Sometimes I wonder why I’m not more productive, and don’t have more to show for my 37 years, but then I remember that I just spent the past 30 minutes deep inside the rabbit hole known as Flickr looking at page after page of photos of people with beards. Not anyone I know… just random people with beards.
So clearly the reason I don’t have more to show for my life is because of all those damn people with beards. You know who you are.

Games Games Games!

Today we’re going to play a game called Three Truths and a Lie. The goal is to see if you can distinguish fact from fiction.
1. I love honey.
2. I love lattés.
3. Starbucks now makes honey lattés.
4. I think the Starbucks honey latté is the most delicious beverage I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

Hint: They’re repulsive.

One More Try

Few people are given a chance to make up for a decades-old mistake, but on Saturday, even though she was sitting at home in Milwaukee unawares, comfortably playing Yahtzee and eating Jack’s pizza, my friend Dee-Dee was given such a chance.
It was 1988 and Dee-Dee had just moved into the dorms. Still riding high on a wave of small-town celebrity, having been voted “Most Friendly” by her senior class mere months earlier, Dee-Dee was a blur of toothy smiles, belted sweaters and sky-high bangs.
Her friend from high-school moved into the dorms too, and was assigned a room with a sensitive, arty girl who wore oversized floppy velvet berets and Doc Marten boots. Rumor had it she was a film major because she spent a lot of time in her room with the shades drawn.
Dee-Dee soon learned that the girl’s name was Natasha. She was from Chicago, and that gave her an edge. Nat didn’t wear Tretorns or high-waisted Benetton jeans, and she had friends who wore a terry cloth shirts with kittens on them long before the concept of ironic T-shirts even existed. But what defined Nat more than all of this – more than the black boots and the giant stereo headphones and the Pretty in Pink peasant shirts – what truly defined Natasha was her utter devotion to one man: George Michael.
So when Nat found herself during that second week of school with an extra ticket to the George Michael concert, and when she knocked on Dee-Dee’s door while Dee was listening to When in Rome, it meant something. This was a big deal – a really big deal. Nat wouldn’t have asked just anyone to see George Michael, but Dee-Dee didn’t see that. Dee got scared because where she came from, people didn’t just ask strangers to go places, unless it was a brat fry sponsored by the 4H Club. She panicked, so she made up a lie.
“Oh… I can’t.”
It was an embarrassing lie – almost insulting in its lack of effort. It would take years for Dee to hone her now pathological ability to spin a tale, but still, it did the trick. Natasha went to the concert alone and switched her major to photography. Over the coming months, Dee would come to trust Nat, and eventually understood that different didn’t necessarily mean dangerous. Soon enough, they found themselves meeting up for sodas in the cafeteria and joining aerobics classes in the gym in the basement of the dorms.
“She was my first alternative friend,” Dee would later comment. “I have a ton of regrets about the George Michael concert.”
Natasha, Farnsworth and I were in the car on our way to dinner when Nat screamed something unintelligible and started frantically scribbling in her notebook.
“What? What are you freaking out about?”
“There!” she said, pointing to a row of posters plastered on a wall.
I looked over and saw dozens of giant George Michael heads, advertising his upcoming North American Tour, his first in 17 years. Nat was already texting her sister to make plans.
We spontaneously launched into a George Michael medley, starting with Father Figure, building up to Monkey and Careless Whisper, and ending with Freedom ‘90.
“Hey! You should go with me! You, me and Farnsworth.”
Before I could respond, Farnsworth chimed in, “No way I’m going to a George Michael concert.”
“What? You seriously won’t go with me? I can’t believe you just said that.”
“Not gonna happen.”
“All right, Jenny. It’s you and me.”
After hearing about the ill-fated George Michael/Dee-Dee debacle of 1988 for years, I felt completely honored to be invited to this reunion tour. I never would have considered myself a George Michael fan, but somehow I knew all the lyrics to every song Nat rattled off. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I would be able to lord this over Dee-Dee for the rest of our lives, because I would be the friend who accepted her invitation to see George Michael. I would be “Most Friendly,” not Dee.
I was secretly thrilled and made a mental note to start downloading songs from iTunes, which is why I can’t really explain what came out of my mouth next.
“He smokes crack, you know.”
“What did you just say?”
“George Michael. He’s a total crackhead. And I’m pretty sure he snorts meth at rest stops, too.”
“I’m just telling you what I’ve heard.”
“You are uninvited. UNINVITED!
“What? But I was just-“
“It’s too late! You’re not coming!”
“Fine. I’ll go anyway, and I’ll get better seats than you. Plus I’ll get Dee to make some calls and get me a backstage pass, too. And then I’ll smoke crack with George Michael and you won’t.”
We sat in uncomfortable silence for the remainder of the ride to the restaurant, where a fortunate bottle of Pinot Noir made all the bad memories go away.
For the past two days, Natasha has been researching all the tour dates and locations, mapping out a strategic plan of where we’ll go next if for some reason Chicago sells out in 5.4 seconds. I suggested Vegas and Toronto. She seems to be leaning toward DC.
As much as I wanted to keep this to myself, I couldn’t help but tell Dee-Dee that this was perhaps her one and only opportunity for redemption, as this is likely George Michael’s last US tour ever. We agreed that we would all go together. I’ve been searching for velvet berets on eBay all evening. Dee and I are finally going to make this dream come true for Natasha. It’s everything she wants.

You’ve got to be kidding me

Top 10 Reasons Living in the Midwest Can Totally Suck:
1. Severe snowstorms in almost-April
2-10. See above

Momma Said Knock You Out

I read about those eight women who just won the mega-million dollar lottery and I thought to myself, “Man. Some people have all the luck.”
Then I got home from work and opened up my mailbox to find that my Netflix had arrived a day earlier than expected. “Score!” I thought. “Season 2 of Weeds. Who needs a stupid bunch of millions?”
Just when I thought I couldn’t get any happier, I opened up one of the envelopes and an extra DVD slid out. It was Rocky Balboa! Someone at Netflix must have known it was my birthday, so they snuck me another free movie! How awesome is that? That wasn’t even in my queue. So awesome.
I haven’t watched the bonus movie yet, but it sounds so good:
Though long retired from boxing, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) returns to the ring for one last hurrah in this drama featuring the iconic action star. Now widowed, Rocky’s settled into middle age running a deli. When he’s offered a shot at the title, he’ll have to go all out to prove he’s still got what it takes.
I sure hope Rocky wins.

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Libs

post cake
Last week, Queen Latifah and I were emailing about how since we share a birthday, we should plan a group celebration and I said, “Hey! Why don’t we call up the girls and go out for pizza and pitchers of beer? And then maybe later we can hit some clubs and go dancing. Sound good?”
And she was like, “Thank you for emailing Queen Latifah! We can assure you that Queen Latifah does read all her fan mail, and responds whenever she’s not on the road, filming a movie, or launching a new line of Cover Girl Easy Breezy Beautiful Cosmetics! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out her new CD, Trav’lin Light!”
So I guess she’s busy.
I’m kind of feeling weird about this birthday, and I’m not sure if it’s because 37 is just an unimpressive sounding year, or if I’m in a winter-induced funk because we’re now going on the FIFTH STRAIGHT MONTH of shitty freezing weather!
In any case, my lack of enthusiasm has made it difficult for me to make plans, so I thought I’d solicit some help from the Internets. But to make it more entertaining for all of us, I decided that we’d kick this old skool Mad Libs style.
So if you choose to participate, the first thing you need to do is DON’T CHEAT AND READ AHEAD! Don’t you remember how to play Mad Libs? You have to write down your answers first!
Okay, so here are the answers you need to write down in the comments before reading the Mad Lib text (I know… it’s a lot, but I’m one step closer to death. Indulge me, won’t you?):
1 emotion
2. your name
3. celebrity name
4. type of drink, plural
5. fast food restaurant
6. food item, plural
7. your favorite swear word
8. emotion
9. emotion
10. exclamation
11. famous actor
12. famous athlete
13. famous singer
14. adjective
15. prescription drug
16. famous politician
17. action verb, ending in –ing
18. comparative adjective, ending in -er
19. number between 1-36
Thanks for playing!


Leftover Memories of Sunday

It was a Sunday – that much I know – because we would only go to the 7-Mile Fair on Sundays. My parents took us there a couple times a year when the weather was nice. The fair isn’t really a fair at all; it’s a giant garage sale that spans 40 acres, packed tightly with aisle after aisle of rusty socket wrenches, irregular pencils, matted stuffed animals and rolls of masking tape that have been sitting in the hot sun so long that the stickiness has dried up.
Occasionally, though, we would uncover a real treasure there, like when I found the one and only doll I ever truly loved. I took her home and named her Red Baby. She was red, and she was my baby, and that was all that mattered.
But I’m not here to tell the story of Red Baby, because today I am a woman possessed. I’m possessed by the singular goal of recreating an album I bought at the 7-Mile Fair when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
It all started a few months ago when I couldn’t get the song, “Candyman” out of my head.
Who can take a sunrise? Sprinkle it with dew?
I would be sitting at work, typing away, when I would catch myself humming.
Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two…
One day it finally hit me: I used to own that song. It was on that album from the 7-Mile Fair that must have been some Greatest Hits of the 70’s compilation. Since that day, I have been trying to rebuild the album, song by song, through iTunes. So far, I can only remember three:
Candyman by Sammy Davis, Jr.
One Bad Apple by The Osmonds
Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again by The Fortunes
The weird thing is that it’s not as though I want to listen to these songs again – most of them were truly awful. It’s more like I need to listen to them again, for closure. I feel like this is some sort of deep, repressed memory that I’ve tucked away for decades and if I don’t confront it, I’m going to continue to be haunted by the ghost of Sammy Davis, Jr. for the rest of my life.
If only I could remember the name of the album, I could go on eBay or Craigslist or a Sammy Davis, Jr. chat room and try to find it. I feel like there was a rainbow on the cover, or an apple… but maybe I just made that up. I can’t be sure. I keep hoping that some of the other songs will come to me in a dream or in a peyote haze on my next vision quest.
To put an end to my torture and help close this chapter of my life, I am offering a lifetime* supply of Sea-Monkeys® to anyone who can find the album that had those three songs on it. And maybe had a rainbow or an apple on the cover. Or maybe it didn’t. God speed!
*By lifetime, I mean the Sea-Monkeys®’ lifetime, not yours.
The search is over! I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Canadians any more than I already do, but minutes ago, Mike of Speak Into the Mike sent me this link and I actually screamed out loud when I started to read the songs. This is totally the album. How do I know? Because this song is on it:

As is this one:

And the memories come flooding back.
You probably won’t hear from me for the next week or so because I’m going on a trip down memory lane. Ear-worm filled memory lane.
You’re my hero, Mike! As is Tony, who also sent me the link in his comment! You guys rule the school!

Will Jump for Food

Here’s the thing about the Internet: there’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of it is scary. For example, sometimes when you’re trying to get your fat cat to lose weight, you might stumble across websites that teach you how to grind up chickens with the head and bones and organs to make your own raw cat food. But that’s not the scary part. The scary part is when you suddenly find yourself measuring the cubic storage space in your freezer, Googling “where to buy rabbit carcasses” and pricing out meat grinders on eBay.
I’ve been trying to get my cats on a high protein diet for the past two weeks, but have discovered that the strict carb-filled diet they’ve been on since birth has taught them to hate meat. As I’m typing this, Miso is eating a Kleenex. I wish so badly that I were kidding. I suppose I should be happy he’s chosen a clean one.
I have spent over $100 buying every kind of wet cat food imaginable, from the top of the line grain-free organic chicken kind to the $0.39 a can 9-Lives Super Supper whose main ingredients are beak and beak by-products. I’ve offered them paté style, sliced, shredded, cubed, in gravy, with sauce, chunky style, fluffy, whipped with eggs, in pouches, packets and flip top cans… and at best all my cats will do is lick around the edges and then walk away. The next morning, the wet food sits on the plate exactly where I left it, now crusted over and still untouched. So I give them their new healthier dry food which they reluctantly nibble while reflecting on happier times when I thought cats were supposed to eat rice.
The only thing we can all agree on is how much we love feathers and Kanye West:

Orange Team isn’t giving up yet.
Who will be the Biggest Loser?

Running Thin, or The Story of My Patience

Crinklety crinklety crinklety.
Sift sift sift.
Chomp chomp chomp.
Crinklety crinklety crinklety.
Shake shake shift.
Chew chomp chomp.
Shake shake shake.
Crinklety crinklety shake.
Chomp chew chew.

This was what I had to listen to the entire train ride home on Friday, while the young woman seated next to me sorted through her bag of “Cranny Banany” premium trail mix, turning it and twisting it and delicately mining her way past the banana chips, dried cranberries, and mango pieces to the bottom of the bag in order to find the honey roasted peanuts hidden within.
It took all my restraint and a few layers of enamel off my molars not to grab her by the shoulders and shake her while screaming, “Hey! I just heard about this awesome new trail mix I think you’ll just love. IT’S CALLED A BAG OF F*CKING PEANUTS! AAAARGGHHH!”
I think the cold weather is finally starting to break me.

My Very First Guest Blogger!

What seems like eons ago, a woman on the other side of the country decided to run a race, or ride her bike, or compete in a triathlon – I forget which now – for a charitable cause like curing cancer, or fighting homelessness, or researching diabetes – I forget which now – and she had one simple request of her readers: contribute some small amount of money to her worthy cause and she would one day write a guest post on our blogs.
What she didn’t know is that I never expected to actually get a guest post. I don’t contribute to charitable causes because I want something in return. That’s insulting. I contribute to charitable causes so that I can feel like a do-gooder without having to actually participate in them myself. And for the tax deductions.
Imagine my surprise when late last night, I found a link to the following guest entry from Asia. So now, not only did I get to feel like Melinda Gates for the past many months, floating in a cloud of philanthropic euphoria, but I also get a free entry out of it as well. I’m jealous of myself right now. So without further ado:

Guest Post for Jenny [Ed. Note: Alternately titled – Who will be the Biggest Loser? My money’s on Miso.)

By Asia
I have a fat cat. Oh, it feels so good to finally say that out loud! It first came to my attention that Willie was fat a couple years ago when her vet paused in an endless stream of compliments about how beautiful she was and said, WELL, SHE IS A LITTLE HEAVIER THEN I WOULD LIKE HER TO BE THOUGH. And I was like WHAT? WHATEVER LADY.
I went through all the justifications and denials. She just has a “thick and luxurious hair…” she is “voluptuous…” that’s just her “winter coat…” she is a “large breed…” but nothing stopped the taunting and laughter of that cold fat truth. She is a fat, fat cat. So fat, in fact, that my husband has taken to calling her a MUSK OX.
I tried to put her on a diet for the first time. It was in 2005 during the low-carb craze that her vet suggested I try feeding her exclusively wet food. At that point she had already been on lite-food for almost six months in a pre-emptive move against the leisurely life she seemed intent on living. Willie however, absolutely refused to eat the canned food opting instead to starve and/or muscle Edison out of his own trough until she was full.
Lookit how thin she is there!
Clearly her will, then as perhaps now (we shall see), was stronger than any of ours, separate or combined, even pre-cancer. I chose to accept that she was just naturally Rubenesque and have endured Clark’s gasps and taunts every time we drag out the scale. But over the years those numbers on the scale have crept up, ounce by ounce by ounce.
By the way, my husband, a vociferous dog lover, claims to hate cats and frequently reviles them when the subject of their intelligence and value comes up. HOWEVER, he can more frequently be found in the basement watching the news with both his arms wrapped around Willie, nose to nose, cooing gently in her ear. He rarely goes to bed unless he knows exactly where she is and when she doesn’t come in late at night he asks me with a faint quiver in his voice where is my kitty? SO HE CAN JUST SHUT UP ABOUT THE MUSK OX ALREADY CAUSE NOW I TOLD THE WORLD.
sleeping willie.jpg
Anyway, when the subject of feline obesity came up recently over drinks I was so profoundly relieved and inspired to share this immovable burden with another human being… to speak of it outloud! I am so inspired to make this life style change with Willie. I finally feel like she… we… no, all of us have a second chance at life!
BLFE plans.jpg
Biggest Loser Feline Edition(tm) will pit Willie and I against Jenny and Miso in a weight-loss competition for greatness because every American knows happiness lies is beating other people and making them listen to you brag. And in being thin.
Everything already posted regarding BLFE is accurate except that each contestant will knit a kitty scarf for the opposing team. Remember Jenny? That was in the gift bag because otherwise if I only have to knit for the winner I will never learn to knit, and that was the point of kitty scarves in the first place.
Let the healthy-living, whole-food eating, exercising begin!
[Ed. Note: Yes, Asia, I totally forgot that we were both going to knit kitty scarves, but I see right there on our official notebook that it says “mutual” next to cat scarf. How could I have forgotten about the gift bag? I think I was in an Old-Fashioned induced haze that night. I’m working on mine right now.]