Survival of the Not-So-Fittest

Ah, staff meetings. The bane of every introvert’s existence. There’s nothing quite like being stuck in a room with a bunch of extroverted folks you barely know, all vying for the spotlight. I’ve had my fair share of staff meetings, and let me tell you, they’re not my favorite thing in the world.

First, there’s the whole “small talk” thing. As a group introverts are not exactly known for our ability to chitchat with strangers and I’m the queen of not-having-the-ability-to-chitchat. But in all-staff meetings, it’s expected. And did I mention that I hate chitchat?  While everyone else is talking about their weekend plans or the latest TV show they’re obsessed with, I’m sitting there silently, wondering when we can get down to business so I can go home.

Then, there’s the inevitable moment when someone asks for my input. I always try to come up with something intelligent to say, but half the time, I end up stumbling over my words and sounding like a complete idiot. I mean, I guess it’s better than fact-dumping on serial killers of the Midwest or Bigfoot sightings around the world. Which, as you can see, is why I normally keep myself to myself. My coworkers think I’m quiet and demure when in reality, I just don’t think they’d appreciate my contribution to the “what did you watch last night” conversation.

Oh joy, there’s a group brainstorming session. No mention of that in the agenda. You know the drill – someone writes a question on a whiteboard and then everyone else starts shouting out ideas. I find this process incredibly overwhelming. Even when I’m familiar with the subject – experienced even, I need time to think and process information, and the pressure of coming up with ideas on the spot is almost painful. I find that I can survive this part of Hell the meeting so long as we stay in one large group… it’s when we’re forced to break off into subgroups that the situation turns dire. Because the smaller the group, the more you have to participate. Despite appearances, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. My brain is full of ideas, whether for good or bad, it’s just that I’m not overly fond of fighting the increasingly raised voices of my A-personality colleagues clamoring to impress the meeting facilitator.

After lunch – which for me consisted of a makeshift salad made from the dry lettuce, tomato, and onion meant for the burgers that were served buffet style, because the event planner forgot to order a vegetarian meal – there was a team building exercise with an all-new meeting facilitator. Just what I wanted to do on an almost empty stomach.

As we all gathered in the conference room, I tried to shrink back into the shadows, hoping no one would notice me. You know, as one does. But of course, the team building leader spotted me at once and called me out, asking me to “start us off” by introducing myself to the group. I stuttered out a few words about my job title and some hobbies that I absolutely do not take part in, but remembered hearing about somewhere, feeling my face turn bright red as all eyes turned to me. In these impromptu autobiographical open-mike moments, I can never seem to recall anything whatsoever about myself, which is amazing really, considering I’ve known myself for forever.

Once they broke up into groups to make their way around the various “escape room” style activities that had been set up around the conference room, I made my own escape and nicked off to the bathroom.  I may have stayed there a bit longer than necessary and then I may have taken a detour past the vending machine.

Unfortunately, I had obviously misjudged the time, because instead of getting back in time to say our goodbyes, I slipped into the room just as the facilitator announced that we would be playing a game of “Two Truths and a Lie,” where we would each share three statements about ourselves, and the group would have to guess which one was the lie. Much more socially acceptable than truth or dare, but not one of my favorites, mostly because of the aforementioned problem with remembering anything about my life. And quite honestly, this is usually the sort of icebreaker that plays out at the start of a meeting, not at the end. Well played, Mr. Facilitator. Well played indeed.

So of course, I did what anyone would do, I panicked. What could I say that was interesting enough to grab the group’s attention, but also not too revealing? I racked my brain for ideas, feeling the pressure mount with each passing second. Just as I decided that this would be the prime opportunity for another bathroom break, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, here are my three statements: I once competed in a national chess tournament, I once partied with the members of Metallica, and I have a pet tarantula named Steve.”

The group stared at me in shock. Was I really a chess champion? Did I really have a pet tarantula? No one questioned the Metallica story… I’m not sure how to feel about that. As they deliberated, I started to feel a twinge of regret for making my statements so outlandish.

Finally, someone spoke up. “I’m guessing the lie is the tarantula,” they said. I let out a sigh of relief and nodded, grateful to have survived yet another staff retreat. I did learn one thing from all of this, though, and that’s to plan ahead. I can already feel myself getting sick this time next year.

Dress to Distress

I don’t know why in the world Facebook’s algorithm thinks I can afford a pair of $275 shoes… or that I would pay $275 for a pair of shoes even if I could. But here’s an ad I received in my newsfeed recently.

The concept of “distressed” shoes selling for an outrageous price of $275+ is unbelievable. Although to be fair, I’m shocked when any shoes sell for more than $200. They’re shoes for goodness’ sake. The fact that people are willing to pay such an exorbitant amount of money to have shoes that look like they have been run over by a mountain bike is perplexing, but people are doing it.

Back in the day, Reeboks were among the most expensive sneakers out there at “just” $65, and yes, I admit that I bought a pair. I was young, what can I say. But I tell you what, we did everything we could to keep them as fresh and clean as possible. There was even a cleaning solution especially for sneakers that was a hot item in the shoe department. Clean shoes were all the rage. No matter what we put those shoes through the night before, the next morning we were there scrubbing away with a toothbrush to remove the evidence. The idea of spending three and a half times that amount to buy shoes that look like they’ve already been on someone’s feet for a year is absurd.

Now, I get the appeal of well-worn shoes — like my beloved Chuck Taylors, but that appeal comes from the fact that they were worn to the point of being raggedy through constant use. Those shoes are loved. It’s the repetitive wear that gives the shoes character and makes them unique. They’ve seen things. But buying already distressed shoes? It’s like buying a ticket to a concert and just getting the cassette tape.

And these shoes aren’t made to be comfortable either because that would be a whole different thing. I’m not saying I’d be down with it, but a comfortable shoe with modern footwear technology that replicates that old retro look makes more sense. But that’s not the case, you know it’s not. People are willing to pay top dollar for shoes that are downright uncomfortable. Shoes are supposed to be comfy, especially if they cost $275. Buying shoes that look like they’ve been dragged through the mud or were found in a storage unit that hasn’t been opened since 1986 is a complete waste of money.

Why not buy a pair of new shoes that are comfortable and will last for years to come? Then drag them through the mud yourself. I mean, come on. They’re sneakers. You’re supposed to at least walk in them, if not exercise, so do some walking… or run them over with a mountain bike yourself. You’ll get the same distressed aesthetic and they’ll already be comfortable. But you know these shoes aren’t going to be comfortable. They’re too fashionable to be comfortable. Can you imagine having to break in a pair of shoes that already look broken in?  How confusing would that be every time you slipped them on?

The concept of already distressed shoes is not just a trend in the shoe industry but also in the fashion world. Jeans with holes in them are also popular. So popular in fact, that intact jeans are hard to come by. Trust me, I know. I was just recently shopping for jeans and finding hole-less jeans was a quest worthy of Zelda.

What happened to buying nice jeans and feeling the pride of ruining them through long summer nights, wild adventures, and things you had to keep from your parents? There was a sense of accomplishment in wearing a pair of jeans that were well-worn and had stories to tell. The same can be said for shoes.

You know, I just had a crazy idea. I’m going to check the back of my closet this weekend and dig out some of my old clothes. I might have a pair of Reeboks I beat the living hell out of in the 90s that could buy me some of that fancy top-shelf wine. Or better yet, the first person to Venmo me $200 gets the random pair of old shoes in the Payless box under my bed.



An Introvert Life – Log Entry 59210

Impossibly Cheerful Motivational Speaker at Work Event: *exhausting rehearsed speech that includes convoluted – and obviously soul-sucking – instructions on a team-building role-play exercise and ending with an overly enthusiastic – if not overused – inspirational quote*

Me: Okay… wait a minute, wait a minute, let me get this straight. So you’re telling me that if I don’t go big, I may get to go home?




Finding Joy in the Little Things

I would like to impart some wisdom to you, dear readers, for a life well lived. Oh, I’m a life coach now, didn’t you know? It’s a career that suits me, I think. Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! I’m a freakin’ life coach, have some respect!

When having a stressful day, you should find joy in the little things. It’s these small moments in time where you can truly find peace and tranquility, even when the rest of your day has gone to shi… not as you planned. Yes, the art of finding joy each day takes some work on your part. It involves actively seeking out the positive aspects of your surroundings, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they may seem. But I promise you, once you start viewing life through an intentional lens of joyfulness, you’ll be surprised at how many of these moments you’ll find. And when they reveal themselves, just pause, breathe, and enjoy the gift that the universe has given you.

It might be beneficial for me to provide some samples, so that you’re not just out there, lost and wandering around, desperately looking for joy in all the wrong places (hmmm… that sounds like a song). Here is a compelling example, and this just happened to me today, so I can attest to the joy it brings. As you’re making your way through your to do list and you’re already upset that this one particularly stupid thing you have to do is taking you across town and traffic is a bear, as always … find joy in the pick-up truck decked out for mudding (in a suburb that has no mud … anywhere) with the COVID is a hoax bumper sticker and rubber balls (yes, of the testicle variety) hanging off the hitch who was weaving in and out of traffic and cutting everyone off (including you) just to get caught at the same red light where you now find yourself. As you sit in the lane right beside them, let their angry face and head shaking pour over you like a wave of sunshine. And then, when they get caught at the NEXT light as well … I’m telling you, pure bliss.

Or perhaps, that joyful moment comes in witnessing firsthand the person who didn’t take their cart back to the cart return (animal!), and rather, left it sitting in the empty spot beside them (thereby taking up a coveted parking spot), only to have the cart roll backwards into the bumper of their ultra fancy car with the pristine paint job. But it gets better, because also they didn’t see it, so they ran into it as they were trying to pull out of their parking space. Ahhh, it’s enough to bring a smile to this old curmudgeonly face.

See? Told you. Joy in the little things.

I’m a GREAT life coach.

A Short Story of a Long Life

Write an autobiography they said… it will bring you happiness, they said. The hard work will be worth it, they said.  I don’t know why everyone thinks it’s such a difficult undertaking. Mine took about 60 seconds with time left over for a snack. They were right about one thing, though. Snacks definitely bring me happiness.

my self-published memoir


Adult Learning

Today, I want to talk about something that all parents are well aware of. If you’re not a parent yet, or you are but your kids are not school-aged yet, I want to share some important information with you.

When you help your kids with their homework, you are going to look and feel like a complete idiot. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth of it. Just accept it now.

Not to sound like a wizened elder, spinning yarns while rocking on the front porch with a pocketful of Werther’s Originals and a sense of nostalgia, but back in my day I remember when math was just math. When my kids went to school, there was a whole “new math” curriculum. Although it really should’ve been called art class, because they were doing more drawing than actual math.

On another note, why do we say the “three R’s” of education when referring to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic? Only one of these starts with R? Yeah, yeah, they “sound” like R, I get it. Seriously though, it’s no wonder we’re behind other first-world countries when it comes to education. The very foundation of our education system is built on falsehoods. But I digress.

When my kids were in elementary school and learning math, they had to draw ten chocolate chip cookies, plus five blueberry muffins, and then figure out how many pizzas that would get them. If you thought, like I did, the answer was diabetes, you’d be wrong. To make matters worse, halfway through the worksheet, I’d get freakin’ hungry.

When we got to fractions? Oof. I’ve never felt dumber than when I was trying to explain “new math” fractions to my kids. I don’t think I’m a completely inept person, but I didn’t realize just how much I didn’t know until my kids went to school. We learned by rote when I went to school, you see. There was no real problem solving or out-of-the-box thinking. There was no explanation or concern over the relationship of numbers in math. It was “this is how you do it because that’s how it’s done to get the answer you want.” The answer was the point and if you didn’t understand how you actually got the answer, it didn’t matter.

Click the image to find out more about the fantastic artist, Nathan Pyle.

Once my kids got past elementary school, they took it up a notch. They came home with assignments covering anything from calculus to advanced statistics. Did you pay attention in school that day? I didn’t. Meanwhile, throughout their high school years, I was quietly reminiscing about the “good old days” when I had to go to the local community college and learn how to paint, and signed up for an advanced class titled, “Techniques of Professional Clay Work,” just so I could help them with their 3rd grade math homework. At least, I felt like I was contributing. But college prep math? In this day and age? No way.

Science projects aren’t what they used to be, either. In my day, they discouraged nuclear fission and the like, and promoted the good ol’ baking soda volcano. Now kids are coming up with cures for diseases, apps that NASA didn’t even think of, and straws that will detect date rape drugs. I guess the paint-by-numbers they did in elementary school was the right way to go after all.

Some people think that kids these days aren’t all that and a bag of chips just because they’re not learning or behaving the way we did once upon a time. Sure, they may not be able to change a tire or write in cursive, but they’re on a mission to make the world a better place, and that’s a good thing. Evolution at its finest. Besides, to paraphrase the great Dr. Emmett Brown, “Cars? Where we’re going, we don’t need cars!”

Yeah, yeah, there are tide pod kids and mouth breathers in every generation and sadly, those are the ones making the news. But I swear, the next generation is equipped to save the world and I say, more power to them. I mean, us old-timers are about to have another world war, so we’re gonna need the next generation to fix things once we’ve destroyed everything. Maybe we should give them a little bit more respect.

I’m Back, Baby

I know it’s been a while.  But for those of you still with me, I’m back, baby!  For the past couple of months, I’ve been dealing with a medical issue that has had a bigger impact on my life than I expected. But I’ve had some good news in the past couple of days and with a clear plan on how to move forward, I once again feel motivated to start doing things I enjoy, such as commiserating here with you. My mind is full of fresh, new ideas and some rants I hadn’t even considered ranting about before, so stay tuned!  And thank you for sticking around. I’ve missed you.