Charlie Sheen

Desired Skills: Humorless

TARGET CUSTOMER SERVICE REP WANTED

We’re hiring!

Seeking a stone-faced Customer Service Associate with extensive experience acting as a wet blanket. Must possess exemplary somber skills. Submit your resume, along with your portfolio of poker face assignments.

Target Customer Service Live Chat

Michael, feel free to use me as a reference anytime.

Sincerely,
Stuffed Olive

Break Up Letter to the MTA

Dear Bus, 

Ohhhh, wahhh, give me one more chance, Lauren. I wasn’t loved at the factory. I can’t handle my feelings and I was just scared, Lauren, because what we have is so real.” 

I don’t know why I continue to believe you and those crocodile oil leaks. You always make me regret it. 

“I’ll put myself on a schedule, Lauren. I’ll be there next time. I promise.”

“Schedule” my tired, foolish ass, Bus. I mean nothing to you. 

And you know what? You’re not even a good ride. I’m worth more than this. You’re 4,000 other girls’ problem now. 

Goodbye. And take your shitty mix tape back. 

Lauren


Act As If

Seven years ago, I didn’t believe in God.

I didn’t consider this to be a problem. In fact, I thought that people who believed in God were naive; just nodding little bobble-heads and never questioning what they’d been taught. And for those who not only believed, but relied on this “thing” they felt was a Higher Power observing the human race, judging all of our actions and behavior, forgiving us for our wrongs, and ultimately orchestrating every petty instance to crescendo to One Big Beautiful Plan – well, those people were just fools. Taking the easy way out by claiming “there’s a reason for everything” instead of dealing with the pain of a loved one’s death or the disappointment of not landing a dream job. Weak, I’d think, every time someone force-fed me a fact-lacking line of religious bullcrap.

And then I found myself struggling. At a time in my life when I’d lost the majority of my friends, came to the scary realization that it was time to stop partying, and feeling like an empty human shell without those two constants in my life – childhood buddies and beer.

“Pray,” suggested one of my few remaining friends. “You need to pray.”

I rolled my eyes, swollen with tears over whatever crisis I’d imposed on myself at the time. I grunted a dismissive laugh. “Yeah, OKAY,” channelling the disrespectful pre-teen brat version of myself.

“You don’t pray?” she asked, concerned.

“No, Betty. I don’t pray. I wouldn’t even know who to pray to.”

She stood up – her petite little 5 foot frame not much taller than when she sat – and shuffled across her living room. She reached to retrieve something from the bookcase. Oh God, I thought. Here comes another self-help manual.

Even worse, she came back with a porcelain fucking angel. Wings, a gold halo, and all.

“Put this on your shelf,” she instructed, “way up high.”

“Uh-huh,” I humored her.

“Do it,” she insisted. “Get up every morning and look up at this angel. Pray to it.”

“You want me to pray to an object.” I just wanted to make sure she was hearing her own absurdity.

IMG_0317.JPG“I want you to pray to something,” she corrected me, “until you see that it works.” She put the angel on the table in front of me and took my hands into hers. She looked me in the eyes – hers were warm and gentle. They always twinkled, like she was a real live Disney princess, but Greek. And a smoker.

“ACT. AS. IF.” She tightened her grasp on my hands, as if trying to transfer her faith through the power of touch. “Eventually, you’ll believe.”

She named that angel “Betty 2,” which I found to be hilarious. Her reasoning was if I could talk to her about my problems, I could talk to an extension of her in ceramic form.

The next morning, still miserable, I clopped out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. The figurine protruded from my purse. I giggled, imagining Betty in my bag. I freed it and placed it on my shelf, more out of my sheer amusement of the whole idea. “Hi, Betty 2,” I placated my friend, who was already hounding me “So, did you try it? Did you??” in our future imagined conversation.

And as ridiculous as it felt, I continued this every morning. I told Betty 2 what I was feeling, asked for protection, and eventually began thanking this little inanimate statue for things that I had, by habit, started to become grateful for throughout my week.

I can’t say when I eventually came to believe, but at some point over the course of the time I spent chatting with Betty 2 every morning (which had then increased to every night, as well), I felt a presence of something greater than me. I stopped scoffing at spirituality and abandoned my best reasoning. I knew, because I felt it, that there was a God.

This belief only strengthened – by way of practice – over the years, to a level of trust. And eventually, on my best days, a complete, unabandoned reliance on that greater being. An actual relationship with the most important thing in my life – that God I was so adamant didn’t exist.

Today, I received the devastating news that Betty – Betty 1 – passed away. I don’t know what I could possibly write here to express the sadness I feel. It doesn’t seem real yet, though I know that’ll come. She did so much for me – for so many people – and I’ll never be able to thank her for that.

But tonight, when I pray for her family’s peace, I can count her, and her encouragement to find the faith that she had, as one of my many blessings. And I can pray right to Betty 1. No porcelain required.

I’ll miss you, Betty. And thank you to infinity for the greatest gift that anyone has ever given me.

5 Songs That Drive My Dog Crazy

1. Coffee by Sylvan Esso

Cause: The Beat

2. She Wants to Move by N.E.R.D.

Cause: The Intro


3. Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Cause: The Whistling


4. Where Is My Mind by The Pixies

Cause: The Falsetto


5. I Want You Back by The Jackson 5

Cause: Everything

A Heart Full of Gratitude for Things I Too Often Overlook

My quickie for the evening is a simple list of lessons well-learned in the last 24 hours.

Tonight, I’m brimming with gratitude for:

1. Unlimited access to my favorite tube of Chapstick.
2. The freedom to enter and leave most places as I please.
3. Fresh air and the time I can spend outside.
4. My boyfriend’s support, care and unwavering commitment to look out for my best interests.
5. My parents.
6. Select friends with whom I can share ANYTHING.
7. Coffee the way I want it.
8. A refill of coffee the way I want it. And another. And another.
9. Realizing everyone and everything I’ve been searching for, including the most perfect love, has been right here under my nose all along.
10. God doing for me what I cannot do for myself – over and over and over and over and over again.

Thank You, God, for everything you make possible; difficult lessons included.

No Sympathy for The Devil

This weekend I met The Devil, and He introduced Himself in the form of a 7-year-old Columbian boy.

The moment I opened the gate at the dog park, I heard His oddly adult-like voice taunting me from the bordering baseball field. “I don’t want you in here.”

It was unclear whether He was addressing me or my dog, Dallas; His coal black, beady eyes concealed the object on which they were focused. But either way, I took offense on behalf of us both. Nobody talks to my baby that way. Not even Satan.

I walked closer to Him and muttered a disappointingly intimidated, “That’s not very nice,” as I took a seat on the grass. Only a chain link fence separated my ass from His tiny blue Nikes.Pitbull Puppy

I made small talk with the teenaged girl next to me, who seemed oblivious to this creature hovering over us as we watched our dogs wrestle in the distance.

“My name’s Bianca, by the way,” she said.

“Your name’s Ugly Face,” The Devil whispered. She remained blissfully unaware of the demon taunting her from behind. I jerked my head in His direction to signal a warning, though I was careful not to make the eye contact that would blow my petrified cover.

“I’m Lauren.”

“Lauren,” He noted, as He began kicking the area of fence where Bianca leaned. She sat up straight, unaffected by His abuse – probably chalking it up to just another bratty child.

“Hey, don’t be rude,” I shouted without looking at Him, struggling to play the role of a grown adult woman who isn’t afraid of children. The kicking stopped.

I felt His presence return directly behind me and tried not to wince as I anticipated a wad of spit on the back of my neck. But, instead, I felt nothing. Except the rage that raced through my body when I heard His next words:

“Kill the black dog.”

I quickly surveyed the roaming crowd of canines; the only black dog was my Dallas.

“HEY,” Bianca protested, suddenly mindful of His presence. I spun into a standing position, facing Him through the fence. Though I was double His height, I felt small even as I looked down to meet His terrifying stare.

“Kill the black dog.” He repeated His threat on my baby’s head while our eyes were locked in a stand-off. I peed.

But fear has never been a contender for my inability to keep my mouth shut when angry. I stepped closer to the fence and gripped the rusted metal in front of His face. I bent at the waist to meet Him at eye level, less than three feet from the ground where my legs were begging me to run.

“Hey, Kid,” I reminded us both of His age, yet continued. “When you go home, I want you to ask your mother what ‘manners’ are. Maybe she can pick you up some the next time she goes to the store.”

His eyes softened, changing like a mood ring from midnight to shit colored brown. His baby Nikes retreated a few steps.

“You’re a real crappy kid, huh?” I prompted Him for confirmation. His bottom lip quivered. “You probably get picked on at school so you take it out on innocent dogs and girls that you know won’t fight back.”

Was that a tear rolling down His minuscule cheek? What an impostor, breaking character at the first sign of confrontation. I rattled the fence and He jumped back, startled. He turned to run.

“Shut up!” His prepubescent voice cracked with terror as He raced to the side of His older brother, who ushered Him through the opening in the gate.

“Shut up?” I challenged Him. “You should consider taking your own advice.”

“Let’s go home,” said His brother, soothing The Devil while he guided Him around the perimeter of the dog park where I stood. They hurried across the grass in a synchronized shuffle, perhaps attempting a head start should I try to chase them. As if.

And then, in a fortuitous moment of irony, Dallas charged at The Devil, blocking His way to the exit. Her entire 70-pound body sprung from the ground and her muddy snout poked His forehead. Knowing my dog and her gentle yet clumsy, childlike nature, I was well-aware that she’d simply flubbed an attempt to give Him a kiss. But to the eye of an onlooker, this pitbull sought revenge. I felt my lips stretch involuntarily to form a satisfied sneer.

The Devil froze and emitted a closed-mouth scream resembling a tea kettle approaching a boil. Dallas jumped again, excited by what she misinterpreted to be reciprocated play. Her force sent Him sideways three feet into the fence. He was cornered; “the black dog” repeatedly slamming Him backwards as His brother grappled for the door. The faint sound of whimpers were drowned by the relentless clang of His wee little body against the trembling chain links.

Now, usually I’m offended by the fear I detect in others’ eyes as my dog approaches them for a mere pet on the head. I spend most of our routine morning walks redirecting her from the path of unfriendly adults who can’t see beyond the stereotype equating all pitbulls with danger. But in this moment, I observed this generalization in practice with the gratification I imagine mothers feel as they witness their child’s first steps.

The Devil’s brother looked at me, helpless, admitting defeat and pleading for assistance all with the depth of his eyes.

“Dallas!” I hollered, knowing we’d won. “That’s enough, baby. Come here.”

She strutted obediently to my side; tail wagging like a metronome powered by brand new batteries, eager to keep the beat of my heart, booming with pride. “Good girl, baby!” I reinforced my appreciation of her unceasing desire to show love to even the most undeserving of people.

“You’re The Devil, Kid,” I shouted in acknowledgment; His head tucked in His brother’s armpit as they jogged awkwardly across the street to their home, “safe” under parent supervision within the four Godless and dogless walls where they live.

As the park transformed back into the quaint and peaceful place I know and love, I sighed with more contentment than relief and returned to the crowd of dog owners who were gathered in the center of the field. My sense of fulfillment waned a little as I approached the group, which had formed a circular formation of solidarity, not loosening one bit to create an opening for my entry. I giggled nervously as I read the shared expression on each of their faces, much like the one I wore just 30 minutes earlier when I first met that boy in the bordering baseball field.

I gathered my belongings – the frisbee, the leash, the world’s friendliest dog – and faked a voluntary decision to head home. Making one last attempt to redeem my standing, I shrugged apologetically and offered my best explanation for the behavior that I’d just now recognized as grounds for disapproval:

“There’s nothing I hate more than a bully.”