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Marketing Tales: Uniforms

Port Authority bannerMiscellaneous Company Uniform Request Form

Please complete this form and return it to your supervisor.

Name:_____________________________________

Department: ________________________________

Uniform Pieces:______________________________

Size requested: _____________________________

Thanks for taking the time to give me your personal size information and uniform requests! I understand that dedicating three minutes of your workday to such a menial task is beneath you, so I’m glad that you are taking the time to verbally dictate your uniform request to me as I walk by you in the parking lot or via email or instead. It’s all about communication!  

As director of our company’s marketing department, I’m responsible for consistent brand management. #NerdAlert Since these uniform pieces will have our company logo on them, I’ll be overseeing the entire uniform process, from researching vendors and clothing items to negotiating appropriate pricing and preparing the company’s order. It only makes sense that I also catalog each and every one of your personal apparel preferences as well. I mean, if you’re going to be the human being who’s getting free clothes, why SHOULDN’T you get a say in everything from brand name, fabric composition and preferred colors?

What’s that? You say “You’re easy and you’ll be happy with whatever you get?” HA HA HA! Forgive me as my face starts twitching, since I’ve learned what you *really* mean is that I’d better figure out how to read your mind and get you exactly what you want but BETTER because if I’m not able to ‘WOW’ you and make you look like a teenage Michael J. Fox, then you’ll see fit to tell all the employees around you that you were excluded and purposely dressed like a buffoon because I must have a personal vendetta against your sense of style. (And here I thought I was a problem solver!)

If a company’s culture isn’t measured by teamwork and camaraderie, is it even a real company? What better way to bond with your fellow employees then by complaining about all the new uniform pieces you just received for zero dollars!

Can you feel the company-oneness as you all roll your eyes and gossip about how some employees from other departments actually  got different clothing items than you? How unfair!

Sure, those people work frequently outside in the elements while you sit at a desk with a space heater – but yes! I can see your point about how everyone deserves to receive the same pieces of clothing no matter what their role in the company is. True teamwork will never be achieved if we aren’t all treated equally and yes, that applies to fleece vests too.

How could I not make room in my marketing budget for Patagonia-brand jackets? It’s like I don’t even CARE about our planet! You poor employee! Forced to wear basic Port Authority like a common, Country Club caddie! You’re right. This sounds like grounds for a hostile work environment claim.

Don’t worry, even though you will give me the specific size you want me to order, I understand that you really expect me to order you at least three different sizes because you never know about garment fit or how many burritos you’ll enjoy in the 10 business days it takes to actually GET the items you’ve requested. As marketing director, it’s also my responsibility to make sure your new uniform items don’t make you look too chubby/skinny/busty/pale/poor/feminine. Brand representation matters!

I understand that you are asked to do a lot here. Submitting you to some 1950s-era housewife duty may be the last straw. You really are an incredible employee who goes above and beyond your duties when you take your own personal time at home to iron your own shirts. I’m sure someday when you own your own company, you’ll be sure to pay for personal dry cleaning services for each one of your staff members. Nothing makes a company feel like family like complimentary laundry service.

We both know I’ll be sure to disappoint you with whatever items or sizes you’ve requested but don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll adjust our company logo again soon so we’ll just do the whole order process again in six months.

Thanks again for your input!

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A Timeline of My Star Wars Exposure, Categorized by the Boys of My Life

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My daughter’s attempted outfit choice for Thanksgiving 2011.

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! (May the Fourth for those not in the know.)

Let me warn you that if you work in the construction industry (construction-tech?), this made-up-holiday is not as big of a deal as it is in the software-company world. No potlucks, Happy Hours, costume contests or anything! Did a few of us still dress up? Of course we did. Then again, give us any excuse to coordinate our outfits and we’ll take it. I’m still waiting for my Happy Hour to begin.

My zeal for Star Wars wasn’t always a thing to be scoffed at by my boss. Today, as I was questioned about my various Star Wars props and outfit accessories, it made me think back to when I discovered this whole galactic world.

As usual, many of my internal filters and checkpoints involve the various boys that consumed my brain so that’s how I categorize things. I’ve renamed them here to protect their grown-up privacy. My blog’s 10 readers are pretty damn intuitive and you never know when one of them could be recognized.

Initial Star Wars Discovery

Boy: Guns & Roses Fan + Football Captain

When you’re a spindly, high-school sophomore kissing a high-school senior in your friend’s coat closet (WITH THE LIGHTS OFF) you can be sure that memory will most likely make an impression on you. When you discover his bedroom has a dedicated, black-painted wall featuring glow-stars and the opening credits from Star Wars, that will also leave you with some…thoughts. Bonus points for the Star Wars models hanging from the ceiling with fishing line.

Our connection ended faster than a parsec, but I moved onto his younger brother, who was way more my speed, albeit, not as tall. Damn. We didn’t really talk about the whole 2-weeks-I-hung-out-with-his-older-brother-first thing a lot.

Oh yeah, Star Wars…

Boy: Blue-eyed boy, perfect, except for his musical appreciation for Pink Floyd and lack of feelings for yours truly

B-boy loved his Star Wars. If I remember correctly, when he wasn’t melting me with that heavy, blue-eyed gaze or introspective comments on why we’d never make a good couple, he promised to watch all three of the Star Wars movies with me since I had never seen any. Maybe we watched the first one. At that time, if he was in the room, I wouldn’t have noticed. The only B-boy movie I seem to remember retaining is Seven, which just scared the hell out of me and may have been the first rated-R movie I saw in the theaters.

Back then, in the late nineties, you couldn’t cue up your phone and watch movies on all our 1-5 road trips, so we’d talk, find shapes in clouds and listen to just a few songs on a CD before he’d play DJ and cue up some other obscure tune on the portable player connected to my Hyundai via tape adapter. The original “good-hair” influence/measurement  in my life, he’s since been replaced with Justin Timberlake. Sorry, B-boy. JT’s hair is the freaking best.

No really – Star Wars is A THING

Boy: The ORIGINAL Star Wars super-fan. Or at least the one I chose to have children with.

Once again, I found myself being promised a movie date to watch all three of the Star Wars movies. This time, in 1999, I think we actually accomplished it. But alas, there was a new Star Wars movie coming out and so we felt the pressure of a deadline!

We grabbed the FOURTH-slash-Episode-1 Star Wars movie in a tiny theater in Placerville. I remember thinking that Jar Jar Binks must have been based on the younger girls in Full House with those lame catch-phrases. But I could watch Ewan McGregor in pretty much anything, so it wasn’t totally wasted on me.

We’d wait in more lines as two more films came out and it really was made even more special because of the pure joy he had whenever he got to see them.

As time passed, the Star Wars tattoos started and the title of super-fan was officially bestowed. After our divorce, the pin-up “me” tattoo he had on his leg was covered up with a massive Darth Vader tattoo. My so-called embrace of the Dark Side had never been so fully represented as that rad tattoo.

“I. AM. Your. Father!”

Boy: My firstborn, my life-changer, my Heart’s gift

As son of the OG super-fan, this kid basically had zero say in being exposed to the Star Wars universe. His first stuffed toy was a 6’’ Stormtrooper doll. He’s had Star Wars-themed clothing since it buttoned between his legs for easy diaper changes. And the trend doesn’t seem to be changing, despite being only weeks away from his 13th birthday. Alright, except for the snaps between the legs.

Note, this isn’t where I’ll insert the cliche about it feeling like “only yesterday”. If you’ve met my son, you know that you feel every. single. one. of the days he’s existed on this planet. There is no speedy time passing with this child. There’s too much he’s throwing at you for a day to be able to blend together into the next. Mysterious medical ailments as an infant, sheer tyranny and hell as a three-year-old who discovered head-bashing and fit-throwing to be his true passion in life, random old-man sayings and activities and a stubborn streak that is only close the size of  my own .

The boy I love most in this world chose to have a Star Wars themed birthday party when he turned four. I had been laid off from work a month or so before (Apparently, toenail-fungus-laser-cure advertising contracts were NOT the revenue generator they originally were) so it was one of the few times I was at home with my babies.

I decided that exercising my new stay-at-home-mom wings was the thing to do and so I committed to the theme like a naive college freshman commits to the baked potato bar. (THIS is what sour cream tastes like? Holy shit! This is amazing! I’m having vegetables and dairy every day! This is what it feels like to be a grown up!)

I turned to the Dollar Store for budget-friendly supplies and left with a cart-full of stuff guaranteed to fill up my day and the emptiness I felt in not being able to provide for my family. Party on!

I crafted lightsabers from pool noodles, electrical tape and metallic markers; I made a 4-foot model of the Star Destroyer out of a large inflatable orca, some bamboo poles and all the tin foil I could afford. That thing turned out amazing and hung in my son’s room for years. Special thanks to the original, Star Wars boy for that pro-tip!

Our guests, both young and old, came in costume and we had a blast! The Millennium Falcon cake was an enormous hit and set the standard for future birthday cakes that I always delegated and purchased from friends. Mama doesn’t bake cakes. At least not ones that are supposed to look like actual things.

The First Star Wars Day

Boy: The coworker who can pull off a beer in one hand and a legit Stormtrooper costume in the other

My first Star Wars (May 4th) celebration happened just after I started at my new job at one of the local software companies. I had purchased a rad Stormtrooper hair clip for the occasion and loved the company-sponsored snacks, beers,  prizes and decorations. What a time to be alive and be into Nerd Culture! I could work with this.

This particular coworker’s Star Wars fervor was STRONG! He’s performed on stage with Weird Al during his many Star Wars anthems. He’s volunteered time and raised awareness for local autism events, as well as helped out with Free Comic Book Day, local Star Wars nights at baseball games, and more. Basically, he’s an amazing human being who took his passion for the series and turned it into a way to give back to his community and I think that’s pretty stellar.

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See? I told you his costume was legit.

Today, the Star Wars universe has gotten so big, my brain can’t seem to contain any new details. I still haven’t seen the last movie (movies?). I see Star Wars “happening” to my kids, but it’s like I’m on the outside now and have turned it over to them.

I hear Disneyland is getting a new Star Wars land and all I can think of is “Wait! B-boy and I hung out over there when it was Frontier Land back in high school!” I remember our hunt for where we could buy gum (pretty impossible in D-Land). I had hoped it was for future kissing plans but I think it was just for his wistful whisperings in my ear on the Peter Pan ride. (“I can show you the world….” Oh my God. I totally swooned.) How sad that that area will be paved over and covered up with Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca forests! Then again, how appropriate? I think he’s going to love it.

This morning, despite me being a bit rusty with my Star Wars exposure, I grabbed my Star Wars shirt, added some annoying, bright-red lipstick and embraced the made up holiday with a smile on my face. My 11 year-old daughter watched me get ready in the mirror and exclaimed, “So THAT’S how you put on lipstick!”

Maybe she’ll remember Star Wars Day with the interesting timeline marker of “Saw how to put on red lipstick on one of mom’s weird May 4th days.” 

 

Dental Discoveries

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I’ve discovered a new mathematical formula today.

Take the number of years between your dental cleanings and multiply it by most annoying number you know; maybe, 97,653 or some other odd, non-prime numbered jerk, and there’s the answer to the question, “How many times will I be lectured about my flossing and lack of dental visits by this hygienist?”

Do I understand that the dentist is important and that I should floss? Yep. Just like I know I should exercise and eat more vegetables. This is knowledge that the majority of us all know, but unless we find motivation that actually matters to us personally, it’s always easier to skip visits, avoid all the bloody gums, and just give the place a call when you get a toothache or a cavity.

The problem is, I haven’t had any problems with my teeth. Sure, I can tell they needed a good cleaning, but the ol’ dependable ivories have been cavity-free and there have been zero toothaches or sensitivities that have been nagging at me to take action.

Yet, here I am. Armed with an HSA account and ready to be a responsible grown up! I make my kids go to the dentist so damn it, I’m finally going to go too! I called back in November to schedule a cleaning. It’s now August and after having to do the whole “X-rays and dentist-gum-poking-pocket torture” back in April, I’ve finally been given the green light to come in.

New-to-Me Hygienist: Hi, I’m (some name I’ve already forgotten because I was too distracted by her lash extensions and super black eye liner that made her look like she was getting ready to be Betty Boop for Halloween.) My sister, (another name I recognized but have already deleted from my brain)  had actually been your hygienist here a long time ago.

Actual-Me Response: Oh yeah?

Internal-Me Response: Are you freaking kidding me? Your sister was THAT hoochie-hygienist? Um, yeah. I remember her. She asked my then-husband if he’d be interested in sketching her topless for a present for her boyfriend. (He declined.) Yeah. I remember her. Thanks for the heads up that she was your sister cause that whole “My last hygienist wanted to take her top off for my ex” could have been a logical conversation piece for us. Now I know we can skip it. Are we done here yet and should I expect you to be just as weird?

Sister-Hygienist: Wow. It looks like you haven’t been here since 2009! That’s like…(pauses to count to almost double-digits in her head) EIGHT YEARS! Why has it been so long?

Actual-Me Response: Oh, you know. Life. I went through a divorce, I didn’t have dental insurance, and instead I focused my resources on making sure my kids went to the dentist regularly. Also, I really hate the dentist. For real. I am wishing I was at that dental place where they put you to sleep right now. I mean, I’m sure you’re a very nice person but…I hate this.

Internal-Me Response: Did she not read the patient notes about me where I already shared all of this with the dentist in April? Oh crap. Did he put the part in where I asked, “Hey, not to be weird, but is that old flirty-hygienist still working here? It was kinda weird that she asked my ex to sketch her naked. Can I not see her for my cleaning?” (He assured me she didn’t work there anymore). It’d be really awkward if he had put that in those notes. Maybe I don’t want this new girl to read them.

Raccoon-Eye Lady: Do you floss?

Actual-Me Response: Nope. Well, not unless there’s something in my teeth. Or right before I go to the dentist. I actually flossed over the weekend.

Appalled Hygienist: It’s really important that you floss. It’s also really important to visit the dentist regularly. You should try really hard to do both of those.

Actual-Me Response: Mmm. Hmm. ::offers a closed lip smile::

Internal-Me Response: Lady, I’m freaking thirty-seven years old. Do you honestly think I don’t know the importance of flossing or visiting the dentist? Are there cameras or recording devices in here? Are you not paid your full paycheck unless you give patients that spiel?  

Annoying-Hygienist: OK, since it’s been SOOOOO long since you’ve been here and you obviously don’t want to be here (Do I look that freaked out or are you just sensing my annoyance with your childish lectures?) I’ll try and be really gentle but I want to warn you that it’s probably going to be sensitive on those gums since you aren’t flossing regularly.

Actual-Me Response: Yep. I imagine so.

Internal-Me Response: If I have to hear about my flossing and non-visits one more time, I’m going to lose my shit. How can I get her to just stop talking?

Actual-Me Response: Hey, would you mind if I put in my headphones and listened to some music on my own? I think I’d like to just kinda, tune out, you know?

Wide-eyed hygienist: Oh! Sure!

::I put in my headphones and turn on the music::

Same Tooth Lady: She starts asking me some random question about how old my kids are and where they go to school. She obviously must think her voice has magic powers that allow it to permeate through ear buds, the rocking tones of HAIM that I’m blasting into my ear canals in an attempt to cover up the incoming dental scrapings. I fumble through through the layers of spit-bib and ruffles of my dress while also struggling to see through the darkened glasses that she’s put on my eyes to protect me from “all that plaque you have that I’ll be cleaning off”. I hit pause.

Actual-Me Response: I’m sorry. What was that?

Oblivious Hygienist: I said, “What school do your kids go to?”

Fast forward about 40 minutes toward the end of the appointment. My body is like a human rainbow in the posh dental chair, yet the only contact I have with the supple leather-ish material is the back of my head and the back of my heels.

I’ve managed to hear her “close down” commands on the suck-straw through the wight-screeching death-sounds of the water-needle plaque-cannon.  It’s like a pissed off bat got lost inside my mouth instead of its nice little, cave-home. It shrieks and bumps into me and continues to draw blood, while all I can do is hold still and just pray it all ends quickly.

I turn off my music because honestly, what’s the point? She’s going to talk to me and nothing–NOTHING–can protect me from her lectures.

Nerve-Poker: I’m going to floss you now.

Actual-Me Response: (My jaw closes awkwardly after being open so long and I feel like I got punched in the face.) Yup.

Ridiculous Woman in Scrubs: Do you know how to floss?

My mouth is open wide but my eyes are, thankfully, closed. She can feel the sigh of my breath leaving me, but is saved from the exaggerated eye roll that I wouldn’t have been able to hide from my face.

Actual-Me: Uh-huh.

Clueless Cleaner: OK, so you do this: You get floss and put it between your hands like this. And then you go between the teeth, alllllll the way down to the gum line or else it won’t work as well. Then you get UNDER the teeth on either side.

Internal-Me: Oh my word. This is really happening. This lady *actually* thinks she will be the one to change my flossing habits. She’s coming at me with her floss-evangelism as if her holy mission is changing my dental habits for good.

IF ONLY I’D KNOWN! What’s that, sister-hygienist? YOU floss all the time, even in the car? Gross. But, hallelujah! You’ve saved me from my wanton sugar-bug ways and now and forever more I shall be a child of the holy Floss. Here, see me as I rise to take the blessed communion of Listerine and remember all the gross things you’ve just scraped off my teeth as I obediently swish and rinse.

Dental Dummy: You know, you have really pretty teeth. You just need to floss and come to the dentist regularly.

Internal-Me ::Nose sighs:: Thank God my mouth is full of Listerine.

Appointment Booking Lady: Let’s see…we can schedule you for your next cleaning but your hygienist isn’t available then. Is that OK?

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Actual-Me Response: Yep. That will be fine.

Jenny’s Imaginary 20-Year Class Reunion Checklist

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I actually began this blog post a few months ago.

I was feeling a bit sentimental and frustrated that my class wouldn’t be getting together for the typical 20-year high school reunion. Granted, there’s never been anything typical about the BCHS Class of 1997, but I honestly thought if there was any group of students who could pull off getting together to mark such a momentous occasion, it’d be us.

But, no reunion plans have been made and life has a funny way of propelling 37, now 36, people off into different directions, making it next to impossible to wrangle together an official function. And make no mistake – in my head, it’d be a “THING”; no casual get-together would suffice in my book. I’ve always felt like, if people are going to travel from far and wide and go through such an effort to make time in their lives, they at least deserve to get dressed up and have a nice dinner.

To help cope and feel like I got to experience some sort of Reunion Occasion, I started making up a fake recreation of how I could see the event going in my head. If you’re a fellow BCHS alum, maybe you can read this and feel a similar experience. If you’re a normal blog reader and think I’m crazy for even WANTING to experience a 20-year reunion, well, yeah. You’re probably right.


Jenny’s 20 Year Class Reunion Checklist

6 months out:

Zero tasks. Let’s face it, you probably won’t get six months advance notice before the event.

3 months out:

  • Buy at least five different outfits for yourself, your boyfriend and your children and plan on staying awake at night as you imagine which ones you’ll actually get a chance to wear
  • Start thinking about exercising and/or clever ways to disguise the reality that you are indeed, 20 years older, inhabit a body that’s given birth to two children, and still hate to eat vegetables
  • Research the healing time required for a nose job and that new “Freeze the Fat Away” treatment
  • Curse the limitations of modern plastic surgery and body modifications
  • Make all your travel arrangements and get a little reminiscent when you realize that this will be the first time heading to Lancaster when you can’t just stay at your parents’ house. A hotel-stay in Lancaster? Weird.
  • Start going through your dog-eared yearbook from senior year and realize just how inflexible you’ve become in your old age
  • Sign up for yoga or Pilates or something that will make you feel like you could attempt a cheerleading jump without pulling a muscle or throwing out your back

1 month out:

  • Sort through photos requested for a digital photo collage that will be running during the cocktail reception and be sure to choose ones where you don’t have that weird neck-thing or look like you’re trying too hard to be cute
  • Start a new hobby during those sleepless nights where you’re lying awake and wondering just how amazing and/or awful this event will end up being. What if everyone else remembers high school from a totally different perspective as you and you were actually a huge jerk that no one liked? What if people starts reminiscing about that one time when a large group of baseball players used to just refer to you in the locker room as “whore” and your friends who knew better were too scared to step up and say anything and risk high-school-popularity-banishment?
  • Maybe crocheting would be a good choice. Or air plants. Can air plants be a hobby?

Night of the Dinner Event:

  • Stare at yourself in the mirror and remember that every time you think you can duplicate those YouTube updo hair tutorials, it usually ends in tears
  • Remind your children to be cool and not drive their sitter crazy and no, they may not have soda with caffeine tonight. They have to get good rest and not be all sugar-sick so they can function as perfect, clear-eyed little humans during the family-event the next day
  • Remind the kids: DON’T GET ANY WEIRD BRUISES TONIGHT–ESPECIALLY ON YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACES! We don’t want any of the hundreds of photos taken tomorrow to show that you’re an actual human-child that excels in running, playing, getting dirty, and wriggling. #JustBeCool
  • Arrive at the dinner event on time, but not too on time which would cause you to appear overly excited and eager. You are not Patty Simcox from Grease. Let’s be honest you’re probably not “Sandra Dee” anymore either, but “Rizzo” or “Marty”? Sure, why not?
  • Find the bar
  • During your first drink of the evening, realize that drinking may be offensive to some of your old classmates and teachers and wonder if you’ve just labeled yourself to that section of the room as a “Backslider”
  • Remember that you’re divorced, really enjoy saying bad words out loud and that you are a highly functioning adult who’s not a teenager who can get in trouble anymore. High-five your boyfriend
  • Finish drink number one
  • Eat salad and grilled chicken while avoiding the mushroom demi glaze. Skip the rolls too, as they’re always cold, even when wrapped up in a napkin-lined basket. Plus, reaching for the bread will probably make your upper arm do that jiggly thing you’re hoping to avoid tonight
  • Start your second drink
  • Give a look to your boyfriend that says: You are the best boyfriend ever to agree to come to this reunion with me and I’m sorry that girl’s husband won’t stop talking about politics. You are being super classy about it. I can’t wait to get back to our hotel room later and rehash everything with you, including that weird hug that one guy gave me and that strange neon outfit that other guy’s wife ended up wearing
  • Get swept up in all the crazy life-stories that these people could manage to have in the past 20 years. Be sad when they talk about the loss and tragedies. Be happy when you see how much joy can fill the room as people talk about their families and the people they’re in love with. Breathe. But not too much where you slouch and let the mom-figure show. Keep that crap on lockdown
  • Get a little teary-eyed when the photos of Joe come on the slideshow and raise your glass when everyone offers a toast to his memory
  • Make awkward eye contact with Becky during the dance floor time that says: Did you practice the dance routine from “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” too? You did? ME TOO! Should we do it? Yes! Ready? Five…six…seven…and EIGHT!Image result for romy and michele dance
  • Ignore the fact that your heels are pinching your toes and you have a new blister on your heel. You are not a “Dance barefoot because it’s more comfortable and realistic” person; You are a “Suck it up and keep those shoes on because they look amazing” person. 
  • Take your shoes off as soon as your boyfriend gets you into the car and sigh like you’re the happiest Cinderella-After-the-Ball girl in the world

Day of the Family Tailgate Event / Homecoming Football Game:

  • Wake up to texts from your old classmates about how much fun they had the night before. Lots of you exchanged numbers last night and there’s been an ongoing text thread that’s been blowing your phone up since 3am.
  • Find bobby pins in the huge rat’s nest of an updo that you could have sworn you took out the night before
  • Drink water. They’re not kidding about this whole “High Desert” thing. Damn. Still dry here, even after 20 years – go figure
  • Delight in the fact that your kids are super-excited about the family tailgate event this afternoon and managed to stay bruise-free the night before. Get ready to iron the clothes you brought for them, even though you know Violet will end up spilling something on the front of her white dress within three minutes of arrival and Jackson will manage to fall in that one weird mud puddle by the gym that has never fully dried up in 20 years.
  • Pack their back up outfits as well
  • Point out what a Joshua tree is to your kids on the way to the school. Laugh as your boyfriend immediately starts singing U2.
  • Pull in to the school and get confused by how they’ve decided to direct the flow of traffic now.
  • Bore your children with tales of the playground of your youth and that weird “Fifth Bar” that no one was allowed to climb on.
  • Explain, in detail, how to do a Cherry Drop
  • Start worrying about how your children will probably attempt to do a Cherry Drop when you aren’t looking and and worry they won’t be able to pull one off without fracturing something. Feel ashamed for never enrolling them in gymnastics lessons. 
  • Get out of the car after one more quick reminder to the kids to “Be kind. Be chill. Don’t bicker in front of everyone. Violet, stop biting your nails. Jackson, what do you mean ‘You forgot to brush your teeth’? Gross. Here’s some gum, jeez.”
  • Take a quick detour to the bathroom in the gym and laugh as Violet gets totally distracted by the eternal mirror reflections. Still choose the same stall on the right, second from the last. Remember that one time you dropped your brand new Koosh ball in that same toilet when you were little and how bummed you were.
  • Join the family event outside with everyone and be amazed at how many adorable children there are and how similar they are to your old classmates!
  • Eat delicious BBQ in the old school parking lot and put your blanket down on the bleachers where everyone will be watching the game later
  • Totally overwhelm the rickety old bleachers while everyone piles on and around them to watch the Homecoming game. Notice the cheerleaders may have new uniforms, but that they’re still doing some of the same cheers you used to do
  • Sit there, holding your breath as you watch them attempt pyramids and lifts in the end zone after a touchdown. Being a parent makes you way more nervous as you watch their shaky little arms and legs attempt to hold someone else in the air, precariously close to a huge group of teenage boys in football gear who are running full-speed, blindly, in their direction. What the heck were we thinking back then?
  • Agree to let your children go romp around on the playground with some of the other Class of ‘97’s kids
  • Regret, again, mentioning anything about a Cherry Drop playground trick and start thinking about how much the “Out of Network” urgent care bills will be
  • Lots of hugs, smiles and maybe even some tears come at the end (and not just from my over-tired children) – Let’s be sure to do this again for year-30, OK?

The Questionable Things, Holiday Ver. 2-ish

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Two years ago, I originally posted version one of this piece and I honestly always wondered when I’d be inspired to crank out part two.

There were some odd things about Christmas that my friends seemed to be so excited about (Elf on the Shelf, a real-live Christmas tree, etc.) that just seemed so weird.

But I went into those for part one. This, my friends, is a brand-spanking new part two, and I’ve got some more really strange things that people just go nuts over. I wonder how many of them are weird to you too. Need to jump back in time and read part one? It’s OK. I’ll wait. Just click here.

Will You Calm Down Already, Trans Siberian Orchestra?

Perhaps you’re like me, and you like to dabble in the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio station during the holidays. I will admit to forgoing the strict “AFTER THANKSGIVING ONLY” rule. Basically, when the radio-programming-gods think it’s time for holiday tunes to take over the airwaves, I go right along with them.

We all know it’s pretty much the same artists and songs every year. Every. Freaking. Year. In fact, it wasn’t until I started listening to Spotify a while ago that I realized people were even still making new Christmas music at all. But when it comes to our local radio stations, it’s usually the standard Christmas classics.

90% of these are tolerable and my daughter and I crank up the volume while we attempt to impress big brother with our knowledge of 90% of the lyrics. He does a good job tolerating us. He also tolerates my mom-ly lecture about what it means to respect another human when they say NO during that creepy “I really can’t stay…Baby it’s cold outside” song. Hey! What’s in the drink? Um, nope.

But there are those songs that come on and you just can’t help but think, Who the heck actually likes this song anyway? This is awful! I’m talking to you, Trans Siberian Orchestra.

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It turns out that the Trans Siberian Orchestra is very much a “thing”. They happen to be playing, not one, but TWO shows in Sacramento this holiday season. I’m sure if you’re musically gifted and understand the complexities of composing a true rock opera, you have a special level of respect for these guys.

Respect, yes. I have that.

Admiration of their mad diddly-wow-wow guitar skills? I guess so.

But appreciation and fond memories of their tunes during my holiday times? No! Oh, God, NO!

I feel like the Trans Siberian Orchestra was horribly miscast.

Have you heard other Christmas music? I think of Bing Crosby, Karen Carpenter, Nat King Cole…gentle and crooning favorites. Even Mariah’s glorious, belting high-notes feel almost angelic when I’m in the holiday-pop mood. But the Trans Siberian Orchestra? Nope. They should have been told to go out into the world and create music for a different holiday.

Maybe something like the Fourth of July. Can’t you just see their riffs being a much better fit when paired with ramparts raging and explosions in the summer air? Is a building getting imploded at midnight? Is there a dueling magician’s tournament about to happen on a rooftop? Then, yes. YES – cue the Trans Siberian Orchestra!

Christmas music should be soothing and chill. Shhh, Trans Siberian Orchestra, baby Jesus is sleeping. Calm the frick down.

How I Cheated Death Today While Also Getting an Oil Change

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oil thingI consider myself about 80% responsible, 15% childish/purposely negligent and maybe 5% naive about tasks that I actually should be paying attention to.

In my Responsible bucket, I’ve got things like, scheduling kids’ doctor’s appointments, being on time to school/work, leaving my house with my makeup and hair done at nearly all times. Wearing heels also gives me bonus Responsible points, for some reason, although I personally have zero problem with flats.

I am learning that I’m totally naive about things like cleaning my gutters, pillow washing and caulking seams near sinks. I also completely ignore polishing my jewelry.

But there’s a glaring area in my life where I’m famous for being completely negligent and childish. True confession: It’s my car. For some reason, I’m able to fathom safe-driving techniques, gasoline, and well-maintained and current insurance and registration. I even spring for car washes sometimes to ensure I can actually see out of my windows.

But when it comes to maintaining my car? I can’t stand it. I act as though it’s a personal insult to my time and wallet to even consider getting an oil change, rotating my tires or refilling the windshield fluid. When I get a burned out headlight, I’m grumpy for days. THE GALL OF THAT BULB! It’s not like it’s on all the time like those Walmart trucks!

I recently surpassed the 9,000 mile mark since my last oil change and was feeling incredibly guilty about my childish decision to ignore it.

Internal monologue: If I drive faster will the car need less oil? Fast driving = thinner oil = more oily coverage on my engine pieces?

If I crank the AC up, will the some of the coolness inside my car waft through the car’s body and help keep the engine cool too? A cool engine = no smoke = car is fine.

I know. There’s probably no chance that I’ll be featured on Top Gear anytime soon. Unless there’s a special “Car Idiots” segment. Most likely on the US version. (Waves to my Twitter pal, Rutledge Wood, who once replied to one of my tweets forever ago. #KindaTwitterFamous #NotReally.)

So, on my lunch break today, I rolled into a local oil change place that happens to be directly across the street from, surprise, another local oil change place. The place I lumbered into seems to change it’s name every week, but it was close-ish to my work, open for business and didn’t have any of those inflatable arm guys that I find super-annoying. I’m always afraid they’re blousey arms will blow toward my car and I’ll accidentally drive over it. No, thank you.

I’m having trouble describing the terror that grips my heart as I’m guided into the oil change bay by a guy who can walk backwards, signal me with both hands, and watch where ALL FOUR OF MY TIRES are rolling at the same time. There’s a gaping hole under my car! And it’s not empty! If my car careens out of control and I fall in, I’d be killing an actual man! There’s a human in there who has to see cars drive over him on a daily basis. ::shudder:: I can barely handle it.

Also, why do my tires always seem to be woefully screaming in agony as I slowly roll into position?

When the professional car guider signals me to “go a little right” I always seem to overreact. I slam on my brakes and wait for the darkness to come as I’m sure I’m about to spiral into the arms of Jesus. I yank on my steering wheel, determined to be the BEST “go-a-little-righter” EVER and this results in me turning the wheel 100% too far.

“Go a little to your left” is the next agonizing hand signal that ALWAYS follows.

::STOP! hand signals:: Those ones are my favorite. With a sweaty grip, I throw the car into park and fumble with my keys.

Do I turn my car off or leave it on? Is it rude to roll up my window? Hearing that mysterious voice under my car makes me all nervous again.

Phew. Hand-signal guy just came to my car and asked me to turn off the ignition. I already feel safer because 1) I’ve been given clear and specific instructions and 2) He used the word “ignition” which is a professional car word, so this place must be legit. I relax for a moment and my shoulders drop a centimeter down from where they’ve been frozen next to my ears.

Oh great. He’s just asked me to pop the hood. I get all panicky as I know everyone is waiting on me to remember where that little lever is. I mean, I own this car, I should know this. But for that small fraction of time, I completely panic and I’m sure that instead of the hood popping, I’ll find a secret lever, like that one with the emergency brake, that sends my car rolling into that dangerous pit below me. OH! There it is! ::POP::

It’s the best sound of success I’ve heard all day.

What? They’re asking me what type of OIL I want? Um, the brown kind? The stuff that came from the meat-eating dinosaurs — I’m sure their oil is more greasy and slippery. Those are both good qualities to have when it comes to automotive lubricant, I’ve heard.

Oh perfect. Here’s the part where they ask me if I want an oil cleaning flush thing. I picture my car getting a fancy oil-holder-colonoscopy and think that even though it is an extra $10, I like the idea of her being all clean as a whistle. It sounds like a very responsible thing to splurge for. Much better than the Target tee I’d probably blow that $10 on during my next stop in for raspberries and Red Bull.

I agree to the fancy, internal auto-purging and instantly feel like a fancy car-lady. Makin’ it rain down dollahs at the oil change place, ya Grease Monkeys! Oh crap. Is that a racist slur? God, I should absolutely NOT BE HERE. I just can’t handle this responsibility like a normal human.

Oil-change-maître d’ comes back to my half-rolled up/half-rolled down window and says, “It’s been a little while since your last oil change…”This prompts an embarrassing apology/stream of excuse words from my mouth that no one wants to hear.

Forgive me Automotive Professional, for I have sinned. It’s been 9,032 miles since my last oil change. I’ve been busy, broke and focused on vehicle vanities such as car washes and vehicle vacuum treatments. Please don’t tell my dad. You won’t right? He’s gonna be so pissed! He has this tight-lipped, sigh thing he does that’s usually followed by a high-elevation eye roll. Oh! Yeah, like that…

He meanders away and disappears behind my open hood. He instructs me to turn my car on, then off, then on again, then off. I feel myself growing more and more confident about the process until he appears at my awkwardly half-down window again and tells me about some random cracked serpentine-belt-thingy he wanted to be sure to point out so I could go get it replaced.

I hope my nodding looks convincing as I start to wonder just how good Super Glue would do in a warmish environment. Not the regular stuff, but the EXTRA-STRENGTH stuff. I accidentally glued my fingers together the other day and started thinking about what Paralympic sport I could have a chance in. This was my new cross to bear. I would forever be known as the “Girl Whose Two Fingers On Her Right Hand Were Tragically Bound Together. Forever.” My new nickname could be “Sticky Z”. #BeautyFromAshes

Super-Gluing things is another responsibility that I usually try and pawn off on the closest adult male. You–penis? Here–Broken thing that needs magic, sticky stuff put on it in these super-exact places. Good luck avoiding the potential calamity of becoming a glued up cripple.

FAST-DRYING? What the hell was I thinking? Sure, I can give birth to two humans with no drugs and concoct ways to feed them with my VERY BODY but handle a tiny, child-sized bottle of clear, sticky liquid? It’s just too much. I’m so sorry, humans of the female sex. I just can’t. I. Just. Can’t. Even. Super Glue.

As I pull out of the oil change corral, I experience all the joys of driving over the giant Pit of Doom, as I did 10 minutes earlier, except this time, I’m also worried about the hand-signal guy accidentally walking backwards into traffic.

He waves good bye and I immediately breathe a sigh of relief and thank God I survived to live another day.

See ya in 9,032 miles, guys!

::tires screeching::

 

Pal.

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My blog posts always gravitate toward the ridiculously long side of things, so in case you don’t have time to get all the way to end, I wanted to highlight some facts for you right up front so there’s no panic:

I’m all good.

I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.

If reading about cancer makes you uncomfortable at the moment, you may want to skip this post.

Part 1: Holy crap – There’s a lump!

You know how some people hate certain words like ‘moist’ or ‘panty hose’? Well, BREAST is one of those words for me. Unless we’re talking about a succulent piece of chicken or feeding babies, it just sounds so clinical and too high-and-mighty for my humble toppers.

Perhaps you could blame it on my private school upbringing or the fact that I still struggle to refer to myself even as a grown woman. (‘Girl’ or ‘lady’ is my normal go-to term–still unsure why that is) but if we’re going to refer to those two bumpy things that necessitate the need for a bra every day, then my default term of choice is boob.

I really didn’t think much about my two lady friends until I discovered a random lump in ol’ righty at the beginning of March. At first I figured it had always been there and maybe I just never noticed it. I mean, not knowing there’s a hard, pea-sized thing in your body parts happens to lots of people, right?

Plus, in school, we were told that our bodies were temples of God and we should take great pains to keep them pure and spotless for Him. I basically took this to mean that if you were touching yours all the time and getting all squeezey-squeezey with your bad self, you’d be all dirty and non-pure and in the same class as the heathens and murderers and who wants to be there? Better leave those breast exams and the like to the professionals. We don’t want to trip up and piss off the Lord of the Universe or anything.**

When I first found the lump, my thought process went something like this:

  • What the H E L L is that?
  • AM I DYING?
  • What do I do now?
  • Wake up and check for the lump in the middle of the night, first thing Saturday morning, in the shower, while walking down the hall and there’s no one around to see. Pretty much whenever I could. Yep. Lump is still there.
  • Am I making too big of a deal out of this? I’m sure it’s just always been there and for some reason I never noticed it until now. I consider asking my ex-husband if he ever noticed anything but quickly vetoed that idea.

“Hi there, so um…Not sure if you remember my boobs or anything, but just in case you do, do you happen to remember if there was this weird, hard, lumpy thing in the right one? No, not YOUR right, MY right. Just wondering if there’s a chance I could be dying or something. Cool. Thanks for your help!” Nope. I decided sudden death would be better than trying to make that conversation seem like a normal thing and moved on to the next step.

  • I’m working on not being such a dramatic person slash a better listener. This is just a great opportunity to stay in the moment and not freak out. Step one, Jenny, don’t run around and tell too many people and create panic.  
  • Forget that idea and tell my favorite gal pal about the lump the very next day. Blame her birthday party cocktails for the slip up and plan on sticking to my original plan of being a responsible and non-dramatic, grown up lady-person. Lips are sealed. Again.
  • Three weeks go by and I have my moments of panic, breast checking and then forgetting about the lump. But the lump is always there and so is the worry in the back of my head.
  • Cave and tell my mom.

Telling my mom was not part of the original plan.

The original plan was to wait until there was something to worry about before I shared the details. Not to say my mom is a worrier – far from it. She’s extremely level-headed has often played the non-dramatic role in many of my life’s freak-outs.

But my parents just survived nine months of job-hunting with me and it was an extremely stressful time. The roller coaster of that season was finally done with and I was looking forward to our conversations being full of positivity and “Outlander” series updates, not “Jenny, are you gonna be OK?” discussions.

When I told my mom, I was also afraid it would somehow make things real. She wanted me to call my doctor and get checked out. I had no idea what doctor even checks those things out! Is there a breastologist out there? A boob-opthomist? Whenever I Googled, ‘What do I do when I find a lump in my breast?’ It just said “Contact your doctor.” Thanks a lot internet. But, WHICH doctor?

My town has zero general practice doctors accepting new patients which is extremely frustrating, so I decided to call the doctor who delivered my babies. I mean, he kind of specializes in lady parts… it makes sense he could branch out and handle the above the belt stuff too, right?

YAHTZEE! He was the right one to call.

When I told the receptionist that I’d found a lump and I’d like to get it checked out, she asked me how long it’d been since I’d discovered it.

“Three weeks”, I told her.

“Three weeks? Why did you wait so long to call?”, she responded.

Ok. Now I’m starting to worry again. Thanks a lot, phone-lady.

She pulled up the schedule and asked me to come in the next day.

During my three weeks of ignoring-the-lump slash poking-at-my-own boob-to-see-if-it-was-still-there phase, somewhere along the lines I decided to give it a name. Naming random inanimate objects has always been an odd habit of mine, but it’s one that makes me smile so I doubt it will be a habit that ends soon. For the lump, I went with the name Pal.

Pal was the name my son gave his tiny dinosaur toy he got from a quarter machine when he was five. Pal sounded like a not-too-scary name that helped with the Do-Not-Panic plan I’d initiated. Saying “lump” was scary. Saying “Pal” seemed quirky and fun.

Little did I know, the name Pal would have an even more appropriate connection after that first doctor’s visit.

Part 2: Yep, there’s a lump.

On the day of my doctor’s appointment, I was super-nervous but ready to get some answers. The doctor performed the typical breast examine where he moves his fingers all around in a circular motion while we both avoid eye contact.

After less than two minutes, it was over and he agreed that something was there. I got dressed and he whisked me away to the front desk so he could have them call and schedule an imaging appointment.

On the paperwork they sent over, he referred to the lump as a “palpable mass” which made me sigh because the name Pal now had an even more appropriate tie in. The appointment was set for an ultrasound and mammogram for the soonest time available – three weeks.

Can I just say that three weeks can feel like forever when you’re waiting for something like that? During this three-week span, I let the beans spill one-by-one to more friends, family members and even my boss, because it was feeling more real and I had to juggle stuff at work to accommodate the appointment. The waiting sucked. Pal stayed in the same place and even started feeling tender towards the end of the waiting period. Not cool, Pal.

On the day of the appointment, it took about two hours for the whole process. Luckily, I had to work later that night for an event so I was free and I knew I’d have something else to focus on no matter what the imaging found. Events to the rescue!

I was the youngest one in the waiting room and a few people stared. I was given a tote bag with the word BREAST screen printed on it. I laughed. (That will be a fun one to use at Trader Joe’s.) You get a fun cape to wear after they take you back and I couldn’t help but think of my 10-year-old who has a passion for all things “CAPES!”. I took a picture and planned to show him if the results weren’t scary.

Not wearing deodorant for these tests is understandable and I know many of my blog readers have gone through the whole mammogram process before so I’ll spare you the details,  but man, when you’re nervous about what the tests will show, have worked before your appointment setting up an event AND have your armpit in the technician’s face, it’s a recipe for more anxiety and the perfect trigger for more sweat. #SuperClassy

The mammogram was followed up with an ultrasound. Images were shown to a radiologist in a different room. Then more ultrasound images were grabbed. At the end of the appointment, the grouchy technician from South Africa told me that they weren’t worried about the lump but they found some other cysts in a separate location they want to keep their eye on. I was told to come back in six months to recheck stuff.

Crises averted. (See? I told you things were all good.)

Cyst is another word that’s super gross. And I’m still unsure what it means to really have those chilling in your side-boob, but there you go. They didn’t seem to think I was dying or that they needed to do a scary biopsy on the 7mm lump that I originally went in for, so I grabbed the free tote bag, gave them back their cape and bounced. (Tenderly – Ha! Boob-joke.)

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Here I am #werking the cape.

This is me trying to stay light and focused on fun things like making the mammogram technician take a photo of me after she smashed the living daylights out of my front parts. At this point, I had no idea what the results would be and I was irritated with the way my too-long bangs were getting in my eyes. I tried to ‘choose joy’ despite my inner monologue screaming “HOLYSHIT-HOLYSHIT!-HOLYSHIT!” because the people around me who loved me weren’t screaming at all.

They were chill and calm and collected. I’d love to be just like them. They are priceless and help me not go crazy.

I’m a very lucky and thankful gal. Or woman. Yeah. I’m a thankful woman, damn it. Here’s to a smooth sailing next six months!

**For the record, I now understand that God really doesn’t care about the whole touching-your-own-body-to-make-sure-everything-works-OK thing. Like, at all. Please feel free to conduct your breast exams and anything else you’d like to do with your entire body with the truth that no lightning bolts will come from heaven to zap off your filthy hands. Yay for the amazing human body and yay for the weird slash wonderful design of all our pieces and parts. Go forth and enjoy them.