Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trick or Treat-The Other Side

Trick or Treat-The Other Side

Halloween 2011.. BEST. HALLOWEEN. EVER. Now, with your permission, or without it, I’d like to sit back, kick off my sock monkey slippers and tell you of my evening.

I began preparations earlier in the day, mixing up all the bags of candy that I had purchased just for this occasion into one big orange plastic bowl that came full of mini Snickers (which I devoured earlier in the day.) A beautiful assortment. I put the bowl on the table beside the door and put “Werewolves of London” on repeat on my stereo system which I had earlier positioned in the windows so as to drench the entire neighborhood in the sounds of Halloween. After 28 minutes of non-stop “Ahhhhhhh Ooooooooh Werewolves of London…Ahhhhhhh Oooooooh Werewolves of London” my neighbors put an end to that. Who knew nuns didn’t like Warren Zevon?

Then the trick-or-treaters began to trickle in. Trick-or- treat starts at six PM sharp, not a minute before in this house. I’m sorry to those little rugrats that showed up at five fifty-five. We have rules for a reason. I’m also sorry that they came back later and all I had left was a Ziploc bag full of crushed candy canes from four Christmas’ ago but that’s what happens when you don’t follow the rules.

At six, I opened the door and waited.

Ding dong.

Excitement like new love filled my stomach. I hurried to the door and peered out and saw a hippie, a hobo and an M&M. I reached into the bowl and took out a big handful and aimed carefully and WHACK! hit the hobo in the left eye. I felt a little bad at first but then I thought, “hey, you’re the one who chose to be a hobo, you might as well get the whole experience. You should just be glad I didn’t have a beer can.” While the hobo was crying into the folds of his mother’s skirt, I threw several pieces of chocolate at the M&M. He opened his bag and almost all of the pieces made it. He became very focused with the content of his bag as I threw the final bunch of candy to the little hippie. She had one of those orange plastic pumpkins and she caught all of it. Then she looked up at me and with a twinkle in her eye and said,

“Why don’t you hand out candy at the door like a normal person, you weirdo!” (I was up on my balcony tossing the candy off into the night air.)

“Yeah, and why are you passing out Easter candy? That was like 6 months ago. Gross” (There was a sale after Easter, ninety percent off. Who can pass that up?)

“Just for that you’re not getting the motherload: this entire package of Peeps,” I retorted as I flung another chocolate bunny for good measure.

Off they trotted, mumbling amongst themselves and to the mother who brought them. I’m pretty sure she was teaching them some new words.

A few minutes later, after I’d just settled in for another mini Snickers, another gaggle of girls rang the bell. Taking to heart what the hippie had said I decided to do the right thing and take the candy downstairs to the door.

I opened it and staring up at me was the cutest little pair of twin girls, probably around the age of 2 or 14, (it’s hard to tell when they’re at that age) each dressed up like a different Disney princess.

“Here ya go, Ariel,” I said as I put a few crispy rice chocolate eggs in her little canvas “Please don’t feed me razorblades” tote. She said thank you sweetly.

“And some for you Princess Jasmine,” I crooned, dropping a few chocolate bunnies in Jasmine’s “I’m allergic to peanuts” bag. She too, smiled up at me until she saw what had been dropped in the bag.

“What the? What is this junk? Are you seriously that cheap that you can’t even buy Halloween candy?”

Then Ariel piped up, “yeah, and why is it frozen? How long have you had this crap? Mom, can you believe this? I’m not eating this.”

But mom had already started to usher the girls away with her own look of disgust, making a mental (but audible) note to not come to this house again.

The evening parade of Spidermen, witches and Lindsay Lohans’ continued sporadically until about seven thirty, a half hour short of quitting time.

Each group of youngsters brought similar responses:

“What is this?”

“Didn’t you give out Christmas candy last year?”

“Popcorn balls? These aren’t even in sealed packages. Did you make these?”

“What am I going to do with this doily?”

“A toothpick? A TOOTHPICK? You can’t even give out a toothBRUSH?”

At seven fifty-five, a carload of trick-or-treaters showed up and rang the bell. Exhausted as I was from climbing up and down the stairs–only to be mocked and jeered might I add–I opened the door to find five very tall trick-or-treaters. One was in a sheet with two holes cut out, one had a plastic Homer Simpson mask on with a black trench coat, another had fake blood coming out of his nose or had a really bad coke habit (jury is still out on that one but you never like to jump to conclusions) and still another had a Freddie knife/glove on his hand and was wearing a Dave Matthews concert t-shirt and the last one, the driver, just had a pillowcase held out in front of my face. In fact none of them really had Halloween bags. All of them carried pillowcases except for one who carried a scrunched up black plastic garbage bag.

“What have we here?” I said, inspecting the group.

“Look just give us the candy,” sneered Dave Matthews.

“Well just hold on there little guy, I wanna see who I’m dealing with here.”

I tried to squat to his level when I said “little guy” but I realized that without even squatting he was still taller than I was.

“Look lady, we’re not playing the game. We just want candy.”

“Ok, well, I’m the one with the candy so I think I’ll be deciding the game we play, right gang?”

This was my first major mistake of the night. How was I to know that this was, indeed, the neighborhood gang? They got a little up in arms at my blatant calling out of their gang and one of them started to go for a switchblade. Then just as he came at me with the switchblade. I heard a loud thud as something smacked him in the back of his oversized head. I watched his eyes roll back as he crumpled to the ground in a teenage heap. When the others in the gang saw what had happened they all turned around to see who had taken down their leader. With looks of terror on their faces they scooped up their fallen comrade, who had now begun to cry and headed off to their car.

As I looked down at the ground in front of me I saw the weapon: a chocolate bunny. I looked in the direction that it had come from and couldn’t believe my eyes. Standing not eight and three quarters feet away from me was my rescuer: the hippie. She smiled at me and I smiled back at her and I knew then what I had to do.

Reaching back to the table by my front door, I picked up the last package I had left and as she held out her little orange plastic pumpkin, which by now was almost full, I put in the last package of yellow Peeps I had kept in my freezer since Easter….not this Easter but two Easters before.

As she looked up with her little angelic hippie-looking face, I said what we were both thinking,

“Let these thaw a little before you eat them or you’ll break off a tooth.”


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Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

I loved trick-or-treating. I loved putting on my little vinyl one piece Wonder Woman outfit and donning that plastic mask that was held on by rubber bands and staples. I could never get my nose holes to go anywhere near my nostrils so by the end of the night the inside of my mask was covered in exhale condensation. I loved the few minutes before it was “OFFICIALLY” trick-or-treat, the anticipation of knowing that in an hour or two I would have enough candy to last me for quite a while. I loved the smell of burning leaves as I started off in search of my loot.

Here’s what I didn’t love so much: I didn’t love that we were only allowed to trick-or-treat at the houses of people we knew because we didn’t know very many people in the neighborhood ( sing along, you know you want to: in the neighborhood, in the NEIGHborhood) so our stash would be low considered to the kids who were allowed to run around all willy nilly through several neighborhoods where they knew no one and had better chances of eating a razorblade. I didn’t love that the only neighbors we did know were elderly. Not that I don’t respect my elders or that I have a problem with senior citizens. But by the end of my night my orange pumpkin was not full of fun size Snickers, Butterfingers or Milky Way bars.  No. By the time our allotted two hour of candy begging was over, my bucket was always full of root beer barrels, butterscotch disks, chick-a-sticks, pre-packaged popcorn balls, handfuls of pennies for Unicef and the most hated orange and black wrapped pieces of peanut butter “kisses.” This is quite possibly the Ishtar of all candies.

The best part of trick-or-treating was coming home and dumping the loot all over the floor to sort it out and get ready for trade. This, of course, came after the parental inspection for any suspicious looking treats: slightly opened toffee rolls, busted Pixie Stix, unpackaged candy of any kind and the ever-urban-mythed: razorblades in apples (in all my years of begging for candy I have never been given an apple. Not once. And if I had been given an apple it would have been fastballed back at their door after they closed it.)  Trick or Treat. Not Trick or Give-Me-Something-That-Will-Help-Me-Poop. 

Upon peeling off the thin vinyl one piece costume and tearing off the now, quite moist plastic mask, the pumpkin is unceremoniously dumped on the living room floor.  The real work now begins.  The first task is to take the unwanteds (see above, also known as elderly candies) and set them aside.  Then you must organize and inventory the remaining candy.  Chocolate goes in one corner, mini packets in another and the cheap hard candy assortment off to one side.  The trading begins.  If all is in perfect harmony in the family, this will be an enjoyable task.  For instance, if your brother likes orange candy and you do not and you like mint chocolate and he does not, smooth sailing.  If this is not the case, things can get tricky. Strategies must be employed to gain the best harvest.  Negotiations can get tense.  The talks can take up to fifteen minutes but hopefully in the end, everyone gets what they want and no punches were thrown. 

Now the eating begins. If it were up to me, I would devour the entire contents in one sitting, run around the room on a sugar high and then crash with a severe case of the shakes, only to repeat the process ten minutes later. 

But it was never up to me.  After the anticipation, the hard task of working up the nerve to knock on doors and beg for candy, the anxiety of wondering how much candy will pass inspection and the tension of the trade talks, the evening ends with me sitting on the floor with half a chewed tootsie roll in my mouth as the candy is whisked away and rationed out over the next several weeks.

They say that often people who were deprived of food hoard it later on in life when they have freedom and choice. 

Halloween may be the reason why I ate my weight in sour gummy worms last night.


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Writer’s block

Writer’s block

Well it happened. You never want to think it’ll happen to you but then it does and you are blindsided. I am experiencing writer’s block. I have so many little ideas, bits of funny on which to base a blog but then I sit down to write or I walk around my house cleaning (which is when I sometimes get some good ideas) and the ideas don’t gel into something that I feel is blog worthy. Perhaps it is the change in the weather, the damp and dreariness of the days. Days when I come home with wet socks because I took Yadi for a walk wearing my crocs because I was too lazy to tie tennis shoes. Perhaps it is because I have not taken a day to just go and daydream. Overall I just feel blah. And nothing funny comes from blah.

Writer’s block is the scariest feeling for a writer. I’m always afraid I’m going to run out of funny things to write or like lately, I feel like my thoughts are not necessarily entertaining enough to share. It’s one of the  

Maybe I need to get out more. Get around people. But that’s really a double-edged sword for me because while I gain a lot of material for blogs from the idiocy of others, it also comes at a hefty price. I have to be around others. So this means going out in public and more than likely being annoyed by everyone around me.

My main annoyance comes from the fact that most people lack self-awareness. They trudge along through their little worlds unaware that they are just getting in my way. People walk around living in their heads. (I too, am guilty of this but with at least enough self-awareness that I’m doing it) Take for instance a trip to the grocery store. I turn my wobbly wheeled cart (because such is my life. I always get the wobbly wheeled cart. It’s my main reason for not just giving up and becoming homeless)  down the peanut butter aisle and I am suddenly stopped behind a woman who has decided to leave her cart in the middle of the aisle and read every label on every jar of peanut butter. I have to say excuse me four times before she looks up and realizes that she’s in the way. Am I the only one who realizes that a grocery aisle is just like a two lane road? You stay on your side, I stay on mine? How hard is that?

Another favorite is when I’m at the zoo or another crowded public venue and someone stops to look at an animal or a piece of art. They just stop where they are, as if moving out of everyone else’s way never crossed their mind. No consideration for anyone else. Just stop where you are and stand there gawking at the bears.

But my all time favorite encounter is when I’m driving down a side street and the car in front of me decides to stop to talk to someone on the sidewalk. Hello? I am behind you and I want to keep going. Pull over and talk to your friend. Don’t make me wait while you discuss where you’re going to meet later.

What do all of these experiences have in common? People get in my way. Which is why I hate going out in public. Which is why I don’t have anything to write about right now.

And yet by writing about not having anything to write about, I have written. Take that, writer’s block!


Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Random


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Often I find something (or someone) poorly designed (It’s a shame I can’t do anything about it when it’s a person) and I find myself thinking, “Why don’t they do that differently?” or “Why don’t they make that better?” or in the case of someone, “Why don’t they GO AWAY?” And since I have the same exact thought every time I encounter the item or issue, or person, I decided to share my thoughts to see if anyone else had these same feelings, just to make myself feel a little more normal.

Why don’t they make an EZ Bake Oven for adults? Sometimes I want cake but not a WHOLE cake. I usually end up buying one of those microwaveable ones and they’re kind of nasty.

Why do they bother putting a warning on Q-Tips? Everyone shoves them as far down their ear canal as they will go. It’s their main use, I bet.

Why do they use the same echo-y voice for monster truck, motocross and professional wrestling commercials? Is that echo-y voice to hillbillies what the color red is to hummingbirds?  Do they hear that voice and come running slack-jawed and drooling to see where they can watch cars or people smash each other up?

Why do they make all Christmas extension cords green? Am I supposed to be fooled into thinking that the tree has a long leafless vine sprouting in its branches? Are they fooling anyone?

Why does Urban Outfitters use the weirdest pictures in their catalogs? Are they aiming at the heroin-addicted, bath salt snorting crowd? Because it seems like maybe they are.

Why to they put gold water carafes in every court room? Does magic judicial water only come in golden containers?

Why do they always have cracked or smeared makeup in magazine spreads about new colors or fashions? How is that more appealing? Because if I open up my makeup and it is cracked or smeared I am not happy about it.

Why do they always make good guys in movies take on thirteen bad guys? I don’t remember ever seeing one guy take on that many people and it have a happy ending for him. Also, I rarely see fights that are that well choreographed. 

Why do they call them “Once A Day” vitamins and then tell me to take two? How can your brand name literally be “Once A Day” .

Why do people buy Mickey Mouse ears at Disney World? I’ve never seen anyone wear them ever again. Outside of their vacation photos.

Why do they make biscuit cans so pressurized? Tell me your heart doesn’t jump a little when you pop open a can because it startles you just a little bit.

Why do some tampon companies put affirmations on their wrappers? Why do I need someone cheering me on at that very moment? “Go out there and show them what you’ve got!” Indeed.

Why do people always buy shirts from a vacation destination? Where will you ever want to be seen in a “Reno NV” shirt again?

Why do people write chapter upon chapter about their ancestors in their biographies? No one cares when your grandmother immigrated, Olympia Dukakis. No one.

Why do they make wind chimes? They just annoy everyone within earshot.

Why don’t they make Pringle cans bigger? I feel like a monkey reaching through a cage for a banana when I try to pull my fist full of chips out. It’s a dilemma because I want the chips but my hand is stuck and then like said monkey, I panic a bit. And I have small hands. I can’t imagine how hard this is for a normal-sized human.

Why don’t they make hand soap dispenser tubes a little bit longer? You can’t get any soap out when there is just a few drops left. Wasteful.

Why do they make those cheese and sausage gift packs around Christmas? Who gives that as a gift? Best thing about them: the three strawberry hard candies that are used as decoration.

Why do they give open book tests? To prove that kids know how to plagiarise an answer straight from the pages?

Why are they called sanitary pads? It doesn’t seem sanitary to me to sit in that for any amount of time.

Also, why do they always blame everything on one collective “they” Who are they? And if you find them, please hand them this list of questions.

Because I want answers. And only THEY have them.


Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Random


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The Danbury Mint

The Danbury Mint

Once upon a time in a faraway land, in a rat-infested apartment in Illinois, lived a young, quirkily eccentric girl with a butt that would double as a drink tray. We shall call her Jennivere. Although Jennivere had all of her basic needs met, enough time to lurk on e-bay at work for up to 10 hours a day and enough expendable money to buy Chinese takeout in bulk, she was left with a longing, an emptiness that she thought only more material items could fill.

From the greenest regions of Southern Illinois to the smoggiest neighborhoods of Chicago, Jennivere was known for her extensive Peanuts collection. It began innocently enough when her father purchased a little Hot Wheels-sized covered wagon with Woodstock at the reins. Over the years, she began to collect different items from her favorite comic strip, mostly focusing on Snoopy. Throughout Jennivere’s college career, she would receive gifts and trinkets such as figurines, jelly jars, toothbrush holders, and sippy cups for babies. By the time she got her first “real” job (that included LARGE commissions), she was on the path to a vast collection which she eventually insured for $25,000.

As she sat at her desk in the empty cell phone store, having already well-exceeded her quota for the month in the first four days, Jennivere began to look on ebay for things to buy. She looked at a Wurlitzer juke box and then for several months considered buying an operational full-size replica of the General Lee.  Then she turned her attention to her first love: Snoopy.  She bid $125.00 for a Hallmark Peanuts nativity (didn’t win), $85.00 for a Snoopy leather jacket (thank God she didn’t win) and won a 1969 Snoopy Astronaut figurine for $10.00 that she had previously seen in an antique shop for $90.00.

Still it wasn’t enough.

One fateful day, her mother called her and said,

“I saw an ad in the Parade magazine that you might want to see. I’ll save it for you.”

And that she did, my friend….that she did.

The girl got the ad:

Christmas 2002: a Danbury Mint exclusive! A Snoopy collectible figurine forever calendar (you know the ones, the little tiles that you can change to fit every month) Introductory offer: $19.95 for the first figurine! Also included: a doghouse shaped display board with shelves for each figurine! Each month the Danbury Mint will send you a new figurine and at the end of your 12 months you will receive the bonus doghouse. a must have for any Snoopy enthusiast!

Jennivere took the bait. Having too much money for her own good, and falling for the exclusivity of this rare item, she knew she had to have it. She sent the check.

The first figurine came. Her Discover card was billed for $19.95 + $5.00 shipping and handling. Each month like clock-work, the charge showed up on her credit card bill. And each month she received a small box containing a Snoopy figurine.

At first the little boxes coming in the mail were a welcome sight. But by about June, the thrill had worn off and been replaced with bitterness and irritation. Jennivere did the math and knew what this calendar was actually costing her. Each month brought a new figure and a little more fuel to the fire of “What the heck was I thinking? If I had seen this crap in a store for three hundred dollars, would I have purchased it?”

From the deepest regions of her inner self came the answer:


Jennivere was stuck. She couldn’t cancel the order because then she would have half a year of a calendar and that would really be worthless.  Doubly as worthless as a full year of the calendar.  Finally, relief- the doghouse arrived and she hung up the calendar in her bedroom. Each day passing the calendar was like a little jab in her money-bag.

One might be saying at this point “Yes, indeed that is a sad story and from it I can learn that one should never buy items that are marketed like the Fruit of the Month Club.”

But that wasn’t the end. Five years later Jennivere made the best investment of her life, a seven week old shih-tzu who would eventually go on to poop a cigarette butt, destroy a decorative rug, look Jennivere in the eye and squat and pee on the floor and drag socks, underwear, bras and towels from the laundry. A few months after getting the puppy she got an envelope from none other than the Danbury Mint. This was a common occurrence as they had been periodically sending her every Snoopy related item that they were selling. For the record, Jennivere nearly fell for it twice, but she didn’t succumb.

She opened the envelope a little excited at what she might find. Would it be a Snoopy snowglobe? A Snoopy Halloween scene? An animated Snoopy smoking crack with Woodstock? Alas, no.

Inside the package was an offer for a collector plate….of a shih-tzu. How? She had never sent any kind of notice that said “Hey, Danbury Mint, I just got a shih-tzu puppy! Could you please start doubling up your sales pitches and send me crap for Snoopy and shih-tzus”?

Two days ago the reign of terror reappeared in the form of a Danbury Mint Claddagh collectible Christmas ornament. How? As many of her friends and acquaintances know she always wears an Irish Claddagh ring.  Jennivere never registered the ring with the Danbury Mint.

Jennivere now lives in constant fear of being stalked by the Danbury Mint.  They are worse than Big Brother. They are tracking her every move, watching her every purchase, waiting to pounce on a chance to send her junk mail full of enticing, over-priced crap. But they will not win.


Seriously, though, I’m screwed when I get a job because I know me. And I will give in.

And I will end up with a gold-plated Snoopy toothbrush holder.


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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Jenn's Adventures, The Thing About Shopping Is This...


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I Am In Prison

I Am In Prison

Dear loyal readers and children of all ages,

Wait, this letter may not be appropriate for children. Scratch that.  No, seriously, scratch that… lower, I can’t reach it.

Dear Loyal Readers,

I write this letter to you from the library of the Missouri state prison where the cell walls are decorated with pin-ups of Casey Anthony.  Normally they wouldn’t let an inmate have access to a computer but the ones they consider to have “special needs” are guaranteed this privilege. They determined that I had special needs because of my confidence in the fact that I believe I am Amelia Earhart. Often times to make sure I get the computer, I zip around the commons with my arms outstretched and a hefty amount of the one-ply toilet paper they give us wrapped around my head like a bomber helmet, yelling “ZOOOOOOOM!”  My dignity is a small price to pay for this privilege.

In case you’re wondering how I landed in the joint (that’s prison talk for jail. You learn these terms fast. You also learn to always have massive amounts of ciggies as they are good for bartering and making sure that you are not owned by anyone). I will not lie to you and say that I am innocent of the crime I am charged with, for I am not.

On August 3rd, I was arrested and convicted of jayriding.  I crossed Devonshire road on my tricycle (Stop judging me. It’s hard to balance on two wheels while holding a pint and trying to play harmonica) without using the cross walk.  I also zipped across the road when it said “Do not walk”  (which I wasn’t, I was riding the tricycle. Semantics.) because that’s just the kind of rebel I am.  It didn’t help my case that I was wearing a vinyl Fonzie Halloween costume complete with plastic mask. (I kept it since I was in first grade. I’m petite for my age, what can I say?)  I thought I could get out of my predicament by pointing out to the arresting officer that TECHNICALLY I wasn’t jay “walking” but apparently it was that semantic argument that made him decide to throw the book at me. Seriously he took his little book of tickets and hurled it at my noggin. All I said was “Look, you little man, I  have never in my life seen such a power tripping security guard wannabe let so little power go to his piggy head!”

This may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

Off I was taken in handcuffs and ankle shackles to prison while the media went nuts snapping pictures of me.  Wait. That might not have been me. That might have been Paris Hilton…Yeah it was.  Sorry for the mistake.

Once I was strip searched and had a body cavity search (which from what I had always heard was not pleasant for either party involved and I now concur.) I was given my prison garb (luckily I got the orange jumpsuit instead of the stripes because I just don’t look good in stripes) and sent off to my cell with no supper.

The first few days were not too bad but then the Cheetos incident occurred only to be followed by what I henceforth will refer to as the Hostess Strawberry Pie fiasco. I fought hard for that pie and was able to distract the inmates by pointing out the new inmate, Sara Lee.  I was not as popular with the ladies because hey, nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee. And like her they did.

I spend most of my time in the arts and crafts room making key chains, leather wallets and Foreman Grill Cozies.  I’m also reading “So You Want To Learn To Make Shivs Out of Soap” in my quiet time.

I’m trying to keep a positive outlook but then the memories of past Christmas’ and the holidays yet to come flood into my memory like…a flood. I know now I won’t be home to eat Aunt Wilhemina’s Jello salad, the one that she always makes and leaves on the hood of the car and her cat walks through it with litter box sand-covered feet and she debates (every year, God bless her cat-loving soul) whether or not to bring it but just smears it around to cover up the cat tracks. It’s always gritty but deliciously lime flavored with mini marshmallows throughout.

I’ll also miss Grandpa’s telling of stories of fighting in the Civil War with General Patton and Elvis Costello (Grandpa is kind of losing it but we just let him live in his world) while Grandma Beth always tries to get all of the grandkids to “pull her finger.”

I’ll always picture Little Trigger Sue and Sipsy Matthew (The twins had their middle names mixed up at birth because their mother, my cousin, Gypsy Piffle was a paste eater most of her life.) running through the sprinklers in their underwear (they share one pair) even though it’s three below zero and trying to go belly first on the Slip and Slide in the backyard for a while before they come running into the house screaming that their stomachs hurt. (We go through this every year, they think they can slip and slide when it’s three below but every year their little bellies get stuck to the plastic, like an outstretched tongue sticking to a metal pole, and every year Gypsy looks up from her paste and sends them to Grandma Beth for first aid. The twins are forty-two now, you would think they had learned that they can’t slip nor slde when it’ s this cold.)

These memories will always be with me and I look to the future in hopes that I too may be home by the next Thanksgiving but it’s looking bleak for me, what with this past week’s Chef Boyardee incident.  I love Uncle Joseph’s (He’s not our real uncle, He’s Uncle Frank’s “Roommate”) Gummy Bear fruitcake (He thinks substituting Gummy Bears for candied fruit will go unnoticed and he can save a buck) and will hopefully be there to enjoy it.

Until then, please know that I miss and love you all and enjoy getting the care packages that NONE OF YOU HAVE BEEN SENDING.

Not bitter at all,

Inmate 4958375

P.S.  Please don’t send a cake with a file in it.  That will get me an extra six months and I’m hoping to be home for Grandma Beth’s opportunity to defend her title in the Miss Toots-A-Lot pageant.


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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in So Not True


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Johnny On the Spot

Johnny On the Spot

I realize that I have shared some of my thoughts on public bathrooms but I would feel like I was cheating you if I didn’t share my experiences and feelings about port-a-potties. Any time I am getting ready to go to a festival or an outdoor venue, I treat myself like a six-year-old.

“Jenn, do you need to go potty before we leave? Because they’re only going to have Johnny-on-the-Spots and you know how you feel about them. So do you need to go?”

And I always mentally thank myself for reminding me to take these precautions before I leave. Because once I get to wherever I’m going, there aren’t a lot of options. Recently, I went to the annual Art in the Park festival here in St. Louis to listen to my neighbor’s band play.  As soon as I got to the festival I confidently bought a bottled water because I knew. I knew I had information that not everyone at the park had. Last night, a friend and I had done a recon mission to check out the park and she needed a restroom. So we walked to the REAL restrooms of the park.  I stood outside because I am not one of those women that goes to the bathroom in herds. That’s private time. I don’t want anyone in there trying to engage me in conversation.  And I certainly don’t want to have one of my friends talking about everything she has to do next week while she poops. That’s where I draw the line.

What I hadn’t checked out was the actual conditions inside the park’s restrooms. I took it for granted that these would be normal, run-of-the-mill restrooms.  I didn’t know what was in store for me. Until I finished my bottle of water and decided that I would pass the lone-standing porta-john and head to the permanent toilets. Silly people waiting in line for one filthy, nasty plastic toilet with nary a sink to wash your hands in and that would inevitably already be out of the hand sanitizer located directly above the urinal.

“Hmph,” I chortled through my nose at them as I passed. Peasants.  As I got to the restrooms, I really had that I’m-smarter-than-these-people haughty smug feeling about myself. I opened the door and passed a woman on her way out. Bonus! No one was even waiting in line.

And then I saw why. As I turned the corner and peered into the first stall I understood. There were two stalls and neither had doors. I hadn’t walked into the men’s room so I was confused. I have never been in a women’s public restroom that didn’t have doors. I am not a prude but I don’t really like the idea of someone walking in on me when I’m mid-stream.  In fact, one of my other fears of public restrooms that I have is that I will be hovering above the seat and the door will become unlatched and will just swing wide open on me.  This has yet to happen but I cannot even begin to imagine the therapy involved if it ever does. Peeing in public with no privacy: again, another line-drawing place.

Defeated and full-bladdered, I skulked back to the porta-john behind the stage. Where the line had only been three people deep the first time I passed it, there was now a line of about ten. Great. Now, not only did I have to use a plastic toilet but I had to wait for ten people in front of me to do their business before I could.

For me, this is a worst case scenario. I had downed the bottle of water confidently because I thought I wouldn’t have to use the temporary toilet. Had I known that I would have to wait in line to pee in a plastic hole while my face was positioned way too close to the built-in urinal, I would have remained parched. But now it was too late.  The damage was done. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then I moved four inches forward because one person exited and the next one went in. And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And suddenly I experienced a little joy because I was moving up again. Now things are happening. Now we’re moving.

Except that we’re not. As the thought was just forming in my mind, the woman in front of me said to her guy the same thing that I was thinking:

“I don’t get it. I go in. I sit down. I do what I do and I go out.”

I am not one to normally insert myself into someone else’s conversation but I couldn’t resist. She must have felt me looking at them because she turned to me as if she knew she had been caught talking about things that people just don’t talk about. So I spoke.

“I KNOW. Who wants to hang out in there?”

She laughed a bit. And suddenly the conversation headed into a topic that for some reason, is often a topic of conversation with me: poop. In all honesty, this time I think I was the one who brought it up. Because the person who was in there was taking forever. We’ve all been in a porta-potty. It’s not somewhere that most people like to go and just hang out in. We’re all afraid that the door will spring open, that someone will tip it over or that our cell phone will fall out of our pocket and land with a wet thud in the mounds of used toilet paper beneath us. But nature calls. And without extreme discomfort we can’t resist. We go in there because it’s not socially acceptable to just drop trou and go beside the funnel cake booth. But for some reason six out of the ten people ahead of us did just that. They were in there for what seemed like forever and as the minutes passed I could only begin to imagine the stench that was building up.

“I hope none of these people ahead of us went in there to poop. Because who wants to follow that?”

“I know. I don’t like to just hang out in there,” said the nice lady who somehow found herself listening to me begin my poop rant. I have so many things to say about poop but I will save that for another post.

“And seriously, if you’re here and you have to poop. Just go home.”

The couple continued to talk to me for a few minutes, maybe because they wanted to or maybe because they really had no way of escaping. I was wearing my That’s Not Appropriate shirt and the lady read it so I told her about my blog and then later tracked her down (in a non-creepy non-stalkerish kind of way, I hope.) and gave her my card.

It’s the first time I made a friend while waiting in line at a porta-potty. It was only after I got back to where my friends were sitting that I contemplated the truth of what had just transpired: Talking about poop is a universal ice-breaker. I don’t mean going into graphic detail about where (or God forbid what, you poop.  But the word itself will make even the most uptight person at least smile) It really brings us all together and makes us realize that we are not as different as we pretend to be.

And I think that part of the reason that I feel comfortable joking about poop is that getting people to joke about it, drops their defenses and allows me to see the six-year-old inside of everyone. The six-year-old who still giggles (although maybe inwardly) when someone says “duty.”

(Insert giggle here.)





Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Jenn's Adventures


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