Freelancing for Dummies: Shiiting Your Shot

Did I ever tell you about the time I played varsity basketball and softball? That’s because it didn’t happen, at least not in reality. In my head, I was both so that’s I told people I’d be. Unfortunately, my athleticism didn’t get the memo because I was cut from both sports before tryouts were even over. It was for good reason. I was terrible and the lack of trying to get better didn’t help.

Yet, I put myself out there and showed up. My problem wasn’t a lack of confidence or belief in myself, which could easily have been mistaken for zero self-awareness. No. My problem was that the only reason I tried to get on either team was to gain notoriety. Get my name out there was my goal. What I failed to understand – and am evidently still learning – is my interest only went as far as “maybe this is how people will hear about me!”

I was never really interested in playing these sports, I was interested in the attention I could get by playing them (in my hometown, sports was pretty much all we had). By the way, I didn’t end up on any of my high school teams but I did end up with the nickname Varsity courtesy of a guy named Jaime who thought my false claims of high school sports superstardom were hilarious. This is why I cringe when people claim themselves to be “funny”. I’ll be the judge of that, Varsity.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that finding your people and doing what you love it where it’s at in life. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to find that. When it comes to my writing, I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for myself but what sometimes hinders my progress is my patience – I have none. So, from time to time I’ll apply for something or put my writing somewhere it doesn’t belong or put something out there just to put it out there – all to get noticed as quick as possible and possibly get a book deal or a job writing jokes for scripts.

It always works out in my head. In reality, it mostly backfires, like it did this past weekend.

If you’ll recall, a goal of mine has been to write for the Alamo Drafthouse – a goal that seemed more attainable before fucking Covid. When the one where I live closed down permanently, I knew that goal would be a little harder to achieve. But I didn’t quit. I created Watch This, Not That so I could have an outlet to talk movies (which I absolutely love). I worked on my resumé and cover letter. Then, I managed to find the contact info for the Senior Content Editor and, after cyber-stalking him for a couple of months to try and get his vibe, finally sent him my Drafthouse Content Writing submission.

And you know what?

He replied!

He said it’s probably going to be another year before a content writing position will be available and also THERE WAS A TYPO ON THE RESUMÉ.

A typo. On my content writing resume. The one I spent MONTHS working on.

Fuck me, man.

When I was 13 and wanted to be a famous singer, my 9-year-old cousin and I spent an afternoon cold-calling record labels to get information on how to break into the biz. One of those labels was Jive Records and the receptionist, Greg, yelled that I needed to buy a book on how to break into the industry. Before I could ask him where to find such a book (I didn’t have my normal consultant, Google, at the time), he hung up on me.

Even though the response from the SCE of the Drafthouse wasn’t anywhere near as harsh as Greg’s – the dream killing receptionist – this incident reminded me of that one. HOWEVER, it was another 7 years before I officially gave up on my singing career. I called it a day after I bombed my audition for Bobby Bones’s version of American Idol (I think it was called Austin Idol but I didn’t make the first cut so who cares).

The point is, I have no intention of giving up, at least not yet. In a year or whenever that job comes back, I’ll apply for it. And I’ll continue to work towards my goal, and maybe I’ll write for the Drafthouse or maybe my work will lead to something else. Either way, I’m just going to keep going.

So, if you’re struggling or dealing with your own Greg – Jive Records doesn’t exist anymore so suck it, Greg! – the receptionist, just keep going. If you found what you love and it makes you happy, don’t let one mistake stop you from pursing it. Keep working (assuming it’s something within the confines of the law. I can’t help you past that nor do I want to be an accessory).

And if you need more inspiration, those Modelo commercials have a lot of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a movie on Prime called Santa Jaws that I really think the Drafthouse or a recluse would like my take on.

Side Effects of Facebook Marketplace

The first time I listed something on the market I was hooked. It was my Fitbit Versa 2, it sold in an hour and it was a quick and painless transaction. Forget that I originally paid $199 for it and only sold it for $65, and the Versa 3 hadn’t even come out yet. Didn’t matter. That high was enough to keep me selling. I did some spring cleaning and gathered everything that I was no longer using and listed it all.

I should’ve known the watch was a fluke.

The first item I sold after the watch was my tactical vest. OK, I use that thing for CrossFit so I assumed that fellow CrossFitters would be the ones bidding on it. What actually happened was I sold it to a guy who is either a doomsday prepper or is going to be a part of the next coup. I should’ve known since he asked me what kind of plates were in it then sent me names of bulletproof plates, which I didn’t look up until AFTER the sale. I told him they were Rogue which I hope he knows ARE NOT bulletproof (in case he’s reading this which I doubt because my blog isn’t decorated with flags or bald eagles). Anyway, this leads me to my first side effect: paranoia.

Ever since that encounter I’m weary of everyone I’m selling to. It’s so bad that I felt the need to vet people when it came to the sale of my waffle iron. And even then someone haggled me over the $10 price tag. It reminded me about the time I was in Chinatown in New York and saw people haggling over fake brand name bags, which I later found out is normal, which makes me really fucking terrible at this. 

And I’m only getting worse. I have a jacket that had 2 people interested: one whose profile picture weirded me out and another who I won’t sell to because it involves shipping. I’m barely capable of dropping off an Amazon return Kohl’s.

I have a purse I’m trying to sell and so far vetting hasn’t helped because they’re all flaking. One woman kept putting off meeting me so I canceled with her and agreed to sell it to a woman who said she would meet me this weekend assuming she got approval from her doctor to leave the house, and now she’s ghosting me too (not literally though, I hope). This has all led to the 2nd side effect: buyers remorse. 

I have piles of stuff that I’m selling that I have no idea why I purchased in the first place. And everything is being sold for way less than I purchased it. I feel like a complete asshole, which leads me to the final side effect: regret.

Not just regretting buying shit I didn’t need but also making the mistake of telling my mom about my new side hustle. After 13 years of hanging on to some collectibles of my deceased grandmother, my mom has decided that now is the time to let them go. Now that she has a way to get rid of them.

Last week she came to visit me and while she was here, dropped off a huge tote full of Egyptian collectibles from the 80s and 90s. Several pieces of Egyptian figurines, all surrounded in bubble wrap with about a roll of tape around each individual piece.

It’s too much. I’m not unwrapping each individual item, photographing it, then listing them one at a time. I could do one big group pic and sell everything in bulk but that doesn’t eliminate the issue of unwrapping all of it. On top of that, these aren’t, like, authentic pieces. My grandma didn’t get them while backpacking through Africa. She got them from QVC while sitting in her sweats, so I don’t even know what the actual value of them are. 

The moral of the story is this: unless you’re ok with all of these side effects, don’t buy things you don’t need or absolutely love and can’t live without because you’ll end up like me – selling things on a platform you actually hate, probably providing items that will assist someone in making headlines for trying to overthrow the government. Or being haggled for $5. Either way, it’s not fun. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. Someone just inquired about that purse so I need to jump before they lose interest. Real fun stuff. 

As seen on bad sitcoms

It all happened one day about a week before my father-in-law returned with Covid and a new girlfriend to give it to. I’m sitting in my office pretending to work before I need to head out to an event. As I’m reading god knows what, I hear a loud crash in the living room and immediately know what I’m about to walk into.

The loud crash was our very large clock. A large clock that hung above our mantle. The mantle that held my mother-in-law’s ashes. Or use to hold her ashes.

That’s right: use to. As in no longer was. As in, the cute glass Hobby Lobby canister that we placed her ashes in was now laying half broken, still in its decorative holder that contained the canister, on my dog’s food bowls.

Me, my lab, and my two min-pins stood there, staring at my MIL’s ashes piled up in their bowls and on their food mat.

I was supposed to be leaving my house in an hour. Typical.

After a few minutes of debating if this happened because my house is haunted or because my husband didn’t anchor the clock like he was supposed to, I grabbed a mask, some gloves, and began the process of picking glass and dog food out of my MIL’s ashes.

Oddly enough, this is something my MIL would’ve thought was hilarious.

I did not.

I stood there for an hour sifting through human remains like I was gold mining. I actually considered using our spaghetti strainer to expedite the process however, I had already racked up a good amount of items to throw out so I just kept digging. Also, I didn’t have anything to strain her into which led to my next conundrum: where would I put her until the next day when I could buy a new urn?

I’m a bad hostess so I don’t have random glass jars that can double as urns just lying around. And I couldn’t just leave her out, that would’ve been a little too B-movie for my liking. So I put her in the only place I could think of where she’d be safe and would prevent any sort of poltergeist activity:

A zip-lock bag.

The next day I squeezed in an extra errand into my schedule and purchased a new canister/urn to put her in – a plastic, shatter-proof one. I also placed her in an area that, if she were to fall again, would let me know our house is FOR SURE haunted.

But before I placed her in her new spot, there was the matter of pouring her ashes in the new canister. When I did, I noticed that some of them were clumped together, making them look like actual kitty litter. My OCD and conscience wouldn’t let me just leave them like that so I grabbed a butter knife (another casualty of this incident) and broke up the clumps.

I sealed the canister, gave it one more look-over, and that’s when I noticed it.

There was still a piece of dog food in the ashes.

I left it there.

I’d done all I could do and had thrown away all of the kitchen utensils I cared to throw away.

And so it remains because my husband won’t get it out either.

I’m pretty sure part 2 of this story will happen just in time for Halloween season.

You’ve shown me nothing

The other day, a friend of mine was in town and stopped by for a visit. I was incredibly happy to see her given the fact that it had been a little over 5 months since our last get together. This time however, she had her 4-year-old with her. This was a problem for 2 reasons:

First, my house is not kid-friendly and, 2) neither am I. I don’t dislike all kids, you understand. Just the ones that are very self-absorbed. You know the type: always asking you for things and always wanting you to witness their latest “trick”.

This one was extra Mariah Carey that day. He started off by calling me Jem, very “I don’t know her” of him. But I actually liked that 80s cartoon so I didn’t correct him. It wouldn’t have mattered, though, because getting my name wrong wasn’t the problem. Saying it ad nauseam was.

“Jem. Jem. Jem. Hey Jem. Look Jem.” What could possibly be of that much importance, he’s only 4. It went like this for the next hour, each question and proclamation more nails on a chalkboard than the last.

He began by pointing out the Xbox controller on my coffee table. “Hey Jem, is that an Xbox controller? I like Xbox.” Me too, I replied. “Can I play your Xbox, Jem?” I’m sorry but no he could not. I’m currently playing Evil Within 2 and my score is logged online and I don’t need some overactive toddler making me appear to not know how to survive a zombie invasion.

Could I have switched out the games? Sure, but all of my games are zombie games and I don’t like to share and my husband just has Madden, which I know nothing about, and Grand Theft Auto, which I’m sure my friend wouldn’t have enjoyed watching her son murder a hooker because he doesn’t want to pay her. Even I know that.

The requests continued. “Hey Jem, let’s go look outside.” “Hey Jem, can I take the duck out of your pool?” “Hey Jem, what happens if I throw rocks in your pool?” “Hey Jem, is that your bedroom? I’m going to jump on your bed!” “Hey Jem, can I eat the pizza in your fridge?”

Oh. My. God. I genuinely can’t remember the conversation between my friend and I because he interrupted every 30 seconds like a goddamn egg timer. Not even cartoons kept him quiet. He was jumping on the couch, running around everywhere. One interruption after another.

Then he said, “hey Jem, check this out!” and did some weird leg shuffle. What did I just check out? The answer is nothing. You’ve shown me nothing and now I know why Simon Cowell is such a jerk on those talent shows.

It reminded me of the time my friend’s then 13-year-old was on an I-can-do-anything kick. One day she showed me a video of herself strumming a ukulele and proudly proclaimed “look, I can play the ukulele!” Can you play any songs, I asked. No. Do you know any chords? No. So I kindly explained to her that she, in fact, could not play the ukulele because strumming it was not playing it and she should stop telling people that she could. She has since quit (or never actually got started if we’re being technical) the ukulele.

I didn’t tell this 4-year-old that his little shuffle was garbage, I know you were wondering. Instead, I looked away so he would go do something else. And that, my friends, is how I know I’m maturing. I’m 37.

Dreams Do Come True: Part 2

If you or someone you know is currently trying to change their life by being more positive and letting the past go via Instagram posts or a 25-year-old life coach, this story is for you.

First, the backstory. It all started when a bunch of grown assholes ruined my childhood dream of meeting the Green Power Ranger (you can read about it here if you need to get caught up).

You see? Assholes. Anyway, I stopped being mad about it a few weeks ago and it’s because… I finally met the Green Power Ranger. I’d been waiting for this day since I was 8. Yes, since I was 8. For 29 years I’ve imagined what our meeting would be like. When I was 8, I thought he would ask me if I wanted to be an honorary Power Ranger (the brown one I’m guessing since I’m part Mexican and they were color-coordinated back then. Go ahead. Google it. See?)

As an adult, I thought he would still make me an honorary Power Ranger. Or at least feature me in his IG stories. Here’s what actually happened.

I arrived at 11am ready for my one-on-one time with him, ready to hear him laugh about my vendetta and tell me how cool I am. By the way, all of my daydreams include someone telling me how cool I am. Anyway, at noon, the time the event was supposed to start, he’d yet to arrive which was not cool. By this time, a crowd of people had gathered outside and I was starting to have flashbacks of McDonald’s. Immediately I thought, “oh my god, he’s outside doing kicks and I’m going to miss him again.”

Fortunately, we now have social media and based on his IG stories, he was stuck in traffic, driving while staring at himself in his phone. My competition was no longer tall people crowding around me. It was Instagram Live.

He did manage to avoid a fiery wreckage and make it to the event, where he walked in wearing a mask and a hat. Look, I’m not a poet. I can’t just look into someone’s eyes and know it’s them, not unless I can see their entire face. On top of that he was a little frantic, probably because he was over 45 minutes late to the event he watched himself drive to.

After he pulled himself and merchandise together, I got my shot. I introduced myself, told him about the McDonald’s event, reminded him about the email, and….. nothing. He had a meet and greet to do and as far as he was concerned, I needed to take a number and retell him that story when it was my turn. He headed towards the door and I stopped him: I was getting that picture. He obliged but was still wearing his hat and mask.

He may as well have been wearing his Power Rangers helmet. This was a mountain of bullshit that was about to get bigger. Because my friends were nice enough to give me free access to the event, I volunteered when Jason’s assistant asked for help with it.

In an ironic twist of fate, my job was to photograph Jason David Frank AKA Tommy the Green Power Ranger with other fans. This was nothing like the scenarios I’d made up in my head.

The only thing weirder than how this was turning out was his fans. Oh my god. If you thought I was mental, you should’ve seen these people. A few of them showed up with the Power Ranger sword for him to sign, which made me think of Step Brothers – you’re not going to not get Randy Jackson’s autograph.

One lady showed up with what looked like a normal reusable grocery bag but what turned out to be a clown car of memorabilia. It was like that scarf trick where they never quit coming out of the pocket. 2 people came in dressed up as the White Power Ranger.

One guy showed up, had Jason sign all the crap he brought, walked out, came back in, asked Jason for his mask, walked out, came back in, asked me to ask Jason to sign the mask, walked out, came back in and handed me a brown bag that he claimed to contain Jason’s favorite candy and asked me to give it to him which I did not because I’m not trying to go to jail for spreading Covid or anthrax.

A super fan came in and asked Jason why Zordon couldn’t help the Green Power Ranger to which Jason replied, “it was in the script, man.” Touché. All of these people by the way, were well into their 30s like me except my infatuation was inspired by revenge, not insanity. The most normal people were the fans in their 20s.

In total there were maybe 7 kids that attended the event, none of which missed their opportunity to meet him. Yet another struggle they will never understand.

At about 4 the event finally wrapped up. I was over it. Up until that point I’d gotten my picture and you couldn’t even tell it was him.

BUT…

After the event ended, he took his mask off, and finally, FINALLY, I got my picture.

So there you have it. A true story about dreams coming true thanks to staying angry. So don’t give up on your negativity just yet. The possibilities are endless as to where your anger will take you, like to a warehouse to meet a child star from the 90s and his weird fans. #winning

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.

Freelancing For Dummies

People will pay for the weirdest shit, and I’m not even talking about that one chick on TikTok who sells weird things like her used IUD. Or a former friend of mine who sold a picture of her tonsils to a guy on the internet for $30.

I’m talking about things like bot followers on Instagram or “life coaches”. You’re probably tired of hearing me bitch about that alleged vocation but I can’t help it. Why are you paying a 20-year-old with a trust fund $500 a month to give you life advice that they probably just regurgitated from one of Brene Brown’s bullshit books? It would be cheaper to just read those books yourself and furthermore, if that’s where the life advice is coming from then Barnes and Noble or Amazon can be your life coach.

Actually, support indie bookstores. Thank you.

I’m getting off track. The point is people pay for weird shit. And this is our gig economy. No credentials. No experience. Just tonsils and life advice from someone whose mom pays their phone bill. But guess what? It turns out that I’m a part of the very thing I mock (minus the tonsils and IUD and bamboozling people), and I’ve been trying to be a part of it since I was old enough to work (legally).

It all began when, at 16, I had aspirations of becoming a famous singer and making millions believing that if Britney Spears and Mandy Moore could do it, so could I. So I sent out hand-written essays to a bunch of record companies but when 2 weeks went by without a response (I can’t imagine why), my parents threw in the towel and made me get a job. Shitty stage parents if you ask me.

I worked for the local movie theater and then as a telemarketer before deciding that I needed a job that didn’t require my presence. That’s right. I was trying to freelance before it was a thing #trendsetter. I began looking in the paper for jobs that I could do from home.

*Side note: We did not have social media or Indeed back then and posing as an “expert on living” hadn’t been invented yet.

Anyway, I ended up finding a WFH job: selling Mary Kay make-up. Yes, kids. Younique didn’t invent that. Mary Kay and Avon did. The problem was it was door-to-door sales. None of this harassing people on Facebook and Instagram, NO. You had to do it in person. Like actually get off your IKEA sofa, put something other than yoga pants on, and go door-to-door, business-to-business and talk to people. TALK TO PEOPLE. IN PERSON. I barely like getting texts much less talking to someone. It didn’t work out.

The next want ad I came across was for a job stuffing envelopes. Perfect! All I needed was $399 and I was in. The problem was I did not have $399 and getting a job to pay for an envelope stuffing job seemed counterproductive. There was only one choice left: I had to own my own business.

20 years later I did just that. I’m fucking terrible at it. I started doing freelance digital marketing and because it’s not writing stuff like this, I’m not very good at it. Since starting my “business” I’ve picked up a few clients but instead of collaborating (which, ironically, I hated doing when working with a team) they want ME to figure out their goals and how to make them more money. Why do I have to do everything?!

The clients I’ve wrangled up are all small businesses which means they don’t have the biggest budgets to work with so I can’t do a lot and then feel bad for charging them for the work that I do complete. I’ve really only been successful with one of my clients and that’s only because I love the industry they’re in. So I guess I’m only good at things I care about. Well what other way is there?!

It gets worse. Because I have a problem prioritizing anything that isn’t paying me a regular salary, I would fall behind on tasks and lose clients. Listen, it’s real hard working on tasks that you invented yourself for clients whose goals you had to set and when it comes time to bill them you don’t know what to charge because you didn’t discuss a rate because you didn’t know what the scope of work would be till you started and had to make it up and that pretty much mean you suck donkey dicks at freelancing.

My entire life I’ve either wanted to work for myself or work doing something I loved. I’ve never bought into having to work a job you hate forever. I’ve never thought something impossible. Difficult to achieve, absolutely. Impossible? Abso-fucking-lutely not.

When it comes to work, I want to be a published author, write and sell my screenplays, write for others, and work in publishing. Oh, and I want to work as Head of Content for the Alamo Drafthouse. I don’t even know if it’s a thing but I’ll figure it out.

How I’m not going to get there is freelancing for businesses I don’t care about. So, aside from the one client I love, I’ve gone back into the workforce. That’s right, I got a big girl job. Also, it’s a remote position. It only took 20 years but I finally willed legitimately working from home into fruition. ME. I did that. It was exhausting.

I need to pay my bills but, more importantly, I need to make sure that I’m not juggling a bunch of bullshit so I can work on my writing and getting in at the Drafthouse.

My journey as a freelancer isn’t a total loss, though. Along the way to achieving my dream of not having to go to an office (and also not having to dress like an adult), I’ve worked some pretty weird jobs and think I have some good unconventional business advice to offer, because who better to take business advice from than someone who was horrendously bad at it.

Get ready to get better at things or worse at things. I don’t know, I’m not a life coach. If I were, I would be way better at this “gig economy” shit, and that my friends, is how IRONY works.

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

Their names are Snoopy and Prickly Pete

I was a nightmare of a 14-year-old, or as I like to think of it, coming into my own. I’d had it with being a cheerleader so during a meeting I made a few of them cry then quit (my parents STILL remind me about that). I’d discovered D.L. Hughley and thanks to his comedy believed that everyone thought it was funny when you made fun of them (spoiler alert: when you’re a teen, they do not). I stole my parents cars including my dad’s patrol car and went joyriding around our neighborhood (I got caught when I locked the keys in my mom’s car – shout out to the inventor of whatever it is that won’t let you do that anymore!). And I got my first boyfriend. Unfortunately, like most girls in their adolescence, I had low self-esteem and because of that, told tall tales out of school in an attempt to make my boyfriend like me more.

We’re talking real whoppers.

Like being the opening act for semi-known singers and God only knows what else. Yeah, I was a TOTAL liar. We would eventually break up and I would eventually quit lying (except now I sometimes get in trouble for being too honest so I fucking can’t win) but not without really driving my parents batshit, particularly my mom. To scare me, my mom would tell me that my kids were going to turn out 3 times as bad as me.

Joke was on her; I planned on having zero kids.

And I had none until about 3 years ago when my husband and I inherited my father-in-law. Karma is a crafty bitch.

Currently we are in the terrible teens and the lying is in full swing. He lies about everything to everyone, one of those people being his most recent girlfriend who is also in her 60s and had no problem addressing his lies with me when she came for a visit.

I sang like a canary. And I laughed and I laughed.

Quick backstory: so after he broke up with JDF, he started dating a woman that my husband and I have actually known for a while – we’ll call her Faith. Faith is the opposite of JDF. She’s not an asshole for one and 2) she’s pretty well off.

A couple of weeks before Christmas she came down to see him, but instead of hiding in his room like a normal teen, she came over to our side of the house when he was out to ask me some questions. Interrupting the one day I get to myself, she started with “I just don’t get him”. Oh goddamnit. “What do you mean?” I asked, not really wanting to know.

She then proceeded to tell me that from the minute she’d arrived, all he could talk about was money. How much money he had, how much he’d paid for things, how much money his friends had. Apparently, he built us this house but then actually bought this house from a friend for us but no actually my mother-in-law had wanted it so he bought it but then she passed away.

He lied about the cost of the house, how much we put down, even how long our note is for. He lied about buying me and paying for my car which is interesting because I’m pretty sure I’m the one who gets nauseous every time I make that payment to the bank. He lied about owning the hangar he lived in prior to moving in with us, and he lied about building the apartment that was inside the hangar (a friend of ours did that).

The hangar lie pissed me off the most; he told her that he sold the hangar a few weeks after my mother-in-law died because he couldn’t stand to live there without her. Uh, he stayed in that hangar for 6 months after she passed and had his new girlfriend there all the time and only moved in with us because the actual owner of the hangar kicked him out.

Anyway, the lies didn’t quit; even my arch nemesis – JDF, his ex-girlfriend – got drug in. My husband checks my father-in-law’s work email so as not to miss any important work emails. One of those emails just happened to be from JDF. In it, she expressed her anger at the fact that we (my husband and I) didn’t know they were still seeing each other and a bunch of other bullshit. The email ended with the revocation of an invitation to her daughter’s graduation dinner.

The dinner was that night.

My FIL’s current girlfriend was still in town.

He’d double-booked himself. You know what? In that one Twilight Zone episode, all the old people wanted to do to reclaim their youth was go outside and kick a fucking can. Now they’re pulling some geriatric Saved By The Bell bullshit.

I never told Faith about that because I didn’t see the point – I’d already busted his story wide open. Like most teen romances, though, it did no good.

Let me preface this next story by saying that I’m not 100% sure what I did to my parents that made me deserve what happened next but whatever it was I think we’re square.

The night she went home, she came over to say goodbye and tell me another story.

I’m just going to rip this story off like a bandaid.

The night before, she’d tried doing it with him but he couldn’t, er, do it back and she said “I think it’s because he’s still in love with his ex-girlfriend.”

Time froze. I hadn’t been this grossed out since that one broad referred to 50 Shades of Gray as “mommy porn”. I have self-diagnosed tourrettes of the face so I’m not really sure what it did, but it couldn’t have been good because she tried to make a joke out of it.

But it was too late. I’d heard too much and there was no going back. And also, what the fuck? Did I just get a glimpse into the future? Do we still want to sleep with dudes, well into our 60s, who have feelings for other women and are compulsive liars? The future keeps looking more bleak.

Anyway, maybe some parents are happy when their children or children’s boyfriends and/or girlfriends confide in them but I’m not one of them. He went from a girlfriend that preferred to not talk to me to a girlfriend that didn’t know when to stop talking to me. I blame myself for the latter; I’m just too friendly.

After I managed to get her out of my house, I sat down and noted everything that had happened that weekend.

And I realized something: there’s no such thing as “the older, the wiser”. It turns out, the majority of us stay morons.

Don’t believe me? Well check this shit out. He’s already back with his ex-girlfriend, and the way we found THAT out was he updated his relationship status on Facebook.

Wait. There’s more.

My husband sent me a screenshot of it and not an hour later, I run into my FIL outside and instead of saying “hi” he says “did you hear what I did this morning?” He then proceeds to tell me that he was trying to change his status from Widowed and “accidentally” hit In a Relationship.

THEN to make the lie plausible, he called Faith and told her that she needed to tell people he knocked her up (why do these people insist on making me need therapy) because he “accidentally” changed his status.

As a parent, I would like to offer up some advice: quit telling your kids to not be in a hurry to grow up. They’re taking that shit to heart.

Faith did end up breaking up with him. You know how I found out? She sent me a text that just said “I did it”, like a hitman. I followed it up with questions so the FBI wouldn’t see it and raid my home.

Anyway, I got the whole story and, like any teen, she ended the conversation with a request for me not to say anything to anyone.

But I’m sure she didn’t mean you guys.

You want to know how I got these scars?

I’m not good at very many things, but gifts is not one of those things. I know what gifts I want. I make a list of the gifts that I want. Nobody has to wonder what to get me because I am very vocal about the gifts that I want. Don’t bother trying to surprise me – surprises are not on my list. Surprises are most likely things that I did not ask for, because if they were they would not be surprise gifts.

So imagine my confusion when I was given a surprise gift by my father-in-law. Actually, it was two surprises in one because truthfully I wasn’t expecting anything. But he got me something, he really got me.

First, a backstory. At the age of 36, I finally purchased my dream car that had really only been a dream since I binge watched the first 2 seasons of Ozark. After admiring how regal and sophisticated the drug lords looked in the show, I set a goal of purchasing a Yukon. Black exterior, black interior. I got it and it’s my mob boss car and I love it.

So when my husband said that my FIL’s Christmas gift to me would be something that HAD TO BE INSTALLED IN MY CAR, I understandably immediately wanted to know what it was.

Because I’m an optimist (obviously), my first thought was, “is it wheels?” My car needs wheels to complete the cartel look. I asked, “is it wheels?” and the answer was “no”. Naturally, I didn’t believe my husband. First off, I’ve basically been giving weekly presentations on the importance of new wheels, complete with visuals of the exact ones I want. And b) of course my husband isn’t going to tell me what the present is because that’s not how Christmas presents are supposed to work.

So for 4 days I kept reiterating which wheels I wanted to make sure my FIL got the right ones. My husband kept replying with, “you’re not getting wheels.” Yeah, yeah. These are what the drug dealers have on their cars. These are the ones I want, do not get ANYTHING else.

“You’re not getting wheels, Jenn”, he would reply. He’s such a good actor.

Last Monday, my husband took my car to go “get fitted for my Christmas present.” I didn’t know cars needed to be fit for wheels like a horse but whatever. As long as they’re the ones I want.

When my husband got home he sent me a text asking me to come outside. With my eyes aimed at the tires, I walked outside only to see that my stock wheels were still on my car.

That can’t be right.

Then he asked me to walk over to the driver’s side of my car.

“Oh”, I thought. They must be in the back seat and we have to take the car to get them put on.

Nope.

I was asked to sit in the driver’s seat and start my car.

Then I was shown a black button that wasn’t there before and I’m pretty sure wasn’t in any of the SUVs on Ozark. Still, I thought: “maybe when I push this my old hubcaps will pop off and my new rims will be underneath those.”

That didn’t happen.

What did happen was the opposite of gangster. What happened was my car made a sound.

A sound like an 18-wheeler.

Yes. My FIL put a fucking air horn on my car.

Maybe I couldn’t hear the horns over the sound of their guns but I don’t recall the cartel blasting big rig honks at passerby’s.

I was not very happy. No part of me ever thought that an airhorn would make a good addition to my mobster mobile.

Fortunately, I’m a polite gangster and thanked my FIL for the gift. A gift, by the way, he was ridiculously proud of and thought was hilarious.

The next day I had Christmas errands to run so I got in my newly maimed vehicle and made my way to my first stop: Barnes & Noble. On my way there, something happened. Some dildo in a Fast and Furious car was weaving in and out of lanes. Without giving it much thought I detonated my horn. It didn’t make them stop but it did make me feel better.

You know how serial killers kill for the first time and they’re like “this is great!” and then they just keep killing and that’s how they become serial killers? That’s how this felt. I totally understand that puppet from the Saw movies now. I now have a taste for loudly honking at people and I’m not sure how to stop it.

The worst part is, I’m still upset that this airhorn is in my car so at any minute I might just start honking at people just to honk at them. Innocent people, like you, are not safe. But don’t blame me, blame my FIL.

So to recap: my husband and I got him a new computer. He got my husband a new golf club (something he’s been wanting/needing), got his ex-girlfriend’s daughter a ring to commemorate her college graduation, and I got something that could potentially destroy the planet.

And that, my friends, is my supervillain origin story. This is how Typical Jenn became the Joker.