Sunday, November 19, 2017

Another convo at work

Friend: At 1:30 I have my yearly appraisal meeting, in which I display the blackmail pictures I have of everyone in my office, thus allowing me to continue to be employed. 

Me: I hope you brought in the gorilla suit so you are properly dressed.

Friend: For this one, a clown suit is more appropriate.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Day 1: The day you find out

You get the call, your breath catches in your throat. You're shocked. You keep saying "no" and waiting for the "haha, just kidding, no one died" but they never do.

It's real.


What to do?

They're pulled over on the side of the road trying to breathe and you are 30 minutes away, but you say "I'll come get you" and start walking to your car.

They collect themselves and say okay, okay, I think I can drive home.

You say okay, if that changes, I'll come.

You walk back into the house, lead anvil in your chest.

You start calling family. You reach someone. You lose composure the instant they answer. This is alarming, because now they think the exact same thing you thought when you first got that phone call 15 minutes ago (that your loved one was in a ditch bleeding). You want to reassure them that you're okay but you're crying too hard to get the words out. F*ck.

You make more phone calls, sobbing uncontrollably, but the second time you have to say the words "___ died" you can at least get exactly two words, and not one more, out at once without gasping.

After you get off the phone, your brain begins playing an instant slideshow of every moment you had with the person who died. And then every moment you were supposed to have together.

Your sweetie will come home.

You will cling to each other and sob.

You pack a bag. You don't know how long you will stay. You'll pack all the wrong things anyway because it won't occur to you to check the forecast.

It's bedtime, and you're exhausted, and in a state, and a little scared by the grip grief has on you.

You'll cry all night. You'll cry yourself to sleep, you'll sleep 1 half cycle and wake up crying. You'll fall back asleep and wake up crying again. This will happen for a few wretched hours.

You'll have weird dreams, dreams like the deceased getting a brand new car that she was supposed to get as a present but never saw. This isn't something that happened in real life but your brain will make it up as a metaphor for all the missed chances.

This will all suck just as much as you imagined, and even more.

When you finally rise to face your horrid new reality, you won't recognize yourself in the mirror. Your eyes will nearly be swollen shut. You shrug. I guess I'll just be ugly now, you think.

You'll leave the dishes in the sink and drive.

You'll arrive at your father-in-law's house. He's in shock. You all drive to the funeral home. No one knows what happens next, so you go to the place where they've done this before.

You get out of the car and break down when you walk into the funeral home.

You'll turn away, embarrassed at your awful social skills. Whatever. This is your life now. Not only are you now ugly, but also rude.

The funeral director walks you through what needs to happen next.

When do you want to have the funeral? The clock is ticking. Where should it be? What cemetery? Do you have a plot? Let's make an appointment with the cemetery, you can go there next.

The funeral director will talk about everything from the release forms you must sign to transfer your loved one from the hospital where they died to the funeral home, to the difference between an obituary and a death notice.

You look at the line items.

It will cost more to run a death notice ($300/day) than have a limo take you from the funeral to the cemetery ($150) during the service.

You'll spend 4 hours numbly talking logistics.

On the table are breath mints and tissues.

The furniture in the funeral home is just as old, dark and depressing as you'd imagine funeral home furniture to be.

Why didn't you order pizza? You're suddenly starving and dying of thirst.

(This is good practice, however, because you'll spend the next three days at appointments like this.)

You drive mechanically from the funeral home to the cemetery appointment.

A "family services counselor" discusses plots and pricing with you in skillfully sensitive ways.

They avoid referencing all the buried bodies and instead refer to regions of the cemetery as "occupied."

You learn that it's not enough to buy a casket, but that you have to buy a "liner" too. Otherwise the earth sinks in and the ground cannot be made level. Liners are thick AF. Some are "moisture proof" but those cost more.

You can pay as much as you want for a casket and a liner. The cheapest option is a pine box for $700.

The fanciest caskets will cost $10k but a decent, average one is about $3,500. (Later, in a dark mood, you will search Amazon and find the same one for half price. The pine box is available in a do-it-yourself kit for $350).

Eventually everything is done for the day and you leave and get into the back seat. Your phone battery is on 2%.

Everyone has been texting you to see if you're okay. You don't know what to say. "Hanging in there," you write, wanting to be honest but not too TMI.

And that is day 1.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Unwitting observance

Celebrating Yom Kippur unwittingly. 

Observance involves the following 5 conditions, which can be met either on purpose for holiday practice, OR by accident, like now (when planning a funeral). The timing is uncanny.

. . .

Yom Kippur rules:
  1. No eating and drinking
  2. No wearing of leather shoes
  3. No bathing or washing
  4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
  5. No marital relations

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Watching girls / GIRLS

Me: "Okay! I'll be upstairs. I'm going to watch GIRLS and exercise."

Hubby: "I wanna watch girls and exercise too!"

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The fine print on authenticity

"Be authentic!" people say. The message, so very fitting of our kale-eating, yoga-pant-wearing times, screams at us from "lifestyle guru" tweet streams and other various social media.
From Fluffycatheven

 We like this idea. You mean... just be myself? Awesome. I always wanted to be me.

What they don't tell you is the fine print on authenticity. That you'll have to get comfortable with disapproval and hurting people's feelings and righting incorrect notions.

 A few hours ago, I finished up at a work conference and packed up to leave. On the way to the exit, I ran into two coworkers on the cocktail line.

"You're not staying for happy hour??" they asked, aghast.

"No," I said.

They looked at me blankly, waiting for a proper explanation. The weight of the expectation was heavy: how could I justify not staying for happy hour? Drinks were free, for chrissake!

If I were honest, I would have shared that I don't even like to drink, and that I wasn't in the mood for socializing. That I just wanted to get home. That I had 10 hours of sleep in 2 days and my stomach was twisted in knots and I wanted to be curled up on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me watching the rain. That the noise was too much.

I didn't want to share any of that because half the time sharing truth seems to open the door to further questioning and I didn't feel like being challenged.

No, really, I don't like to drink. I don't know why. I don't want to socialize right now, no. I have enough friends, thank you, and I know how to be bubbly and friendly and appreciate the value of meeting strangers, but not right now.

Why do we have to justify ourselves so much? It's exhausting. Humans are inquisitive primates poking verbal sticks at anyone outside the norm (whether it be the norm of the moment or the year or the decade).

Yes, allow myself to explain my species. I'm from a North American subtype of middle-aged female that is missing the taste buds for alcohol. They've been replaced with ones that respond only to chocolate. No, I don't know why. It's not personal. I promise, when I don't make you feel less self-conscious by joining you in having a glass of wine that I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable. Can't we just toast your drink to my brownie?

Why do people need so much approval from each other? How can we be authentic if we aren't the same, but sameness is so prized? Mimicry is the highest form of flattery but difference invites curiosity, disapproval, misunderstanding. It's very vulnerable to be different amongst a herd species.

I was inauthentic yesterday too.

A friend offered a glass of wine. "No, I'll have to go home soon and I can't drive, even on one glass," I explained.

That is true, and is also simpler than adding that I don't even really like it.

I took some seltzer water.

She seemed shy at drinking alone so I offered a recent discovery I made two days ago: that chocolate wine is the BOMB. I tasted it and thought "wow, a wine I really like!" I shared this with her.

"OMG! I love it too! I have a bottle, why don't you come over some eve? We'll share it and have a great girl's night out. Oh if you can't drive... oh, we will have a sleepover! That'll be soooo much fun!"

The following horrid thoughts instantly went through my unkind head. (I said none of them.)
  • A whole bottle?? I mean, I said I liked that wine, and I meant it, but I still had the tiniest of servings. I had TWO shot glasses. That's huge for me, but probably not even HALF an actual real glass. I'm definitely NOT your "share a bottle of wine with" kind of gal, unless you want most of the bottle. (Which could be a very happy arrangement for the right person.)
  • I hate sleeping at other people's houses. I shared how much I hate guest rooms before, and said it more than once. I need to be in my own bed, with the pillows just so and the temperature just right and the room especially dark with my custom room-darkening curtains. I want my husband next to me. I want to awaken to the way he grabs me and pulls me close and tells me how crazy he is about me while still half-asleep and lingering in a dream state of honeymoon bliss. I want those butterflies to linger in my belly as I curl locks of his hair around my fingers and disregard our morning breath. I want to know where the bathroom is when I wake up in the middle of the night. (I can't even find the light switch in her bathroom during the day. I'll die in there at night!) I want to sleep in my own bed.
  • Oh and I'm allergic to cats. Just because I let them sniff my hand doesn't mean I want to spend 24 hours inhaling dander.
  • I'm trying to lose weight, I do not want or need alcohol's empty calories!
I didn't know how to share any of this. It felt mean.

It made her so happy to think about having a girl's sleepover downing that bottle of chocolate wine together. So I nodded and said it sounded like fun, someday.

Authenticity is easier in private....

Friday, August 18, 2017

How the "never again!!" conversations go

Brain: Get up. She'll be here any minute.

Body: But it feels so good to lie here on the floor.

Brain: You should probably login too and be productive before she gets here.

Body: But the floor... maybe I could just sneak in a nap.

Brain: Also you were going to clean.

Body: But the floor...

Brain: You should at least text her to tell her you're home.

Body: But I live here now, on the floor. It's glorious. I'm never getting up. 

Brain: FINE!! We are NEVER inviting anyone over after work again.

Body: Yay!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

But how DO you tell someone you have herpes? (a lesson in NOT clicking links)

So, someone wrote into an advice column that they discovered they had herpes and wondered what to do now that they were dating. They wanted permission not to tell anyone because, after all, they were only having casual sex, so why bother letting anyone know? (Yes, that is absolutely horrid, but I've ceased being surprised by terrible people ever since this last election.)

Well, I got sucked into the article and the comments and someone replied with a link to an article called "HOW TO TELL SOMEONE YOU HAVE HERPES." I thought, huh, that sounds interesting, how DO you tell someone you have herpes?

So I clicked on it, read the article and went back to work.

Later I realized FUCK. That was on my WORK. COMPUTER.  Now the entire IT Department will think I have herpes. Great.

I'll bring in brownies and they'll be all "oh, don't touch those, that girl with the open sores made them."


My only defense is weak. When I am ACTUALLY researching a disease I think I have, I SCOUR the fucking internet for hours. Not one click. But imagine trying to explain that!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Overheard negotiation tactics

"My rate for handling your dysfunctional relative would be overtime plus one bottle of vodka an hour. If we're bringing in MY dysfunctional relative on top of that, the rate would be 2 bottles of vodka an hour, plus ER costs."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When you're feeling antisocial at a social event...

So, I'm awkwardly standing on the food line at a birthday party, wishing I was anywhere else (it's been a rough week) and not knowing anyone except the guy I dragged with me when a man walked up, cut in front of me and then motioned with his chin. "Mimi's over there."

"Um, excuse me?"

"She's over there."

I didn't recognize this man in the slightest, but he seemed to feel this was very important information.

I was half-tempted to nod and say, "oh thanks" just to make the interaction stop but then I realized this might lead to a conversation with "Mimi" which would interfere with the escape plans I was hatching.

"I'm so sorry, but I don't recognize you," I finally sputtered, annoyed that I was being forced into a conversation against my will. Goddammit, why can't I be antisocial at a social event? The universe always conspires against me.

"Oh," he said, shrugging. He offered no further explanation.

An awkward silence hung between us for a beat.

I broke. "What's your name?" I asked, trying to be somewhat cordial.

"I'm Tim," he said.

There was no indication that I should have known this, so I suddenly became curious. Why did Tim announce Mimi's whereabouts? The mission had turned from avoiding meeting "Mimi" to finding out if they somehow knew me and I had just forgotten. I mean, people can be very forgettable sometimes so it could have happened.

"Did you recognize me?" I asked.

"Oh, no," he said, shaking his head.

WHYYYY did he approach me? Why did he think I would know (or care) about Mimi? So many questions! But I was grateful the interaction had finally died its slow, awkward death so I said nothing, and got myself a plate.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The circle of life and mixed-use condominiums

I don't know these people, but this is from an exchange I saw on a closed forum about the plight of birds smashing into glass buildings. I <3 that last comment so much. (And wtf is wrong with people?)

I am copying this word-for-word.
Person A: In my two years here I've seen a stunned cardinal and a dead goldfinch, one unidentifiable bird being eaten by a squirrel, and this morning a robin. I saw the robin strike the research room window, land with a thud on the patio, and witnessed its final movements. I also suspect that the broken pane on the third floor was caused by one of the red-tailed hawks who frequent our roof. That or someone on the golf course has a wicked slice.

Idiot B: Survival of the fittest...lolololol. I've seen our fox chomp down his fair share of birds and I've seen the turkey vultures devouring whatever they can get their beaks on. Tis the circle of life. Ugly but true

Hero C: Ah yes, who can forget Mufasa's lesson to Simba on the circle of life as he was crushed to death by an earth mover doing the excavation work for a new mixed use condominium.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lovers in a past life (funny quote)

Ha! "You meet someone and you're sure you were lovers in a past life. After two weeks with them, you realize why you haven't kept in touch for the last two thousand years." Al Cleathen

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I should submit this to that awkward family photo blog

I just stumbled across this gem from my childhood which makes me wonder, what was the conversation my parents had before putting this on me? Had they just finished reading "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" and now wanted to try the principles out on their daughter? Did they repurpose a tablecloth or curtains? So many questions.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Appetizer math

"If we have ten people over, we'll need FIVE shrimp rings."

"Let's just not have ten people over."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This is why brownies are never brought into the office in the original serving pan.

How to make brownies, by H.:

1. Get home from work, immediately turn on oven and start assembling ingredients for tomorrow's baking contest. Decide dinner will be finished sample. Allow self to be pleased at superior problem-solving skills on reducing kitchen mess.

2. Hmm, recipe says to use flour. I don't have flour but I do have pancake mix. That's basically the same thing, right?

3. Put down whisk mid-stir, swipe phone and open FitBit app to see if stirring batter added any extra steps.

4. In moment of brilliance, decide to invent brownie crisps. Spread thin sliver of batter across pan and bake. Fantasize about owning bakery and then conglomerate and then going on Undercover Boss and gift-paying hardworking staff's tuition like the CEO lady from Cinnabon.

5. Forget to check timer. Decide that batch was *meant* to be well-done.

6. A proper cook must taste the outcome to decide whether the results are suitable. Of course.

7. Results are suitable. Cook two more pans.

8. Realize too late that although the brownies look and taste acceptable, they cannot be removed from pan. Major fail for bakery business. Scoop heaps of crumbling squares into tin and try to arrange attractively. Fantasize about burning bakery down.

9. Embrace concept of imperfection. Taste another sample to ensure quality control.

10. Done! Resist urge to label the suggested serving size as a fistful. Check FitBit to see how many steps it took to take all those pans out of the oven. Workout is done. Eat dinner. Multi-tasking win!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dr. Google and the slide towards imminent death (and wrong diagnosis)

Somehow I have a big lump. It's small and round and sore, almost like a tiny tumor. I have been worrying about it ever since its discovery. It's definitely not supposed to be there.

Definitely a sign of imminent death.

I turned to Dr Google who exclaims, in full pictorial horror, that "Bartholin's Gland Cysts" happens to old people so I've just confirmed that it's part of the inevitable slide towards my demise.

I texted my sister, next, a nurse. She tried to reassure me. "It's common."

"How long do they last?"



I waited until my cubicle neighbors left for their coffee break and called my doctor for an appointment. "I have a lump" I said as three people marched back into the office. Fuck! Of all the days not to take the usual twenty minutes.

A few hours later, I found myself on a steel table.

Doc grabbed her magnifying glass.

"Oh I could see why you thought it was a Bartholin's gland cyst -- it's right near it. But no, it's just a big pimple. An infected follicle gland. You're fine."

A zit?? You're kidding me.

I went home and lanced it over the sink. I don't recommend this at home but I will just say yoga classes come in handy in the most unexpected ways..

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Sorry your mom died several months ago, here's some strawberries." <-- what my condolence note may as well have said.

Today I was looking over my credit card statement and noticed a charge for "Linus & Gwen*, sweet treats, $48" for 2 days ago.

Hmm, I remember taking one of my favorite teenagers to get ice cream but I didn't think Baskin Robbins had a parent company, and I didn't think we spent almost 50 bucks. Who's Linus & Gwen?

I scrolled a bit and saw the ice cream charge confirming indeed, it was not that.

Where else did I go Tuesday? How could I have purchased almost $50 of sweets two days ago and not remember it? And where are the treats?! If I bought something delectable, there's zero evidence of it. I haven't gone foodshopping in nearly two weeks. There's NOTHING to eat in this house. I had to satisfy both my hunger and my sweet tooth last night with a vitamin D pill. There is no way I bought any goodies two days ago. Even if I had, $48 is an odd number. Occasional treats are usually only obtained in single servings.

It was such a mystery I called the store.

"Hi, I'm looking over my credit card statement and I see a charge from your company, can you tell me more?"

"Sure! What's your telephone number? I'll look up your order."

I gave her all my info and she said, "yep, okay, it says here you ordered a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries."

Me: "What? When? Is this a subscription? I mean, I remember placing an order a few months ago but nothing recent."

Them: "Oh this order was placed Feb. 11, for delivery to your friends. It includes a condolence note."

Me: "OHMYGOD wait... you mean THIS is the order that was supposed to go to my friends after their MOM died? Why is it only going out now?"

Them: [cough] "Um, it's not going out now... it's scheduled to go out in two weeks. But that must be why the charge is appearing now."

Me [after checking my credit card statements to make sure I didn't pay for duplicate orders]: "I did NOT realize this wouldn't go out for months. Why didn't I get a note? Why wasn't there something that indicated the delay?"

Them: "There should have been..."

Me: "Well, I'm checking my email and my spam filter and everything and don't see it. If there is a notification, it needs to happen at the time of the order and be more obvious. I can't imagine how I would have glossed over that."

Them: "Sorry. Hey, we have white chocolate truffles on sale for 42% off, would you like to order some?"

Me: [Wanting to say "AYFKM, what, so I can have it in 3 months??"]

Anyway I told the woman I wasn't trying to be a difficult customer, but this was a pretty big deal. My gift was supposed to express sympathy after a loss. I didn't want to send JUST a card which so I sent something sweet. Meanwhile, as far as my friends knew, I never even acknowledged their mother's death. Also, I sent something to everyone else in the family (from another company) making the omission even more obvious. So no, I'm not buying white chocolate truffles!

I eventually talked to a customer service supervisor who apologized profusely and reimbursed shipping (yay?). But wow, the next time people die and I need to acknowledge it, no strawberries!

*Name changed to protect the company's privacy.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Favorite rejection lines from TV

1. "I'm sorry, but the fact that the sexual pleasure Center of your cerebral cortex has been overstimulated by spirochetes is a poor basis for a relationship." House, MD

2. "I'm sorry but I can't date because I'm changing into another species." Star Trek

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Friend explains why he doesn't want to be a counselor

Here's me as a couples therapist:

Wife: He never pays attention to me. He always goes golfing.

Husband: She never wants to have sex. She's always complaining.

Me: [gunshot to head]

Wife: You should call an ambulance.

Husband: Stop bossing me around.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This, too, may be behind the scenes at your local fast food joint

Friends: "We are so happy and learning much English but please help us, there is one word we do not understand."

Me: "Sure! What word?"

Friends: "Makeita."

Me: "What??"

Friends: "Makeita."

Me: "Um, can you say that again? I don't recognize it."

Friends (trying again):"Makeita."

Me: "Um, still doesn't sound familiar. Can you tell me the context? How are people using it?"

Friends: "They come to the drive through and they say 'Makeita #5' or "Makeita #1 with large fries."

Me: "Ohhh! They are saying 'Make it a'...!"