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When it comes down to it, I’m a bit of of a rube.  Online articles keep reeling me in and then disappointing me.  Damp squibs, if you will.

They will say things like, “The Real Key to Happiness (Spoiler: it’s not more stuff!)” or “A Simple Way to Dial Your Anxiety Down”.  And the answer is always (drum roll please) . . . mindfulness and/or meditation.

Look.  I’m not saying mindfulness and meditation aren’t effective.  I might even be able to corroborate these claims if I could stick to a practice with the same diligence as seeking out Clefairies in Pokémon Go.  I’m just saying it would be refreshing if we could all hear a bit more about the OTHER things that help to make humans happy and let off steam.

I want to see the article whose answer is:  “Limoncello!”  Or, “Punching stuff!”  Or, “Exploring Awkward Family Photos!”

Or maybe I don’t need to see it.  Because maybe I just wrote it.

Take Back the Gym

I was looking down, trying to fix my new muthaflippin cheapass earbuds, so at first I didn’t notice the dude in the running lane on the track.  But eventually I saw that he had gone from running to other things.  At first, it was fairly normal things.  Jumping jacks; modified burpies.

But then it got strange.

First, he was doing a sort of kicky backwards jog, and I’m sad to report that jazz hands were involved.  Next lap around, he was doing marching + karate chops.  And after that?  Why, jaunty Rockette high kicks, of course.

I expected to eventually look up and see him doing the Worm, or perhaps a full scale musical number a la Paco’s Puttin on the Ritz video.  (“Hey, man!  Let’s go to the gym and do some Pacos!”)

Know When to Let Go

Dear Cherished E-newsletter Subscriber,

It has come to our attention that you have chosen to unsubscribe from (or as we call it, “e-bandon”) our hourly email newsletter, Making the Most of Your Precious Time.  We’d be lying if we said this turn of events doesn’t leave us a) rather downtrodden, and b) utterly mystified.  We’re guessing you’ve never undertaken the task of creating and maintaining a newsletter of our caliber, otherwise you would be fully aware of the herculean effort it takes and wouldn’t dream of hurting us by dislodging yourself from our stream of content-y goodness.

We’re guessing that the issue was the frequency of the emails – that you wished to receive MTMOYPT more often.  But we’re not in the “business” of “making guesses” in today’s “data driven economy”, are we, cherished reader?  So, won’t you please take a few minutes to answer our brief 19 question survey about why you’d do this to us?

Unless we hear otherwise from you in the next 7 minutes, we will assume that you clicked the Unsubscribe button in error, probably because you didn’t read our latest article carefully enough (“Multitasking: Smart Adaptation, or Path to Hellacious Career Missteps?”) and we will retain your subscription, plus subscribe you to a !!BONUS!! Newsletter, Why Most People Fail Most of the Time.

Wishing an astonishingly productive day for you and yours,

Lars Kvrnt, MTMOYPT’s E-ditor-in-Chief and E-vangelist

random bits

Do you ever have random memories pop into your head?  she asked.

His smile was a response, she knows he does not.  Her question was not a real inquiry anyway but, rather, a polite intro to her own reverie.

“I was remembering a very hot August Sunday afternoon.  I was about 9, out on the small porch on my grandparents’ apartment in Revere, Massachusetts.  

The small portable radio is at my side and I am laying on a thin bath towel. on top of the splintery wood floor. When I look up the sky is fragmented into uneven bits by a criscross of  wires that look like they have been there as long as the sky, but that couldn’t be.

‘Love is higher than a mountain, love is thicker than water . . . heaven’s angel, devil’s daughter.’  (Two separate women?  two sides of the same woman?)  Do I never hear that song anymore because it is so awful, or because i have fabricated it?

I feel like the big girls, my cousins who sun themselves by their outdoor pool, who Drink Soda and Talk About Boys.  I like to pretend I am becoming indoctrinated and try to ignore niggling questions like “How do they lie there uncomplaining and baking for hours at a time like glossy game hens?”  and  “Does anyone actually find this fun or is this the modern day Emperor’s New Clothes?”

I am bored but I don’t have the energy to get up for a long time.  The sun erased my will.  Eventually I do go inside, away from the too-intense sunshine and too-friendly hornets.

My mother begins, ‘Don’t let the screen door…’

whump.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand why the older ladies start wearing shawls.  Once you are marginalized, no-one gives you their heat.  No-one wants to touch you any longer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He loved her for her quirks.  The way her sounds of pleasure were small questions (“Oh?  Oh?”).  But mostly, for the things she was not.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She looked at the flags and wreaths adorning the gravestones with a grimace – the popularity contest doesn’t even end with death!

Was having a frazzly morning this morning.

For one thing, at 7:30 I had to contact school for a conference time.  They do it Ticketmaster style (remember back when you had to just keep calling to get concert tickets???): so I listen to a busy signal for ½ hour, finally get through, and choose from the nubbins of slots remaining.

Most families at this school are in a very different income bracket than us.  Like, dazzlingly wealthy.  And when you’re super frustrated you often want a villain, so the 3x a year as I redial and redial and redial, I start concocting a narrative in my head that these rich families somehow don’t have to go through the same process. “They probably have a robo-butler that does this for them,” I grumble.  “Or – no!  I bet if you donate enough money you get a secret # you can call ahead of time and get the choicest of timeslots!”  (Right, phro, and I suppose the robo-butlers serve them mimosas during the conferences, too?)

After that was done, while driving to work, I knew I had to settle down, get in the right mind space for the day.  I had an idea – I would sing myself a soothing Enya song.  Yes, that’s the ticket.  Ennnnnya, I thought, breathing deeply.  I am Enya, bringer of calm tunes to the world.  I am Enya and do not have allergies partially sealing my right eyelid, or an ant problem in the kitchen.

I opened my mouth and sang to myself, “Paaaaint the sty with scars…” 

Well.  Since my brain and mouth were still waking up, it didn’t have the soothing effect I was going for.  But it did give me a laugh.

I went to 3 different grad schools (two for Comm. Sciences & Disorders programs, and one for Secondary Ed).  Only finished the 3rd one.  I’d explain, but it’s a long story plus I have sold the rights to the Lifetime channel, who will be making a t.v. movie of it starring Meredith Baxter-Birney, costarring Danielle Brisbois as the sassy neighbor.

But I digress.

One summer evening in 1997, I was glaring at application forms.  I was in the middle of round 2 of applying for grad school.  I’d done everything but the essays.  Oh lordy, the essays.  You’d think since I like to write I wouldn’t mind doing essays, but for academic purposes I very much do.  Mind it.  With multiple choice tests, you circle answers and, right or wrong, you’re done.  With an essay, when are you done?  Some might say you are never truly done with a piece of writing.  Yes, well, for something that will be assessed, I find that fact unsettling and unsatisfying.

So, glaring at the applications.  Deeply wishing that some deus ex machina would sweep in and write them, or at least provide a legitimate reason to procrastinate, when the phone rang.  Normally one to ignore a phone, I leapt for it.

The young man on the line said that he was with a marketing research firm conducting a survey about the upcoming feature film “Beautician and the Beast”, starring “The Nanny’s” Fran Drescher.  He said it would take about 20 minutes of my time.  I was needed, people.

I practically shouted, “I’d love to take your survey!”.  He’d obviously had no takers that day because he was very surprised, kept thanking me, and had to rummage around to locate the survey questions.

The takeaway here?  I think your average person is not motivated to take surveys by the chance to win a prize or help a cause.  The big motivator is an opportunity to avoid something worse than your survey.  These are the people to locate, Mr. and Ms. Survey Launcher.  The downside is, your population will be 100% procrastinators.  This would typically not be an issue, however, unless you are looking to gauge interest in, say, a book called, “Get Off Yer Duff and Take Care of That Thing Already.”

Oh, and – you may have trouble getting these folks off the line.  Me, after being barraged by questions about Fran Drescher, beauticians, movie ads, beasts, and who knows what else, had feelings of genuine disappointment when the surveyor was wrapping up.

“So . . . that’s all the questions, huh?” I asked, trying to sound casual.  “You folks researching any other films?”  I could practically hear his finger hovering above the disconnect button.

Fine, I thought.  Just you wait until you decide to apply for school, mister.

Manbun Haiku

Talking to tweens – it can be a struggle.

Me: Sometimes planes look like air sharks up there, don’t they?

Her: Yeah.

Me: I wrote a haiku today!  It’s about man buns!

Her: Yeah?

Me:  Wanna hear it?

<Silence, interpreted as permission to recite>

Me:

Your man bun looks like

tumbleweeds in the March winds.

It sure does suit you!

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