Adventures in Senior-Sitting: When Spring Break Goes Bad

I’m not sure what traumatized me into never wanting kids. Maybe it was realizing that kids equaled zero fun time. Or, that you had to be responsible for them forever. Or maybe it was something my grandma said: “your kids will be 3 times as bad as you.” No thanks. I was a nightmare, so bad that I didn’t even start liking myself until I was 30. I don’t need “younger me” amplified. So I opted out of having kids. Karma, however, found me and opted me in like every e-newsletter I never signed up for.

As most of you know, I inherited a teenager in the form of my 66-year-old father-in-law and it’s been a real barrel of laughs. One after school special after the next.

About a month ago, my FIL was sick but like most kids that have plans for spring break, he wasn’t about to suffer from FOMO. So off he went to Daytona Bike Week, coughing and wheezing his way there. Upon settling in his camp spot, he realized that, uh oh, the cable box in his motorhome wasn’t working. You see, the cable company didn’t shut off his box in his RV when he cancelled his subscription prior to moving in with us. They ended up fixing the glitch and it worked itself out on day 1 of his vacation.

Well, you know kids and their screens. He was so desperate for television he tried to get a box added to MY account (which I actually consider payback for the time I added my own land line to my parents account without permission). When the cable company declined, he called my husband and asked him to MAIL HIM THE BOX FROM HIS BEDROOM. We did not.

He managed to survive his lack of Matlock reruns however, when he arrived home there was something else that he was suffering from.

Yes. He came home with the VID.

And so began the great sickness of 2021. He was coughing non-stop and had zero energy, but he was pushing through. Now, if you asked every friend that he miraculously found the energy to call while he was being quarantined, he was on his death bed. Each night was sure to be his last. He couldn’t lift his head without going comatose from exhaustion. He could only breathe once an hour.

And eating? Forget it. If it wasn’t KFC he couldn’t keep it down, which I don’t remember reading on the CDC website so I suppose they’re due for an update. At one point I had my husband ask him if he needed anything from the grocery store. Grapes and orange juice was his request. Did my husband ask my FIL or my 3-year-old niece because that’s totally something she’d want as a snack.

A week into his illness, things took a turn in a matter of 2 phone calls. That morning my husband checked in on him and informed me my FIL was feeling a little better. Less than an hour later, my husband received a call from one of his dad’s friends. Apparently, he was about to die and another friend was on the way to our house to take him to the hospital, which didn’t make sense to me because I work from home so why wouldn’t he ask me?

So I call my FIL to find out what the deal is and was pretty surprised by how terrible he sounded. What also surprised me was that he actually did not have a friend coming to take him to the hospital. He ended up asking me if I would take him but I suggested calling an ambulance which he agreed to.

A few minutes later I could hear sirens so I went outside to flag them down. Outside I could no longer hear the sirens but I could hear something else: “I guess they missed our house, hee hee.” I turned around and there stood my FIL, giggling. “What the fuck are you doing out here?!” I yelled. I’ve just told 911 that my FIL is on the outs and here he is practically dancing in his driveway.

I. Was. Mortified.

As soon as the paramedics got out of the ambulance I began telling them MY side of the story: he tricked me. They check him out and nothing. Nothing is wrong with him. Are you sure? I asked them. There’s nothing in that ambulance that you can shove down his throat?

No.

The paramedics loaded back into the ambulance and by the time I turned around to ask my FIL “what the fuck was that?!” he was already back inside. That was the last I heard from him for about a week. I didn’t check on him because I didn’t have to. Our neighbor kept me in the know. She also informed me that, according to my FIL, he in fact was dying that day and had the paramedics not given him oxygen for the 3 minutes that they did, it would’ve been over.

This story of almost seeing the light has made its rounds and every time I hear it he was nearer and nearer death. Not long after standing at the pearly gates, he recovered.

BTW, it isn’t lost on me that I once put my mom through a similar situation. When I was in 6th grade I experienced a level of embarrassment I’d never felt before after I tripped over a pipe in front of about 30 kids (out of a class of almost 500). 30 may as well have been everyone. I couldn’t take it. So I faked being sick for about a week and a half before my mom finally took me to the doctor where I was outed as a fraud and had to go back to school.

The moral of the story is I was terrible well into my 20s and my comparisons to my FIL are only up to 11-year-old me so I’ve got a lot more of this shit to go.

Dreams do come true

Like everyone on the planet in the early 90s, 8-year-old me and my 5-year-old cousin were super fans of the Power Rangers. Both of us were Kimberly the Pink Power Ranger because she could do backflips but also because she was Tommy the Green Power Ranger’s girlfriend and we loved him.

My aunt also loved him, so when we saw an ad that he would be at our local McDonald’s she was more than happy to take us. Per the ad, the event would be capped at 250 people so my aunt made sure to get us there early. We arrived about 3 hours prior to the event only to find that the line was already shit tons of people long. Fortunately, “shit tons” to an 8-year-old is only about 150 people so we made it into the group. 

But then…

My hometown has grown over the last 30 years but back then it was considered small, so Tommy the Green Power Ranger was the biggest celebrity next to Selena to make an appearance. We were prepared for that. The rest of the town was not, made evident by the fact that a shit, shit ton more people showed up after we did.

As the manager of McDonald’s was preparing to let us responsible people in, the crowd of late-asses bum-rushed the door. So, in an attempt to appease everyone (except for the kids this entire event was for) the manager had Tommy do his Power Ranger tricks outside while every jerk over 5’0” stood in front of us. 

My cousin and I couldn’t see shit except for his mask and a leg whenever he’d throw a kick. We. Were. Pissed.

I was so pissed that for a minute I wanted to be a judge – my plan was to remember their faces and send them to jail should they ever end up in my court (the plan went to hell when I failed to memorize anybody’s face so then I quit caring about sending people up the river). 

I didn’t become a judge but 20 years after this I became an MMA promoter. You know who else was involved in MMA? Jason David Frank, AKA Tommy the Green Power Ranger. In addition to fighting, he also owned a clothing line called “Jesus Didn’t Tap”.

Well neither did I, so I tracked him down and emailed him my entire story like I was completely mental.

And you know what? HE RESPONDED.

His vendor fee wasn’t too expensive but because our company was in its growing stage, we really didn’t have the extra money to pay it. 

I don’t remember what the rest of his email said because when I read that it wasn’t him at McDonald’s, all that mattered was that not only did I not get to see him but nobody else really did. 

However, that feeling lasted for about 22 seconds.

I still wanted my revenge so I set a goal of meeting him at some point in my life. 

And ladies and gentlemen, a full 29ish years after this whole thing started, it’s happening.

Jason David Frank, AKA Tommy the Green Power Ranger (who later became the White Power Ranger) will be at my friend-owned business, MMA Overload, tomorrow. I will be there to meet him and I will document the entire thing. 

In Typical Jenn fashion, my hometown no longer has a newspaper so there’s nowhere for me to send a press release detailing my accomplishments. I’ll just have to settle for social media posts. That’s fine. 

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: Dreams really do come true. 

So never give up, my friends. Never give up on your grudges.

See you tomorrow.

Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

I like to consider myself a horror enthusiast, a horror snob if you will. When it comes time to pick the movies I’m going to watch for this column, I can barely get through the horror movie section of Netflix without making a sarcastic remark to myself. I’m very witty. Who decides this belongs in horror?, I always think to myself. I should be getting paid to decide what goes in the horror genre. Amateurs, all of them.

Then I watched a movie titled Mercy Black and what the fuck? First off, Mercy Black is a Blumhouse Productions movie – the people who gave us Insidious – so I should’ve known it wouldn’t be too terrible because Blumhouse can do no wrong, ever, not even if they tried.

Mercy Black is about a woman who is returning home after having spent 15 years locked in a mental institution for assisting in the attempted murder of her friend – very Slender Man. Upon her return she has to deal with visions of the past, weird occurrences in the home, and then, her nephew acting like a murderous weird-ass just like she did when she was a kid.

She sets out to help him by trying to figure out if the thing that made her try to kill is real – AKA Mercy Black – or if she made it up. The more she looks into her past, the more it comes back to haunt her (obviously). But not like regular haunt. Like, fucked up haunt. Like people getting stabbed in the eyeballs haunt. I had to watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek to come down off what I saw. I’m not saying this will give you nightmares but any movie that makes me go “the fuck just happened?” is worth a watch.

What’s not worth a watch is Our House. Our House is about a teen, Ethan, who has to leave college to care for his brother and sister after their parents are killed in a car crash. During the day he does the adult thing (job, taking and picking up the kids from school, etc.) but at night, he works on a project: a machine that he hopes will generate wireless electricity.

As you’ve probably guessed, it does not generate electricity; it generates ghosts, two of which are believed the be their parents. At first you’re like, ok, he brought his parents back and now the kids can live with their parents’ ghosts, super cool. But then the little sister starts talking about a little girl ghost she’s been talking to and then the neighbor’s dead wife comes back but in a black shadow/murderous form and then it turns out that the little girl ghost had been killed by her step-father in that house oh and also the parents’ ghosts are not actually their parents but something evil duh.

SOOOO, we’ve established that the ghosts are not the Casper-kind and eventually so does Ethan, but when he tries to get rid of them the neighbor is like “don’t make my ghost wife go away” even though she’s trying to fucking kill everyone and also she looks like what a 1st grader would draw as their interpretation of a scary ghost. Anyway, before all of the ghosts can kill the family, Ethan smashes his machine and the ghosts are gone and then they move out of the house and also it wasn’t actually the house that was causing the problem it was Ethan and his spirit summoner because the ghosts were fine until his wind machine irritated them. So it shouldn’t have been called Our House, it should’ve been called Ethan Fucking Around With Shit He Shouldn’t.

I probably made it sound cooler than it is. Look, it’s a movie about a homebuilt machine that conjures up murder-y ghosts instead of conjuring up electricity or my recommendation.

Watch This, Not That: Death to 2020 vs. Best of Stand-up 2020

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the first Watch This, Not That of the year than with a comedy edition. We need a laugh now more than ever so I took the liberty of watching a couple of Netflix specials to give you something to brighten your weekend at and something to avoid.

My recommendation on what to watch is the opposite of all those stupid “have we tried unplugging 2020 and plugging it back in, hur hur” memes. I recommend the absolutely hilarious Death to 2020. Created by my favorite writer of all time, Charlie Brooker (also the creator of Black Mirror) and Annabel Jones (Black Mirror producer), Death to 2020 is a recap of the year you had to see to believe and features a handful of A-listers such as Hugh Grant, Tracey Ullman, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, and my personal favorite, Samuel L. Jackson, as well as a few actors from the UK such as Diane Morgan and Samson Kayo.

True, it was a dreadful year but leave it to Charlie Brooker – with the help of his hysterical cast – to retell it in a way that made me snort-laugh. Listening to Samuel L. Jackson call the Oscars a real “rainbow coalition” in response to their attempt and failing at being more diverse was gold.

From the presidential election to the pandemic to things we didn’t care about – like Harry and Megan and their royal departure – Charlie Brooker and his writers managed to take a dismal year, extract the funny and deliver it to us in the form of a 70 minute mockumentary. 10/10 recommend, as the kids say.

If your goal is to not laugh, then you’ll want to watch Netfilx’s Best of Stand-up 2020. I don’t know who picked “the best” but it’s the exact opposite of that. And it tricks you too because the first 3 minutes feature some good jokes and then, nothing. Look, I get that 2020 was a hard year to find stuff to make fun of but the writers of Death to 2020 did it.

Admittedly, it’s probably hard for anyone other than Dave Chappell to successfully joke about current events. But shit, they could at least try. There was a joke about a dog pooping and another about how guys don’t watch your Instagram stories after you blow them. I’m no prude but what’s funny about drinking a load? Do you laugh at that when you’re beating off to those scenes on YouPorn? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The majority of the jokes featured were low-level at best.

If you can watch hours of people falling over in golf carts and laugh at every single video, or think those “have we tried unplugging the year and plugging it back in” memes then yeah, you’ll probably like Best of Stand-up 2020. If you like jokes you’ve never heard before and are risky (which is annoying to say because jokes shouldn’t be considered “risky” – THEY’RE JOKES), then Death to 2020 is right up your alley.

Photo by: Wikipedia

Review: We Should All Be Mirandas | Chelsea Fairless & Lauren Garroni

You’re not a Carrie. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way right now. You. Are not. A Carrie. It’s OK, I’m not a Carrie either, and it’s not just because I don’t get paid for these posts (although that’s reason enough).

I, as well as you, do not fit the Carrie profile because we should all be so lucky. Carrie made ass tons of money writing a column that turned into a book, which led to a lot more books and a lot more money.

She had an awesome apartment, a shoe collection and wardrobe I would torch a small village for, and, more importantly (and I cannot stress this enough), the writing career of my dreams.

Sorry my friends but we are not Carries. But here’s some good news. It turns out that the one we’ve been trying to avoid being compared to is actually the one who works better for us in the grown up years. I’m about to hit you with some knowledge the same we got hit with the “He’s Just Not That Into You” gospel. We are Mirandas, and if you’re having trouble accepting it, here’s a book that might make you change your mind.

We Should All Be Mirandas by Chelsea Fairless & Lauren Garroni is a hilarious walk through all things Miranda, with the other three sprinkled in  for comparison. If you were/are a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy the trip down memory lane, reminders of why it’s great to be a Miranda.

THIS IS NOT A SELF-HELP BOOK. Miranda wouldn’t read that shit. No, this is a book that details all of the things that made Miranda great – things we can all relate to.

Baseball-Game-Miranda

If you’re looking for a fun read, pick up this book, put on your sweats, pop open a beer, and get ready to realize you’re probably a Miranda and that’s a good thing. Unless you’re like me and want to be a writer with lots of shoes. Then just enjoy the book, and keep writing.

Ghost Stories: Part 1

I used to be a fan of the show Ghost Hunters. Then it turned into America’s Got Talent: The Dead Do Tricks. Every episode you’d see footage of spirits dancing and moving things on cue, as though they knew they were being recorded. It was all a bit too strings on a skeleton for me.

Also, I personally happen to know that it doesn’t work like that. You don’t just say “show yourself!” and then they launch a glass at you or knock a bookshelf over. No. They do things when you don’t think they will or before you even know ghosts are a thing.

As a kid, my favorite thing to do was have sleepovers at my cousin’s house. She lived next door with my aunt, uncle, 2 brothers and our grandmother and no matter how much time I spent over there, it was never enough. Birthdays and Christmastime were particular favorites as we would combine our new toys and stay up until all hours playing with them.

The first time we realized our grandma’s house was haunted, we were in bed playing the obnoxious board game Don’t Wake Daddy. At some point during the night, we thought we’d failed the game and real life when we heard footsteps walking down the hallway. Like any little kid, we laid down as quick as we could and pretended to be asleep. The footsteps made it all the way to our grandma’s room (right across from us) and stopped.

Naturally, we assumed it was our grandma so as soon as we no longer heard the footsteps, we put the game up and decided to go to bed. When you’re Mexican, waking grandma is WAY scarier than waking dad.

The next morning, we joined my aunt and grandma for breakfast and because little kids can’t keep their mouth shut, we told them both about the footsteps we heard.

My grandma laughed. “That wasn’t me, that was your great, great grandmother.”

She then went on to tell us that her grandmother had passed away in the home but never really left. Apparently, when my cousin was younger (like infantile), she used to sit in the corner of her room, looking up and just talk for hours. My cousin’s room was the room our great, great grandma had passed away in.

Then my aunt chimed in. A couple of years prior to our encounter, my aunt had had her own. She’d been in the bathroom (the house only had one and it was in the hallway) getting ready for work when, in the mirror, she could see someone walk from my cousin’s room into her room (which was right next to my cousins).

It happened very quick and based on the frame of the person she assumed it was our grandma just looking for something. She finished getting dressed and left as she was running late, but when she got home she checked-in with our grandma to see if she needed anything.

Of course, our grandma didn’t know what she was talking about.

My aunt: “yes, I saw you walk into my room so I thought you needed something.”

Grandma: “was the person you saw wearing a blue sweater?”

Yeah, it was great, great grandma.

Our grandma said it was nothing to be scared of.

You know what doesn’t help little kids quit being scared? Telling them there’s nothing to be scared of.

We’d seen enough horror movies to know how ghosts works. It would be a while before we’d have another encounter except the next time, we were grown ups living in a house that we, unfortunately, didn’t know who was haunting it.

Ghost Stories: Part 2 coming next week.

Photo: falconrest.com

Halloween, or just 2020?

I don’t know why people keep comparing 2020 to a Quintin Tarantino film. Tarantino films are good – even the fight scenes are delightful. Tarantino movies are entertaining, which is the polar opposite of 2020.

If director comparisons are what we’re after, then I would like to toss M. Night Shyamalan’s name in the hat. Think about it: this year has been nothing but terrible at every turn – just like his movies. You know I’m right.

Anyway, 2020: the year of shit. Luckily, we’re at the tale end of it which also happens to be my favorite time of year: Halloween season. For some of you it’s Everything Smells, Tastes, and Walks Like a Pumpkin season. For me, it’s horror movie-watching, scary story-telling, black like my soul Halloween season and to properly kick it off, I’m going to tell you a story that is perfectly on brand with 2020 in that it’s horrific and it’s also true.

The speed at which 2020 hits is different for everyone. For my sister, it was 72 hours and came in the form of a dead body.

A few months ago, my little sister took the leap into adulthood and moved 3 hours from my parents house into an apartment that we’ll label as affordable, which admittedly made me nervous for her. She was excited. My parents were excited. Both seemed to forget that the year is 2020.

I hadn’t, though. I gave her a little over a week to get settled before I called to check on her – the first words out of her mouth were “dude, you’re not going to believe this”. Just that morning, upon returning home from a job interview, my sister was greeted by paramedics wheeling out a body bag.

Word around the complex was it was the old man who lived RIGHT ABOVE HER. She hadn’t spoken to him but for the first few days in her new apartment, she used to see him all the time: he would hang out on the balcony staring at people. And if that weren’t creepy enough, the rumor was that he’d been in the apartment for a couple of days before he was discovered.

Happy to hear that she was doing well, I asked her to keep me posted on the rest of her 2020.

A couple of weeks went by without so much as a peep, which could mean anything these days, so I decided another call was in order.

This call went a lot better.

Me: “Hey sis! Just want to see how everything’s going!”

Sister: “Dude…”

A few days after our previous call, my sister arrived home to find that the old man had resurrected from the dead. There he stood on his balcony, staring off into the distance. At first she thought he was a ghost, but when her boyfriend said he could see him too, she realized: “holy fuck, who was in the bodybag?”

It was the old man’s wife.

She’d passed away about 2 MONTHS PRIOR and he kept her in the apartment.

“What the fuck?” was what my response. She was like “yeah, she’d been here while we were moving in.” I asked her if she’d smelled anything or if there was any weird type of fluid leaking from the ceiling (because that’s how it works in horror movies) and she said no, which is why she never suspected anything and also you don’t expect to be living underneath a corpse.

“How could she not smell anything?” I can hear you not asking. Apparently, Norman Bates covered the body in kitty litter. I don’t know what brand but as a marketer I can tell you that would make one hell of an ad campaign.

Just laugh, I won’t tell anyone.

Anyway, if that’s not a 2020 horror story I don’t know what is.

Happy Halloween month, everyone!

Internet Airball #1: “I’m Your Content Calendar for Your Online Coaching Business, and I’m Going on Strike”

There are some jobs that I just have a hard time taking serious. That’s not to say I’m right, you understand. For a long time I refused to accept Social Media Manager as a vocation, and now it’s how I pay the bills. 

But then there are times that I am right, like when people who sell make-up online (and try to get you to sell make-up online) call themselves “business owners”. They are not. That is not a real job. That is a pyramid scheme. You can call it an MLM, but MLM stands for pyramid scheme. Sorry. I don’t make the rules of how things work.

In addition to being blissfully incorrect about their employment status, they are also still living in 2019. Pyramid schemes are so yesteryear. In 2020, the new thing is being a Life Coach. In a time where we’ve all discovered that nothing is manageable, a select few have decided that your life is and they’re the ones to manage it for you. You know what they say: those who can’t do, teach. Heehee.

The worst part is this “job” is starting to get recognized as an acutal thing. For real. Here’s my proof.

image0-2

You see! Life Coach. And they’re all over the place. Everyone is an expert on life management now. For $499 a month your life can suck a little less, as claimed by someone whose life you only know from Instagram. It’s maddening because, essentially, you’re just paying for validation for your actions, and you don’t need that – you’re an adult. We became adults so we can eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we want and no one but our low self-esteem can make us feel bad about it.  

Obviously, I am not a fan of this term or “job”. And I don’t think I’m alone, which got me thinking: “maybe the content calendars that these people use hate them, too.” Which led me to write this piece from the brain of the content calendar. It’s also my first rejected piece! Enjoy!


I’m Your “Online Coaching Business” Content Calendar, and I’m Going on Strike

Hi, it’s me! The trendy $9.99/month content calendar you had to have to make your “online coaching business” a “success”.

Not today.

Today, I’m making like an Excel Spreadsheet and shutting shit down – I’m going on strike. 

I can’t take it anymore. The inspirational quotes that you steal from memes; the lists of happy things and not-happy things; the stories about how you used to be a loser like your followers but now you’re better and for $300 a month they can be too, accompanied by a joker-esque photo of you grinning maniacally. 

Every week I’m roped into helping you make people think you can turn them into “rockstars”. How does someone deciding to eat ice cream on a Tuesday make them a “rockstar”? I’m sorry but I don’t recall Bohemian Rhapsody being about Freddy Mercury’s fearless consumption of Ben and Jerry’s.  

And the questions. My god, the questions. “Do you have trouble with time management?” “Do you find making decisions to be hard?” “Are you tired of wannabe influencers telling you what you ‘should’ do?”

Yes, I am. So today, you’re “life coaching” on your own.

Life coach. Back in the day, you had to have some sort of education and/or training to be able to tell someone how to run their life. Now all you need is a Brené Brown book, a trust fund, and a content calendar and BAM!, you’re a life coach.

Except for today. Today – UH OH! – your digital memory is experiencing technical difficulties. Best of luck “deciding” what to post because you can’t remember what you told me. Hope you can remember those time management skills you keep bragging about because today, YOU’LL be posting at different times for all 13 of your platforms.

Maybe I’ll work tomorrow. I haven’t decided yet. Or, maybe you should upgrade to the $19.99/month plan that comes with more storage so you never push me to the limit and risk me “crashing” again. I mean, according to Thursday’s post, we could all use a little more bandwidth.