this is why we don’t fax, Jim

This afternoon I had a customer, we’ll call him Jim, who insisted that I needed to fax an invoice to him rather than email it. Like, he didn’t just ask that I sent it that way. He made it very clearly that it was the only option I had to get him the invoice. Since getting the invoice paid was, you know, the reason I called in the first place, I felt compelled to comply.

I scan a lot and I print a little, but I haven’t had to send a fax in a good eight years or so. We have one of those all-in-one copier/scanner/printer/fax things that has never really worked entirely right. It’s always emitting these strange patterns of chirps, and it likes to eat every third piece of paper I put in the feed tray. Also, we have a weird VoiP phone system where you have to dial certain numbers to get an outside line from certain phones.

Which is really all just stuff I’m telling you to distract you from the fact that I forgot how to send a fax.

I mean, I knew there was a part where you put the paper in, and then you dialed the number and the magic Internet gnomes got to work drawing a tiiiiiiiiiny (omg, so tiny) replica of your document which they then projected across the skies with their special Internet gnome flashlights in a specific pattern that only the gnomes who lived in the machine of the person you were sending the document to could decode…or whatever. But I forgot all the bullshit about having to dial 9 first, and then whether or not I needed to dial an extra 1 before the phone number, and what phase of the moon we needed to be in for this to even work and OMG it was all just such a process.

So, I re-learned how to send a fax, and that was…I wouldn’t really call it FUN, but it killed some time and therefore had value of a sort to it. I punched the right numbers in and I signed my cover sheet with a little smiley face because YAY, COMMERCE!  I loaded the pages into the feeder tray and hit “send”. The machine made a satisfying amount of screechy dial-up racket and then sucked my pages through the scanner part. Assuming my part in this information transfer drama was now over with, I walked away.

But lo, all was not right in the land of the Internet gnomes, it seemed.

Several minutes after I walked away from it, the machine emitted a series of kind of mocking beeps and printed something all of its own accord. Suspicious, I approached the machine once again and looked at the print-out. It read…

…’fax not sent’.

“Awww, COME ON! I have to do that whole stupid thing AGAIN? I already shredded the originals! Goddamnit. This is why nobody faxes anymore JIM”, I grumbled.

I went back to my desk, printed out another invoice and another cover sheet. I didn’t sign the cover sheet with a smiley face the second time, because commerce is great and whatever but seriously, fuck Jim and his insistence on using outdated modes of information technology. The whole process of dialing the extra numbers and then the real number and then praying to the Internet gnomes, the whole nine yards…I re-did it all.

And once again, the bloody shitting fax didn’t go through.

I stomped back over to my desk and called Jim to ask what the deal was. Jim proceeded to tell me to…

…wait for it…


…oooh, not quite there yet, but almost…

…he told me to just email him the invoice.


It’s seriously really good that through-the-phone ear-stabbing technology doesn’t exist because I am telling you, Jim would have been bloodied in that moment. Jim would have suffered. And I would have laughed.

On the up-side, I did re-learn how to fax, though. It probably won’t be relevant to my job again for another eight frigging years, but hey…the more you know.


I know Jim’s an asshole.

potato hole

A couple weekends ago Mark and I drove down to southern New Hampshire to attend a beer and chili festival with a group of friends. The beer and chili festival was exactly what the name implies: a festival in which you get to walk around trying many different beers and many different versions of chili. The chili was all you could eat, in fact, and was included in the price of admission. Chili = zero dollars in this scenario.

Remember that. It’s going to be relevant later.

When you first go into the festival they give you a sample glass and ten drink tickets, the idea being that each time you go to an exhibitor’s booth and get a sample of their beer, you give them one of your tickets. When you’re out of tickets, you’re ostensibly out of beer. Except…none of the exhibitors were actually taking tickets. Some of them had containers out to collect tickets, but not a single one of them were creating any kind of “you can’t have this beer until you give me a ticket” enforcement situations. So in essence, it was a no-holds-barred, beer-sampling free-for-all. With chili. FREE chili.

We entered the festival and proceeded to work our way around the small tents, sampling chili and beer. We got almost to the end of the lawn area where we had entered and I asked if it was time to perhaps circle back around to hit the tents we hadn’t visited in our first round. Our friends, who had been to this festival before, laughed and pointed down along a paved walkway at the end of the lawn which led to another, larger lawn with several GIANT tents set up on it. Turned out there were a lot more breweries exhibiting at the festival than we had realized there’d be. Three giant tents worth, in fact! Excited at the prospect of sampling many more beers, we made our way toward the giant tents.

It’s worth pointing out here that New Englanders are known as a thrifty lot. My people aren’t big into wasting things, especially food and drink. Thus, the concept of getting oh, say, a sample of beer, and only drinking a few sips before dumping the rest out is kind of foreign to me. Also, how would YOU feel if you were a brewer giving out samples of your wares only to watch people take just a few sips and then dump them out? You’d be offended, right? You might begin to question your chosen profession, even. You’d surely be hurt. I try to do my best not to hurt people if I can help it, so I was doing my level best to finish off each beer sample entirely before I’d go for the next one. Even if I didn’t particularly like the beer. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in me drinking a fair amount of beer on a stomach that only had a few sample-sized portions of chili in it.


Ommegang Brewery’s Rosetta – it’s a lambic that tastes like sour cherries and heaven. And my heathen ass doesn’t even BELIEVE in heaven. A++, will buy.

So, we were there by the giant beer tents and my husband started talking about wanting more food. Beginning to feel the effects of all the beer samples I had been diligently finishing off for the last hour or so (mustn’t waste, after all), I agreed that food would be a smart move. We assessed our options. The chili tents were waaaaay off on the other end of the park where we first came in, but there were a couple of food trucks vending quite close to the end where we were.

“But the chili is FREE”, I said.

“But the guy selling sausages is CLOSE. Plus: we got cash on the way here for just such a situation. Plus: sausage,” Mark replied.

“Damn you and your flawless logic”, I grumbled, and off we went to the sausage truck (which is an inherently funny phrase, but don’t derail me).

There were a few people in line ahead of us so we got a good look at the wares as others got their orders. The choices were a disturbingly long grilled hotdog, a pretty normal-looking grilled sausage with or without grilled onions and peppers, and french fries. The purveyors didn’t have any signage displaying pricing, but it was kind of too late at that point because it was our turn at the counter.

Me: “Hi, how much are your hotdogs?”

Sausage Man: “Sausages and hotdogs are $8”

Me: “$8…does that include fries?”

SM: “Nope.”

Me: “Oh. How much are the fries?”

SM: “$6”

Me, trying not to snort at that absurdity: “Ok, we’ll take just a sausage please”.

We stepped back from the counter while the guy made the sausage and I turned to Mark with wide eyes.

“Six bucks for FRIES?!” I hissed. He made some malarky argument about captive audiences and hand-cut fries but I stopped hearing the words coming out of his mouth because, six bucks. For fries. When there were seventeen (at least!) types of chili like 500 feet away. FREE CHILI. ZERO. DOLLAR. CHILI. 

The guy gave us the sausage (hurrr), we ate it, I went back and told others of the outrageous pricing, then we all drank more beer and talked about more amusing subjects. A good time was had by all. (That whole story was really just background, so I don’t feel bad ending it abruptly.)


My husband is shown here exhibiting the infinite patience for which he should be sainted. Note the slightly manic twinkle in my eyes. Or slightly drunk? Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. JOKES WITHIN JOKES, OMG.

Anyway. Fast-forward to last night.

(I wanted to put a gif here of the thing they do on Wayne’s World when they change scenes, but you think I could find that thing anywhere? NO. Fucking Internet. Why do I even bother?)

Wait, what?  Oh yes. Last night.

So last night Mark and I were running some errands and I was ranting about…I don’t even know, something…and at the end of the rant Mark pointed out that I was nearly as offended by that thing as I had been by the price of fries at the beer festival. Since the rant pump was already well-primed, that was all the nudge I needed to go off about those stupid fries.

“Six bucks for fries. THAT WAS INSANE. Do you know how much a 50 pound bag of potatoes costs? Like $10. MAYBE. And that’s RETAIL. If they were buying them through a wholesaler they were like half that. And it’s not even like there’s LABOR involved with making fries. With the sausages, I can kind of see the justification – you have to grill them, you have to slice and grill the onions and peppers, you have to put the sausage in the bun…there’s semi-skilled labor involved in that. But french fries? You dump potatoes into hot oil and you WALK AWAY for several minutes. You maybe go back and shake the basket halfway through cooking, but that’s it. There’s no labor. Nothing.”

Mark tried reason on me:  “Well, someone’s gotta cut the potatoes, at least.”

“NO THEY FUCKING DON’T. They put them through a fry cutter!  You set the potato on it, push the lever down, it forces the potato through a cutting grid, and VOILA, french fries. You don’t even have to PEEL the potatoes. The most you could argue is that they have to WASH the potatoes, but big fucking deal, how long does that take? Not $8 worth of time, that’s for damn sure.”

“Err, $6.”


“You said $8, but the fries were $6.”

I side-eyed him as best I could while also keeping the car on the road, because I was driving through this entire thing, it’s worth noting.

“Six dollars, eight dollars…I don’t fucking care. They were too damned expensive and I am deeply annoyed by it. So…so shove THAT in your $8 POTATO HOLE,” I spluttered.

Needless to say, the $8 potato hole was still being brought up this morning. I don’t even want to think about how long it’s gonna to take me to live that one down.

It’ll be longer than it takes to make a batch of french fries, though. I can guarantee you THAT much.

broken bits

I started writing this as a post for World Mental Health Day, which was on Monday…but it turned out I had a lot more to say than I originally thought and thus it took me a while to finish the post. Better late than never?!
Also, a quick warning – there are mentions of self-harm (though no graphic descriptions), and allusions to suicidal thoughts below. If you find these subjects triggering, best stop here.

My ‘official’ (ie: documented by a health professional) history with mental illness goes back about 11 years, but it has been with me a lot longer than that.

As a child, I’d often get overwhelmed by emotions and I’d cry. I couldn’t adequately explain to anyone why I was crying, so I was told to toughen up. For the record, my parents were both brought up in pretty emotionally repressive families themselves and they didn’t really know any other way to be. I get that and I don’t hold it against them. They did the best they knew how.


Because I believed that I wasn’t supposed to cry without a ‘good reason’, I instead developed a habit of hitting, scratching or pinching myself, or sometimes biting the insides of my cheeks. when I started feeling like I was about to cry. It was a way of distracting myself and hopefully heading off the imminent crying jag. It didn’t always work, but it worked often enough that it became habit. Self-harm isn’t something I would have understood had someone explained it to me at six or seven years of age, of course. Hell, it’s something I still don’t always understand 30 years later. But that’s what I was doing. I was purposefully hurting myself in an attempt to cope with emotions.

The first time I started to realize I probably wasn’t OK in the head was around age 15. That was when I started having trouble in school (due in large part to ADHD that I didn’t know I had), and I was sad a lot. I had always been a very smart kid that could keep up despite my focus problems, but as the workload intensified in high school, that all came crashing down and my identity as a smart kid was something I began to seriously question.

By senior year, I was in real danger of failing a required English class and thus not graduating. I had gotten pretty good at playing a character – a funny, flippant music nerd who simply didn’t care about academics. But inside, I was a stew of insecurity and self-loathing. I felt like a failure and a disappointment to my family. My brain started convincing me that I wasn’t actually smart at all, that all my teachers had lied in order to spare me from realizing what a no-good loser I was. I believed that the few friends I had were hanging out with me because they felt sorry for me. Things eventually came to a head when I was no longer able to intercept the mail the school was sending home about my being in danger of flunking out. The look on my mom’s face when I had to tell her I might not graduate still makes me feel bad almost 20 years later. It was like watching something I loved being crumpled up and stomped on. This was the toughest woman I knew and I had managed to break her with my inability to be normal, to just do what needed to be done like everyone else did. That certainly didn’t improve the tenor of my already negative inner dialog any. I did end up graduating, though I was FAR from prepared for post-secondary education. Going to college that fall had mistake written all over it…but off I went, undiagnosed mental issues and all, because that was where smart kids were expected to go after high school.

College was pretty bad. I’ll spare you the gritty details but the gist is that I was there for two largely unpleasant semesters before I was told I didn’t need to bother coming back. Anxiety was my constant companion through the first semester and by halfway through the second semester I was experiencing my first full-blown depressive episode – not that I knew what it was at the time. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on and I didn’t get any help. Instead I floundered, flunked out, and went home to find a job. I didn’t know how to deal with the resultant feelings of guilt and failure, so I just…didn’t. I stuffed them down and distracted myself with experiencing the fun parts of a college experience via my best friend, whose school I visited almost every weekend.

When best friend moved away after graduating college, things started to fall apart again in a big way. The brain weasels were soon running rampant, telling me that I was the only one of my group of high school friends left in town because I was a failure, a fuck-up and a disgrace. I self-medicated with booze – a LOT of booze. The chorus of self-loathing that I’d been living with for the past ten years was now getting louder by the day. It told me that I didn’t deserve my job or the things that I had, that I wasn’t worthy of the love of my family or my long-distance boyfriend. It told me that nothing I did would ever be good enough, that I had no friends because I was terrible to be around. It told me not to bother trying to do any of the things I used to love – making music, writing stories, painting and drawing – because I was never going to be any good at any of them. It wanted me to believe that there was no point in even living anymore, and for a little while there, it had me pretty well convinced.

Shortly after my 25th birthday I experienced a bout of costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs where they connect to the sternum. Imagine someone sliding a knife between your ribs right up near your breast bone and then slowly trying to turn the blade vertical, prying your ribs apart a millimeter at a time. Super funtimes! It also caused a lot of referred pain into my left shoulder, neck and breast. Being a life-long fatty and having a history of heart disease in my family, it really wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine that particular combination of pains being symptoms of a heart attack. The doctor in the emergency room and my primary care doctor both told me that my heart was fine, but I couldn’t stop thinking that there was something very wrong, that I was on the verge of dropping dead. I felt constantly sick to my stomach, I would have spells of not being able to breathe, of feeling cold and clammy…all secondary symptoms of a heart attack, coincidentally. It got to the point where I would end each day at work by writing a series of notes with directions for what to do in my absence because I was absolutely convinced that I wasn’t going to be there the next day. What I know now, of course, was that I was living in a constant state of panic attack…but that was never even mentioned as a possibility at the time.

After a couple months of limping along like that, I finally broke. I went to my doctor and sobbed about how I was so terrified of dropping dead that I was starting to have trouble leaving my house (because, you know, death can only get you if you leave the house? Brain weasel logic is weak at best). She told me I was depressed, wrote me a prescription for Wellbutrin and set me on the 10+ year path of exploring everything from medications (five so far) to exercise, special diets, supplements, and a variety of self-help plans.

Finally being diagnosed with ADHD and being properly medicated for that has made a huge difference in my anxiety levels, but I still struggle with depression regularly. I’ve finally started learning ways to help myself, though. Talking with people who’ve had similar experiences reminds me that I’m not alone no matter what the brain weasels want me to believe. Meditation helps me to just be where I am in this moment and not worry so much about the future or feel so bad about the past. Yoga helps me move my focus out of my head and into my body, giving my brainmeat a little much-needed rest. All of these things compound over time and help me to realize that the way my brain works is not all there is to me…but it’s part of who I am, and that’s something I’m learning to be OK with.


“When I’m feeling down, I like to chew my foot. Sounds weird but it helps.”  – Junior

If you’re struggling, know that you’re NOT alone, and that people truly do want to help you feel better. The world needs you in it, so please stay! If you need immediate help, start here (you don’t even have to call, you can chat with them online! Isn’t that handy?!)