Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cubicle Survival (of the funniest)

There's a new kid on the block at the Prospect Avenue mansion, and the bosses are splitting up my current officemate and me. They say it's because they want us to share our wealth of knowledge and experience with the newbies. I say they’re full of it. Really, they’re jealous of us laughing hysterically all day every day. I'll be the first to admit we can be slightly obnoxious, but a daily dose of "ugly-face-laugh" makes office culture a heckofalot more tolerable, and, if you're really lucky, a lot of fun!

So while you may not think of life in a cubicle as thrilling, I posit to you, the joy you experience in the confines of your cube each day is what you choose it to be! As a farewell tribute to Bowens, the greatest office roommie ever, here are a few tips for cultivating office fun, all of which are tried and true, to keep you enjoying life in a cubicle as the summer months have you wishing you were anywhere else.

NICKNAMES: Give nicknames that are totally obnoxious, but have a good bit of truth. For example, you might call your feminist friend an artsy-fartsy liberal elitist, and she might call you an argyle-and-pearl-wearing prude. When those get boring, try mixing up the order of the components and the laughs are sure to keep rolling.

ACCENTS/IMPERSONATIONS: Pick an accent, or a movie, to quote for the day. I personally recommend quoting Mean Girls or impersonating Miss South Carolina’s infamous pageant answer, but ‘Hood Day is a guaranteed winner, too.

THROW THINGS: It’s a simple concept; people getting mildly injured is always good for a laugh. Recently jellybelly wars have been popular around here, but I most recommend lightly tossing a spoon at your officemate when she’s on the phone with a reporter... just be sure to aim for her fatty tissue or it could hurt… or cause temporary paralysis… be careful with this one.

NEW FRIENDS: Never underestimate the fun that might ensue from meeting a new vendor. They are full of stories, like the process of and reasons for getting, and removing, that tattoo. And if you're lucky, you might get a free lunch, a few dates, or a man so into you that he jumps through your ceiling just so he can come clean up the plaster on your desk.

SNACKS: Self explanatory, but note that afternoon homemade guacamole breaks do wonders for lightening the mood after any number of angry reporter rejections.

HOLLYWOOD: A fun scene to act out is to pretend what an afternoon would look like if you weren't concerned with keeping your job. Or, try living on a cat farm. If you’re feeling really adventurous, alpacas are cute animals to have as imaginary friends. But what really tops the list of scenes to act out, is to reenact the hairstyles and smiles of each of your awkward K-12 school pictures.

DANCE PARTIES: Jump on YouTube and find a dance party. Recommended from experience are Justin Timberlake’s rendition of “Single Ladies,” or “We’re All In This Together” from High School Musical. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can become a star.

GAGS: There are all kinds of gags you can pull. Try wrapping the ball of your officemate's computer mouse with foil and watching her restart it several times before you bust out laughing and tell her not to call the IT folks. Or, if she happens to be OC, unwrapping every piece of candy in her jar and taping the empty wrappers around her desk can be a lot of fun.

With all of these sure-to-please office games, gags, and gimmicks, I trust you’ll have no problem choosing to have some fun and find joy each and every day, even in your cube!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Uh-oh... I think I'm growing up

A funny phenomenon happens every time I go to Target. I walk in with my list intending to spend around $30, and like magic, I come out with a full cart, at least $100 poorer, and still in need of everything on my list. Never failed... past tense.

But today my Target adventure was different... I proudly managed to sneak away with most of what was on my list, and only $96.38 poorer.

“I absolutely need those pink plaid wedges,” I thought to myself as I strolled through the shoe isles. “No, Annie, you don’t. You want those pink wedges. You’re plenty cute enough without them! Keep walking.”

So as self-ordered, I contently stepped away from the cutest pink plaid wedges ever, thinking about all of the more virtuous and wise ways I could spend that money. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for anyone who has seen my hallway shoe pile, it is.

As I walked away, it made me smile to see that little bit of personal growth. It’s comforting to know that while I have so much to learn, so far to go, and so much virtue to grow into, the Lord continues to do a good work in me*, and I trust He is pleased with my baby steps.

And that’s a dang good thing, because then I entered the sports section and decided it would be a good idea to buy the golf balls that “promise” ten more yards, for ten more dollars.

So baby steps are what I continue to take... at least they're not being taken in unnecessary pink plaid wedges.

*“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Friday, May 22, 2009

A crusade of prayer for our country

Because "...reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle..." (George Washington), there's a new campaign dedicated to righting the course of our nation's morality, and it's worth your next two minutes.

From the website:
The constitution of the United States of America states clearly that we as citizens have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Yet in this great nation that holds individual rights as supremely sacred, the most basic right, the right to life is systematically denied to its most vulnerable. Faith and God in our nation are under attack and new government policy is moving us even further down the path to atheism, secularism, and from the vision of our founding fathers.

Two things can right our course... prayer and action! Join a growing army of faithful in a national prayer campaign for our country, our President and all of our elected officials.

Please visit America's Prayer Campaign, make your pledge of prayer offerings, and do them!

The campaign invites Americans of ALL FAITHS to participate. I'll be participating in the Novena to the Holy Spirit that starts today, but all prayerful people are encouraged to commit to prayer for the renewal, restoration and reawakening of our nation as well as for our President. Together we can help return our country to one that indeed grants the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Flavors is a virtue

As I reapplied my berrylicious lip gloss for the fourteenth time today bc it tasted so very good, I thought to myself, "I wonder how many calories are in this." Not that I particularly cared, or had any plans to change my application habits based on the answer, but I’m a google addict, generally a curious spirit, and I wanted to know.

So, I googled my question, expecting a simple (number/measurement unit) answer. But instead, the following google hits were poppin', which I just have to share...

"If people are concerned about calories in lip gloss, they need to realize that it is not in the normal realm of diet-thinking."

"How many calories are in lip gloss? This question may only be asked by an anorexic. Sorry, I’m very straightforward."

And my personal favorite:

“No man ever said, ‘dang girl, you packin’ on them pounds! You better lay up off that lip gloss!’”

Ok. So I'm a special case for looking that up. And while the answers actually made me laugh out loud, the best part of this research was looking down at my desk to see the empty sleeve of thin mints, that I had just finished off over the course of a week, laying there on my desk, ferociously laughing at me, next to the same keyboard with which I pondered the caloric intake of using my Berrylicious Beauty Rush lip gloss.

So I'm over that curiosity. And in the words of Lil' Mama, "flavors is a virtue." So I'm'a keep 'em poppin'.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not in my back yard!

What happens in print the day after you see tweets from your daily paper's journalists about it being a slow news day?

This. And it's hilarious.

My personal favorite, is "We’re moving to where we can have chickens."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The American Idol Machine

DISCLAIMER: This is my last Danny Gokey post (until he releases his first album, of course), and I will soon return to topics with some application to reality.

If there is one thing I've learned from my recent encounters with reality TV celebs from Milwaukee, it's that there is nothing real about reality shows. It was obvious The American Idol Machine (The Machine) was rigged this season:

1) The producers Darbied Danny by having Paula pick a song for him that none of the mainstream voters [read: Teeny Bopper Americans] of The Machine had ever heard, thus leaving Danny voters less enthused and less likely to vote 200 times each (not that I'm admitting to that... ok, yes I am).
2) Adam Lambert was the third of the three finalists to have his hometown footage shown, leaving the most lasting impression on The Machine's fans' hearts as it built up the intensity in advance of announcing the two finalists. And what's more, the final shot of Lambert in his hometown footage was of him in front of a GIANT American flag.
3) Katy Perry, The Machine's selected and chosen performer of the evening, was posed with Lambert's name on her cape.

Clearly, The Machine has long had Lambert selected as the 2009 winner, and will run tirelessly and shamelessly until Lambert – the edgy, melodramatic, guy-liner-wearing rock star, whom The Machine is using to bring in a new and different crowd of followers – is crowned Pop Star King.

So why even have a finale? Why not just announce to America that it doesn't matter how they vote because The Machine has already secured Lambert as the 2009 Idol? Because then there would be a week less of revenue.

So needless to say, I was sad – not just at Danny's loss, but at my own hopeless optimism that The Machine is actually the people's unadulterated choice. While the calls/texts/fb messages of condolence that flooded in to me at 9 p.m. CST were helpful, and hilarious, the real light on that yesterday’s dark, tragic night, was the realization that a) this means Danny gets to come home to Milwaukee sooner, and b) he is now not under the raging fury of the domineering hand of The Machine, and is free to record as he wishes!

And on that note, here are my top ten picks for songs I hope Danny someday covers (and yes, I’m serious about number three):

1. I Want You Back, Jackson 5
2. Forever, Kiss
3. Forever, Jesse and the Rippers
4. Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson
5. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Michael McDonald
6. Isn't She Lovely, Stevie Wonder
7. Smooth Criminal (Are you ok Annie?), Michael Jackson
8. Don't Stop Believin', Journey
9. Love Song, Sarah Bareilles
10. I'm bringing sexy back, Justin Timberlake

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I hold these truths to be self-evident…

*Sometimes saying nothing IS the last word.

*Praying is like flossing; we can’t always see it working, but we know it works.

*Climbing up on the rooftop to have lunch with a friend in the sunshine and watch the sailboats, instead of working on that deadline, is so worth it.

*God answers prayers in mysterious ways; have confidence in those ways even when you don’t understand them.

*You catch more flies with honey than vinegar; and even flies need friends.

*Dating someone who displays more indecision than Brett Favre trying to retire is not a good idea.

*Knowing thyself is imperative to living peacefully.

*Honesty is always, always, always, always, the best policy.

*Granting undeserved forgiveness is a humbling, beautiful path leading to the heart of Christ.

*When you get bit by a snake, you don’t bite it back; you suck out the poison.

*Old friends are invaluable, no matter how different you may be.

*The cream always comes to the top… eventually.

*Adversity that doesn’t kill you will indeed make you stronger.

*Acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

*The sweetness of the Lord’s grace can turn even the most bitter batch of lemons into delightful refreshment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, I am Ga Ga for Gokey. But please ask me why!

Friends keep asking me if I’m Ga Ga for Gokey. As one who, generally speaking, is completely unenthused by anything pop culture, my simple answer in the positive comes as shocking to some. 

But my official “ga ga for Gokey” status has little to do with pop culture, really. I mean, I fully acknowledge the man has dreamy vocals; and I almost melted into the concrete when he sang my all-time favorite song, “Signed, sealed, delivered,” at the Summerfest grounds free concert; and I love that he is a hometown hero, born, bred and brewed in Milwaukee. But really, I’m ga ga for Gokey because the man is a testament to what it means to have hope, peace, and joy in the Lord. 

As most know, just a year ago Danny unexpectedly lost his young wife Sophia during her surgery. The pain he endured must have been beyond unbearable. But despite his loss, every time you see Danny, he is beaming that big old grin of his. It’s miraculous, really.

In a world where many are angered at sports team losses, traffic congestion, lattes not being just perfect, or other petty annoyances, the way Danny Gokey has overcome such a significant loss is proof positive of the presence of the Spirit in him, and it’s inspiring.

Life can throw us unexpected curve balls. Jobs, dreams, loves, hopes, people – you name it – can be stripped from us unexpectedly at any minute. When those things happen, I hope we can all be a little more ga ga for Gokey by following his inspirational and resilient example. The Lord may, for reasons we don’t understand, give and take away blessings. But because He, not the blessing He gives, is the source of joy, we are still able to march forward in His joy even in the most troublesome times. 

Danny Gokey is an encouraging reminder that when life throws extra lemons in my grocery cart, I can always make lemonade by going home to the Lord and allowing the sweetness of His grace and comfort to infuse my life. And that, my friends, is why I am indeed ga ga for Gokey. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I love my Momma!

Not a day goes by I don’t thank our God for the blessing He has given me in the love of my parents, and for the Domestic Church they established and brought me up in. On this Mother’s Day, I want to publicly declare my gratitude for my momma, who, like a steel magnolia, has endured both the joys and hardships of life with fortitude and grace. I am one blessed girl to have her example to learn from and follow. I love you, Momma!

This year, in addition to standard flowers, I put my media relations skills to work to get her awarded the "Mother of the Year" award. You can watch news coverage of the announcement here!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sometimes saying nothing IS the last word

Not to dredge up your painful memories, but for the sake of me making a point, recall one of those moments when someone did or said something to you so callously cruel that it made the English language seem absolutely incapable of expressing the pain and hurt that person caused you. Recall feeling as though even if you could come up with words to articulate how burned that person made you feel, your words would still not even begin to approach the justice due to that person.

Got that moment in mind? I sure do.

Created in God’s image, humans are prone to desire His ways, two of which being our desires for truth and justice. For me, my inclination toward truth and justice often leads to my disordered and selfish desire to have the last word. It’s as if by having the last word I feel like I’ve made a declaration of truth and put the unjust person in his place. You’d think after years of that pursuit failing to bring about justice I would learn to quit trying. Well, maybe I finally have…

As I pondered what to say back, and expressed to my friend Bowens how badly I wanted to have the last and final word, Bowens said, "Annie, sometimes saying nothing IS the last word." How right she was.

Because sometimes – when all that needed to be said has already been said, and even though you feel like your brain will explode out of your skull if you don’t say more, but you know the words required to reach truth and justice are still lacking – saying nothing, biting your lip, and taking the high road says so much more than any words ever could. Sometimes saying nothing says EVERYTHING, in a way so much more powerful than any compilation of verbalized feelings, and with grace, poise, and kindness to boot.

We cannot control the deficient behaviors or choices of others; we can only control ourselves. So when you’re treated unjustly – slopped around through someone else's failings, lies, weaknesses, or general human deficiencies – don’t waste your efforts on looking for words that will never result in bringing about justice. If you can’t seem the find the words due, it’s probably because they’re nowhere to be found. So instead or fighting for the last “word,” just FORGIVE, remember God, not us, brings ultimate justice, and get the H out of Dodge on the highest road possible.

And know with confidence, sometimes saying nothing is in fact the very last word.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

God thinks my golf game needs work

By 3 p.m. today, I had already: gone to Mass; played 9 holes of golf; swung by the grocery store to smile at Blue Eyed Butcher; had my car washed by church kids raising money for a mission trip; thrown in some laundry; prayed a rosary; gone for a run; stopped to stretch, rest, pray, and do some crunches on the beach; caught up with three friends on the phone; made chicken tetrazzini for myself and a friend who’s in town visiting later today; and baked peanut butter brownies, vacuumed, and planned a Bible study for campaigners. Now I’m not bragging here, but I really do think that’s some kind of record, and I am pretty sure it can only be accomplished by a single woman.

On my run through Klode park, I couldn’t help but feel my heart melt upon seeing the family with 6 kids under the age of 10 racing up the hill; another family with the father teaching his toddlers how to play catch; another with the sisters calling for their mom’s attention to their kites soaring high; and another father encouraging his boy who was in a wheel chair to keep trying and he would make it up the hill. God was radiating beams of love, joy, and selflessness through every family I saw in the park this morning, and while that put so much gladness in my heart, I couldn’t help but long for a family of my own.

I like to think I am ready for that – for the joy that comes with the sacrifice of laying down one’s life for his or her family. But, what I think doesn’t matter. One day I will be able to see how God has, because I love Him, worked for good with every step I’ve taken.* But in the meantime, I’m going to keep blooming where I’m planted, which I am quite glad, for the time being, includes ample time for 36-holes of golf each weekend.

*"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Friday, May 1, 2009

Uncanny, unintentional, and (mostly) unwanted

In my recent adult years, I’ve realized three things about my dating abilities:
1. I have an uncanny, unintentional, and unwanted knack to make men fall in (what they call) “love” with me in five dates or less.
2. I have an uncanny, unintentional, and unwanted knack to send men into priesthood discernment.
3. I have an uncanny, unintentional, and (mostly) unwanted knack to attract men in the food services industry.

I have yet to figure out the "why" of any of these realizations, but here is a select sampling of stories from the third point, which is, although debatable, the most entertaining of the trio.

Sandwich Sabotager: First, there was Sandwich Sabotager. After a year of delicious sandwiches and friendly chatter at his shop, he asked me out. I said no thank you, but thank you. The dude proceeded to intentionally sabotage my sandwich by globbing mayo and melting american cheese between each layer, knowing full-well I detest both items, all because I politely declined to go out with him.

Miller Man: Then there was the dude who worked at Miller Brewery, whom I got to know at the corporate Miller Pub, open to employees and their guests. Really, it was a pretty sweet deal – for a month I got to hang out on a pretty patio in nice weather while sampling the newest trial brews before they were made public. But that fun had to end when we ventured to life outside of the pub and I realized his frequent trips to the restroom were not just because he was consuming liquid – the dude had the worst case of frequent urination syndrome I’ve ever known. There were ample other reasons that had to end, but they aren’t nearly as amusing.

Cheese Carver: Earlier at work this week, I got the fun project of getting a price quote for carving a laptop out of cheese for one of our clients (which is great story, but doesn’t belong here). I contacted the semi-famous cheese-carver from Wisconsin for a quote. After a friendly chat about what I was looking for, the conversation ended with Cheese Carver agreeing to send a few sketches over along with pricing, and along with my quote came some quite flattering post-script commentary about my staff profile photo that appears on my company website, which, he took the liberty of looking up based on my work e-mail address I gave him. It was rather sweet, really, and not at all cheesey, pun totally intended.

Blue Eyed Butcher: And then there is the cute butcher at Sendiks who for the past year has been beaming his beautiful blue eyes and smile at me, which until lately totally freaked me out. But upon recently realizing that over the course of the last two years of my life taken mostly up by being a good girlfriend to one or another, I have totally lost any and all flirting skills I never really had anyway, I’ve decided Blue Eyed Butcher is a great chance to get back on that saddle. So, if you get an invitation to a BBQ from me, please come – I’ll need your help to consume all the frozen meat that’s piling up in my freezer.