We're Not In Pine Brook Anymore

new york looks prettiest from new jersey

4/02/2017

Choose Your Words

This weekend I've been getting shit done.

Errands mostly.  Some important.  Some annoying.  But it just feels good to check these things off a list!

So, I went for blood work and I got my teeth cleaned (the dentist also told me I need a root canal -- crap).  I got my taxes done.  I stopped the cable box inside my closet from beeping (no thanks to Verizon).  And I returned a leather jacket, a rain jacket, wedges and a pair of sneakers because apparently, I am the Goldilocks of late night online shopping.

My to-do list is to-done.

Another thing that's been nagging at me is writing a new blog post.  I guess I just haven't felt super creative lately. But I'm jumping back in right now with a post on... words.

Words?  Yes, words.

Stick with me for a sec.

Whenever I write a post, it generally takes me about 20 mins to bang out whatever I want to say.  But then, I spend another hour or so choosing my words.  I read it, and reread it, tightening it up as I go.  Looking for a better way to turn a phrase.  Finding the best lines to emphasize.  Spellchecking.

In honor of this process, I've come up with a list of words I hate and why they stink so bad.  Here are the 6 cringeworthiest words in the English language:
  1. MOIST. This one is universally hated -- that's not me, that's science.
  2. SOIL. Ick.  Just say shit or crap or dirt.  Much less offensive.
  3. YOLK.  This one is personal.  I despise eggs and everything about them.
  4. PHLEGM. Fun to spell, disgusting to say.  And every time I see this goopy spit on a sidewalk, it makes me want to cover it in vomit. 
  5. PANTIES. I feel like a pervert even typing it. Just ew.
  6. OINTMENT. Nothing good can come from needing to use this. I want no part of it.

While we're at it, here are 6 words I find just plain annoying:
  1. LITERALLY. Using this word is literally the worst because it's never followed by something literal. As such, it is also a clear signal someone is lying.
  2. ARTISINAL. I believe it is Latin for pretentious asshole.
  3. WHILST. An email I received last week used this ridiculous word. Then I saw they were British. And I was like... ok.
  4. VAJAYJAY. This nonsense is actually in the DICTIONARY.  Make it stop before my head explodes.
  5. IRREGARDLESS. Not really a word.
  6. SUPPOSIBLY. Definitely not a word. If you say this, we can't be friends anymore.  Literally.

Ah, that's better.  Let's end on a high note with 6 words I love:
  1. KERFUFFLE. My favorite word for a fuss or a disagreement.
  2. DEBACLE. When kerfuffle isn't enough to do justice to the disaster at hand.
  3. SHITSHOW.  The perfect storm of everything gone wrong.  A situation that's so chaotic and insane it's practically entertainment.
  4. NUGGET. My favorite way to describe something small and adorable.
  5. WONKY or JANKY. My favorite way to describe something effed up without offending anyone.
  6. TCHOTCHKE. While I have no need for cheap trinkets, this one is fun to say AND fun to blow people's minds when they realize it's not spelled chachki.


So, what are YOUR favorite words?  Choose your own below.

And don't say fuck.  That's obvious.


tags: rants, writing
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I know Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life aired over Thanksgiving and today is Valentine's Day.

But I waited to post about it until now, in part because I didn't want to spoil it for anybody. And because I still can't believe they screwed it up so badly. Also because I am lazy.

Man, I wanted to love it, but it broke my heart.

In all this time, I've thought about WHY I hated it (and my mom hated it, and my friends at work hated it).  Mainly, I think it's because the plot, the people, and the dialogue were SO ridiculous and out of character from the SEVEN seasons we all watched and loved, I honestly don't know why they bothered to do it at all.

You know the old saying, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?

Not tonight.

Given that this is such a mother-daughter show, and I watched this whole series several times with my own mom, we couldn't wait to binge our way through the seasons. But we knew we entered an alternate universe when Winter started without even one note from Carole King, and it was downhill from there.

Here's why we want NO more Gilmore:


LORELAI, The Cool Mom

MOM: Lorelai was very dull. She wasn't chipper. She didn't have any spunk. Her dialogue wasn't cute or funny. She was dull dull dull.

ME: She dressed like a grandma. She stopped talking fast. She was depressed. She's in therapy. With her MOM. She read a book instead of watching a movie. She went H-I-K-I-N-G. In nature! Who the eff is this woman?



RORY, The Pride of Stars Hollow

MOM: OMG Rory,  What a hopeful, beautiful, smart, young lady she was. She knew exactly what she wanted.  She had her eye on being a journalist.  What happened to that girl?  She was a loser!  She didn't have the joy.  She couldn't do anything right.  She wound up being pregnant!  Just blew my mind.

ME: I get why she's trans-Atlantic friends with benefits with Logan. I might see how she went from following then president-elect Obama on the campaign trail to running the snoozy Stars Hollow Gazette. I can even live with the infamous "last four words" that brings the story full circle -- knocked up by Logan (her Christopher). I'm NOT on board that a girl with so much potential is basically a failure. But what really I can't abide by is how Rory Gilmore had a one night stand (her first!) with a Wookie from ComiCon.  Unacceptable on a thousand levels.



EMILY, The Stuffy Grandmother

MOM: I like the mother. She was right getting mad at Lorelai. But it was like she had a lobotomy! The husband dies and she's like a nomad. Wearing rag tag jeans. She quits the DAR? Nobody checks on her -- nobody bothered?  It's like they didn't care about her any more since the father died.

ME: The JEANS! Were Emily's tweed Chanel suits burned in a fire? When did she start sleeping until noon?  How did she go from firing each maid to letting their whole family squat in her house? Why is she living in Martha's Vineyard with the creepy dude from Twin Peaks? She works at a WHALE museum? She works?!?! Did she hit her head? Was Richard holding her captive for 50 years, and now she's letting her freak flag fly?  I need answers.



RICHARD, The Stuffy (and Dead) Grandfather

MOM: They didn't give the father the respect he should have gotten.  Especially with Lorelai, not even able to think of one wonderful memory and just made a joke out of a serious matter.  Absolutely disgraceful.

ME: Shameful! She couldn't tell a single nice story about her dad, who she actually had a good relationship with when he was living, and who made it possible for her daughter to go to private school and an ivy league college? The pretzel story was too little, too late. A shitty ending. Richard and his bowties deserved more.



LUKE, The Safe Choice

MOM: Luke's like a puppy dog.  He always there.  He's always loyal.  And he's always getting used. At least he had some spunk in the first series.  He stood up for himself and was a real man.  Now he just serves her.

ME: He's always been a devoted doormat. He was even an afterthought in his own wedding scene! And they clearly ran out of budget on pricey cameos (I see you Peter Krause), so they had to pull Luke's wardrobe out of mothballs. I'll bet you a donut that hat never left his head because his hair most certainly did.



LOGAN, The Rich Ex-Boyfriend Who Can't Grow Up

MOM: I thought that was ridiculous with Logan.  He asks her to marry him and she says no, that's not her focus.  Then you find out they're together on the sly while he's engaged to someone else?  Trashy. That's not Rory.

ME: Oh, Logan. He is trouble! I have to say, though, I def see the appeal there. But he's got to ditch the Peter Pan clan and rich kid antics with the Life & Death Brigade. It's called growth, people! And did we all forget that he proposed to Rory, or did we wipe that memory clean because Amy Sherman Palladino didn't write it?



JESS, The Moody Ex-Boyfriend Who Can't Settle Down

MOM: I love the men in Rory's life but it was like drive by shootings.  They were there for a second -- especially Jess.  I couldn't understand why they didn't spend more time.  What was he doing with his life?  What happened to him?  I loved that character and he was there for 5 seconds.

ME: She hasn't seen him in years! Why is she so unfazed? Maybe she's been cyberstalking him and is trying to play it cool. Or maybe it's because they dated in real life and it didn't end so great. I'm going with the latter.



DEAN, The Dopey First Love

MOM: The other guy! Did he go to college?  Did he get married again?  He saw Rory for 2 minutes in a grocery store.  What a disaster!  Who wrote this? I loved this show!  You had such a good feeling.  It made you laugh. And cry. Some belly laughs even.  It was a such good story. I guess you can't improve perfection.

ME: He bored me then and he bores me now. So nothing's changed here. Adios, macaroni hair!



PARIS, The Frenemy Turned Fertility Doctor

MOM: Yes, that one makes sense. I like her now on How to Get Away with Murder.

ME: Yeah, she's intense. But how is she still hung up on Chad Michael Murray?!  He didn't even show up. C'mon!




LANE, The Sheltered Best Friend

MOM: Lane had a dad?

ME: Where the eff has Mr. Kim been all this time?  Never popped his head out of the antique shop.  Missed her wedding and her babies, and when she dyed her hair purple? And she's still in Hep Alien? No. Just no.




CHRISTOPHER, The Irresponsible Baby Daddy

MOM: The talk with her father went so fast.  He FINALLY got his act together and is no longer a failure.  It seemed like they haven't talked in a long time.  He didn't want to talk to her mother at all?  Who wrote this?  Seems like an alien wrote this!

ME: This made me angry! Not a single scene with "Lor"? Oh, no you didn't. It's the final straw. I. Literally. Can't.



Now I'm all riled up again. Before we go, let's say something nice about the revival...

MOM: I can't say anything good about it.  The anticipation of watching it was fun.  But it was a letdown. That's it. The town is great -- I love the town.  It was the hope.  The same quaintness and light.  But then it seemed like the people weren't the same.  They have to grow but they were totally different.

ME: Samesies.


So how do you rate it?

MOM: I give it a C.  They made an effort.  I just didn't agree with it.

ME: You're grading on a curve.  I give it a ZERO.  I want those 6 hours back!


SO what do YOU think?  Do you agree?  Do you smell snow?  Write me a loveletter below...


tags: entertainment, family, pop culture, rants
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Newsflash: It's Christmas and Elf on the Shelf is genius.

Okaaaay, I know this isn't news.  But it IS true.

I'm in Florida now at my parents' house with my niece & nephew.  Their elf, Roofie (don't ask), came along for the ride.

Man, I wish I invented this creeper!

The kids believe 1000%. The premise is simple: A stuffed elf sits in your house observing all the nice and naughty things that happen, then he flies to the North Pole each night to give Santa the scoop. When the kids wake up the next day, the elf is in a new spot, and the spying starts again.

Oh, and they can't touch him or all his magic rubs off and children everywhere cry.

Some people complain about this new tradition.  They say it's wrong to spy on kids.  Or to equate good behavior with gifts.  Or to perpetuate the "Santa Lie."

Those people are grinches.

The ONLY acceptable reason to complain about the elf is if you forgot to move him or you ran out of ideas for his merry hi-jinx.  And if that happens to you, do what this mom did and simply break his leg.  Then HE can't fly.  But YOU can still be lazy while also simultaneously tricking your kids into being good.

Win. Win.

While we're on this topic, I'd like to suggest 3 brand new holiday helpers:


DWARF IN A DRAWER

This clever gnome helps you find new-ish gifts around your home for all your last-minute, surprise holiday needs.

To keep you on the right path, he does not judge if you re-gift.





FROSTY IN THE FRIDGE

This icy buddy prevents you from overeating during the holidays and frowns on all midnight snacks, except carrots.

To keep you on the right path, he is in cahoots with your scale and your favorite pair of jeans.




DEER WITH A SCHMEAR

This four-legged fella brings you a bagel every morning in December. Because they are delicious. He is not friends with the fridge guy.

To keep you on the right path, he says nothing because he doesn't have a mouth and the holidays are stressful enough.




Hope your day was magical -- merry everything from a couple of Christmas cuties!

And Roofie...



Tags: family, holidays, pop culture


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The tater and I have been waiting a looooong time to post about fall TV because she wanted to see EVERYTHING.  But mainly, Gilmore Girls, which premiered on Netflix over Thanksgiving weekend.

She wanted to see that show more than she wanted pie!

So she watched, and I waited.

Grab the chips -- here goes...



MOST DISAPPOINTING NEW SHOW:
DUD: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Netflix)

WHY IT'S A ROTTEN POTATO:
Oy. Where to begin? Let's start here: HATED IT. It pains me to say, but it's true.

I'm not even sure there's enough space here to explain why this was such a massive letdown so I'll have to do it in another post.  In a nutshell, errr... potato skin: It was depressing, the storylines were totally out of character for Lorelai, Rory & Emily, there were too many silly cameos with no real substance, the musical was sooo effing stupid, and the last 4 words were a cheap gimmick to trick you into wanting to see more of this dreck.

If you haven't already wasted 6 hrs on this, don't. Pack your bags, Stars Hollow. You really can't go home again.


Ok, now that rotten potato is out of the way, there's a LOT of TV out there.  And every year, it's time to rotate the crop, so the Loveseat Potato watched 32 new Fall TV shows for you, at least 2 episodes per show.  As always, there were spuds, and there were duds (I'm talking to YOU, Amy Sherman Palladino).

But one thing I noticed is that the best new shows have really awesome parts for women.

Tiny victories.

So, now it's about that time... chew on this:


BEST NEW DRAMA:
SPUD: Pitch (FOX)

WHY IT'S A SMASH:
This seriously might be my favorite new show. They had me at Zach Morris, but I love the concept of the first female MLB player.  And this storyline has action, and friendships, and rivalries, and romance, and mystery, and all the things that make a show good.  Baseball's a pretty boring sport to watch on TV but I will watch this game any day.

Honorable Mention Goes To: This Is Us (NBC), Bull (CBS), Designated Survivor (ABC), Queen Sugar (OWN), Atlanta (FX)

DUDS: Notorious (ABC), Pure Genius (CBS)



BEST NEW COMEDY:
SPUD: No Tomorrow (CW)

WHY IT'S A SMASH:
A show about the apocalypse. Sounds adorable! But it is.  It starts with a chance meeting over a mis-delivered package.  Soon, this new couple realizes fate and some insane chemistry brought them together as they check off experiences on their bucket list before the world ends. Which btw, is in 8 months. Unless the show does well.  Then... um... apocalypse averted!

Honorable Mention Goes To: The Great Indoors (CBS), Divorce (HBO), American Housewife (ABC), The Good Place (NBC), Better Things (FX), Search Party (TBS)

DUDS: Insecure (HBO), Man With a Plan (CBS), Kevin Can Wait (CBS), Speechless (ABC)



BEST NEW FANTASY/ADVENTURE/MYSTERY:
SPUD: Good Behavior (TNT)

WHY IT'S A SMASH:
She's an American, a criminal and a meth addict. She even cleans toilets! It's Lady Mary behaving badly. Michelle Dockery is a long way from Downton but this show is pretty addictive. She has a Bonnie & Clyde type-relationship with a hitman named Javier (don't we all?) and wears more wigs than Mary wore corsets. I'm not sure where this is headed, but I'm along for the ride...

Honorable Mention Goes To: Lethal Weapon (FOX), Westworld (HBO)

DUDS: Eyewitness (USA), Dead of Summer (Freeform), MacGyver (CBS)



BEST NEW REALITY:
SPUD: Martha & Snoop's Pot Luck Dinner Party (VH1)

WHY IT'S A SMASH:
This is a total shitshow in the BEST way. Martha & Snoop stand at dueling kitchens, putting their own spins on a main ingredient like chicken or lobster. They start with a cocktail then invite a couple of random celebs over to cook and play a party game.  You never know when a bedazzled chalice (filled with gin & juice) or a cheese grater on a chunky gold chain will appear.  Oh, and Snoop says grace before they eat.  Did I mention each fridge plays a song when you open it? Bon Appetizzle!

Honorable Mention Goes To: Finding Prince Charming (Logo)

DUDS: Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? (Freeform)


BEST NEW SHOW THAT'S NOT ON TV:
SPUD: Good Girls Revolt (Amazon)

WHY IT'S A SMASH:
I was skeptical of this one at first because the trailer made it feel like Mad Men on estrogen. While we all know sexism was alive and well in the 1960s at ad agencies, turns out it was also thriving in newsrooms -- and probably still is today. Based on a true story about Newsweek, News of the Week employees Anna Camp (of True Blood) and Hunter Parrish (of Weeds) are my faves here.  The show is more fluff than feminism at times -- and you can fast forward through every scene with a hand mirror -- but it's still worth a watch.

Honorable Mention Goes To: Fleabag (Amazon), Easy (Netflix)

DUDS: One Mississippi (Amazon)


Disagree? See anything I missed?  Pass the onion dip, put the DVR on pause and comment below...


tags: entertainment


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11/07/2016

Election Eve

So it's Election Eve and I legit don't know who I'm voting for tomorrow.

If you really know me, you know who I WANT to vote for.  But they certainly don't make it easy -- especially because I'm not even sure I LIKE this person.

Is this real life?

I truly can't stomach conversations about the election for one more second.  I feel like my pancreas might explode.  I especially hate having these convos at work.

Every time the topic comes up I feel like saying, "Excuse me while I go eat this sandwich on the toilet."

HOW can we not come up with better candidates? And HOW is this race so close?

Polling is all within the margin of error.  And at least where I live and work, TONS more people feel comfortable saying that they are voting for Hilz than for The Donald (even if that's what they secretly plan to do).  So... who's really in the lead?

You do the math.

I'm scared by either outcome.  I think tomorrow's going to be a long day and an even longer night.  And we'd better hop in our Deloreans, folks, because I think we're headed back to 2000 with a contested election, hanging chads, and fights over popular vs electoral votes.

Why wouldn't we?

Our voting system is completely broken (I told you that back in 2012) and in 16 years nobody bothered to try and fix it.  You know DJT won't abide by a HRC victory.  He has one setting: Scorched Earth.  And if the tables are turned and HE wins, I can't imagine SHE will sit idly by and fade into the sunset.

Hell no!  It will be a dumpster fire.

So, the best we can hope is that the difference in votes is greater than any fraud that could be perpetrated on either side.  And that dumb Gary Johnson doesn't muck it all up.

Shit.

I hope the right answer comes to me in a vision so I can hold my nose -- and pull that lever.

And to anyone who thinks they know exactly what will happen tomorrow, I'll leave you with one word: Brexit.

Yikes.  Buckle up.


tags: politics, rants
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10/09/2016

#TeamJen

So, it turns out this here blog turned EIGHT last month, and I didn't post about it.

Sure, I thought about it.  But that doesn't count.

I didn't make the time to mark the occasion because work's been super hectic, and I've been traveling a ton, and the dog ate my homework, and blah, blah, blah.

Since I was in LA for my birthday, I discovered that Snapchat filters can make anyone look cuter and younger than they actually are (see: Bambi).  I went viral on Twitter.  I also went to FL (twice), plus Chicago, and Austin for the first time, which was pretty cool.  I'd been to Dallas and Houston and San Antonio before but never Austin.

It's like the Brooklyn of Texas.

I could almost see myself living there.  I mean, I enjoy their BBQ brisket, and their state pride, and their tall, handsome men who still hold doors and say "bless you" when you sneeze.  I can even handle the accent (sort of).  But they can keep their goofy hats.

Anyway, I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling pretty introspective lately.  Taking stock of where I'm at and what I'm missing.  So before I take a look back at the past year, I'm going to make a commitment -- in public -- so I can't take it back.

From now on, first and foremost, I'm going to be #TeamJen.

For most of my life, I've put off things I wanted to do for myself.  Okaaaay, I can already hear you laughing.

I'm the world's most comfortable martyr.

Yes.  I treat myself all the time.  And have a $1,000 handbag, an apt overlooking the NYC skyline, and a shiny black BMW to prove it.  #SorryNotSorry.  I work HARD for the money!

But there's a difference between being comfortable and being content.  I always let life and work get in the way of things that might actually make me happy. And hellooooo, what the heck am I waiting for?  Till I feel like my old self?  Truth is, I may never be that girl again.

And I'm 43 for eff's sake -- ticktock, ticktock!

So, over the next few months, I'm going to try and work a little less and live a little more.  We'll see where that leads... but I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Now, as I've done in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, let's take a look back at the last year...

Total Posts I've Written (including this one):
286

Average Number of Posts I Write Per Month:
0.9 (down from 1.2 last year -- UGH... I suck)

Average Number of Unique Visitors Per Month:
402 (up from 355 last year)

Average Pageviews Per Month:
2,705 (up from 2,213 last year)

Most Traffic Comes From:
Tie between Google Search and Pinterest

Most-Read Blog Posts Ever (in order of popularity):
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pinterest (December 2012)
20 Apps I Adore (January 2012)
Pepe Le Pew (June 2011)
Comfort Food in a Storm (October 2012)
Miss Jennifer Goes to Washington (August 2012)
Let Them Eat Jelly Beans (February 2011)
How the Hell is John Stamos 50? (August 2013)
Facelift (July 2010)
The Great Pop Tart Pop Off (October 2010)
Leftovers (November 2012)

Most-Read Blog Posts This Year:
The Loveseat Potato Fries Up Fall TV, 2015 Style
Farewell, Crawleys
Tales From Uber

Posts Nobody Gave a Crap About:
Dear Stores That Close on Thanksgiving
Put Me In, Coach

Most Comments:
Which Christmas Cookie Are You?

Most Popular Poll:
Grease Is the Word (this year)
Please Fix Voting (It Is Broken) (all-time)

Most Frequently-Used Tag for the Posts I Write:
Pop Culture

Most Popular Search by Visitors:
Dating


Next on deck will be the Loveseat Potato's annual review of Fall TV shows (maybe this year she'll actually choose some winners!), and a post on my all-time favorite bands.

In the meantime, snack on this -- it's my favorite commercial right now.

Thanks (as always) for reading!


tags: commercialsholidays, travel, writing


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8/13/2016

Put Me in Coach

As I type this I'm sitting on a plane watching the Olympics.

Tennis.  Men's singles.  Nadal vs Del Potro. Nadal is winning. Maybe.  More on that later...

I think the Rio Olympics are coming at an interesting time.  Right now, we really need something to unite us as Americans -- to forget our differences, cheer for Team USA athletes (and their moms), and avoid mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.

Now, I don't consider myself a particularly sporty person. (What?!?  It's true. I don't like to sweat.)  But a little known fact about me: I've actually played FIVE legit sports in my life.

And no, I do not count competitive TV watching among them.


It all started with GYMNASTICS in the 3rd grade. That was very shortlived.  I loved the bodysuits and pigtails.  Who wouldn't? But gravity is a tough opponent. No matter what they tried, nobody could teach me to do a cartwheel, much less a back handspring.

I was more or a summersault kind of gal.  I don't think they give medals for that.







Then came SOFTBALL.  I was in the 4th grade and we just moved to good old Pine Brook.  My mom signed me up at the community center and my dad volunteered to be the coach.  I have no idea how he did it, being that he worked in NYC and all our games started at 4pm.  But that 100% explains how I played 2nd base for 4 years.

Yep.  Jackie Robinson.  Willie Randolph. And me.

This pic here shows our amazing uniform. We were nicknamed the Golddiggers, but not in a Kanye way.  More like we missed every ball that came our way.  My dad assumed it was because we were busy digging for gold in the outfield.




Once I realized I was wasn't turning pro, I switched gears to TENNIS.  My childhood best friend and I took lessons the summer after Freshman and Sophomore years  at a local country club where her family belonged. I'm pretty sure it was the basis for Red Oaks.  I remember everything about it -- my Tretorns, my brown Wilson racquet with the rainbow grip, my vast collection of Polo shirts.  What I do NOT remember is how to keep score.  Which is why I'm lost watching the Olympics right now.

Truth is, I was distracted by 2 boys -- brothers -- who we had crushes on.  I couldn't serve to save my life, but I had a decent backhand.  At least that's what our (paid) instructor told me.



Next up was FIELD HOCKEY.  I played an entire summer clinic before Junior year started. In the boiling heat.  I remember the skill drills, and the Indian sprints (though I'm guessing they're called something different now).  This was actually a sport I was good at!  Hockey spoke to my competitive nature.  Plus the uniforms were adorbs.  Two words: Plaid skirts.

I played a position called sweeper.  I even made the team! But it wasn't meant to be.  My hand got smashed between some sticks one day in early September during a scrimmage while we were fighting for the ball and I got nervous I would never have a career as an artist.  Ha.

So I quit.  But luckily, I still retained the benefit of never having to participate in gym class again for the remainder of my time as a Montville Mustang.


I laid low on the athletic scene until Sophomore year in college when I decided to try CHEERLEADING.  Think that's not a sport?  Watch Bring it On and get back to me. (Of course, I can't do any of those tricks, but I'm peppy. And strong!)

My roommate and I made a deal, I wanted to go out for the radio station and she wanted cheering, so we did both.  She was a Mighty Hornet cheerleader from a neighboring high school, and I was a cheerleader for the Montville Broncos in the 5th grade (see evidence above).  I would draw from that formative experience.

So, we tried out and made the team!  Cheerleaders for women's basketball... talk about depressing.  But very early in the season we got a lucky break.

The hot, pyramid-making, toss-them-in-the-air tiny cheerleaders for the men's basketball team did something to piss the athletic dept off and they kicked them all off the squad.  This left a glorioius opening for us to cheer for -- and travel with -- the men's basketball team.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!

We partied with our mascot, The Stag (now lamely called Lucas).  We even cheered on the floor of Madison Square Garden!  That was fun.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't very good at this either, which is why I did it for only 1 year and did the radio station for 3.  But I did like the white uniforms.

I sense a trend here...

So, what have we learned?  Rallying together behind America -- good.  Zika virus -- bad.  Sports and me -- not a winning combination.

But at least I looked cute doing them.

So, were YOU an all-star athlete?  A benchwarmer?  A facepainter?  Share your stats below...


tags: jersey, sports
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8/03/2016

My Bday in LA

Did I ever mention that I don't work on my birthday?

21 years ago today, I stood next to a copy machine at my first real job in Parsippany, NJ. I made $18K/year as an editorial assistant and I spent about 9 months there before starting my career in NYC, where I still work today.  

I just started. Nobody really even knew my name yet, let alone that it was my birthday. On that day in 1995, between collating and stapling and the overwhelming stink of toner, I vowed never, ever to work on my birthday again.

I was like the Scarlet O'Hara of the Xerox room.

After all, being a summer baby, I was used to not going to school on my bday.  I was used to not doing ANYTHING on my bday.  It was a day of relaxing!  

Now that I was a working girl (in the non-hooker way), it should be no different. I declared it a national holiday.

And I never, ever, EVER worked on my birthday again.

Until today.

Today, I find myself in Los Angeles about to kick off a huge event that we've been planning for the past 8 months.  If you squint and look really, really hard, you can see the Hollywood sign in the mountains.  That's the view from my hotel in downtown LA.

Since we're in Tinsel Town, of course there will be a few celebs at our event.  The most notable rhymes with Tim Tardashian. Should be fun!  You can follow along here on Friday & Saturday.

And tonight, my sweet and amazing team is taking me to dinner for Mexican.  So if my 22 year old self knew that my 43 year old self could have a work birthday like this, she might have looked more kindly on birthday workdays.

Still, next year, I think I'll go back to taking the day off.  I can try this all again in another 21 years when I'm 64.  

Oy.  That's depressing.  

Pass me some cake!

Do YOU work on your birthday?  Give me some tips in the comments below...



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7/10/2016

Freedom

Ahem... is this thing still on?

Hard to say.

I'm sorry.  I know it's been ages.

You probably can't tell but I think about writing a lot.  Really, I do!  I compose posts in my head all the time.  They just don't actually make it to any place where people can read them.

I will do better.

So, let's catch up.  In the last 2 months:

  • My hair accidentally got dyed red.  It looked horrible.  Suffice it to say, I won't be going to Becky anymore.  It is now back to brown and all is right with the universe.
  • I produced a huge event, which required me to work for a month straight, including weekends. 
  • I also threw a 50th anniversary party for my parents in FL -- more on that in my next post.
  • I binged on a bunch of new(ish) shows -- Bloodline (Netflix), Roadies (Showtime), American Gothic (CBS), Animal Kingdom (TNT), UnReal (Lifetime) and Casual (Amazon) are worth a spin. The Night Of (HBO) also looks promising.  And for a good old dose of nostalgia, I've been watching Gilmore Girls (Up) reruns on the phone with my mom while we wait for the new one.
  • Speaking of nostalgia, I bought a pack of Fruit Stripe gum,  I used to love that as a kid.  It's terrible as an adult.  Itch scratched.
  • I've developed a mild addiction to Bai antioxidant drinks.  I'm partial to Costa Rica Clementine, Kula Watermelon, and Andes Coconut Lime.
  • I'm FINALLY off the steroids.  So, maybe I can get back to looking like myself.
  • I started driving for Uber.
I'm kidding on that last one. I hate strangers!

But I COULD drive for Uber now if I wanted to, because... I got myself a new car! I figure after 8 loooong years of being car-free, I did my part to help the environment.

Birds, you're welcome.

Now, its a luxury SUV for me. It's fast and shiny and black and perfect.

A car is freedom.

Some people hate driving.  Not me.  I made myself a car playlist that's like a soundtrack to my life.  I got a trunk organizer.  I renewed my EZ Pass and I sit in Lincoln Tunnel traffic every day on the way to and from work.  But I don't even care!  I love every single second.

I leased the same kind of car I used to have but it's gotten quite an upgrade.  It's like a spaceship.  It's keyless and voice-activated.  It has sensors all around that beep when I'm too close to something (or something is too close to me).  I think it parks itself.  It doesn't drive itself but I bet it would call for a pizza if I asked it to.

One thing that thankfully hasn't changed is that Jersey Girls still don't pump gas.  The Garden State says "no thanks" to self-serve stations.  I never even knew that was a thing until I went to college in CT.  Let me go on the record to say it's absolutely barbaric to pump your own gas.  

I'm glad some things stay the same.

Another thing that's still alive and kicking is sexism at the car dealership!  I went in by myself to spend my own money on my own car.  Every other jackass in this very fancy place was just window shopping.  And there I was, checkbook in hand.  But you know the first question they asked after my name?  

Is that Mrs or Miss?  

Pump the brakes, Allen.  This isn't 1956.  And who knows, maybe I am married in a parallel universe where you are also tall, good looking, and smart.

Anyway, back to the good news: I have a car and I can go to Target anytime I want.

So, where else should I visit?  Tell me in the comments below!



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4/23/2016

Tales from Uber

If you haven't heard of Uber by now, you might be living under a rock.

Or maybe you just emerged from a coma?  If so, welcome back! Trump's running for President. Bacon is still delicious.

And Uber is a ride sharing service that was founded in 2009 and has roughly a $60B valuation (more than Ford or GM).  On Christmas Eve 2015, they gave their BILLIONTH ride.  Impressive!

But here's the surest sign it's here to stay: It's become a verb.

I've been "ubering" for about 3 years now. In fact, I snapped this pic the other night on my way home with Victor in his Toyota Camry. (It looks like there's nobody behind the wheel, but he's actually up there -- he was just... tiny.)

With the Uber app, professional drivers, ex-yellow cabbies and regular Joes and Janes come pick you up at the tap of a screen. Chauffeurs aren't just for millionaires anymore! Uber brings that luxury to the masses.

And while there are plenty of Camrys in their fleet, occasionally you get lucky with an Escalade, Suburban, Land Rover, Mercedes, or BMW.  That's nice.

Because nobody feels like a baller getting out of a minivan taxi that stinks like somebody's dinner.

Uber is for the people, by the people. There's no question they've permanently changed the taxi industry. But in order to truly enjoy the experience, you must immediately dismiss the idea that the total stranger who just picked you up is a murderer, kidnapper, drug dealer, pimp, or gun smuggler.  After all, you have their name, photo, license plate, and rating -- that's more than you get with a cab.

And Kalamazoo aside, I don't believe serial killers use apps that track their every move.

In fact, you meet some very cool people behind the wheel. Some drive full time, others just for extra cash.  I met a guy who was the only member of his family to survive the Haiti earthquake and was trying to get himself through medical school.  And the CFO of Steve's Ice Cream who was driving because they weren't pulling paychecks while building their business.  One guy picked me up in a special van -- he was in a wheelchair because he didn't have arms or legs -- and he drove great.  There was a guy in San Francisco who just did this on the way home from work so somebody would pay him to commute.  I even met a guy who kept free hot coffee in the car during the day and cold pizzas on weekend nights so he would get high marks.

I could go on.  Suffice it to say, it's an interesting mix.  But for the past year, I've done something really crazy.

No, no, I'm not driving for Uber (I don't like strangers and I don't have a car...yet). It's that I've taken HUNDREDS of Ubers from Feb 2015 until now.

533, to be exact.

Yes, you read that right.  Five HUNDRED thirty three.

I can feel you judging me.

I know this sounds bananas.

That's more than one a day!

Fact is, I've been commuting from Hoboken to NYC every day, to and from work, with everyone's private driver, Uber.  It started innocently enough... it was winter and I was cold.  I couldn't bear to walk 4 blocks along the river to the PATH trains, and another 4 loooong blocks in the city when I got out.

So I ubered. My office is at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. It took 15 mins vs. the normal 45. I'd be crazy NOT to.

I went back to my normal commute the next day, and they cancelled midtown PATH service to 33rd Street.  Only service to downtown -- World Trade Center -- was working.  This happened probably every 4-6 weeks. And every single time it gave me a panic attack.  All these years later, I still can't be in that building.

So that happened.  And it's exhausting doing flights of stairs and walking long distances now that I have this amazing chronic illness.

Well, that one cold day in February turned to two, then a week, then a month, then... you get it.

I also uber when I'm traveling -- I've used it in 8 cities over the past year.  But only about 15% of the 533 rides was work-related.  The rest of the cars are mine.

You'd think after spending FIVE figures with Uber in a year, they'd send me a muffin basket or something, but NOOOOOOO.

(And I know that sounds outrageously extravagant, but I have very few vices left in life.)

I'm an Uber VIP (obvi), and while there are basically zero tangible benefits to that distinction, I have learned a thing or two about this company.

Take these facts for a spin:
  • DRIVERS ARE ALWAYS NEARBY: Uber's driver app includes a heatmap to show them where active accounts are -- the greater the concentration of signals, the better the chance somebody will need a ride. That's why they're rarely more than 10 mins away.
  • ALL DRIVERS ARE NOT EQUAL: Uber classifies its drivers in four ways: Pros (Uber Black luxury drivers), Crossovers (professional drivers on Uber for less than 6 months), New Enthusiasts (amateurs who drive with UberX consistently), and Part-Timers (drivers who have another job and just drive UberX occasionally for extra cash). 
  • 1 IN 10 DRIVERS ARE LADIES: 14% of Uber drivers are women. The company says they plan to have 1 million female drivers by 2020.
  • THE CAR SHOULD BE NEW-ISH: Uber cars must be less than 10 years old and be four-door models. Once a person applies as a driver, a Pro-level driver in the area is asked to inspect the car and go for a test drive with the applicant. All drivers must also be over 21 and have been driving for at least 3 years.
  • RATINGS MATTER, SORT OF: Ratings are another form of currency on the Uber platform. But most drivers don't have time to look at a passenger's rating before they accept a ride -- they only have a few seconds to decide before the fare gets passed to another driver. But if a DRIVER'S ratings drop below 4.6 (on a scale of 5), that's no bueno. They could get kicked out of the club -- though after this week, they'll need to receive a warning. If you're curious about your own rating, you can ask a driver or email support@uber.com and they'll tell you.
  • THEY DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING: You put in your destination, but the driver doesn't know it until they pick you up. Then GPS takes over (most prefer Waze).
  • EVERYONE HATES SURGE PRICING: Except for Uber. Pricing goes up based on an algorithm that estimates demand.  It could be because it's rush hour, or bad weather, or a holiday, or just that it's Friday night but when demand goes up, prices follow. I've seen it skyrocket to as much as 3x the normal price. Uber says it isn’t about gauging riders, its an incentive to get more drivers on the street to cater to the increased demand.  Uh huh.
  • YOUR TIP MAY (OR MAY NOT) BE INCLUDED: Because the app is linked to your credit card, a passenger gets in and out without any money changing hands. Drivers keep 80 percent of that fare and Uber takes 20 percent. Accepting tips is against Uber policy because they say they've adjusted the time and distance calculations to include a gratuity.  Drivers say otherwise because it isn't a separate line item in their statements. Since I pay a $20 NJ fee to AND from the city (and the toll is only in one direction -- and half the price), that's plenty tip for me.

Uber isn't the only game in town, but it's the best.  Sure, there's Lyft, Via, Sidecar (RIP) and a bunch of others.  But really, who ever lyfted home from work?

Before I ride off, I do have one last confession: After all this time, I'm kinda over Uber.  How can this BE?  I know, it's like saying you're over chocolate, or babies or sunshine.  But spending all this time in OTHER people's cars has made me crave my own.

So, next I'll be car shopping -- I just might be ubering to the dealership.

Do YOU have a tale from Uber?  Share it below...


tags: pop culture, technology, travel




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