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.



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.

The First Scare

March 14th, 2013

It was barely a month since my two cats had died and while I’d stopped crying at the drop of the hat, I had no desire to have another pet any time soon. Ever. For years.

I received a text message from a close friend of mine who knew what had happened and was curious if I’d like a kitten. Her former mother in law had one that needed a good home you see. I told her no. I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair to the kitten, I reasoned. It wouldn’t be fair to me. I would look at that tiny little creature and be unable to provide to it the same amount of love I’d given to Calvin and Claudia. It was all used up. Tapped out. There was no more. My cup was empty. She understood.

Shortly after that I received a text message from the FMIL. It was a picture of a tiny buff colored kitten. The text included with the photo let me know that her name was Buffy and she was a very sweet and affectionate kitten who needed a home and if I wasn’t interested in taking her, she’d be going to PAWS to find a family.

A kitten named Buffy. BUFFY. B-U-F-F-Y. A name that I would never in a million years name a pet of mine. A name that resonates within me. Buffy. Had her name been Bashful or Susie or Allison or Scruffy McCatFace, I could have totally walked away from the entire situation with a hearty and resounding “no thank you”. But the universe apparently had other plans and instead placed in my lap a kitten whom it knew I couldn’t refuse outright. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to just go MEET the kitten. What harm could come of that?

I met Buffy on a Thursday. She was in a very warm and loving home already with a few other cats but when I came in, she was petrified. She was timid and scared wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She hid under a dresser. I sat down next to the dresser and tried to let her sniff me and touch her. She wanted nothing to do with that. They pulled her out and gave her to me and I pet her for a few minutes and she lost herself in the attention until she remembered that I was a scary stranger and then she bolted out of my hands and down a hallway.

A few minutes later she returned and then ran back down the hallway. The second time she came she went back under the dresser she was hiding under which I was still sitting in front of. I took this to be a pretty decent sign so I agreed to take her. She would be dropped off in two days time to me.

When she arrived she was equally as shy and petrified. I had set up to give her complete access to the house and seeing how she reacted (hiding under the couch and refusing to come out) I decided that perhaps my rooms (servant’s quarters) would be a better place for her to get acclimated. She hid under my bed for a day and a half, allowing me to coax her out for short amounts of time. I worried that I’d done the wrong thing in taking her. Was she going to get comfortable? Was she going to stay under my bed and be antisocial for the rest of her life?

Now, she is my shadow. I can not leave a room without her trailing behind (or in front of) me. She will come when I call her name. She runs through the house with reckless abandon. I am completely smitten with that rambunctious little tornado with claws and would die if anything were to happen to her.

Flash forward to this past Tuesday. I was out of the house and got home around 10:30, my arms laden with a casserole dish and several bags from the grocery store. I came inside, put my stuff down and wandered in to talk to Scott. We chatted for a few minutes and I noticed two very weird things. I wasn’t greeted by Buffy and it was far, far too quiet.

I didn’t panic at first because Buffy is afraid of air. If she hears a noise she runs to hide behind me or under something. I figured since I made a lot of noise coming into the house she was hiding somewhere. I began to panic a bit after ransacking the place and coming up completely empty. Had she gotten outside in the thirty seconds it’d taken me to get into the house?

I wandered around in the front yard calling her name and shaking some treats. I was greeted with silence. A second ransacking occurred and when she didn’t turn up that time my panic ratcheted a bit. I went back outside and began to call her name louder.

It was only when I walked around to the other side of the house that I discovered her, under the table on the patio, hunched down with a petrified look in her eyes. I walked up to her and she bolted from me, hiding under the steps of the hot tub.

I walked over to her and was able to talk her out from under the steps and scoop her up. As we made our way back around the house to go into the kitchen she heard or saw something that startled her and she attempted to scramble out of my arms. (Un?)Fortunately my face was in the way and I am now the proud owner of three large, ugly cat scratches. I knew instantly that they would bleed because of the way they stung. I got a firmer grip on her and we went back into the house. I put her down and she instantly started twisting around our legs and playing as though she hadn’t just experienced the greatest fright of my entire life.

I went upstairs (followed by my trusty shadow) and I cleaned up my bloody face and then sat on my bed and sobbed. It was an ugly cry complete with snot and tears the size of golf balls. I forgot what this type of fear is like. It’s awful.

I knew she was alright and I knew that I was alright and I knew that everything was going to be ok. But what if it hadn’t? I was lucky this time.

Today my scratches are still bright red and scabby and probably will be for a few more days, but Buffy is no worse for her foray into the big cold world.

And for that I’m thankful.