Just like crack!

There are many things that people list as being “like crack”.  Crack seems to be the drug of choice when people are talking about things being addictive.  Most of these individuals have never actually tried crack cocaine so they really have no basis for their comparison. Moreover, studies have shown that crack is not the most addictive substance on the planet.

I like to say that something is “just like finding a clean bathroom” in that is is pleasant and also somewhat addictive.

Here are the top 10 things that most people would consider “just like crack” but are not quite actually crack…

  1. heroin
  2. gummy bears
  3. oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
  4. children
  5. those bath salts those kids were smoking/eating/snorting
  6. compressed air
  7. starbucks
  8. homemade italian food
  9. fancy, overpriced cupcakes
  10. cocaine

The day Panera changed my life

As some of you may remember, when I last did freelance I worked at a Panera on Hilton Head Island (I didn’t work AT panera just IN panera…) everyday from usually around 11am til 9-9:30pm.  Now that I am back to doing freelance full time I am starting to remember some of the challenges that I had in finding semi-well lit areas with a mild temperature and ample opportunity to plug my laptop in. I liked panera because every booth had a plugin, it was well lit, the staff was friendly, the coffee was hot and it was right by my gym.

With these memories unfolding as I try and get my sea legs back bring me back to a time when I had only first heard of Panera.

When Panera opened on Hilton Head everyone was excited.  Since I lived in a cave in South Dakota for 5 years and a bomb shelter in Minnesota for 18, I didnt know what a Panera was. I pretended to be excited and hungry like everyone around me.

The day panera opened there was electricity in the air.  I was going through an arbys phase (read: fat phase) so I wasn’t too keen on trying Panera on that day.  I wasn’t too sure what the expect and I couldnt leave the fate of my lunch unknown.  What if I didnt like it and then i would be hungry the rest of the day? So I skipped it.  I actually avoided panera for about 2 weeks before I finally gave in.

Panera’s driveway is on the busiest street in Hilton Head.  Its a 4 lane death trap that they expect you to dart over just for dry baked goods. I digress.

I got into the parking lot without incident. I drove around the parking lot three times (ala @jaredwsmith) looking for the perfect parking spot.  I was really just trying to prolong the time that I had before I had to go in and face my uncoolness.

As a side note: I hate trying new things. I have had my hair cut the same way since 8th grade, it has always been the same shade of brown.  I always eat turkey sandwiches with american cheese and I drink plain coffee with milk and sweet and low.  I won’t even try splenda.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I especially hate trying new restaurants.  I get very cranky when my blood sugar is low and I would hate having to go somewhere, drop $10 on lunch and then not eat it because I dont like it.

I slowly walk up to the door and I am greeted by a mob of people hungrier than the entire continent of Africa.  The door at this specific panera is at an angle and the counter is at another angle creating a sort of triangle effect which makes it very difficult to create straight and orderly lines of people.

I decided to duck behind the person furthest back in the line so I could decide what kind of turkey sandwich I wanted to get. There are 6 distinctly different turkey sandwiches on the Panera menu, with all the types of bread, the permutations are endless. My heart was racing. The crowd was thinning and I was rapidly approaching the counter.

When the girl got to me she was plump and friendly making me feel that if I ate here enough I might be plump and friendly as well. I felt good about the decision I was making.

I asked for “a turkey sandwich”. She asked which one “the one with turkey on it”. she was sweet and obviously saw me sweating through my bra and she simply suggested the sierra turkey sandwich.  I was grateful to have her in my life at that moment. She asked what I wanted as a side item, bread, an apple or chips.  I asked for an apple.  turns out they are macintosh apples which are disgusting and fodder for another blog entry. She handed me a cup (she knew how salty that sandwich would be) and asked if I wanted a cookie as well. I accepted the cookie (read: fat phase).

Then she told me my total. $14.56. No kidding. I had to dip into my emergency candy reserve funds to pay for lunch. I handed her my visa and while it was processing she tried to ease the pain by telling me that “it was for the best” and that I would “just LOOOOOVE the sierra turkey sandwich” and that “its SOOOOOOO good”. She handed me a buzzer and then started at me blankly as I looked at her and then looked at the buzzer. What the fuck was I supposed to do with this thing?

She then looked at the floor and then eventually looked past me and asked for the next person in line.  I was, for a fleeting moment, this girls best friend. I wandered around the new mob of people that were starting to accumulate in no particular fashion around me.

Then my buzzer lit up and started shaking violently. I was overly alarmed.  Now I had this crying device in my hand with no cradle to put it in. I must have looked panicked because a man in a striped brooks brothers shirt pointed me in the direction of my $14 sandwich.

I looked at him like “yeah, i know, just testing you!” and walked down the aisle. I was greeted by a manager at the end asking me how I was doing that day.  I was confused, starving and broke.

I got my bag and vacated but not before getting a diet pepsi. The drink station was chaos. There were kids and adults everywhere just looking for carbonated syrup. I waited in the back until everyone cleared out and walked up to the station.  I got my diet pepsi and I went to put a lid on it.  I have a small issue with lids.  Particularly clear plastic ones that need to go on clear plastic cups.  It took a little finess, readjusting my purse and putting my bag ‘o sandwich on the floor, but I got it.

Triumphant, I walked out of panera with my head held high.

I got back to the office, ate half the sandwich then threw it away with the apple and half of the cookie.

 

This is why I have a hard time making new friends.

About 3 years ago I was with a girlfriend and her fiance (at the time).  She was about 6 years older than me and was only my friend because my dad was her boss.  I had just moved to Hilton Head and had no friends so she was nice enough to hang out with me for awhile.

She had some friends in town from St. Simon’s Island, GA and I definitely didn’t feel “Beach Cool” around them.  “Beach Cool” is the easy style that people in the south along the coast have.  Its the ability to go to the beach, not break a sweat, not get sand where the sun dont shine and tan evenly. I am none of those things.  I sweat like a hog, whine that the sand is too hot, i usually only tan half my body, get my books wet (even though i go nowhere near the water) and find sand places where it doesn’t belong for the next 24 hours.

I managed to get through the afternoon without having sweat marks under my boobs (deodorant FTW) on my tank top nor did my entire forehead turn bright red being exposed to direct sunlight so I looked like I just ran a marathon.

All was going really well while we walked back up to the house.  We all went inside and drank a beer.  The sun was starting to go down and I needed to get home.

I hugged my friend goodbye because she initiated it then i hugged her fiance because he too initiated it.

Then it came to her friends who I just met that day.  We all got along pretty well and I would, at that moment, hang out with them again. There was that awkward dance were to you do a half-hearted hug or shake hands. It is like a dance among friends just seeing which is the more dominant member of the pack. It is also the timeframe where you would exchange phone numbers.  You just pray that the other person initiates it so you can go along.  We were on the same wave-length because we extended our hands then opened our arms to hug at different times.  Then she made the decision and went in for the hug.

My hand was still extended to shake her hand and thats when it happened.

I cupped her boob so very gently. I didn’t just brush it or skim it.  I grabbed it. and my hand remained there for the duration of the hug.  There was no sense in retracting my hand because then it would be a big deal. So i left it there in hope that maybe she just thought her left boob was extra supported during the last 5 seconds.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed. There was a very long “i didn’t know you were a pervert” pause where we all looked at the ground and mumbled the word “so…”.  I took this as my queue to leave. I made up some excuse like “oh i forgot I had to go hide in the deep end of a pool” and made haste.

This was 3 years ago.  I will have you know that I have not spoken to any member of “the incident” since.

Searching Craigslist for freelance work is like whoring for heroin in pittsburgh

Now that I am a free agent, i need to find some business for our small web firm (we do design, programming and SEM if you are curious).  What better place than to troll Craigslist?

I have provided you all with a glossary of terms that can be found in the “computer gigs” section of Craigslist…

  • Must be experienced: “we have been burned thinking we could hire an infant to do our marketing in the past.”
  • Partnership opportunity: “we have no money but we think its a super rad idea so you should too!”
  • I have a small budget: “I have no budget.”
  • I am in a tight schedule: “I expect this to be done in less than 24 hours.”
  • My last guy quit on me: probably because youre a pain in the ass.
  • Be creative!: “give me $5,000 worth of work for $500”
  • Lets barter!: “I want something for nothing”
  • I need a NDA: because your idea to rip off Facebook is such a great one
  • I need 2500 followers on twitter ASAP!!: and I need $1,000,000, we dont always get what we want.
  • Great for students!: we have no money and we think a kid who has an equal amount of experience will make us famous.
  • Fair pay: your opinion of “fair” is not the same as mine.
  • Part-time work!: because i am looking for $12/hr to lick envelopes
  • College credit available: “stand on a corner and pass out flyers to strangers who throw sodas at you”
  • It’s 90% done!: Bullshit.

The life and times of a freelance canine care technician

i decided yesterday to try my hand at dog walking.  I contacted a very nice woman in Alexandria.  We chatted on the phone and via text and she asked me to start tomorrow (which would be today…thursday…) and I said thats fine.

What I didnt realize was that Alexandria is like 4,000 miles from Reston. This wouldn’t be a problem if I could only get my rocket fixed.

I had to get up around 9:15, not terribly early but it is when you are still having your “I’m going to stay up late because i dont have a job to go to in the morning” party. So I roll out, throw on some shorts, a t-shirt and naturally, a PE bra.

The night prior to this, Charlie, our weenie had eaten my running shoes.  Last week at the gym, Pretty Woman was on in the “cardio cinema room” at the gym and I wore a blister into my right heel to the point where there was blood everywhere.  I love pretty woman.  So I had my shoes, with the bloody socks tucked in them by the door.

Last night is when he noticed them.  Next thing I knew, he was settling in to eat my entire right shoe.  I caught him just in time where only part of the heel had been chewed and he got a stern lecture and his allowanced docked for the next month. As i was cleaning up the carnage of my $125 shoes, I notice he also helped himself to my socks.  I dont know what his fascination with blood is but he loves it. It weirds me out.

Anyway, I throw on my shoes, google map how to get there.  thats when my heart sunk.  37 minutes and $2.00 in tolls.  Doesnt sound like much but when you dont have a lot of income coming in, its a lot to deal with. Meanwhile, I was getting an ear full from mom and dad (each had me on speaker phone on a conference call while all three of us were in the car) about how I should be filing for unemployment and i should get a haircut and I need to enroll my dogs in school.  so I take off down the highway on the way to Alexandria.  I pull into the first house 57 minutes after I left my house.  nearly an hour of sitting in traffic and dealing with interstates just to walk dogs for less than minimum wage. BUT! this was an adventure of the new Stephanie, goddamn it.

My new boss was already there, she was walking the first dog, a sweet girl named Coco. thats when the fun started.  it was pouring. Neither of us had umbrellas with us because it wasnt looking like rain when we started.  So we head in with Coco and took off to the next walk.

We arrive there with no problems.  We meet Riley, a beautiful brindle boxer who seems to have a bit of a mule issue (she sits like a mule in the grass and wont walk on a leash). No rain this time which is fine, i was still drying off from the last walk.

Then I was released into the wild on my own.  4 minutes into the drive to the next walk and I was already lost.  Luckily my new boss was patient enough to lead me there and she stayed on the phone with me, literally, the rest of the day so I wouldn’t end up in Maryland.

I go to London and Paisleys house, two adorable corgi’s and greet them at the door by screaming “good god what is the security code again for this fucking thing?! WHY ISNT IT TURNING OFF?!” once I got it out of “panic mode” I decided to get their harnesses on so we could go out.

If you have never seen a corgi, they are very fluffy.

I couldnt get their half broken, hot pink harnesses on due to the amount of fluff involved with their bellies. I couldnt tell where the hair ended and where the dog began.  I was terrified of being less than 3 inches away from this strange dogs face, laying on the floor trying to get this harness on and pinching her.

I fashioned the harness into a bow around her middle by tying the harness ends together.  All I knew is i didn’t want her to jerk and run away because I would be looking for a new job.

Out we went, with the on again/off again rain, there were puddles everywhere. With their short legs and excessively long hair they looked like street sweepers with ears. Of course, there was another dog walker out there in a tie-dye tanktop with arm holes down to her hips and a tropically themed bra underneath. She has an umbrella and a decrepit, white something dog who you could tell had seen better days (he had a harness on but his seemed to fit). She wanted to chat because it was pissing rain and she doesnt have a lot of people to talk to when walking dogs. while she chatted about being retired, the corgi’s decided to take a break and have a seat in the puddle in front of me.

I finally got away from the retiree in the tropical underpants and got them home where they took turns rolling on the white couch.

On to the next house.  A maltese whose mom has OCD.  I had to wear covers over my shoes.  I will have you know they have 14 hardwood steps that go up to where this dog stays.  14 chances for me to slip backwards and crack my head open on her pledge enhanced floors only to be left there until she returned home from getting a perm.

After this nightmare dog who wouldnt go outside “because it was raining and mom says all dirty dogs go to hell” I squished her back in her crate.

I got back in my car, cold, defeated, wet, in need of a bladder elimination and apparently gushing blood.

On to juneau’s house. A gorgeous huskie greeted me at the door, which he isnt supposed to do due to his apparent hatred for all things feline. The cat was nowhere to be seen…

Out we went! It was still raining, we walked around the buildings, up hills and down them.  I have never had so much respect for postal workers.  I felt a great sense of comradery with my fellow “rain, snow, sleet or shine”‘rs in my life.  Here we are, doing our jobs for the good of all in the rain.

Unfortunately there is no union for freelance dog walkers like the postal service which led me to my next decision…

get me the fuck out of here.

 

an ode to traffic

I am finishing up at the ukelele festival (its a thing) with @jaredwsmith.  He just got his new fancy pants camera and decided to take pictures of every blade of grass and bug in our path. naturally, we hit prime-time ukelele traffic when trying to exit the parking garage.

So as i sit in my car with the lights off and the windows down (im unemployed, i cant just throw money away on air conditioning) I write a small haiku reflecting on my experience.

It goes like this:

An Ode to Traffic

My Car Oh So Red
Everyone in garage wishin’ they was tipsy
I have to pee now

The woes of being unemployed

After I missed 4 phone calls, 3 texts and 15 emails while sleeping in to the crack-of-dawn hour of 11am, i decided to take fate into my own hands and tackle this insurance issue.

I can’t be without insurance, i have shit going on and i need to be insured so a lapse in coverage would be detrimental. Instead of doing cobra and having to haul into my old office, see my coworkers and cutting them a check for a weeks worth of unemployment every month, i decided to go with individual coverage.

I decided to work with Anthem.  That is who my employer had and I figured it would be easier to just transition that way.  I got through the pre-screening process with flying colors. I gave them my height, weight and medical history, which as far as they were concerned I was healthy as a horse. I had never even been on antibiotics as far as they knew.

Then they put Donna on.  Donna was the closer. Complete with a polished white belt and penny loafers. Donna, the thug she is squeezed me into answering questions about my health.  I accused her of violating HIPPA.  She didnt care.  bitch was a rebel. After she read me the first plan, i told her that $215/mo with a $3,000 deductible was unacceptable and thats when she told me that wasnt the best plan they had. Donna was slippery in her low-balling strategy.  She read me the next plan up.  it sounded better.  But then I asked about the prescription plan. Thats when i knew she had me.

me: “so how much are allergy shots?”

donna: “are you on allergy shots?”

me: “NO! i mean, they were thinking about it and i..uh..didnt want to do it at that time”

donna: “well its $35/visit”

me: “and scripts, lets say they wanted to put me on something…”

donna: “well you pay 40% of everything”

me: “holy shit! thats like $240 each month!”

then i stopped myself.  i had been caught.  the ruse was up.  she knew.

Donna: “whats 240/mo? WHATS YOUR DIAGNOSIS?!”

me: “i..uh..HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?”

donna: “well your plan just went up to $550/mo”

me: “unmentionables” *click*

So the next plan was Aetna.  I was armed with my responses. A nice girl named leslie answered.  she went through the pre-screening process which once again  I aced.

Then sara came on the line, she too was pleasant and sold me the plan.  I ended with “lets high five”. She passed me on to some woman who grunted when she answered the phone.  since I had already been sold it was fine.

we went through the series of questions which went something like this:

She-ra: “are you married, single or widowed?”

me: “single”

she-ra: “does your spouse or child have medical coverage?”

me: “im single, no kids”

she-ra: “does your spouse or child have medical coverage?”

me: “yep, still no kids”

she-ra: “you have to answer this question”

me: “i need some coaching…”

she-ra: “please just answer the question ma’am, i cannot help you answer the questions…”

me: “you make me!”

she-ra: “ma’am..”

me: “fine, my fictitious children and soon-to-be husband have health insurance”

she-ra: “so they do have insurance, do you know who through?”

me: “is this a fucking joke?”

she-ra: “ma’am just answer the question”

me: “ok then yes, my children, whom i have never met and my husband that I dont have have health insurance through blue cross. not through you because they would have tracked you down and killed you with their bare hands if they had to go through this screening process because thats the type of people they are. ”

she-ra: “ok, moving on”

67 minutes later my application had been submitted for underwriting. if i didnt have high blood pressure before this, i sure do now.  i just hope i have insurance to cover it.

My second news related event

I was invited to cover a screening of George W. Bush: the 9/11 interview at the National Geographic building in DC.  Before going any further, I would like to remind you that this is on Nat Geo on Sunday, the 28th.  It is worth spending an hour watching.  Its educational and reminds us all not to be such bitches about war, Bush or the government in its entirety.

The cocktail reception started at 6, I left my house at 5:45, I needed to be fashionably late, I learned my lesson from my first press related event.

I found M street with no issues, cussing or causing an accident, so I took that as a good sign.  I pulled into the first garage I could find.  I pull in and ask the young man (hoodlum) how much parking was, what time they closed and if they take visa. He then informed me that they close at 8 (it was 6:30), they take cash only and it would be $18 for 90 minutes.  I told him “fuck no” and then asked “how am i supposed to get out of here now?”.  He said I had to back out, onto a busy street in DC, surrounded by parked cars.

I am not a (tremendous) fan of stereotypes but there is one that I will own up to.  I, as a female, am a terrible driver. I use this stereotype to my advantage at all times without shame.

The hoodlum at the first parking garage told me there was a parking garage across the street that I should try “they be open later”.

I crossed traffic to be met with an individual whos belt was doing a better job holding his knees together than keeping his drawers up. He gave me the bargin price of $15 for 90 minutes.  I asked him if his mother knows what he does for a living. He then mumbled “you wanna park?” needless to say, the answer was “fuck no”.

I decided to take my business elsewhere.  I pulled around the corner and lo and behold there was an “event parking” sign.  I was so elated to have a person with their shirt tucked in tell me (in an articulate manner) that THIS is where I should be.  I asked him if he wanted to see my invitation on my phone.  He said no.

I drove down a long spiral road into the parking garage.  It was so clean and friendly I wanted to get out of my car and skip through the garage. I found a luxuriously large parking spot that I snuggled up into. It was right next to the large bank of colorful elevators across from the entire wall of bike racks.

Upon arrival I realized that I was painfully under dressed in jeans, a tank top and flip flops with my hair perfectly coifed into a day-old ponytail.

I immediately noticed they they were serving mashed potatoes in martini glasses and coconut chicken fingers being that eating is a favorite hobby of mine I was going to see what I could find. But before I did, I noticed it was 6:45, the film was to begin at 7:00 so I decided that I didn’t have enough time.

I decided to thin out the herd and find one lone sheep to attach myself to for the remainder of the evening. Since everyone looked like they were at prom I couldn’t pick based on clothing, so I chose the next best characteristic – age. I found the youngest person in the room.  She turned out to be a recent graduate from American University with a major in marketing with a minor in graphic design.  We spent the next 20 minutes discussing marketing while she grilled me about “the real world”. It might have been the longest 20 minutes of my life.

The flicked the lights and it was time to enter the auditorium. I brought my new friend with me, we chatted politely as we moved through the crowd.  She chose our location, 5th row to the left. We settled in.  I complemented her notebook (a boring legal pad) and her stolen ball point pen.  She was not amused by my puppy notebook.  Square.

The presentation started.  It was brilliant.  It was moving.  It was educational. All that Nat Geo is. I started choking up about half way through (i have a heart sometimes) but I looked around, nobody else was moved to tears, so I put that back into the same place where I go when trying on swimming suits.

After the documentary there was Q&A.  Theres one guy in every crowd who wants to cry every time some political leader does something that isnt 100% correct.  There were two of them in this crowd.  They came together.  They were totally married. Their questions were all surrounding Bush as a person (i.e. his religious beliefs and whether or not he knew about 9/11 when he said he did), none were related to the film. Their questions were limited to one each.  At one point they were both standing with their hands raised.

When Q&A was complete, the rows emptied out and everyone started to file to the doorway.  I lost my new friend in the shuffle.  But that was ok, she asked too many questions anyway.

 

the day the world broke in half

Today started as every week day does, or did, until today.

  • 7:30 first alarm
  • 7:45 second alarm
  • 8:30 third alarm
  • 8:50 get out of bed
  • 8:55 get in the shower
  • 9:05 get out of shower
  • 9:06 find the least dirty thing on the floor
  • 9:10 smear on some mascara
  • 9:12 curse my job by saying “off to another day of sarcastic remarks and name calling! I fucking hate my job at that fucking place”
  • 9:36 arrive at said fucking place
The rest of the morning was spent receiving sarcastic emails, being told to fix problems that I didnt create (after being told explicitly not to perform things that would create said problems) and dreading the moment that He came in.

I am not interested in a bitch-fest. If you are dying to know the ins and outs of my (old) day job, the admission to that shit show is a $15 bar tab.

The beacon of hope in my day is when my only good friend in a 100 mile radius asks me to lunch.  Today was Chick Fil A. Probably the best $6.58 i have spent in a long time (chargrilled chicken sandwich and a diet coke, thank you).  While we were finishing we felt what we thought was a large truck outside with its engine running.  then it felt like a huge plane above. then it felt like an earthquake.

At the exact time the earth was having a seizure, I was receiving my walking papers via email (yes, i was “let go” via email). I got the news on my iPhone in the car on the way back to “that fucking place”.

I can’t call my mother – which is exactly what I do whenever anything monumental happens (a canine bowel movement that is remarkable or you know, an earthquake in Northern Virginia) – the cell service was completely done. So what do i do?  I tweet! The next best thing to my mother is twitter.

The rest of the day is full of tension and job applications. I left promptly at 4:46.  I didn’t say goodbye or cry or anything else that people should do when they lose their jobs.  I simply walked out and didn’t look back.

My world was literally rocked today. Literally and metaphorically and I liked it.

My 10 year old self loves me

My musical tastes have changed dramatically with age, as they do for everyone.

What I am truly embarrassed by is the fact that at 27 I love the same genre of music my 10 year old self had.

No, I don’t listen to Miley Cyrus, just her dad.  Yes, I am a closet Billy Ray Cyrus fan.  That’s not saying much though, I am also a big Beach Boys fan.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I also listen to Katy Perry and I kind of liked that Rebecca Black song.

As I read this to @jaredwsmith, as I do with nearly everything I write he is horrified. I think I have finally weirded out the weird.