The three of us had been daydreaming about a Maine get-together for ages. One December morning, I blurted, “Why wait? I’m not working [since my “separation” with Big Pharma], and Darla doesn’t have to go back to [Medical Assistant] school until late January! When will that ever happen again?”
Maine? In January? You’re probably thinking.
Sure, they’re having the harshest winter Darla’s ever seen, but I think I’ll be spending less time outdoors and more time doing this:
Besides, while most people fantasize about palm trees and white sand, I lust after evergreens, crisp air, mountains, and of course, an ocean view at every turn. I’ve been in love with Maine since my first visit [to Freeport, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park] 16 years ago. It calls to me. It’s like my Paris.
I also realized I had a golden opportunity to woo several people at once with my homemade Tollhouse pie.
Because that’s how I roll.
I hope to return next week with some wacky and wonderful tales. In the meantime, stay warm – and don’t have too much fun without me!
Where’s your “Paris”? What part of the world calls to you?
Oh, Chipmunks. I can’t stuff a cheek without bumping into another compliment / award / congratulatory butt slap these days. So it goes when you have brains, charm and a disarming perma-grin honed from years of smiling and nodding.
This week I received not only a rad ‘stache-themed award from the lovely xdanigirl of The Life and Times of a Mom, but also my very first…
Third Hub claims he’s wildly jealous of a video blog I made some time ago. I’ll take his word for it, though he couldn’t even find said video, because I know he’s heartbreakingly envious of my amazing memes everything I do.
Normally I try to revel in others’ successes, but let’s get real. There are some bloggers out there who make me want to hurl myself down a set of stairs. I’m talking about bloggers who, in the spirit of the Jafees, make me rip out my hair and scream, “DANGNABBIT I wish I’d thought of that first!”
So here, in random order, are my first Jafee Award winners! Please accept this nod as a token of my seething resentment.
(Note: Anyone can pass along Jafee awards; winners are under no obligation to do so.)
I’m not kidding when I tell you I’m shamefully jealz of Becca from 25tofly. She’s young(er), pretty(ier), funny(ier), has killer dance moves, a great following, and she can put together a video blog like nobody’s business. When I saw this, and this, I kind of wanted to cry. What’s more, Becca recently quit her day job in order to pursue making videos, so no, no, I’m not jealous at all.
Nina is not only a social media guru who penned Twitter advice that’s garnered oodles of attention, but she writes for a bunch of other websites, a top source of my blinding jealousy. In addition to being a truly talented writer and all-around nice person, Nina’s got 4 kids and a rockin’ bod (hate her). She also just kicked her public speaking fear in the ass [by reading a piece on stage], which is something I so wish I had the nerve do.
If you’re not jealous of Rian from Truth and Cake, it’s only because you don’t know her. Her second ever blog post was Freshly Pressed (i.e., featured on the home page of WordPress.com). She came out guns blazing, with exceptionally sincere, thoughtful and well-written posts. Rian has one of those voices all writers strive for – you want to hear what she has to say, and feel confident taking her advice. What really gets my jealousy meter fired up, though, is the fact that she married a South African with an undoubtedly awesome accent her drool-worthy graphic design / photography skills and overall style.
When my dear friend Rache decided to go on video with her first ‘Peppermeister Roulette,’ I thought, “Well. This is it. Husband #1 is divorcing me.” Rachel took home some of my husband, Peppermeister’s, spiciest peppers with the warning, “Don’t tell me what any of these are.” Fearlessly, she ate one after the other, determined to conquer his hottest homegrowns. Don’t think someone can look amazing and offer cooking tips with their nose running, eyes watering and ears ringing? Guess again. The only thing hotter than the peppers was Rache.
I seem to be forgetting someone… Hmm… Nope. Can’t think of it. Happy Thursday!
OKAY FINE. The man behind the Jafees-which-I-totally-don’t-wish-I’d-thought-of-first…
Just to be nice. I’m really only jealous of his intelligence, stand-up comedy, acting skills, stick figures, photo captions, and uncanny ability to get into the minds of animals and share their points of viewhow good he looks in jeans.
Bloggers: Feel free to pass along your own Jafee awards! Non-bloggers / All: Who drives you loco with jealousy (in and outside of the blogosphere)?
My friend, JM Randolph, author of the spectacularly funny and engaging blog, Accidental Stepmom, is hosting a Pi Day Pie Challenge.
What the fudge is that, you ask?
In her early blogging days, JM had to make a ‘Pi Day Pie’ for her stepdaughter’s math class – they were celebrating March 14th (= 3.14) as Pi Day. Though JM claims to have half-assed it, this was the result:
This year, JM decided to host a contest where you can create your best Pi Day Pie, and the winner gets “Poopourri” (seeing smelling is believing)! But really, everyone’s a winner, because… pie.
There was obviously no way I wasn’t entering this contest.
I love pie. Me ‘n pie (pie and I?) go way back. I even talk about pie on my About page. I’m very proud of the fact that I make my own crust.
But this experience uncovered a dark secret. Something I’m hesitant to admit…
I f&*$#% hate making pie crust!
I hate it the way Michelle hates wrapping presents.
Something old: Well, not that old, but never you mind. Kate runs a very fun ‘Scribble Challenge’ on her blog. This weekly writing prompt encourages you to hush your inner critic because you’re on a time crunch – you only have 15 minutes. Let your creativity wander in whatever wacky and wonderful direction it chooses!
Something new: Kate’s blog design! Go ogle. Go compliment. It’s snazzy.
Something true: Kate’s a med school student, an avid reader and apparently a cartoonist. If she tells me she models in her spare time, I’m going to jump off a bridge. Look what she drew for me us! (Kate, please tell me where I can send you some complimentary ‘stache glasses and slap bracelets.)
After a year and a half of bloggy friendship and two NYC meet-ups, JM and I have officially crossed over. Get ready for raging jealousy: I met #5! The infamous, hilarious, bacon-loving #5! He showed me his fort!
In case you’re confused, JM numbered her stepkids 1-5; number 5 is the youngest, and only boy. He’s almost 10. (I was put to the test on Sunday night, trying to keep the names of 2 adults, 5 kids, 2 dogs and one AWESOME 1966 Mustang straight. I think I’ve got it.) I met nos. 1-4, too, and they were all sweet, social and funny. And seriously handy when it came to housework.
#5 (putting leftover steak in a large Ziploc bag and getting some ‘juice’ on the tablecloth): It’s okay. It only cost $12.
I can’t think of any stronger endorsement for JM than the truth: Thanks to this Freshly Pressed post, hers was one of the very first blogs I read and fell in love with. My best friend, Jenn, a talented writer herself, will tell you the same. JM’s not only a wonderful person, but an extremely gifted writer.
Nothing says ‘fun’ like Renee. (Exhibit A: Her winning ‘guilty pleasure gift basket giveaway’ entry.) I had the pleasure of talking to Renee on the phone for the first time recently, and we had so much to say, I killed her car! For reals. Her cell phone was plugged into her car and both batteries died.
But Renee’s internal battery never dies (eh? Like that?) – she’s full of positive energy and humor, just like her blog. If you’re not already reading, please head over there and say hello. I’m a huge fan of her direct (yet often poetic), funny and heartfelt writing, and she’s got something for everyone (that’s what she said).
And guess what? Even though Renee just had to splurge on a new car battery because of me, she still sent this!
Thanks, Renee! Too bad it’s just going to collect dust since everyone knows I don’t drink!
Right now I’m imagining all of you charming little chipmunks scurrying around, cursing the copy machine, looking for your red staplers and hating The Man.
Meanwhile, I’m kicking off my first two-week vacation in a thousand years. Instead of doing this yesterday and scheduling it to publish at 6am EST today, I decided to write this post when I got up and see what happens.
Wow. I feel so daring.
In case you missed my fancy sidebar widget and my last post: I attended my first blogging conference, BlogHer ’12, on Saturday. I left bright and early to take the train from New Jersey into Manhattan, armed with ‘stache glasses and a lightness of heart only vacation time can bring. By 7am, it was already as hot as Hades, so I went to that special place in my mind. You know the place – it’s normally reserved for Second Husband and talking animals.
I was more excited than nervous. I’d met JM from Accidental Stepmom twice before, but was meeting Thoughtsy from Thoughts Appear and Misty from Misty’s Laws for the first time. Of course I worried I wouldn’t match up to their expectations (and maaaaybe stressed about all of the unflattering pictures they’d take and post on their blogs), but we’d
already established a bond online, and had the bloggy business in common.
At the Hilton, I registered and waited for Misty and JM to find me. Misty is anonymous on her blog, so I had no idea what to look for. A purple-clad vision of loveliness suddenly accosted me. Thank gawd for Misty.
She’d been there since Wednesday night and knew all the ins and outs. There were several sessions throughout the day, in different ‘break out’ conference rooms, as well as tons of expo centers where you could stock up on free swag.
After the gorgeous and altogether badass, JM, showed up, Misty said we should
skedattle to make sure we got seats in our lectures of choice. We split up and I went to a session on ‘branding your blog.’ Thoughtsy joined me there, and let me tell you she’s one sweet li’l chipmunk. First of all, she gave me these:
And THEN she gave me this:
I love you, Thoughtsy. Look how happy we are (we’re even happier later. In the bar):
I didn’t learn anything new in the lecture, except that I really need to start a Go Jules Go Facebook account. Apparently Facebook is the number one way bloggers get traffic and buzz. The other advice will probably sound familiar to you, too:
Be consistent both in voice and lay-out
Use the same name across all social media sites (if only that Mexican dude would give up his @gojulesgo Twitter handle! Por favor?). In other words, make it easy for people to find you
Keep your design/lay-out simple and fresh (no colored font on black backgrounds, I’m afraid, and no music playing!)
Don’t be self-depricating; believe people want to read what you have to say
The second lecture I attended was about when to spend money marketing your blog. The advice can be boiled down to:
Consider your time as money
When you find yourself spending more hours on marketing your blog than you can ‘afford’ to, it might be time to invest in someone to help you (if you don’t think you market, remember that every time you read and comment on another blog, you’re advertising yourself)
If you’re on a self-hosted platform (like WordPress.org), hire a web designer (it sounds like it’s a few hundred bucks)
After that it was time for lunch and guest speaker, Katie Couric. Katie defies the laws of nature; she is ageless. We were all the way in the back, so I didn’t hear much, but got to meet some other wonderful bloggers at our table (this is where the business cards came in handy!).
Thoughtsy, JM, Misty and I weren’t really interested in the next panel of ‘celebrity’ speakers, so we loaded up on swag instead.
This was my favorite swag piece. Uncle Jesse immediately claimed it as his own:
My favorite part of the day was hitting the hotel bar to chat (why do you assume I suggested this? Well… you’re right). We plopped down in a circle of comfy chairs around a low table; it was mellow and quiet – the perfect atmosphere for caring and sharing.
This was exactly why I came to BlogHer; not to network or take frantic notes, but to meet JM, Thoughtsy, Misty and a few of their bloggy friends. It was divine.
JM and Thoughtsy had to leave in the early evening, so I crashed a sushi dinner with Misty and the beautiful and hilarious Johi of Confessions of a Cornfed Girl. It was the perfect end to an altogether satisfying outing.
In fact, I even saw Michelle Williams on the walk back to the train station! We made eye contact and I should have said hello. We have history.
And now, as promised, I’m about to stalk the shiz out of you and your blogs. I love you. (I really do. Well, some of you. Some of you I just like a lot and we’re not there yet. But I bet we’ll get there if you compliment me enough.)
P.S. – I apologize on behalf of both NJ and NY to any out-of-towners visiting lately. Yes, it really IS this humid and NO, you are not inside someone’s mouth.
Whoever said bloggers were lame, basement-dwellers who lack the talent of ‘real’ writers has never met the awesome array of bloggers I have via WordPress. I’m continually amazed by the gifts and goodness they possess.
So I guess in some ways I wasn’t surprised to receive this text from JM Randolph (Accidental Stepmom) last Thursday morning:
Totally last minute. CC can’t come to my opening nite show. I only got 1 ticket- do you want it? 6:45 curtain.
The show JM was referring to was Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened on Broadway March 22nd. Thanks to JM’s gig doing sound for theater, I just scored an invite to opening night – on Broadway! I responded accordingly:
Hi JM! I just saw this! Is it too late to say hell yes!?
And so it was. We agreed to meet at 6:30 in front of the theater. I went to Kohl’s on my lunch break and picked up two new blazers because, of course, nothing in my closet was right. I settled on all black: black stretch pants, black calf-high boots, a black high-necked shirt with a sheer overlay on front, and a black blazer with similar sheer trim along the bottom.
I lightened things up with my wedding-day earrings, which are getting a lot of play lately:
I boarded the 4:23 NJ Transit train, excited as could be. JM and I met for the first time in January, before I saw another Broadway show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I was really looking forward to seeing her again. From reading JM’s blog, it’s obvious she’s smart, witty and completely badass. I expected to meet a tough, somewhat no-nonsense chick. Which intimidated the hell out of me. Oh, how wrong I was! JM is warm, welcoming and lovely. And gorgeous! Not I’m going to wear leather pants to kick your butt gorgeous, but Princess Bride gorgeous.
It was only on the train, nearly to Penn Station, that I saw an earlier text from JM (I’d been having battery issues with my phone all day):
oh and dress semi-fab. you will need a pic of yourself on the red carpet.
Red carpet?! Moi?! My honest-to-goodness first thought was: I think my stretch pants are see-through! I was willing to accept that any pictures of me would be less than flattering, but transparent pants was where I drew the line. It was akin to stepping out of a limo with no underwear.
I quickly texted JM:
Oh holy shoot. For some reason I just saw your text about the red carpet. I did buy a new cute blazer on my lunch break BC that’s how I roll LOL but I don’t think it qualifies as fab?!?!?!?!
JM assured me it was no big deal, and that at least one person would be in sweatpants. I couldn’t tell if I’d just gotten myself out of it.
It was a gorgeous day for March, 75 degrees and sunny, and Manhattan was absolutely packed. It took me 40 minutes to work my way through the throngs of people to Neil Simon Theatre (I always prefer to walk to the theater district versus taking the subway or a cab from Penn Station, even though it’s at least a mile). I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Times Square so jammed up.
There was also a huge crowd in front of the theater, though I couldn’t see who was on the red carpet. Several skeletal women passed by me in bright, silk dresses; it was clear they’d spent the entire day getting ready. My heart was in my throat at the prospect of sharing any kind of floor space with Broadway elite. I didn’t know the names of these producers and directors. I wouldn’t know Edward Albee if I tripped over him (just to make this reference I had to Google ‘living playwrights’).
When JM met me outside and handed me a ticket, I followed her lead. Okay, good, we weren’t headed towards the flash bulbs and cheers. Instead, we walked in through a side door. Hallelujah, I was spared! Under different circumstances, I would have been disappointed. But not that night. Not in see-through pants.
JM showed me to her motherboard, which was on a platform at the back of the orchestra section. She introduced me to some of her colleagues and it was clear they all adored her (and vice versa). Being part of the in crowd really is all it’s cracked up to be, Chipmunks.
I told JM I was learning about the inner workings of Broadway from one of my new favorite shows, Smash. She said they do actually do workshops like the one currently depicted on the show, confirming my suspicion that I can learn everything I need to know from TV. She paused.
“You do have crazy eyes.”
I laughed. I recently wrote a post about my crazy eyes; in it I described my giant pupils. Being in a dark theater surely made them noteworthy.
“I know,” I replied. “Everyone thinks I’m high all the time. …I wish.”
“Do they even need to dilate your pupils when you go to the eye doctor?” she asked with a good-natured smile.
Because the show was soon starting, I bid a temporary goodbye to JM and found my seat in the center of the balcony section. I smiled to myself when I saw the skinny-minnie-silk-dress girls in seats right by me. Ah, opening night on Broadway, what a great equalizer you are! I felt smug until I realized my see-through-panted butt could still barely fit in the wee Broadway seats (despite, and let me pause to brag for the first time here, a significant weight loss in the past year).
The audience was extremely enthusiastic, and while I’d never seen the play before, I was blown away by the production value and, most of all, the voices of the cast. (I bet some of that can be attributed to JM!) Andrew Lloyd Webber came out during the curtain call, and the standing ovation was the longest I’d ever taken part in.
I didn’t linger because I had to catch my train home, but hoped I managed to convey my gratitude and enthusiasm to JM before dashing. (In the end, I missed my connecting train -for the first time in my life- because I was too busy texting about my fun night out!)
Hey, we can still pretend I shared the spotlight with the likes of Megan Hilty (from Smash) and Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Hey, wait a second, Lisa Lampanelli…
…That dress looks familiar…
I’m so ahead of my time*! Maybe see-through pants will be in four years from now! Damn. I guess I should have walked that carpet.
*I bought this dress for $25 from Target 4 years ago. I cannot believe it’s on the red carpet right now.
Photo credit (marquis and red carpet pictures): broadwayworld.com.
Yesterday Babs and I headed into Manhattan to see Second Husband, Darren Criss, in his Broadway debut: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” To say I was looking forward to this day is like saying a Friendly’s Reese’s peanut butter cup sundae is ‘just okay.’ After weeks of preparing my Why Polygamy is the Right Choice For You presentation for Second Husband, the day had finally arrived.
I laid out my outfit. The guilty pleasure gods blessed me with an unseasonably warm, sunny Saturday, and I didn’t even need the gloves and jacket vest!
I took extra care doing my make-up, and debated waterproof vs. regular mascara. Would seeing Second Husband in the flesh reduce me to tears?
I then consulted Babs and put my hair in her favorite style.
Feeling spiffy, we headed in on the 2:42 train, with the goal of getting to the “How to Succeed” stage door by 4pm. This way, we could hopefully score an autograph from Second Husband after the 2pm matinée performance.
Once at the Al Hirschfeld theater stage door, we secured a decent spot on line, right against a barricade.
I chatted up the adorable girl next to me, Christie. She had seen the play the night before, and had come back to try to meet Darren. I told her I only had the Warblers CD for him to sign, and she gave me an extra Playbill! I was thrilled to reciprocate with the latest and greatest in cutting-edge fashion, a GoGuiltyPleasures slap bracelet.
We waited about 45 minutes, and the crowd thickened. Babs and I met another lovely mother-daughter duo, Anne and Molly, who definitely helped the time pass pleasantly. After quickly assessing their chipmunkitude, I covered them in slap bracelets. Interest in my bracelets grew, but I was running out. I had to save one for Second Husband, after all!
Beau Bridges and the female lead, Rose Hemingway, came out to sign autographs. They both graciously acknowledged my “Thank you SO much!” with sweet smiles and eye contact, solidifying my hunch that I could win Second Husband over as easily with my overdone undeniable charm.
An hour and a half into the wait, I started to get restless, especially because I was late meeting the glorious JM Randolph (of Accidental Stepmom fame) and her husband for dinner. I kept her updated with texts: “Sooo sorry! He’s still not out yet!” She was very understanding. It was Second Husband.
After two hours, my feet were starting to feel the burn and I was ready to do this thing. The jokester security guard suddenly said, “We’re shutting it down!” I thought he was kidding, but watched in disbelief as he started removing all of the barricades. “The cops are shutting it down,” he explained. “There are too many people on the sidewalk.”
Sure, there were probably about 150 of us waiting in a line down the sidewalk, but, but, but… c’mon!! Everyone was being very patient and calm. Sigh. No Second Husband, and me with extra room in my heart.
I may not have gotten to meet Second Husband, but I DID get to meet the gorgeous and charming JM Randolph and her HILARIOUS hub. We missed having dinner with them because they had to get back to work, but we had a nice chat and will hopefully get to cash in on a rain check soon.
Babs and I, starving, and more importantly, libation-less, headed down the block to 45th and 9th Ave. to try our luck at Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, Southern Hospitality (he might not be bringing sexy back, but I guess bringing baby back ribs will do for now). The wait time was 45 minutes, but the cute host caught a glimpse of my Playbill, and after I shared the details of my autograph fail, he told us we could eat in the downstairs lounge/bar, if we didn’t mind. We didn’t! We got to eat and drink on a luxurious leather couch, the service was quick (key when you have an 8 o’clock curtain) and the food was very good. The lounge was quickly overrun with twenty-somethings, and suddenly a guy walked in and the group whooped and hollered. We realized we were in the middle of a surprise party. Er….surprise!! We got the check and skidattled.
Everywhere we went, we heard the name ‘Darren Criss.’ New York City seemed to have traded in its cool indifference for superfandom. (I fit right in.) Back at the theater, we made our way to our right orchestra aisle seats and I spotted lots of folks from Darren’s theater company, StarKid.
When Darren descended from the ceiling as a window washer in the opening scene, the crowd went berserk. His StarKid friends/college mates were ecstatic. They grinned wildly and pointed to each other – their friend! On Broadway! It was a treat to witness.
Darren’s performance was hilarious, captivating and exuberant. (I’m being as objective as I can, I swear.) His enthusiasm, combined with the audience’s energy, made the two and a half hour show fly by. (If you read my lukewarm post about seeing the very same play back in April, when Daniel Radcliffe was the star, you know that I’m not always as easily won over.) Darren made the performance seem effortless, the way only great actors can. To think he only had two weeks to rehearse! And yeah, he looked drop-dead, too!
I should mention there’s a whole ‘fight song’ about a rivalry with a school whose mascot is a chipmunk. A chipmunk! I heard Second Husband say chipmunk!!! Babs nudged me so hard I almost landed at the peep show next door.
We didn’t have the stamina to try to get an autograph after the show, since we weren’t sure Darren would come out (he did…double sigh), but we made the 11:11 train, which was a miracle in and of itself. I lose at least two pounds every time I go into the city. (To see some great pictures of Darren from January 7th that Babs DIDN’T take, click here.)
The night ended with a text from Peppermeister: “How was it? Am I still your ONLY husband?”