Got beef?

This past weekend I was invited to a going away party for a friend deploying to Iraq. I was looking forward to an evening with great friends at one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego.

The evening started off innocently enough; we all mingled and sipped on cocktails. Then it became time to sit down for dinner.

We were all seated at a long family-style dinner table. It was gorgeously set and decorated.

The hosts for the evening stood up to make a speech. They kindly thanked everyone for coming and said some words about the deployment. Then… all of a sudden they called an officiant to the front of the room.

The room grew quiet. What was happening? Are they getting engaged? Is she pregnant? Is this for real?

Suddenly, my friend grabbed something out of a box. It was a long, beautiful veil. As she placed it on her head we all gasped. This was happening! They are getting married in front of us!


Joyous sobs and cries spread throughout the room. Complete shock and joy consumed all of us. Such an amazing moment!

The “going away party” ended up being one of the top ten coolest moments of my life. It was such a wonderful feeling to be surprised for something so special.

Celebration ensued. We feasted like kings. The food was Russian-Georgian fare and insanely delicious.


The food was served “family-style” on the large table for 30 (or so). I was filling my plate with all sorts of goodies: cabbage rolls, eggplant salad, lamb, and dumplings. Then I saw it… my favorite, beef stroganoff. I couldn’t grab it fast enough. I needed to get that buttery-perfection in my mouth immediately.

In search of a spoon, I noticed one in the rice bowl. I casually knocked it against the side of the bowl to shake off any pieces of rice before I dug into the stroganoff.

Well… the hitting of the spoon against the bowl caused quite a loud noise. Loud enough for people to think I wanted to give a speech.

In a matter of seconds, the entire room was looking at me.

Shoot. I didn’t want to speak. I had nothing prepared. I just wanted to eat the damn stroganoff.

Someone yelled, “speech,” and I felt inclined to say something.

The only thing that came to mind was… “The beef stroganoff is really good.” And I said it in my squeaky, pre-pubescent voice.

Not exactly an inspirational or related to a loving wedding toast.

So I continued…

“What do they call a herd of masturbating cattle?”


The crowd had a very confused look on their faces. Maybe some were overcome in horror, I don’t really know; it’s all really fuzzy.

“Beef stroganoff.”

I could feel my face getting hot. I decided to just sit down.


I heard a few chuckles but I think for the most part people were confused and most likely in shock that I used the word “masturbation” in a wedding toast that made no mention of the wedding or couple.

Luckily, there was a big Moscow mule in front of me and I frantically took large gulps to calm my nerves… and ego.

Throughout the evening, people casually mentioned to me that they loved my awkward toast. Or should I say “Pawkward” toast.

Let’s this be another lesson kids… don’t try to tell bad jokes at inappropriate times. And always, always, order the beef stroganoff.


Feeling a little blue…

I admit it, I’m a hypochondriac.

My roommate was a nurse and I regularly ask her if my {non-existent} symptoms mean I’m dying.

She also helped me discover that the mysterious ring forming on my skin after showering wasn’t ringworm, it was the result of pressing the bottle of my face wash against me for leverage. Yeah…


And google is not my friend. Every time I search my symptoms I immediately think I have the plague.

But the ultimate hypochondriac Pawkward story goes something like this…

It was the summer of 2010. I just flew back to San Diego from my first-ever trip to Portland, Oregon.

Portland was beautiful. And it was the first-time I had ever gone on a trip completely alone. I was feeling proud of myself and happy after a lovely weekend.

As I was getting ready for bed, I peeled off my skinny jeans and grabbed my comfy sweat pants {so sexy, I know}.

I looked down.

My legs! They were… blue! Splotches of blue. Almost like giant bruises.


Oh the panic!

Blood clots? Flesh eating disease?

I could just see it. Me with a sad expression on my face, sitting in a wheelchair, with no legs.


I had to get to the ER immediately! I called my {then} boyfriend in hysterics.

When he answered, I screamed, “I need to get to the hospital right now. My legs… my legs are going to fall off! They’re blue!”

He was dumbfounded. “Oh my god, Jess. I’ll leave work right now!”

I started pacing back and forth in my apartment.

My roommate caught me mid-meltdown {undies, blue legs and all}.

“Jess, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“Brian, my legs are going to fall off. They’re blue! Look!”

As I wiped tears from my eyes, I pointed to my splotches.

“Jeez J. What did you do? Retrace your steps,” he said.

Then I remembered…

In Portland it was raining. And I did get a little wet while running into the airport…

I quickly ran to the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth and wiped my leg. A bit of the blue came off on the washcloth.

I timidly dialed my boyfriend’s number between sniffles.

“I’m leaving right now!” he said.

“False alarm,” I said. “It was my jeans.”

Him: *Silent chuckling*

“Can you imagine if you went to the ER, Jess? You’d be on some sort of Wall of Fame!”

Me: *Angry look*

So, let this be a lesson kids, wash your dark-denim skinny jeans before wearing them in the rain.




All hail the FLOTUS

In honor of her awesomeness this week, I thought I’d share the story of the day Michelle Obama met Jessica Packard.

It was Veterans Day 2011 and I had two tickets to the Carrier Classic college basketball game aboard the USS Carl Vinson. I was so excited. The President was going to be there, and tons of other celebrities.

These tickets were not easy for the public to get. Luckily my boss scored a bunch and was feeling generous.

So after going through intense security checks, we finally walked onto the flight deck of the ship. How beautiful. The San Diego skyline glistened in the distance. It was a deliciously perfect day and there was so much energy aboard the ship.

My boyfriend and I decided to take a stroll around the flight deck. And who did we run into? A giant of a man named Magic Johnson, one of my childhood heroes. He towered above the crowd and was very easy to spot. I could’ve gone home at that point and been happy just seeing him.

I was on a natural high as we took our seats, waiting for the program to begin.

Suddenly a hush spread over the crowd. Everyone turned their heads to the left as they stared intensely at the flight path. An enormous pale blue and white airplane broke through the clouds and headed toward North Island to land. Air Force One. SO cool.

In a few minutes the President of the United States was going to be in the same space as me, Jessica Packard. I’d never met an acting president before. I saw President Clinton speak once in college but that was post-Lewinsky and office (he was a great speaker, by the way).

The crowd stood silently, excited in hopes of spotting Mr. Obama.

Then… the beautiful sounds of “Hail to the Chief” burst out of the speakers. Here he comes!

I was 10 rows from him as he walked onto the basketball court. He delivered an inspirational and moving speech in honor of Veterans Day. I couldn’t stop smiling because I was so excited. And as I looked around, I felt so lucky to be there with him and all of the troops.

The speech ended, the crowd erupted in applause, and Barack took a seat. Ten rows in front of me.

I didn’t really watch the game. I’m entranced with this man who is so powerful and sitting so close to me.

At some point, we decided to get some food. My boyfriend and I headed toward the concession stand and waited in line for what seemed like forever. As we were walking back to our seats, I see her… Michelle Obama.

Immediately I established eye contact and froze in disbelief. I couldn’t move. Pretty sure my limbs were numb. I realized I was no longer in control of my body. My grin spread uncontrollably. She looked at me and smiled and said, “How are you?” I looked to my left and then to my right. Wait, she’s speaking to me?


“I’m well, how are you?” I said in a┬áprepubescent-little-boy-voice, shaking uncontrollably. Everything was moving in slow motion as she walked by me. She stopped for a second and said, “Have a good time!” and then continued walking. I couldn’t say anything back. I simply stood there, frozen and with my mouth wide open.


What just happened? The First Lady of the United States actually spoke to me? And she’s the one who initiated the conversation?

I turned excitedly to my boyfriend to discuss what just happened.

“The First Lady just spoke to me!” I said excitedly. He just laughed.

Then… I reflected on my actions. The staring, the goofy grin, the awkward and squeaky voice… Oh no.

“Do you think she thought I was a little… eh… slow and that’s why she said hi to me?” I asked my boyfriend.

He immediately started laughing and I can tell he was thinking the same thing… Michelle Obama just encountered a “special” Jessica.

Regardless of how ridiculous I acted, I got to meet Mrs. Obama — and I’ll never forget it!

Don’t leave me high. Don’t leave me dry.

Let me preface this story with: this is one of my favorite all-time embarrassing moments.

I cannot tell this story without laughing. Nope. And I always have to act it out so I will try my best to visualize the situation.

It all happened in October of 2011. The museum I work at recently finished restoring a F4U Corsair fighter plane and was planning to dedicate it to local legend Jerry Coleman. For those of you who don’t know, Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman is a former NY Yankee and announcer for the San Diego Padres. He is also the only major league baseball player who, as a Marine pilot, served in both WWII and Korea.

I organized a press conference for the local media and a special plane dedication ceremony for Jerry. Many people were in attendance; reporters, writers, photographers, board members, members of the Padres, etc.

The press conference/ceremony went very well and everyone seemed pleased. Jerry is really an upstanding guy. And it’s pretty amazing to see how the museum’s restoration team can build/restore planes so beautifully.

A small reception followed the event and everyone was mingling, networking and schmoozing. The usual. I sparked up a conversation with one of the VPs of the Padres. We chatted about collaborating in the future, sponsorships and important business-ish stuff. Our conversation was coming to a close–and this is when it gets good.

The gentleman (who I won’t name), complimented me on a job well done and waved his hand to say goodbye.

IN A NORMAL NON-AWKWARD JESS WORLD: I would’ve simply waved back to reciprocate. Or just smiled and said goodbye. But, no, I’m not normal.

I mistook his harmless, innocent low-ish wave for a high-five. Yup. A high-five.

So I went for it.

You know once you go in for the high-five, you’ve fully committed yourself. You can’t just stop mid-air.

So I forced a high-five onto the poor, unsuspecting VP of the San Diego Padres. And he had a look of horror on his face. He didn’t reciprocate the hit. His hand was already down by the time mine reached his. So I was pretty much just hitting him near the pocket-region.

I am cringing as I write this.

And to make things worse, I was eating a glazed donut about the size of my head.

You can’t make this stuff up people.

In my peripheral vision I see one of my coworkers who witnessed the whole awkward display. I see her mouth “What the fffffff??”

All of my dorky realization starts to settle in. And the redness starts consuming my face and any other visible skin.

I decide I should apologize. Forgetting I just took a HUGE bite of the giant glazed donut, I attempt to say, “sorry about that.” But it kind of comes out as “ory out at.”

Well now I’m red, clearly very embarrassed, most likely spitting pieces of donut from my mouth and guilty of a high-five assault.

This guy can’t get away fast enough.

He almost runs into someone as he is trying to escape.

So what’s the lesson in all of this? Hmm… well, I think it’s best to play it safe. High-fives are tricky. They’ll getcha. Don’t assume a raised hand is a high-five. It’s best to leave them hanging than slap their pant leg. And don’t eat before/during a conversation with high level execs/celebs (I think I’m noticing a trend here–see Indiana Jones and the Awkward Crusade).

So goodbye for now… *high-five!*

Indiana Jones and the Awkward Crusade

When I was little I would daydream about being an archaeologist. I would dream of traveling the world, wearing the coolest outfits (and hats), exploring dangerous caves and underground tunnels in hopes of discovering and unlocking a piece of history. Now, when I would express these dreams to my parents they would say, “Honey, there’s no money in archaeology. Maybe you should look into pursuing something else.” To which I replied, “What if I found a million year old bone? Then I’d be rich!” Way to crush a little kid’s dreams mom and dad.

Indiana Jones was my hero. And I’m pretty sure my first crush. So when I found out he was coming to an event at the museum I work at, I was beyond excited.

Hundreds of thoughts danced in my head. Is he going to be a cool celebrity? Or will he be a snobby, horrible A-list actor who will look down at us little people? Will he fall in love with me because I’m skinny like Calista Flockhart? Will he find me so beautiful that he’ll request I be in his next movie? I’ll finally be in a movie trailer! Oh the anticipation.

I handle the public relations at the museum so I knew I had to interact with him. So when I saw him enter the room that evening I immediately wanted to meet him. Turns out… he’s super cool. Really nice guy and seemed very humble for being honored for an award that evening (he flies rescue helicopter missions). I got to see THE scar on his chin. You know the one he gets when he was a young boy trying to return that artifact to the museum? So cool.

So the evening went well. We chatted, he handled the media interviews very gracefully, received his award and then left for his hotel. Goodbye Indie *tear.*

I managed to survive the evening without one, single awkward moment. So what’s the point of this blog post? Well… he decided to come back to the museum the following year.

This year, he wasn’t the one being honored with an award. He was there to support his friend. So when I went to greet him I immediately thought he would remember me. Why not? Who wouldn’t remember me? Well he didn’t. So, I started a conversation with him and Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7 astronaut) and we chatted for a few minutes. Then, I dropped my cellphone and I bent over to pick it up. Well so did he. And we bumped heads. Hard. So, well, that was awkward.

We continued chatting. Harrison was in awe of Walt, Walt was in awe of Harrison, I was in awe of Harrison, and well, no one was in awe of me. I kept laughing nervously, trying to sound interesting but I’m pretty sure I failed. After our conversation I decided to go to the bathroom and touch-up my makeup. As I was reapplying my lipstick I smiled. My smile quickly turned into a look of horror. AH! Green, pesto-like crud clogged each gap in my mouth. I looked frightening. I was talking to HARRISON FORD with an extremely excessive amount of green crap in my teeth–for about 15 minutes. And I probably gave him a concussion.

How could this have happened? What the hell did I eat? My dreams of him falling in love with me and asking me to star in a movie quickly faded away.

Well kids, with every awkward moment, there’s a lesson to be learned. LESSON TO ALL: Don’t eat anything that could potentially cause you to look like your teeth are rotting and you’re turning into some sort of evil witch before you meet one of your idols.

So, I’m pretty sure Harrison won’t be calling me anytime soon to star in the next Indiana Jones. Maybe if they’re looking for someone to play the lead nerd ­čśŽ

Overall it was a great experience. Hey, I got to meet one of my idols. He may think I’m the ultimate nerd but at least I met him. And for that, I am thankful.

For your benefit

So… I’ve finally decided to write a blog to share all of my life’s awkward moments to hopefully bring a smile to your day. Yes, I’ve decided to share some of my most embarrassing moments for your benefit. That should qualify for sainthood.

Sit back and enjoy the life and times of J. Packard. Life ain’t easy for this Buffalonian but it sure can be fun… and sometimes awkward.