To Whom It May Concern:

Ryan has been working at the Circus (right across from the shopping plaza!) for many years now. During his time here he has demonstrated excellent work ethic, adaptability, and team oriented thinking (tension sure does rise when you’re trapped inside a cardboard box with six other people).

Ryan is a well-rounded individual, as well as diagonal, congruent, perpendicular, and other geometrical qualities that met our incredibly strict flexible criteria. I had no choice but to hire him on the spot when I found him in my briefcase.

Ryan knew he wanted to be a contortionist from an early age. As an infant his parents would stuff him inside a suitcase to save on airfare. Not sure whether he had his parents total support, or none at all—he ran away to join the circus, where he met me. That’s right. Me. I’m the guy who helped him get his feet off the ground, and into his mouth.

I’m the one who shaped him into the man he is today. No pun intended. Before he came to me he could barely fold into a proper Trefoil knot, and now, he can sneeze into his own ass with dignity. Talk about improvement!

And that’s not to say that Ryan didn’t get stuck at any point in his career, he did, literally, in an umbrella holder. It was hilarious. However, through extensive training, Ryan eventually learnt that he could get out of any workplace problem with enough persistence and lube. Today, he truly stretches the definition of what it means to be a good contortionist. Again, no pun intended.

Ryan recently underwent a minor health scare, but that did not stop him from coming into work each and every day with a positive attitude and a smile. (He found a lump on his neck. Turns out it was his toe!)

To recap: I’m sure Ryan will make an excellent fit at his next place of work. Okay—that one was intentional.

Sincerely,

Roger Clown TC mark

featured image – Shutterstock









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image - Flickr / Andrew Morrell
image – Flickr / Andrew Morrell

A new study has found that women really and truly think of their dogs as their children, but with more fur, obviously. Researchers looked into brain activity of a group of women who have at least one child between the ages of two and 10, and who were also dog owners at the same time. Between questionnaires and the showing the women photos of both their children and dogs (like these adorable costumed duos), the results were quite clear: When it comes to babies and dogs, women don’t see a difference. In fact, in some women, their brain responds even more strongly to photos of their dogs than their kids.

As lead researcher of the study, Lori Palley of Massachusetts General Hospital, explained, “Pets hold a special place in many people’s hearts and lives, and there is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of humans.”

The positive effects that pets have on human beings have even spilled over into the workplace where some business offices allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. “Dogs were domesticated to be attentive to us,” explains clinical social worker and therapist, Deb Havill, “It is natural for us to be around them, so to not be around them would be unnatural. We would be in an unnatural state.” See? We need them. We can’t live without them.

Takeaway? Pets, er, furry babies evoke strong emotions and feelings in humans. The intensity of our love for them is clearly visible in functional magnetic resonance imaging, where the parts of the brain associated with “emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social interaction” all show increase in activity when we, the women pet owners of the world, are shown photos of our little bundles of joy.

So, the next time you overhear a woman telling their dog, “Oh! You made mommy so proud when you caught that ball,” don’t roll your eyes. That furry little monster is her baby, both in heart and in her brain. TC mark

This post originally appeared at YourTango.

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It should be obvious that there are basic differences between being in love, infatuated, or just plain obsessed. Sadly, that is not always the case. Many people find themselves in relationships that they may think are loving when, in reality, it may just be an unhealthy infatuation or even obsession.

Even when faced with the hard reality, it can be difficult to admit that you might just be more infatuated or obsessed than actually in love. Here are  some signs that you might want to pay attention to:

  1. You flake on responsibilities and commitments.This includes missing work, school or other important appointments because this person suddenly contacts you at the last minute wanting to go out with you on a particular date or time without any regard or consideration for your schedule or needs.  When you miss commitments just to keep yourself available for this person, you may end up regretting your decision later on when you discover that this person no longer has room in their life for you.
  2. You miss out on things that you love doing just just to wait around, wondering if the object of your infatuation is going to call you.What you’re actually doing is putting your life on hold for another person. Now, this may be fine if you’re in a serious relationship or are married, but when this person has done nothing to show you that you mean much to them, it makes no sense for you to rearrange your life for this individual. You’re only missing out on a lot of fun by doing so.
  3. Your friendships are taking a back seat to your obsession.When you’re obsessed with someone you are dating or someone that you WANT to date, you might find yourself ignoring your friends in favor of devoting all of your free time to the person you are infatuated with, and lusting after. Eventually, you might start driving your friends away from you because they sense that you are too self-absorbed in your own world, and are not making time for others.

If you notice any of these signs within yourself, think about how you may have lost your sense of perspective, and the bigger picture. Ask yourself: “What is the truth that I am not necessarily willing to acknowledge?” You’re not meant to stop living your life just in CASE someone decides to give you a call or suddenly shows up to take you to dinner. If it is necessary for you to always be available on the off chance that this person will call or want to go out on a date, then you may want to start asking yourself if you can really maintain your own sense of healthy individuality if you choose to develop a serious relationship with this person. Do you truly want to be in a relationship with someone for whom the world revolves entirely around them? This is something that could cause negative long-term consequences if you allow it. That is why you may want to think very seriously about whether this is genuine true love, or just a temporary infatuation or obsession. You are worthy of a healthy relationship with someone that genuinely wants to share their life with you, will be considerate of your time and needs, and will want to foster a relationship that is truly a co-equal partnership. TC mark

This post originally appeared at YourTango.

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By now you’ve likely heard that a Canadian soldier (Corporal Nathan Cirillowas) murdered yesterday at a war memorial very near the Canadian Parliament in Ottowa. You may not have heard that just two days previous in a separate incident that another Canadian soldier (Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent) was murdered outside Montreal. In that incident the murderer used a car to strike two soldiers, killing one. The murderer in the second incident was reportedly a recent convert to Islam.

Both murderers were killed by authorities. In Ottowa, one was shot after a gun battle and, near Montreal, the other was shot after brandishing a knife at police following a protracted high speed chase.

Both incidents are believed by Canadian authorities to be associated with Islamic extremist terrorism. In recent weeks, the Islamic State has called for attacks in countries participating in military action to fight the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

Statement begins:

“My fellow Canadians, for the second time this week there has been a brutal and violent attack on our soil.

“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Corporal Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

“Corporal Cirillo was killed today – murdered in cold blood – as he provided a ceremonial Honour Guard at Canada’s National War Memorial.

“That sacred place that pays tribute to those who gave their lives so that we can live in a free, democratic and safe society.

“Likewise, our thoughts and prayers remain also with the family and friends of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed earlier this week by an ISIL-inspired terrorist.

“Tonight we also pray for the speedy recovery of the others injured in these despicable attacks.

“Fellow Canadians, we have also been reminded today of the compassionate and courageous nature of so many Canadians.

“Like those private citizens and first responders who came to provide aid to Corporal Cirillo as he fought for his life.

“And of course the members of our security forces in the RCMP, the City of Ottawa Police, and in Parliament who came quickly, and at great risk to themselves, to assist those of us who were close to the attack.

“Fellow Canadians, in the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.

“But this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.

“We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and our institutions of governance are, by their very nature, attacks on our country.

“On our values, on our society, on us, Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.

“But let there be no misunderstanding.

“We will not be intimidated.

“Canada will never be intimidated.

“In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home.

“Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.

“They will have no safe haven.

“While today has been, without question, a difficult day, I have every confidence that Canadians will pull together with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges.

“Together, we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.

“For now, Laureen, Ben, Rachel and I join all Canadians in praying for those touched by today’s attack.

“May God bless them, and keep our land glorious and free.” TC mark

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Throughout my adolescence, my mother never refrained from telling my my brain wasn’t developed until I turned 25. Then I turned 25 and she stopped telling me that. I am a few months away from 26, not even a year into my fully developed frontal cortex, and I now realize that 20-somethings are basically infants without parents. No one picks me up when I’m crying. Rarely does anyone coo when I look cute. The 20s are filled with perils and problems we must navigate alone.

And a woman in her 20, well, she roils in paradox — just trying to figure out who she is and what to be and where to go to be it. Do we cleanse or not cleanse or only cleanse sometimes? Do we do Bikram or CrossFit or road races? Do we do tinder or do we bet on chance?

Do we have girl swag?

My friend and I were having dinner the other night to celebrate the end of a grueling weekend of parent-teacher conferences. We enjoyed fat, overpriced glasses of wines and we felt exultant when our fatter, overpriced pastas arrived. Between bites, my coworker told me her friend was pursuing a college teammate of mine. I perked up in my seat because I always loved a game of “Who do you know?” She couldn’t remember the girl’s name, but knew she would recognize it. I thought of the all my potentially single teammates living in Boston.

I sat across the table, deeply focused, and tried out a name.

“No,” she shook her head, “he said that she had girl swag.”

Instinctively I blurted out a name and leaned forward — crouching above my pasta —waiting.

It was right.

“What the fuck is girl swag?!” I wailed, throwing my hands up for extra drama. I was aware that I had profaned the restaurant. I am sure the woman sitting near us was making a face. This wasn’t the time, I thought, to give a crap about appropriate dinner niceties. Girl swag was both terribly vague and terribly precise! I didn’t care if I upset everyone in the neighborhood!

My friend mentioned another girl who exemplified girl swag.

“Oh, come on! SHE has girl swag?” I wailed again, detesting this other girl with girl swag.

“She does, she totally does,” my friend confirmed. My friend was way more mature than I, despite being younger. She was a kinder and more reasonable human. She always had a good head on her shoulders.

Then, in a low voice, thick with deviance and envy and desire, she said, “I want girl swag.” She crouched low over her scallop risotto. We were monsters.

I have been stuck thinking about it since: this impossible paradox of perfection and attraction; of just the right blend of masculinity and femininity; of an androgyny typecast by J. Crew Jenna and Cara Delevigne; of Budweiser and a lowball of Maker’s Mark; of hiking Grand Teton and not showering for days but looking awesome; of the Dos Equis man’s “one who got away;” of simply being who you are.

I listened to a podcast about Christina of Sweden and thought of girl swag. She was a 17th Century queen who the midwives mistook for a boy (dim lighting?), and her father raised her like a prince. She was petite and fair and could string a bow like a bad ass. She was not a great queen and she didn’t want to be one. When she was crowned at 23, she had already laid the groundwork to abdicate the throne. She didn’t want to marry her cousin, so she didn’t. She converted to Catholicism and the Lutheran Swedes bade her farewell.

She wore pants!

She was the quintessential tomboy.

She had 17th century Swedish girl swag.

I investigated girl swag some more. I asked my friend, Pete, for his definition: “Shotgunning beer in throwback high top kicks. Also….ponytails.”

He then quickly added, “Knowledge of old school hip-hop jams and ability to groove to some nutritious jams. What is it to you? How did you guess correctly?”

I told him I thought a girl with girl swag is the epitome of cool, she’s super athletic and fit, never wears makeup because she is beautiful and doesn’t need it ever; she’s the life of the party, very funny, an ultra-winner at life, and probably wears a lot of cool flannel shirts.

“Yeah. Exactly. That’s what I was thinking.”

A female contributor wrote that a girl with girl swag had a (to quote her quoting Kanye West) “because my life is dope and I do dope shit” air about her.

To another woman, girl swag meant: “One is a whole number. I know, I know, my ethnic feminist mother repeated this into my brain, and it’s pretty dorky. But I do think it’s essential to the way you carry yourself — that a girl defines herself and depends on no man to define either her happiness or her sense of self.”

My friend asked her guy friend to clarify his original meaning of girl swag to define my teammate.

“My dream girl is dripping with girl swag,” he wrote. “She can eat burgers and drink beers with the boys one minute and can enjoy wine and cheese with the gals the next.

“She’s the girl who can crush the dance floor by herself to her favorite song, knows about the bands and brands that no one’s heard of yet, and wears all the right stuff. You can tell from a distance that her friends look up to her and she doesn’t really give a shit what you or your guy friends think.

“I think girl swag also includes intelligence and intellectual curiosity. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, correct you when you’re wrong, and holds you accountable for your words and actions. She does all of this without being better than anyone.”

There is a fine balance to girl swag, though. She bends the right rules just enough. It’s a science. It’s an art. If it’s too obvious or if it seems too forced, it is the opposite of cool. If she only has guy friends, she’s shit out of swag and luck.

“Some girls think it’s cool to just have guy friends. It’s not. Girls need girl friends,” Pete said.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. How do you find or get or aspire to being a girl with girl swag? Can you? Is it all based upon how you were raised in your formative years?

Unearthing the mystery of the Roanoke settlement might be easier.

Girl swag appears to be a generational conundrum of just the 20s. At Starbucks, I bumped into a colleague and asked him what he thought it was. He, a white man in his 50s, said, “That.” He pointed to my purse. He didn’t get it.

Colleen, my 30-something best friend and colleague and mentor and quasi-sister etc., answered, “Clothes? Gear?” And then after more prodding said, “I guess 30 year-olds don’t think about it or it doesn’t matter. By that time, most people are married with kids. You’re just lucky to get a shower in.”

I asked her husband what he thought of girl swag and he had no clue what I was talking about.

Later, Colleen had an epiphany. “It’s Mary,” she texted, “Something about Mary. She has Miami girl swag. Add flannel shirts, a folk festival or two, and an outdoor activity, and it’s New England girl swag.”

It is something. Besides being elusive, girl swag is also regional.

What a disastrous, muddy thing this venture was turning out to be. Girl swag was Herculean and mythic and impossible and maddening. Even being yourself, or just the idea of trying to be yourself, in the end is not an inviolate endeavor. If you are the right you, and you happen to like wearing flannel shirts and sneakers and a scrubby ponytail, you actually slip right into another category, for better or for worse.

What if flannel and sneakers and Budweisers and cheeseburgers aren’t you? According to my research, your demographic is not a part of girl swag, ipso facto, no one will find you attractive. Buy a dog, or better yet, a cat, and learn to cook meals for one forever!

Or, don’t give a fuck at all and do what you want. Don’t be the queen if you don’t want to be the queen.

One day you might wear a ponytail because you were late to work and you were out of coffee, so you might feel a little deranged without your usual caffeine. And you might have the best comeback you have ever had in your life on that day, or the worst one, and you might kick ass on a business proposal, or it might kick yours. But you will laugh at yourself, and someone on the other side of the conference table or coffee shop or bar will hear you and think, “She’s got some serious girl swag.” TC mark

featured image – Ella Ceron









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Comedy videos on the internet are seventy four thousand dimes a dozen, but ever-rising NYC based comedian Matt Dennie has done something truly interesting here. The “Matt Dennie Character Project” is a video undertaking profiling 3 separate, very absurd characters, who, although don’t actually exist in NYC, may, in some aspects, be eerily reminiscent of characters you’ve encountered in your various realities.

My favorite of the series is T’woil The Vampire, who has some pretty elaborate reasons for why he needs to come into your apartment:

Also featured in the Matt Dennie Character Project is a Beef (a chef who has a very specific skill-set), and the next college sports superstar, if it were still 1987.

Hopefully there will be another installment of Beef with Beef — would love to see what he cooks up next. TC mark



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