Random Acts of Kindness

As I met my friend Seamus outside his office last week to go to the movies, he handed me a package, sealed inside a clear plastic interoffice envelope.

“Here,” he said, shoving the envelope in my hands. “I don’t want any part in your illicit transactions.”

“What is this?”

“It’s from my coworker, Robin. He said to give this to you.”

I looked down at the package and my eyes widened as I spied the familiar logo stamped across the brown paper bag.

GS bag

“No way! Where did he get this?! How did he know I liked Girl Scouts? Wait… who’s Robin?”

“I think you might have seen his band play. I don’t know… I guess he reads your blog. Like I said, don’t try to drag me into your world.”

We hopped on the El and headed up to the theater. I carefully pulled the calendar out of the bag and let out a squeal as I saw the cover.

GS cover

It was an original 1960 Girl Scout Calendar in mint condition, and it was just glorious. After flipping through each month, I quickly put it back into the plastic sheath, safe from the grunting, dripping, elbowing savages all around me on the train. They wouldn’t understand.

This is the perfect guide to keep me on task as I navigate my way through the Year of the Badge. Each month, I will be inspired by the smiling faces of my sister Scouts as we all strive to live up to the Girl Scout code.

I’m only going to show you January right now, but seriously, you do NOT want to miss February. It’s so the best. Except for May – that one is totally the best. Ohmigod, I just looked at June again – I don’t even want to tell you what’s going on in June, but there’s a boy and a calf, and some Converse Chucks. And oh, man, I cannot WAIT to do what they’re doing in October. I’m not even sure if that’s legal in the city limits, but holy cats, is that going to be fun!

So stick around, because this year is just getting started. And thanks to the unexpected kindness and generosity of strangers, it’s already off to an amazing start. Thank you again, Robin! You are well on your way to earning your citizenship badge!


GS january
“So proud of their Flag at all times, but especially interested in the placement of the stars in the new Flag.”

The Rural Juror*

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on the entire farce that is the Cook County justice system. That’s right, I said it.

A few weeks ago, I received a summons for jury duty. Or rather, jury service, as it is now called. I was thrilled! After a failed attempt at being selected to serve on a jury a few years ago (Out of court settlement. Bullshit.), I would finally get a second chance at becoming the foreperson I was born to be.

Last Friday was the official day. Just like last time, I was chosen to serve at one of the suburban courthouses. And just like last time, I could tell within an instant that I was the most qualified person to lead the jury to a fair and balanced decision. That sounds like bragging, but trust me, it’s not. Not much, in any case. There were very few jurors in the pool due to a light day of trials, and my closest competition consisted of:

1. Woman who fell asleep 20 minutes after arrival, and remained face down on the table for the next three hours.
2. Creepy skinny man who was staring at me every time I looked up from my laptop, and then would quickly look away and giggle into his hand.
3. Elderly man who spent most of the day picking at something on his ankle.
4. Young woman playing first-person shooter game on her laptop.
5. Woman who sucked her teeth and shook her head during the entire episode of The View.

Seriously. They NEEDED me on that jury! Would you want that motley crew deciding your fate? I should think not. But unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. Around noon, the jury babysitter got on the microphone and said, “And now the news you’ve all been waiting for… you can go home! The only trial of the day just settled, so your jury service is now complete. Please come to the desk to collect your paycheck.”

But didn’t she get it? That wasn’t the news I had been waiting to hear. The news I had been waiting for was, “Based solely on our silent observations over the past three hours, we have decided to make Jenny the foreperson for this trial, one which will be fascinating and full of complex twists and turns and tearful accusations and inadmissible confessions, yet will only require you to miss two days of work.”

So you know what? The next time I get called to perform my civic duty, I’m going to let someone else take the reins and be a leader. Why should I put my heart and soul on the line again, only to be crushed? Maybe I’ll just pick at my ankle or play Call of Duty IX: Entrails of Tears or tsk-tsk during Oprah. Let that courthouse just wonder what it missed out on. You can only hurt me so many times, Cook County. I’m on to your game.

*That title will only make sense to the most devoted 30 Rock fans.

2010: Be Prepared

Another year, another theme. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. So we’re already almost one week into 2010, which means it’s high time I decide on my theme for the year, as well as my personal sponsor-slash-spirit guide. Over the past few years, my life has been led by Ann-Margret, Willona from Good Times and Patti Smith. Through their sass, their humor, their talent and their art, these were all women who never failed to inspire me and keep me on the right path, so 2010 has some big shoes to fill.

Typically, I debate over a few different options each year, weighing the pros and cons of each. This year was different. There was one and only one candidate. When I think about what has inspired and, yes, possessed me this past year (aside from photobooths), it has most definitely been my quest to relive my lost youth as a would-be Girl Scout, so it makes perfect sense that my personal sponsor for 2010 should be none other than Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of America.

[via Wikipedia]

I could tell you all about her original vision for the Girl Scouts, but heck, why don’t we just let her tell us herself?

What began as a simple curiosity when my friend Natasha first started talking about Girl Scout badges has now become a full-fledged mission. We have decided that 2010 will be The Year of the Badge, as we intend to retroactively earn the badges I have acquired through the wonder that is eBay. With my trusty 1954 edition of the Girl Scout Handbook at my side, I will work to gain the skills that would make Ms. Low proud.

In fact, I started working on my first badge over the holidays as I spent time with my nephews in Wisconsin. Once they got over the fact that they were doing “EWWW! GIRL SCOUT STUFF,” they completely threw themselves into the project and totally impressed me with their commitment.

I am particularly interested in earning the badges that no longer exist – the lost arts, as Natasha is fond of calling them – so I began with Bookbinding. As our first task toward earning this badge, my nephews and I cut, sanded and designed wooden book covers. In fact, we braved the -16 degree temperatures in Wisconsin to make our way to Menards to buy wood and sandpaper. I am now 1/10th of the way toward earning this first badge and I only ended up with two slivers and one minor burn in the process.







So what do I expect to achieve in this, The Year of the Badge? With Juliette Low as my guide, I know that 2010 will be filled with adventure and knowledge and courage and art and friendship. There will be fire building, knot tying, outdoor cooking, animal husbandry, toy carving and so much more, and I can’t wait to get started!