The Boy Who Lived

July 23rd, 2015

Shortly after Easter I went to Target with a friend of mine. We wandered about looking for the things she needed and then I proposed that we go and join the other vultures and pick the bones of the Easter candy aisle to see what treasures we could find.

What I was really hoping for were Reese’s peanut butter eggs, but I walked away with two bags of jelly beans and a package of Twix eggs that, while good, are no replacement for peanut butter and chocolatey goodness.

Pleased with the two dollars that I spent, I put some jelly beans into a snack sized baggie and toted them to work the following day figuring that at some point, between the phone calls and emails, I would need a sugar rush. What better way to handle this than through sour and “The reds mix” starburst jelly beans? It would almost be like the Easter Bunny visited me.

I sat at my desk popping a few in my mouth at a time, pleased with myself as I hammered out answer after answer to the never ending line of emails I had been assigned that morning. I had my headphones in, I had some super cheap candy to munch on, I was in the zone. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

As I sat there doing my thing, one of the jelly beans I tossed into my mouth lodged fully in my throat cutting off my airway. My first initial thought was ‘Really? THIS is how I’m going out?’ and I sat there pondering what to do. I advised myself to remain calm and try to cough it up because the alternative was to just die there at my desk and while I’ve covered up the gray and mauve panels with something a bit more…. me, dying in my office chair under florescent lights wasn’t really how I’d hoped it’d all come to an end. I’m not scared to die by any means, I would just prefer that it was years from now and under different circumstances. Circumstances that don’t sound like a punchline to a horrible dad joke.

It was at this point that my coworkers charged into action! And by charged into action, I mean they sat there discussing the noises I was making and how they didn’t sound good and maybe they should check on me, did the other people think they should check on me?? Someone should probably check on me.

Finally I was able to defeat the jelly bean (it was red) and commence breathing (YAY!) just as they decided that yes, in fact I did NOT sound good, and yes, in fact someone SHOULD check on me. Had panic taken over, I most likely would have been blue on the ground with my face smashed against a dirty chair mat.

It got me to thinking though. Up until this point I had been pretty set in a routine. I’d get up in the morning, I’d go to work, I’d come home, I’d watch netflix or I’d spend time with my friends. I wasn’t doing anything to further my dreams or to obtain my goals. In short, I was stuck on survive and we see where that got me: nearly dead.

Life is too short to merely survive. It can be gone in the blink of an eye. You have to live. “I” have to live. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m throwing caution to the wind, grabbing hold of life and shaking out of it everything I’ve ever wanted because no one is going to interrupt my Netflix binge to give me those things, I have to go create them. WE have to go create them.

Don’t wait until you nearly die from a lump of artificially and naturally flavored sugar. Do it now. Do it today.

Live.

This I Can Stand

August 8th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but life in the cube farm can sometimes get you down. Like real down. Like so down that you want to answer the phone “Hi! I don’t care what your problem is! Have a great day!!!” and then hang it up. I don’t do that as I do enjoy eating and having money to buy aforementioned food, but I would by lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind each and every time my phone rang.

Summer is usually a really relaxing time for a lot of people but for my office at least, it’s akin to a four month battle. Not only are we finishing out work from a prior year, we’re gearing up to start for the upcoming year and there is a lot of overlap. And people who haven’t done what they’re supposed to do. Tensions run high, confusion is vast and it all combines to make a hellishly hot and mind numbing experience.

Sometimes it gets to the point where you just can’t stand it.. which is a more work appropriate way of saying I have zero fucks to give. Because let’s be honest.. sometimes you don’t have any. Sometimes you don’t have any so often there are negative fucks to give.

That’s when I devised a plan to retain sanity in the work place and created a game called I Can’t Stand It!

Actor John Roberts has a character he does called Mom. One of his videos, (The Call) features this character on the phone saying “I Can’t Stand It!” I feel her pain. So so much. Seeing that someone had created a screen cap of this character on the phone with the I can’t stand it slogan, the idea was hatched.

I Can’t Stand It! Set up is easy. You’ll need to following items:

-30 Glass pebbles (or other game tokens of your choice) in a unique color per player.

-1 Vase or vessel for tokens to go into.

That’s it. That’s all it takes.

The Official Rules are as follows:

The rules of the game are simple. You get 30 tokens per month. You won’t get any more until the next month because let’s face it… everyone has a breaking point. Whenever you encounter something which you just can’t stand, you simply bring a token to (game station location) and place it in the designated “I Can’t Stand It!’ vase. Once all players can no longer stand anything, there will be something fun for the participants. Like cookies. Because the only thing horrible about cookies is when there aren’t anymore left.

That’s it. Couldn’t be simpler. It gives people a chance to vent about whatever is bothering them, they are able to leave their troubles behind in a contained vessel and more importantly it creates pretty, constantly changing art at my desk. To keep things lively, I send out a midweek update on the number of tokens that people have deposited; making note of who deposited the most, who hasn’t deposited any and generally adding a bit of levity to the work week.

Our first month was July and we didn’t get all of the tokens in proving that we’re a patient and calm bunch, however I brought cookies in anyway… because really.. while we may have been able to stand somethings, other things we could not and a cookie won’t fix any of that.. but it definitely won’t hurt.

 

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These Are the Times

November 21st, 2013

I’ll be brutally honest: I hate the cold. A lot.

I dislike the chill in the air with it’s crisp nose numbing twang. I hate all the work it creates with leaves and falling snow that has to be precariously piled into makeshift walls of some ill-shaped fort. I loathe that I go to work in the dark and return home in the same shadowed gloom, missing the sun completely each day.

These, however, are the times I treasure. I feel some pull to (as an ex-sister in law says to her children) “get cozy”. When it’s dark outside and the bitter cold wind relentlessly slams itself against the windowpane I yearn for nothing more than my solitude. It’s my time to recharge.

There’s something dazzlingly magical for me about being snug, warm and secure in a softly lit room while the world around you cools and lies dormant for a few months that appeals to me. Perhaps I was a bear in a past life.. hibernation is definitely a favored activity this time of year.

It’s About Adventure

March 26th, 2013

Until last Sunday I had never participated in Saint Patrick’s Day.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The thing is, here in Happy Valley, Saint Patrick’s Day is a HUGE deal. HUGE!! So much so in fact that Penn State students created their own version (State Patty’s Day) one year when it overlapped with spring break. So now the city of State College celebrates two such green drinking days in various manners of speaking.

My intrigue with Saint Patrick’s Day was shattered for me prematurely which most likely caused me to not seek out participation in the revelry. I was under the impression that the green beer served was something special. Something trotted out once a year like egg nog. Something laden in nostalgia. Something crafted by brewers but once a year like a summer shandy or winter ale.

It turns out it’s just food coloring in Miller Lite.

I was a bit devastated.

Sunday was to be my very first official Saint Patrick’s Day adventure. I had made plans to get up an the ass crack of morning to go to breakfast at our local brewery. They were giving away free stuff to the first 50 people. FREE! STUFF!! Who doesn’t love free stuff? They were serving bangers and eggs and later in the day there would be mash. You could have mash or bangers or bangers AND mash.

I wanted it all. I wanted a pint of beer with my eggs at 7:30 AM on a Sunday Morning. I wanted to wear green and in fact had ironed a button down in a very nice shade of green to wear and planned the rest of my outfit accordingly (black shoes, gray jeans, black jacket). I even got up a full hour early to get ready and have a cup of coffee so that I would be almost like a real live awake person and not awful to be around.

And then 15 minutes before this great and wonderful thing called Saint Patrick’s Day was supposed to transpire, I was cancelled on. You may now take this moment to imagine both my delight and pleasure in having gotten up at 6AM on a Sunday morning when I didn’t have to.

I stewed for probably two more hours, having a few more cups of coffee and wistfully lamenting the bangers that were not to be had. The eggs that would never be mine. The pint(s) of beer left in the keg that no longer had my name on it.

That’s when it hit me. “Screw this shit!” I proclaimed to Buffy who had been lounging on the back of my chair at the time. I had stumbled across a biscuit recipe on Smitten Kitchen a few days before and decided that it was now or never! I was angry! I would take out my frustration on biscuits!! OH SUCH BISCUITS WOULD I HAVE!!

And I set about making biscuits from scratch. I didn’t have buttermilk or even real cow milk and had to use almond milk. I didn’t have a cookie cutter to make those nice flake apart biscuits and instead had to make drop biscuits. I didn’t care! I was throwing caution to the wind damn it!

As I sat on the couch munching the fried egg biscuit sandwiches I concocted and sipping some champagne, I reflected over the morning. I wasn’t furious that my plans had been cancelled. Plans get cancelled all the time. Nor was I pissed at the person who cancelled said plans as things come up and these things happen (Though I was slightly annoyed re:6am wake up!). I was upset that my adventure had been taken away from me.

I was contented knowing that when faced with this, while I blearily grumbled under my breath about it, I was able to rise to the challenge and create another adventure for myself: making biscuits from scratch which was something I’d never done before(Bisquick was always my trusty helper in that department).

Later that morning I received a request to go and partake in Saint Patrick festivities so my green outfit was not wasted.

Best of all? I got my very first green beer.