Saturday, January 2, 2010

To: Sworn enemies. Return address: Unknown

Scott (the Count of Counts - Hallelujah! Hallelujah!) gave me a copy of George Carlin's autobiography (or sortofbiography, as Carlin called it), Last Words.

It is dynamite. I love it. I'm on page 178. I like it so much better than Steve Martin's stab at the same, Born Standing Up.

Both talk a lot about their early lives and stand-up. Last Words, though, actually includes pieces of material written out, including how the pieces changed over time. I'm finding this way more enlightening as a comic. Both are good stories, though, and worth reading.

One part of Last Words has kept me laughing since I read it. George Carlin starts the book with all that David Copperfield kind of crap (sorry, Holden Caulfield). In the section about his maternal grandfather, he begins to talk about his mother, Mary Carlin:
Mary was the first of his six children, all born in either Greenwich Village or Chelsea. She was frail as a kid and among other things was given a glass of Guinness stout each night to build her up. It worked. The physical strength she ultimately developed was matched by mental toughness. When she was ten she sent a box of horseshit to a girl on her block who had neglected to invite her to a birthday party. She was small, vivacious, made friends easily, played piano, was a great, dancer, laughed loudly ... and you didn't want her for an enemy.
I read this aloud to Scott in bed. I said, "Can you even believe that? She was 10! Incredible!" and he replied, "I can't believe you've never thought of sending anyone a box of shit."

I really hadn't. And once he suggested it, I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it either.

We proceeded to talk about how a person, in this modern age, might send shit through the United States Postal Service without being detected. A ziplock bag would not be enough. Tyvek? Maybe. But under no circumstance should a person include his or her return address or apply his or her handwriting to the box. Certainly, the box would be full of his or her DNA, but the federal government has bigger fish to fry than to run a DNA test on a box full of feces. And anyway, even if they did, they'd have to have another sample of his or her DNA to make a match, and they wouldn't, so he or she'd be home free!

My god! It almost seems too easy!

We got ourselves laughing so hard about this that I had to get out of bed and cough vigorously while Scott shook quietly in the bed making his laughing-really-hard face.

I guess there are a number of points here. The first is I wish I had the courage to shit into a box and mail it to someone. Incidentally, I can't think of a single person I want to mail my shit to. And what if I thought of someone, but then I changed my mind after it was mailed? It's just mortifying to think of - and at the same time hilariously funny.

Another point is that when I met Scott, I couldn't possibly have foreseen that we'd both find shitting in a box and mailing it to another person so hilarious. We are so perfectly suited to one another that it probably makes people want to hurl a little bit. And I can't blame them. If it was four years ago and I saw a happy couple like Scott and me, I would barf a little bit myself - a jealous and angry barf, certainly, but barf nonetheless. (Would it help the barfing people to know that being happy with another person takes work and often involves the help of a qualified professional? Because it does.)

Finally, if you have delivered - or if you plan to deliver - a Mary-Carlin-style box of feces to another person, I kind of want to know how it went/goes - just so long as you're not sending it to me. I promise I won't tell (unless a subpeona is involved).

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can it be three whole weeks since my last post?

That's it. I'm fired!

Okay, not really.

So much has been going on, most of which is not blog fodder, so I must abstain. But here are a few things that are worth sharing.

First, I did several hours of yard work today and if I didn't know I did it, I wouldn't notice I did it. There are many parts of home ownership that suck. This is one of them.

While I was working on the yard, I applied some sunscreen so I could try to avoid premature death. I bought some sunscreen at the Greenfields Market that is all-natural, so it's not as bad for the environment or anything (because some of them are pretty bad). It was made with zinc oxide, so it made me sort of white and pasty (or should I say, "whiter and pastier"?) than normal. When I was finally done being outside, I went into the shower to return to my normal human state, and I could not wash that stuff off. It took a ton of soap and water and actual, factual scrubbing and carrying on, and the water was still beading up on my skin like I had been freshly waxed. It was like tar.

(Aside: Remember Actual Factual Bear?)

Part of what I did was clean up some leaves that were leftover from fall. I found a whole bunch of them in my brassierre when I took a shower. Awesome!

This week was the best week I've ever had at work, ever. I got nominated by my peers for an important and prestigious award - and then I won it. And all of this happened without anyone spilling the beans to me, so that when they announced it in front of everyone in my division (100 or so people), I was so surprsed that I instantly started weeping and walking around in a daze like Miss America.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Jennifer always cries. And it's partially true, but I really try to keep the out-loud-and-in-public weeping to the minimalest minimum at work. They don't smile kindly on ladies in career separates getting their weep on in earnest 'round about my corporatey-corporate workplace. But I did it. And it was on a teleconference too! I was pretty embarrassed. But afterwards, everyone was coming up and hugging me and congratulating me and it basically didn't matter at all. In fact, my old bossidy-boss came up to me later to tell me how touched he was that I was so surprised and happy about the award.

My crying brought people together! Even so, I'm going to try not to do that again.

In the bastard plantar fasciitis news, it went away for about a week, then came back again, but I'm confident I can get it to go away again. It's so frustrating. But I've been taking short walks and basically giving it a giant middle finger, so that helps. In a related story, I bought another pair of shoes in an effort to fit my foot and my orthotic into a shoe at the same time. Upon wearing the shoe for one work day, I discovered it doesn't actually fit me. Fucking yeah!

I had a membership to Planet Fitness. A few weeks ago, Scott helped me face the reality that I never go. Not just seldom. Never. So he drove me over there and I cancelled my membership easy-peasy. It was nothing. But I wouldn't have gone over there without his urging. And because he was there, I didn't get caught up in feeling like a loser for quitting the gym. Honestly, I couldn't stand it in there. It was a lowest-common-denominator playground, as far as I could tell. When I was going regularly for a while there, there was a series of nutso people basically parading around me the whole time. This one insane mother in particular screaming at her son for about a thousand hours while I was just trying to exercise for about 30 minutes set me into a bit of, oh, I don't know. If it weren't so goddamned funny, I might have had the panic. When did mothers start screaming at their kids like dogs in public? My mother always had the courtesy to whisper-shout at us through gritted teeth. If you weren't right next to her feeling the anger radiate off her like thermo-nuclear waves and experiencing her death grip sear your arm fat while her growly whisper-shout singed the extra-fine cilia in your inner ear, you might not even know she was angry. (I'm not sure I've adequately thanked her for keeping the public mortification to a minimum.) In any case, the number of people working out in their pajamas was basically stunning. Also, teenagers getting their pose on in earnest. It was madness is all I'm saying.

You might be thinking, "Jennifer, the common denominator in all this is you." And indeed you may be right. But no self-respecting establishment purporting to be a health and fitness gymnasium should have a weekly all-you-can-eat pizza night. Just sayin'.

This morning, my mother called my very popular radio program to put on Grandpa No-legs's Bass Boat. It was sold within a very short time, which gratified me to no end. In any event, there was a glorious moment while we were on the air when I asked my mother what the boat was made of, aluminum or fiberglass. She approximately replied, "Whatever Bass Boats are made of." I approximately said, "They can be made of either." I only know this because of the show that I host. We talk about these things. She approximately said, "People who know Bass Boats know what they're made of," like she was some kind of person who knew Bass Boats, which she couldn't be because she didn't know what it was made of. I approximately said, "Yes, of course, ma, either aluminum or fiberglass." I added "approximately" in there because I didn't record it. I only wish I had so I could get those quotes exactly and so I could listen to it in perpetuity and laugh and laugh. We raised the curtain on our relationship to the listening public. When it was over, my bossman at the station popped into the studio and said, "You've gotta have your mother call in more often." I said, "I wasn't sure if that was funny to outside people or not." He said, "Oh, it was."

It is a radio program on public air waves, so my mother can certainly call in whenever she wishes to do so.

I think we're all caught up now.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

So much has happened that I haven't had a chance to report on. One of them is that I had my annual whole-nine-yards exam the day after Christmas. I guess Grandpa dying the same day sort of eclipsed news of my pink and healthy cervix.

I learned that day that I'm fatter than I've ever been. It's so exciting! I was wondering where I could possibly be putting this fat since my pants mostly still fit me.

In watching the videos from my month-long stint at The Comedy Studio, I've discovered where I put it. Formerly referred to as "my second stomach", I'm now referring to the stomach area above my pants as "my stomach thunder." Jesus H. Christ. I'm about thisclose to being the headless fat person on the news story about American obesity. If you see my torso lumbering down Main Street, Anytown, USA, please call me and tell me you still love me. I will need your support more than ever.

I'm just relieved that I haven't developed I'm-in-front thighs. That would be a real nightmare.

Exactly 10 years ago, I was in the first few months of the Weight Watchers program that ultimately resulted in my Almost-Nervous Breakdown of 1999 to 2000. I lost 80 pounds on Weight Watchers, which you likely know from my comedy. On the day after Christmas, I was exactly 100 pounds heavier than I was at my lightest (and out-of-my-goddamned-mindest) on Weight Watchers.

I have talked a considerable amount with my certified and licensed professional about my weight and eating issues. I'm really afraid of losing weight and going nuts again. I cannot begin to describe how awful being skinny and insane and hungry all the time was. I'm getting choked up just thinking about that awful time.

One thing my certified and licensed professional has reminded me is that I'm not the same person that I was then and that it would be different this time. Even the parts of me that want to believe it don't believe it, though.

I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. One thing is certain: I have to do something. I'm not interested in dropping dead from fatness or in losing my mind from not eating. There's got to be a middle ground that doesn't hurt me. I just have to find it.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The latest

Well, we had our house inspection on Friday, and it all went off without a hitch. There are a few plugs with reverse polarity and a couple other small issues that we'll deal with after we close. It's happening in earnest.

I had a total meltdown - like total - on Wednesday night. Instead of celebrating our love, I spent the night crying out loud. The stress of the house buying just blew up over a very stupid request from the bank granting our mortgage. I got a raise on April 1 and they wanted me to submit a written statement explaining why it happened gradually over two paychecks. It happened gradually because it was effective on April 1, but April 1 was in the middle of a pay period, so one paycheck was partially my old rate and partially my new rate. My telling them this was not enough. I had to write a statement about it.

I don't know why this made me insane, but it totally did. I was actually howling from it.

It was, I guess, the last straw. I have given those people just about everything they could possibly want from me short of a blood sample. They took copies of my tax returns, pay stubs, then even more pay stubs. I signed forms, then more forms, then even more forms. I wanted to shout at them, "This raise means I will have more money to pay you back. What's wrong with you people?" Instead, I shouted and cried out loud. Scott lost patience with me for a little while, which scared me because he generally has an unending well of patience, but in retrospect, I can see why. I was completely out of my goddamned mind.

The good news is that I'm back in my mind. The other good news is that I ran into an acquaintance who recently went through a very similar situation and told me that she lost her mind for a while too. This gave me great comfort.

Scott and I both took the whole day off on Friday for the inspection and I'm glad we did. We were both so exhausted from all the recent madness that we came home after the inspection and slept all afternoon.

I've also gotten a lot of bad news lately. It seems like people are dropping like flies. Generally speaking, I'm not surrounded by death or disease, but lately people are falling ill or dropping dead. It's been taking a toll on my outlook.

I don't know if I mentioned that the bastard plantar fasciitis is back, but it is. I stopped having pain of any kind, became too excited about it, went for a regular walk and was fine, and then went for a too-vigorous walk and was decidedly not fine. I saw the podiatrist and I'm sort of starting over, which is disheartening, but okay, I guess. This time I at least know what works and what doesn't. I should get over it much more quickly - and when I do, I'll be sure not to go for any vigorous walks and will opt instead for bike rides.

My massage therapist who I see for painful massages about the feet suggested that I consider having a regular full-body massage to help me cope with all the stress I'm under. At first I was kind of thinking that she was too smooth an operator and she was trying to capitalize on my stress (she is an extremely smooth operator), but then I realized it was a good idea. I called her today and she had an opening and now I'm a little bit slimy, but I feel much better.

I'm off to pick up a Mother's Day present for a lady who deserves more presents than I can give her. My mother has been dealing with about a thousand more stressful things that I have PLUS she's been hauling around No-legs, who, incidentally, is a bigger asshole than he's ever been. I wish there was some kind of putting-up-with-more-bullshit-than-anyone-else award because that lady would win it in spades. That he's still alive defies modern science; that my mother puts up with his bullshit proves she's got more compassion than just about anyone alive. She'd give the Dalai Llama a run for his money.

Anyway, that's about as meandering as an update could be. We've covered a number of topics and I think we're done.

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Monday, March 10, 2008


I was talking to my mother yesterday and she kept saying, "I'm sorry it was so hard for you with Grandma."

I said to her, "It wasn't hard for me at all; it was hard for Grandma."

Is it easy to be with a human who is so confused? No. And I admit that it was hard not to get annoyed by the constant questions. But at the end of the day, I know where I am and how I got here. I'm not constantly looking for my keys, my coat or my purse. I'm not waking up in the middle of the night to look for my car.

All I did is spend three hours on a Saturday afternoon with a nice, albeit confused, old lady.

It's very hard for my mother, who has taken both Grandma and No-legs in. My mother can be a real so-and-so sometimes, but she sure does have the courage of her convictions. She decided that she didn't want her parents in a nursing home and she rearranged her life so that they wouldn't be.

It's also hard for my sister who is filling in for my mother while my mother is taking a much needed vacation.

But it's hardest of all, by far, for Grandma, who constantly is trying to figure out what she's doing here and why and can't seem to figure it out for more than a few minutes.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Neighborly cookie tips

I'd like to take a moment to thank anonymous, who opined that my neighbor was extending a hand of friendship by offering cookie tips and I should ignore any bad self-esteem trying to undermine the friendliness.

And since Jennifer asked me to share the tips, here they are:
  1. Use real butter that has been softened for at least a half-hour before mixing
  2. Cream butter and sugar for at least 2 minutes
  3. Beat well after each egg addition
  4. Always add at least a quarter-cup of extra flour to cookie recipe

I agree with all of these except #4.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Responding to my adoring public

My adoring public (also known as my good friend Damien) asked in the comments if the Count and I have any New Year's resolutions.

I don't. Neither does the Count.

I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, mostly because I don't think a person needs a special day to make a change. I like to think of myself as an ever-evolving being. I'm not sure how much truth there is in describing myself as ever-evolving, but I try.

Although I did announce that I would recover from the Bastard Plantar Fasciitis this year, I'm not sure that counts as a resolution. In fact, I announced that I would be mostly better by the end of 2007 and all the way better by the end of the first quarter, as you may recall. Announcing things like that to the Universe in public can be pretty powerful. Allow me to offer an update:

Thanks to my murderous massage therapist, Cassie at Abudant Wellness, I definitely am mostly better. I'm healing up in earnest now. I realized that my feet weren't hurting anymore at all about a week or two ago, so I decided to half my anti-inflammatory dose (I've been on 1200 mg of Daypro for about 6 months). So I did. The first few days, I felt great. Then I had a bad day, so I took a full dose, but I've been taking a half dose ever since.

On the half dose, my feet have started hurting a little bit again, which I'm taking as a reminder to keep doing my stretching exercises. It's sometimes hard to stay inspired to get my stretch on when I already feel great. So while discomfort is bad, the reminder to take care of myself is welcome.

And the thing is, even with this little bit of discomfort, it's nothing compared to what I had before I started seeing Cassie while on a full dose of Daypro and stretching all the goddamned time. I actually see Cassie for a half hour twice a week. Cassie is lining her coffers thanks to me.

But you know what? I was reflecting on the PF recently and how things happen when they're supposed to happen for reasons we can't know. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my first podiatrist told me that PF is happening inside your body for about 10 years before you start feeling pain. My feet could have started hurting in that debilitating way at any time, but they didn't start hurting until a week after I started a job that allowed me to afford to actually take care of it. If it had started earlier, I would basically have been screwed.

So I'm looking forward to getting all the way better in 2008. And as a result of getting all the way better, I'm looking forward to being able to take walks again.

Let's not lie: my pants are pretty fucking tight on me right now from my sedentary lifestyle. I only have about a half-dozen pairs of pants that it isn't obscene for me to wear. I'm eager to take a fucking walk and lose a little weight, but I'm not looking to lose more than what would make my pants fit me properly again and it's not in honor of the new year more than it would be in honor of the beauty of being able to walk again.

And I have been talking to my therapist about my body issues again because I am so afraid of losing my mind as related to exercise and diet, etc. But again, that's something I've been doing right along and not a resolution. I don't even know why I'm mentioning it now other than weight crap is what everyone talks about at New Year's time, and I was talking about weight related to my feet.

Oh, whatever.

Anyway, I'm also eager to be able to sleep without my PF boots on, mostly because I hate accidentally kicking Scott with them in the night and also because I've just started having carpal tunnel hand numbness and swelling at night again (I started having those symptoms as a cake decorator in 1997 and '98 and haven't had them since) and I'm going to have to start wearing the wrist splints to bed. Scott suggested that maybe I should get a full-body splint and just cut to the chase.

Get that guy a spotlight and a microphone. He's hilarious.

Anyway, happy New Year.

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Still more new neighbor news

I forgot to mention that when I gave my new neighbor that thank you note, I asked her for the recipe to one of the cookies she gave me.

She gave me the recipe and a list of hot tips for making cookies.

At first I was all, "How nice!"

And then my bad self-esteem was all, "Was that a dis?" After all, I gave her a box with samples of three kinds of cookies and two kinds of candy plus a small celophane bag of popcorn - all made with love in my kitchen. I even placed the "Home Made" sticker on the package that I found at Michael's. I think it was pretty clear that I know how to make cookies.

Then I thought, "Maybe they were so good, she didn't realize that I made them myself!"

Then I thought, "I'm over-thinking this and making myself insane!"

I'm choosing not to look at this as a dis and just as a person extending the hand of friendship because I'm sure that's what this is.

Psst! Jennifer Myszkowski is insane!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mini-break in Brattleboro

I had been on vacation since before Christmas, but we never left and went anywhere. I felt like it was the longest weekend ever. Since I was returning to work on Wednesday, it was time to do something. I needed to get the hell out of Dodge, so at the suggestion of my good friend Ann Podolske, Scott and I stayed overnight Sunday at the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro. It's a little more expensive that the Econolodges to which I've grown accustomed, but it was well worth it.

The room was nice and clean and comfortable had linens made of cotton and furniture made out of wood. The shower alone made the whole thing worth it. I only wish I had discovered it before 10:30 a.m. (check out was at 11).

The hotel is attached to the Latchis Theatre. We saw two films: P.S. I Love You and Charlie Wilson's War.

P.S. I Love You was actually terrible. That I cried at one point fills me with such embarrassment, so much so that I can't understand why I'm mentioning it now. I need to give a hearty hats off to Richard LaGravenese, the director, who took such talent as Hilary Swank and Kathy Bates and made them party to just about the lamest movie ever.

I hadn't ever even heard of Charlie Wilson's War before I saw it on the marquee. When I found out it was Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, I was dead-set against it. I softened a bit when I saw Aaron Sorkin's name on the bill. Even so, I have said a number of times that I am Julie Robertsed and Tom Hanksed out. A series of events found us seeing it in the beautiful theater (or theatre, as the case may be) and I discovered that this film is brilliant.

I'd like to say that again on a separate line so that you maybe will read it:

Charlie Wilson's War is brilliant. I think every American should be required to watch this film. You maybe already know about the recent history of U.S.-Afghanistan relations and why it's all in the shitter now, but you can learn even more in an entertaining, interesting and even amusing forum. You may leave this film really angry at the United States, but I don't think that's bad.

I do think Aaron Sorkin is a genius. He adapted George Crile's book of the same title to the screen. Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman is in it. I can't say this enough: see that film.

We puttered around in Brattleboro for a while on Monday and we kept going places that I definitely have been before, and even have been recently, but hell if I have any idea who I was with. It's been driving me insane in the membrane, and indeed insane in the brain. I can't imagine who I was with and what I was doing there. We even went into a little cafe to have lunch and I discovered that I had eaten there. With whom? It's anybody's guess.

(Aside: if it was you, please tell me; I really am quite out of my mind trying to remember who it was.)

Anyway, we had a nice time. I'd like to recommend Brattleboro for your next getting-the-hell-out-of-Dodge outing.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

The powerful truth

If you haven't read Heather Armstrong's latest Dooce post, please read it now.

I joke all the time about my almost-nervous breakdown of 1999 to 2000, but it was no joke. I came completely undone, and if it weren't for my amazing therapist, I might have ended up on the hospital. In fact, looking back, I probably should have been in the hospital. I was in a constant state of panic. I felt like I couldn't breathe, basically all the time. I had developed an eating disorder. I was clinically depressed and suffering a spot of post-traumatic stress disorder.

It turned out that what was I needed was to learn how to live in the moment. I had never done that before.

Cynthia taught me a very simple meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh that basically saved my life. And she helped me work through all the bullshit from my past, which was anything but easy.

I didn't want to go to therapy. In my family when you have trouble, you talk to the minister. Nobody goes to therapy. There was some stigma there. Meanwhile, I had so much bullshit and I was desperately afraid. I knew I needed therapy, but it took me quite a bit of time to actually get there, and by the time I did, I was not well.

There have been occasional dark times since, but nothing so bad as then. God, it was terrible.

I still see Cynthia periodically - in fact, I just saw her today. Whenever I'm going through something that I'm having a hard time navigating myself, I make an appointment. I'm grateful to have awesome mental health coverage and that I can see her for a small copay. For a while, I paid out of pocket to see her, because, well, I really like being able to walk upright and have relationships with other people. These things are important to me.

Anyway, ready what Heather said. I agree with every single word of it.