Mar. 30: Back in the U.S.A.

We're home. We're tired. I'm sick. I think I caught whatever Jack had that made him throw up on the drive home from Vancouver.

Katie refused to sit by Jack. Specifically, she said, "I'm not sitting next to threw-up boy!" Vic came up with better names but couldn't decide if he liked "Pukey Galore" or "Lord Vomitbottoms" better. Jack just sat there looking green and, I now realize, passed his barfing cooties up toward me.

I loved Victoria and the other parts of B.C. we saw, though I'm leery of getting too cozy in a country that would make Celine Dion and Gordon Lightfoot national heroes.

More later...

Mar. 26: Beautiful city, uglified

Yesterday Vic and I did some exploring around the waterfront and walked across Big Blue, a little bridge that crosses the harbor here in Victoria. My Frommer’s guide says this: “The same guy who designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge also designed Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge. Alas, while the soaring Golden Gate span is justly famous for its elegance, this misshapen lump of steel and concrete is something designer Joseph Strauss would likely wish forgotten.”

I think this blue behemoth might have been a practical joke. It is truly hideous. The cement counterbalances look like a couple Dumpsters. Locals seem to find this bridge somewhat endearing, however (according to some reports). That makes me wonder what special kind of weed they smoke in Canada that makes them see beauty where there is none. I mean, this bridge is not just ugly compared to the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s ugly all on its own.

On the up side, it was a lot easier to walk across this bridge than the one in San Francisco.

Mar. 24: Poutine

One thing about traveling with children: you can’t always eat where you’d like to if they would not also like to. Tonight we had dinner at that very Canadian restaurant, Red Robin. Actually, the Red Robin logo had a little maple leaf on it so it was sorta Canada-like. Otherwise I’m pretty sure it was not too different from the Red Robins of home.

In several places the menu said “Poutine your fries - $1.99.” Huh? Then I saw a Poutine appetizer, described as fries with cheese curds and gravy. Those are three good things, so how could you go wrong, right? Wrong.

I insisted we order poutine because the menu said it was a classic Canadian dish, and it may be the most Canadian thing I find I’m willing to eat. It was pretty much exactly what the menu said it was. I would further describe poutine as something Vic would put together late at night when there’s not much in the fridge. He loves white trash food.

On a scale of 1-5, I’d rate poutine a 2. It’s totally edible and the components are not bad. But together, it’s not as special as you might expect. And if this is one of the traditional foods of this country, I am soooo not impressed with Canadian cuisine.

Here’s the Wikipedia description of poutine.

And here’s the picture I took of the poutine we were served at Red Robin tonight. It sorta looks like someone already ate it, huh?

Bon appétit, my arse.

Mar. 24: Victoria, Day 2

We left Seattle around 11 yesterday and started north to the border. Vic loved all the signs around Bellingham that say “Nooksack.” I have to admit, they make me giggle a little too. We went past Lake Samish and he said, “Mmmmmm... Lake Sammitch... I’m hungry...” (I don’t care if he’s retarded, I love him.)

Victoria is beautiful. It was windy and rainy yesterday but today it’s gorgeous. Vic and I have already decided we want to come back here someday without the kids. There are several blocks that remind me of San Francisco; maybe that’s why I love it.

One of the things that I cannot stand is the pretentious spellings they use here. I say when you’re in North America, you don’t need to put all those extra U’s in your words (“The colourful harbour is my favourite!”). And they need to stop spelling “center” “centre” or I’m gonna scream! Vic thinks it’s terrible that I’m a foreigner here and complaining that people aren’t American enough. I think he’s just stirring up trouble, and then he says “you mean troble?” Big dork.

Time for dinner. Gotta run.

Mar. 20: Oot and aboot

Spring break has sprung, and in the next few days we’ll be taking off to the Great White North. I’m doing my usual exhaustive sightseeing research and generating quite a list of things we’ll be able to talk about doing while on that long, long drive. This will be my first time across our northern border; Katie’s and Jack’s too. They’re excited to see tons of snow and moose and Eskimos, even though I keep telling them it won’t be like that. They just look at me like, “How do you know? Have you been there? Huh, Mom???” Whatever.

They are also very excited to be allowed to drink Mountain Dew in Canada. In Canada, Mountain Dew is not caffeinated. That means in Canada, Mom and Dad can’t scream at Katie and Jack for sneaking sips of their nectar of the gods.

One of my friends at work goes to Canada a few times a year and always brings back delicious candy. I definitely have Coffee Crisp on my shopping list for next week. Tonight I was searching the Internet for other items not available in the U.S. and I found Wine Gums, which sound kinda Jujube-ish but also kinda tasty. I might have to try those out. A lot of other “Canadian” food items can be purchased at World Market in Clackamas, so I wasn’t terribly impressed with all I found online.

Until this category caught my eye: rectal beauty cream. Well, it is about friggin’ time! I’ve been looking for this everywhere. Smashbox doesn’t make everything, y’know.

Click with me, won’t you?

Hm. It turns out “rectal beauty cream” is just a different formula of Preparation H. Apparently the U.S. version does not have a yeast derivative that removes wrinkles and eye puffiness. I think it would be more accurate for those crazy Canadians to call it “rectal SLASH beauty cream” or “rectal AND beauty cream” or maybe leave “rectal” out of it altogether. My question is this: if I buy a few boxes of Preparation H in Canada, will it be obvious that I’m an American stocking up for wrinkle prevention? Or will they think I’m an American planning to ride my bicycle all the way home?

We’ll spend most the week in Victoria and Vancouver. Any other shopping suggestions are welcome, as well as advice about Canada in general.

Mar. 20: Wear a sweater

(Pittsburgh) – In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers’ 80th birthday on March 20, Mr. McFeely has a special request.
"We’re asking everyone everywhere — from Pittsburgh to Paris — to wear their favorite sweater on that day," he asks in his best speedy delivery voice. "It doesn’t have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on the program, it just has to be special to you."

I was never a huge Mister Rogers fan, but I watched his show enough to know that some of his friends sorta creeped me out. I swear, the creators of the show must have done some experimenting with hallucinogens in the writers' room. The puppets were just weird. Some of the guests—yikes. Nothing was wrong with Mr. McFeely, really, if you don't think about his name. Who came up with that anyway? Watch his video request here.

Read more about Won't You Be My Neighbor Days.

Mar. 19: I have no soul?

A few years ago I was at Debi’s and her cat Elphie, who had always been sweet and welcoming, suddenly began hissing at me if I looked her direction. I couldn’t just let it go; I needed her to remember who I was and that I loved her. She refused to remember. She would claw me if I touched her, and hiss if she wasn’t close enough to get me. It irritated Debi and she told me to stop. I begrudgingly did. Apparently Elphie missed the attention because one night I was lying on the sofa watching a movie and she came walking along the back of it and curled up on the cushion right above me. Debi said, “Just lay still, don’t talk to her, don’t look at her.” After a few minutes Elphie gingerly stepped down and curled up on my tummy. I couldn’t believe it! Another few minutes passed and without thinking, I put my hand on her side. She turned, hissed, jumped onto the floor, hissed again, and threw in a yowl to make sure I really understood how badly I had misjudged her. I find small comfort that Elphie acts this way to pretty much anyone who doesn’t live at Debi’s house.

When I told Vic about it his suggestion was this: “Maybe you don’t have a soul.” (If you watch The Simpsons, you might remember the episode when Bart sells his soul to Milhouse and then suddenly Santa’s Little Helper won’t have anything to do with him. Clearly, Victor’s logic is based on the most reliable of sources.)

Katie’s piano teacher has an adorable little kitten who’s typical kitten-playful, but she doesn’t like to be touched, much less cuddled. I found this out the hard way a few months ago when she was teeny and irresistible, and after she bit me I ignored her. Tonight she was at the door when we went in and looked eager to play. I ran my finger back and forth in front of her and she pounced at it. Thinking maybe she’d grown out of that uncuddly phase, I put my hand out—flat, palm up. She totally changed from that playful demeanor and clawed me and ran under a chair. I walked away from her but she followed me into the next room, where she stood Halloween cat-like, all arched and puffy haired, staring up at me and growling. Mrs. Jordan shushed her but she wouldn’t stop. I got down on my knees and said, “It’s alright... I won’t hurt you...” and that damn cat jumped at me, clawed my hand bloody, and stepped back. She was still growling when we walked out the door.

Now I’m starting to get a little freaked by this. I would remember if I sold my soul, right?

Mar. 17: Middle name meme

This is the middle name meme I stole it from Chris. It was more fun than I expected it’d be, prob’ly because it’s like Scattergories and I LOVE Scattergories. The rules: Use the first letter of your middle name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, things, nothing made up. Try to use different answers if the person you took this from had the same first initial. You CAN’T use your name for the boy/girl name questions.

  • Middle name letter: L
  • Famous artist/band/musician: Liberace
  • Four-letter word: Liar
  • U.S. state: Louisiana
  • Boy name: Luke
  • Girl name: Lori!
  • Animal: Leopard
  • Something in the kitchen: Ladle
  • Reason for being late: Long shower.
  • Body part: Lip
  • Drink: Lynchburg Lemonade
  • Something you shout: Lord Almighty!
  • Something you eat: Leftovers

Put your responses in a comment or on your own blog (ahem... that means you, Kath).

Mar. 17: My quest for luck

When I was in fourth grade one of my friends came in from recess with a four-leaf clover. I was completely fascinated by it; I thought four-leaf clovers existed only in fairy tales. She said she’d found it in the patch of clover on the poorly-landscaped hill next to our playground. (Yes, that’s the same playground wherein, on picture day the year before, I infamously tripped and landed face-first on the asphalt. Thanks for remembering.)

My friend and I spent the next few weeks on that grassy knoll. I was determined to find some four-leaf clovers of my own. Some days I found two or three; some days, none. Other kids would ask why we were sitting in the grass, and sometimes they would join us. It was a cause for celebration when anyone found a four-leaf clover; we hooted and hollered and were positive we’d all have amazing luck for life.

Rainy days were a bummer because the playground attendant broads wouldn’t let us go out in the grass. I was sure on those days that the four leaf clovers were plentiful and by the time I got out there to find them, they’d have withered and died.

I had learned from my mom that flowers and leaves could be saved if they were pressed and dried in big, heavy books. I don’t know how many of my playground discoveries I preserved, but I pretty much saved everything back then. I fully expect that someday I’ll open an old book and my collection of four-leaf clovers will spill out.

Gah. St. Patrick’s Day reminds me: I was such a nerd.

Mar. 15: Mind games

I took this personality quiz twice. First I was tagged a suck-up, then a bully. Quite frankly, I question the reliability of the exam...

I hope you have more pleasing results--please share.

Hey, have you ever danced with the bogeyman by the pale moon light? Stare at this pic for a while and it may be as close as you ever get. You'll never be the same. Go ahead. I dare you.


Mar. 14: Site analysis

Google Analytics keeps track of a bunch of meaningless info about my blog. The only report I find interesting is the search terms that bring people here. The most common one last month was “Costco photo cards.” Wow. I am incredibly exciting.

A lot of the other searches that brought visits were boring and made sense (people’s names I’ve mentioned, Webkinz, etc.), but there was a batch of them that I really enjoyed. These terms were all singularly used; I don’t know if I find it more amusing that people actually search for some of these things, or that it led them to my blog. Hee hee either way.

  • “I wrote a bad paragraph”
  • “idiot girls” Portland
  • “skirt every day because”
  • “someone opens a portal into hell”
  • aviator hat for dog
  • bonbon stripper
  • Jenn Vermont Costco
  • Manullang+gay
  • Rush Limbaugh, Potion #9
  • Zac Efron pantsless

Of the hundreds of visits to my site in the past 30 days, 47.69% were new visitors. The average time all visitors spent reading my painstakingly written blog was 1 minute and 6 seconds, but 78% of the visits lasted just 0-10 seconds. Maybe you can all just bite my big white assal region.

Mar. 14: Smitten

The other day I told you about our new washer and dryer. The ones Michael Beach thoughtfully and celebrity-like installed for me, remember?

Thank you for your comments. They have reassured me that I made a good choice with front loading machines. I was panicked, so I am appreciative of your virtual hand-patting.

I love them. I absolutely do. They are as perfect as perfect can be.

When we got everything all set up we both sat and watched the first load of wash. I was—and still am—more than a little bit skeptical because it looks like the clothes are barely wet and just being tossed back and forth. No agitating. No swishing. I like swishing; it makes me feel like my clothes are getting clean. It also, of course, roughs them up and makes them look old before they are. I know because that’s what the commercials tell me. I’m not saying the lack of agitation and swishing-ness is bad, but it will definitely take some getting used to.

The kids ran in and said “Cool!” and ran back out. After a few minutes I was equally unimpressed and left. Vic stayed to watch the show. He gave it a thumbs-up at the end, but I think he might have slept through the last half.

The dryer dried the clothes and I loved that. Our old dryer hadn’t been working for the past couple months. I hang dry a lot of my clothes, so it didn’t thin out my wardrobe much. But for everything else we were using the dryer at Vic’s parents’ house and that wasn’t so convenient. So it’s possible I love the dryer just because it is a dryer and it works and it’s in my house, not because it’s fabulous necessarily.

Oh, but I haven’t even told you the best part! One of my favorite things about the new washer and dryer, possibly more favorite than anything else, is that we decided to stack them. This gives us a lot more space in our very small laundry room, at least enough for a small table we can use for folding. So far everyone I’ve mentioned this to has responded more enthusiastically than expected; clearly these people have used our laundry room.

I know, I know, the best part is that the new appliances are more energy-efficient and conserve water and use less detergent and therefore are more environmentally friendly and I should feel all Al Gore. Honestly? I just likes ‘em cuz they’re priddy.

OK, no more posts about my washer and dryer. I promise.

Mar. 13: I'm Yours

I am completely hooked on this new Jason Mraz song, "I'm Yours." It's fun and happy and cute and music like this makes me smile.

Mar. 13: It's easy to love him

So, I’m especially grouchy this morning because my head hurts and I hardly slept last night and Jack won’t shut the hell up even though I keep reminding him that it’s Mommy’s quiet time.

I would like my quiet time to be from whenever Jack wakes up to when Jack goes to school, but I’m not a total Meanie Mom™. He thinks I’m joking if I say he can’t talk because he didn’t submit a written request first. He says, “You’re funny, Mom. And what does ‘request’ mean?”

When I just kind of loudly and firmly asked him for the eleventieth time not to race his cars back and forth across the back of the couch while I’m resting on it, I added a very forced “I love you” at the end so I would feel a little less Meanie Mom™. He came around to the front of the sofa and said this:

“The whole earth, and the planet and all the minutes it takes to walk around it, that’s how many numbers I love you, plus all the planets. All of them.”

I’m not going to say that tender moment makes it all worth it, because I still feel like $#!+ and he’s still running his cars back and forth across the back of the couch. But the temptation to strangle him has faded a little.

Mar. 12: Broadway in Portland

The Broadway in Portland 2008/2009 season has been announced. Beginning in July, these are the shows scheduled:

Still left in 2007/2008: Sweeney Todd, High School Musical (special), and Avenue Q. Phantom of the Opera will be here too, but I have no interest in suffering through that show again. Bleah.

We renewed our membership for next season because it's such an amazing deal. Even though it's more expensive than in previous years, I recommend it; in most cases it's so much cheaper than buying individual shows, you sorta feel like you're sneaking in. Subscribers get advance purchase opportunities and can buy additional tickets without all those insane service fees. You can also easily exchange tickets, even for other cities. Receiving the big subscriber's packet has become something I look forward to every spring. (My life is kinda sad, no?)

Of course, these delightful shows tour in other cities too; my friends Jim and April do Broadway in Seattle. Check out the schedules at Broadway Across America.

Mar. 12: It's like TV

The big appliance truck just left, and I swear Michael Beach was the guy driving it. I swear! You don't believe me, do you? You never do.

Celebrity delivery guy or not, I now have a new washer and dryer with which my husband can do my laundry. Do I have pictures of them? Of course!

I did tons of research before I made this choice but right after we placed the order I started hearing all sorts of negative things about front-loaders. Now I'm a-scared. I know there's less detergent required, and that I shouldn't freak out when it looks like there isn't enough water being used. Any other important facts anyone can share?

And how long does it take for the coolness factor to wear off? Because right now I'm ready to set up a chair in front of this set and just watch 'em work. Wheeee!

Mar. 12: For Lori's eyes only

John Mayer recently modeled a Borat-style I-don't-know-what on a cruise. Gotta love a guy who will do anything to entertain his fans. I think.

Oh lord. One of these bodies is NOT a wonderland.

While I enjoy Mayer's sense of humor, I also think this style of man-thong should be used for purposes of comedy only. Because, um, yikes.

Still love him, Lori?

Mar. 11: Eight blah blah blah

I got tagged by Chris for this meme. The rules are simple: link to the tagger, list eight facts about yourself, and tag other bloggers.

Eight Things You Might Not Care to Know About Me

  1. I have never been into Canada.
  2. I recorded a song in a studio in 1994 and it got local radio play for a few months. At least two times I turned on the radio and my song was playing at that moment—very cool.
  3. My dad never allowed me to drive his car. I got my driver permit at 17 but didn’t test for my license until I was 26. Bought myself a brand new car the very next day.
  4. Doogie Howser, M.D. was one of my favorite TV shows.
  5. I hate to exercise and will use any excuse not to exert myself voluntarily. The only exception is swimming, which I love, but I hate being seen in a swimsuit. It is quite the quandary.
  6. I slept very soundly as a child and peed the bed intermittently until I was 12 years old.
  7. Because I had an a-hole for a stepdad, I have told Vic that if our kids are still living at home when I die, he’s going to have to wait until they’re gone to get remarried. I know this is totally unfair to his happiness but that’s just how it has to be. Same goes for me.
  8. In my very simple mind, every single situation in life somehow relates to an episode of The Simpsons, Seinfeld and/or Friends. (And I love that Lori does it too!)

Who should I tag now? Since Chris is the only blogger that responds to my tags, I’m going to ask for y’all to write your eight things in a comment. Danke.

Mar. 10: Best. Quote. Ever.

I’ve said it before. Now that my grandmother’s likability level has hit a new low, I’m saying it again...

“If the heat doesn’t kill the elderly, I will.”

(I think this is from The Onion--Alisa, do you remember?)

Mar. 10: 85 years ≠ mature

A sentence I never thought I'd find the need to say:
Nana's a bitch.

Oh, yes, it's true. The Nana Saga™ continues. My grandma replied to my letter, which she wrote on the back of mine because God forbid she let me think I'm worth a clean sheet of paper:

Jen - it wasn't that I was tired of paying a cell phone bill - that had nothing to do with it.

It is that I am very hurt - when you and Vic are here - you both have nothing to do with me - Especially you - Jen. It really hurts me - because I feel like I have been a very good Grandma. When you kids come here to your moms for a visit - you and Vic completely ignore me. It is as though you want nothing to do with me. It really hurts deeply [underlined three times]. So therefore I wanted to hurt you. You know - "pay back time." If you still want nothing to do with me let your mother know, then I will not come around. But to completely ignore me, I don't understand what is going on and why?? Especially when I don't know what I have done to - that makes you ignore me!!

Here is your check - and I will continue to send it until Jan. of 09.

Love Grandma

WTF? Isn't someone that's lived 85 years supposed to be more grown-up than this? How is not paying a bill going to hurt me as much as I've supposedly hurt her? As for being a good grandma, I don't know... I'm not totally sure what being a good grandma entails but I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve calling your granddaughters bitches (separate but unforgettable moments from long ago).

Did I avoid her at Christmastime? I certainly wanted to. She was being so pissy to my mom when we got there that I really didn't want to have anything to do with her. But no, I never ignored her and, in fact, talked to her many times. And Vic! He's like her friggin' waiter when she's around (what's he trying to prove anyway???), so why is she lumping him into her whole "poor Grandma!" thing? But really, what makes this accusation so crazy is that every time we saw Grandma at Christmastime, there were 5-16 other people and/or needy dogs around. How are we supposed to constantly single her out in that kind of chaos? How are we supposed to know that she's unhappy about the amount of attention she's getting? If I had found her crying in a corner then YES, I would have gotten the hint. But the old bag was right in the middle of everything and appeared happy as an ass clown. Somehow she has re-created these events in her mind to make me Big Mean Jen.

This woman has decided she suddenly hates my mom's friend Donnawho's been like a daughter to her for a good 50 yearsbecause Donna made a comment to one of Grandma's doctors that necessitated an extra medical test. Never mind that it was going to be done anyway; Grandma's convinced that Donna is pure evil and has not one nice thing to say about her anymore.

Grandma has always liked Kathy more than me, which has been totally obvious but does not matter to or hurt me a bit. But they haven't spoken in weeks. Grandma accused our mom of turning Kathy against her; I'm pretty sure she did that all on her own.

She's mad at one of Kathy's sons for not returning her calls. Never mind that she's never actually called him.

It's time for Grandma to die and she must know it. She's alienating everyone who ever cared about her. I betchoo my uncle Paul is the next one on her list. I mean, it makes sense: he's a perfectly nice person, he does her bidding, and he puts up with her. Yup. He's next.

What possible good will it do for me to respond to this latest accusation? No matter how I try to explain my bad granddaughter-ness, she'll believe what she wants. I think I'll just sit back and watch for my $13 checks every whenever-she-feels-like-sending-them.


Mar. 10: My not-powerful blog

The other day I wrote a great post about shoes with severed feet in them washing up on the coast of Alaska. Doesn't it sound like it was probably fabulous? And if Blogger hadn't crashed briefly that day you would have been able to read it. Curse Blogger!

I didn't try to re-write the post after I lost it because that level of genius must be spontaneous. I'm sure you understand.

So today I'm writing a much less brilliant combination of words to send you to The Observer's list of 50 most powerful blogs. Don't bother looking for Stuff Jen Says on the list. It's not there. I should be devastated. I am not.   ...sob!

Mar. 5: Grandma exercised?

Once upon a time my grandma had both her legs and enrolled in an aerobics class. Kathy and I found the image of Grandma doing leg thrusts both terrifying and hilarious, and Kathy even wrote a little poem about it. Tonight I ran across this poem (dated 1992) while going through some files. This is just too good to keep to myself, and I don't think Kathy's seen it since she sent it to me.

Grandma's Aerobics Alphabet

A is for AORTA, the shock absorber of the body

E is for the ENERGY I had before I got here

R is for the time that is RUNNING out of my life (so why the hell am I wasting it exercising?)

O is for the OLD folks around me that make me look so young

B is for the BIG Mac I'm going to eat as soon as I leave this torture chamber

I is for the INVALID I feel each minute I'm becoming

C is for the CATARACT I just received from that 80-year-old bitch doing jumping jacks next to me

S is for SEVENTY, the age I never thought I'd be.

Suffice it to say that Grandma had a sense of humor back then. Nowadays she'd find a way to turn this into all of us being against her. Forget that Kathy did this all on her own; we're ALL evil.

Meh. *I* appreciate your talents, Kath.

Mar. 5: "The Office" links

I love The Office. I love the British version and the American one too. I love that now they show old episodes on TBS on Tuesday nights. I love that I can watch the British ones on BBC America and OnDemand. I love that there will be more new episodes soon on NBC now that the writers' strike is over. Hooray for The Office.

During the first season of the American version I read that the actors have working computers with Internet connections at their desks so they can look like they're busy in the backgrounds of scenes being filmed. A bunch of them created MySpace pages and started blogging while filming. I subscribed to a bunch of their blogs; Pam/Jenna is one that writes pretty regularly. I found out about Kino sandals from her blog and got some for me and Kathy in Key West last year (can't speak for Kathy, but I looove mine). Angela writes about shopping at Target and doing publicity for the show. It's fun to read how normal these people can be--which makes sense, I guess, since many were not well-known before starring on this wildly popular series--and how starstruck and excited they are to go on talk shows and meet other actors. Anyway, you can find links to other actors' MySpace pages if you look at Pam and Angela's friends lists. TV Guide has one written by Kate Flannery (Meredith).

There are also lots of blogs wherein the actor (or somebody pretending to be them) writes as the character they play on the show. Last night on one of the TBS episodes Creed talked about his blog--which Ryan quickly confirmed was fake--found at "w-w-w-dot-creedthoughts-dot-gov-dot-w-w-w-backslash-creedthoughts." Yes, it's clearly a fake address but there is actually a Creed blog out there. It's as bizarre as you would expect anything from Creed to be.

NBC publishes the hilarious Schrute-Space, Dwight's blog (how can it miss with posts like "Beets and Me"???). Here's a fake Dunder-Mifflin site. Don't miss the newsletters. And Dunder-Mifflin Infinity is entertaining too.

Of course, there are loads of fan sites out there too. The Office Quotes has--you guessed it--quotes from the show. OfficeTally has news and info related to the show and its stars. It overlaps quite a bit with what you'll find at Life in the Office. A Google search will turn up countless more sites, but these are the big ones.

It's a great show, wouldn't you agree? My friend Alisa and I used to quote it to each other on Fridays, or text back and forth during the episodes. Whether you've worked in an office or not, if you know anyone that's a little "off," you can relate in some way. I can hardly wait for the new episodes next month.

Mar. 4: Dad's day

Today’s my dad’s birthday. I miss him every day, but today he’s on my mind more than usual. I try not to think about how we would have had him over for brunch last weekend. I would have given him a funny card that he would have pretended wasn’t one bit amusing. He would have hung around for about five minutes after dessert and then made an excuse to get back home. Dad was not one to relax at other people’s homes, although he was better about it if there were kids he could play with and/or tease.

It’s hard for me to picture him with my kids now. I mean, they were 3 and 5 when he died, so they’ve changed a lot. I’m sure Jack would proudly show off his Lego creations. Katie would read to him, maybe draw. She always liked to play games with him, and he didn’t put up too much of a fight when she brought out one after another. Seems like lots of the pictures I have of Easter 1973. Why did Mom insist we stare straight into the sun for pictures???Dad with Katie and Jack, he’s doing some kind of kid activity with them that I don’t remember him ever doing with me.

Dad worked with me on learning to ride my bike without training wheels. He occasionally played board games with us. But the “games” I remember most were rock-paper-scissors (he was ruthless) and 52-card pickup. Not the most precious of my Dad memories.

He taught me how to wash a car. I kick ASS at washing cars, and I love to do it. In fact, even though I appreciate Vic’s efforts when he washes my car for me, he’s not nearly as precise as I am and usually gets teased about it (and then he threatens to be more like my dad in ALL ways of life and then I shut up).

Dad also taught me about painting and I proudly admit to being a total paint snob because of it. So far almost every time I’ve gone against his advice I’ve regretted it. I learned about the importance of primer, of good brushes, of cleanup and preserving. He taught me why it’s a good idea to mark cans with the date and what room was painted instead of having cans of “mystery paint” stacked in the garage for 25 years.

I could go on and on and on. The man certainly left his mark, for better or worse. Even so, I’d give anything not to have had to say good-bye to him in 2005.

Happy birthday, Dad. You are loved, and you are remembered, today and always.

Mar. 3: Mom's new guy

My mom rescued a shepherd mix puppy today! He needs a name. She already made the mistake of asking Katie and Jack for ideas; so far Jack has suggested Brownie, Chocolatey, and all of the Star Wars characters. I'm pretty sure Mom wants to go with something a little more imaginative and/or less Star Wars-y. Help her out! Share your ideas in a comment.

Here's his pic for inspiration:

By the way, Mom, Kathy and I have veto power over names like "Little One" and "Kitters." Let's not make that kind of mistake again, mmkay?

Mar. 3: Nana Saga follow-up

I wrote a response to my grandma's meanie letter right after I received it, but I held off sending it until today. First, I wanted to give her time to come down from that psychotic state she's been in (no, I don't mean Oregon. Ha! I'm hilare!). I also wanted to give myself a bit of time to write with reason instead of pissed-off-edness. What resulted might just be the boringest letter anyone's ever written or read.


I’m sorry you’re tired of paying for your cell phone. But just like any bill, you can’t just stop paying it. You are on a two-year service contract that does not end until January 2009.

You said you have been paying for the phone for three years, but that is wrong. You have only had your cell phone since January 2007. I remember we gave it to you when Kathy was visiting, just before you moved to Medford last year.

Before we put you on our AT&T account, our bill was $50/month. With your phone, it’s $63. We added you to our plan so you could have a cell phone and it would be less expensive for you. If you were to get your own plan, it would cost you $30/month or more.

You have two options:
1. You can continue to use your cell phone and pay $13/month until the end of your contract (January 2009).
2. You can have your cell phone service shut off and pay the $250 that AT&T will charge you for cancelling your contract before January 2009.

If you use the phone, you have to pay for the service. For safety reasons, I don’t think any of us want you to get rid of your cell phone, but that’s up to you.


The early cancellation penalty amount? I pulled it right from my arse. I wasn't about to waste my time digging up the actual number.

Here are Grandma's possible reactions to my letter.

  1. She'll be even more pissed, still refuse to pay, and yell at my mom.
  2. She'll finally understand the facts but will still insist she's paid enough and then yell at my mom.
  3. She'll understand the facts and start sending me checks again, though they'll be written to "Jennifer Bitch Monalong," and she'll yell at my mom.
  4. She'll notice that I printed the letter in a 14-point font on pretty lavender paper and be so grateful that she didn't have to decipher my handwriting that she'll start sending me checks for no good reason at all. Kathy too. And then she'll find another reason to yell at my mom.
  5. She'll inhale the anthrax with which I so thoughtfully powdered the letter and croak. But first, with her last bit of strength, she'll dial that cell phone and yell at my mom.

I love you, Mom, and I'm sorry you're gonna get yelled at.

Place your bets now...

Mar. 2: To tell the truth

For anyone who thought I was joking in my Christmas letter about making bail, click the image below for proof. See? I told you! I am not a liar! I may be a communist, a pig, an idiot, and a liar, but I am not a porn star!

Yes, I too am wondering why I'm sorta proud of this.

Mar. 1: Gwennie's 2!

Today is my favorite two-year-old's birthday! Gwendolyn Nelson is celebrating her big day at home with the people that love her most (not including me). She is such a funny little monkey; I think the words "bright joy" describe her perfectly.

Bright Joy

On your birthday,
I’m thinking about how much light and sparkle
you freely dispense wherever you go,
how your sunny smile lights up any gathering.
Every birthday marks another year
of you radiating positive, happy energy,
contagious happiness
that infects all who come in contact with you.
May your next birthday find you the same--
glowing from within,
beaming bright joy on everyone you meet.
I feel blessed to know you.
(by Joanna Fuchs)

I love you, sweet girl! Happy birthday from "Auntie" Jen!


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