Friday, May 27, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #20

Happy happy Memorial-Day-weekend Friday!  To kick off the festivities, here are this week's hero and villain picks!

Hero of the Week:  Swings
I got to take Jack to the park this week since there was actually a break in the thunderstorms.  With weather as horrendously unpredictable as it has been all over the country lately, it's best to take advantage of the sunshine when you can get it.  My little gila is kind of a sissy when it comes to heights, and he refused to go down the little baby slide, crawl through the tunnel, or go on the swings when we first arrived.  After 15-20 minutes of running to various playground contraptions only to turn back because he got scared, Ashley and I were finally able to convince him to sit in the baby swing with the high back and the bar that latches down.  He did NOT want to go high or fast, though.  He was quite clear on that point.  After a while of barely pushing him, I let Ashley take over and went to sit on the (regular size) swing next to him.  When he saw me swinging like a normal person, he decided to let Ashley actually push him.  He was adorable when he finally realized he wasn't going to fall out!  He giggled and yelled, "Whee!  Woohoo!!  I'm flying like an Angry Bird, Aunt Jamie!!!" at the top of his lungs.  It was one of the cutest things ever.  

Villain of the Week:  Comcast 
There are so many things I hate about Comcast.  I despise the fact that it assumes it can get away with horrific service because it is the only cable provider in many areas.  I hate that the phone and internet prices are just cheaper than the competitors' so you don't switch providers, but the cable price jump every month to make up for it.  You may think words like "hate," "despise," and "horrific" are a bit harsh, but I assure you, I have cause to use them.  When I decided to have Digital Voice installed at my last apartment, two rude men showed up at my door, connected a few wires to a new modem (for which I was charged an extra fee each month), charged me for the service call and left.  And yet, I had no phone service.  No dial tone, nothing.  When I called Customer Service (from my cell phone outside since I had no cell service inside which precipitated the need to install Digital Voice) to ask why it wasn't working, I was told, "Well, no one has been out to install it yet."  My response:  "Then who were the creepy men in my apartment?"  Then when I moved out, I had to contact Customer Service four times to get my service disconnected, and I received four different answers about the appropriate procedure to do so.  Yes, I've despised Comcast for a while now, so you may be wondering why it stands out as a villain this week in particular.  The answer is quite simple, really.  I had no cable, phone or internet service for the majority of the day which really threw off my blog-writing schedule.  Sure, service has been restored now, finally, but I'm still very annoyed.  Grrr.

That's all for this week.  Enjoy the long weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Because I'm a Dork

If I haven't already made it perfectly clear, I'm a major dork.  One glowing example of my dorkiness is my obsession with acrostics.  So deep is my love of this particular device that I'm actually considering creating a line of personalized cards with a special acrostic of the recipient's name.  Here are some examples using my family members names:

I think it's fun, but I may be the only one.  I am, after all, a huge dork!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Epic Adventure

Nearly sixteen years ago, I had a true adventure.  The summer after fifth grade, my father was asked to go to a conference in Toronto.  We lived in Orlando at the time, and my sisters and I had never traveled farther north than Black Mountain, North Carolina.  My parents wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to see more of the country, so Daddy cashed in his plane ticket and we drove 1300 miles to Toronto.  

My personal adventure began before we even left town.  I went to the orthodontist and had braces put on my abominably crooked teeth the day that we left.  Anyone who has ever had braces knows that it is not a very pleasant experience.  I was doing okay when we first hit the road, but I was in tears by the time we stopped for dinner that night.  I remember vividly sitting in Burger King trying to eat a hamburger that Daddy had cut into little bitty pieces with a pocket knife.  Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to eat a hamburger the same day I got my braces.  But really, how much pudding can a person (even a kid) eat?  Thankfully, I was able to sleep quite a bit in the car, and we made it to Toronto in a couple of days.  

My sisters and I were in heaven when we arrived.  Not only did we have the opportunity to see a Great Lake, but (more important to children) we got to stay in an amazing hotel!  A child's definition of an amazing hotel:  There were fountains and Ping-Pong tables in the lobby.  While Daddy was busy at his conference, my mother, sisters and I explored the city.  We saw giant black squirrels in the park, marveled over the subway station in the mall, and walked on the glass floor of the CN Tower.  

The drive home took much longer than the drive to Toronto because we made several detours.  We visited many wonderful places--Niagara Falls, Lancaster County, PA, and Williamsburg, VA among them--but it was the things that happened on the road that stay with me.  
  --In Niagara Falls, we discovered long-lost brother Jeremy.  Okay, so he wasn't really a long-lost brother.  He was some boy who showed up at nearly every attraction we visited, and consequently, ended up in nearly every picture we took.  Of course, we had to give him a name and create a story to explain his presence.  Thus, brother Jeremy was born.  He fell out of the van on the way home.
  --Ashley's shoes mysteriously disappeared in a small town in Pennsylvania.  A logical explanation would be that she decided to change shoes while Daddy was packing up the van, and the shoes got overlooked.  A less logical (but perhaps more likely?) explanation is that a vengeful sprite spirited them away in retaliation for Ashley's overly-loud declaration that she "thought Pennsylvania was supposed to be ugly!!!" in the middle of the world's largest Perkins.
  --Kristen rubbed the bottom of a McDonald's soda cup until it ruptured, baptizing her in Coke in the middle of an Amish cemetery.  The best part of the story was the aftermath in which she yelled at the top of her lungs, "Stop the car now!  I said STOP!!! Why aren't you STOPPING?!?!?!?!?!"  Needless to say, my parents were not too thrilled that their sweet soda-drenched daughter adopted the role of backseat driver.  
  --I discovered the depth of my sports-related ineptitude.  While trying to play ping-pong at the awesome hotel, I found in impossible to hit the ball with the paddle.  Instead, I held the paddle in one hand and ineffectually swatted at the ball with my other hand.  I've blocked out the number of balls I sent flying into the fountain behind me.

Sometimes I still die laughing thinking about some of the things that happened on that trip.  I am so thankful for my family and all of the experiences that we have shared.  They are truly the origin of my sense of humor!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #19

It's a little late, but it's finally time for another edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  This week's picks feature incredible heights and sinking lows.

Hero of the Week:  Bruce
Bruce is a friend of the family who works for Projet Aviation.  Knowing that I was looking for part-time work, he spent over a month working to get me an interview with the company.  I've been working for Projet a little less than a month, and it's fantastic!  I get to meet lots of interesting people and there is a lot of variety every day.  I'm also learning a lot about successfully running a small business.  Plus, there are lots of side perks.  For example, yesterday a flight instructor gave me a free lesson because his student cancelled.  That's right--I flew an airplane!  So Bruce is definitely my hero this week for giving me this wonderful opportunity!

Villain of the Week:  High Curbs
I had a bit of a run-in with a street curb this week.  Curbing a tire is not unheard of (or even uncommon) for me, but this particular curb was so high and presumably jagged that it ripped a 2" gash in my tire.  The popping sound was so loud that a man walking on the sidewalk nearby nearly jumped out of his shoes.  Within minutes, my perfectly sound tire was reduced to a useless pile of rubber.  My poor car spent the entire next day in the shop getting a new tire (Yep, all day.  Don't go to Firestone to get tires.).  All in all, it was an incident with the earmarks of villainry. 

That's all for now.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hidden Messages

I started my morning with a leisurely cup of coffee.  Next, I embellished a relatively large order of graduation cards.  Eventually, I decided to take a break and have some lunch.  Even more delicious than my breakfast, I ate some yummy tortellini.  Dogs like tortellini too, right? Certainly they do!  Of course, Gilbert begged to have some of my lunch.  Fortunately for my stomach, I am able to resist his charms.  Funny things started to happen after that.  Elephants started flying through the air!  Eerie?  Not as much as you might think.  Only slightly perturbing, really.  Wonder why?

One might start to wonder about my sanity.  Kids should probably run and hide.  Ashley might start to get concerned about letting me babysit Jack.  You can't keep him from me, Ashley!  I'm mostly sane, promise!  Giddy, perhaps.  Obviously a little loopy.  Today has been a little longish.  Maybe I should go to bed.  Yep, that's definitely a good idea.  Can't accomplish it now, though.  Oh, so many miles to go before I sleep!  Faulty logic seems to be the norm for me when I'm this tired.  Funky music starts playing in the background of my mind.  Elephants like funky music.  Everyone can dance to it! 

I know this is an odd entry.  Silly might be a better word.  Totally bizaar?  I'll give you that one.  Luckily, I revel in bizaarness.  Lunacy can be fun!  Rational thought and behavior can be overrated.  Even when it's necessary, I sometimes don't appreciate it.  Anticipating the need for rationality is enough to give me a headache!  Little bits of reason can be a good thing.  Lots of it can be a bad thing.  Years of experience have led me to this conclusion.  Luckily for me, I haven't really let reason hold me back.  Occasionally, I'll act like a rational adult.  Very few times have I chosen adult behavior when not absolutely necessary.  Every time I make a mature decision, I am ridiculously proud of myself.  Any number of people might make mature decisions without giving themselves a pat on the back, but why?  Congratulating oneself on one's brilliance is the entire point of being responsible.  Really, why would I make un-fun adult decisions if not to brag about how awesome I am?  Obviously, I need to be appreciated.  Surely that isn't too much to ask!  Thanks is something I think we all want.  I should make more of an effort to let others know how much I appreciate them.  Cultured readers, I appreciate you!  Super doesn't begin to describe you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Season Finale

Last week, I wrote about my obsession with season finales.  As the spring television season comes to a close, I felt it appropriate to prepare a JA Greetings season finale for my devoted readers.  Surprise, intrigue, and drama await!

Previously on JA Greetings's Greetings from the Edge of Reason....
Ashley and Jamie set out to create a thoughtfully-snarky greeting card company for the masses.  Our brave heroines faced the perils of inexperience, a failing economy, and 18 other weekly villains.  Yet they bravely soldiered on in their quest for biting humor and financial solvency.

The Story Continues....
The day began like any other.  Jamie called Ashley to discuss the details of upcoming projects and set timelines for project completion.  "Now that the graduation card has been posted in our shop, it's time to start looking at the next friendship/encouragement card.  Could you have some some drawings ready for me to review next week?" Jamie asked.  
    "I think I can manage that," Ashley replied.  

Ashley sat at her kitchen table furiously sketching images for the new card.  As she fell into the world developing on her paper, she failed to hear the wind furiously howling around the house.  The sky grew darker and darker, and soon lightning flashed all around.  She remained oblivious to the storm until a particularly loud clap of thunder caused Jack to cry out in terror.  Just as she put her pencils down to pick up her crying toddler, they were both engulfed in darkness.  A large black chestnut tree came crashing through the sliding glass door, nearly smashing the two.  Ashley shielded Jack from the flying glass with her body.  Jack was unharmed, but terribly frightened.  Ashley, however, was covered in cuts and broken glass.

Two weeks later, Ashley's home was almost back to normal.  The sliding glass door had been replaced, and the only reminders of that harrowing night were the missing tree in the yard and the faint scars on her arms.  Something was amiss, however.  Jack experienced terrible nightmares on a regular basis and behaved very petulantly during his waking hours.  Ashley grew listless and unfocused, and she rarely attempted to draw.  

Jamie was concerned about her sister and nephew.  She called to check on them every day and visited several times a week.  She did her best to comfort them in the wake of their traumatic ordeal, trying to coax them into re-entering their pre-storm routines.  She had little effect.  As the weeks stretched into months, she became offended that her obviously awesome acts of kindness did not receive the response she felt they deserved.  She also grew frustrated that Ashley was not producing any new cards.  Finally, she decided it was time to address the issue directly.
    "Ashley, I know you haven't been feeling great lately, but I really need you to draw the cards we discussed."
    "Oh, okay.  Right.  When do you want them?" Ashley asked.
    "As soon as possible.  I asked for them over a month ago."
     "Okay, I remember now.  It's just that my arm still hurts from when the tree crashed through the window.  And every time I sit down to draw, Jack starts screaming."
    "I don't care!" Jamie exploded.  "You've been giving these same excuses for weeks now, and I'm sick of it!  Do you not realize that we're broke?  And we're going to stay broke unless you can give me some cards to sell!"
    "I'm trying, Jamie.  It's just..."
    "Enough!  I'm not listening to this anymore.  If you don't have what it takes to be a part of this business, then I'll find an artist who does!"
And with that, Jamie stomped out of the apartment, slamming the door behind her.  Ashley sank to the couch and dissolved into tears.  
    Little did either sister know that during their fight, young Jack had walked out of the apartment and started a dangerous journey of his own.

What will happen next?  Will the sisters make up and make a go of their business?  Will Jack make it home safely?  Tune into the Summer Season Premier to find out!

***This story is not based on actual events.***

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #18

It is Friday once again, and that means it's time again to reveal my hero and villain of the week!

Hero of the Week:  Charles Dickens 
Mr. Dickens may seem like an unlikely hero given how much I complained while reading Great Expectations in high school, but he is the father of a very popular storytelling technique: the cliffhanger.  You see, ol' Chuck originally published his novels in serial format, so ended each installment at the height of a conflict.  That way, his readers would have to purchase the next installment to find out what happened.  He famously ended one installment with a character literally hanging from a cliff, hence the term "cliffhanger."  As it is season finale time for most television shows, I've been reminded this week of how important the cliffhanger is to modern storytelling.   Is Stefan going to go all crazy blood-addict again now that he's under Klaus's control?  Will Jasmine take Crosby back?  Is Neil going to revert to his criminal ways?  What do you mean PETER NEVER EXISTED?!?!?!?!?!  So many questions, and I'll just have to watch next season to find out.  Well played, Mr. Dickens, well played.
Bonus point for Charlie:  One of his quotes could be the motto of JA Greetings:  "Fan the sinking flames of hilarity with the wings of friendship; and pass the rosy wine."

Villain of the Week:  Friday the 13th
Yes, Friday the 13th is just a day that occurs between 1 and 4 times a year, but lots of people of truly afraid of it.  While there are multiple stories that account for the superstition, such as the ousting of the Norse god Frigga leading to her subsequent unholy meetings to plan the ill fate of the world or King Phillip's   order to arrest and torture the Knights Templar, the mass fear is a relatively new phenomenon.  According to Wikipedia, which could never be wrong, fear of this day was practically non-existent about 100 years ago.  Now, however, it's estimated that there is an $800 to $900 million loss in business because people are too afraid to leave home.  That kind of intense debilitating fear is known as  friggatriskaidekaphobia.  Any day that can inspire enough fear to spawn a series of slasher movies is definitely a villain in my book!

On a different note, happy birthday to our wonderful sister Kristen!  All of us at JA Greetings are so happy to be related to you, and we're glad you don't suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ode to my Mother

As you all know, yesterday was Mother's Day.  I celebrated by giving my wonderful mother a JA Greetings card (and a present because I'm not that lame).  However, one day really isn't enough time to celebrate a mother as fantastic as mine.  Please enjoy this Ode to my Mother:

Lovely inside and out
Astute and wise, I can always trust your advice
Unique, you show me what it means to be special
Reader extraordinaire, you taught me to love great books
Inspirational, you made be believe I could succeed
Essential, I don't even want to think about what I'd do without you

That's all for today.  I'm going to spend time with my mother!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #17

It's the end of very busy week, which of course means that it's time for another edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  The news was full of heroes and villains this week, but isn't it time to expand your horizons?

Hero of the Week:  Chloe  
Chloe is a very brave little girl who has been suffering from seizures for a while.  Today she underwent brain surgery to remove the mass that has been causing the seizures.  Only four years old, she has shown so much more courage and compassion than I ever would in her situation.  Her whole wonderful family is a huge inspiration to me because of their faith and strength.  I am happy to report that the surgery went well and preliminary tests indicate that she should make a full recovery!  Praise God!

Villain of the Week:  Oil
I know everyone has been talking about the rising cost of oil and outrageous gas prices, but I try to ignore such negativity.  However, my awesome new job is almost an hour away, so I've been using a lot more gas recently.  It cost me $55 to fill up my fuel-efficient mid-sized car!  The current state of affairs is utterly redonkulous, and if I had another option I'd stop paying for the stuff altogether.  Unfortunately, I have to drive to work and will have to continue paying for gas.  They have me over an oil barrel, if you will.  I hate being choice-less, and I HATE spending on money on something that isn't pretty.  Villain indeed, sir!

Okay, that's all.  I'm signing off for the week.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

I started a new part-time customer service job with an aviation company this week.  Among other things, my job is to meet and greet arriving/departing passengers.  I've only been there a few days and am still in training, but I am naive and/or hopeful enough to expect everything to go well.  Both my coworkers and all of the clients I've dealt with so far have been wonderful.  

While there are some things I do not miss about my pre-greeting-card customer service profession, like sitting in a cubicle, answering the same question 100 times a day, and trying to explain that I am not the person who controls the speed of the internet in Korea, I miss being professionally friendly.  One of my favorite things was turning a surly upset client into a friendly satisfied one.  There is great satisfaction in knowing that you have had a positive influence on someone's day.  

After my first full training session, I pondered my surprising joy at re-entering the customer service field while doing a little shopping at the outlet mall.  At one store, the man in front of me in line was purchasing a gift for his wife when the saleswoman told him that he was eligible to receive four miniature products from a selection of soaps, lotions, etc.  The poor man looked completely at a loss sorting through the pile of toiletries.  He quickly grabbed two bottles of lotion and two bottles of shower gel and handed one of each to the saleswoman to ring up.  He said, "These two are for my wife, and the other two are for this young lady," then handed the remaining bottles to me.  Though likely motivated at least in part by a desire to get out of the scented soap section as quickly as possible, I thought it was a very sweet gesture.  It was like someone was trying to remind me that you don't have to be a professional to brighten someone’s day.

Okay, so I'll try to be really nice outside of work, too.  I'm still happy to be professionally friendly again.  It pays a lot better regular friendliness.