Hello Darkness My Old Friend

So I feel kind of bad… after leaving all of you high and dry for over a week with no new posts, now I’m not even going to give you a fun, light-hearted story about killer bunnies or mugger macaws. This one’s damn serious and dark, but I need to get it off my chest.

This post does contain “me too” triggers, so please bear that in mind before you proceed.  I won’t be offended if you don’t read further.

Also, there is strong language, just an FYI.

 

So yesterday someone I know and respect posted not one, but two “jokes” online referencing the recent coming forward of women who have been sexually harassed/assaulted. I’ve seen versions of these comments before and they never really phased me because the people saying them were assholes, and assholes are going to say asshole things; I don’t pay any attention to what those people say – because they are assholes.

But these comments – they struck me in a deep and personal way I wasn’t at all prepared for. To have someone I know and like say such tone-deaf things really shook me up. Not only did it upset me that a good person would make light of this topic, but it plunged me into a dark place regarding my own “me too”s. I mean, when the whole “me too” thing started, I posted my “me too” status, remembering what happened to me, but somehow that didn’t trigger any emotions related to those memories.

But this? This cocked the gun and blew my mind and heart into a million pieces.

To understand what happened, some background is required. In my junior year of high school my social circle shifted to a new group of friends outside of school. Having found these friends through the BBS world (blast from the past) and gaming, they were basically all guys. The few girls I knew in the ‘circle’ at that time were more peripheral friends of friends or were dating my actual friends, versus being the primary people I hung out with. About half the guys treated me like a kid sister they needed to protect (in addition to being the only girl I was also the youngest in the group), and the other half just treated me like they treated all the guy-friends in the circle. We would often jokingly flirt with each other, but we ALL knew it was just that – joking with each other. Physical contact was normal – hugs, back rubs, sitting on someone’s lap – but it wasn’t some innuendo of something more than friendship.  Hanging out until all hours of the morning and then literally sleeping together on the same couches, floors, etc. was a regular occurrence. And I never felt, or had reason to feel, uncomfortable or unsafe.

In many ways I think this, along with the fact that I wasn’t the type of girl that most guys found themselves physically attracted to, made me very naïve.

When I was about 20, my then-finance-now-husband and I went to a party at a friend’s house. In addition to ‘my circle’ of friends, there were a lot of other people there I either knew only in passing or had never met before. But these people were friends of MY friends, those guys I trusted and felt comfortable with, so it never crossed my mind that they would be or act any differently.

As was usually the case, there was no plan for the party to end before morning, and having consumed more than a reasonable amount of Goldschlager my husband crashed fairly early in the night in one of the upstairs bedrooms while I continued to hang out. I’d been chatting and doing the same innocent/ meaningless flirting with the people I just met as I did with my friends. I hung out a lot in particular with one of my friend’s friends who I’d never met before; funny guy and fun conversation. But eventually I started getting tired and needed to secure myself a corner and some random pillows and blankets to lay down and get some sleep. This was not easy – single guys living on their own are not known for their linen selection, and there were a lot of folks looking for places to sleep and things to sleep on/under. So when I managed to make myself a passable sleeping space, and the guy I’d been talking to asked if I minded if he shared a corner of it, I never thought anything of it. As I said, at one point or another I’d literally slept with about a quarter of the guys at that party, and this was a friend of those friends which meant he was a good guy and it was totally fine.

I’m sure it is no surprise reveal or suspenseful “what next?” to you that I was in fact devastatingly wrong in this assumption.

So it started with general “hey I really enjoyed talking with you tonight” and “I’m so glad we met” to “you’re pretty awesome.” Which just seemed flattering. Then it became a back rub. Now again – – my 40 year old self, and likely you reading this right now, are thinking “What the hell??? Why would you let some guy you just met touch you?” But remember, this was normal behavior between me and my friends, and furthermore it had been a completely safe type of interaction with those people for over four years; it just didn’t trigger warning bells.

But then the back rub started to wander to places it shouldn’t, subtlety then not so subtlety. I made light of it, kind of shrugging his hands away with a “hey thanks for the back rub but I’m gonna try and get some sleep now.”

Then laying side by side with inches of space between us became “wow this blanket is small! It’s cold in here! Hope you don’t mind my scooting over” which turned into him rolling on his side pressing the length of his body against me. I did think – this doesn’t seem right; but my next thought was “you’re kidding right? One, you aren’t the girl who guys try to put the moves on, and two he knows your fiancé is upstairs. It IS cold in here and the blanket IS too small for both of you. Stop overreacting.” So I just scooted myself over a little bit to give myself some space. He shifted and scooted closer again.

Then more talk of how sweet I was, and how lucky my fiancé was, how he hadn’t managed to find anyone to be in a relationship with, how lonely he was, how he wished he could find someone just like me.. all the while touching my arm or my hand or my shoulder…

At that point I was actually getting uncomfortable. But I was young, stupid and didn’t want to ’embarrass myself’ by making a scene, so I pretended to be asleep figuring he’d just stop. At least five minutes passed and I started to relax and drift to sleep. Then he spent about half a minute moving about and I thought “see – he’s shifting and getting comfortable so he can get some sleep too.” Until he reached over, took my hand and pressed it forcibly onto his now naked crotch, whispering in my ear that he knew I wanted to touch him and it was okay, he wanted me to.

I went from horizontal to vertical faster than I thought possible for my rotund self, ripping my hand out of this pretty firm grip in the process. I shot out the front door to where one of my close friends and several acquaintances were hanging out and talking outside. I clearly looked upset and having this guy hurrying after me apologizing and saying it was just a misunderstanding made it quickly obvious something had happened.  My friend placed himself in the doorway and in no uncertain terms told the guy to get the fuck away from me. After several attempts to come out anyway, the guy gave up and I crumpled into the corner of the porch, stunned and shaking.

So yeah, horrible. Really fucking awful actually. But like I said, I really hadn’t given it much thought in years, even when typing my “me too” into my Facebook status.

But then yesterday – those posts changed everything in a matter of just the few moments it took me to read them. I was back in that moment – stunned and shaking in the cold and dark, feeling lost.

And there’s a reason for that – because as bad as what happened that night was, what came next was worse.

One of the girls, who was dating one of my friends, said, “Oh man, that bastard. He did it to you, too?”

………… you TOO????

………… this was a fucking THING????

And it turns out she was not the only one who knew this about him. They sang me the little “theme song” they had for “Molesting <name redacted>“.

A. Fucking. Song.

They laughed it off. Oh he’s so desperate to get some, he pulls this on every girl he meets. Ha ha.

……………. ???

I mean, they did ask if I was okay. They did keep him away from me until my husband woke up and we could get the hell out of there. But these people, people I trusted, KNEW this guy had done this before; he had done it to some of THEM. And not only was he still at this party in the first place, but they didn’t bother to say something to me? To warn me?

It was clear that they didn’t think it was a big deal. It’s just a little harmless groping and he never actually ‘gets any.’ Ha ha, isn’t he so pathetic?

And so I laughed too ‘cuz what else could I do? Ha ha, yeah, so funny. What an amusing catchy song. Fucking hilarious.

And besides – maybe it was my fault. I had ‘flirted’ with the guy and how was he to know that wasn’t really ‘a thing.’ And I hadn’t actually ever said “please stop” so maybe he thought I was into it. And I didn’t ‘get hurt’ so clearly I was overreacting; these ‘were’ the reasons my friends didn’t think it was a big deal.

And I think it’s really, really important to say: in all fairness – we were ALL young and dumb; the oldest person there was probably only 23. I don’t think there’d been any malicious intent in not telling me about the guy, just carelessness. And I don’t think there’d been any malice in the laughing at it either, just the stupidity of youth.

But seeing those posts yesterday – seeing some one I like and think is a good person making jokes about this issue – it plunged me back into that moment 20 years ago, when people I knew and trusted turned what happened to me, what has happened and will continue to happen to thousands of women – into a joke.

To their credit, when I pointed out the wrongness of the jokes to them, the person really did listen to what I had to say and realized they’d been wrong. They apologized and immediately deleted the comments…

But even with that, I haven’t quite made it in from the cold yet….

Flocking Together

I’m at it again. Off on another work trip. So there’s A Story. There’s always A Story when I’m allowed to go off on my own  – see my prior two assassination-related posts. At least there were no death attempts this time, only attempts at theft and minor bodily harm. I see this as a step in the right direction.

On today’s episode of “What Will She Get Herself Into Next?”

I found myself, along with my colleagues, on an 8 hour layover in Dubai. No matter how nice a business class lounge is, no one wants to spend 8 hours in it. So I shared a taxi to the Dubai Mall with my colleague who was meeting a relative for lunch. Not wanting to crash their party and not wanting to shop at the Mall <shudder>, I decided to go to the Aquarium. (No, having the words ‘Mall’ and ‘Aquarium’ in the same sentence is not a typo.)

Who doesn’t have a 2-story aquarium tank & a 3rd floor aquatic zoo in their mall? Peasants, that’s who.

Being an anxious introvert, this was akin to a miracle ‘drug’ in the middle of a long day+ of travel. Quietly relaxing for a few hours on my own WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE SMALL TALK WITH ANYONE, all while enjoying some cool animals? Yes, please!!!!

So I meandered though the giant aquatic tunnel (amazing), and headed up to the zoo (also awesome). I saw penguins and giant crabs and thousands of fish and a 1,650 lbs/16.5 ft crocodile (those measurements are also not typos). I petted baby sharks and I had a chit-chat with a snub-nosed turtle who I believe thought I might be the bearer of snacks (alas I was not, much to his chagrin). A solid 90 minutes of enjoyment. 

My last stop was heading up to the “suspension bridges.” I HATE SUSPENSION BRIDGES. I am afraid of heights, and walking on anything more than one foot off the ground that MOVES while I’m walking on it is right the hell out. But there was an owl up there, and I love owls, and the only way to get close enough for a picture was to brave the bridges. So I managed to get a shaky, palpitating picture of the owl and quickly moved off the bridge to the closest solid platform available, composing myself for the trip back across. It’s as I was hanging out there, minding my own business looking out over the fish tanks and such, all while trying to remember how to breathe, that he pounced.

He was all nice at first – making eye contact and moving to stand next to me. But then he grabbed me and he tried to take my earrings. I said no and tried to get away but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He stood there looming over top of me, digging into my shoulder, and tried to grab my purse. I was able to drop the purse behind me between my body and the railing of the platform. He tried to snap my necklace off of me and scratched my neck in the process, but I managed to keep him from getting it. He tried for my wedding ring, too. Once I finally got away I was able to snap a few photos as he chased me across the bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GUY?

…. What – did you think I was being mugged?

 

But really…

IT WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER!

He’d landed on the railing at the far end of my platform just a minute or so after I got there. And despite all the “Don’t Touch the Animals” signs, every damned person that came through that platform for the next five minutes had to try to pet him, poke him, or otherwise touch him; AND set camera flashes off in his face while shouting baby talk at him.

After the second group of jagoffs moved on after giving up on him doing anything other than trying to bite them, it was just him and I up there. He gave me the stink eye and I just stayed where I was and quietly told him I was just hanging out and I promised not to harass him. He cocked his head at me and after about half a minute took a couple of steps towards me. I just stayed where I was – leaning on my arms which were folded in front of me on the railing – and I talked to him quietly about how annoying it probably was that people wouldn’t just let him be. He’d made his way over little by little and after about 2 minutes was standing right beside me. He stuck a foot on my arm and when I still didn’t move, he climbed on up. And this is how I ended up with a 2 foot tall Hyacinth Macaw perched on my shoulder in a mall in Dubai.

The jewelry and purse (metallic handle) heist attempts of my embellished version of the story were not just me being hyperbolic – he did try to steal all of it because “Oooooo a shiny!”, but a quiet “no-no naughty bird” or gently bumping his head away with my own allowed me to keep all my stuff…. Okay I actually had to take the hoop earrings off and hold them in my hand ‘cuz those were too tempting to give up on, but the rest he was reasonably easy to deter from taking. I  quietly chatted to him and hung out. And hung out.  I tried to straighten up in preparation for moving on my way a few times and was rewarded with a not-so-gentle nip to the ear each time. Got it – staying right where I was.

But of course, there were bound to be more people coming through there at some point. And now of course they looked at our little tableau and figured – “Oh look how tame, LET’S POKE HIM.” Never mind that I was neither touching, nor even making eye contact with the giant bird with the bone crushing beak perched on my shoulder, and I certainly wasn’t getting in his face carrying on like a banshee turned up to eleven – because I AM NOT AN IDIOT. These new atrocities were met with the same attempts to bite their fingers off. One of the morons actually asked me why he wasn’t biting me and I said, “Because I am not being an asshole.”

Actually, that’s just what I wanted to say.

Instead I said something to the effect of – I’m not trying to touch him, I’m just being still and quiet, so he has no reason to bite me. This not very subtle hint was clearly too subtle as they essentially shouted “Awesome”!!! and tried to poke him again. He finally walked across my back and placed himself on my opposite shoulder so that I was between him and everyone on the platform. During the next lull he actually pressed his whole body weight against the side of my head, almost like he was relaxing – “Thank GOD they are gone!”

This bird and I are clearly kindred spirits. Will all you people please just shut the hell up and go away?! Birds of an introverted feather flock together.

This carried on for about thirty minutes until he finally hopped down next to me and I headed to leave. Halfway across the bridge I heard squawking and turned to find him running along the rope railing towards me (hence, the picture). As soon as I made it to the next platform and stopped, hop-hop-hop and he was back up on my shoulder again. About five minutes later another large, loud group began to approach and he said his finally farewells and headed off to where no one could get near him.

Smiling at such an awesome experience, I headed out of the aquarium, which of course took me through their gift shop.

What choice did I have but to buy this????????

 

P.S. So yes, K-Middle, bluebirds DO in fact get me dressed in the morning apparently. #insidejoke

 

A Very Meta New Year

It’s not at all uncommon for me to have strange dreams. They tend to be very vivid, and they tend to tell a story. But that story is always a little “Alice Through the Looking Glass ” – everything’s a little weird and jumps around in strange ways that theoretically makes sense in Dreamland, but make absolutely no sense once I wake up and think about it.

But apparently 2018 has decided to up the ante.”Weirdness” is so last season – we’re into META now.

Unfortunately I woke up this morning with one hell of a migraine. (And before you get too excited, yes I said MIGRAINE, not hangover. My New Years Eve wasn’t nearly interesting enough for a hangover – not so much as a sip of champagne). So I took some medicine and promptly fell back to sleep in an attempt to evict the tiny dwarven assholes tunneling in my brain. And this is the dream I proceeded to have –

I was walking through a store wandering up and down the aisles looking for something. At first I can’t remember what I might have actually been looking for, but I stumbled upon a friend who was like “Hey the headache medication is over here.” (In the dream I totally knew this person and we’re good friends. But the person didn’t have the same name as someone I know, didn’t look like anybody I know, and at least as I recall they weren’t supposed to represent anyone I actually know. But they were absolutely my friend. This is important.)

So we find the medicine and I’m trying to decide what to get, and for some reason I cannot figure it out. So dream friend – he puts his arms around me, cradles my head on his shoulder and starts kissing me. (Apparently all I needed was a little Love Potion No. 9????) And dream me is like “Whoa this seems awkward! I’m happily married, dream friend!!”

But then I wake up. And realize that I’m still in my bed at home and the reason I was dreaming about somebody kissing me was because my husband has come home to comfort me since I’m sick, and he has crawled into bed and is kissing me. It was just reality influencing my dream. This happens to me all the time so it’s a perfect explanation (and this instance is certainly much less traumatizing than the old “I have to pee in my dream…”)

So my husband snuggles with me and we talk for a few minutes about how I’m feeling and whatnot. It’s really helping me feel so much better just to have him all warm and comforting next to me. As I’m drifting back to sleep he asks me about my trip to the drug store – was dream friend able to help me find something to help my headache?

And then I wake up. I am immediately hit by the blazing pain of my migraine and I’m confused. I’m looking around my bedroom trying figure out where my husband went. Did he go to the bathroom? But I realize that I’m on the opposite side of the bed as I had been, so my husband must have gone back to work after I fell asleep. My head hurts so badly and I’m really sad that he had to go back to work because I want him here comforting me.

I rolled over and looked at the clock and became completely confused. Wait, it was only like 30 minutes since I’d taken medication and crawled into bed. How did my husband get home from work, spend any time with me, and have already left again in such a short amount of time? And… I don’t think I went to the store to get medication…

It took me a full two or three minutes to completely come to the realization that my husband had never been there.

I’d had a dream (my husband coming home) about having a dream (my friend and the store) about what was going on in real life (my migraine).

Wow, 2018. Clap attcha.

 

 

 

Happy New Year, Support Fox Betty

Support Fox Betty gets ready to celebrate her first New Year’s Eve. You may think it would look something like this:

Support Fox Betty gone wild!

 

But it’s far more likely it will look like this:

Night night

 

I want to thank all of you for TTGV’s first calendar year. The last five months have been awesome, and I’m looking forward to more murder-attempts and psycho shoppers and crazy-girl rants in 2018.

See ya on the flip side!

Love,

 

 

 

 

Growing Three Sizes

Okay, so I already did this in an earlier post:

BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND!

But in honor of the fact that the Grinch’s story doesn’t end there, I figured mine can’t either. I need to come full circle and find my Christmas spirit just like old Grinchy-pooh.

I watched a video the other day by Kristina Kuzmic (who I LOVE by the way) where she was talking about all the guilt she used to have about not being able to make Christmas “special enough” for her kids. She basically points out that this line of thinking is total Mommy-guilt BS our dumb brains tell us is true. **WE** are what makes Christmas special for our kids. For some reason I was thinking about that video this morning as I drove to work. When I think about Christmas during my childhood – what do I remember?

My Number One Christmas Memory

Literally the FIRST thing I think of when I think of Christmas during my childhood is this light-up ceramic church my grandmother had. It had these plastic-grain “stained glass” windows and played tinny Christmas music when you wound it. I remember just laying there after it got dark looking at it and the pretty colored light it shone onto the walls. I doubt it was anything expensive at all, but it was magical to me. It makes me sad that it never made it into my or my mom’s possession after my grandmother passed away.

Other Christmas Memories

Cookies. Cookies and MORE COOKIES. My grandmother and mom would start baking way in advance of Christmas and NO JOKE they would make like a 1,000+ cookies by the time they were done. My grandmother would store them in the garage (since it was cool out there). When I close my eyes I can picture it like I’m standing right there today –  shelves and shelves and shelves of mustard-yellow lidded Tupperware containers (some of which I still have to this day) full of cookies.

Getting to sit on the “good” furniture because that was the room the Christmas Tree was in. My grandmother was a good Italian; of course she had a room that no one was allowed to sit in.

The dried-macaroni wreath. Italian grandmother. Enough said.

The bottle cap Christmas Tree. See dried-macaroni wreath.

The Christmas Night Party. Every Christmas, after dinner, my grandparents threw a big party for neighbors and friends with all kinds of “snacks” (see aforementioned Italian grandmother and you will know why snacks is in quotation marks). You might think I remember this because it was a fun night when I got to run around and play while the adults kibitzed. But you’d be wrong ‘cuz none of them had young kids so there really wasn’t anyone to play with. It was just something that happened every year – it’s was Christmas.

Christmas dinner was lasagna. You might think this was because it was some kind of Italian tradition or something, but it isn’t. We had lasagna for dinner because my grandmother could make it in advance and freeze individual portions in these frosted glass containers she had and reheat them on Christmas day, because she was too busy getting ready for the party to cook dinner.

Loose change & rolls of pennies. My grandmother calculated to the PENNY how much she spent on Christmas gifts and everyone at the same “level” had to get exactly the same amount. My mom and Uncle – same amount. My stepdad and my Uncle’s wife – same amount. Me and my cousins – same amount. So she would wrap rolls of pennies, or loose change to ensure the amount was exactly equal. I will never forget the look of utter confusion on my husband’s face the first Christmas he spent with my family. My mom and I just about peed ourselves laughing at his utter bewilderment when he opened a package to find roll of pennies and like 32 cents in loose change.

 

And as for the “holiday season” leading into Christmas –  unless I am forgetting it entirely, there were no trips to reindeer farms, or breakfasts with Santa , or Christmas crafting extravaganzas, or going to see big light displays, or trips to the Nutcracker, or trips to the Christmas tree farm (fake tree!), or any of the other holiday season activities that we now seem to think are absolutely necessary to make our kids’ holiday special. I did (usually? always? I don’t even remember) do the whole mall Santa thing, but the rest of the month was just my family getting ready for the holidays.

As for presents, I do remember getting my first Cabbage Patch doll, and I remember getting my bike. I have no clear memory of opening a single other present I got (and I was an only child, so I got a lot of really awesome stuff). And honestly, I only remember those presents if I stop and try to remember opening gifts. It’s just not an integral part of my memories of Christmas.

So clearly, Kristina is right.

 

So what about you? What do you remember most? I hope you’ll share some of your memories in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worth A Thousand Words

As a non-artist person, one of the hardest things is having images in your mind that you have no way to get out. This is infuriating in general, but when that image is actually your own inner-landscape, is the image of what the inside of your own mind looks like, it’s not infuriating, it’s devasting. So when someone comes along who can help you take the parts of you that no one can see and successfully bring them to life, that’s an incredible gift they give you. 

In honor of this, I’m reposting the original inspiration (from 30,000 Foot View posted in October 2017) along with my beautiful painting.

Thanks to Greg Potter
https://www.facebook.com/TheArtaholic/lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is undeniable truth to the fact that our thoughts are not actions, they’re just thoughts. We control them, they don’t control us. They are not reality.

It is also just as true that our thoughts are as much reality, as much what we are composed of as beings as our physical bodies are composed of organs composed of cells composed atoms.

And our thoughts are a bird, not a train. They do not run on set tracks, forever following the path on which they first set with no chance of change in course. They are blue birds and black birds and sparrows and falcons. They dart and weave. They soar and glide. Some stay close to Earth and others spiral in circles far above solid ground. They don’t move continually – some of the time they alight on gnarled ancient oak trees and sharp peaked mountains and crisp white picket fences; still, but ever watchful and poised to launch up and out at any moment.

Most of the time my thoughts are a murder of crows – black and loud and wily and cruel – perched on twisty old branches casting dark shadows over the fields of my mind. They cry in rough and persistent voices, scaring away all the other birds. They squawk about all the mistakes I have made, about all of my failures, about the failure OF me. They caw and caw, and while I often refuse to listen to them, I cannot not hear them.

But just when I think my mind will finally be stripped clean of every seed of hope, I find my scarecrow. I stuff my human outline full of accomplishment and dignity and simple happinesses. The crows flee, and the bluebirds can come back to roost.

There are no crows to scare them away; they bask together in the sun while the flowers begin to regrow in the furrows alongside them. They fly in soft and sweeping arcs, and from time to time they set down upon the garden gate to preen, so proud of their beautiful feathers shining for the world to see. They sing – bright and joyful and unafraid of who might hear them; after all, who isn’t delighted by the sound of sweet birdsong?

But scarecrows aren’t built to last forever. The docile field mice come and take a few straws; they are not malicious but are too in need of warmth to line their own nests with. And I don’t begrudge them that – what are a few strands anyway? Then the rain comes and soaks deep in, the heavy damp collapsing everything into a concave version of it’s former self. And I don’t begrudge it – rain makes the flowers grow. And then the wind begins – warm and smelling deliciously of apples and leaves, swirling a few straws away here and there in a whirligig against the sky. And I don’t begrudge it – their free-hearted dance on the wind makes me want to dance too. But then the wind blows harder, sweeping away all the easy to get to outer edges of my defense. And then harder, pulling bits and pieces away, away, until the center cannot hold, and then there is nothing left of my once solid and real scarecrow but chafe on the wind.

So the crows return. The bluebirds go back to huddling together deep in the cavity of their tree, silent. The flowers are picked and pecked until only brown earth is left.

And the cawing…. The cawing echos on and on and on.

Merry Tribblemas

Against my better judgement (or more a total lack of any judgement whatsoever) I stupidly decided that in-store shopping, the weekend before Christmas, was a thing I was going to voluntarily do.

 

 

 

 

 

But I thought it was all worth it when one of the stores was having an incredible sale on some stuff I needed. Bonus! The downside – due to said incredible sale the place was wall-to-wall people and the lines for checking out were horrendously long. Like “25 minutes long” long. So as I was standing there in line, I look next to me and I see this:

I’m just a little pink Tribble, yes I am!

And I mean, who DOESN’T think that a fluffy pink Tribble with hand sanitizer shoved up it’s butt is the greatest Christmas present ever? (Communists, that’s who. And I am a PATRIOT goddammit!) So I grab it and toss it in my bag.

Almost immediately I am confronted by a very irritated looking woman.

“Excuse me, but that’s mine. I saw it from over there,” waves hand in general direction across the store, “and I was just walking over here to grab it.”

Honestly, I was actually rendered speechless for a few moments. I wasn’t actually sure how to respond to this statement. I decided to slap a very nice big smile on my face and go with helpful deflection.

“They may have more. The lady over there,” motion to a salesperson who had asked me on an average of every 5 minutes if I was okay and needed any help, “she’s very helpful.”

“Fine, but if they don’t have any more then that one is mine.”

I choose to simply not respond, keeping the smile plastered on my face. She just shoots me a glare and makes her way through the throng to the sales lady.

Several minutes later she is back, with said sales lady in tow. “They don’t have anymore of them,” she states as though that somehow means something.

Trying my best to slap what I hope looks like a sympathetic look on my face, “Oh man that really sucks. I’m sorry.” I make no move to take it out of my bag.

And here’s the thing… If the woman had walked up to me in the first place and said something like “Hey I saw that from across the way but it took me a few minutes to get over here with the crowds, and my daughter/ niece/ mother/ whatever really really loves pink Tribbles and I was wondering if you would mind parting with it?” I would have just handled the damn thing over. I mean, I didn’t want it that bad, it was just a random thing I thought was cute and picked up while I was stuck in line. But at this point it was the principle of the thing. That lady was getting that Tribble over my dead body.

She turns to the sales lady and angrily motions at me, “See? I told you! She won’t give it back to me! You need to make her to give it back.”

Back? You never HAD it you freaking sociopath!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I turn to the sales lady, “I got it from the display right here,” I motion to the display which is clearly full of hand sanitizers and hand sanitizer holders, which I’m standing about 5 inches away from. “Unfortunately I just got to it before she did.”

“You need to make her give it to me!” I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if she’d actually stamped her foot. She did look like there was a fairly good chance she was going to punch me.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. But if she took it off of the shelf and put it in her bag then it really is hers. I apologize again that we are out of stock of that one, but we do have a lot of other options,” motions to the shelves completely full of them next to me, “and they’re all part of the sale.”

“As if I would buy anything from this store! You have the worst customer service I have ever seen!” She makes a big scene of practically throwing her bag on the floor in the middle of the store and prancing out.

 

 

 

 

 

The sales lady just looks at me, shrugs, and picks up the bag and walks away to go start restocking the items.

And that is the story of how a Tribble nearly got me punched in the face. At Christmas time. Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men my ass.

Terrifyingly Successful

I’m hoping Kevin and David won’t be too pissed off about my essentially ripping off the title of their podcast for the title of this post. But being that this post is a response to their latest episode, I figured it was probably okay.

So on their latest episode they go significantly more serious than usual. One of the best things about Terrifyingly Beautiful is that they make it easy to laugh at our anxiety, and as we all know, being able to laugh at something takes away a lot of the power it has over us. But kind of like I say in my book, there are some things that just aren’t really funny, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t still need to talk about them at some point.

So on their latest episode, David talks about his anxiety about success. And sure to some extent, he means anxiety about whether or not he will manage TO BE successful, but it’s more about his anxiety about actually BEING successful. And as soon as I heard him talking about it, I was like “Oh my god, YES.”

My particular anxiety about “being successful,” is that I feel like I’m just perceived as successful. It’s like somehow, without even really intending to, I’ve managed to trick people into thinking that I am capable. I worry that it’s not that I am actually good enough, it’s just that I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who have helped me look good. But at some point people are going to figure out that I am incompetent and do not deserve to be where I am doing what I am doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Case in point, my prior post, 30,000 Foot View, was inspired by John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down as the post indicates. But what I don’t talk about in that post is that the actual imagery therein was based on what was going through my head at the time because of something that had happened to me earlier that day. 

I’d been at an annual leadership conference hosted by my specialty’s professional society for the prior 4 days, and it had gone exceedingly well. I’d had some unplanned but really exciting opportunities. I’d risen above what had been expected of me and gotten a lot of accolades for that. And of the things I’d known in advance that I needed to accomplish while I was there, they went even better than I could have hoped. I was really feeling extremely confident and proud of myself.

 

 

 

 

As the last day of the conference was wrapping up, an attendee came over to chat with me. This isn’t unusual since it’s a small conference and a lot of people end up meeting me at some point. And he asked – so how can someone get to do what you’re doing – be so involved with not just participating in these but actually getting to facilitate and be involved at the organizational level? Before I could answer, he was like, “Oh wait you work at Hospital X with Dr. Y, right? (Dr. Y is amongst other things the director of this particular conference offering, at least for the last few years). Oh, that explains it.”

I let it go in real time, but I was thinking, “Hey, screw you buddy. He may have helped me get my foot in the door, true, but I’ve gotten as far as I have based on my own efforts and skills. So there, you sad and pathetic little man!!”

An hour later…. “I really am nothing but his shadow. No one would even want me here if it wasn’t for my working for him.” That’s right folks. Top of the world to I’m not even mold on a piece of cat vomit in an hour.

Welcome. To. My. Brain.

So I totally get David’s whole thing about being stressed about whether or not he is worthy for the success that he is realizing.

And then, he talks about being afraid to allow himself to succeed because putting yourself out there in what could be success could also be setting yourself up for failure. His example is that he believes he’s self-sabotaging himself for opportunities because deep down he’s afraid he’ll screw them up and it’s better to just not get the opportunity than to take it and find out that you’re not good enough. And I am so totally there. 

There’s been a number of times over the past almost 15 years that I have looked for other options and a been offered opportunities that would have been, at least at face value, growth opportunities. And that’s the very definition of success, right?

I’ve never taken any of those offers. I like to tell myself that’s because I was looking at the big picture and seeing the long term positive things about where I was, even though there were certainly real-time negative things. But the reality is, after hearing David say it out loud, I have to admit that I’ve been in that exact same place as him. Those opportunities represented taking the next step, doing more than I was currently doing, but there was always the chance that I wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s a lot more comfortable to stay where you are than it is to take the chance that you aren’t capable of doing more.

So success…. It’s what we all want. The idea of not achieving it is a horrible source of anxiety. The reality of achieving it is a source of terrible anxiety.

Wow. Our brains really are screwed up, aren’t they???

***********************

P.S.  I’m sure some of you are probably sick of me telling you that you really must go listen to the Terrifyingly Beautiful. Except you’d only feel that way if you hadn’t yet listened to it, because if you have actually listened to it, then you’re thanking me a million times over. Seriously folks, it isn’t rocket science. If you don’t already have a podcast app, or do not have a podcast app that lets you access this particular podcast, go to your phone’s Google Play Store and download the free “Stitcher” app. Then search for their podcast and Wal la! (If nothing else it’ll make this post make more sense.)

www.terrifyinglybeautiful.com

 

 

 

 

 

Nope, Still Hump Day

On day two of my endeavor to do this whole “you should write something everyday” thing, here comes another post. (I can give you names and Twitter accounts of the author’s you have to blame for these atrocities.)

Today will be a sort of ‘second edition’ of pet peeves. I wouldn’t necessarily say that many of these are pet peeves,but well, that’s just the label we’re going to go with. So today: 

Pet Peeves about Foods

Ketchup: Being from Pittsburgh HAVE to start with this one. THERE IS FLAT-OUT, NO QUESTIONS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, NO YOU ARE JUST WRONG IF YOU SAY OTHERWISE, any ketchup other than Heinz. I don’t care who makes it, I don’t care what you call your imposter condiment – ketchup, catsup… whatever, it’s disgusting. All of it.

 

 

 

 

Mayo: I am not the biggest fan of mayo to start with (seriously Japan, what the eff???) But all mayonnaise except for Hellman’s mayonnaise basically just tastes like what I imagine boogers would taste like.

Meatloaf: If you follow me on Facebook then you are already aware of my quite strong opinion on meatloaf. Meatloaf should only come with a ketchup glaze, period. This bullshit with putting gravy on meatloaf has to stop. Turkey? Fine. Hot covered roast beef sandwiches? Fine. Mashed potatoes? Fine. Poutine fries? Fine. But as soon as you stick gravy on so-called meatloaf what you now have is Salisbury steak. And if I wanted Salisbury steak I would have ordered Salisbury steak. Keep your damn gravy away from my meatloaf and hand me the Heinz ketchup.

 

 

 

 

Green Peppers: First of all I would like to start off by saying I actually really like green peppers. I love them in chili, I love them fried with onions on sausage sandwiches, I love them in fajitas… But I do not understand why people insist on putting green peppers in shit that they don’t belong in. Essentially, whatever you put green peppers in ends up pretty much tasting like green pepper. And I’m sorry, but spaghetti sauce should not taste like green peppers. Nor should meatloaf. Nor should a myriad of other things that people insist on putting them into. Look, I know it’s a cheap green vegetable but just stop it!

Salt and pepper: I actually don’t have a problem with salt and pepper themselves – I mean these are pretty much the two most essential seasonings out there. What really irritates me is when you go to a restaurant and there’s no salt and pepper on the table. Yeah, yeah I get it – you can ask for it. But basically by them not putting on the table and making you have to say that you want it, it’s like they’re telling you you’re some sort of heathen or something if you ask for it. It should just freaking be on the damn table already. If I want to put salt and pepper on my food I don’t care whether you feel insulted by that – I’m paying for the damn meal!

 

 

 

 

Over-cooked steak: This one’s a twofer. First of all, people who order steak medium well, or even worse well done – you do not deserve steak. If you’re essentially going to turn that meat into something dry and tasteless then do not waste a perfectly good high-end steak that someone else could enjoy. Just buy some ground mystery beef and have a dry ass burger. Second, restaurants that cannot properly cook steak. Look, it is not a requirement that every restaurant have steak on its menu, so if you can’t cook the damn thing the way it was ordered then don’t have it on your menu. And before you say “oh but just send it back until they get it right”, I do not want to wait for yet another meal to come out and, back to my prior point, this is a waste of a perfectly good animal’s death. It should be treated with more respect and if you can’t manage that then just don’t do it at all. And actually I lied, this is a threefer – because the other thing that really irritates me is that they will not allow you to order a kid’s steak or a kid’s burger medium rare. I’m his mother, if I want to endanger him with a medium rare steak that’s my business. You want me to sign a waiver or some such nonsense, fine, but my kid doesn’t want dry ass meat and I’m not going to pay for dry ass meat for my kid.

Avocados: This isn’t just about me hating avocados (which I do). It’s about the fact that this whole avocado thing has just gotten out of hand. People complain about the whole pumpkin spice thing, but seriously, avocados are just showing up in all kinds of things they should never be in. I mean, there is no place IN THIS WORLD for avocado ice cream, end of story.

Deep Frying Everything: Again, just stop. You don’t need to try and deep-fry everything you can get your hands on just to prove that you can.

Lemon in iced tea: Why in the hell do restaurants automatically put lemon in your iced tea? If I want lemon in my iced tea **I** can easily add lemon to my iced tea. However if I don’t freaking want lemon in my iced tea (which I most certainly DO NOT) and you have already put it in there, my iced tea already tastes like lemon and there’s not really any way to undo that. Stop making my decisions for me!

Getting Over the Hump

My creative headspace has looked a bit like this lately:

 

 

 

 

 

I’m envious and a bit in awe of authors who write everyday, no matter what. They tend to have this theory of ‘write something’, even if it’s crap, just to stay mentally limber and develop good writing habits.

Me, if I tried to do that, most days my writing would look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I would like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That said, at some point you really do have to write SOMETHING or risk giving up altogether (even if it’s just a post full of crazy camel haikus).

Working all day long / My boss thinks this is water / What else would it be???

 

Don’t know ’bout Yankee
/ But this Doodle is dope fly / Don’t hate, Bee-ahh-chez!

 

Hey I did warn you / Don’t ask me “what day is it?” / That shit’s got real old

 

And last but not least / “Your thoughts on camel haikus?” / Make it freaking stop!!