I’m Launching a Podcast!

I’ve had wicked writer’s block in my attempt to complete book 2. So how did I deal with it? I created a podcast with my best friend, Kevin.

It’s called Terrifyingly Beautiful. Check us out on iTunes. Here’s a description:

Join two self-proclaimed “anxiety experts” and best friends, David Robert and Kevin O’Connell, as each week they pop open a bottle of wine and share hilarious stories about the stuff that keeps them up at night. Spoiler alert: It’s everything. Will they be able to help each other navigate their fears? Probably not but you’ll die laughing as they try.

iTunes link is below. And please if you have a spare moment, click Subscribe, download episodes and feel free to leave a review.  We would be tickled to death. I’ll be posting here as well. Have a wonderful week ahead!!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/terrifyingly-beautiful/id1227826319

What is Black Tar Mexican Heroin?

blacktarheroin

I attended a party last night and one of the people in the group I was chatting with asked the question, “what is the scariest thing you’ve experienced?” Several people described near-miss car accidents while another talked about a recent skydiving trip.

When the question came to me I decided to share a story of an event from the previous summer. Shortly after the July 4th holiday, I joined several friends on a road trip to New Hampshire for a weekend of camping. One afternoon we came up with the idea to drive to a local watering hole to swim. I piled into the front passenger seat of my friend’s Nissan Altima, while his younger brother hopped into the back seat. Our destination was less than 10 miles from our campsite and as we approached the halfway point my friend, the driver, noticed a young guy hitchhiking just ahead of us. My friend pulled the car over and offered to give the guy a ride. The man graciously accepted and he jumped into the open back seat.

The man, early 20s, clean cut, seemed nice enough. We engaged in the obligatory small talk. Where was he going? How long had he been on the road? He had just finished answering the latter question when my friend noticed flashing lights in the rearview mirror.

“Shit, it’s the cops,” he said.

My friend pulled the car onto the shoulder and we waited patiently for the policeman to approach the car.

“License and registration, please.”

“Can I ask what we’re being pulled over for?” my friend asked.

“I thought I saw open containers in the car.”

The cop stared at my friend’s license for a moment and then shifted his glare first to me then to the back seat.

“Can you all exit the vehicle and join me at the back of the car.” This was not so much a question as it was a polite order.

The four of us assembled at the back of the car and lined up shoulder to shoulder. Our backs faced the ravine.

“Before I search the car is there anything I need to be aware of. If you’re honest, I’ll be lenient.”

The officer stared at my friend first. My friend shook his head. The officer turned his attention to my friend’s brother. He, too, shook his head, as did I when the officer stood in front of me and asked the same question. Then the officer stepped to his right and faced our guest, the hitchhiker.

“And you? Do you have anything you want to bring to my attention before I search the car?”

The stranger looked down briefly and then raised his head and locked eyes with the officer.

“Okay. When you go through my bag in the back seat you will find something.”

My stomach sank. What the fuck?

I turned my head and glared at the young man.

“And I know your first reaction will be to assume it’s Mexican black tar heroin but it’s just regular hashish.”

My knees buckled. Vision blurred. Next thing I know I’m tumbling backward down into the ravine. As my limp body rolled down the gravel embankment all I could think of was how my tiny frame wouldn’t stand a chance in jail. I’d be someone’s bitch by the end of the first day. I’d likely get nicknamed Muffin or Baby Boy. I’m not even that limber anymore. I’m totally screwed.

Mexican black tar heroin? Are you fucking kidding me?

When I came to, I could see the officer and my companions staring down the ravine.

“Oooouch,” I gasped.

It took several minutes for the officer and my friend to release me from the grip of a thorn bush and haul me back onto the shoulder. I think the officer felt as though he put enough fear in me. He confiscated the bag and let us go. I couldn’t believe it. But let me tell you, those few minutes when my body was bouncing down that ravine were likely the most terrifying thus far.

What is your scariest moment?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Way to Shop for the Holidays

 

Christmas TreeI recently visited a candle factory that also housed an expansive Christmas village. In the center of the village was a 30-foot Christmas tree that rotated slowly while holiday music played overhead.

The tree was surrounded by a ring of low shelves that held snow globes, ornaments and candles among other things.

I spotted an intriguing ornament dangling from one the tree’s branches and I wanted to get a closer look. I approached the wall of shelves and stood on my tiptoes in an attempt to touch the ornament, which I could now tell was a tiny Cardinal in a nest made of hay. Well, my wool sweater got snagged on the branch. I tried to not panic as the tree pulled me to my left as it turned on its axis.

At first I though I might be able to break free by tugging my wrist down. Nope. Didn’t work. I tried a harder jerk. Now I was caught on the branch in two places. At the wrist and the elbow. And the tree seemed to pick up speed.

There I was, strolling along with the tree, my right arm stretched high above. As the tree was about halfway through a complete turn, I noticed a store clerk on a ladder immediately in front of the shelves. He appeared to be adding ornaments to the tree.

Me: Look out! Coming through.

Clerk: Are you okay, sir?

Me: Oh yes, I just seem to be stuck to the tree. I’ll get myself free here shortly.

Clerk: That looks uncomfortable.

Me: Well, at least I’m moving forward.

[I had to scale the ladder in order to get around him.]

Clerk: I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the tree changes direction every 6 minutes.

 

Me: How long until it-

[The tree slowed and then started to turn in the opposite direction.]

Me: Really?

Clerk: I’ll grab some scissors. Hold on. We’ll make this as discreet as possible.

[He moved the ladder of of the way. All of the sudden the music stopped and a woman’s voice filled the room via the loud speaker.]

Speaker: Happy Holidays. Please join us in the village center in front of the Christmas tree for a special performance by the Valley Volunteer Carolers. They’ll be singing some of your favorite holiday songs while you enjoy complimentary apple cider and cookies. At that moment, like 30 fucking carolers entered the room and gathered at the base of the tree – opposite of where I was – although I was on my way toward them as the tree pulled me along.]

Me: Oops. Coming through. Sorry. Just finishing my last lap. [As I pass behind the group of carolers (backward by the way), I whisper.] It’s the Santa stroll. I’ll be out of your way in a minute.

[I am not kidding when I tell you that there must have been 150 shoppers gathered in the room waiting to enjoy the show. The carolers break out into a version of Frosty the Snowman. As I turned the corner so that I was on the opposite side of the carolers, I panicked. I noticed a Frosty snow globe so I grabbed it. As I passed behind the carolers, I raised the snow globe over my head. I thought I could at least try to pretend I was part of the act. This sequence repeated itself for about 5 spins. During one pass I held up a life sized Elf on the Shelf. On another, I rang a handful of silver bells. I even lifted a Menorah at one point. On one of the final turns while the carolers were singing Mary Did You Know, I wore a giant white angel on my head. Ugh. Finally, the clerk was back.]

Clerk: Okay the tree is going to slow down now and spin in the opposite direction. That’s when I’ll try to cut you free.

Me: Okay I hope it’s soon. I ran out of props.

[The tree slows down and the clerk jumps into action. He snipped and cut and asked me to pull my arm down. I did. Still stuck. The tree started to spin again.]

Clerk: Take the sweater off! I’ll help.

[He lifts the waist of my brown sweater up over my head. I slip my left arm out of the sleeve but my right arm wouldn’t release. Now the sweater was over my head.]

Me: This is your idea of discreet?

Clerk: I think I’m stuck now.

Me: You’re kidding, right?

Clerk: I wish I was. And we’re now turning toward the carolers.

Me: I can’t see anything. This is all you, buddy.

[The carolers were now belting out a jolly version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. The clerk grabbed a set of reindeer antler candle holders and slapped them onto my head. He was already wearing a Santa hat.]

Clerk: Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas!

[I was hunched over. Arm in the air. brown sweater pulled over my head. Wearing antlers. Behind me was the clerk in a Santa hat. Ho Ho Ho’ing. I can only imagine we looked like a Thrift-store version of Old Saint Nick and his favorite reindeer. Luckily, the weight of the reindeer antlers was just enough to snag me free. The clerk escorted me directly into the “employees only” room where I completed my panic attack and put my sweater on the proper way. I’ll never go shopping again.]

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Not a Hot Meth

Me: Hi, I’d like to purchase two boxes of Advil Cold & Sinus please.

Pharmacist: I’m sorry but you’re only permitted one box per year.

Me: Why?

Pharmacist: Our company is working with local law enforcement and health agencies to reduce the use of methamphetamine.

Me: You mean like crystal meth?

Pharmacist: Yes.

Me: Do you have any idea how many boxes of these pills I’d need to make crystal meth?

Pharmacist: Yes, I do. That’s why we limit purchases to one box per person.

Me: Did you watch Breaking Bad? It’s not a simple process. I don’t even have a mobile home to set up a meth lab in.

Pharmacist: Do you want to purchase the one box?

Me: No. I want two boxes. I have a cold and I take two pills at one time. That one box won’t last me a few days.

Pharmacist: Only one box, sir. I’m sorry.

Me: Do you see me? I have all of my teeth. And they’re white. I’m not a meth addict.

Pharmacist: Well now that you mention it, I do see a brown tooth in there.

Me: Ugh. That’s a temporary crown.

Pharmacist: From here it looks like a snaggle tooth. A methy snaggle tooth.

Me: IT’S TEMPORARY!!

Pharmacist: And I see some acne on your forehead. Another telltale sign.

Me: I’m allergic to soy. Oh my God. I ate a meatball last night made from soy. It makes me break out.

Pharmacist: You seem edgy. Something making you anxious?

Me: Yes, you are. Can I please have my pills?

Pharmacist: We’re begging now? Seems like you’re desperate.

Me: I’m not desperate. I have a sore throat and stuffy nose. I just want my pills.

Pharmacist: License?

Me: Here. (I hand him my license). The address is not updated on my license. I moved recently. And it’s a bad picture.

Pharmacist: Hmmmm.

Me: What?

Pharmacist: I see in our records that you purchased a box in March of this year.

Me: It’s November.

Pharmacist: I’m sorry. Only one box per year.

Me: I WANT MY FUCKING PILLS. PLEASE!!!

Pharmacist: Yeah, you and every other pilly punk in here.

Me: Look. Just listen to me for a minute. It’s been a rough week. I’m stressed out. I’m not a meth addict. I’m just sick.

Pharmacist: You’re covered in dirt, you have a brown tooth and you have acne.

Me: I told you. The brown tooth is temporary. I’m getting it replaced in a few days once my insurance company clears up a billing error. It should have been replaced by now. (The pharmacist raises his eyebrows in mocked excitement). And I’m dirty because I moved all of our outdoor furniture into the shed. Ugh. Never mind. Just give me the one box.

Pharmacist: That’ll be $9.08 please.

(I reach into my picket and realize that I don’t have my debit card. I pull out a handful of crumpled dollar bills and change and slap it onto the counter. The pharmacist rolls his eyes. I start to count the money.)

Me: I know this looks white trashy but I forgot my debit card. Okay, here’s a five and three more singles. That’s eight. And here’s some change. Let’s see. 25, 50, 60, 65, 68. I’ve got $8.68. How much do I owe you?

Pharmacist: $9.08.

(I turn to the lady standing behind me. I hold my hand up and partially cover my mouth so she won’t see my brown tooth.)

Me: Hi. You wouldn’t happen to have 40 cents I can borrow? I’m short and I don’t have my debit card. I’m usually pretty good about having it on me. It’s been a rough day and I could really use the help.

Lady: I’ve been watching this entire exchange and there’s no way I’m supporting a drug habit.

Me: I’m not a meth addict. What is wrong with you people? You know what, forget it. I’ll suffer through the cold. It’s not worth the aggravation.

(I grab my money and walk away, but not before I overhear the woman talking to the pharmacist.)

Lady: It’s so sad. Another wasted life.

Me (shouting from two aisles away): When I get my new tooth and my acne clears up, I’m coming back. Then we’ll see who’s crazy.

(I’m looking forward to returning soon:))

 

November: Osage County

Funny-thanksgiving-pictures-25

On this day, I wanted to let you all know that I am thankful for each and every one of you. Some of you I know well while others I know through the Blogsphere. But all of you are important to me. Thank you:)

To show my appreciation, I’ve dug up this morsel out of my head from the past. I hope you enjoy.

—–

Setting: 10 people sitting around our dinner table trying to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve changed names to protect, well, everyone.

Margaret (in her late sixties): So Claire, are you going to formally introduce your new boyfriend to us.

Claire (wearing dark eye shadow and black lipstick, and looking completely disinterested): Grandma, I told you. He’s not my boyfriend. We hooked up once in the back of his pickup truck at a Marilyn Manson concert. That doesn’t mean we’re dating.

(The boyfriend’s face is covered with long, jet black hair. He flips his head to the side momentarily pushing his hair away from his face, exposing pale skin and a patch over one eye.)

Aunt Beverly (mid sixties and tipsy): When your mom and I were your age, we had a wild side as well. Isn’t that right, Margaret.

Margaret: Beverly, you hush now. Not in front of the kid. (She laughs.)

Timmy: Grandma. I’m not a kid anymore. I’m 12 now. And besides, I’ve seen a real vagina.

Stella (Timmy’s mom): Timmy! Word selection??

Timmy: Sorry. I’ve seen a actual vagina.  I walked in on Kim and Paul last night. They were in the laundry room. At first I thought he was banging his hips against the washing machine. I couldn’t see well. It was dark. So I flipped the light on. It wasn’t the machine he was banging.

Claire: Wait, Paul isn’t here yet. He’s arriving tonight, right?

Kim (early forties): Timmy, sweetie. You’re telling fibs now. Your older brother Hunter was stretching me out. (She turns her head left and right). I have fibromyalgia.

(Everyone glared at Hunter. He kept his chin down and continued shoving mashed potatoes into his mouth.)

Margaret: Fibro what? Is that a yoga stretch?

Claire: Yeah, it’s also called The Hungry Cougar.

Beverly:: No wonder the towels came out especially fluffed. (She winks at Kim). Good for you, girl. That’s what I think. We’re not getting any younger. Get in there while your eggs are still good. I probably let a dozen good ones go to waste.

Jim (Margaret’s husband): Beverly??

Beverly: Well, I’m sorry Jim. But I speak the truth. In our generation there was too much pressure for women to find a man and produce children. It wasn’t fair. (She reaches into her pocket and retrieves something and pops it into her mouth.) I should have been a lesbian. Take some pressure, off.

Kevin (Margaret’s grandson): Oh yeah, a lesbian in the 1950s. That would have been an easy life.

Claire: Are you still taking pain pills?

Beverly: Oh don’t be silly. I’m just taking a little relaxer. These holidays stress me out.

Kevin: Maybe you shouldn’t drink if you’re taking pills.

Beverly: What would Jesus do? (She lifts her wine glass and takes a substantial sip.)

Jim (Rolls his eyes): Here we go.

Stella: Why do you always have to bring Jesus into it.

Beverly: Oh relax, Stella. Loosen that fucking bun a little bit and have some fun. I know you have it in with Jesus. I’m just kidding you.

Kevin: Jesus is fictional. He was created so that people didn’t feel insignificant in the world.

Stella: What are they teaching you in school these days? If you mother were here right now. Honestly.

Kevin: Aunt Stella. I’m sorry but it’s a little silly that people have convinced themselves that they know exactly who this Jesus was and what he wanted. It’s a cult.

Stella: That is–

Beverly: You know what’s silly? That I’ve had an empty wine glass for several minutes and not a single one of you jumped in to help me out. Timmy, honey, can you go get Auntie Bev some wine.

Stella: It’s completely outrageous that you would call Jesus fictional. So an entire religion was made up?

Kevin: Well, yes.

Jim: Hey Everyone, it takes a village now. Let’s keep that in mind.

Beverly (who now has a replenished glass of wine): I’d like to porpose, propose, a toast. (She stands up). This woman over here. (She points to Margaret) is like a sister to me. (Margaret is actually her sister). She was there when I was down and out. She came to my defense on more than one occasion. She’s the Jesus we should all be focused on. Okay, there was that one time when she screwed the boy I was interested in. It took a long time to forgive her, didn’t it Margaret, but I did. Blood is thicker than wine. Or is it wine is thicker than water. You get my point.(Her voice gets louder). This woman is un-fucking believable. You wouldn’t have anything to be thankful for today if it weren’t for her. Our dear Margaret.

Kevin: Your relaxer has kicked in, I see.

Beverly: Oh fuck you, Kevin. Ivy League Kevin. I could debate the shit out of you from now until next Sunday. I don’t need a fancy certificate to tell me I’m smart.

Kevin: You’re a drunk drug addict. Doesn’t take much intellect to pull that off.

Beverly: You little shit. (She lunges across the table at Kevin, gets her leg trapped in her chair, and face plants onto the table.)

(Everyone jumps up to help her. Well, almost everyone. Claire and her boyfriend start to make out, and Hunter grabs a roll out of the basket on his end of the table. Jim gets Beverly back into her seat. Beverly continues to thrash her arms toward Kevin, mashed potatoes and gravy dripping from her face. Paul walks into the room holding flowers and a bottle of wine.)

Paul: Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone in unison: Fuck you.

 

Is That a Snake Skin?

Here’s another grocery store gem.

Several years ago, I volunteered at a non-profit whose mission was to prevent the spread of HIV and STDs among at-risk youth in Springfield, MA. It was not unusual for me to have condoms and little flavored lube packets in my jacket or jeans pockets.

On my way home from a volunteer shift, I stopped by our local grocery store to pick up a few food items. I approached the cashier and began to empty the items from my basket onto the conveyor belt. The cashier, a lovely older woman named Fran who had dyed auburn hair and sequined rimmed eye glasses that hung around her neck on a chain, asks me for my loyalty card. I reached into my jacket pocket to pull out my keychain and out flew a handful of condoms and tiny lube packets. The items dispersed across the conveyor belt. At that moment, I realized that the narrow metal strip that prevents items from getting jammed up in the end of conveyer was missing.

I frantically attempted to grab the loose condoms and lube packets but I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the conveyor belt. Several of the items disappeared into the slot the metal strip should have been covering. A few seconds later, the grinding noise started. At first the noise was relatively muted but it quickly evolved into a loud clunking before finally climaxing with a loud thud. The conveyor belt halted.

Fran, oblivious to the condoms and lube packets that slipped by her and into the open slot, leaned in for a closer look.

“Oh this darn conveyor belt. It’s been acting up lately. Let me get a manager over here to fix this thing.”

“No. No. It’s okay,” I replied. “I think something got jammed in there but I can get it out.”

“Dear, don’t be silly,” Fran said. Her tone was sweet and authentic. I felt guilty. “You can hurt your fingers. I’ll handle this.”

“No, really,” I continued. It was too late. Fran reached into the space alongside the register and retrieved a long piece of metal that reminded me of the handle to a fly swatter.

“I’ll use this,” she said.

I watched in horror as Fran stuck the metal rod into the open slot and jerked the rod back and forth.

“I see something,” she said, now completely consumed with evacuating the jammed item. “I got you, you little bugger.”

With a flick of her tiny wrist, she pulled the metal rod out from the slot and held it up over her head. Hanging from the end of the rod was an unrolled condom that she apparently tore from its plastic packet in her heroic effort to unjam the conveyor belt.

What seemed like 200 people behind me in line all leaned forward for a closer look.

“What the golly is that?” Fran asked. “Is that a snake skin?”

I felt my face heating up. “We can put that down now,” I said.

A woman behind me spoke up. “That’s a condom.” I didn’t even have to turn around. Her piercing, judging eyes were burning a hole in my back.

Fran shook the rod a few times, which caused the condom to bounce and sway.

“Yup, that’s a condom,” the woman added through her laughter. “A small one. But it’s definitely a condom.”

A man spoke up behind her. “Dude, that thing wouldn’t even fit over my pinky.”

I was deep into a panic attack. Why does this shit happen to me?

“It’s not my condom,” I screamed.

A collective gasp echoed down the line of queued customers. Great now they think I’m not protecting myself.

“Well, I use condoms but this particular condom isn’t mine. It was meant for a kid in Springfield. I mean, not a kid but a young person. Well, old enough to be having sex but not old enough to understand the consequences.”

What the hell was I talking about?

“But I can assure you that it’s not my condom. Look how small it is. Does anyone really think I’d be using that particular condom. Don’t answer that. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be. No offense to anyone who does but I just want to remove any false perceptions here. So just to review, that is not my condom. Okay?”

“Mmmm hmmm.” Even Fran looked skeptical.

“It isn’t,” I screamed again. “I fucking wear a size 10 shoe. Look.” I lifted my foot and placed it onto the side of the conveyor belt. “Does that look like a small foot to you? Well it’s not.” I lifted the tongue on the shoe. “See! It’s a size 10. A nice big healthy size 10 foot. And besides. what does it matter? It’s not the size of the ship, it’s the motion of the ocean. Does that ring a bell?”

I was losing it.

“Honey, that analogy is irrelevant if you’re only sitting in a bathtub,” the same woman replied. Laughter erupted.

I tasted a little vomit in the back of my throat.

Thankfully, the conveyor belt started up again. It growled a few times and then stopped. Fran lowered the metal rod and leaned in toward the slot where she had just retrieved the condom. “Something else is in there. I can see it.”

Again, the people in line behind me leaned forward. My foot was still resting on the conveyor belt. I looked like a giraffe trying to pee. Just as the woman immediately behind me pressed against me to get a better look, a loud pop emitted from the slot. And then a shower of velvety, strawberry lubrication rained down on our heads. One of those damn lube packers had burst. The spray reached customers ten feet behind me.

I did what any rational person would do. I dropped my elevated foot to the floor and ran like hell out the door. To this day, I have not returned.

Talking About Depression

Last evening, Pete and I spent time with a dear friend of ours who has been battling depression for many years. I actually didn’t know this until last night. We were surprised when he suddenly broke down into tears. We held him and tried to provide him comfort. When he finally settled down, he shared with us that he’s growing more concerned about what he described as “his losing control over his emotions.” He said things seemed to be getting worse.

As an anxious person who has dealt with the stress and loneliness through humor, I wanted to comfort him but I was at a loss for words. I didn’t want to inappropriately inject humor into the conversation when he was clearly upset. It was hard for me because I find humor in nearly everything. I so wanted to say, “You’re depressed? I’m the one with the brown tooth.” But I knew that moment probably wasn’t ideal for poking fun.

So I simply said, “I don’t know what to say but I’m just happy you trusted us enough to share your feelings and for spending this time together.”

Did I handle this the correct way? I’d love to get other’s perspective.

Thank you!