Business Conferences: A Survival Guide for the Socially Stunted

Being alone at a business conference is the worst. Actually, just being at a business conference is the worst. There are strangers everywhere–and they’re trying to communicate with me!! (Activate invisibility cloak.)

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(Please, don’t make me socialize.)

I’ve devised some strategies to survive these business/bonding fests where everyone wants to “get to know you,” and “can’t wait to hear about your experiences.” I’d rather be boiled in mayonnaise. Anyway, if you’re socially stunted, as I am, you might appreciate these business conference survival tips.

No eye contact: There are no other words that strike fear into the heart of an introvert than the phrase, “Team Building Exercise.” I’d rather hear, “Mandatory rabies vaccinations,” or “Now let’s go around the room and read the zoning ordinances!” Team building should be banned, and as long as you pretend you can’t see what’s going on, no one will pick you for their team. Just like dodgeball at elementary school. Thanks for that bad memory, business conference.

Act busy: During the meetings, friends and coworkers sit together, leaving the lonely losers (like myself) sitting at the end of a table, trying to not look stupid. That’s when I open my laptop and look extremely focused. But instead of actually doing anything important, I’ll be writing a blog, a humor column, or write down funny observations about the people around me. For instance, did you know mullet/poodle hair is a thing again? I did not know that.

Forget your toothbrush: This was unintentional, but I was in a place where the general store closed at 8 p.m., and didn’t open until after my morning meetings started, so I made a really rank first impression on several unsuspecting people. By the end of the first day, no one wanted to talk to me. Mission accomplished.

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(Someone even offered me a tooth-cleaning dog biscuit.)

Wear headphones: Especially if you’re attending a meeting by yourself, finding a group of people to sit with is a daunting task. Yeah, breakfast is free, but you have to sit with a bunch of strangers getting all up in your business. By wearing headphones attached to your iPhone, you can gesture that you’re on an important conference call, and there’s really nothing you can do. Sorry.

Practice conversation starters: If the conference organizer confiscates your headphones, you’ll have to talk to the people around you. I’ve learned the art of conversation is dead. Mumbling through small talk is excruciating. I asked a fellow attendee, “What’s the biggest issue facing your city?” and it must have translated to “Have you kicked any kittens lately?” Because she grabbed her plate of lukewarm pancakes and sausage–and moved to another table.

Go With Confidence: No one knows you’re a bubbling hive of insecurity. Maybe make an effort to act like a social being. Pretend you’re trying out for the role of the confident business woman. Try not to laugh when people believe you.

Print this up, place it in your daily planner, and when you’re at your next week-long conference, you’ll have a few suggestions to help you survive.


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Things Driving Me Crazy Today

If Tuesday was a superhero, it would be StupidMan. Here’s what’s got my socks in a bunch this Tuesday:

  • When you get out the toaster and the crumb tray opens and spills all over the floor.
  • The man who drove down our street, driving with his left hand, and holding a baby in his right hand. Dumbass.
  • Stepping in bread crumbs you haven’t swept up yet.
  • Resealable packages with the “easy tear” opening that is not “easy” and does not “tear.” Or if it does tear, it rips too high to open the seal, or so low the seal won’t ever close again. Yeah, that.
  • Peeps for any holiday except Easter.


(Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.)

  •  Being weighed at my doctor appointment.
  • Being told I need a mammogram and a tetanus shot. Yep, I’ll get right on that.
  • 40 degrees outside.
  • Reams and reams of full-size, heavy paper stock, political ads in my mailbox. You have too much money. No vote for you.
  • The Neanderthal who almost changed lanes into the side of my car–and then flipped me off. Yeah, sorry about driving in my lane.
  • Burning my forehead with a curling iron three days before a big event.


(Yeah, I guess it could have been worse.)

  • The never-ending holiday sales emails from every merchant I’ve ever purchased anything from ever in my entire life.
  • Already hearing “Silver Bells” too many times this year.
  • Trying to figure out cheap, thrilling, most-wanted gifts for my grandkids. Lesson Learned: socks do not fall under “thrilling” or “most-wanted.”
  • Not winning the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Again.

Happy Tuesday, all. Don’t forget to vote!

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Are You Too Old To Trick or Treat?

I don’t ask for ID when someone shows up on my doorstep begging for candy–as long as it’s Halloween. I don’t care if you’re a gangsta teen, a middle-aged mom, a 2-day-old baby or even that creepy 30-something guy who’s always hanging around the park. I’ll give anyone candy–because it’s CANDY! Everyone loves candy!

But in the interest of safety, there comes a time when you should probably hang up the trick-or-treat bag and stay planted on the couch watching Dark Shadows reruns. Here are some hints you should stay home on Halloween:

  • You leave your house to go trick or treating, and don’t remember how to find your way back.
  • You remember meeting the original Dracula.
  • Someone says, “What are you supposed to be?” You reply, “Dead.”
  • People keep saying, “Great old lady costume!”

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(But I’m not wearing a costume.)

  • Your walker keeps getting stuck in the sidewalk cracks.
  • Every time someone gives you taffy, you whine, “Well, how the hell am I supposed to eat that?”
  • Your idea of “giving someone a scare” means grabbing your chest and screaming.
  • You creak, groan and moan like a Halloween soundtrack.
  • You feel the need to shake your cane at hoodlum children.

cane(“Just wait ’til I get my hands on you, you little whipper-snappers!”

  • You keep asking to use your neighbors’ bathroom.
  • On every porch, you stop to tell the trick-or-treaters that you “remember buying a sackful of candy for only 5 cents at old Mr. McGowan’s grocery store that was right next to Mr. Polanski’s barber shop. They’re both dead now.”
  • When given hard candy, you ask if they have something “a little softer.”
  • You hand your bag to your grandkids and tell them to “not come back until it’s full–or you’re out of the will.”

Whatever your age, trick-or-treat safely, don’t eat your candy in one night–and save me all the Snickers! Happy Halloween!


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Halloween Candy Personality Quiz

Leave it to Facebook to help you determine which U.S. President you are, what horror monster you’d be, your favorite color and if you’ve ever attended college. Online quizzes are the new GED; and you know you’ve taken at least one (dozen).

I thought I’d create a quiz to determine what your Halloween candy behavior says about you. It is entirely accurate, so be aware, you might learn something disturbing about your personality.

1. Do you hand out: a) king-size Kit Kat bars, b) fun-size Kit Kat bars, c) what’s a Kit Kat bar?, or d) apples.

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(This is the WRONG WAY to eat a Kit Kat!)

2. Do you search your kid’s Halloween bag for: a) full-size chocolate bars, b) unwrapped candy, c) isn’t everything mine already? or d) apples stuffed with razor blades.

3. How long did your Halloween candy last when you were a child: a) a few weeks, b) a few days, c) a few hours or d) I gave it to my little brother.

4. Which Halloween candy will get your car egged: a) Tootsie rolls, b) Hubba Bubba, c) pencils/erasers, or d) apples.

5. How much do you spend on Halloween candy: a) more than $100, b) between $50 and $100, c) less than $10, or d) I don’t buy candy.

6. What do you do with leftover Halloween candy: a) give it to a children’s shelter, b) give it to neighbor kids, c) you’ve already eaten it, or d) I don’t keep candy in my home.


7. Which of these is NOT appropriate to give out on Halloween: a) toothbrushes, b) fruit, c) sample-size dish soap, or d) candy.

8. What is your Halloween candy of choice: a) candy bars, b) suckers, c) chewy taffy or d) apples.


If you answered mostly A, you are trying to hard. Kids don’t appreciate your efforts. They’ll probably kick your pumpkins before they leave.

If you answered mostly B, you’ve put the holiday in perspective, but kids will still kick your pumpkins, and probably steal your Halloween lawn ornaments.

If you answered mostly C, you are most likely male and didn’t even realize it was Halloween until strange children in costumes knocked on your door, begging for food. Your car will definitely get egged.

If you answered mostly D, you are obviously a health nut, and need to be slapped. Not only will children avoid your home, they will place warning sides on your fence letting the neighborhood know it’s not worth coming to your home. And they’ll kidnap your cat.

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When it comes to Halloween candy, there really are no wrong answers. If you drop in it my bag, I’ll most likely eat it. And I won’t kick your pumpkins, either.

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Top 5 Fashion Trends I’ll Never Wear

Each year I pick up magazines showing the “must have fashions”. This year’s fall season’s Games of Thrones-inspired clothing lines include flowing cloaks, fur-lined jackets and bloody swords. (Disclaimer: I was wearing a vest with a fur-lined collar and Ringo the Dog sat next to me, judging me, and saying, “Hey, Cruella. You gonna skin me, too? You gonna make some mittens out of my fur?”)

Super models walk down the runway in everything from cellophane to jellyfish tentacles, and still look flawless and beautiful. They can wear any fashion trend and not look stupid. Unlike the rest of us. Here are several fashion trends I will NOT be donning this year:

1. Uber-Layers–Start with a pair of leggings. Add a tank top, a button-down shirt, a cable-knit sweater, a cardigan, a military jacket and a scarf, and you have a chic, warm look for any occasion. Right? Wrong. If I wore that many layers, I’d have to turn sideways to walk through doorways, and I wouldn’t be able to lower my arms all day.


(Stylishly on my way to work.)

2. Fall Florals–These delicately-detailed  daisies are designed to defrost the dark days of December. However, when I wear garb with garishly graphic garden geraniums, I more closely resemble a gargoylish gridlock of gloomy grandma.

3. Color Blocking–Bold colors! Geometric shapes! Waist whittling! Shape enhancing! You be the judge.

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(Left: Elegant super model in a color-blocked dress. Right: Me, in a color-blocked dress.)

4. Statement Eyes–I’ve been making statements with my eyes for years. My eyes can say, “You’re kidding, right?” or “You’d better run. Fast.” or “I’m so very tired.” or “You’d better feed me before I eat your ear lobes.” But today, “statement eyes” means bright, daring and confident. Using adventurous color schemes, glitter, jewels, false eyelashes and jeweled false eyelashes, young women are wearing eye-opening make-up to create their looks.

 eyes(It’s also handy to have an emergency eye-wash station nearby.)

 5. Capes–Thirty years ago, I would have loved to walk through town wearing a fur-lined, velvet cape. Now, I’d be suspected of witchery, and thrown into someone’s dungeon for trial. Only very self-assured young women (or Stevie Nicks) can pull off the cape trend, which hopefully ends before spring.


(On second thought, there are some people who could use a good cursing. Maybe I’ll stop in at Halloween City and pick up the latest fashion trend.)


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Ringo’s Healthy-Living Advice

Ringo the Dog has weighed exactly 84.9 pounds for the last three years. Luckily, he’s a border collie/lab and not a Chihuahua, or he’d be an incredibly huge mutant.

I could learn a lot from Ringo about creating a healthy lifestyle–if I cared to do that sort of thing. When he and I were discussing the subject, here’s what I learned about incorporating heart-smart habits into my lazy life:

  • Eat treats one at a time. Ringo gets a couple of tasty biscuits, flavored with things dog love most–like peed-on tree stumps and dog crotch. But he’ll take one snack to his special treat-eating space on the carpet, and enjoy every single bite. I, on the other hand, eat treats by the bowlful without the use of my hands.


(I will die face-down in a pie tin. And I’m okay with that.)

  • Get regular exercise. Ringo takes two walks every day. That means I take two walks every day. Occasionally, I’ll change things up and we’ll try “jogging” for a few blocks. The problem is, I jog so slow there’s time for him to sniff a few plants, pee on a couple of shrubs and chase several gophers, all without falling behind me. But he keeps me moving.
  • Only eat when you’re hungry. If Ringo’s not hungry, he won’t eat. Sometimes his breakfast becomes his dinner since he’s had no desire to eat.  I eat until I start leaking French fries. And then I keep eating. (And I wasn’t even eating French fries.) But there are also those times he sits with his nose in  my lap while I’m eating chocolate, pizza, (anything, really) as he waits for crumbs to drop onto his lolling tongue. So I guess it’s okay to splurge once in a while.
  • Get lots of sleep. Napping is Ringo’s second-favorite thing. (His favorite thing is attacking/molesting my daughters when they come to visit.) When he’s tired, he’ll plop down and sleep. On any surface, in any location, in any position. He doesn’t feel guilty, make excuses or try to pretend he wasn’t sleeping. He embraces his naptime.


(Sound asleep. And snoring.)

  • Let off some steam. Sometimes you just need to bark at the neighbors. Or frantically dig holes in the backyard. Or run through the doggie door at high speeds. Or dance around the kitchen while waiting for your walk. Those are much healthier choices than eating a gallon-sized bucket of cheesecake bites or bitch-slapping the stranger in front of you at Walmart.

If I can incorporate even ONE of these healthy-living tips, I will be on my way to a happier, stress-free life. Time for a nap.

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Picture Day: Where Dysfunctional Thinking Begins

School children across the country endured a Picture Day this month. No problem for boys. They throw on their least smelly shirt, run a mousse-covered comb through their hair and walk in the rain to school.

Girls spend most of the month agonizing about this one day each year when their looks will be documented for the laughter of posterity for centuries. I dreaded Picture Day like a math test. Each year I hoped my youthful face would bring modeling agents flocking to my door. Not so. Every year there was a lack of agents or flocking on my porch step.

I’ve learned it’s not that I’m not photogenic, it’s just my face is really stupid looking. Let’s travel back in time to first grade, when there was still hope for my photographic future.

1st grade

Notice  the obvious lack of front teeth. Well, my dentist felt my teeth were being lazy, taking too long to grow in. So he devised a tortuous plan to slit my gums, attach a chain to my teeth and pull them down with the help of a pair of oxen. You think I’m joking.

The result created my second grade photo (below) and a fear of all things dentisty. If you can’t tell, I’m the one on the left.

Big Teeth

Let’s jump ahead to fourth grade where, not only did I have to contend with front teeth the size of 2x4s, but with glasses as well. And the homemade, avocado green, polyester jumpsuit.

4th Grade

In fifth grade, I decided to drastically change my look. I thought I could get the attention of my next-door-neighbor Coleman if I looked identical to his celebrity crush Farrah Fawcett. I’m pretty sure I nailed it. (Again. I’m the one on the left. Uncanny, I know.)


Things only spiraled downhill from there. By eighth grade, my Farrah hair was in full bloom, in what I hoped would prove a distraction to the hideous silver braces I wore to fix my front teeth that my dentist ruined in the first place.

8th grade

I’ve avoided all things photographic ever since. My husband never understands why I run from cameras and group photos. Maybe he gets it now.


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