Symptoms of Move-itis

Y’all, March has been somewhat of a booger-bear for me, through no fault of my own.

Okay, that’s a lie – the insanity of this month is entirely my fault.

You see, I thought it’d be interesting to schedule both surgery AND a move to a new city within the same month! And I was correct. It is interesting. Interesting in the way that makes you want to commit yourself to a mental hospital just to get some rest. Forget the idea of this month being named after a Roman god – I’m pretty sure the name March means “Life’s gonna march across your face, sucker!”

Let’s take a look at the month:

March 17: Had my wisdom teeth forcibly ripped from my gums. Interestingly, I am still numb on the right side of my face/mouth. I don’t feel a thing, even when I poke at it with knives and fire! According to the surgeon, this means one of two things: 1. The nerve has gone dormant, and will return to normal within the next few weeks, or 2. I’m turning into a cyborg.

Stay tuned for the outcome of Amanda’s face, coming soon to a theater near you.

March 31: I will finally, thankfully, after 3 months of commuting, be moving to Austin! It’s an exciting change, but as you all know, even exciting changes come with stress-induced acne, sleepless nights, unforeseen expenses –- and a crap-ton of cardboard boxes.

 

 

 

moveitis1

If you’ve ever moved before, you know that the process is somewhat daunting. Dishes need to be carefully wrapped, boxes neatly packed, and holes in the wall gingerly spackled. But you also still have to live in the hellhole you’re trying to leave, which means re-using the same plastic fork, re-wearing the same outfit, and making weird meals out of hotdogs, noodles, and Jello.

It’s no wonder you start to get a little frazzled. It’s a condition that I like to call, “Move-itis.”

Symptoms of Move-itis:

  1. Second-Guessing. Happens in the beginning stages of a move, when you realize how much you have to do, and how many places you have to contact with your new address. You start to think maybe you should just stay put to avoid the whole circus. Forever.
  1. Anxious Tetris. When you find yourself overly concerned with packing the boxes so perfectly, that a single grape could not fit inside, and yet – it’s not overstuffed. It’s neatly filled to the brim. This feat of engineering is basically impossible, so you find yourself trying a number of different combinations with frustration, before finally giving up.
  1. Rage-filled Unpackings. Taking several minutes to thoughtfully pack a box and adhere it closed with several layers of tape, only to realize you need an item from inside of it. This symptom may be met with amusement and mild-mannered face-palming the first 7 times it happens, but on the 8th time, you’ve lost patience with yourself and with the whole idea of moving, so you find yourself ripping into the box with your talons and fangs, and soon all you can see is bits of tape and cardboard flying everywhere, and all you can hear is the sounds of growling and roaring, and then you realize it’s all coming from you, but it’s not enough to stop you until you’ve reached the goddamn item you so stupidly packed.
  1. Box Begging. You run out of boxes and containers, but still have a lot left to pack. You wander into various businesses and ask them, with desperate eyes, if you can have theirs. In the severe stages, you may stalk people in the grocery store for signs that they may have recently moved and therefore have boxes to share. (Sign 1: They’re sweaty, dirty, and buying large appliances.)
  1. Cyclic Wandering. Being unable to find the packing tape, so you wander around your apartment looking for it, only to get distracted by the pile of bedsheets you meant to box up earlier. After filling the box, you realize that you need the tape again, so you go look for it in the kitchen, only to notice the growing pile of trash and be reminded that you need to take it the dumpster. On the way back in, you see all the open boxes and go hunting for the tape again, but this time you see your bed looking all lonely and decide to take a little nap. The longer this cycle goes on, the more severe your syndrome is.

If you suspect you may have Move-itis, call your doctor immediately. He won’t be able to cure it, but maybe he can prescribe you something strong enough to find the whole situation highly amusing.

 

 

 

5 Antidotes for Road Rage

In early January, I left my agency counselor job in order to pursue new adventures in private practice. Although I’ve been working in Austin, I’ve continued to live in the same rural town about 45 minutes outside of the city, mainly because the expenses are a kajillion times cheaper.

Did you just Google Map Austin to try and figure out where I live? What. A. Stalker.

For all the money I’ve gained by staying in a cheaper area, I’ve probably lost an equal amount of my sanity from making this commute every day. Thankfully, we’re not talking about highway rush hour gridlock here. Instead, I’m forced to make the journey on an open, winding highway with scenic views of the Texas Hill Country – complete with lakes, rivers, and newly budding wildflowers.

It’s just as awful as it sounds.

Okay, I can grudgingly admit that the commute is actually quite lovely. Most days, I can enjoy it on my drive into work. But when I’ve had a full day of clients and networking, I couldn’t care less about the views. I just want to go home.

And all of these other drivers, on their slow, scenery-enjoying drives, are making me feel a little … irrational.

Let’s put it this way: if it were possible to murder people with only your thoughts, I’d be a serial killer by now.

I’m excited to say that this problem will not be a problem much longer, as I’m moving to Austin at the end of this month! Woo hoo! However, it’s still a problem now, and I recognize that my road-rage-induced stress is not doing great things for me. Therefore, I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can improve the commute so that I feel a little less murdery.

These are the ideas I’ve come up with so far:

Antidote 1: Take a moment to actually appreciate the scenery

roadrage1.jpg

Only problem: My appreciation for beauty is destroyed by my rage. Fuck off, flowers!

Antidote 2: Channel my frustrations into a rap song

roadrage2

Only problem: Hard to write when my hands are on the wheel. Also, not a good rapper.

Antidote 3: Keep a vat of melted cheese nearby as a comforting snack

 roadrage3

Only problem: Unlike most cars, my car does not contain a built-in crockpot. Or, as I like to call it, a Cheese Keeper Warmer.

Antidote 4: Assign background stories to my fellow highway travelers.

Maybe the huge red pickup with oversize tires belongs to a sweet-faced, hot-cocoa-making grandmother who’s on her way to bridge club. Meanwhile, the purple junked-out minivan belongs to… I don’t know, Matthew McConaughey.

roadrage4

Only problem: Thinking of McConaughey reminds me of his Lincoln commercials, which I hate. I want to know what drugs the writers were using when they wrote his lines.

Antidote 5: Turn it into a drinking game (for once I get home).

I can have a sip of wine every time one of the following occurs during the commute:

  • I have thoughts about the other drivers that are aggressive and/or not in keeping with my career as a mental health professional.
  • Someone pulling to the side of the road so they can take pictures of their dogs romping around in the wildflowers.
  • Someone not moving from the passing lane, despite going ten miles under the speed limit.
  • Someone driving a gigantic automobile that’s clearly meant to compensate for non-gigantic body parts.

roadrage5

Only problem: None. This is genius. Off to buy some wine.

On a less-goofy note, I have actually found some luck with a couple of podcasts – This American Life and NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. If you’ve got other suggestions for podcasts (preferably humorous ones!), I’m all ears 🙂

 

Letter to Past Me

Approximately one year ago, inspired by a blog challenge by Bubbles & Beebots, I wrote a letter to my future self. Which is now my current self. Back then, I was pretty certain that I would forget about the letter and never remember to write a response back, but somehow that memory managed to claw its way into my consciousness.

High-five, memory! I forgive you for all the things you’ve lost over the years. Minus the time you left Grandma at the airport. That’s unforgivable.

Anyway, it’d probably make much more sense for you to read my 2016 letter first. But if you don’t want it to make sense, then you don’t have to read it. Perhaps you prefer to live dangerously. I like that.

lettertopast1

Dear 2016 version of me,

Hey look – we’re still alive! Well, mostly. Up until this point, you have tested a whopping twenty-two different queso dishes. That’s a lot of dairy and dead animals. Medical professionals might call it excessive, but I call it sensible. This gal ain’t gettin’ no osteoporosis.

Back then, you wondered whether Sazón would still in the lead, and it is, BUT it’s now sharing the cheese crown with your beloved Mamacita’s. Sadly, my friend and fellow cheese-tester and I have not gone on a quest in a few months. You see, we got into a fight over which flavor of cheese is the best. Things got heated, and then I accidentally whacked her on the head with a block of aged gouda.

It happens.

So, 2016 self, I know you were hoping that I would use this year to become older, wiser, and fancier. Listen up, because I have good news and bad news. The good news is – you’re indeed a fully-licensed professional counselor, and you’re now in private practice. Never saw THAT coming, did ya? Your biggest fear is uncertainty, and you frequently thought about sticking with what you know for the sake of security, but something inside kept pushing and poking you to do more.

And it was not a food baby.

Okay, now for the bad news. I know you were really hoping that you’d be cooking more well-balanced meals by now. You’re nearing thirty, after all. But it turns out, 2017 You still really likes eating ham cubes straight out of the package. If it makes you feel any better, you’re still paying bills, doing laundry, and even vacuuming – which you loathe more than corgis loathe large vegetables.

lettertopast2

You’re clearly not lazy. But you seem to have been born without the part of the brain that enables you to plan normal meals and follow through on them. Instead, you stand in front of the open fridge and stare at the plentitude of foodstuffs that you bought with the ignorant hopes that they’d inspire you to change. Then, you start thinking about how many steps are involved in making those meals, and suddenly you feel a little less inspired and a little more apathetic. Pretty soon, you’re gnawing on a cold hot dog while you stand there – still staring. Still waiting.

And then you give up on the idea of dinner, like the sad, cold-hot-dog-eating pretend-grown-up that you are.

It’s okay. It’s a disease. You can’t help yourself.

Let’s see, what else did you want to know about me? Oh, right. You’ll be amazed to know that you’re typing this letter on a decrepit 11-year-old laptop. That’s right, IT’S STILL ALIVE TOO! Mwahahahha!!! (Sorry, that was the laptop laughing.) At least you purchased a cuter and smaller one to use strictly for work purposes. You’re convinced the old laptop knows you’re cheating on it with the younger model, and will soon have its revenge, but you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it.

So, 2016 self, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. You still have weird eating habits, but your arteries haven’t give up yet. You’re not sure why you’ve become a nursing home for elderly laptops, because even your father thinks you should get rid of this one – and he owns a robe that’s older than you are. Hopefully, maybe, these charming oddities are balanced out by all of your successes, such as your impressive vacuuming, your big job change, and the fact that you washed your car the other day.

Just as you suspected, 2017 You is doing just fine. Okay…maybe even more than fine 🙂

With love,

2017, Still-a-work-in-Progress, Me

 

 

Laughing at Others is Fun

It’s rather easy to make me laugh in person. Absurd humor, clever sarcasm, and goofy facial expressions can have me in stitches with little effort. But take all of these things and put them on scripted television shows or movies, and I’m suddenly less impressed by them. Certainly, I’m entertained. Often, I’m amused enough to smile or let out a quiet exhale of air. (“Heh.”) But it’s not common for me to truly laugh out loud at pre-written antics.

That said, there are always exceptions.

Certain moments of certain television shows catch me off guard just enough that my mouth throws out a chuckle. Or maybe it’s a chortle? What’s the difference between a chuckle and a chortle? Seems like a chortle would be deeper but also jollier, as though Santa himself had inhabited my diaphragm.

Don’t worry, kids. Santa doesn’t live in my esophagus. Yet.

Some television scenes have the ability to make me laugh not only the first time I see them, but for infinite views afterward. These excellent moments deserve my acknowledgment, and by golly, they’re going to get it!

I give you, in no particular order

The Chortle Awards!

(P.S. – Clicking on the name of the show will take you to the Youtube clip of the scene, if there’s one available)

Leslie meeting Michelle Obama

chortle1

Parks and Recreation – Season 6, Episode 21

Passionate bureaucrat Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) fervently admires all female leaders, and is in so much shock when she meets FLOTUS, that she physically backs away at first. The wonder on her face is quickly accompanied by lots of nervous shouting, a cringeworthy high-five, and a vow to agree with Obama on “all things, throughout history and until the end of time, forever.” It’s endearingly funny, and yet also pretty relatable for those of us who are socially strange.

Fire drill

chortle2

The Office – Season 5, Episode 14

In an episode ironically named “Stress Relief,” dedicated paper salesman Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) sets a small fire designed to teach his coworkers a lesson about the importance of office safety. Not realizing that the (contained) fire isn’t a true threat, the employees quickly find themselves trapped, and calamity ensues. Favorite moment: the terror-stricken look on Creed’s face when a pair of legs suddenly fall through the ceiling tiles.

FAJITAS!

chortle3.gif

Friends – Season 10, Episode 2 

Pretty much anytime Ross (David Schwimmer) mentally unravels, it’s fun to watch. But this episode is especially hilarious. The poor guy is clearly upset about seeing his long-time love kissing his best friend, but rather than acknowledging his feelings and discussing them, he continues to insist that he’s fine. We’ve all been there (says the therapist), but Ross takes it to new heights with a squeaky voice, erratic behaviors, and bad love poems. “V is for this very surprising turn of events – which I’m still fine with, by the way.”

Egg

chortle4

Arrested Development – Season 2  (no clip available)

This one’s not a particular scene so much as a running gag throughout an entire season. Sixteen-year-old George Michael (Michael Cera) dates a girl named Ann, who is thought of by George Michael’s entire family as being dull in both appearance and personality. His father (Jason Bateman) especially dislikes the girlfriend, and not only frequently forgets that his son is dating her, but also calls her a number of silly nicknames, such as Egg, Yam, and Bland. As I’m typing this, I’m aware that it doesn’t sound that funny. But you have to trust me on this! Every time Jason Bateman says “WHO?,” you’ll laugh.

The most beautiful butterfly

chortle5

 That 70s Show – Season 7, Episode 4 (no clip available)

 Red (Kurtwood Smith) is disappointed in his son, Eric (Topher Grace), who struggles to find his way after graduating from high school. Eric’s mother, Kitty, (Debra Jo Rupp) begs Red to offer his son a job at his muffler shop, but Red quickly argues that Eric has no skills. Kitty comes to her son’s defense by proclaiming, “just today, he caught the most beautiful butterfly!” The line is so random, and Kitty says it with such pride and awe, that it cracks me up. A moment later, Red says he’ll keep Eric in mind if a giant butterfly attacks his shop, and poor Kitty reluctantly admits that her son wouldn’t be able to handle a giant one. The exchange is quick, but fun. I only wish I could find a clip of it for you!

 Fire! Fire! Help me!

chortle6

IT Crowd – Series 1, Episode 2

While the building fire in The Office had people scrambling for their lives, a fire in the office of IT Crowd doesn’t ruffle many feathers. (Come to think of it, these reactions are probably indicative of the difference between American and British personalities in general J.) In this scene, Moss (Richard Ayoade) reacts to the fire with a small amount of startle (when he finally notices it), and then takes an agonizing amount of time reading the fire extinguisher before attempting to (unsuccessfully) use it. When he’s also unable to phone emergency services, Moss decides to send a comically cordial email to the fire department. His awkwardness in the face of a crisis is endearing.

He’s fine, he sends his love

chortle7

Roseanne – Season 5, Episode 16

I grew up watching Roseanne and still enjoy catching reruns now and then. Every time this episode plays, I find myself putting down my phone or other distractions so that I don’t miss this scene. After Roseanne’s father dies, she and her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) must notify their loved ones with the news. On the phone with an elderly (and apparently hard-of-hearing) relative, a grief-stricken Jackie is forced to shout the news over and over again, and grows increasingly more frustrated.  The humor is dark, I know. But the sense that you’re not supposed to laugh at something makes it infinitely funnier!

But…it’s my ass

chortle8

Bob’s Burgers – Season 1, Episode 7

 Hoping to make a little extra money, the matriarch of the Belcher family decides to turn their home into a bed and breakfast for tourists. As a result, Bob and Linda are forced to share a bed with their three “unique” children, who wreak havoc in their own ways. Tina thrashes wildly and ponders the sleep habits of horses, while Louise insists on staying awake to exact revenge on the bed and breakfast customers. However, Gene is the REAL star of this episode, by bringing snacks into the bed and putting his feet down Bob’s underwear because “it’s warm in there!”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip of the scene I’m referring to, but this one’s from the same episode!

Honey, that werewolf needs help!

chortle9

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt –Season 1, Episode 8  

 The character of Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess) makes this show. Between his flair for drama and quick wit, everything he says or does is funny to me, so it was tough to choose only one scene. But I had to go with the werewolf. Titus dresses in an elaborate costume for his work at a horror-themed restaurant, and then discovers that he’s treated better as a werewolf than as a black man. Strangers give him friendly greetings and offer their help when he’s in distress, and no one, no one, confuses him for Samuel L. Jackson. The absurdity of watching a man casually live life as a werewolf, combined with the sharp commentary on racism, makes this episode quite chortle-worthy.

* Side note: Just for kicks, I decided to look back over my list and see if I could come up with any themes for what I tend to find the funniest. Turns out, between all the fires, deaths, and breakdowns, it seems the things I find most amusing involve other people’s misfortunes.

Says the therapist.

So, what do y’all think of my list? Are any of your favorite scenes represented here? What scenes (from these shows) do you think should have been included?

 

Diving into the Doom

Big things are on the horizon for Cheese Woman (that’s my new nickname, as of right now). As many of you know, I am a mental health therapist. As not many of you know, I’ve recently decided to leave the agency I currently work for, and am in the process of going into private practice.

This decision has come with a full rainbow of feelings. Guilt about leaving clients, especially ones I’ve been seeing a long time. Sadness about leaving my coworkers. Hopeful about relationships with new coworkers. Nervous about having to market for myself in the new practice.

Mostly though, I vacillate between these two feelings:

  1. Over-the-top, click-your-heels-together excitement

excited1

  1. Massive, soul-encompassing fear

scared1.jpg

At times, I am filled with hope and happiness about my new job. I can’t wait to have more control over the types of cases I see, and I’m optimistic that I can figure out marketing and get into a comfortable routine. Then, my fervor collides with naïveté and spirals into a whirling tornado of idealistic delusion. With a manic grin on my face, I picture myself becoming wildly successful in my practice. I’ll clearly make kajillions of dollars. It won’t matter whether I’m good at marketing, because people will travel hundreds of miles and ford treacherous rivers with their oxen in order to see me. Other agencies will beg me to give presentations. My former grad professors will look on me with pride.

I will be helpful. I will inspire CHANGE.

At other times, I descend into a neurotic pit of doom. I worry that I will have trouble finding clients. That I will not make enough money to support myself. That I will have to explain to friends and family why I’m struggling financially. That this situation will continue long enough that I will have to take on another job, or else be in danger of losing my savings. I am terrified at the thought of taking a big risk and getting nothing in return. I am sickened at the idea of admitting failure. Instead of picturing people traveling far and wide for my services, I picture public scorn. I envision myself being forced to rent my extra bedroom to a banjo-playing drifter who collects taxidermied raccoons. And who eats my leftover macaroni and cheese.

I am no picnic to be around when I’m in the pit of doom. I may or may not have vomited sheer anxiety all over certain loved ones victims.  And then gave them wide-eyed looks of terror as they were forced to reassure me that I will probably not die from this. Also, I may or may not have asked a friend if she’ll still like me if I have to become a prostitute.

Her answer was yes, if you were wondering.

It sort of feels as though I am a dichotomy* of emotion right now, bouncing back and forth from one extreme to another. But the truth is, as with most things in life, I typically fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of experience. Even when I’m deliriously excited, I still have a twinge of nervousness. And even when I’m spinning through the black hole of fear, there’s still a quiet whisper at the back of my brain that’s going, “Hey. You can do this.”

*Side note – Ever noticed how the word “dichotomy” sounds like a type of surgery?

 “Can’t make it to your party on Tuesday – I’m having another dichotomy.”

“Another?! That’s your fourth one this year!”

I don’t think the goal is to be completely without worry in this process. For one thing, that’s just not possible. It’s new, and new things are scary. But also, I think a small amount of anxiety keeps me realistic. I SHOULD be concerned about money. Not having money is bad. That’s a practical matter to be thinking about and preparing for. Rather than convincing myself not to be scared, I think the more appropriate goal is to try for an attitude of “Yes, and …”

“Yes, I’m scared about this… and I’m also excited about it. Yes, this could go badly for me … and I’m going to try it anyway.”

I’m actively attempting to lean in to my fears instead of fighting against them. Diving cleanly into the water will hurt a heck of a lot less than falling into it kicking and screaming.

I hate to admit it, but this deluge of cheesy encouragements is also somewhat helping…

scared3

scared4

scared5

We’ll see if I’m still holding onto this attitude a few months from now. Or a few minutes from now.

What is scaring (or exciting) you guys right now?

 

Sins and Friends

Just a few days ago, my blog friend Erin made a very clever post that tied the seven deadly sins to American holidays. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to do so, because it’s a fun read. And then come back! I’ll be waiting with snacks.

After Erin made her post, she suggested that I take the same topic and apply it to the Friends characters. I love the show, but what I love even more is when other people humor me for my love of the show! Brilliant of her, right?! I may only know Erin online, but she would totally be my friend in real life if we lived near each other. I mean, unless she didn’t want to be my friend, because it IS a little sketchy meeting people you only know from the internet. It’s smart of her to be cautious. For all she knows, I could be a 104-year-old bearded man.

In fact, it’s more fun that way. Assume from now on that I actually AM a 104-year-old bearded man. One who depicts himself as a young blonde woman. And who is in a committed relationship with cheese.

I decided to jump on Erin’s awesome idea before she could change her mind and use it herself. I set aside important work tasks, like any true Friends fan would do, and began brainstorming which sins would apply to which characters. It goes without saying that all of the characters have their strengths and high points (yes, even Ross), but of course, they have their vices as well. They make mistakes just like the rest of us, and some indulge more often in certain areas than in others.

Although there are seven sins, there are only six main characters, so I chose to add in a not-primary-but-still-often-seen character.

SIN #1: WRATH
Character it most closely fits: Ross

sinsfriends

Justification:

  • He reacts with fury when he finds out that Monica and Chandler are sleeping together
  • He loses his temper at a guy who cuts in front of him (earning him the nickname “Red Ross”)
  • He becomes enraged about the unauthorized consumption of his beloved turkey sandwich.

SIN #2: SLOTH
Character it most closely fits: Chandler

sinsfriends2

Justification:

  • He admits to never exercising, and is often teased for being physically weaker than everyone else
  • He spends entire days sitting in his recliner, eating snacks, and watching Baywatch

SIN #3: GREED
Character it most closely fits: Rachel

sinsfriends7

Yes, I know she left her orthodontist fiancé and rich dad in an attempt to make it on her own. Yes, I know she worked hard to become successful in her own right. Clearly, the woman’s got some pluck and courage. But you can’t deny that she also had some moments of greed.

Justification:

  • Of all the Friends, she cares the most about expensive and trendy brands
  • She demands presents, and then winds up exchanging them for stuff she’d rather have
  • She encourages Monica to marry Pete for the sole purpose of having an extravagant wedding (complete with a “money salad”) – despite the fact that Monica barely knows the man and isn’t sure she wants to marry him

SIN #4: LUST
Character it most closely fits: Joey

sinsfriends3

Justification:

  • Do I really need to provide my reasoning? Have you not watched the show?

SIN #5: PRIDE
Character it most closely fits: Phoebe

sinsfriends4

  • She refuses to sell “Smelly Cat” to the kitty litter commercial…and then that jingle bitch screwed her over.
  • These song lyrics, which she sings with great passion: “When I play, I play for me! I don’t need no charity!”
  • She doesn’t mention to anyone that she can’t ride a bike, despite receiving one as a present

SIN #6: GLUTTONY
Character it most closely fits: Monica

sinsfriends5

Justification:

  • I know her issues with overeating are technically in the past, but nothing else really fits Monica, okay? Plus, there is that episode where she becomes addicted to Brown Bird cookies and her friends have to cut her off.

SIN #7: ENVY
Character it most closely fits: Gunther

sinsfriends6

Justification:

  • He was super jealous of Ross’ relationship with Rachel. That’s about it.

 

Of course, a few of these characters can fit in more than one category of sin. Joey in particular can be assigned to almost all of the sins! What do you think of my selections? Are there any ones that you would have done differently? What other examples can you think of to justify certain match-ups?

Flashing and Other Talents

On a mildly cool winter night 25 some-odd years ago, my family and I attended a Christmas music program at our church. I was going to be singing a few songs with my preschool class, so I arrived dressed to the nines in a pretty red dress, white pantyhose, and black patent shoes.

I was ready for action.

flashing1

Once my tiny classmates and I were neatly lined up on the sanctuary steps, the pianist took her seat and began playing the accompaniment. Under the direction of our teachers, my class and I sang the first of our Jesus-related songs. I don’t remember what song it was, but I’m sure we butchered it, because preschoolers are terrible but hilarious performers. I’m sure there was lots of fidgeting, blank staring, and nose-picking going on. Nevertheless, we made it through our first song, and then the music began for the second one.

And that’s when things got weird.

No, that’s not true. Things didn’t passively get weird. I made them weird.

Those of you who read my blog regularly might have gotten a slightly inaccurate impression of me. In my writing, particularly on a blog where I’m unidentifiable to the majority of readers, I’m free to get a little … goofy. Theatrical. Totes inapprops.  On here, I use language and make jokes that I wouldn’t typically make in person, except in the presence of my closest friends. In a way, y’all know me better than many of the people I see on a regular basis. In real life, I’m a bit more reserved and professional until I’m comfortable with you. Then I unleash the crazy.

I was just as quiet and well-mannered as a little bitty girl. I was no one’s definition of a wild child. I want to make sure you fully understand just how much of a goody-goody I was, because it makes my behavior that evening that much more bizarre.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe I zoned out and thought I was at home. Maybe I was bored and thought the music program needed a little spicing up. We will never know what was going through my warped little brain.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s get down to it.

Pop Quiz: What did Amanda do in the middle of her conservative Baptist Christmas music program, attended by her pastor and lots of impressionable children?

A. Barked at the audience
B. Punched a kid next to me
C. Lifted my dress up above my head
D. Muttered “red rum” in a demonic voice
E. Both A and C

If you chose A, B, or D, you probably didn’t pay much attention to the title of this post. The answer, my friends, is E. While my classmates sweetly sang songs about angels and mangers, I decided to take the performance in a different direction. I began by unleashing some ferocious barks at the audience, and when that didn’t seem quite “spicy” enough, I lifted the skirt of my dress right above my head, exposing my panty-hosed little tummy and bare chest to the world.

I turned every adult in that audience into accidental and unwilling pedophiles.

Here’s a photo that my parents were kind enough to snap before they hunched down in the pews and pretended not to know me. As you can see, my teachers are frantically motioning for me to put my dress down, while my pilgrim classmates stare at me with either judgment or jealousy.

flashing2

Admirably, I was undeterred by my protestors. I didn’t let their negativity hold me back. I cared not about my family’s embarrassment, and my barking noises intimidated others from trying to remove me from the stage.

Like the determined creature I am, I continued my peepshow-slash-animal-impersonation act until my class’s performance was complete.  As the audience awkwardly applauded my religious striptease, I like to think that I took a confident bow and strutted off the stage. I also like to think that I then made a full transformation into a werewolf and began climbing on the furniture.

But I probably just stood there, unblinking, until one of my teachers hurriedly pulled me away.

We all know that the Christmas season is all about peace, joy, and junk food, but I think it should probably also be about making amends with people you’ve wronged. I’m willing to be the one to get this fad started, so here are some holiday-themed apology notes I will be writing this year:

Dear preschool classmates,
I apologize for overshadowing you in the Christmas program. I’m pretty certain NO ONE in the audience, including your own parents, was watching you be adorable and well-behaved when there was a disaster to behold two feet away. If it makes you feel any better, I’m sure your moms and dads were thanking their lucky stars that they were going home with you, and not me.

Dear preschool teachers,
I apologize for my artistic, but nonetheless unauthorized, change to your fine program. Training toddlers to memorize and perform songs is a maddening task, I’m sure. I’m certain that you wish I hadn’t chosen that particular venue to unveil my new talent, and I’m sure Jesus wishes that as well. I’m also sorry if you later had to apologize to traumatized church-goers for my skanky behavior.

Dear parents,
You probably deserve an apology for the immense embarrassment I caused, but heck – you’re the ones who raised me in the first place. You should just feel lucky that I didn’t do that shit more often.

Does anyone else have a history of flashing or streaking? What other things did you do as children that embarrassed your parents?

 

 

Hell Cats and Hives

Even though Halloween and the season of scary stories ended a few weeks ago, I was recently reminded of a terrifying, monster-filled anecdote that happened in my own life. I’ve told a story over MS Paint illustrations before, and I thought it might be fun to bring it back again.

Behold, the scariest story of all:

hellcats1

hellcats2

hellcats3

hellcats4

hellcats5

hellcats6

hellcats7

hellcats8

hellcats9

hellcats10

hellcats11

hellcats12.JPG

hellcats13

hellcats14

hellcats15

hellcats16.JPG

hellcats17

hellcats18

hellcats19

hellcats20

hellcats21

hellcats22

hellcats23

hellcats24

hellcats25

hellcats26

hellcats27

hellcats28

hellcats29

hellcats30

I know this story has a somewhat abrupt ending, but I didn’t want to leave you all feeling tense and terrorized for too long. The quick ending was for your sake. You’re welcome.

This story has a happy ending because after a shower and a few days of cortisone cream, I was good as new. Happy ending #2 – I later found a nice little desk job that didn’t involve being pelted with rocks by a couple of little hellions.

What’s the shortest amount of time you’ve ever worked at a particular job? What lead up to you quitting? Do you have any regrets for leaving so soon?

Big People, Little World

How are you doing? Yes, you. No, not the guy sitting behind you in the fedora. I’m talking to YOU. How are you? It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? If you’re feeling disheartened, angry, sad, embarrassed, or fearful – know that I am, too. Know that you’re not alone in your feelings, in your questions, or in your feeble attempts to move forward. I’m right there with you.

I’ve been trying to make myself feel better over the past few days, as I’m sure (and I hope) you’ve been doing for yourself as well. I’m realizing more and more that I am a part of two worlds. One world is the “Big World” – it includes my state and country and Earth, and everyone living within its boundaries. It includes the ideals and people within my profession. It includes the internet and social media. It encompasses all of the outside world and every person that I come into contact with, whether physically or internet-ly.

There’s also my “Little World.” It includes my job, and the coworkers and clients I see on a regularly basis. It includes close friends and family members. But truthfully, Little World is mostly just me.  It’s my body and my brain. Little World is me when I’m alone at home, when I’m driving in my car, and when I’m at the grocery store. It travels around with me, and is never separate from me.

On a normal day, I often find myself doing things to pull myself out of my Little World. It’s hard, because I feel comfy there. But I actively make myself participate in the Big World. “Come on self, walk with confidence. Speak with confidence. If you pretend you’re outgoing and assertive, you’ll come across that way. Stop pushing down your feelings – tell people the truth. Share your ideas. Advocate! Defend! Empower! Support!”

But over the past few days, it hasn’t felt safe to be in the Big World, has it? We went out and made the choices we felt were right. We believed we were advocating for the greater good. We were being big-hearted. We were hopeful.

And then, in the blink of an eye, our hopes were dashed. And it’s been painful. And embarrassing. And infuriating. And possibly worst of all, it’s been terrifying.

So while I normally encourage myself to break out of my Little World and embrace the Big World, right now I’m giving myself permission to do the opposite. I’m allowing myself to get small – which, I want to emphasize, is not the same as feeling small.

For me, getting small and returning to my Little World means that I’m steering clear of the internet and social media – with a few exceptions. Rather than psyching myself up to break out of my shell, I’m seeking safety within it. I’m quietly checking in on my feelings and needs. I’m closing the door to the outside world when I need to.  I’m letting myself feel disappointed and worried, without trying to logic my way out of it. I’m spending time with people who feel safe and comforting to me, and politely avoiding others.

And I’m also letting myself feel content and peaceful when those responses manage to bubble to the surface. I’m re-reading a favorite book that always makes me smile. I’m continuing to crochet new rows onto a blanket that has already gotten comically large. I’ve gotten somewhat sidetracked from my “Project,” but I feel proud of the work I’ve done on it so far, and I know I’ll return to it soon.

I even unleashed my inner weirdo long enough to send a gross picture of a centipede to my family and friends. And I felt inexplicable glee at their disgust.

I know I can’t stay here in my turtle shell forever, and I wouldn’t want to. Once I’m feeling grounded and steady, I may want to poke my head out of the shell and see what the Big World is up to. Maybe I’ll feel a little stronger and better equipped to take on new challenges. Maybe I’ll see new reasons to retreat back inside for awhile, and that’s okay too.

Returning to my Little World seems to help me a little. I don’t know if it will help you. I hope you find something in the next few days to bring you comfort and light and laughter, but I understand if you can’t. Know that I support you, and that I value your worth. Know that I see your hurt and confusion and fear. Know that I understand, and I feel those things too. Know that I care deeply about the fact that children are asking you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Know that I want answers, too.

Know also that we are together in this. I see you, and I am with you.  If I have to point out the ONE aspect of beauty in this horribly ugly situation, it’s that we have each other. You and me, and our brothers and sisters with similar goals and hopes and values. We’re not alone.

safetypin