Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me!

Shannon Kernaghan resting-bitch-face-400 Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me! Adventure Career Challenge Challenges Humor Memoir Risk Teambuilding

 

Can’t we all just get along? No. At least not at work.

An online poll of 2,000 adults revealed that 22% despise their colleagues. That’s strong language!

Cranky people obviously responded to the poll. Those who enjoy arranging staff birthday parties and NONE OF US IS AS STRONG AS ALL OF US teambuilding events are too busy for polls. Either way you slice the birthday cake, that’s a whole lot of despising.

There’s more: one third of the respondents had quit their jobs to escape undesirable co-workers. The word “obnoxious” was bandied about like helium balloons.

“The office is a lot like a family,” says Franke James with officepolitics.com. “And nobody knows how to push our buttons like a brother or sister.”

My siblings are scattered across several provinces. We all get along just fine. Then again, my sister isn’t stealing my three-hole punch and my brother isn’t dropping cruller crumbs into my computer keyboard.

But there have been a few I’d peeps I’d place in that 22 percentile. Please join me in the Wayback Machine, to when I worked at a sales job.

I watched a male co-worker slam down the phone and cartwheel across the room, ecstatic after closing a deal. I clapped and congratulated Dave as he bounced off walls. (I’m not exaggerating; he did a series of side kicks like the Lucky Charms leprechaun.)

Our boss walked past me and I blurted out, “Dave just made a big sale, isn’t that great?” This was followed by lots of rah-rahing and back patting. The mood was charged.

The minute our boss left the room, Dave strode over to me with a loaded index finger and a florid tinge to his face. Then he started to snort. “Who the hell are you to announce my news?  I’ll make the announcements when I’m good and ready. Got it?” His resting bitch face scared me.

“Oh-kay . . . got it.”

The mood was no longer charged. Dave must have missed the inter-office memo on teamwork. Then again, I shouldn’t have rained on his Lucky Charms parade. Who knew being a cheerleader was so hazardous.

Cold comfort? My over-the-top colleague was soon fired for pulling the same explosive stunt on another supportive co-worker. This time the boss was watching.

Thanks to the dismal statistics and my tramp down memory lane, I’m nervous. When I show up for the next staff meeting I’ll wonder if 22% of the boardroom despises me. I’d better keep the lid clamped down on my cheerleading charm. Better yet, maybe I won’t go.

Nah, I’ll go, and not because I’m brave. There might be birthday cake.

Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come!

Shannon Kernaghan Star_Hollywood-Here-I-DONT-Come_Kernaghan Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come! Adventure Career Challenge Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir

 

I know why I’m not a Hollywood celebrity – I don’t have “star drive,” that necessary trait for a person to succeed on the stage or screen. I also lack another key factor: talent.

Sure, I’ve made my lukewarm forays into the world of acting. Years ago, I took a few script reading and improv courses. And while living on the west coast, I did extra work in a dozen series and several movies.

When I read about an audition for a local filmmaker, I blew the dust off my skimpy acting resume. Although no pay was involved, the challenge sounded like fun and I scheduled an appointment to read at a nearby hotel.

After memorizing my lines, I skipped to that audition. But reading lines at your mirror doesn’t compare with doing the scene across from a stranger. When it was my turn to read, the script sounded completely foreign in my ears. I stammered and stumbled.

If bungling my lines wasn’t bad enough, my confidence plummeted when the director suggested I try again. “But this time,” he said, “don’t move around so much, and try to be more . . . quiet.”

“More quiet, okay, sure,” I said, wearing an idiot grin. What really went through my mind was, “What did I just do, flail my arms and shout?” At that surreal point, all I could focus on was remembering my lines and staring at the adorable scriptwriter, the one who read the other character’s lines. In the story, I was supposed to be his mother.

“I WISH I had a son as cute as you,” I thought, and then realized I’d spoken aloud as the group started laughing. Laughing is too strong; make that awkward chuckling. Not only was I a bad actor, I felt like Mrs. Robinson, surrounded by a crew young enough to be my children.

Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the part. I couldn’t even give away my gratis acting services.

While leaving the hotel, I had a flashback: I was doing extra work at a rundown movie set in Vancouver. After pulling off a shapeless dress three sizes too large from wardrobe, I sighed at the end of a long night. The actors and crew were cranky, the bag lunches were stale, and someone yelled at me during a take when my shoes made scrunching noises on the dirty floor. Plus, I wanted to tell the actor playing an FBI agent to stop mumbling and speak up!

The highlight of the shoot was when a camera fell and knocked a man unconscious. I remember thinking, “This two-bit series will NEVER get off the ground. What a dump.”

That two-bit series? The X-Files, listed as one of the longest-running science fiction series at 12 seasons. Turns out the mumbling agent Mulder was played by David Duchovny and I was in the pilot with him.

The truth is out there: I’m a bad actor. Time to shelve my dreams of a Hollywood star and stick to writing, where I can invent my own characters and flail my arms until the cows come home. Or shout until I’m blue in the face. Pick a cliché and I’ll be there. With bells on.

Confessions of a List-oholic

Shannon Kernaghan Confessions-of-list-400 Confessions of a List-oholic Adventure Challenge Humor Lifestyle Relationship Travel

 

I envy my husband. He lives a list-free existence. Paul never makes a to-do list and has no plans to start. Me? He calls me a “list junky.”

For appointments and meetings, that info goes straight to my phone calendar, which is the logical use of current technology. But if you open my purse, you’ll find three old-school lists on three scraps of paper held together with a paper clip. The first is titled TODAY, the second TOMORROW and the third MISC. for those tasks in need of future attention, somewhere between this week and the next century.

Lists are like maps, guideposts to chart my daily course. When we leave the house for errands, I know exactly what’s required to make my life manageable. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so lists are no replacement for setting goals. (Note to self: add “Set Goals” to MISC. list.)

If I have a dozen tasks on my current list, I take pleasure in crossing off each one as it’s completed. It doesn’t matter if I finish everything, as long as I know what I could be doing if I end up in a mall or various parts of the city.

At the start of each day, I re-write a new TODAY list, bumping unfinished chores onto it and jotting down fresh tasks.

Here’s one benefit to this routine: nothing is forgotten when we travel. “Wow, you remembered my lucky hat!” Paul will say. I’ll smile and shrug, knowing that I owe my organized life to a 99-cent pen and a few pieces of recycled paper.

I’m also a list mentor. I convinced my husband’s friend that life becomes more productive and less stressful with a list. He followed my advice and awoke the next morning to a reminder on his cell’s calendar: PHONE BILL. Then he spent the next hour trying to recall which Bill he was supposed to phone – he works with three!) and why was he supposed to call this Bill? It wasn’t until late afternoon that he remembered: PAY THE PHONE BILL! At least he tried. Hey, good list making takes practice.

Maybe some people should continue to limp along through their list-free worlds, accepting missed appointments and undelivered dry-cleaning. Apparently they’re happy, even if they forget to mail that Welcome New Baby card before the child begins college.

The reason my husband doesn’t need to make lists? “I’m no fool,” he says, “I have YOU to make them for me.” (Note to self: be more spontaneous!)

Turkey Buzzard Trumps Light Sleeper

Shannon Kernaghan Turkey-Buzzard-4 Turkey Buzzard Trumps Light Sleeper Adventure Bikini Drinking Family Recreation Travel Tropical

 

I’m a big liar. Not true, I’m a liar of medium build. As recently as yesterday I told my neighbor a mistruth: ”Me? I’m a light sleeper. One creak and I’m wide awake.”

Turns out I’m not such a light sleeper. Instead, I’m a typical one with a husband who can snooze while garbage and recycling trucks rumble next to our open window. His ability to slumber through jack hammering and thunderstorms means I have no one to gauge my sleep patterns.

That changed when I took a trip to Cuba with my sister and we shared a hotel room. Days into our vacation, she awakened at dawn to grunts and flapping wings. From her bed she watched a turkey buzzard hop through our open balcony door. It was probably attracted to the bowl of over-ripe fruit we’d forgotten on our balcony table.

She rushed towards the window and chased it away, yelling “Shoo! Shoo!” which in any language means, “Leave, large buzzard, before you encounter my wrath!” The bird must have understood because it vamoosed.

She couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard either the noisy bird or her – I slept through the adventure.

That’s one.

The next afternoon I needed a quick booster nap before dinner. Two hours later I awoke to Linda – dressed and ready for the evening – standing next to my bed and repeating my name. She said her next plan was to check for a pulse.

Okay, that siesta I can blame on plenty of snorkeling and a strong rum-based drink during the afternoon.

That’s two.

For a third bit of non-clinical proof, Linda awoke another night to hear someone yelling “Raul, Raul,” half a dozen times and then whistling through his fingers. The man might have been standing under our balcony, based on his volume. I must take my sister’s word for this tale because I didn’t hear a thing.

“Come on!” she said. ”How could you sleep through all that noise?”

Now she’s worried about me. “What if your home smoke alarm goes off, will you even hear it?”

Apparently my dozing is not so delicate. Maybe I awaken in the night for different reasons, like weird dreams triggered by eating shrimp and spicy cocktail sauce before going to bed. Maybe my own snuffling or bladder disturbs me. Perhaps it’s my inside world I should be blaming, not the outside.

As of today, I promise to stop the denial. “My name is Shannon and I have a reality problem. I’m not the light sleeper I’ve been telling everyone,” will be the beginning of my 12-step program.

After all, traveling sisters and turkey buzzards never lie.

WHAT DISTURBS YOUR SLEEP?

This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

 

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Adventure Challenge Family Relationship Risk Travel

 

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS.

Catch the Wave!

Shannon Kernaghan Surf-bug400 Catch the Wave! Adventure Humor Lifestyle Travel

 

I like ladybugs as much as the next person. Finding one inside your home is said to be a sign of good luck. But I like a few of them, not a virtual infestation. Last fall, several dozen enjoyed free room and board in one of my bedrooms, all of them snoozing in the corners of my ceiling.

I’m not being fair about the free board part since my ladybugs didn’t eat a thing. That’s not to imply there’s nothing snack-worthy because I can fed a small nation with what falls off the kitchen counters.

With help from the Internet, I discovered these cute little Volkswagen-shaped insects are fascinating critters. The North Carolina College of Agriculture states that ladybugs, or Multicolored Asian Ladybeetles, were imported into the United States from Asia in the late 1970s. Since they feed on over 50 species of aphids, they’re a good bug to have around. I only WISH they ate human food. My kitchen floor would be much cleaner.

Ladybeetles – a rather emasculating title for the males – congregate twice a year, in spring and in fall when they gather to find shelter from the cold. In their native Asia, they’re drawn to light-colored limestone, which is why they choose my sunny west-facing room.

I’m no gardener, but I do appreciate the benefits of ladybugs in a vegetable and flower bed. Want to store your ladybugs for the winter and release them into your gardens and window boxes next spring? The N.C. College recommends that you make a bag out of cheesecloth, about the size of a half-gallon milk jug. Toss in some dried grass or wood chips.

After collecting the ladybugs with the edge of a funnel, gently drop them into the cheesecloth bag. Refrigerate, but don’t freeze or you’ll end up with Bugscicles. From now until spring, take them out of the fridge once or twice a month and let them warm up for a few hours. They’re hardy enough to withstand temperature fluctuations in nature although shouldn’t be left out too long as they’ll burn off their fat reserves and die.

When warmed and starting to crawl, mist them with a bit of water. To prevent chilling, make sure they’re dry before returning them to the fridge. I suggest using a monogrammed guest towel for best results.

When spring arrives, let them warm up again. Place the bag of bugs in your recliner and download a move, something like A Bug’s Life or Antz, before releasing them into your garden where they’ll make quick work of aphids and other pests.

For this year’s visit, I’ll launch an Airbnb for them, specifically an Airbug. Guests this quiet and low-maintenance, I want back year after year.

By the way, if you actually follow my recipe for preserving your bugs, I figure you’ve got too much free time. How about coming over and cleaning my kitchen floor!

Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler

Shannon Kernaghan blog-travelling-suitcase2 Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler Adventure Bikini Challenge Humor Travel Tropical

 

When I started traveling in my teens, half of my luggage contained beauty products – bulky hot rollers, make-up by the bucket and a spectrum of nail polishes. My suitcase needed layers of duct tape to keep the works from springing open on the carousel. “Spontaneous travel” was not a phrase in my vocabulary.

After those teen years, my total luggage weight decreased. Eventually I could skip onto planes with nothing more than a carry-on bag and a light heart. Considering my destinations were generally warm, the basic wardrobe of shorts, T-shirts and bikinis required minimal packing. After all, most toiletries and more clothing can be purchased on arrival.

Something remarkable occurred at an untraceable juncture. I transformed into a Travel Superhero! Maybe I’d skimmed too many online horror stories about unprepared travelers. Suddenly I was never far from my bulging purse and prepared for any contingency, including airport delays and minor medical ailments.

Where I once journeyed with a toothbrush, now I carry a Ziploc bag of cough drops, antacids and pre-moistened wipes, to name a few. These emergency supplies give me a heightened sense of security.

I’m not done. I also drag along a six-pack of sunblock with SPFs in the triple digits. And don’t forget the mini sewing kit. You never know. Buttons could pop and hems could fall with abandon. I’ll be there, no longer with my spectrum of alluring nail polishes from my youth, but with my rainbow of threads. Move over Spiderman, Super Traveler is on this journey!

I’ve swapped my hot rollers for bandages and alcohol swabs. Instead of a big make-up mirror taking space in my carry-on, I bring spare socks and undies in case my luggage goes missing. There’s always room for a few granola bars and juice boxes. Someone in my orbit might suffer from low blood sugar. I’ve become the Superwoman of All Possibilities.

In the airport, if my husband Paul mentions he’s leaving to find a washroom, I whisper, “Want anything from my special baggy?” I tilt my head down and raise my eyebrows, willing him in.

“What?” and he looks at me as if I’m trying to sell him contraband.
“You know, a toilet seat protector? Wet wipes?” I stop listing my wares as soon as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “I’m here if you change your mind,” I call out while he walks away.

On our last trip, I had plenty of satisfaction. After our first night of celebrating, Paul needed aspirin from too many cocktails and then a bandage for his cut finger. If that wasn’t pleasure enough, he asked if I’d brought a sewing kit because he found a tear in his favorite shorts.

I couldn’t stop grinning and repeating, “See? You laugh at my stuff, but now you’re sure sounding sweet.”

It was only when he asked for the camera so he could take pictures of the ocean from our balcony that my know-it-all bliss ended.

“Camera? I thought you brought it!” I’d managed to bring the entire contents of our medicine cabinet, yet forgot to pack the camera.

“Honey? What about some nice calamine lotion?” I said. “Um, you’re turning a little red in the face.”

Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles

Shannon Kernaghan Bear-Ghylles-400-1 Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles Adventure Challenge Recreation Relationship RV Travel

 

The British adventurer from Running Wild with Bear Grylls has some nifty one-liners: “Life is an adventure – live it” and “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”

Okay. I was ready to welcome adventure, to gain something. I was about to go camping.

My inaugural day could best be described by a “hangry” interpretive dance. Since you can’t see me dance, simple words must suffice.

First I e-mailed my sister to let her know that Paul and I bought a truck tent and planned to enjoy evenings cuddled around a camp fire, communing with nature. “It’ll be an adventure,” I wrote, “discovering how much I enjoy this, or how much I need a hotel room. Can’t say until I try, but I’m game. Wish me luck.”

Her reply wasn’t heartening: “I can’t be objective because I haven’t camped for so long, and my experiences were pretty primitive. Maybe it’s the teenage drunken mosquito-filled nights of camping I remember! No sleep, someone always vomiting and someone always burned by the fire. Hangover mornings. Good times.”

Fast forward a week. I emailed my sis again: “On Saturday we took the new tent to a secluded place for a dry run. When I say secluded, I’m talking no Golden Arches and no bathroom, only the far off engines of ATVers also communing with nature.

“Other campers had been there before, based on the meat poles for hunting, fire pits and log stump chairs. But the place was too quiet, not even a bird call. M Night Shyamalan movies looped in my brain.

“The temp was 32 degrees, the sky overcast and the wind gusted non-stop. Did I mention it was snowing?

“Our new truck tent? The assembly advertised a ten-minute set up in the box of our truck. It took an hour. One of the poles was too long and didn’t fit, no matter how we struggled. I envisioned the pole snapping and flying like a javelin, and one of us losing an eye.

“On to our romantic fire. The smoke plume followed me, no matter where I sat. There was no cuddling. I was too busy playing musical stumps and blowing my nose. I’d feel Paul’s glare  every time I bailed to warm up in the truck, preferring a reclining leather chair to a hard stump.

“By noon I was starving because we didn’t bring any food. Why? Paul said we wouldn’t stay long enough to worry about meals. I foolishly believed him. And luckily I have strong thighs and decent balance. Men have it easy when nature calls in the woods.

“By the way, did you enjoy your hotel suite in New York last weekend? Wanna change places and commune with nature? . . . Still there?

“Paul grew sullen when I complained of being cold, hungry and smoke-choked. Good times.

“Tent dismantling took considerably less time – we jammed it into the carry bag. Nothing ever fits its carry bag after the first use.

“Returned home in the afternoon, thawed in a hot tub and downed a glass of something strong. So what’s new with you?”

Will I ever head out again with Paul and a tent? For sure. When the thermometer hits the mid-70s and when the cooler is packed with enough food to feed Bear Grylls. Or a Grizzly bear.

Scratch the Grizzly comment. Who needs to worry about fighting off wildlife? I’ll be happy if my thighs hold out.

Did I mention good times?