PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Move Over, Martha.

This morning, I deadheaded the deep purple tulips, because they were spent. Then I was about to deadhead the orange-red parrot tulips, but I noticed that they were still in really good shape, so I thought, Self! Let's have a bouquet! That takes care of future deadheading, and it will look very pretty!

So I made a de-GORgeous bouquet out of those tulips, and decided it was so stunning, I had to take some pictures. I felt like I had in front of me, a flower arrangement worthy of Martha. Except I'm competitive, so instead of wanting her approval, I was all, YEE-HAW, eat this, Marty!

Then the dogs got involved. Milling about. Suzy kept coming up and wanting to investigate the flowers, and I thought, "Awwwww. Wouldn't that be sweet? A picture of BigSuzy, stopping to smell the tulips." (These tulips actually smell pretty good.) So I'm snapping my fingers and trying to focus and trying to get her attention, but also get my hand OUT of the picture in time, and Suzy strolls up - and - TAKES A TULIP PETAL IN HER MOUTH AND PULLS.

Oh, man, MOVE bitch, get out the way, the whole arrangement is knocked over, cold water EVERYwhere, I'm yelling, trying to make sure the camera's not soaked, I'm wearing my crocs, fortunately, but unwittingly, I then tromp water from the living room to the kitchen, and I spend ten minutes sopping up water while intermittently yelling "BAD!" I get the tulips restored, fresh water put in, the tulips are on the kitchen table now, so they won't be so tempting to bad dogs looking for a new-fangled snack.

And Suzy has the funniest face when she knows she's in trouble. So, had to take a picture of that, too.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:16 AM | link |

Moments before the overturning of the tulip cart..... Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 9:08 AM | link |

The Face of Guilt Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 9:00 AM | link |

Friday, April 29, 2005

8-Track Flashback: Dovetail Boy

Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend. Not the way Hannibal Lecter did, you know, at the end of "Silence of the Lambs", of course, but with a guy I hired & worked with back in St. Louis - he now is in sales in Chicago, and in this small, strange, world of advertising, now calls on me. Yet another reminder to be very judicious about which bridges you truly torch, and why behaving nicely always is a better route to choose. (Not that he & I had bridges to burn, but the point is, the world feels like it's shrinking sometimes, and you never know who might be in a position to influence your life tomorrow.)

It was one of those funny winding conversations as both of us remembered people, the parties, the ones we liked, the ones we didn't, the jokes we had, and what we're doing now. I always viewed him a little bit like a brother I didn't have - he's also an only child, and I have a similar bond with all my OC friends, who understand the uniqueness that growing-up experience brings. Particularly the SPACE needs of the OC.

One of the first things he asked me was, "What the hell did we DO back then?" I can barely remember myself. I know we did a lot of work, and we were in this whacked-out office set-up where an office was cut into two offices, the side by the windows was bigger, it was my side, and he sat on the other side, smaller, no windows. They could have done the 2/3rds:1/3 ratio with both sides getting window, but that would have been too fair. We dubbed it "The Shaft", because the whole thing sorta blew, and the boss in charge (the one who spent the first year I worked for her drunk, crying, and playing free cell all day) had brought in a former-job-pet to work over us, even though said pet knew absolutely nothing about the specialized industry we worked in. Yee-haw! Goooood times. Nothing like putting TWO only children into a compressed space together, to do all the work. We had music wars, and I still remember him hitting the wall with the "Trainspotting" soundtrack & forbidding me to ever play it again. It's a long muthah.

Oh, the references, the one-liners. There were commercials that aired around that time, that drove both of us cah-RAY-zeee. One was for an eyeglasses company. In the background, they did this jazzy sing-song, "Sexy Specs!" Sent me over the edge every time it came on and I hated the dude who starred in the spots. Then there was that Red Lobster commercial, with the old dude in front of the restaurant, drawling, "Ah'm a shrimp eater!" We discovered we still say that phrase, and laugh, despite knowing that there's only one other person we know who would also laugh. We discovered our respective spouses just raise an eyebrow, nod, and move on. They're used to our peculiar brand of crazy. (You'll note, on the title of the picture of James eating shrimp, I used that line. It's like an OCD habit, I can't help it.) Of course, the ubiquitous "good times" - the words I always hear as said by Phil Hartman, god rest his funny, taken-too-soon soul - on "News Radio" talking nostalgically about the sandwiches his mother would make for school lunch, and how she didn't want to be bothered every day, so she made a month's worth at a time and put them in a bucket on the porch.....

It's those snippets that get woven in over time, the things that hit us as riotously funny, that stay with us over the years, even when we don't stay in contact with everyone or even remember everyone we knew. I don't normally like to trip down memory lane a whole lot, unless it's here on my blog & I'm in complete control - there are a lot of things that've happened over the years that I'd rather not revisit, and I think I have a deep fear of regret. I don't want to feel it, because I think it's a useless feeling - it's paralyzing and negative, to me. So the good news is, a two-hour lunch that was exactly that, an 8-track-flashback, was incredibly fun. No regrets, just laughs.

Man, I almost forgot to explain the title. When I first met him, when he interviewed, it was on a Saturday. We sat in The Shaft, he in my guest chair, and I asked all the standard questions. At least three separate times, complete with big gestures, fingers lacing/interlocking, he said that he wanted to "dovetail" his prior sales experience with working at an agency. Shortly after he started, and I had ascertained we could throw a LOT of crap back and forth at each other, I had to give him a hard time about it. When I called him a few weeks ago about a work issue, instead of saying my name and going that route, I said needed some help with a dovetail issue. It's like instant recognition code. And at lunch yesterday, he threw it in, complete with the hand gesture.

Good times.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:53 AM | link |

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Car Conversations

My JWo can, on occasion, drive me crazy, to drink, to distraction, but most of the time, he drives me to doubled-over laughing, which can be a hazard when you're driving.

For instance, last night, we were going to dinner (Thai Place, DUH, is there any other kind of food?) and I was talking to him & telling him how much I have appreciated his willingness to up and move, to even offer to live in glamorous places like Iowa, or South Dakota, if that's where I wanted to live. Truth be told, the man would be happy anywhere the ducks fly (and hopefully, where I am.) Except maybe Kansas, that whole border war & all - I digress.

So I expected a touched "thank you", and nothing really beyond that, and I get, "That is the free spirit that is the JWo." OK, YODA.

And then after dinner, we're listening to the new "Queens of the Stone Age" album, because somebody in our household doesn't LISTEN to 96.5 the Buzz anymore, and so the single that I hear every day is still fresh and novel to the free spirit that was formerly known as the JWo. No complaints - it's an interesting album, again with the driving beats and bass, and there was one song that I noted I liked, because it was "haunting". So then every song after that had to be labeled "haunting", like we're two years old and trying to fit the star-shaped puzzle piece into the round hole of the plastic globe. MAKE IT FIT DAMMIT.

JWo: "This song's haunting."

Me: "No, it's not."

"Yes it is."

"Just because they're warbling doesn't make it haunting. Haunting is different."

"It has ghost sounds. Right there. WooOOOoooooOOOO. That's haunting."


"They always did run into ghosts. Hey, let's split up! Shaggy & Scooby, you guys go down that long dark hallway where the GHOSTS ARE!"


"Oh but the best Shaggy -who was that?"

"Rob Lowe."

"YEAH! He was awesome."

(Did you ever see Rob Lowe on Saturday Night Live do his Shaggy voice? Stellar. He's perfect. His performance? Still :cough: haunts me.)
posted by PlazaJen, 6:59 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Belly Laugh of the Day

We have a calendar in the bathroom that features Black Labradors. I also use this calendar to mark down things like "James hunting", "Shrimpdig", and "De-worm the dogs!" I used all the heartworm medicine stickers to keep me on track for giving the dogs their meds, and at the end of this month, I have a note that I need to go to the vet for more Advantix & de-wormers. (They're on a regular de-worming schedule because they're a) hunting dogs and b) cat poop connoisseurs.) So I lift up April's page to see when the next treatment is due so I can gauge how much time I have to get to the vet, and I see a new entry in mid-May:

"Jeremy P's birthday, send a gift"

One of our shrimpdig attendees, gettin' a little delayed humor in. I forgot how damned funny that guy is, his humor's pretty dry, he's a relatively quiet guy, but James always likes to point out he showed up at a Halloween party dressed as Angus Young, and that was the night he probably stole JWo's heart. Thankfully, Jeremy's married so I'm not too worried. I made a mental note this morning, when I was done laughing, to spend more time with them.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:03 PM | link |

I Have Risen!

You May Be a Bit Schizotypal ...

A bit odd and socially isolated. (Hey, I'll give you odd. But I'm a social butterfly, dammit!)

You couldn't care less of what others think. (Well. Not always.)

And some of your beliefs are a little weird.

Like that time you thought you were Jesus. (FINE! Now all my secrets are out.)

What Personality Disorder Are You?
posted by PlazaJen, 7:43 AM | link |

This Blog's For You -

To my dear friend who recently celebrated two years of sobriety: I can never say it enough, I'm so damned proud of you & proud to call you my friend. I sometimes feel like we've put 10 years of connection and friendship into the last 2, like we made up for lost time, and it's awesome. Even though we don't talk every day, even though we don't live in the same city, I treasure our friendship, because you, my dear, are one of my Forever Friends. I appreciate your strength, your vulnerability, your determination, and of course, your humor. You're an amazing, terrific person, and it's so wonderful to see the real you, living each day.

Here's to all the laughter & learning ahead of us in this life.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:22 AM | link |

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

Who's Your Inner European?
posted by PlazaJen, 5:13 PM | link |

Whazza Shrimpdig?

The 2nd Annual NuWo Shrimpdig has morphed out of JWo's involvement with his waterfowl group here in Missouri. Let it never be said I don't give props where props is due. One of his fellow members hosted a crawdad/shrimp boil a couple years ago, and not only did JWo come home raving about it, he showed me PICTURES. So, green with envy, I insisted we have one, too. And the bonus part about this fellow member in his group? The dude works at a seafood distributor here in town, so we get a hell of a deal. And the distributor has some of the best restaurants in town as clients, including a favored sushi place, so we knooooow we're gettin' good stuff. And yummy good it is. Last year, we had a whopping ten people partake, this year, we tripled our numbers. We ask for $10/person to shave some of our costs - that gets you non-alcoholic beverages, red potatoes & corn (this Iowa gal shucked ALL 35 ears) and it's all-you-can-snarf 22-count/lb shrimp & seasoned crawdads. If you wanna bring a side dish, or dessert, the crowd thanks and loves you. No biggie if you don't. The upside/downside this year was how damned chilly it got - we love cooler weather, but it was downright COLD when the sun went down, and poor Kristin was trying to knit & I was thinking her needles might just freeze right onto her hands if she didn't stop.

I shortened the name from "Shrimp Shindig" to "Shrimpdig" because it's just as descriptive & more succinct. And while I always think I'm gonna eat two pounds of shrimp, it never fails - I get full. Damn MommaLinda's sweet cornbread. I share her recipe with you, and if you want to just slap the ingredients right on your hips, you can skip the whole metabolic process. I also give you - one happy, shrimp-eatin' JWo. And some other party pix.

Momma Linda's Decadent Cornbread Recipe

1 can creamed corn
1 can kernel corn, drained
8 oz. Sour cream
½ cup milk
1 c. Monterey jack cheese
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
1 stick melted butter
3 eggs

Mix all ingredients together – pour into a greased pan & bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees!

I'm a shrimp eater! Posted by Hello

Abbey, Jeremy, Ashley & Russell. Everybody looks COLD. Posted by Hello

Randy, Julie & Lily. Lily is non-plussed about crawfish. Go away, daddy & get me some zweiback. Posted by Hello

Beth, Mark, Jimmi, Judy, Kristin & Justin. Different stages of consumption. People are still semi-warm here due to the ball of fire in the sky. Posted by Hello

Roger, before I took 14 more pictures of him. So he's still smiling. Posted by Hello

Kristin, shortly before her hands froze off. Posted by Hello

Judy. She's Canadian so it felt like Summer to her. Posted by Hello

Sara, Paul, and a fire. Posted by Hello

Roger hits his limit with me. I'm trying out "Sport" mode on my camera. Posted by Hello

Suzy enjoyed all the pets and begged shamelessly. She might have gotten into the beer from the looks of this picture. Posted by Hello

Polly shows off her GIANT bone (each dog got one!) Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 8:31 AM | link |

Monday, April 25, 2005

Escalades, Escapades & Randomness

So I almost got run into this morning by an Escalade; there is this part of my commute that everyone treats like a giant curve at NASCAR, or a horse race, you can almost hear the voice-over, "And they're comin' around, they're comin' around now right now, here they come and WE HAVE HONDA by a nose in the lead, NO there's an Escalade coming in from the other side and WHOA that was a near miss that Escalade looked like it was going to keep on going across all those lanes, Jim, what a near miss for that Honda, good thing she used that horn when she did."

We had our 2nd annual Shrimpdig this weekend - it was fun, but DAYUM it was chilly. Cold, in fact! The nicest thing was a present from my friend Judy, who gave me a TIARA she made herself, and a white sash stenciled with the words "Snow Queen" on it. I was so touched, and so a huge thank-you to you, my friend - I love being a queen, even though I was too self-conscious to wear the trappings of my royalty at the party (and didn't want to have to tell the story 14 separate times). It was really a good time, with some yummy, yummy food.

So yesterday, we went to THAI 2000! and had more yummy food until we passed out like drunkards in the street. Seriously. It was like they knew we were coming, and had all our favorites and then some out on the brunch buffet. Pad Thai. Coconut milk soup. Seafood red curry. Spring rolls. Pad Gra Pow. YUM YUM YUM! We went straight home & took naps. My nap lasted over 3 hours! It was totally awesome. Now it's another Monday, and the 4th one in a row where I've a) gotten to work on time, and b) had a positive attitude. If I could only rustle up something to eat, I'd be in hoooooog heaven. Mmmm. bacon.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:55 AM | link |

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Steel Tulips

Last fall, we planted over 100 tulip bulbs. Then, this Spring, as I anxiously awaited the visual result of that work, I gnashed my teeth & cursed the *(^%^ squirrels that had helped themselves to a few of the bulbs as "snacks".

Fifty of the bulbs were part of a collection from White Flower Farm, and while I can't find the exact name, they were a "glowing embers" type of collection - deep purple tulips, representing the coals, and then dramatic flaming orange-yellow parrot tulips for the fire. These are also some of the first pictures taken with the new gadget, a Kodak Z740 - when viewed full-size, the jump in pixels and an optical zoom really makes a difference.

The other fifty bulbs were a "Pink Ladies" collection, also from WFF, and those contained a TON of double tulips, which I've never really seen before. They ended up looking like peonies on tulip stems. I'm going to try to get some pictures of those this weekend, though they are pretty close to having run their course. The remaining bulbs we put in were to fill in the extra holes JWo dug - and they were supposed to be a mix of lavender-pink tulips, at least that's what the Wal-Mart label said.

THANK YOU, NO, they are mostly bright yellow. So those might have to get lifted & moved, or I'm just going to need to add a whole bunch more in bright happy colors to the bed this fall. We did get two lavenders, and one crazy orange tulip with purple-ish tinges down the center. But I wanted all pink. PINK, dammit! My colors are BLUSH and BASHFUL.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:05 AM | link |

Deep purple tulips & flame parrot tulips Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 9:56 AM | link |

Flame parrot tulips Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 9:55 AM | link |

Side shot of Flame parrot tulilp Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 9:55 AM | link |

Saturday, April 23, 2005

My NuWorld Order Dictionary

When I rule the world, I have a couple people already picked out to be my linguist authorities, and one of their many duties will be, of course, to police my benevolently-ruled world by correcting grammar and spelling and issuing tickets that will carry sentences like "You shall write 50 paragraphs perfectly, copied from "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." Now, I am as guilty as the next average-to-intelligent human being, and minor typos, errors, etc., are not cause for tickets. But printing "Mom's Love to Share!" on the bottom of every fucking receipt? CVS Pharmacy, you are getting a FIIIIINE. I'm serious! It was one of those little stacked group of lines at the bottom of the receipt, reminding you that Mother's Day was coming, shop for Mom, here are some ideas, and of course, don't forget chocolate! "Because Mom's love to share!"

I just shook my head when I saw it. I thought, "Self? We are talking about an enormous, giant pharmacy chain here, and they are printing this error thousands of times a day, possibly in cities all over this country, further reinforcing the concept that, when in doubt, throw in that apostrophe." And yes, I indulged in an intellectually-superior moment. I did it, I'll own it. I just wanted to find the person who typed it in and say, "Did you forget the first rule of determining if you need an apostrophe? Let's try it. Mom IS. Mom is love to share. Does that sound right? OK, no. So, let's move to the second rule: does Mom possess something? Well I can't find it. Yes, it'd be "Mom's chocolate", but Mom's (chocolate) love to share? Again we hit the no. So, let's see. It seeeeeeeems like you're going for MORE THAN ONE MOM. That means it's JUST an S. Moms. Moms everywhere love to share. Moms love to share. MOMS MOMS MOMS. "

The other thing I'll have my Linguistic Authorities work on are new words for things, specifically, a simple way to refer to a person who used to be a really good friend but isn't a friend anymore, as in, you never speak and you really don't ever want to run into them again. "Ex-friend" seems strange, like "ex" usually applies to "husband" or "wife". And saying all that stuff about "used to be but not now" is a mouthful. If you have a good idea, let me know. You might get to be part of the Elite Forces Crew.

Today's blog has been brought to you by . One other funny? The spellchecker on Blogger - doesn't recognize the word "blog".
posted by PlazaJen, 10:23 AM | link

Friday, April 22, 2005


I have been on a bit of a shopping spree, it's winding down, but there are still a couple things out there I want to buy and no, JWo, I'm not buying a big-screen TV. But I want one. My birthday's July 6, and you always want hints!

Anyhoo, I purchased a new PalmPilot - my old one was a Sony Clie', and the software wouldn't sync with Outlook 2003. Grrrr. So I've got the Tungsten E, it isn't overly fancy or crazy but it's nice & it does sync up. I got a retro cool case on eBay that I'm waiting to receive, very snazzy. I also got a new digital camera, and I'm terribly excited about it - I didn't go crazy and get the Nikon D70 like all the REALLY cool people have (Bekah, Dooce, our friend Kurt), I got another Kodak, the Easyshare Z740. It's quite nifty & I do so love my gadgets. I hope to get some of my pictures posted by Sunday!

But what I'm REALLY REALLY excited about? I bought some Charlie's Angels trading cards on eBay, for the sheer nostalgia of it all. I can still smell/taste the cheap-ass gum that came in the packages of cards. And how we'd all swap and trade to further our collection, and we'd play Charlie's Angels at recess, roping one or two of the non-popular boys in to play Bosley and various enemy targets. I always ended up being Kate. The smart one. Go figure.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:15 AM | link |

Thursday, April 21, 2005

But I Appreciated His Honesty

Further adventures in Costco shopping:

Last night, as I'm going back and forth trying to determine if they sell frozen corn-on-the-cob and finally conclude they only sell fresh, so I go back to price it (we're having a party on Saturday - shrimp & crawdad boil) and I make eye contact with this greeeeeeat big heavy-set black guy who's working one of the demo stations that I'm about to pass. I love the mid-town Costco because it's so diverse in the workers and the shoppers, and I'm always bound to get a story out of a trip there, versus the white-bread Overland Park location. Anyway, he had an incredibly expressive face, and despite looking pretty tired, had a smirk about him, and he had a big twang in his voice when he talked. An extra two points to him for looking at me like I might be a cupcake.

"How are you?" he asks.
"Oh, I'm fine, how are you?" I reply.
He starts sauntering in a semi-circle around his station, like a caged bear. He's pushing some sort of glass cleaner, and none too happy about it.

"You wanna watch me clean this mirror for the (raises voice, heavier drawl) FIVE HUNDREDTH AND FIFTY-THIRD TIME today?"

I am still moving, but I am laughing as I say, "No, no. No thank you, but I do appreciate your style."

He says, "I'll let YOU clean it and that way I'll only have cleaned it five hundred and fifty-TWO times today."

I have the best times at Costco. Unless I'm in line behind three gay men shopping for New Year's Eve. That tried my patience.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:59 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


I love my JWo. You'll see why in three minutes.
Last night, we went out to dinner, OLIVE GARDEN baby, we live a life straight out of Old School, except we don't shop at Home Depot, we are Lowe's People, pass the kool-aid, tie up my blue sneakers. Afterwards, the WoFactor wanted Sheridan's, which is like crack for people who don't actually do crack. One of my favorite things about Sheridan's is that you can smell all the milk and cream, and it reminds me of dairy barns back home. Yes. I get nostalgic over cows. So as we pull into the drive-thru, Def Leppard's "Foolin'" came on, and suddenly I am all white-trash-beautiful, with a HUGE overbite and hang-loose hands and singin' and ROCKIN' OUT. It was an inconvenience to have to turn the radio down to order, dammit.

THEN, we drive over to Wal-Mart, where I drop James off so he can go in and buy BULLETS, YES, BULLETS, and now all we need is a Camaro and his-n-her mullets to make this redneck adventure complete. I actually drove around the parking lot, like I was cruising the three city blocks of my hometown. Then, I called JWo, to tell him to get a big standing fan, and he said that I should pick that out (smart man!) but he added that I would never guess what he was holding in his hand. It was a surprise! Yay!
Oh, do you already have it figured out? I try not to do that, because I love the whole surprise thing. But in case you haven't deduced it, it was a CD. Not just any CD. DEF LEPPARD'S GREATEST HITS 1980-1995. THE VAULT. I nearly peed with excitement. And I broke nearly every speed limit on the drive home, while listening to "Photograph", "Bringin' on the Heartbreak", and my favorite, "Rock of Ages".

See, "Rock of Ages" was the song we used for an air band contest in high school my junior year. Offa the album "Pyromania", I remember this all quite vividly. Growing up in rural Iowa, there weren't extensive music choices: country or rock. And the rock station included Top 40. Grunge and alternative hadn't really been invented yet, so I had a healthy mix of DuranDuran and Twisted Sister thrown in on top of my hippie parents' folk music, Rolling Stones & Dire Straits. This air band competition was awesome because one of the biggest slackers in our class actually got so into it, he made us WOODEN GUITARS and spent a couple weeks meticulously painting them. These were faux electric guitars, with the crazy shapes and bright colors. WE REHEARSED. This was super serious. The Air Band Contest was on "Punk Rock Day", you know how those homecoming weeks were themed - "Pajama Day", etc. So there I am, goody-two-shoes/straight-and-narrow girl, honor roll & class president, wearing artfully tied black garbage bags (I hear you can get them in bulk at CostCo now) all over me, with black lipstick & teased out, bright red spray-in color, black eyeliner - kind of a chunky female Robert Smith with red hair. Wielding an awesome wooden guitar painted black & red. (I have always needed to coordinate.) I remember we were lip syncing and I was doing my "solo", snarling and JAMMING OUT, as much as a sheltered white Iowan girl can do while wearing black plastic garbage bags, and I remember actually seeing our judges in the front row - several teachers and administrators - with their jaws on their chests, staring at me. They expected it from the other band members, but not me. HAH!

I remember feeling that "HAH!" & it's the same feeling I still get, when someone expects me to fail or thinks I'm not good enough or is surprised that I know obscure things. We all have that within us. We all make assumptions about each other, because it's a shorthand we learn. But I also know we'd all be a little surprised at the unique, funny things we've all done and the stories we have. I'm not embarassed to own up to my redneck love of Def Leppard, because it is tied to a glorious moment, when I didn't have to be what everyone expected me to be, and I was free & crazy & having the time of my life. I love JWo for loving that bold, awkward, hilarious creature that breaks out of my skin and bites my lower lip and screams along to the lyrics on a warm spring evening while driving just a little bit crazy. And I love him because he knows ALL THE LYRICS to every Def Leppard song on that CD.

And we won the air band contest. HAH!
posted by PlazaJen, 8:46 AM | link |

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Harriet the Horrible

Ahhhh, you know, the joys of home ownership. They are many, and along with them come things like an ENDLESS STREAM OF MONEY TO LOWE'S every weekend, a twitching fear that something that costs $4,000 will explode, and lots more rooms to clean, or think about cleaning, or forget to clean. But the best, absolute BEST part of having our house? We no longer live next door to Harriet the Horrible, Ogre of Widow Creek, Lonely Bitch Royale, the absolute bane of my existence in the two years I lived in that apartment complex.

This is a long, sordid story. I will not be able to tell it all this morning. But I should start with this fact about me: Just as I can be very fogbanks and in my own world, I can also be very observant. Sometimes painfully so, sometimes paranoidally so. So I noticed, when I looked at the apartment, and the two guys living there were hanging out, that they seemed to share a joke about something. I now know what the joke was. The joke had to go something like, "Boy, sure hope she's quiet!" (stifled, contained laughter.)
For that was eerily similar to Harriet's first greeting to James, as he trudged down the long hallway, one of 7,000 trips he would make over 3 days, and he greeted her, cheerfully. Her response? "I SURE HOPE YOU'LL BE QUIET." We sort of laughed about it and didn't think anything else of it. It truly was the proverbial shot across the bow, and we failed to realize just how stark raving fucking insane she would turn out to be.....

.....and with that ominous foreshadowing, I must stop. For if I don't go and shower & get dressed, I won't get to work on time, and if I don't work, I can't help pay for the house, and if we lose the house, I could end up back at Widow Creek. You understand. I'll post more later today, in this same entry.

Harriet, Cont'd. 11:33 a.m.

We moved me in July. Because July in the South (hey, Missouri feels very much like the South in July) is the perfect time to move. It had more to do with my former apartment going condo and me not wanting to buy it. So I found this place to live, looked at the apartment, it had central air, washer/dryer hookups, a dishwasher - all sorts of amenities I wanted, and was willing to finally chuck the "charming" and "quaint" for. We had friends help us with some of the move, one of whom was my friend Greg, who is actually George Costanza's twin. The new apartments, I quickly learned, were dubbed "Widow Creek" for all the aged and retired types who lived there. Greg brought a load in and whispered dramatically, a la "The Sixth Sense", "I see OLD PEOPLE." Still gets a belly laugh out of me. I just think it's going to be calm and safe and a convenient stop until we get married, move out, etc., etc.

Imagine my surprise, when I arrive home in late August, and there's a letter from WC Management. The letter accuses me of banging on the walls twice in one night, date and times listed. I'm pissed. I call the office. They proceed to remind me about "Quiet Hours" (10p-7a). Banging on the walls was apparently a euphamism for having WILD CRAZY HEADBOARD-SLAMMIN' SEX. The girls in the office were tittering about how I "needed to keep it down a bit more." Uh. Hm. Not revealing too much, but we did a mental trip back in time, and while JWo appreciated the kudos, there were no twice-in-one-night episodes, and the night in question actually had THUNDERSTORMS, so now we knew we were dealing with an off-kilter individual. If this were a movie, we'd show a calendar flipping past the dates. September 11th happened. A week & a half later was my scheduled housewarming party. We decided to go ahead with the party. At ten o'clock, I shut the door to the entire south side of the apartment, where my bedroom, the bath, the washer/dryer (cue dramatic music! it will be significant later!), the sink, the closets were. Insulation, I figured. We turned the music down, and people were just hanging out, talking. Not even talking loudly. Less than an hour goes by. All of a sudden, tappity-tap-tap on the door. It's a WC Security Officer, an off-duty cop. I still remember her little badge with the black ribbon across it. She had gotten a complaint about a raging party, and she had to follow up on it. She also told me that she had stood in the hallway for ten minutes and couldn't hear a thing. (Believe you me. I'm a documenter. I put it ALL in my letter back to WC Management.) Apparently, she was also familiar with the Ways of the Harriet, as she apologetically smiled and nodded as I spluttered, restrainedly of course, I don't screw with the po-lice.

I could attempt to do a blow-by-blow (I have the letters on my hard drive), but it all really came down to a two-year battle of she-said/she-said, except for the times James was there (and he moved in the second year) but of course, he's gonna back me. Except when I would go apeshit and bang BACK on the wall at the bitch, because she fired up my temper like propane in a grill. SHE always banged first, dammit. James would tell me to NOT PLAY ALONG. Ugh. Not good at that. I would SING in the shower (after 7 a.m.) and she decided her new complaint was that I was doing laundry at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., all these godawful times in the morning when I could barely move my eyelids, let alone sort clothing. Back and forth, back and forth, I would get calls from security, I would SHRIEK, come over here right now, you can see there is no laundry being done!!!! Finally, I went in to the office (for about the 800th time.) Fortunately, I have a skill that Harriet did/does not. I am a PEOPLE PERSON. I can be extremely diplomatic, and I can connect with all sorts of personalities. And I was connected to the manager. We chatted about her dreams, her future, what she liked to do, etc. And so I went in there, with another letter, and in no uncertain terms accused Harriet of harassment, and that she was using the apartment management as her tool of harassment, and they could move me to another apartment at their expense, or allow me to break my lease with no cost to me, or they could finally take a hard line with Harriet. Because, in one of my pleasurable chats with the manager, which was always spent with me LAUGHING about how silly this all was, she told me it had been going on with every tenant before me. Aha. So there you have it, and that was ALSO referenced in my carefully-worded letter.

Harriet got called in to the office and was told she would not make another single complaint about anyone or anything, or they would consider not renewing her lease. SMACKDOWN. It was awesome when I moved though, because I felt like I was giving her the big F-You, and I even thought about signing her up for loads of things from the Danbury Mint and all those other godawful inserts for dolls and plates and spoons and such. But I didn't. Because that would be wrong. Seriously. I didn't! I DIDN'T! Just don't ask what JWo did.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:23 AM | link |

Monday, April 18, 2005

Y'all come back with my sack of soda & crullers, y'hear?

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English

20% Yankee

10% Dixie

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Thanks Scorpy for the fun quiz link! I was not surprised at all by the results - Upper Midwest is where I'm from, and lived for 26 years, and MissourAH and my best friend Shelley (who's from Texas) have instilled some 'twang and drawl'. Sorta like 'sturm und drang', but less glitzy. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 4:43 PM | link |

Brave NU WOrld

This is the second Monday in a row that I have actually felt GOOD while getting ready for work. It's like the 80# boulder I got so used to wearing around my neck got utilized in a landscaping project & I finally got to set it down.

The interesting observation I've made is, much like my philosophy on Paper Cuts, is that while I'm very happy, I'm not getting off-the-charts exuberant, because I do have a tendency to act like a giant puppy about things (This chew toy is the GREATEST THING EVER! Look! Butterflies! GREATEST THINGS EVER!) and as I rub my scars from the last employer, I know that every job has its pitfalls and no particular job, or person, or relationship is ever perfect, and there will be stumbles and papercuts, and things that piss me off - but collectively, there is an overwhelming influx of positive energy and the element that was sorely missing in the past couple of years: Hope.

I mentioned to James that I was feeling the heaviness and sadness and hopelessness lift from me, and he said he'd seen the changes in me, too. Like that I was more combative now. When pressed for further details on what exactly "more combative" meant, he confessed that he noticed he wasn't getting away with as much shit anymore, that I was calling him on things I'd apparently been letting slide for a while, things I didn't have the energy to deal with.

:smile: New World, NuWo. The sun shines a lot more here.

(NuWo is our last names' initials combined - it's what we've called our household ever since I named our Sims family that.)
posted by PlazaJen, 9:34 AM | link |

Sunday, April 17, 2005

If I Weren't Me, I Might Have To Shoot Me.

True confessions time - eesh. I can't believe it, but I'm sitting here watching MTV Hits, channel 256 - the channel actually PLAYS MUSIC, guess you have to get the digital cable to get back to your roots. Anyway. I'm ashamed to say that the new Mariah Carey song, "It's Like That Y'all" is actually catchy. Ugh. Let's be honest. Part of the hook for me is she's got the ever-sultry Eric Roberts in the video, so if I can just time looking at the tv when he's on-screen, and she's NOT, then I'd be happy. And I'm actually ok with the song up until - thankfully, it's late in the song - she starts doing that I'm-Warbling-Like-A-Pie-Whistle crap. And then there's 30-seconds where one of the featured artists just BUSTS out and it cracks me up. This is on the heels of downloading JLo's "Get Right" as a ringtone for my phone. I SAID it was TRUE CONFESSIONS, it's not nice to judge, and I was raised on folk music. Sometimes I just have to have some cotton candy in the form of Top 40 radio.

So I was thinking, geeze, maybe I'm like the next Dick Clark, you know, someone who won't let go of the poppy top 40 crap, and that's just the biggest buzzkill, every time I think of Dick Clark, because I met him once, and he was NOT NICE. Apparently, he thinks he's more important than me. Whatever! I was more interested in my coffee, that his assistant was snatching from me, for fear I would trip and throw a cup of hot steaming java in the face of America's Teenager, which probably would have melted his very tight face right off the titanium bone structure. And the whole time Dick Clark kept impatiently saying, "Jennifer. Jennifer. Jennifer. What do you want me to write on this Jennifer?" And all I wanted to say was, "WHATEVER DICK CLARK, TELL YOUR FAWNING MANSERVANT HERE TO GIVE ME BACK MY COFFEE." But I think I just said, "To Jennifer." And then later, in a fit of flashback pique, I threw it away - so there goes my opportunity to pay off the house someday with that relic. I apparently save all kinds of crap, except Dick Clark's autograph, and Richard Simmon's, too, dammit, I lost that one. But I was in junior high and by the time Duran Duran rolled around, I was too busy planning my wedding to half the band, with top choice going to Simon LeBon, to care about meeting a permed-out oiled-up gay diet & exercise guru. Oh, I had an assistant once who INSISTED Richard was not gay. Since I'm confessing, let's throw in how much fun I had at HER expense over that one. A LOT.

Hey, I just found some redemption. Lindsay Lohan's on now, singing about Rumors and I am NOT IMPRESSED. Dick Clark can sleep safely, one more night....
posted by PlazaJen, 7:00 AM | link |

Saturday, April 16, 2005

BackYard Band

Here's a crazy question for y'all! If you could have ONE band, playing in your backyard all summer, which band would it be? And then - whoa nelly - if you could have TWO bands, because, you know, it would be nice to let that first band rest sometimes, who would the second band be? (And they can't be dead bands. That would violate reality laws even more than this exercise.)

Last year, I got into Coldplay like nobody's business, and I turned to JWo at one point and said, "If I could just have them playing in the backyard all summer, that would be AWESOME!" And then we threw out other bands, too - and the winner, for me, for one band, all summer long, would be U2. They can rock it out, they can make it mellow (you know, for when you're going to bed - you don't need "Elevation" crankin' out while you're trying to sleep) But wouldn't it be awesome to wake up on a summer Saturday morning to hear "Beautiful Day"?!

Picking a second band gets tougher. James is probably expecting me to say "Snow Patrol", I'm sure, because I haven't worn that CD out yet..... I lean towards Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, with my only hesitation being my experience seeing them a couple years ago & while it was mostly the sound system's fault, it kinda sucked. JWo would want me to pick the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I'd never get anything done, seeing as how I'd be throwing myself at everyone in the band, all the time. (Boy do they ever put on a good show, though, every time we've seen them!) Plus you've got to think about balance, what with U2 headlining the backyard.

So, while he's not a band, per se, I'd have to go with Moby. Li'l Moby, with his ears-made-for-pulling, the techno-genius in a soundproofed apartment, spinning & twisting and making some seriously unique stuff. Plus - and this is TOTALLY breaking the pick-a-band rules - think of all the people he could call up to come in and perform for a day, as a guest artist!

Unfortunately for JWo, that won't include Eminem......I think he's gifted, but seriously, I don't need that kind of anger in the backyard.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:59 AM | link |

Friday, April 15, 2005

Even Ho's Buy In Bulk

I have the most entertaining experiences at Costco. Last night, I went after work - hell-bent on getting a new Palm Pilot - only to discover I should "check back in August, for back-to-school." Look, Cap'n PUTZ, just because APRIL begins with an "A", too, doesn't mean I can just sit back for four months and not hot-sync to all my appointments on my computer. Underneath the chaos you see before you lies a spirit that does love to label things, categorize, create workflow charts and link pages of spreadsheets to one another. So BACK UP, I will buy some other stuff, but I will NOT wait four months for a new organizer thingy. HRmph.

As a I strolled around the section featuring fans, I spied a hoochy-mamma with her white-trash-beautiful boyfriend, looking at the coffee selection. OH, I don't normally notice everyone at CostCo, but when you're wearing those giant clunky black platform Mary Janes, with white knee highs, and I can see your legs ALL THE WAY UP to about one inch below your crotch, where your middle section has been covered with a 12" swath of ruffled Britney-Spears-schoolgirl-whore skirt, and then you are wearing a - folks, I cannot even remember exactly what her shirt was, I was so boggled by the short skirt, all the tattoos, and the chain she wore around her waist. It was basically a tied-up shirt, straight outta "Ooops I Have No Talent Again", and she had a bunch of piercings on her face, which I avoided looking at more than once out of fear I'd be caught with a judgmental, I-can't-believe-I'm-going-home-without-my-PalmPilot face. I contemplated buying a camera, just so I could surreptitiously take a picture of them, so you would really be able to SEE the train wreck shopping alongside me. We ended up in line around the same time, and I could see that while she dressed like a size two, she was several sizes up from that, which hey, I'm all for body and size confidence, at ANY size, but I'm also hung up on this thing called "good taste" and so if you can't really fit into your little sister's school uniform, then ya shouldn't be skankin' around CostCo in it, mmmkkkkay? And having extra adipose around the midsection doesn't really translate to, "Hey, I'll wear a dangly shiny chain around my naked exposed waist so EVERYbody looks and then sees all my tattoos." They bought a ton of garbage bags - four CostCo sized boxes, and they were the big black garbage bags. That was it. Probably gonna have some freakshow cooking oil wrestlemania in the living room. Who knows. All I know is, I gotta get me a new PDA this weekend, I had the nicest service when I was checking out, and I went to Thai Place for carryout, where they noticed I'd gotten a haircut. I think that says I go there uhhhhhhhh kinda sorta a LOT, maybe.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:02 AM | link |

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Loveliest of Trees....

We have a crabapple tree in front of our house, and when we first moved in to the house, it rained little sour fruit all over the driveway, creating a mess & causing JWo to grumble about his desire to cut it down. The next spring, we had about two days of blossoms - and they were stunning. He did some pruning, to reduce some of the overhang on the driveway, and I think we've arrived at a compromise. Yesterday I stood in the drive, as the wind blew soft pink petals all around me, and I felt like I was in a movie. Perhaps the lesson is that even the grouchiest of trees has the capacity to explode in beauty and loveliness.

 Posted by Hello

Even though it's not a cherry, this poem still rings true:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now,
Is hung with bloom along the bough.
It stands along the woodland ride,
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now of my three score years and ten,
Twenty will not come again.
Subtract from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since, to look at things in bloom,
Fifty springs is little room,
Along the woodland I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
-A.E. Housman
posted by PlazaJen, 7:01 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I Was A Bitch Long Before You Met Me.

It's Prom Season, and today's paper had a whole feature on some teenage girls buying their prom dresses, and how one just HAD to splurge and spend $258 on THE dress. It got me thinking about my proms, and how my junior year prom subsisted of me in a borrowed, ill-fitting mauve satin number, and a bunch of "us girls" went together. I still have resentments towards my mother for making me borrow a dress, though she made up for it the following year. Senior year, I had a boyfriend, a real-live boyfriend, and a pale blue cocktail dress that had georgette layers on the bottom. My mother's rationalization for letting me get that dress was that I could wear it again. Uh, yeah. For all those cocktail parties I attended in college - mm hmm! Nothing says dorm party like wearing pale blue georgette and pounding shots of rum. Anyway, I barely got to go to prom that year because I had a raging fever and quite honestly, I hardly remember either of the events - dancing, food, it's just a blur.

But what I do remember is my junior year, day of the prom. The juniors put the prom on for the seniors. As class president, I got to basically steer the whole damn thing just how I wanted it to be. A party planner at an early age, I was, and still enjoy it - party planning, and being a control freak. So we had the theme, because you HAD to have a theme, based on a song, and ours was "We're in Heaven", by Bryan Adams. I spent hours looking through the big giant catalogs for things we could actually afford for decorations. We ended up doing silver & blue for the colors, and (also, crafty at an early age), we taped silver glittery stars together to form a triangle, with this white floaty cloud-like stuff coming out of the center. We had to build those at the country club, and of course, there was oodles of crepe paper and balloons, and all your standard prom crap. We had a rag-tag team of people bustling to get this party set up, and then still get home in time to PREPARE. However, one of the helpers was Peggy, you might recall her name from the Snow Queen post. Destined to be the next year's Homecoming Queen, deemed the prettiest girl in our class, etc., etc., she was pitching in (before her own elaborate prom preparations) to help get the decorations up. She decided to stop doing crepe paper and help with the stars/cloud puffs. Within minutes, she was oooing and ahhhing over how soft the cloud puff stuff was. I can still see her, late afternoon sunlight streaming in, as she said, "This stuff is SO SOFT!" and she rubbed it up and down her bare arms.

Ah, yes, the joy of products made from FIBERGLASS. Oh, did I say fiberglass?


Yes. Yes it was. Our cloud puffin' stuffin' was essentially a very fine grade of fiberglass. I just stood there and watched her do it, & didn't say a WORD. Because I may not have ever been in the running for prettiest girl at school? But I was one of the smart ones. And, apparently, one of the bitchy ones. After all, her date was a senior. Why not have some irritated skin for your big prom night?

Within ten minutes she had bumps everywhere she'd rubbed the fiberglass, including HER FACE. And she commenced with the freaking out.

I'm so going to hell, because it still makes me laugh.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:17 PM | link |

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Things We Don't Need To Be Settin' Up In The Living Room

Are you trying to hide from me? Posted by Hello

This would be the "Lightning Set Hunting Blind" from Cabela's, which proudly proclaims to be a hunting blind you can set up in 10 seconds, because of its "innovative Lightening Hub". Apparently they have not done indoor time trials for their marketing statements. James decided last night to open his up IN THE LIVING ROOM, and because - oh gosh, we have FURNITURE and things you don't want to knock over, it took a bit longer, and he kept getting inside it & putting his arms through the windows, so he looked like a Hunting Blind Mascot. Coming to a ballpark near you.

I know, I know. I'll love to eat the wild turkey he gets because of this purchase. But still. Just so you understand the SIZE of this thing? Interior height: 63", Size: 84" x 98". Too big.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:08 AM | link |

Monday, April 11, 2005


I don't know if you watch this show? But I do. I am wayyyyyy too into it. I am FREAKING out. Because the poor dude (the one who was stressed out & went camping with his wife? ) THAT poor dude, who found the "football"? The thingy with ALL THE NUCLEAR REACTOR CODES? He is having the exact same luck I would, what with Marwan and his Evil Terrorist Goons coming after him, no matter where he runs. I am about to hyperventilate. Ah no. They're getting shot at. My heart! The whole idea of being hunted just does not sit well with me. (Like I'm sure it does with you.)

James would sooooo be making fun of me right now. So so much fun. I wouldn't even be able to laugh because my throat is so tight. OH great. Jack just lost his helper dude. He is under fire. This is not good.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:31 PM | link |


Here's an odd thing (at least in perspective of the past couple years):
It's Monday morning, and I don't feel like I'm wearing boots made of concrete!

The Weekend Retrospective: James took my car on Saturday to his waterfowler's meeting, so I was depending on the kindness of strangers (well, ok, my best friend Shelley, who was up for an adventure).... we went to the first big yarn sale at the Yarn Shop, which was VERY crowded (yes it was Chelle! and I'm a li'l claustrophobic too!) and there were bran' new knittahs there, because one of them started asking my friend Shelley for advice and she tossed her right over to me. Poor thing was looking at one of THE most complicated patterns I'd ever seen, in hopes of making a sleeveless top for her daughter. We looked at some yarn together & I extolled my personal prejudices against 100% cotton, especially for a new knitter. (I'm such a hatah.) Anyway, I did manage to make some purchases, choosing the "cash/checks" line which was infinitely shorter.

I got two skeins of Lorna's Laces pink/purple shepherd sock yarn, a skein of black sock yarn, two skeins of jaggerspun Zephyr silk/wool in Ruby, and one skein of ALP, which looks a little like novelty upchuck - it's definitely a competitor to Wild Stuff/Cool Stuff, with loads of different yarns that change as you go! I got the ruby-red color scheme, it will make a very loud, fun scarf. And a couple things of stitch markers and a 47" Addi - in a 0. Shelley observed that all the yarn I bought matched my red seatbelt bag purse. I musta been in a very red place.

However, that changed by the time we got to Nailcessities, because the next thing on our agenda was a mani/pedi, and I have pink chiclet fingernails & hot pink toes. It was awesome - they even will give you complimentary soft drinks &/or wine! Seein' as how it was 10:30 in the morning, we passed on the vino. But all their pedicure chairs are shiatsu massage chairs, too, so I had a field day (and probably looked like an utter goofball.) Definitely going back. Then, Starbucks and Target - as I told James, the only thing missing from Saturday was THAI FOOD to make my day a banner day! Dammit Jen, we didn't get that worked in. Yesterday we tried, but Thai 2000's gas wasn't working so we ended up at Ted Turner's Montana Grill up by Cabela's/NE Furniture Mart - where, for the first time in my life, I had to send my bison burger back TWICE because it kept coming out rare, and I can only do medium on ground anything. Wet raw meat does not make a Jen happy. To their credit, the restaurant staff was AWESOME about it, our waitress completely agreed that I was not being unreasonable, even though I was feeling a little nuts on the second try, and the cook even waited by the table on the 3rd burger to be sure it was done - and they took it off our bill. So we were pleased with the food, overall, and they didn't even come near the Customer Service Hot Button gnome.

Well, we have this craaazy Monday morning status meeting & I thought I'd make it even better by bringing Lamar's (because Lamar's donuts have the power to turn even a funeral into a party) I best get ready and be ON TIME, again with that foreign, foreign concept. I would NEVER be a good schoolteacher. Plus wanting to put shock collars on the kiddos probably wouldn't go over well, either. And the yardstick I'd be whackin' on desks. And the megaphone. I love me a megaphone.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:57 AM | link |

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Gadget Queen

You can shop, you can buuuuuy, having the time of your life (oooo oooo oooo)
Techno-girl, has everything, Jen is the gadget queen.......

But I don't have everything, I DON'T! I want an Oompa Loompa NOOOOOW. I am going to have to start stomping my foot. It fits my personality far too well, and I do often put my hands on my hips.

I love gadgets. Technology. Gizmos. Jump Drives. Digital anythings. Plasma TVs. iPods. I do not OWN a plamsa tv, iPod, high-end digital camera, or even a phone that takes pictures. I will be upgrading from my Clie' organizer because my software will not integrate with the newer Office at my job, and I CAN'T give up my Clie' lifestyle, plus I can justify upgrading anything after two years. Let me tell you, I can still drive better than everyone else, even when I'm looking up a number in my Clie' to dial on my cell phone, all on the highway. Mmmhmmm. Fear me now or slap me lay-tah. (Seriously, I only do that like, twice a year. Honest.) But if I could, I would have every single high-end technological advancement known to humankind. A roombah would vacuum our floors, while the mowbah or whatever it's mowing equivalent is called, would mow our lawn. Everything would have Bluetooth technology, despite my only vague understanding of it, however, it seems important to wireless things, and of course, everything would be wireless. We'd have laptops downstairs, and I'd also have that damned under-counter radio/cd player/television screen gizmo that costs $400. Because I NEEDS to watch TV while I prepare a meal. MMhhmm! And we'd have more DVR boxes around the house, for convenience & ability to tape, tape, tape - more, more, more. And a tempurpedic adjustable mattress. And a MiniCooper, even though I really doubt I've even fit into one. They're just so damned CUTE.

I love my jump drive. I feel very spy-like with it, because it's tiny & plugs in to any computer and can hold volumes of documents. Of course, I only have the 128 meg, and there's one that's all 564 or something, like more than some computers, so much memory. There's just always another level of inspiration out there. JWo thinks it's unnecessary and borderline insane, but I come by it fair & square - after all, my father loves the gadgets as much as the next bloke, and he always insisted on the best gadgets for himself.

MMMMM. gadgets. technology. oompa loompas. my friends.
posted by PlazaJen, 4:46 PM | link |

Friday, April 08, 2005

Dammit James.

We like to say "Dammit James" and "Dammit Jen" around our house, usually about ourselves, but often to chime in as support (really!) when something's fouled up or gone awry. Though sometimes, a true "Dammit JAMES!" is warranted.

The other night, the same James in question insisted on going to a certain website with a whole little soundtrack, and his speakers were on FULL BLAST. I, being a very busy person this week, was trying to finish a project for a friend of mine and was WORKING diligently and did not welcome the extremely annoying interruption. This is behavior I deem "Fifth Grade Mode", when he not only does it once, and gets a negative reaction, but then continues to do it to get my goat.

What really blows is that the sound on this little cartoon film is an EARWORM from hell. You can check it out here if you have speakers and a brave spirit. Because two nights ago, I found myself going BACK to the website just to get my earworm fix. It's insane. I don't understand it, it makes no sense, and yet - yet - yet? It's kinda funny. If you're not trying to do real work. And that's what Fridays are ALL ABOUT. So Dammit Jen, I just gave y'all distraction and mayhem. Enjoy.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:24 AM | link |

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Terror in the Heartland

When I went to college, I had many, many campus jobs. The first one was foodservice, and I still remember that first day. I still remember what was served, too: chili, grilled cheese & french fries. My best friend, Rebs, and I worked TBD. Tray Break Down. The nittiest-grittiest job, because it meant taking all the dishes, emptying them & stacking them for the dishwasher. Rebs & I had never done anything like this before, and so we emptied and emptied and emptied and then at the end of our shift, the supervisor told us to empty the garbage can. Uh. Hm. OK. It's like, 50 gallons? and it's FULL? We had to do it. I still remember her face. Trying not to laugh, shaking her head, as we wrestled this enormous bag of chili and french fries and napkins out of the trash can and out to the garbage. Good god. It was a bitch. Apparently you're supposed to empty it when it's only a THIRD full. Ah! Yes! Grasshopper learn quickly! I have so many funny work stories, I could do ten entries just on food service. Like how I was raised in a house that never, ever saw a frozen waffle, so on Sunday brunch when they told me it was my job to make the waffles, I completely flipped out, on the inside, and bravely said, "Ok. Where's the waffle iron?" Because I'd only ever had batter-made, waffle-iron toasted waffles in my entire life. So feeding half the campus - 600 students - waffles I was gonna have to make by hand - well, you can see why I got a little stressed. Lo and behold, they had this giant rotating toaster and you could load that sucker with 15 waffles faster than you could make one at home. Whew!
So there's a whole mother lode of funny stories, just in my college jobs. But I was reading Bekah's blog, and she was referencing smart-alecky kids and how to deal with them, and I remembered one of my MOST favorite college job stories.

I worked in the library. Yes, Zee Loudest Girl In Zee Vorld, spent two years workin' in the library. We had some goooooood times at the ol' library, I must say. Then there was the librarian who became obsessed with me and got rather stalker-ish, but hey, every rose has its thorns, hm? I digress. So I also stayed on campus and worked summers, the first summer being between sophomore & junior year, in the library. And because there weren't many students around, the town kids would ride their bikes on all the sidewalks on campus, and they loved the big ramp up to the front entrance of the library. They also enjoyed opening the book drop, sticking their heads up next to it and SCREAMING, YODELING, and otherwise being a royal nuisance. I still remember my supervisor Sheri going out and yelling at them as they pedalled off on their bikes, whooping with their succesful escapade.

And then, one brilliant, bright summer day, it all came to a screeching halt.
Because, I was back by the book drop when they pedalled up, and they did their little schtick of opening the book drop, pushing their arms through (waving their little 10-year-old hands) and SCREAMING at the top of their lungs. That very same SCREAMING that came to a vacuum-esque halt as I reached down and GRABBED their little wrists, keeping them trapped up against the outside of the building. In my deepest, sternest voice, I BOOMED, "KNOCK IT OFF." And then the air rushed back into their lungs, and they started a high-pitched, panicked squeal, sure that I stood there with a giant rusty machete, each about to lose an arm at the hands of the black-hooded executioner/librarian. I let go, but I'd had them trapped for about 45 seconds. When I walked around to the front door, I saw them tearing off, never to return.

Sheri & I had one of those makes-your-body-weak laughs. She was such a great boss. I suppose now, we couldn't do something like that, for fear of a lawsuit or the outraged parent, berating us for the audacity to reprimand/touch a child that wasn't your own. But at the time, I could freely scare the living bejeezus out of 10 year olds, much to my own amusement. And, hopefully, now yours!
posted by PlazaJen, 7:15 AM | link |

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Reason #84 I Am Headed For An Early Grave

Over the weekend, I was in a cold-induced stupor. Today is the first FIRST day I have not felt like I have a cold. (Let me tell you, starting a new job with a head cold is a challenging thing to do!)
So we use an e-collar on the dogs to reinforce good behavior. What that means is, if you are Polly, and I call you to come HERE, and you choose to ignore me, I press a button and you can make the discomfort stop by DOING WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO. It's a good thing these aren't licensed for use in the workplace. Anyway. You have to take the remote and press its little sensor node to the recessed sensor spot on the collar to activate them. I usually then hit the "page" button, which doesn't actually send a shock, it just vibrates it, like a pager buzzes. That way I know there's enough juice to send a message - if I have to.
Like I said in a way-earlier blog, we usually have this thing set on "20" (out of 100) and James & I even put it on our hands to feel it so we knew what it was like. It reminds me of getting a very muted electrical shock, like from a lamp I had as a kid that the wiring was going out on - just enough to feel weird, not enough to make you go WHOA.
You see where this is going, don't you, dear reader?

The e-collar was on the counter in the bathroom. I had just woken up from a dead-to-the-world-I'm-sick Four Hour Nap. I picked it up, activated it, and then tested it to see if was juiced. Uh yeah. Instead of hitting PAGE, I hit the SHOCK button, and immediately flung the collar across the counter. I am surprised I didn't break the mirror. I exchanged a very shocked look with myself in the mirror. Loads of wide-eyed blinking. Astonishment, really. I didn't understand what I'd done for a couple of seconds. It hit me, of course, I'd hit the wrong button, and then, I looked at the remote and saw that the level? It had gotten bumped to 40. My hand tingled for probably 10 minutes afterwards! The funny thing is, on "20", Polly responds, but if she wants to race after a cat or a bunny, we have to move it up to "30-40". Suzy, on the other hand, caterwauls at "20" as though she is slowly being killed with acupuncture needles and lemon juice. It's only happened once, in a hunting situation, and I guess it was a sight to behold - especially since she is such a toughie and can be SO STUBBORN, like when I'm dragging her by the collar, which can't be comfortable, and I've even swatted her butt - which I can tell you now, FROM EXPERIENCE, is nothing like the pain of the e-collar.

Especially on "40".
posted by PlazaJen, 6:18 PM | link |

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Schmaltz Alert

True Confession. I am a child of the 80's, and therefore, I DO love soft rock the way YOU love soft rock, just like the commercial said. Not enough to ever listen to for an hour, but when a good fist-clenchin' ballad comes along (not Michael Bolton), like "Here and Now", by Luther Vandross? I get all soft-serve inside.

I'm totally diggin' the digital cable channel "VH1 Classic", despite my resistance to being labeled "Classic". I'm sure I'll really enjoy labels when Duran Duran is played under the header "Music of Our Lives" ..... sheesh......

OK, and what's up with Eric Roberts in both the Killer's video & the new Mariah Carey video? I thought I was going crazy when I spied him in the second one.... Eric Roberts is IN my TV and stalking me. Alert the dogs! BURF!

New Job Update: Going well, the people are awesome, but of course it's a bit overwhelming at first. There's loads of stuff to do, and there's a huge need to get some structure & systems going. I just need to remind myself I can't do it all in one day. :) One day down, 364 to go, right? :) And I'm trying to actually be on time for this job so that means I should skedaddle & get dressed.......I need a chauffeur, so I can do stuff on my drive! I knew there was something I forgot to negotiate.....
posted by PlazaJen, 7:36 PM | link |

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Ah, the Folly.

There's nothing like finishing a wool sweater as Spring/Summer approaches. Sigh. However, the sense of accomplishment is still HUGE. The pattern for this wonderful sweater is here at

Retrospective notes about this sweater? I made it a little big, thinking I'd wear it more like a coat. I would have made the sleeves a little shorter, remembered to put in bust darts, and I would have experimented with the collar - perhaps instead of the shawl collar, a polo-esque collar that would have fallen a bit lower & spread out more across the sweater, but that's just me thinkin' after the fact. Not that it's too late to re-do that part, if I decide to - but right now I'm content to be DONE.

Overall, it's going to be a warm, cozy sweater that fits, has unmatched style, and is a major knitting accomplishment for me. A friend from the guild looked at my sweater & immediately said she'd never wear all those flowers around her neck, and of course I replied, "Good thing I didn't make this for you, then!"

I've never lacked chutzpah, despite not being Jewish - and it's probably why I wanted to make this sweater in the first place. So I present, the Folly Fotos:
posted by PlazaJen, 5:36 PM | link |

Here I am, in front of the Yarn Shop, modeling my FINISHED FOLLY! I made it out of Peruvian Highland Wool, from I finished this Saturday night & brought it over to model, despite the non-chilly weather. Posted by Hello

And I look so squinty and awkward because it is EIGHTY DEGREES and bright sunshine. Hello, Summer. Meet Folly! Folly, Say Goodbye! Posted by Hello

Closeup of sleeve ruffle & flower button; more flowers. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 5:21 PM | link |

Dog Days of Sunday

Dogs do not understand TV. They hear a doorbell, a phone ring, or – god help us – a dog barking, and it’s all HERE AND NOW by Lionel Ritchie and we are in the MOMENT and we are REACTING and there is turf that needs defending. I had the misfortune of having the television on as background noise while I was on the computer last night, and “Cradle 2 the Grave” was on, high-quality stuff, folks. DMX, Jet Li & Tom Arnold, seriously – how could one go wrong? Anyway, I’m really not watching it because we tried to watch it before and couldn’t – and that makes it good background tv, I don’t even feel compelled to watch, really. But heaven help us all, there’s some scene with some pissed-off Dobermans, and that got Suzy & Polly ALL kinds of riled up. Heads up, ears up, alarm barking/burfing, respectively. I kept saying “TEE VEE” “IT’S OK” to them but they don’t know what the hell TEE VEE is, they just know they’re hearing dogs barking and it sounds like something we need to be worried about! We were on Orange Alert for half an hour as a result. Plus, when James is gone, I think Suzy gets more protective. Or else that’s wishful thinking on my part, but she does have that guard dog in her.

This morning, I thought I was getting up at the Crack of Dawn, only to be disillusioned by the cable box, which is smart enough to understand Daylight Savings Time. Anyway, I let the dogs out the back, they did their thang, and then we went back through the house to the front door & I let Polly out to get the paper. Polly, as a lab, loves to retrieve, almost more so than Suzy. She’s more competitive, I think. (Hm. Where’d she learn THAT?) She Love Love LOVES to get the paper in the morning. So off she went. Suddenly, Suzy broke & ran out to try to get the paper as well, because the Sunday paper is big, and it’s harder for li’l P to get it in her mouth. We had a Retriever Standoff over the paper, and it’s hard to command authority when you’re laughing as hard as I was. Suzy wouldn’t come, Polly was lookin’ all Rhodesian Ridgeback, with her ruff up from her neck to her butt, and then? Suzy trotted off! Polly won! I was amazed.

The funniest thing we’ve had Polly retrieve have been the plastic pots that blew away from the side of the garage all over the front yard. They’re easy to pick up – but they obstruct her vision once they’re in her mouth. So she does this drunken-weave dance as she comes back to you, trying to see where she’s going, bobbing her head all over the place and from side to side. It doesn’t quite make sense in her brain, that as long as she has it firmly in her mouth, no matter where she moves her head, she still will have a big round blind spot – but the desire to bring it back is far stronger than the disconnect, and she does it with such enthusiasm, it’s touching and hilarious all at once.

On the non-dog front: My cold’s getting a little better – god, I would love to have this week off as well, but I’m also really charged up about starting my new job. A little knitting tease – there’s a finished sweater in the House o’ Jen! I’m so glad it’s done. I can’t say I love it to the moon at this point, but it’s still pretty fun & it will probably look better if I put it on over real clothes, and not pajamas. Yes, I’m talking about the FOLLY. I will get a picture up in the next day or two – because I think I might be the first person in the universe besides the designer, to actually finish this sweater. I’m gonna act like I am, anyway. This calls for a tiara! And I'm still planning on wearing this sweater, even if it's just in Abbey's basement with the a/c on full blast - Kim's gonna wear her wool sweater, and Abbey will wear her wool Einstein, and we'll pretend it's December and snowing outside. Delusions and grandeur go together like pie & ice cream! Mmmmm. pie.

Take care, I-peeps. :)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:10 AM | link |

Saturday, April 02, 2005

It's A Small World

AFTER all - and didn't you want THAT particular earworm to haunt you, all weekend long? Don't worry. Just whistle that song from the Scorpions and you'll be ok.

I went in to my new employer yesterday, and apparently they wouldn't let anyone have a beer before I got there. So my arrival was extremely welcomed, through bribery & alcohol. No problem there! And everyone was SO CHEERFUL. People came streaming up and saying how excited they were and welcoming me, I almost caught myself looking over my shoulder. Surely you are confusing me with someone far more interesting just behind me? And are these people really happy? Really? Fo' Real? It hit me after I left, what I've stumbled away from and while it wasn't healthy or productive or positive, it felt SAFE. Sort of like learning to sleep on a bed of nails, I guess, you feel strange if you're not being steadily prodded by sharp points, once you're used to it. Anyway. When I first got there, and rounded the corner - there was my friend Sean. SEAN! Hey! (Not to be confused with BatKiller Shawn. He's out of state & out of touch.) Sean used to work with me, and right at the time I was going through my shake up/fall from grace, Sean started a group that met at lunch and worked on drawing your life/basically exploring your own goals and realizing your dreams, whether they are personal or professional. You can see his self-published book here. If you live in KC, I can save you shipping. :) Because Sean works with me, again! It was just great to see a familiar face, and took some of my own nervousness away, meeting all sorts of new people & knowing I'd never remember their names. I also have a wicked head cold, which made evvvvvverything a little muffled, like wrapping a drum in a towel. Because of course, as I have a few days off & I start to relax, that means the bugs & nasties aren't held at bay anymore & they have seized the opportunity to pounce.

I'm grateful and excited and a smidge nervous. ("Coffee makes me a might nervous when I drink it, mmmhmmmmm.") I used to move, and change jobs, what felt like all the time. I got out of the habit, and now I have to go through the learning process again, re-mold, adapt, remember that some of it is new again & my new job will have loads more "goin' on". Hell, I never completely mastered the phones at my last job! (They were straight out of 1984. Orwell himself wouldn't have bothered, either.) So here's to a new chapter in the Book O' Jen. I have no idea how many pages there will be, or how dramatically it will read, but I'm looking forward to living it.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:18 AM | link |

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Fool & His Parking Space......

First, a happy b'day shout to Becky in Hawaii, and my knittin' bud Carol in St.Louis, even though I don't think she reads my blog. Just in case. What an awesome day to have as a birthday! Also, I installed haloscan for commenting. For now. I still threaten to go to typepad & if I figure out how to transfer all my blogger files, I still may do it. Blasted Blogger. Again, I digress.

I love jokes and pranks, especially the elaborate ones. However, having concocted a number of them myself, I'll admit: it makes you paranoid. For instance, I'm going in to my new place of employment today for a meet-n-greet (they're apparently gonna be drinking beer, so it's not exactly formal), and I have this teensy-weensy-back-of-the-brain fear that the entire job offer is gonna be one big prank. Probably because that whole process happened so fast - I've never sent in a resume, been called to interview immediately, interviewed, and had an offer from start to finish in 10 days. And probably because I'm F-ING PARANOID. My last job did a number on me, with the feeling of having to cover one's ass CONSTANTLY to justify any minor twitch or bump. So not how to live, but it also evolved over time, because I was a "star" when I started, one of the golden children - but I had no clue! I just thought everything was awesome blossom, and I had come from the job with the crazy pantyhose lady. Hell, at that time, Leona Helmsley woulda seemed like a sharp, astute, somewhat demanding, yes, but a great boss, comparatively. But as I would learn, every star has its fall, sadly, and when I fell, another rose, and I couldn't believe it was true, but in time, her star also fell. Sigh. No sense in belaboring that cycle - I'm out!

So, my friends, I will give you one of the greatest pranks I've ever pulled. It was at the former employer, and my god, did it blow up in my face, and everyone else who helped pull it off. But DAMN it was funny. And to his credit, the president/owner of the company thought it was HILA-rious & later said that if people didn't like the joke, then fuck 'em. Direct quote.

The Elaborate Parking Space Prank.
Background: Corporate office building, 16 stories tall. Parking garage (free parking), three stories underground, three stories above ground. Spaces are not universally painted, so some are narrow, some are wide. People tend to park in the same spots, perhaps it's the territorial-nature of human beings, perhaps it's just habit. Multiple businesses in building, our company was the largest single entity.

I was on a committee that worked primarily on public relations/events. We also wanted to liven up things around the joint. One afternoon, we brainstormed & came up with the April Fool's joke, to convince everyone that we were moving to assigned parking spaces, and to make everyone go through some silly ritual to get their space. At first, we were going to hire a guy to come in with a clipboard, and have people park in the space they wanted with their blinkers on, to wait for the clipboard guy to note their license plate. What we finally arrived at, was to have people park in the space they wanted, put their business card under their wiper blade, and it would be collected & noted by 10 a.m.

We went for convincing. Really, it's my specialty. Make it so real, employ others with authority, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for the bite. We had the building manager & our director of operations in on it. A voicemail and email went out to the agency, telling people that the spaces were going to be repainted over the upcoming weekend, and spaces would be numbered. As the largest tenant in the building, we were given first shot at choosing the space we wanted. You had to have your car parked in the spot you wanted by 9:15 the next morning (April 1). This announcement went out around 2 in the afternoon, March 31.

One hour later, the joint was ON FIRE. The creative department had started a petition against this new policy, stating that assigned parking restricted them too much, they wanted their GOD GIVEN FREEDOM to park wherever they wanted given the weather and how they felt. (Let's be honest: that department never got to work on time, and they were pissed about having to get in that early.) People were moving their cars that afternoon, to leave them overnight - getting rides home with other people. People who'd worked there a long time were pissed because they had always wanted reserved spots & now it was a free-for-all and some pipsqueak who hadn't put in their time might end up with a better spot than them. HR and Operations were getting deluged, and thankfully, our operations person had left for the day. It was melee. Over a PARKING SPACE. Shortly before 5 that same day, we pulled the plug - but it was too late for some people, having left early, etc., so they arrived the next day, put their cards on their windshields & came in to discover that it was all a big hoax. One manager made a huge deal about how one of her employees came in early that day, leaving her DYING MOTHER'S BEDSIDE so she could get the parking spot. Some people are STILL mad about it, 3 years later.

I can only say this. If a parking spot takes priority over your dying mother? Then things are seriously wrong. Bewildered by the abject anger and fury that boiled out over this, I was talking to a girlfriend who used to work with me. She pointed out that, in an environment that is run by so much favoritism, we'd given people the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Everyone had an equal shot at getting the parking space they wanted, and it hit nerves like crazy. I just kept shaking my head & saying, "But - But - it's just a f-ing PARKING space!" She countered, "It doesn't matter. They saw a chance to jockey for position and they had to take it."

Double sigh. I have no pranks planned for the day, partly because I've got a cold & feel dragged down. Partly because I've played so many in my life, and some really got people wound up, beyond my wildest predictions (case in point!) My husband already got me this morning, by installing some sorta "mouse droppings" thing so every time I moved my cursor I got a black rectangle that appeared on my screen. Honestly, I thought I needed to re-boot, that my memory was getting low & the computer was acting up. He called an hour ago and told me how to fix it - it was harmless, I laughed, he laughed - nobody got hurt. The point is to laugh. Laughing is good for you. If you have so much anger and fear inside of you, that you can't laugh? Then I suggest a good therapist or a job change, or something significant to get rid of that negativity. I'd love to know about other people's pranks, too. Give me some ideas for next year...... :)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:30 AM | link |