“Do You Think This is a Game?”: How to Definitely Engage an Audience


Photographer unknown

My week started by spilling both water and coffee in my backpack.

As it turns out, 1) that was Monday’s running start and 2) I ended my day spilling water and coffee in my backpack. Also, I need a new backpack.

From the minute I sat down at my desk chair, my Monday moved at a sprint, so when I left my last meeting, when I just wanted to hobble to my car (sprinting is hard in even reasonable heels), when I just wanted to drive home where a box of popsicles was waiting for me, when I just wanted to see how many pretzel rods I could eat in twenty minutes, I instead had to prepare a work presentation for Wednesday. And I had nothing left. Nothing.

Well, actually, I did have something. I put in some work on a pretty mean Javert impression after seeing the stage production of Les Miserables twice in the last week. Imagine Jimmy Stewart doing an impression of Sean Connery doing an impression of Bane from the Batman movies. But I don’t think that really helps when you’re building power points about the nuances of IT.

Especially when that power point has to focus on the work equivalent of your sixth month dentist appointment.

Read: It’s no one’s first choice for how to spend an afternoon, but you’re going to be real sad when you don’t do it and all your teeth fall out! (Which is definitely what happens when you miss a dentist appointment.)

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Monday: Having a Blood Feud with a Day of the Week

I have a reputation for being dramatic.

Reason #1) I am.

Reason #2) Life occasionally gives me reason to be.

I’m not claiming to be persecuted at all, but on days like today, I believe in a higher power.

And he thinks he is soo funny.

Let me set the stage:


Well, maybe not quite. I work at a large, 9000-person company. My company’s campus is so large, it currently has four large parking decks, but we still repeatedly hear the speeches about biking and carpooling to work because parking is a commodity. Think “Hunger Games: Parking Edition” where instead of food you get parking spaces.

Three of those parking decks are relatively close to my office. The fourth is for the people who are not good at mornings and roll in about an hour after the early birds.

I park in the fourth. I’ve measured it. It’s a mile from this deck to my office.

NOW, end of stage-setting.

Today, I was killing time before my 4:30 meeting, having the feelings that people typically feel about meetings at 4:30 on a Monday. When, at 4:27, someone decides to cancel the meeting. 

It’s snowing. It’s cold (refer to the aforementioned stage-setting). I’m going home.

I walked mile #1 this morning when I got to work. Commence mile #2.

Upon approaching my car, feeling the chill leeching into the deck from the outside, knowing that the car battery isn’t a spring chicken, I know something is wrong. I opened the door, and none of my lights came on. I actually yelled, “YUP!” to no one, because who called it? (Me. I called it. Do I wish I called something cooler? Yes.)

Let’s do this thing, mile #3. We’ve got a dead battery to resuscitate, team!

I walk back to the front desk because I knew they had a battery pack I could try. I did however stop for a quick moment to call my dad. This is my life’s first dead battery, so the call amounted to the following:


After forming a quick dad-inspired plan, I head to the front desk to snag the battery pack. All the while thinking, “This will solve everything. This will work. This will probably make my car battery young again. This is the Fountain of Youth of battery packs.”

Opposite! The first words out of the woman at the front-desk were, “Yes, we have the battery pack, but it hasn’t been working for people today.” Because of course it hasn’t.

She tells me to try though (In hindsight, I think she may have been pranking me). She also sends me with mittens from lost and found and jumper cables in case I run into a good samaritan. Spoiler alert: I don’t run into a good samaritan.


the actual mittens

I do however get to wrap up mile #3 and start mile #4. This time carrying a battery pack (think the weight of a small child), jumper cables, a purse that for some reason has three books in it*, and a healthy heaping of emotional baggage.

At this point, despite the single digit temperatures and the snow, I’m getting a little toasty. So, I rip off my toboggan. That’s right. We’re now sporting crazy-person-hat hair. An interesting hair combination of angry frizz and flat.

I get back to my car, and immediately start mentally scrolling through what could go wrong. All signs point to car fire. I think I heard someone say that if you hook up the wrong cables when you’re jumping a battery, the car could explode. So, definitely car fire.

After thirty minutes of trying the battery pack, realizing it wasn’t working, then looking around like a sad person to see if someone would come help me, no one did. (I blame crazy-person-hat-hair. I also blame my inability to yell, “YOU! YOU WITH THE HAT AND THE REGULAR HAIR WILL COME HELP ME!” Or I could have asked nicely. In hindsight, asking nicely might have been better. It’s been a long day! Leavemealoneaboutit!)

At this point, I had already contacted a friend about the possibility of getting a ride home, except I was three floors underground in a parking deck. My phone would have been laughing at me, if it didn’t up and die on me! Let’s get something straight. My phone was charged. I had half a battery walking into that deck. It died because it was too cold. It threw up its hands and said, “No one told me Wisconsin was part of the deal! I did not agree to that!” And then it died.

All right. I now had a dead car, a dead phone, a battery pack, a bag of jumper cables, a library that I like to call my purse, and one friend who may or may not be waiting for me to give him the all clear.

Mile #5! Let’s do this thing!

I get back outside- Don’t worry. Still snowing. I know because I slipped in it- and once again start to walk. I would also like to point out, I am not a physically strong person. I can no longer carry the battery pack by its handle because my forearms are shaking. I am now clutching it to my chest with both arms as one does with a baby.

Side note: never let me hold your baby. My arm strength isn’t great.

I get back to the front office, and return all of the batteries and battery accessories. I don’t return the mittens because 1) I need a win and 2) they’re cute and 3) I forgot. The lovely, kind women at the front desk called a taxi for me, and suddenly”it [was] on the way!” I get in contact with my friend who happens to still be at work, and give him the all-clear because my taxi is “on the way!” I might eventually get to eat dinner! Or lie on the floor because my back does not agree with slipping in the snow! Or feel my toes again! One of those things!

After chatting with one of the women at the front desk, we realize, she could just give me a ride home. Taxi! Get off the way! We don’t need you anymore!

At a company of 9000, I don’t suspect this woman doles out rides often. I’m glad I was one of them. Thanks, Mary.

But guess where Mary parked! That’s right! Deck #4! Dig deep because here comes mile #6! And for proof, here is a screenshot of my step tracker:  

roughly seven miles

 So I made it home. My sweet car, I call her “Lady Tank”, is still sitting in that parking deck. It’s a pity because in the snow is where she comes alive. Who am I kidding? I’m in Wisconsin. She’ll get another chance.

Speaking of, I got home to find my heater is broken.** So there’s that.


*You never know when you need to learn about cotton history, the stories of Felicia Day, and the fictional account of Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker? I guess?

**Upon the appropriate amount of fiddling, I can get heat to come out, but it’s the pressure of someone using their breath to fog up a window. 

Just give me some space, Monday

Sigh. This is the time of each week when that sinking feeling starts to creep into my stomach. My sigh-rate starts creeping upwards, and try to remember how I spent my time this weekend because for the life of me, I can’t remember Saturday happening and suddenly Monday is knocking at my door.

(Upon further examination, it happened. I spent it eating Chex Mix and watching White Christmas and all the other B-list Christmas movies that Netflix offers.)

But really, it feels like someone dared last week to see how many days it can shove into the work week. I’m serious. While the typical week has Sunday through Saturday, last week felt a little more like the following:

Sunday: Hooray!

Monday: This feels slightly uncomfortable! Did I eat a bad hot dog?

Tuesday: Where is my Tuesday helmet? This is ridiculous. WHY DO YOU KEEP RINGING, PHONE?!

Tuesday #2: I thought we already did this. Oh, that was just the morning? Why is my eye twitching?

Tuesday #3: A special Tuesday where you think it’s Saturday, and then you remember that it is still Tuesday. And then you spill coffee on your shirt.

Wednesday: In order to fit this Wednesday into the typical week infrastructure, it has to be secured to the calendar with a system of bungee cords. If you jump just so you can feel the cords rebound.

Wednesday #2: When Wednesday startles you into the realization that it’s still here! I wonder if my officemate would be cool with open wailing?

Wednesday #3: You’re basically continuously sighing from your position lying on the floor under your desk.You’ve been there for twenty minutes, since you remembered it’s not almost-Saturday. It’s Wednesday.


Thursday: Thursday is squeezed into the week the same way you squeeze your frying pan into your pot cabinet in your kitchen. Throw it in there, slam the door, and run away while you listen to the distant clanging of kitchen wares falling down.

Still Thursday: You’re dead inside.

Continues to be Thursday: Tomorrow is Friday. Is it really almost Saturday? Is it happening? Is this when all your dreams come true???! If you close your eyes and think hard enough, can you touch the stars with your hopes and aspirations?!

Friday: Let’s all just keep our heads down and be quiet and not look each other in the eye. We’re almost there you guys. WE’RE SO CLOSE.

SATURDAY: Sleep for 14 hours and eat your weight in Chex Mix. Then make a new batch of Chex Mix. Then continue to eat other people’s weight in Chex Mix. Then you remember there is other food besides Chex Mix. Ponder eating that too.

That, my dears, was last week. So, Monday, please. Just give me a little space, here?


Monday: When you’re doing the best you can, and it’s not very good.

My afternoon meeting.

My afternoon meeting.

Friday: I tune out the world and eat my weight in steak quesadillas and guacamole and blue raspberry sour straws. If you interrupt me, I’ll throw my shoe at you.

Saturday: I run around and play! The world is my oyster! I love everyone! Let’s all high five and go to the movies!

Sunday: I get down to business. I read. I cook. I write. I do all the laundry! Don’t be intimidated. I’m just very good.

Sundays are when I am an adult.

Mondays are when I remember that I am not a real adult. Just a pretend one.

Things that have happened today:

  1. After hours of wondering why my skirt was sitting strangely and if “something was wrong with my stomach”, I realized my skirt was on backwards.
  2. I realized I was loudly singing Scottish folk songs as I walked around my building, waiting for my office to defrost after having left the window open on Friday.
  3. I made an openly confused face at a stranger who politely smiled at me. At the time, I was not singing Scottish folk songs.
  4. I got emotional watching reruns of the Great British Baking Show. (“They just love baking so much!”)
  5. Almost died after thinking “I’ll just wait to use the restroom after this meeting.” Mistake.
  6. I tucked my pajama shirt into my pajama pants to try and feel dignified. Surprisingly, it did not work.
  7. I struggled for a few minutes to eat my dinner salad before I realized I was eating with a spoon.

Monday is very good at reminding me that Sunday is a faker, but Monday is also really good at setting the bar really low for the rest of the week. Bring it on, Tuesday.*

*Tuesday, please do not bring it on. Tuesday is really good at making Monday look like a cakewalk. Your take away: Just close your eyes and wish for Wednesday! **

**Option B: fake your death. I’ll bring the ketchup.

Monday Musings

In honor of the Tate Modern exhibition dedicated to one of my favorite textile designers and artists, Sonia Delaunay, I give you your Monday “Something Pretty”, a textile design ca. 1920.

Happy Monday, guys. We got through another one. And in honor of this momentous occasion, the rambling train of thoughts of Monday-Meredith:

1) “I wonder if I ask nicely, my office mate would get me a cup of coffee? Probably not. I can get my own coffee. Or maybe I can shriek, and startle her into getting me coffee….I can get my own coffee.”

2) “Is it a fact of the universe that a healthy dinner requires dirtying five dishes on average?”

3) “I wonder where I could find a block of cheese within a ten minute walk of my office?”

4) “Is there anything interesting about lawn grass? Probably. I’d have to find a grass scientist. Where can I find a grass scientist? They’re probably not called grass scientists.”

5) “New bucket list item. Make stretch pants acceptable in the workplace.”

6) “I wonder if I could unfreeze my computer with the power of my mind. If I concentrate hard enough, this could be the day I tap into m X-Men powers and discover I’m actually destined to be great at computers….One of these days, that will work.”