The Illusion of Freedom… and other bullshit reality

If you’re a liberal, you’re not going to like this post. If you’re a right winger you’re not going to like this post. If you’re a libertarian you’ll probably be ok with most of this post. If you feel like you keep trying to have a better life but it’s just not possible you will hate this post. This is what happens when I can’t blog a personal story I really should blog and just let everything else rip; consequences be damned… buckle up. Conservatives stick it out until the second half you’ll get your turn.

Greek yogurt is gross. I’m sorry but it is not a viable substitute for mayonnaise. In that same vain “zoodles” are not noodles. Please stop this madness and call it what it is. Gross low calorie white mush and zucchini strips. 

If you’re not as successful as you want to be, it’s most likely because you aren’t trying hard enough. Life isn’t fair. Timing isn’t always good. But anyone can do better and do more. If you aren’t satisfied with your success in life you should just go on social media outlets and constantly complain and blame others. OR, crazy theory here, take the risks, do the work. If you don’t want to take the risks and do the work, that’s ok. But it’s not someone else’s fault, it’s yours. If you say there is nothing more you can do, that’s a lie. #AmbitionIsAChoice

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No one cares if you have healthcare, they pretty much just care that they have healthcare. You are also they.

No one cares if you’re #blessed. Is it me or is the translation of this hashtag #MyLifeIsAPileOfShit

Don’t kid yourself, this is not a free country. But it’s for your own good… ?

  • You have to wear a seat belt and sometimes a helmet.
  • You can’t do cocaine.
  • You can’t work without permission from your school until you’re 17.
  • You can’t fish from any pond or river.
  • The government has to decide whether or not you can carry a weapon.
  • You only have one choice for a cable provider.
  • I think unpasteurized milk is illegal???
  • There’s a limit on how many dogs a residential address can contain.
  • No going topless on beaches.
  • The government puts a lien on your house if you don’t pay their taxes, the amount of which they decide for you.
  • Roe vs. Wade is currently in jeopardy.
  • You can’t deny someone a wedding cake even if you don’t want to make them one but you can deny them because of their political beliefs.. at least that’s where we were at the last I checked. (Hint: In a free country you can deny anyone for any reason because… freedom.. no gay wedding cake and no Sarah Huckabee Sanders eating overpriced chicken.)
  • You can’t choose your public school.
  • No shirt, no shoes, no service!
  • The average wait time at the dmv is 2.7 hours.
  • You can’t dig a well without permission… but you CAN have babies you can’t afford to take care of at least there’s that.

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YOU ARE NOT FREE. You actions, possessions, children and future are controlled by your government. Having voted for that government does not make you free. #FreeNotFree Democracy does not = Freedom.

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Debbie Downer alert

I’m addicted to Hot Bikram Yoga. It’s 106 degrees, 48% humidity and 90 minutes long. #BasicBen is the only person willing to listen to me talk about it every single day. #IDrankTheKoolAid This statement is not controversial (as far as I know) I just can’t stop talking about it so… here you go. #BringTowels

freedom yoga

Refugees are people. Defined legality changes over time. God created all people as equals.

Why are people so upset about paper straws? I think the posts making fun of it are interesting. HA HA! You want to do something good for the world.. HAHA!  Wait, doing good is… good.s. right? Not if someone on the other team does it… then we mock it, obviously. #NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished

Futuristic cyborg warriors communicating

Gold is From Aliens

The USA borrows more money from other countries than any other country in the world. Translation: We get help from other countries far more than we help other countries. In fact, we rely in it to survive! If you truly want #AmericaFirst you would prioritize trade agreements and global diplomacy.  This is how we survive. Oh… you have a better plan to block trade and build walls? Please explain the positive economic outcomes of this brilliant plan. Looking forward to your plan in 3…2…. Never because there isn’t one. #IntelligenceOverArrogance

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This liberal bitch! Who the hell does she think she is? But wait, is she?… Nope, guess again! As evidenced by the following things that probably make liberal people super mad…

If you’re on food stamps or welfare and don’t need to be, fuck you. It’s not just stealing it’s even lazier than that. Are you capable of working but unwilling? Your family must be very proud. Your kids can’t wait to tell their friends and to also rely on welfare when they are older. What do you do for a living? Oh I live off of the productivity of other members of society and I’m very proud. It takes a lot of skill to be this much of an asshole. 

Democratic Socialism does not work.*Signal Explosion Sound and Riots and Screaming*. My favorite is the new thing where there are a bunch of propaganda videos about sneaky Republicans trying to twist our brains into thinking socialism is bad using voodoo and scary predictions! Ok socialism sounds the nicest, I’ll buy that. But the scary predictions are actually real. Socialism IS possible. Democratic Socialism is LESS possible. Building either on an economy that is further in debt to other countries than any other country in the world is possible, but will be unsuccessful.

Want to spread the wealth? First we need to have wealth. Having wealth is not likely in our lifetimes, and based on our credit rating it will never be possible. So… go ahead, build the magical wonderland, and then watch our country fall into an abyss and get taken over by the Chinese… or aliens… whoever gets to us first, as we try to pretend debt is wealth and spread around our delusional debt-wealth-unicorn. Wow… I wonder if I can patent “debt-wealth-unicorn” for future reference? …

Adding “democratic” to socialism only changes the fact that the leader is voted on, the government still decides every-fucking-thing. You think you aren’t free enough now, wait until insert-any-name-here-because-it-doesn’t-matter gets into office. Government has the last word, you democratically voted that they do. God Bless. Given the fact that our country can’t even agree on climate change I’m pretty sure we can’t agree on a leader… who will split the debt-wealth-unicorn evenly so we can all enjoy the pretend fruits of it’s labor while we wait 3 years for our knee replacement from doctor last-in-her-class. 

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Insert visual of Not-Tom-Brady rolling his eyes muttering “Jesus Christ Not This Again”.

The only thing more “fair” than socialism is communism, and we see how that worked out. Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair in any economy. There ARE examples of successful socialism… please look into it and you’ll find 2 things. 1: They all started out pretty much debt free and full of cash flow. 2: They are starting to give up much of the original socialist ideals as the economy loses power through socialism itself. Then there are obvious examples of why it won’t work like Venezuela. You can talk about Finland but also have to talk about Venezuela. This isn’t a socialist cafeteria you can’t just pick the country that supports your side. “But you don’t understand democractic socialism”! My degrees are in Sociology and Economics. I live and breathe just this one topic every-mother-fucking-day. But yes… I didn’t pay close enough attention to Bernie’s last sound bite so you’re right… you win… you are amazing. #SocialMediaRuinsBrains

The University of Phoenix is a sub-par degree mill and hiring mangers do not take the “degree” seriously.

Speaking of higher education, want to know what is causing the completely bullshit cost of education right now? Obama’s not-so-genius idea to make loans accessible to anyone. But wait, how could something with such good intentions go so wrong? And if it’s true don’t tell us because we like to either love or hate politicians with NO EXCEPTIONS! Here’s the real economic reason this is happening… schools used to be forced to keep costs reasonable so that they would have customers (also known as students). Once everyone was able to have access to money for school, schools then began rapidly rising costs because their customer base was now virtually unlimited. SEE, even nice laws can have shit consequences. #ThanksObama!

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Me when someone blames rising college tuition prices on capitalism

Unless you have some kind of biological disorder, your weight is under your control. You might not like what you have to do to control it, but it’s up to you bud. #TheTruthIsOutThere

We are in what’s called an economic bubble right now. Anyone who’d like to place a bet with me, $1 bet that Tariffs cause the next economic collapse. Spoiler alert: It’s coming sooner than you think! If you have a small skill set and find yourself often angry with others… you are not going to enjoy this. In the meantime enjoy your temporary sense of satisfaction that you’re punishing people who are different from us like those horrible Canadians and their beer and maple syrup! Take that maple leafs! #ByeeeeeeFirstWorldStatus

 

Madonna is not a good singer. Neither is Taylor Swift. But Taylor Swift seems like less of an asshole.

I don’t pledge allegiance to anything. Possibly fish tacos… but really I even stray from that from time to time. Pledging allegiance is the opposite of freedom, in case anyone wants to look up the definition of freedom it’s actually pretty clear. #GeorgeTakei OMG I love fish tacos so much.

Fixing Flint, Michigan. Obama: 0. Trump: 0.  See also: Oil Pipelines in Native American Sacred ground.

Guns… want to know the truth? No one wants kids to die at school… and no one knows how to stop it.

The live Instagram videos… live from your middle schooler dressed like a 25 year olds bedroom.. step right up to see her act strange and record her own face over and over for a live feed of the coolest shit ever! … dear god no one cares, and if you are doing something interesting can we see what the actual thing is or are we to just watch it from a high angled down facing position on your face with the thing in the background? #Blessed Also can parents actually look at what their kids are posting? What in the what… Jesus Christ.

freedom middle schoolThis is middle school. Gigi is in middle school. If she looked like the bottom left picture I would slap her iPad out of her hand. Parents: Seriously? Your daughters are counting on you to teach them to be successful adults. Children are children, do your fucking job and the world won’t suck as much. 

Let’s go back to horses instead of cars so all of those poor blacksmiths can have their jobs back. Oh wait… #CleanCoal

What do cops, school teachers, cemetery groundskeepers and Colin Kaepernick all have in common? They all make America great. If that makes you sad, you are what the kids these days call a snowflake. Easily offended and politically correct… sad.

Cops are here to protect us but there are some assholes. Teachers are here to teach us but there are some assholes. Cemetery groundskeepers seem like good people but based on the fact that they prefer to work alone some are probably assholes. Colin Kaepernick took the advice of a white, military veteran and chose to kneel in front of god to express his frustration over years of police brutality against black men. If you don’t think police brutality against black men is real, I suggest you go back to living under a rock, that was covered by another rock covered by a very limited knowledge of how life in America can be.

You have struggles too hun we know. America has failed you in many ways as well, be ambitious, don’t accept it, take a knee on shitty jobs, deteriorating schools, domestic violence, drug addiction, anything that is hurting you. The flag is not a military veteran, it’s a flag representing a government who has helped you in some ways and failed you in others. When the failure harms your children, you will take a knee.

This is not a competition to see who is suffering the most. We identify suffering and we either try to stop it or we are part of the problem. Blame the victim? If that’s what helps you feel superior, go for it snowflake. I will take a knee in front of any flag if it will prevent our young black men from dying. #NikeRevenueUp31%

 

Ok folks I’ve got a Bikram torture chamber to go to, Nikes to buy, a Republican Governor to vote for #CharlieBaker, radical snowflakes to side-eye, flags to kneel in front of, an economic bubble to watch, college tuitions to save for and a possible fight for reproductive freedom to plan #RoeVsWadeForOurDaughters… you know where gold comes from.

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The Warrior Pose – Not Bikram but still awesome

Mrs. Dad and Mr. Mom

Once upon a time, there was a stressed out family. What family isn’t stressed out? Among other titles, Not-Tom-Brady used to be a house painter. This came in very handy when he moved in with me into my broken down house built in 1928. He immediately started painting rooms and making it look livable. Ok the spelling of “livable” looks wrong but apparently its right. I’m sorry but it should be “liveable”.  Anyway, moving on…

I was working in a field position where I would drive anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours to a client, have a meeting, then drive back. This was usually 4 days a week. I created my own schedule but it was a lot of very long days. Back then Bub was in elementary school and was in an after school program. Gigi was pretty much a baby and was in a daycare that closed at 6pm. To say making it back to pick them up in time was difficult was an understatement. As a woman trying to be a leader at a corporation, you never want to say “Sorry Client X I have to leave because I have to pick up my kids”. I never said it, but not saying it took a LOT of work. Never mind getting them places on time. Two different schools, 6 years apart in age, and I had to meet A CLIENT ON TIME. Kids always act exactly as you want them too when you’re leaving to meet an important client.

dad bump in sock

This work involved me asking friends to pick up my kids. Great! But they worked too, so in exchange I would need to watch their darling children, in my abundance of spare time. Nothing says “day off” like watching small children you didn’t give birth to destroy your daughter’s Barbie Dream House. And because: Children No: Jager. *sigh You start to hate other parents at the school who seem to have time. They are always there on time, put together and totally annoying… “Oh Marie Christine you’re late for Girl Scouts AGAIN you know they don’t stay young forever… family first.” Shut it cookie-whore. UGH.

dad daycare

Not-Tom-Brady’s painting job was physically demanding. After you paint for years it takes a toll on your body. Wake up at 5am, get to the job by 6:30am, work until it’s too hot… or while it’s too hot… let shoulders slowly tear until they no longer work. It’s a fun gig. So by the time you get home from this day, the first thing you want do is make dinner, do laundry, help kids with homework, mow the lawn… right? No, you need SLEEP. But you don’t get it. You try to do all of those other things and slowly realize that life is a treadmill of short sleeps, early mornings, torn shoulders, laundry, kid bathing and mac & cheese making. In bed by 8pm was a survival necessity.

Both being so busy and tired, weekends were jammed with laundry, house maintenance, maybe a quick trip to the park. Who knows maybe we would have a minute to pet the dog? (RIP Oscar). But usually not so much. With stressed out parents come stressed out children, with stressed out children come stressed out parents, and so on.

dad britney

Then a magical thing happened… yadda yadda yadda, I got a job teaching at night. This job gave us enough money to live not quite poor but almost poor, but with Not-Tom-Brady quitting his job. We reached a point, which many families do, where the money is just not worth the quality of life that goes along with never being available or free. We said let’s do it… I started working at the college and he stopped painting houses. Gigi came home from daycare, and Mr-Mom-Not-Tom-Brady was born.

dad stay at home collage

At first it was really weird. Not-Tom-Brady would wake up at 5am ready to work, every… single… day. He actually still wakes up at 5am every day. I would still drive back from NY or Providence quickly in fear that I wouldn’t make it to the daycare by 6pm, even though we no longer used a daycare. It took me over a year to break that habit.

We would SEE each other while we were not doing chores. Imagine.. we saw each other, and spent time together, while we were NOT doing chores. That had only happened on occasion but now it was happening every single day. I would get home from work and the kids homework would be done. Everyone would be playing games or watching movies. They were smiling and laughing. It used to be me yelling orders and people scurrying to get things done with the very small window between work and kid bedtime. Gigi would now look over at me from her chair with her wet, slicked back hair because he had been given a bath BEFORE I GOT HOME. It was like some kind of bizzaro land that I wasn’t sure how to navigate. So, do I come in and just… sit down? I couldn’t remember a time I had actually done that. Even before kids there was work, and grad school and more work. What do people do when they… sit down??????

dad gayroses

GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY (and also true) 

 

Now one might think that Not-Tom-Brady and I have sort of a role reversal thing going on, but it’s more than that. When you think of a typical stay-at-home mom you think of her typical day to day activities and the fact that the couple doesn’t have to share those anymore the mom is now responsible for all of them. Yay for the dad! Well I have a secret for you about a Mr. Mom instead of a Mrs. Mom…  When you have a Mrs. Mom the Mr. Dad comes home after work and doesn’t do *a lot* but he still may do things like take out the garbage, get rid of gross things Mrs. Mom doesn’t want to touch, mow the lawn etc. When you have a Mr. Mom… they do all of the mom stuff AND ALL OF THE DAD STUFF. This is like the fucking lottery of role reversals. Hey hon you do all the mom stuff, k? And in return… you do all the dad stuff too, k? I’ll be over here typing things and sipping my bloody mary.  

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Not-Tom-Brady’s Bitmoji face is eerily accurate. There is a jager on the rocks behind the words on that tray. 

 

It’s been quite some time now that we’ve been doing this. I’ve taken on much more work responsibility at both of my jobs, so my availability becomes less and less every year. I was still doing *some* things up until recently. For example, I was cleaning the cat’s litter box and feeding her. I came back from LA last January and the cat would not stop pouncing me when I was trying to sleep. It turned out it was because she was starving. I won’t get into the state of her litter box…. So that responsibility had to go too. Not-Tom-Brady is lucky enough to have litter box duty and Gigi is trying, somewhat successfully, not to starve the cat.

Technically I “vacuum” but this involves hitting the power button on “Deedee” our robot vacuum cleaner. I’m sure there are other things I do but I’m too tired to remember what they are so they don’t count. We moved into our house just about a year ago. I can honestly say that I went and picked out our washer and dryer that week and have not seen them since. For all I know Not-Tom-Brady could have sold them and started sending the laundry out to be done by a cleaning company. I have no idea. Nor do I plan to find out. I think the washer is white… that’s the extent of my possible knowledge of said dryer. I have done the dishes occasionally, but NTB prefers that I refrain since I’m apparently awful at it, or at least not as good at it. The things I mostly do now are work and then point at things that I would like to be done by someone else, usually NTB. That counts.

 

dad laundry

Occasionally NTB is unavailable and I need to step in and take on some additional responsibility for the short term or for one moment. The kids never let me forget that I’m doing every single thing completely wrong… Mrs. Dad sucks at being Mrs. Mom.

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An incomplete “Daddy doesn’t do it this way” list:

  • Make scalloped potatoes
  • Drop off at the right spot at school
  • Fold and Separate Laundry
  • Slice apples
  • Make Ramen noodles
  • Park at the right bus stop
  • Snack routines
  • Playing games
  • Having fun
  • TV Choices (South Park? Seriously?)
  • Pack Lunches
  • Let the dogs out
  • Pull into the garage
  • Hold the door open
  • Open water bottles
  • Decide when bed time is
  • Play with the dogs
  • Set the table
  • Knowing what grade you are in
  • Remembering music lesson money
  • Getting ready for swimming
  • Make breakfast
  • Wake them up in the morning
  • Piano practice
  • Preparing any food “correctly”

Live life however it works best for you. But no matter what, live life! Life is too short for screaming about laundry all weekend. Girls… be self-sufficient and the world is your oyster…

dad my life story

Cubicle Farm Life

About 9 years ago I worked for Satan. Satan is a large office supply retailer, and I worked in their Risk Management Department. It was one of those experiences where it sounds like a really great choice at first then you realize about 24 minutes in that it was a terrible terrible terrible choice.

There were some benefits to working there. I met one of my favorite people there, James, who you’ve heard about in a prior blog post. They also had an omelet bar for breakfast, which sadly is something that kept me there longer than I should have been. If I ever start a company I’ll demand an all-day omelet bar. I think the impact of an omelet bar is grossly underestimated.

But I digress… They were located in a nice spot right off the highway. They had daycare programs for vacation weeks so parents can bring their kids to work during school vacations, which I took advantage of and still think it’s pretty cool. It’s also a very well-known brand so there’s a sense of pride in working there, until you realize you work with Satan, then the pride sort of stops. Sounds like my prior pizza slum lord stint eh? Yep, it’s a trend.

So, after my 3210723th ethics argument with Satan and his followers (ie my refusal to do clearly unethical things) and after James found herself as an unexpected passenger in a car ride with our very drunk (driving) boss after a company golf tournament, we decided this wasn’t really a cultural fit for us. We are averse to silly things like knowingly financially harming claimants, ignoring privacy laws, and being subjected to almost dying at the hands of a drunken driving boss. James and I are weird like that I guess. The other ~7K home office employees seemed to be going about their business.

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This is all fine, just keep walking. It’s fine. 

I’m not the type to burn bridges necessarily. It’s a small world and I’m very diplomatic. But I do stick it to the man in small ways. My friends and family argue that I am “the man” so if I’m sticking it to the man I’m sticking it to myself. Oh well… I still do it. So, James and I both left and before I left I changed all of the passwords to the systems (both internal and external governmental compliance systems) to “JimIsADoucheInSheepsClothing666”. Oh and one login was too an ACH system for transferring large funds, and I changed the password to “MyNameIsJimAndImGrosslyUnderqualified” It’s the little things, right? Hey they told me to leave him the passwords, and I kept my word.

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Then I said good-bye to cubicle farm life. I started working for a large property and casualty insurance carrier in the field. i.e. I had a company car and was on the road 4-5 days a week. FREEDOM! The freedom from the cubicle farm was awesome. I worked many more hours but I made my own schedule and that suited me just fine.

About 3 years in I changed jobs to a home office position, but continued to work from home for about 5 years. Then this year I offered (aghem) to come into the office 3 days a week. Yes yes I know… poor Marie Christine has to go into an office THREE days a week. Light a candle for me at church this Sunday, will you? I also get to choose which days they are, and if for some reason I didn’t make it in for the 3 days, literally no one would notice or care. But STILL… a candle, please.

I will add that with no traffic my commute is exactly 1 hour and 1 minute long. There is never no traffic, so it ranges from an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes each way. Candle please…

It’s only been 2 months and adjusting to #TowerLyfe has been interesting. The first few days I felt like an actual rat in a cage. I didn’t realize how much freedom I had until I didn’t have it. I mean realistically no one is telling me I can’t leave… but I’m not in my Jimi Hendrix Shirt, yoga pants and ponytail in my basement… so… it’s different. Ok by Jimi Hendrix Shirt & yoga pants I meant nightgown & bathrobe… tomato tomahto.

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Not gonna lie it’s pretty much like this. “Can you skype?” “Sorry my camera isn’t working, tech issues!”.

Deleted paragraph about the fact that people don’t work as much as they used to was previously found here… public blog equal edited blog… sigh. 

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I also forgot a few fun facts about working in an office. People chew. Loud. People talk. Loud. People leave the kitchen a mess as if the facilities staff are their personal housekeepers. People can be totally un-self-aware. I was waiting to get hot water last week and the hot water is part of the kitchen sink. There’s a nice side tap for hot tea water. This woman was washing her coffee mug forever. Not forever but I timed it and it was 3 full minutes, as I’m standing there waiting to take maybe 10 seconds to fill my cup. Has common sense and decency also left the building? Don’t get me started on the bathrooms. It’s 2018 and we haven’t solved the mystery of having bathrooms that don’t smell like low tide?

thumbnail_cubicle lord of the rings

Thanks to companies like Google and other millennial-grabbing forward thinkers, our office was recently renovated into 22 floors of collaborative space. This means tiny cubes with low walls and lots of open collaboration areas. It looks cool. I feel like I’m on a space ship when I walk into our lobby. There are “pods” you can sit and work in and it’s all very millennial-grabbing and whatnot. I will say the cubicle walls are higher than I’ve seen in some areas so it could be worse. Most closed office space was eliminated (another deleted scene) I’ve never cared about titles or offices. You can’t eat a title. Pay me more, call me whatever you want and I’ll sit in the basement on the floor if you want.

Overall the open space concept is ok. I’m not unfriendly, I think people would say I am friendly. But mostly I just want to do my job and have most people leave me the fuck alone. Ok maybe after reading that back I’m not as friendly as I think I am. Hmmm.

thumbnail_cubicle kitchenette

One of the major upsides is being with my team and our business partners. It’s great to be in person for meetings and we get a lot done when we are together. I feel less disconnected and better understand people being able to get to know them better.

Parking is free, but pretty crazy. I’m used to parking in my driveway, or parking at a client’s office. For the tower, I need to park in a lot then take a shuttle into the office. Not ideal. Allegedly when I get my next promotion I’ll be able to park in the attached garage, so that will give me one less thing to complain about. But I assume the increased level of responsibility will give me more to complain about in general. It’s a complaint balancing act. Our company requires, for branding consistency, that we only use Arial font. As a small way of sticking it to the man is that I use Calibri font on everything. Take that beuracracy! I figure Calibri is a much better way to manage work complaint angst than some other potential options.

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I currently sit next to one of my favorite people at my office, Papa-P. We’ve been working on a project together for almost 5 years. He is super smart, very nice and very productive. He is also thoughtful and doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit he deserves for the level of work he does. That said, he had the audacity put in a request to change desks (ie not sit near me) ALLEGEDLY before I started coming into the office. He will be moving tomorrow to have a window seat, essentially abandoning me in the cubicle farm subject to an unlimited list of possible future seat mates. He’s dead to me at the moment but I’m sure I will get past this unexpected set back. Maybe I’ll forgive him if he starts using Calibri font? This doesn’t happen on the road. On the road it’s you and you alone and your work.

thumbnail_cubicle jerkface leaving

The upside to this is that I get to hold this over his head until he retires. Or actually until I die, whichever comes first. He also hates attention so I should probably bring attention to this whenever possible. It just makes sense. For all of our co-workers reading this, feel free to guilt trip Papa-P until further notice. Sincerely, gold is from aliens.

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Probably less than a 1% chance of this type of conversation occurring PP (Post Papa-P). The window will not get your sense of humor, because it’s a fucking window. 

Things I hope to avoid with future seat mate:

  • Loud Chewers
  • Late Arrival Early Departure (Lazy people)
  • Negative Nellies
  • Braggers/One-Uppers
  • People whose happiness is associated with the success or failure of a sports team
  • Hygiene Issues (Wear deodorant, don’t clip nails)
  • People in positions they don’t deserve
  • Name Droppers
  • Personal Over-Sharers
  • Hoarders
  • Crossfitters (#BasicBen Exception Applies)
  • Assholes
  • Fad Dieters. No shakeology, paleo, south beach, bone brothers please. I know you believe you’ve discovered the key to life but you sound like an idiot. It will all be over soon when the bacteria from your raw water kicks in.
  • People who don’t stop talking about the weather
  • Up-talkers
  • Shape-Shifters (I’m kidding I would love to have a shape-shifter as a seat mate)
  • Anti-Vaxxers
  • Women who don’t help other women
  • A mom who talks about her kids all day
  • Close talkers
  • People who constantly state the obvious
  • Man bun
  • No sense of humor
  • Huggers
  • People who come to work while sick

Good night folks, if you remember nothing else, remember that gold is from aliens. #Peace

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Captain’s Log – First Edition

The last year-or-so has been interesting. I keep wondering how many transitions a person can go through at one time? I have so much blog material right now that my iPhone Notes app is bursting at the seams.

I love change. I actually like change even when it’s bad. I’m one of those weird people, I guess, who doesn’t like complacency. So I suppose you could say the rollercoaster(s) of multiple transitions have been welcomed even when unwelcomed. Geez that just made me realize what a strange person I am… haha.

CL Changes

I think the largest recent transitions have been moving from the city to the country, traveling for business a lot more than usual, volunteering on a board of directors for a non-profit and (after 10 years of working remote/from home/on the road) going from remote work back into an office setting. I’ve embraced all of these changes, but having them all happen at the same time has been a bit much… even for me.

We’ll probably end up with several takes (or chapters) on each topic, but the travel has been so heavy that it happens to be my fullest notepad… so we might as well take a break from city-to-county and touch on light-travel to super-unpredictably-often travel.

On 5/3/2018 a life changing event is about to happen to me. On that day, Jet Blue Airlines starts flying to JFK every morning at 6am from a small regional airport right near my house. I now believe in god because my prayers have just been answered.

In today’s reality, I take a ride into Boston for every flight. Those of you that drive into Boston on weekdays know that this is very predictable (wink wink) and can take anywhere from 1 – 4 hours. So… you have to assume it’s 4 so you don’t miss your flight. Plus there are always “fun” surprises like the time I was catching a 4am flight and was excited about driving in with no traffic. I get to the exit right before the Ted Williams Tunnel to the airport, and the road is closed. THE MASSACHUSETTS TURNPIKE WAS CLOSED.  Luckily for me it was pouring rain, almost zero visibility and the detour took me into a part of the city I was completely unfamiliar with. My GPS was an asshole and kept trying to reroute me back to the tunnel. So the 5 minute stretch took me over 2 hours. The joys of Logan airport.

My next trip is on 5/2… the day BEFORE the new found joy of regional airport life. SO, I’m flying out from Logan but back IN to the regional. Take that universe! Jet Blue daily to JFK… and then to the entire country… I LOVE YOU! Feel free to sing (out loud or in your mind) the Disney greatest hit “A whole neeeeeeew wooooooooooooooooooooooorld”. Yes, I’ll be on Jet Blue’s magic carpet. My friend and colleague A-Rev says I have a crush on Jet Blue. He is totally right.

CL New World

This regional airport is so small that it only has one gate, and one plane flying at a time. They have a “bar” that serves the worst bloody mary I’ve ever had, but obviously I still get it every time. My first time there (as a frequent traveler I have TSA Pre-Check) I said to the TSA guy (just him and me in the entire area)…. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the TSA Pre-Check line is?”  He laughed and told me I was the first person to use that line. I assured him that I wouldn’t be the last.

It’s been 13 years since my last actual vacation get-away. So in a way this business travel is good in that I can see the country and experience things that I may not otherwise experience. At least this is what I told myself a few weeks ago as I saw the airport shuttle pull into my driveway, I grabbed my bag, and my nose started bleeding and would not stop. Let the games begin! I should also mention this was a 3:30am pick up. The other passengers were absolutely thrilled to have a person hop in next to them with an unstoppable nosebleed and a bloody bath towel. It was fantastic. Each new passenger was greeted with this completely normal situation. It was totally not a red flag for the TSA at the airport to have a woman traveling alone with a bloody shirt on. It was all totally fine. This was also after sleeping for about an hour the night before.

CL Nosebleed

I have no recollection of putting on my seatbelt on the plane. I just remember waking up just above Chicago as the woman next to me spilled her coffee. I had some weird 6th sense moment where I woke up just as it spilled, and caught it before it hit me (not before it hit her).  She tried, unsuccessfully, wiping it up with a waxy Dunkin Donuts bag. Yay. Sleep and sanity are overrated. I was totally fine!

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Rolling up on the meeting like hey y’all, I’m here let’s do this totally professional thing I’m all good…

I believe that people feel comfortable around me and that they trust me. But has that been proven or am I just a disillusioned egomaniac? There’s a saying “the proof is in the pudding”. In this one case study, the proof was in the brownie.

So… me and Magic-Matt go to a broker meeting downtown. There is a nice mix of experienced, seasoned professionals and young up-and-comers. Magic-Matt has managed to get his foot in the door at this difficult firm because he’s… well… magic. We meet with the crew and I’m very impressed with the progress Magic-Matt has made already, and the clear progress we are making that day. We ask 2 of the up-and-comers to dinner to get to know them better, and to begin to earn their trust. Magic-Matt and I are both sincere people and connect with the lads quickly, growing on the already-established relationship he has started.

About 2/3 of the way through dinner, we’re feeling pretty good that we’ve taken a step toward earning the trust of the firm. Yet there’s always a lingering doubt in ability and success, which I think is natural. I’m well into my 3rd Old Fashioned (hey don’t judge, this is a very useful networking tool!) when one of the brokers, we’ll call him Broker-420, pulls an object out of his FRONT pocket, wrapped in aluminum foil. Now this foil has clearly been reused many, many, many times. Magic-Matt and I look at each other and back at Broker-420. He unwraps his pot brownie, holds it out to me… I politely decline. He then holds it out to Magic-Matt, who also politely declines. Then proceeds with the oh-well-more-for-me and eats about half of it. I think it’s safe to say we’ve earned this broker’s trust. #MagicMattForTheWin

Broker-420 and I jump in an Uber because my hotel is in the same neighborhood as his apartment. He laughs the entire way and says “I love you guys” no less than 10 times on the 10 minute ride. We got out and he tells me he will give as much business to Magic-Matt as is “humanly possible”. Ability to earn the trust of business partners…. CHECK. 

CL Weed

Last June I went to a conference in San Diego, my first time in SoCal! The land of perfect, predictable weather. It rained the entire time, allegedly this is unheard of. So, I was excited to go to LA this past January to finally experience the SoCal dream. A-Rev and MP-West-Coast had planned out a lovely week of meetings and warm weather experience. MP-West-Coast picks me up at the airport to take me to her house on the beach before the meeting parade starts. Wonderful plans to walk the beach and get some pre-dinner drinks have been pondered for weeks. But… you guessed it, it was pouring. It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t misting. It was pouring. The streets were flooding… our shoes were filling with water. The good news was that we found a really cool place to eat and made the best of it! I stayed almost a full week and… you guessed it… it rained every day. Is it me? It appears so…  

My flight back was craptacular. Non-Stop LA to Boston in the middle seat. A Rabbi on my right side visibly judging my drink choice (it was AFTER noon and I’m in the middle seat for 6 hours Ace, deal with it). An older man was to my left, he seemed nice enough. His wife was across the aisle. I eliminated occasional discomfort for them throughout the flight like explaining how the food menu works and calling the flight attendant to get them blankets. In exchange, he kept his elbow on my arm rest for the entire flight, which shut my movie off over, and over and over and over as he accidentally hit the “off” button. #MiddleSeatGetsTheArmRests #TravelRules

CL Middle Seat

Last week I was in San Antonio. It’s my least favorite destination (sorry guys). I feel like the Riverwalk area is built specifically for tourists and has no real culture. Downtown is too dangerous to walk alone at night. It’s impossible to get a direct flight and I either miss connections, or near-miss connections, every time I go. I have major seasonal allergies as soon as the doors of the plane open. Oh San Antonio. This time I had a bizarre Uber driver from the airport to the hotel. He was a very large, older gentleman in a Mercedes. He was dressed from head to toe in Tabasco branded items. He didn’t have a seatbelt on so the ding-ding-ding-ding thing went off for the entire half hour ride. I have no words. He’s clearly passionate about Tabasco, I’ll give him that.

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Brand Dedication going on here…

There was a smoke alarm on floors 5-8 while I was at the hotel. I proceeded to find the fire safety posting and followed the directions to the nearest stairwell. I got down two flights and there was a cement wall with no more stairs. So… this is how I die. In a hotel stairwell in San Antonio with un-straightened hair and a dress I just pulled out of my dirty laundry pile. Awesome. Suddenly, a set of elevator doors open and I see 10 staff members in the elevator. I said “ahhh can I come with you?” So we proceed to the basement and I hang out with them until the floors are cleared. Oh San Antonio, you don’t fail to disappoint.

I had to fly American on the way back because Jet Blue doesn’t fly to SAT… no big deal, I can deal with sharing a screen with everyone else… I don’t need my own screen, right? I landed in Charlotte with 4 minutes to get to my connecting flight because of a delay leaving SAT. Of course I was in the furthest terminal from my flight. Have you ever seen a 45 year old Italian woman in a suit and $2 Walmart flats running with a 30lb suitcase? A few hundred people in Charlotte did last week. It was very impressive I’m sure. We will either get a ton of business, or never get any business, from the broker who was on my flight sitting next to me who saw me run-unlike-the-wind. #WheresMyPotBrownie

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American Airlines… plenty of screens except that time the person in front of you has a fuzzy hood. At least I was only 1/3 way through with the movie I’m sure the ending was boring nbd. 

I have 5 more travel stories for you, plus a list for future publication of shit NOT to do while traveling… but we are at my blog length max…. so…. I’m also way too tired to tell you about the time my car broke down in the Logan Airport Parking Garage which set off a 50 hour chain of unfortunate events…

Until next time… you know where gold is from.

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Every girl…

I have a daughter who is about to turn 16. Life was very different when I was 16. VERY different. That said, there are some constants. There are some things that every girl needs to know. I want to think I can wait to admit these things or to communicate these things, but I know that’s not true. There are facts that every girl needs to know, whether it’s 1984 or 2018… #LifeIsBullshit

  • Never have a drink that you haven’t poured yourself or watched someone pour.
  • Never let anyone take a picture of you naked.
  • If he hits you once, he WILL hit you again.
  • If he says no to a condom, he’s not the one for you.unnamed (3)
  • Trust your instincts. Being polite can kill you…

Women tend to be polite. We don’t like to make people feel bad or to upset the normal flow of things. This is often what hurts us most. About 7 years ago I was grocery shopping at Big Y in Worcester, MA. I wheeled my cart into the parking lot when a man offered to help me with my groceries. I politely declined. He then insisted that he had time. I opened my trunk and he took a bag out of my cart and put it in my trunk. My women’s instinct was to smile and try not to be offensive. Unfortunately for him, my Marie Christine instinct was not so much.  I saw a man and his girlfriend across the parking aisle get into their truck.

To set the scene a bit, Worcester is  “townie” town. Have you seen “Good Will Hunting”? I would like to say that’s Hollywood BS but it’s actually very accurate. Anywho, I immediately scan the parking lot to calculate my options. I realize that electrician-looking-townie and girlfriend in pick up truck are my best bet. I wave to the man to wave him over. He looks confused. His girlfriend looks pissed. Who TF is that old lady waving you over?! I wave again, he points at himself, I nod. The normal looking but over-the-line man keeps putting my bags in my trunk. I wave again. Townie-electrician, confused, starts to walk over. His girlfriend, pissed and ready to fight me, follows.

They arrive at my car. My favorite thing about townies (I’m a townie so I’m allowed to trash talk myself) is that they/we are entirely predictable in a fight or flight situation. We fight. ALWAYS. Even if it’s not a good idea.  I look at electrician-townie-guy and girlfriend and say: This guy followed me to my car. I told him to leave and he won’t leave. He’s trying to hurt me.

Townie girlfriend changes from who-is-this-bitch mode to this-guy-is-going-down mode. Maybe-Electrician-Guy gets in trunk-weirdo’s face. Both he and his girlfriend get into it. They tell me to get into my car and leave and they will stay with trunk-weirdo for 5 minutes until I’m long gone. Moral of the story… what would have happened if I was polite? He would have gone away? I would still be in his basement tied to a pole? Not thrilled considering those options. Don’t be polite. Trust you instincts. Thank you Maybe-Electrician and Pissed-Off-Confused-Girlfriend.

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  • Scream. As loud as you can.
  • Never go to a second location. If you are nervous AT ALL, never go to a second location. Ask around. Don’t.
  • Go for the eyes. Women have tendency to be maternal. Hurting someone’s eyes is permanent. Who cares. Go for the eyes. It’s you or him.

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  • Find a mom with kids.

I’ve always told my kids this. There is a really cool dvd for kids by John Walsh and I can’t remember the name of it right now and I’m too lazy right now to google it. Find a mom with kids. My kids got Sooooo sick of hearing me say this. One day, my youngest daughter was going to kindergarten for the first time. She was taking a school bus for the first time. She went to kindergarten a year early (because she insisted because she is so Gigi). They put her on the wrong bus and let her off at a random city bus stop. Her first thought “Find a mom with kids”. She ran to a mom with kids and told her she was lost. That mom called the school, and the school called me. I think this rule applies to anyone age 1 -101. If you’re in trouble, find a mom with kids. A mom with kids will take care of fucking business y’all. Trust me. This should probably be rule #1. MOM WITH KIDS.

  • Kindness is the most important thing. Everything else is a distant second.

It took me 40 years to figure this one out. You can seek out any other characteristic in a friend/lover/boss/peer/team member. But if they don’t ALSO have kindness, it’s never going to work out. Kindness is a baseline necessity. Democrat, Republican, Alien, Anarchist… if you start with kindness you’re more likely to succeed.

  • Too skinny is bad. Too fat is bad.
  • If your roommate/sister/mom/dog doesn’t like him… listen.
  • Pepper spray washes off, a cracked skull doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to use the tools you’ve been given. (see prior comment on trust your instincts/don’t be polite).

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This is probably my favorite GIF of all time. #BlondeMarieChristine

My oldest daughter recently asked me to teach her how to shoot a gun. I said “Fuck no!”. True story. I asked why? She said: “I don’t wan’t to be afraid of guns”. I said “If you aren’t afraid of guns, you shouldn’t be using them”. Granted, this is a tough one. I’ve recently inquired about reinstating my conceal carry permit that I let expire years ago. I’ve thought of having a rifle and just storing it in a location far from the actual bullets just in case Zombie Apocalypse (aka Trump Administration who the fuck knows).

Funny side story, my schedule didn’t sync up with the conceal carry class yet. In the meantime the teacher sent me an invitation to attend a “Ladies Conceal Carry Fashion Show”. I was like ahhhhh ok thanks but no. I’m not going to be a trendy 2nd amendment stomper… I’m going so I can blast douche bags like you if they try to get into my house… conceal and carry fashion show? What in the actual fuck? Will I even be able to attend this conceal carry class without getting stabby or just literally laughing in someone’s face? I honestly have no idea.

Anywho, I tried to explain to my daughter that you can’t teach people to be decisive or prepared. You either are or you aren’t. This goes back to my last blog a bit about whether I’m hurting my kids by not allowing them to suffer…  hmmmm.

I was thinking recently about the game “Perfection”. Have you ever played this game? You try to put plastic shapes into the corresponding spaces on a game board before a buzzer goes off. If you don’t make it in time, the board pops up and all of the pieces fly up into your face. I used to play this game with my daughter. Every time the pieces popped up she would scream and fall over. Even though she knew it was coming, she still couldn’t control her reaction. THIS is what I’m talking about. Either you scream when the pieces pop up, or you don’t. This is not something that can be learned once you’re past a certain age. I don’t scream… she does. My fault for not properly preparing her? Perhaps. But I digress… I do know what will happen if someone threatens me… it’s not a secret…

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I still might get the hidden rifle, but there’s no way she’s going near it. I did get her some pepper spray. The first time I handed it to her I showed her how to use it, and while holding it she aimed it at my face accidentally twice. So… yea… a gun is not happening for you kid.

Anyway.. off track. Summary: Fuck being polite it’s ok for a minute, until it’s not. Trust your instincts. Don’t let your guard down. People are generally good, except when they aren’t.

Condensed summary: #MeToo

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To me… and Near me…

Is it me, or do people often lack self awareness when they make casually inaccurate statements as if they were fact? Things I’ve heard in the past month:

“You took less than 2,000 steps today? You have to take at least 4,000 steps a day basically just to be alive you can’t do that?!”  Not only am I alive after taking only 1,500 steps for several days in a row, but I happen to know people doing a lot worse (including me) that are somehow still alive.

“You haven’t been to the gym in 7 days? That’s not good you need to get back there.”.  Do people understand the definition of “need”?  I want to get back there. I should get back there, but trust me I don’t “need” to get back there. I also wish that my life was so easy that not going to the gym was a call to action. Amirite?

Sally Steps-A-Lot can suck it.

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Here is a story of things that have happened to me, and near me, that influence my perception of happiness and contentment (starting after age 18, before age 18 is off limits).

Buyer Beware: If you’re in the mood for a feel good story, don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.

I was asked early last year “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”.  I believe it’s the bad things that happen that give us perspective on the good things. People often describe me as calm or confident. Really it’s just that I don’t go into crisis mode over lost steps or skipped gym days. Side note: Is it better to be shielded from suffering and lose real perspective or better to suffer and have it? I often worry that my children will not have perspective due to lack of suffering… but I still keep them from suffering as goal #1. #BetterOffNaive

Near me… When I was in my early 20’s a close friend, S, had a sweet baby girl. She was the first of my close friends to have a child. I’m not really a “kid person”, but I cared very much about S, and her daughter was beautiful and brought joy to the lives of her parents. About 4 months after she was born, Brittany developed an infection. Infections happen right? I had no parenting experience at this time, although I did have a lot of experience caring for children.  I had never heard of a child being hospitalized due to an infection. She was in Boston, arguably one of the best places to be if you are sick. The best doctors, the best care. Get some antibiotics and move on.

S called me about 2 days in saying her husband had to work and asked if I would come with her to her daily hospital visit. Of course! We drove to the hospital, laughing, chatting about how lucky she was to have a new Toyota Camry, me being jealous of her Toyota Camry while also being happy that I didn’t have a child, especially a sick child, to deal with. I could go home, eat pizza, drink wine and pass out… no kids!

We walked into the nicu (neonatal intensive care unit) and I see Brittany in a tall, plastic box. It catches me off guard a bit but I’ve seen this on TV and, so far, I’m ok. We get an update from the doctor, the antibiotics are not working but they are hopeful. We spend a few hours speaking to other mothers, I begin to realize that pregnancy and childbirth do not always end with a healthy baby. My life perception shifts.

The doctor waves S over, I start walking and the doctor asks me to give them some privacy.  S says no, I can hear whatever she has to say it’s ok. They ask if her husband is here. She smiles and says no. I begin to realize we are about to hear bad news.

I stand up next to Brittany. The doctor tells us that her infection has spread to her blood stream. Her fever is at 106 and climbing. “When can your husband get here. She doesn’t have much time”.  I look at S, she asks where the payphones are. I turn to the doctor then I turn to Brittany. Then I realize that I’m about to watch my friends’ daughter die. I reach out for S’s hand, I miss.

I wake up on the floor of the nicu. I have at least one broken finger and am completely disoriented. S is crouching down to help me up. She is concerned for my well being. She’s such a good mom and caregiver that she’s worried about ME right now. She hugs me. The doctor suggests I eat something. I admit that all I’ve had so far that day was a pack of orange Tic Tacs. I need a cigarette. S wants to get french fries. We go to the cafeteria. She keeps asking if I’m ok. I say yes and we eat fries. This continues for some time. We are both in shock but we don’t know that that is. We are 22 and 24. We are babies ourselves.

We finish the fries and we remember what’s actually happening. We find a phone booth and call her husband. He leaves work and starts driving to us. He doesn’t make it in time. I learned at 24 that funeral homes make coffins the size of a forearm for babies that die. I learned that pregnancy and childbirth don’t always lead to families. I learned that a 22 year old woman can turn from a happy, fun loving person, to an unrecognizable shell of a person.

How may steps did you take today? Who fucking cares.

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To me… When I was 18 I took a bus from my college to spend the weekend with a guy I was dating in high school. It only took about 2 hours for him to completely annoy the shit out of me. I realized what I already knew, he was a dick. He was not a productive member of society and never would be. I missed my prior boyfriend who was kind and understanding. I decided to leave but I didn’t have a lot of resources.

I told him I was ready to leave, he said no problem he would get his mother to bring me to the bus station and go back to school. As he walked out of the room he grabbed the phone off the wall, walked out the door of the finished basement and locked the door. At first I didn’t realize what this meant. My mother is reading this right now saying What the FUCK IS THIS STORY. Don’t worry I’m ok.

After 2 days (no details, trust me you don’t want them) I convinced him that I needed to call school. Instead, I called my cousin Marjie. I had just a few seconds on this supervised call before I would be caught. I told her quickly what street I was on, what the mailbox looked like (it was some weird artsy animal thing) and that I was in the basement. About 15 minutes later I see Marjie’s blue sports car on the lawn, outside the sliding glass door of the basement. #BadAss Some people say Marjie is a bit much. The fact that she is a bit much is my favorite thing about her.

She comes up to the door with her acid wash jeans and mile-high, teased blonde hair, and tells the dick to open the door, or she’s driving through it. He doesn’t listen. She starts walking to her car. He panics, opens the door and I leave. I look back at him and he says “No one leaves me”.  Marjie says “She does”.  We leave. She drives me to the bus, I go back to school. In case you’re wondering how dick’s life turned out… not so good. Reason number 2072387 I’m not on Facebook. When I was, he sent me friend requests several times. Trust me dick, you don’t want me as your “Friend”.

You skipped the gym for 7 days? Yea… get over it.

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This isn’t a real picture of Marjie, But I’ll be damned this looks just like her. Bad Ass People Unite. 

I don’t see a lot of daylight in the winter, so I probably have a bit of seasonal depression. I promise to make my next few blogs a bit less dark and dramatic. #PinkySwear Spring is coming even if the groundhog is an asshole liar! 😉

To me… I was once electrocuted by a phone booth. I was on a main street in a wealthy community. I was 15 years old on a break from working in a bakery and as a cashier at a small store. The funny part is that I was more upset about peeing myself (I had a long, light brown hippie skirt on) than I was about actually being electrocuted. Only me. I yelled at the EMT trying to help me. Wait this was before age 18…. ok so one slipped through so be it. #NeJaimes

When I was 20 I was stabbed by the ex-girlfriend of a guy I was casually dating. She snuck into his apartment while we were sleeping, woke us up, and stabbed me. In the head. It was a flesh wound, I was fine. I actually convinced her to give me the knife, my first true successful negotiation. I think about it in work situations when someone asks me about my negotiation skills. I think well, I was stabbed by a crazy woman once, in the head, who snuck into my room at night and then I convinced her to give me the knife before she stabbed me again, so I’m pretty sure any sort of insurance related negotiations are going to be no fucking problem… like at all. #BringItMF

Near me… some time ago I received a group email from my friend James. She told a group of us that while she was 4 months pregnant with her son, she had cancer. Specifically a small cell form of lymphoma. My first response was to contact my friend who is a doctor at the hospital where James was being treated.  Please set me straight so I don’t spiral. Her response was that the baby was unlikely to survive, and James was even less likely to survive, but she would speak to the doctor. This was not helpful.

I responded to James asking how I could help. She said she was fine. I asked James’ husband what I could do, not much but wait and see what we need. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ok.  I’m a doer not a waiter. But I waited. Luckily, it turned out that my doctor friend was very wrong.

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James ended up not needing me as much as I thought she would, or at least that’s what my side of the story looked like. James is ok. Her son is ok. I sent her a gift. I visited her son. I smiled and took pictures. I sometimes feel guilty that I didn’t do more. On the other hand I feel embarrassed that I spent so many nights having panic attacks or worrying about what was happening without telling anyone, or telling James. Would it have made her feel better or worse? My world view is generally “stay strong”. So I chose that. To James, I thought about you every day then and I think about you every day now. You are one of my favorite people. You should know this even if I don’t always act the way you need me to. Side Note: I should have trusted my instincts and invited myself to your wedding dress fitting. #SeparatedAtBirth

The same person who asked what the worst thing is that has every happened to me also asked me what the best thing is that ever happened to me. I immediately answered, “That’s easy: Being born in a first world country”. If that’s not me, I don’t know what is..haha.

Other best things (not in any particular order and not a complete list):

  • Bub winning her first singing competition at age 12 ($1,000!)
  • Gia talking in full sentences when she was only 1 #WTF
  • Graduating from undergrad, then grad school.
  • Bub coming into my room one night when she was 5. I was crying and she came in to comfort me. When you realize that your kids are good people, life is good.
  • Healthy baby Maximus
  • Meeting Dirk Benedict (the only time I was ever speechless)
  • Listening to Not-Tom-Brady and the kids laugh upstairs while I’m working downtairs
  • Finding our home last year.
  • Watching my daughters, almost 6 years apart, laying on the couch hugging because they love each other.
  • Being able to afford fried chicken and rice krispie treats whenever I want them. i8n77i

What have we learned? Steps matter, but they don’t. Know your audience. Know the difference between “need” and “want”. Don’t be a dick.

Do we do our children a disservice by protecting them from suffering or is that our purpose? Even if we do, would we be capable of imposing suffering on them to change this consequence? … Deep thoughts…

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Things that suck, and Things that don’t suck

I’ve been blogging for 1 year! I keep notes on my iPhone when I have random thoughts or see random things or remember old stories that I want to write about. One note is “Things that suck” and one is “Things that don’t suck”. I decided it’s time to publish my annual compilation. 1 year blogging.. F yeah!

Disclaimer: This list is incomplete because a complete list would be long enough to ciricle the earth infinity times.

I’ll start with things that suck so we can end on a positive note.  Look at me being all positive and whatnot!

Things that suck…

When you’re driving long distance in a 70 mph zone and after 4 hours it turns into a 55 mph zone.

Salons that only take cash tips. Seriously who TF carries cash anymore? You get your pedi and then look like a complete asshole not leaving a tip because you have no cash. OR you have to ask your 10 year old if she has any cash on her. Or so I’ve heard…

Trolls… not the cute flair haired dolls, the kind that can’t help but feel good about trolling people from the comfort of their recliner with their misguided confidence and delusional importance. Hey, we see you dude.. we see youuuu

Christmas lights not working.  I was fucking Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation this year in our first year outside the city. I cant even. Why are Christmas lights so fucking difficult?!

image3Anti Vaxxers.  Guys Noooooo Link To See How Vaccines Cause Autism

Climate change

People with no self-awareness

Forgetting to use a promo code and staring at your online receipt like NOOOOOOOO! I HAD A PROMO CODE! WHY????????!!!!!!!!!!

Babies on planes with no pacifiers.  Hey, parent however you want but dude this is a 6.5 hour flight. Your child is losing their shit on my time. P A C I F I E R. Just my 2 cents.

Pressure to use soap and water in public restrooms. Is this just me? I travel a lot so I’m constantly in public bathrooms. As any good germophobe knows, touching public bathroom sinks and toilets is similar to touching a hobo’s jock strap. Ok hobos probably don’t wear don’t wear jock straps but you’re with me. I’m sorry but I walk right out of the public bathroom, past the germ filled sinks of doom, and use hand sanitizer no matter how many dirty looks I get at the airport. Fuck that. I know what’s up. Don’t judge me!

General conversion from cash to cards/apple pay. This leaves most of us without cash. So whenever someone helps us bring items to our car or a valet brings us our car we are like wow… *shoulder shrug* sorry I have no cash. Can I offer you a …. wait I have nothing on me because every fucking thing is electronic.

People who say “ATM Machine”. It’s Automatic Teller Machine guys. NOT Automatic Teller Machine Machine.

Solar panel sales people. Hey guy when I’m ready to get solar panels I’ll fucking get them, ok? Back TF off. Jesus Christ.

The guys who choose the treadmill right next to you even though there are about 25 open. Personal space anyone? Also, I’m 45 years old man I’m too old for this shit. #IWillCutYou

When you make a trip to a local store and they don’t have what you went there for. Then you’re like… this is why I buy online mf’ers! Brick and mortar local my ass! #PissingOffYourLiberalFriends #AmazonPrimeILoveYouSo

People who try to “prove” that Sandy Hook massacre never happened. Yea guys no. You’re a dick and/or have recently had a massive head injury.

When you assemble something from Ikea and you realize one piece is backwards when you’re done. Then you have to take the entire item apart and reassemble it from scratch. #WHY

Elementary School concerts.  The 5 minutes your kid is up there is awesome. The other 3 hours is the 5th circle of hell.

Man spread. Dear god guys what the fuck.

Rich people who have no idea…

People who don’t wipe down gym equipment. I just assume if my sweat touches dried sweat it somehow reactivates old dried sweat. Is it me? Ok it’s probably me… yea.

Middle seat on a long flight #MyLife

Wrong clothes for the weather. #CrossCountryTravel #Whoops

High deductible health plans. I don’t think it’s just my employer (who is wonderful BTW). I truly need a chiropractor but no longer go. I also had a blood infection a few years ago. I didn’t see a doctor because of the high deductible and by the time I realized how serious it was the infection had spread to my blood stream. Hey high deductible health insurance policies… great job! You almost killed me and cost yourself a lot more than if you just let me get checked out and get antibiotics on day 1… just saying.

Things that don’t suck…

iHop hash browns

The Americans (I’m pretty sure I’m Elizabeth Jennings so I may be biased here).

S-Town the podcast. I also liked “Missing Richard Simmons” but S-Town was incredible and heartbreaking and awesome.

The zesty lemon lobster roll at the Galley in Naples, ME. It was highlighted on Man vs. Food and they were spot on. I am a seafood fanatic and this lobster roll is where it’s at.

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Christmas Trees are magical

 

Jokes about your mom. Sorry these stand the test of time.

Rice Krispie Treats. When I was a kid I dreamed about having a job so good that I could afford fried chicken and rice krispie treats whenever I wanted them. #MissionAccomplished

Lidocaine. I haven’t needed you much, but when I have holy moly you were a god send.

Jager. Yea duh.

Real diners. I lived in Worcester, MA for 11 years. This is really the home of the original American diner. So cool to be around so much good history and so much good food.

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Bub

Lobstah

Good bosses #Priceless

Uber

The new boxing room at our gym

Fried PB&J at Hershey Park. I seriously sometimes consider driving almost 6 hours back to this place, and I hate amusement parks, just for their fried PB&J.

My in-cabinet paper towel holder. Moving your paper towels from the counter to a cozy hiding spot under the sink is so magical. #OldPeopleExcitement

Rear view mirror obstacle sensors.

Fried Mushrooms from The Eastern States Exposition #TheBigE Guys these are so good that the kids know to take a break from rides and let momma have her mushrooms and ranch. Once a year… so so good.

Dirk Benedict #SeeKimCoatesBlog

Valium #SelfExplanatory

Back To The Future & The Terminator Trilogies

Fried hot dogs. I still have sliced fried hot dogs a couple of times a month. They are turkey hot dogs now, but still.

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My precious Gigi and Bub

The Shawshank Redemption. This is the best movie ever. If you disagree you’re just wrong. That’s my position.

Room service with a pot of tea.

Best veggie burger I’ve had to date is from… wait for it… wait for it… Burger King. Not kidding guys, try it. I’ve had veggie burgers from diners, dives and luxury restaurants all over the country. Hands down the best tasting so far has been the one from Burger King. #SlowClapToBK

Gas home heating systems #KingJames

Fishamajig from Friendly’s

My plate smashing corner at my old house. I had a corner in my basement with a shelf with old dishes and glassware. When I was frustrated I would go and smash the dishes and glassware in the corner. You’d be surprised but this actually works.

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Miss Gigi #ThisFace

Oui Yogurt

This Is Us

Spotify… Thanks #BasicBen

Crab legs

Sunken Living Rooms #DavesNotHere

Baby cheeks

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Not-Tom-Brady #Babe #MyOneAndOnly

(Photo Credit: Chris Shonting) 

I’m That Annoying Person…

I’m that annoying person you want to punch in the face. I don’t always make New Year’s Resolutions, but when I do, I always follow through on them. Yup, My New Year’s resolutions always stick. I don’t think I’m doing anything magical, or right, or better… it’s probably just more that I hate being wrong. So, if I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

It’s actually confusing to me when people say they will do something, and don’t. One trait that confuses me completely is unreliability. Some people don’t even know they are unreliable, they just are. Sort of like people who are always late (aka the Spawns of Satan). In my book being early is being on time, be on time is being late, and being late means you’re fired. Yup, welcome to my world. Sure it’s no problem I’ve only been waiting for you for 20 minutes, your time is clearly more valuable than mine, Spawn of Satan. I once told my boss “If I’m late, I’m dead”. He laughed, but that’s an actual fact.

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So anywho, back to the New Years Resolution idea. Apart from just enjoying being right as much as possible, there is another, even more compelling, reason to follow through on your New Year’s Resolutions. The best part is that you get to use your follow through on these resolutions as excuses for continuing other shitty and/or unhealthy behaviors. You can refer back to your past, shittier, self as some maniac who is, thank god, no longer with us.

One year I quit smoking, cold-turkey, after 25 years of smoking. (Pats self on back for being amazing). This was the hardest resolution to keep. It’s been 5 years and I won’t be turning back, but it never goes away, unfortunately. Another year I committed to the “Eat To Live” diet for 90 days. I know that 90 days doesn’t sound like a lot, but this way of life is no joke. The basic gist is that it’s a vegan diet (no animal products of any kind) but also no oils and no grains. Yup, if you thought vegans were bananas, imagine a vegan with no oil and no grains. I bow to anyone who actually stays on this diet for life. I made it the 90 days but it wasn’t easy. It was worth it. It felt great to just get all of the SAD (Standard American Diet) out of my system and let my cells do their thing without Velveeta or Jager getting in the way. Yup, no booze on Eat to Live either. FTW!

So after you quit smoking after 25 years, or manage to Eat To Live for 90 days, or 2 years ago when I committed to doing cardio exercise an average of 3x a week for life… no one wants to call you out on the rest of your shit. You’re basically in the best position you can be in. Hey guys remember that smoking, non-exercising, sarcastic, functioning alcoholic, anxiety ridden mess? Well she doesn’t smoke anymore and she exercises all the time! Can you imagine going from smoking at least a pack of reds a day for 25 years and never exercising to not smoking at all and exercising all the time. WOW! What great accomplishments bravo!!!!!!… pass the Jager.  See? I’m only 1/3 – 1/2 of the shit show I was before, yay me!

new year 2014

For this year’s resolution I’ve decided to work on my diet permanently. I find myself so focused on calories that I neglect nutrition. How soon we forget Eat To Live! Over the past 2 years (now that I’m all exercising and whatnot) I’ve gotten in tune with calories. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we should understand that a block of tofu might have more calories than a piece of cheese. That said, a focus just on calories is not good. That’s been me for about 2 years. I’m over it. When you’re a 45 year old woman, 500 calories takes twice, or three times, as long to burn off than it used to. I was eating the same amount as before, plus exercising! But at 45, it was still adding up to extra weight. Not a ton, but it takes your brain a while to accept that change.

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My 2 favorite Christmas Gifts #RealFoodTimeYall

So two years later I’ve accepted that change. I usually exercise more than 3x a week, but working a lot makes that more difficult. So, it’s even more important that I eat REAL food. A can of soup is about 189 calories and real-food soup is about 350. But the real soup gives you healthy skin, good eye sight, a healthy heart, lowers your blood pressure, extends your life, and so on. I’m mature enough at this point to know that health is something we can’t take for granted.

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This is what soup should look like #MyNewJam

So, this year my New Year’s Resolution is to eat real food as much as possible. My plan is to make the best choices possible, and when you eat as much real food as you can (factoring in time/resource restrictions), you can also let yourself have cheese fries or a filet-o-fish when you feel like it, because other than that your body is getting useful food, not SAD food. Part of the resolution is also to try at least one new recipe a month and to never have a lean cuisine or can of soup in my pantry (for me). I’d say wish me luck.. but I don’t need it. #WinningIn2018 #Reliable #FollowThroughLikeABoss

2018

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbergate

Welcome to Part 4 of our Small Town transition. If you missed Part 1: Dave’s not Here, Man or Part 2: Straight Outta Woo Town or Part 3: Day Trading Drug Dealers, feel free to start there. Otherwise sit back, relax and enjoy the 4th installment of our city-to-small-town transition I like to call Plumbergate.

Ok that’s not accurate, Dave actually called it that and I’m “borrowing” it from Dave. One of the funniest things about Dave is that he’s the only person I write about where I actually use his real name. He’s famous enough at our house to just have a single name like Madonna or Prince.  Anyhow… Small Town Transition – Take 4

As you know, this year has been full of smooth transitions and seamlessly financed projects. Dear god I could barely type that without laughing. Not so much. As we wind down the year, I find myself under the gun to complete the final project: Replacing an oil burning furnace from 1967.

Let’s go back to August when I have a local plumbing and heating expert come to check out the scene. Dave had referred me to his friend King-James back in June, but being the King of heating and plumbing he was busy and we couldn’t connect. Having already injected a surge in the local economy through my series of epic disasters, I figured I might as well continue on and call someone local. In steps Ebenezer.

Ebenezer appears friendly and helpful. He tells me that I should consider a gas boiler instead of an oil furnace as a replacement because there’s a gas line in the street and I could avoid furnace maintenance. I would also no longer have an oil storage tank or oil delivery and could have my water heater removed.  Hmmmmm interesting. After some research I agreed. He gave me an estimate and all we had to do was get the gas hooked up and we are good to go!

I call the gas company and they tell me to send them a check for $500. I do. 4ish weeks later after hearing nothing from anyone I email the gas company. They tell me there’s an 8-10 week wait for gas line installations but they never call.

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If you’re over 40 you’ll now have this song stuck in your head for a while. You’re welcome.

At some point in early October, my security camera app on my phone sends me an alert. I open it and see a gas company truck and some guys digging (another) trench in my yard. Glad you’re here but maybe some notice? Nah.

I call Ebenezer. His wife says he’s busy but to check back on Monday. I check back on Monday and am told to check back on Monday. I check back on Monday and am told to check back on Monday. I check back on…. You see where this is going.

Finally I’m like hey guys this is like a $9,000 job are you NOT interested or…?  I get an email response from the wife saying that Ebenezer’s assistant or right hand man or some such person had quit and that someone in their family had been in a car accident. Ok, reasonable answer, although it would have been nice to hear this news weeks ago while it was still more than 20 degrees out so I could find someone else. Swapping out a furnace takes a few days, plus a meter hook up and inspection… so you go without heat and hot water in those days. In Massachusetts, in December, not so much fun.

I check in every Monday for several more weeks. I get responses primarily consisting of statements that they are going to ask another plumber for help. But that help never arrives, nor does any real explanation. So, I gave up, let my furnace die, our pipes froze and our house is now uninhabitable… All because I didn’t want to hurt Ebenezer’s feelings by calling someone else.

Kidding, obviously that’s not what I did. I did what any other person would do and called for help. Predictably,  I called Dave. Dave agrees to reach out to King-James, who is kind enough to come out the next morning.

Have you ever heard a troll trapped inside an oil furnace from 1967 banging on it with a hammer from the inside trying to get out? I’m pretty sure I have. The furnace sounded like this whenever the heat turned on, then you’d hear this massive rush of running water followed by some indescribable noises that I suppose you could call demonic. This was getting good!

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This is “the beast of burden” as I so lovingly called it. The troll likely lives in the main cabin but probably sleeps in whatever that red box is. Plus what the fuck are those green round things?  Don’t ask, just don’t. 

King-James and his companion, the Prince-of-Pipe-Fitting, come to the scene. They feel this should be done on Saturday. It’s now Thursday. Yes, please let this troll out… it’s been in there since 1967 and it is NOT happy.

Of course, the forecast for Saturday called for 4” – 10” of snow and they had planned to vent out through the garage roof. Since everyone on team Dave is amazing (Am I on team Dave? Am I amazing? Only Dave can answer that…) King-James and the Prince-of-Pipe-Fitting come out on Friday night and install the roof vent so that the snow won’t prevent the install. Team DAVE!

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King-James after hours on a Friday night. I think the bucket says it all. #LetsDoThis 

Saturday and Sunday they work tirelessly to get the beast out of the closet (wow that sounds way weirder that I meant it to) and to get the super fantastic, robot, AI, time machine boiler into the closet. Ok it’s not a time machine but it’s basically that level of high tech, especially since there’s no troll in it, which I’ll have to get used to. Unfortunately, and fortunately, I wasn’t home when they took out the beast. I can only imagine how effortless that was… yikes.

Monday morning King-James gets the city paperwork all sorted out and we get an inspector to agree to come over by noon. I had already called the gas company and promised them that the inspection would be done by noon, which I completely made up because I had no heat or hot water and also knew King-James would come through. The gas company doesn’t hang the meter and let you have gas until the unit is inspected and approved by the town.

We learn that the inspector is on his way. Then we learn that the inspector is… Ebenezer. What in the ????????? Can a plumber for a town also be a plumbing inspector for that same town that they live and work in? Apparently in Small Town USA yes, yes they can. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

So you’ve read my version of what originally happened already. Pretty basic, I beg Ebenezer to do the job, I get excuses for months and then its 17 degrees out and the troll inside my furnace has decided that my furnace will no longer be available. So I have to call in reinforcements. This is not how Ebenezer Scrooge appears to have viewed it. He tells several people “I bid on that job”, as if I had somehow been stringing him along all of those months just to take job out from under him and give it to another city-slicker. Haha! I showed you! My months of stringing you along paid off with an emergency weekend installation. I win! … said no one ever.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh How in god’s name does someone interpret the situation like that? Alas here we are. So Scrooge arrives and is in a hurry, asks a few questions, is super cranky but then tags the unit and leaves. King-James and I attempt to make small talk and be polite, but Scrooge is really sticking it to us by not talking back. He’s the winner of the imaginary stand-off! It appears there is such a thing as a stand-off between Common Sense and an Inflated Ego. Who knew? The catch is that Common Sense doesn’t care who wins because… well because it’s Common Sense. The gas meter guy shows up and hangs the meter, no issues, nice job folks excellent work here. Gas meter guy is in Common Sense’s corner.

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That night, yes… night, Scrooge shows up at my house unannounced. Not-Tom-Brady lets him in and I see him coming down the stairs into the finished basement where I’m working. He asks to see the CO2 detector and says he rushed in the morning and also needed to check that stickers were properly placed on the pipes. Then he AGAIN leaves with the tag of approval on the boiler. Lucky me, I got 2 inspections and both were approved! He’s still cranky and I’m still confused that he clearly thinks I gave his job to someone… when in reality he had refused the job. How is this even a misunderstanding!? OMG I have some really funny screen shots and security footage of him coming into the house unannounced but I think it may be a step to far to blog the actual footage. Or is it?????

Then he calls a mutual friend of his and King-James (yes crazy that they have a mutual friend… that poor bastard) and says (I’m paraphrasing here) that the installation of the vents was totally unacceptable and that it was done improperly. The irony here is that King-James originally thought of venting through the chimney. I mentioned Scrooge’s original plan to vent two pipes through the garage and then through the garage attic out the roof. King-James ended up doing it the way Scrooge had planned to do it, and Scrooge was now stomping his feet to Mutual-Poor-Bastard-Friend over his own original plan. Oh Scrooge how soon you forget? Allegedly he was then going to call King-James and give him the what-for. (I’ve never known what that meant but it seems to fit here).

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My beautiful, efficient, natural gas powered time machine. I mean boiler. Whatever, it’s fucking awesome and the King-James / Prince-Of-Pipe-Fitting team rule the mf world as far as I’m concerned. It’s 13 degrees as I type this and I’m toasty warm thanks to my new robot in the closet. Byeeeeee beast of burden (and living troll with hammer).

We wait, and wait. No call. No text. No email. Dave ponders this… perhaps Scrooge was visited by 3 plumbers of plumbing past, present and future? I certainly hope so because I wouldn’t want King-James Plumber of Christmas Present on my bad side… or Marie Christine for that matter. #ItaliansUnite #TeamDave

If there isn’t a conflict of interest rule for town inspections, this story is a testament to why there should be. As a side note, we are a nice, friendly family. We are kind to others. We are growing our friendships within the community. We contribute to the schools and volunteer in town. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned to Scrooge that I moved here from the City? Maybe I SHOULD have mentioned that most of my life was actually spent in a small town? Either way, we are nice people who do nice things. So maybe it makes sense that messing with our need to heat our home for children might be fun to someone… considering that we are such a menace to society. AKA we aren’t so back off.

Stay tuned for the next small town transition: Take 5… and let’s hope it doesn’t involve Ebenezer Scrooge. Although The Plumber of Christmas Future was probably a hoot.

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Yikes the Plumber Ghost of Christmas Future Looks Scary. Good luck Ebenezer!

 

Free Lunch

There’s a saying that we all know about, but we never follow.  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”. We are human beings, we ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. If we are good people, we stay open minded to changing our assessment once we read the book. We also don’t act on our original judgment and we don’t ignore new information.

The first half of my life my book was judged by its cover negatively. In the second half of my life my book is judged by its cover in a positive way. Both scenarios are interesting and bizarre at the same time.

Early in life I experienced this a lot. It sometimes made me angry and most times I morphed that anger into motivation. Let’s skip the younger years of my life so I don’t bring you to tears and/or outrage against my 4th grade teacher and people you’ve never met. But I’ll share one very vivid memory from elementary school about lunch time and the free lunch program.

You may be familiar with the program where children who can’t afford lunch are given free lunch. Almost every day I would go through the lunch line, and the cashier would say “free” when I walked up with my tray. I had my money ready to pay for lunch, but she assumed I was in the “free” category. I would insist on paying, at which time she would look at me with a scrunchy forehead and say something like “Hun it’s ok, free, go ahead”. I wasn’t on the free lunch program and this was confusing and a bit humiliating. To this day I don’t know if this lunch lady was being helpful or if she was a complete bitch. Judging a 7 year old based on appearance, real nice lunch lady. The free lunch program is amazing, but that lunch lady can go fuck herself, amirite?

lunch dont like you

Dear lunch lady…

Let’s get real. Skip ahead to age 16 for Marie Christine in Small town USA. I’m in a working class family and am very motivated. I watch the news every day. I work after school. I get great grades. I get my junior year class schedule and it says that I am assigned to level 2 classes.  Level 1 is for college bound students. Level 3 is for people who can’t keep up. Level 2 is for average students. If you’ve met me, you guessed it, I flipped my shit.

I go into my guidance counselor’s office to discuss this. At this age with very little resources, the one place you have to go for help is your guidance counselor. I was very excited for this meeting. I would explain my situation, he would move me to the level 1 classes so I could get into college, we would resolve this obvious misunderstanding. So… it didn’t quite go that way.

I walk into the appointment determined and hopeful. I sit across from Mr. Judgmental assuming he would be understanding and helpful. I present my case to him, discuss my aspirational goals, discuss the proof of my work ethic and references from my other teachers and my employers. He smirks and shakes his head. I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. Wait for it… I will reveal his actual identity in this blog.

He proceeds to tell me that I should consider one of two options based on my “obvious situation” that I’m “Clearly not ready to accept”. My first option, according to Bloated Face McGee, was to forget about college because this was a “ridiculous pipe dream” and accept that I need to learn a trade. He suggested hair dressing school. This is a perfect fit for some people, but those of you who know me, this is not a fit for me.

My second option was to yellow slip.  Yellow slip meant that you ask your parents to sign a form saying that you don’t need to continue high school and you basically leave and join the workforce immediately. Hey Mr. Inflated Ego, I will spend the rest of my life proving that you are a classist, biased asshole who has no business counseling children. But I digress. I left his office in shock, disappointed, and more motivated to succeed than I ever had been. I moved myself into level 1 classes without permission. #FTW

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Me waiting patiently for the universe to catch up with this guy … payback. 

His assessment was based solely on factors that had nothing to do with who I really am. He was, and likely still is, a class A douche bag. Do you want to punch this jack ass in the face? Don’t worry, you don’t need to. His life did not turn out well. As it turns out, his judgment wasn’t just bad when it came to my future, it was bad in general. He lost his job after changing the grades of his daughter, and changing the grades of a student who was better than his daughter, in order to make his daughter valedictorian. Here are links to the stories if you want to see how his life turned out. Who’s laughing now, Charlie? I am, and my blog readers are. Sweet sweet revenge. I had always planned on sending him a copy of my masters degree diploma, but I didn’t need to. Living well is the best revenge.

Link to the Mass.Gov Case Against DBag McGee

Link to: It took 7 years but it was worth every minute plus FTW

lunch scorpion

Hey buddy, remember me? I’m gainfully employed. How’s your stuff going? 

Fast forward to college at UMASS Amherst. I loved that place. It was a difficult journey. I worked a lot and it was hard to keep up with my studies but I persevered. While I was in college my cousin was in prison for a non-violent crime. When I was back in my hometown on various breaks from college, I would visit him. He is, and was, a good person. He made a mistake. Period. I digress… One time I was in the waiting room, where you sign in and they search your bags and body before you can enter the visitation room. I was happy to go through this process in order to see him and remind him that he would be ok, that I was thinking about him, and that he could get through this.

As I sat there waiting to enter, one of the prison guards approached me and pulled me aside. He said “Good luck with your life. Wasting your time visiting your boyfriend in jail, you’re nothing but a drain on society and a useless waste of space.” First, this was not my boyfriend it was my cousin. Second, this is absolutely none of this guys business. Third, he obviously has not had sex in a loooooooong time, just saying. Dude needs to get some, or something. I digress, again.

At the time I was studying Sociology and was considering getting an MBA so I could run either a social program or a probation program. Rather than telling him off I just let it go, knowing that he was clearly a sad person with a sad life. I secretly wondered if I should work toward running that prison so I could be his boss, and fire him in a humiliating way. That was the actual moment I decided not to work in the prison or probation system. I knew that I didn’t want to be in a constant state of judgment from the likes of this un-self-aware neanderthal. If it makes you feel better, as he walked away from me after he insulted me I laughed and gave him my serious look, which confused and concerned him. #winningALittleBit  I can only assume he lived a lonely life disappointing himself and everyone around him. Judge not lest ye be judged. Remember that.

lunch judgmental

There are SO many instances like this, I would list them all but you’d get exhausted with the length of the blog…. ha! This one time when I lived in Virginia Beach around age 21, I pulled out in front of someone in traffic. Plenty of room. My car was ok but not impressive. The guy I pulled out in front of ran me off he road. He forced me out of the car and berated me telling me I was white trash and threatened to call my parents and tell them that their daughter was a disappointment who couldn’t drive for shit. Road rage much? I’m not good at everything but comebacks are my specialty. I told him that my parents died in a car accident when I was a baby (sorry guys, not true!) but that if he has a direct connection to god he was more than welcome to call them. He apologized and started backpedaling. I got in my car, flipped him off out the window and drove away. Parents are alive and well 23 years later. I’m not white trash, and you have anger management issues.

Now the script has flipped. People assume the opposite of me, which is both bizarre and hilarious. If I go to a restaurant with a group of people, the hostess will always ask me “How many? Where would you like to sit?” I don’t know lady ask one of the other 10 people here I’m just along for the ride. People assume I know what to do in a myriad of situations ranging from post-car accident management to deciding where to have a baby shower. I’m the same person I was in the prison waiting room and in the guidance counselors office, yet I get a different response from the world because of a change in clothing quality and demeanor.

A friend and I witnessed a major car accident about 7 years ago. The driver two cars behind us was texting and driving and didn’t see that traffic was stopped in front of her. She hit the car behind us and her car propelled over our car and flipped onto its roof. This was in the city so there were at least 30 people there. I swear all 30 were looking at me for guidance. I went into the car, realized the driver was likely paralyzed. I called her father on her cell and beckoned him to the scene. I held her hand and kept her calm until the fire fighters came. Meanwhile everyone else stood around in shock.

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When you’re a 45 year old woman and the fictional character you relate to most is Don Draper. #NotNormal

When did I cross the line from assumed yellow slip jailhouse girlfriend to crisis manager? I didn’t. I’ve been the same person this entire time. It’s ok to judge a book by it’s cover at first, but keep it to yourself and STFU until you figure out who the person really is. The person you think is a jailhouse girlfriend might just be holding your newly paralyzed daughters hand while she waits for you to arrive.

all in

 

 

 

 

 

Day Trading Drug Dealers

How to use hillbilly skills to explain to people that you aren’t a day trading drug dealer…

Click Here to see the blog that inspired this post by the interesting and dynamic Jeff Cann. Thanks Jeff!

In one of Jeff’s recent posts he talked about a family in his neighborhood that people didn’t know well. What they did know was that they didn’t leave the house for work every day, and that they gave out full sized candy bars for Halloween. The neighborhood consensus was that there were two, apparently employable, adults living with a couple of kids in this home. Neither adult left for a 9-5 work schedule, or any regular schedule for that matter.  So… they must be either Day Traders or Drug Dealers. That’s when I realized that I’m in the same situation.

If you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably figured out that I work… A LOT. My daytime job is in strategy for a large insurance carrier. My part-time night job is working as an Economics teacher at a local private college. Not-Tom-Brady is a stay at home dad, or “Mr. Mom” as he calls it… as well as the Keeper of Family Sanity. He does every single thing you all hate doing on your time off so that I don’t have to do it… and I stay sane for my two jobs. I have literally never used my washer or dryer. Enough said.

This picture is totally unrelated I just love it so much. 

What I haven’t told you is that I only go into the office a couple of times a month. The rest of the time I work from home. Our new home in Anytown USA has a finished basement, which is my domain during work hours. For school, about 1/3 of my classes are in person and the rest are online.

We just moved from a city to a small town. This is the first time I’ve lived in a neighborhood setting since the 1980’s. In the city, my neighbors were just happy that I wasn’t leaving garbage in their yard or assaulting them. They probably never even noticed that I didn’t leave home for work. In Anytown… not so much. Not-Tom-Brady leaves several times a day, delivering children to school in 2 different school districts, music lessons, football games, sleepovers, dog walks, picking up items from the store 10x a week, dry cleaning, post office, liquor store (jager!) and other things I have no idea about because it’s been about 6 years since I had to worry about things like this.

I think Jeff is right, the neighborhood has obviously decided that we are either day traders or drug dealers. Let’s face it, we have a decent house and decent cars. We have a package delivered from Amazon pretty much ever hour on the hour. We have no apparent set schedule. Are the neighbors peeking through the blinds whenever we leave the house to catch a glimpse of a scrap of evidence that we have gainful employment? Jeff thinks this is a yes. He’s probably right.

We met one of our neighbors on day 2. They seemed very nice. They seem understanding, but it’s hard enough (sadly) for people to understand a Mr. Mom household, but in combo with remote work for the wife, it seems to melt brains. There are two houses across the street. One is a family who appears to have a regular family schedule going on. The other house has at least 6 cars in the driveway at all times, with no sign of a normal schedule. These are either “our people” OR they are day trading drug dealers. My neighbor that I met asked me if I thought it was a boarding house. What I didn’t say out loud, but was thinking, is that it’s probably a meth lab. I imagine them at the dinner table tonight asking themselves if WE have the meth lab. I’m not that interesting… are they?

 

The people across the street? 

We are in a small town. People talk in small towns. I’m just getting to know a very small handful of people but I’m getting there. We went to the local Chinese food restaurant last weekend. We walked in to pick up our order and the owner said “Marie”? Clearly very obvious I’m the only person who has a name he didn’t recognize or a face he didn’t recognize. I tried to have a “productive member of society” look on my face. I’m not sure if I accomplished that.

I recently met a woman in town who fixed my shoulder and also has a super positive smart-person-in-a-small-town vibe that we will call J-Healer. She is amazeballs and she reminds me that I made the right decision moving here. I’m also going to also try to do something I’ve never done before. I am going to a board meeting at a non-profit 4H camp in town to see if I might become a board member. Fun, good for the community, making friends, and also spreading the word that I’m not a day trading drug dealer. Hey guys I can totally save your non-profit with this new finance strategy in exchange for you telling all of the life long residents of Anytown that I’m not a day trading drug dealer. #TheMoreYouKnow

So, line of defense #1 is to just be a good person and spread the word that you are a productive member of society. Line of defense #2 is to let go and let your hillbilly reflexes kick back in. Again I’m not sure if the correct term is hillbilly, redneck, working class or just regular person. Either way after living in two cities for decades I’m going zen and bringing back the hillbilly street cred.

Using Hillbillly street cred from my real, original life, to inform people that I’m not a day trading drug dealer: (And if I was, which I’m not because I’m not that interesting, they wouldn’t care):

  • Say “Mornin!'”.
  • Just order “tea” instead of “Earl Grey” or any other such nonsense. Tea is fucking tea, end of story. You get what you get when you order.
  • Eat fried hot dogs (Disclosure: I fry turkey hotdogs now which is only half hillbilly)
  • Say “How’s it going?” to at least 50% of the people you see.
  • Give a half-head-nod to people you know from town but don’t know well enough to approach.
  • When you don’t have to ask why there is a fan next to a bucket of ice at the convenience store.
  • Jager: Enough said, this is the tie that binds. (Jager post pending I swear. There’s a lot of material here but I’m trying to find a way to present it that won’t make me seem like a raging alcoholic. Good luck me!)
  • I learned to drive a standard transmission in a corn field.
  • My high school boyfriend was arrested because his father had 2 acres of weed growing in their back yard.
  • My 15 year old daughter recently asked if I could show her how to open her orange soda with a lighter. NO. A good redneck has a bottle opener on their keychain. Jesus christ kid get with the program. Kids these days! (Side note: Remind me to post later about not getting a social work job once because I had a bottle opener on my keychain when I was 22).
  • High school friends had nicknames like Beaver, Fish Bowl and Puddles. In case you’re intrigued: Buck Teeth, Bad Breath and what you’d turn into if he started punching you.
  • You might be a redneck if you’ve ever been in a car on a frozen pond (Lauren, do NOT do this… )
  • 9 year old smoking and drinking… normal
  • Ever have massive credit card debt just to be alive?
  • You can identify rashes without ever seeing them. Yup, it’s impetigo so you don’t need  doctor just some dial soap and warm water.
  • You’re constantly preparing for winter, and talking about preparing for winter. Never. Enough. Firewood. Is the generator working? Just a little more firewood. Venison. Meat freezer.
  • We can’t tell you were Idaho is on a map (geography: Nope: Fail) but we know the spectrum for alcohol content without google. The chart goes from Coors Light to Grain Alcohol. It’s a special, and useful, skill.
  • Even if you’ve never smoked pot you can offer suggestions for something to smoke out of as if you’re a pot-Macgyver. I’ve seen everything from a tampon case to an apple. #OhThe1980s  I don’t smoke but I wish I did/could #LegalInMass
  • If you need to start a literal fire you came to the right place. Not only can we start a fire anytime and anyplace but we can keep it going as long as you need it.
  • Know what doesn’t scare us? Blood. If you want to eat, you’re going to have to kill it, skin it, cut it up and cook it.
  • We can let rich people patronize us and pity us so we can take advantage of them in some way. I don’t do this anymore because I live a double life. Not day trader / drug dealer but redneck / non-redneck simultaneously.
  • Food has three categories: Killed, Grown and Grocery Store. The less you rely on the last they more you’re winning. When you’re 9 years old and your favorite food is trout. #RealTalk

I’ll leave you with one of my fondest hillbilly cred stories. I was working out of a gift shop in a small town as the box office manager for the Big Apple Circus. I was literally in a closet at the gift shop it was pretty sweet. This was in the early 1990’s so I had a computer but it wasn’t linked to anything (ie. No internet). I took reservations via phone or people walking up to an external facing window at the “box office” aka the closet. I had  a boom box from which I played the Eagles and The Guru almost all day because they were the only cds I had that weren’t metal or hard rock.

As the circus came close, the carnies arrived. They set up trailers and tents on the property next to the gift shop. It was really cool. The trailers had awnings and window boxes of flowers. These guys were very used to this. They had the complete set up it was awesome. They were also true carnies. Some were acrobats, clowns, elephant trainers and the set up crew.

Some of the younger guys approached me and asked me what people did in town for fun. Of course I laughed. There was no where to go and nothing to do. I told them the truth that we survived by spending time with friends and laughing. One of them noticed I was reading Dennis Leary’s book “No Cure For Cancer”. I LOVED this book. It was a great escape for comedy and reality. Irony: I moved to Dennis Leary’s home town and lived there from 2006-2017.

Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant READ THIS BOOK. Stands the test of time. My friend Lisa met him once and said he smelled amazing. #TrueDennis

He asked me if I would come to their pop up village and read them the book that night. I did. This was my first official public speaking appearance. We had strange soup that someone had cooked that I think was soba noodles and miso. We had some kind of wine that in hindsight I think might have been plum wine. I’m not sure who was cooking but there were people from at least 10 different countries of national origin present. I read page after page and chapter after chapter of Dennis Leary’s brilliance as a crowd of carnies.. men/women/children…  laughed hysterically and stared at me in eager anticipation for more. Smoking cigarettes, drinking wine out of styrofoam cups, enjoying a united moment in time… before snapchat, iPhones or anyone even considering documenting the moment other than in our memories.

In an interview 20 years after that a hiring manager once asked me “Have you ever done any successful public speaking?”. I said yes, and told him about the time I conducted a training class at my first insurance job. What I really wanted to say was… there was this one time… with this bunch of carnies….

The Achiever

I work too much. Period.

At least twice a week someone says to me, “How do you find the time?” or “Where do you find the energy?”. My token answer consists of “This is just how I am…” or similar responses. I decided that this year I would investigate what that really means and decide if this can, and/or should, continue.

At my day job I work in strategy for a large insurance company. In the evenings I teach at a local private college. Let’s face it, I also do both on the weekend. EVERY weekend. Is it worth it? Why do I do it? Both of these questions are really complicated. I won’t get into the childhood stuff because no one wants to open that can of worms. But as I see my youngest daughter exhibiting similar behaviors, I now find the motivation to figure out the why. I’ve also logged 124.5 volunteer hours Jan – Nov 2017… partial humble brag but also something I feel incredibly guilty if I cut back on … ya know?

In the 5th grade my teacher had a board for successful students called the “Laurel Wreaths”. You basically had to get every single thing on earth correct to earn this title. He would call students to the front of the class each month who achieved this status and would praise them in front of the class. The peer pressure was actually to make fun of the “Laurel Wreaths” but I was never one to care about peer pressure. This was a reward for excelling, so I made sure I got it every month.

Another memory I have is working as a waitress at Friendly’s Restaurant. This is a family style restaurant serving burgers, ice cream and other 1950’s-esque specials. We had about 10 tables on each side of the restaurant and 5 in the back. I insisted that I handle the number of tables that were normally assigned to 2 waitresses, because that would maximize my tips. And… let’s face it… it wasn’t a hard job. If you hustled, you made money. This is my sweet spot. At my request, they gave me a double set almost every night so I made double cash. My peers thought this was stupid, and meanwhile I thought my peers were stupid.

I think we’ve established a tendency to over-work my self from an early age and also a lack of understanding for those who didn’t. This is not a compliment to myself, it’s an insult to myself. That said… How could you not want to maximize your potential praise and/or income? That was insane… amirite?

Another problem with Achievers is that we feel like failures if we don’t accomplish something every day. This is a REALLY hard concept for others (aka happy, normal people) to understand and even for us to understand. So… about 6 months ago I was trained to teach an agile mindset/self-awareness type orientation course at the college I work for. I’ve subsequently become quite bored and exhausted with the class-set, but that’s a story for another day. As a part of the class, each of the professors was required to take 3 psych assessment tests. We received the results and we had to review them with our peer group. The person who found the results to be most helpful was… Not-Tom-Brady.


The Results

So… I showed these results to Not-Tom-Brady. He laughed, he cried, he sat in the fetal position for a while… I digress. It was actually interesting. As crazy as this sounds, it helped our relationship a lot. I almost wish he had access to these tests so I could read HIS outcome so I could understand him a little bit better. He no longer says “Why can’t you relax?” or asks why I’m completing some random task(s) on my only day off. Now he knows, this is something I’m required to do in order to be sane. It could be researching how to become a board member of a non-profit organization or it could be hanging a painting that’s been sitting there unhung, or practicing a new recipe for a future potluck dinner. I set the achievement(s) for the day and they have to be completed. End. Of. Story. What I need to get better at, is understanding that not everyone has this need, and understanding that their needs are just as important as mine. The need to unplug, and relax, for example. Which idiots like me view as a waste of time. The fact that I’m Gen X is clearly not helping either.

This is all well and good, right? I support my family of 4. I feel a sense of achievement. Life is good! The problem is that there is no gauge for people like me of when we’ve gone too far. How is it possible to achieve too much? I’m always in a pretty consistent state of discontent, and constantly disappointed in my lack of progress. This is a motivator, but also makes it so people like me Never Stop. Ever. Never. Ever. Never. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right?

When I was at UMASS in 19-ought-6, I started out just focusing on my studies. Then I decided to tutor athletes in the mornings from 5:30 – 7:30am. (Some of them are now in the NBA… but that probably had nothing to do with me, or did it? haha) Then I got a work-study job at the Dining Commons washing dishes during the lunch shift every day. Of course (shocking) I always did my homework as soon as I got home from class every day. But how about all of this “down time” between finishing homework and sleep? I opted, of course, to work delivering grinders (aka sandwiches to non-Mass people) and cigarettes from 8pm – 1am, 5-6 days a week.

Wasting time is the work of the devil and shit needs to get done right? So alas, my college years are a blur of working, studying, chain smoking and falling asleep in random places due to lack of any attention to my health whatsoever.  “Wasn’t UMASS fun?” … Me” “Define fun”.  I once woke up in a pool of blood on the 22nd floor of the library, in a bathroom stall. It turned out to be an intestinal issue that I still deal with today. I have a feeling that the girl who found me is probably still waking up in the middle of the night wondering why/how/what? and also what the fuck?!!!!

At UMASS I worked about 42 hours a week and went to school full time. This is healthy, right? Oh I forgot, I also type 125 WPM without errors (Not a typo: ACHIEVER MF!) so I typed papers anywhere from 1-4 hours a day depending on the time of year. Most people back then had typewriters. I had a word processor. The primary difference between the two machines was that I could type an entire line THEN hit enter and it typed it. It gave me the option of correcting errors BEFORE they were typed. It was brilliant. Remind me later to tell you the story about the time the typing test company came to my office because they didn’t think my typing speed, without errors, was possible at the time. Achiever MF’ers.

What have I learned since those days? How have I changed based on my 27 years of corporate experience and knowledge? Up until now I haven’t learned SHIT. I think I’m so fucking smart but I’m actually a complete idiot. I’ve been a complete maniac focused only on attempting to move past discontent and achieving as much as possible in every category. Failure, and having a life, are not an option.  I may be the most boring person on the face of the earth. Does playing drums and having super interesting friends help? Dear god, I hope so. I have some very interesting friends… they keep me in touch with reality.

My life now. I’ve learned nothing… essentially.

So, I love teaching. It’s so so so rewarding. BUT I’ve taken on classes I don’t enjoy simply because I need the money. I say “yes” to everything they ask me to do because of a stupid fear that they may offer me less classes if I turn one down. This is all in my head, of course. I work about 50 hours a week at my day job, which is my absolute priority. If I teach one class on top of that, it’s doable. It’s almost enjoyable. Since I’m so busy, teaching is pretty much my hobby and that’s ok. But this semester has pushed me to reconsider my choices. I’m teaching 3 classes at one time. Think about it.. I just recently expanded my role at my day/real job, and am teaching THREE FUCKING COLLEGE CLASSES at the same time.

Here’s where I’m at this year: When someone asks me what grade my youngest daughter is in, I’m honestly not 100% sure when I answer 4th or 5th grade. I am just not sure. I have cancelled my last 4 mammograms because they have been at times where I felt one, or more, of my bosses may be disappointed if I was not available. I still have not rescheduled this. 2 weeks ago I woke up at about 3:30am on the stairs of my sunken living room. Granted it’s only 4 stairs, but I have no recollection of even sitting on the stairs. I have almost no time for the gym (which I TOTALLY need in order to control anxiety). I’ve been eating terrible food just to stay low calorie. That’s NOT me. But here we are right? When you work 50+ hours then add in THREE classes… what options do you have?

I work in a finished basement at my home and sometimes go down there when it’s dark and come upstairs when it’s dark. I generally don’t even have natural light anymore. I started wondering if I should get one of those lights people in Alaska use so they don’t lose their fucking minds due to lack of sunlight. So where I was at is that my plan A is ordering a light instead of finding a way to see actual light. This is not normal. Achiever.

Years ago I tore a muscle behind my shoulder blade putting a suitcase in my trunk on a work trip. I mildly re-tore this muscle this week after another business trip. As someone who drives a manual transmission and takes boxing lessons, I can tell you that having a tear in your right shoulder blade is not good. I can tell you for sure that this would not have happened if I was getting enough sleep, if I was eating the right foods, if I was paying attention to my health and my body and my life. But yet, here we are. Achiever.

I made a commitment this semester to my family, to my friends and to myself that I will never do 3 classes again. I have a strong commitment to my day job and that will continue, but I have to let go of the “extreme teaching” as a friend called it this week. Why can’t I just do 3 classes a year? For context, most adjuncts do 2 classes a year. This year I will do 19 plus writing 5 classes. This is not normal. Achiever. NINETEEN teaching and FIVE writing… plus real job = unrealistic bullshit.

As a start, I’ve told my boss at school that I no longer want to teach orientation classes. They bore me to tears, the students aren’t invested, I’m unchallenged and TBH it’s killing me slowly. Just saying this out loud has helped. Second, I’ve said I can only do one, face to face, class per semester. My life, my marriage, my sanity, my relationship with my children and friends, my day job, and most importantly, my HEALTH depends on it.

So, it appears that as of 1/1 I’ll only be working a 50+ hour a week day job plus teaching one class a semester. Feel free to yell “SLACKER!!!!” at me as you drive by my house. While I will secretly be disappointed in my need to scale back to 175% instead of the 250% – dead by 60 plan, it’s a baby step toward doing what I need to do to be a human being that lives past age 60 and has something to show for it.

Lesson for me this year and commitment to my friends, family and co-workers for 2018: Without my health I can’t provide you with the things you need from me. I will still be an Achiever, but a 60 hour a week achiever, not a sleeping on the stairs and forgetting what grade my daughter is in achiever. I commit to being a better employee, a better wife, a better friend and a better mother. And one thing we all know about Achievers… when we say we will do something, we do it.

I quit smoking (just under 5 years ago) cold turkey after 25 years of smoking over a pack a day just because fuck cigarettes… so this should be a fucking breeze compared to that shit show. Stay tuned.

Real Talk

 

 

 

 

 

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

You may realize by now that I’m not really a fan of being runner up. I’m not so competitive that I freak out about winning or losing, but getting “close” to an achievement gives me no satisfaction. I’m a 1 or a 0 type person… not .5.  I suppose I do act like being close is a good thing when giving pep talks or advice, but that’s what we HAVE to do right?

Oh you almost passed your CPA exam? Well hey with a little more studying you might pass it next time, keep it up champ! (.5) The real me is saying well you wanted to be a CPA and now you aren’t one. (0).

So let me tell you about my .5 moment were I was almost the 2015-2016 spokes-model for Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty campaign.  For those that are unfamiliar, Cindy Crawford has a beauty line called Meaningful Beauty. It’s really great, high end, stuff that consists mostly of magic lotions and serums that make you stay young-looking slightly longer than you normally would have. If you use these products and generally stay out of the sun, you could add a bit of pretty-time to your face. Being the vain lady that I am, I’ve used these products for about 7 years and am a big fan.

I don’t get crazy and use the whole “system”. I stick to the few items I believe work best for me. If I’m being honest I also buy them on eBay to save some money. I love paying less than full price, it’s like a drug for me. Sorry Cindy, but $57 for 1oz of serum is too much. I’m going to pay $32 on eBay (which is also too much).

close discounts

Never pay full price. (Trying to prove that open minded democrats are also not PC… is it working? p.s. In case you’re intellectually impaired, this is sarcasm. You’re welcome.)

We could get into this whole debate of inner beauty and appearance not being the most important thing blah blah blah I agree. But I still prefer being pretty over not being pretty, so if that’s anti-feminist then I’ll own that.

Back when I was still on Facebook the Meaningful Beauty page posted something where if you comment with your favorite product they would put you in a drawing to win it. I can’t remember the details but that’s the basic gist. I normally don’t do stuff like that but I have a strange habit of winning things. That’s probably another blog. If I play a game of chance, not a competition, I win more often than not. Strange, but true. I digress. I didn’t win the beauty product, but I did get a message from Cindy’s marketing manager.

She asked me to FaceTime with her to talk about possibility being the spokesperson in their next round of infomercials.  Some of you know these things play for HOURS on end in the early morning on certain channels like Lifetime for Women, etc. I was like wow ok why not? She said she would send me $300 worth of free products just for talking to her, and she did! Free stuff = S C O R E.

close free stuff

Eventually we go back and forth discussing my age, my recent marriage, situations where people may have thought I am younger than I am, and her generally figuring out if I am presentable enough for television and not prone to dramatic outbursts or inappropriate behavior (hehe). She, for some reason, decides that yes, I am that person.

I end up doing maybe 10 of these interviews, which she records, and plays for their marketing team. Cindy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pretty cool. Meanwhile, they keep sending me these giant kits of free products. I could have started a Meaningful Beauty store at that point.

close wedding

This was the cover photo they were going to use.  Awwwww Not-Tom-Brady and his never receding hairline (thank you hair gods). And yes, we look alike, which is weird and we all know it. 

I then get this very bland, info-less, email basically saying that while I was originally their first choice, they ended up going another way. Another way? What other way? There’s only ONE other way, right? Someone prettier than me. Damn you prettier than me person! Now to be honest, I don’t care much about being on TV. I was actually a bit reluctant. What I DID want quite a lot was to meet Cindy Crawford and to work with her. It would have been a dream come true. But alas, Cindy decided to “go another way”.

About 6-7 months later the new set of infomercials was about to debut. I stayed up late and prepared myself to see who this horrible, sneaky, Cindy-stealing shrew would be. Instead I found a beautiful, well-spoken woman, the same age as me, but prettier.  Dang! She looked like a combination of Whitney Houston and Diana Ross, except more beautiful and more interesting. Hey Marie Christine, Welcome to .5.

close cindy!

Cindy!!!!!! Why Cindy Why?????!!!!!!!!!

If you think that’s a bad .5 story, I think my mother has one that wins the Pulitzer F#cking Prize of .5’s.

Jill Meets The Beatles…

On August 15th, 1965, my mother got to do one of the coolest things a person could do in their lifetime. She saw The Beatles play in front of 56,000 people at Shea Stadium. Journalists said that at time you couldn’t even hear the music over the screams of the crowd. This is one of the most famous gigs in history, right up there with Woodstock. There are countless articles, movies, documentaries etc. about this epic moment in time.

My mother, Susan, had entered into a contest to meet the Beatles backstage at the show. This, of course, was an obvious long shot. As the day of the concert arrived, she and her brother had all but forgotten about the contest. They went and enjoyed the concert, returning home with unparalleled stories and memories. The MF’ING BEATLES!!!!!!

A few months later, she received a package in the mail addressed to her. She opened the package and saw a book titled “Jill Meets the Beatles”.  Huh… Along with the book was a note explaining that she had originally won the contest to meet the Beatles. They called her home several times to confirm, but no one answered so they moved on to the next contestant. They were sorry that she was unable to meet the Beatles, but here was a book describing Jill’s experience meeting the Beatles, as a consolation prize. Sincerely, Bearer of the Worst News a Teenage Girl in 1965 could possibly hear.

close dayum

What kind of evil devil incarnate thinks that sending this note and consolation prize is helpful in any way! Well, I suppose it gave her daughter some interesting blog material 52 years later…..   Jill can suck it…

Is that or is that not the most bullshit .5 story you’ve ever heard? Horseshoes and hand grenades my friends.

Futuristic cyborg warriors communicating

#GoldIsFromAliens

 

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.  

 

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

 

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

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.

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