Every Awkward Thing I've Ever Done

My Dad’s Take on My Dating Life

Speaking of boys I liked in the sixth grade…

Last time I was home my cousin, who has an eleven year old daughter, asked for my dad’s advice on what to do when your daughter starts dating.  My dad sort of shrugged.

"Well did Jessie bring home any guys you just couldn’t stand?  Did she ever have a boyfriend you just knew she shouldn’t be with?"

As my dad considered I quickly did an inventory on my dating life thus far.

Sophomore year of high school I dated a guy who introduced me to drinking.  I would come home late, drunk and reeking of smoke.  My dad might say he was the boyfriend he couldn’t stand and didn’t think I should be with.  

Then again, Senior year of high school I dated a guy who was three years older than me, hadn’t gone to college and worked as a pizza delivery driver.  We moved in together when I was nineteen.  We planned on getting married.  My dad would surely say he was the boyfriend he couldn’t stand and didn’t think I should be with.

And then in college I dated a guy who was always mean to me.  I was constantly calling my parents in tears.  When we broke up I was so depressed I stopped going to class.  My mom bought me a puppy to cheer me up, which my dad thought was a huge mistake.  Probably he would say that was the boyfriend he couldn’t stand and didn’t think I should be with.

"Well, there was one boy… Jessie brought him home and told me he was her boyfriend.  I thought it was a joke."

"Which boyfriend was it?" I asked impatiently.

"I don’t remember his name, but he was so short I thought he was a little kid you were babysitting.  I couldn’t believe he was the same age as you, let alone that you would date him."

"Are you talking about Matt* (fake name used to protect the innocent and/or short)??  I was twelve years old!!"

"Yeah, that sounds about right.  He sure was short."

The Secret is Out

It was the 6th grade.  I had a crush on a boy named Brian.  The dance was coming up and I had a killer pick-up line.

"Hey, Brian.  Did you ever notice that in the Johnny Rivers song "Secret Agent Man" it sounds like he’s saying "Secret ASIAN man"?"

"What?"

"Do you want me to sing it for you?"

"No."

"There’s a man who leads a life of danger/To everyone he meets he stays a stranger/ With every move he makes…"

"Please stop."

"Another chance he takes/Odds are he won’t live to see tomorrow."

"Okay, okay—"

"SECRET ASIAN MAN/SECRET ASIAN MAN/They’ve given you a number and taken away your name…"

"Cool, yeah, I get it."

"SECRET ASIAN MAN/SECRET ASIAN MAN…"

Brian did not ask me to the dance.

Childhood Movie Recaps: Purple People Eater

I just wanted to share a few more things about the movie Purple People Eater that will entice you to devote 4 minutes to watching my video (I know, 4 minutes is a long time and you have other things to do.  I know that in 4 minutes I can eat an entire string cheese while watching 1/5 of a 30 minute TV show, minus the commercials of course… So I get it.)

Here’s the poster for the movie:

Now on the poster it says that the movie stars Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters, but the real stars are pre-teen Neil Patrick Harris (pre-Dougie Howser!), Dustin Diamond (pre-Saved By the Bell (even pre-Good Morning, Miss Bliss!!!)) and Lindsay Price (pre-whatever she’s from) and an adorable, scene-stealing baby Thora Birch (who at the time just went by the name Thora.  One word.  Because I guess her parents were grooming her to be a stripper).  Oh, right and a super-creepy Purple alien who looks like a guy in a furry costume who maybe (probably) molests kids.

And if all that doesn’t sell you, check out this video of the final climax performance of Purple People Eater, in which Little Richard makes an appearance and Neil Patrick Harris shows off his ridiculous lip-synching skills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_gSAUD_0k8

If that doesn’t haunt your dreams tonight I don’t know what will.

Today I’m introducing a new feature “Childhood Movie Recaps”!  Dun-da-dun!

Today I’ll be recapping the 1988 film Purple People Eater, which I LOVED as a child, but no one else has ever heard of.

Hope you enjoy!!

What were your favorite childhood movies?

#TBT: The Touch Me Book

All of the problems in my adult life can be traced back to being exposed to The Touch Me Book at a young age.

Does That Shirt Say What I Think It Says?

This is a shirt I own:

You know who else owns this shirt?  

That’s right.  Rory Gilmore.  But I bought the shirt before she wore it, which, if you do the math, means the shirt is really fucking old.  Hello, my name is Jessica, and I am a clothes hoarder.

I don’t usually wear my “Reading is Sexy” shirt because it’s a little too small for me now.  But it was a Sunday, I had some errands to run and most of my go-to errands running clothes were dirty.  So…

I was at the grocery store, trying to find, off all things, Shitaki Mushroom Powder.  I knew they probably wouldn’t have it and… spoiler alert:  they didn’t.  But I felt the need to check the spice aisle just in case.

"Excuse me, sir," I said to one of the Ralph’s employees.  "Where’s the spice aisle?"

I expected this to be a quick interaction.  I hadn’t even taken both of my headphones out and the podcast I was listening to was still playing in one ear.

He stared at me blankly for a moment.  Then he said “Does that shirt say what I think it says?”

I wanted to respond “if you possess the ability to read words, then yes.”  Instead I turned off my ipod, kind of giggled and muttered “yeah…”

"Well, I agree."

"Hmmm?  You agree with what?"

"Your shirt."

"Oh… okay.  So… the spice aisle?"

"Reading IS sexy!"

"It sure is.  Spice aisle?"

"Oh, sure.  You know what, let me walk you down there.  I’m not entirely sure what the number is."

Unfortunately the aisle we were looking for was on the complete other side of the grocery store.  It was a long walk.

"So… where’d you buy that shirt?"

"Umm, online."

"Oh from (and then he said the name of a website I had never heard of.  Mooz?  Zoom?)?"

"No… it’s a really old shirt.  I’m not really sure what site it’s from."

"When did you get it?"

"I’m not sure.  It was years ago.  College probably."

"Well you look college aged to me so that could have been yesterday."

"It wasn’t."

We reached the general vicinity of the spices but my new friend couldn’t find them.  Finally I spotted them at the other end of one of the aisles.

"Oh, there they are.  Thanks for all your help.  I got it from here."

Despite all that he followed me down the aisle.  ”So… this is what you were looking for.”

"Yep.  Thanks for the help."

"Can I help you find anything in particular."

"Nope, I’m good."

"Well… that’s a cool shirt."

"Thanks."

"Reading IS sexy."

"Yep."

"You should be reading a book while wearing that."

"Maybe next time."

"Cool."

"Cool."

He just stood there for a moment.  Then finally he said “Cool shirt” one last time, turn and left.

Rory Gilmore can keep her shirt because I won’t be wearing that one out of the house for a long time.  And I think I’ll order my spices online from now on.  Maybe Mooz/Zoom has shitaki mushroom powder.

The Prosecution Objects (To Me)

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I had jury duty.

Before going in they advised that I watch the orientation video online so that I wouldn’t have to come in early to watch it at the court.

The orientation videos were full of helpful/completely obvious information like:

- Dress appropriately.  No tank tops, shorts, crop tops or hats.  Don’t wear baggy pants and a T-shirt that says GUILTY.  (That one is a direct quote, which means I guess my I’M WITH A MURDERER —-> shirt is out of the question.)

- If someone calls your house and says they’re from the court and they need your social security number DON’T GIVE IT TO THEM. THEY ARE LIARS.

- While in the courthouse don’t post pictures or status updates to myspace, flickr or four square.  (Also don’t go back in time to 2006 when those sites were actually popular.)

- If you are one of the FORTUNATE jurors selected (they really stressed the word “fortunate”, they almost convinced me there) you will receive up to $15 per day for compensation, and whatever is behind door #2 (spoiler: it’s .35cents per mile you drove one way).

- You are not allowed to investigate the crime on your own outside of the court.  In particular, do not try to visit the scene of the crime and look for clues.  (BUT THEN HOW AM I GOING TO TURN THIS INTO A RIVETING THRILLER MOVIE STARRING RACHEL MCCADAMS AND BEN AFFLECK?!?!)

- Then a woman came on giving a testimonial in which she said:  ”Yeah, I was scared at first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  But then I bought a book on the importance of jury service and now I’m excited to do my duty to my country.”  It almost made me go out and get a book on the importance of jury service, then I decide I’d just wait for the movie adaptation instead.

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Yesterday morning I arrived bright and early at the courthouse in downtown LA.  After joining hundreds of other jurors in a non-air-conditioned room to wait, I was lucky to be assigned to the very first trial that came up.

I’m not sure how much I can say about the actual trial, so I’ll be vague.  I was given a number that put me in the top 16 jurors, which, I later realized, meant that I would be put on the jury, unless either the defense or prosecution vetoed me as a candidate.

The judge spent the first two hours giving a history lesson on US government and the court system.  He seemed like a nice guy, but also something of a talker.  Then we broke for lunch.

After an unpleasant experience in the “snack shop”, which resembled a dirty, dingy gas station snack shop, I vowed not to eat lunch in the cafeteria.  We had an hour and a half, so I walked down to Grand Central Market, a recently somewhat upscaled building full of food vendors.

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"I have plenty of time," I told myself, as I strolled the floor, checking out the options.  I chose a pupusa stand and after waiting in a long line to order, and then waiting another interminably long time for my food, I realized I only had fifteen minutes left in which to eat and get back to the court.  I ran back, scarfed my food down in a tiny park, and hurried into the courthouse.

In my rush I turned the wrong way down a hallway and barged into the wrong courtroom.  I had forgotten the name of the judge on my trial, but he was Japanese and I could see that the nameplate of this judge read Judge Ito, so I thought I was in the right place, until I looked around and realized I didn’t recognize a single one of the jurors.  I rushed out and hurried down to the other end of the hall, where I found the correct courtroom.

After we reconvened, our judge made a joke about sidebars.

"Don’t worry, I won’t be taking sidebars every five minutes, like in the OJ trial.  Not that there was anything wrong with that.  Lance Ito was my mentor, actually.  He still works right down the hall."

Which means… I was in Lance Ito’s courtroom!  I hadn’t seen him, but I had seen his nameplate.  I had been in his place of judgement.  It was like a brush with incredibly strange celebrity.

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The juror selection continued and I easily picked out several people that would be vetoed from the jury.  There was a woman who had a lot of history as a defendant in trials and said being in the courtroom was giving her a panic attack.  There was a pregnant woman who started crying at the mention of photos of a dead body.  (This came after one of the prosecution’s stranger questions to the jurors “Would anyone here consider themselves a huge fan of CSI?”)  There was a woman who claimed not to speak english, while speaking it very well, and the woman next to me, who’s english was so bad she could barely understand the question.  There was a lawyer, and a boy in police officer training.  There was a man who continuously argued with the judge that if the defendant pleaded the fifth he was definitely guilty.  All of these losers have got to go, I thought to myself.  They’d make horrible jurors.

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I was convinced, however, that I would be put on the jury.  Who would veto me?  What cause would they have?  I would make an excellent juror.  I would be fair minded, non judgmental, and unbiased.  I would listen to all the evidence and weigh all the facts before making a decision.

Keep in mind, I didn’t want to be chosen for the jury.  No one wants to be chosen for a jury.  The judge even told us this trial would take at least two weeks, and if the judge’s two hour lecture on the American government was any indication, it would be a horrendously boring two weeks.

Still, I was proud that I was going to be chosen.  I was also curious about the case, since the small bits of information that were released made it sound like a doozy.

The juror interview portion came to a close and the judge said it was time to determine if they could assemble a jury from the first 30 people chosen.  The defense and prosecution would take turns vetoing candidates.  I was familiar from this process from the book/movie A Time to Kill, so I was ready to get started.

The first few were pretty obvious.  All of the people I’ve mentioned were let go, along with two women who seemed like complainers.  I knew that if anyone was to veto me it would be the defense.  I was wearing glasses, my hair was in a ponytail, I had admitted that I had been mugged before.  I looked like someone who would be a hard ass on crime.  So when the defense finally said “we accept this jury” I was already considering which food stand I would choose to eat lunch at tomorrow.

It was time for the prosecution to either accept the jury or make their final veto.  ”We accept this…  No, wait.  Actually, can we have a minute to discuss?”

"Of course," said not Judge Ito.

They discussed for a bit, pointing at a bunch of post-it notes laid out to mimic the jurors seating arrangement.  After a few moments they turned back to the jury box.

"We would like to release juror number (well I can’t tell you the number… but it was me!  They were releasing me!)"

I looked around at all the selected jurors and my first thought was WHAT DO THESE JURORS HAVE THAT I DON’T HAVE???  There was a girl whose brother had been arrested for gang violence and a guy who was clearly somewhere on the autism spectrum and had announced that he had a hard time paying attention to or retaining information.  There was a woman with those gross dangly earlobes you get when you wear ear gauges for years.  For God’s sake, had they really chosen her over me?

I returned to the juror waiting room where I met up with all of the other possible jurors who had been released from my trial.  When I walked into the room they clapped and said things like “Congrats”  ”Good for you” and “We got out of it!”  But I didn’t really feel like celebrating.  It felt like when you’re talking to a guy and you both know you’re clearly out of his league but there’s something about him you like so you’re flirting with him anyway, and then HE REJECTS YOU.  That’s it, I felt rejected.

"Vetoed by the defense, right?" the rejected lawyer asked me.

"Yeah…" I muttered, not really listening to the question.

"Makes sense.  It was clear they didn’t have a very strong case, and I think they were also getting rid of anyone from the west side."

"I’m sorry, did you say the defense?  I misheard you.  I was vetoed by the prosecution."

"Oh, hmmm."

"Why do you think they vetoed me?"

"I don’t know."

"WHY??  TELL ME WHY?  WHAT DIDN’T THEY LIKE ABOUT ME? WHAT DID I DO WRONG???"

"I don’t know, maybe they just really wanted whoever was going to take your place."

"But they could have vetoed the gang sister, or the autistic guy or ear gauge girl!  Why me?"

"I don’t know!"  At that point I’d freaked him out so much that he decided to take the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator with the rest of us.

On the uphill hike back to the parking lot I continued to remind myself that it as a good thing.  If I had been chosen I would have to make this hike again tomorrow, and then the day after, and the day after, for at least two weeks.  It didn’t really make me feel any better though.

I fought the law and the law dumped me for someone hotter.

Fourth of July Fail

Happy almost 4th of July!

For someone who loves fireworks, sparklers and everything else that has to do with 4th of July, there are freakishly few pictures of me with fireworks, sparklers or anything else that has to do with the 4th of July.

I did find this picture of Erin Mallory Long and I very much posing while watching fireworks (not on the 4th of July) and no, that woman behind us was not with us, nor was she posing, that’s just how she watches fireworks:

I also have a picture of my dog Rooney watching fireworks on the 4th of July:

But when I tried to find childhood photos of myself watching fireworks, or playing with sparklers, or dressed as an American flag while eating red, white and blue cake and singing Yankee Doodle Dandie, there was nothing.  I did find these photos of me and my friend Savana, which my parents tell me were taken on the 4th of July, but which have absolutely no evidence of that fact in them:

I think this second one is my favorite, because what the hell is it a picture of?  We’re staring at each other, with very serious looks on our faces, in front of some possibly broken chairs.  So very 4th of July.

It is very fitting, however, that these photos were taken at our cottage in Michigan, as that is where I spent most of my 4th of Julys growing up (how do you pluralize July?  Julies?).  On the drive up from Chicago we would stop in Indiana at the fireworks warehouse and load up on fireworks with names like The Black Hole, China Dragon, El Torro’s Fiesta, Chief Big Loud, Mississippi Gambler’s Revenge, Mad Hornet and Atomic Fire (wow, I never noticed how much firework names really like to play off antiquated stereotypes…).  Then we would drive across state line to Michigan, where buying fireworks is illegal, but they look the other way when you set them off.

I would spend the entire day lining up the fireworks on the beach and then arranging and rearranging them in the order I thought they should be fired off in.  Then, when I would get bored of that, my friends and I would light roman candles and shoot them at our neighbors house, until, one time, we set the neighbors lawn on fire, and were forced to start shooting them towards the beach instead.

But despite the lawn fire incident my family was very safe with our fireworks.  My dad would take each tube or rocket out, one by one, to the end of the pier and light them off away from everyone else.

The people at the pier to the right of ours were not.  The pier to the right of ours was the “community pier”.  It was used by everyone who had houses across the street from the lake, and therefore had no beachfront property of their own.  It was where they tied their boats and wave runners up in a haphazard fashion.  It was where they threw keggers on the beach and left the water full of red solo cups.  It was where I once saw a guy vomiting into a shoe.

So it should come as no surprise that when they did set off fireworks, they did not follow proper safety procedures.  Instead they found it funny to throw firecrackers at each others feet, or point roman candles into each other’s faces.

And it was kind of fun to watch, like staring at animals at the zoo.  What would these crazies think of next?  

Then, one fourth of July, they showed up with a huge aerial tube firework.

They lit the fuse down on the beach, and then dared each other to jump over the firework, trying to see who was brave enough to jump over it last, as the fuse burned down.  The fuse was almost gone when the final guy jumped over.  He sailed up into the air and then BOOM, the firework went off, streaking right past him. At first he smiled, thinking he had just narrowly escaped having an arm or a leg blown off.  Then he looked down and realized… his shorts were on fire.

As his friends laughed, (and our side of the beach watched in astonished awe) he ran down the pier, screaming at the top of his lungs.  I assume his idea was to run to the end of the pier and jump into the water, although why he didn’t just run straight into the water, I have no idea.  Halfway down the pier he hit a wet patch, and slid sideways.  He fell over the side of the pier, and into the water, but one of his legs didn’t follow the rest of his body. That foot remained hooked around the side of the pier.

There was a hiss when his body hit the water, and then a snap as his leg broke.  A loud cheer went up from his crowd of friends, and then a groan as they realized one of them would have to sober up enough to drive him to the emergency room.

I guess the moral of the story is: if you’re going to play with fireworks, don’t be an idiot.  But if your idiot neighbor is going to play with fireworks it could be fun to watch, from a safe distance of course.

I Went to Peru and All I Got Was This Lousy Llama Spit

Several years ago my parents decided that instead of doing Christmas at home, we would travel to a new destination each year and celebrate Christmas there.  This was all fine and dandy for my parents, they lived at home.  For me, however, Christmas was the one time each year when I knew for certain that I would fly from New York or LA or wherever I lived, and spend a week at home.

Still, how could I complain when they told me that we’d be going to Machu Picchu for Christmas?

We flew to Lima, spent a day there, and then moved on to Cusco, which is the closest city to Machu Picchu.  We did a lot of sightseeing within Cusco, and took trips to several lesser known Inca sites.  

Then the big day came: the trip to Machu Picchu.  We woke up before sunrise to meet our tour group and take a train up the mountain.  Once at the top we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant.

One thing you might not know about Machu Picchu, and the surrounding areas, is that there are llamas everywhere.  Literally, everywhere.  When I woke up in the morning there was a llama in my shower, and when I got dressed I found a llama in my shoe (I wear very large shoes).

There were two llamas tied up outside the restaurant and, after eating, I approached them to say hi.  Unbeknownst to me, llamas are kind of dicks.  They don’t really like it when you approach them to say hi.  They would rather you never approach them at all.  One of the llamas made that clear to me by making a loud noise and then spitting directly into my face.

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Later that day we finally made it to Machu Picchu and met up with our Peruvian guide.  He went through a long speech about what to do and what not to do inside the site.  The final thing he said was:

"Do not touch the llamas.  They are dicks."  (I may be paraphrasing.)

Unlike me, my mom loves talking to large groups of strangers.  When I am in a large group of strangers I prefer to hide behind a large rock and read a book.  She prefers to tell them a story.

My mom said “Oh, Jessie touched a llama today and it spit in her face!”

She meant it as a funny anecdote, but the tour guide didn’t find it funny.

"Llama spit is poisonous to humans!  Your face will break out in large sores!"

Everyone in the tour group turned to stare at me, expecting to see large leprosy sores burst out across my face as he spoke.

"No sores, see…" I whimpered.

Our tour guide muttered something under his breathe that sounded like “Not yet…”

For the rest of the day our entire group avoided any llama they saw.  They also avoided me.  Perhaps they feared that llama spit sores were contagious, or perhaps they were worried I would start spitting at them.  Luckily there were a lot of large rocks for me to hide behind, so all of my practice hiding from large groups served me well.

That night we returned to the hotel, and I never did break out in sores.  I looked up llama spit online and have found nothing to corroborate our guide’s assertion that llama spit is poisonous to humans.  I did find this however:

One may determine how agitated the llama is by the materials in the spit. The more irritated the llama is, the further back into each of the three stomach compartments it will try to draw materials from for its spit.”

So, basically, I will never touch a llama again.  I will never look at one.  I will avoid the zoo, and other places where llamas might lie in wait to spit at me from all three of their stomachs.

The next year we stayed home for Christmas.

Me and the offending llama:

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Meeting Ralph Fiennes

Speaking of celebrities…

A friend was in a bar on the lower east side in New York.  She’d had a few drinks when she noticed a familiar face at the bar.  It was, of all people, Ralph Fiennes.

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Now, Ralph Fiennes is famous for a number of amazing films.  He’s been nominated for Oscars for Schindler’s List and The English Patient.  So what did she say when she ran into this amazing actor?

"Hey!  Hey!  Can you do Voldemort?  Do Voldemort for me!"

And, amazingly, he did.

"Harry Potter, the boy who lived… come to die. Avada Kedavra!" he said in his Voldemort voice.  Then he went back to drinking his beer.

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So that’s why Ralph Fiennes is my favorite actor.