Monday, May 26, 2008

Baring My Soul.

I have a secret. And it's time to tell it to all of you out in the blogosphere....

My name is Jen. I'm 30 years old...and I still sleep with my baby blanket, AND my old Cabbage Patch doll (her name is Lizzie Marlene). Of course, most of my friends know this about me already, but I felt that eventually, an entry about these keepsakes would be appropriate. And I KNOW there are plenty of you out there in the same boat as I am when it comes to the childhood objects we sleep with that have accidentally carried into our adult lives. But there may be some of you thinking, "Wow. She's 30? She should let that crap go already. I got rid of my blanket when I was 7." Well, you people are heartless robots. Get over it. And don't think that I can't see you on the other side on your computer, clutching your old balding Teddy Ruxpin on your lap whilst you judge me. Hypocrites.

When I was younger, there was no way I could sleep without either of these items, ESPECIALLY Blanket. I took them on every trip my family ever went on, they went to college with me, and they made the big move to Boston (and back). And my future husband better make room for it on our honeymoon, because it's coming with us to Bora Bora. But, in 2001, their traveling days were greatly restricted. When I still lived back east, they traveled with me (as always) to a friend's wedding out in LA. After the wedding weekend, I packed up and went back to my parents' house for my last night in town. It wasn't until later that night that I realized I'd (*gasp*) LEFT THEM BOTH AT THE HOTEL. You'd have thought I left my child behind. I suddenly felt nauseous, and I was actually starting to panic. What if the hotel had thrown them away? The thought of it was too horrible to imagine. My train was leaving the next evening, and I HAD to find them before then. I called everyone that was staying in our room, leaving messages all over the place. I called the hotel...numerous times. None of my friends or the hotel staff had any sign of them. With a heavy heart, the unthinkable happened. I left LA without Blanket and Lizzie. With every mile of train track, I was farther away from my most important childhood items. The next morning, in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, my phone rang (I was shocked that I had any reception on my phone in the first place). It was Ro. She was the only person I wasn't able to get a hold of, but she had BOTH Blanket and Lizzie. She said she saw them after I left the hotel, and knew she'd better take them with her. I think I started to cry. She was shipping them to Boston, and they were waiting for me at my apartment when my train arrived a couple days later. In my mind, this automatically secured a place for Ro in the Friend Hall of Fame. Now, if I travel anywhere, only one of them goes with me, or neither of them go. I can't have this happen twice. I think it would actually kill me.

And if you're still not convinced of my unhealthy attachment to these items, check this out. We've all been asked the hypothetical question, "If your house was on fire, what items would you take with you?" I can tell you with confidence that my TRUE answer to this question would be "Blanket and Lizzie." How do I know this? Because the last place I lived in was ACTUALLY ON FIRE. I came home to discover a hot door handle and black smoke coming out the windows. One of many things to fly through my head in those first harried minutes was a worry that Blanket and Lizzie might be burned or ruined. I didn't think about clothes, my computer, or even pictures (which is the answer everyone gives to the whole "house on fire" question... including me). But it turns out my knee-jerk reaction is to want to grab those tattered old relics. Thankfully, they were only slightly smoke damaged, but survived the ordeal. They were so brave. :)

You may be asking, so what's all the fuss about? Well, here they are, in all their grandeur. Drumroll, please....TA DA!

Notice that my blanket is virtually transparent, and now resembles Swiss cheese. It used to be thick enough to wrap around me and keep me warm while I watched The Smurfs on Saturday mornings. It's slowly disintegrating. Here's Lizzie close-up:

Lizzie's head is BARELY hanging on. What began as a tiny hole in her neck has grown to run around her entire head, with the exception of 2 tiny strips of fabric that connect to her body near her ears. You can actually see through her neck. It looked like a tracheotomy at first, but now she looks like a crime scene. She is also not supposed to be black. I assure you when I was 5 and first got her, she was as ginger as they come..but that dirt is now permanent. And only God knows what happened to her cute little red gingham dress and giraffe bib, because those babies are LONG gone.

Good God, I think I may have shared too much with you. You now know the sick levels my mind goes to (as if you didn't already). I'm sure both Gandhi and Mother Teresa are looking down on me, shaking their heads in disappointment at such an attachment to material things.

Oh well. To quote Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Birthday Party Madness

I thought I'd share a few pictures from my AWESOME birthday party on Saturday night. My unbelievable friends really outdid themselves with the Tuscan theme and yummy food. I have the best friends on the planet. Seriously, I do. If you met my friends, you'd want to sell your friends and buy mine. But these bitches ain't for sale, so just enjoy the pictures....
Marin made an UNREAL tiramisu cake from scratch. Also, have you EVER seen anyone more excited about cake than me? Wow. You'd think it was Ed McMahon in front of me with a big check from Publisher's Clearing House. Also, it should be noted that it took me TWO tries to blow out the solitary candle on my cake. And it wasn't even a trick candle. Apparently, with age comes decreased lung capacity.
Vrej was kind enough to let everyone know (on my back) that I'm not old yet.
As the night wore on, people started taking artistic license with the letters, and they morphed into something unrecognizable. In Hungarian, I believe it says, "Check out Jen's butt."
Erin, Lisa, and Mike(LMU pals)

Chris, Amanda, and tiny Harrison. We like to corrupt people as young as possible...this little guy is 4 weeks old.

Ariel, half of Geraldine, and Melissa....

One sassy Gordito. Everyone should have a friend named after a Taco Bell specialty.

Lanny trying to make out with me.

Jeff and Marin putting the finishing touches on my cake....

Marin, Sara, and Geraldine.
Everyone should have an old Arcadia street sign and a Jodi lawn jockey in their backyard. You'll be the envy of the neighborhood.

Jeff powering down casserole....
Jerel, Ruth, and Jeff. They think that Ruth choking is pretty funny, and they're right. Constricted airways ARE a hoot.

The tallest and shortest attendees of my party...Clint Manhood and the Midgets (aka Mike, Marin, Sara, and Geraldine)
The beginning of the end. Look at Ro's shifty stare. Let me tell you what she's thinking at this moment..."Thaaaat's right, Yen. Drink all that up. Yes, both glasses. Ah, indeed. My plan to get you completely smashed before the end of the night will be a success." The rest of the evening got extremely hazy after that.
I know more pictures were taken throughout the night, so as I get them, I'll be sure to post them.

Vroom, vroom....

There is tons to tell you about, but if I did it all in one post, it would be obnoxiously long. So I'm going to give you updates in manageable, bite size pieces. So I may do 2 posts tonight, maybe even 3 if I'm feeling saucy. I want to do it while I have a night free. For the most part, each of my posts takes an hour or two to hone and perfect before I want the rest of you to read it, and the time simply hasn't been there to sit down and give you something of quality, rather than meaningless, half-hearted drivel. I'm hoping to do all 3 posts this evening, whilst the happy sounds of Barry Manilow play in the background (Yeah, so I love Barry Manilow. He makes me happy. Sue me. It's still WAY better than Michael Bolton.) :

This post will tackle my new car. Yes, I got a new car...and you're saying, "But Yen, you don't need a new car. Yours is so pretty." And while that is all true, I had my reasons. The original plan was to buy it after leasing it for a few years, once it depreciated a little bit. But as certain events unfolded, those reasons for trading it in began to gain strength. They are as follows:

1. My 2005 Jetta had over 50K miles on it...which means the warranty expired. I know, I drive a ridiculous amount. But that doesn't happen any more...$4 for a gallon of gas has curtailed any previous joyriding. Grrrrr.
2. the accident in January. Once a car has been in an accident and has had major work done, you run the risk of additional problems down the road (no pun intended). This made me not want to buy out my lease anymore, and I was already WAY over the miles on my lease agreement, which would have sucked financially if I tried to turn it in at the end of the lease.
3. The MADDENING buzz in the left dash that no VW mechanic could ever hear when I brought the car in for service. It was very soft, yet chinese water torture for my ears.
4. The battery incident. Not 400 miles before I hit the warranty expiring threshold of 50K miles, my car decided to leave me stranded. Twice. Turned out there was a bad connector cable to the battery, and that cable (along with the battery) were replaced for free. It's literally the only problem I've had with my car, but was this a warning of more post-warranty issues to come? Perhaps.
5. I'm poor. I'm sick of always saying, "Sorry, I can't come with you guys. I'm broke." So lately I've been looking into ways that I can cut costs. One thought was to get a car where I was paying a little less each month. I had a higher end Jetta, and if I was driving a base model, I knew my monthly payment would be lower.

With these 5 things in mind, Mother's Day(also the last day before I turned 30), I headed down to the VW dealership, test drove a couple cars, and talked numbers with the sales people, which is just my favorite thing to do. I hate haggling. I hate negotiating. HATE IT. I'm no good at it. Especially at car dealerships. I feel like because I'm a female on a car lot, that I'm wearing an invisible sign that says "Please. Eff my bank account into oblivion." We went back and forth a couple times, but finally we were able to come to an agreement. I opted for another Jetta (this one is dark grey), which as it's now my 3rd Jetta, it makes me utterly predictable. I love the's the perfect size, I love how it drives, and they're just so pretty! (Sorry, girl moment) And I know if I was really trying to cut costs that I would go out and buy a Kia or something. But the idea of driving a Kia depresses the hell out of me after becoming a german car snob (Kia owners, my apologies). But face it, you can't vacation in Palm Springs (Kia) when you've been living in Hawaii(the VW).

Anyway, it's too dark right now to take a picture of my actual car, but this is what my birthday present to myself looks like. Of course if you had an imagination, you could just picture my old car and imagine it was grey instead of blue.The best part of this car buying experience had nothing to do with the actual car. I also got a dude out of the deal! Woo hoo! Let's give this adorable VW employee the fake name of "Pete" to protect his identity. We already went out once, and all I will say for now is that it was GREAT. No more details for now...I'm terrified that saying any more will jinx it. I like this one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thirty RULES.

Well, I did it. I turned thirty. And I freaking loved it. There wasn't one part of the day when I paused and said..."Crap. I'm thirty. This sucks." I didn't cry, I wasn't bummed out...none of that occurred. In fact, something good happens when you turn thirty. I don't know what it is...but I felt somehow liberated from my twenties. Freed. It wasn't the sad end of my twenties, but rather the beginning of something great, and even more fun. Maybe it's finally dawned on me that I'm an adult, and I can start to let go of the stupid things that really don't matter. Have I let go of EVERY bit of neurosis I'd gained from 20 to 30? Hell no! What would I put down in this blog if I let ALL of it go? I just feel like I can start to rise above it now, if that makes sense. And while that's all quite philosophical for a birthday, it's how I felt. This doesn't mean I'm not going to think immature fart jokes and my other ridiculous antics aren't funny anymore (this was an ACTUAL concern my sister had when I shared this revelation with her...and I don't blame her. Fart jokes are the cornerstone of our ultra-highbrow childhood with us and our brother. I couldn't lose that part of my humor if I tried, much to our mother's dismay. Don't worry, Stenchbag. Don't you worry.).

I was born at 7:56am. Wouldn't you know, the day started off rolling over at exactly 7:55, and I looked at my clock as it turned to 7:56. My crazy-accurate internal clock strikes again. Isn't that rad?! I knew it was going to be a good day. I got up, got dressed, put my sneakers on, and went for a jog...determined to start my thirties off on a healthy note. At 10:30, Lancie came to pick me up for our day of hookie from work at Disneyland. (By the way, spell-check suggests changing the word 'hookie' to 'hooker') She brought me a nonfat hot chocolate, and a low fat muffin from Starbucks...SCORE! Still keeping it healthy.

Then health went out the window for the rest of the day as we arrived at the Magic Kingdom. Churros, breadbowls of creamy soup, cookies, ice cream, and margaritas (yes, you CAN get alcohol at California Adventure...and God bless it!) were the order of the day. Here's a few pictures....

The four of us squeezing together behind Jeff's arm in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. There was a Disney photographer taking pictures not 20 feet from us. But he was dreaming if he thought we were about to pay $19.95 for a picture we could take ourselves. As you can see, it's a totally professional shot. Even though Lancie looks like she's drowning.

What did I get on my 30th birthday at Disneyland? A big eff, that's what.

Marin gave me this ultra expensive necklace, made of only the finest had little "30's" all over it , and it said "Why Grow Up?" Well, I don't know why you would grow up....

The four of us outside the Haunted House...the lines were fabulously short all day!!!

And then there was this hotness we ran into at Thunder Mountain. "Yes, um, sir? Your pants called. Yes, they ACTUALLY called me. LOOK AT THEM. Now listen, they want to sufficiently cover your crotch. And they also are requesting permission for a decent self-tanner for your legs." Needless to say, I don't think permission was granted for either request.

If something is not fun, you have to decide you're going to make it fun. This was the case with King Arthur's Carousel. Hands down, best merry go round ride EVER. Jeff stayed on the sidelines and took pictures of us like a proud papa, because carousels make him yarf. I'm sure he's pleased I just shared that with all (both) my readers.

Ah, the Matterhorn. A must for any Disneyland visit.

L to R: Marin, Me, and line for Space Mountain.

After Disneyland closed, we headed over to Catal at Downtown Disney for a little dinner and drinks before heading home. Marin suggested we toast to my 30th by taking a shot called a "Red Headed Slut". Well, naturally I was in full support of this....It was an awesome day. I couldn't have asked for anything more. And yet, my amazing friends are giving me more. They're throwing me a birthday party at my house on Saturday again, more pictures to follow in the coming days.

On Tuesday, it was Ro's birthday! Yes, for those of you who don't know, we have back to back birthdays, which in past years has yielded some pretty awesome combined birthday parties. Although, one year in the future, I know it's her secret wish to incorporate fellow Taurus and May 10 baby Bono into the mix of the combined birthday extravaganzas. Get the clue, Ro...he keeps canceling on us! *sigh* Anyway, this year, we took my favorite Mexican to dinner at the Velvet Margarita in Hollywood to fete her natal day. It was pure YUM.

And a quick shot of my dinner...the chile relleno burrito. An entire chile relleno dinner (rellenos, rice, and beans) all wrapped in a tortilla. It was magnificent, and I thought I would burst just by eating half of it. The rest of it is earmarked for my lunch tomorrow.
That's about it for now....if 30 is this great, then bring on 40! Whoa. Wait, now that's just ridiculous. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. One decade at a time. Sorry about that.

Sweet Moses, someone slap me. This old lady is delirious.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Final Meal....

Tonight, my 20's are on death row. There are no more appeals left, and a pardon from the governor is not on the horizon. My fate is set, and I have accepted it. I'm ready. But I felt it humane to treat this decade to a final meal, if you will....

I thought long and hard about what it should be...then I settled on what I had in gift certificates on my desk. This is the dinner I ended up INHALING:Sorry, I'm not terribly adept at flipping pictures yet. If you're standing on your head or flipping your laptop upside down, let me save you the trouble and tell you I had In-N-Out. See how the grease seeps through the bag? That's how you know you're in for a culinary delight. It has been MONTHS since I've had a double-double, and the beefy, cheesy, grilled onion-y goodness was everything I wanted it to be. I try not to go to In-N-Out if I can possibly help it, because I definitely have an addiction problem with their food. It's like heroin to me. Or what I imagine heroin would be like...ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.

The rest of this evening will be spent cleaning my room while I drink wine. (Yeah, I'm going out in style, bitches.) I need to go into this new decade with a clean room...I'm determined to wake up tomorrow morning to some semblance of order in my life. I'm currently sitting in a pig sty that could easily look like the room of a 17 year old. That may fly as a 20-something, but it ain't happenin' no mo'.

Also, tomorrow is Disneyland...that's right, if my 30th birthday has to land on a Monday (the LAMEST day of the work week), then I'm taking the day off to hang out with Mickey and Pals. I'm sure there will plenty of pictures to post...stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I think 30 may already be here.

This morning, as I was driving to work, I started singing along with whatever song was on the radio. At the end of the song, my brain registered what I'd been intently singing along with.

Time, Love, and Michael Bolton.

This Monday, I turn 30. Is singing along to some no-talent ass clown a symptom of this new stage of life? Blech.

If that is the case...29 forever!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Redneck Weekend

This past weekend, some of my friends from work headed out to the desert for the Stagecoach Festival, which is a 3-day country music festival out in Indio (about 25 miles east of Palm Springs). For you Coachella Music Festival fans, Stagecoach is held at the same venue as Coachella, just a week later...with a lot more rednecks, and a little less pot. But probably the same amount of alcohol...if not more. Them country folk can DRINK.

In fact, alcohol will be the first topic I will hit in this post. Now I like to have a couple drinks now and again (heck, you can find me at Pepper's for most Taco Tuesdays downing margaritas like they're going out of style), but these people were unstoppable. It was in the upper 90's outside... it was scorching, and downright uncomfortable. By the time we arrived, any patch of ground that had any shade had already been claimed hours ago. So when you're looking at sitting in the hot sun for 5 hours before the sun goes down, alcohol doesn't sound appealing to you. However, everyone else thought that getting absolutely trashed before 3pm was a fantastic idea...those beers were looking mighty good to them. But the bottled water looked like the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. I couldn't get enough of it. Or is THIS the sexiest thing you've ever seen?Not the dude...the hat. Look closely. Yes, that hat is made from a Miller beer box. These babies were a hot ticket item...if a guy wasn't wearing a cowboy hat, he was wearing a beer box hat. You know some drunk fool discovered it by mistake...they were piss drunk in their double wide trailer, and accidentally slapped the beer box on their head instead of their Stetson, and eureka! A white trash discovery! If only I'd thought of such a thing...I'd be laughing all the way to the bank.

We spent so much money on staying hydrated, while everyone around us was downing the liquor, pretending as if they weren't at the fairgrounds with 50,000 people and 100 porta-potties. In other words, what goes in must come out eventually. Here's a look at "Hell's Kitchen" before it was destroyed by drunk rednecks.
As the weekend wore on, the porta-potty quality deteriorated...the festival crew really did the best they could, but with that many intoxicated people in hot weather, that is an uphill battle you are not likely to win. A STINKY uphill battle. By Sunday evening, people were lined up and down the row of porta-potties waiting for someone to emerge so they could pounce on the grossness. It was eat or be eaten. Or rather, pee or be peed on. Here's EVERY female's porta-potty experience...

Walking up to the door of the throne you've chosen, you're praying, "God, please let me have picked a good one. Just this once." Then you open the door slowly (with as few fingers as possible), still praying. You quickly survey the floor for, um, obstructions. Then you QUICKLY step inside, so as to not let the nasty, potentially peed-on door smack you in the butt. You lock the door with the same fingers you opened the door with(I HOPE you lock it...during one visit, I neglected to lock the can guess what happened to me 15 seconds later, about the walk of SHAME afterwards). You glance at the toilet seat to see what you're up against, then you notice the tiny urinal to your left, and for a moment, you know it's good to be male at a place like this. Bastards. But this is no time to loathe the opposite sex, you've got to get business done. FAST. Because you haven't dared to breathe in for the last 17 seconds. Now comes the frantically shimmy out of your pants that are stuck to you because you're so sweaty, while being careful not to touch anything...and you quickly position yourself over the pit to complete the deed (while balancing your sunglasses on the top of your head...your vision CANNOT be compromised while in this chamber of grossness), and crossing your fingers you don't miss, or get splashbacks. Your legs are starting to get tired from the unnatural position. Then you realize you didn't do a toilet paper check before you committed to this potty, and you scan the premises. You see a roll of toilet paper on the floor. And it's wet. Well, crap. The only option is to drip dry. But you still haven't breathed in, so you quickly do "the shake", get your drawers up as fast as you can, and prepare for your exit. Using the same fingers that opened and locked the door, you emerge. But don't breathe yet. This is where rookies slip up...that funk hangs HEAVY in the air outside the potties, so you have to remove from yourself from the entire porta-potty area before taking that first sweet breath in. After your face has returned to it's normal color from not breathing for so long, you get the Purell out of your purse. Apply to hands liberally. Twice.

Grossed out yet? I just talked about porta-potties for a sizeable amount of this post, so you should be. I know I'm queasy just re-living it.

But let's switch gears, and talk about the music for a minute. There were some great acts there...Halfway to Hazard, Taylor Swift (actually, she wasn't so great...yikes.), Gretchen Wilson, Trace Adkins, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Chuck Wicks, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw, and a bunch more I didn't see, as there were 3 stages at this festival. But my whole reason for going was to see the Judds reunite for the first time in 7 years. And it was unbelievable. They were worth every penny I spent on tickets, worth the incredibly long walk from the parking lot, worth the gas it took to drive out there, and worth the potential hepatitis from the porta-potties. Seeing Wynonna is a spiritual experience for me (after the show, I told Lancie that Wynonna is like going to 'musical church'), and this show was nothing less, if not better since it was The Judds! They did an amazing show, and even those that didn't know much about them before that night couldn't deny how great they were. Maybe it was just me and my weird attachment to this mother/daughter duo, but you could feel that you were in the presence of something special that night. In ruled.

A few more pictures from the weekend...

L to R: Me, Lancie, and Terri

L to R: Me, Jessica, and Terri.
In both these photos, we're just trying to avoid heat stroke. And by the way, what a great group to travel with...everyone was easy going, fun, and made the best of a potentially crappy situation with it being as hot as it was. We just hung in there together, and made the most of it. And it was beyond worth it, once the sun went down. I will gladly go back to the scorching desert with these ladies next year!

Redneck art....
Nothing like a good piece of ass.

Oh, the people-watching!!! Arguably, the best part of the weekend (next to the music). These were our lovely neighbors on Sunday...these two were obnoxiously all over each other all day. They were the reason the term "Dude, get a room!" was invented. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn't take video of this young lady gyrating up and down on her boyfriend's lap. You're only getting a still photo. They made a trip to the porta potty not look so bad...

Matching your underwear to your beach chair does not a classy girl make. What you can't see in this picture is that the top elastic of her underwear says 'I LOVE ME' across it.

At least this guy is honest. I was hoping to get a shot of him while he was wearing his hunting hat and smoking a cigarette to give you the full effect, but he kept turning the other way, so this was the best shot I got.

The sunset on Sunday night...what a fun weekend!
NOTE: Monday morning...I felt totally hungover. And I didn't have a drop of alcohol to drink all weekend. I was just THAT tired. But I'd do it all over again....