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You may or may not know that I work for a photography company and said company often flies me around the USA to take pictures or run a photobooth for their many fancy clients. Did you know, however, that they also fly me OUT of the country to take pictures for their fancy clients? Neither did I until a couple of weeks ago! When our booking coordinator e-mailed me to see if I would open myself up for a trip to Cancun, Mexico I took a look at my virgin passport and responded with a resounding “Hell Yes.”

I got nervous as my trip approached, so I put a call out to my Facebook Network:

So this is crazy, but tickets out of LAX on Monday are currently $250 round-trip… so I’ll just throw this out there: if you have a passport and want to go to Cancun with me … holler at your girl. I’m flying Southwest and I get into Cancun around 4pm Monday. I have a room, you can crash with me in exchange for being my friend and helping me stay safe if we want to leave the resort and see one of those cenotes water lagoon cave things. Bonus points if you like taking dumb pictures.

Open invite.

(Not a sex trip.)

Like my disclaimer? Some people are into radioactively pale women with butts who get asked all the time by dudes in gas stations if they are “part Asian,” so it’s important that your girl keeps it TOTALLY PROFESH. Maybe this is why no one wanted to go until the absolute last minute, when my friend and writing partner, Jasmine, texted me a picture of her flight confirmation. Hours later we boarded a plane to Cancun.

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We checked into the hotel and ate at a little hole in the wall place across the street called Santos Mariscos. The owner told us that he also owned the excursion agency next door, so Jasmine and I asked him,

“Hey. You have any trips that will for sure, 100% without a doubt have us back at our hotel by 5pm tomorrow?”
“Oh, sure!” he said. He took out a little pamphlet with photos of ziplining, 4-wheelers, and a cenote. It had the words “EXTREME ADVENTURE!” on the cover.
“How much?” we asked, expecting the worst.
“85 per person.”
“DONE.”

We went back to the hotel and drank wine in the outdoor hot tub before going to sleep.

The EXTREME ADVENTURE van picked us up at the hotel at 8am. We picked up more people at a fancy resort and Jasmine and I knew we were in for a treat when a bunch of Canadians hopped in. The women wore camouflage and the patriarch of the family was this big old white dude with a shirt that said “SAFETY SECOND” on the front and “HALF ASSED CONSTRUCTION FOR A HALF ASSED PRICE” on the back.

The EXTREME ADVENTURE turned out to be more of a “somewhat to moderately” extreme adventure, but Jasmine and I had never done any of the activities before so we loved it. Jasmine and I constantly joked around and talked in weird voices with the guides. I’m fairly certain they said, “Yo. These American girls are goofy weird.”

The EXTREME ADVENTURE included an ATV trip to the cenote. As it turned out I sucked at driving one and decided to ride with a guide. I was going to ride with the ATV technician who had gold teeth, but our main guide stepped in and said, “YO! GOOFY, WEIRD AMERICAN WOMEN ARE MY JAM, SO I’M GONNA RIDE WITH HER. YOU CAN CHILL OUT, BRO*.”
* phrasing may have gotten lost in translation

… And that’s I got to wrap my arms around the tour guide.


Jasmine and I decided to buy the picture package since there was no way in hell we were going to take our phones on the ziplines or ATV’s. I picked out the best pictures and made an album for you to look at. Feel free to think that Jasmine and I are totally cool and awesome adventurers.

We got back to the hotel with plenty of time to enjoy the beach before I had to go to work.

Then I worked until 2am and we flew back to the USA at 8am.

I slept until two minutes ago.

We. Have. To. Go. Back.

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A Valentines Day Treat from Jas.

Happy Valentines Day from the gal who hasn’t felt comfortable using the word “WE” in a relationship since high school, when she went quasi-Fatal Attraction on that poor kid from Clarke Central High. Whoops.

Today Facebook and Instagram will drip with photographs and videos depicting true love.
Two people sail down a canal, locking lips underneath the key one of them holds over their heads;
A couple in love share deluge of photo-booth pictures that only represent 1/100 of the photo-booth pictures they have together; Maybe even a throwback photo or two from the time when one of your friends met the love of their life.

It’s beautiful.

This was my contribution to the loveliness of Valentines Day.

And this was my cat roommate’s contribution:

Happy #ValentinesDay. #TaxiCat #CatTails #siamese

A post shared by Jas Sams (@jas_a_frass) on

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I live in a house full of dudes.

I don’t mean this in the braggy, holier than thou way I might have said it as a teenager, when having male friends equaled status and power and played into that trope of the cool, badass chick that made people go, “Who-hoa-hooooa; what’s she doing hangin’ with the guys?”

Unrelated: this gif may feature Olivia Newton John in the forefront 
but it is ACTUALLY about Dinah Manoff (green dress directly to ONJ’s left.)
What is she even doing? 

No, I live with dudes now. It’s fine; it’s not the 24 hour party that New Girl made it out to be, but it’s alright. Still, I wish I could live with a ragtag girl-gang. It would make moments like a few days ago when I forgot to close my door way easier.

My bedroom has a bathroom in it! Yay!
I took a shower! Awesome, congratulations!
I got out of the bathroom and sat on my bed! Woohoo!
Then I remembered I threw the pants I wanted to wear behind the door! Huzzah!
I went to go get my pants! OH. OH CRAP, OH CRAP, OH MY GOD; THE DOOR WAS OPEN AND ONE OF MY ROOMMATES SAT ON THE COUCH AND OUT OF THE CORNER OF MY EYE I AM PRETTY SURE HE LOOKED MY WAY.

I shut the door and stood still for what seemed like an eternity. I stood still the way one might stand still if they were trapped on the same floor as an office assailant. I don’t know why; it’s not like that’s something they teach you to do in Girl Scouts when you try to earn that coveted “Your Male Roommate Sees Your Boob and Probably Everything Else, Too” Try-It.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 9.33.19 AMSteps to earn this Try-It:
Step Number 1. Don’t earn this Try-It.

If I lived with a ragtag girl gang, it would have been a laughable mistake. It would have been,
“Hey! Your boob’s out!”
Or: “Put on some clothes, woman!”
Or a nice, well timed Dr. Zoidberg impression!

Woo-woo-woo-woo!

With dude roommates it’s not all fun and laugh tracks; it’s that awkward pause on an Aaron Sorkin show. If the situation had been reversed and I saw a rogue wiener, I would probably run and try to stuff myself under the couch like my cat.

Cool Sh!t of the week:

1. I did Range: Sorkin at the Pack Theater. Range is a show where comedians do serious stuff to show their range. This month’s show was themed around an episode of HBO’s The News Room and it was dooope. I got to work with the always sunny/always funny Jillian Dunn again.

2. I went to the Super Bowl in Houston. The best part, by far, was this old, old lady saying, “The Falcons ain’t been here since I can remember and I’ve been around a long time and I’m gonna be dying sometime soon, so you tell me, boy: what is two thousand dollars? I love this team more than you! Now go on!”

The boy she was talking to was the one pushing her chair.

3. I did some commercial auditions and drafted out a cover letter to send to theatrical reps. I wrote a normal cover letter and resisted the urge to simply write: “If Betsy Devos can be the Education Secretary, then I can certainly do whatever the hell is needed to be a waitress on a sitcom.” Thanks for the inspiration, Matthew Monagle.

4. I got the final edit of a film I worked on this summer. Hopefully by this time tomorrow I will have edited my reel to include footage of my British accent because the world totally needs that.

5. Taxi Cat did some more real cute sh!t:

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A most fitting facial expression.

Yesterday, through some kind of small miracle, I looked at my phone and committed the time – 4:17 – to the part of my brain that actually remembers shit.

Then I started my reading Facebook feed.

First it was the slew of posts like “ACTION ITEM: DO THIS RIGHT NOW ELSE THEY WILL COME FOR YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE.”

That led to a trance like state in which I read article after article about how Donald Trump fired all the people in the NSC who actually know what they’re doing and replaced them with Steve Bannon. Since more people are familiar with the (fabulous) Shonda Rhimes show Scandal than the actual NSC, let me put it like this: Steve Bannon now has control of B6-13, except in this scenario everyone knows what B6-13 does. 

That led to a DELUGE of articles about the detainees in our airports, the people who were tricked into flying BACK to the middle east, protests, lawyers volunteering their time and efforts to ensure that lawful citizens can come back in, and before I knew it I was reading conspiracy theories about how Steve Bannon plans to orchestrate a fake domestic terrorist attack to add fuel to his supporters and thinking, “Whoa, this makes a lot of sense.”

I sat on my bed, staring into my phone, for over an hour. When I looked up and saw the time – 5:32 – I had two thoughts: that I could have spent that time writing or calling my representatives. I could have gone to a protest. I could have gone to shows. I could have spent that time funneling my rage into creative endeavors like sketches, stand-up, or writing in this blog.

Right now life consists of:

  1. Sampling fruit bars and cheddar crackers in bougie, well-to-do grocery stores.
  2. Staring at my phone and obsessing over the current state of our government.
  3. Pushing buttons on a selfie booth where I spend hours helping people take pictures of themselves.
  4. Staring into my phone fuming about the proudly ignorant.
  5. Trying to pretend that I didn’t just eat some of the cheddar crackers that I was supposed to sample to others.
  6. Staring into my phone, wondering if I should try to convince a Canadian to marry me.
  7. Eating a whole box of cheddar bunnies and crying to the stocking manager about how I moved here to be an actress but now we’re going to blow up and it doesn’t matter plus I’m gross and why am I bringing this back around to myself?
  8. Staring into my phone pondering Hitler and death.
  9. Cheddar crackers.

I’m going to wean myself from Facebook. Not entirely, because I still want to get invited 2 partiez and also because this one lady I know posts really funny stuff about her pet rabbit, but I’m going to try to steer clear the echo chamber. I’m going to write more here and less there.

I want to be an artist and I want to be effective and the only way to do that is to create again.

COOL SH!T OF THE WEEK:

I’m going to start every Monday off with a list of cool things that happened mostly because we can and should champion ourselves, but also because I’m one step closer to being a crazy woman who hides magical stones in her bra to summon the good luck dragon that runs the universe  – aw, crap. I don’t even know how it works.

Here’s some cool shit that happened in my world this week:

  1. I booked and filmed a luxury car brand commercial.  Not only did we shoot the spot smack dab in the middle of some gorgeous snow covered mountains, but the most of the crew flew in from Germany and constantly called out to each other in German. I felt like I was at the Dana Carvey show watching the “Germans Who Say Nice Things” sketch.

    2. This was last Friday but we’ll include it here: I wrangled some classmates to perform a sketch I wrote for the Go Sketch Yourself! show at Pack Theater last Friday and it killed.

    3. I performed a scene from Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon for my last acting class at Berg Studios and it went really well. One generous student said it was just like being at the theatre. The teacher asked why I wasn’t coming back and I said,
    “I don’t have an agent and I need to be auditioning. I feel like maybe I should be using my class budget for workshops so I can try to get auditions while they are still happening.”
    The teacher was silent for a second.
    “I agree with you,” he said, “But you need to make sure you find a place to study. You need to stay sharp. You absolutely should have an agent and you absolutely should be auditioning. I get it. Just make sure you are learning shit, don’t just throw your money at casting directors who tell you how good you are and then do nothing.”
    Then, as we went back to our seats, the class flooded with support. I know where you can take workshops! I know this one place that’s really good! I can make a referral to my rep! I can help!
    I felt like my scene partner and I had worked hard and it felt good to receive and accept that kind of feedback.

  2. Taxi Cat did some real cute sh!t:

Omg someone make me stop #TaxiCat #GiantCats #siamese #siamesecatsofinstagram

A video posted by Jas Sams (@jas_a_frass) on

How about you? What kinds of COOL SH!T happened in your world this week?

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“STOP IT, CAROL.”

I occasionally take photos (read: I set up and run a picture booth) for a chain of upscale department stores. It’s not quite Saks 5th Avenue upscale, but it’s fancy enough that someone named Theodore Penningtonsworth might shop there for a good shirt to play polo in. Let’s call it Froofy Doop.

An average, run-of-the-mill event for Froofy Doop typically happens mid-afternoon. Their junior’s section brings in a DJ and small catering team to serve hors d’oeuvres and hip, glass bottles of boysenberry-lime soda. To my knowledge they don’t actually hold a sale; it’s a trick to make people feel so good that they laugh and say, “Oh, why not?” when asked to pay $34 for a scarf made in Indonesia. While these events make little sense to me, I enjoy working them since Froofy Doop always pays attention and communicates well.

Besides – their customers are better than reading Running With Scissors for the first time.

Last week I worked two Froofy Doop holiday events. Every year, a few of the Froofy Doops invite their top percentile spenders to a special holiday themed shopping party. Servers canvass the store in search of shoppers to accept their offerings of tiny pies, finger foods, beer, fine liquor, and single serving bottles of champagne. The DJ cranks up the holiday remixes and Froofy Doop employees gather round the front doors to clap and cheer in the shoppers as a buzzer goes off. I had only seen this kind of forced, unbridled enthusiasm for retail up close and personal once  – and that was when I worked a new product launch at the Apple Store.

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Before the event even began, I observed their demographic in play. An older couple walked by a section devoted to an upscale teen brand. The man pointed to a sweater – a plain, grey sweater – and said, “What about that?”
His wife giggled and said, “Oh, Edward!”
Edward flagged down a salesman.
“You there,” he called, “Can you put that on the bill, too?”
The salesman nodded.
“Edward,” his wife laughed, playfully slapping his shoulder, “You’re going to spend us out of house and home!”
“Oh, stop,” he replied, and then to the salesman said, “Just bill the account.”

The music cranked up right at 7pm. The Froofy Doop employees cheered, screamed, and hollered as Laguna’s finest paraded down the line, most with the kind of leisurely stroll that suggested they had never known the vicious and *deadly competition of getting into a Best Buy at 12:01 am on Black Friday. Though the parade was peppered with the occasional customer who raised an eyebrow at the idea of getting blitzed to buy things, most took the champagne without a second thought. They drank and shopped and drank and drank and drank and drank and took lots of pictures. Who wouldn’t want to take home photographic proof that they spent enough money at Froofy Doop in 2016 to warrant an invitation to spend additional money at Froofy Doop?

One of the best parts about working the booth at an event like this is the endless flow of characters who pay me no mind and unknowingly provide a crystal clear view into their lives. People pay good money to watch fictional versions of the dysfunctional elite on premium cable and I get observe them in their natural habitat for free. I think I met pretty much every single Orange County Housewife that Bravo didn’t use.

Then I struck gold.

I heard a man’s voice say,
“If you want to grab a drink, we can get another drink.”
An older couple and their daughter step in front of the booth. The couple looked nice enough; the man had a sweater tied around his shoulders and his wife looked like a mom in a Talbot’s ad. The daughter had a shrewish demeanor and could have been the long lost twin sister to Angela on The Office – assuming you could take one hundred Angelas and condense them into a single person.

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“You said you wanted to do this, so we’re doing it,” she hastily replied. She then turned to me and waved her hand to start.
“OK,” I said, “I need you to look up into the lens and smile in… three, two -”
Mother.
I stopped.
“What?” asked the mother, three glasses of chardonnay into the evening (and possibly thirty years of not having to use her mind into life).
“She said look at the lens.”
“I’m looking at the lens.”
“No, you’re looking at yourself. Look up there,” she pointed to the lens. She motioned for me to try again.
“Alright,” I said, waving my hand above the lens the way I would normally do for babies and animals, “in three – two – hold – GREAT JOB!”
The mother wasn’t looking at the camera, but the daughter pursed her lips and decided to roll with it.
“Now you get to drag and drop these little props onto your picture,” I said, demonstrating how they could drag hats, candy canes, and other holiday cheer onto their picture by touching the screen. The mother’s hand floated toward the screen as she tried to get put a candy cane on the image. It failed to register that she had to keep her finger on the screen in order for drag-and-drop to work. She poked the booth a few times before her daughter whispered, quickly and forcefully:
“Stop it, mother. Stop it.”
Her impatience and rage came through loud and clear even though she spoke in hushed tones.
Her mother, with the same glassy and vacant smile, tried to touch another icon.
Stop it, mother. Stop. Just stop it,” the daughter whispered again, this time more violently.
“What?” her mother asked again.
“If you want something, we can just…” the daughter dragged some antlers onto the picture. The antlers are meant to go on someone’s head, but she haphazardly dropped them off in a corner.
“They should be on your head,” said the mother. She reached back out, but the daughter slapped her hand away.
“Oh my god, just stop it, Mother.”
Should we just do another one?”
No.”
Oh, it will be fun,” said the mother, “But I still want this one, too.”
The mother tried to get the antlers one more time.
STOP IT, CAROL. JUST STOP IT.”
It went from Mother to Carol in under a minute.

Like this. Except bottled up inside forever.

Carol’s hand reached out to the screen a few more times and, every time, the daughter swat it away with a violent, “Stop it, Carol. Carol. Stop it, Carol.”
I don’t know where the hell Father was this whole time; off in his own little world, I suppose. When he finally suggested they just print the picture and move on, the daughter turned to him and whisper-screamed, “You would suggest that. This is all your fault!”
She pressed the print button over and over in rapid succession and them walked off.

The Father and Carol, whose glassy eyed smile never left her face once during this entire exchange, followed her off into the Froofy Doop night.

The dysfunctional nature of relatively or blatantly wealthy families never ceases to amaze me.

*The 2016 Black Friday Death Count: 10 fatalities

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Self care when you are OOF’s.

Game time. This is my official post-election stance:

jas.alex.7

 

During these tumultuous times it is important that we remember to practice self care. Therefore:

A)  Lizzo is taking her show on the road and I’m going to go see her and offer to help her find her phone.

B) I’ve revised all of my post-showcase cover letters to agents to say:

“yo furreal i know i’m supposed to send you a fancy well written letter outlining my accomplishments and skills and i know im white as printer paper and shit but Trump just won so fuk it which 1 of u trying to get me on Good Girls Revolt?”

Because laughter and a depletion of all them fucks.

C) I started to go through Actors Access and make all the boring housewife or otherwise female breakdowns into CRAZY AMAZING HOUSEWIFE OR OTHERWISE FEMALE BREAKDOWNS.

For those of you who don’t know what a breakdown is: it’s basically a description of a character in a show, film, or other piece of media. Casting directors put these breakdowns on Websites like Actors Access and then actors say, “Hey, I can do that!” or their agents say, “Hey, I sure hope that they can do that!”

Often – too often – breakdowns for women suck. You can go on the website and see for yourself. They just suck. So, from time to time, I find that revamping the particularly gnarly breakdowns brings me the kind of peace and calm that could rival two hours hitting a big ass tree with boxing gloves.

Here are just some of the otherwise normal, boring, terrible breakdowns that I have taken upon myself to transform into possibilities of wondrous plenty for the hungry actress:

[ BRENDA ]
Devoted wife. 25. Pretty in a real way, loves cooking for her husband BUT SECRETLY WANTS TO CHANGE HER NAME TO OSIRIS FIRECLAW.

[ GARY’S MOM ]
Female. Caucasian. 25-50. Supporting. …. THE MOTHERFUCKING REVOLUTION. DEATH TO ALL WHO OPPOSE HER. GARY’S MOM SHOWS NO MERCY, MAY YOU DIE. DIE!

[ LIZ ]
Caucasian. 18 to play younger. Pretty but not glamorous. She has an Innocence to her that can’t be denied. Liz was a comrade of Brian’s during the period now known as the orange fury. Once a quiet teenager who counted Brian as her only friend, she is now a ruthless fucking bitch who rides Brian around the countryside like a horse. YAH, BOY, YAH!

[ GIRLFRIEND ] 
18 to 25 years old, all ethnicities female. Middle american, plain jane hair, girl next door type. The bringer of the next black plague, but shhh! Don’t tell anyone.  Rate $350/Day.


You got a good one? Tweeeeeet me or comment or something. Because Frandship!

@Jas_Sams

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Well. Here we are.

I wish I had something to offer that could compliment the eloquent, verbose, straightforward response to the swamp our country decided to dive into head-first last Tuesday. I cannot add onto what which has already been exhausted many times over by those with more influence and experience talking “that kind of talk” than me.

So here’s John Oliver, summing it up pretty nicely:

Except wait – I made the mistake of reading some of the comments, the majority of which were written the people who voted for this flaming sack of post-mortem turds.

Jacob writes: Clintons campaign did nothing but insult people who would vote for trump over Hillary, instead of trying to convince them that she was a better candidate, no shit people voted for Trump when the other candidate did nothing but call them uneducated racists assholes.

If I had the energy to get into an online fight with an alt-righter or Bernie Bro – and really, I can hardly tell the difference anymore – I would ask him to produce an ad in which Clinton’s camp actually attacked the voters instead of the candidate. Here’s why: The majority of Clinton’s ads were literally clips of Donald Trump. Sound bytes.  News clips. Unedited bursts of vitriol. I remember how I marveled at how little Hillary mentioned policy and plans in her ads. Perhaps that contributed to a part of her downfall that can’t be owned by the die-hard Trump voters.

Clinton’s camp thought they could focus on Donald Trump’s legitimate nastiness, but they weren’t counting on the fact that a quarter of our country completely embraces that fact or simply doesn’t care. Clinton’s camp thought that America’s alleged sense of decency would influence their vote more than their desire to blame and hate. Unfortunately they were wrong.

They say that white people had no idea the country was so racist. I get that. I feel like that’s true for many of us. Those of us who grew up in the deep south, however, knew it was there. We knew the force it could become. It’s not the blatant racists or the passive racists voted for Trump that surprise me; I knew they would turn out in droves. I felt the shock nonetheless. I fell into the trap of thinking that enough of that 50% of non-voters would give enough of a shit to vote against hatred.

My bad, I guess.

I fear that Trump plans to treat America like one of his (failed) companies. He’ll be head of the board while Steve Bannon and Mike Pence do the actual running of the country. Alt-righters in the highest positions of power the white house should absolutely scare you. Bernie Bro’s who refuse to let up on the DNC in the face of our country falling prey to rampant racism, sexism, and bigotry should scare you, too. That kind of bull headedness makes one a prime target for alt-right radicalization. Divisiveness in the left should scare us. Divisiveness in the left is what will keep this nightmare train chugging along.

That’s where I am right now.

 

Helpful Links:

We still have a chance to get another seat in the Senate on December 10th: Support Foster Wallace

Subscribe to Washington Post (Support journalism)

Donate to Planned Parenthood

Donate to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Donate to the Trevor Project

 

 

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YOU’RE SO BRAVE.

sobrave

 

I treated myself to brunch in Wrigleyville since I needed to kill a few hours before reporting to to the stadium.

“Waiting for one more?” my server asked.
I shook my head and said, cooly, “Nah, it’s just me.”
“Oh, wow!”
Brunch, the most social of pastimes, achieves optimum brunchiness when coupled with gaggles of talkative, laughing friends. That said, I am not afraid of eating alone when I travel. This must have seemed curious to my server, who kept throwing quizzical glances my way throughout the meal. When she brought me the check, she said,
“Sorry if I seem a little amazed here, but doing brunch solo. That’s so badass!”
“No,” I said as I raised my glass to her, “You are badass!”

Turning a compliment around to include the person who gave it to me is a social technique I adopted a few years ago. It keeps me from blurting out, “I am riddled with anxiety and my soul is the same shape as one of those broken boned, crab-person demons from American Horror Story. I have accomplished nothing. NOTHING!”

If you have social anxiety then you know all too well the niceties we engage in to hide our FOUL, WRETCHED SELVES. I have spewed out monologues of praises and bouquets to complete strangers because people have to like you if you say nice stuff about them.  It’s basically science.

Unfortunately, for those of us who were didn’t make it aboard the Good Ship Normal Person, one of the caveats of anxiety is the inability to accept compliments. Perhaps you have trouble listening because you’re trying to stay ahead of the game and build your arsenal of amazing, life-affirming things to say. Let’s be honest, though: you are most likely focusing too hard on the time you said something shitty to a girl in 2010. You were thinking about your gross, nasty ass so intently that you didn’t really register ANYTHING in the conversation.

That leads to something like this:

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The beauty of, “No, you!” is how simple it is. Just look what happens in the illustration when Margeret turns the compliment into a sassy NO, YOU:

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It works for nearly all occasions. It did have worked for my solo brunch until my server made an unexpected move.
“No, really,” she said, “You’re such a badass for going to brunch alone!”
Crap.
She doubled down.
I had to double down. I laughed and raised my glass again (I have but one signature move.)
“No, you’re such a badass for going to brunch alone.”
“Yeah,” she laughed, “It’s a little different if you work here.”
SHE WORKS THERE, JAS.
IT IS HER JOB TO COME HERE AND GIVE YOU FOOD AND COFFEE WITHOUT THE AID OF HER MOST TREASURED FRIENDS.
GOD, WHAT THE FLYING FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU ILLEGITIMATE THROBBING WASTE OF A HUMAN SACK OF FLUFF.
It was as if my inner town-cryer was beating against my skull, screaming,
RETREAT, RETREAT!
REVERT TO SPEWING POSITIVE, LIFE AFFIRMING RIGAMAROLE.
TELL HER SHE IS PRETTY.
“Right! I meant for working brunch,” I started. “You should be proud. You’re a hero. You’re a brunch hero. You have great hair.”
She waved her hand at me as if to let the onslaught of wonderful gibberish fall right off her fingers.
“Oh, stop,” she said.

You know where this is going, right?
Because it went there.

No. You stop.

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screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-1-57-31-pmI spent my first Christmas as a free woman with my grandmother. This was back when I had just left an abusive situation and I wasn’t exactly what you would call “mentally sound.”

I got back right before the holidays and everyone had already made plans that I couldn’t just jump in on. Well, everyone except for Grandma Betty. She wasn’t really doing anything for Christmas and I decided the universe was giving me a sign to go over to her place.

Grandma was an Airforce wife. When she married my grandfather she was under the impression that he was an Air Force Ride or Die. Then my grandfather came back from a mission and announced that he would not be renewing his time with the armed forces; rather, he was going to seminary.

And so she became a priest’s wife.

We spent early Christmas Eve talking about her life. As children, we tend to not think about our grandparents as real people who led lives independent of their families before they settled down. I had no idea that she had met Clarke Gable and had boyfriends before my grandfather, but she did. It kind of blew my mind.

I ended up sharing a little bit about my then-predicament. I told her enough about my situation while sparing the uglier details, but she held up her hand and disappeared to her room. She came back with half of a picture. I recognized it from a family event that I had brought the human dumpster fire to. He had been ripped from the picture – quite viciously, too, judging from the tear. She said something along the lines of,

“Screw him.”

She pointed to the cabinet below the sink  and snapped her fingers.
“There should be a bottle of Wild Turkey under there. Get it for me, would you?”
I had no idea what Wild Turkey was, so imagine my surprise when I opened the cabinet and saw a bottle of bourbon sitting next to the Lysol.  A true priest’s wife, indeed.

“It sounds like you could use a glass of this stuff,” she said as she gave both of us a generous pour. It was the first time I ever drank bourbon neat. We didn’t talk about my troubles anymore, rather, we both sipped Wild Turkey and watched It’s a Wonderful Life. 

This is my grandmother on one of the last extensive trips she ever made. I had overcome much of my crazy situation. Thanks to my grandmother’s support, I was able to go to a community college and get my grades back up enough to transfer into Brenau University. I was the first kid to graduate in my family. She made a point to be there even though it was difficult for her to travel.

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My Aunt Susie passed away a little before my grandmother. I didn’t know her health was in decline, so it came as a bit of a surprise and shock to me.

My favorite memory of my Aunt Susie centers around my Uncle Mark and Norm MacDonald. At that point in time Norm Macdonald was having in the middle of a minor comeback as a voice actor.

Funny thing about my Uncle Mark: he sounds VERY MUCH like Norm MacDonald. So much, in fact, that as a child I just assumed they were the same person. I would tell people that my uncle was on the radio and in movies. This falsity didn’t matter much with other children too young to know better, but it became a problem when I started telling adults that my Uncle Mark was the dog in Doctor Doolittle.

My Aunt Susie overheard me and set the record straight.

“Do you know that the person you are talking about is not the same person as your uncle?”
“It’s him, I swear!”
“No, it’s an actor. His name is Norm MacDonald and he was on Saturday Night Live a long time ago. Your Uncle Mark was never on Saturday Night Live. They are two different people.”

I’m glad she did that. I probably would have kept on telling people I was related to Norm until I learned the truth via the hard way. This wasn’t out of the ordinary; I told people that my Uncle Hubert went blind after he was struck by lightning until I was seventeen years old. I was convinced that he told me so himself when I was six. The reality was this: Uncle Hubert didn’t go blind from getting struck by lightning. He went blind because  his pituitary gland exploded and caused him to see a flash of white – like lightning. I told people he survived natural electrocution well into my adulthood. Well in. 

With that in mind, I am grateful that Aunt Susie took the time to set me straight.

The family opted to wait and have a belated memorial for Grandma Betty and my Aunt Susie. It takes place this weekend in Darien, GA, and I can’t be there because of finances and work.

I am thinking about my family, though, and I am thinking about these two women and how awesome and loved they were while they were here.

Aunt Susie, thanks for not letting me live my life thinking that Uncle Mark was Norm MacDonald.
Grandma Betty, I’m so happy that I got to say goodbye to you back in the summer. You were a down ass lady and I’m so grateful for everything you made possible.

Rest in peace, ladies.

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“Facebook is made of ribs.”

I spent the weekend working the photo booth in Silicon Valley. I sported active-wear all weekend to blend in with the local women:

sanjose

Maybe it’s because the companies that made Silicon Valley so famous feed, entertain, and wash their employees onsite, but I had trouble finding things to do. The bars were so empty and calmThe stores had no customers. I texted Nicopolitan, who lived and worked in the SV for a spell, and he replied:  There’s a mall. It has an H&M. That’s all I know.

I ended up sitting and writing at Blue Bottle Coffee for six hours. This is what a coffee shop in Palo Alto looks like:

hanhaus

I thought it was the fanciest place I had ever seen – until I made it to my event at Facebook Headquarters. 

WOW. That was an experience. Facebook HQ is currently made up of two massive compounds. They each span multiple acres and contain their own villages that give food, entertainment, and amenities to over 15,000 employees. Both compounds have restaurants scattered throughout the campuses where employees can literally walk up and say something crazy like,
“Hey, I’d like to have a cornmeal dusted sushi burrito and a nitro cold brew coffee!”
Then the people behind the counter say,
“OK! Here you go!” and then GIVE THE EMPLOYEES THEIR FOOD FOR FREE.
There’s no POS system or logging of the meals.  John Smith in coding could go the Menlo Park BBQ and order ribs four times in one afternoon and no one could say shit to him about hogging all the ribs. Facebook is made of ribs.

I couldn’t make it to the ribs shack because a Facebook employee must be within 10 feet of a guest at all times and they all had other things to do. I gazed at the rib shack from the terrace and mulled over every scenario in which I could make a run for it – super speed, drafting behind a larger employee, knocking someone out and stealing their clothes – but the rib shack stood in the middle of open quad full of employees. It would be impossible to make it to the middle undetected.

invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1NO RIBS FOR YOU. NO RIBS FOR YOU EVER.

In the end I managed to grab an escort who stood off to the side and watched me make myself a sandwich at their sandwich bar. Eggplant tapenade, freshly carved Turkey, green superfood spread – they had it all.

I had to leave the event early to catch my flight back to Los Angeles, but I managed to snag a miniature apple pie and a canned cold brew on my way out of the compound.

Speaking of airports, something about flying makes me want to ignore all common sense and pretend I’m fucking rich. I can’t count my crimes against fiscal responsibility committed in an airport. $7.99 to watch a San Andreas featuring Dwayne The Rock Johnson? Take my Visa, please! 

What about that slice of knockoff Sbaro’s pizza? I shouldn’t even be eating pizza, but who cares? We’re at the airport! Nothing bad can happen to us here! Or, wait, everything bad could happen here; I might meet my death on that plane so who actually gives a fuck if I pay $60 for an airport manicure?

Shoot. Nothing brings out my stupid privilege like the airport. Let me tell you something about privilege: Privilege is when you’re ready to choke an American Airlines flight attendant because they gave you pretzels instead of Specaloos cookies and oh fuck I KNOW THEY DIDN’T JUST TURN AROUND AND GIVE SPECALOOS COOKIES TO THE PERSON BEHIND ME AFTER THEY TOSSED ME A BAG OF PRETZELS WITHOUT EVEN GIVING ME A CHOICE.

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