As a mom who has worked from home for a really long time, the thought of interviewing for a job that’s an actual office job is daunting. I was talking with my family at dinner one night about my upcoming interviews and mentioned I was worried about what questions I might be asked. They might look something like this . . .
1.We’ve reviewed your Twitter account and read that you sometimes run work decisions by your dog and make your decisions based on the velocity of your dog’s tail-wagging. Since you can’t bring your dog to work, explain how you’ll make work-related decisions?
2.You mentioned on Facebook that you have methods of dealing with procrastination. Since you won’t be able to go to your friend’s house for a second breakfast, clean out closets, go to the park, take long baths, make a variation of avocado toast or take a nap, how will deal with your procrastination in the workplace?
3.Though we would be uncomfortable pointing out that you have worn the same shirt for three days, we hope that you would not put us in that position. What are your thoughts here?
4.There’s no Kahlua or anything stronger in the break room for your early evening coffee. Is this a deal breaker?
5.You tweet a lot about your “thinking couch” that you stretch out on when you need to think through a project. If you get this position, you would not have a couch in your office. Help us understand how you will do your thinking when you are at work?
6.We don’t have a cozy porch for you to work on when you need a change of scenery. How does that make you feel?
7.Everyone must ask you this, but it’s very important. We don’t have pajama days here, and yoga pants are not appropriate work attire. Can you deal with wearing other forms of work-appropriate elastic waisted pants?
8.BuzzFeed quizzes are prohibited during working hours. OK? And, you do know they are not accurate, don’t you?
9.Your dog won’t be allowed to lounge underneath your desk and keep your feet warm as you work. Tell us how you feel about that?
10.Though there’s plenty of coffee in the break room, you do realize you can’t drink the entire pot of morning coffee yourself, right?
11.Will you miss your mid-morning spoonful of peanut butter? How about the quick store runs for Ben & Jerry’s when you have writer’s block?
12.Since most of your meetings for the past few years have been via phone, you do realize that if your get this job, we’ll now be able to see your eye rolls during meetings? Will you be able to control them?
13.You may miss an Anthropologie sale or two since you are working regular office hours. Does that make you sad?
14.You mentioned on social media that your coping mechanism when you have work stress is usually a loud snack like kettle cooked chips. Do you have any quieter snacks that you can use for this?
Melissa Jablonowski is a humor writer who writes about motherhood, midlife, and more. This article also appears on Her View From Home.
On Jan. 11, 1954, a date which will live in infancy, I made my grand entrance into the world while a blizzard raged outside the maternity ward at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut. I have been perpetrating snow jobs ever since.
So you might think that I like winter. Actually, of the four seasons, my favorite is Frankie Valli.
I forget the names of the other three guys, but seasonally speaking, winter comes behind spring, summer, fall, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
(Thank you, Simon and Garfunkel.)
Winter is the worst season not because of sleet, which God obviously created when He had a sinus infection, or even the windchill factor, which sadistic meteorologists devised to make us feel even more miserable.
No, winter leaves me cold because, simply, it’s too complicated.
Take gloves and car keys. You should because if you don’t take gloves, your fingers will freeze, making it impossible to hold your car keys. And if you don’t take them, the rest of you will freeze because you won’t be able to get into your car and will have to trudge through a sheet of sleet (see above) that is whipping horizontally into your nostrils and will soon turn you, gloves or no gloves, into a human Popsicle.
The question is: Where do you put this stuff?
Here’s where it is complicated. You might put your car keys in the front pocket of your pants (it’s a good idea to wear them, too), but then you’d have to lift up the bottom of your parka (ditto) to fish the keys out of your pocket, which you can’t do unless you first take off your gloves.
This, I am sure, is why keyless cars were invented, probably during the winter in a place where sleet is common.
Then there is your wallet, which you will have to fish out of your back pocket — after again taking off your gloves and lifting up the bottom of your parka — to pay by credit card or, naturally, cold cash to put gas in your car so you can drive to work.
So you figure you will outfox winter by putting everything — car keys, wallet, gloves, ski hat, scarf, employee ID card, lip balm, hand moisturizer, flask of brandy — in the pockets of your parka so you won’t have to lift it up to fish out any of those items from your pants.
Or you’ll buy a tote bag in which to put all that stuff.
The problem is that if you go to the cafeteria, you’ll remember that your wallet is at your desk, in either your parka or your tote bag, and not in the back pocket of your pants, where it should be.
Then there’s footwear, which might normally consist of dress shoes or, if you’re casual, a pair of sneakers. In winter, you have to wear boots and carry a shopping bag in which to put your shoes or sneakers so you can change into them when you get to the office. When the workday is over, you have to put your boots back on and head out to the car, where it dawns on you that you left your tote bag under your desk.
One possible solution is to bring a suitcase to work so you can stuff it with everything, including summer clothes because the heat in the office is likely to be cranked up so high that it feels like a sauna.
Speaking of which, it is not a good idea to wear only a towel unless you want to be escorted out of the building and into the arctic air, where you will, without gloves, pants and parka, freeze to death.
So until spring springs, weather winter as best you can. And don’t forget that flask of brandy.
Stamford Advocate humor columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of three books. Like Jerry, two of his three books are January babies. “Leave It to Boomer” will be 8 on Jan. 20 and “Grandfather Knows Best” turned 2 on Jan. 4. “The Empty Nest Chronicles” will be 5 on Aug. 12. Visit his Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Jerry-Zezima/e/B00IWW0PJO. Visit his blog at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net.
Vikki Claflin, international best-selling author, humor blogger and inspirational speaker, is writing a new book, Parkinsons…Like a Boss, and accepting stories of “humor, healing and hope” from patients, family members, friends or caregivers.
“Whether you have PD or care for someone who does, you have a story and we want to hear it,” said Claflin, author of Shake, Rattle & Roll With It: Living and Laughing with Parkinson’s. “It can be a humorous anecdote, a poignant or moving memory, tips or advice on fighting the good fight, or lessons learned about life with a chronic illness.”
Stories should be at least one paragraph, but no longer than three pages. Please submit as a Word document or an MP3 audio file to firstname.lastname@example.org. A release form must be signed before the book goes to press, and Claflin reserves the right to edit submissions for quality and appropriateness. Names will be included, unless the writer requests anonymity. Writers of accepted submissions will receive a complimentary copy of the book.
Deadline is Jan. 31.
Author of the award-winning blog, Laugh Lines: Humorous Thoughts and Advice on How to Live Young When You’re…Well…Not, Claflin has written three humorous books. She’s currently on the speaking circuit, sharing her Parkinson’s journey and helping other patients “find the funny, improving their lives with laughter.”
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I usually scoff at the very concept of suddenly making a decision to change some aspect of one’s life, especially after a night that, for many folks, involves staying up too late and losing important articles of clothing in public. The most crucial decision these people should be making is how to navigate their way to bed without ruining the carpet. But this year, I’ve decided to make some significant changes, considering that it’s noon on a Tuesday as I write this, and I’m still wearing pajamas.
Speaking of pajamas, my first resolution is to clean out my underwear drawer. We’ve all been there. It’s 6 a.m., our bodies and minds are barely functioning, and we just grab whatever’s on top in the drawer where we think we crammed our clean underwear the last time we finally put them away and stopped getting dressed out of the laundry basket. It might be a pair with enough holes to strain pasta. (Try getting that image out of your mind.) It might be a pair you’ve had since your senior year in high school and now fits like a giant pressure bandage. Or it might be a pair that has lost its elasticity and by the end of the day becomes an extra pair of socks. Life is just too short to wear uncomfortable underwear, and by golly, if I had to choose, I’d rather wear none at all — yikes!
My next resolution involves the way I spend money. In 2017, I spent far too much on pets for my children. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love animals. In fact, when I was a kid, my heroes were Grizzly Adams, Jacques Cousteau and Marlin Perkins. Sure, they were old, weird, and made questionable fashion choices, but they all loved animals — and so do I. But that’s no excuse for how I’ve allowed my finances to be disrupted by purchases involving a horse, a dog, a cat, two hedgehogs, a hamster and a mouse. I never dreamed that I’d be spending this kind of money for the privilege of constantly handling poop of various sizes. In 2018, I’m determined to avoid acquiring any new creatures that don’t know how to flush.
Next, I resolve to be more realistic about the condition of my own body. I try to follow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exercise guidelines, and other than maintaining the current contours of my love handles, it seems to have little effect. It’s about time that I resign myself to the fact that no matter how many reps I do on the ThighMaster, I’m simply not going to look like Jason Momoa, The Rock or even that guy who starred in the latest crappy King Arthur movie. Instead, I think I’m destined to look more like a close relative of Jim Gaffigan. (I see a wardrobe featuring pants with elastic waistbands in my future.)
My final resolution relates to politics. This next year, I’m resolving to stop getting worked up about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. It usually just makes me angry, and then I take it out on my daughters, insisting that they go bush-hog their rooms and threatening to sell their pets on eBay. When I turn on the news and hear names like Chuck and Nancy, Crooked Hillary, Rocket Man, Crazy Bernie, or Pocahontas, instead of being outraged, I’ll just imagine I’m watching an episode of the WWE — rather than witnessing the cage match that is the U.S. government. The absurd plotlines are similar, the poorly choreographed moves are equally contrived, and both are led by brash billionaires who’ve spent time in the ring and have an apparent obsession with tanning and hair products. I’m just glad the costumes are different. (I’m not ready for a shirtless Donald in a pair of flamed trunks and body paint.)
Along with all of my own resolutions, I truly wish a blessed new year to all of my family, friends, and people with nothing better to do than read this. I’ll close with a traditional Irish blessing for 2018:
“May your unmentionables drawer be full and fresh;
May your waistbands be flexible and non-chafing;
May your excuses for not purchasing a ferret be credible;
May your politics be harmlessly theatrical;
And may you find this column funny so that I’ll continue to feel good about myself.”
Amen, and Happy New Year!
— Jason Graves
Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate and his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.
That second type is why we have holiday decorations. Who decided we had to redo our houses temporarily for the season? I don’t imagine that back in ancient times, as the winter solstice descended upon the world, someone said, “The weather is fearsome. Go get the buckets from storage so we can string garlands and tulle through the house for a couple of weeks.”
No, I’m sure it was some mom somewhere who said, “Let me put up a wreath to show how much we love the holidays,” and from there the dam was broken. Now we all have to decorate ourselves into a frenzy.
Of course, for some people, it’s a deeply personal tradition no matter their age or their children’s ages. For them, decorating makes it really feel like the holidays.
Decorating our houses for the holidays is also big business. There’s even a whole store — open all year round, for some reason — called the Christmas Tree Shop.
Each year, as my neighbors start hanging their lights and decorating their Christmas trees, I feel a pang of decorating envy. We are Jewish and celebrate Hanukah. While others may choose to decorate their homes with a Christmas tree no matter their religion, I’ve always heard my mother in the back of my head saying, “Don’t.”
Oddly enough, when I was growing up, we did have a Christmas tree in our house. Only it wasn’t ours. It belonged to Stella, our housekeeper, who celebrated Christmas. Stella, along with her son, had lived with my grandparents for years as their housekeeper. When my grandfather died and my grandmother moved to Florida, Stella came to live with our family (two parents with full-time careers for four kids) and was an important part of it for years. She didn’t retire until I, the youngest, had moved out of the house and gotten married.
As the youngest, I loved hanging out with Stella any time of year. But the real bonus came when she’d deck out her room for Christmas with a small, white artificial tree and tons of lights strung about. As a little girl, I’d spend hours helping her decorate, playing with the Christmas toys and ornaments she’d collected, wondering as I stepped over the threshold why the rest of our house couldn’t have the same decorations.
Thus began my holiday-decorating envy. It’s not like my mother didn’t appreciate holiday decorations. Every year we’d make the annual trek into New York City to see the enormous tree all lit up at Rockefeller Center. It was a big deal to get all dressed up in my velvet dress and new winter coat (and muff — I always had a muff). We would stand in line to see the holiday windows on Fifth Avenue and eat in a beautiful restaurant decorated for the holidays.
For those of us with decorating envy, thank goodness that retailers have figured out a way to satisfy everyone’s holiday needs. There is now a whole blue-and-white category of holiday décor for Hanukah. We even have our own Mensch on a Bench as an answer to The Elf on the Shelf.
My own bucket of holiday decorations is filled with blue-and-white glitter that has flaked off all the Hanukah decorations I’ve collected over the years. Yet I know the rules of motherhood: The things I’m required to display are the decorations my kids made when they were in pre-school, even though my kids are now 18 and 21.
There’s the blue snowflake my daughter made, which some very smart teacher laminated so it would last forever. And I saved all their hand-decorated dreidels collected in a Hanukah basket. There’s even the handmade menorah that I made as a kid, that’s so decrepit it doesn’t hold candles any more. But it’s the law for me to put it on the mantle.
As newly empty-nesters this year, I did start to wonder who I’m decorating for this year: the dogs? But I also realized that it won’t feel officially like the holiday season until my buckets come up from the basement.
I still feel a pang of envy when I enter my friends’ houses all bedecked for the season. One friend had an entire tree made of feathers. Another friend loves to decorate so much she has a different Christmas decorating bucket for every room. Even her kids have their own trees in each of their rooms.
That’s hard work. I’m told it takes at least two or three days on average to decorate inside a house — and that doesn’t even count all the external lights and decorations.
That’s why some people prefer to outsource their Christmas decorating, hiring experts to make their houses look like a Saks Fifth Avenue window display. Designer Rachel Clark of Pittsford says if her clients ask for holiday-decorating help, she advises that they use fresh greens for their color and fragrance. And she says to focus on a few key areas of the house for the greatest impact.
Stacy Ecran of Stacy K Floral says she and her team are hired each year to design and decorate clients’ homes for the holidays. They often work with their clients’ own decorations and also include both fresh and what she calls “everlasting” (silk) greens and flowers. Some clients prefer she change it up each year; others have her take pictures so she can create the exact same look year after year.
Even the experts acknowledge how much work it is — in part because they have homes, too. With a 6-year-old child, Ecran says she’s not allowed to skip out on Christmas. She decorates her house in mid-November, before she starts work on her client’s homes. Joe Nardone, who decorates homes all over the country, also loves to decorate his own home for Christmas. He says as a decorator he has to decorate for the holidays: “What kind of example would I be if I didn’t!”
When we first moved to Rochester, I got a call from a photographer who was shooting a holiday decorating spread for a magazine and was looking for a house to stage the shoot. It was August when they were doing the shoot, but I was thrilled. I’d finally get to play Christmas house, even if only for a day.
I kept waiting for them to finalize the date, anticipating wreaths, evergreens and sugar plums (what is a sugar plum, anyway?). A few weeks later, they told me that they’d decided to go with another house in a neighborhood where the houses were closer together so they could decorate two or three houses at one time.
I was so disappointed. But it reminded me that holiday decorating isn’t about how perfectly beautiful your house is for the holidays. It’s about the real memories you create during the holiday season in that house.
A holiday-happy home includes the smell of great food cooking in the oven and frying in the pan. And the glow of the firelight of candles of any kind, religious or decorative.
Most important, my favorite decoration of all can’t be bought in a big box store: It’s the friends and family who come together to celebrate the season and hold each other close. Now that’s a beautiful house.
— Pam Sherman
Pam Sherman, our Humor Writer of the Month for December, is a nationally syndicated columnist (The Suburban Outlaw), actor, recovering lawyer and leadership consultant who was profiled in People Magazine about her career transition from attorney to actor. She will portray Erma in Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, Jan. 25-Feb. 11, 2018. She’s the author of The Suburban Outlaw: Tales from the EDGE, an ironic look at life in suburbia.
Fortunately for my husband and I, there is a benefit to the hearing loss that comes with aging. We are a great source of amusement for each other and our kids. It’s not only that we can’t hear; it’s that we sometimes hear things that weren’t actually said.
Last Christmas I had an idea for our gift exchange, something both my husband and I would love. He was soaking in the hot tub in the back yard, so I headed out to have a conversation.
“I hate scrubbing floors and you hate vacuuming so let’s buy each other those little robot things that vacuum and scrub for Christmas. I researched and they have names, Scooba and Roomba.”
His face lit up and he said, “That’s a great idea! But I thought you didn’t like scuba diving.”
“Huh?” said I.
“Scuba diving,” he yelled, “I thought you didn’t like it.”
I reached down and flicked off the jets in the hot tub. “What do you think I said, Jim?”
“That we should go to Aruba and scuba dive for Christmas?”
It’s probably also a good thing that I can’t always hear my kids and they, of course, are amazing at not hearing me! Yesterday, for the hundredth time, I asked my son to clean his room. I may have screamed the request.
His response, “Geez Mom, a little cranky since you quit smoking?”
“No, Kevin, I’m not cranky because I quit smoking. I’m cranky because you left a dinner plate on the floor in there and the leftovers grew and grew and came to life and now it wants my car keys.”
I called my husband to dinner the other night and he replied, “I’m coming, you old witch.”
Naturally I was holding his soup bowl in a threatening manner when he arrived in the kitchen.
“What?” said he.
“Repeat what you just said to me.”
“What I said was, ‘I’m coming, just one more pitch.’ I was watching the ball game, couldn’t you hear it?”
“Hear it? The neighbors called and asked me to get you to hold the TV up to the window, seeings as how they had to hear the game, they figured they might as well watch it, too.”
“Who called you? The Reyburns?”
“The neighbors!” I shrieked.
“What did they want?”
As soon as I am done writing this, I am calling one of those hearing aid places. We won’t wear them all the time as that would suck some joy from life.
— Sharon Gerger
Sharon Gerger is an award-winning writer with work published in New Yorker, Glimmer Train, Harpe…okay, that’s all balderdash. She writes a lot and sometimes people publish her work and that fills her with bliss. If they happen to pay her; well, good-gosh-galoshes, she gets sorta delirious.
I know Santa will be coming to town next week with a bag of presents for good little boys and girls. But, I haven’t been very good this year, and my folks keep telling me that instead of Christmas presents I’m going to get a “lump of coal” for Christmas.
My question is, what is a lump of coal? I haven’t been able to find coal in any of the department stores I’ve visited. Is it like a video game? Or is it something I have to eat on Christmas like brussels sprouts?
Thank you. Your friend, Billy.
Unfortunately, the significance of getting a lump of coal in your stocking at Christmas has been lost over the years along with the idea of peace on earth and good will toward all.
Way back in the past century, getting coal in your stocking before Christmas was originally used as a sign that you’d been bad and needed to straighten your act out real quick for Ol’ St. Nick. Many years ago the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” included the refrain, right after “A partridge in a pear tree,” the words, “Or a big lump of coal in your stocking.” But that was eliminated during the coal shortage of 1929, because everybody needed coal then to stay warm and keep the home fires burning, so it was a good thing to find coal on Christmas morn.
As you indicated in your letter, most children today don’t have a clue what coal is, unless of course, they are from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and a few western states where coal grows in the ground. In those places, children not only know what a chuck of coal is, but can also tell you whether it is anthracite or bituminous coal as well as its heat value.
But to answer your question, coal has no relationship to video games. Coal is a soft black rock that burns and was formed by compressed plant life.
I grew up when homes where heated by coal, so it has special memories for me, like keeping me warm when it got cold.
In those days, getting coal before Christmas was only a warning and wasn’t so bad. You could always get rid of the evidence by throwing it in the furnace and burning it, which was also a good deed because you were heating the house. You could also use the coal to disguise yourself for Santa by rubbing it on your cheeks and chin to make a black beard and be someone else.
Or, you could do with the coal what I always did. I’d form a snowball around it and throw it at my brother who was the one who stuck it in my stocking in the first place.
Anyway, you raise a good point in your letter. That is, kids today do not know coal from cola any more. I believe as a society we have to find an alternative to warning children about getting coal for Christmas.
I have given this much thought and I have a few suggestions.
Maybe, children should maybe get sushi in their stocking at Christmas if they are bad, Let me tell you kid, it’s better to get coal in your stocking than week-old sushi for Christmas.
Another thing that could be used to straighten out misguided youth at Christmas is a warning that if they don’t behave, they would get a “rutabaga” for Christmas. I’ll bet fewer kids know what a rutabaga is then coal, but rutabaga sounds much more menacing. For example, kids could be told, “You’re going to get nothing but a rutabaga for Christmas and you’re going to have to eat it for Christmas for dinner with a side of brussels sprouts.”
That would probably fix the behavior problems of most kids.
So, have a happy holiday, Billy, and watch out for the rutabaga in your stocking.
— Myron Kukla
Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have once again decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.
That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the daughtersiarch; Dave and Guillaume, the sons-in-lawiarch; and Chloe, Lilly and Xavier, the grandchildreniarch.
It sure has been an exciting 2017 for the Zezimas!
The year got off to a rocky start when Jerry had a kidney stone. He is sorry to have to number them like the Super Bowl, but it was Kidney Stone VI. Mercifully, this, too, did pass.
Also on the medical front, Jerry took a CPR class in which the instructor used him as a dummy. The other class members couldn’t tell the difference.
To keep in good physical condition, Jerry won a one-day gym membership. He didn’t exercise very strenuously, proving to be the biggest dumbbell there, but afterward he went to an adjacent bar and did 12-ounce curls.
Continuing to show his commitment to a healthy lifestyle, Jerry attended a Wine Stomp Party at a vineyard and, re-creating a famous “I Love Lucy” episode, climbed into a vat of grapes and stomped them with his bare feet. To ensure the health of the vineyard’s customers, the grapes were thrown away.
Jerry may not have made his own wine, but he and Chloe did make their own ice cream. They went to a shop where the owner, impressed by Chloe’s natural ability to pour in the ingredients but not by Jerry’s pathetic incompetence at measuring them, allowed the dynamic duo to make a batch of honey-cinnamon. It was delicious, prompting the owner to tell Chloe, “Now you can say you taught your grandfather how to make ice cream.
Jerry, Sue and Lauren took Chloe and Lilly on their first visit to the zoo, where humans were the wildest creatures and Jerry, an acknowledged oldster, was carded by a flirtatious young woman while buying beer for the adults in the group. He roared louder than the lions.
One of the proudest moments of the year occurred when Chloe graduated, magna cum little, from preschool. She had a prominent role in the ceremony, which was attended by Jerry, Sue, Lauren, Guillaume and Lilly, and was tops in her class. Afterward, everyone had milk and cookies. Yale or Harvard couldn’t have done better.
A milestone was reached when Lilly celebrated her first birthday. Big sister Chloe, who’s 4, helped her blow out the candle on her cupcake and, as their little friends applauded, helped her eat the cupcake, too. Talk about sisterly love.
And there was an addition to the family: Xavier, Katie and Dave’s beautiful boy, made his grand entrance into the world. Sue and Jerry, aka Nini and Poppie, went on a road trip to meet him and Jerry quickly learned that changing diapers on a boy is a lot different from changing them on a girl. That’s because boys have an apparatus that is not unlike a water cannon or, considering the oscillation, an in-ground sprinkler system. It was a geyser on a geezer.
But Jerry didn’t mind because he got to do some male bonding. On a subsequent visit, Jerry introduced Xavier to the Three Stooges, making him giggle uncontrollably by doing Shemp imitations. The women, naturally, were thrilled.
Xavier met cousins Chloe and Lilly on a visit to Nini and Poppie’s house. The three adorable children had a ball, laughing, playing and, not surprisingly, proving to be more mature than Poppie.
We hope your year has been fun-filled, too.
Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.
— Jerry Zezima