Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The big New Orleans question

Someone from Massachusetts asked me the other day  as we sat at a bar in South Carolina  what a poboy was.

“A long, sub-like sandwich,” I said, a good steward for my hometown.

“So why don’t you call it a sub sandwich?” he asked.

“Well, because it’s a little different,” I said. Then I thought for a minute. 

“The meat is usually hot.”

Really. Hot meat was the only differentiator I could think of.

Massachusetts raised an eyebrow.

“You know, like hot roast beef, or hot fried oysters, hot shrimp, hot catfish..." I trailed off, worried he wouldn't get the distinction.

“And the bread isn’t like the foot-long bread from Subway. It’s fresh and flaky.”

“So it’s like a grinder?” he said.

I blinked.

“Grinder? Like the app for gay guys??”

(Hot meat...)

He laughed and then looked uncomfortable (hahaha) and said NO, where he’s from, they call a poboy a grinder.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out between us,” I said.

Ha

Just kidding.

It was for way more reasons than that one.

Hahahahaha

Now that I live back in South Carolina after living in New Orleans for three years, I forgot about these New Orleans questions people ask.

It’s like getting dumb twin questions over and over again.

“Do you have the same dad?” “Have you ever been to Mardi Gras??”

 “If I pinch you, does she feel it?” “Is it still all flooded down there?”

Like my twin sister Joy and I, when asked twin questions, I have learned how to expertly handle these inquires.

“Yes, I’ve been to almost 30 Mardi Gras celebrations. It’s my favorite time of the year.”

“No, it’s not flooded anymore…unless you live in an area called  ‘Plack-a-minz’ Parish and it’s been raining.”

(They wear shrimp boots.)

Of course, the biggest dumb New Orleans question I get is whether or not I miss it.

Of COURSE I miss it!

OF COURSE WE HAVE THE SAME DAD!!!!

It’s the music mostly.

You don’t realize how much you love music until you leave and suddenly there’s no more music.

Well, no more music that’s not a cover band.

It’s an odd feeling – this yearning for New Orleans music. 

I know it's really a yearning for New Orleans, missing it vicariously through the music.

But it hits you out of nowhere.  You could be minding your own business browsing iTunes when a preview of the song “At the Foot of Canal Street” comes on and you tear up.

Not just tears, but choking tears. 

Like unexpectedly stumbling across a picture of you and a friend you don’t speak with anymore, both of you standing together, arms around each other. 

It hits you like a ton of bricks. 

That’s how I've been missing New Orleans. 

And I don't even LIKE Canal Street that much!

But rather than explain it this way, I smile and say, “Yes. Yes, I miss it a lot.”

Maybe I’ll make a poboy tonight.

Extra hot meat.

-Jenny

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pickin,’ not drinkin

If you’re wondering if a three-day bluegrass music festival is still fun even if you’ve given up alcohol for Lent, the answer is YES!

In fact, it’s a totally different experience when you remember everything!!  


What a concept!!


Two weekends ago, my friend Meredith and I made our annual trip to Live Oak, Florida, for Suwannee Springfest, the perfect little music festival tucked away in a gorgeous park called Spirit of the Suwannee.




The thing I love most about this music festival is that every year, it’s the same.

Growing up, my family always vacationed at the same cabin in a Mississippi state park and I always found comfort in the fact that no matter how much my life had changed over the year, the place was always the same.

It looked the same, it smelled the same. It was like time had never passed.  

That’s how I feel about Springfest. The same park, the same stages, the same vendors, the same hammocks, the same large oak trees that we camp under - it was all the same, even though Meredith and I both made major life changes since Springfest 2013.

Most notably, we made the drive from South Carolina this year rather than New Orleans, after we each moved back to the east coast in late 2013.

(On our way back home, I even paused for a second at the Interstate 10 junction, debating whether to go east or west.)

NOT the same this year???

THE SUN!!!!!!

If you may remember, (here and here) the last two years have included torrential downpour rain on the bill.

This year, however, I did a double take at the forecast: 81 degrees and sunny???!!

Spring?!??!?!

IS THAT REALLY YOU, SPRING????

     “whitey” (a portrait.)




The perfect weather for a beer!

…dammit.

I don’t think there’s any other genre of music as “spring” as bluegrass.  For one thing, STRING rhymes with SPRING.



Secondly, it’s a happy, upbeat genre of music that includes instruments far, far, far removed from the songs you hear on the radio.

I actually heard the slap of someone’s palm on a stand-up bass.

I counted the number of octaves a mandolin can span (not really, I just noticed for the first time.)

I fell in love with Sam Bush! (And his T-shirt)




Sam Bush was my favorite performer from the weekend. He’s a long-standing bluegrass legend and I soaked in all his talent while hearing the details of his biography and discography from the guy who was dancing next to me.

“Man, you need a LESSON on THIS MAN!” the guy told me when I admitted I was a new blue-grasser.

I was also new to the bat house.

THE BAT HOUSE!!

Apparently, not everyone wants to get rid of bats (just the people at the Mississippi State Park, haha)

No, this park has an actual bat REFUGE!

A bona fide BAT HOUSE 50 feet high where the bats live during the daytime and probably where they make MORE bats.

We were told that every day at dusk all the bats wake up and all fly out of the wooden house and it’s a crazy sight with hundreds and hundreds of bats.

“Watch out, they’ll pee on you,” a nice lady warned.

At dusk, we walked over. A crowd of more than 50 people were already there, some holding umbrellas.

And then, at no particular time, the bats’ internal clock went off and they all decided it was time to leave and swarmed out of the house in perfect synch.


Small children shrieked.

THERE WERE SO MANY BATS!!!!

It was hard to wrap my mind around it.

And then, a droplet fell onto my right cheek and I realized that a bat had peed on my face.

UGH.

It was the perfect time for a beer.

…dammit

(Now that I think about it, I should have worked my brush with nature into a bluegrass song.)

Because the absolute best thing each year about this music festival, the thing that makes it so special, is that the attendees themselves are musicians, big and small.

After the bands are over and everyone has retreated to their campsites, impromptu “pickin” happens. In some cases, it's even better than the acts on stage.

(Cue yearly reminder to learn how to play the fiddle.)

While in year’s past, I was able to sit around in a circle and hum along, this year, thanks to my new “I’M SOBER I GET TIRED AT 12:30 a.m.” way of life, I was able to fall asleep to the sweet pickin’ sounds just 20 feet away from my tent.

Screw white noise!! THIS is relaxation.

Strumming guitars, melodic voices, the tinkering of a banjo.

The crisp, clear spring night air.
Tucked under the oak trees.

At that moment, I craved nothing more.

Not even a beer.




-Jenny

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How sweet it isn't

I gave up alcohol for Lent. 

(I KNOW!! Alcohol AND Toolbag Tuesday!!! My life has no more meaning.)

I gave it up to lose weight before my first summer living back on the beach, but my plan is backfiring because now I’m craving nothing but sugar.

People told me that I’d crave sugar because alcohol has so much sugar and my body is dependent on it. (WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME AN ALCOHOLIC!?!!?!)

I didn’t believe them, of course, until day 14 when I started acting like the cockroach in the movie Men in Black who climbs out of the big hole and is like, “SUGAR.”

MORE.

SUGAR.

ALL THE SUGAR.

This was on display most prominently at a birthday party last weekend when I ate three entire cupcakes.

In a row.  
By myself.

Yes, while everyone else was getting drunk, I was lurking like the fat kid at the birthday cake table, shoveling cupcakes into my mouth.

The third cupcake I even cut in half to pretend I didn’t need to eat the whole thing, but because no one was looking anyway, I ate the other half less than two minutes later.

Okay, less than one minute later.

In my defense, there were a million cupcakes. I didn’t steal anyone else’s cupcake, OK?? (fat kid.)

And they were salted caramel cupcakes, which I have decided is my new favorite flavor of anything and everything.  

It's such an odd feeling  craving sweets  since I’m more of a salty dog person.

I hardly recognized myself when I actually bought Ben and Jerry's SALTED CARAMEL ice cream at the grocery store last week.

I never buy ice cream!  Never!

I’m surprised my credit card didn’t red flag the purchase.

"Hmmm, no…that’s doesn’t seem right. No wine? No Nacho Cheese Doritos? Ask her to verify her social security number!!”

Not drinking is exactly what you’d expect: Not as fun.

Maybe that’s because I’m still going out to bars and doing social things, drinking soda water with limes (“Can you put it in a glass that makes it LOOK alcoholic?”) 

And, if I’m desperate, a non-alcoholic beer, which at most bars is God-awful piss.

Sure, waking up the next morning NOT hungover is glorious, and so are my $3 bar tabs.

And it’s nice being able to drive home at the end of the night (I’m the D.D. for the next month) rather than having to pay for a cab.

But there comes a point around midnight where not being drunk is just…a bummer

Take last Saturday, when I thought this one guy was giving me EYES at a bar. Every time I walked by him, I saw him look at me, almost in a way that he was looking for me to recognize him.

So I gathered my best pickup line and approached him.

“Hey…do we know each other?” I asked.

OHshtuehrtyertsdf sdefhducolschoodfslftl togsethr,” he slurred.

“What?” I tried to make out the jibberish. “We…went to school together?”

“Ijusersesyerfssaingsayehdofsrogehrsetr.”

“Ok,” I said. “Great.”

No, he was not making eyes at me. 
He was trying to focus on the wall.

Great.

Another bummer is telling people that I gave up alcohol for Lent, because they think I’m religious or something.

Haha

New Orleans is a big Catholic town, and giving up something for Lent is not a big deal.

In fact, it's a bigger deal if you DON'T give up something (pizza, mac n cheese, popcorn, etc.)

But that's not the case in South Carolina, with its influx of Presbyterians and Methodists.

“What are you, Catholic??” is always the first question I get after explaining why I'm going to make MINE a root beer.

“Well, I was raised Catholic…” I say. “But this is just a good time frame,” I say. “It’s an excuse to give up something for 40 days, you know?”

No, they don’t know.

“I just don’t understand why you have to give something up….for God,” one guy said.

“Jesus,” I corrected.

Once I’m done explaining to people that this is a practice of self-control and why not? I’ll save money! I’ll learn to enjoy life without beer goggles!...all I want is a shot of Fireball.

Or a glass of water with an exorbant amount of Crystal Light orange flavoring that I pretend is Tang, and scoop the residual sugar off the bottom of the glass with a spoon.

SUGAR.

MORE.

SUGAR.

26 days to go…

-Jenny

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

No sleep till…

As a person who would love to be reincarnated as a cat just to be able to sleep all day, I've had a huge problem being rudely awoken for the past four years.

(No, I don’t have children.)

For a year, it was incessant pounding above my head, which turned out to be an upstairs neighbor who was really a Clydesdale horse wearing a human suit, which she failed to mention in her apartment application.

But there was also two-year-old child who lived next door – in a separate building altogether – who was visited by the devil every afternoon and night and responded with blood-curdling screams because his mom was pregnant and he couldn’t handle sharing his Thomas the Train set.

After that, it was the ongoing construction in my old neighborhood in Mid-City New Orleans, which IS the construction/home renovation capital of the world. 

(Its motto: We throw shit from the roof into metal dumpsters down below at 7 a.m.!!!)

When I moved back to South Carolina last December, back into my house in the suburbs, I thought I’d finally get some sleep past 7 a.m.

…on the weekends.

I imagined only being woken up by the smell of coffee and birds chirping.

HA.

No, of course we’ve had the fortunate luck of new next-door neighbors whose dog incessantly barks every single second it’s in the backyard.

Oh, and my bedroom window faces said backyard.

The dog doesn’t bark at anything in particular, just a constant (Stressed out? Bored? Asshole?) unnecessary bark ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.

I laid in bed one morning – Saturday morning at 9 a.m. – and counted ON MY FINGERS exactly 100 barks in two minutes.

ONE HUNDRED BARKS!!!!

Oh, HELL NO.

I’ve long given up on humanity caring about making so much noise that it wakes the neighbors. 

If they’re so loud that it bothers you, they’re already inconsiderate. So expecting them to suddenly BE considerate just because you ask them is fruitless.

And in this case, I was told that a previous tenant in our house had already spoken to the neighbors about the dog, but nothing has changed.

Even so, I paid them a duplicate visit:

“Hi, I’m having a HUGE problem with the fact that your dog won’t stop barking all the time.”

“Oh, we know. We’re looking into getting a trainer.”

(i.e. We KNOW our dog is annoying, but we don’t care and have no real plan for how to make this stop.)

“Ok, well, until then, could you not let him out before 10 a.m. on the weekends???”

 …And then of course they let him out at 9 a.m. on the weekends.

I was helpless and furious. 

Do I call animal control??? Tell PETA they were beating it and hope it's removed??? 

Stand outside with a bullhorn making 100 barking noises in two minutes facing THEIR bedroom window??

But then a lightbulb went off. A solution by which I could take matters into my own hands!

I never felt more empowered in my life.

I remembered an item for sale in SkyMall Magazine   a ultrasonic dog bark deterrent disguised as a bird house.

The way it works is that whenever a dog barks near it, the “birdhouse” emits a very high-pitched noise that only dogs can hear and they hate it.

Eventually, the dog will realize that the noise only comes on when it barks, so they’ll learn to effing COOL IT.

Essentially, a trainer.

It cost $50, with shipping.

“Won’t that…scramble the dog’s brain??” one of my more sensitive friends asked.

“Oh, I don’t care.”

I figured if the dog was negatively affected, I’d blame it on the owners. They literally left me with no other choice. 

"Looking into a trainer..." I have YET to see Cesar Milian over there.

The birdhouse arrived last week when I was out of town, and it sat in the corner of the kitchen forgotten until I was in bed watching TV at 11 p.m. Friday night.

I heard it bark.

And bark.
And bark.

I timed the dog barking for four minutes and 24 seconds. Straight. 

THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

I immediately got out of bed, tore open the package and flipped through the instructions. 

I put in a battery and skipped the part about “starting at the lowest setting, and working your way up if the dog doesn’t respond.”

I turned it to 100 percent immediately and “tested” it.

“WOOF!” I said into the birdhouse and a red light came on and HOLY SH*T I  heard the high-pitched noise and recoiled.

Me! A human! With non-specialized hearing!!!

My eyes gleamed.

I crept outside into the backyard in the dark, looking for where to hang my new favorite toy.

I walked up to the fence line, hoping to find a branch that provided an unobstructed view of the neighbors' yard.

Yet, right when I was lurking around, the neighbors’ back door opened and the dog rushed out…WITH THE OWNER.

Of course. Because I always have the most perfect timing.

The dog saw me immediately, creeping at the fence line and BARKED. 

I was like a deer in headlights. The owner looked over.

“Oh…heeey,” I said, hiding the birdhouse behind me, trying to be casual.

“I’m…uh…looking for a ball our dog lost around here,” I said, kicking the nearby bush for effect.

“She’s, uh, really freaking out over it being missing.”

Hahahahahaha

The owner said nothing and I ran back inside with the birdhouse.

#&^$@#(@%&^(#@%&)#!!!!! I screamed over the dog’s incessant barking outside.

I waited until after midnight to try again.

This time I brought my roommate Marie, and we took a flashlight (even more creepy) and we found a hook on the fence and angled the birdhouse so it faced the neighbor’s yard perfectly, at dog height.

(Then I may or may not have rubbed my fingertips together like an evil cartoon character).

The next day, Saturday morning, I was awoken by the dog barking.

Once.
Twice.

Then silence.

SILENCE!!!

The barking stopped.

I sat up in bed like it was God damn Christmas morning and stared at the window.

SILENCE.

SILENCE!??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wide-eyed, I rose out of bed and put my ear near the window just to be sure.

SILENCE!!!!!!

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

I woke Marie up to rejoice. 

Ha

It’s been three days now, and I have yet to wake up because of the dog barking.

Granted, the dog has now started barking on the OTHER side of the yard facing the OTHER neighbors’ house, but that’s not my problem, and it doesn’t disturb my cat-like slumber.

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!!

TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS PREVAILS!!!!

Thanks, Hammmmmmacher Schhhhhhhlemmer!!!!!!!

Now, if only they had these for 2-year-olds screaming next door.

Or Clydesdales…



-Jenny

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

“You don’t tell guys you date about your Toolbag Tuesday blog, do you? 
Because I can see how that would be a little intimidating.”

I was asked this question by a guy friend recently.

The answer is no, and I try really hard to keep it under wraps as long as possible.

For example, if I become friends on Facebook with a new guy, I will tirelessly hide each and every Tuesday post going back months and months. 

(If he wants to stalk me all the way back to last August, then he's asking for it.)

Of course, I tell the guys I like who matter about my blog...but only after enough time has gone by so they don’t think I’m just this man-hating A-hole.

Also, I write OTHER things on this blog, too, which leaves me wide open to scrutiny from guys who don’t know how really charming I am in real life. (ha)

I don't know, maybe some guys who read my blog might find it attractive that I can write full sentences and know the difference between "then" and "than."

But I was thinking about that initial question lately - Do you tell guys you date about your blog? And then I got to thinking about karma.

Especially because I’m single and will hopefully meet someone awesome soon. 

But will I meet anyone awesome if every week I write about hating on men? 

Is that negative energy surrounding me like a dude repellant???

I mean, two guys I’ve dated have actually said, “you’re not going to write about me in Toolbag Tuesday!”…so there’s that.

SO…after several minutes of deliberation, as a social experiment, I’m giving up Toolbag Tuesday for Lent.

!!!!

Yes, Lent.

Silly Catholics.

But don't worry, reader from Australia who keeps Google searching “Toolbag Tuesday!!!!!!" 

It’s just for 40 days.

And I’ll still post things about life.  And Mardi Gras.

I’ll even try to post a new blog on Tuesdays.

My digital diary!!

But, since tomorrow starts Lent, I’ll leave you with a tiny little toolbag that’s relevant here today.

No proper boyfriend I’ve ever had has ever been interested in reading my blog. 

Any posts.

…Mainly because all I date are unsupportive A-holes.

I even set up my blog with one boyfriend so that anytime I posted any blog at all, it sent the post directly to his email address, body and everything.

Right there in the email! 

No clicking required!
  
One day I had to ASK him if he read it (because I posted a blog about HIM and Jazz Fest), to which he said no, he “didn’t have time," without realizing that he had sent me a dumb email forward earlier that day.

Dumb.

Here’s to no more Toolbags!!!! 

At least until Easter.

Stay tuned.

-Jenny 
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