I Got Tanked: Adventures in Sensory Deprivation

I Got Tanked: Adventures in Sensory Deprivation

It's  11:00 am on Saturday morning. I'm reclining in a "therapy chair" sitting in the (almost) dark amongst three other strangers. New-age music plays softly as we await instruction, watching an image of the earth slowly spinning inside an ever-changing series of fractals projected on the wall.

"Is this how Scientology begins," I find myself wondering. 

But none of us are here to explore alternative ideologies. We're the 11:30 session of "floaters," and we're here to float our way into another dimension of relaxation. (Apparently float spas tend to shy away from using the term "sensory deprivation" these days, as it packs a negative connotation. Thanks a lot, Stranger Things.)  

I first learned about floating from Rhett and Link. The premise is about as simple as it gets. Roughly a thousand pounds of epsom salts are dissolved into approximately 11 inches of water in a float tank. The tank looks like some sort of futuristic pod (with a slight hint of water coffin). Thanks to the concentrated salinity, the tank water is event more buoyant than The Dead Sea. Which is to say, the human body (any human body) will naturally and effortlessly float. The water inside the pod is heated to skin temperature, so within a few minutes you begin to lose awareness of your body. It sort of just melts away. In addition, the pod is completely dark, scentless (hopefully) and soundproof. In essence, the experience will strip away every possible distraction until you're just a floating brain. 

As newbies, we've been asked to arrive 30 minutes early to experience the relaxation video and a brief "Floating 101" video. I'm getting into the fractal zone when two girls loudly enter the room bringing with them a jarring energy. One declares, "Wake me when this is over." The guy next to me is in his twenties. He's frantically texting someone instead of watching the video. In between the chatter of the two cynical hens, all I hear is the BZZZZ BZZZ BZZZ of his vibrating phone. 

I find myself wanting to reprimand him immediately. "Can't you disconnect for one hour? Get off your damn phone! And get off my damn lawn while you're at it, ya pesky kid."

My soul, it seems, is a 65-year-old neighborhood curmudgeon.

I say nothing.

Focus on the fractals. Focus on the fractals. 

A few minutes later the floating 101 video begins. It walks us through a series of suggestions for making the most of our floats. Everything from getting in slowly to avoid splashing water in our eyes to counting our breaths to 300 if we find our minds can't quiet down. At one point, the video flashes to a still of the man who conceptualized floating way back when. He appears to be wearing a red leather suit and a raccoon skin hat. 

Seems legit.

The video concludes with a question that will haunt me: "If you are bored by you, what does that say about you?"

Wait. What if I do get bored. What does that say about me? WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT ME?

There are no answers. 

After the introductory video, we are given a tour of the spa and shown to our private rooms to shower off and begin our floats. Earplugs in, I slowly sit in the pod and close the lid. (And no, you do not wear a swimsuit.) The water immediately buoys me to the surface. The sensation of floating with zero effort is so new it takes a couple minutes for my body to relax and stop fighting it. Music plays softly inside the tank for the first several minutes of the float. I hit the lighting button, toggling between a series of colors before shutting it off and slipping into the black. The experience is not at all claustrophobic as I had feared, but there is something undeniably jarring about the first few moments of floating in total silence and darkness. 

I am alone and I am uncertain if that is concerning or comforting. 

As the music fades away, my mind ramps up. Not unlike every encounter I've ever had with yoga, my inner voice attempts to fill the silence by cycling through a series of thoughts, questions and ponderings: 

That sound speaker is partially submerged in the water. Is that safe? I didn't even know waterproof speakers existed. Oops. I just hit the side of the tank with my arm. Am I flailing? The video said not to flail. Hmm. I'm tall, but not crazy tall. I feel like I might be almost too tall for this tank. I wonder if they have an exceptionally tall tank for exceptionally tall people? Am I exceptionally tall? What even qualifies as exceptionally tall? I wonder how many bodies have been in here? And how often they change the water? Wow. You really can't hear anything in here. I wonder what happens if a fire breaks out while people are floating? Do they have some sort of protocol to save us? Will I hear the fire alarm? I mean, I'm suspended in water, so I'd probably be okay. It would be so strange to emerge after 60 minutes and find the entire building had burned down around me. Raccoon hats are weird. I wonder if they carry any sort of rabies risk? Speaking of which, what's the disease people get from hot tubs? Shigella? No. Guillian-Barre? No. Legionnaires. That's it. Why does that word always make think of dancing soldiers in The Nutcracker? Oooh. Christmas. I can't wait for Christmas!

Eventually my thoughts slow to a stop. And this is when the float experience really begins. I've decided not to share this part of the story, as I don't want to taint anyone else's float experience. But I will say I have heard floating compared to everything from "better than LSD" to "a very expensive nap." I found it to be something in between the two extremes. (Not that I have a point of reference for the former.) I also suspect that there is a significant degree of self-fulfilling prophecy in floating. You'll get from it what you expect from it. It's an experience worth trying. Be open to it. 

An hour later, the soft music fades back in, alerting me that my float has come to an end. I lift the tank lid and re-emerge into the real world. The moment is surreal. It feels a little bit like being reborn after a journey to another dimension. I congratulate myself on not getting salt water in my eyes and step into the shower. After an hour without sensory stimulation everything feels...somehow brighter. I'm more aware of the temperature and cadence of the falling water. The coolness of the tile beneath my feet. The golden glow of the light. Although the spa is completely quiet, I'm realizing the difference between what we call silent -- and actual silence. Even in our most quiet times "above the surface," there's an ever-present hum and murmur of life happening. 

After dressing, I make my way to the relaxation room. A spa employee hands me a glass of lemon-cucumber water and hooks me up to a series of bubbling tanks at the oxygen bar. I toggle between a few different scents to create a custom cocktail. (Mostly unscented with a hint of mint.) When the bubbling stops, I make my way to a table stacked with an experience journal and an adult coloring book. The experience journal is filled with notes from past floaters. It reads like a series of postcards from time travelers. The handwriting is happy, the words are a message of transformation. 

I grab a handful of colored pencils and add my own creation to the mix. A few words that have become my personal mantra. They feel especially fitting in the moment:

Relax. Nothing is under control. (And it's all okay.) 

It's 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Time for me to rejoin the real world. 

 

 

Going to the Mattresses: Part 1

Going to the Mattresses: Part 1

In the grand scheme of shopping experiences that elicit zero delight points, mattress shopping ranks up there with toilet paper, oil changes and air filters. In my mind, a mattress is basically a multi-thousand-dollar air filter. They're not a fun thing or a glamorous thing. They're a necessary thing. A very expensive, necessary thing. Frankly, I just don't enjoy it. (Or at least I didn't...) 

It is here we find the root of a complex tale of procrastination.

Like many people, I bought my previous mattress the old-fashioned way. Wander into mattress store --> immediate overwhelm --> get accosted by aggressive salesperson --> commence introvert panic --> awkwardly lay down on a few showroom mattresses as said salesperson looms over me smiling creepily --> panic and purchase big-name mattress to avoid having to repeat this process again for at least the next decade. 

Spoiler alert: Not how it panned out, ultimately. 

Don't get me wrong. The mattress felt great in the store. At least from what we could tell by laying on it for 30 seconds. Within a couple years, a rapid decline was underway. I'd wake in the night to discover my body involuntarily clinging to my side of the bed, desperately trying to resist the gravitational pull of the vortex that had developed at the center of the mattress. I'm still not quite sure how to explain what was going on. I just know that it led to a lot of tossing and turning, and even more morning aches and pains. 

Which begs the question, why did we live like this for another year before doing something about it?

Before you cast your stones of judgment, let me say this: buying a mattress is freaking complicated. It's basically the home furnishing version of digging through the worst and unhappiest parts of Yelp. You log on, thinking you'll do a little sleuthing, and before you know it you've gone down a dark rabbit hole of opinions and snark fueled by sleepless nights and spousal rage. 

Initially, it seemed everyone hated everything. I quickly came to understand that our fate was sealed. We would spend at least $3500 on something moderately tolerable that would ultimately disappoint and fail us,  possibly while clenching our bodies in an inescapable, balmy foam embrace. The years that followed would result in mental, emotional and physical suffering, until we reached a point at which we'd chuck the mattress and begin the cycle again. 

At some point, I came across this site. It is a treasure trove of unbiased (and more importantly, unsponsored) mattress information. A lot of information. So much information I could be convinced that there is a valid need for the mattress industry to start training their equivalent of sommeliers. I won't even attempt to recap all the things you need to know (Go to the site. Read all the things!), but I will share a few of the top takeaways:

  1. Material matters. All foams are not created equal. From density to layering to type (memory vs. latex), everything makes a huge difference in the feel, support and durability of the end product. Different materials work better for different types of bodies and sleepers. 
  2. How you sleep impacts what you should sleep on. Whether you're a side, back or stomach sleeper impacts the type of mattress material and support you should look for. As do things like height, sleep temperature (whether you run hot or cool), pain points and BMI. Not all mattresses are equipped to handle all sleepers. But most manufacturers won't tell you that. 
  3. There is some nasty sh*t in many mattresses. As a result, there an emerging trend toward more natural (and even some organic) materials. You know, the kinds of things that won't off-gas and slowly poison you every night for the next decade. 
  4. More isn't better. Some of the most expensive mattresses on the market have the lowest consumer satisfaction ratings. It seems people end up paying for the name. Which leads me to...
  5. Big names aren't the best. This was one of the most surprising realizations. Many (most) of the brand names we tend to recognize -- and find displayed on mattress showroom floors -- have fairly dismal consumer ratings. If they were in high school, the best of the "popular kids" pack would be averaging straight C's. Marketing is a powerful tool that has afforded these brands decades of profitability, but all that is starting to change... 
  6. There's a whole new world of mattresses out there. Startup mattresses, if you will. From Loom & Leaf to Casper to Tuft & Needle to Bed-in-a-Box, these "little" guys are cutting out middle man, selling directly to consumers and winning big. 

And it's that last point I want to talk about. A few things to know about these newer mattress brands:

  1. You won't find their mattresses in stores. They keep costs low by working directly with consumers and selling online. This rocks the mattress-purchasing norm a bit, and means you need to get comfortable with the idea of buying a mattress sight unseen/unfelt. 
  2. In order to calm those concerns, they have really generous return policies. Most online mattress brands will give you 75-150 nights to try the mattress out. Don't like it? Zero-hassle returns...for free. In many instances, if you decide to return the mattress, the company will donate your unwanted, gently-used mattress to a local shelter in need. 
  3. Their prices tend to be significantly lower and their consumer ratings tend to be significantly higher than the most recognized names in the mattress biz. Click around. Read the reviews. Not only are many of these brands producing a superior product, they're also providing an exceptional customer experience. And sleep-seeking consumers are loving it. 

SO WHAT DID WE END UP WITH? 

Originally, Casper was our frontrunner. The Casper name seems to be popping up everywhere, including as a sponsor of my favorite podcast, Awesome Etiquette, and via word-of-mouth from friends. After a lot of reading, researching and reviewing, however, we ended up going with Loom & Leaf. Our decision was based on a variety of factors, including: the firmness level of the mattress, their focus on creating a cool sleep (via gel), their use of plant-based materials and organic cottons, and the fact that their mattresses are delivered by way of "white glove delivery," rather than being bound up in a box for us to deal with. In addition, I literally could not find a single bad review about their customer experience, even amongst those who tried their mattress and ultimately decided it wasn't for them. 

We take delivery next week. Check back soon for a follow-up post! 

 

Meet Robert W. Tobin

Meet Robert W. Tobin

I'm not sure when or where or how Robert W. Tobin and I first crossed paths, but it seems he has always been there, offering up love letters to a city loved by thousands -- each one a story in a square. If you don't already know him, you should. And this is a good place to start. 

Back in South Carolina

Back in South Carolina

It's good to be home! 

 

 

Going Off Script

Going Off Script

Every once in awhile someone will ask me what I do for a living. These conversations usually occur in the kinds of places where strangers feel compelled to carry on polite chitchat. In line at the grocery store. Doctor's office waiting rooms. Airplanes idling until cleared for take-off. When I tell people I am a writer, they often respond in the same way I imagine I would respond if someone told me they traveled with the circus or roadied for Def Leppard in the 80s. An incredulous mix of shock and awe, with undertones of questioning sanity.

“That must be...interesting,” they say. What they really mean is, “How do you sleep at night knowing you could be one dry spell away from the unemployment line?” My answer is simple: I have no answer. I just know this is what I was meant to do.

I was born with an innate love of language. My childhood scrapbook, a chronicle of tidbits from my early years stealthily pilfered and lovingly preserved by my mother’s hand, can attest to this.

As so often tends to be the case with keepsakes, many of the artifacts are truly terrible. In many instances, what once seemed like staggering works of genius now seem more like the literary equivalent of those coconut monkeys souvenirs people pick on on vacation in Cabo. Given a few decades to marinate (and fester), my early works leave me awash in a sea of simultaneous horror and nostalgic delight, reveling in the absurdity and purity of first love-inspired poems, drama-laden high school notes and even the occasional elementary school valentine.

Among the written wreckage, you will find classic hits such as: a third grade essay I wrote about my teacher’s best quality (her red fingernails), as well as a pillow-side plea asking “Molly” (the tooth fairy) to keep the pocket change and leave me a unicorn. There are cleverly written scripts starring my sister and I. Acted out in the living room, those performances were a relentless negotiation (with an occasional musical number thrown in for good measure) as we tried to persuade our parents to get us puppies, ponies and, sights set slightly lower, pizza on Friday nights. (Rhyming "pepperoni" is hard.) 

Perhaps my favorite relic, however, is the neatly folded copy of a letter I sent to former Ohio Governor George V. Voinovich. In the note, I implore him to help me save the environment (and future of the planet) by becoming a partner in my third grade fight against the formidable Styrofoam lunch trays used in my elementary school cafeteria. Apparently Governor George was busy that week. And while he didn't swing by to chain himself to the cafeteria tables, he did send an autographed head shot and a letter of encouragement to “keep it up." The day I received that piece of mail was one of the most thrilling afternoons of my young life.

Not too long ago, I found myself on delay in an airport taking a seat beside an older gentleman. In a sea of kindles and ipads, he was the last of a dying breed, perusing the newspaper with a quiet sort of page-flipping dignity. We exchanged the usual pleasantries of strangers who are temporarily forced, more by inadequate airport seating than by choice, into each other’s lives. After a a few minutes of small talk, he asked the inevitable. What do you do? I told him I was a writer, expecting the usual response.

Instead, he looked at me, smiled and said: “A writer is who you are. Writing is what you do. Never confuse the two.”

Nearly two decades ago, a college admissions counselor sat across the desk and asked me what I wanted to do. “Write,” I said. She looked at me, laughed and replied, “Write? You might as well go into philosophy. Writing is a useless degree.” I went on to spend the greater part of my early college years fighting what I really wanted instead of fighting for it. 

Sitting here, 17 years later, it's hard to imagine what I would have missed out on had I stayed on script and opted for the more pragmatic path laid out before me by someone else. Only by wandering -- and ultimately going off script -- was I able to discover my innate strength as a woman by embracing the power and authority of my own voice. As a result, I get to wake up each day and use that voice to advocate for passionate, courageous, amazing people doing meaningful, important work in the world. They're abolishing sex slavery, advocating for rescue animals, promoting literacy, redefining healthcare, empowering women, ending domestic violence, protecting the environment.  

In our culture, women are often told to stay small, modest, polite. I challenge you to do the exact opposite. 

Be big. Be bold. Be brazen. 

Tear up the script. Write your own story. 

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GIVEAWAY: TWO TICKETS TO KEYHOLDER 2016

Sponsored by The Women's Fund of Central Ohio, Keyholder is a night to convene as a community and amplify the voices of women and girls. As a guest, you will unlock the potential and influence gender equality and economic security in central Ohio. You hold the key to be part of lasting social change-- and that’s what Keyholder is all about. It’s a night to give visibility to issues affecting women and girls while also providing inspiration and highlighting solutions.

On Tuesday, May 10th 2016  actress, author, producer, trailblazer and humanitarian Vanessa Williams will take the stage at the Ohio Theatre.

Vanessa's integrity, resiliency, and grace make her an authentic voice as she lives her life with dignity and professionally defines her own path to success. Vanessa’s strength and endurance over the years to become a multi-faceted performer and actor will resonate with many, while encouraging us to script our own lives.  

Enter for a chance to win two free tickets to Keyholder 2016 by leaving a comment on this blog post sharing a time you have "gone off script" and how that has made an impact in your life. 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. In exchange, I received two free tickets to the 2016 Keyholder event from The Women's Fund of Central Ohio. 

Claws, Paws + Mini Monsters

Claws, Paws + Mini Monsters

Flowers are overrated. There. I said it. I like them, don't get me wrong. They're just so easy to love. They have an simple time of it, resting on their laurels and coasting on their good looks. 

Cacti and succulents, on the other hand, are so much more interesting. They're jagged and rough around the edges. They have claws and teeth. They're the survivors of the botanical world. They don't need your rainstorms or touch. They're little monsters who stick it out with their humans when fickle flowers pack it in. 

Here in Ohio, gardening season is just around the corner. I can't wait to get out and get my hands dirty. In the meantime, I'm happily filling my days with claws, paws and mini monsters. 

What I Learned From an Evening with Monica Lewinsky

What I Learned From an Evening with Monica Lewinsky

I was 17 years old when "the Monica Lewinsky scandal" broke. Like most of the world, I drew conclusions based on the storylines the media was spinning day after day. Social media didn't exist back then, but wherever you turned (newspapers, magazines, late-night television), Monica was the topic of conversation. (Note: we're all trained to politely call it "conversation," but if we're being honest, it was plain ol' gossip.) When I say the name "Monica Lewinsky," you probably have a certain storyline you default to. I did, too, at least until last week when the Jewish Federation of Columbus invited me to attend an event at which Monica was the guest speaker. Turns out, that storyline we've all grown familiar with is probably the least interesting thing about her.

Some things you might not know about Monica: She has a great sense of humor. She's a talented storyteller (and even brought the audience to tears). And she's using what is arguably one of the most difficult experiences any person has endured as a catalyst to do good -- fighting cyberbullying.

I've never fully believed in the notion of mistakes. I believe in accidents and I believe in choices. Most of the things we label "mistakes" fall into the latter category; choices in which the outcome wasn't what we intended or actions that had unexpected ramifications. I've never liked the word "mistake" because it suggests some sort of hashmark on our permanent life record. And despite the fact that we all make questionable choices at some point or another, labeling them mistakes gives those things more power than they deserve. It gives us permission to define each other based on past history rather than we are today.

I was 17 years old when Monica Lewinsky became a household name. She was in her early 20s. Through the eyes of a 17-year-old, twenty-something seemed so adult. Looking back at everything as a now-34-year-old, I have a whole new perspective. As I listened to Monica speak last week, I tried to imagine what my life would have been like had my 22-something choices and actions been plastered across newspapers and television sets, paraded out onto an international stage. I found myself thinking about how exhausting it must feel to spend a lifetime running from a past you know you'll probably never fully escape.

When you find yourself sitting a few feet away from someone whose intimate history you know better than that of your closest friends, it changes things. In that moment of vulnerability, you stop seeing them as a punchline and a headline and start seeing them as a person just like you. When you get to know the human -- rather than the spin -- the storyline we've all been fed suddenly loses its flavor. You find that you're just two flawed people trying to do something and be someone and maybe make the world a slightly better place. And there, in a hotel conference room on a random Thursday night, your choices of your past no longer hold up. Because the only thing that really matters is who you are right here, right now.

I'd argue there are no such things as mistakes. There are choices and outcomes. Some good, some bad. I'd argue it's the choices we might do differently, if given the chance, that are our unlikeliest of teachers. They change us for the better. They challenge us to define our character, to sharpen our steel, to grow, to learn, to forge onward, to take action. They call for us to stand up, stand for something and take a stand. But most of all, they teach us how to forgive ourselves, move on and do better.

Pie for Breakfast: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Pie for Breakfast: A Thanksgiving Tradition

For centuries, pie has been the encore performance of the Thanksgiving meal. Right around the time you're starting to deeply regret your decision not to wear pants with an elastic waistband, enter the delicious triangles, whipped and ripe for the forking.

There's just one problem. You're so full. You're. So. Full. Like any true American, you dig deep, grab a fork and find a way to shovel it in. (Because everyone knows if you don't pie, the terrorists win.)

A couple years ago, my extended family decided to rock the gravy boat. As a pie-loving people, it came to their attention that we were not honoring pies by making them the afterthought of the meal. Pies are good. Pies are great. Pies deserved to be the star of their own show. And just like that: the PIE FOR BREAKFAST tradition was born.

Here is how PFB works: Wake up -- > gather with family in pajama pants to partake in pie eating and drinking of champagne --> go home to put on real clothes/finish cooking your assigned dishes/pie-induced nap --> reconvene for Thanksgiving meal later in afternoon.

Pie now has a rightful place of honor as the starter to a full day of celebrating. Even the dogs get to partake.

pie for dogs
pie for dogs

This year, I invite you to join us in this unusual, if not a little irreverent, Thanksgiving tradition. If I'm being honest (and a little sentimental), it really is  a perfect way to kick off a day whose hours tend to get whisked away in a flurry of dinging timers, centerpieces and place settings. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's a scientifically-proven fact that it's impossible to not feel great about the world when you're eating pie and sipping champagne surrounded by your loved ones.

Ernestine Ulmer once said, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." From my spirited clan to yours, Thanksgiving is crazy. Eat pie for breakfast. 

In honor of Pie for Breakfast, I shall now pass on my personal pie recipe, Good Girl/Bad Girl Pie. One part sweet, one part tart, this is the perfect recipe for anyone who simply can't choose between apple and cherry. Prepare for all your piecurious fantasies to come true.

GGBG Pie 

INGREDIENTS

CRUST One frozen crust. (If you are into crusting from scratch, a quick google should provide plenty of recipes. Good luck with that, you crusty masochist.)

FILLING 1-2 cans tart cherries, drained (not cherry pie filling) 3 tart apples, peeled and sliced (I use granny smiths, but feel free to go wild) 1/2 cup sugar 2 T. flour 2 t. cinnamon 1 t. nutmeg pinch of ground cloves

TOPPING 3/4 cup oatmeal 3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup flour 6 T. butter, chilled and cubed 3 t. cinnamon

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine cherries, apples and dry filling ingredients in a bowl. Stir and spoon into crust.

In another bowl, mix together topping flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter cubes using your hands to blend the butter into the dry mixture. If the mixture is excessively greasy, add more flour. If mixture is too dry, cut in more butter. Lightly pack topping over the filling and place pie on a baking sheet covered with tin foil. Bake pie until topping is golden (approximately 35 minutes. Cover crust edges with foil to prevent over-browning. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Continue baking until apples in center of pie are tender when pierced with a fork and filling is bubbly and thick at pie edges (approximately 25-35 minutes). Cool and serve.

If you want to get extra crazy, drizzle with some salted caramel bourbon sauce.

Craving something more? Enjoy one of my favorite holiday articles ever, 20 Guests, 19 Pies. 

Citizen Cray

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I scored my first post-collegiate job working in government communications for an affluent suburb of Columbus. It was a great job. While most of my friends were busy fetching coffee and frantically filing for eight hours a day, I was photographing parades, pinch hitting city council meetings and occasionally riding along with police officers. (Hel-lo uniforms!) Not a bad gig for a twenty-something.

Our department consisted of a small (but mighty) team of two. My boss and I were a dynamic duo. We managed everything from press releases to employee appreciation gigs, media requests to website management to citywide special events. We also took all the weird calls.

Let me explain what I mean by that. In a city of 30,000+ residents, we were the two people responsible for handling all the calls, issues and problems other departments couldn't -- or wouldn't. And no matter how bewildering, asinine or just-plain-insane, we had to do it with a smile.

If you've never worked in government, it's easy to dismiss this as no big deal. Like you, I assumed the worst thing I would face might be complaints about potholes or the timeliness of snow removal. Wrong. So wrong.

NBC's Parks & Rec came along at the tail end of my municipal government career, but I've been a loyal viewer since episode one. Their writers have captured the true depths of muni government insanity with such accuracy it regular blows my mind. My favorite scenes -- by far -- are the "citizen comments" moments in any given meeting episode.

I recently stumbled across a compilation of said comments, and pretty much want to fist bump whoever came up with these.

Everyone laughs, tickled by the craziness of the hyperbole. Those of us who have been through the muni government experience  laugh for a different reason: it's funny 'cause it's true. It's funny because it's not really exaggerated at all. It's funny because it's our daily reality.

My single regret of the time I spent government is that I didn't write down every "WTF" call and conversation I had over the years. Rarely did a day go by that someone didn't give me a reason to wonder is this real life? But a few of the classic hits have stuck with me.

Today I share them with you: 

Caller: Yes. I'd like to make a complaint. I was just driving down X Street and noticed that [new BBQ restaurant] smells too much like BBQ. What are you going to do about it?

Caller: I was just running through [park with pond] and there are geese everywhere. There's goose poop all over. It's getting stuck in the tread of my shoes. I noticed the fire station is next door. I thought you might have them spray the geese with the fire hose. Not enough to harm them, mind you. Just enough to warn them it's time to move on. 

(Note: According to the internet, water exits a firehose at roughly 30 to 80 mph. I'm not mathematician, but accordingly to my calculations if a train leaves Boston at 3:45 p.m. traveling at speeds of 30-80 mph, those geese are so dead.)

Caller: I'm appalled that the city is letting [upscale boutique] promote promiscuity by selling panties. There are mannequins in their front window wearing lacy undergarments. That's just indecent! 

(Note: To this day I still wonder about her logic. If people are buying underwear doesn't that mean they are wearing underwear? And really, isn't wearing underwear the exact opposite of indecent?)

Caller: What's the number to a paint store?

Caller: I'm finding feces on my lawn!! Someone is letting their dog defecate on my lawn!! I only have a small dog and this is large feces, so I know it's not my dog. I'd like the health department to DNA test the feces and tell me what breed of dog is defecating on my lawn. 

Caller: Where is the ice cream man!?!??
Me: Pardon?
Caller: I can hear him, but I can't see him. WHERE IS HE?
Me: Um, unfortunately we wouldn't have that information.
Caller: I know you know his route now tell me where he is!! He's not coming down our street and that's discrimination.
Me: Ma'am, I'm sorry, we only issue vendor licenses. We wouldn't have his route.
Caller: I'm calling [local news program] to report you for withholding public information.

Various callers: I need an officer sent to my house because:

  • There's a bat in my house.
  • There's a dragonfly in my house.
  • My toddler won't listen to me.