ungrateful, bitter and extremely loyal Italian Superhero.

Gram / Domenica / Maggie

 

Jesus was a Republican

Since I left Facebook (best decision I’ve made since quitting smoking, both were bad for my health), I generally get my news from Twitter where I follow several news organizations on all sides of the globe and all sides of the political fence. Wait, a globe is round, therefore it doesn’t have sides… and a fence only has 2 sides… never mind.

I don’t follow any extremist websites of any kind because I don’t drink Kool-Aid unless I mix it myself.

Jesus Kool Aid

I wouldn’t call myself a devoted religious person. I attended church when I was very little for a brief time. It was the Episcopal Church. I remember it as welcoming, friendly and open minded. In Sunday school we discussed general principles like The Golden Rule and, what we would refer to today as, Global Citizenship. I also remember them giving us lilacs on Easter Sunday which I thought was pretty amazing. Someone would just GIVE me a flower! For free! To this day I plant lilacs outside of my window wherever I live. I never thought about why until this very minute, but there seems to be a connection there.

Jesus Episcopalians

I find religion fascinating for many reasons. I’ve mentioned before that I recently started teaching an Arabic Business Strategy class and have learned a great deal about Islam and the Muslim philosophies in that endeavor. It’s truly intriguing. I’m equally fascinated by Catholicism and all other world religions. I’m interested in how/when they formed. What their basic principles are. How their members view the religion. How outsiders view the religion. How religion brings peace as often as it brings conflict. That last part is the most compelling to me. The more I learn about world religions, the more I want to know.

I also find “Faith” in general to be one of the most interesting things about religion. I don’t have faith in anything. That’s not an attempt to be shocking; it’s just the reality of how I live my life. I do believe that everything happens for a reason (even though it’s REALLY annoying when something bad happens to you and someone says that). I do believe there is more to existence than what we see, physically, in front of us. But, if I see someone with a “faith” tattoo, it’s a good general clue that we will likely never drink bourbon and watch Netflix together. Unrelated: I also really like Faith Hill’s music, but I don’t think that counts.

Jesus Faith MLK

What fascinates me is the blind “faith” of devout religious people. Over the years I’ve found MANY people who will tell me that they have complete faith in Jesus, or whoever their god is. That they trust in “his” judgment and direction. These people seem much happier than I ever will be, to be honest. If I’m being really honest, I’m generally not what I’d call a happy person. I think temporary bouts of contentment are probably my best case scenario. Hence, my interest in those with “faith” because this seems to make them very happy.

That said, in 100% of the times I’ve asked, those same faithful people have always disagreed with at least one portion of their Bible or their Koran etc. I find it hard to understand how you can have blind faith in “the word” and then have well BUT not ABC because XYZ.

The XYZ is many things. Well, I don’t believe in stoning children when they speak out of turn because that portion was written in a different time. A different time? Don’t the rules of god apply at all times? If not, how do we know when to let stoning children drop off the list? How do we know it’s cool to use birth control now without going to hell? Was there a memo? In my experience the general response is that “the church” has decided…

Jesus Cool Story Bro

I’ve asked these questions of Pastors and Rabbis and students. As always, there is no definite answer. Cafeteria Catholics seem to be a symptom of our evolution. I’ll get in line for Jesus. I’ll slide my tray down the line and grab The Golden Rule with a side of Not Laying with my Neighbors Wife, but I’ll leave the stoning children and no birth control on the shelf. Jesus won’t mind because XYZ. Talked to my minister and he’s all… it’s cool it’s just birth control, but don’t be gay because that one is still hell-worthy. I’ll let you know if it gets dropped off the list.

Jesus cafeteria

Jesus H. Christ, what was my point?! (I obviously left blasphemy on the shelf today too… my bad). I can’t find anything in 27 years of religious philosophical conversation and research that indicates that Jesus was a Republican. The Republican claim on Christianity is entirely confusing. There is this sense in the current political climate that the GOP upholds Christian values, with an undertone that the Dems are trying to destroy it.  Huh?

So for the sake of argument, let’s say that Jesus doesn’t mind now if you don’t stone your kids or if you let your wife speak before she’s spoken too… he’s all good with that now because XYZ. Let’s say he cares about the big stuff like abortion, divorce, sex before marriage, using birth control and being gay.

I would argue that Republicans get divorced, have sex before marriage and use birth control. In theory I suppose they are less likely to have an abortion, and perhaps are more likely to oppose gay rights/gay marriage. Republicans also seem more likely to oppose immigration from Middle Eastern countries and to oppose Islam/Muslim religion.

Here are a few Jesus GOP related spoilers for you:

  • Jesus was not Republican
  • Jesus was Middle Eastern. Yup, not only was Jesus brown, but if he were alive today he would be under the U.S. travel ban. Just a reminder, the people that the GOP doesn’t want in the country are the same nationality as Jesus, who is the person that you say you will follow faithfully. (Hint: You aren’t following Jesus and you’re not hiding it well)
  • Jesus was a Jew. Wait… what? Now that’s a head scratcher.
  • One of Jesus’s main jams was that the worse a person’s situation, the more important that it is to help that person. Americans love to act as if HOW the person got into a bad situation matters. You know who it doesn’t matter to? You guessed it, your buddy Jesus. Turn away the poor, the sick, those in need and you are telling Jesus… Nope! Sorry dude I’ll follow you in theory but this actual following you is SO HARD! By the way do you know where the cafeteria is?

Jesus Carter

Here’s my point (yes I’m FINALLY getting to what might be a coherent point…) Republicans do not hold the Christianity Card. If the basic premise of the Christian religion is to sacrifice for those in need… I would argue that Christianity is a bipartisan concept.

—————–

The opposite of Jesus’s message, is Nationalism. I repeat, the opposite of Jesus’s message… is Nationalism.

—————–

Jesus Nationalism

 

Acoustic or Electric? “The Voice” Auditions.

You should know that once a year-ish I’ll be doing a shameless plug for my 14 year old daughter.  This is no ordinary “my kid is awesome!” post… She is, but this is different. Keep in mind when you watch these videos… She’s FOURTEEN.  We need help deciding which “voice” she goes with for her audition for “The Voice”.

Here are two of her most recent performances, one is VERY electric, a cover of “Zombie” by The Cranberries at a live show (the end is my favorite part).  The other is VERY unplugged and recorded last night in our dining room, a cover of “A Team” with acoustic guitar.  She taught herself to play guitar over the last 3 months.

Auditions for the voice within the next 12 months.

Trying to decide which “voice” to go with for auditions… her acoustic voice or her electric voice…  Which do you prefer?  The first is a link to the Zombie performance because I can’t seem to figure out how to get WordPress to let me embed both.  The acoustic is embedded.  #ISuck

They review her YouTube channel as well, so please subscribe to help her chances!  ❤

Link to LAB Rocks Zombie Electric Cover that her Mother Can’t Figure Out How to Embed Because She’s Incredibly Old and Incompetent

 

Everything is Totally Fine

You know when everything is not fine?  When someone says everything is fine.  If someone says they are fine, or tells you that something you did was fine, run.  Run like the wind.

everything dog fire

For the last few months, I’ve had my everything-is-fine face and everything-is-fine reaction down to a science.  I’ve always walked the earth with RBF (resting bitch face), but I do consider myself a friendly person.

Fine-and-deflect is the tactic for 2017.  “How was your weekend, did you guys end up going to out to dinner?”  Me: “It was fine co-worker person, and yours?”.  Lather, rinse and repeat.

everything dog fence

So far my blog posts are falling into two categories: State of Life At the Moment & The Life and Times of Marie Christine.  Now, the State of Life At the Moment posts are not deliberately political, but given the current.. you know… world.. it’s nearly impossible to avoid.  Reason for stating this: My blog is not intended to be political… but such is life at the moment.

As it were, everything is not fine.

I just heard that we are supposed to get an evil amount of snow over the next couple of days.  As some of you know, and as my friend James recently put it… where I live we “go to war with winter” every year.  We live in the city, on a very busy 3 lane road.  That road has a sidewalk that we are required to maintain.  That maintenance includes snow removal.

Picture a city with frequent multi-foot snowfalls.  Picture a busy 3 lane city street.  Picture gigantic state-owned plows for 12 hours straight putting snow from 3 lanes of roadway onto a sidewalk already covered in over a foot of snow.  At times, the snow is over Not-Tom-Brady’s 6ft tall body.  The snow is heavy, ice filled and almost immovable.  We can’t hire anyone to deal with it, because there’s nowhere for them to put the snow.  We go to WAR with this snow.  Update: Our snow blower is broken.  Not-Tom-Brady just went out to buy 3 shovels.  My 14 year old daughter, or “the tall one” as I call her, will be shoveling as well.  Welcome to the jungle baby….  Everything is fine.

everything snow

When considering that DJT could leave this earth for the 5th circle of hell, leaving Mike Pence as the leader of the free world, I refer back to something my mother told me a couple of months ago that she’d heard somewhere else.  “Donald Trump is the rapist and Mike Pence is the judge who let him go free.”  This is obviously deeply disturbing, but at the same time, I think I’m ok with the judge if I have to pick between the two.  That said, some of you might be familiar with this week’s latest real-news revelation that falls into the “everything is fine” wheelhouse.

Apparently VP Pence has been quoted as saying that he will not eat alone with any woman but his wife.  He also avoids events that serve alcohol if his wife is absent.  He cited his Christian Faith as the reason.  Now… I’m not as versed in Christianity as some but I’m pretty sure that Christians are totally allowed to eat dinner with non-spouses and are definitely allowed to drink alcohol.  It would seem that our potential future president is unable to control himself, sexually, when his wife is not present to police him.  Sadly, I will still take “the judge” because “the rapist’s” impulse control is even worse. Everything is fine.

everything limerick

Paul Ryan.  I expected more from you.  Your existence used to give me hope that there was a chaperone at the frat party.  Now, not so much.  Duuuuuuuuuuuude COME ON.  I had no idea that you would turn into this person, or is this who you always were? Everything is fine.

everything ryan

Hey poor people, did you try selling your iPhones? 

North Korea just threatened John McCain for calling Kim Jon Un “crazy fat kid”.  Everything is fine.

Number of new jobs in coal: 0

Jobs created in government positions for:  Ivanka, Ivanka’s Husband Jared, Kellyanne Conway’s Husband in the DOJ.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Everything is fine.

Russia.  Seriously y’all I don’t know what’s going on, but everyone agrees that something is.  Investigate.  Report.  Handle.  I must admit “The Americans” is one of my favorite prime time shows right now.  But I don’t like it enough to be all.. yea Russia it’s cool…  Everything is fine.

everything boris

The BBC reported more than 3,600 cases of measles in Italy and Romania and 17 measles related deaths.  Anti-vaxxers, stop being D-bags at the expense of the health of your children and the children of others.  Your selfishness will be your legacy.  Everything is fine.

I recently started teaching a class that includes Arabic business strategy. If you want to become completely disillusioned with the state of humanity, I suggest you start teaching in depth study of the 22 Arabic nations. My flask from my prior blog post is now coming in handy.  I used to think my race relations teacher at UMASS was an alcoholic… now I know why.  Everything is fine.  #Yemen

everything spiral

We did recently have a slight glimmer of hope amidst the land of half empty glasses.  Democrat and Republican leaders stepped up to shoot down the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, once it became clear that 24 million people would lose coverage.  Now mind you, I’m one of the people who now pays twice as much for health insurance and has half the coverage.  Even from this vantage point I still know that innocent Americans should not die so that I can have a lower copay %.

everything guurrll

To those who disagree, what happened to “Take Care of Our Own First?”  If you mean that, then prove it by supporting healthcare coverage for “our own”.  If you don’t, then STFU for real and stop saying that. What you mean is Take Care of Our Own First As Long as It Doesn’t Affect Me.   Put down your hot pocket and shut it.  Everything is fine.

everything covered

I’m going to be putting my house on the market in a month or so.  My realtor (Hey Dave!) and I discussed the approximate value of the house.  He’s more optimistic than me about what we can get for it.  I’m trying to think positive, but I’m Gen X so that’s not really my jam.  So, if it sells for something between what he thinks it’s worth and what I think it’s worth… after realtors fees and paying off the mortgage, I will have about $150 to spare.  With that much leeway, what could go wrong?

Then when I sell I should easily be able to find the perfect home, in the perfect location, in my price range and have a closing the same week as my house sale closing.  Right?  If not, it will probably be incredibly easy for me to find a temporary rental for 2 adults, 2 children, 2 dogs, a cat and a beta fish.  This should be very easy… and remember I’ll have that $150 to handle any unexpected expenses.  Stay tuned!  Everything is fine.

everything house

This has been a message from the Gold is From Aliens broadcast system.  Stay Tuned for less political, but still likely sarcastic and pessimistic, upcoming posts from the life and times of Marie Christine.

everything yell

The Redneck Police

Let me start off by saying that I have a self-imposed blog rule.  I do not talk about my parents, or childhood, except in passing… on this blog. I don’t say anything good about it that would make my mother (who is reading this right now) feel awkward, and I don’t say anything bad about it that would make her feel regretful or sad.  It’s very unlikely that my father is reading this, but the same rules apply.   

Now let’s begin the story of the ever looming Redneck Police.

When I graduated from college, I moved to Norfolk, VA. I had been to Virginia Beach to visit a boyfriend who was in the Navy at one point, and thought hey… why not?  They have a beach, it’s nowhere near my hometown, and it’s not so far South that I won’t fit in… so I grabbed a college friend, and we went.

I got a job as an underpaid financial products sales-rep during the day, but worked at Morrison’s Cafeteria at night.  Sadly, Morrison’s Cafeteria paid more.  I had waitressed at Friendly’s Restaurant during college.  This was different.  In a cafeteria style setting the customers would get their food, and essentially I would refill their drinks and bring them extra napkins.  There was no assumption that I would receive a tip, so I was forced to get creative and make them feel as though I had earned one.  I’m a hustler, I did well there, but it was not fun.  It was, often times, humiliating.

imposter waitress

One evening, a very Southern man and his family came in for dinner.  I engaged them in conversation and refilled their drinks and napkins quickly, essentially securing at least SOME tip, even if it was just a dollar.  The father asked me if I had considered college, and I replied that I had recently graduated.  I turned and saw a teenager across the room drop her entire tray of half eaten food on the floor, and walk out.  As was required, I went over and started to clean it up.  Beef stew does NOT come out of a carpet easily, Plus, who puts a carpet in a cafeteria?

I felt a tap on my shoulder, looked up and saw the Southern man from earlier.  I stood and asked him what he needed.  He put his hands on my shoulders, paused and stared at me for a moment.  I said, “Are you ok? What can I do for you?”  He said something I will never forget.  He said “Marie.  You don’t belong here.  You need to stop cleaning up after rude customers and start the rest of your life.  Quit this place.  Quit and never look back”.  I looked over his shoulder and saw his wife, nodding in agreement.  He squeezed my shoulders, and walked out of the restaurant.  I still remember exactly what he looked like and what he was wearing that evening.  He also looked and sounded like Morgan Freeman, and somehow that makes the advice much more powerful for real. That is the day I decided to elude the Redneck Police and take control of my professional life.  2 weeks later I moved to North Carolina and got a job as a paralegal.  I’m skipping a short stint at a sewing factory when I first arrived… but trust me, you want that to be its own blog story.

Imposter Over it

Fast forward to the next 20 years of my adult life. In 1997 I started working as a claims adjuster at a Fortune 500 Insurance Company in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Fast forward a few years later and I was managing a team of complex claim adjusters at a Regional Insurance Carrier in Central, Massachusetts.  Fast forward to me running all Claim Management at one of the world’s largest retail companies.  Today I’m an adjunct Economics Professor at a Private College and a Strategy Director at a large insurance carrier.

I hope to be adding to this progression in a couple of years: Assistant Vice President of XYZ.  I feel confident that this is on the horizon.  Yet, I’m still an imposter.

Imposter Syndrome is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.   What does this mean?  How does it apply to me? How might it apply to you?

Impostor Cartoon

There is even a debate on the spelling of “Imposter” vs. “Impostor”.  Both are correct.  “Impostor” is more widely accepted, so I chose to use the underdog.  The imposter of the imposter choices, if you will.

Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent in woman, and even more prevalent when crossing over social classes.  My bosses and colleagues over the years have expressed nothing but confidence and appreciation for my work ethic, work product and friendship.  I have no evidence that I’ve ever disappointed any of them in any professional way.  I would also argue that I’m one of the most confident people you’ll ever meet. Yet I still, at times, feel like an imposter.  Why?

I’m currently surrounded by co-workers who were seemingly born and bred for success.  Their stories are almost identical to each other’s, even though their personalities are very different.  They don’t appear to even realize how similar their backgrounds are.  You’ll often hear them talking about having struggled as children with parents who were perhaps middle or upper-middle class.

I nod in acknowledgement as they re-tell the horrors of only vacationing locally or having a job during high school. They usually have very deliberate, and readily available, examples of not having everything handed to them, even though it essentially was.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers or good people, but there’s a lack of perspective on the reality of the experience of being in another social class.  Just as other social classes lack the perspective on having resources or proper guidance and what that might be like.  Overall I would say that the middle class and rich can never really understand how the struggle feels and evolves for the working class. The working class can never really understand that the middle class and rich have struggles as well, just different ones.

I avoid talking about myself in most work situations, with the exception of a very select few (who are probably reading this right now). Even then I try to keep it to a minimum whenever possible.  It is what it is… “normal” means something different to everyone,  as does “struggle”.

Impostor Maya Angelou

The vast majority of my friends from childhood did not go to college. I, personally, always assumed that I would go, and I did.  I got a B.A. in Sociology and went on to get an MBA.  I don’t see my high school friends very often, but when I do I try to downplay my job and my education to the point where it’s probably ridiculously obvious that I’m doing so.  I truly care about them and want them to know I’m the same person.  But, it is what it is.  I’ve never believed that you need college to be smart, or successful.  But I always knew that I would go to college, to give myself as many options as possible.

My first day at a real corporation was on January 17th, 1997. I felt very proud wearing my professional dress and heels, walking into the building.  I met my training class and immediately realized I was not with “my” people.  People talked about graduating from Brown University or Salve Regina and their family vacation homes in Newport. They asked questions about being taken off their parents’ health insurance (health insurance?!!!! I get health insurance?!!!!) while I asked questions about how health insurance works.  They lived in condos in the city, and in Westerly near the beach.  I lived in a basement apartment in Pawtucket, in the parking lot of a working factory building, with 2 roommates and a dog that we hid from the landlord.        

I participated but was, for some reason, assuming there would be more people like me there.  There weren’t.  At UMASS there were all kinds of people.  Rich kids who couldn’t get into better colleges, poor kids on scholarships, people from other countries…  A lot of us working toward the same goal, a degree.  Not here.  This was a group of people born with resources.  People born with the assumption of a white collar future, and health insurance! I made friends and did well.  3 friends I made there (Lisa, Stacey & Cyndi) I still speak to today and cherish their friendships and opinions.  One of the 3 is a black woman, which was as close as I could find in the group to another person not from the exact mold. Years later the two of us left on the same day to go to another company together.

20-ish years later I’ve come to understand that being an outsider isn’t a bad thing.  I actually believe that it’s an asset.  That said, it’s VERY hard to find like-experienced people once you’ve crossed a line like that.  Walking into the building with my dress and heels back in 1997 I didn’t realize I was passing through an invisible portal separating one life experience from the other. It’s probably even harder crossing in the opposite direction.

imposter portal

It’s best not to try too hard to find our counterpart portal-jumpers.  We tend to gravitate toward each other seemingly driven by some unknown force.  Once the realization hits that you have this common life experience it does reduce the amount of times a day you question your decision to cross the line.  You create a sort-of secret society of people who have infiltrated the system.  It’s one of the strongest bonds I’ve seen in a professional setting.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not one to pretend I’m someone I’m not.  I’m not a new person.  I’m just me.  I’m the same person I was in 1985 in high school as I am in 2017.  I’m the person who drinks cheap beer and smokes generic cigarettes in a 2 bedroom apartment with 9 residents AND am also the person who eats lobster and drinks bloody marys in downtown Boston. I’m both of those people, but also an imposter in both of those situations.

This is a fairly accurate pre and post-portal depiction, sans black hair.

For the most part, both of those groups of people continue to accept me.  I like to think it’s because they recognize that it’s possible to be both of them at the same time.  I think it’s really the assumption by both groups that I’m strictly theirs. I won’t say it’s easy, because honestly it’s not.  You’re in a constant state of feeling like you’re betraying one group or the other just by simply existing. You belong everywhere and you belong nowhere… and there’s no going back. 

I’ll be at a party and feel like people are staring at me because my earrings are expensive or because I’ve had a manicure… or maybe they “KNOW” that I went to grad school. I’m in a conversation thinking “Please don’t ask me what I do for work.” I’m an imposter there.

The elevators of the tower I work in will open and I’ll begin to step off the elevator in my suit, as my co-worker complains about the contractor for her beach house working too slowly or not meeting her expectations.  I’m an imposter there.  I’ll start to feel faint and look to the left and look to the right.  I’m looking for the Redneck Police.  They will tap me on the shoulder and say the same thing the Morgan Freeman doppelganger said at Morrison’s Cafeteria in the summer of 1994.  “You don’t belong here.” … “It’s been a nice ride lady, glad you enjoyed it, but the jig is up.  No time to pack a box, just leave.  We don’t want your non-beach house having a$$ up in here.”

As of today, the Redneck Police haven’t shown up.  I’ve learned that they are a figment of my imagination, and the imagination of those like me… and that there is a real term for this: “Imposter Syndrome”.  As a middle aged woman I tell the women I mentor and the men and women who will follow in similar footsteps… you are not an Imposter. Be strong. Stick together. You belong everywhere. Infiltrate the system, and take it over.  It’s up to you.  If you can’t trust Morgan Freeman’s doppelganger, who CAN you trust?!

I’m Part of the Problem

I’m part of the problem, and you probably are too.

There are an increasing amount of forums available for people to express their opinions.  I stopped using Facebook at the end of 2016 because these opinions became a bit unbearable, but that’s a story for another day.  I’ve been using Twitter, which is much more informative and less pretend-reality, which is nice.  It’s not perfect, but it gets me my info fix for the day and I can move on… without having to see someone’s 15th post about their ambiguous state of mind, or photos from a romantic dinner with two smiling people who can’t actually stand each other.  I don’t miss the “Having a terrible day!” posts, followed by “What’s wrong?”, “Are you ok?”

problem internet

Sharing opinions is good. Sharing opinions is necessary.  How will we ever evolve if we don’t have a diverse input of thoughts and information?  We express our opinions.  We mean it.  We truly mean it.  But then what?  What happens after we express our opinions?  I would argue that we can do better at what comes next… but will we?

Let’s start with some of my basic opinions and then we’ll move to why I’m part of the problem:

  • All human beings have equal value.
  • Basic healthcare is a human right.
  • Red is the best color in the spectrum, hands down!
  • Judge not lest ye be judged.
  • “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” –Madeleine Albright
  • No child should ever go hungry.
  • King crab legs are the best meal on earth.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • The government has no business making decisions regarding reproduction.  Period. (no pun intended)
  • Six Feet Under had the best series finale I’ve ever seen, or ever will see.
  • No earthly human has the right to sentence someone to death.
  • Police Body Cameras should be mandatory.
  • Corporations should pay a lower tax rate. (Wait, aren’t you a democrat? Yep)
  • Common Core works, whether you understand why or not.
  • Gold is from Aliens (obviously)
  • Brock Turner is not a person, he’s an epidemic.  Parents: don’t raise Brock Turner.
  • The “bailouts” in 2008 were necessary and pretty much saved our economy (Yes, still a democrat).
  • Charter Schools and School Choice represent a gentrification of the public school system, creating an unequal and biased system for public education.
  • If you’re sitting on a bus and there’s an elderly person standing in front of you, give them your seat. (this falls into the “Don’t be an a$$hole” category)   

So, now that I’ve catalogued and declared these opinions as mine…  What do I do?  I FEEL like I do a lot.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a mentor.  I’m an activist.  I’m a parent.  I’m a strategist. I help others. I make sacrifices.  I listen.  I often put others’ needs before my own.  I volunteer.  I treat others as I would like to be treated.  I’m respectful.  I compromise.  I think before I speak. I think before I act. I consider the consequences of my actions.  Wow… I’m pretty amazing! …Or am I?

problem victor medal

This is me and Paralympic Gold Medalist Stefani Victor.  I’m an advocate for people with disabilities.  See!  Here’s sort-of proof that I’m a good person!!!! And yes, that’s totally her gold medal she’s holding and it’s really heavy and shiny (and from Aliens obviously).

I’m still part of the problem.  I write this blog not to punish myself or to implore anyone to live their lives in a particular way.  I write it to remind myself, and perhaps someone else, that we are all part of the problem.  Before we point the finger at someone else, figure out if we need to point it at ourselves first.

problem italian face

Just a few of ways that I’m part of the problem…

I go to a private hospital.  I live in the city.  I live in a part of the country where medical care is readily available.  I would argue that I live in one of the best places in the world if you’re a sick person.   If I get sick… if my family gets sick… we don’t take our health insurance card and go to the state or public hospital and support them and the community.  Nope.  We pull up to the private hospital, park 3 feet from the door in the expensive parking garage, and we walk into the giant atrium.  The atrium greets us with an array of delicious food options, and a tranquil waterfall.  Legit guys there is an actual, huge, real waterfall in the lobby.  Most days there is also some sort of entertainment… perhaps a young man playing acoustic guitar or someone playing piano.

Why do I do this?  Less crowded.  Cleaner.  Shorter wait.  No people asking me for change.  No riff raff.  Right?  No riff raff. But wait, aren’t all humans equal to all other humans?  Shouldn’t we all be at the same hospital?  You’d think so from my opinion list, but when the rubber meets the road, I pay more to avoid things that I don’t want to deal with when I’m sick.  I’m part of the problem.

Problem text and drive

What makes a “bad” person, a “bad” person? Who decides which indiscretion is worse? Who decides what an indiscretion is? (insert flask reminder here)

I go the gym several times a week.  My kids often come with me and use the indoor and outdoor pools.  The gym is also a Tennis center, but we don’t really take advantage of it.  How is this part of the problem?

The gym I go to is expensive.  It’s right outside the city in a fancy-pants suburb. There are at least 5 gyms within 10 minutes of my house. I live in a very populated area.  I pay about double for MY gym even though I don’t play tennis… which is basically what this gym is all about.

Why do I do this?  Less crowded.  Cleaner.  Shorter wait.  No people asking me for change. No riff raff.  Seeing a trend here?  I can tell myself it’s because I have two jobs and very little time, and this is more convenient… or I like the pool, or the family that owns it. All of those things are actually quite true… but at the end of the day… I pay more to avoid things I don’t want to deal with because I’m part of the problem.

problem paxton fitness

See, at least I can watch Tennis while I run. Note the lack of people around. 

IRONY ALERT: If I’m being honest, the people at the gym are super nice, and at the beginning of a class, or when I first step on a treadmill, they smile and make small talk.  We laugh and share stories about past classes or complain about how out of shape we are.  Then, inevitably… and because I absolutely hate sweating, I take off my long sleeved gym shirt and am wearing a fitness tank top… exposing a very pretty, but very gigantic half sleeve tattoo.  At this point, I become the riff raff.   The longer I go to this gym, the more they get used to me… if you will.  But it’s always fun to see their look of confusion.  Wait, isn’t this gym expensive enough to weed out the half-sleeves?  Nope. I thought this half-sleeve was one of us… I’ve been duped! I can only assume that I’m not “that nice lady from the gym”, but rather “That lady with the half sleeve” or “She must be from Worcester”…But I digress.

problem half sleeve

As I mentioned, I live in the city.  I love my city.  We have amazing restaurants and so much to do in the way of entertainment.  We also have a rich history, beautiful architecture and very cool people that I feel I belong with.  It’s one of my favorite places on earth.  I have two daughters.  One is 14 and one is 9.  My 14 year old goes to school in an affluent suburb outside of the city where her father lives.  My 9 year old goes to another suburban public school in a different town, under the city’s school choice program.

Problem diner

Wait, didn’t I just say that school choice is basically the anti-christ of the public school system? Yes, yes I did, and I honestly believe that.  I can tell myself that the suburb she goes to is NOT affluent (it’s most definitely not… working class, diverse, all that), and that she’s a sensitive kid who struggles with being too hard on herself who would not thrive in a school with gang violence.  These are true statements.  That said, what makes HER so special that she should get a pass and contribute to the demise of public schools?  I do, I suppose. Anyone can apply for school choice, but does everyone know they can? Does everyone know how? …This makes me a hypocrite and an opportunist, does it not?  I’m part of the problem.

What to do now that we know we are part of the problem?  Try to be better people?  We like to say that we do “the best we can”.  Do we?  Does anyone really do the BEST they can?

Problem better person

On a Scale from 1 to Even… I. Can’t. Even.

Heavens to Betsy! I have never actually used that phrase but today it seems like a good time to start. So, Betsy DeVos put out a press release about black colleges. She used the origin of black colleges as a success story example for school choice. What I don’t think Lady Antebellum understands is that they were created due to a LACK of choice, also known as segregation.

In case you don’t have a computer, or a newspaper, or eyes, or ears or a brain, I wanted to let you know that Donnie JT’s daughter is JEWISH. He’s only said it about 1500 times in the past several days, so I’m not sure if that was quite enough to get the message across. The secondary message here is that since he’s related to someone who has been Jewish for 30 seconds, this shields him from any possibility of any racial or religious bias. PHEW. I was worried for a minute but this seems to really clear things up, no? I wonder if she will convert BACK once her dad legalizes marriage between immediate family members?

even-ivanka-quote

Some of the top news stories on 3/1 were congratulatory articles on the Dictator of the United States’ address to Congress. This is a quote from USA Today “he did not relitigate the election results, he did not assail the media (much), and he did not call anybody names”. Is it me or does this read like a 4th grade report card? Dear Mr. & Mrs. Drumph, Donnie is doing SO much better. He didn’t sexually assault anyone at school today and instead of yelling “build a wall!” at his Mexican classmates he just wrote it down in his notebook. We are so proud that he almost managed to follow the basic rules of human civility for a full school day!

Red-Tie-McGee announced that he will delay his visit to the UK “because of fears of the huge public anger he would face were he to arrive in the country within the next few months…” (businessinsider.com). I guess dodging the draft worked, so dodging and entire country should too. This guy is not afraid of ISIS but he’s afraid of London? I’m just going to leave that one right there.

even-trump-quote

Remind me, how many days has it been?

While we are a deeply divided and un-united states right now, I think one of the things that most people agree on is supporting our troops. Even those who oppose the war(s) still support our troops. We have come a long way since Vietnam and the shameful treatment of those soldiers.

It seems possible that King Joffrey Trump may now know where Yemen is on a map. Excellent! Considering that he’s unable to articulate the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I’m pretty sure he’s not keyed in on what’s up in Yemen. I mean he has no time to bone up on his knowledge given the late night binge eating (thank you Spanx!) and binge tweeting and the refusing to read those really wordy intelligence reports (or to have them read to him).

even-joffrey

We are all upset about the death of U.S. Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Here is a starter list of Things NOT to do in this situation when you have been “elected” President of the United States:

• Do not blame the prior President for a military action you authorized.
• Do not blame the Generals carrying out the military action you authorized.
• Do not make up a story about why the fallen soldier’s father will not speak to you.
• When the fallen soldier’s father clarifies his reason, don’t double down on contradicting him.
• Do not blame the military unit for the soldier’s death.
• Do not use the fallen soldier’s widow as an applause generator.
• When a crowd gives a standing ovation for Owen and his widow, DO NOT respond by saying that you think you just broke a standing ovation record. P.s. Your obsession with size and duration is gross and inappropriate.

even-blame-obama

Is anything good? Yep:

• Barbara Pierce Bush (Daughter of GW) headlined a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in North Texas this week.

• It got up to 60 degrees in Massachusetts, USA this week (downside, probably due to climate change)

• Solid research shows that Millenials care about facts. Hope for the future exists.

• Michelle & Barack Obama just agreed too write two or more books for Penguin Random House. The $65m contract has broken every existing record. (Crowds await the “Presidential” response to being told an Obama has broken a book deal record).

• “24 Legacy” is almost as good as the original “24”.

• Kayla Rae Norton and Jose Ismael Torres were sentenced to 35 years combined. Respect the real flag a$$holes. Can’t wait to hear how prison works out for y’all.

• Jackie Evancho sang the National Anthem at the recent Presidential Inauguration. It turns out she has a transgender sister, and positioned herself in the spotlight to bring awareness to her sister’s battle with a Pittsburg-area school board. A federal judge just ruled in her sister’s favor. The self-proclaimed brilliant strategist didn’t see that one coming. You go girls!

Last public service announcement for today: Gold is from Aliens, but vaccines are from earth. Check out this website (I beg of you, open the link BEFORE you comment… thank you kind reader): www.HowDoVaccinesCauseAutism.com

even-resist

2017 and the Return of the Flask

Each New Year we have the opportunity to reflect back on the prior year.  We try to learn from our mistakes.  We try to find optimism in the fresh start of a new calendar.

4 years ago, after 25 years, I quit smoking. TWENTY-FIVE Years!  This is hard to believe since that would mean I must have started smoking as a toddler (wink).  Still going strong.  Smoke Free since January 1, 2013.  The new calendar brings new possibilities. 

So begins 2017.  I’m healthier and ….. on an anxiety rollercoaster…

… enter the Flask

Remember flasks?  Back in the day dudes everywhere carried flasks.  I used to think geez, what’s the deal buddy?  You can’t make it between your house and the bar without having a back pocket full of booze?  2017 appears, and finally I get it.  I’m a 44 year old, white collar, female with 2 good jobs and a happy family, and I GET IT.

Here are just SOME of the reasons that I went on eBay and searched “pink flask”…

Campbell’s Soup changed their Chicken and Stars recipe. Remember those delicious little tiny stars? They are now abominations… giant puffy star outlines.  It says “Classic Recipe” on the label, which is a total #AltFact, and I had no idea that #AltFacts would mess with my soup. Campbell’s should be ashamed of themselves.

soup-can

soup-bowl

Thanks to the notorious DJT, Not all human beings in the “United” States have the right to use public bathrooms.  This sounds soooooooo familiar.  So they CAN use the bathroom it just has to be a different bathroom?  Why does this sound so familiar?  Oh riiiiiiight, segregation.  Segregation is cool again? I must have missed that memo.  Fact: It’s not about bathrooms now, just like it wasn’t about drinking fountains then.  

It’s now okay for coal companies to dump waste into our waterways.  Yay!  Wait… is that bad?  It’s so hard to figure out if that’s good or bad isn’t it? Dumping toxic waste into water…. Hmmm… I’m stumped!

Monopoly decided to stop making the “thimble”.  There was allegedly an online vote. I call voter fraud, or this is just an indication that all voting in 2016 was complete bull$hit.

flask-monopoly-and-emoji

It was so cool when we finally decided NOT to be complete a$$holes and stopped the pipeline going through Native American sacred land!  Then it was not awesome when DJ Trump decided to reverse that and blast right through it.  Latest Update: The additional pipelines approved near Mexico are also through Native American sacred ground.  Go USA!  #WeAreTheWorst

That awkward moment when you elect a President so he will bring back manufacturing jobs, and he admits on day 32 that he means white collar manufacturing jobs, not working-class jobs… then he suggests that if you don’t like it you should go to college or get over it.  Queue room full of rich cabinet members laughing their a$$es off.  Queue Trump Supporter hearing The-Price-Is-Right music you hear when you spin the wheel and it’s a lower number than the other contestant.  Bee boo boo boo… wahhhhhhhh.

white-laughing

Hiring a known EPA adversary to run the EPA.  Whaaaat? When Park Rangers start rising up, you know $hit just got real.  PARK RANGERS.  The guys and gals who like to breed fish and look at trees growing are angry enough start a resistance movement. 

Headline looks great: Ivanka Trump lobbying for $500m childcare credit for Americans! YES!  FINALLY!  Fine print: Credit is for dual income, high earners.  It’s fine because the title SOUNDS great.  That’s what matters, right? Dear DJT supporters, please start reading past the first line… I beg of you… please.   TBH, he’s not  hurting me, he’s hurting you… and even I’m not cool with it.

Jeff Sessions just directed the Bureau of Prisons to return to its previous approach of the use of Private Prisons.  Not shocking from someone deemed “too racist” to hold a high court position.  Dear Mr. Sessions, may you come back in the next life as a slave in Somalia.   

flask-burns

Actual candid picture of Jeff Sessions (I’m 99% sure the creator of the Simpsons approves this message)

Yesterday, Betsy DeVos, our new Secretary of Education, addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference. She opened with a joke about the free lunch program.  It’s super classy to joke about the fact that that millions of children need free lunch at school because they otherwise will not eat.  As a billionaire heiress, I can see why this would be amusing to her.  She worked so hard to get rich (aka she was born, being born is HARD!).   Betsy, go home, you’re drunk… and completely uneducated… oh sweet sweet irony.

Muslim Ban.  Not terrorist ban. Muslim Ban.  I think about the loss of my reproductive rights and the reproductive rights of my daughters. I think about climate change destroying our planet.  But what wakes me up at 2:00 am in a cold sweat is religious segregation.

It’s hard to picture Germans being “afraid” of Jews isn’t it?  We can’t visualize it as the same because Jews aren’t scary… to us.  They are our friends, neighbors and co-workers.  Here’s the thing, so are Muslims. (Side note: This is not different).

flask-unamerican

Remember that final scene in “A Time to Kill” where Matthew McConaughey tells the story of the rape and murder of Samuel L. Jackson’s daughter?  The jury sits silently, straight faced, uninterested. Then he says:  Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she’s white.”  Only at that point, does the jury start to cry.  The scene is upsetting, but also compelling.  It gets to the heart of bias that is both in and out of our control.  No matter how you feel, it’s your actions that matter.

gigi-afrank

Your actions will be your legacy.  Protect your legacy.    

You KNOW things have gone sideways when you wish Raymond Reddington was a real person so he could just get this taken care of.   Red… please rescue us.  In the meantime, I’ll be here with a back pocket full of booze.

flask

As always…. Gold is from Aliens.

We like Kim Coates… and so should you.

Over the years I’ve crossed paths with celebrities here and there.  Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some interesting celebrities at various conventions.    

Sean Astin was my first real surprise.  Despite his level of fame, he spent a solid 20 minutes talking to my kids about the Lord of the Rings.  He even bowed and kissed my youngest daughter’s hand, and insisted that his friends bow as well.  For the record, we like Sean Astin… and so should you.

Then there was the best day of my life… I mean, ok, after my wedding, the birth of my children… yadda yadda yadda (wink wink).  I MET DIRK BENEDICT.  The Face-Man… Starbuck!

Let’s go back in time 15 minutes…

First, my husband, a.k.a. “Not-Tom-Brady” (See prior post) comes rushing over and tells me that he met Dirk Benedict, and that Dirk was “so cool”.  I was furious that he’d had this random encounter as I stood in line waiting for my formal encounter… grrrrr… damn you Not-Tom-Brady!

FINALLY it was my turn.  An official looking guy with an ear piece opens the curtain and lets me into a secluded area containing Richard Hatch (R.I.P.) and Face-Man himself, Dirk Benedict. They are welcoming and awesome.  JUST as I’m about to get my picture taken, the curtain opens and in blasts Not-Tom-Brady.  Smiling and laughing. I shoo him away with my hand and say “Get out of here you maniac it’s my turn!”

Dirk turns, looks me right in the eye and says “It’s ok! I know him!”…  Calls him by his name and waves him in.  YOU KNOW HIM?!  I said “So do I, that moment-stealer is my husband!”  Queue cast of Battlestar Gallactica, and my husband, laughing and hugging.  Then I asked the assistant to escort Not-Tom-Brady out.  I love it when a plan comes together.  (See what I did there?)

I was last in line for the Dirk photo op, and he ended up hanging out with my family for almost an hour. It was so long that his assistant kept telling him to stop talking and get back to his signature-selling post. He refused, and kept talking to us!  I ended up reading both of his books after we met.  So, we like Dirk Benedict… and so should you.

dirk

DJ Qualls was a nice 2-for-1 since he is in Supernatural (teen daughter swoooon) and also in The Man in the High Castle, which started as a cool sci-fi show and is now sadly looking like a possible future America… but I digress.  He was VERY tall and amazingly sweet.  We like DJ Qualls… and so should you.

dj

Oh… Josh McDermitt (aka Eugene on The Walking Dead).  At first he seemed bored with the constant stream of fans so I wasn’t expecting much other than a quick handshake.  Then he sprung into energy-mode and took (quite literally) 20+ selfies of the two of us, then proceeded to tell me about the details of his day.  Was he high on something? Probably.  Did I care? NOPE.  We like Josh McDermitt… and so should you.

eugene

Then there was the SOA script-flip.

David Labrava…. YASSSSSSSSSSSSS  “Happy” From Sons of Anarchy.  This was one of the few times I PAID to get a ticket to meet someone. As I approached him I realized he was smiling for a camera, not at the fans.  He was creating mini-scenes for his assistant to post online that were meant to appear organic, but were completely planned.  All in all, I wouldn’t say he was rude or mean… but he was NO “Eugene”.  He was enjoying the self-promotion, and I believe if there were a mirror he would have been staring at himself in it the entire time.  Then again, can you blame him? We feel meh about David Labrava…. And so should you.

dl

Then… I look over and see Kim Coates (aka “Tig” from Sons of Anarchy).   For those of you that watched the show, “Tig” was evil and disgusting enough to scare even the biggest of freaks.  He was downright disturbing in a way that would even upset a sociopath.  You often find yourself unable to sleep thinking about the horrible crimes against nature this character had committed.  Happy was a disappointment, so TIG was sure to be a complete downer… but hey… I was already there, so why not?

I approach Kim and he turns and gives me a GIANT smile.  He was legit one of the friendliest people, celebrity or not, that I had ever met.  He told me about his life, and asked me questions about my life.  He took a bunch of selfies of us and just had an awesome time.  I asked him if he was trying to offset the “Tig” perception by being overly nice and he said no, this is just who he is.  He also smelled really good, for the record.  We like Kim Coates… and so should you.

cropped-kc

Some other interesting, and fairly less notable, interactions were had with Ian Zeiring & Tara Reid (Sharknado!), Elvira (the queen of darkness?) and The Greatest American Hero guy…. William Kat. OMG guys I LOVED watching that show it was so great.

The last one I want to share with you isn’t based on level of celebrity, but rather an unexpected fond memory connection… Lewis Smith, who played Bobby Fantana in this obscure 1980’s move called “The Heavenly Kid”.   I’ve always liked movies that depict heaven and hell, as well as the afterlife.  I was sooooooooo into this movie when I was in high school. There is this scene at the end where he is riding up an escalator “to heaven”.

I told Lewis that the escalator scene was my favorite, and that I would rewind it (yes, REWIND it) over and over.  His jaw dropped. He said that the scene wasn’t written into the original script, and that it was HIS idea on the last day of shooting.  He said no friend or fan had ever called out that scene in conversation with him and he was visibly moved by my statement. It was really cool to share this memory that was randomly so important to the both of us…. despite the fact that he now looks like a high school basketball coach.  I refrained from telling him the story of gold coming from aliens, but it wasn’t easy. We like Lewis Smith… and so should you.

Stay tuned for future tales of The Random Fan Experiences of Marie Christine.

We Both Wear Spanx… and other things I have in common with Donald Trump

 

You’re probably thinking to yourself, what could Marie Christine possibly have in common with Donald Trump? Well, the outspoken Werther’s Original and I actually have some unexpected overlap in interests, beliefs and activities.

– We both think we are right most of the time.

– We watch Saturday Night Live religiously.

– We agree that we want term limits for local and state government officials.

– We both wear Spanx, although he wears them far more often than me, from what I can tell.

– We would both be horrified if the people we work with saw our medical records.

– We don’t like leaving the house without make-up on.

– Neither of us was in the military.

– Related: We both avoided the draft during the Vietnam War (although for me it was because I was an infant)

– We LOVE us some fried chicken. Any day, anytime.

– Neither of us knows how to use Twitter properly, yet we keep trying, and continue to embarrass ourselves.

– We want restrictions on the impact of lobbyists on public policy.

– Neither of us did any due diligence in researching Michael Flynn’s credentials before he was hired. (Whoopsie)

– We make up nicknames for people we dislike.

– We are REALLY bad at geography.

– We love NYC.

– We binge watch TV in a bathrobe while everyone else is asleep.

But… only ONE of us knows where gold comes from.

wo

I’m not married to Tom Brady

I met my husband online.  On our 3rd or 4th date he told me that people often think he’s Tom Brady.  I laughed…   Loudly.  In my opinion,  he looks nothing like Tom Brady.  I will agree they are the same height and have a similar smile and jawline… but sorry honey, no.  I was thinking to myself, okay, what have I gotten myself into?  Maybe this guy is a little off.

As the weeks and months progressed, to my surprise, there was a fairly constant stream of people actually thinking he MIGHT be Tom Brady.  Everyone from random people on social media, to my daughter’s entire kindergarten class, who actually believed he was trying to avoid the press by using a different name.  This forces him to give me this “Told you so!” look.  I should mention we live not-so-far from the New England Patriots stadium and training camps.  

One time I was in line getting popcorn at the Showcase Cinema as he stood in front of a Lord of The Rings poster getting his picture taken.  The woman behind me in line whispered to her friend “Is that Tom Brady?”… then they slowly made their way toward said picture taking.

The real You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me moment came when I uploaded my first picture of us onto Facebook.  If you’ve ever used Facebook, you’re familiar with auto-tagging, where Facebook guesses who is in the picture and tries to tag that person for you.  It’s usually your sister or former classmate who is on your friends list or someone you have in common.  You know what’s coming… Facebook auto-tagged my husband as “Tom Brady”.  Despite the fact that Tom Brady is probably 50 lbs heavier than him, I had to give him this one.

I’m ready for Tom Brady to stop being famous now so I can move on with my life.  If you’re wondering why I haven’t included my husband’s picture here, it’s because I just can’t face the “Told you so!” as he reads through your comments confirming the likeness.

Oddly, no one ever thinks I’m Gisele… hmmmm.

I figured we should spend ONE day with ONE blog that doesn’t discuss the details of the country’s impending doom.   Stay tuned… we will be getting real shortly folks.  Gold is From Aliens.

Why is Gold valuable?

As someone who loves economics, I’m not only intrigued by socioeconomic phenomena, but also investigating why certain things have value.  Why do some people desire certain things over others?  Gold is potentially the most intriguing, in that the desire for it is almost universal.

Why is Gold valuable?????

1. The usual go-to explanation is the universal desire for it.  Anything that is this popular, just inherently has value.  (yawn).

2. It reflects infrared radiation.  Huh…. interesting, but not really INTRIGUING.

3. It has many uses in manufacturing,from teeth to towers.  Interesting, yes… thought provoking? Not really.

4. It’s the most malleable (it can be pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking) and ductile (able to be drawn out into a thin wire).  Ok, this is VERY cool.  No wonder everyone loves this stuff.

5. It looks pretty.  Never underestimate the value of beauty.

6. Other than noble gases, this is pretty much the least reactive thing on earth.  Interesting, but not anything to scream from a rooftop.

7. Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  The real reason gold is so valuable.  Gold is…. wait for it…. waaaaiiiit fooor iiiit…  NOT FROM EARTH.  Seriously folks, we have no idea where it’s from but we know it’s not from fricking EARTH.  Clearly, you know where I believe it’s from.  So if you happen to be wearing some gold right now, who knows what someone, or something, was doing with it a bajillion years ago.   Planet Surface - Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA