The Hard Way


Most people, upon entering a subway car where 99% of the passengers were clustered toward one end of the train, would suspect that there was a reason no one was sitting near the lone man in the front of the car.

I, on the other hand, saw this as a sign of my good fortune to have found so many empty seats on what was an otherwise crowded train.

And I was wrong.

As soon as I sat down, the lone man, dressed in paint-covered khaki pants and wearing a stained cap, switched seats to the one directly in front of me. He then turned toward me, pulled on his white beard, and in a thick Russian accent, began shouting what seemed to be a combination of mythological and biblical references that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

There were dragon slayings and fiery pits, brother against brother and eternal damnation. I tried to follow the story for a while, but all I caught was that we were all going to die, and there would be a lot of blood.

Fairly skilled in the art of subway face, I might have been able to tune him out, had it not been for the retched stench seeping from his mouth. Every time he turned toward me, I had to quickly hold my breath so as not to catch a whiff of whatever had died in his stomach that day. I leaned toward the window, only to discover that the air-conditioning had gone out in our car.

In the middle of one of his tirades, during which he stood up to demonstrate how somebody stabbed a sword into some three-headed creature, or into one of the Apostles (his story got a little foggy there), I turned back and looked at the other 99% of the train. Some of them averted their eyes. Others gave me a sympathetic shoulder shrug.

I remembered hearing that in an emergency, you are supposed to single someone out in a mob so that they feel responsible for helping you. If you simply yell, “Somebody help me,” no one will. But if you yell, “You, in the purple Northwestern sweatshirt, call 911,” that person will feel responsible and will come to your aid.

So at one point, I contemplated yelling, “Hey! You – yes, you – in the tight Cubs tanktop and the platform flip flops! Listen, Trixie. Open up that ginormous purse of yours and toss this man some goddamn Tic Tacs. NOW!”

But instead, I practiced measured breathing, waited until the next stop, and bolted out the door the second it opened. I wasn’t too far from my apartment, and my instincts told me it would be wiser for me to walk the rest of the way home to clear out my nasal cavities.

And my instincts might have been correct, had I not gotten off in the three block stretch known as Little Vietnam, where all the restaurants had piled their garbage high in the 95 degree midday sun.

Rotting maggoty fish guts, or the thick, sour breath of a lunatic. It’s just like our motto says, “Chicago – city in a garden.”

TequilaCon ’07: This Time I Mean Business

I know I toyed with your emotions by throwing out a date a while back, only to have to retract it, but I’m totally serious this time. Would I have commissioned a famous artist to design this kick-ass poster if I weren’t serious?


Okay, so I didn’t really commission anyone, but a famous artist did design it – a million thanks to Dave2 for making me weep with joy at the beauty that is the first official TequilaCon poster!

To recap:

What: TequilaCon ’07, aka the baddest mamma jamma blogger meetup you suckas ever seen!
Where: Portland, Oregon
When: Saturday, March 10
Who: We welcome any blogger, blog-reader, friend of blogger, or friend of tequila
How: If you haven’t already, let me know you’re interested by commenting or sending an email to and I’ll add you to the distribution list

Also, now that the date has been selected and the word is making its way across the blogosphere, I have begun compiling the Official TequilaCon Attendee Excel Spreadsheet. I promised that once we were up to 25 attendees, I would start rolling out the pie charts, so now that we’ve got close to 30 people expressing sincere interest, behold:

Exhibit A:

As Exhibit A clearly demonstrates, early analysis indicates a disproportionate percentage of female attendees at TequilaCon ‘07. I suspect this may be due to the “Lady Bloggers Drink Free at TequilaCon” promotional campaign that Brandon launched on his site earlier this week. Therefore, to even out the balance, I am offering “Free All-You-Can-Eat BBQ Chicken Wings at TequilaCon*” to the next ten male bloggers to sign up for TequilaCon.

Like my grandmother always used to say, come for the chicken wings, stay for the bloggers!
*Sweepstakes not valid in KS, MI, FL, CA, KY, WI, GA, NY, IL, WA and OR.

I Object!

Recently, I was contacted by a famous attorney, threatening to sue me for copyright infringement. As if that weren’t bad enough, this person had the audacity to come to my blog and threaten me. Her exact words:

“Um, Jenny? I have copyrighted the negligent and unpredictable blogging schedule and I’m afraid you’re infringing on it. Please post immediately to avoid further liability.”

Well listen up, Ms. Eclectic: maybe the reason I haven’t posted anything since last week is because I’ve met someone who is more important to me than this blog. Is that so hard for you to believe? What? Just because I’m not all physically fit like you and your six-pack ab Sunshine Family, climbing mountains and rafting rivers and hiking trails, does that mean that it’s inconceivable that I might step away from my computer for longer than it takes me to check on the frozen pizza and toaster strudels?
Well that’s where you’re wrong – I don’t even like toaster strudels. HA!
Look, this new special friend of mine has shown me things no one else has.
rebel 2.psd.jpg
We go all sorts of places together.
Meet new people.
Do new things.
Try exotic foods.
It’s like being married, but where it’s actually enjoyable to be together.
But maybe you’re too busy deep sea fishing and filing class action lawsuits against telecom giants to understand that. Now I’m asking you, blogger to blogger, won’t you drop this silly lawsuit and let me be happy, just this once? I promise to bring my new special friend to Tequilacon – I know you two will get along just famously…


“Garble blarble snicker garble muffle tee hee!”
And so begins the prophecy.
Somehow, I didn’t think it would happen quite this early in my life, but I guess I always was a bit ahead of my time. It became a kind of running joke with a former roommate of mine – many years ago, I confided to her that when I was older, I hoped to become one of those ladies who lived alone in a house that was rumored to be haunted.
I would be known as Crazy Old Lady Amadeo, or simply, The Bat Lady, a moniker I would earn, in part, due to my penchant for wearing black, but mostly because of the dozens of bat houses nailed all around my home to keep away the mosquitoes and other flying insects. And although I would still have cats, to be known for that just seemed far too clichéd, because really, who doesn’t know a crazy cat lady?
I wanted to be a middle school dare – double dog, even. Who would be brave enough to walk through my backyard and ring the doorbell at midnight? To toilet paper The Bat Lady’s home would earn the respect of every 7th grader in the entire district.
“I heard she drinks blood!”
“No, that’s a lie, but she did kill her husband, I think.”
“My brother told me he saw her digging a grave in her backyard!”
It comes down to this: I wanted to become a campfire myth.
So on Monday morning, as I sat on the train listening to the cell phone messages that had accumulated while my phone was accidentally turned off all weekend, it actually didn’t shock me to hear five prank calls in a row from the same group of children. I took it as the first sign that my transformation had begun.
Saturday, 9:25pm:
“Garble blarble snicker garble muffle tee hee!”
Saturday, 9:27pm:
“Hi this is Mike from the Department of Health Insurance. I’m afraid you cannot… ha ha ha. (Shut up!) Hee hee hee. (Shhh!) You cannot apply for garble mrble muffle. Ha ha ha! BYE!”
Saturday, 9:29pm:
“Grble garble crackle… I’m just trying to help people, you know and… hee hee hee… garble muffle snirfle. So I want to find out if you know any girls who want to make out with me. Ha ha… Muffle curfle grble… Bye!”
Saturday, 9:33pm:
“Hi Jenny, I’m calling from your work. I just want to let you know that so-and-so said you like doing drugs. Like… (say marijuana) marijuana, and… (Shhh!) and you are fired, and I’m sorry to tell you that you can’t have insurance, and you’re going to be really broke… hee hee hee. (Quiet!) My name is Mike and I’m just wondering if you’re married so we can go out and stuff. [heavy breathing] I’m so just messing with you right now! I hope you don’t have caller ID! Hee hee hee! Bye!”
Sunday, 4:31pm:
“Yes, I’d like to order a pepperoni pizza, large. And I was wondering… ha ha ha… umm, I’m calling from Chuck E. Cheese… snicker snicker tee hee. And my English is not very good, how do you say, (say por favor) por favor, you are getting prank called. By some girls. Bye!”
According to my original plan, with Phase One – Become the Object of Youthful Derision – well underway, this means that I am now ready to enter into Phase Two – Crazy Hair. Over the next three years, I need to ensure that my hair is a) at least 75% grey (almost there), b) down to my mid-back (may require extensions), and c) a tangled, matted mess (cease all hair product usage).
After that, things get a bit more challenging. Phase Three is going to necessitate some intense research and commitment on my part since it involves acquiring a severe limp and one bug eye, but I may be getting ahead of myself.
For now, I just need to revel in the knowledge that Mike wants to garble snicker tee hee blarble me. That’s all any woman wants, really.


It all comes down to a matter of minutes, really. Five minutes earlier, five minutes later, everything’s different.
I was five minutes late meeting up with Dee-Dee and Natasha for dinner on Thursday. Dee-Dee had received some good news recently, so we wanted to celebrate at a new restaurant.
I waved to them as I walked into the train station, where we then exited and started to hail a cab. A utility truck had just pulled up and parked on the corner, making it difficult for cabs to see us on the sidewalk, so several whizzed past. A yellow cab slowed down and halted in front of two fifty-something women to my left who had more aggressively staked their claim in the street .
“So we’re up next?” asked Nat.
“Looks that way,” I replied.
A couple more cabs passed by, until Dee-Dee spied a uniquely decorated PT Cruiser pulling up to us. The three of us looked at each other briefly before piling into the unorthodox taxi.
“Ooh, are we in London?” Nat laughed, as she scooted across the bench seat.
On the dashboard sat four small sequined high-heeled shoes. A neon-colored fan was clipped to the sun visor in the passenger seat. I glanced in the back window and saw two shiny disco balls.
“Wow – you’ve really got your cab decked out!”
At that moment, the cab driver looked back at Natasha, paused a minute, and then quickly donned a rainbow sequined cap. We cheered in approval, then told him our destination. As he pulled away from the train station, he asked simply, “Mambo, salsa, or disco?”
Again, the three of us looked at each other for a moment, and then Dee said, “Mambo?”
With that, the cab driver cranked the speakers to eleven and blasted out the loudest mambo music I had ever heard coming from a glittery PT Cruiser. The back seat became a surreal mobile dance club as he flipped on some neon lights, activated the disco balls, and switched on a strobe light that began pulsating by Nat’s feet from beneath the front passenger seat.
At the first stoplight, the cab driver reached over and handed us some maracas, two tambourines, and one of those metal ridged things you play with a stick (or a Bic pen, in this case). It was at exactly that moment that I thanked the universe for reminding me to bring my camera along.
We violated no less than forty-seven traffic laws during the course of our ride, the least of which was our lack of seatbelts, the greatest of which was the driver’s lack of hands on the steering wheel while he played the drums.
We entertained the south Loop, west Loop, north Loop, all the way up to Rush Street as we shucka-shuckad and ching-chinged our way through the crowded streets of Chicago. Never in my life have I seen so many other cab drivers or passengers smiling and laughing. It started to rain – hard – and our cab driver turned the music down briefly to show us how to roll the windows up.
”But only if you want to,” he said.
We didn’t.
My shirt got soaked and Nat’s sweater was soggy, but it didn’t matter because we were jamming to the beat of a funked up version of “Mambo Italiano,” and we wanted the whole world to know it.
I was actually a little happy when he couldn’t find the restaurant right away – it gave me more time to perfect my off-beat tambourine rhythms. As he pulled over to the curb to let us off, Dee-Dee handed him the fare plus a 100% tip, thus ending the dream sequence of our evening.
We quickly darted into the restaurant and found ourselves a bit discombobulated by the stark reality of a mambo-less world. Once we had regained our composure and received our first round of drinks, we raised our glasses in celebration.
Blueberry cosmo
“That would only happen to the three of us.”
“To think we almost got stuck in a yellow cab.”
“We are so lucky.”


Now that America’s Next Top Model is on hiatus, I have had to seek reality TV solace in Rockstar: Supernova. The premise is basically the same as every great reality TV show: three aging former rockstars (Tommy Lee from Motley Crue, Gilby Clarke from Guns ‘n Roses, and some other guy from Metallica) have formed a new band and are searching the globe for a talented lead singer to front the band. What started out for me as idle curiosity quickly turned into full blown devotion. Suddenly, I care about who gets kicked off each week, and find myself calling my friends during every commercial break to debrief.
Although I’ve been trying to keep my obsession somewhat under wraps, this afternoon over lunch, I decided to let down my guard and bare my soul to Natasha:
J: “So, I think I might have a major crush on Gilby Clarke.”
N: “Are you kidding? What’s with everyone? Dee-Dee said she thought he was cute, too!”
J: “That’s because he is! I would totally date him. But he’s married.”
N: “Yeah, and he’s like 55!”
J: “No he’s not – I looked it up online. He’s only 43.”
N: “Sick. Seriously, he looks like a magician. He looks like doves could come flying out of his coat at any minute.”
J: “No he does not! Take it back! He’s cute!”
N: “…or maybe he could saw you in half. Yeah – he looks like Doug Henning!”
J: “Shut up! No he does-”
N: “…totally looks like Doug Henning. Your boyfriend wears rainbow shirts and purple pants!”
J: “I think you’re thinking of Mork.”
N: “Or maybe it’s Gallagher I’m thinking of. Yeah, why don’t you just marry Gallagher and smash watermelons at your wedding?”
J: “Gallagher’s bald. And gross. He’s nothing like Gilby!”
N: “No wait! I know who he looks like – Son of Svengoolie! He just needs a top hat and some black makeup under his eyes and then-”
J: “Son of Svengoolie is like 100! Gilby wears tight leather pants! I’d like to see Son of Svengoolie squeeze his flabby body into Gilby’s leather pants!”
N: “Jenny Svengoolie – that has a nice ring to it. Yeah, you should totally marry him.”
J: “Shut up – Gilby is way cuter. And FYI – Doug Henning is dead! He died like 10 years ago, so way to be harsh.”
N: “Is he? Or did he fake his death to pursue a career with Guns ‘n Roses? Have you ever seen them together?”
J: “Ohmigod, Nat! Remind me to never open up my heart to you like this again. Geez. I guess that means I shouldn’t mention the fact that I also think Dave Navarro is totally hot…”
N: “What the hell has happened to you, Jenny?! Gross! Dave Navarro is 5’1”and slimy – he’s shorter than Prince!”
J: “See – this is why I don’t ever talk to you about people I want to date. You’re so completely unsupportive.”
N: “So, you’re saying that if I were more supportive, you would be dating Dave Navarro right now?”
J: “Or Gilby Clarke.”

Mystery #7 Revealed

Well, once again, it turns out I can’t fool this crowd. There was only one photo that no one got. If you want one last chance to make your guesses, read the post below this before clicking on the extended entry.
Nice work, folks! I thought these were some pretty obscure ones, but as usual, you continue to impress me with your mad photo figurin’ skills.


Mystery Photo Quiz #7

Has it been a while? It seems like it has. No? I think it has. Well, even if it hasn’t, here it is – the latest Mystery Photo Quiz!
This will be a test of your willpower – try your best to guess the answers without reading the rest of the comments. It’s nearly irresistible, I know, but do your best. I have faith in you.
Good luck!

Finally With Women

You know what drives me nuts (aside from train etiquette violators and fuse thieves)? People who are always doing stuff.
I know you know what I’m talking about – we’ve all seen the type. Really talented, brilliant ideas, unique vision, all combined with the worst traits of all: unparalleled initiative and mad organizational skills.
These are the people who make the rest of us look bad, as we sit around at coffee shops saying things like:
“Hey Natasha – we should learn how to make aromatherapy candles and sell them on the Internet!”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we formed our own breakdance crew? We could do shows around town for kids and the elderly!”
“I have such an awesome idea for a novel! It’s based on this box of old scarves I found at an estate sale. It will require a lot of historical research, but I’m totally going to do it!”
Well, for me, that person is my dear friend Jen Benka. Always with the original ideas, and the artistic eye, and the enviable planning skills. And now, she’s done it again. She and her friend and fellow poet, Veronica Wong, have organized what looks to be an amazing weeklong poetry event in New York City starting this Sunday, called “Finally With Women.”
“Finally With Women” is a reading series which will be held Sunday, August 6 through Thursday, August 10, from 6-8 p.m. Each night will be dedicated to one woman poet and consist of readings of her work:
Sunday, August 6 – Mina Loy
Monday, August 7 – Audre Lorde
Tuesday, August 8 – Barbara Guest
Wednesday, August 9 – Muriel Rukeyser
Thursday, August 10 – Gertrude Stein
Not enough information? Here’s the description from The Village Voice:
“One hundred acclaimed and emerging female writers will celebrate the life and work of influential poets Mina Loy, Audre Lorde, Barbara Guest, Muriel Rukeyser, and Gertrude Stein at this five-day readings series titled Finally With Women. Each day will be devoted to a different poet, with about 20 readers per day, including experimental poet Elaine Equi, transgender activist Kate Bornstein, National Book Critics Circle Award winner Marie Ponsot, spoken-word artist Tara Betts, and essayist Vivian Gornick.”
Still need more? For more details on all the performers, check out the official site at Finally With Women.
Congrats, Jen! Now you’ve inspired me to go find that box of old scarves…

Short Fuse

Hey karma, it’s me, Jenny. Pick up, it’s me. Karma, I know you’re home – I saw your number pop up on my caller ID… Fine. Okay, look – is this about the walking on the wet paint thing? Because you know I had no other choice! Or what – is this about Harry Potter? God, you can be such a baby sometimes. Whatever. Call me.
So last night at around 8:30pm, my electricity went out. In 95 degree heat advisory 100% humidity weather, my electricity went out. I scrounged up a flashlight, trucked down to the basement, being ever so careful not to let the door slam shut behind me, and started looking for my fuse box. All the fuses seemed to be in working order, until I noticed two empty sockets underneath the four main ones.
I opened up each of the other 11 fuse boxes belonging to the other tenants and saw that they all had two fuses in those bottom two slots. And then it hit me:
Some lazy ass mofo stole my fuses! They blew their own fuses, so instead of hauling their worthless carcasses to the hardware store, they just decided to screw someone else over. IN 95 DEGREE HEAT ADVISORY 100% HUMIDITY WEATHER! What kind of a soulless bastard does that? Before my mind was able to swirl into its eventual full rage, I had a quick flashback, just like in the movies:
It was 2002, and I was standing in the kitchen with my mother, unpacking my dishes as I moved into this apartment. I pulled open a drawer under the cupboards and saw a small box of fuses. I remember my mother saying “Oh that was nice of them to leave for the next tenants.”
I ran upstairs and threw open what had since become my junk drawer, tossed aside a few vacuum cleaner belts, a mini cassette recorder and some travel candles, and found the half empty box of fuses. Thank god my brain hangs onto what are typically useless random memories like this.
I ran back downstairs, screwed in one fuse, then attempted to screw in the other one but noticed that it didn’t quite fit. As I soon discovered, whoever stole my fuses was not only a thief, but an incompetent moron and somehow stripped the socket so that the fuse wouldn’t fit anymore.
My only saving grace was that the fuse that did actually fit controlled all the electricity in my living room, including my window air conditioner. The other one, unfortunately, controlled my refrigerator.
So now, here I sit, awaiting some sort of response from my landlord, packing ice into the tiny Styrofoam cooler I bought today so that I don’t have to buy all new condiments. I have also, at the clever suggestion of my friend Dr. Greene, made inconspicuous marks on all my fuses. This way, if my electricity goes out again, I will be able to identify who stole my fuses. And then I will remove all their fuses, smash them with a sledgehammer (after recouping my own, of course) and lay in wait for the culprit in the basement. But first I will build a snake pit right in front of their fuse box.
I will also set a spring loaded booby trap in my fuse box containing a dozen scorpions and tarantulas. Not the deadly kind. Just the ones that make you really, really sick. My plan will be complete once I:
a) Borrow a jackhammer so I can build a snake pit in the concrete floor of my basement
b) Figure out where you can buy non-lethal yet still extremely painful snakes, scorpions and tarantulas
c) Prevent the scorpions and tarantulas from killing each other or dying of asphyxiation
d) Ensure that I do not accidentally set off the trap myself
Until I figure all that out, I’m just giving the malocchio to everyone who walks into my building.
[spit, spit]