Reading Jogs My Memory So Here’s My Pants Stain Story

So right now I’m reading Weird But Normal by Mia Mercado and in it, she tells a story about being on vacation at Disney with her family when she was 12 and there’s an Aladdin Ride/Poop story it reminded me of a vacation I took when I was 14 that I still can’t believe my parents let me go on.

In 9th grade, I had a boyfriend named Anthony that I somehow managed to date for an entire year. Our one commonality was that he played baseball and I was super into baseball players, so we were just slightly more compatible than the couples you see on 90 Day Fiancé. Anyway, the summer after our freshman year, his team earned a trip to regionals to play for a spot in the Little League World Series and his family invited me to go with them.

I. Was. Down.

My Parents. Were. Not.

So I did what any pubescent, maturing teen would do: I lost my shit. Well, as much as I could around my strict-as-shit Spanish mom. For the most part, I just lost my shit in my room. I couldn’t understand why my parents would not allow me to travel ALL the way to Mississippi to hang out with some parents (that they barely knew) and a bunch of boys (that they didn’t know) and my boyfriend (that they really knew) and all in a time when we didn’t have cell phones (I mean they were invented but we couldn’t afford one because at that time I believe it cost about $100/minute to talk on one). What the hell?

The morning that my boyfriend’s parents were scheduled to leave, my parents gave me permission to go. I think they thought that if they waited till the last minute to give me the OK that I wouldn’t have enough time to get ready. I packed my shit in about 5 minutes and was gone about 20 after that.

So we get there and spend the first couple of days at the baseball field because, duh, it’s a baseball tournament. The third day was an off-day for the team so we went to the beach. I honestly can’t remember if Anthony was with us but his older brother was and he’s partially the reason I have a story in the first place. The other reason being my shit packing skills.

In my haste to evacuate my parents’ house before they could change their mind, I failed to pack maxi pads for the trip. I’d been cramping but thought that surely my period would know I was going on vacation and would give me a break for a week.

It didn’t.

Also, yeah, I wore maxi pads. Tampons scared me. They still do but I’m on birth control so it’s not an issue, in case you were wondering.

Back to my period. That fucker came in with a vengeance, and I had nothing. I was way too embarrassed to tell my boyfriend’s mom so instead, I kept buying those shitty .25 cent pads that you used to be able to get in any public restroom. Luckily, our hotel had them. I say ‘luckily’ because it was just one step above ‘nothing’. It was awful. I was used to my normal thin pads and now, I had no choice but to wear this thing that felt like a pillow in my underwear. Fuck.

I managed to play it off until it was beach time. I told everyone I forgot my bathing suit but was fine just hanging out in the sand. Well, Anthony’s brother found this unacceptable and carried me into the water. Me. My pillow pad. And my khaki shorts.

At first, I thought, “OK, no big deal, the pad probably absorbed the water.” Then we got back to the hotel. I went straight into the bathroom to check myself and there it was: a HUGE red stain on the back of my shorts.

And not one person said a word to me about it.

To this day, I don’t know if they were being kind or didn’t notice it. Probably the former. Either way, I’ve had PTSD about it ever since. Because of this incident, I still check my butt in the mirror from time to time because you never know. Additionally, I can’t tell people when they have a booger in their nose. I don’t know where period stains and boogers intersect but for some reason, I just can’t do it. In my head, I’m being kind by ignoring it but I’m also doing people a disservice by letting them walk around with snot hanging out of their nose. I’ve got to work on that.

Anyway, that’s what I get for being a shit about going on this trip. By the way, this is how I learn all of my lessons.

So there’s my story. Back to my reading.

 

 

How to Turn $120 into $10,020

In no particular order, here is a list of things that don’t come naturally to me: fashion, being nice, sports of any kind, teaching things. There are more but those are the main ones. I was horrendous at these things before but quarantine has made me practically allergic to them.

In regards to fashion, I’m currently rotating between four shirts. I use ‘rotating’ loosely because what’s really happening is I change my shirt only when absolutely necessary. And it’s only getting worse. This morning I went to put on shirt number three (my favorite) and discovered it had holes in it. I wore it anyway. In my defense, I had already taken it off the hanger.

TJ120

My already non-existent fashion sense isn’t the only thing in decline: my patience is now in the negative. I didn’t even know that could happen. I can predict when I’m going to be annoyed. It’s easy because it’s all the time.

So it’s never been a better time for me to have to teach something.

I take back what I said about my things being in no particular order. Teaching things is actually 1 through 4. A few weeks ago I had an appointment to teach someone how to use their Facebook business page. The lesson is still ongoing. The questions haven’t stopped and at this point, the only way I know how to make them stop is to just delete their page and tell them Facebook went out of business.

I’ve known I could never be a teacher since I was in grade school. During a math lesson, my 3rd-grade teacher, Miss Guerra, requested that I work with a fellow peer named April on our assignment. It made zero sense. Nobody else was teaming up and on top of that, April wasn’t even a friend of mine because she didn’t know who the Power Rangers were. I didn’t get it but I, begrudgingly, grabbed my shit and sat next to her.

4 seconds later, I got it.

April couldn’t understand why the number 23 wasn’t written 203 because 20 and 3. Miss Guerra thought she would get it if another 8-year-old explained it to her. I couldn’t even teach myself how to properly brush my hair but I was somehow qualified to teach math. (I’m not kidding on the hair thing. That same year my parents had to cut a knot out of my hair that was the size of a golf ball. I’ve only slightly improved since then.)

The situation made me want to drop out of school. My explanation of “that’s how it is just write it” wasn’t working and it was the only thing I had in my arsenal. Eventually, I gave up and told her to keep writing it the way she thought was correct. In my defense, I wasn’t the teacher. My teacher wasn’t even the teacher. To this day I think about that time and wonder if April ever figured out how numbers work. In case she hasn’t, I would like to formally apologize to every bank teller she’s ever dealt with. She doesn’t want to withdraw $10,020. She wants $120. I know.

Believe it or not, this story has a point. In the time of the corona (we’re on a first-name basis now), we all have an opportunity to figure out what we really want to do. I’ve always thought that one of the dumbest questions kids get asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I know people in their 30s that are still trying to figure that out, how is a 6-year-old supposed to know? The answer is: they don’t. That’s why they come back with stupid shit like mermaid, or Nemo, or robot (which, I guess if you really think about it, isn’t a bad response considering robots will eventually replace us all).

Instead of asking “what do you want to be?” to a bunch of know-nothing first-graders, let’s start asking “what do you like to do?” when they get to be a bunch of know-it-all pre-teens. I’ve loved and have written since I was a kid but no one ever talked to me about what I loved doing. So when asked the career question, my answer was always something that sounded like a grown-up job (my 8-year-old answer was “Judge” so I could throw everyone in jail, and the reason for that is coming up in another post).

Now’s the time to ask yourself: “what do I like to do?” “What makes me happy?” If you don’t know the answer then go backward and ask yourself what do you hate doing. I have nothing but respect for teachers (although I’m still on the fence about Miss Guerra) and parents who are temporarily filling that role right now. I could never do it, fuck that.

Things suck right now. Things are tough and they’re shitty. But if you felt this way before the pandemic, and you’re in a position to change it, then go for it. You might as well. If April can make $10,020 out of $120, then you can do anything too.

Side note: Sometime during my freshman year of high school, I was at a barbecue with my parents and my dad’s friend showed up with his new girlfriend: Miss Guerra. She looked at me and said, “Hiiii, I remember you”, and I said, “I remember when you made me try to teach April math”. She giggled and then walked away to go say hi to other people that she hadn’t tried to make do her job. I haven’t seen her since. The End.

Did I Dream That or Did I Do That?

Happy day after Easter everyone! I’m hurting. Nothing emotional, just pride-wise. Here’s the thing: I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a time or two but… I’m Mexican. And do you know what my people do on Easter? We drink, A LOT. Too much and now I’m here, playing my favorite hangover game “did I dream that or did I do that?”

Here’s how it works: you get really wasted, pass out on the couch then, wake up and try to piece together the events of the previous evening all while riddled with anxiety and nausea. It’s a barrel of laughs.

Did I really do the Chingo Bling dance to his song “Bolis on My Wrist”? Oh God, did I send a drunk Marco Polo video to all of my workout buddies? What happened to my leftover wings?

This game allows for calling a life line, which I did. My sister (a woman I grew up with who exceeds best friend status) came over last night so this morning I called her to get a recap of the evening. It turns out that yes, I did do the Chingo Bling dance. And not just once. Multiple times, each time looking dumber than the time before. And yet I kept going. Watch me dance! Why was I not in the music video?! I’m AMAZING! I was not. I was Elaine from Seinfeld: arms and legs everywhere.

Miraculously, it’s not on TikTok or YouTube, I think.

I, fortunately, did not send a drunk Marco Polo video to my workout friends. I did, however, watch the “Happy Easter” video I sent earlier in the day repeatedly. I could not get enough of myself but can you blame me after I nailed that dance routine?

And what happened to my wings? What happened was I ate them. I guess. I remember wanting to eat them and that’s about it. But they’re gone and no one else touched them. The important thing is, I didn’t choke on the wings I have no recollection of eating and I didn’t burn anything down.

All-in-all it was a fun night, probably.

Anyway, that’s how you play “Did I dream that or did I do that?” It’s loads of fun, if your idea of fun is wondering if you still have a job, friends, or life the next day. Enjoy!

 

 

Funerals Bring Out The Kid In Me

Age is nothing but a number. It’s such a cliché thing to say but it’s true. It has to be or the reality is I’m mentally aging in reverse. In fact, don’t even ask me how old I am. I’m relearning numbers.

Recently I attended a funeral that I was not prepared to attend. Not because of the sadness and what have you. I didn’t have anything to wear. I’ve succeeded in not having to dress like an adult for work but completely disregarded the fact that there might be non-work events that may require attire that is not in the form of a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I can never get it right.

So, the day before the funeral I bought an outfit that included a pair of slacks that matched a blazer I had. Well, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve worn that blazer and in addition to it having shoulder pads, it had also shrunk to an unreasonable size. On top of that, it was really cold outside and my painted-on blazer wasn’t going to cut it so I wore my peacoat over it. I couldn’t put my arms down. Paired with my 5-inch heels that I also hadn’t worn in a couple of years, I was miserable. It only got better when we got to the church. We arrived 10 minutes before the service and the place was packed. So much so that we had to park across the highway from the church, and thus began this entire ordeal.

It was a good 5-minute hike uphill to the church and by the time we got to the top I was really regretting my outfit choice. I spent the next 1.5 hours hating life, which is admittedly a pretty selfish thing to feel at a funeral. But I couldn’t help it. I felt like I couldn’t move, which is also a selfish thing to be annoyed about at a funeral. To compliment my poor outfit choice, I made a bad hair choice: I wore it down. Every time I had to move it out of my face I had to lower my head because my arm wouldn’t bend past a 45-degree angle. I looked like a mannequin.

The uncomfortableness, by the way, spilled over into conversation. Because we’d gotten there right before the service started (and apparently everyone else had camped out) there was nowhere to sit. So we ended up in a lovely standing spot next to my husband’s friend and his more comfortable looking wife. I like this better-dressed-than-me wife but it’s hard to have a conversation with her because we have nothing in common, obviously. Nevertheless, I tried. Recently I decided to go alcohol-free from Jan. 1st to April 1st so I thought I’d ask her about her break from alcohol. The conversation was going great until I told her I was doing this strictly for vanity purposes. No other reason – not my health, not my family. I want to be able to feel comfortable and move all of my limbs freely in my clothing. Also, sucking in my stomach is starting to hurt. She raised her eyebrows and said “oh”, then turned around and that was the end of that conversation. Whatever.

The bummer about the end of that conversation was that my attention was redirected to my feet. I hadn’t worn heels in a long time and after walking up a mountain and standing for nearly 20 minutes, my dogs were barking. I tried leaning against a wall but that only worked for a few seconds. At one point my husband asked me if I wanted him to get me a chair and like a modest idiot, I told him I was fine. I looked over at a woman across from me – who was comfortably sitting in a chair – to see what page in the service pamphlet we were on. There were still 3 fucking pages to go. I was not fine.

Then, as though I was being tested by Jesus or blessed by Satan, an older woman (adjacent to me) got up from her chair. “She has 10 minutes”, I thought to myself. At approximately 10 minutes and zero seconds, I sat in her chair, confidently. Zero regrets. Look, she had a cane to hold her up and I didn’t, OK?

Sitting didn’t matter though. It only made my blazer tighter. As people cried during the eulogies, I focused on not tearing through my blazer like the Incredible Hulk.

Eventually, the service ended and after half-hugging the family (because I was too scared to bend my arms too much) we made the 5-minute trek back to the car. BTW, not one person offered us a ride to our truck even though I looked like I had just learned how to walk. That was probably my karma for stealing that chair so I guess we’re even.

So there you go. My proof that age is nothing but a number. I may never learn how to be a real adult but I have learned what to do when life hands you a tight-ass blazer: you work your way through it until you can take it off and move again.

LOL JK the moral of the story is: wear shit that you feel comfortable in, settings are irrelevant. You do you. The end.

The Typical Jenn Experiment

Did you know there are perks to working a job you hate? There are very few of them, mind, and some people may think of them as “reasons to not set the boss’s car on fire” as opposed to “perks”, but they do exist. One is a paycheck. Another, for me at least, is sometimes a client of mine will host an event that buys them another 3 months before I start flipping desks.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing marketing for their first big comedy show. Their special guest? Jamie Kennedy. Some of you may remember him as the nice guy from Scream or as B-Rad from Malibu’s Most Wanted. Some of you may remember him from his show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. Some of you may have no idea who I’m talking about. If that’s you – congratulations – you’re basically 90% of the people who saw my advertising. To be fair, I didn’t even know he did stand-up comedy which I think technically puts me right up there in that 90%.

The turnout was less than ideal, which was a shame because he was actually very, very funny. I can’t speak for everyone but I was surprised, primarily because when I was looking for clips of his stand-up to promote his show, I couldn’t find anything that even slightly made me giggle. Leading up to the show I thought we were screwed. On top of that, I’m in a pretty conservative town so images of people getting pretend offended were constantly swirling around in my head. Well, I was wrong.. kind of.

From beginning to end, his show was hilarious but, more importantly than that, it served as an odd source of inspiration for me and my writing. One of the first jokes he made was about the low turnout; he ended the joke by asking “who did the marketing for this?”

Yeah, that would be me who did the marketing.

I laughed so hard because you know what? When you’re right, you’re right. I probably could’ve done a better job promoting the show but I didn’t because the fact is, I’m not good at marketing. I don’t even like it. I got into marketing because I didn’t know I could make a career out of writing this kind of stuff and I wasn’t sure what else to do. (BTW, I still haven’t figured out how to make a living with my writing so it turns out I’m also bad at making progress.) Marketing is what I do to pay the bills but I know I’m just not very good at it. I can’t even properly market my blog. It’s true. Look at my follower count, I’ll wait….. Yeah, and this blog has been up since 2015.

Anyway, Jamie Kennedy’s comment made me realize that I need to be more aggressive about figuring this out because there are plenty more “who did the marketing for this?” where that came from. That’s a bleak future.

The laughter continued, and just when I thought “hey, there hasn’t been one ‘boo’ yet, this is great!”, Jamie Kennedy made the mistake that every comedian makes: he made a joke that offended someone. “Here it goes”, I thought.

Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Jamie didn’t make a mistake. He was doing what we paid him to do: tell jokes. And watching him explain to this heckler that everything he was saying was a joke and reminding her that she was at a comedy show was a fucking downer. He shouldn’t have had to do that. Luckily, her bullshit didn’t ruin the show; he even got a standing ovation when it was over.

I could debate about situations like this all day but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, I wrestle with posting some of the things I write about all the time, and it’s a bit of a problem. I’ve refrained from sharing some of my stories because I worry about how they’ll be perceived, even though I actually put a lot of thought into what I write. I was even hesitant about writing this.

Then I heard Jamie Kennedy asking “who did the marketing for this?” and I thought, fuck it. If I’m going to figure this out there’s only one way to do it, and that’s to write.

Not every story I share will be great, I know that, but I’d rather put them out there than risk the possibility of losing any opportunity to do what I’ve set out to do: make you laugh. Because in a time where everything seems to be going from worse to horrendous, I think we can all agree that laughter is one of the bright spots. So I hope you’re ready to read about my fucking TERRIFYING trip to Jamaica because that story and more are coming. And who knows, maybe I had nothing to worry about in the first place. It’s not like I’m attracting hundreds of thousands of readers. I do my own marketing after all.

Review: The Last Black Unicorn | Tiffany Haddish

I have a dream. And that dream is to one day be a guest on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, both as an actress and as a drunk person. No, really. I realize most dreams consist of purchasing homes or getting a Master’s degree. Not me. I want to be drunk on national TV talking about Sacagawea. I love that show. Believe it or not, it’s very educational. Beyond history lessons that may or may not be accurate, I’ve discovered comedic writers and comedians that I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know about – one of those being the incredibly funny Tiffany Haddish. That’s correct. I’d heard of her before but didn’t really know who she was until I saw her episode of Drunk History.

She absolutely cracked me up so I immediately wanted to know more about her. And what do you do when you want to learn more about someone? You read their memoir. (Anyone who is anyone has a memoir. Wake up.)

Co-written by the hilarious Tucker Max, I read her book in two days. I would’ve read it in one but I had to work. Some bull.

To begin, the entire book is written in her voice, literally. It was like the audio version was playing in my head as I read it. At first, it was a little odd but once I got past the Invitation I understood why it was written the way it was written: this was Tiffany’s story being told her way.

The backstory to Tiffany’s success includes an upbringing most of us couldn’t fathom. From surviving the mistreatment by her mother who suffered from a brain injury to leaving a physically and mentally abusive husband, the road to comedic stardom was a rough one. It’s not all heartache, though. She also includes hilarious anecdotes, one of which details the revenge she got on her ex-boyfriend that involves a sex tape, a holiday, and the movie Charlies Angels.

While I would’ve liked to have seen more about her career, the point of her book is to deliver hope. Deep and honest, Tiffany’s book provides inspiration for anyone who has been or is in a place where it’s hard to see the light. It’s there, and some of it is found in her book. Give it a read and also, watch her episode of Drunk History – there’ s a whole lot of learning between the two.

Review: The Tao of Bill Murray |Gavin Edwards

I have a problem, and that problem is when it comes to work I have a hard time saying ‘no’ when someone asks me for a favor. This leads to me over-extending myself, which stresses me out, resulting in my transformation into a volcano of rage. The mere thought of having to add anything – like say doing the dishes or brushing my hair – to my already packed schedule pushes me over the edge. Knowing that at any moment I could be asked a question gives me the superhuman strength a mother conjures up when she needs to lift a car off her child. If you see a house being hurled across the country, it’s me – somebody asked me how my day was going.

Then there’s my phone – it’s given me PTSD. Gone are the days when my biggest first world problem was bot calls. Now it’s actual humans. The second my phone lights up or makes a sound I break out in shingles. Oh God, it’s ringing again. Hello? Can I design a Trivia Night scorecard? Yeah, I can do that.

It’s a pisser of a position to be in: on the one hand, I’m getting paid. On the other, I now hate everyone. I don’t necessarily want to tell them to fuck off, mainly because my check would fuck off as well, but I do want to be in a position where I’m doing more of what I want to do. And who better to learn that from than the legendary Mr. Bill Murray.

Bill Murray didn’t write his own book because Bill Murray is too cool for that. The Tao of Bill Murray by Gavin Edwards is not your typical biography. While he does start at the beginning of Bill Murray’s life, the stories bounce around to fit the 10 Principles of Bill Murray, the bulk of what makes up the book. I won’t tell you what they are but I will tell you they’re exactly what you’d expect. All of his principles basically add up to this: do what makes you happy and include others in that happiness. By the way, the “things” that make Bill Murray happy are probably a little different from yours or mine. His “things include stealing a street cleaner, crashing Elvis’ funeral, and an incident where he rolled a pretentious fan into the ocean per his agreement to sign autographs for her.

Beyond some great stories – like Bill tossing banana peels at people’s feet while they walked just to see their reaction – are some great lines delivered by the G.O.A.T. One of my many favorite lines was delivered when someone shouted a line from Ghostbusters at him – his reply: “The Ghostbusters thing is not going to go away until somebody kills themselves with one of the toys.” And there’s plenty more where that gem came from.

Anyway, while us mere mortals could never get away with some of the stunts he pulls, at the very least this book is an escape – who needs fiction when his life is better than? But there’s more than just escapism. Reading The Tao of Bill Murray is a great reminder to make the most of life – enjoy every bit of it. Everything is horrible, why make it worse by spending your days going things you hate?

So, on this wonderful Friday the 13th, I’m proposing two things: the first is to buy and read this book. Then, after you read it, do what I’m about to do: spend a week doing more of what I feel like doing and more of what makes me happy (as long as these things are within the confines of the law. This isn’t Dexter). Also, try not to get fired, unless that’s what you want. The point is things are terrible. Let’s channel our inner-Bill Murray and at least for a week, make things a little more fun…. starting tomorrow. I’m helping a client address envelopes today.

This Month I Said…

We’ve all done it. We all dwell on it. There are even ridiculous amounts of memes dedicated to it. It’s an epidemic that we’ve let affect us for too long.

I’m talking about foot-in-mouth incidents and today, I take a stand against the effects these misfortunes have on me. Today, I will free myself from the shackles of shame. Today, I share with you the things I said during the month of July. There are only 2 of them because I literally just decided yesterday that I would do this and these 2 were the only ones I could remember. I need to get better at writing things down. Anyway, let’s begin.

At the beginning of the month, our neighbor invited my husband and I over for dinner. We’re always down to not cook so we gladly accepted. Now, we don’t really hang out with our neighbors very much, even though we’ve known them for a long time and I also used to work for the husband. You remember him; he’s the right-wing conspiracy theorist. Anyway, we don’t spend a lot of time with them and we also don’t have kids (they do) so conversation, especially for someone socially awkward like me, isn’t the easiest thing to partake in. The wife is actually really awesome, I just don’t know what to talk to her about.

Well, I’m not sure how I did it but I miraculously steered the conversation towards a topic I know very well: the show My 600lb Life. Yes, I watch the shit out of that show and know all their business. By the way, am I the only one who gets annoyed when they lie to Dr. Now about what they eat? Like when they’re supposed to lose 50lbs but gain 80lbs and are like “but I only eat chicken and vegetables” even though we saw them eat 4 pizzas for dinner?

OK, back to my story.

So we’re talking about My 600lb Life, for some reason, and I say “the ones who take the program serious blow me away. Some of their transformations are amazing; I saw one lady who got down to like 140lbs!”

The wife replied, “that’s smaller than me.”

Then I said, “yeah!”

Then I awkwardly laughed.

I didn’t even hear what she said until after I responded! My brain sometimes does this really fucked up thing where it’ll process someone’s words after I’ve already replied with the most inappropriate response possible. I tried to backtrack but as you know, that’s impossible without making shit more awkward. So, I just put it in my “remind me about this when I’m feeling good about myself” reserve and called it a day.

AND THEN…..

So I just took on another client: a local bar that’s staffed with a bunch of 20-year-olds, one who wants to be a Kardashian. Nonetheless, their pictures do great on social media so I photograph them every chance I get. Welllll…..

Yesterday I took a picture of one of them and it took us several takes before I captured one that she approved of. And by “approved of” I mean it was the only one that she didn’t say no to right away.

As I stood there waiting for her thumbs up, I told her “don’t worry, I’m going to use a bunch of filters and stuff.”

I didn’t mean it that way!! I was trying to put her mind at ease, not tell her that the only way she would look presentable was if I made her look like a completely different person.

Baaahhhhh!

So there you have it. I say stupid things. You are not alone. And so you feel less alone, I’ll be sharing these stories once a month because I say/do shit like this all the time.

Please feel free to share your stories in the comments. Let’s unburden ourselves together!

Review: Failure is An Option | H. Jon Benjamin

image1-4OK, so here’s the deal with this book: it’s hilarious. I’m talking it made me cry-laugh. H. Jon details his failures from childhood to his most recent – failing to do two different voices for Bob (Bob’s Burgers) and Archer (Archer, duh). What I love most is this book never turns inspirational. There’s no advice on how to achieve his level of success. Nothing on how to become a voice-over artist or secure spokesperson deals. None of that.

No. This isn’t a book about failing your way to success. It’s a book about failing at things and I, for one, am all about hearing these kinds of stories. Inspiration is so 2014. It’s time to embrace our shortcomings. Stories of failure are the greatest, especially because I have so many.

I failed at becoming a singer. I failed at every sport I ever played. I failed at being a breakdancer. I failed at being in a beauty pageant. I failed at working for the UFC. I failed at convincing my parents to let me miss the first day of my senior year of high school because I had told people I was moving to Dallas and I thought missing a day would make it believable. I have failed, and nothing makes me happier than to share these stories with you the way H. Jon Benjamin shared his with us.

So, if you want a good laugh and are interested in reading stories that might spark memories of your past failures that might also make you laugh, this is the book for you. H. Jon Benjamin is a treasure and so is his book. Enjoy!

Stereotypical Jenn

Over the years, I’ve been pretty vocal about the heartache I suffered upon discovering I was a millennial. After spending the better part of two decades not caring about or even seeing the point of these classifications, I was suddenly angered by the fact that because of a technicality (my birth year) I was officially associated with a group that consists of people who were responsible for creating Facebook and inventing the role of “YouTube star”. My disappointment was equivalent to that of the internet when everyone was moaning about how they hated the finale of Game of Thrones (a show I’ve never watched nor care to, which I think is the most non-millennial thing a person can do).

My real mental disconnect from being a millennial is the trendiness. I’m not a trendy person. I don’t think I slay, or you slay, or anyone slays, primarily because it just sounds stupid (also, I don’t see people using it anymore so the word either lost its trendiness or currently nobody is slaying – because it’s stupid). Up until last year, I hadn’t accepted that there was such a thing as Social Media Manager. And excuse me but when did being an “influencer” become a vocation? Why are we letting these jerks with selfie sticks tell us what’s cool? I’m sorry but I’ll stick to the original “influencer”: Google. Also, side note: if you use a selfie stick you are inherently uncool. That’s just the way it is. Google it.

The wardrobe, the sayings, the music, the insta-poses. I haven’t the energy nor the time to keep up, which officially makes me my parents. Whatever. That’s not enough to make me turn trendy. So when I decided to switch careers and ended up at a stereotypical startup, how do you think that went?

First, a quick background on my work experience. For a little over 10 years, I spent the majority of my time working in marketing, primarily in motorsports (there was also the time I was an MMA promoter but that’s a post for another day). Eventually, I took a job as an assistant art director for a local advertising agency, mainly because I would only have one co-worker (my boss) and I was told we would only be busy 2 days out of the week, so I had plenty of time and space to write. That’s when I launched this site and began working towards my career as a writer.

I’ve always wanted to write so for 2.5 years this was the best. But do you know how hard it is to get writing gigs when all you have is a website full of stories of your short-comings and annoyances, like how my hatred of 50 Shades of Gray deepened because a woman called it “mommy porn”? I knew if I wanted a shot I needed to get a job that pertained to writing so I could establish some street cred. So I got on LinkedIn and began adding every person I could find who worked at local marketing agencies in an attempt to get scouted as a content writer. In about a week someone reached out to me and, after a couple of interviews, I was hired. Even though we never talked about my job description I really thought, this was it! I was getting my shot! Soon I would get outside writing gigs that would lead me to a book deal!

Then I started the job.

Now, at first, I liked it because it was different and I felt super mature. That lasted a week. By week two, I felt like I was working in a parody. Whatever comes to mind when you think of the word “startup”, it was like that. It was everything millennial and I was surrounded by Gen Zers who carried themselves like little professionals and were serious about their Google and Facebook ads. I just wanted to have a legit writer job so I could leverage it into my dream career of writing jokes and books with more jokes and use the word “fuck” wherever it sounded good. Soooo, how did I do?

When I started I already had a scenario in my head that I thought would take me about a month or so, tops, to accomplish. I thought I would be given assignments and then I’d add my personal touch and then someone would see my writing and think I was sups hysterical and then they would hire me to write blogs with my touch of humor and then a literary agent would be like “who is this hilarious girl? I don’t even care about this topic but she makes me want to read about it because she makes me LOL.”

The for real scenario was I wrote for audiologists.

We worked with a company that was basically a monopolist of audiology practices, and the more practices they purchased the more I had to write about hearing aids. The 4 seconds it was enjoyable was the time we got a call from one of our audiology clients who informed us that a woman had called them to ask them why they were targeting her with hearing aid ads on Facebook. She wore hearing aids but didn’t want her friends to know and because the ad appeared in her newsfeed she was sure they’d find out. I wanted to create an entire campaign around it called “Don’t be a Sherry” that was all about not being embarrassed to wear hearing aids but got denied. Other than that it was lame-aty, lame, lame.

Hang on. Before anyone turns on me and starts with the “well at least you had a writing job you selfish millennial ass”, let me do a little clarifying. I did very little writing. That company had acquired so many audiologists that in order to keep up with the work I had to plagiarize myself. So content I wrote when I first started got spread across the nation and could be seen on the websites of like 60 audiology practices. Hold up, there’s more. I also had to help our web guy build websites and landing pages that were also exact replicas of those that came before them.

By law, I don’t think I was allowed to call myself a writer. I think my legal title was ‘clone-smith’. It was like a sweatshop but instead of Banana Republic shirts, I was churning out landing pages and websites. At least those kids were probably proud of their work. I wasn’t. Typical millennial.

My other grievance was, I just didn’t like it there. For starters, we began every day with a meeting. I came from a job where I hardly had to interact with anyone and now I was having to tell everyone what I was working on for the day. Who cares? It was the same thing every day: copy, paste, repeat. Then we had to talk about our “wins” from the day before. And a “win” could be anything, like a Facebook ad approval or a successful day of copying and pasting. *Side note: I use a Mac but at this agency, I had to use a PC and did you know that keyboard shortcuts are actually not shortcuts on a PC? Some of them require 3 keys. THREE! Who has that kind of energy? Seriously, the 90s called and they…. Anyway, doing your job was a “win”, and after every mention of these “wins”, we had to clap. You know how annoying it is when you see a social media post where the person has inserted the clap emoji between every word? This was like that but in person. We basically handed out participation ribbons in the form of claps. By June I had zero claps to give.

Once we were done communicating in person, we’d return to our assigned spots and communicate via the app Slack. First off, we shared a single room office so if you needed to ask anybody anything you didn’t even need to turn your head because we were so close to each other. I never understood what the point of using Slack was. We even had different channels, one for work and one for bullshit. I hated it. In an attempt to fight the man, any time somebody would send me a message I would just look at them and respond verbally. It made not one impact. While people giggled at each other’s “Slacks”, I silently wished the internet away.

It was the world’s happiest office for everyone else but I felt like Peter from Office Space, only I didn’t have a Michael Bolton or a Samir Nagheenanajar to share in my pain. I hated it. I hated the work (copy, paste, repeat – with a mouse!), I hated the meetings (fucking clap clap clap clap clap), I hated my boss’ catchphrases that EVERYONE would adopt. I didn’t like when Paris Hilton would say “that’s hot” on a loop and I didn’t like when my boss’ answer for everything was “that’s cute”, either. Also, if your answer to everything is “I’m into it”, just stop reading now. Go away.

The feeling was mutual, too. I could tell my boss really couldn’t stand me and I didn’t blame him. He’d created a fun environment for people just entering the workforce as well as those who needed a break from their former grown-up gigs and I just couldn’t buy into it. I had nothing to put in a portfolio. Nothing I wanted to show off. Nothing that would get me to my goal. All of this added up to me being a fucking nightmare employee, at least for my boss and the COO (who, BTW, used to swap out the ‘Tue’ in Tuesday with his last name because it rhymed. Some real “case of the Mondays” shit). I didn’t want office parties or ping-pong tables or video games (they weren’t even the good kind where you shoot zombies. Pfft.). None of that typical startup shit was going to get me a book deal. All I wanted to do was write things I wanted to write, which can be viewed as ambition or as entitlement. Whatevs. I had #goals.

For an entire year, I felt like I was wasting my life. On a scale of one to Charlie Sheen, I had completely lost my mind and, what was worse, on a daily basis I feared that the work I was doing to pay the bills would make me lose my voice as a writer. That terrified me. My days revolved around being boring and I was neglecting my blog (PS, this is the explanation behind my hiatus). By the end of the year I was so sick of audiology, hearing aids, hearing tests, ears, and anything associated with sound that I began to daydream about how I would quit. When I worked at Guitar Center in my early twenties, the entire region received an email from a guy on his last day of work that was full of those Chuck Norris jokes but instead of Chuck Norris he used his name. It was brilliant. I wanted my departure to be aces like that. But by now you know how things usually go down for me.

In the end, they let ME go. I know, right? And it’s not even because of the obvious like never wanting to play ping-pong or be the office DJ. It was because they wanted me to sign a non-solicit and proprietary information agreement and I wouldn’t. That’s it. My boring job ended in a boring firing.

I had my reservations about writing this because a) as I recapped my time there I discovered ok, yes, I am the epitome of a millennial and, b) there were actually a few people there that I genuinely enjoyed spending time with. But, as all 4 of you know by now, most of my stories have a point, and this one is no exception.

I fucking hated that job. There were days where I’d arrive and be sick to my stomach. I would sit in the parking lot contemplating driving home and getting back in the bed. HOWEVER…. I actually learned a lot about digital marketing there.

At the time I couldn’t see it but it turns out, there was a bigger picture. Had I not have taken this job I wouldn’t have learned the skills that got me a position handling the digital marketing (social media marketing and all) for my gym – a job that allows me to work from wherever, be around people I already love (I work out with all of them), and gives me the time to write again and focus on my blog as well as a book project I’m working on for a friend. I even received my first paid offer writing jokes. Ironically, the gig was writing jokes about the audiology world. Typical. The point is, I’m in the best position possible and I don’t think it would’ve happened if I hadn’t put myself in the most miserable position possible. And while I know it’s hard to believe based on what you just read, I’m incredibly grateful for that time.

Oprah has a saying (or at least she claims it as hers, but if Oprah says she said something then I think we just need to agree that she said it): Do what you have to until you can do what you want to. There are some people who are able to skip ahead and get what they want without having to struggle. Good for them. I’m not one of them. I like to think of my time at this agency as “paying my dues”. More dues will be owed as I go but if the end result is a better position, then I’m ready to pay up.

So, if you’re in the position I was, or if you’re thinking of taking a leap that could possibly get you to your goal, do what Oprah says. Even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s there. It might be blocked by hearing aids and ping-pong tables, but I promise, it’s there. God, it feels good to be back.