Friday, July 30, 2010

Things I’ve loved that no longer exist

I found out this week that my favorite breakfast bar is no longer being made.

You’d think Slim Fast would put a warning sign on the last of the boxes in the store saying, “STOCK UP, PEOPLE!!! WE’RE PULLING THE PLUG!!!”

(I’m not one to eat Slim Fast products, but I am one to grab something out of the pantry to eat for breakfast on the way to work.)

And this breakfast bar was my favorite! It was chocolate chip cookie dough flavored with just a hint of crushed up vitamins!

My relationship with this bar went as far back as 2004, when I lived in New York and had to be at the bus stop early and therefore had no time for breakfast that involved a plate.

I’ve moved on to other breakfast bars over the years, but every time I eat those Slim Fast Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ones, I'm reminded of pounding the grey streets, taking the PATH train and napping in Central Park.

But, NO MORE. The breakfast bars are gone. FINITO. It took me awhile to accept this. I first blamed the grocery store near my house for not stocking up on them.

Then, I couldn’t find them at other grocery stores, or the gas station. Or the health food store. I then took my search to the internet.

“This product is no longer available.”
“No longer available”
“Out of stock”
“We’re sorry”

While annoying, I’m not surprised. Many products I have loved no longer exist. Maybe I should just stop liking things, because in my experience, they’ll fold or go out of business or…be a figment of my imagination.
Let’s re-visit the graveyard…

1.) Surge Soda. I credit this beverage for getting me through high school, and still to this day, I drink caffeinated soda before 10 a.m. out of habit.

Surge was bright green, cool and crisp, and much better than that Mountain Dew crap.
It also had twice or three times the amount of caffeine as any other soda, making it perfect for people like me who prefer to sleep all day but can’t.

Surge stopped being made when I was in college. I didn’t notice, since I exclusively drank beer, but when I stopped for a minute to find my soda, I couldn't find it. It was already gone.
I think I might have cried.

I googled SURGE SODA, since I google pretty much everything (cold and flu symptoms, my boyfriend’s name, Lindasy Lohan )

The internet confirmed that Surge wasn’t being made anymore, but I wasn’t the only one mad about it.
They had these “bring back Surge” groups online, and a list of all the places where Surge was still being served in drink dispensers. I looked for a location near me.

“THE CHUCKY CHEESE ON HIGHWAY 17!”
Oh, you better believe that I called the Chucky Cheese when I was a freshman in college to confirm this, even though I didn’t have a car to even get there.

I was too late. No Surge at the Chucky Cheese.

Now, the only Surge soda left in the world is being sold on EBAY for quite a profit. (If I could go back in time I would have bought 100 cans and would be a very, very rich girl.)

Four years ago, I reignited my passion for Surge Soda and searched on EBAY for just one can. Just one can to reminisce as as present for my 23rd birthday. And you know what? It only cost $40, plus shipping.


(It was a little flat.) But, delicious!!

2.) JANE Magazine This is the best magazine in the whole world. My favorite, favorite magazine and I used to read it cover to cover the minute it arrived in the mailbox every month.

This was the magazine I wanted to work for. The magazine I dreamt about. I followed a journalism path in college JUST so I could live in New York and write for Jane. Jane, Jane, Jane! That was my mantra.
So, of course, Jane folded several years ago.

My face crumbled when I first heard about it. I don’t remember if I cried, but I certainly felt like it. All my hopes and dreams were crushed. It was something I had wanted for at least four years, and now it had disappeared in thin air.

(I even FLEW IN FROM SPAIN WHEN I STUDIED ABROAD to interview as an intern for JANE, only to be told when I arrived that oops, JANE already had enough interns, would I consider interning for Women’s Wear Daily? That was the biggest buzzkill of my life.)

A few months ago, when I visited my parents’ house in New Orleans, I found an old Jane magazine, flipped through the pages, and admired the hilarious writing, wishing that I could have been a part of it.
Maybe if I didn't love it so much, it would still be around.

3.) Wedding Plans
I’m not someone who makes plans, period, let along wedding plans. But, I did find a truly beautiful engagement ring and perfect honeymoon spot, and both…don’t exist.

First, the honeymoon spot. It was the most perfect place I had ever seen. It was in the movie My Father the Hero (Katherine Heigel…hot).

I saw the movie in high school, and fell in love with the little bungalow and hotel where the two main characters stayed on the beach.

It was gorgeous and fun and perfect and MAN, BUNGALOWS ARE AWESOME and so was the dancing by the pool and the reggae band. I wanted it all. ALL INCLUSIVE!!!!

So, in high school, bored in biology class and access to the internet, I googled the movie My Father the Hero and looked at where it was filmed in order to see just WHERE I’d be honeymooning. (I’m…special.)

Turns out it was filmed in Nassau, Bahamas.

Good, good, now we’re getting somewhere!!! I looked up Nassau on a map. But, the bungalows! The hotel with the pool! Where was THAT??? I researched more.

Oh, of course.
The movie company BUILT the entire set for the movie and then dismantled it when filming was over. There are no bungalows. There is no reggae band. I hung my head in disappointment.

And the engagement ring! In college, I saw some earrings in JANE magazine (of course) and stalked the jeweler’s website. I was thoroughly impressed with all the jewelry on the site and my mouse wandered over to the Engagement Rings tab.

There it was, the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen, ever, and I decided THAT was the ring I wanted. I showed it to everyone.

When my brother visited me in New York, we ended up in the neighborhood where the jeweler had a store and I BEGGED, BEGGED, BEGGED him to walk in and pretend he was getting engaged to look at that ring. He told me no, and told me I was nuts.

A few years ago, I looked up the ring again, and didn’t see it online. WHAT WAS GOING ON? I searched some more. I googled it. Nothing came up. I panicked.

“Hi, I noticed that this ring wasn’t on your site anymore,” I emailed to the contact person on the site. “Do you still make it?”
I’ll admit this was a little a lot desperate. What did I care anyway? I didn’t even have a boyfriend at the time.

I got an email back shortly after. “We are no longer making that style of ring for sale; it can still be made by special order. Also, we’re getting rid of all our excess inventory and the ring you’ve requested is now being offered at 20 percent off. Would you like to schedule an appointment?”

Dammit.
No, I didn’t want an appointment with my non-boyfriend. I didn’t write back, and took the jeweler’s website off my bookmarks bar.

I felt stupid all of a sudden. No ring, no honeymoon spot! No career publication!!!!! It was a bad week. Very “woe is me.”

The only thing that could make me feel better is a Surge soda. And a Slim Fast bar!
Wait, dammit twice.
Excuse me while I check EBAY.

-Jenny

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hungover and hungry (and having fun with the online thesaurus)

It’s not easy figuring out what to buy to eat when you’re hungover and have an entire grocery store at your disposal.

Especially if you just got paid on Friday, so you can afford to buy the fancy cheese or the cookies and cream ice cream or the extravagant already-made Betty Crocker mashed potatoes.

I chose guacamole.

It only took me four minutes in the grocery store, a pleasant surprise.
My finicky taste buds had decided on guacamole and that was that. (It may have had something to do with the new Top Chef I watched this morning).

I bought two avocados, a powdery guacamole mix (extra spicy) and tortilla chips on sale. Under five dollars.

And, well, I’m happy to report that it was incredibly satisfying. Satiating! Quenching! (I put the word “satisfying” into the online thesaurus. It’s been a lazy day.)

I was afraid when I woke up this morning that I’d have one of those hangovers where nothing would make me feel good, food wise.
Have you ever had that feeling, mom? Haha just kidding.

But, no really, some hangovers just sit with you all day, and no matter how greasy the hamburger, not matter how icy the water, no matter how many strawberries are in the smoothie, nothing works. It’s positively frustrating.

But, I didn’t have one of those hangovers today. No, I laid out on the couch this a.m. and had a perfect vision of guacamole, with fresh avocados and I made it a reality.
It only took ten minutes between the couch, grocery store, kitchen, and then back to the couch.

And that was pretty much my entire day. I also managed to clean some dishes from the weekend, push the vacuum around and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on ABC Family. (I don’t remember it being a musical. I fell asleep during “Cheer up Charlie.”)

I know it was lazy, but I needed a day of rest after (earmuffs, mom) going out every night since Wednesday. (There was a lot going on.)

Justification: I’m on vacation for the next week-and-a-half until I pack up and move my life to New Orleans, and I’ve also not been sleeping well, due to… packing up and moving my life to New Orleans in the next week-and-a-half. Catnaps on the couch were necessary.

Tomorrow, I will work on a plan for the next two weeks. I will call someone to fix my personal laptop (I will miss this work-issued Macbook more than some co-workers). I will mail off the electric bill. I will swim laps. I will get off the couch.

But, today was a full day of rest. The online thesaurus would say that it hit the spot, humored me, indulged me, made me merry, made the grade. It also mollified, pacified, placated, propitiated and quenched.

It was perfect. The only thing that could have made it better would be a (white) chocolate river and lollipops for bushes. And a never-ending gobstopper. There's always that 24-hour grocery store nearby…

-Jenny

Friday, July 23, 2010

The STUPID grass is always greener

I wish, I wish, I WISH I would have written down all the things that annoy me about my job here, because I can’t seem to remember now.

And, well, I REALLY need to remember now, because I’m moving home to New Orleans in two weeks (ahhhhhhh!) and this is my last day at work.

I smile and nod when people give me well-wishes, but my unbelievable excitement is being overpowered by how much I’m gonna miss it here in South Carolina.
Which isn’t helpful.

So, come on, BRAIN, let’s start remembering all the things that I bitched about for the past year!
Don’t you remember being so frustrated with life that you’d call your mom in tears? (only to be told to call back once I ate a sandwich.)

OK, come one now think, think, THINK…The drive to work! Yes! The grueling 40-minute drive each way that I made over the past two years, putting 50,000 miles on my car. Seriously.

Oh, and the horrible traffic that backs up EVERY hour of EVERY day in this small town.
(This is what happens when the town council votes for subdivision after subdivision over the past five years and doesn’t build any new roads. I’ve written about it for the newspaper extensively)

I won’t miss holidays here. No city parties like New Orleans, and I really don’t get why there isn’t a federal open container law. Also, every time more than 10 people gather anywhere here, the cops show up to “monitor.” Buzzkill!

But, there is something to be said for being super comfortable at work, and having a lot of friends here.
And I’m going to miss the beach and the marshes, because the bayou isn’t very swimmer-friendly.

I have two weeks left in South Carolina, and I can’t decide if I’m just sentimental or plain crazy because I suffer terribly from “grass is greener” disease.

I spent the last three years wanting to get back home to New Orleans, and now all I can do is think about how I’m going to miss it here. Stupid grass.

I hope people like me in New Orleans. People laugh when I say that because I’ve never met a stranger, but I won’t be with my twin sister, Joy, and I’m sorry, but I think people like twins better than single people.

OK, I won’t be single single. I do have a boyfriend in New Orleans, and I’m pretty sure HE likes me. And it will be nice to see him all the time.
And my mom, she likes me too.

But everyday here, I find something else I’m going to miss, and it’s really stupid things. Like the pizza place near my house. Or the karaoke bar we go to after kickball games. STUPID GRASS!

I want to properly thank South Carolina for being a generous host to me for the past 10 years. I went to school here, got a job here, met the best friends in the world here and even bought a house here.
(I’m certainly not done blogging about you, South Cackalacy!! Stay crazy.)

If someone had told me in January when I started this blog as my new year’s resolution, that I’d be blogging about moving home to New Orleans, I would have passed out from happiness.
Now I’m hyperventilating.

I will most likely cry when I load up all my work things into my car at the end of the day, all 200 or so newspapers that had my name on the front page.

But a bright spot: I have a whole week off to pack and move, which is the longest I’ve gone without working since I got a job post-college.
I made a bucket list of things I want to do before I leave, all the places I want to eat, bands I wanna dance to again.

I know I’ll be back plenty, but it still kills me a little. South Carolina took a piece of my heart, Janis Joplin style.
Joy's gonna have to hold down the fort until I return.

She can cut our grass.

-Jenny

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Perm


Am I beautiful yet???


Have you ever sat for FOUR hours in a salon chair, with each section of your hair being rolled up tightly and tearing at your scalp, with a stiff neck because, damn, those rollers are heavy?

And then get slathered up with perm chemicals that make you wish you were wearing a hazmat suit?
...WHILE hungover?

No?
Hmm. Odd.

Yes, I chose to do all of these things last weekend (yes even the hangover part, I did NOT say no to shots the night before…D’OH!), and now, my stick-straight hair is wavy and beachy and very Jessica Simpson.


Business on the left, party on the right!!


This is the third time I’ve gotten a perm, or as some call it a “body wave” (but I think that sounds more 80s than “perm”). I think it’s the perfect summer hairstyle because you literally don’t do anything to it when you get out of the shower. (Which matches my effort level to a T).

It does get less curly as the days go on, and starts to turn straight (because my hair really likes to be all business) but all I do is take a shower again and the curls are “reactivated.” Very high-tech.

I traveled to a small South Carolina town to get the perm because I’ve only gotten perms from Kathleen and I know she knows what she’s doing.
And, when I asked my normal stylist if she could perm it, she looked at me as if I just asked her to re-shingle the roof.

So, that’s why I drove almost four hours each way last weekend to perm my hair. I also needed to catch up on my celebrity magazine reading, a perfect distraction during the grueling process.

The longest part of the perm process was rolling each strand, because I have a LOT of hair on my head. Kathleen was much more patient than I was, and we gabbed about hometown gossip.
It wasn't even my hometown, but I love hometown gossip.
I now know who’s a trainwreck and who’s not; who’s married and who shouldn’t be married because he’s a cheater. Bastard. And someone else got fake boobs last week. For REAL.

Speaking of trainwrecks, I also read all about Lindsay Lohan’s jail sentence and scrutinized Jessica Simpson (my hair idol!) in the photos of her birthday in Fiji.

I took very enlightening quizzes about my love life and found out that my boyfriend does NOT show the signs of being a cheater (Whew. Thanks Cosmo).

After TWO hours of rolling the hair, I was told to cover my face with a towel while Kathleen squirted (that’s what she said!) each roller with pungent, burning chemicals.
A warning about the smell went out to everyone else in the salon, seriously. Kathleen gave them a heads up (hahaha get it? Man, I kill me.)

I covered my face with a towel so the liquid wouldn’t drop in my eyes, although the plan sort of backfired because the towel made it so I was huffing the chemicals, and my hangover really hated that.

And then, with all the liquid now saturated, my head weighed about 1,000 pounds and I had to sit there for 15 minutes with droplets falling onto my lap, burning holes into Paris Hilton’s head. (A silver lining?)

My hair had to be rinsed out (painful to lay your head into a sink with rollers, FYI) and then the rollers had to be dried with an entire ROLL of paper towels before being doused again with more liquid and then rinsed again twice before the rollers could come out.

Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to wash my hair for the next 48 hours. (The reason for this can be expertly explained at the end of the movie Legally Blonde).

This posed a problem when it started raining that night when my friends and I went to dinner.
My dear friend Katy held her pocketbook over my head as we ran to shelter, not wanting those four hours to go to waste.

She may have regretted that decision when I was the smelly person in the tiny car for the four-hour trip back home. Pungent chemicals aren't very becoming on a person.

I’m starting to get used to it being curly — now that I can wash it and all — although last night I did pine for it to be straight.
Perhaps the mirror in the bathroom at the bar was anti-curly. Made me look bad.

Also, my friends called me 80s singer Pat Benatar and the mermaid from Splash (obviously a movie I’ve never seen).

I can always blow dry it straight if I want to, but that’s a lot of effort. I like to keep things as lazy as possible. I’ll leave business hair for the winter.
Party on.

-Jenny

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

For years, philosophers have debated the greatest value of the Internet. Information? Communication?
For Sean, it would be posing as his ex-girlfriend to ask her friends about him.

Which brings me to Toolbag Tuesday: technology edition!!

Sean was crazy, a stalker and a hacker, and I happened to be an unfortunate pawn in his plan. And I fell for it.

Brittany told me all about Sean when we talked on the phone one day. We lived in different states, and I didn’t really keep up with her other than what was posted on her MySpace page. Yes Myspace! Sooo 2007!

We were talking on the phone because Brittany had deleted her MySpace page after Sean hacked in and read messages she wrote to other boys.
(Myspace….Facebook’s slutty older sister!!)

Brittany said Sean used to constantly look through her text messages and emails, and said she wouldn’t be surprised if she came home and found out that he had ransacked her apartment.

"I'm done with MySpace!" she said. "I don't want him knowing what I'm doing or where I am!"

As such, I was surprised to see that Brittany had created a new MySpace page two days later. There was a profile picture and everything. Her “about me” section? “I AM CRAZY!!!!”

I was even more surprised to see that she had sent me a message, with obvious grammar mistakes and girly abbreviations that didn’t sound like her at all.

Perhaps the following line in the message should have been a red flag:

“I am sooo bummed at the moment bc my phone is dead--i cant call anyone and i dont get my new one until tomorrow. so don’t call me.”

(Oh, YES I DID log onto MySpace specifically to find this message. It was sent three years ago.)
Sean goes on:


“i know you think that sean is a bad guy and that he is crazy but i am pretty crazy. what happened was: sean read the emails that i had sent to 2 of my guy friends and they were pretty over the top.
if he had written them to any girls--i would have flipped and broken up with him. i am now totally bummed and no phone and just sad. i know yall hate on sean but he is a really good guy and now he is over me. what do i do??”


I never noticed the irony of the “now he’s over me” part, considering he was so NOT over her that he created a fake MySpace page as her to message her friend.
(He spent time uploading a photo and filling out her favorite bands and everything.)

How was I supposed to respond to that message? There were several things wrong with it. First, I had never met Sean or even knew about him, so I couldn’t have “hated on him.”

Second, Brittany and I had just talked a day ago and I thought all this was resolved.

Third — and I do remember thinking this — when your phone dies, why do you need to replace it? Why not just charge it?

Nonetheless, I must have had other super important things to do like change my MySpace profile song, because I sent back a simple response, actually thinking that it was Brittany.

I wrote, “Well, if you’re scared he’s going to break into your apartment, then I would just forget him.”

An hour after I sent that, Brittany’s page was deleted.
Brittany and I laughed very hard when I finally called her and told her what happened, and we imagined Sean reading that response, probably red in the face and throwing things.

He never did break into her apartment, and she has since moved elsewhere and moved on.
Today, I called Brittany to chat about jobs and life and I told her that I was going to write about Sean in honor of Toolbag Tuesday.
I reminded her of the MySpace message he sent to me and I read it aloud to her. We laughed again.

“I would never write that!” she said, and I agreed.

It’s so weird that I decided to write about Sean today, she said, since he recently has been stalking her on Facebook.

(She didn’t get a page until this year because she didn’t want him to find her, and her profile picture has been a bowl of spaghetti until recently.)

Brittany said Sean found a birthday party “event” she had attended two years ago, and this week started commenting on all the pictures and writing on the event wall.

Sean also just sent Brittany a message, telling her that he misses her and knows she has a new boyfriend because the new boyfriend is in her profile picture and that’s fine and he hopes their future kids have the new boyfriend’s baby blue eyes. Which is creepy.

At least he sent it as himself this time.
I told her to lock her doors.

-Jenny

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh, hello there 1980! Good to see you again


Suzanne Somers sold separately


I had sort of an 80s weekend, complete with an actual hair perm (which only sounds 80s…I will look beach-sexy I swear!!!), dinner at a restaurant where the prices were so low it was probably just like fine dining in the 80s (SCORE!) and I stayed at my friend’s parents house that was filled with EBAY-worthy electronics.


A dream machine!! Duran Duran anyone?

My parents completely renovated the New Orleans house I grew up in after Hurricane Katrina — not that it was flooded out, but what better time than any? — and all the 80s/early 90s electronics were removed, including computer screens, telephones and the Betamax player.

BETAMAX! Thrice removed from being relevant! It was what you watched movies on before being replaced by VHS players before being replaced by DVD players.
(By the way, if you don’t know what “Be Kind, Rewind" means, you are too young to read this blog.)

This weekend, on a road trip to a small, northwest town in South Carolina, I was reminded of a more simple time when TVs had curved edges and digital clocks only displayed slashed numbers in red.

I was in town to get my hair permed, which sounds odd but JUST YOU WAIT SERIOUSLY, and my two friends and twin sister, Joy, accompanied me on the three-hour trip. We stayed at our guy friend’s parents' house, who were not there that weekend, but let us sleep there anyway. Sweeeeet.

We checked out all of our friends' baby pictures on the wall, including his sports "hall of fame" bookshelf chock full of trophies and medals.

Another 80s flashback: a soccer team photo, a single picture above a group shot below. I know this montage well; I played cabbage ball growing up and I’ve got pictures just like it.

“Pose with one knee up, kids!” the photographer would say. “It’s more professional that way! On three, up you go!”

Perhaps the photographer didn’t notice the white daisy dukes that these players in particular were forced to wear, and I kind of felt like a creep for noticing.
But seriously, do they even make those shorts anymore? For Richard Simmons maybe?


Yes, we do think his big ears are cute

I marveled at all these old school items in the house and then came upon something near and dear to my heart, an old school razor, the same kind as the first one I ever used to shave my legs when I was…what, 10? 11?

I remember Joy and I were so EAGER to shave our legs and we would BEG BEG BEG our mom to let us use her razor, and we were told NO, NO, NO (typical.)

One year for Christmas, our mom got us each a razor and shaving cream and we felt so COOL. Because when you’re 10 or 11, anything hot pink and turquoise is cool.


Jonathan Taylor Thomas....call me!!

The only thing that could have made the shower experience better is if there was a bottle of some old school Herbal Essences Shampoo.

Throw in a mid-drift top, choker necklace and a purple Jansport backpack and we’re in business.
Perm sold separately.

-Jenny

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Karma

Doesn’t it sound just so cliché to say you believe in karma?

As if some hippy gods are out there are watching, waiting to reward you every time you pick up a piece of paper someone dropped.

Or help someone move into a third floor apartment.
Or sit with them in emergency care all day on Saturday after they twisted their ankle at the bar the night before.

Any one of those things could be why I’ve had pretty good luck in my lifetime. (Should I knock on wood when I say that? Haha)

The best karma luck I’ve ever had was when I was floating down a river in North Carolina.
(I love river floats; floating like a leaf down the watery trail, drinking beer and being able to pee whenever I want.)

On this particular floating trip, I had arrived at the start of the river wearing a bathing suit and shorts, which I had planned to leave in the car until I put a toe in the river and felt how positively freezing it was.

The shorts were staying on. (Perhaps I should have found a T-shirt, too, because I was floating with boys and I was wearing a thin bikini top and it was cold and….er, nevermind mom.)

In the midst of debating my attire in the cold mountain-fed river, and everyone already in the water, I decided to jump on the tube right then, shorts and all. I’ll paddle my arms really fast to get the blood moving, I thought.

After an hour or two, the four of us “pulled off” to the side of the river at high noon for lunch on the shore, a rejuvenating break in the sun.
Right as I was about to bite into my turkey sandwich, a Bachelorette party floated by (cute idea btw) and one girl called out to me, “Are you Genevieve?

I blinked. Yes, my name is Genevieve, but no one calls me that. Was this girl from my credit card company?

“Yes, I’m…Genevieve,” I said, as my floating companions stopped chewing to look at me.

“I found your debit card floating in the river and picked it up,” she said.

I looked down at my shorts, SHIT, and remembered that I had put my driver’s license and debit card in my pockets.
“Oh my God!” I said. “Yes!”
I verified my last name, and doggy-paddled over to the girls who were getting quite drunk on the float.

“THIS IS GREAT KARMA!” I told my rescuer. “ALL YOUR WILDEST DREAMS WILL COME TRUE TONIGHT!”
Everyone laughed.

I came back to shore and then divulged that my driver’s license was also gone, down the river.
“Well, at least you have your debit card,” someone said, trying to make me feel better. “I mean, you’d have to cancel your debit card, wait to get a new one and we don’t even have our cell phones out here. I’d rather lose my license than my debit card.”

He had a point, but still.
I had to drive back to South Carolina the next day and preferred to do so with a Driver’s License.
I was also planning on going out to a bar that night, and I certainly don’t look old enough to not get carded.
I was uninterested in my sandwich all of a sudden. I sat on the sand and frowned.

I was preoccupied for less than five minutes when an older lady came floating by the sandbank. She looked at me.
“Are you Genevieve?” she asked.
"YES!"
“I could tell by your picture.”

There, in her hand, was my driver’s license. I could see the red accents from where I was sitting.

I squealed with delight and swam over to her, as she told me she found it wedged between two rocks, water rushing over it. I thanked her profusely, also told her that her wildest dreams would come true that night, and got it safely back to shore.

I didn’t feel that worthy, to have both cards recovered in nearly impossible conditions. And both within five minutes of realizing they were even missing!

“Holy shit!” my fellow floaters said. “That’s some good karma. You must have helped an old lady cross the street or something.”
I considered that for a moment.
“Well thank God cards float,” I finally said.

********

When I was about 8 years old, the diamond in my mom’s engagement ring fell out of the ring and somewhere in our house.
We had very old wood floors — like many houses in New Orleans — and finding a diamond in every crevice, every knot, with the dog slobbering all over the place, seemed hopeless.

I can still see the image of my mom, canvassing the house looking down at every inch, visibly upset. I took this opportunity to go upstairs and sneak in a little TV, since we weren’t allowed to watch TV growing up.

Right as I flopped onto my parent’s bed with the remote, I felt something hard on the bottom of my bare foot. Not a splinter, but something I had certainly stepped on.
I looked under my foot and there was the diamond, wedged between my big toe and second toe.

“MOM I FOUND IT!” I yelled, holding it as I ran downstairs. “I STEPPED ON IT!”
“What in the world…?” she said, shuffling it around in her palm. “You’re very lucky,” she said.
I beamed, although then got really sad when I realized this meant I wasn’t going to be able to watch Full House after all.

Other good luck karma instances?
Well, I didn’t get a single drinking ticket from an undercover cop in college, while every single roommate of mine did.

Getting a drinking ticket was a HUGE pain in the ass. It was embarrassing, it cost a lot, you had to tell your parents and go to alcohol education classes.
If you were a minute late to the class, they locked the doors and you had to pay again to take another class.

And, my parents would NOT be OK with me getting an underage drinking ticket.
I also looked very young and was an easy target. (I’m sure I’d be questioned today if a “vice” saw me throwing back beers).
As such, I only went out drinking during the week, and suffered through class the next day.
This is what I learned in college: how to adapt.

A more recent instance that I like to think is karma, is when my horrible former editor, who hated how young and enthusiastic I was, recently split from her husband after he CHEATED ON HER with someone…young and enthusiastic. Wasn’t me. Swear. Shudder.

She would suck at my soul like a Dementor from Harry Potter every time I approached her with an idea for an article.
She told me I was a pain in her ass. She told me everyone hated me. She was an old, bitter bully, and now she’s an old bitter DIVORCEE. Coincidence? I hope not.

Once, I caught myself being too happy about her unfortunate circumstances and then said, no, Jenny, don’t be too happy because then one day it can come back and bite you. So, I didn’t buy that voodoo doll of her.

I think it’s reasonable to interchange karma, luck and timing when something miraculous happens or you find out you just avoided a bad situation.

Have I really been rewarded for all my good deeds, like when I carbon-copied my notes for that blind kid in elementary school?

Or signed my friend up for an online dating service, where she eventually found love?

Or fought to make sure a story about a girl collecting food for the homeless made it into the paper?

Maybe I’m being too philosophical.
Maybe debit cards just…float.

-Jenny

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

One time, on the worst date in history, my twin sister’s date asked her for tips on how to flirt with the server.

“Am I supposed to be your wingman?” Joy responded.

Mark was the first person Joy had gone out with since moving to South Carolina from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. It was their second date.
Mark was mildly cute, lived on a sailboat and went to law school.

“Oh, hey Marrrrrk!” the server said in a syrupy voice when she came up to their table. She was young, also mildly cute.

“Hey, uh, hey how’s it going?” Mark asked nervously — so nervously that Joy raised one eyebrow suspiciously.
“Do you know her?” Joy asked, once she walked away.

“Oh, I met her last weekend,” Marrrrrk said casually. “She said she gets off early on Tuesdays, and told me I should come visit her.”
Joy paused.
“But, today is Tuesday.”
“Yea, I know!” he said excitedly. “Do you have, like, any advice for me?”

Joy paused.
“I’m sorry…but…seriously??? You’re seriously asking me how to hit on the server? Am I supposed to be your wing man??”

Before he could say anything, Joy added, “You know what? I’m gonna call Jenny and have her come pick me up.”
Mark pleaded with her not to do that, and then made a beeline for the bathroom.

“I’m ready to be picked up now,” Joy told me when I answered.
“What the hell?” I asked. "You left like 15 minutes ago."
“I’m. Ready. To. Be. Picked. Up. Now.”

(This was the phrase our mother told us to say to her if we ever got into a hairy situation, and it meant no-questions-asked-threat-level-red-help-me-now.
It came into existence when we started going to Mardi Gras parades by ourselves, and we always found it dorky.)

“I’ll be there in less than five minutes,” I said, knowing Joy meant business since she wasn't hysterically laughing.

Three minutes later, Mark had not returned from the bathroom, and Joy sat alone, mortified, staring at the two drinks the server brought over to the table, condensation dripping making rings on the wood.
Joy’s phone buzzed in her clutched hand and she picked up quickly thinking it was me, outside. It wasn’t.

“Heeeey,” Mark said on the other end.
“What?” Joy asked in a confused, bitchy tone. “Mark? Where...are you?”
“The bathroom,” he said.
“OK, that’s weird.”

“Do you, like, think I’m being a dick or something?” Mark asked, his voice echoing against the empty bathroom stalls.
“What??”

“I just called my friend from back home, and she said I’m being a dick to you right now.”
What?? You called your friend from the bathroom?
"Yes."
"Why don’t you come OUT of the bathroom and talk to me face to face?”
“I don’t know.”

Joy hung up and left the restaurant, right as I pulled up front.

Over the next few weeks, Mark sent Joy text messages about nothing — the weather and sports. She never responded. Once he sent ME a text message asking “if Joy was still mad at him,” and of course I didn’t respond, which meant, YES, DICK.

Mark is an example of why our mother always tells us to “try people on” before getting too invested.

I like to imagine him still in the bathroom of that restaurant (that has long been shut down). Perhaps he slipped and broke his leg and was forgotten on the cold, tile floor, alone, with no battery left in his phone.

Miserable, sad and no wingman for miles.

-Jenny

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Embarrassing toys

I used to play with Barbies way longer than girls should. It was awkward to admit then, and it’s awkward now.

I suppose I should get over the embarrassment since I’m 27 and my mom says I'm not supposed to care what people think.

But, as I approached middle school, I distinctly remember feeling ashamed. My two friends and I were too old for dolls, like kids that are way too old to be breastfeeding.
We would have likely gotten raised eyebrows from strangers, had they been allowed in my room and seen our Barbie setups.

We’d make little Barbie houses out of blocks and dress them in fashionable poufy 90s clothes and make up story lines and have the dolls talk to each other.

(The Barbies’ names weren’t “Barbie,” just so you know. We had far better names like Samantha and Tess and Roxy and they were all best friends and walked their poodles together.)

We spent hours on these Barbie houses, but we had no loyalty.
Once, my older brother’s friend came over, and we were so embarrassed that they would see our dolls that we annihilated our set-ups in 30 seconds, blocks flying under the bed, Barbie dolls stashed in book shelves, their blonde hair getting tangly.

“It’s not that we like playing with Barbies,” we would tell ourselves. “We just like designing their houses and stuff. What’s wrong with designing houses??”
(We ignored the fact that we also bought, and enjoyed, Barbie comic books.)

I don’t remember the exact day we stopped playing with Barbies, but it was sometime after we all went to different middle schools and found different interests, like sneaking into movie theaters and wearing eyeliner. (Totally up Roxy’s alley, by the way).

I never pined for playing with the dolls once we retired them, but I do remember it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing with a toy. I can’t even think of another toy that I used to play with growing up.

Oh, wait, Skip-It. God, I loved Skip-It. (THE VERY BEST THING OF ALL! THERE’S A COUNTER ON THAT BALL!)

Once I graduated college, I completely forgot about all childhood toys until a friend showed me a game that was EXACTLY like my Barbie fun.
It was called The Sims, and it was basically a virtual world where you BUILD HOUSES and DRESS the characters in poufy fashionable clothes with STORY LINES and MAKE THEM TALK TO EACH OTHER.
(Why, oh why, did we not trademark our Barbie game???)

The Sims was perfect, especially since my friend had some “code” where you had an unlimited supply of money in which to build your perfect dream house, with glass walls and a pool if you wanted.
Oh my God I was in love.

I bought the game for myself (CD-ROM, old school) and spent hours developing my “Sim” character (Samantha) and built her a sick mansion and got her a job at the local newspaper, go figure.

I even got to be “neighbors” with my friend’s SIM, and thanks to the Internet, I had lots of SIMS friends — many of whom would have made fine Barbie players ten years prior.

Unfortunately, the only computer that had Internet in the house at the time was in the living room, and my roommates didn’t find the game quite as, um….cool as I did.

One roommate in particular, Kristin, had no patience for the “retarded, made-up game” as she called it, and would berate me every time I clicked on my SIM, making her go to work and take out the trash.

“STOP BEING A LOSER!” she would say. “GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND LET’S DO SOMETHING IN REAL LIFE WITH REAL PEOPLE.

She kind of had a point. I did spend one evening building a second story (um, hello, with a hot tub) instead of join my friends at a nearby restaurant.

Kristin got my other roommates involved with making fun of me and the game, and I was finally bullied out of playing entirely.

I hadn’t thought about Barbie or The Sims (or any wholesome fun for that matter) for some time now, until I saw the movie Toy Story 3 last week.

I was pleased to see that Barbie plays a big role in that movie. Of course, they kept her name Barbie. How…blah.

The movie was about how kids grow up and don’t play with toys anymore, and the toys miss them.
They miss getting played with and participating in the fake storylines, blah, blah, blah.

I thought about my Barbies, probably still packed away in a box in my house in New Orleans, since my mother refuses to throw anything away.
Is Barbie Roxy upset with me, like the movie suggested? Does she miss her pink Jeep and her TV? What about the poodle?

I know my SIM certainly doesn’t miss me. That bitch is hooked UP with a million dollar house and a pool. But I bet the trash really, really needs to be taken out.

-Jenny

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TOOLBAG TUESDAY

Some people (mom) have asked me how I come up with ideas for this blog. I respond that I try to remember funny stories I tell people in person, and attempt to transcribe these stories without losing the “funny.”

This was the case with the blog entries about my deplorable cooking skills, Catholic School upbringing and anything involving Joy.
I have repeated these tidbits to hundreds of people in real life. Hours of entertainment.

The stories I find I get the biggest laughs from, however, are the ones about the TOOLBAGS my friends and I have dated, because the stories are just so unbelievable.

I’m not talking about horrible breakups or great past loves that were ripped apart due to distance, timing or…um, alcoholism. I’m talking about truly ridiculous stories that I couldn’t make up if I tried.

Saying “train wreck” and “hot mess” would be too polite…too…normal for these people.

Let’s just give some examples, shall we?
My college rooommate’s boyfriend once put a dead baby shark under our house.

We lived in the heart of downtown, more than 10 miles from the beach, and Peter* was crazy, a sportsman, and had a conveniently large vehicle that could easily haul the marine animal.

We were unaware of our rotting guest, and complained to the landlord about a horrible STINK, the kind that could curl wallpaper. Worse than exploded potatoes. He said it was probably a rat, and he would call the pest company to look into it.

The poor pest guy looked so frightened when he crawled back from under the house a few days later to give us the report.

“Ya’ll got a God damn dead baby shark under the house!” he said in a think South Carolina accent.

We let this information marinate for a second, and then all instinctively pointed at Amy.
“Peter did it!” we all said in unison.
“What? No!” she protested, saying Peter would never go to all that trouble just because they had recently broken up.

“OH REALLY? we said. “NAME ONE OTHER PERSON THAT CRAZY!”

We reminded her that Peter beat our front door down one night when we weren’t home, breaking it in half, and he also let the air out of everyone’s tires in our driveway CONVINCED that one of the cars belonged to her new boyfriend.

(Peter actually deserves his own TOOLBAG blog entry. And he will get it.)

In order to catalog my vast collection of seemingly made-up stories, ALTHOUGH BELIEVE ME THEY ARE VERY, VERY REAL, and to provide a little comic relief, I would like to start “TOOLBAG TUESDAYS,” snippets of real life stories reserved for the laughably worst of the worst dating disasters.

Don’t worry, *some names have been changed.

To make things fair, I’ll be the victim in the inaugural TOOLBAG TUESDAY post, and tell you about someone I dated — briefly — during the three weeks I must have hit my head and damaged the judgment part of my brain.

Landon seemed nice enough, and we had friends in common, and he used to work at a bakery and make pies and I thought that was kind of cute.

Things started out normal, with dinner and video games and even some dancing. I also met his entire family (which was a hodgepodge “blended” family twice over, which means his niece is older than he is and his dad’s second ex-wife’s son was at the table.)

The fam seemed to like me and Papa even talked up the liquor he was making that would be ready by a holiday that was a month away.
“Can’t wait for you to try it!” he said, assuming I'd still be around in a month.

I thought Landon had promise, even though he was kind of dumb. I became suspicious about his IQ when he revealed he was no longer in pharmacy school because he failed a drug test.

“Didn’t you think they’d test you in order to be a pharmacist?” I asked.
“Yea,” he laughed. “They even told me they’d test me, but I forgot.”

Despite this information, I invited him over to my house for a Sunday Funday birthday party for my former roommate.
He met all my friends at the party, who had known OF him, since we had DATED for three weeks and I HAD EVEN MET HIS PARENTS.

So, there he was — officially introduced — eating all the brunch food and birthday cake and beer I had paid for, when I noticed he and his best friend were talking to my two best girl friends awfully…close.

I’ll admit I was playing host and bobbing from group to group, and hadn't seen him for a half-hour.

“Um….he’s not that stupid to hit on someone else at our party,” said my twin sister, Joy, on the way to get more beer. (This, friends, is a bit of foreshadowing.)

“But he’s talking to Maggie really closely!” I said. "Maybe I should be worried."
“He’s probably just being Steven’s wing man or something,” Joy said.

When I returned to the house after the beer run, I found the foursome still in one-on-one conversations, so I did what anyone would do — I put on some music and started dancing with him to Michael Jackson.

He soon turned his attention (properly) back on me, and I felt foolish for thinking foul play. The party turned out really well, and Joy and I high-fived about it and everyone drank themselves silly.

The next day, I had a smile on my face at work despite a terrible headache, and I was counting down the minutes until lunch.
Right as I was getting into my car to find the greasiest burger in town, I got a call from Maggie.

“Hey, I just wanted to let you know the guy you’re dating is a total douchebag!” Maggie said.
“What?” I asked.
“Yea, Landon asked to be my friend on Facebook this morning and he got my phone number from my page and just asked me out on a date.”

“What?” my voice raised two octaves.
“Yea.”
I foolishly gave him the benefit of the doubt.
“Maybe…you misunderstood?”
“No," Maggie said. "I said to him, ‘aren’t you and Jenny dating?’ and he said, ‘no.’”
My hangover switched into overdrive. OH HELLLLL NO.

I yelled something about him to Maggie that is not blog appropriate, thanked her for being a friend, and called Landon immediately.

“HEY!” I shouted when he picked up. “WHY ARE YOU ASKING MY FRIENDS OUT ON DATES??”

“Woah! Woah!” he said. “I see what’s going on here.”

“Oh yea, WHAT?” I asked in a fake polite voice, cocking my head to one side. “WHAT. is going on here?”

“You just like me WAY more than I like you….”

My jaw dropped.
“NO!” I shouted, making it a loooong, almost upbeat no. “That is NOT what’s going on here!”

“Well, apparently I’m like your BOYFRIEND or something.” (he used the word “like” a lot.)

“NOOOO!” another long, upbeat no. “You were MY DATE to MY PARTY though.”
“OK, WOAH. I think you girls are just being really dramatic,” he said.

I’m being dramatic? How about you??? Asking my friends out, OH MY GOD, I brought a CREEPER as my date to my own party!” I said. "How embarrassing!"

“OK, OK, I don’t think I’m like…a creep,” he said. “I just don’t want to be anyone’s boyfriend.”

“YOU’RE NOT MY BOYFRIEND! YOU CAN GO OUT WITH WHOEVER YOU WANT!” I screamed. “MY FRIENDS AREN’T INTERESTED IN YOU!”

“THIS IS NOT HELPING MY HANGOVER!” I said sternly, and then I hung up.

For the rest of the day, Landon word-vomited me varying text messages either saying 1.) this was all a misunderstanding 2.) my friends and I are “gossipy dramatic” girls 3.) that I wanted him to be my boyfriend.
I did not respond.

I gave him 24 hours to apologize and then, naturally, deleted him as my Facebook friend. (Which really pisses off 25-year-olds.)

“OH, WE CAN’T EVEN BE FACEBOOK FRIENDS?? THIS SUCKS,” he wrote the following morning, in all caps.
I laughed aloud.

“It sucks that you made me think you were a nice guy.”
“I am a nice guy. You just wanted more than I did.”

I laughed aloud, again.
“Wrong on both counts,” I replied. “Deflate your ego. I never wanted you to be my boyfriend.”

“Don’t be mean,” he finally said.

I think he could use a nice dead baby shark under his house.

-Jenny

Monday, July 5, 2010

OK, the bee sting actually did suck

July 4th is my favorite holiday each year, and I hate to say that this year was terribly predictable.

I had a horribly wonderful weekend, complete with painfully mild, 85-degree weather and zero humidity.
Several friends came to visit during the unfortunate three-day weekend, and our house was filled with the annoying sounds of laugher and good cheer all weekend.

We donned obnoxiously cliché red, white and blue attire. We never ran out of beer, as much as we tried.

Could we get any more typical “American” than a visit to a pool, a trip to the beach and a luxurious boat ride around South Carolina’s remote islands?
How about watching a nearly 40-minute fireworks show from a boat with the terrifying popping and banging coming from above?

(The dizzyingly colorful sparks also made it practically impossible to notice the garish sky full of stars. I mean, I hardly ever get to see the Big Dipper, and my view was obscured with firework smoke, GAW!)

I awoke July 4th morning to five friends laughing in the kitchen and an illegally sugary, terribly delicious brunch on the table, complete with mimosas and my roommate’s notoriously unforgivable cinnamon bread. It was downright sinful.

In addition to the holiday being marked by embarrassingly drunk happy strangers everywhere shouting HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! and wearing American flag bathing suits and bandanas, we also suffered through a gigantic C-14 plane doing a exhausting “patriotic” flyover along the coast.
The thousands of people on the beach all waved and whistled as it flew overhead, a terrible waste of energy because the pilot certainly couldn’t hear us.

That afternoon, while waiting for our friend’s dreadfully immaculate boat to pick us up at a super snooty marina, my twin sister, Joy, even got stung bitten by a large honeybee.

Joy cried in pain and had to get ice rubbed on the red lump on her back for at least a half hour, making it horribly uncomfortable to lean back on the extravagantly cushioned boat seats.

My calves are frighteningly sore from all the dancing I did every night this weekend — terribly grueling. All of this dancing was also to peculiar contraptions like mandolins, harmonicas and unidentifiable brass instruments.

I don’t know what I did to deserve such a terribly glorious weekend, or how I got such terribly wonderful friends. I mean, would it be too much to ask to have one thing go wrong? Could America’s birthday be a little less awesome?

Thank goodness I'm going to work tomorrow — and early, too. I miss structure. I miss emails. I miss wearing more than just a bikini.

And there certainly won't be any bees.



terrible, just terrible

Happy 4th y'all.

-Jenny
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