Category Archives: Humor

The Sweetest Sound

new glassesI got new glasses this week, and I can’t stop talking about them.  See them? They are extra, extra cool.  Thus, they are making me extra cool. It’s like I’ve catapulted into a whole new stratosphere.  I almost can’t stand it.

Anyway, I ordered my uber awesome specs last Saturday, and a sales person who wasn’t even helping me was ooing and aaahing and making a big deal about how amazing my glasses were.  In my head, I was like yeah, lady, I know.  It’s your job to tell me that.  But on the other hand, she had a point.  The glasses rocked the house!  Who was I to argue?

So on Tuesday when I got the call that my glasses were ready, I couldn’t wait to stop in the store on my way home from work.  I mean, who wants to delay new levels of coolness in their life?  Not me!  I was there in a jiffy.

When I walked in the store, the same sales lady – the one who wasn’t the one who helped me  – was there and she exclaimed (exclaimed, I tell you), “Jennifer!  I’ll be right with you!”  I’ll admit, I was a little surprised that she remembered my name and when she made her way to me, I told her as much.  And she said, “Of course I remember you.  You ordered those super cool purple glasses!”  (Apparently, they are the talk of the town.)

OK, so enough about the glasses.  I think I’ve made my point about them.  But what I want to say is this:  As I drove home, feeling all self-satisfied and thinking about what I could wear the next day to draw maximum attention to my newest accessory, it occurred to me that the simple act of remembering and then saying someone’s name is still one of the most validating experiences in life.  I live in a sea of Jennifers; they loom everywhere and turn up both in broad daylight and the dark, seedy corners of my life.  And yet, if you want to make me feel noticed, all you really need do is remember and say my name.  I’m going to make a point to remember that, so that I can make sure the people around me feel noticed, too.

Transitions: A New Business Model

Working as a leader in a public sector system – a system that is highly scrutinized, no less – has had its benefits.  One of those benefits is fine tuning some skills that can only come from opportunities made of sweating brows, churned stomachs, wringing hands.  Maintaining good ego strength on days where there is no love to be found?  I’ve got that covered.  Entering a room filled with an angry mob and turning the energy around?  No problem.  Solving two, three, even four problems with one solution? I’m a master at it.  Smiling on the outside when I feel murderous rage on the inside?  Believe it or not, most days I’ve got that one tucked away somewhere, too.

The one skill I may have fine tuned the most, however, is that of delivering bad news.  I’ve thought about this skill quite a lot in the last few days because it’s everyone least favorite time of year – contract time. That’s right, it’s the time of year when agencies in our system learn their fate.  Will their business thrive or die?  Is it their time to shine, or is their day in the sun drawing to a close?  As a department, we have to deliver news to eager executives, and some of it is just no fun to deliver.  But that’s business, and if we are making and executing hard decisions, it also means we are being good stewards of the tax payers.  It truly is all in a day’s work.

So when you’ve built a career on the sad misfortune of expressing bad news, it would make sense to build further upon that skill.  Right?  So I present to you, the new business I am developing.  Please know, I invite your feedback for its worthiness and its possible applications.  It is my proud honor to share with you:  Transitions.

Welcome to Transitions.  Transitions is a business model built on doing your dirty work.  No, we aren’t a maid service.  We don’t come with Haz-Mat suits and we don’t do biohazard clean-ups.  Rather, we do your dirty work…of delivering bad news.

Have an under-performing employee who is sadly pathetic but needs to go?  Afraid to fire them because you know they have a slew of hungry children at home?  No problem.  Transitions will compassionately but decisively let them know they need to pack up their desk and move around.  We will stay on-site until they’ve assuredly left the building.

Need to back out of business with your partner who was also the best man in your first wedding? We’ve got it covered.  Your professional Transitions Team will pull the sad sack aside and let him know what’s what – and we’ll even deliver the papers your lawyer drew up for him, too.

Is it time to end that relationship that is literally on its last leg?  With just a quick phone call from you, you can arrange to have the Transitions van pull up to the house, ring the door bell, and let your future ex-girlfriend know “it’s not you, it’s me (which, in fact, is really you).”  For a small up-charge, we will even stick around to gather up your favorite hoodie, your Fleetwood Mac album, and your iPhone charger.

So there you have it:  Transitions.  “Let somebody else do the talking, while you do the walking.”

I think I could really be onto something here.

Memorable Nights

I love hanging out with my peeps.  It grounds me, it makes me laugh, it melts the stress away.  I think a conservative estimate for my adult life is right around 1,950 nights out on the town of eating, drinking and being extraordinarily merry.  I’ve spent time in five star restaurants all the way down to the skankiest of dive bars (my personal favorite).  It’s all the same to me, for I can have fun just about anywhere.  (I mean really, my sister and I once proclaimed that we could put the “fun” in funeral.)  Out of those 1,950 or so nights out on the town, only a few have been real clunkers.  The rest?  I love them.  But even so, there aren’t so many that stand out in my mind.  They are fun, they are in the moment, and then they are gone.

But then one night you go out with your two best ride or die work friends, and an 80 year old lady who is missing many of her teeth and perhaps all of her faculties sets down a partially thawed turkey on the bar, dripping turkey juice all over the place and generally confusing (and disgusting) everyone.  And as the night wears on, the tale gets taller and by the end of the night the recollection is that there was a puddle of turkey guts on the bar.  Five days from now or a year from now I won’t remember a single thing that happened on this night, but I will remember that damn turkey on the bar.

Some nights are more memorable than others.  Tonight was one of those nights.

Old Man Winter

This unseasonably early, ridiculously much-too-severe-too-soon polar vortex nonsense has me thinking.  What I am trying to decide – and feel free to weigh in – is this:  Is Old Man Winter (OMW henceforth) an a-hole, or is he more of a d-bag?

I am not ready for OMW to show his sorry face around these parts.  But the evidence that he’s here and here to stay for a good spell is all there. Frost on my windows in the morning, parts of my body I forgot existed resurfacing to my awareness because they perpetually itch, energy bills that cause chest pains and frequent, loud, involuntary exclamations such as “Holy Balls it’s cold out here!”  Not to mention, a significant portion of the time my lips hurt real bad.  There is nothing to like about OMW, I tell you.  Nothing!

So on the one hand, OMW is a d-bag.  He’s never actually invited to the party, but he shows up anyway. And as much as we’d like to ask him to leave, no one ever does.  He just hangs around until we are sick to death of him, and then one day, months after he’s overstayed his welcome, he just vanishes.  But in the mean time, OMW’s douchebaggery will entail him touting to the world how cool he is, even though we all know better and secretly resent him.  Ice skating only seems magical until you actually try it and break your tailbone.  A big snow storm sounds romantic and cozy until you have to spend six hours shoveling out your driveway.  And that pot of chili?  It’s delicious, but the consequences are often severe. You’re not so great, OMW.  P.S. We all hate you.

To play devil’s advocate, though, OMW might be a straight up a-hole. He’s kind of like that uncle that shows up to Thanksgiving drunk, insults a bunch of people as soon as he walks in the door, tracks mud all over the carpet, tells a couple dirty jokes, leaves a pile of dirty dishes, starts an argument with his brother and then leaves like he’s the one who should be mad.  At the end of it all, everyone’s upset, no one really knows why, and nobody had any fun.  But the truth is, while we are all busy being mad at each other we should really be mad at him.  Screw you, OMW.  We still hate you. For real.

So all of that being said, as I dream of bathing in a vat of Curel (life-changing lotion – I really recommend you get some) and obsessively applying petroleum jelly to my lips (Chapstick is for sissies), I am reminded that things could be worse.  I could live in Buffalo.

120 days, 21 hours and 50 minutes to spring.  But who’s counting?

The Nap Theory of Relativity

This weekend is dedicated to sleep.  Thirteen hours of sleep last night, and as if that weren’t enough I took a two hour nap this afternoon.

I’ve long had a special place in my heart for napping and most weekends I squeeze in at least one.  I love naps so much, that I’ve developed a scientifically proven theory about them. The Nap Theory of Relativity is as follows:

Whatever mood you are in, if you take a nap you will wake up in the opposite mood. 

Therefore, it stands to reason:

If you are not tired, but find yourself in a foul mood – take a nap!  Problem solved!

Conversely, if you are tired, but in a good mood you have two options. Stay awake at all costs, or (my preferred solution) take two naps! Problem solved again!

You are welcome.

Eleven

One of the all-time great moments in movie history was in the classic mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap.” Character Nigel Tufnel is showing off his amplifier, and is proud to showcase that one of the knobs has a highest setting of eleven, thus surpassing traditional knobs that only go from 0 to 10.  He proudly states, “It’s one louder.”  It cracks me up every time I think about it.

The great irony of this is that today, November 11th – otherwise known as 11/11 – was actually an eleven for me.

My usual twenty minute ride to work was met with one barrier after another and took me forty painstaking, god awful minutes. One freeway was closed off for an accident and every turn I made thereafter was down a street that was blocked off for road construction.  How can every road be closed for construction?  Worse yet, every driver was driving slowly and/or driving stupidly and/or busy talking on the phone WHEN THEY SHOULD BE CONCENTRATING ON THEIR DRIVING. (Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.  Seriously, people.)

I got to the office thirteen minutes late for my meeting and spent the rest of the day feeling like I was woefully behind. The people in the meetings – those people! – were talking too slow and too much and about things that (I say this with love) could have waited.

The lunch I forgot at home was no good and the one I had to go out to get instead with twenty minutes to spare was not so great either.

For the afternoon round of meetings, I had to forgo the thirty seconds of prep time I had planned on and I moved meeting to meeting, minute by minute, wondering if anyone was onto me.  I’m guessing they probably were.  They are probably talking right now about what a fraud I am.

On the way to dinner, these three things happened in rapid succession:  the “service” light came on in my car reminding me to get an oil change (who cares), the “tire” light came on indicating I have low tire pressure (I’ll take my chances), and the “fuel” light came on indicating I could run out of gas at any moment (but why bother stopping now, we’re going for broke).  The promise I made to my friend to meet twenty minutes early for dinner turned into an apology for being ten minutes late and a proclaiming of my official status:  “I am a hot mess.”

I got home minutes ago, and I still feel as if I should consider breathing in a brown paper bag for the rest of the night.  Am I moving too fast, or is the world moving too slow?  Today I really can’t tell.  Either way, today was definitely an eleven, any way you look at it.  The whole day was one louder.

A Real Turkey

About two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mom started concocting a plan. She had that twinkle in her eye – the one that heeded warning:  “Watch out, everybody.”  She and Dad put their heads together and with each exchanged idea, the laughter became more uproarious.  They were working up quite a scheme, those two.

I heard more laughs and hushed talk of logistics in the days leading up to the big holiday.  I didn’t pay much attention to any of it – I was only 11, after all.  Those two were always up to something, and I needn’t bother with it.  Besides, I had matters of my own to attend to.  You know, cutting Barbie’s hair, playing games of Sorry with my imaginary friend, setting up a barbershop for the cats in the hay loft.  Important stuff.

The night before Thanksgiving, Mom sat me down and carefully reviewed the next day’s plans.  We’d be spending the holiday with Uncle Alan and Aunt Pat – this much I already knew.  That was standard fare.
This time, cautioned Mom, we’d be spending the night.  I was down with that – more time to play with my cousins.  But there was one more thing Mom wanted me to know, and I had to promise to keep a secret. My interest piqued, and my eyes grew wide.  Mom paused, looked me in the eye, and told me all the details behind her cockamamie scheme.

Thanksgiving Day arrived and we didn’t miss a beat.  We packed up the van and headed to the “big city” – bearing in mind that any city seems big when you live on a farm outside a town of 700 people.  An hour later, we were at the door of Uncle Alan and Aunt Pat’s house – their big, gargantuan, larger-than-life house complete with seven bathrooms.  We cousins promptly made our way to the basement where the rec room awaited us.  The grown-ups did their grown up things, whatever those were.

And then the moment came.  The moment I had been warned about, and the moment that would be locked deep in family history forever more. Early in the afternoon, the mansion’s doorbell rang, and Uncle Alan went to see who might be there.  There before him in the circle drive was a yellow taxi cab idling, its driver standing at the door to explain he had a most unusual delivery for the family.  Uncle Alan arched an eyebrow, and more of us gathered in the foyer to see what was going on.  The cab driver returned to his car, pulled out a crate and headed straight to the door.  The Dr. Alan Swearingen family had just become the unexpected recipient of a live turkey.

The crate with the turkey bore no message and the cab driver was unable to offer any explanation about its sender.  Not knowing what else to do, Uncle Alan accepted the crate and the turkey was placed in the garage. Hours of debate followed about who would do such a thing.  Why on earth would anyone think they wanted a live turkey?  And whatever would they do with it?  Mom, Dad and I kept a poker face.  It was the first time in my life I had been given permission to tell a lie.  My cousins tried to divide and conquer, cornering me to ask if my family – known country bumpkins – had arranged for this strange turkey delivery.  I assured them with a very straight face that we had not.

And so, with no other choice before us, we sat down to enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner and partake in our usual traditions.  It wasn’t until the next morning – long after the colossal feast and even after every last piece of crystal had been carefully placed back in the china cabinet – that my parents ‘fessed up.  Yes, indeed, the whole turkey hoax was us.  And aren’t we funny?  I must admit, I think Uncle Alan and Aunt Pat thought a little bit yes, and a little bit no.  But you had to appreciate Mom and Dad’s chutzpah, there was no disputing that.

The hour ride home seemed long because – let’s be honest – this time we had a live turkey in a crate in the back of the van.  We played the events over and over again among each other, laughing harder each time. It was officially the first time I had been let in on the joke.  I was grateful to be right there with them, too.  I truly was.

So all of that is to say…Happy Birthday, Mom.  You left us way too soon. But know this – I carry you in my heart every day.  And that twinkle in your eye?  It found its way to me.