Opposite Day

george costanzaWell, I’m sure of it! Today is officially “Opposite Day”! Where usually the only Seinfeld quotes I am shouting are, “Serenity NOW!” or “No double dipping!”, today I yelled a different tune.

My cell phone silently rang on my desk today and I glanced down at it while continuing my meeting. Who is calling me from my own town? I forgot about it until an hour later when I played my voicemail.

“Hi, Katie! This is Linda from Liberty Mutual. I just wanted to say two things. First, I wanted to thank you for being a long term customer, we really appreciate your business. Secondly, I want you to know that I reviewed your account and I noticed there is a discount you are available for that was not on your account. So I have now applied that discount and made it retro from the first of the year. If you have any questions, please call me. Bye!”

You have got to be high. Seriously, Liberty Mutual, are you smoking something?

Just days after ending a lengthy “please, lower my cable bill” battle with my cable company who lowered my cable bill but then immediately tried to upsell me into multiple movie channels (for a low, 6 month introductory fee, have some late night porn!), this was a very, very welcome change. What company does this?

What company calls you up and basically says, “You know what? You’re a good, loyal person. And I know some personal things about you that you may not know yourself. I’m just going to lower your bill a little bit each month. No response required! I just want you to sit there and become a bit more affluent day by day.”

These things just do not happen to me.

So, yes, this was in fact, Opposite Day. Celebrate!

P.S. – this post was not in any way sponsored by Liberty Mutual.

P.P.S. – In fact, if you alert Liberty Mutual that this post is real, they might try to take my discount away, so DON’T do it!

Pinched the Wrong Bottom

This post is brought to you through the inspiration of Oh Noa. Noa was talking about laughing in public at completely inappropriate things and then asked us all, “What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in public?”.

I took that to mean, “What’s the last thing you couldn’t stop laughing about?”. Well, I’ll tell you.

Picture this: 1988 – off the coast of Haiti. One entire family went on a Caribbean vacation. The adults had vacationed before, but for us kids, this was the first stop on a long, long, LONG vacation.

Snorkeling! Yes! Give me a mask, a snorkel and a life vest, I’m in it to win it!

We set off from the beach and swam out to the large rocks to seek pretty fishies. The first thing I learned about snorkeling is that it’s very solitary. Even if you are with a bunch of people, it’s easy to get lost and disoriented. I met up with my aunt halfway around the first rock.

We silently signaled to each other and she started pointing out the different fishes to me. Now at ease, I began to explore a bit on my own. Before I knew it, Aunt Sue was next to me again.

This time she poked my arm and pointed to my cousin Keith, her son, in front of us. His yellow swim trunks were just up ahead. Always the jokester, she began to make silent, funny pantomimes of pinching his butt. Her hand mimicked a lobster claw and I began to see how hilarious this joke would be! I smiled, trying not to take water into my snorkel and enthusiastically nodded my head yes.

She kicked her flippers with an extra oomph and swam up to him, reached out and gave him a good pinch on his butt.

The next few seconds still flash back to me as a watery blur. He whipped his head around, clearly frightened that something had bitten him.

smiling underwater

DEAR GOD.

The frightened, tunneled scream that came from that boy’s snorkel told me all I had to know.

That wasn’t my cousin! That wasn’t my aunt’s son! That was a 13 year old stranger in a yellow bathing suit!

When I realized in my murky view what had actually happened, I laughed uncontrollably. Salt water filled my snorkel and I lifted my head above the surface and sputtered. Aunt Sue popped up to the surface at the same time and screamed her high pitch laugh. Now I was coughing and laughing and choking all at the same time. We created such a scene!

My parents swam over to see if I was going to drown. They tried to ask us what happened, but I couldn’t exactly talk at that moment. All I can remember is my head titled as far to the sky as my life vest would let me, trying to breathe air, and laughing as hard as I have ever laughed in my life.

We finally made it to shore and let the others in on what just happened. The parents of the victim were strangely standoffish.

We snorkeled four more times on this vacation. I broke out in giggles the minute my face hit the water. Have you ever tried controlling the giggles through a snorkel? Ya, not so easy.

Well, I’d like to tell you that the moral to my story is that my aunt doesn’t go around pinching bottoms anymore, but that would be a bold faced lie.

She hasn’t learned her lesson. And that’s why I love her.

 

Uninvited Passengers

There is something that’s been bugging me for a few days now and I need to get it out in the great wide open. Air it out. Let it breathe.

I recently finished a great book, Greyhound, and I was quite upset to have the book end. It was a novel about a 12 year old boy who is being shipped off to his grandparents and whose careless mother puts him on a Greyhound to travel alone from California to Pennsylvania. The story is about a 12 year old’s coming to age story, a bit on the history of Greyhound and the myriad of interesting characters he meets on the way. It was a fantastic book, I truly enjoyed it and I recommended it to anyone who would listen.

So imagine my delight when I saw a Greyhound story on the front page of CNN the other day. I clicked on it before I saw the full headline and…

(I’ll give you a minute to read the article for yourself. Here. Or here.)

Oh.
My.
Dear.
Lord.

Cockroaches. Everywhere. Falling from the ceilings. Crawling up people’s legs. In their hair. Running across their faces. Ok, I made that last one up.

I’ve got a thing against bugs. Creepy crawlies. I can’t stand them. Huge phobia. Even typing about this subject right now is making my head twitch and is giving me an onset of the dry heaves.

“Greyhound has confirmed that each passenger’s fare was fully refund their fare”. Refund their fare? REFUND THEIR FARE?

How about instead you pay for my stay at the looney bin because that is where I would have had to go if I were on this particular bus.

Just think for a moment. What if you were a passenger on this bus? How would it affect you life after the insect-filled ride? How do you recover from that?

P.S. – I dare you to watch the video on this. I haven’t seen it myself, I want to sleep tonight.

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My Tax Return Insulted Me

Sign reading "Taxes"You all know I love my life, right? I love the freedom I have, I sometimes love my job, I always love the peace and quiet that I come home to. Minus the cat who harasses me for food at all times.

But every year, when I go to start my tax return, I start to feel horrible about my life.

Did anything change for you this year?

Damn you, H&R Block Online! How dare you judge me!

Did anything change for me this year? Um ya, it did! I got a good promotion! I accepted my flaws! I traveled halfway across the world for a life changing journey!

Oh, did anything change for me in IRS terms? I guess not.

Did you get married?

No.

Did you have any children?

No.

Did you buy a house?

No.

Did you call your parents every Sunday like a good girl should?

Damn you, H&R, that is way too personal!

Well, now my taxes have me depressed. Pardon me as I slunk into the corner of my couch with Bravo TV on auto-loop.

P.S. – I still kicked ass this year! I don’t care!

Reading My Notes BC (Before Coffee)

I sit down with my cup of coffee for a few minutes of website review before I get ready to bolt out of the house for the morning. My note says:

Target List:
Grey Socks
Underwear
Kitty Litter
Cleaning

What audience am I trying to target with this list? Did I write underwear jokes that I need to publish? That’s usually not like me. I usually leave my bathroom humor in…well…the bathroom (And let me tell you, I usually kill it in there. Easy crowd).

Then the fog lifts and I realize…these are all items I need to pick up at Target on the way home from work. “Cleaning” must have been my auto-correct for cleanser.

But now that I think of it, I do have a few kitty litter jokes I can work into my writing, so this is a bonus!

Lent Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

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I was raised in the Catholic religion. This time of year was always reserved for fish and chips on Friday nights, walking the stations of the cross and palms hanging over my childhood bed.

As an adult, I am no longer a practicing Catholic (and don’t even get me started on why). I eat hamburgers for all three meals on Fridays during Lent, just because I can. Passion plays mean reenacting scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey. And if I wanted ashes on my forehead, all I have to do is pass out in a friend’s ashtray.

The one tradition I do carry on from my childhood is giving something up for Lent. Don’t ask me why, but I like the practice of doing without for a certain period of time. Lent has a beginning and an end - six weeks is not too long to give anything up, is it?

One year I gave up red meat…that was absolutely brutal. Though, it did make me realize how much red meat I do eat. Another year, I gave up beer. That was a futile effort that did not last long. This year I toyed with giving up alcohol altogether, but hahahahahahahahahaha…um, no.

Instead, I will give up pizza. Anyone who knows me will know how obsessed I am with pizza.

It is day 5 without pizza. I already want to cry. While this will be good for my waist-line, this will not be good for my psyche. As long as I can refrain from stalking the pizza delivery guy for the next six weeks, probably no charges will be filed. Mamma mia!

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eggplant/17403523/sizes/z/in/photostream/

George’s Street Arcade

Tarot Cards“You’re going to become pregnant at the end of next year,” he told me in his Dublin brogue.

The flimsy, metal folding chair I was sitting on shook a little under the weight and force of my startled reaction.

“WHAT? You can’t SAY that to people! Why would you say that to PEOPLE?” I hissed. I did not want to disturb the person getting their cards read in the next booth. Nor did I want my sister, who was sitting on the other side of the curtain, to hear what he had told me.

“I’m not saying that to ‘people’ I’m saying that to you. You are going to start seeing someone late next year, you are not going to be careful when it comes to sex and by the end of next year you will find out you are pregnant. Don’t worry, though, he is going to turn out to be your true love and you will have a proper family together.”

As if the clarification was reassuring to me. I was a 35 year old single American woman who had escaped a lifetime of wedded misery to a psychopath and was immensely enjoying all the perks of the single life, including spending 10 days driving all over the gorgeous country of Ireland with my sister. I prided myself on my single status…no man was going to hold ME back again.

But here I was, getting myself virtually knocked up by an Irish carnival worker.

It was Jenn’s idea to go to the Tarot reader. After getting high on Butler’s Chocolates, we wandered through a Dublin market and saw the tarot reader set up at George’s Street Arcade.

“Should we?” she asked.

I studied the maroon colored sign hoisted outside of the wooden booth. “Tarot Readings Are Still Available Here”, it read.

“Tarot Readings…are still available here…even though we’ve had complaints and may or may not be in legal trouble,” was how I read it.

Hell, we were on vacation. And I kept saying I wanted to go to a psychic. This was the next best thing, right?

Wrong.

You have to know a little bit about me. I’m a cynic. I can’t help but think everyone has a little bit of…how do I put it…sheister inside of them. I was damned and determined I wouldn’t give this guy one ounce of encouragement to go on.

The session went something like this:

Him: You will be making a large investment in a couple of months. Maybe you have been house hunting?

Me (arms crossed): Oh, ya?

Him: What I’m picking up from the cards is that you are at a crossroads in your career. Does this sound familiar?

Me (arms crossed): Hmmm…I’m not sure. Go on.

Him: Well, I see you will be making a big effort to continue with this new path.

Me (arms crossed): Hope so.

Him: You have family matters that are yet to be resolved.

Me (arms AND legs crossed): Yup.

Him: They will be resolved by the end of next year.

Me (arms and legs crossed): Cool.

Him: There is someone you are attracted to. And he is attracted to you too.

Me (arms crossed): Good.

Him: You will become pregnant at the end of next year. You won’t be careful about sex and the pregnancy will be unexpected. But you will ultimately form a family with this guy because he may be your one true love.

Me (standing up): WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?? ARE YOU BRAIN DAMAGED? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? I CAN’T CARE FOR A CHILD! I’M OUTTA HERE. SMELL YOU LATER!

Ok, I *might* be exaggerating about my reaction…but you can imagine my displeasure.

I never really thought the information would come in handy.

I was mistaken.

Four months later I was floating in my sister’s pool and having an unpleasant conversation with my mother about an endless family feud.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” I reassured her, “according to the Tarot reader from Dublin, it will be over at the end of this year. Also, apparently I will be pregnant at the end of this year. OH MY GOD, the baby will bring us all together! THA BABYEEEE! My baby! We’re going to mend fences with my baybeeeeeeeee!”.

Neither the sentiment nor the three margaritas I had prior to the conversation were appreciated by my mother. Although, I found myself quite pleased with the way I able to string these two predictions together in a logical way.

Hot damn, all of a sudden the $50 for a reading in Dublin seemed worth it!

Plus, I’m a sucker for a good joke!

 

 

Proofreading Is Hard Work…Unless You Love the Book!

Who gets excited about proofreading? I DO! I get excited about any new job, but this job was pretty awesome. Here is an actual email I sent to a friend about my newly confident proofreading skillz…

book pages folded

 

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Katie Mack <katiemackwrites@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 9:12 PM
Subject: book proofing
To: Chaz <chaz52@yahoo.com>

 

Just got the book I’m proofing at 2 p.m. today and came home and dove right into it. It’s a very well written, and funny (there’s a chapter called, “Don’t Mention the War”. Are you kidding me? Fawlty Towersfor the win!), non-fiction book about self-publishing. But what I didn’t expect was that the file was ENORMOUS. Which is like, take your typical email and times it by 100,000. To print it at my office would be about 367 pages. Yowzers. While my initial plan for proofreading was a four-fold…read it on paper, read it on the computer, read it on my iPad (Kindle) and read it out loud…I may have to skip the paper part. The file is too large (26mb) to fit on a flash drive to print at Staples or the UPS store. I don’t feel quite right printing a 367 page document at my office for personal use. Doesn’t matter that my personal use is my personal business, I’d be using company resources to do that. And it just doesn’t seem right. Why do I have to be so honest??!!??

It almost made me feel better to agree (with my conscious) to print 90 pages a day, which is what I want to have done each day so that on Saturday, I’d be diving into reading it on the computer. By Monday, I’d be onto the reading it by Kindle. And…let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t make it to reading out loud…not in a 7 day turn around for a book that is 136,000 words.

However, given no other option and I had to start tonight…I started reading it on my computer.

My biggest fear was that I would find NOTHING wrong. As I mentioned, it’s already been to a professional editor and proofreader. So, what if I read all 367 pages x 4 times and found nothing wrong? Embarrassing! It would be humiliating and totally undermining of what I think is a special talent of mine…not with my own writing, my god, as you’ve pointed out I’m Ms. Typo Galore! But it is true that I’ve very rarely read any published paperback or electronic novel without finding a typo. I seriously think it’s my super power. And how would it go down if this chick gave me an edited, already proof-read book and I couldn’t find anything?

Well, yeaaaaaaaaaaah, boy! I’m only 32 pages in and I’ve already spotted 2 missing words! The doubt is slowly lifting off of me! I’m ecstatic, like maybe I do have a super power! I feel like emailing the author and being all, “Love your book! You make me laugh! I already found two missing words!”. But yet, that’s probably not a good idea because a) who wants someone to celebrate your mistakes? b) “Page 32 out of 367? Get cracking, bitch!” and c) I may not be so excited about her book after sitting with it a week and four times through.

Katie Mack

web: Katie Mack Writing
email: katiemackwrites@gmail.com
twitter: @thekatiemack
facebook: right here!
coordinates: just north of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Planet Earth

For The Love of Chapstick

An oldie but goodie…

I heart Chapstick

Panic set in as I reached down into the pocket of my favorite black pants and felt…nothing. That’s all it took to put me in full blown emergency mode. It was the kind of panic that made my whole body shudder for just an instant. I instinctively smacked my lips together and brought my hand to my mouth to check out the situation going on up there. There is no greater mistake than leaving your chapstick at home.

I blame my mother, actually, for my chapstick addiction. (Yes, I realize I should call it lip balm. Not all lip balm is the Chap Stick brand. But I call everything chapstick and I make it one word. See? Chapstick!) Mom carried chapstick in her pants pocket everyday (and still does). As a child, all I would have to do is ask and she would whip out her chapstick and hand it to me. Which shows how a mother’s love works.

Try to get me to share my chapstick with a snot dripping, germ infested, dirty handed kid?

Ya, that’s not happening.

One of the first signs that I was turning into my mother was when I realized that I am now carrying chapstick in my own pocket. Very rarely do you find me chapstick free. I have a healthy supply of chapstick squirreled away. And my chapstick stock always rotates too.

No grungy, used up, balm-so-low-you-have-to-scrape-your-lips-to-get-at-it tubes for me.

I don’t know exactly when it involved into a thriving, consuming addiction, but here it is. Everyone who knows me well knows how I feel about chapstick. I have friends who keep emergency stashes in their house in case I accidentally show up lip balm free.

If, god forbid, I do end up balm free – I will talk about little else for the day or night. If I am stuck at work sans chapstick, I will complain to my co-workers multiple times a day, “I don’t know what I’m going to do! No chapstick today!”. I will drive my friends crazy if we go out at night and I am tube free.

“Don’t mind Katie,” they’ll say, “She forgot her chapstick at home”.

Though I do mix it up from time to time with Burt’s Bees or the generic burn-your-lips balm my sister’s employer gives away, my absolute favorite brand is the Original Chapstick (again, they are not paying me to write this). I like to keep it old school. And there’s little doubt in my mind that it’s my favorite brand because that’s what my mother used to carry.

There is something so soothing and comforting about see the small rounded tube and the black label yelling to me, “This is your youth!”. To hear that plastic cap pop off and smell the slightly-medicinal-but-mixed-with-sunscreen aroma. And the feel.

Oh god, the feel.

And though it’s rare to find me without my precious lip balm, the times I don’t have it on me are sheer torture. My lips instantly feel as if I have skied down a hundred mountains in the bright winter sun and they are about to crack and bleed. Though in reality, my lips are fine. I know this. However,  all day long I will reach in my pocket and be struck over and over again with the realization that the chapstick is missing. It’s a force of habit and it is strong.

When I am armed with chapstick, the world is my play toy. Confidence and attitude abound, you will often see me pulling my chapstick out of my pocket and applying it. Let me say that again, with feeling.

You will OFTEN see me pulling my chapstick out of my pocket and applying it.

Yes, because I think my lips are chapped, but at this point is has also developed into a nervous tick. An awkward pause in the conversation? Time to break out lip balm. Talking about an uncomfortable topic? I’ll just freshen up my lips a little bit! Want to ask me out on a date? I’ll just in my pocket for my “tube of calm”.

Like it or not, chapstick has become my security blanket. Which is fine by me because it used to be Camel Lights until I kicked that god-awful habit (that’s a story for another time). So I’ll gladly take the chapstick addiction! Bring it on, I say.

Ok, ok, I realize that it’s not necessarily healthy. If I stopped to think about it for a while, I would probably agree that I am replacing one addiction with another.

Probably.

But I would argue that one addiction has been proven to give you cancer and the other addiction has not been proven to give you anything…yet.

We all have our own little security blankets that we carry around with us all day, whether you realize it or not.  Something to play with or something to touch to bring us back to a place of calm. Whether it be a charm bracelet you fiddle with, a necklace you constantly adjust, that ever-present cup of coffee you are consuming, an ear that you tug at, nails that you bite off…

So my question to you is, what’s YOUR security blanket? Come on, be honest, I won’t tell a soul!

No Sangria For Me…

Vacuum and Mop

I did not look this cool while cleaning up.

Wednesday was an insanely difficult day at work.

A thirteen hour “shoving crackers in your mouth will have to substitute for lunch” kind of day. A “oh no, he DIDN’T just ask if we were ‘having fun yet?’” kind of day. A “it’s hilarious that I thought I would make it in time for my evening tennis match” kind of day.

Immediately upon arriving home, I remembered that I had an unopened bottle of Skinnygirl Sangria waiting for me. No, Bethenny is not paying me to endorse this product. I just happen to be in love with it, ok? Don’t judge!

Well, now I was excited. Here are the events that immediately followed my Sangria excitement:

-Oh crap! I never put this bottle in the fridge! Well, I could put an ice cube in my wine glass. Oh good lord, no I can’t, then I WILL be turning into my mother. I’ll just stick it in the freezer for a minute or two.

-Yay! My favorite shorts and tank top! Yay! My favorite flip flops! Yay! Washing my blood, sweat and tears makeup off!

-Where is my favorite wine glass? There it is! Hello, darling wine glass!

-Wait, I did decide I wanted an ice cube in my glass, right?

-Yay, opening freezer door!

-Yaaaa…what is that sound?

-Uhhh…why is there is a frosted bottle hurtling it’s way to the floor?

-SMASH

-Oh no, broken glass!

-OHHHHHH NOOOOOOO, my Sangria!!

-FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THERE IS SANGRIA AND BROKEN GLASS EVERYWHERE!

-My legs and feet are covered in sweet, sweet sangria!

-Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Why me? *short, quiet sob*

-Ah! Where is the cat? The cat cannot walk in this mess! Let’s put cat in the bedroom where it’s safe!

-I don’t think paper towels are the appropriate tools to clean up this mess.

-Damnit, I never thought I would admit this, but a wet vac would be very helpful at this moment.

-Why can’t I be a proper person with a proper house and proper tools, like a wet vac?

-How am I going to soak up 750 ml of delicious sangria?

-I need to concentrate on glass clean up first, even it if means wading through puddles of sangria.

-Large glass pieces are gone. Time to throw bath towels over the puddles.

-Score one point for me, I have proper bath towels that turn out to be super absorbent.

-That’s enough clean up for one night.

-*Sigh* If I don’t clean this up properly, I will regret it.

-Drag out the vacuum. I pictured myself doing a lot of things tonight and vacuuming wasn’t one of them.

-*Sigh* If I don’t mop the floor right now, I’m going to be miserable in the morning. I can just hear the stick-stick-stick-stick of my flip flops walking through my kitchen tomorrow.

-Drag out the mop and bucket. Mop floor. Get really mad about having to mop the floor.

-Phew, it’s done! I’m done. Crisis taken care of! No Skinnygirl Sangria for this un-skinny girl tonight.

-I really do want Sangria, though.

-No, I really, REALLY want Sangria. I could just go down the street and get another bottle. It’s so pricey, though. But I’m worth it, aren’t I? Do I even have any cash on me?

-Let’s see what’s in my wallet. Oh look, I have a twent…NOOOOOOOOO!!!

-I just dropped my purse upside down!! And all of the contents just fell on my freshly mopped floor!

-When did I collect 7 lip glosses, 11 tampons and 65 pieces of change in my purse? No wonder it’s so heavy!

-Is that a 5 Soles piece? How the hell did that end up in my purse? I didn’t even take this bag to Peru! What will I do with that? Screw it, it’s going in my change jar. Let Coinstar deal with that one.

-You know what? I don’t even want Sangria anymore! I can’t even take the smell of Sangria right now!

-I see, Universe, this is your way of telling me NOT to drink Sangria tonight. Fine, point taken. I’m going to bed.

-If anyone needs me, I’ll be in bed, watching Season 2 of Downton Abbey. At least they don’t have to deal with broken Sangria bottles.

-Oh, hello kitty, forgot you were in here…

-Oh, Mr. Bates, you are so noble. I bet YOU would have gone out and gotten me another bottle of Sangria…zzzzzzzzzz