Stay In Your Lane (Part 2)

Don’t worry. I had nothing to be jealous of. While my friend enjoyed some Old Spice aromatherapy, I was whisked away by: a middle-aged man who danced as if his knees were magnetically attracted to every wall of the room, a sweet elderly man whose plethora of enthusiastic questions caused a vein to pop out the side of the instructor’s forehead, and a younger guy who was too short to spin me, causing me to do a crouch-and-twist type move. It was quite aerobic.

Each time we were taught something new, we would try it out with our partner. When the instructor thought that enough time had passed, he had us high five this person and find a new human to dance with. As we rotated through the circle of partners for those three hours, the most difficult part was the awkward spoken interaction, of which Blue Shirt was most notorious.

Whenever the women would rotate and I would land on Blue Shirt, he would have eyes wide open, eyebrows reaching toward the ceiling, and an arsenal of bad jokes he was just waiting to let rip.

First encounter:
Blue Shirt says, “Hey ghrgjrkghjrd hgdurdihgrdkgjrddh! gdhjkghdj. hfjdkghfdjhfgjd ghfjdkldj gfdgjfkldfgj!” …Riveting.

He spoke so soft I have no idea what he said. So, of course, I nodded and smiled. I’ve found that I’ve become an expert at seeming like I know what’s going on, in order to maintain the dignity of acknowledged “Awkward Person”, “Quiet Person”, or “Foreign Language Speaker”. *Disclaimer: Often times, I am said “Awkward Person, “Quiet Person”, and/or “Foreign Language Speaker”.

He smiles back. Success! We’re out of the woods! Man, am I good. Oh wait…. he never stops smiling. This is his default look. Crap.

As we continued dancing I could feel his eyes struggling to make contact once again with mine. I refused to meet his gaze (I’m sorry – “gaze” isn’t a strong enough word, but since Merriam-Webster has not yet found a synonym for “searing fixation that burns straight through to your soul”, “gaze” will have to do.)

Finally, after pretending to be very interested in everything but his face for what felt like an eon, I looked back at him. Apparently this prompted some condescending question from him like, “So, you think you’re catching on now?”

A lot better than YOU at least! Remember that hard, tater tot-like object you stepped on? Yea, that was my toe!

This was the last straw. I couldn’t stand to listen to him or smell him any longer. My roommate looked at me, “You want to sneak out?” Yes. Please. We decided to get pizza from Pink’s and watch a movie for the rest of the night.

As we were walking out the door I felt a feeling of accomplishment, relief, and an imminent, aroma-induced migraine from the recent sensory assault.

  • Nobody
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Stay In Your Lane (Part 1)

Do you ever say “yes” to doing something just because you know the people watching is going to be top-notch? I’d be lying if I said I rarely do things just for a good story. The events of this weekend can be partially attributed to this fact.

Ok, let’s play a game. I’ll set the stage for you and you guess where I went!

  • My friend and I are in a room full of people.
  • We suddenly realize that we ALL have something on our shoes.
  • While trying to scrape our shoes off on the floor, we realize we are losing balance and grab each others’ hands.
  • As we’re clinging to each other desperately, a man in a fedora puts music on and tells us to scrape faster and FASTER!
  • The shoes never come clean!

    That’s right! We were in a New York subway!
    No, no. We went to a dance class. Cumbia, to be specific.
    Here’s how it actually went…

  • I’m in a large room.
  • Everyone is clinging to the walls in an attempt to feel invisible.
  • The room is covered in boxing photos, the floor is wooden, and there’s a large mirror on the west side that takes up the entire wall. (You know, so you can watch yourself fail AND watch everyone else watching you fail!)
  • The dance instructor introduces himself while his partner waits in the corner, ready to be summoned. (I almost threw her a granola bar from my purse. Poor, frail creature. Who knows how long it’s been since he’s let her out of the house.)
  • I find out later that they’re dating and, despite the general consensus, she isn’t actually a dancing robot that he’s hired.
  • A large puddle, comparable to the size of Lake Michigan, forms and causes an elderly woman to fall and break both her hips.
  • The men in the room continue to flail around as if they have also broken their hips.
  • A slender man in a black fedora puts music on and tells us to dancer faster and FASTER!

It always amazes me at the confidence some people have at these shin-digs. One man, we’ll call him “Blue Shirt”, made IMMEDIATE eye contact with my friend and advanced toward her as soon as she stepped through the door. There are many reasons why he might have targeted her so quickly. Maybe he likes blondes. Maybe he could tell she’s a lefty. Maybe her height was just short enough that he hoped his repulsive breath might simply float over her. Maybe her obvious strength made her appear as though she could withstand the many instances when he would step on her feet, without even wincing. Maybe he could sense that she also loves the color blue!

For whatever reason, Blue Shirt was on a mission indeed.

(Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story….)

Try Not to Drool

I have learned that the role of a mother is to guilt trip you into doing her bidding. Be this cleaning the dog’s cage, not dating certain men, or leaving the frozen spaghetti sauce and meatballs out to thaw before your dad gets home (shoot…forgot to do that today).

My mother’s biggest endeavor yet was plotting to have me move back to Michigan. This is a touchy subject, considering I plan on never returning. You can’t actually say that you are never coming back, though. You have to be sneaky about it. It gets easier after a while- just pretend you are a politician making empty and vague promises to win votes.

-Maybe when I have kids one day!

-Of course I’ll want my family to be near their grandparents!

-I just feel like I need to be in Texas right now.

-It’s only temporary.

-You know it’s best to stay at your first job 3-5 years.

-I’m collecting valuable experiences.

-I’ll move as soon as I marry my dentist, don’t worry!

I should explain. Three years ago, I thought my dentist’s son was the most beautiful man on the planet. So beautiful, that I would need to ask for more laughing gas, just to counteract the nervousness of being around him. The first time we met, I’m pretty sure no audible words came out of my mouth. Everything I wanted to say more or less just floated around in my head, wanting to be heard but never actually jumping from my lips into the outside world… I may have drooled a bit also. This was involuntary; he had just given me two shots in my gums.

Let me give you an example of a typical dental appointment.

Dentist: “How’s Texas treating you?”

Me: (Crappy. Hate it. No friends yet. Please talk about your son.) “It’s great! So hot right now, though!”

Dentist: “Haha! I can imagine! You know, all my exes live in Texas!”

Me: (Haven’t heard that one before.) “Is that why you hang your hat in Tennessee?”

Dentist: “Haha! Wow I’m surprised you know that song!”

Me: (Time to talk about your son!)

Dentist: “By the way, have you met my son?” (Thank you…thank you.)

Me: “Yes, last year.”

Dentist: “You know I’ve been trying to set you two up!”

Mandy the dental hygienist: “But she lives in Texas!!” (Shut up, Mandy. No one asked you, Mandy. Don’t you have someone’s teeth to clean, MANDY?!)

Me: “Yes, but remember he has a girlfriend!”

Dentist: “No, not anymore! Broke up! She’s been gone 6 months!”

Me: (He seems way too happy about this…but I’ll take it.) “That’s AWESOME! Set me up! Do you have a pen? It’s ok, I’ll write it down…here’s my email address, cell number, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter handle, full name for Facebook, parents’ home address, address in Texas, and my social security number, you know, for the marriage certificate!”

And that is the story of how I proposed to myself. You’re all invited to the wedding!

Ok, so that last line never happened.

However, when I do get married it is possible that I’ll live closer to my parents. Despite my need to travel, I do believe that family is important. That, and the phrase “it takes a village” really resonates with me, considering I’m sure my future children are going to be insane. When that day comes, I will move closer to the village again. I’ll need all the help I can get.

Talk again next Monday? I might actually post on time next week. Don’t get your hopes up, though.

  • Nobody

 

Be a Writer

Hello reader.

In case you haven’t noticed, our meetings have evolved into a once a week deal. I know you had no say in this decision. For that, I am sorry. However, this is not your blog. And, since you haven’t really contributed to any similar decisions thus far, I can’t help but say that you shouldn’t be surprised. I mean honestly, you are a stranger and I am a self-proclaimed nobody.

Okay, fine. If I’m ever famous, THEN you can start dictating my obligations to you. You can decide what hairstyle you prefer, how many kids I should have, whether or not you’re comfortable with my weight, religion, ethnicity, opinion of almond milk, or choice of toenail color. You can hide in the shrubbery around my house and inconspicuously take photographs of me mowing my lawn in God forbid a ponytail and post it all over the internet. I look forward to this day.

However, until I am pressured by the media in every direction, I call the shots.

Actually, I still wouldn’t succumb to the pressure. And I suppose I wouldn’t have to. The truth is: writers have it made!

Think about it. When you’re on screen, your appearance matters. Whether it should or shouldn’t in this case does not detract from the fact that it just does. Everyone is watching you, judging you, falling in love with the character you are on screen and baffled that you are not exactly this character in real life. It’s horrible!

But writers, they’ve found the sweet spot. As a writer you can be a creative genius or an unoriginal copycat and no one even needs to see your face! You can sneak away from the scene forever or be praised as a New York Times Bestseller. At the end of the day, no one needs to know what you look like. And if they do know, it doesn’t matter!

Do you ever hear people saying,
“That Malcolm Gladwell, man. He’s a wordsmith alright, but I’d like him better if he lost that Macy Gray hair”? No!

(Disclaimer: I am actually a huge fan of M.G. And, since I am absolutely positive that he is reading this right now, I would like an autograph. Please. Thank you. Love the hair- don’t change a thing!)

In the end, what matters most about an actor is how they perform. Like many jobs, your mannerisms, posture, dress, or preferences can affect how one might view your potential. As a writer, you present the material first and that is what is scrutinized. If we like your crazy, brilliant, confusing, innovative, intriguing mind, then we like you! End of discussion.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts with you, I guess we’ll call this mental spew a post. Are you okay with that? Alright, good. See, you contributed!

Talk to you next Monday!

  • Nobody

Avoid the Orange Cones

Procrastinating, for me, isn’t a bad habit. It isn’t a problem. It’s a disease.

There is no way of shaking it. I’ve tried. I know what you’re going to say: won’t the feeling of getting your task taken care of ahead of time give you so much relief? Won’t you be happy knowing that you’re saving yourself in the future? No. No I won’t. Do you want to know why? Because there is always something else that needs to be taken care of FIRST. How am I supposed to work ahead when I am still working on the daily crazy that has already been set before me?!

And now for a short anecdote.

When I was in college, I had the immense pleasure and honor to give the commencement speech at my university. This was something I took SERIOUSLY. Not too seriously…I definitely wanted to make people laugh. But, I also didn’t want people to leave saying, “Well that was funny, but not too bright. She must have been the class clown. Good thing she’s kinda cute.” I had much bigger aspirations.

In this one speech, I needed to make the crowd laugh, cry, question the meaning of their own existence, reflect on past mistakes, be filled with hope for the future, leave feeling wiser, spiritually cleansed, rejuvenated, hydrated, well rested, recharged, rebooted, replenished, renovated, and pressure cooked.

The expectations were high! For myself. I’ve always been extremely critical of myself and this speech was no exception. Although I’m sure absolutely no one else was even thinking about it the day before.

I stayed up all night in bed with my laptop and left early the next morning, from Detroit to Chicago. This was not a very intelligent move. All the Starbucks in the world couldn’t keep me awake through that drive. You guessed it: two hours in, I fell asleep, swerved, and promptly hit three traffic cones in the process. (Thank God for those little orange angels!)

The speech didn’t change anyone’s life but I was proud of it. You can probably find it on YouTube still. Make sure you watch the version where my high heel gets stuck in a tiny hole in the floor, right before I reach the podium. Oh, and that part when I tell the crowd to look at my parents and wave to them. I promised them I wouldn’t talk about them in the speech, so I had to do an honorable mention!

What’s the point?

Take yourself too seriously and then trip before your speech. It’ll even out.

Also, don’t procrastinate! You will hit a “traffic cone” of your own and that is never a pleasant experience. Now, feel free to apply that advice tomorrow, or the next day, or a week from now. Really, take your time.

  • Nobody

 

Play That Funky Music

One of the most precious bits of wisdom I’ve ever received is this: YOU choose your mood. It is no one’s responsibility to make you feel the way you “should”, nor can we attribute fault to anyone else. Mood is a choice.

Before I go on, I know some of you are thinking, “What about depression?”. If you’ve read The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt, you might remember him explaining that psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, created by Aaron Beck in the 1960s, is used to help patients catch negative thoughts and find more accurate ways of thinking. If this is done well, the therapy works just as effectively as an SSRI such as Prozac, Zoloft, etc. and has longer lasting effects. I think we can somehow connect the ancient proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I personally would rather be empowered with strategies than given medication. I realize that there are extreme cases and am in no way trying to diminish that fact.  However, this is a topic that deserves a lengthier discussion and is not the subject of this post.

As a side note, I would not promote the interpretation of the aforementioned proverb by Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish…and feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard.”

Moving on…

I’ve personally learned that music plays a huge part in how I feel on a daily basis. When I was younger, I’m almost positive I went through the majority of my childhood and high school years never listening to song that was sad or had a slow tempo. I refused. I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but the things that we watch and listen to are food for the soul. Remember the phrase, “You are what you eat?” I believe your soul becomes what your soul “eats”. Meaning, the input that you process daily (the things you read, watch, listen to, surround yourself with) will help shape who you are and how you think. Some of what’s out there is good for the soul; some is trash.

Every morning I set my mood for the day with energizing music, I listen to podcasts on the way to work, and I immediately put an album on that’s mellow when I arrive home for the night. I try to be very intentional in deciding what things I’m willing to listen to and watch.

If you’d like to try this out , I’d suggest staying away from certain songs….

For me, these are the Top 10 songs that are least likely to boost my mood:

10. Crocodile Rock by Elton John. Oh my Lord. When I first started playing piano, my parents hadn’t yet invested in the spinet that they now own. As we know, children often change their minds, so I began this new endeavor with a cost-effective CASIO keyboard. This keyboard had many preset songs that you could listen to. My least favorite was Crocodile Rock. It’s so aggressively annoying, especially after increasing the tempo a few notches. I still hate it.

9. Anything Pearl Jam.

8. Or Nickelback. I don’t even have to explain these two. You already agree. I know you do.

7. Footloose by Kenny Loggins. I’m sorry two-steppers, I had to add it. Even Kevin Bacon is sick of this song. Go watch the interviews.

6. We Fly High by Jim Jones. I feel like I’m listening to a rap album slowed down and played backwards. Equally annoying from the rap category: White Tee by Dem Franchize Boyz and This is Why I’m Hot by MiMS. (Yes, I’m aware that this was my ringtone back when I owned a Motorola RAZR. Those were some trying times.)

5. Rock Lobster – The B-52’s. Not a fan of crocodiles rocking; not a fan of lobsters rocking. Stick with Love Shack if you ever look them up or if you’re allergic to shellfish.

4. Zombie by The Cranberries. The Cranberries are hit or miss. If you like yodeling and rock music, you’ll most likely find them a hit.

3. Escape (The Piña Colada Song) There is a specific demographic that loves this song. These humans are usually over the age of 60 and enjoy wearing Hawaiian shirts.

2. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm by Crash Test Dummies. What audience was this meant to appeal to? If I were a mortician, this would be my jam. Have you heard this song? Then you know what I’m talking about.

1. Anything Phil Collins. Phil Collins’ songs from Tarzan, Phil Collins in Genesis (post Peter Gabriel), pretty much everything he’s ever produced. I’m not sure where this aversion came from but it’s very real. My friends have often seen my eye start to twitch when a P.C. ballad comes on the radio.

For the sake of keeping this blog positive, here are some fast-paced classics that might up your mood. They’re perfect for singing to strangers next to you on the road, shower serenades, or anywhere else you accidentally find to be acoustically perfect.

Feel free to turn these up to 11:

  • Blitzkreig Bop – Ramones
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  • Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
  • I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
  • You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
  • Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
  • Fuel – Metallica
  • September – Earth, Wind, & Fire
  • Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
  • La Bamba – Richie Valens
  • All Day and All of the Night – The Kinks
  • Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind
  • Do You Love Me – The Contours
  • Take On Me – A-ha
  • I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
  • Suavemente – Elvis Crespo
  • Pump It – The Black Eyed Peas (Fergalicious?)
  • Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It – Will Smith
  • Groove Is In The Heart – Deee-Lite
  • Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega  ->If you’re bummed that your name isn’t in this song, it’d probably be better for your mood to avoid it.

If you listen to this list and are still feeling down afterward, consult a medical professional immediately.

  • Nobody aka Your Juke Box Hero

Try It, You’ll Like It… Eventually

I have never avoided anything as well as I avoided running the mile in gym class. Oh how I hated that day. I must have faked an illness every week we had to do it.

Feel free to borrow or edit my list of excuses as you wish:
I’m nauseous.
I have low blood sugar.
I’m allergic to others’ sweat.
I think I broke a toe.
I have asthma and my inhaler is at home.
I have allergies and my EpiPen is at home.
One of my legs is longer than the other and my special shoes are at home.
I have PTSD and forced exercise is a trigger.
I was never taught how to run. Running was forbidden at my home.

In a self-protective attempt to not admit failure I would always walk the second half, because I didn’t want people to find out what my actual mile time was, had I ran the entire thing. SPOILER ALERT: IT WOULDN’T HAVE IMPROVED MUCH

Besides being a beast at “running” 12-minute miles, I also loved to avoid kickball day, dodge ball day, and baseball day. Really, any day that involved an inflated spherical device being thrown near my head was a nightmare for me. You might think this is odd, considering the fact that I enjoy working out now. However, in school growing up I had such an enormous fear of making a fool out of myself, that I spent every day sidestepping potentially humiliating experiences.

I didn’t grow up with brothers and my abnormal father did not follow sports. He was more of a John Wayne-loving, motorcycle-riding, chronic hobbyist who dabbled with things like welding, forging, and turning wood on a lathe. Half of my guy friends were into guitars and Airsoft guns. The other half were artsy and not ashamed of giggling. I was basically screwed. I never learned how to properly play any team sport. The silver lining to all of this is that I developed a chameleon-like ability to blend into any foreign situation I came across. To this day, if you stick me in an unconventional scenario I will either appear to be loving it or will very convincingly tell you about my short leg and PTSD.

This was my life until I met a girl named Melanie.

I met my friend Mel in college when I was the RA of her floor. Fast forward a few months and we were the best of friends. One day I woke up and walked across the hall to talk to her (as I did most mornings) and tell her about a dream I had.

“It was so weird! I was playing soccer with you on the team and-!”
“That means you’re going to be on the team!”
“I don’t think I really want to- ”
“Let’s go!”

Suddenly she was dragging me onto the soccer field. I don’t remember much more about how this started except for Coach yelling “go put on a jersey!”.

To this day, I don’t know why he let me play. I say “let” because there really was no reason for me to be there except for the entertainment, which I provided with my horrible jokes and poor performance.

What’s the point? It won’t kill you to try something new, usually.  Now, I strictly live by the idea that if something scares you or makes you uncomfortable, you should probably go for it. Do it until it becomes easy! How do you think I got myself to like store-bought tomato sauce? Ha! I’m kidding. I would never subject myself to that.

Want to talk to learn a new skill? Do it. Want to make new friends? Get out there. Try new things until that comfort bubble of yours gets a little wider. Once that new circumference becomes too easy, step out again.

Follow my advice and pretty soon you’ll be streaking in Central Park!

You’re welcome.

  • Nobody

Disclaimer: Nobody à la Mode in no way endorses any illegal or life-threatening activities of any kind. Let’s not get carried away.