This is Going to Hurt

I took a trip to corporate last week and tracked down The Hippie. I interviewed this guy a couple of months ago and apparently people really took to him. (Here’s the post.) Due to his intense popularity in the mortgage and Woodstock crowd, and due to the fact that the dude is ca-razy, he’ll be a regular from here on out.

This Hurts Me More Than You

An Interview with Envoy Mortgage’s very own Hippie, Shaun Brennan

Just the Assistant: Hey Shaun! Okay, the last time we spoke, you had just landed a gig promoting some tambourine player’s album. Is that still going on? Did you promote the album?

[JTA Note: Yes, Shaun is a mortgage banker (a really good one – seriously). And yes, he has other “side jobs”.]

Hippie Shaun: Yes! That’s going really well.

JTA: Did you ever figure out how to promote his work? What did you do?

Shaun: Well he’s already really popular, so –

JTA (spit flying out of mouth due to intense laughter): Yeah, I listen to him like all the time! (wipes spit off Shaun’s desk)

Shaun (annoyed): He’s popular in the music crowd.

JTA: He probably is. I only listen to NPR, so I wouldn’t know either way.  

Shaun: Well anyway, I have a plan for how to make him go platinum.

JTA: No way! Let’s hear it.  

Shaun: So I’ve got about 150 people who I’d call close friends. I plan to convince each of them to buy 150 copies of this album.

JTA:  Well that makes total sense. I know when I like a band, I’m all the time buying like 150 copies of their album. Same with books. I buy twelve of each book I like.

Shaun: Exactly! Because who wants to listen to the same copy of an album? No, you listen to one copy, and then throw it out and listen to the next one.

JTA: Totally! (Pauses for drama) Let’s hope the tambourine player doesn’t read my blog. Okay Shaun, other than that, how are you?

Shaun: Oh man, I’m good. Going on vacation tomorrow –

JTA: What? Where?

Shaun: Playa De Carmen. It’s The Circle of Excellence Trip.

[JTA Note: The Circle of Excellence is this stupid trip Envoy Mortgage hosts each year for its top mortgage bankers. Envoy Mortgage has, for five years in a row now, denied me access to this trip despite repeated pleas and pitches on my part to attend as the official blogger.]

JTA (squinting): That’s awesome! So awesome that Envoy is letting you go on this trip. This trip that I have tried to attend for five years. Really, it’s so awesome.

Shaun (shifting in chair): Should be fun.

JTA: So listen, when you go on trips like this, do you get trashed and dance on the tables?

Shaun (pausing and looking at a spot on the wall while pondering his reply): I –

JTA: Dude! You paused for way too long. Like, you totally weren’t just saying “no way – not me!”

Shaun (smiling): Let’s put it this way. I like to have fun. And I also really like to dance, but not always on tables. Sometimes on tables though.

JTA: You’re crazy! You know this interview is to make people want to send you business, right?

Shaun (totally not caring if I send him business): It reminds me of this one time –

(Shaun’s phone rings)

JTA: Go ahead.

Shaun: Nah, it’s just a buddy of mine.

JTA:  Oh my gosh then please answer. I’ve got to hear this.

[JTA Note: I’m not kidding, y’all. I wrote down what I heard him say verbatim…]

Shaun: Hey man…You still raising chickens?…You still bringing me some eggs?…Okay we’re doing a slumber party for Black Angels show, right?… I want to hire you pretty soon. I need a couple websites…Could be ten days, could be ten years… I need to know soon and am planning our Galveston trip around that…Alright man…Peace.

JTA: Do you say “peace” when you hang up with clients?

Shaun: Sometimes accidentally.

JTA: Hey, speaking of mixing your hippie friends with clients, I have this great business idea for you. Why don’t  you tell all your hundreds of hippie friends, “Hey! I can get you home loans!” I don’t understand why you don’t mix the two lives.


Shaun: Hippies usually have terrible credit. But I actually have done six or seven loans for musicians, and those guys have no idea about finance.

JTA: Ha! They’re all, “Uh, I made twenty bucks last night playing the drums on the street. Does that count?”

Shaun: But I don’t promote this business in that crowd. I have another business I market to that group.

JTA: Oh no. What is it, Shaun?

Shaun: It’s my record label.

JTA: Of course you’d have a record label. Of course.

Shaun (nodding, like it’s a totally normal thing to have a record label): Called Splice of Life Productions.

JTA: Do you like animals?

Shaun: I have a cat. I don’t like the idea of owning animals though. I watched this PETA documentary and I really got what they were saying, about not domesticating animals. Animals should be free. But I already had the cat before watching the documentary.

JTA (laughing hysterically at the joke I’m about to make. Holds hand in the position of holding and shooting a shotgun): Boom!

Shaun (laughing with me and holding his hand like he’s shooting a pistol sideways like they do in gangs): This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you, Fluffy!

JTA (laughing even more hysterically but not having another joke to top this with): Oh man that’s hilarious. Hey listen, I have something to show  you. You’re going to love this. (proudly handing Shaun my phone)

Baking soda

I’m washing my hair with baking soda now! I’m so hippie!

Shaun (studying picture): Oh yeah! You could have gone organic, but whatever…

JTA: You shut your mouth, Shaun Brennan. I’m saving the world here. Okay, listen, man…we have a lot more to talk about, but I’ve got to wrap this up because there is only so much someone will read of a mortgage blog. So you get back to your loans, and we’ll pick this back up later this week.

Shaun: Peace.

Okay readers, please come back on Thursday because Shaun ended up telling me about this horrible hobby he has that you all really need to hear about. Until then, I’m off to cuddle with my non-PETA cat, Harold, and Shaun’s off to shoot out a few home loans (and possibly his cat).

Bulletin: Harold and Hipster Andie

My fine cat Harold went missing this week…

For forty-five minutes.

In those forty-five minutes, I:

  • Opened and searched every closet in my house.
  • Prayed.
  • Checked all my kitchen cabinets.
  • Looked in the refrigerator (I was desperate).
  • Walked my neighborhood calling “HAAAAROLD!”
  • Walked my neighborhood calling “HAAAAROLD!” while holding a can of Friskies and clinking it with a spoon.
  • Asked my neighbor if he’d seen Harold.
  • Texted my husband and told him that Harold was missing.
  • Sent a Facebook message to my neighborhood Facebook group asking if anyone had seen my big orange cat Harold.
  • Tried to coax my dog into picking up Harold’s scent and leading me to Harold.
  • Got teary-eyed thinking of life without Harold.

And then he came home.

Harold's Return

Which means I am now in a mental state in which I can think about work.

Hipster Andie has a new role at the office. I do not know the title because I’m not important enough to warrant telling a title to, but I know that she is a bigger deal now than she was five months ago. Here are the facts:

  • Andie now has a bigger cube. Bigger cube = Bigger deal.
  • Hipster Andie created a giant paper chain representing all the loans she wants our Boss James to provide this year. You may choose to obtain a home loan at a certain time now to coincide with your favorite color on the paper chain. (That last part was my idea.)
  • Hipster Andie's Paper Chain 2
  • I don’t think the new role called for the paper chain. She just did that on her own.
  • Hipster Andie now takes meeting notes in magic markers.
  • Hipster Andie's Magic
  • I think she uses the markers because her new role is major important, and she needs to keep herself grounded.
  • I have not confirmed the above bullet.
  • But I did take a psychology class in college so I’d say I’m fairly qualified to make these assessments.
  • I made a D in the psychology class.
  • Andie made cake balls for Valentine’s Day and put them in heart boxes.
  • Andie V-Day
  • Andie still sits on a yoga ball while she works.
  • I fear she is going to injure her back.
  • I am not qualified to make this assessment.
  • But don’t you think it might be bad?
  • Everybody at our office loves Andie.
  • Clients crazy-love Andie and send her flowers and candy.
  • I ate some of the candy.

And that, my friends, is the scoop. If you would like to send Andie a valentine, please do so in the form of a mortgage application and subsequent link torn from the paper chain. If you would like to send Harold a valentine, please do so in the form of a leash and electric fence so that he doesn’t scare me and my entire neighborhood Facebook group like that again. Happy Friday, loves!

How the Heck to Buy a House Today, Part II

How do you connect with a home-seller who’s into nudie pics? I found out…

What About the Naked Pictures?

An interview with Envoy Mortgage’s fab mortgage banker/Hollywood insider, Christina Gobe, continued.

Just the Assistant: Okay Gobe. In part one of our interview, you were in the middle of answering my question about how to buy a house in this market. Give us some more scoop.

Gobe: Next, I recommend for buyers to get pre-approved for a loan instead of pre-qualified.

JTA: Now, wait a minute. Why come? I thought getting prequalified is legit.

[JTA Note: Here’s a post where I explain the difference between pre-quals and pre-approvals. Blah Blah Blah.]

Gobe: Let’s say I’m selling my house, and I have three offers that are very similar in price, and I see that two of the people have been pre-qualified for a house, but the third person has actually been pre-approved. I’m going to accept the bid of the person who has the best chance of actually securing the financing to buy my house.

JTA: That makes sense. Okay, what else?

Gobe: Finally, I would tell people to not be afraid of writing a cover letter when they put in an offer.

JTA: I’ve heard of these. It’s like a love letter, but about a house, right?

Gobe: Yeah, kind of. When we put the offer on our house last year, I wrote a letter to the buyer and told her how I was really looking forward to raising my kids there, and how I’d always wanted a white house with black stutters. Then I complimented her decorating, saying “I hope I’ll be able to decorate it as beautifully as you have…”

JTA: You suck-up! So you think that helps in the “multiple offer” situations?

Gobe: Yes. Like I said, if they have two offers that are pretty similar, the seller is going to look at other factors. And most sellers want to sell their house to someone who will love it and take care of it.

JTA: So people shouldn’t write stuff like, “I can’t wait to redo that nasty kitchen of yours.”

Gobe: Exactly. I’ve even heard of people sending a picture of themselves or their family. You should just try to find a connection with the sellers.

JTA: That happened to a friend of mine when he sold his house. Some lady wrote him a letter after spying a guitar in his living room and claimed she was all into music.

But answer me this, Gobe. A couple of years ago when I was house-hunting, we saw this one house where the owners had naked pictures of themselves on the walls of the hallway.  And they’d made one of the shots into a hologram. I’m not making this up.

House Hunting

Censored for sensitive readers

Can you  please give me some advice on writing a cover letter for this family? Like, how do I connect with that?

Gobe: Well, ah…Maybe you could say something like, “I, too, appreciate the human body. Not really my own, but human bodies in general?” (Laughing) Or you could tie in the idea about sending a picture.

JTA: Ha! You’re the best, Gobe. Okay, I know you’re busy, so while you go answer all your phone calls, I’m going to work up a quick draft of a cover letter our reader(s) can use.

Dear (Homeowner’s first name, or a nickname you give him/her but not like a sexy nickname, unless you’re into that sort of thing, and in that case, let me know how it goes),

Is it weird to say I am in love with your (townhome, house, bungalow)? While walking through each room, I couldn’t help but picture my (child(ren), dog, cats, alcoholic uncle) growing up and learning how to (walk, sit and stay, sleep more?, hide his drinking habit from his boss) within these walls. Once I got to your bedroom and saw your (wedding photo, pistol, handcuffs, Bible) on the nightstand, I knew we had a deep connection. I’m (married, afraid of intruders, into that stuff, a Christian) too!

With that, please know that though my offer on your house is (full asking price, a little under full asking price, insultingly lower than asking price, twelve dollars), it is the best I can do, and I hope you accept so that I can turn your home into my home!

Thank you!

(Your first name, Your first name plus your kid(s)’ name(s), Your first name plus your dog’s first name plus a paw print, Your first name plus your cat’s first AND last name, Your first name plus your uncle’s name)

How the Heck to Buy a House Today, Part I

My mother has a mild addiction…to Goodwill stores.

When she visited me over Thanksgiving, I dropped her off in the Heights one day to peruse the trendy little shops along 19th Street. Two hours later when I called to see if she was ready to come home, she instructed me to pick her up at the Goodwill she’d found a few blocks away. Once back in my car, she said, “The polo shirts were four dollars! I need to go back to Florida. My Goodwill in Florida has them for two dollars.”

With that, when I found this cool blog yesterday –  written by this chick who knows everything about thrift stores and decorating your place for cheap, I sent it to my mom. And then I spent two hours reading all the tricks on how to decorate your entire house for like seven dollars.

Okay, now that I have solved all of your life problems concerning decorating a house, I will now solve all of your life problems concerning actually getting your house. And that’s why I have snagged an interview with Christina Gobe, also known as Hollywood Insider Gobe (girl loves her some TMZ… and mortgages).

What About the Naked Pictures?

An interview with Envoy Mortgage’s fab mortgage banker/Hollywood insider, Christina Gobe

JTA: Hey Gobe! The last time we checked in with you, you’d just been “rewarded” your own office since you’d done like a thousand loans, but since then you’ve switched offices. Do you like this one better?

Gobe (looking around): Well, this one doesn’t have a column in the middle that blocks me from moving my chair. So I’d say it’s better. I know you’re all into standing while you work these days, but I like to be able to scoot in my chair.

JTA: Sitting is killing America, I tell you. Now then, have you had any crazy borrowers lately you can dish on?

Gobe (pondering): Well, not a crazy client but I did have a client that called me every day, three times a day throughout his loan process. He was pretty funny. He liked to talk… a lot.

JTA: Did you answer the phone every time he called?

Gobe: Of course! Even when it was late and he wanted to know where to get a refrigerator, and what I thought about scratch and dent places, I answered.

JTA: That’s hilarious. Like, “This lady knows a lot about mortgages; I’ll bet she has some good insight on Whirlpool appliances too.”

Gobe (laughing): Yeah, uh, I guess scratch and dent places are okay?

JTA: That’s great though. It shows that people really trust you. Okay, Gobe, listen. At the top of this post I gave people a link to a neat blog I found on decorating your house, so now I want to give readers some tips on actually getting the house.

So here’s my question. I’ve heard that homes in Houston are selling, like, the day they go on the market, and that people are offering more than the asking prices. First of all, is that true, and second of all, if it is true, what should people do?

Gobe: That is happening. Sellers are getting multiple offers from buyers, so it’s a very competitive market. As far as what to do about it if you’re a buyer, there are a few things.

Boss James (entering office and rudely interrupting my interview so that he could ask Gobe a mortgage question): Hey Gobe, blah-dit-y blah blah bleh?

Gobe (rudely pausing my interview to answer the question): Bleh blah blah-di-tada.

JTA: Gobe, I think you’re the smartest mortgage banker I know. Can I take your picture?

Gobe: No!

JTA: Why?! You never let me take your picture! You look nice. Can I take one if I stick Heidi Klum’s face on top of your face?

Gobe: Well if you’re going to do that, you could use someone else’s body for the picture, right?

[JTA Note: Told you she’s smart.]

JTA: True. JAAAAAMES! Get back in here!

Heidi-James-Gobe gets work done...

Heidi-James-Gobe gets work done…

JTA: Okay Gobe, back to the question. How the heck are people suppose to buy a house these days?

Gobe: First, I would tell homebuyers to work with a real estate agent that specializes in the area you want to move to. Because if they specialize in that area, they’ll have a heads up on houses that are about to go on the market, and can sometimes let you see a house even before it goes up.


[JTA Note: Dear readers, Gobe and I eventually found ourselves in a very deep discussion concerning naked people and their role in selling houses. Yes, there is a connection there. But here’s the thing. I’m already at like 800 words on this post, and I know good and well that normally functioning humans have a limit on just how much they’ll read a mortgage blog; and besides, I need a snack. With that, I will post part II of this interview on Friday. In the meantime, if you need a realtor for a certain part of town, or have a question regarding the Bieb’s latest shenanigans, contact Gobe – and she can give you the hookup. And if you find anything worth noting at Goodwill, let me know so I can tell my mom.]

I Interviewed a Guy Wearing Google Glass…

An IT guy stopped by the office yesterday to conduct his sorcery on our laptops.

And he did it while wearing Google Glasses (actually I just looked it up and it’s Google Glass – I think Glasses sounds better though, no?).

I had to know more.

Of Course You’re Not Being Brainwashed

An interview with an IT guy who came to our office, Alex

IT Working

Just the Assistant (timidly approaching the guy she doesn’t recognize who is working on a pile of laptops in the corner of our office): Hey, um, do you work for Envoy?

Alex: Well y’all have a contract with the company I work for.

JTA: Hey! You’re contract? Me too! They won’t let me be on the official employee list. My name’s Christina. Uh, so I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about your glasses. Like, what’s that thing on your glasses?

Alex: It’s Google Glass.

JTA: No way! Like, do you see my Facebook profile floating behind me back here? (Waves her hand in the general vicinity of behind her head.)

Alex: No, but that would be really cool.

[Note to self: Call Google and tell them my idea and request lots of money.]

JTA: Why are you wearing them? Like, what does it do? And, uh, do people see you and think that you have vision problems?

Alex: What?

JTA: I mean, like, do you find that people hold the door for inordinate amounts of time for you?

Alex: Nobody holds the door for guys. Here, let me see your glasses; I’ll attach it to yours.

JTA (feeling like she has stepped into the future while Alex fumbles with her glasses): I feel like I am talking to the future. Like, nice to meet you 2026. Oh my gosh. (Puts on glasses.) Am I cross-eyed?

IT TeachingAlex: Kind of.

JTA: And these are supposed to be cool, right? Oh my gosh I can see the time! It says 2:06 right over that desk! (Waves hands wildly trying to touch the time.)

IT Mocking

JTA (still cross-eyed): So you wear these every day? Are you in a relationship? Because I don’t think this is going to be good for romance if you’re all the time talking to your glasses.

[JTA Note: Alex kept going, “Okay Glasses,” or “Okay Glass Google” or something like that every time he wanted to do something like check his texts.]

Alex: I wear them every day. I’ve had them since November, when I got invited to buy them.

JTA: What do you mean “invited”?

Alex: You have to be invited by Google to buy these.

JTA: How’d you get invited? Why was I not invited? (Shouts to front deskChristi – have you seen any invitations for me lately?

Alex: I have a friend that works for Google, and she got me on the list. And so I ordered them, and they were delivered –

JTA: By a drone, right?! How much were these?

Alex: No, they just came in the mail. They were $1500.

JTA: FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!? I hope you didn’t have to pay for shipping. Sheesh.

Alex: Shipping was included.

JTA: Alex, do you think Google is trying to brainwash you?

Alex (still working on the laptops): No. How?

JTA: Like, they’re subtly sending you messages with the glasses. And you don’t even realize it.

Alex (puzzled): Why would they do that?

IT Brainwash

The brainwash victim.

JTA: Because, Alex, they could get millions of people to wear these, and send all these subtle messages, and then one day, everybody is like, “Oh my gosh I just had this thought that I want to, like, empty my bank account and send it to Google!” Right?

Alex: I don’t think so.

JTA: Yeah, but you’re the one who paid $1500 dollars for glasses that tell you the time. You’re one they already control. So, you’re an IT guy. Is this the job you wanted, working on our laptops?

Alex (proving JTA’s point about the brainwashing): It’s not my dream job. I really want to work for Google.

[JTA Note: I swear he said that.]

JTA (blatantly lying): Hey Alex – I can help you out, buddy! I’ve got, like, loads of readers with connections. I bet some of them use Google and can somehow hook you up.

Alex: That would be great.

JTA: I’ll get on that today. Thanks for letting me wear your glasses, man.

IT Google

With that, I’d like to “invite” you all to keep reading my blog for the low cost of $1500. JusttheAssistantJusttheAssistantJusttheAssistantJusttheAssistantJusttheAssistantJusttheAssistant…

OAQs (Questions people asked me once)

Since we’re (okay, well I am) working from home today due to the .02 inches of rain and six clouds ice and sleet and volcanoes paralyzing the city of Houston, and I don’t have any funny office pictures to share (I tried to find funny things to write about in my house and all I came up with was this bag of crumbs I found in my junk drawer. I’d say this is mildly funny, but still lacking),

Bag of Crumbs

I thought it’d be a good time to answer some questions this girl at a church brunch asked me one time my overflowing fan mail.

Q: Are they really going to fire you?

A:  No clue. I know James wouldn’t fire me (or he wouldn’t if he knows what’s good for him because I will mess that dude up), but now that I technically work for the big branch, I really don’t know. But the latest gossip from corporate (I have a mole there) is that I will not be fired this quarter.

Q: Do you ever get in trouble for what you write?

A: Sometimes. Not so much these days, as I’ve learned what I can and can’t write about. For example, I wouldn’t write about someone getting fired (though oh my gosh y’all, I SO want to when it happens (which is rare)). But yeah, I still kind of get in trouble every once in a while. Last week, I actually received my first hate mail which was kind of cool/kind of scary.

Q: You put up a picture of your dog once. What kind of dog is that?

A. He is a Labradoodle, which Microsoft Word is telling me is not a real word, hence, Microsoft Word can go jump into a freezing Houston bayou.

Labradoodle not a word my butt.

“Labradoodle not a word” my butt.

Q: Does the stuff you write about actually happen?

A. Oh my gosh, yes.

Q: Are you really a vegan?

A:  Not really. I eat a plant-based diet, which means that probably 95% of what I put in my mouth is some form of plant, but I’m not psycho about it, and I still eat pepperoni pizza at least every ten days.

Q: What are interest rates going to do this year?

A: Ha! That’s rich, really!

Q: What is your goal with all of this writing? I mean, what are you doing with your life?

A:  I should have goals. Goals are so admirable, really. But, I kind of don’t have any. However, if I did have goals, they would involve becoming an insanely famous writer. Like, sick famous.

Q: Do you write for other people?

A:  Yes! The work I do for other companies is way different though. For other companies, I take their content (i.e., boring words), and turn them into funny words. I write some blogs and do other random stuff like rewriting someone’s LinkedIn profile or helping folks write letters that need to be entertaining. I also write a humor business column for Houston Woman Magazine, and they let me be myself (read: obnoxious and kooky and kind of useless) in that piece. (Here’s one I wrote a last year.) Finally, I write a personal blog.

Q: Do you want to write a book one day?

A:  Heck yeah! (Now, getting published is a different story.) I’m working on it now. It’s about growing up visiting prisons on Sundays and brothers who listened to death metal (sorry, family – I can change your names if you want). And while we’re on the topic, if you know of an agent who’s just sitting around waiting for someone to hand them the manuscript of the current seven-minute period century, hook a girl up!

Publish Me

Okay folks, if you have any other questions, I will be happy to answer them, unless you are my mother, and in that case, no, you do not deserve to know what actually happened “that night”.

I have to go. I don’t have to go.

I have a new ailment. It goes like this:

Pee Dinner Husband

Pee Dinner 2

Pee Dinner 3

Pee Dinner Bathroom doors

Repeat cycle three to sixteen times.

So last Friday I charged into my doctor’s office convinced of at least four specific diseases residing inside my body. I gave my doc some options to explore, as I’d spent the past three days on WebMD diagnosing myself.

But after lots of tests (including one, no joke, where he punched me in the kidney and asked if it hurt), I walked out of the doctor’s office with two packets of pills in my purse. Once home, I greedily opened one of the packs, eager to rid myself of this pesky problem.

Inside the packet was a pamphlet with encouragements like “Take your bladder back. Take your LIFE back.” Also in the pamphlet were pictures of people who suffer from this conundrum, and from the looks of it, they all spend their days in lounge clothes doing crosswords…

Mature man

Mature Lady

It is official, people. I am 102 years old. I’ll probably subscribe to a newspaper soon.

Now then.

My Mob Boss Ty stopped by our office this week. His sightings are rare, so I tried to discreetly get some shots of him.

Apparently, discretion is not part of my skill set:

Ty Sighting 2

After he finished talking to this guy, he walked over and stood behind me and asked about the blog. I nervously fumbled to my stats page and tried to tell him how it’s actually a good thing that so few people read this. Like, we’re exclusive, you know?

I am not convinced he agrees.

But he can’t fire me.

Because I’m still in the ladies’ room.

Doing a crossword.

Jason Doesn’t Give a Toot

First of all, I need y’all to know what happened to me when I was fifteen and why I will never again attend a monster truck rally. Ever. Click here to read that story on my other blog.

Okay, y’all. Speaking of life-shaping events, Online Dater Mortgage Banker Jason and I were chatting recently about lifting weights and stuff. You know, showing each other our biceps and all that. (Not really.) And do you want to know what I found out?

Are you ready?

Jason used to weigh one thousand pounds.

Okay not really, but he used to have a serious weight problem, as he showed me from his Facebook page…

Jason Not So Skinny

“That…that’s you?” I asked, pointing at the screen with one hand and holding the other hand over my mouth.

“Yep!” he answered proudly. “I call it The Walrus.”

“I must know more, Jason…”

He Doesn’t Give a Toot

An Interview with Online Dater Mortgage Banker Jason Bates

Just the Assistant: First things first, Jason. When you first started working out, did you cry at the gym like they do on Biggest Loser? Because on Biggest Loser, they throw up and then cry. Oh, and they all the time fall off the treadmill. Did you fall off the treadmill?

Jason: I stopped going to the gym a few years back. I felt like a lot of people were there just for looks, and I felt like doing it on my own would be more successful. But actually at first, all I did was change my diet, so I had already started losing weight when I started working out.

JTA: Can I ask how much you weighed at your heaviest?

Jason: I was 315 pounds and had a 54 inch waist. I was always uncomfortable. I felt like I was living in an alien body. I didn’t like the way I looked in pictures; it didn’t even look like me. I would even grunt when I’d bend over to tie my shoes. People thought I was, uh, well if a fat guy grunts it sounds like they’re…

JTA: Oh yeah? Did you toot more when you were heavy?

Jason: You’ve got to understand that when you’re obese, your stomach and other organs begin to push against each other. There’s no room, so when you bend over, it’s really uncomfortable.

JTA: That’s not what I asked. I want to know did you toot more.

Jason (red faced and considering calling HR on me): I’d say it was about the same.

JTA: Which is how much?

Jason (staring at me in disbelief): What?

JTA: Kidding! Okay, you told me that people treat you different when you’re heavy. Gimme some examples.

Jason: First of all, I do realize that a lot has to do with my own confidence. But when I was heavy, people didn’t open doors or look me in the eyes. Now I notice people keep doors open. Especially elevator doors. Nobody ever held an elevator for me back then.

JTA: So was there some moment that just inspired you to get in shape? On Biggest Loser they all have an epiphany when Jillian screams at them. Then she usually makes them talk about their fathers.

Jason: It was more of a culmination of several events. But late 2009, early 2010 I was tired of being exhausted all the time, so I started to track my eating habits. That was HUGE. I kept a journal of all of my calories, in and out. And it wasn’t a diet for me; it was a lifestyle change.

JTA: What was your goal at the beginning? Like did you set out to lose a hundred pounds, or was it like, “I’m going to lose ten pounds.”

Jason: I had a vision. I dug up an old photo of me from when I had a 34 inch waist. I put it up on my mirror with the goal of getting back to a 34 or 36 inch waist, which is where I am now.

Jason Skinny

JTA: I’m going to refrain from asking you about the unfortunate afro growing out of your head, Jason. I think our readers can only handle so much shock at once. Now, how weak were you at the beginning? Like, could you do no pushups and now you can do fifty?

Jason: Once I started working out, I could do 12 pushups, but my arms and shoulders hurt. Everything hurt. I eventually got up to 50 pushups at a time. But to begin with, I walked one mile, four days a week. Then I built up to walking/running. And then, a family member gave me their mountain bike, and that changed everything.

JTA: Did the weight just melt off then?

Jason: That combined with eating right, yeah.

JTA: Okay so listen, while we’re talking about food, your Facebook is out of control with all your food pictures. We get it, already. You eat eggs and avocado. Now, I’ll admit that some of these look pretty tasty, but I need you to explain the others. What the heck is this?

Jason Food

Jason: That’s bacon.

JTA: It’s bacon? That’s like light brown. Bacon is supposed to be dark red and crunchy. Or kind of brown. That stuff in the picture is totally gross. .

Jason: The other is deer sausage.

JTA: Okay, I’ll let you keep the sausage. Do you have to work really hard to keep the weight off?

Jason: Not really. I’m just continuing with the paleo lifestyle. And I still get cravings for ice cream. But I’ve learned  that I can stick a strawberry or grape in the freezer and eat that so I get the cold and the natural sugar and it satisfies the craving

JTA: Well that just sounds…um, delicious. You keep it up, and I’m going to go on eating my Hershey kisses. Okay, once you lost the weight, did girls start flocking?

Jason: Uh, no.

JTA: I’m sure it’ll pick up soon, buddy. Now go answer all those phone calls! (From borrowers; not women.)

Now, looka’ Jason today! So proud of this guy…

Jason Today

Okay people, if you have any weight-loss questions for Jason, I’m making him answer below in the comment section, so feel free to ask. If you have any afro questions, I guess you can ask those, too.

This Stuff’s Made in New York City!

On Tuesday of this week before I posted my blog, I leaned my head into my Boss James’ office and chirped, “I’m doing a giveaway with your letter from the hearts!” (Here’s the post.) James looked at me like I’m all stupid and goes, “You know nobody’s gonna want those, right?”

So I played it cool and was like, “I know. I mean, I’m telling people it’s a lame giveaway…” and then kind of slinked back to my cube. And for the next hour, while people around me did meaningful work, I drew pictures for my blog and then posted it. Afterward, while browsing Anthropologie’s sale page making myself really useful around the office, I heard my phone ping.

An email! (Nobody ever emails me so it’s kind of a big deal.)

But not just any email, my friends.

An email from…

New York City! What tha what!? It was a reader who wanted one of James’ letters! I may only have seven readers out there, but by George one of them is reading my blog from New York City, and if that doesn’t confirm that I am insanely famous, I don’t know what does.

And get this…She’s an assistant! So now I’m all like this…

NYC Assistant

I don’t know what she looks like, but I gave her black spiky hair because I think black spiky hair is edgy, and she’s probably edgy if she lives in the Big Apple. The rest of the picture is entirely accurate, except for I actually don’t know how to use the copy machine.

Once I read the email I ran to James’ office where I found him rubbing his face (he does that whenever he sees me approaching his office). “I just got an email from a reader in New York who wants a letter!”

“You did? Who?” he asked.

“I don’t know! But she’s from New York City! And she reads my blog!”

And then I grabbed the ball he always throws around the office from his desk and threw it at his head and told him to stop doubting me.


Now, before I release six of you to enjoy your weekend here in the south, and the other one of you to enjoy your weekend in Manhattan, I have a picture to share.

Remember how I told you I was able to sneak into the Envoy Mortgage Fancy Pants Christmas Party? And remember how I told that when I realized you got your picture taken as soon as you walked in the door, I asked a complete stranger to get in my picture with me?

Ta dah! (I had just told her, “Act like you’re laughing really hard and then people will be jealous of us.”

Christmas Party Strangers

Okay readers, you all have a great weekend, and I’m off to give my regards to Broadway.