Laughing At The Bar Mitzvah Chaos

stressed-to-laughterYou know how you can have something happen to you that is horribly stressful at the time, but mellows out into a funny story with time? Well, two of those things happened to us before NHL’s Bar Mitzvah. Each of these caused us much stress – and, I’m sure, a few extra grey hairs. However, looking back on it all, we can laugh about it.

Printing Brochures

It was the day before NHL’s big day. I was off of work and helping B by running a few errands. My first stop was a local office supply store whose name I don’t want to use for reasons that will soon be obvious. Let’s call them Scissors. Anyway, I went to Scissors to print out the brochures that would be available for family and friends to pick up. They gave such information as what NHL was doing, who was being called up, and why certain rituals were important. Since we had printed many things with them in the past, I walked into Scissors confident that I’d soon be on my way to my next destination.

The first snag occurred when they announced that the “e-mail to print” service was down. I was counting on using this since the file was on my phone and not a USB thumb drive. (Yes, I know. I should have had it on a thumb drive.) I went to my next stop – which was close by – in the hopes that the service would be back online when I was done. Unfortunately, when I called them back up post-second-stop, they said the service was still down. There was good news, though. They had a website that I could use to upload the document to them.


So I went to the site, created an account, uploaded my document, and went to select my local store. Problem Number Two. The website wouldn’t let me select a store. I went back into Scissors to see if they could help me. As the staff member was puzzling over my phone, trying to figure out why this wasn’t working, I glanced at their printers. I noted that their printers supported Google Drive. I could easily put the file on Google Drive and grab it from there!

Problem solved, right?


The printer let me log into Google Drive, but then hung. Eventually, another staff member told me that the Google Drive connection was down. And that the USB ports on the printers didn’t work either. The only way they could print was by connecting a USB thumb drive to their own computer behind the staff desk – and they refused to plug in my phone.

I left Scissors and drove to a nearby FedEx Office. At this point, I was nearing panic mode. I had a lot of other things to do and these programs were important. I needed to get them ready for the next day. Thankfully, the staff there were excellent and showed me exactly what to do. I e-mailed the file to an address they gave me and received a pick up code about half a minute later. After typing this into the printer, I could see my document on a small screen. (Very helpful in making sure I was printing the two-sided document so that folding it didn’t result in the center pages being upside down.) I ran off a quick test copy and then printed the rest of the copies. I thanked the staff members and then happily went on my way.

Do you think the story is over just yet?

Of course, it isn’t.

Later that day, B called me. Apparently, when I copied the file from the template we were given, I missed something. The template was from the previous Bar Mitzvah and I had missed one instance of the previous Bar Mitzvah boy’s name. Every single copy was saying the wrong name in this one spot. I was dumbstruck. I swore that I did a Search and Replace on the document and couldn’t believe I had missed that. FedEx Office had been reasonably priced, but the copies still cost over $100. I wasn’t looking forward to paying again for another set of copies.

Thankfully, our temple staff came to the rescue. They printed off a set of stickers with NHL’s name on them. B sat down on a tiny chair by a tiny table (meant for preschoolers), cutting out tiny NHL name stickers, to cover over the mistake.

The Morning Clothing Rush

On Friday night, we placed all of our clothing out so that we wouldn’t be rushing around early Saturday morning. Saturday morning, we woke up, ate a quick breakfast, and got our clothes to put on. I immediately noticed a problem. My pants were way too tight. I tried on the jacket and that, too, was too tight. Now, I had tried my suit on about three weeks prior and it fit fine. I wasn’t watching my weight at the time, but knew I couldn’t have gained THAT much weight THAT quickly. Still, I couldn’t wear these clothes. Tossing them aside, I rummaged through my closet. I found another suit, tried it on, but it was too small as well. Bigger than the first one, but still didn’t fit right. Finally, after much stress, I found dress pants and a jacket that fit and didn’t look horrible together. Resigned to wearing a less-than-ideal outfit, I went to help the boys get dressed.

NHL was having a particularly hard time. He declared that he needed a belt, but his belts were nowhere to be found. Finally, exasperated, I told him that the pants had fit him fine when he tried them on before and he shouldn’t need a belt. He replied that the pants were way too big on him.

Now you know those sitcoms where something happens that all of the characters realize except for the one dumb one? You know how all action stops, the other characters look at the dumb guy, and wait a few seconds for him to catch up? Well, that was me at that moment.

I was flabbergasted at that moment. What else was going to go wrong? First my clothes were too small and then NHL’s clothes were too big…. Wait a second…

Yes, I had put on NHL’s dress clothes and NHL had put on my suit. NHL is big enough now that his clothes look like they might fit me, but he’s not so big that they actually fit. In hindsight, we’re just lucky I didn’t rip NHL’s clothes when I tried putting them on. I don’t know what we would have done then. So NHL and I swapped clothes and – surprise surprise – our clothes fit perfectly again.


Like I said, at the time these were highly stressful situations, but time has allowed us to laugh about them. Of course, next time I’d like to get the funny stories and skip the stress. I have enough grey hairs as it is!

NOTE: The image above combines Petrified Smiley Face Silhouette and Laughing Smiley Face Silhouette. Both are by GDJ and both are available at

Anxiety Is A Bully

NewYears_LunarbaboonOn New Year’s Eve, we indulged in something that has become a tradition in our household: Junk Food Dinner.  We cook up some hors d’oeuvres and have chips and dip.  The boys love the chance to eat foods that we rarely otherwise eat as we ring in the new year.  NHL even made it to midnight for the first time.  (JSL fell asleep earlier but woke up 5 minutes after midnight.)  After the ball dropped and the boys were tucked into bed, we climbed into bed ourselves hoping for a good night’s sleep and the ability to sleep in the next day.

I woke up a couple of hours later, though, feeling off.  The first thing that I could tell was wrong was that my nose felt clogged up.  This began to make me anxious that I wouldn’t be able to breathe.  Ever since my surgery, I’ve found that a clogged nose is quickly followed by anxiety attacks of this nature.  During the day, I can stave them off by distracting myself with various activities.  During the night-time, though, there is less to do.  The house is quieter and the anxiety looms larger.  This also brought back memories of my post-surgery anxiety attack when I couldn’t fall asleep nearly the entire night.  Add in that I started to feel nauseous and my anxiety of not being able to breathe was joined by the anxiety of possibly throwing up and I was a nervous wreck.  Even my own skin seemed to feel wrong.

The next day, I was feeling better.  However, as nighttime got closer, I could feel my anxiety climbing.  The night before had had an anxiety attack that kept me awake.  Obviously, tonight was going to be no different.  Obviously, tonight I was going to lie awake, getting in and out of bed and pacing around with my mind racing with worst-case-scenarios.  Obviously, I was doomed to have anxiety attacks every night.  Right?

That’s when I realized that my anxiety was being a bully.

Years ago, when I was safely away from the bullying I suffered in high school, I realized that bullies try to dictate reality.  You’re not allowed to go to someone for help because the bully dictates that this conflict is between you and him.  He can gather his friends together to taunt you as well, though, because that’s allowed (by him).  Any attempt by you to seek assistance reduces your position – or so he says.

Similarly, this anxiety was framing the argument.  I was approaching the night when, during the previous night I had had an anxiety attack.  Therefore, my anxiety bully proclaimed, there was a 100% chance of an anxiety attack this night.  And the next night.  And the one after that.  The anxiety bully told me that I was incapable of going to sleep and staying asleep the entire night.

In truth, though, the bullies NEED to define the rules to protect themselves from behaviors that would stop them.  Seeking help doesn’t weaken the bullying victim.  It strengthens them.  Getting help when you need it can lead to the bully being forced to back off.  Similarly, the anxiety bully was purposefully focusing in on the nights when I had an anxiety attack and ignoring all of the nights when I went to sleep and slept fine.  It tried to keep my focus away from anything that might help me to increase its own power.

Thankfully, I was able to get to sleep just fine that night and proved my anxiety bully wrong.  Putting your anxieties in context can be tricky when in the midst of an anxiety attack.  It won’t help defeat every one you might have.  However, if you feel one coming on, remembering the times that everything went smoothly might aid in warding off anxiety’s bullying tactics.

NOTE: The image above is a portion of a web comic by Lunarbaboon.  He posted this comic the night I had an anxiety attack about fearing not being able to sleep due to an anxiety attack.  Besides drawing funny, insightful, and amazingly entertaining comics, he obviously has hidden a camera in my house somewhere to gather his material.  How else would his comics mirror my life so often?  In any event, he was gracious enough to grant me permission to use part of his comic in my post.  Go to his website and read a few dozen of his comics.  You won’t be disappointed.

The Anxiety Loop

file0002062790027When I was younger, I would often berate myself for what I perceived as social failings.  If I said the wrong thing or did something slightly wrong, I’d mentally exaggerate how bad it was and berate myself for days. Given this and the bullying I endured on a daily basis, my anxiety over social situations was quite high.  Over the years, the bullying went away and I learned to stop dwelling on mistakes and instead to learn from and move on.  This doesn’t mean that I’m anxiety-free, however.

A few months ago, while recovering from surgery, I suffered an anxiety attack.  I woke up at 2am and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Every time I felt myself nearing sleep, my anxiety levels would rise and I’d be wide awake.  I couldn’t even stay in bed.  My entire body felt on edge.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin and I felt like I needed to run around the house.  Obviously not an option at two in the morning.

The next night, I was ready for a good night’s sleep, but as I got ready for bed, my anxiety levels started to rise.  I kept remembering the feeling of the anxiety attack the previous night and the mere memory of it threatened to cause a repeat performance.  Luckily, I was able to get to sleep and show myself that this wasn’t going to become a nightly occurrence.

A couple of nights ago, JSL wasn’t sleeping well.  Every time we got him to sleep, he would wake up an hour or so later.  When he finally went to sleep for the final time that night, we thought we could finally get to sleep.  Then, out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, my anxiety levels skyrocketed.  The blankets on me felt like they were suffocating me.  The sweatshirt I was wearing felt like it was compressing my chest.  I sat up, walked into the living room and tried to calm down, but I couldn’t.  I tried watching TV, but it didn’t help.  Neither did playing games on my phone.  Eventually, the feeling passed enough for me to get some sleep.

The next day, I felt a constant level of anxiety.  I felt on edge like the anxiety attack would reoccur at any moment.  Talking about it or tweeting about it only seemed to fuel the anxiety.  I dreaded going to bed that night wondering if a full blown attack would make a return appearance.  I even went out of my way to not read my usual RSS feeds in case I needed something to do at 2am.  Thankfully, I went to sleep, slept the entire night, and the anxiety attack didn’t come back.  The next day my anxiety levels seemed much lower.

Still, though, it feels like the threat of another attack is close by.  I don’t know what triggered this one and so don’t know what to watch out for.  Was it something I ate?  Stress that I was feeling but didn’t quite consciously realize?  Or was something else entirely to blame.  Perhaps worst of all, maybe there was no direct cause.  Nothing that could have been avoided.  Maybe these things will just happen at random and there isn’t anything I can do to stop them.

Have you ever had an anxiety attack?  How did you deal with it or with the threat of it reoccurring?

NOTE: The "hide face" image above is by hotblack and is freely available from morgueFile.

Storybook Circus Giggle Gang in #NewFantasyland

Lately, I’ve been stressing about a topic which, unfortunately, I can’t blog or tweet about.  (There go my primary methods of getting things off my chest!)  At times like this, I wish I could just magically transport myself to Disney World for a few much-needed laughs.  In fact, I think the clowns of Storybook Circus’ Giggle Gang would be just the cure.  Since they are oh-so-far away, though, I’ll just look at these photos and laugh at the funny memories of them.

First, the Giggle Gang arrives:


They’re not just there to entertain, though, they’re there to educate.  Yes, this is Clown University:


Today’s lesson: What do you do when you reach the end of your rope?


Answer: Seek out some friends to help you unwind!  (Preferably at Disney World.)


Thanks for the lesson (and the laughs), Giggle Gang!

Disclosure: I was invited to the New Fantasyland media event December 5th through 7th. Disney paid for my travel, our park tickets, room, and a few other items. I was able to take B along as my guest, but we paid for her own travel as well as an extra night in the resort. The opinions expressed above are my own.

Stress Release

I’ve got to find a better way to deal with stress.

The past week has been a stressful one.  Interestingly, it’s been a combination of issues that appear on my "not to blog about" list.  Work items, home issues, financials, etc.  So without my blog (or social media) venting ability, I relied on Old Faithful: Hold It All In And Suppress The Stress.  That worked beautifully.  If by beautifully you mean I woke up Sunday morning unable to get out of bed due to a horrible spasm in my upper back.

I took some ibuprofen, but that only turned the sharp pain into a dull, persistent ache.  I hoped that, as the day went on, it would vanish, but it didn’t.  The pain stuck around and expanded into my shoulders, neck, and even my right arm.

Monday, I woke up and I could hardly move my neck due to tight muscles.  As I write this, on Monday night, the pain remains and is currently shooting down the length of my arm again.

I need some stress-free time or, failing that, a better way of dealing with stress.  Because dealing with this back pain is stressing me out and you know what happens to me when I stress out… It’s a vicious cycle!

How do you deal with stress?

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