Posted in Storytime

If Life Came with Instructions: Part I

I’ve often heard the joke, “you couldn’t handle me even if I came with instructions” when referring to relationships. But while I was waiting in line at the local coffee shop, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase as being used to describe other things. For example, when it starts to rain out of nowhere even though the weather app said it wouldn’t for the whole day, I can imagine the rain as a person sitting there laughing at the fact that if weather had instructions, it would probably still rain out of nowhere.

But then I thought about life in general. What kind of person would life be like? I began to imagine Life as a sassy grandma sitting on a front porch, leaning over close to your face as she points her gangling finger at you and bellows “YOU COULDN’T HANDLE ME EVEN IF I CAME WITH INSTRUCTIONS YA LITTLE PIECE OF SH…”, you get the point.

I may not be an expert at this whole “life” thing (is anybody really), but I thought I’d share a few steps to take to live a life even Life herself would be jealous of.

Step 1: Know that the rules that follow may or may not work, the world doesn’t like to give you a heads up when it flips itself upside down (essentially, “results may vary”)

Step 2: Happiness is never going to be and never will be a singular destination. You’ve got to learn to be happy along the way and enjoy every second of life you are given in this world.

Step 3: It’s okay to not be okay. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s completely fine to say that you’re not okay and take some time to heal yourself. Our humanity can be a gift or a curse, no matter the circumstance.

Step 4: Don’t eat the yellow snow.

Step 5: When driving, there’s a little device called a “blinker” and it should be utilized at all times. Trust me. It can save you from a dent…or two.

Step 6: Follow the “Golden Rule”. Treat others the way that you would want to be treated. So basically, don’t be an a**hole.

Step 7: Karma really is a b**ch.

Step 8: If you really think about it, we are all going to die one day. So, treat every day as if it’s your last, you never know when your time on earth will come to an end.

Step 9: Never judge a book by its cover (they could be the next bestseller 😊)

Step 10: If you’ve got a crush, tell them. It’s easier to mend a broken heart from rejection than a broken/exhausted heart from months or years of waiting for the “right moment”. This one is a hard one. I know because I’ve experience it more times than I can count. But from all the heartache that I’ve had, I’ve learned that it’s easier to bounce back from someone saying “no” than never knowing and continuing on for years waiting for a miracle that isn’t going to happen.

Step 11: Enjoy being single. (For example, I’m writing this in sweatpants and eating pizza that I had delivered to my door just for myself…why?…because I can, that’s why. I also get to enjoy a giant cozy bed all by myself and I can hog all the covers I want.)

Step 12: Remember this quote:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Rob Siltanen

*mic drop*

Step Infinity: Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual or rules. All you got is what others teach in life lessons. Listen to them. It’s better than learning the hard way. Trust me.

 

To be Continued…

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Posted in Storytime

You are What You Eat: A Very Short and Humorous Tale

We were sitting around the kitchen table when my Uncle Leo walked in. He grumbled a few choice words as he shuffled across the floor trying to peel the Buick’s emergency break from the palm of his hand. With a swift jab of my elbow, Henry’s snickering stopped and he covered his cheeky grin with his fan of cards. When Uncle Leo made it to the sink, he slammed his new accessory to the counter with one loud thud. It startled me so much that my cards scattered around me like confetti and Henry let out a loud screech as he tumbled to the floor in a fit of cackles.

Uncle Leo, though, seemed less than amused with the situation. He sluggishly turned his head to the side, away from the afternoon sun, and his big brown eyes practically rolled back to his brain before fixing in on Henry rolling on the ground in laughter.

I, on the other hand, was more interested in evading the pugnacious Uncle Leo before things started to get out of hand. Henry just never knows when to quit, which reminded me of my father.

Before the situation had a chance to escalate, the sound of my Grandma’s truck revving up the driveway cut through the tension in the room and momentarily distracted both guys. I hopped out of my seat and lept over Henry like a gazelle to the screen door. I was out in the yard before my Gram could put the truck in park. She didn’t even have to ask to know that Henry was up to his callous tricks again.

She sighed, “What’d that boy do now?”

“Put super glue on the emergency break in Dad’s old Buick.”

“Good grief! He should know by now to avoid all those there relics.”

Gram snatched her purse from the passenger seat, near the dog, and flung open the car door. She slammed it shut and was about to charge ahead but was comically snapped back when her zipper got caught in the door. But with one swift pull, she yanked her jacket free. Resembling a bull just released from its pen, she stamped through the grass in her heels like a drunk goose. I knew Henry wasn’t going to last the whole eight seconds it took for her to throw her ecclesiastical morals out the window and swear upon the name of the good lord.

I followed her as she stiff-armed the screen door open in front of her and entered like she was a damn Queen.

“What the hell kind of shit are you pulling, Henry,” she barked, “You know better than to go on and mess with your Uncle Sal’s stuff like that you little brat!”

“Come on, it was just a…”

“Don’t you say another word,” Gram snapped as she pointed her wiry finger at Henry, “Don’t you dare tell me that this was a joke cause that ain’t no excuse in this house no more.”

Gram’s demeanor loosened as she dropped her hand back to her side and the red rage in her eyes calmed to their original caerulean color.

“Cause your Uncle Sal said those same words before he…before he blew himself up trying to scare the shit out of your Great Aunt Maria” Gram stammered.

The room became still as my father’s untimely demise was brought up. Uncle Leo, who hadn’t moved from the sink, only paused his fiddling with the break to turn and face Gram. I looked to the ground and crossed my arms. Henry finally picked himself off the floor, giggling like he was imagining my father as Wile E. Coyote getting blown up trying to catch to the Road Runner. But unlike the cartoon wolf now covered in soot, my father was now covered in six feet of dirt.

Gram quickly shook off the solemn mood and shot Henry an unforgiving look. Her sassy stature seemed to put Henry in his place as he half-heartedly apologized to Gram, and of course to Uncle Leo too. When she was satisfied, she put her purse down and walked back to the car to retrieve my Dad’s eager Dachshund, Pickle, from the truck.

As soon as the screen door slammed, my Uncle finally turned around proudly displaying his hand which was freed from the break. Henry reluctantly sighed and reached for the emergency break my Uncle Leo was holding out before him.

Before he left, Gram opened the screen door and let the dog scurry in past her legs. Henry gave Gram a somber look as he ignored Pickle who was jumping up on his legs as her tail wagged enthusiastically.

“Look Hun, I’m sorry I yelled” Gram apologized, “Here. Take one of these.”

Gram offered Henry a piece of chocolate fudge brownies she got at the store as a peace offering. Henry snatched it from the container and popped it into his mouth as he pushed the screen door out of his way.

“What a little shit” Uncle Leo mumbled as he rubbed his sore hand.

A genuine smile crept across Gram’s face as she placed the plate on the kitchen table. She knelt to the ground to give Pickle a belly rub and didn’t even flinch when angry yelps and coughs suddenly started pouring in from the yard,

“What the hell, this tastes like salty dirt! What in God’s green earth did you give me ya old hag!”

In tandem, My Uncle Leo and I looked to Gram.

“I find it funny how your father named this cute little hot dog Pickle after you fed him a whole jar of them when you were just three years, Rae” Gram said with a tinge of nostalgia, “When your daddy yelled at you that the dog was gonna turn into a pickle cause of it, you howled in a pool of tears and pickle juice ‘til your daddy scooped you up in his arms and told you it was a joke.”

“Uh, yeah I remember that a little…but what does that have to do with Henry’s hissy fit in the front yard” I asked.

Gram looked up to reveal a sly smirk on her face, “Your father had it right with his joke about Pickle, you are what you eat. And your Uncle Leo had it right with Henry being nothin’ but a little shit so…”

My Uncle Leo hoot and hollered as he bent forward in laughter. Gram and I began to chuckle too. Even Pickle howled to join in on the collective laughter. I mean, she was the one who helped make Henry’s special fudge brownie.

Posted in Storytime

True Story, Bro: A Humorous Autobiography Part I

*WARNING: SWEAR WORDS AHEAD*

 

Ah, the theatre. A wonderful place full of magic, music, and several awful backstage personnel. Except for Kayla and I, of course.

For some unknown reason, my friend Kayla and I decided that it would be a bright idea to join the Theatre Club at school. But not as actresses, but as backstage workers. I had always had an interest in equipment that was used to run such productions and it was my dream to work with this fun technology (this was back in a time when there was no such thing as “Smart-phones” yet).

However, the first day we went, Kayla and I were split up. She went to the costume department (per her request) and I was assigned to the lighting department (per my request because of my biggest dream ever).

As soon as I got near the “birdhouse” in the back of the theatre that housed the light boards, a thin, wiry boy with more metal in his mouth than a box full of screws glided into my path. He had fair red hair, a thick layer of freckles, and a permanent sour expression plastered on his face. (Let’s refer to him as…Pinchy Face.)

He was less than pleased when I explained that I was to join their group. Scoffing and sighing every time I tried to tell him I was ready to learn everything about the equipment.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally convinced Pinchy Face to let me get near the light board. He kept on glancing over his shoulder as if I was going to suddenly reach my hand over and fuck up the whole board with one foul swoop.

Minion Two (I like making nicknames…I’m sorry…but not really) was organizing chords on the theater floor below as Minion One was discussing lighting options with Pinchy Face in the booth. After completing their conversation, Pinchy Face turned around and stuck out his hand. I stared at it like it had green scales all over it, quizzically looking up to his face and wondering what he wanted.

“Your glasses.”

“Like hell I’m gonna give you my glasses. Why do you need them?”

He signed like this was his millionth time telling me.

“You can’t wear your glasses on the catwalk.”

“What…”

“Just give me your damn glasses, kid”

I’m a Junior, you’re a Freshman. Call me “kid” one more time and we’ll see what your face looks like punched inward ya beanstalk…

He impatiently flicked his fingers at me like he was motioning a dog. I rolled my eyes and pulled off my thin-framed glasses and handed them to him. I had to play by his rules if I ever wanted to touch, let alone learn about, the equipment.

It was a bit fuzzy after that, literally. I helped him carry some giant, boxed light bulbs up a flight of creaky wire stairs to the catwalk. Along it was strung several lights, aimed towards the stage. As I walked, carrying the bulk of the packaged lights, the catwalk swayed ever so slightly with every movement. When we reached the middle of it, he placed the boxes on the catwalk, I proceeded to do the same.

“Did I tell you to put them down” he asked.

“No”

“Pick them up before we trip on them.”

I began to scoop them back into my arms angrily all while huffing, puffing, and flipping him off when his back was turned to me. By the time I had gathered them up into my arms, he had already changed two of the giant lights with ease. We moved down the catwalk a bit before Minion Two (or was it Three) yelled up to us,

“Dude, [insert random tech babble here], we need your help!”

“Okay, I’m coming!”

He turned to me and spoke like he was the damn president of the United States, “I have to go, it’s urgent. Say here and don’t move.”

He pivoted on his feet and began sprinting down the catwalk. The catwalk began to shake violently.

“Hey! HEY! DUDE! Don’t go so fa…”

I was interrupted by little alarms going off in my head as my balance began to waiver. Then that little Shit decided to dismount the catwalk like a damn monkey. His giant leap cascaded a devastating quake right to my little feet and I felt them begin to levitate off the catwalk.

In a panic, my arms instinctively reached for anything to grab onto, forgetting the precious cargo that was in their care. When I landed on my back, my hands gripping the lower guard rail, I watched helplessly as gravity carried the fragile boxes to the ground below.

With every sickening sound of glass smashing against the ground, my fate as a stage technician slowly began to disintegrate.

The good:

No one was injured by the expensive boxes that fell from the sky (except for my pride).

The bad:

I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the equipment again.

So naturally, they assigned me to the woodworking shop with giant band saws and nail guns. Perfect.

At least my dear friend Kayla was with me this time. Even though we didn’t know shit about how to build anything but the occasional piece of Ikea furniture, we were still determined to prove the boys wrong.

The woodworking shop backstage was anything but a lumberjack’s dream. It was dirty, grimy, and full of the smell of burning wood. The walls and floors were painted an unappealing grey with touches of paint splatter outlined on the floor. There were giant grey shelves, which took up most of the room, full of lumber with one band saw. Nails, hammers, screws, and candy wrappers littered the ground and counter space like little elves had a party and trashed the place while drunk on sugar.

This was also at a time when no one wore goggles or earplugs when running the machines because the department apparently couldn’t afford to keep the drama students safe (but the football team did get new jerseys. So much more important…)

But what made it even worse was the other group of boys that were building a simple table. Kayla and I, on the other hand, were given the blueprints for a window with no actual windows, (‘cause apparently the football team needed a new locker room…which is apparently more useful than the arts… just sayin’).

We thought it would be a simple build. It’s literally a box with a few little pieces crisscrossing the inside to make it resemble a window. Nothing to hard, right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Kayla and I struggled for what seemed like hours that day, trying to figure out what the hell we were doing wrong. We would measure the wood to the exact length needed. Mark it with a pencil. Bring it to the saw (I let Kayla do that part, I preferred to keep my limbs intact), and place it on top of the full-size layout where it should go. Then we would rifle through the large industrial shelves full of wood, find another piece, and repeat.

It wasn’t rocket science.

But every damn time we cut a piece of wood, went to get another, cut it, and placed them together, they wouldn’t fit the outline. It was a phenomenon that Kayla and I couldn’t comprehend. What the hell were we doing wrong?

Kayla and I were getting a bit riled up. I mean, we weren’t stupid. The wood couldn’t have suddenly shrunk when we were gone. We weren’t cutting it wrong.

And then it happened.

As Kayla and I were picking out another piece of wood from the shelves way in the back. I managed to catch a glimpse of the other group that was building the table. I peered through gaps in the wood piled on the shelves all the way to where our project lay on the floor.

I watched Dumbo One (Yay! Nicknames!) reach down and pick up a piece of our wood.

Strange. I thought, Oh! He’s going to help us out…

BUZZZZZZ…

WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK YOU LITTLE WARTY BASTARD!!

Dumbo Two laughed as Dumbo One placed the piece of wood that we had been working on for hours back on the layout.

Little light bulbs starting going off in my head like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Kayla, after realizing I wasn’t responding to her request to help her carry the wood back, turned to face me. She froze,

“Natalie, what is it? What’s wrong?”

I shot off like a jackrabbit and swerved between the shelves, my eyes locked on the target.

“NATALIE, WAIT!” Kayla yelled.

But I drowned her pleading voice out. “Crazy Natalie” had come out to play.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled.

“What do you mean?” said Dumbo One, coolly.

“Don’t play coy with me you asshole! Why are you cutting up our wood when we’re away?” I said.

“Geez, don’t get so worked up.” Dumbo Two said as he headed for the exit.

“Are you serious? You’re making us look like fools!” I said, on the verge of tears in pure rage. My whole body began to shake like a leaf as it rushed with adrenaline.

“Well, you shouldn’t be working back here anyway. You guys obviously don’t know what you’re doing.” Said Dumbo One.

Kayla had emerged from the shelving unit in a tizzy, frantic to defuse the situation, “Seriously guys? Just stop doing that and leave us alone. Natalie, dear, calm down. It’s okay, they’re just being stupid boys.”

“What are you gonna do about it? She’s the stupid one here. She cost the department thousands of dollars breaking those bulbs. Isn’t that right, ya clutz.” Dumbo Two said.

“I’m going to get the director, this is unacceptable.” Kayla said as she bee lined for the door.

“Yeah, go run to daddy and be the tattle tale you are, “Dumbo One said, “Geez, what a bitch. Can’t even take a joke.”

At this point, I honestly blacked out in a full on rage. According to school lore, I proceeded to pick up a piece of thin wood and hurled it like a javelin. I hit Dumbo Two, who crumpled to the floor. Dumbo One tried to make an escape for it, but I launched myself at him like a cheetah and slammed him against the wall. (Side Note: I was 4’11”, he was 6’1”).

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I think it was enough for him to know that if he ever called my friend that name again, I’d break every bone in his body, let them heal, then break them all again out of spite.

By the time the director came with Kayla in tow, I was back to little quiet Natalie. Shyly rocking back and forth on my heals as the Dumbos hid behind their table. (Let’s just say I had a bit of a temper when I was younger…okay so a really big temper similar to a supernova on steroids.)

In the end, they never got in trouble.

The director didn’t believe Kayla and me.

They continued for harass us.

So we quit.

Not because we couldn’t handle it, but we were sick and tired of being treated like ditzy girls who knew nothing. Because we were so much more than that, and we didn’t need their approval to convince us that.

So, to Pinchy Face and his Minions along with the Dumbos, I don’t have time (nor the space) to write out word-for-word the life lesson that you should have learned by the end of this story.

Because I’m too busy working with the EQUIPMENT at the television station I help run and building COFFEE TABLES to be bothered to remind you that woman can do just as good a job as any man. Sometimes even better.

True story, Bro.

 

 

(P.S. Shout out to the awesome folks at TV10. Thanks for believing in me! Also thank you to the “teachers” who taught me all I know about the equipment in the studio…you guys are da best)