Assumptive Presentment Resentment

So how many of you thought the full moon was last Friday the 13th?

If you’re on Facebook, you might have – because, if you have more than three friends, you probably saw this:


It was on the walls of several of my friends’ pages, and was spreading like virtual mono at band camp. (If you’ve been, you know.)

But if you’re reading this any time near May 21, and it happens to be dark, go look outside.

Yep, the full moon wasn’t last week. It’s actually Saturday.

Now, I already knew this because I work in HR, and…well…people are nuts.  And we know that the most disruptive, unpredictable, off-the-wall things happen right before and during the full moon.  We track it within our department so we can ensure we’re well-stocked with survival tools (chocolate and wine, obvs) in advance.

But last week, pretty much everyone was thinking the full moon was Friday the 13th.  If you’d looked outside to verify this, though, you’d have seen the First Quarter Moon instead. (Which looks like a half-moon.  Because geometry* is stupid.)

However, nobody actually goes outside anymore, especially when what you need can be obtained on the interwebs quickly, easily, and without needing to wear pants. So if you hopped on Google, you’d quickly come up with a most excellent – and reliable – link like the Farmers’ Almanac.  Or this handy site that has more information on the Moon’s phases than most of us will ever need.  (Trust me.  I’m over 40 35 and have never needed 98% of this, nor has it mattered whether Pluto was a planet, a dog, or…wait, what IS Pluto, anyway?  A pet rock?)

Anyway, the point here is that the moon phases are EASILY verified.  Yet it was super-simple for the social media Pied Piper to blow a tune and make us dance.  Even one of my team members questioned me when I reminded her that the full moon was coming up. “Wasn’t it last week?  Facebook said…”


Why were we so quick to believe a cartoon?

Because…it was there.

This face-value acceptance happens with email, too.

Back story:  I actually have a very simple email address – my Gmail addy doesn’t have any funky letters after my name.  This is because I got on the Gmail train when there were only a couple hundred people trying it out.  See, years ago, I was networking with an HR professional at Google.  She was hitting up her peers looking for some folks to try this new beta email program they were testing called “Gmail.” So I got on THAT plane early, before all the aisle seats were taken.

It’s kind of cool. I’m, like, an email hipster, yo.  <dons dark glasses and on-point denim>

But now that there are over 900 million Gmail users, it’s become a lot harder to create a unique Gmail address.  Consequently, a lot of folks accidentally “forget” those extra letters when signing up for online offers, applying for jobs, and emailing long-lost relatives.  The result is that I get a lot of misdirected emails.  Like this one:



Now, the only Jason I know is the first guy I held hands with back in 8th grade, while we were watching one of the Hellraiser movies.


 A man who always makes a point.  Source

I was pretty sure it wasn’t him…so I decided to play along.


Keeping it surreal, folks.  Keeping.  It.  Surreal.

I don’t toy with all the misdirects – there are simply too many – so I usually just tell them they need to check their work.  Like this one from earlier this week:


Do I LOOK like a Sr. Ortiz? (The answer is no.  Smarta$$.)

So I wrote back – politely, this time, sans zoo animals, informing her that she had the wrong email.

She wrote back:


Okay.  Word’s clearly out that I’ve been visiting psychics…but sadly, I couldn’t pick Sr. Ortiz out of a crowd of two unless one was my daddy.

I try again:


First day on the Internet, huh?

Time to shut this one down.


She seems to be gone now.  But she was SO CERTAIN that this email address (which in zero way resembles anything that sounds like Ortiz whatsoever) belonged to Sr. Ortiz.  Nothing I said, or wrote, was gonna convince her otherwise.

Her mind was made up.

Speaking of which….this actually happened just a couple of nights ago:

I was sitting on the sofa, attempting a conversation with the hubs, when suddenly he changed the subject entirely to share this riveting news story:

Him:  So I hear there’s this sheriff in Tennessee who’s being sued – he was using his position as sheriff to push his religious beliefs on his department.

Me:  …oh?

Him:  He posted religious messages on social media, too…and actually SELECTIVELY DELETED messages from people who disagreed with him.  You can’t do that!

Me:  <furrows brow, waits for more>

Him:  And now he’s actually COUNTER-SUING, claiming he’s being persecuted.

Me:  <cocks head>

Him:  That’s just ridiculous.  You can’t use your job as sheriff to blast your religion!

Me:  Um…<thinking I missed something>  What…did he actually…do?

Him:  <looks at me for clarification>

Me:  What did he post?  What did he delete?  What actually…happened here?

Him:  <blink>

Him:  <pause>

Him:  I…don’t actually know.

Me:  <sigh>

The hubs had received a notice of this lawsuit via email from American Atheists.  The email, which he shared with me, listed the allegations, and was essentially asking for contributions to support the lawsuit.  And yes, there were links connecting to more information.  As one might expect, they weren’t exactly neutral.

The least slanted link is here, and it does provide examples of what the sheriff posted.  There are some definitively Christian posts.  Do I think these are appropriate for a public officer to make on what appears to be a public page?  Not all of them, no.  There’s a post about Easter that references Bible verses and the “He Is Risen”message – that does feel exclusionary to me.  (I celebrate the Christian Easter, but certainly recognize that it’s mostly candy and bunnies for a lot of folks.  And if candy didn’t make me fat, it would be SO about the candy up in my pie hole.  Mmm….candy….)


Anyway.  Some of the posts I’m cool with.  There are references to more generic prayer, and the phrase “God bless you.” I generally don’t take offense to stuff like this.  Even if you don’t believe in that particular entity, it’s a well-wish, like “Blessed Be” or “Shalom” – it’s not like he’s saying “God smite you.”  (I am totally gonna start using that, though.)  And if you tell a kid that you hope Santa is good to him this year, you’re not saying YOU believe in the fat man dropping down your chimney, right?  (Which, when I put it that way, sounds like one of those horrible IBS commercials, and now I have ruined the image of “leaving presents under the tree” for everybody.) On that note – is wishing someone a Merry Christmas exclusionary?  Not to a shopping mall. Sure, there CAN be a Christian component to it, but our credit card bills testify to the big sack o’secular in Christmas.

Note, though, that there’s a lot of information missing from these links.  While I do think the sheriff crossed a line, I haven’t seen what he felt he needed to delete from the page.  According to this link, the sheriff says he removed those posts that weren’t “family-friendly”.  What does that mean, exactly?  Were they posts simply pointing out the desire to see more diverse viewpoints represented?  Or were they filled with F-bombs?

Unfortunately, we don’t know, because neither team is serving up those posts for us to swing at.

We don’t have the whole story.

Now, I don’t want to get into a big religious debate here.  I’m all about Team Coexist, and I think that intelligent people can have VERY different beliefs and can make the best choices for THEM.


Then again, I have purple hair, a nose ring, and I drink wine and swear a lot.


HR approved.

So I might not be the example you wanna follow. Or maybe I am.  I’m cool either way, bro.

I’m also cool if you disagree with some of my thoughts on the subject.  I respect that you’ve had different life experiences and will offer a different perspective.  I hope you share your thoughts with me so we can have some intelligent, respectful dialogue.

Bottom line:  We can’t coexist if we can’t listen to each other.  We can’t hear anything if our personal biases work like noise-cancelling headphones to filter out different opinions.

And, most importantly, we won’t learn anything if we don’t attempt to objectively approach information.  Especially opinions that are presented to us as – or in the absence of – facts.

And this is where the hubs took his bias bus and drove it solidly into the curb.

He got the email, saw “Christianity”, and reacted. 

The sheriff is Christian.  Therefore, the sheriff is WRONG.

There were some links included in the email. He didn’t even read them.

As far as he was concerned, that sheriff was tried, judged, and convicted.

The end.

And this – this right here – is why he and I cannot have an honest, intellectual conversation about religion.

Because as soon as you insert religion into the playlist, all he can hear is the familiar tune of his mental Pied Piper, who played the song “Christianity” and watched him pirouette.

To be completely fair, he recognized pretty quickly what he’d done.  He went back to his laptop, pulled up the email, and started to do some homework on the issue.

But once that conclusion cake’s in the oven, it’s really, really difficult to pull it back out and add more sugar or more chocolate.  It only takes a few minutes for batter to chemically transform, and it’s unbelievably messy to convert it back into batter again.

And today, I don’t like the smell of what he’s baking.

Cake makes me fat, anyway.

So, today, as you’re scrolling through your many social media sites, chatting with family, or watching the news, remember your bias.

And if your personal Pied Piper is blatting too loudly, shove some cake up his flute and tell him to choke on it while you rework your playlist.

*P.S.  I used the word “sheriff” TEN times in this post, and if it weren’t for spellcheck, it would’ve been wrong all ten times.  English spelling is also dumb.

The Clarity of the Crystal Ball

In my last post, I mentioned that my sister and I had tarot card and palm readings while she was out to visit.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had various readings done from time to time.  I don’t use them as the final word in setting my life’s course or anything.  They’re more like those endless Facebook quizzes – entertaining (and fun to see how all your friends score), and they often validate your own insight into yourself.  When you get feedback that resonates, it feels a bit like you have permission to be exactly who you’re meant to be.

And with my issues, I’ll take all the permission I can get.

But sometimes, what they tell you is so spot-on accurate, it’s jarring.  That was my prior experience with Jeff Tyler:

When I met him before, he solidly nailed some things:

* He asked about my career. When I told him that I work in HR, he said, “Yes, but not the way most people are in HR. It’s different, and I like you there, because you can do HR the way you want to do it.” This is actually really accurate.  I’m not the stereotypical HR person; I like creating sense from the chaos at small companies, where I can roll up my sleeves and put in place just enough structure to function.  In contrast, I find large, well-organized companies completely suffocating.  (Plus, my company is privately owned…by a family – which adds a flavor of…uniqueness.  More on that brand of crazy later.)

* He asked if we had been doing construction or remodeling.   Again, spot on.  At the time, we’d spent much of the last two years fixing up the short sale property we’d purchased – in addition to remodeling the kitchen, we’d repainted nearly every room, redone two bathrooms, and put an addition on the back.  So yeah, I was all spackle-and-drywalled out by this point.  He suggested that I take a break from that particular chaos, and “take time to just enjoy what you’ve built.”  Although there was a bit more to be done, for now it was time to just be in our house – at least for a while.

* He then talked about creative energies.  He said he saw me active in “some kind of art – music, words, something….that’s the only time you’re all there and real. That’s where you can BE.”

At that time, my blog was six months old, and I was finding it to be quite therapeutic.  And I’m also a musician – I sing in a band, and while I’m no Sandi Patty, I don’t completely suck:

And he was right, again.  I’m totally absorbed in the moment when I’m singing.  Gone are the little gnats that cloud my happiness and nip at my joy and buzz distractions at me about my weight.  It’s just the music and me.

And when I write, I drop the cloak that shields my soul from the social crows who might otherwise pick at it.  I expose my jugular.  OK, yeah, sort of anonymously, but still. Emotional vampires aren’t picky eaters; it’s still a risk, and feels a bit like I’m dabbing steak sauce on my pulse points…but when writing, I throw caution to the wind, and get real.

So it was a great reading, and I really dug this guy’s direct, no-dancing-delicately-around-the-tulips approach – and I thought my sister would, as well.  She was receptive to give it a go, so off we went.

And once again, I got some solid insight.  Some of my highlights from this round:

* Your workplace is kind of a mess. Yep….as I mentioned before, it’s a privately-held, family-owned company.  And we have a new CEO, who is NOT family, so the resulting change in diet has given the drama llama more than a little intestinal distress…which alternates between noxious stink and hilarity.

* You’ve been working on spiritual growth, and you’re outgrowing who you were. But when you’re challenged, you revert back to who you used to be…and you don’t like that person very much. This was interesting to think about. Over the last year, I’ve been working on personal and spiritual healing, and trying to quiet the mental voices around my food issues. But prior to that, I worked myself out of a relationship that was mentally abusive. It took considerable strength to do that – leaving a marriage is hard, hard work; it’s even tougher if you’ve been mentally whittled down to nothing.

He had a point, though – in the struggles I’ve found in my current marriage, do I face them head-on? Not initially, no. I tend to revert to the same person I was in my prior marriage – timid, hesitant, reluctant to start conflict.

And he was correct in saying that I don’t like being that person. It isn’t me.  It’s like jamming your feet into shoes that don’t fit. You feel pinched and uncomfortable and can’t WAIT to kick them off, and they don’t really go with your whole spiritual outfit, anyway.

* You have some toxic older friends that you need to move away from to preserve your energy.

I scratched my head on that one for a bit.  I don’t really have close friends…sure, there are my Facebook connections, and my many “virtual” online buddies….but none of them are toxic energy leeches.

I shrugged it off as a “miss” in the reading.

My sister also got some interesting tidbits:

* You work really hard to hide your emotions.  But you shouldn’t.  You have really strong emotions, and you are a good person BECAUSE of those strong emotions – not because you hide them.

My sister’s always been a “feeler.” When we were kids, she was convinced that inanimate objects, like stuffed animals, had feelings.

Which reminds me of the Cabbage Patch story:

Anyone else remember Cabbage Patch dolls? My sister really, really wanted one. She didn’t get one for Christmas, because Cabbage Patch Kids were the It Toy of the year, and since people were generally losing their collective minds in their efforts to get one, Mom wisely opted out of the public stampedes and fistfights. So sis saved up her own money, until FINALLY she had enough stashed away. Off to the mall we went, making a beeline for the toy store. (This was a few months after the holiday rush, so the shelves were sufficiently stocked at this point.  No taser required.)

My sister had her eye on a redheaded doll. She spotted one in the second row, behind a blond, curly-haired one. She moved the first doll to the side…

…and I said something to the effect of “aw, that doll’s going to be sad that you didn’t choose her.”

I made my sister buy this one.

Looks heartbroken, doesn’t she.

My sister felt so bad about hurting the toy’s feelings that she LITERALLY BOUGHT THE BLOND DOLL INSTEAD.

And my brother spent the next several years torturing her with it. He gave her a voice, and whenever the doll wasn’t sitting next to my sister, he’d make it call out, “MOMMA! MOMMA! COME GET ME! I’M LONELY!  She was prone to mischief, frequently body-slamming teddy bears and pinning dolls belonging to overnight guests too.  (And sometimes our cousins, if they dared nap at our house.  They’d wake up underneath a Cabbage Patch kid who you’d swear had a smug look on her face….)

“Antonia Larina”clearly had self-control issues.  (Ah, siblings.  Ain’t they great?)

Anyway.  One of the reasons I wanted to have my sister see this guy was because of this stressful life situation she’s dealing with.  Interestingly, he had some insight into that:

* You’re struggling with making a big decision.  Perhaps you need to make a decision NOT to make a decision right away.  Take this time to heal and fix YOU instead. 

(For the record, this is EXACTLY WHAT I TOLD HER.  Validation for my spiritual gift right there, folks.  But wisdom is wiser when it comes from a third party.  That’s why consultants are so expensive, right?)

* You need to stop beating yourself up.  You’re hearing your mother’s voice of disapproval in your head…you need to stop listening to that and do what’s right for YOU.

Hmm.  That didn’t feel quite right.  Mom was never one to be overbearing with an opinion.  Apparently (I found this out later) HER mother was pretty up front with how she felt about things, and was none too shy about making sure her offspring knew her stance.  On EVERYTHING.  And don’t we always swear to do EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what our parents did?

So we grew up with a lot of this:

Me:  Mom, what do you think of my current boyfriend?

Mom:  It doesn’t matter. I’m not the one dating him.

Sis:  Mom, do you think I should cut my hair?

Mom:  It’s your hair.  Do what you want with it.

Afterwards, my sister and I debriefed about our readings a bit (yes, while we were shopping – at the outlet mall this time to mix it up a bit.)

And as we were searching for the best slip-on walking shoes and the perfect jeans, we realized something.

The damaging influences he had referenced – the toxic relationships, the disapproving parents – these weren’t playbacks of external experiences.

They were internal.

In my sister’s case, Mom never really frowned on her life choices.  But my sister is so adept at self-flagellation, she was creating her own voice of disapproval.  RIGHT INSIDE HER HEAD.

It wasn’t Mom’s voice she was hearing – it was her own.

And with me – the “toxic relationship” is, in reality, with…myself.  It’s with the person who has food issues.  It’s the condescending voice hissing insults at me while I walk around with a BMI of about 18, telling me I’m too fat to eat back the precious few calories I burned on my morning run.  It’s that internal judge that hands out the verdict of “unacceptable” every time I look in the mirror and catch sight of my thighs.

The challenge?  It’s really, really hard to divorce your brain.  It’s awfully tough to break old thought patterns – to jackhammer out the long-ago-set concrete and haul the heavy chunks to the garbage dump.

It’s exhausting.

But if I move one piece at a time, and keep at it, eventually I’ll get there.

I had a small taste of what that might look like just this week.  I was sporting some of my new stuff – a new top, and what I thought were decent jeans (I can never be sure – I get myself thinking they look OK in the dressing room, but once I get home and look at them in MY mirror…well, ugh.  Thighs again.)

And you know what?  I thought I actually looked pretty good.


Throughout the day, I reminded myself that I looked just fine.

(Even now, I’m hesitating to post this picture, because I’m still second-guessing those damn thighs.)

But some  of the time?  I think, maybe, I’m starting to believe it.

I’m OK.

I hereby give myself permission to BE. Just the way I am.  A work in progress.

I hope my sister does, too.

The Caucus Circus

By the time you read this, Super Tuesday will be a thing of the past.  But, since this was my first time participating in an election that wasn’t directly for the next President, I thought I’d share some first-timer experience.

Yes, that’s correct.  I am…um…old enough to have participated in many elections, and have never before exercised my right to check boxes in a primary, caucus, or any other non-general election.

Now, before you go flogging me with the judgement whip – let me explain.

First, I’ve only lived in this state for about 10 years.  In my prior state, I wasn’t ALLOWED to vote in the primaries, because I’m not affiliated with any political party.  I spent most of my adult life in a state that shut out those of us not willing to provide external support to one of the two major players in this twisted, broken game we call “politics.”

And why don’t I align myself with a party?  Because parties are supposed to be fun, with friends, dancing, music, and great munchies.  They’re NOT supposed to be some twisted version of Satan’s Zoo, where all the monkeys hoot and snort around their territory while flinging virtual dung at each other.  We innocent observers stand at what we hope is a safe distance – we know the whole thing stinks, yet we’re unwilling to intervene because we might end up getting a steaming, grain-laden fecal pie right in the kisser.

So yeah, if THAT is what political “parties” are like, I think I’ll be a hermit and sit at home on the couch, eating popcorn and NOT dodging poo and NOT affiliating with either group of classless Neanderthals.

I suppose I have that in common with our esteemed former Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura.  (My dad and my brother were totally into WWE, back when it was WWF – we watched as religiously as we went to Mass – and I didn’t live here when he was Governor, so he’ll always be Jesse “The Body” to me.)

That, and these impressive guns:


Jesse The Body’s guns (image from


My Guns of Steel, yo.

It’s like we’re twins.

Anyway, he’s a bit more…well, you can view his thoughts on the whole mess here, if you’re curious.   But suffice it to say I’m not the biggest fan of the whole political machine, either.  Normally, I happily stick my head in the sand and ignore it all until it comes time to vote for President, at which time I try to pick the least unpalatable option.

This is no easy feat.  It’s much like choosing which poison to drink.  Death by suffocation or severe intestinal distress? 

This year, though, was a little bit different.  While I haven’t yet decided which of the current frontrunners is least likely to force me to flee to a deserted island*, I did know that there was at least one candidate I wanted to push out of the running.

*I used to say “move to Canada” – but that shiz is FREAKIN COLD YO.  So no.

When I first heard that Trump was running for President, I (and, I suspect, much of America) was amused.  Initially, it wasn’t a terrible thing, really.  Since he’s a personality of pop culture, he got a lot of people paying attention to politics that couldn’t be bothered with it all in the past.  Let’s face it, if you’re of the can’t-miss-The-Bachelor, Kardashians-are-fascinating** set, there isn’t much in American politics that likely interests you.

**For the record, I don’t care about either of those, OR politics, because boring.

But once the “You’re Fired” guy runs for office?  THINGS JUST GOT INTERESTING.

Trump is unabashedly and decidedly different. He’s not your mother’s politician.  He’s bold, he’s brash, and he’s saying a lot of things that a lot of people want to hear.  He made politics entertaining, which made it interesting to those of us who’d rather do yard work or go to the dentist than follow politics.

But we all knew that this was just a role he was playing.  Right?   The man’s not a politician.  HE’S A  FREAKING CARICATURE. He’s only making a statement. He can’t REALLY want to be President.  Eventually, he’ll do the right thing and bow out.



?????!!!!!!?!?!?!?!! @#($*@#($@

COME ON, AMERICA.  What in the exact hell is happening here?  You DO realize that this walking satire might ACTUALLY have a shot at leading the nation in a few short months?

<insert collective “oh shi@($@#$” moment>

And you know what else totally puzzles me?  Trump has a HUGE following…but I have yet to meet a person that admits publicly that they’re voting for this clown. He’s like the most popular politician that NO ONE will admit they support.


(You know how THAT is, right?  When you’re mingling in your social circle, everyone is singing the praises of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and how they only buy free range quinoa and antibiotic-free tofu and would NEVER EVER support Evil Corporate Giants and their dirty High Fructose Corn Syrup profits.  But if you peeked into their pantries, I suspect the contents would Equate to their Great Values coming from you-know-where.  It’s the biggest retail company that NOBODY SHOPS AT.  Mysterious.) <cough>

Anyway.  As an Independent in this state, I can participate in either party’s caucus, as long as I agree to only participate in one or the other.  I also have to have voted for that party at least once before, and generally agree with stuff they support.  (I assume if you don’t really care about either party, that counts.  School of Close Enough gave me a C.)  So I thought it might be a good time to use my one small voice at the state caucus to vote thusly:

Team Not Trump

Image:  Imgur

So off to the Republican caucus I went, to cast my vote for Not Trump.

The process started at 7.  I showed up at 6:30 so I could sign in and figure out what I was supposed to actually DO.  And I’m glad I did, because the place was a flippin’ madhouse.  (You’d think Prince came home to visit or something.)  I wedged my truck into a questionable half-space between another car and a lamppost, and headed inside.

By this time, it was 6:42, and from the end of the rather formidable line, I heard “we’re out of forms already.”  Even though this state has the highest voter turnout, they simply weren’t prepared for the flood of people wanting to have a say this early in the process.

Eventually, we all got directed to different rooms, separated by “precinct.”  (My precinct was green on the map.  Thus begins and ends my knowledge of precincts. ???)

Once I found my room (since I’m still in my work heels, OF COURSE it was the furthest one from the door) we all had to sign in.  They wanted my name, address, phone number, and email address.  They got my name, my signature, my address, and a dirty look.  (When you’re an independent, EVERYONE wants a piece of you come election time.  Why make it easy?  COME FIND ME BRO.)

There was one more spot on the form to complete….I was asked to “initial this box if you’re voting in the next election.”

I took a look at the box the volunteer was pointing to.  It said, “Voting GOP Next Election?”


“I only initial this if I’m voting Republican, then – not if I’m just planning to vote, right?”

The volunteer confirmed this.  “Right.  Are you voting Republican for our next President?”


What I actually said:  “I’m…still undecided.”

He then gave me a name tag with my first name printed on it.  I stuck it on and watched a few others sign in.  Turns out that if you ARE voting GOP in the fall, you get a red dot on your name tag.


Red Color Coding Dot Labels 3/4&quot; Round .75 Diameter Inventory Code Stickers - 500 Per Roll

Image:  Amazon

Out of fifty or so caucus attendees in my little room, guess how many weren’t marked with a red dot?

C’mon.  Guess.

I remember scanning the room, my eyes locating red dot after red dot, one affixed to every. single. name tag on every. single. person.  Every last ever-loving one of ’em was claiming to vote Republican, no matter what.

Except moi.

That was a solo I wasn’t planning on singing.  But I grabbed the mike and ran with it.  The Scarlet Lemming, I ain’t.

(But seriously.  Really?  REALLY??!?? Even if it’s TRUMP?  I judge you, Red Dot Society.  I.  JUDGE.  YOU.)

Hell toupee:

Now it was time to get down to business.

We opened up with the Pledge of Allegiance (a nice touch, although someone needs to remind people to take their hats off.  Do they not teach this in schools anymore?)

Next, after “electing” the emcee  (who probably has a more official title that I can’t recall), a secretary, and two vote counters, the leader emcee dude read a statement from each of the candidates “in the running.”  YAWN.  No surprises there.  I’m sure your mothers all think you’re as fabulous as you say you are.  I’ll admit it was really difficult to refrain from playing a few rounds of Candy Crush focus on these little love letters.  I give myself C+ for the effort (and beat two more levels. GO ME)

Finally, it was time to vote.  Paper ballots (ah, good ol’ 1890’s technology!) were handed out, marked, and collected.

Then, because it was nearly 8 PM and I was hungry, I left.  (Which is totally OK – you can stay and listen as some boring politics stuff gets discussed, or you can go home and eat a turkey burger.  In my house, the burger ALWAYS wins. #teamhungry)

On the way out (and there were STILL people coming in!) I overheard a few of the volunteers commenting on the turnout.  Last go-round, they thought they had MAYBE fifty or sixty voters for the caucus at this location.  This year, there were over fifty in my precinct alone – close to a thousand total crammed into the local high school to have their say that night.

And this was consistent across the entire state.

Kind of warms my heart that so many people showed up. Because showing up means they still CARE.

My state hasn’t given up.  Not yet.

Ironically, one of Trump’s claims is that “I really unify and bring people together.  And, I suppose on Tuesday in Minnesota, he did just that. Attendance at the Republican caucus was 75% higher than it was in 2008.  People unified and turned out in droves to join their voices together and make sure they were heard.

And they didn’t pick Trump.  Neither did the Democrats pick Clinton:




Trump?  You’re fired.

<mic drop>

Ordinary Folks, Powerful Feels (Part 2 of 2)

In my last post, I talked about one of the dynamic speakers we had at our safety conference.  As I mentioned, he left an impression, and gave me lots to think about.

But the emotional pinata had only taken a few whacks at this point.  I had no idea it was about to be flogged until it hemorrhaged its contents all over me.

It was time for the next speaker.

A man by the name of Frank DeAngelis took the podium.

You might not recognize that name at first.  But it may ring a bell when I tell you that Frank DeAngelis was the principal of Columbine High School from 1996 – 2014.  And it was on April 20, 1999,  that two of his students carried out one of the largest school shootings in US history.

For the next hour and a half, we relive the terror of that day through Frank’s eyes.  We listen to his horrific account of watching students be shot and killed.  Of facing the gunman and hearing glass shatter around him.  Of seeing a fellow teacher distract the shooter long enough for him to hustle other students to safety, and of hearing the gunshots that would silence the voice of a dear friend.

We hear the anguish of the first responders, frustrated at their inability to do anything but wait outside, knowing what was taking place as they watched helplessly. (They were forbidden to enter the area until it was secure; that protocol has since changed.)  We can only imagine the tension – and relief – as the surviving students meet their parents at a nearby elementary school, and the unspeakable grief of those parents remaining when they are informed, by heartbroken officials, that no more students will be arriving.

Frank’s life was spared that day – but it was forever changed. It goes without saying that the trajectory of his life was knocked completely and permanently off its path.  And the nightmare didn’t stop when the shooters died.  There were students – and families – to support, and a school to run.  And there was additional fallout:  He was named in several lawsuits – when you’re grieving, you need a place to hang the hat of blame, and a lot of parents threw berets in his direction.  His marriage didn’t survive, and he is working to rebuild the relationship with his daughter, who stood aside as Frank poured his life into the needs of his students.

But then we began to hear a story of rebuilding, community, and hope.  We hear how,  through time, faith, support, and an unparalleled strength of character, Frank and the community began to heal.

I was fortunate to be able to talk with Frank later that evening.  A small group of us shared life stories and laughs over drinks later that night.  He’s a very congenial dude, really charming, friendly, and genuine.  Very Italian, by the way.  (He’ll tell you that in the first five minutes you speak to him.)

And human.  Very human.

I won’t begin to call Frank DeAngelis ordinary.  No one who positively impacted the lives of so many young adults – who genuinely CARED, and continues to care, about each and every person impacted by this horrific event – who helped rebuild a community – can be called “ordinary.”

But he was certainly a regular guy.  And one day, a terrible, terrible thing happened.  It would have been understandable if he’d left his job at Columbine.  But he stayed until every student who was enrolled in 1999 graduated.  (And a couple more years for good measure.)

Nowadays, in “retirement,” he advises on matters of school safety.

And he offers a message of hope.

I spent the next day of the conference involved in active-shooter training.

As you can imagine from the subject matter – it was a pretty intense day.  We analyzed case studies, listening to the 911 calls from the March 2009 Carthage, NC nursing home shooting.  We watched the video of the Bay District School Board shooting from December 2010.  (Yes, the entire thing is on video, because they routinely televised these meetings locally.)

And then we watched Run. Hide. Fight.

If you haven’t watched this video, you probably should.  (And spoiler alert – there are people with guns shooting down people without guns.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you; watch at your own risk.)

I’m severely disturbed that we live in a world where safety professionals are advising us to watch things like this, and to have “active shooter” drills in the workplace. But just since that training day, we’ve had two more incidents hit the headlines:  Kalamazoo, MI the day after I left, and a workplace shooting in Hesston, KS last Thursday.

It’s hard to deny that we need to prep employees for this, just like you might practice a fire drill or tornado watch.  But I can’t say that one can ever truly be prepared for anything like this.

We’re told to train our employees to run – get out – if they hear gunshots.  Study your workspace and think about where they’d hide if they couldn’t escape.  Plan for what you could use to barricade the door.  What you’d fight with if cornered.  Play dead if you have to.  Lie in a pool of someone else’s blood so they think they’ve already shot you.

Sometimes, the world is truly terrifying.

On my way home last Friday, I got the message that a dear friend’s husband passed away suddenly.  He leaves behind a young son, and the sweetest, dearest woman on the planet will now be faced with reconstructing her life without the husband she obviously loved very dearly.

He was just a couple of years younger than me.

The following Monday morning, I was advised than an HR friend had lost her battle to cancer.

She was talented.  Witty.  Spunky.  She personified “scrappy.”  An animal lover.  A beautiful soul.

She’s my age.

Two young, strong, vibrant lights, extinguished forever.

Most of the time, we take living for granted.  Every day, we expect to wake up in the morning.  (Slowly, and reluctantly, but we do eventually reach the generally recognized state of “awake.”)  We go to work with the understanding that eight (OK, ten or twelve) hours later, we’ll be returned to our families in pretty much the same shape we started in, albeit a bit tired or cranky.  Later, we eat dinner and go to bed, with no doubt about repeating the routine tomorrow.

But sometimes, on a very ordinary day, a terrible, terrible thing happens.  On average, 550 people per year will be murdered at work.  Nearly 90 people per day will be killed in a motor vehicle accident.

And if that doesn’t get you, there’s always the Big C.  If you go to this page, you can pull some interesting stats:

In 1975, for ages 20-49, there were 137 cancer deaths per 100,000.  In 2012 there were 157. Is 157 a big number?  No.  But it is a 15% increase.

Let’s look at the under-20 set.  Thankfully, there aren’t a lot of children dying from cancer, but even one is far too many – especially if it’s YOUR kid.  During this same time period, the incidence rate per 100 went from 13 cases to 17 1/2 – a 35% increase.

Sonofabeach96 wrote a post the other day about this very thing.

Right now, I feel like I have things sorta figured out. That concerns me, as that’s when life tends to kick you in the nads….

That said, if life is all ebb and flow, yin and yang, and good times, bad times, then will, or when will, my other shoe drop?

Once in a while, life slaps you right in the face with the fact that it can be unfairly random.  You can do everything right – exercise, eat right, live peacefully, and take every safety precaution – and you still might draw the short stick.

I mentioned my friend died from cancer.  Lung cancer, to be specific.  I know what you’re wondering, but please, please don’t ask me if she smoked.  What the hell does it matter?  Will it bring her back if I say “no”?  Will it offer YOU some sort of comfort, knowing you’ve never smoked, and allow you to believe it can’t happen to you?

Because it can.

Or something else can.

Today was not my day.  If you’re reading this, it wasn’t your turn, either.

So what am I doing with my life?  Why, I’m weighing myself daily while measuring every bite I take and beating myself up when the food I dare to eat inevitably displays itself on my thighs. 

For what, exactly?  Am I hoping for a smaller coffin?  Do I want to be a slighter target for a gunman, or have the ability to hide in a smaller space? 

Do I really think that will make any difference?

Shouldn’t I be focusing on the business of living?

It’s certainly food for thought.

I’ll be sure to ponder this while counting calories burned on my treadmill.  And, ya know, I’ll be dreading getting on the thing…but I shouldn’t be taking it for granted.

For now, I’m doing my best to throw a little kindness out into the world, trying to chuck good vibes out where I can.  In the airport last week, a lady was a bit rude to me – her kid rammed my chair while I was eating, and I’ll admit I gave him the stinkeye.  She got a bit mouthy – and while I have no doubts about my ability to defeat most opponents in a verbal showdown, I opted to remember how frustrating it can be to have an energetic young son, and decided to pray for patience and peace for her.

Sure, I could have sparred with her, but what good would it do?  You’d just have two angry people instead of one – and there’s enough hostility in the world already.  Right?

And in the middle of the week, I had just started my 35-minute commute (OK, it’s more like 40, but I start the day as an optimist) when someone ran a stop sign.  I blared the horn and slammed on the brakes, leaving an enviable patch.  Thankfully, I missed solidly T-boning her – but not by much.

Quickly, I made the decision not to be angry.  It was clearly a mistake.  (She looked VERY surprised.  Stop signs are subtle, sneaky things, sprouting up randomly in places they’ve never been before.)  Haven’t I made mistakes before?  Abso-freakin-lutely.  And I’d want to be forgiven.  I prayed for focus and calm for her and went on my way.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still capable of getting plenty angry – both at others and at myself.  I’m not some peace pioneer – not by any stretch.

But, while I can’t be the sun, I can certainly try to shine a flashlight into the dark, dusty corners in my quest to find the good things about this sometimes bleak, scary planet.

And if anyone comes out swinging,  I’ll whack ’em in the cranium with the blunt end and run like hell.

Run.  Hide.  Fight. 




Ordinary Folks, Powerful Feels (Part 1 of 2)

I mentioned in my last post that I’d just returned from a safety conference, and mentioned how these things normally go.  (Hint:  Zzzzzzzzz)

This week’s conference, however, was decidedly different. And it, along with some events over the weekend, kicked me right in the feels.

The conference started with two dynamic speakers.  First up:  Tony Crow, founder of INJAM.

“Tony Crow worked for TXU for 20 plus years.  During this time he attended numerous safety meetings.  He heard and knew the list of safety rules.  THey were so ingrained that he instictively followed them….

“But on February 15, 2003…Tony was accidentally shot.  He was totally blinded for life.”

(You can read more about Tony’s story here.)

What the above doesn’t tell you, however, is that Tony was shot by his 17-year-old son.

On the way to the hunting spot, Tony and his son passed a truck with passengers who were obviously hunters.  Tony remarked to his son that, due to the amount of orange they were wearing, they were OBVIOUSLY not locals. He chuckled as he commented that they must be from the big city.

He regrets that comment to this day.

While they were out hunting, Tony told his son he was going back…and on the way, he saw one more quail.  He made a game-time decision to go after it, changing direction from where he told his son he would be.

His son, thinking his father was elsewhere, saw the dog point.  And he shot.

He didn’t get the quail.

He shot his father.

In the face.

Instantly and permanently blinding him.  Forever. 

Think about that for a minute.

  • You’re suddenly blind.  Permanently.
  • Your son – not even an adult yet – has to live with the knowledge that he pulled the trigger.
  • Your life has changed forever.  As did the lives of your wife and son and family and friends and coworkers.  In an instant.
  • You could have prevented it.

Tony was an ordinary guy.  And one day, a terrible, terrible thing happened.

Tony turned his tragedy into a non-profit, and now tells his story nationwide.  He reminds us all that safety is never off the clock….and that accidents hurt so many more than just the injured party.

INJAM – It’s Not Just About Me.

And you know what?  He’s right.  And I realized that this applies to so much more than safety – it applies to mental health issues, too.

Selfishly, I looked at myself first.  I stared down my food issues and disordered eating for a good, long while.

Can I really pretend that I’m only hurting myself? 

Do I really think my coworkers don’t know exactly what I’m doing?

How can I possibly believe that this doesn’t impact my children?  My husband?

While my daughter, thankfully, seems to be very well-adjusted, how can she NOT be impacted by having a mother who weighs and measures her food?  I’ve tried really hard, of course, to keep my issues from her…but let’s be real here – teenagers are not idiots.  True, they often appear to not be listening, but they have a well-honed radar that quickly targets the very things you hoped they’d gloss over, like how much you really spent on those boots, or how much you actually drank in college.

What is she actually hearing?  What am I teaching her? 

My son has, on occasion, called me “bony.”  That shouldn’t be a good thing.  Yet, I can’t help but feel flattered.  How twisted does one have to be to view this as a compliment?  (Not very.  I betcha $5 at least six of you reading this feel the exact same way.  Fess up, ladies.)

Side note:  I should add that my son is freakishly strong – like Bamm-Bamm.

When he first started kindergarten, he loved wrestling the upper-classmen.  It was nothing for him to take out a fourth grader.  I remember when he was seven, he was carrying around his 13-year-old cousin – who, at the time, weighed about 90 pounds or so. Now, he’s super helpful when his dad needs help moving a piano, or when my daughter is feeling lazy and wants Doritos, but doesn’t want to leave her room – she then gets a piggyback ride up the stairs.


Coworkers?  I don’t want to flatter myself by pretending anyone pays that much attention to me, but….

I manage a small team at work, and it’s just common knowledge that I don’t really eat.  I don’t get invited out to lunch anymore, because I never go – I’ve turned down too many invitations for them to continue to bother.  When we have work meetings, I bring my own snacks – or just slug a bottle of water.  When our CEO was new, he held department meetings, providing lunch during the meet-and-greets.  I brought an apple.

“What, my food’s not good enough for you?”

“Nope.”  <crunch> 

(I’m still there a year later, so I guess it wasn’t complete career suicide.)

And then there’s my husband.

I know he and I have had our issues, but you know what?  He does a lot of stuff really, really right.  He’s working so hard at fixing “us.”  And my contribution?  I’ve been trying to silence the voices inside my head that cut me down – or at least, not give them a megaphone by repeating what they say out loud.

If a candy bar falls to the floor, and no one eats it, did it really fall?  And does it still have calories? 

<looks around innocently>

What candy bar?  <omnomnom>

So, we’re not talking about it.  Inwardly, I’ve decided to sweep it under the rug, at least at home.

My logic, as flawed as it may sound:  I’ve mentioned before that over the last year or so he’s been doing a lot of research and reading to shore up and quantify his beliefs. For awhile, he was pretty angry about the whole thing.  This came to a head about a year ago.  Since that time, he’s gradually begun to let go of the anger, and we’re starting to talk more.  Slowly, and carefully.  Gently pulling back the bandages to see if the wounds have started to heal.

But I still don’t like it very much.

So I figure that if he can explore spiritual stances I will never agree with, I am certainly free to diet, exercise, and lose as much weight as I want, regardless of how much he claims to not want me to.

Makes sense, right?  I perceive some of his anger as unhealthy and damaging.  He’d say the same about my eating habits.

We’re even.  Size invisible, here I come.

But since it’s not just about me…let’s talk about other stuff.  When you hear “mental illness,” what comes to mind?

Do you think about the recent workplace shooting in Kansas?

Do you connect this term with the random rambling, scraggly homeless person you see on the street?

Do you remember yourself, or a relative, struggling with postpartum depression?

Do you recall a relative or friend who self-medicated with alcohol, drugs, or food?

More importantly, did you TALK about any of this?   Or did you pretend that the issues – or the people themselves – were invisible?  If you did discuss it, was it in hushed tones?  Behind closed doors?  Was it…scandalous?  Embarrassing?  Humiliating?

Cherokee Doll wrote the other day about the stigma, shame, and guilt that mental illness can bring.

“The stigma surrounding mental illness is well known and remarked upon. Although there is a wider movement to de-stigmatize mental illness and other invisible illnesses, the fight is only beginning. Victim blaming of the mentally ill is widespread, casual, and accepted. Rarely do people bother to stop and put themselves in the shoes of the mentally ill….

“No one would speak to a cancer patient that way.”

Her post illustrates so well some of the challenges with mental illness, and highlights the hurdles we as a society haven’t been able to clear.


Somehow, instead of mocking, shaming, and creating memes for social media, we need to find a way to help each other climb over the obstacles and clear the hurdles together.

“…I am VERY painfully aware every day of my life how much pain me and my illness have brought to those around me…just know that I already inflict enough of that guilt upon myself. You don’t need to throw it in my face too. I have spent a lifetime blaming myself. No need for you to jump on that bandwagon too. I hate me more than you ever could.”

How can we help each other heal?

Extend a hand.  Lend an ear.  Hug often.

You may not be able to pull someone out of the darkness – we’re not mental health professionals, obviously – but you’ll give them something to hold onto.

Hope.  Love.  Understanding. A reminder that they aren’t invisible, and you know that they still exist…and they matter.

It helps to heal.  And healing helps all of us.

Because mental health issues impact ALL of us.

It’s not just about me.

The next speaker was (spoiler alert) a man by the name of Frank DeAngelis.  But I’ll talk about him in my next post.

(to be continued)

Electric Mess (aka Safety Professionals Gone Wild)

So I mentioned in my last post that I was in Orlando last week at a safety conference.

Normally, these things are a royal snoozefest – hour upon hour of lectures surrounding the intricacies of 29 CFR, Part 1910 of OSHA.

Two days to cover updates, changes, and best practices of over 800 pages of Workplace Safety is just about as exciting as it sounds.  The most interesting part is often the various methodologies the participants exercise in order to stay awake.  Gone are the days of propping your eyelids open with toothpicks (1910.1030, Bloodborne Pathogens) or affixing them to your forehead with tape (1910.1200, Appendix A,  A.2 and A.3 Skin/Eye Irritation.)  Nowadays, we’re limited to the safer methods of caffeine overdose, smartphone distraction, and frequent shifting of position.

In other words, we’re a group of hyper-caffeinated, mentally under-stimulated, fidgety students.  Not a great combination.  And often, you follow this with a “networking event” in the evening.  There’s typically great food AND an open bar (an act of mercy, given the day’s mind-numbing subject matter.)  But by this time…

Well, it’s kind of like electricity.  Let’s science a minute:

Here in the US, the standard power for your basic outlet is 110 volts.  (And our outlets look like a slightly horrified cartoon character):


Mine has bags under his eyes from the power saw.  Ironically, this one is powering the coffee maker.

In Europe, the outlets are 220v, not 110v.  Plus, they LOOK different.  (You can see some examples here.)  This should eliminate the possibility of ramming the plug of your $250 110v ionic hair dryer’s plug into a 220v outlet and subsequently turning its insides into a molten burnt-plastic omelet.  If you live in the US, and want to use your hair dryer* in Europe, you need a special pluggy-in thingy in order to get it to work.

*Side note:  Hair dryers have gotten WAY more complicated since the days of Sun-In and Aqua Net.  In addition to coming with a dental kit’s worth of attachments and add-ons, they NOW have technology that breaks down water molecules in order to have them evaporate from your hair faster.  What the what?  I kid you not – read it here.  Although I must add that I take serious issue with the concept of being able to purchase such a finely calibrated instrument DIRECTLY OFF THE SHELF, without ID or ANYTHING (I mean, you have to flash a license to buy freaking COLD MEDICINE, yo) yet UL still feels compelled to attach a tag warning the user not to use it in the bathtub. 

Anyway.  Simple math tells us that 220 > 110. Right?

Where am I going with this?  Well, your roomful of safety professionals normally runs around 110v.  But confining them in a conference room all day with coffee as the only entertainment, and then releasing them to a night of free booze is essentially plugging them into the 220v without an adapter.  There’s a lot of horrific noise and smoke as the internal motors buzz, snap, and hiss.  They start out the evening looking less like the US outlets, and more like the Danish one.  Wheeeeeee!!!!!

But fast forward to the next morning at 8 AM and you’d swear you were witnessing a zombie invasion, except no one is interested in anything but more coffee.  And possibly bacon.  And we’re all looking sorta like this:

I will confess, unofficially, that I did not emerge unscathed.  I came home with five (!!) extra pounds**, and I’m told there’s a video somewhere of me doing a mean Carrie Underwood at the karaoke bar.

I expected the bulk of the conference to be a sobering contrast to “networking.”  This week’s conference, however, was decidedly different.  And it kicked me right in the feels.  I’m trying to capture the impact that it, and the events of the weekend, had on me, and I’m not quite there yet.  But I’ll get to that on my next post.

**Speaking of weight – which I know I haven’t done in awhile – let’s talk about conference food for a minute here.  I find it more than slightly ironic that you spend all day learning about safety, but as soon as you’re not in session, you’re encouraged to pursue obesity, alcoholism, or both.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s the menu:

Breakfast – Trays upon trays of scrambled eggs -with cheese, obviously.  Bacon and fried potatoes.  Muffins the size of softballs.  (Thankfully, there was fresh fruit, too, and lots of it.  Apparently you couldn’t really see it behind Mount Bakemore.)

Lunch – A buffet that included chicken AND steak AND chili.  Creamy pasta salad on the side, as well as fried potatoes (wedges, not shredded this time.)  AND THREE DIFFERENT GIANT LAYER CAKES.  Oh, and a bowl of lettuce and tomatoes that I’m calling “salad.”

Snack – Yes, at 2:30, just two hours AFTER lunch, we got fed AGAIN.  But it wasn’t just snacks – it was food with a THEME:  Movie Concessions.  Huge soft pretzels – with frosting or mustard.  Buttered popcorn and giant movie-theater boxes to eat it from.  Those ginormous movie-sized boxes of candy – Junior Mints, Swedish Fish, Sno-caps, M&Ms. And six different kinds of soda.  I know it sounds excessive, but dinner was nearly four hours away, man….

Dinner was at Universal Studios and after the 2nd glass of wine I lost track of the food.  But here’s my best, albeit blurry, recollection:  Jerk chicken skewers, muffuletta sandwiches, crispy jerk wings, cheese fondue fountain with veggie and cracker dippers, beef sliders, burger sliders, jambalaya, and a giant table (OK, it was pretty much a small stage) of cookies.  Oh, and an ice cream cart.  And an open bar (I may have mentioned that….)

Surprisingly, I really didn’t eat that much at the conference.  I stuck to chicken, veggies, and fruit.  (Bravo.  Go me.)  Except then I got to the airport to go home, and was attempting to decompress from the conference and some other bad news (more on that in my next post) and I completely fell off the rails, inhaling a burrito bowl with all the fixings and, once I got home, an entire bag of popcorn and a giant Concrete Mixer from Culver’s.

And THAT’S where the five pounds came from.  Comfort eating in the form of bad airport food and wine.

Emotional week or no, it’s back to the drawing board.




‘My Wife is Irrational, Therefore She’s Wrong’

My first marriage ended for a number of reasons…but if you asked my ex what happened, he’d tell you – and I quote – “Everything was fine, then one day, she just went nuts and left.”

This post here is a more accurate rendition of what went down. (The author is not, to my knowledge, my ex.) 🙂

One thing to keep in mind here: Intelligence is not linear. It’s more like buckshot. Just because you’re really, really smart in one area of human complexity does NOT mean you will intuitively understand all of the others. So open your mind and read this with the intent of honing your emotional intelligence skills and broadening your acceptance of neurological diversity.

(Had to work an HR reference in there….) 🙂

Despite some of the issues the hubs and I have had lately, I do have to say that, for the most part, the hubs is pretty good at this.  I’m really fortunate in that regard….

Must Be This Tall To Ride

light bulb in sunset (Image/ I know it’s hard, guys.

I’ll never be confused for a genius or scholar, but I’m reasonably bright in a Get B+ and A- Grades Without Trying kind-of way. And I made all of the same arguments you’re making. I repeated them until I was blue in the face, sometimes in my best dickhead voice while my wife and I volleyed shots at each otherin another fight in which no winner would emerge.

I agreed with you so much that I unknowingly bet my entire family on it. Andlost.

Maybe some of you guys are really tough and stoic. Maybe when bad things happen to you, you brush it off like it’s no big deal and move on gracefully.

That’s not how it went for me.

I could barely breathe when my wife and littleson weren’t homeanymore. This isn’t some “evil monster entitled man-hating feminist” I’m talking about, raging…

View original post 1,639 more words

Dissecting the Funk Frog

Yeah, I know.  It’s been a while.  This funk that I’ve been in since – wow – November – seems to have settled in for the long haul.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the issue, to roll back “effect” so I can find the cause.  This is a coping trick that helps me (sometimes) when I get an overflowing cup of the feels.  Often, emotion crashes into me like a runaway truck, and my priority at that point is to roll off the road and pick gravel out of my kneecaps, notsomuch getting the license plate of the bus or piano or proverbial cartoon anvil that’s just knocked the spiritual wind out of me.

I’ve found that just putting a label on an overwhelming feeling helps drain its hold on me.  If I can identify it – if I can call it out, give it a name, loosely label what it is – it loses some of its ability to smother me and I can start to come out from underneath it.

“I am feeling anxious.  This feeling will pass.  It is OK to feel this way.”

Believe it or not, that small acknowledgement helps.  From here, I can then ask myself if there is anything that might make me feel better.  (Tonight, it was paying bills, of all things.  Go figure.  I suppose the getting-done-ness of an annoying pending task helped in some way, but I’m not taking it up as a recreational activity.  9/10 do not recommend.)

But whatever’s dragging me down these last few months is engulfed in a thick cloud of fog, darting craftily in and out between the trees to keep me nervous and off-balance.  After a lot of squinting and head-scratching (and, unfortunately, way too much snack food) I can only make out vague shapes and shadows of what I think it might be:

My dad.  I did get to see him over the holidays, and on the plus side, he’s still alive.  But he doesn’t have long – months?  weeks?  Every morning, I check my phone for the news I’m dreading.  Every morning.  Kinda wears on a gal after a while when you start every single day checking for a pulse.

My marriage.  He’s trying.  He’s been attentive, kind, understanding, and overwhelmingly helpful.  All the things you’d ever want.

But it takes time to accept that something you once believed to be somewhat magical is really quite pedestrian.  Ordinary.

It’s like Grandma’s prized antique vase:


After years of admiring it, cautioning the kids to “look but don’t touch,” and hearing great stories about its perceived rarity, you take it to be appraised on Antiques Road Show, where you discover (after a four-hour wait in line behind someone with a fugly Volvo-sized painting that you’re pretty sure was created by a dog and a four-year-old) the prized glass sculpture that she so carefully guarded and protected was a mass-produced grocery store giveaway in the 1950s and has a market value somewhere between Betamax video cassettes and books on how to survive the Y2K disaster*.

Why Worrying is a Waste of Time - Y2K

*Ah, Y2K.  We were all doomed, remember?  Everyone was up in arms about how 1/1/00 was essentially gonna shut the planet down, because computers didn’t know that “00” meant 2000 instead of 1900.  We all held our breath on New Year’s Eve, and…nothing happened.  Well, except this:  There was an older gentleman who was quite well-known in our small town for founding one of the larger local businesses.  He was a community icon, especially after he turned 100.  And the year he turned 105, he received a letter from the local elementary school reminding his parents to sign him up for kindergarten.  HAHAHAHA

Anyway, even if your vase isn’t priceless, you can’t just throw it out, right?  Because Grandma LOVED it, and its place on her mantle has given it a rich history and some good stories.   So you still treasure it, but…it’s just not the same vase you thought it was.  You just don’t have quite the same… reverence for it.  It’s nice, but viewing it gives you just the smallest twinge of disappointment, because it’s simply not what you made it out to be.  It’s an unstirred blob of cornstarch in your coconut cream memory pie.

Work.  Normally, my busy season ends right before Thanksgiving.  This year, it lasted all the way until December 23, at which point I attempted to take a few vacation days.  But I didn’t really get the break I needed, because apparently, I’m SO important that they felt the need to call me EVERY STINKING DAY (three times one day.  THREE.  TIMES.  Am I the HR freaking pharaoh?!?!) with questions, problems, and general bad behavior of certain employees.  (I blame the full moon.  Really.  Ask any HR person, or anyone who works in a hospital, if there’s any truth to the full moon being fertilizer for the crazy daisies.  They’ll affirm heartily.)

But the holidays are over now, Open Enrollment is closed, we’re all set up to print the ACA tax forms (I think, anyway; besides, the deadline’s been delayed AGAIN, so I have two more months to royally eff them up issue them.  Oh, and that also means you won’t have them by the time you want to file your taxes.  THAT won’t confuse anything, right?) and the OSHA logs (over thirty of them.  !!!) are ready to post.   I might be due for some relief shortly.  Fingers crossed.  Although I did hear that the CEO has some “ideas” he wants to discuss, so if you need to find me, I’ll be hiding under my desk behind the 2008 termination files.)

Fat.  So, through all this, I’m still fighting the food demons.  I went from swearing off food to eating ALL THE THINGS so no one else can have any.  Here are some more of the things I can no longer have in the house (because I will tape them to my face and inhale until the bag is empty):


Sweet & Salty

I can also no longer have no-bake cookies, because my motto seems to be One Batch, One Serving. I made two batches over the last three weeks.  Moo.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

(If you don’t quite hate yourself enough and want to get in on the self-loathing, go here and make these.  Use brown sugar and sub out the butter for more peanut butter, because butter is gross.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I cannot be held accountable for your cocoa-covered countenance of shame, or the repercussions of locking your family out of the kitchen.)

Topping off the snack-food skyscraper was an influx of gift cards (Merry Christmas!) to my favorite public binge site, Benihana.  This is one of those Japanese cook-on-the-table types of places, where you sit around family-style while they twirl knives and pitch shrimp tails in your pocket.  During the entertainment, you get four or five courses of food, a veritable stir-fried Mount Unami that no one could POSSIBLY scale to the summit.

Except me and the hubs.  We take great pride in declaring that to-go boxes are for quitters, and that the ability to finish the whole thing is what makes America great.

And we ate there twice over the last two weeks, finishing every bite and washing it down with one of these:


Yeah.  It’s as good as it looks.

Contributing to the waist-pinching is the lack of exercise.  I try to run a few days a week**, but that’s been tabled lately because somehow, I hurt my hip.  I say “somehow” because I quite literally have no idea what I did to it.  One day, I got out of bed, stretched, and felt a stabbing pain.  YAY.  This week, I finally caved and went to the doctor (Happy New Year! Here’s your $5000 deductible!) so I’m hoping they can get me back on track.

**Don’t get me wrong – I don’t actually LIKE to exercise.  But without it, I find the stress builds up inside and doesn’t have an outlet.  It just sits there in my gut demanding I feed it naughty things like kettle corn and chocolate pudding.  Exercise, like coffee, keeps me from having to chip through the frozen ground to bury the bodies.

The doctor thinks it’s something that can only be healed by using crutches for four weeks.

Whoa there, Doc.


I have to navigate a ginormous parking lot every day, and I live in America’s Frozen Tundra, AND I have to juggle my coffee and my morning smoothie, so unless these suckers come with cup holders and an ice pick, I don’t see crutches being a reality.  Plus, airports.  I have five trips to take between now and the end of February.  While crutches might be handy to take out unruly children and line-cutters, I don’t think they’re gonna expedite my last-minute dash to my gate.

I did get an MRI yesterday, so hopefully that’ll give me a more palatable answer. Like something that requires weekly massages and heat therapy.

And speaking of therapy….I should probably add that I quit that, too.  Why?

Because the therapist called me fat. 

OK, I should clarify.  She didn’t mean to, I don’t think.  But while we were talking, Dr. P made a comment about “your size X body.”  Essentially, she mentioned a size that, intellectually, I know is viewed as “slender” by society….BUT IT’S A FULL SIZE BIGGER THAN I ACTUALLY WEAR.  So my brain immediately assumed that I look 10-15 pounds bigger than I AM, which is 10 pounds bigger than I WANT to be.  You see how this works?  I’ve been working so hard to accept myself at my current size, and one offhanded comment just burnt all progress to ashes.  So forget it – we’re back to a goal of Size Invisible and I apparently need to lose twenty pounds*** in order to be acceptable.

Incongruously***, I dealt with all of this last night by downing a healthy (HAHAHAHA) portion of Cab Sav and most of this:

40% Reduced Fat Original

***Classic eating disorder logic here, amiright?

But today is a new day. I’ve broken my clichéd New Year’s resolutions about twelve times already, but thankfully, there’s no punch card of restarts.

Today, I can start anew.

What I’ll choose, though – food? weight loss?  health? remains a mystery.

That’s My Note Athiest! We Empires the Bad.

I’m long overdue for a post here, I know.

In my defense, things have been a little dark lately, and in the few moments I’ve been able to come up for air, I haven’t felt at all like doing much of anything.  I’d blame the full moon I saw last week…


Actual full moon witnessed on actual commute.  Sweet cheeks, pumpkin.

…or the odd weather we’ve been having…


Actual weather report at actual terminal.  Fled in terror before Niagara Falls came to a boil.

…but I’m sure neither of these contributed much.

Plus, I’ve been wrapping up my annual super-busy period at work. At last count, I’ve read over 500 performance reviews, editing out “helpful” feedback and rewriting some of the comments so we don’t get our carcasses sued.  Here’s a sample of this year’s gems, fresh from the school of “I wish I were kidding”:

Mark is an expert fisherman and all the customers know that.  Because even though we do not sell any fishing paraphernalia, this subject comes up every time we need him to unload a truck or clean something and we hear his sudden andn intense passion in discussing his hobby in detail with anyone nearby.  (Mark is kind of my spirit animal.)

Joe does the best he can with his bum hip.  <cringe>

Sally is smart, but sometimes the men don’t think she knows much about our product line.  She needs to find a way to service these customers better.  I know she really trys.  <double cringe>

And my personal favorite for 2015:

Jim is an excellent associate.  He expertly fills all my holes.

<DELETE DELETE DELETE>  Well, right after I copy and paste and send to all my HR buddies.  Because HAHAHAHAHAHA

In my spare time <snort> I’m finishing up the last few days of Open Enrollment. For you non-US folks, the Open Enrollment period is the annual time where you can make your benefit selections for the following plan year.  This time period is usually about three weeks. OF SHEER HELL.

Let me tell you how this shiz goes down, from an HR perspective:

First, you get info from your carrier about how much they want to jack up your rates.  If they’re going easy on you, the screwing starts at 20%.  And this year, we have the plot twist of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”.) Regardless of how you feel about that from a political standpoint, many of the insurance carriers are blaming it for additional increases of 5-10% ON TOP OF WHAT THEY WERE GONNA CHARGE YOU ANYWAY.

Yay progress.

So you negotiate frantically between your broker, your carrier, and your executive team to try to patch together a plan that balances a value-added benefit with what the company can afford to offer.  In other words, you have to offer a plan that the shareholders will agree to AND won’t result in a parade of flaming torches and pitchforks when you roll it out to employees.

Basically, you need the Tooth Fairy to bring you a purple unicorn who speaks French and juggles.  Preferably a vegan one.

Next you schedule meetings and assemble books to explain benefits changes and rates.   You hold your meetings, hand out the materials.  Any questions?  Nope, we’re good, kthxbye.

Two and a half weeks go by.  Nothing else happens.  A tumbleweed blows by as you frantically fix the most garish typos and correct gender pronouns on the last of the performance reviews.  (You’d like to do a more thorough scrub, but the battle of too/to, your/you’re, and the over-apostrophication of every.freaking.word ending in “s”  has left you exhausted and stamping them with the seal of “Close Enough.”  Uncle already, UNCLE!)

Two days before Open Enrollment ends, people start to realize that the deadline is looming, and the monsoon hits.  You quickly shift gears to spend fourteen hours a day explaining the difference between an HSA and an FSA and an HDHP and a PPO in between complaints about “my benefits went up 5% but my raise was only 2%.” (Which I get, but these two things are totally unrelated.  Insurance is not a buy/sell retail item and it is NOT cheap for a company to offer.  Want proof?  Ask for your COBRA rates – that’s the true cost of the plan for the company.  Then come back and complain.  Oh, and you’re free to shop the marketplace and pay more for a plan with a higher deductible.  Really, have a look at how “affordable” the marketplace plans are.)


Suffice it to say I’m in the thick of my annual “lost all faith in humanity” period.

Just in time for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Which I spent eating popcorn in the airport watching the Eagles get totally spanked.

So is it any wonder that I’m out of wine?

Side note:  I drank this last week, too. It’s soooo gooooooood.  It’s mead.  I don’t know what mead is, other than I think Shakespeare drank it, or Monty Python did, or something, and it tastes like beer and wine made a baby that totally went to Harvard, yo.  So go get some. You’re welcome.  P.S.  Don’t let the hornet on the label scare you.  After getting about 1/3 of the way through the bottle, you’ll realize the bee isn’t menacing, but merely misunderstood, and really just needs a big ol’ hug.


The brewer is Nectar Creek.  Sorry the pic is a bit blurry. It’s a big bottle. <hic>

But let me be clear about one thing.  When I’m texting you?  I’m not drunk.  It’s simply that my phone HATES ME.

I know I’m not alone in unfortunate autocorrects.  Part of the title of this post was actually from a comment on an older post – Chelise from Caterpillar to Butterfly posted “That’s my note atheist!” in a comment.

Any guess what she meant to say?

Clearly, the context cues lead you to “That’s my vote at least.”  Right?

This was easy for me to translate, because my phone has given me PLENTY of practice.  Let me show you.

Here’s a text sequence.  I was out with Kid #1, shopping.  We agreed to meet Kid #2 for dinner, and apparently he was getting hungry….

(He’s gray, I’m blue.)


OK, that wasn’t too bad.  I got there, eventually.

So my son went out and shot a squirrel (GOOD, because squirrels SUCK), and it’s “later” now and he is most definitely STARRRRRRVINGGGG.  I ask him where he wants to go for food.  He suggests Taco Bell; I helpfully suggest some delicious alternatives.


Bonus points to him – he’s so confused, he actually used punctuation. If you have teenagers, you know how significant – and rare – this is.

Since he was a little scared to guess what I was suggesting,  he stuck with leftover Chinese.  (I swear, I was only asking him if he wanted something from Sheetz or from this local place called NY Deli.  OBVIOUSLY.)

Later that night, Sis is out on a date.  He’s trolling YouTube videos on different gamer hacks, but now he can’t find his headphones.  He swore up and down he left them RIGHT HERE ON THE TABLE next to his sister’s phone charger…which was, of course, with her on her date.  We’d been running around all day, so they could have been anywhere.  I tell him to text Sis (in purple) to see if she has any ideas:


I’m not even going to tell you what I was trying to say here.  I’ll let you guess.  (OK, because I actually forgot.  Even I can’t figure it out.)

But I didn’t give up.  Daughter is on another date tonight, so, being the superhip mom I am,  I tried one more time to text her.  (Oh, and I called her boyfriend “Nemo” because he has an arm in a sling and I am a horrible person who told everyone at lunch today that he hurt it wrestling off a senior citizen in a Black Friday fight for the last $2.00 cami.  HAHAHAHA.)

Anyway, we ordered Chinese (which, apparently, we do a lot) and I wanted to see if we needed to save her anything:


NOW I give up.  Again…uncle.  UNCLE, SIRI, UNCLE.

But, like I said, it’s been a rough week.  In Chicago, even the pastries seem to be having some sort of identity crisis:


Actual pastry display in yet another actual airport.  THE CAKE IS A LIE.  A delicious, delicious lie.

So technology may lead me to some awkward communications, but a world where carrots taste like chocolate is a world worth hanging out in for a while.

Especially if THIS is how you airport:


(Smart kid.  Seriously, why didn’t I think of that?)


The Artificial Tang of Banana Candy

Despite the overabundance of Christmas decorations you see in every retail shop in America, this is NOT the “most wonderful time of the year” for HR.

Why?  It’s because, in addition to the normal chorus of Stupid Employee Tricks, it’s the time of year where everything is due at once.  Right now I’m working on a few of the following:

Annual AAP and EEOC reporting (the latter is finished.  The former?  SHOOT ME.  I mean, I’m all about diversity.  It’s the mind-numbing minutiae of government documentation that makes all of us approach this task with the enthusiasm and vigor of preparing our taxes or heading to a root canal.)

Open Enrollment – the annual event where HR pulls you all together and shoots confusing terminology and abbreviations at you for a full sixty minutes.  The end result of this meeting is the expectation that you place you order for your own personalized combo platter of a pre-tax alphabet soup that you’ll pay a couple thousand dollars for. On the menu are PPO, with or without FSA (dependent care, medical, or BOTH); OR HDHP, with or without HSA (so study those co-insurances and copays, folks!); LTD and STD, the latter of which cannot be cleared up by antibiotics, and you really DO want, just in case, and and let’s not forget to remind ourselves of the benefits of our EAP and 401(k).

<head explodes>

(Side note – Seriously, folks.  You’re probably spending upwards of $2000 on insurance – take an hour or two and READ the stuff HR gives you.  We don’t print it because we are budding novelists desperate to see our names in print.  We do it as an attempt to educate you on what we know is an overwhelming, confusing, and expensive topic.  I’ll bet the last time you bought an electronic device, or a new appliance, you spent HOURS poring over Consumer Reports and Amazon reviews, determined to get the best value.  And that likely didn’t cost you HALF of what you’ll spend on insurance.  So take a stab at actually using the tools HR gives you.  This is a much bigger – and more expensive – decision than whether you need a built-in ice maker or not.)

Performance Reviews:  Ah…my favorite.  And by “favorite,” I mean “time of year I most frequently question my career choice.”  And by “choice,” I mean “where I accidentally landed after discovering that most people lack the chutzpah to tell someone when they’re getting canned.”


Your performance review is supposed to be the time of year where you get dedicated attention from your boss – where she actually has an in-depth conversation with you about your job performance, your career potential, and your future with your organization.

What it often ends up being is a quick meeting where you get a pencil-whipped checklist from your boss, where you were arbitrarily rated, like wine, cheese, or earbuds, on a scale of 1-5.  This scale is meant to capture the full spectrum of performance, with a rating of one meaning “unable to safely operate a crayon” and five being “not only walks on water, but turns it into wine when he’s done.”

Often, you and your peers are force-ranked – this means that your company has set quotas on how many people can sit in which seats on the rank bus – so most of you are solidly in Seat 3, which is Neutral, or Neither Agree Nor Disagree, or “Does my boss even know my name?”

Suffice it to say I’m not a huge fan of performance reviews.  What should happen is that you have clear job expectations, and you receive frequent feedback from your supervisor so you know EXACTLY how you’re doing every week of your job.  Feedback should be an ongoing process, not a once-a-year event.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret – most managers completely suck at managing.  (OK, admittedly, that’s not much more a secret than water being wet.)  Most of them are pretty candy-a$$* about telling you when you’re doing something wrong.

*I tried to find another word here, because although in real life I swear like the mechanic I was raised by, I try to keep my blog pretty clean.  But didn’t have ANY synonyms for “candy-a$$” –  it came up empty: “Did you mean cantatas?”  Uh, no.  Choir peeps may SOUND all innocent when they’re blasting through Vivaldi’s Gloria, but don’t let the robes fool you – they will TOTALLY cut a b!tch.  Especially the altos.  Those chicks are dark.

The point here is that if HR didn’t force managers to write down how you’re doing once a year, you’d never actually know, well, at least, not until the day you get called to HR and your boss is waiting there with the exit packet.

So that’s why your company does performance reviews.  And that’s also why your review tastes oddly like banana candy.

Laffy Taffy - bite-size banana - tub of 145:

Bananarama / Banana Runts - Bulk:

Banana Candy SHOULD be good.  I mean – SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR.  Right?  It’s sweet.  It has a fun, bright color that should signal a party in your mouth.

But it just doesn’t taste good. The sweetness is cloying.  The flavor is…odd.  Unpleasant.

And it certainly tastes NOTHING like an actual banana.  It’s totally fake.  I mean, it has the COLOR of a banana, and because you’re told that it’s supposed to taste like an actual banana, you eat it and play along.

But if this candy was, say, blue, and shaped like a prickly pear?  No way would that shiz stay in your mouth.  You’d spit it out.  You’d agree pretty quickly that it was nasty, artificial crap that has absolutely no business being called food.

But when we’re told that it’s supposed to be something we normally find palatable, we dutifully nod and swallow it.

You see how this is much like your annual performance review?

It’s supposed to taste just like a banana.

Incidentally, this is how I’m feeling in my marriage lately.  I’m trying to recover from the  “incident” from a few weeks ago, and I’d been doing remarkably well, actually.

Then I made the decision to go back to therapy.  I had my first return visit on Friday.

As it turns out, I’ve been feeding myself a whole heckuva lot of banana candy.

That whole inner peace thing I’ve been carrying around like Fall’s must-have Tory Burch backpack?  Fake.  Forced.  Surreal.

I’ve spent the last two days in the uncomfortable spot of really feeling the feels.  Oh, and eating them.  I demolished a 26-oz bag of this in under 24 hours.  (Add THAT to the list of “can never buy again.”  Curse you, Costco.):

can't buy THIS again, either.  EVER.:

For you math geeks, that’s almost two pounds of popcorn, folks.  3,640 calories.

Now THAT is one big-azz banana.

Yesterday, the hubs took me for a massage.  (Which should have been nice.  But all the nice things he’s doing for me lately feel artificial, too.  Despite his insistence on the authenticity of his actions, I can’t accept them as acts of love; they feel like guilt gifts.  Obligatory offerings.  Choco-flavored maraschino-esque balls of goo.)

I cried for much of the massage.  As the masseuse worked my shoulders out of my ears, I watched big, fat tears of heartache fall through the face pillow and onto the floor.  I wanted them to take some of the anguish with them, but all they did was broadcast it, displaying my hurt for everyone to see.

I spent the rest of the day hiding under a cold, dark cloud that I pulled over my face and head to shut the world out.

My homework from therapy is to let myself experience the emotions I have.  I guess now that the popcorn bag is empty (EMPTY.  seriously @(#@#WTF*$@!!!!) I can start to do that.  Dr. P encouraged me to sit with these feelings.  They’re admittedly (and obviously) unpleasant.  But eating doesn’t lessen them, nor make them disappear.  It only postpones them.  They lie in wait until you’re ready to deal with them.  It’s like sheets in the washing machine.  Eventually, if they sit there long enough, you’ll need to rewash them once in a while.  But they won’t get dried and put away until you begin the arduous task of taking them outside to dry on the line, hanging them one corner at a time.

I hate feeling this way.

I don’t want to have these feelings any more.

I’m really, really sick of this damn banana.

But I guess if I want to really heal, I need to eat every stinking bite of it.  I’ll need to force myself to choke down one piece at a time, brown spots and all.