My mom called me today at work, which is always unnerving. I saw her number on the caller ID and was immediately worried it was bad news.

“Jessica. I received a symbol.”

And then I was just, oh, OK, so my mom had a psychic vision and is calling to tell about it. She’s seen a supernatural sign that she will win the lottery or I will meet my future husband or that we should go to Chili’s tomorrow.

“What was it?”

“With some Keurig packs?” she said.

Backstory: my friend Ian moved apartments and had limited space to set up a drum kit, so he set it up in my apartment. The crash cymbal is bent, so I bought a new one as a gift/thanks.

She was calling to tell me the cymbal had been delivered to her house. (I had left the address from something I’d bought for her and then not changed it back.) But because she is her and I am me I just assumed it was more likely she had seen a metaphysical sign and was calling to tell me about it.

Happy 2015. (Also we are going to Chili’s tomorrow.)

Festivus traditions

Airing of grievances

Dec. 23 is Festivus. Among annual Festivus traditions (dinner, Feats of Strength, miracles) is the annual “Airing of Grievances.”

In accordance with Festivus rituals, here are my grievances for 2014:

• Georgia has not yet ruled same-sex marriage legal.
• More than 7,300 people died from ebola.
• Mike Brown was killed by a police officer.
• Tamir Rice was killed by a police officer.
• Eric Garner was killed by a police officer.
• Bill Cosby is a rapist.
• The CIA tortured people, and also proved torture didn’t work.
• The Sochi Olympics were a expensive, epic fail.
• Bob Costas’ eye infection at the Sochi Olympics was an epic, epic fail.
• The Transformers movie made more than a billion dollars.
• Syria’s civil war continued.
• Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared.
• Russia tried to annex Crimea.
• Ray Rice assaulted his wife in an elevator.
• ISIS took over Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit, and beheaded five western journalists and aid workers.
• Kim Kardashian’s butt.
• The World Cup was expensive and actually kind of boring.
• Malaysian Airlines flight 17 “crashed” in Ukraine.
• 43 Mexican students disappeared.
• Talaban attacked a school in Peshawar.
• Macklemore won four Grammy awards.
• Oscar De La Renta, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harold Ramis, Don Pardo, Elaine Stritch, Eli Wallach, Robin Williams and Maya Angelou died.
• I turned 33.
• There were only eight episodes of True Detective.
• I did not marry the Phillie Phanatic.
• I did not see a show on the Run the Jewels tour.
• Gamergate existed.
• Iggy Azalea keeps saying the dumbest stuff.
• Israel and Hamas fought for seven weeks.
• The Hobbit movie was not released in time for me to see it on my birthday.
• My Wednesday night trivia team did not win first place any time we went.
• There are only five living White Rhinos left.
• I am not 5’10” nor do I live in financial stability.
• I had to purchase bras from a medical supply company for my itty bitty titties.
• GPB took students off the air during day shifts on the long-running Georgia State University station Album 88, WRAS.

Consider my Festivus obligations complete.

Christmas water

The holidays are stressful.

Part one: Expectations

From Thanksgiving-eve until New Years, my every day, evening and weekend moment is filled with some required, obligatory merriment or merriment-preparation. My parents divorced when I was young, and have both remarried, and sharing holidays was stressful as a kid, but nowhere near as stressful as it is now.

When I was a kid, what time I showed up at which grandparents’ house or what gifts were procured for whom was my parents’ problem, not mine. Shuttling around and making my schedule was their issue. I was little. I showed up and everything was fine. Then I got a driver’s license. Then it was all on me.

This means I am responsible for three families’ worth of gifts, party preparations and driving from state to state to attend multiple same-day holiday gatherings where I can never really enjoy anything because I’m always supposed to be somewhere else. That’s hard enough, but then the added bonus is passive-aggressive comments about how I “choose” to spend “my” time. “I guess you’re not coming.” “Are you coming at all this year?” Nobody will be flexible. “It’s always been this way,” they say. “We can’t change it. It’s tradition.” Any kind of compromise would leave everybody bitter and disappointed, unable to hold back rude comments, so I’m just stuck trying to please everyone. I don’t even have siblings I can spread these obligations out with.

A few years ago, I was so strung out by all the “merriment” I threw up while driving on an 8-lane interstate highway. I just barfed right into my hand and then dug around for some napkins. Once I had to get a hotel room to have some roadside digestion issues outside Richmond, Va. trying to drive back to my apartment in D.C. in time to work Dec. 26th, after waking up in Atlanta for Christmas with my mom and stepdad, visiting my stepdad’s parents for lunch, driving to South Carolina to my dad’s parents’ house for a late lunch and then hauling it back to D.C. Christmas night.

When I explain this to people, they always make some brush-off comment. “Oh, poor baby has too many parties and presents.” No. Poor baby would like to spend Christmas enjoying something instead of fighting traffic on four-hour drives and splitting 24 hours with 60+ people.

It’s not just Christmas Eve and day, it’s also the weekends around. Saturday I will go to a breakfast party here in Atlanta with my stepfather’s entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, about 50 people) then my mom, stepdad and I will drive to N.C. for a party with my mom’s brothers and sisters and all their kids and husbands and boyfriends (30ish people). Then Sunday we’ll drive back to Georgia so we can all be back at work on Monday.

Part 2: Other people

Today I was at The Container Store, buying gift boxes and shipping boxes and wrapping paper and ribbon and all that business. I had too much to carry in my hands and had to get a shopping cart, and I’m as polite as I can be as people on their cell phones swoop in front of me to block items I was trying to get, or when a kid hits me in the ankle with a cart. Once I get to the line, there are three registers open and a woman behind me with only a handful of things.

She starts sighing loudly, and steps around beside me.

I offer her the only thing I can. “Would you like to go ahead of me? I have a lot of stuff.”

“No,” she says. “I just can’t believe they only have three registers open.” And then she keeps talking, grumpy rude negative talking, directed mainly at me, but about nothing that I can do anything about. I’m not the staffing manager for The Container Store. I already offered her the one thing I had, and she said no. Why do I have to listen to her complaining? There weren’t any other people in line, so it wasn’t like there really needed to be more registers open, and it was 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, not  3 p.m. on a Saturday. The store wasn’t very busy.

I want to tell these people that broadcasting their annoyances doesn’t do anything but make everyone around uncomfortable. When somebody complains to me, I want to fix their problem. When I can’t fix it, and they can’t fix it, and really nobody can fix it, is just frustrating.

When she left, I was still checking out, because I did have a lot of stuff. (I like wrapping paper, what can I say? It’s the only part of the holidays I’m really into.) She made a point to stop and say “Oh, I guess you really did have a lot of stuff.” Like she was insinuating that she should have taken my offer. She should have. The only thing that would have been more annoying is if she had taken my spot in line but then also complained. I guess I should be thankful for that.

We all have to endure some kind of holiday unpleasantness. I try to think of David Foster Wallace’s “This is water” speech, and how every person is just dealing with their own lives, and isn’t there just to annoy me or upset me. They’re just trying to buy their own wrapping paper, or have their own ideal holiday traditions preserved. This is Christmas water. This is Christmas water. This is Christmas water.


In honor of my thirty-third year of living you all should watch the SNL Old Glory Robot Insurance commercial.



I am not doing so well lately.