Whatup and Whatwhat, 2013!

by jen on January 3, 2013

2013! That is kind of scary, although I am thrilled that 2012 is over. Not that 2012 was that horrible happenings-wise. I just spent a lot of it in angst about what to do with the rest of my life.

On the plus side, 2012 (I think) was the first year that I have ever made a measurable resolution and kept it! I read 36 books this year, whatwhat!

If you are on Goodreads and we’re not already pals, assuming our taste in books is at least a wee bit compatible, please add me. This year I would say I got 50% of my recommendations from my IRL friends, 50% from seeing my Goodreads friends raving about a book. And while I am kind of horrible about actually writing a review, I think I managed to get my hands on a good assortment of books this year, and you’d benefit from my crowdsourcing (please note: the Michael Crichton book was for a book club).

This year, I’m doing the Happiness Project resolution program, like Laurie, so I will have a kajillion measurable goals! But since January is all about energy, my current resolutions are actually kind of boring, like, drink 8 glasses of water, eat 18 grams of fiber every day, exercise, make my bed, etc.

And, confession: I think I am already cheating on my resolutions. I found this double-fiber bread at my Whole Foods and I can get 12 grams in with breakfast toast! That cannot be real fiber, right? Normal bread is like 2 grams? What elfin mischief goes into this double-fiber bread? But how the hell else is a person supposed to get these 25-ish(!) grams of fiber required every day? Sweet heavens! This double-fiber bread is my only hope of sticking with it.

My boring resolutions have already resulted in one exciting (to me) result: One is to tackle a nagging task each day, and my bedroom lamp had this stain, and in a fit of pique/inspiration, I spray dyed it (put RIT dye in a spray bottle and sprayed the bottom)! Super easy, and now no stain:

Here it is again, alit in all its grainy, iPhone camera glory.

So, my 2013 is not off to too bad a start. And happy new year to you! In addition to the basics like health and happiness, I wish for you the following:

1. That people will stop using the words “lippies” and “sunnies” forever and ever and ever.

2. That all of Neil Gaiman’s hopes for you will come true.

3. That all of your hopes for you, even those you’re not brave enough to write down, will come true.

4. A whatwhat. We all need a whatwhat in 2013! Lots of whatwhats! Whatwhats for all, and to all, a good night.


One Month of Unemployment: Observations

by jen on December 10, 2012

1. I did not, just because I left my stressful, sometimes demoralizing career, suddenly become perfect and exercise all the time, and become extremely productive. Surprise!! I think for the first two weeks, in fact, I did basically nothing. I watched seasons 1 and 2 of the excellent Upstairs, Downstairs; does that count?

2. Being totally unmoored in an area I’ve always been very moored (is that a word?), has made me open to trying all sorts of stuff. Like Bikram yoga (puke-a-rific!), regular yoga that sane people enjoy, and even doing daily little meditations. I also tried zumba, which reminded me a lot of that time I tried flamenco. Except that now, I am 35 and wise enough to know that I could pretend to enjoy something I am horrible at, or I could just never do zumba again! And be much happier! It is too bad that you cannot just decide that vacuuming is not your bag, am I right?

3. I am so glad people don’t use the word “wheelhouse” regularly any more. I am sad to report, however, that much like “baby fish mouth“, “lippies” is sweeping the nation. At least the nation of interwebs I peruse. “Sunnies” was bad enough. “Lippies”????

I have done some stuff, however. I went on a hike and saw this:

I hosted Thanksgiving and made turnip candle holders and napkin rings with all my family members as wizards, a la the Black family wallpaper in Harry Potter:

And now I am deep in Christmas preparations! Since I am unemployed, it is pretty much a moral imperative that I top my previous yearswrapping extravaganzas, and I cannot believe how much fun I am having.

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving holidays and are enjoying an onslaught of Hannukah/Festivus/Kwanza/Christmas/Etc. cheer!

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I only recently became a sports fan. I mean, I watched the Giants and 49ers growing up, and I never ignored the Giants entirely, but after Will Clark (still my favorite ever) and Steve Young were gone, we took a bit of a breather, sports and me.

Unfortunately, for sports cred’s sake, I appear to have begun to be a fan again right as or right before my two teams became FREAKING AWESOME!!!

But whatever. The Giants I watched with my sister 2003-2008 when they played the Dodgers, so I think I get some credit for that.

And the 49ers, they just happen to be amazing right now (knock on wood) but that was happenstance for me — I suddenly realized that once post-season MLB is over I will have nothing to be excited about, sports-wise. So, football.

But people! SPORTS! Don’t get me wrong. I am a feminist and a liberal. I do not approve of rapists, dog-fighters, cock-fighters, people carrying guns, guns generally, or douchebags.

But sports. SPORTS!! I love the camraderie, the rooting for teams, the beer, the hot dogs, the nachos, the groan when that pitch/throw gets away from us, the way your heart beats faster when you wait for Romo to get that last out, and you know you’re not the only one. It is COLLECTIVE.

And even more than that, it is EPIC. I wish I could capture the way watching a game makes me feel generally, baseball particularly, and the way I felt this afternoon, sweating my way through the Giants game with 25 other coworkers in our lunch room, better than Grant Brisbee  of McCovey Chronicles does here, but I can’t. Those last two innings tonight were a battle for us. A battle. I feel like I barely breathed through it all.

Partly it’s that I’m learning more about the games, having read a couple baseball books now and about to head into some football literature. I’ve got more history, more statistics under my belt, which makes every game either a predicted loss or a miracle — something I can shrug off as typical, or revel in as a statistical anomaly that MY guys made possible.

But mainly it’s that I’ve come home to the Bay Area, to MY teams, and that my family, my coworkers, strangers on the street, the marquees on our buses for goodness’ sake, they’re all in this with me, for better for worse, in Wilson’s sickness and in Posey’s (THANK THE EVERLOVING LORD) health.

And together, we can do anything. GO GIANTS!!!

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Prickly Pecos Marg and Pecos Punch at West of Pecos, SF, Site of Impending Disaster, Fortification Needed


So, while I gave notice and whatnot I am still lawyering away for a few weeks, and today the partner I work for had me researching escheat law. Now, if you, like me, were like, what the HELL is escheat law, let me tell you, it is AWESOME! Well, for people like me and MAYBE, people like you, it is (creditors, not so much).

Most (all?) states have some form of unclaimed property law, where, if someone doesn’t claim any property after a certain amount of time, the holder has to turn it over to the state, or, in legal parlance, it escheats to the state. The state then, I presume, earns the float on the unclaimed security deposits, bank account funds, etc., it’s hanging onto. Yay, impoverished state coffers.

In any case (after I dutifully performed my research of course), I went online to the California unclaimed property database, available here, and DUDE, apparently I made an extra car payment! $387.78 coming my way!

I also spent a very satisfying afternoon of searching all my family members and close friends’ and maybe, maybe a few ex-boyfriend’s names and sending emails to anyone on which I found a hit (except the ex-boyfriends, hi! we have not spoken in three years but Comcast owes you $40.22, which I know because I have searched for your name in a government database!), all with the subject line, “IS THIS YOU???” Hahahaha (also, I hope I did not scare any of them, mea culpa).

Lots of states have searchable databases, so even if you are not in California, I highly recommend you Google “unclaimed property [state x]” and see if you (or your ninth grade teacher who gave you a B+ on your Crucible paper) are owed anything! Good luck! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

About To Be Claimed

Maybe six months ago I dated this guy, we’ll call him Will, and it did not end well. Like, no one (as far as I know) cried or yelled, but it was just kind of icky. Probably for him, too.

Then, Saturday night, my sister Penny and I were having an early dinner in the Mission and CRAP, in Will walked with a date. He had a quick word with the hostess and then went to go sit in the bar to wait for his table. I did not immediately panic. This was not a small restaurant. What were the chances he would end up seated right next to me at….. one of the two two-tops on either side of us BOTH WAITING FOR THEIR BILLS??? People! These tables were like, no joke, a foot and a half from one another! We would have basically been sitting at a four top with this person who I kind of disliked a lot and who I’m sure would be happy to spend an evening listening to my conversation and storing up more ammo for his dissertation on how totally lame I am!

I freaked out. Poor Penny. But she, being the more rational, less inclined to dine-and-dash of the two of us, reminded me I had words. And I could use these words to ask the hostess not to sit him next to us.

At first I resisted the idea. I am just not a person who makes special requests. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I explained to the hostess, I’m sure with eyes wild with fear (of both that that I was asking and that she might say no), that I’d had a few dates with one of her patrons that hadn’t ended well, and I was really hoping not to spend the next hour 18 inches away from him.

The hostess’ initial response was simply, well yes those are the two soonest-to-open tables and I will be seating him at one of them sorry. I meekly retreated to my seat, prepared for the worst, but then, MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES, she took pity on me, swung by to tell me she’d figured something out, and a few minutes later walked him, very quickly past us, to a four-top in the back.

SWEET, SWEET RELIEF. I have never slipped a hostess anything in my life, but I glad-handed her a $20 on my way out.

I know it is silly, all this drama over someone I went on a few dates with six months ago, and Will is really not even a bad guy (probably). And actually part of me now wonders if I didn’t cheat. Was it somehow my penance for whatever role I played in the unravelling that I have to spend an uncomfortable, probably sweaty, hour? Did I just buy my way out my sentence, like some sort of white collar criminal of dating?

Probably not. Probably I am one of many people making special requests, asking for deviations from the rules or menu, just like that one, day in, day out, and I should just be grateful that lovely hostess honored mine.

And If knew her name, I would totally look her up in the unclaimed property database, and if I found that Cingular never refunded someone with her name’s $35.96 deposit in 2002, I would send her an email, IS THIS YOU???




My sister Penny: Drive is on instant play!

Me: I don’t see it in my New Releases.

Penny: It’s definitely on there. Check again.

M:e Huh. I found it via search but not in New Releases.

Penny: Netflix must not think it’s a film of interest to you.

Me: …

(Two minutes later)

Me: OMG, so is The Rescue of Jessica McClure!!! Remember?! That movie about the baby that fell down a well in Texas?!!! I am so watching that tonight!!

And that, my friends, is why Netflix does not recommend Drive to me.

p.s. Have you heard the Drive soundtrack? Super awesome!

p.p.s. My siblings and I watched The Rescue of Jessica McClure SO MANY TIMES. I don’t know if you remember being captivated by the story of that little girl from Texas stuck in a well like we were on the news. At this point my memories of the actual experience of learning about her rescue and watching it on VHS are so intertwined I have no idea what is a memory/the movie. An additional attraction of the film was that, while not a top billed star, actor Whip Hubley‘s character played an important rescue role, and I wanted him to be my boyfriend REAL BAD. He also played the veterinarian boyfriend of (the first) Paige Thacher on Life Goes On, and since he loved animals AND rescued babies, he was, like, my little 12 year old heart’s desire. So was being a tall, willowy blond like Paige Thacher when I was 12, but I’ll always be a Becky. C’est la vie.

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Wine cork trivet!

So, a few months ago my wine cork supply finally started to overflow its keeper, and I set off in search of what the heck to finally do with them. And lo, there did I find that there are an INFINITE NUMBER OF PROJECTS YOU CAN MAKE WITH WINE CORKS. Seriously. Here is a website that lists 25! And it’s just one of the 361,000(!) Google hits that comes back when you search for “what to do with wine corks.”

I tried pinning a few options that I liked best. Then I took a nap.

Then, finally, a few weeks ago I felt up to trying again after I found these great leather and wood trivets on DesignSponge — figured I would make the same thing, but with wine corks.

Turns out, however, that wine corks do not look that exciting when painted, and you miss all the best parts of the wine corks — the design!

So instead, I crayoned my wine corks, screwdrivered holes through the middles, and then ran a leather cord through the middle, and split the cord and the end so I could tie them off. A little hot glue in between my rows of corks and I was done!

Of course, I forgot to take any pictures of the process. Gah.

BUT, since this one turned out OK I am going to make one for my mom for Mother’s Day, and will make a how-to then.

Luckily, since the internets CANNOT GET ENOUGH of wine corks, I know another post about them will be welcome.


Dream Date

by jen on February 9, 2012

I haven’t watched The Bachelor in years, but so many people have been talking about this season, I started watching (only up to Episode 4, though; I’m catching up online). And people, I don’t remember being so completely horrified by the types of dates these women go on. Skiing down an SF hill in my swimsuit? HELL, NO. Were they always this bad?

Sunny snow bunnies!

Actually, my worst scenario would be the “first impression rose” girl’s date in Episode 3 — just my date and me, clad in clothes of mismatched levels of formality, alone on a dance floor, being privately serenaded by a musical artist with which I am not familiar.

Two minutes, tops, before I go fetal.

First, where do you even look? Do you focus your ocular attentions on the singer in order to express your “I love to live in the moment and breathe in life’s bounty” persona/admiration for your date’s great musical taste? But there are no other people in the room, so you and the singer will just be staring at one another like buffoons, each wishing desperately that this song, hell, every song, was like 2 minutes shorter. You can’t stare into the eyes of the Bachelor all night because, well, that’s creepy. But the only other people to look at are camera crew who are also watching you!  WHERE DO YOU LOOK?

Second, I don’t do romance very well. If a dude says something romantic to me, generally the best he can hope for is a kiss. So he’ll shut up. OK, maybe I am exaggerating somewhat, but really, we have to have been dating a long time for me to stop asking my date if I’m having a weird hair issue I don’t know about if he pushes my bangs aside.

No, I have no idea why I am still single, why?

Seriously, though, these women are crazy, right? Like, if you were on a pier with a guy you’d known for 2 weeks, most of which you spent locked in a house with 14 other women of varying levels of intelligence, kindness and body enhancements, and he was pretty cute but he had also kissed several other women that week IN FRONT OF YOUR VERY EYES, could you be all romantic with him?

Because holy jeebus, if these women are even approaching normal, I am so screwed.


In writing this I think I have remembered why I stopped watching The Bachelor the last time. I think I will go back to watching BBC mystery series from the 1980s and 90s that do not make me second guess what women are supposed to be like.

Well, right after Collagen Courtney gets kicked off (she does get kicked off, right? right?).


Tuesday Tips #1

by jen on November 9, 2011

Tuesday tips:

1. Downton Abbey, first season available on Netflix streaming. Watched the entire thing in an afternoon (why am I not better at measuring out pleasure over time so it lasts longer?).

2. Water your orchids with ice cubes. You’ll never over water.

3. Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies.


At 5’2″, I may not be able to reach 75% of my kitchen cabinets without the aid of a stepstool, but apparently I am one millisecondal step (ha!) ahead of the rest of the world! (Also, this is a great article). Yes!

In other news, my mom learned the phrase “OMG.” She tried it out in an email but then totally ruined her questionable new street cred by asking, “Did you notice I know how to use OMG?”

And in other, even better news, I have gone part-time as a lawyer! This is the best news ever! I am going to devote the 6 hours a day that I used to spend still lawyering (I’m now doing 25 hours a week) to crafts! And you know, to being a real person again.

Slightly related, I will share with you the email thread among some of my LA dude friends (M, D & R) and me last week regarding the new M83 album:

M: New M83 out next week!

R: I predict D goes nuts for it and you guys proceed to engage in a furious two-man fwap session.

M: Too soon.

J (that’s me): Too soon since your last one? Still not over it?

M: You’ve changed seen you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.


J: Nah, that’s just me trying retardedly to make dude-like jokes. Whenever I see the opportunity, I gotta try! [Ed. Note: So true! I didn’t have dude friends when I was younger and it is SO AWESOME to make dude jokes. I crack myself up and they are always AS STUPID as the one above!]

R: oh no.  you are quite skilled.  he’s right.  you’ve changed.

R (couple minutes later): Does anyone else really miss the nice jen?  man, she was so nice.

J: Now you are being mean!! You know I am totally freaking out that I crossed some sort of line now!!! I swear, I will never make a dude joke again. Probably. [Ed. Note: I was a little worried. At least for dramatic effect. (But also kind of really. But it is NOT DUDE-LIKE to admit you are, so I added the “probably.” It took me a long time to compose that email.)]

M: Ice water in your veins.  Black coal where your heart used to be.

They say this happens to a lot to people who go into arts & crafts.

D: And to people who live in SF.  NorCal makes you hard.

J: Ha, totally. It’s all the excellent coffee and local, organic produce. Makes you want to punch someone in the face.

D: F–king g-d damn super-high quality of life. [Ed. note: I inserted the hyphens.]

My friends are awesome.

Anyway, all this is to say, happy fall! And my fall is faster than yours because there is less distance to cover.


I don’t know if you experience this as well, but hung art, eventually, goes off kilter.

Every few months, you have to tip it to the left, right, up, down. No earthquake, no hurricane, just the earth moving, time passing.

Life’s like that, I guess.

I only started watching Friday Night Lights a month ago, but as a testament to how awesome it is, I’m on Season 4, episode 3. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!

It makes me slower. Not mentally. Just makes me think I should take the time, the time Coach and Tami Taylor take to think things out.


Actually, that, while more pithy, is unfair as we all know Tami wears the pants in that family. The only pants, in fact, since CT wanders around in his little shorts and I KNOW it is SO WRONG, as an LA/SF/any place but the middle of the country (maybe even there, feel free to speak up, MotC peeps!) person to find that attractive, but Dammit! I do! Which is what I would say (I do) also if Matt Saracen asked me to marry him. And probably Tim Riggins, but only if he’d been tested first.

I am just grateful it turns out they aren’t actually (MS & TR, or the actors that play them) their screen ages or I might need some serious therapy.

Anyway, all this is just to say I love this show, and I think it makes you hopeful about things. And it recognizes that art, and a person, go off kilter now and then, but you just set it straight, sometimes with more effort than others, and everything’s OK again.

I like that.

p.s. Making KitchenKonfidence’s Grapefruit and Tarragon-infused Vodka, wish me luck!

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