Happy Birthday, Mom

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My mom – Kelly (pictured left in boa) – is one special lady. Not only did she raise me, but she gave birth to me too. I know I joke a lot, but I am so serious when I say my mom is better than yours. She’s been a loyal supporter of this blog since day one, which is the adult equivalent of hanging one of my shitty drawings on the fridge and just leaving it there until I’m well into my teens. I’m not going to bore you with a post that rattles off the ways my mom is special, because that’s what Instagram is for, right? I will say that I feel beyond lucky to have her in my life. Today is her 56th birthday, which is crazy because she looks 35-40 depending on the lighting. My mom is so good looking I had to remove pictures of us on my dating app profiles for fear of guys using me to get to her and I really wish I was joking. So what better way to celebrate my number one fan on her birthday than a post all about her?

When I was in the second grade I got lice and my mom let me watch Clueless while she picked 300 lice out of my hair. #thatsmymom

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My mom is a sweet person with a kind and gentle heart, but when her kids are disobedient assholes, a darker side emerges. The first memory I have of my mom losing her shit on me was in 1996. Per usual, my brother and I were blatantly ignoring her direction to get ready for school. “Get ready for school, now!” is probably what she said. We didn’t budge because we were heavily invested in the episode of Arthur where Arthur and Muffy have their birthday parties on the same day, but neither can change it. Anyway, while we continued to watch, my mom went upstairs and considered her next move. I imagine she looked in the mirror and said something like “I’m gonna throw this goddamn hairbrush” because a moment later she came rearing around the corner, her eyes boiling with rage, and she threw that hairbrush straight to the ground. My brother and I glanced away from the TV at our mother, except it wasn’t our mother, it was a monster with nice hair. We got ready and went to school without saying a word. That is the first memory of my mom getting angry at me and for some reason it’s one of my favorite memories of her. Or maybe I just can’t forget it? 

My mom got cornrows on a family vacation in the Bahamas. She looked good. #thatsmymom

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My dad doesn’t know the difference between a skirt and a dress and he can’t draw for shit. That’s why I can confidently attribute all my creativity to my mom. One of the many ways she demonstrates her creativity is every year, she puts together a calendar for both sides of the family. That’s 24 pages, hundreds of photos, and at least 60 snappy phrases. In addition to being an absolute beast at Shutterfly, Kelly is also an accomplished toaster. I’m talking about the toasts at weddings. If she likes you she’ll write you a poem. If she really likes you – a poem with personal references and rhyming and tempo and she’ll do her best to recite it without notes. That’s like half the reason why I want to get married. I know that toast is going to be unforgettable. Kelly also has a knack for all things design and DIY. A lot of the furniture in our house was bought second-hand from garage sales or even on the side of the road. She’d spot a storage chest on our way to a soccer game and go WOW, THAT’S A NICE CHEST! Then she’d take that chest home, remove the dead body, give it a fresh paint job and some new hinges, and now it stores our blankets. My mom made our house into a home all on her own. Hire someone to paint? Fogettaboutit. Move furniture? Move out of her way because she’s doing it her own damn self and this armoire is heavy.

Yeah, my mom had a “midlife crisis.” She bought a drumset and said she wanted to learn how to play. Now she’s the backup drummer for Tool. #thatsmymom

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There are one million real estate agents working in the North Shore and my mom is one of them. She’s one of the best, too. It seems like every time I talk to her she’s doing something work-related – she’s on her way to a listing, she’s meeting with clients, she’s showing a house at 2pm a Sunday. And if she’s not with clients you can bet your ass she’s posting fresh content on her social media pages. My mom was never intimidated by social media like her baby boomer generation because like I mentioned earlier, she’s self-sufficient. Unlike my dad (no offense dad), my mom understands how social media works. I think I’ve explained hashtags to him one hundred times. My mom figured them out on her own and incorporates them into all her posts. Below is an example of her effectively using hashtags.

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Can we also take a moment to acknowledge the fact that she had a salon employee take this “candid” photo of her? If she keeps this up, she’ll be an influencer by summer.

One time my mom called off her engagement to another man so she could date my dad. #thatsmymom

My mom is the most selfless person I know. She would do anything for her family and friends, but her acquaintances can kindly fuck off. Okay, in all seriousness, my mom goes out of her way to make you feel special and loved, and if she knows a friend is in pain, she’s right there beside them to offer comforting words and a shoulder to cry on. She’s also generous with her time and money. I’ve never seen her tip less than 20%, which is a problem now because everywhere you go there’s an option to tip. All the specialty coffee shops have the fancy iPads that rotate around like they’re better than the other iPads and they all use a POS system that give the option to tip as high as 25% at the end of the transaction. So now good people like my mom are paying $10 for a cup of coffee.

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My mom has driven thousands of miles for me. She shuttled me and my teammates to soccer practice/games, and tournaments in weird suburbs where soccer is life. One time she drove me to a golf tournament all the way in Iowa and I came in second-to-last place in front of a girl who had to drop out of the tournament because her grandpa died. Before I could drive my own ass to the mall, guess who drove me there and bought me ugly clothes I said I had to have? Kelly did! Kelly has done so much for me and my brothers, and nothing I write will ever adequately express how much she means to me. Happy Birthday to my favorite person, my goofy, smart, beautiful mom, Kelly! XOXO

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Dinner and a Show

Two of my favorite things in life are eating and comedy. I worked in the food industry for five years, and during that time I gained a new appreciation for food. I used to eat carelessly, but now I respect the hell out of food. I pay attention to ingredients, cooking methods, and I stalk the restaurant scene in Chicago like exes on Instagram. It’s a known fact that the restaurant scene in Chicago is one of the best in the world. There are oodles of amazing restaurants hiding at every corner of this grand city. From Portillo’s to Michelin star restaurants, Chicago has it all. This is not an ad…or is it? Please send checks to 1100 N Dearborn @cityofchicago

Not only does Chicago have some of the best damn restaurants in the world, but we also boast a comedy scene that fellow standups have described as the third best in the country behind New York and Los Angeles. Bus as my dad used to say to me, third place is still pretty good! When people who aren’t involved with the comedy scene want to see comedy, their mind goes straight to Second City and Zanies. Maybe Laugh Factory or Comedy Bar. Those are four big ones, but that’s just scratching the surface. On any given night (or day), you can see a standup comedy show in a theater, a club, a speakeasy, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a bar, the basement of a bar, the back room of a bar, an apartment, a business or workplace. So. many. shows. I’ve become the authority on restaurants and comedy in my lil friend group, so I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of restaurants and comedy show pairs that I think anyone with taste buds and a sense of humor would enjoy.

Wednesday: Crisp and Verified Laughs

The restaurant: For a quick pre-show bite, might I recommend Crisp for their delectable Korean wings and Buddha Bowls. I’ve been twice and both times I got my own order of wings. There are 12 wings in one order, so unless your name is Michael Phelps, I would split them. It’s a small space with limited seating so I wouldn’t go with your entire squad. It is BYOB, but if you’re not drinking they sell bottled soda, including Jarritos, which takes me back to elementary school Spanish class, where my Spanish name was “Cristina.”

The show: Verified Laughs is a weekly show every Wednesday at The Laugh Factory. The show combines comedy and social media in the form of a competition. #cool. Five comics go head to head to head to head to head with their tightest five minutes. Then after all five have performed the audience and anyone following the show on social media vote for their favorite. While voting is open, a headliner closes out the show. The votes are tallied and at the end of the show, a winner is pronounced “Verified” a la Twitter and Instagram and the others are losers.

Thursday: Funkenhausen and Tuxedo Cat Comedy

The restaurant: The name alone (Funkenhausen) should be enough reason to check out this new(ish) spot in West Town. You shouldn’t have trouble finding it because there’s an enormous neon sign in the window. I ate there a few months and the whole experience, from start to finish, was memorable; however, the food is where Funkyhausen shines. The menu draws on German and Southern influences, with both schnitzel and seafood on the dinner menu. There are also a number of vegan options because this is West Town after all, and they try to source their vegetables from local farms. I know that cause I read it on the menu online. I’d like to go back for Funkenbrunch! Who wants to go with me?

The show: Just down the street from Funkenhausen is Beauty Bar where you can catch Tuxedo Cat Comedy every Thursday at 8. This is the only show in Chicago where you can get pampered while watching comedy and drinking a martini. After the show, stick around for a dance party to dance away the stress of the week. You won’t regret it. Just try not to ruin your mani like I did.

Friday: Parson’s Chicken & Fish and Hidden Comedy Show

The restaurant: If you haven’t been to Parson’s, please don’t speak to me until you have. They have two locations – one in Logan Square for the hipsters and one in Lincoln Park for the bros. The Lincoln Park location is bigger, but Logan Square is much more focused on the outdoor setup. The patio is always bumping on nice days. Fish is the specialty here, but if fish isn’t your thing the chicken is bomb too. I usually order a fish sandwich and hush puppies (to share) with either a negroni slushie or a cold beer. They have an “extra crispy, extra mellow” golden ale brewed exclusively for them by local hipster brewery, Revolution. It’s almost too drinkable. I had eight last time I went and I’m not sure I’m allowed back. Enjoy your food under the shade of their cute as fuck red and white striped umbrellas. You might even meet a dog while you’re there!

The show: I’m biased because I am a producer, but Hidden Comedy Show really is a smash hit. It takes place every Friday night at nine in the back room of The Hidden Shamrock on Halsted. It’s a great space with good beer and chicken fingers that have saved my life on more than one occasion. The waitstaff and bartenders couldn’t be nicer. (Shoutout to Cole, Alberto, Amanda and the owner, Jeff).  The show is typically about an hour and a half and features three to five feature acts and one headliner. The best part about it? It’s FREE and we give each audience member a shot before the show starts. After the show ends, a lot of people stick around to mingle and drink (more). If you’re looking to shake up your Friday night and try something new, a comedy show like this is a great option.

Saturday: The Delta and Late Late Breakfast

The restaurant: The Delta in Wicker Park is the shit. Plain and simple. I like taking friends, family, dates, pretty much everyone there. It’s like letting them in on a little secret, and a tasty one at that. My hope in bringing them is that they will bring their friends, and their friends will bring their friends and so on. The restaurant embodies the spirit of the Mississippi Delta. The decor, music, and menu are an ode to the region. From the outside, it looks very unassuming and cute, but step inside and you’ll hear loud music, usually hip hop, and lots of positive energy. My favorite time to go to The Delta is on a weekend about an hour or so before closing. It’s when the music is loudest and the staff is goofiest. I like to belly up to the bar and listen to the bartenders deal out some high-quality shit-talking over a Smashley (vodka, elderflower, lemon, cucumber syrup, mint).

The show: Every first Saturday, comedians flood the streets and make their way to The Hideout for Late Late Breakfast. This show has been going strong for five years, and it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with a loved one or alone. It’s not a typical standup comedy show…its better. What makes it better? Oh I don’t know, maybe FLUFFY BISQUICK PANCAKES PREPARED WITH LOVE BY A COMEDIAN IN STREET CLOTHES. Yep, the show provides free pancakes. Here’s how the show works: ten comedians are selected to be on the show. When it’s their turn, they come onstage and pop a balloon to find out which game they will be playing. Each show has a theme so the games will relate to this theme in some way. Last month it was art. The month prior it was fairytales. Here’s the catch – the comic must play the game while also doing their usual set. And let me tell you, it’s really hard to focus when the audience is firing nerf guns at you or Smash Mouth’s mega-hit “All Star” is playing and the audience has to sing out loud when the chorus starts.

 

 

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(F)unemployed

Well guys, it happened. I quit my job. My last day was two and a half weeks ago and it was a long time coming. It got to the point where I was fighting the urge to stand on my desk and yell “I QUIT!” Whenever I got this urge I stopped myself by stuffing a handful of almonds in my mouth or going to the private bathroom and yelling it there like a real professional. So the new year came and I left my job soon after. If you’ve never quit a job you don’t like, I highly recommend it. Quitting a job is scary, but much like taking off your bra after a long day, it can also be quite liberating.

You may be wondering why I quit my cushy office job. Here’s my answer to you: I enjoyed the people and culture, just not the job itself. I’m grateful for the time I had there, because I did leave with lots of new friends (yeah that’s friends plural), memories (lol remember that time the internet was down!), skills, learnings, free notebooks, etc. But all jokes aside, the job wasn’t the right job for my skill set and I felt like a robot going through the day-to-day motions and not really growing.

I’m in the middle of week three of funemployment. Okay so full transparency, it’s not really funemployment because I don’t have a new job lined up, but I’m a positive person and I’m positive I’ll have a job soon. Not trying to brag but it’s been years since I’ve been unemployed, so yeah I’ve been relishing every moment of this mock retirement. I thought I’d take a break from all the funemploying and fill you in on what funemployment has been like for me. Spoiler alert: it’s lit.

Week 1: Monday morning was like Christmas morning, but maybe better? I slept in and took my sweet time getting out of bed. I made coffee and ENJOYED IT* IN BED like some kind of lifestyle blogger betch. I watched the Today Show until it turned into Hoda and Kathie, and I watched that too because Hoda is my girl. The rest of the day I filled my time with walking to and from my couch to the bathroom, from my couch to the kitchen, then back to the couch, then back to the kitchen because I finished my handful of snacks on my way back to the couch. The rest of the week was more of the same, with some exercise sprinkled in (I may be funemployed, but I’m not lazy!) On Wednesday I lit a candle, put on a record and just sat there and listened. I NEVER DO THAT! On Thursday I cooked something that required more than 20 minutes of prep/cook time. On Friday I had a stomach ache from all the snacks, so I lied down and no one told me to get back to work!

*burned my tongue real bad

Week 2: Week one was all about relaxing, but by week two the reality of being unemployed started to set in and I decided to get serious about finding a job. I beefed up my resume, sent emails, and applied to jobs. But don’t worry, I still managed to get in a lot of screen/sleep time. I finished the book I started week one (Kitchen Confidential). It was over 300 pages if you ever wondered how good I am at reading. I watched both Fyre Festival documentaries. Between the two of them, there’s a solid 30 minutes of footage of the antagonist, Billy McFarland, riding a jet ski. I can’t stand that Billy! You can’t jet ski away from your problems forever!

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Week 3: It’s day two of week three. I’ve had a few phone calls with recruiters and one face to face interview since I “threw in the towel.” Things are starting to gain momentum. I sent a really thoughtful card to one of the people who interviewed me, I hope my bad handwriting doesn’t jeopardize my chances. I’ve spent more time in my apartment the last three weeks than I have the last three months…I’m glad I have stand up to get me out of the house to open mics <3. Tomorrow is supposed to be very cold.  Like colder than Antarctica and Siberia. I bet the guy who called Chicago Chiberia feels really dumb now that we’re literally at a Siberia level of cold. So tomorrow I will be cacooning in my apartment, much like yesterday and the days before that. This cold weather couldn’t have come at a better time for me tbh.

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Beer me.

Years ago, I casually made a comment on the bitterness of a beer, and now my friends think I’m an expert.  Anytime we go out, I’m the go-to person for beer recommendations. It’s fine though – I’d rather be the person with beer advice than life advice. Like I can help you choose a beer, but for the love of God, please don’t make me think about a real problem you have. The last time I gave life advice a tiger escaped from the Zoo.

I may possess the most beer knowledge in my friend group, but I’m nowhere near expert status. This past weekend I met a real expert, a certified Cicerone, which is the beer equivalent of a Sommelier. I enjoyed talking with her about beer whilst drinking beer, weaving in what little knowledge I have about beer into the conversation. So today, after doing some important work, I decided to write. And after typing out 400 words about my favorite Thanksgiving tradition (watching all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes), I recalled the conversation with my new friend and decided to kill that post and write about beer instead. Below is a picture of me with a lot of beer bottles. Would someone who doesn’t like beer allow so much beer to be near them? No! I really like beer.

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College was dope

Jack Nicholson was once quoted saying “Beer is the best damn drink in the world.” I would have to agree with my close friend Jack, I’m a fan of beer too. We’re not alone either, as beer is the third most consumed drink, behind water (okay but of course) and tea (GTFO, tea).

Beer is old as fuck. You think PBR is old, well you’re soooo wrong. Humans have been brewing and drinking beer for over 5000 years. If you think about it, PBR is like a new beer when you consider how long beer’s been around. The world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephan Abbey, is located in Bavaria, Germany and has been in business since 1040! Here’s a to-scale image of one of their beers. Maybe you’ve had it? Or maybe you only drink light beer…in which case, bye.

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She spoke very highly of the brewery, and even took out her phone to show me pictures. It took her a while to find it, but she really wanted to show me. I told her I wanted to tour the Half Acre Brewery in Irving Park, and she told me to skip it and go to Dovetail instead. I said okay, because she was starting to intimidate me. I told her I’d heard of Dovetail, but thought they were small. But much like the time I thought my freshman year roommate was stealing my clothes, I was wrong. Dovetail is actually bigger than I thought. Their tours take 90 minutes, so that must mean it’s big, right?

Anyway, that’s all I have for you today. I’m off to the suburbs to enjoy Thanksgiving with family. Last Thanksgiving I got so drunk I came home and ate an entire container of tuna salad. It was enough to make at least three sandwiches. This year I’m not going to do that.

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12.22.1990

My birthday is 43 days away but who’s counting? My mom, most likely. And Facebook of course. I’m not counting, but I just did the math and 43 is the number of days until my birthday. The thing is, I actually don’t see it as “days until” I see it as “days left,” meaning I have 43 days left in my 27th year or as some people who like to pretend to like science say, it will be my 28th “trip around the sun.” 43 days left being 27 also means 43 days left to match with as many 26-year-old men on dating apps because on December 22nd when I turn 28, I will adjust my age range from 26-32 to 27-33. It’s going to be really sad, but rules are rules, so if you’re a 26-year-old male living in the metro Chicago area, surrounding suburbs and pockets of Wisconsin, you have 43 days to match with me. May the odds be ever in your favor. On the bright side, I’m looking forward to seeing less pictures of guys in frat tee’s. Oh, that never stops? Cool.

My mom was very pregnant with me when she was my age. She had been married two years, but I was not planned. I was an accident or a “surprise” as my mom has repeatedly asked me to call it. I know this because I read her diary…it was in plain sight, what was I supposed to do, NOT read it?  There were a few entries about traveling to Europe and then an entry about being pregnant and then no more talk of Europe. That’s how I deduced I was an accident, er surprise.

I’m not pregnant like my mom was at my age, but sometimes I imagine myself 9 months pregnant using my belly as a table for eating and I chuckle. And then I take a giant gulp of wine from the bottle and chase that with a hit from a bong named Susan. I don’t really have a bong, but if I did I’d call it Susan. So I won’t be with child on my 28th birthday; instead I’ll be “with hangover” from a birthday celebration that will likely continue into the late evening hours. Maybe even past midnight. You’re all invited.

The reason I started writing this post is because I wanted to share a video my mom sent of me opening a boom box on my eighth birthday. But then I started going into being an accident child. Tangents are my specialty. Tangents and spelling. Anyway, my eighth birthday was the happiest day of life because I received the most beautiful boombox. My mom captured it all on tape and I’m glad she did because now whenever I’m sad I can watch it and remember that one day 20 years ago I was just a kid in pigtails on her birthday opening a boombox and loving every minute. Eventually that same boom box, the one that brought me so much joy, ended up selling for 20 dollars at a garage sale. The saddest part about losing that beauty first generation AIWA Boombox Stereo? I left my Ashlee Simpson CD inside it. Sad, I know.

 

 

 

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Halloweeeeeen!

I’m not a good blogger, but I can still do “the worm”, so who cares? This will be my second post in two weeks, and although I’m publishing a Halloween themed post a day after Halloween, it still counts. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took many days, in fact I think it took several weeks. Anyway, the bottom line is I’m trying. Read on for some chilling insights on Halloween from your favorite witch.

“Halloween is a fun holiday.” This is one of very few statements that the right and left agree on. A couple others are “Reading is good” and “It was weird when Joey and Rachel dated on Friends.” Halloween isn’t tied to any religion, it’s just good old fashioned fun, like a wheel barrow race or a Shawn Mendes concert. Some fun things about the holiday include:

  1. Tricks
  2. Treats
  3. Costumes (I.E. Witch, Ghost, Guy Fieri)
  4. Pet costumes
  5. Scary movies
  6. Pumpkins!

The week of Halloween is great because you can eat six candy bars in one day and no one will say anything, because you’re participating in the holiday through mass candy consumption. So hell yea, give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar x 6. This year I indulged in at least one piece of the following candies: snickers, twix, peppermint patty, kit kat, almond joy (this is basically a super food cause it contains almonds and coconut), reeses, and M&M’s. All other candy is trash. You’ll notice butterfingers were not on that list. There’s a reason for that. One year – it’s irrelevant how recent – I ate like five butterfingers in the span of 20 minutes. Now I can’t look at them without getting nauseous. You’ll also notice three musketeers was missing from my list, and that’s because three musketeers are trash. We have a bowl of candy at the office and we replenish it every day and without fail, by the end of the day it’s just a big pile of three musketeers. A big pile of trash.

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Halloween gives normal people a reason to dress their dogs (and cats) in ridiculous costumes. Weird people dress their pets up all the damn time. Stop that. Some of my favorite dog costumes from this year include a hot dog, a sushi roll, and any costume that makes it appear as though the dog is standing upright on it’s two front legs. Trump can threaten us all he wants, and he can Tweet like a dumbass all day long, but he cannot take away our freedom to dress our pets up.

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I was so excited for Halloween that I decided to celebrate four days before it, on Saturday. I was Miss Lippy from Billy Madison and wore a long denim dress and my hair in pig tails. I got hit on zero times. My friends and I went out to do karaoke to celebrate Halloween and our friend Abby’s birthday. Abby had the best costume by far. Her mom made it, so it’s one of a kind. She was a rotisserie chicken. That’s her below…I mean…come on. She actually entered a costume contest later that night and took home first place and 250 dollars. That’s a lot of rotisserie chickens.

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If I had a billion dollars

Did you hear the news? The Mega Millions jackpot is up to a staggering 1.6 billion. That’s “Billion” with a “B.” That’s a lot of money, or as I like to call it “the stuff I need more of, fast!” or just “cheddar.” The lucky winner will come into a wealth that equates to almost a full Taylor Swift (1.6B after taxes is 87% of what Swift is worth) but it’s about a million times what I’m worth and roughly three thousand two hundred times what Pete Davidson is worth, which makes me feel not much better about my situation, but a little better. But still not much.

Americans don’t run on Dunkin’, Americans – even the 1% –  run on the hope that tomorrow will bring good fortune and be better than today. And when tomorrow holds the possibility of winning a b***load of cash, then that feeling is increased tenfold. It’s like an orgasm of the mind. It doesn’t matter your age, race, class, political beliefs, or whether you heard Yanny or Laurel, humans get off on fantasizing about shit like this. That’s why I bought $20 worth of tickets. Yeah, I came to play.

I spent most of the workday gazing out the window imagining my life without credit card debt. Then my boss told me I should sit at my desk because I was starting to weird everyone out standing by the window. Statistically, there’s a higher chance of getting struck by lightening and bit by a shark simultaneously than there is winning the lottery. No one in the history of time has been bit by a shark AND struck by lightening. I think I have a higher chance of marrying Ryan Reynolds AND Chris Hemsworth simultaneously with Jimmy Fallon as the officiator. This goes back to the fantasy thing. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of a billion dollars. I won a $25 Amazon gift card at a work event last week and almost cried of happiness – can you imagine my reaction if I won the 1.6 billion? Engage dream sequence….

The first of five balls cascades into place. 70. I check my ticket, hands shaking. Please be 70. Holy cow, it’s 70! I can win this! It’s my destiny! The second ball falls in line next to 70. It’s 32. There’s no way. The first two numbers are 70 and 32 and so are the ones on my ticket. My heart is beating faster than when I accidentally double tap a photo of someone I’m insta stalking. I am moments from blacking out from the shock, but then I remember there are still three more numbers. These go faster than the first two. 24, 34, 46 – wow what a coincidence, the measurements in the classic Petey Pablo song Freek-a-leek and THE LAST THREE NUMBERS ON MY TICKET. My mind goes completely blank as I collapse  to the floor with the perfect amount of drama to match the circumstances. I lay there in silence trying to convince myself this has all been in my imagination, but it can’t be because I peed myself a little.

UPDATE: I didn’t win. But that’s okay! As long as a Trump supporter doesn’t win it I’m good.

 

 

 

 

 

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