People. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without em.

Hiya!  This is a long read.  No pix. Stop now if you want.

There once was a guy named Mick
Who sat next to me on my last trip
He talked the whole way
And I was actually okay
‘Cause Found him to not be a drip

I met a guy named Mick on my last trip.  I know, I already said that, but this is the story part of this post.  So, as I was saying, I met a guy named Mick when I was traveling this week.  He’s from Felixstowe in Ipswich. His voice and accent are those that to my American ears, sounded like a character out of an art film set in a pub in England where some guys of a certain age gather to reminisce on times past. And, scene.

Mick was born in 1944 and he’ll celebrate his 70th birthday in December.  He has a mustang, a ’66, I think he said, and in that blue color that’s all youth and rock ‘n roll and rebel that they don’t use for cars anymore, but should. He showed me a picture of it.

Mick has prostate cancer, but told me that he wasn’t worried, because the nurse told him he’d die with it, but not of it. And then he laughed the kind of hoarsy laugh that people who’ve had a fun life do. Not quite phlegmy, but almost, you know?  He and his wife (who was probably tired and didn’t feel like chatting and therefore did not want to switch seats with me to sit by him) were traveling to visit their son, Jimmy, who’s been taking a year to go around the world. They plan to stay in the states for three weeks, so I’d encourage you to pay attention to the description and be on the lookout, because you should meet Mick, too.

Mick has two other sons from his first marriage, who live in Denmark. He’s also got two daughters, Rachel and Zoe (which is funny, because of Rachel Zoe) one of whom is a teacher, and I can’t remember what the other one does. He’s been to the U.S. four times, Australia 3 times, and Hong Kong twice.  He is hoping to see Formula 1 racing in Austin on this visit to the U.S. I told him he’d better work on the Southern Hemisphere soon, and he said he was anxious to get to Cuba because he likes to dance and knows how to samba.  Shaking his “undercarriage” was how he put it.

When he sat down next to me, Mick said, “Alright?”  I said, “Alright.” which is the correct form of English greeting as far as I can tell from BBC America.  He seemed okay with it.

Mick, I should say here, is covered in tattoos.  I don’t mean he has a lot of tattoos. I mean that it’s like a catalogue of his life written all over his body in ink.  Everywhere. Nooks? Crannies? Covered. He told me that the nurses refer to him as “The Gallery.”

Mick has the most interesting Rolling Stones logo tattooed on his earlobe, positioned in such a way that the little hoop he wears in that ear looks like it’s piercing the tongue of the logo. He’s got a tattoo of a one pound coin on his right palm, and a 50p coin on his left, non-ironically, just because it’s outright fun and funny. He’s got a tattoo of the Route-66 logo (having traversed the whole thing on one of his previous visits to the U.S. — we talked about the Billy Connolly show about it, too) on his right forearm. Mick’s got a tattoo of Bill Wyman’s face, and signature, provided later by the artist himself, on his calf. There’s a photo of that tattoo on one of Wyman’s CD covers. Mick showed it to me.

Mick was wearing a jean jacket with a poppy pin and a Route 66 patch on it, and had his long grey/white hair pulled back in a ponytail.  He also had a hearing aid and glasses that were just cool enough without being silly and/or trying too hard.

Mick once went to Germany to see the Rolling Stones play. He didn’t have a ticket, but met some cool folks in a bar there, told them why he was in town, hung out with them drinking all day, and they sorted him a ticket for the next day. He’s seen Jimi Hendrix in concert, “Two o’clock in the morning, yeah?  It was so fucking cold, man.”

He has a point of view on what’s going on in the world today.  It was hard for me to follow some of it because like a lot of people with hearing impairment, I suspect that he might sometimes be concerned that he’s speaking too loudly, and over-corrects so that I couldn’t hear him over the plane engines at times. Also, I’m not as familiar with the Labor Party in the U.K. (because I don’t live there… yet) so I’m not sure where I should fall on the love-hate continuum based on my U.S. liberal leanings. Party affiliation aside, his main thought was that the west tries to foist change on folks before we understand what’s motivating them in the first place, displacing leaders (who may, in fact, be terrible, horrible and sometimes evil), but not understanding enough about what the void will mean going forward.  Solid, Mick.

Mick loves the blues. That was the opener to our conversation, and I was all ready to roll my eyes because, seriously, every time a white person of a certain age wants to strike up a conversation, one of the most comfortable places for them to start (besides how interesting my hair is) is with music.  I already had my book out and was ready to purse my lips and read and/or pretend to sleep, but I figured, why not see where this goes? He wasn’t kidding, either. I don’t love the blues. I don’t love rock ‘n roll, the Rolling Stones or any of it — it’s outside of my taste and my generation.  I don’t hate it, but I’m not gonna collect it, you know?

Anyway, for the duration of the flight, Mick went back and forth between sharing stories about his travels and work (he was a longshoreman, so some of those stories were kind of blue, but not in a salacious/inappropriate way, and they were terrifically interesting) and stories of his experience of this music and how, though he didn’t say it explicitly, it had informed his life, his wanderlust and his hope that when he gets to heaven, he’ll get to see all the performances he missed while on earth. (That last one, he did say.)

Mick was telling his truth. He told stories of being at B.B. King’s bar in Memphis and dancing at blues clubs in Chicago, where an African-American woman told him, “You’re better than some of the brothers, man, keep it up.” And I think that being closer to the end of his natural life than the beginning, the things that moved him when he was closer to the beginning are more important than ever to him now. I can understand that because it’s happening to me, too. Never loved Al B. Sure more than I do now!

So, I’m glad I didn’t just pretend to read or sleep while I had him next to me. It’s a good bet, based on my previous experience with his demographic, that he may have wanted to talk and thought that was a way in — he was definitely less ham-handed about it than some other folks/clients I’ve met, though — but I also think he just wanted to talk about that music, that time, and the people who shared it with him, because it was a big part of his life.

Maybe Mick’s initial assessment of me was based on my gender, color and age and such that he felt I might understand his passions and be willing to listen because what I look like signaled something to him about my experience of the world. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit.  Maybe he was just like, “Oh, a black person, I’m gonna show her how cool I am.”  But, I don’t think so.  I think Mick is maybe the precursor to the allies we’re all talking about now.

Or, maybe he’s just a sweet, older guy who found something in black music and culture that made his undercarriage shimmy, who wants to keep the shimmy alive, who wants to relive a time when things weren’t, for him, as complicated. Shouldn’t I want that for him (and others) too? Is that me being mammy or me being sister?  I’m not sure.  The “benefit of the doubt” is situational.

I’m okay in the grey for now, and know that while I intended to sit on that plane hoping to be left alone, the best thing I did this week was to not do what I set out to do in that situation.  Mick said, “Alright.”  I said, “Alright.” And, it was on.  It was on for one of the coolest dudes I’ve met in a long time. If nothing else, I’ve added the word “undercarriage” to my work-a-day vocabulary.

So, Mick, wherever you, your sleepy wife, Jimmy, Rachel, Zoe and the two sons in Denmark are tonight, whatever you’re doing or dreaming, however you’re planning and prepping,I hope there’s some really, really good music that gets your undercarriage going.  In fact, I hope you shake your undercarriage like it’s your job.

And, if anyone who’s not Mick or his family or friends is around and paying attention, be on the lookout for a perfectly out there, inspirational, 70-year old, super-tattooed dude with prostate cancer who wears skinny jeans like they were made for him, will show you his nipple piercing (done at 50 years old) whether or not you ask to see it, and has the best laugh you’ve ever heard.  Bonus: tattoos to back up every story he tells you. If you see him, this Mick,  tell him Jen says ‘Hi’.  Also, buy him a lager, and sit on the stool next to him for a bit.  (I think on his left, because he seems to hear better from that side.) Shut up your shizz, turn off your angst, and just roll around in his joy. Just give him a half an hour.  It’ll be the best 30 minutes of your week.

(Also, find out his address, because the highlight of my big trip this year would include a surprise pop-up in Ipswich to take him for a pint and collect more stories.

Corporate much?

This is the worst thing that happens to good things — the imposition of policies and procedure on something that should be pure joy and abandon.  So, I’ll understand, Nancy and Meaghan, if you think this is a terrible idea and we should definitely vote, because I’m not sure.  But, was wondering if our weekly holidays might need some formalization.  Maybe, for instance, there should be an official pet of LFE, like states have state birds and flowers?  Wombats are for sure in the running, as is the lovely quokka, but the idea came to me today thanks to Mitchell, who posted this ridiculously happy video of a Rainbow Lorikeet playing with a ball.

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(Click the image to play the vid.) When I saw an animal (that wasn’t a fish) with the word “RAINBOW” in its name, it was as if the universe spoke to me (in the deep, Morgan Freeman-ish voice I imagine the universe has) and said, “Make it so.  Wait, maybe it was Patrick Stewart’s voice.

Anyway, if any of the House of Fridays folk (Little Friday Eve, Little Friday & Big Friday Proper) are up for it, maybe let’s work on picking our official LFE animal.  Then, we can suss out officializing LF and BFP!  Or not!  Or, maybe we change it up monthly or quarterly or something like that.  I don’t care, I’m just happy that there are three days of the work week that are way better than the other two!  Happy weekending!

Five Years?

I started off on Blogspot when Uptown Hound first opened in NYC.  I can’t believe it’s been an additional five years on WordPress!

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Totally worth it.  I’ve met the greatest folks online and in person through this blog and the CTW and Public sites.  I started two businesses with guidance and input from friends in the Wordpress network.  I’ve secured better-than-AIRBNB housing for three international jaunts, and been a conduit for some good professional/creative relationships … and only been trolled by one dude — a former direct report.

And even that one negative experience was great, because it was a learning moment. As sad as it was to learn who/how he really was — how what he really thought of me was 180 degrees from what he said to me, and how I thought I was supporting his growth — were it not for his response to me (even though he didn’t say it to me directly) I would have thought I was doing things the right way, supporting folks in the way I thought they needed, helping them when it felt like I should, and leading them when it seemed appropriate to step in.  Servant leadership doesn’t work for everyone and in every situation.  So while I was initially like, ‘What? You are a giant coward ass-face!’, these are lessons that I’m taking to heart and that inform the work at Public and CTW every day.  And, I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to learn from commenters and friends who support me, and folks like that direct report, who don’t but, who told other people who then told me and gave me the chance to make a change.

Thank you!

Working from Home

It’s harder than I thought it’d be, this working on my own schedule and not in an office.  It’s after midnight and I’m taking a break because I have four more hours of work to do to get a report in front of a client by tomorrow morning.  I need a minute away from analysis.  I know that Monday will see me free and clear to do whatever I want until Wednesday — I’m talking matinee movies, a full-on spa experience, long walks and knitting up stuff to finish for the Renegade Show in December.  That’s all fun and good.  Right now, though, I am beat!

My hour-break got me thinking about the great and tragic things about working from home. Tragic might be an exaggeration, but right now, in this little moment in time, it’s 100% apropos!  Of everything.

It’s great that I get to exercise on my own time.  If I don’t have to drive anywhere to do my work, that means I get a leisurely morning walk with Russell Jenkins in (for pooping — we go until he does) and another morning walk by myself in (for exercise – I go until the TAL podcast is done).  I also don’t have to worry if I’m in the mood for a curry for lunch that it’ll smell up the office kitchen and piss the pregnant ladies off.  I can eat saag paneer all day long and no one cares.  It’s great that I have time to take an online photography class, and when the light is good, to rig up my cowboy studio photobox and photograph not only the Renegade products, but every skein, fat quarter and fabric remnant in the stash.  (Projected end date, sometime in 2015.  There’s a lotta textiles going on around here. See below from Ravelry — just a start!)

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But, it’s tragic that I don’t have a connection to what’s going on in the world in the way I would if I were around people with different perspectives than what’s on BuzzFeed, HuffPo, Facebook, and MSNBC about Ebola, Obama, the Paleo diet, Kerry Washington’s ‘serious’ hair on Scandal, why The View’s ratings are sagging, whether or not it matters that Renee Zellweger may or may not have had plastic surgery and what that may or may not mean for feminism and Annie Lennox and Beyonce … it’s just too much!  I’m largely left to my own devices to figure that stuff out, and I seriously don’t trust me.

The one thing that I learned today, though, is that sometimes the ecstasy and tragedy of home-bound work meet up in a way that’s tremendous.  Because today, (and all last night), one Russell Jenkins had the trots.  Not like little trots that should be what small-ish dogs have, but rather, it was as if RJ was starving and encountered a dead horse that had only eaten cottage cheese infected with salmonella and E.coli its whole life, and was like, “I’ll eat all of you” and while he was licking the bones, felt a rumble in his belly and thought that the next best thing to do would be to diarrhea it out.  I know diarrhea isn’t a verb, but it should be because  … well, I lived it. Oh, the glory of being home for the effluent.  I twice got a wee-wee pad under him just in time. A conservative estimate would put it at right around 8000 other times, I was late and forced to just get out the papertowels, bleach and Pine-sol and deal with the aftermath.  (Thank you, Pergo floors!  You are the best!) Been to the corner store 3 times for Pepto-Bismol and more paper towels, and the garbage dumpster 4 times today. But how happy am I that I didn’t come home from a long day at work … with people … most of whom give me the heebs … to find what could have been had I not been Jenny-on-the-spot with the cleaning?  I’ll answer that for you:  ENORMOUSLY HAPPY!

Packing now for travel on Saturday to start the slog — dosing the pup with Pepto until I leave. Seriously hoping that tomorrow sees some roly-poly-poo so I don’t have to put the kennel on notice!

We are Back!

So much stuff in 30 days.  I hope to be able to get my shizz together by the end of the week so I can post the dets. In the meantime, here’s something about pinworms for your reading pleasure:  PennythePinworm

Weekend Thinking

Using music to get me through a rainy Saturday full of work instead of tomato soup and grilled cheese, as I would have preferred.  It often doesn’t matter what I or you prefer, it just is the thing we need to do and we find a way through.  I have 8 hours of work to do and only 6 hours in which to do it.  It’ll work out and I’ll make it happen, and I have a Spotify “Get Your Work Done” playlist that’s designed to calm it down and focus my efforts.

And, if you liked the Herbie/Gregory video I posted earlier, or even if you didn’t, here’s one to start your glass of wine after a rainy Saturday, or one to use to calm your nerves for the next round of work to do.  It’ll get  your head right:

Be Good —  Just the rhythm and and the singalong-ability of this one will have you rocking back and forth as you work on that Keynote.  It does me.  It’s also my planned first song at my wedding. Everyone can learn to waltz, and it’s 3/3 time, so there you go.

Be Good (Lion's Song)

Be Good (Lion’s Song)

And this one, too, Skylark — EIGHT mother f’ing minutes. Glory. (Also, FYI, the Johnny Mercer Soundbook is available on Amazon. Get it. This song is just one of the reasons you might want to.)  I just fell in love with everything, everybody and with YOU when this track came on right now.  I’m about to knock out all kinds of Keynotes with this in the background.

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Up on the Roof — Because, joy. I miss having a roof to sit on, when it’s hot and horrible in the city and the only possibility of cool is … well, up on the roof, where you just have to wish to make it so! Here you go:

Up on the Roof.  Indeed.  Get yourself there.

Up on the Roof. Indeed. Get yourself there.

Best wishes for the weekend you want!

Gun, Get Offa Me!

Been under the gun for real, just catching up on stuff I missed while traveling for work and trying to make a dent in all the dangly bits that were waiting for me when I got back.  Today was all about errands — laundry, cleaning out the fridge (my God, it was terrible), packing boxes of books for the Prison Book Program, tying up all kinds of loose ends — figuratively and knnitterly/sewerly-wise.  And, I actually made it to the post office, and not while on the way to another errand — I’m saving a couple for tomorrow!

I was inspired to get this one task done — and, really, it seems silly, because it wasn’t hard to do, just hard to get going to do it — by the non-stop, what’s-the-next-thing, where-are-we-going, and what’s-on-your-list spirit of my mom today.  So much so that I co-opted the Mambo #5 Lyrics into an ode to the day:

Ladies and gentlemen!

This is Tuesday No. 1 !

One, two, three, four, five
Just me is in the car, so come on let’s ride
To the post office around the cornah’
I must ship a box right now and soon
But I really don’t wanna
Spend 20 bucks on some cloth and swoon 

To send it to some guy, or to the moon
I like UPS, DHL, FedEx and Mail
But not sure which one will deliver without fail
So what can I do? I really beg you, my muse
Tell me, Meme, what shoes would you use?
To make this errand quick, and done in a flash 
And please not use lots of cash  
[FYI, and not part of the verse, it cost $17.45 to priority mail a box 12 miles.  Worth it not to have to go back to deliver it in person, though!]
A little bit of Meme in my life
A little bit of Larry by my side
A little bit of Aimee is all I need
A little bit of dunzo is what I see
A little bit of ‘I did’ in the sun
A little bit of ‘I will’ all night long
A little bit of list crossed off here I am
A little bit of this tells me I can
 
Try to get that song out of your head.  And, if you do, tell me how you did it.  Packing for NYC now! See you on the flipside — or maybe not. I may just stay!

Kids!

I don’t have any children … because the Universe is wiser than we know … Unintended harm is still harm.  To wit:

Doritos for dinner?  No problem.  Put some guac on that shizz, and it’s a full food pyramid; or

Is mama napping?  That’s the best time to take a swim. Let’s get the step ladder and put some s’getti on the stove first, to cook while we’re in the water. Then, when she wakes up we can have dinner.  And fire.

Seriously, I can’t.  I would for sure, no doubt, 100% love them, but taking care of them …. whoops, just fell asleep there for a second.  But, if I was ever at all inclined to, or found myself just magically waking up to some kids who lived here, there’s no doubt I’d be good at loving on them and snuggling them and knitting down the world for them.  Just ask Russell Jenkins. I’m pretty sure that if he woke up one day with the ability to speak English, his first words would be, “Stop hugging me” followed by “I do not want to wear that.  Ever.”

But, kids!  Well, I’d be happy to have help with laundry and  I would be the-absolute-bomb at teaching them the “sweep the floor” game.  (It’s fun, but you have to do it every day to really find the joy, baby.)  But the best thing ever?  First day of school schaudenfreude!  Boo hoo hoodeehoodeehoo, baby.  Try having first day of schoolitis EVERY MONDAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE and then tell me you don’t like what I packed for your lunch!

Back from travels for now, and, as you can see, just a bit loopier– obvs– for wear!

On Break!

See you guys next week. I’m out for a bit of travel.  It starts, of course, with me doing a deep clean on the homestead which in my superstitious mind means I’ll return safely.  (Because I know if I leave it looking like the pit I usually live in, I’ll surely die in a fiery accident and my parents will be faced with the truth of my pig styery.  Which is not a word, but should be!

I’m off to the East Coast for a bit.  Anyone want to meet at Purl Soho on Saturday, lemme know!  If I get any good pix of sheep, yarn, NY, PA or spots in between, I’ll post them!  Happy BFP!

An Explanation

Why am I like this?  And how did HBOGo find out?  It’s 3:00pm, and I still have work to do from 11:00am.  Stupid Game of Thrones. Everybody said, “Oh, you should watch it.  It’s really good.” What they should have said is, “You’re going to have to pay attention, so don’t watch when you’re trying to do other stuff (like work). It’s not made for the background.”

Promising myself, just one more episode (I’m still in season 1).  If I plan it correctly, I may be able to mop the floor while I’m watching.  Definitely no Keynote, and definitely no knitting … although, the whole idea that Winter is Coming is giving a gal ideas!

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